Election Campaign Promises Revisited

A new tab has been added at the top of the home page titled, Ask Council, that contains questions posed to members of council, both previously and currently, along with their answers, if there were any.

As mentioned in the burg watch’s questions ignored by members of council, not one member of the current council responded to or answered any of the questions.

Weren’t there promises of accountability, transparency and representing the electorate during the election campaign period?

A quick check of the River Town Times site confirmed campaign promises, in part, of then-candidates for Amherstburg council for 2014 – 2018 set out below.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo
A need for greater transparency, accountability and fixing the town’s finances are among the top priority for Aldo DiCarlo.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale
DiPasquale believes debate is a healthy part of the democratic process and that controversy arises when there is an appearance of ulterior motives or unfairness. “That’s when you get division,” he said. Transparency has to be there and be seen by the community, he added, though noting the town won’t be able to satisfy everyone.


Joan Courtney
Open, free-flowing communication between council and administration will help address accountability and transparency concerns, she added.

Rick Fryer
Fryer wants to help put Amherstburg “back on track” and said it will be a black-and-white type of campaign, right from his platform to the colour of his election signs. He said that, if elected, he will provide black-and-white answers to questions that residents pose.

Jason Lavigne
Lavigne expects all candidates to be transparent, fiscally responsible and             accountable and added several of his ideas to achieve those goals, including having the budget process include a 5% reduction strategy.

Leo Meloche
While he is from McGregor, he said that he is interested in serving the entire community and not just be a representative from one section of it. Having lived in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City earlier in his career, he said it has enabled him to look at things on a broader scale. “That’s what Amherstburg leaders need to be mindful of. It’s a big area, said Meloche. “There’s a broad range of residents to consider.”

Diane Pouget
Residents have to feel comfortable coming before council, she said. “We have to respect our residents. They are very concerned with the financial situation and rightly so. I believe we have to respect their opinions,” she said. “I know I learn a lot from our residents.”

the burg watch’s questions ignored by members of council

In a January 7, 2016 email to all members of council, I advised that at the end of each year of the previous council’s term, i emailed everyone regarding their performance.

I requested a response to the questions below and let them know that I set a deadline of January 15 since some had either indicated questions from the burg watch would not be answered and/or were not answered in the past.

During the 2014 election campaign, the then-candidates answered 40 questions from readers of the burg watch as follows:
Aldo DiCarlo all
Bart DiPasquale 8
Joan Courtney 5
Rick Fryer 0
Jason Lavigne 8 and following a threat of legal action, advised me that he will not be responding to anymore questions on my site
Leo Meloche 1
Diane Pouget 21

Year End Questions 2015 for the end of Year one:

  1. Have you fulfilled your campaign promises?
  2. Have you always responded to ratepayers’ emails? If not, why not?
  3. Are you satisfied with how requests for information are handled; both informal requests and Freedom of Information requests?
  4. When will you commit to ensuring the town’s website and council chambers are accessible?
  5. Is there one accomplishment you are particularly proud of?
  6. Is there anything you wish you had dealt with differently?
  7. What are your top three goals for 2016?

I can answer question 2; no and i have no idea why my emails are not always responded to and similarly, I have no idea why these questions are not answered when campaign promises focused on transparency and accountability.

Misguided Support for Segregated Sports

Commentary by Linda Saxon

The River Town Times reports that the Town of Amherstburg has given the go-ahead for Miracle League billboards, awaiting final OK from the county and ERCA.

The article includes comments from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Councillors Diane Pouget, Joan Courtney and Rick Fryer praising the work of the Miracle League and its volunteers, all misguided in my opinion.

The Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 (ODA), the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 (AODA), The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by Canada, the Canadian Charter of Rights and the Ontario Human Rights Code all promote integration, not segregation.

Mandatory training of Essex County Council included presentations by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee that specifically addressed the full and equal participation of every member of society and attitudinal barriers that interfere with the human right to do so.

Has anyone wondered why there was only one Miracle League in Canada? Has anyone wondered if negative stereotypes were being perpetuated?

As an accessibility advocate, I have often criticized the Town of Amherstburg for its lack of commitment to removing barriers in the community, including attitudinal barriers. As a few examples: for the past thirteen years I have advocated for an accessible town website, for accessible voting stations, for an accessible front entrance to the town hall – would any other minority group tolerate an enter at the back sign? No progress regarding these items was made to this day.

In my opinion, the approval of these billboards indicates to me that council needs to learn how to provide a more inclusive community in terms of full and equal access to recreation, festivals, communications, facilities and more.

Kathie Snow, of Disability is Natural, and a previous keynote speaker at the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee Accessibility Workshop has published several informative articles on her site, including Separate And Unequal, about segregated sports, which I highly recommend.

All the information is readily available in legislation and resources; those should be guiding council’s actions, not emotions and misguided intentions.

More Comments on $12,000.00 Poll From Members of Council

Members of Amherstburg Town Council were advised of the Poll results that indicated 75% felt council should not have spent $12,000.00 on the law firm.

Additionally, I offered my personal opinion: “has council established a precedent whereby it acts on someone’s suggestion and/or offer? an RFP should have been issued. regardless, if we can afford to spend $12,000.00 on what might prove to be a duplicate process, then there is money to spend on improved accessibility at the town hall, truly making the town’s website accessible, and offering increased accessibility through internet voting.”

In addition to Councillor Leo Meloche’s response, the following replied.

Councillor Rick Fryer: Thank you.

Councillor Diane Pouget did not comment on accessibility improvements, but responded: Thanks Linda.  I stand by my decision. Please feel free to call if you wish to discuss.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo:  Since my voting position has been covered by all of the area’s media outlets, I don’t think I need to get into it again.  Council has made a democratic decision and I am obligated, as the Mayor, to move that decision forward.

This voting process does not provide for any precedent that I am aware of.  Council is still bound by the procedural by-law in place.

The Town continues to work towards a fully accessible website.  It remains a priority that will require funding to accomplish.

Although I know these comments don’t explicitly answer your questions, I hope it provides some more clarity of Council’s actions.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Councillor Leo Meloche’s Comment on $12,000.00 Poll

Members of Amherstburg Town Council were advised of the Poll results that indicated 75% felt council should not have spent $12,000.00 on the law firm.

Additionally, I offered my personal opinion: “has council established a precedent whereby it acts on someone’s suggestion and/or offer? an RFP should have been issued. regardless, if we can afford to spend $12,000.00 on what might prove to be a duplicate process, then there is money to spend on improved accessibility at the town hall, truly making the town’s website accessible, and offering increased accessibility through internet voting.”

Councillor Leo Meloche did not comment on accessibility improvements, but responded: “Polling questions can be formulated to achieve a desired result. The question should have been … Are you agreeable with a Council’s decision to mount an opposition against the proposal that involves the potential closing of the high school in our town. I will make no further comment on the issue. I stand by my decision.”

I replied to Meloche: “your question could have been asked prior to council’s decision and maybe if the town’s website becomes accessible after my asking for it for 12 years, council could post its own polls.

since i asked for input after council’s decision, your question is moot.”

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Revised Budget Meeting Dates For Public Input

Revised dates, as posted on the town’s website, which is still difficult to navigate and still has accessibility issues, are set out below.

• Saturday, March 7, 2015, 10:00am – 12:00pm
St. Peter’s ACHS College School – 6101 County Road # 20, Harrow (former St. Theresa’s Elementary School)

• Thursday, March 12, 2015, 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Libro Credit Union Complex, 3295 Meloche Road, Amherstburg

 Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Verdi Club, 689 Texas Road

• Saturday, March 28, 2015, 10:00am – 12:00pm
Knights of Columbus, 9560 Walker Road, McGregor

The 2015 Budget deliberation will be held

At a Special Council Meeting on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 

At Town Hall, Council Chambers from 6:00pm – 8:00 pm

Town council asks for report on employees’ qualifications

In a River Town Times article by Ron Giofu, “Town council agreed via a 4-3 vote to get details on employees hired and moved by former CAO Mike Phipps, pending a legal opinion, but there are also questions over if that will put the town in legal jeopardy.”

The town’s Hiring of Employees policy, one of the policies former CAO Phipps would not provide without “a reasonable explanation for the request,” can now be found on the town’s website and CAO Miceli did provide it.

The 2007 policy currently states, “The Town shall provide accommodation for persons with disabilities who become employees of the Corporation.”

An updated policy is needed to reflect the passage of the 2005 AODA, the IASR (Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation) and the town’s 2013 IASR Policy to include the requirement to notify its employees and the public about the availability of accommodation for applicants with disabilities in its recruitment processes.

Is $12,000.00 On Law Firm Well Spent?

The River Town Times reports that “Town council has approved spending $12,000 in the fight to preserve General Amherst High School by hiring a local law firm.

The development of the plan will include stakeholder and partner consultation which will include the Council of the Town of Amherstburg.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was the lone dissenter, but said it had nothing to do with Leardi or his firm. He feels council is “passing the buck” on the matter and that it is that body that should be dealing with it directly.”

Poll will close in one week. The usual disclaimer applies – it’s not science; it’s entertainment.