Will Councillor Sutton’s Motion Restore Public Trust?

time will tell if it’s posturing or an attempt to make real changes following the Ombudsman’s investigative findings that the town contravened the Municipal Act in its handling of several in-camera meetings in January 2011. according to the amherstburg echo, (full story), sutton believes his january 23 motion will serve as a starting point towards rectifying the damage done by the ombudsman report.

the damage was done by members of council who continued to participate in the practice, despite the Ombudman’s March 17, 2011 letter to the town, in which it stated, “In the future, Council should be vigilant in ensuring that the most appropriate exception or exceptions are cited in the resolution to proceed into closed session, and that all discussions taking place in camera fall within the cited exception(s). This ensures that the public is fully aware of why Council is proceeding into closed session, and increases the transparency of the Council process.” The letter further stated, “In the future, Council should ensure that no voting takes place during closed session, unless the vote is for a procedural matter and/or giving direction to staff, in accordance with s. 239(6) of the Act”.

sutton also mentioned that some of the errors found by the Ombudsman were clerical errors that have to be corrected; some clerical errors at the amherstburg police station had to also be corrected.

i requested an amherstburg police services board motion regarding my correspondence to the board, but i received a criminal records check of another individual that was emailed to me in error. during the course of an Information and Privacy Commission Ontario investigation, i learned that Chief Tim Berthiaume explained that the secretary scanned and attached the email and attachment without confirming the contents. Additionally, the board explained that unfortunately, it was not until my second email that the person responsible for the error understood the situation. i had emailed twice that i was not interested in any personal information but my own. in an october 28, 2011 letter, the IPC analyst advised that she was satisfied with the assurances that the board would continue to take any steps they felt appropriate to obtain my confirmation that the record had been deleted.

chief tim berthiaume sent two letters requesting that i immediately delete and confirm that it has been deleted as soon as possible. in his june 28, 2011 letter, he stated, in part, “the amherstburg police service takes privacy issues very seriously.” how ironic that my june 2011 inquiry to the board related to a breach of my information and the board decided to dismiss it; read john sutton’s letter. note: clerical errors in the letter are not mine.

it will take time to restore the public trust.  council should act as councillor pouget suggests: thank the Ombudsman, take the report seriously and take the free training – that would be a good starting point.