No Commitment To Remove OPP Clause In Police Contract

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Readers of the burg watch have submitted three separate questions regarding the contentious Amherstburg police contract clause about switching specifically to OPP policing.

Current Police Services Board member and mayoral candidate John Sutton has not answered any questions, nor has current Police Services Board member and council candidate Frank Cleminson.

Current Police Services Board member and council candidate Pauline Gemmell responded, but did not answer specific questions or commit to the removal of the clause.

Regarding Gemmell’s statement, “The buyout clause is outlined in the contract. As with any corporation preparing to lay off large numbers (this would be situation here) the Employment Standards Act prescribes the basic requirements for any payout,” follow up questions were emailed: are you suggesting that there would be lay offs at the police service? can you provide me with the section of the Employment Standards Act that prescribes the basic requirements for any such payout?

Gemmell’s response is, “The ESA provides for basic but in the case of a contract those requirements are typically more than what ESA provides. Have you spoken to Chief Berthieume about this? He is very helpful when anyone from the public asks questions.”

The three questions in full, along with Gemmell’s responses are:

Question 6:  If elected, will you commit to council obtaining an OPP costing and if appointed to the police services board, will you commit to removing the OPP takeover clause in the police contract? If running for re-election, why did you not consider doing the above?

The current costing model for OPP is changing and as such will be difficult to get a clear cost for OPP at this time. I think that council should always be looking at the cost of all services and be looking to less expensive and equal quality alternatives. We have a great Police service here in Amherstburg and there are many benefits that we enjoy as a result of having a local police service. Our officers are skilled and dedicated to this community.

Question 13: The Town now is in the process of negotiating a new contract with our local police force. Within this contract (expires Dec 2014) is a clause which if activated could cost our town dearly! What is your knowledge of this buyout clause? what is your understanding of the rational behind the inclusion of it in our contract? What and how many officers would be involved? What would be the cost to our town if enforced one day? From my understanding, we are talking anywhere from 8-10 million dollars would be paid out to officers changing uniforms, not losing jobs? Your thoughts please!

I believe that our Police provide an excellent service. The buyout clause is outlined in the contract. As with any corporation preparing to lay off large numbers (this would be situation here) the Employment Standards Act prescribes the basic requirements for any payout. Beyond that the town would be required to honor provisions found in the contract.

We have a good and effective police service in our community. The cost factor needs to be discussed once the negotiations but other factors also must be considered along with the cost factor. It’s important that we all know what would be the result of having OPP in our community instead of our own police services. We need to look to other communities who have done this. Where are the officers dispatched from? There is a new costing formula and that also needs to be considered.

Question 18:  Do you believe the Poison Pill Clause should be eliminated in the Police Contract in order to get an OPP costing to compare the costs of policing of OPP versus Amherstburg Police.

Having a costing for alternative services is not dependent on a clause in a contract. The police services is currently beginning to prepare to negotiate a new contract and as such this is something that should be considered during these negotiations.

Candidates’ Website Accessibility Issues Revisited

Commentary by Linda Saxon

I am not expressing my opinion as Chair of the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee, but rather as an individual with a disability and advocate.

On August 21, I mentioned that Lora Petro’s and Ken Grant’s websites had problems with accessibility issues that may present barriers to persons with disabilities.

Since then, mayoral candidate John Sutton’s site was activated and all three candidates were advised of the barriers.

The results of pointing out the problem?

Lora Petro – Answered, Changes Made
Lora Petro quickly made changes; although a minor issue was found, it was also corrected when pointed out.

Note: thank you!

Ken Grant – Answered, No Changes Made
October 2, response: 
I understand your concerns about my website, I do support residents/persons with accessibility/disability issues.  My website was not created by a professional web builder, I had purchased the site space thru a company (host) where you build the site yourself.  After purchasing my space and building the site with the software they provide I began looking at the “Options Category” before activating the site.  I noticed that there was no “Option” to allow such capabilities.  I contacted the company to see if there was anything that can be done for persons with disabilities who wanted to view the site.  The company had advised me that there was no option available for what I wanted and that I would have to hire a code developer thru a professional business to revamp my site.  Unfortunately the cost was extremely high and out of my price range for the two months that the site would be active.  Again I apologize!
Ken Grant

Note: I expect candidates to be knowledgeable about accessibility because it is a municipal issue and council is the decision making body. However, when a candidate’s platform includes, “Continue to develop and support accessibility issues,” I expect more. is free, domain registration is minimal and so is WordPress for Badeyes: A Beginners Guide at $9.99. The guide provides information about how to secure a domain name, network host, and install and maintain WordPress for both individuals and enterprises. The language is simple, lucid, for those who use a Screen Reader or those who don’t.

Alternatively, a web developer could have been hired for under $500.

John Sutton – No Answer, No Changes Made
Twice I contacted Mr. Sutton. In addition to the site accessibility issues, I asked, “if you’re offering rides to the polls, does that include accessible transportation?” I subsequently remInded Mr. Sutton, “to date you have neither answered my question nor corrected the issues.”

Note: One could conclude that Mr. Sutton is indifferent.

Amherstburg cop resigns, settles case for $110K

Police service board chairman John Sutton said “an offer was made” and the board “debated its merits. “We’re always open to anything.”

Sutton said the offer came from the defence during a meeting two weeks ago between the lawyers where an “overture” was made that was presented to the board.

Sutton said the board’s decision to accept the offer was “a business decision.”

He estimated it would have cost in excess of $240,000 to litigate the case.

A financial settlement of $110,000, which works out to one year’s pay, plus $1,300 owed in stat time that Sutton said the service is legally obligated to pay, was agreed to.

“This allows both parties to move on,” Sutton said.
Read the full story about Colleen Sterling, at the windsor star – Amherstburg cop resigns, settles case for $110K.