Ken Grant Answers Questions 3, 4, 8

Ken Grant’s answers are:

3.  Support Full Independent Audit
I would fully support a full financial audit. Unfortunately I believe without a full audit we may never know “why or where” the money was spent. For them not to do an audit shows disrespect to the residents. The big question that I keep hearing is “What are they hiding?” We have some insight on what went wrong from the recent financial review but it still doesn’t answer all the questions that residents want and deserve to know. I believe the new council should continue to pursue for those unanswered questions while they continue to implement the 41 recommendations brought forward by the financial review. Financial restraint will be the key to recovery for Amherstburg.

4.  Increase Time To Study Agenda
I agree council has a large amount of information to digest before each meeting.  I would like to see council receive their packages at least 5 days prior to each meeting.  This will allow each member of council to digest the information and do any inquires and/or research on a particular agenda item.  Being fully informed would allow the meetings to be productive, transparent and educated decisions.  To change this process would have to be a collaborative agreement amongst all council members.

8.  Curtail Spending; Pay Debt; Reduce Budget
Getting the debt under control should be on of the most important accomplishments of this town council while to continue to move our town forward.  Council must look at the root causes of debt and high taxes.  Council needs to provide better service and more accountability, that means greater corporate stability.  I would like to see a “pay-as-you go” approach to spending and a zero-based budgeting process.  Applying these principles could make a significant difference in spending while continuing to provide the basic infrastructure and core services.  At this moment I would refrain from answering whether I would eliminate jobs before I do my due diligence.  I will support to re-examine the town’s administration and town services to ensure the effective, efficient and safe delivery of our municipal services.  I would support asking each department to prepare a base budget, every line of their budget will be analyzed and approved separately for its needs and solid cost.  Further cuts may be inevitable if the total department budget is not satisfactory. But keeping in mind that there is a basic core service that resident expect and deserve.

All answers to date are also on the candidate answers page.

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. WordPress.com 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.

Ken Grant Answers Questions 5, 6, 17, 18, 25

For the first time Ken Grant answers questions to the candidates; his answers are:

5.  Bring Heritage District To Amherstburg
Our heritage is something that we all should be proud of.  I would fully support working with Town Administration and the Heritage Committee to create a solid business plan to bring a Heritage District to Amherstburg.  We have many beautiful historic homes/buildings in our town and the owners take great pride in maintaining them to showcase.  I understand that it takes a great deal of money to upkeep these buildings/homes and its unfortunate to see them go into disrepair or torn down.  Any reasonable assistance from the Town and/or Government will benefit everyone in the long run.  My family and I have enjoyed visiting other historic towns to visit their sites and small town stores.

6.  Obtain OPP Costing, Remove Contract Clause
I would support obtaining an OPP costing for discussion/comparison purposes.  By doing so council will be able to obtain all the necessary information to have an informed discussion (comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges).

Currently there are 17 officers who would receive what has been called the “poison pill clause”.  At the time when this clause was negotiated into their contract an OPP officers salary was less than municipal officers, that’s not the case today. Items that are negotiated into a contract can be negotiated out of a contract.  If council contracts the OPP and the officer is hired by the OPP the officer should not be compensated.  If the officer is not hired by the OPP then the officer should be compensated.  I only know of one case where a municipal officer was not hired by the OPP when they switched over (Leamington) – But that was self inflected.    I believe we all know at times going the cheaper route in not always the best route.  We are the safest community and lets keep it that way!

17.  Infrastructure and Services For All of Amherstburg
I believe in equal representation for core and rural residents living within the municipality. whether it be town services, infrastructure improvements or ensuring a friendly, safe and healthy community – we are ONE!

I would like to see council seek input from core and rural residents through workshops and planning sessions.  Each area in Amherstburg is distinct, each have their different needs.  This process will allow residents to tell their councilors about their local priorities.  Your priorities will be reflected through a “Area Action Plan”.  The town budget process will provide the resources needed to bring each “Area Action Plan” to life.           

18.  Eliminate Police Contract Poison Pill Clause
Question #18 and Question #6 are basically the same.

See my answer to #6                                   

25.  Hotel Needed?
Yes, I believe we need a small hotel chain here in Amherstburg.  There are many community, service group and sporting events that would benefit from having the accommodations.  Knowing from experience our sport groups have a hard time securing large sporting events because of the lack of accommodations.  Keeping tourists and their money in Town would benefit everyone.  I don’t believe the town should provide financial support, I believe the towns contribution to the hotel will be the visitors that we draw from our many community, service group and sporting events.  Many multi-day stay visitors would likely book accommodations at the hotel.  I don’t believe in subsidizing private developers with taxpayers money.           

All answers to date are also on the candidate answers page.