Lora Petro Answers Question 40

Question 40:
No I have never declared bankruptsy or applied for a consumer proposal. I have also never been associated with any business that has declared bankruptsy.
I do not believe it should preclude an individual from running however, should be disclosed if applicable to their platform.

All answers to date are on the candidate answers page.

Lora Petro Answers Question 39 Straightforward Answer Sought Re CAO

Question 39:
Yes, Mr. Phipps should stay on until his contract expires. This is not necessarily to teach Mr. Miceli, but to familiarize him with our Town. This should be able to be completed within the 30 day period. With all of the turnover our Town has seen, is it not fair to allow Mr. Miceli a chance to acclimate to our Town, how we are in fact implementing the 41 recommendations? Although these 41 recommendations were found under our current CAO, I do not believe the blame rests solely on his shoulders. It has taken us years to get this far, and will take a solid foundation to move us forward.

So my answer is this…

YES to stay on until contract expires

NO to a stay after

All answers to date are on the candidate answers page.

Lora Petro Answers Questions 34 To 38

Lora Petro’s answers are:

Question 34:  Two CAOs Pay?
I believe, as in any new job, there has to be time for training and guidance from the outgoing person. Council must be mindful of our financial resources at this time, and we also must ensure we are setting up for success with Mr. Miceli by allowing him some time to learn and understand what Mr. Phipps has done thus far. This timeline must be mindful of financial resources, as well as the level of understanding that Mr. Miceli is bringing to the table already, which I am hopeful that our current Council has already researched. It must be a tangible date of complete turnover based on incoming experience and needs identified by Mr. Miceli, in regard to specific areas to be reviewed between Mr. Phipps and himself.

That being said, I am unaware of Mr. Phipps staying on Administration under another title in the future but it would be something I would investigate further.

Question 35:  Development Fees Collected?
This is a fairly complex question, difficult to answer in a small area. Unfortunately, in the best utopia, one cannot assure that any other person will always pay what is required, nor fulfill their obligations until the project is completed. We just need to remember what happened with the Grace Site in Windsor to see that in full effect.

There are 2 services (police and fire) specifically stated, that should be shared between Boblo and the mainland in regards to financial obligations. The reason I propose this, is if additional resources were required we would be able to tier our own staff. (eg. For large police presence or fire significance). Therefore, benefit may be seen by the entire municipality.

However, sewage lines, ferries etc should, unfortunately, be passed on to developers/projected buyers unless the municipality as a whole benefits from such service.

Question 36:  Special Development Deals?
The new Council must investigate these areas in regards to the specifics asked. This is required to increase our transparency as a government. I truely wish I had the answers to the questions asked, but if elected it is something I would be willing to investigate further. I agree that our taxpayers have been burdened for far too long and it is time to create a solid long term financial plan to move Amherstburg forward without simply increasing taxes for our residents.

Question 37:  Where Are Our Voter Notifications?
A few constituents I have met with have received their voter cards., and I am aware that others have not received their voter cards. As I have stated before, under job performance audits, I would advocate for set time lines and performance evaluations of employees to ensure that their roles are being carried out both effectively and efficiently.

Question 38:  Preferential Treatment?
My goal is not to favour anyone in particular, but to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. That is Amherstburg as a whole, not as a singular person.

All answers to date from those who have answered are 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.

Lora Petro Answers Question 30

Lora Petro’s answer is:

30.  Support Electronic Polling
Yes I would support electronic polling for issues. Results should be made available as quickly as possible once confirmed, as we are aware of the issue in Eastern Canada, to the public.

All answers to date from those who have answered are on the candidate answers page.

Lora Petro Answers Questions 26 To 29

Lora Petro’s answer’s are:

Question 26:  In regards to the Mosquito issue; it has been verified by the Company doing the current Larvaciding in town that the Frasierville neighbourhood indeed has an abundance/infestation of Mosquitoes.  The breed is known as a Salt Water Mosquito and is considered the one of the most aggressive of all breeds as well as resilient to Winter conditions(they basically hibernate).  If elected, it’s most likely this issue will come to Council during your term.  This issue affects the quality of life in several ways to these residents as well as a school and its students.  Will you support a Nuisance Program for this neighbourhood?

As stated in a previous question, yes I will support a Nuisance Program for the Fraserville neighbourhood for the concern regarding the mosquito population.

Question 27:  Some elected officials have heavily relied on staff to resolve ratepayers’ complaints; once an issue has been passed off to staff, there has been no follow up and no accountability. If elected, how will you handle concerns from your fellow citizens?

Implementing a plan to follow up on concerns/complaints is something I am readily familiar with. When a concern is forwarded to a Councillor or other elected official there should be an internal document that states how the concern/complaint was rectified. If the issue was sent to a third party for complete information, there must be a time limit on obtaining that information. The original person must continue contact between the original party concerned. After final resolution of the issue, this should be documented (on a document accessible to the public) regarding how the issue was resolved and if the person concerned was satisfied with the outcome. There must be follow up and accountability by the person who first heard the concern.

If I am elected into Council, my role is to listen to and be the voice of our community. Concerns heard/voiced would be documented with a time line for follow up and continued communication with those involved to ensure answers are obtained in a timely fashion.

Question 28:  Amherstburg seems to have an unusually high amount of staff for its size and population; do you think the town has grown to the point that a ward system would better serve the residents?

At this current time in Amherstburg, I do not believe that the segregation into ward systems would be a benefit to the community at large. Although I understand a need for wards, to ensure that all areas of Amherstburg a) have increased accessibility to their Councillor and b) have specific community concerns voiced at the council table; during these next few critical years Council should remain as a single entity. The development of ward systems can create an environment of “infighting”, where each community’s concerns override the next. Moving forward collaboratively, to determine a long term financial plan and continue to revive Amherstburg is of utmost importance. Then, once stability has been obtained, a ward system may be entertained to ensure that all members of the community feel their individual areas have a voice at the table. Currently, I believe, a collective Council is needed to resolve the issues at hand.

Question 29:  Will you commit to a municipal policy that no public funds will ever be used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities? Will you commit to specific plans to ensure fully accessible public transit and taxi services in your community? How, specifically, will you make Amherstburg more inclusive?

As a Councillor, I believe that frequent consultation with the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee is needed to ensure that all projects have taken into consideration any type of actual or perceived barrier for those with disabilities. It is with these recommendations of the committee that Amherstburg can become more inclusive. I believe in improving the accessibility of the town as budget permits and, that a fully accessible public transit and taxi services should be available within the Town.

All answers to date from those who have answered are on the candidate answers page.

Lora Petro Answers Questions 15 To 20 And 22 To 25

Lora Petro’s answer’s are:

15: In your opinion why are we 67 million in debt? How do you think it got to this? What will you do to stop this from happening again?

I believe the main point here, is that the community at large still has yet to have been told in concrete terms how we got this far. I do not believe in making assumptions as to what happened, but I do believe in finding out how it happened. I have supported a detailed audit so as to determine the history of events leading us up to this situation. From those events, as well as with the recommendations provided by Deloitte, the new Council should have no difficulty in not travelling down the same road again. I am a fiscally responsible person, and have always needed concrete facts before determining an outcome. As your Councillor I would ask for those facts, the cost of a project now, its long term expenditure etc before making the decision to ensure that the Municipality could indeed, afford it.

16: What is better for Amherstburg:  500 tourists or one newly-created full-time industrial job?

As stated by previous respondents, 500 tourists may be seen during one festival (eg. SOE Wine Festival), while one newly-created full-time industrial job requires a pre-existing company. What I believe in is the promotion of the town to engage tourists to the area for multiple festivals that are family friendly, while actively seeking new commercial and/or industrial facilities to our area for our residents for employment.

17: What will you do to ensure that citizens living outside of the historical core of Amherstburg receive the same quality municipal infrastructure and services? This means sidewalks, parks, multi-use trails, neighbourhood commercial and institutional uses.

Current and past Councils have done a tremendous job in the development of infrastructure and available services within the historical core of Amherstburg. However, with the focus on the historical core, those residents living outside have gone unnoticed. I believe by engaging the public stakeholders in their neighbourhoods, to develop a plan moving forward would allow for those residents to see changes to their neighbourhood (ie. Sidewalks, parks, etc.) that they so desire. This requires stakeholder engagement and buy in, as well as Council and Administration engagement. This may be completed by Community Committees to determine the wants of the community at large, and Council creating a plan to move forward on certain items. However, costing of each must be factored in. I believe it is time to start the process of improving infrastructure and accessibility of services to those outside of the historical district while being conscientious in spending habits.

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

As I have mentioned in previous questions, I believe that the “Poison Pill Clause” should be fairly negotiated out if an OPP takeover was to occur to secure the futures of our current civil servants. With that said, yes it would be a variable in the cost comparison of the two forces, however I believe with strong negotiations it will be eliminated and would not financially factor into the comparison.

19: How would you prioritize infrastructure projects in Amherstburg?  How would you fund them? Do you agree or disagree with the decision to not sell the towns share in Essex Power Corp?  Do you feel that by not selling we can avoid insolvency or bankruptcy by using share dividend payments to off set accumulated/future debt? If the town becomes insolvent or bankrupt, what would happen to this share?

The prioritization of infrastructure projects in Amherstburg needs to be done carefully to allow for continued progress in improvements. One improvement can either delay or fast track another. We must first complete the water/sewer projects to alleviate issues with current flooding issues that have become more prevalent in the past years. Road repairs to improve traffic flow would also be near the top of priorities. These projects would need funding through government grants, however with grants do come expenses for the town. A cost:benefit ratio would be required to ensure that the improvement may initially increase the financial burden on the town, however would lessen the overall negative impact to residents. We must proceed cautiously with improvements to ensure they do not overwhelm our municipality financially.

I do not believe it is a wise choice, at this time, to begin selling off assets (such as Essex Power Corp Shares), this thought I believe is echo’d throughout our residents, and that the dividend payments may be used to off set accumulated debt. The future council should work to ensure that the elimination of the accumulated debt is indeed a priority in their long term financial plan.

20:  What measures would you take to ensure that the Town’s employees do their proper jobs and are accountable for their performance?

Job performance indicators first begin in job descriptions. As stated within the Deloitte report, that firm job description be placed in certain financial positions to increase accountability within the department. By reviewing and formalizing all job descriptions, along with concrete duties and requirements to hold such a position, a formal job evaluation can occur. When performance indicators are not being met consistently, there is an opportunity for review and assistance to increase performance. Job performance reviews should occur annually at minimum. Recurrent training to keep staff abreast of technology utilized within the town and new policies and procedures will allow for all staff to remain current. Finally, providing opportunities for further training and specialization within a department will help this town continue to move forward.

22:  As a candidate running in this Municipal election are you aware of the Fraserville mosquito issue and are you aware of the time sensitive mosquito nuisance program proposal and it’s immediate approval to ensure GDG Environmental to acquire MNR permits to commence as early in Spring as possible?  Will you be supportive and receptive to this program being implemented?

I am very aware of the Fraserville mosquite issue, as I have spent many hours within the neighbourhood itself over my years as a resident of Amherstburg. Yes, I completely support this program and its implementation with hopes in alleviating this issue for those residents most severely affected in Fraserville.

23:  What accreditations do you possess to attest to you being elected to council?

– Baccalaureate and Master’s degree from the University of Windsor

– Post graduate studies at the University of Windsor as a Nurse Practitioner

– Post graduate studies through the University of Toronto

– Crisis Intervention Training Leader

– Past member of the Emergency Response and Planning Committee of Leamington Hospital

– Past training director of AAM Volunteer Ambulance Service

– Past social director of the AAM Volunteer Ambulance Service

24: I was wondering what specifically made you run to represent Amherstburg?

I believe everyone initially runs for council out of shear dedication and commitment to their community. This was my initial reason and still continues to be my main motive in the hopes to represent the residents of Amherstburg. Although I am not a life long resident of this community, it is one I have come to call home and love the life I have here. I began giving back to my community with the AAM Volunteer Ambulance Service in 2001, and like all other members was sad to see its time in the community end. I believe I can continue to help our community move forward and be a gem within the County again. Above everything, I want to be a representative for a vibrant town, with many attractions and continue to see that town grow and flourish.

25: Do you believe that the Town of Amherstburg needs a hotel?  If so, do you feel the town should provide financial support to help make that happen?

Yes, I believe that the creation of overnight accommodations in the means of a hotel would be beneficial to Amherstburg. This would not only provide benefit currently with our festivals, but also in future roles as the DRIC comes to completion with a short transit time to the US. I believe the town should provide some incentive for any type of development in the area in an attempt to draw business and increase its tax base.

All answers to date from those who have answered are on the candidate answers page.

Lora Petro Answers Question 21 Re Political Party Affiliation

Lora Petro’s answer is:

No, I am not,  nor have not been officially affiliated with,  employed by, fundraised for, or held a position with a political party in the past 10 years. There is no one in my campaign staff from, or affiliated with, a political party.

All answers to date from those who have answered are on the candidate answers page.

Lora Petro Answers Question 12

Lora Petro’s answer to Question 12 about the hiring of the new CAO is: I believe it is in the best interest in the development of a new Council to allow the new parties to choose their CAO. This allows for increased collaboration from the initial phase, with all parties working towards a common goal. If chosen by the current Council there would be a disconnect in continuity. Let the new Council choose the CAO, with public backing, to move this municipality forward.

All of the candidates’ answers, if they answered, can be read on the candidate answers page and in this document. 

Lora Petro Answers Questions 6 through 11

Lora Petro’s answers to 6 through 11, posted on the Questions page, are below. All of the candidates’ answers, if they answered, can be read on the candidate answers page.

6.  I will absolutely commit to obtaining cost comparison policing for the municipality. It would only be prudent to ensure the policing is both cost effective and maintains the level of service we have come to demand and expect. Although the OPP has been discussed before, the Town would benefit to ensure that cost comparison of a regional policing strategy option, or RCMP policing be discussed and entertained. The decision of a change, or to maintain the current service of policing must be done in the best interest of the community that provides the best service and cost for residents.

The clause in the contract would require negotiations to eliminate thereby ensuring the security of our civil servants. If OPP takeover were to occur, pensions and seniority of service would need to be factored into negate the clause in fairness. If and when members of the service and Union felt a fair offer was made would the clause thus be eliminated.

I would only commit to the removal of the clause if a fair trade was negotiated for our police officers that have worked hard for us in any change of service.

7.  I believe the budget expanded to allow for the promotion of the anniversary of the War of 1812. Tourism may not directly impact everyone, however it does account for an impact to the community at large. By promoting the town, while attracting new developers, new residents, and increasing tourism allows a positive cash flow into the town itself thereby reducing debt ratios, increasing money spent at our destinations, and potentially courting new residents to our Town. A base salary should be determined for the department (eg. $100,000/yr) and would not represent any one time funding for events deemed major. Furthermore, new business is attracted through community promotion, marketing, networking and contact development and is retained through fostering sustainability and growth. All of those are, and should be, the focus of tourism and economic development.

8.  An audit of all departments should occur to identify any unnecessary or duplicate programs or services as a way to buffer cuts to core services that may not be able to reduce their budget. Although restructuring of Town Hall may be necessary to shift responsibilities, and may lead to position elimination this may be lessened if individual departments find the means to ‘cut’ their budgets. These monies should be set towards to debt and reserves funds.

Spending must be reduced by all parties (including Council expenses). This should be looked at closely with budget cuts made as necessary. As part of my campaign platform I have mentioned that cutting of the budget and cost savings need to be maximized before any of the burden is placed on the residents of Amherstburg.

9:  Creating a ‘walkable neighbourhood’ within our municipality will allow for the creation of safe, sustainable and independent mobility. This task not only encompasses the communities above, but the entire municipality. Serving such a large catchment area, focus should be initially on those of highest population density with the most in need (ie. seniors, those with disabilities etc.). With such a task, in a grand scheme, partnerships should be developed to ensure we as a Municipality are following guidelines that have been established and found to be effective and beneficial in other communities. These agencies include: Walk Friendly Ontario, Pathway to Potential,  and the Transportation Association of Ontario, just to name a few. Collaboration between municipal departments, other agencies, the private sector, non-profit organizations and community groups will allow the creation of a powerful relationship to aide in this process of creating a walkable neighbourhood.

10:  The establishment of regional transit has been discussed many times among the current and past county Councils. Official Plan policies of both the County of Essex and the City of Windsor acknowledge that comprehensive regional transportation policies and implementation strategies are needed to effectively address regional transportation needs now through to 2021. (Essex-Windosr Regional Transportation Master Plan, 2005). With a secondary initiative planned to connect smaller areas with low ridership potential, Alternative Service Delivery methods such as TransCab service (contracted cabservice) could be extended from the end of a fixed bus route. (EWRT – Master Plan 2005). This must continue into a long term model to include our Municipality for bus service to our residents. I would continue to work with these organizations and advocate for our residents for the establishment of regional transit or alternate service delivery method with community agencies to allow for increased mobility for our residents, alongside a decreased carbon footprint for our area.

With discussion ongoing regarding the realignment of hospital health care, and The Mega Hospital, the municipality needs a voice at the healthcare realignment table to ensure our Town continues to receive the care and services needed for the health of our residents. Advocation of outpatient clinics would also allow for increased accessibility to services. As a Nurse Practitioner, and previous Volunteer Paramedic I have seen what detriments occur when people cannot see their providers, specialists etc. due to transit issues. I advocate for my patients on a daily basis, and would advocate for our Town to ensure these needs are emphatically voiced.

11:  Financial and economic issues that the current Municipality of Amherstburg is facing are sadly not unique. With the downturn of the economy and loss of jobs in surrounding communities (eg. Heinz, Honeywell, General Chemical etc) our residents as well as others in neighbouring municipalites are suffering. Financial and economic issues affect Amherstburg, Essex County, Ontario and Canada. Without the remediation and risk reduction multiple issues can and may arise.

Societal Issues  – Societal issues facing the Municipality of Amherstburg include social disorganization, with a risk for a negative impact on infrastructure and the importation of new developments and business opportunity. Our financial issues also impact stakeholder trust and relationships negatively. We must maintain these relationships in a positive light to continue for long term success, competitive advantages and resilience. The need to build and maintain appropriate working relationships with all relevant levels of government to promote a healthy business environment, advance business interests, achieve timely approvals and maintain their social ability to operate is of significant importance.

Environmental Issues – Currently in our news is the blue-green algae bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie that has the potential to choke the mouth of the Detroit River and impact our water quality. Our Town also faces several unique to the area issues, such as its proximity to Fermi 2, Regional Land Fill, Air and Water quality in proximity to Detroit and surface water contamination from agricultural practices. We also face environmental impacts from the construction of the Rt. Honourable Herb Gray Parkway and the New International Trade Crossing encompassing the above as well as impacts on wildlife. As a Councillor, I would advocate for a stronger Federal pressure at the international level to mitigate these risks and development of best practice policies and procedures. Ongoing vigilance is required to keeping on top of the fast-evolving business impacts of key environmental and social issues. Informed council asking the right questions will make all the difference.

Lora Petro Answers Questions 2 through 5

In response to questions 2 through 5, posted on the Questions page, Lora Petro’s answers to 2 through five are below, while her answer to question 1 is in this post.

2.  I believe that there is a culture of non-communication among Town Hall. There were either questions that were never asked, information that was never received (or not complete information or disclosure), and a split among Council that led those who may have been asking what may have been the right questions to be silenced.

Changing a work culture is a monumentous task, and change is not normally readily received. Those in Administration may already be hesitant in hopes that a new Council “has a different way of thinking”. We must first model behavior that is acceptable. There may be a few individuals who continue to “carry a toxic culture” with them, however Administration and Council must work together to eradicate the majority of a toxic environment. This task can be outlined utilizing the response from Question 1.

3.  Yes, I support a full independent audit of the town’s finances over the past 5 years. Those who do not understand their past are doomed to repeat it in the future. This audit allows for full disclosure to ensure a “starting point” is known in concrete. This also allows for increased understanding of where monies were spent and allows for greater transparency since our Review showed multiple deficiencies. This would allow the Town to move forward towards a goal, understand past mistakes and rectify these in future decision making process.

4.  As a new prospective candidate, I would ask to be briefed on multiple items to ensure I understood them. I don’t necessarily agree that we need to ‘align’ ourselves with other municipalities in the way they conduct their business however, there should be adequate time for all councillors to be well versed in the information presented, allow for reflection and development of any further questions on the material and for those questions to be answered to the best of the ability. The Town should take some of the strategies of alternate municipalities and incorporate them into their own workings. We are in a unique situation, and each councillor is responsible to seek further information if they do not understand the presented material. Moving forward, information should be made available as soon as possible. I would like to see at least 3 business days to allow Town Council the ability to question material to those individuals to which it pertains and, to create working notes related to the subject in order for complete preparation for the discussion.

5.  I would work with the Town Administration and Heritage Committee to bring a much needed Heritage District to Amherstburg. Our town lives and breathes history, we have so many amazing sites that most can only read in textbooks and online. We can live them. It is our job, as residents and as a Municipality, to ensure that these sites remain protected and as untouched as possible to ensure their enjoyment for years to come.

All of the candidates’ answers to date can be read on the candidate answers page.