No Answers Equals No Transparency Or Accountability

Commentary by Linda Saxon

On February 27, 2018, I requested CAO John Miceli answer three questions for me to post to theburgwatch.

  1. Were any Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Police Service Advisors involved in the police costing process?
  2. Would you provide me with a copy of Berthiaume’s Completed Form as requested by the OPP?
  3. Would you confirm whether or not Council’s two motions to obtain an OPP costing were rescinded?

On March 1, I emailed Miceli, cc council, that if he was unavailable to respond to my media questions, if he would please forward them to someone who can.

Eight minutes later, Miceli responded:

“All of the questions that you are asking are in relation to an OPP costing process. As you may or may not know the Town did not request an OPP costing instead the Town developed an RFP dictating the minimum level of service requested from proponents. Council approved this method of procurement of services and the OPP was invited to participate in the process. The OPP elected not to respond to the Town’s RFP. All of this was disclosed in public reports. With that being the case I do not believe I can offer you any further information.”

Unsure that there had been any investigation into obtaining the requested documentation, I emailed Miceli back:

“If you review my questions, the first involves Ministry Advisors, as mentioned in the OACP Guidebook you relied on and i’m merely asking if any were involved in the police costing process, in other words, the costing process the town undertook.

i conclude from your response that Berthiaume never did complete the form for the OPP; did he complete an equivalent form for Windsor?

The third question, if you refer to it again, relates to council’s two motions to obtain an OPP costing and whether or not they were rescinded; council’s motions are not part of the OPP costing process, as you well know. “

Police Costing Process – Transparent and Accountable?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

I emailed members of council the following:

As happy as I would be to be rid of Berthiaume, the Amherstburg police service and board, I fail to see how a contract with Windsor police will benefit the ratepayers, never mind entrenching a 20 year contract.

I wonder what all of you would say about such a contract if you were campaigning against a current council right now.

In my opinion, this costing process has not been transparent and it lacked accountability and responsibility.

Shortly after being elected, council was committed to obtaining all police costing comparisons.

The media reported that a committee was established to discuss costings. 

The JPAC recommended that administration be directed to hire MPM Consulting and the media reported in January 2017 a consultant was hired to “weigh the benefits of keeping its own police force, amalgamating with another force or hiring the OPP.”

At the same time, the JPAC recommended that administration be directed to, in part, develop an RFP for Windsor and LaSalle to respond to and work with the OPP on the OPP costing.

It appeared the OPP would still be an option and that council was committed to its two motions to obtain an OPP costing despite the committee determining earlier the OPP costing was not feasible.

Council should have held administration and the JPAC accountable for not implementing council’s motions.

The River Town Times reported Town council wants to make the decision once and doesn’t want to accept or reject any proposal without knowing all the details, DiCarlo said. “It was always council’s position to look at all of the options at the same time,” he said. “The goal is to have all of the information in front of us.” (emphasis added).

In the end, taxpayers were denied an opportunity to provide input on a comparison of all policing costs and options and instead were reduced to submitting subjective and emotional responses to a limited choice.

Three Then-Candidates Did Not Answer Questions About OPP Costing

As a result of the burg watch inviting residents to submit questions to council candidates in 2014, three questions were raised about police costings, a hot topic given the amount of debt the municipality burdened its ratepayers with.

Leo Meloche, Joan Courtney, Rick Fryer did not answer any of the three questions:

Question 6. Obtain OPP Costing, Remove Contract Clause

Question 13. Police Contract Buyout Clause

Question 18. Eliminate Police Contract Poison Pill Clause

How Then-Candidate Aldo DiCarlo Answered About OPP Costing

For the first time in an election campaign, the burg watch provided a forum for Amherstburg residents to submit questions to council candidates in 2014.

As a result, questions were raised about police costings, a hot topic given the amount of debt the municipality burdened its ratepayers with.

Of those that were elected, here’s how they answered:

Question 6. Obtain OPP Costing, Remove Contract Clause

Q. 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?

A. With my labour background, and expertise in contract negotiations, this question is not difficult. For the record, I have negotiated 4 major contracts and facilitate workshops, related to bargaining preparation and successfully negotiating contracts. That said, I spoke with the major stakeholders related to this issue. The information I received was both confusing and frustrating. The current board has had 4 years, at least related to this contract, to request and obtain a costing to switch to OPP services. To my knowledge, no such costing has been requested to this date. Further, such costing has been free of charge to the municipality, but may actually require costs in the future. As a tax paying citizen, this particular point downright infuriates me. Why would the board not acquire something free that could help the Town decide what’s in their best interests. They might tell you that doing so could cause morale problems. However, I now know that they never bothered to even ask the Police Association, so this is just a speculative position. Now the final logic. For those who look at the current demographics of our current Police Force, they’ll notice that the average age is on the young side. Since there is a grandfather date in the contract, this clause wouldn’t apply to most of them. If you see where I’m going, now is the time to successfully remove the takeover clause. I’m sure there would be a minimal cost compared to the cost of implementing the clause, but that’s why it’s called negotiations. There has to be give and take. I can’t honestly say which I’d prefer, municipal or provincial policing. What I can say, what I know, is that the current board didn’t do their due diligence in acquiring the information for us to make an educated decision on what would be best for the town…information that would have been ‘free’. I would definitely acquire this information, if given the chance, and then work with the appropriate parties to achieve what’s best for the Town, or more importantly, what the Town feels is best for them.

Question 13. Police Contract Buyout Clause

Q. 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!

A. Here’s what I know: The buyout clause was inserted sometime in the 1990’s during amalgamation of Essex County. At the time, pensions were not transferable from municipal policing to provincial policing plans. The clause was meant to compensate, or rather not penalize, officers who might be forced to switch. Since that time, municipal pension plans can be transferred to provincial for the officers who choose to go to the OPP. There would be a shortfall for the officers, as their current pension plans aren’t quite equal to the provincial plans. This could likely be negotiated at minimal cost compared to the cost of implementing the clause as is. Approximately half of the current officers would be affected by the pre‐hire date of October 2001, that is, the officers hired prior to this date would receive the maximum 3 months’ pay for every year of service. The others would receive 3 weeks’ pay, I believe. I can’t tell you the exact figure for the cost if enforced today, but I’ve been told it is in the millions? Please see my answer to question 6 for more. As a matter of clarification for those that might think the Police Association has some control over the costing from OPP, they do not. The costing for OPP services must be done by the Board. Please look up who is currently on the Board and ask them why they have never bothered to cost out the OPP services or ask the Association for their position?…at least not to my knowledge.

Edited in original document: I have recently been corrected on who is required to request the costing for OPP. I am told that the OPP costing must be requested by Council, not the Police Board. The rest of my position remains the same. There has been numerous years to request OPP costing by Council, of which there was no cost to the Town.

Question 18. Eliminate Police Contract Poison Pill Clause

Q. 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.

A. Please see my answers to questions 6 and 13. No offence to the author of the question, but I would not refer to the clause as the ‘Poison Pill’. It is a clause that had legitimate compensation when it was first introduced. It may not be in the best interests of the Town today, but I believe it can be addressed appropriately.

How Then-Candidate Jason Lavigne Answered About OPP Costing

For the first time in an election campaign, the burg watch provided a forum for Amherstburg residents to submit questions to council candidates in 2014.

As a result, questions were raised about police costings, a hot topic given the amount of debt the municipality burdened its ratepayers with.

Of those that were elected, here’s how they answered:

Question 6. Obtain OPP Costing, Remove Contract Clause

Q. 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?

A. I believe there should be a cost comparison between the opp and our local service done. In order to get a true idea of the possible cost savings the “poison pill” needs to be addressed. Unfortunately this can only be done by the police services board and not council. There are currently 3 members of the police service board running in this election, residents should be questioning these 3 candidates in regards to this issue.

Question 13. Police Contract Buyout Clause

A. No answer.

Question 18. Eliminate Police Contract Poison Pill Clause

A. No answer.

Amherstburg’s Request For Proposal (RFP) Policing Services

Commentary by Linda Saxon

On November 14, 2017, I emailed CAO Miceli for the Request For Proposal.

Since I received no response from Miceli, on November 19 I emailed everyone on council requesting it from them.

Following some misunderstanding about what I was actually requesting, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo advised me that the Request For Proposal was public and would be forthcoming. 

The next day, on November 20, Miceli emailed the RFP AMHERSTBURG POLICE SERVICES.

Council Should Get Police Costings For ALL Options

Commentary by Linda Saxon

I submitted the following to be placed on council’s agenda, cc’d to members of council:

I request that you adhere to your commitment to obtaining an OPP costing and to follow the procedure set out in the OPP Information Manual, which includes community consultation.

This council has sought RFPs for legal services: “I just think it is fiscally responsible,” said Courtney, adding her belief that there are other firms that could give a competitive rate to the town.

Council also sought a Request for Proposals (RFP) to try and get more costings for the mosquito situation. Miceli also stated in his report to council that an RFP would address accountability and transparency issues as sole-sourcing the service could cause a political backlash. An RFP would also see if the town could get more value for their money, he added.

An RFP was issued for the Concession 2 North bridge.

The only way taxpayers will know if they are getting the most effective and efficient policing service is by a full cost comparison, which would include the OPP.

Our community deserves the full benefit of a cost comparison of all policing options as well as public meetings regarding the highest budget item.

Information About OPP Costing Process and Adequate And Effective Policing Readily Available

Commentary by Linda Saxon

The River Town Times article, OPP Does Not Give Costing by Ron Giofu, reports, in part, that DiCarlo didn’t doubt the OPP provides an excellent police service, he said he didn’t understand their costing model. He said while the town understands it would get “adequate and effective” policing from the OPP, “they won’t tell us exactly what that means.”

I would have thought that as an Amherstburg Police Services Board member, Mayor DiCarlo would have access to the Police Services Act, (PSA) that stipulates every municipality shall adequate and effective services in accordance with its needs and sets out, at a minimum what that must include.

Also, the October 20, 2017 Information Manual for the OPP Contract Proposal Process reiterates the same and also includes information about the Police Adequacy and Effectiveness Standards Regulation under the PSA :

“The Police Adequacy and Effectiveness Standards Regulation (Adequacy Standards) helps ensure the effective delivery of policing services. It was filed as O.Reg. 3/99 on January 8, 1999.

The regulation was part of the government’s overall strategy to provide Police Services Boards (PSB) and police services, the structure and tools they needed to ensure adequacy and effectiveness. All police services were to be in compliance by January 1, 2001.

Additionally, the regulation required all PSBs to develop a plan, setting out the steps needed to be taken by the board and the police service in order to meet the requirements of the regulation.

The Adequacy Standards regulation content is high level. It provides flexibility in implementation, including service delivery i.e. contracting with another police service or organization, or providing crime prevention initiatives on a regional or cooperative basis.

The primary focus of the Adequacy Standards regulation is on what police services do, and not how they should do it. Overall, it is designed to ensure that all Ontarians receive core police services.”

The OPP’s Information Manual clearly sets out costing timelines and steps, and oh, look at step 6:

“Municipal Council Consideration/Public Consultation and Decision.”

Have Amherstburg taxpayers been denied an opportunity to compare and provide input on ALL police costing proposals? Since it is only after council’s decision to move forward with the ‘local’ or Windsor Police options, I have to ask, as Mayoral candidate Aldo DiCarlo did during the 2014 campaign: “Did a single one of the current council members do their due diligence in requesting an OPP costing early enough so that we could have reviewed our options now that the contract is being negotiated? I believe the answer is no, and I’d be happy to be wrong.”

In response to the Commentary, “No Commitment To Remove OPP Clause In Police Contract,” then- Mayoral Candidate Aldo DiCarlo’s full comment posted on October 17, 2014 was:

This is an issue that I have spent a considerable amount of time on, specifically because of the large potential savings, $1M or more. At last night’s debate, Deputy Mayor Suttherland stated that an OPP costing takes at least 18 months. As a taxpaying resident, not a just a mayoral candidate, this both angers and frustrates me. If it does indeed take this amount of time, why then did not a single council member make the motion to request the OPP costing. If one of them did, I would like to know who and why it was voted down. ALL contracts have an expiry date. Did a single one of the current council members do their due diligence in requesting an OPP costing early enough so that we could have reviewed our options now that the contract is being negotiated? I believe the answer is no, and I’d be happy to be wrong.