Decorum, Please!

The Town of Amherstburg Code of Conduct states, in part:

Every Member shall conduct themselves with decorum and respect at council, committee, local board and other meetings, and in accordance with the provisions of the Procedural By-law, this policy, and other applicable laws.

My personal observations of a meeting of council and the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee follow.

Members:

do not always go through the Chair.

talk over each other.

grandstand.

belabour the point.

go off-topic.

share irrelevant personal anecdotes.

use acronyms.

do not appear prepared.

Staff:

monopolize the discussion.

interject their opinions to lead the discussion.

belabour the point

General:

The committee’s agenda was posted the day before the meeting.

There was no link to the live feed of the committee meeting.

Off camera speakers do not identify themselves for home viewers.

Minutes do not accurately reflect content of meetings. (read the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee post.)

Amherstburg Skateboard Park On Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee Agenda

The town is conducting an online survey regarding the new location for a multi-use skate park although it was on the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee Agenda.

On August 13, 2020, the motion That the discussion of the future location of the Amherstburg Skateboard Park BE DEFERRED to the next meeting of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee was unanimously carried.

The October 20, 2020 minutes, 7.1 unfinished business, discussion of the future location of the Amherstburg skateboard park is blank.

The June 8, 2021 agenda included 6.1.  Amherstburg Skate Park, but with no quorum present, the meeting was adjourned.

September 14, 2021 AGENDA includes 6.3.  Skate Park Location Public Consultation but the minutes are not posted.

Minutes Not Posted

2020 5 agendas posted, only 2 minutes posted

2021 2 agendas posted, only 1 minutes posted

In five different meetings’ minutes and agendas in 2020 the same motion That the minutes of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee meeting of November 28, 2019 BE ADOPTED was listed.

JUNE 8, 2021?
this meeting is listed under 2021, but the minutes state 2020 at the top and 2021 at the bottom.

MORE SENIOR STAFF RESIGNATIONS ANNOUNCED AT THE TOWN OF AMHERSTBURG

iheart radio am800 reports the Town of Amherstburg is losing more staff.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo has confirmed Rob Sassine, the Manager of Bylaw and Licensing along with Interim Treasurer Mark Spizzirri have resigned.

He says both have accepted positions with municipalities in Windsor-Essex.

“We’re all looking for people and it is just a competitive market right so municipalities offering more money and better working conditions are attracting new employees,” says DiCarlo.

What’s Wrong With Rota’s Open Air Weekends 2021 Post Report?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

edited: this was sent to members of council on November 21, prior to the November 22 meeting

Aside from the spelling and grammatical errors, and the ‘boots on the ground’ reference, I have some concerns regarding Anne Rota’s recommendation that council approve the 2022 Open Air weekend in principle.

Will the Town of Amherstburg discriminate against persons with disabilities?

The report notes 50 downtown employee parking permits were not used to full capacity at times, but the same amenity would be offered in 2022.

Yet, administration noted the accessible parking lot at the Kings Navy Yard Park (KNYP) was under-utilized and Administration recommends those spaces be reduced to two.

I fail to see the rationale for the differentiation.

Public Consultation Is Mandatory

Mayor DiCarlo previously advised only 1 person with a disability was consulted.

Pursuant to provincial legislation, the Town of Amherstburg is obliged to consult the public and persons with disabilities, as well as its Accessibility Advisory Committee on the need, location and design of accessible on-street parking spaces.

According to the report, Administration would recommend the addition of 3 accessible parking spaces at the other 3 entrances and mentions future consultation with only the Accessibility Advisory Committee.

The arbitrary placement of accessible parking spaces, especially in a distant perimeter, is unacceptable, as are accessible spaces that cannot be accessed due to road closures.

While the report includes the total number of parking spaces, there are no locations listed, no percentages of accessible spaces stated, and no types of accessible spaces mentioned.

Economic Development was the primary objective of Open Air weekends.

Rota states, “By using the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries; Regional Visitor Profiles figures indicated that; A one day spend of a tourist is $79 p.p. and overnight spend of a tourist (40km+) is $244 p.p. We can then conclude the following of Open Air Weekends 2021:

Total # of visitors 64,310
Day visitors 52,091 (81%) spends $ 79 p.p. per day for a total of $4,115,189

Overnight visitor (19%) 12,219 spends $244 p.p. per day for a total of 2,981,436

Total visitor spending $7,096,625.”

However, the Ministry’s regional figures are based on Region 1: southwestern Ontario, which includes the municipalities in the Windsor, Essex, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex and Haldimand Norfolk areas. (see map here: http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/images/regions_maps/Region01.pdf and below)

Additionally, the statistics are based on pre-COVID 2018 data – prior to restrictions.

Therefore, the conclusion regarding tourist spending for Open Air 2021 is flawed.

map of region 1 southwestern Ontario tourist area

Financial Matters

The proposed budget is generalized with no line-by-line details. As a taxpayer, and in the spirit of accountability and transparency, a detailed request for approval is warranted.

Risk Analysis

In my opinion, Council should not approve this report in principle; it is flawed and contains proposals that are contrary to provincial legislation and fiscal responsibility.

Key Municipal Election Dates 2022

The AMCTO has developed the Municipal Elections Calendar.

Key dates include:

May 2 Nomination and registration periods begin. 

September 24 First possible day to hold an advance vote.

October 23 Last day to make the Accessibility Plan (regarding the identification, removal and prevention of barriers that affect electors and candidates with disabilities) available to the public. 

Note: It is beneficial to post the plan prior to this date, especially ahead of advance voting dates.

October 24 Voting Day

Unblocked Access to Canada Post: Councillor Marc Renaud on Open Air Complaint

All members of council were asked, How necessary is it to block access to the post office during the open air weekends? Isn’t the post office an essential service as opposed to a retail establishment? It’s especially important for use by persons with disabilities; I’m not sure if you considered that, seeing as only one person with a disability was consulted.

Only Councillor Marc Renaud responded: I have been downtown for most open air weekends. There is unblocked access to Canada post parking at Precision Jewellers.

Follow up comments with further questions: You must have not witnessed an enthusiastic crossing guard on Friday afternoon stopping traffic from travelling west of Ramsay Street to park in front of the post office or the jewelry store. You also might not have seen an irate driver squeal his tires as he left the area after she stopped him.

Your personal anecdote offers little to address a very important issue regarding the controversial open air weekends. Given that the mayor confirmed only one person with a disability was consulted, i’m not assured that accessibility is a priority.

Perhaps you could explain why accessibility features, now being considered in this evening’s report, were not included at the time of procurement and renovations for the community hub? Did the AAAC inspect the site plans? With regard to spending taxpayer dollars, the tenants are equally liable for half the accessibility expenditures so why are taxpayers being asked to pay their share?

No one responded to date.

This week’s River Town Times article on a new Open Air survey reports that this year traffic is blocked off on Richmond Street from Ramsay to Dalhousie Street. Therefore, access to Canada Post is blocked.

Amherstburg’s CAO and 2 officials were dismissed, mayor confirms

CBC reports,Three officials from the Town of Amherstburg, including its former chief administrative officer (CAO), were officially dismissed, according to the mayor.

As of Thursday, former CAO John Miceli, director of planning and development service Nicole Rubuli, and director of corporate services Cheryl Horrobin were no longer employed by the southwestern Ontario town, according to Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.

Reporter’s And Individual’s Requests For Information Compared

How does a reporter’s experience compare to the average residential taxpayer where there may not be an incentive to quickly comply with requests for information?

Julie Kotsis, the Windsor Star, reported that Amherstburg CAO John Miceli responded to her email on Day 2.

My experience requesting information from the Town of Amherstburg and Windsor Police differs.

For example, information that should have been readily available required an almost two-year formal appeal process and an Order for the town to search for more records. Windsor Police objected to the disclosure of its Amherstburg policing proposal which resulted in a two-year wait for an Information and Privacy Commission Order to disclose all but two pages of the 131- page document.

Mayor DiCarlo advised the appropriate avenue was through a written inquiry sent to Windsor Police for information pertaining to the utilization of specialty units in the town of Amherstburg since the take-over.

Windsor Police referred me to the company that conducted its telephone survey, which did not respond. Back to Windsor Police who directed me to submit a Freedom of Information request.

Most recently, the town of Amherstburg insists it is fair to impose an $892.50 fee to complete a request for detailed information that the clerk and CAO publicly stated during a council meeting.

Over a year ago, I requested councillors consider creating a protocol to answer taxpayers’ and media inquiries. In response, the CAO advised the town is in the process of creating a Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Policy and, until adopted, requested that all information I seek be made through the formal process.

I repeated my request in April this year for council to adopt the Information and Privacy Commissioner recommended Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Policy, revised in 1998.

The town clerk advised COVID impacted services and only Councillor Prue supported it and reminded members of council that during the last election, they all said we need more openness and citizen involvement.

I wonder which will come first; a policy or more campaign promises to be open, transparent and accountable.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Municipal Candidate And Voter Resources

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Being locally born and raised is not a qualification; it is merely a fact and not necessarily a positive one if it means local interests, traditions, persons, etc. are preferred and objectivity is difficult.

Hopefully, candidates will be knowledgeable if they intend to persuade ratepayers they are worthy and capable of representing the community.

There are free online resources:

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Ministry of Housing site has:

and Election guides for voters, candidates and third party advertisers:

Other free online information regarding the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) is readily available and applicable to everyone in the province; it applies to municipal planning and procurement policies, including the Bellevue House renovations. If council’s practice is to provide funding to not for profits with barriers impeding access, would that contradict the goal of legislation to prevent and remove barriers?

Additionally, the Town of Amherstburg’s Election page lists an online AMO course, So You Want to Run for Council 2018; it cost $66.37.

Town of Amherstburg Joined The ‘Banned’ Wagon

The Town of Amherstburg may have set a precedent in its own community when it banned Graham Hobbs from all municipal facilities, but it isn’t the first municipality to issue a ban that judges have ruled unconstitutional.

June 2006 Russell Township banned a persistent council critic.
Jacques Aube, 75, attended Russell Township municipal meetings about four times a month. He was notified last November he was barred from the municipal offices after he asked the township clerk a number of pointed questions about a Ministry of the Environment report on the township’s master plan during an October council meeting.

March 2009 Windsor Edy Haddad
Three years after being banned from city hall and other municipal offices, political and social activist Edy Haddad is now welcome to return. Windsor activist Edy Haddad allowed back at city hall

February 2010 Petrolia Trespass ban partly lifted

February 2012 Niagara Falls council bans resident from City Hall Fred Bracken
In an unprecedented move, Niagara Falls council has gone behind close doors to ban a former city employee from attending meetings.

July 2012 Windsor A leader of last year’s Occupy Windsor movement and outspoken critic of disgraced Coun. Al Maghnieh is no longer banned from city hall.

May 2013 Critics decry “draconian” measures in proposed Windsor no-trespass policy
Cross said the city has still not explained why her client Robert Mittag was banned from municipal property last summer after being ejected while protesting outside city hall. It was the no-trespass order against Mittag that triggered work on the new policy which council will be asked to adopt next week.

November 2013 Town urged to lift Gammie ban by CCLA

October 2014 now elected to council.

December 2014 Judge finds resolutions “violated” Gammie’s rights.

June 2015 Owen Sound Gammie insists town legal costs aren’t his fault.

August 2015 McNab-Braeside Township resident faces lifetime ban from municipal properties

Oshawa ban – Civil liberties organization upset with City.

November 2015 Niagara Region Fred Bracken A one-year trespass notice that barred a Fort Erie man from attending regional council meetings violated his Charter rights, a judge has ruled.

November 2015 – Graham Hobbs banned from Amherstburg town hall and all municipal facilities for one year.

Resident Is Suing the Town of Amherstburg

CKLW AM 800 News reports today that Graham Hobbs is “suing for $100,000 after the town banned him from all town facilities.” A statement of claim says the actions of the town were “oppressive, arbitrary and unconstitutional.”

Amherstburg CAO, John Miceli, says the town has filed its ‘Statement of Defence’ and is prepared to defend the allegations.

OACP Guidebook for the Review of Policing Options

CAO Miceli references a portion and attaches a page of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police
 A Process Guidebook for the Review of Policing Options in his Report to Council at tonight’s meeting.

The Guidebook dispels some of the myths about hiring of municipal officers, transfers, etc.

Amherstburg To Request An OPP Costing

In anticipation of tonight’s council meeting, the CBC reports on Amherstburg’s request to the Minister of Community Safety for an OPP costing.

Did you notice any posturing?

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said, “For us, OPP has been a tremendous fit.”

Mayor DiCarlo is quoted as saying, “We have talked to other municipalities who have switched and they did also mention there is a disconnection. For example, Amherstburg police are very involved in their community and you do see them in local events,” DiCarlo said. “I understand that when you switch to OPP, that’s something you might not notice. The OPP likely won’t be sending officers to go hang out at your sidewalk sale or Mardi Gras or whatever it is that you’re having, right? It’s just another thing you might notice different.”

In my opinion, Mayor DiCarlo should put his question to the OPP so that he could facilitate factual information to the public through the media, rather than speculation and possible fear-mongering.

In his March 7, 2016 Report To Council, CAO Miceli provides a background of the request, including council’s December 2014 motion, “Administration BE DIRECTED to contact the OPP to obtain police costing for our municipality.” I have been unable to obtain any correspondence from Administration regarding that motion.

Miceli’s Report also contains a recommendation to form a Police Advisory Committee (transition board) to further establish a mutually acceptable framework for review of policing options, consisting of :
The Police Chief
The Chief Administrative Officer
Two Members of Council
Two Members of the Police Services Board
One member of the Police Association.

Miceli’s Report also includes a RISK ANALYSIS that mentions the safe community designation and “There is a very high likelihood that a decision to move toward OPP service delivery will have significant political risk. It is also likely that the morale of police department may be negatively impacted until a decision is finalized.”

Police Costing Facts & Myths

The choice of a police service delivery model in any municipality is contentious.

During the costing phase, posturing takes place and Amherstburg is not unique: ratepayers have a vested interest in the municipality’s highest budget item and politicians may mention loss of control.

However, unlike other municipalities, the Amherstburg Police Association and the Amherstburg Police Services Board agreed to hefty buyouts that inhibited the possibility of costing options.

A new tab is being added to the burg watch called Police Costing Facts & Myths.