Local Authority Service- Whitby- Ajax - Staff report- News article

The following is a copy of an email I sent 24 hours ago to my Town of Ajax CAO and Clerk and for good measure all the councillors , 2 MPP,s , the Mayor of Sarnia plus 3 media contacts. Trust me, I never write a boring email.

At the bottom of the post you will see the single response I have had from “a” Mayor.

Mr. Martin deRond and Mr. Brian Skinner,

In this report for a November 22nd General Governmental Committee meeting it is stated that Whitby “has or is in the process of recommending a contract with LAS” for the closed meeting investigator along with other municipalities in Durham and area with Sarnia included.
The Town of Ajax had their final vote on November 26th- in the evening, Scott Crawford and Shaun Collier voted No to LAS and remaining majority was supportive of LAS.

How long in advance do Municipal Staff discuss or make public their preferences regarding an issue coming before the public council or a public committee?

May I ask who in the Clerks office of Whitby gave you your information when the Town of Ajax Staff Report was being written? The website for the Ombudsman did show Whitby as going with LAS but that was an error and has within the last 7 days been removed after myself and Mr. Scott Templeton spoke directly with Linda Williamson in the communication office, she has the authority to speak on behalf of the office.

I would hope the Town of Ajax does not use the Internet for their sole source of information , I did that on another issue and was publically told via a letter to the editor written by the Mayor of Ajax that I did not thoroughly research because obviously the feeling by the Mayor must have been that even though things appear one way via publically available information there could be something that is unknown and it needs to be clarified directly, I have taken that to heart I can assure you.

It is now March 2008 and the Town of Whitby only recently passed in their Operations Committee a recommendation to go with LAS after a few months of the Office of the Ombudsman by default and March 17th it comes before their council, Scott Templeton will be making a delegation and I plan to attend.

Issues and work on them takes months and I can understand that, however until a Council makes the final decision , it is not the position of the Town to make
assumptions and it certainly should not be included in another Town’s report(Ajax) a conclusion about the direction another municipality is going to go , on any issue in fact. Did Ajax only go on media reports? It was clear that the Mayor of Sarnia was not going with LAS as his choice based on the media reports I have seen.

The City of Sarnia had their council meeting the same day but at 3pm in the afternoon, did the Town of Ajax before our final council meeting confirm with Sarnia their final decision so our Council had all the proper information ? If I was a councillor making a vote based on the report in its current form I would have been thinking Sarnia was going to go with LAS.

Yet again this shows citizens that no matter what they do or even when they do it, minds are made up?
Did phone calls take place between Whitby Staff and Ajax Staff disregarding what the public, if only a few had to say?
Did staff call the City of Sarnia before our final council meeting to find out the outcome ?

Somehow the office of the Ontario Ombudsmen was under the impression that Whitby had chosen LAS , they only include Municipalities on that list when they receive a notice, Sarnia also included in the Ajax report as “has or in the process of” recommending a contract with LAS is using the Ombudsman, council went another route other then what Staff was recommending.

The public’s interest is nowhere on the radar in these recommendations. Councils ARE the people and on this LAS issue they are more and more looking like they are not being given proper information to make their decision to vote one way or another and the councillor’s are the ones taking heat from their residents when they vote a certain way on any issue. AMO is a lobby group on behalf of Towns, they can lobby in the open.

I will submit a freedom of information request if I need to but the Town of Whitby has more to be concerned about because someone there spoke on behalf of the town when they clearly did not have a ratified action by council to do so. The Town of Ajax however did not thoroughly research on the issue of LAS, but something tells me the Mayor won’t write a letter to the editor about it. Does the Town of Ajax Council make binding decisions based on what other municipalities may or may not do?

I have trust in my council that they want to make decisions based on all the facts given although I may not necessarily like the choice(s) they make I can respect it when I know they had all the information at their disposal to make that decision.

The contract with LAS can be terminated with 90 days notice, we had a vacancy on council when Ajax made it’s decision and now it looks like they were not given proper information to begin with, is their choice still valid? Maybe we need a new vote on it and perhaps the new councillor has something to say about the issue.

Mr. Templeton please forward this information to your council in Whitby. Thank you.

To the Mayor of Sarnia, Mr Bradley, someone in your office also gave the impression that the City of Sarnia was going to utilize LAS but clearly the voice of the council was the office of the Ombudsman, Did the Town of Ajax confirm with your City the decision to not use LAS ? Your council voted before ours and the result I don’t think was passed on.
From what I gather on the Ombudsman website and articles in the paper it was quite obvious that LAS was not the direction you were looking at.

Municipal Staff are paid to do their jobs and I don’t think lobbying is supposed to be part of it. I have too many opinions, many not popular so that is why I would never apply to work in Government.

Only Politicians can be political on the job and are free to proclaim their position because that is what we expect them to do.

I would like this entered into the correspondence for council for the next official Council meeting. I would like the issue of the contract to LAS reopened by a councillor and the Town of Ajax councillors have all the current and correct information to again , make an informed decision on this Issue.

I will applaud again the Town of Ajax councillors that took a stand on this issue and voted no to LAS, Councillor Shaun Collier and Councillor Scott Crawford.

Please see attachments– Town of Ajax Staff Report to GGC and Council
Sarnia Minutes November 26th(07) -
Listing from Ombudsmen — updated March 3rd(08).

Karem Allen
Citizen of Ward 2

cc: Scott Templeton - Whitby Citizen
cc: Joe Dickson M.P.P. Ajax- Pickering
cc: Christine Elliot M.P.P. Whitby-Oshawa
cc: Mr. Jim Watson M.P.P. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
cc: Mayor of Sarnia , Mr. Bradley
cc: Media Contacts at Metroland and Toronto Star — please decide if it’s important enough, it’s only local level.
—————————————————————-

The only changes I made were the misspelled ombudsman all the way through- :) again I spelt it with an “e” and some minor editing changes, nothing removed or added in terms of main information.

Here is the single response I have had on the issue from the Mayor of Sarnia.

Dear Karem: My office consists of myself and an assistant and neither of us have had any contact with the Town of Ajax on this issue. I have been a strong proponent of open meetings and full disclosure for the past twenty years and believe that the Ombudsman is independent and strong enough to deal with investigations in to local Councils instead of people who were part of the very system being investigated. Both the staff recommendations at Sarnia Council and Lambton County Council were
in favour of LAS or a third party but not the Ombudsman. City and County Council accepted my recommendation for the Ombudsman. I have copied the Clerk of the City of Sarnia Brian Knott on your email as he would have been the likely contact person. If he has anything to add, he will contact you directly.
Mike Bradley
Sarnia

Now I would be accused of not researching if I did not point out that one of the listed investigators for Amberley Gavel is a retired employee from the City of Sarnia as of January 1st 2008, but according to LAS and Amberley Gavel FAQ’s , another would be delegated, if Amberley is unaware of a conflict it is up to the investigator and the Municipality to alert. To me this is still not arms length enough. In the GTA we have staff that live and work in different municipalities , many of the investigators are also active in the consulting end of things, once a municipal consultant gets work in one town they are soon to get contracts from other municipalities, Fred Dean is still listed as City Solicitor here. The Municipal world is really a “small world” or “small town”.

Here is a link to the previous news article after I spoke to Ajax Council. Again Whitby in November is referenced as going to go with LAS as closed meeting investigator. This news article is why we were confused when we learned that Whitby was just getting to this decision now. Who in Whitby was contacted by the Town of Ajax ? Who in Whitby confirmed this declaration of going with LAS ?

My questions/comments are the following:

1) Staff reports are written in part for Councillors to read and make informed decisions from the provided information from work that is constantly referred to in the press as “Due Diligence” the feds throw that term around all the time, it is also up to Councillors to ask questions but they do put a lot of stake into the information they are given. If a councillor at the November 26th Council meeting had asked the direct question of
“Is this a complete and up to date report- all the “t’s” crossed and “i’s” dotted?” what would the answer have been? would it have made a difference in the outcome of the vote?

2) How long does a Municipality have a “Staff Preferred” direction before it comes to council and is it proper to be supplying this information to other municipalities that contact them for background information if an issue is also coming to their jurisdiction?

3) Should Ajax have included Whitby and other locals that had not made final decisions as far as they knew it at the time? Oshawa and Pickering already had made decisions and it was public knowledge, Ajax mayor dismissed it as something of a joke and mentioned red flags.

4) If a vote was based on incomplete and inaccurate information, is that vote binding?

March 17th if the Whitby Council has a question period at the end of it’s meeting like we do from members of the public I will ask the question also of who gave the information to the Town of Ajax in regards to this recommendation.

Scott Templeton will be the delegation speaking however as he is a citizen of Whitby.

If you believe in true transparency in government, all levels, please come to this meeting to show that you do have an opinion and care.

One Response to “Local Authority Service- Whitby- Ajax - Staff report- News article”

  1. admin Says:

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/OverTurnLASinAjaxOntario/index.html

    Go to this petition and sign it.

    I want the vote in Ajax overturned and the report re-visited!

    I went with what is seems to be working for someone else in terms of online petitions.

    What the Hell! Tell all your friends.

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