I thought this was resolved - GGC meeting location

I received a copy of an email from Mr. Baker.  I am going to paste a paragraph out of order and put it to the top,  I will have my comments and then the rest of his email in full context will be lower down and if you want to read it you are free to do so.  

Mr. Baker’s words:

When I came before council & requested that all GGC meetings be held in chambers so that anyone attending their meetings could see & hear everything going on was told that they (members of council) like meeting in the River Plate Room because it’s more comfortable for them. The message to me was that in spite of the money spent on a sound system & design of chambers that was intended to welcome people to meetings members of council preferred to meet around a closed table in a room that had no sound system so that a person such as I with hearing problems who was known to be a regular attendee at GGC meetings could nether see what was going on or hear what was going on. And we all know how important GGC meetings are in the decision-making political process.

_________________________________________________

I remember speaking to Mr. Baker on this issue before and I thought it was resolved or it just quietly went away and we all went on to other things.

Mr. Baker goes to GGC meetings because he can and basically he is there on behalf of all of us who work during the day and can’t attend the meeting where they do the most work.   The Province expects Councils all over Ontario to do the bulk of their work at the committee level, the council meeting really is a formality to ratify everything that has happened at committee meetings.  Ajax has two committees,  GGC , General Governmental Committee and CAP- Community Affairs and Planning.   All major issues and votes start at GGC on non Planning issues.    So if you are a citizen with a hearing impairment , good luck participating in our local democracy.   Large Municipalities would not have all the councillors on the same committees and the result would be more discussion of the issues at the council meeting.   

Staff looked into this microphone issue if I recall but for some reason a sound system and microphone does not seem to be doable.   The meeting should be in Council chamber just like the CAP meeting.   Do we need to get that guy that lobbied for bus stops to be called out and TTC stops to come to Ajax and give a lesson in addressing disabilities?

Maybe the next council will finally address this inequity.    Maybe a gaggle of people with hearing issues need to show up at a GGC meeting before the election and just keep saying “Eh? What you say? , speak up!”

Below is Mr. Bakers email in it’s entirety,

___________________________

With this nicely packaged booklet [We Did It, Ajax … Together!: Town of Ajax Strategic Plan Success Report 2007-2010] sent to all residents of Ajax using tax payer money less than 2 months before the municipal election (October 25, 2010) all members of Town Council are proclaiming that the successes of Ajax are a result of we (council & voters) doing it together.
 
No way! The record shows that this council does not rely on nor need or want or seek input/feedback from we the voters of Ajax.
 
After the November 15, 2006 election council decided to seek public input for its Vision … its Corporate Strategic Plan. Their Vision Survey produced 152 responses. Their public forums produced participation from 190 residents. But from that point on all members of council failed to promote … to develop … to carry on meaningful two way communication with we the voters of Ajax. Instead the record shows that at no time have members of council produced newsletters, personal websites or held publc open house meetings on topics such as community safety, environmental initiatives, protecting employment land, revitalization of downtown, financial stability & sustainability, economic development & tourism, the Ajax Official Plan, local transportation, communication, public awareness & education and arts & cultural initiatives.
 
The use of silence as the way to build bridges with the voters of Ajax has resulted in this council becoming elitist decision-makers who decide upon all matters coming before council without any assistance from we the people. The record clearly shows that their successful use of silence has resulted in practically nobody attending council meetings, practically nobody asking questions at Question Period at the end of council meetings, practically nobody providing budget input to council in the 5 minutes allowed once a year moments before council passes the budget.
 
Members of council have not had one public open house on any matter before council. Such meetings are given only as the responsibility of staff … who remind the voters that staff do not make the final decisions  …council makes all final decisions that come before Town Council.
 
I witnessed first hand how this council deals with individuals & groups who have come before this council only to be ignored or to be treated with arrogance & silence on matters such as the Lakeside Pavilion, St. Francis de Sales old church, budget & taxes, on the Greenbelt, on proposed development in particular neighbourhoods such as Nottingham or Lakeside or Cadarackque or the new community north of Rossland west of Ravenscroft.
 
Ever since I moved to Ajax I’ve attended the GGC budget meetings. Members of Council have refused to answer my questions or comment on my input at the time of my 5 minute presentation. Instead answers to my questions are referred to staff for answering at a later date or as was the case this past GGC budget meeting the chair interrupted me because she didn’t like what I was saying in the hope that I would end my presentation even though all voters of Ajax had been invited to speak to the proposed budget or I’ve received lots of silence for my input. Not once has council asked for a copy of my presentation so that it could be entered into the official minutes of this important GGC meeting. The record will never show what we the voters said only a short precis done by a member of staff appears in the minutes.
 
One member of council emailed me to say that in future to just send my emails expressing my feedback/input/concerns (which I regularly sent after attending council meetings, reading reports, reading news articles, etc) to my two elected ward representatives. Her email was a result of disagreeing with my thoughts about how council was functioning especially re the outcome of voting on matters before council. The fact is that all 7 members of council vote on all matters before council so I expect all members of council to welcome my questions & concerns & want to engage me in meaningful two-way communication. All members of council are important to me … to all the voters of Ajax because collectively all members decide upon matters before council for all Ajax wards.
 
One member of council told me that because she doesn’t like what I say or how I say it that she just doesn’t listen to what I say. I’m sure the rest of council feels the same way. Mayor Parish as chair speaks for them when I ask questions at Question Period & he can say whatever he wants but the questioner is held to abide by the rules. The voters of Ajax are not allowed to disagree with members of council or to question their decisions or to be angry or frustrated even though that is our role. Rather this council prefers silence and praise and pay increases and to attend conferences without ever explaining why and to never produce a work plan even though they expect all of their advisory committees to do so and for us to trust that they will make the right decisions even though the voters such as in Lakeside disagreed with them that a pavilion should be build on that site in their community. A member of council told the full chambers that even though the will of the people was saying no to a pavilion that council knew best & was going to build a pavilion & years from now the people would thank them for doing so.
 
One member of council … my representative for Ward 2 who won the byelection has never responded to any of my questions & concerns & yet had the audacity to knock on my door recently to give me his flyer & say to me if I have any questions or concerns to call him. When I asked him why would I do that since he’s never once communicated with me before - he quickly turned his back to me & with the wave of his hand walked away. His actions & words represent  the overall approach used by the present members of Town Council when dealing with the voters of Ajax. You get invited to the table but once their are treated as an unwelcome guest.
 
When I came before council & requested that all GGC meetings be held in chambers so that anyone attending their meetings could see & hear everything going on was told that they (members of council) like meeting in the River Plate Room because it’s more comfortable for them. The message to me was that in spite of the money spent on a sound system & design of chambers that was intended to welcome people to meetings members of council preferred to meet around a closed table in a room that had no sound system so that a person such as I with hearing problems who was known to be a regular attendee at GGC meetings could nether see what was going on or hear what was going on. And we all know how important GGC meetings are in the decision-making political process.
 
A close friend of a member of council once phoned me & began to complain about my letters to the editor in The Ajax News Advertiser. Why was I being so hard on council? When I asked to whom I was speaking the person refused to tell me even though their name & telephone number was displayed on my telephone.
 
There are many such stories in the Town of Ajax & these are just a few from one voter who has unsuccessfully tried to work together with Town Council & Town staff.
 
As a result I believe that this council needs a complete makeover. It’s time for change. Ajax needs to elect seven new people to serve on Ajax Town Council. The voters of Ajax want & deserve to be welcomed & treated as equal partners in the political process.
 
The profiling done by members of this council shows them to clearly not understand the real meaning of “We Did It Ajax … Together!”
 
I hope that all the candidates work hard to increase the voter turnout in Ajax to well above the 23% who voted in 2006. If this happens then the composition of the next council will at least be more reflective of a greater portion of the voters of Ajax.
 
 
Michael Baker

 

3 Responses to “I thought this was resolved - GGC meeting location”

  1. Rob MacArthur Says:

    Being the person that installed the first sound system in the old council chambers, I do not understand councils denial of a sound system. Very portable systems now exist and very require very little time to setup and tear down. Cost can not be an issue or factor as it just is not that expensive anymore.

    The sound system would certainly make things easier for those in attendance and there is no reason why it should not be done.

    As a councillor I would definitely push to get this to happen.

    Ofcourse maybe we should all chip in and put it for them.. I volunteer to install and tear it down!

    Rob

    admin: Chip in ? I already chip in by paying taxes!

  2. Rob MacArthur Says:

    Well that’s true - you think what residents want would make it higher on the budget list…

    Rob

  3. Elect Marsha Dooley Councillor Says:

    …… doing the same things over and over again - you’ll only succeed in getting the same results. …

    Hopefully the people of Ajax will incite Change!
    That is what I’m hearing at the doors.

    Marsha

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