Accountability Starts at the Top– Owner of Website

The following is a copy of an Email I sent — I don’t expect a reply but it really bothers me.  This does not mean I don’t support Direct Election of the Regional Chair ,  it means I am pro transparency and proper use of the Town of Ajax resources.

_______

Mr. Parish, Mr. Skinner

Who requested that the Town’s resources- Mr. Kevin xxxx(edit) , our Social Media Communications Director be used to create a website and register a domain that is clearly for political lobbying and to incite Citizen
action?

I honestly don’t think this is right and it misleads the public.

There is no indication on the website of accountabilitystartsatthetop.com as of 10:39am that the site is connected to the Town of Ajax.

I really don’t know what else to say except that this blatant misuse of power dissappoints me.

This is a legitimate cause that the Town(edit:Council I meant) has been promoting , no citizens interested in taking up the cause?

The site gives the impression it is stand alone- maybe a citizen group like anti incineration. A call to action.

I wanted a few years ago to post something at the Mclean Centre and was told I could not because it was political in nature and they could not do it.  They used the term a Call to action at that time as well.

This is a pet project of the Mayor and if you plan to run for the TOP job how much money was spent on this as it is election spending as far as I am concerned. Who is paying for it? Do I need to do a FOI?

If Mr. Gaynor has said No to doing this covert work would he be fired like TTC Chair Gary Webster?

This spending on the domain and website design work takes time and it was done by the resources of the Town. It is a very elaborate site, or did the same company that created the new website do it? How much did they charge?

Council did not approve this, did they even know about it? Councillor Crawford nor Collier knew of it as of this  morning except for getting form emails-from the site.  (Small edit for clarity)

The website registration is public and a simple Who Is on the domain shows me the Town of Ajax - Kevin G. registered the domain.  - I have the copy of it at home if you need to see it.

Was this plan hatched out at the bar after a meeting one night?  I would not be surprised!

The Mayor has previously used the resources of the Town for his election activities and barely had his hand slapped.

Mr. Parish, do you plan to run for Regional Chair when or if it is an elected position?

I await a response and this email will be posted on my blog unedited. Hopefully it does not go missing.
Regards

Karem Allen

P.S. I had sent an email to the admin of the site last night asking if it was a citizen group and have not had a response
guess he did not want to lie to me, good thing.
There has been some potential unauthorised activity on my blog that I am looking into.

Lots of time spent on Twitter as well promoting the site!

_____________

I am on my lunch break here at work!  But the taxpayers of Ajax don’t pay my salary.

6 Responses to “Accountability Starts at the Top– Owner of Website”

  1. admin Says:

    Response from the Mayor received:

    Hello Karem:

    Direct Election of the Regional Chair is an important Durham issue. In fact, it is arguably the most important issue affecting Durham today. Ajax Council has been an outspoken leader in support of Direct Election for well over a decade. This is no secret.

    There has been a concerted effort by many to spread erroneous rumours in support of their position against Direct Election and maintaining the status quo. The Accountability Starts at the Top website aims to stop the misleading rhetoric. First, the people of the Region of Durham support Direct Election - in every municipality - by an overall majority of 80%. Second, Direct Elections in Halton and Waterloo have shown that rumours of party politics, huge amounts of campaign financing and increased costs of the Regional Chair are all untrue. It is critical that citizens and Councillors in every municipality know and have the facts. I know you understand the importance of truth and facts. Every Councillor on Regional Council and on all the local Councils will have a direct say on whether we are proceeding to Direct Election as a result of the triple majority process. Therefore, it is essential that there be a fact-based conversation between all of these Councillors and their constituents. It is not an overstatement to say that the entire future of the Region of Durham will be determined by the outcome of this process.

    The Town of Ajax did set up the website and is proud to have done so. We hope that this website facilitates real dialogue and that you and thousands of others will get involved. We regard setting this website up as a public service and are pleased to have been able to do so for the citizens of Durham. The costs to setup the site were very minimal as it was created in-house by staff with expertise who I believe did an outstanding job. The feedback to the site has been overwhelming positive. People are thrilled that this step was taken, and, as per our strategy - it is making an impact Durham-wide. Also, we have received numerous requests from citizens wanting to join our public committee. Our intent is that the site will eventually become a citizen led and championed communications tool.

    I don’t want to personalize the issue. I think it takes away from the importance of the issue. It should not be about a Town, a group, or Steve Parish (or any other individual). It should be about the fact that citizens are entitled to elect the people who spend their tax dollars.

    I hope democracy prevails on this one.

    Sincerely,

    Mayor Parish

    Mayor Steve Parish
    Town of Ajax
    65 Harwood Avenue South
    Ajax, ON L1S 2H9
    (905) 619-2529 Ext 3332
    Fax (905) 683-8207
    steve.parish@ajax.ca

    __________________________

    I personally disagree– it is political in nature and the staff should not be used for lobbying efforts.

    I can’t be the only one that does not think this is right?

  2. Adam Walker Says:

    Hi Karem, I’m surprised you got a response based on your initial communication. I think the intent is generally positive, but certainly not including the source of the website (Town of Ajax) is kind of misleading. It reminds me of when the cellphone brand Chatr was launched and only in the finest print on the most remote page of their website could you find they were owned and operated by Rogers.

    Adam
    http://walkerweb.ca

    Exactly, I understand the issue but it is the fact that it is the Staff of the Town are working on the site on the direction of the Mayor or CAO. Staff are not to campaign for a candidate but I guess it will be ok to work on a campaign now. The Town had a get out and vote type campaign but that is just a promotion of a civic action— not telling you to vote for any one person or referendum selection. The Town Clerk could not advocate to a Citizen on voting day from 1000 feet away to vote to support Direct Election of the Chair because that is telling them what to vote for! It’s wrong and this should not be any different. You were surprised I got a response? I can assure you I was more surprised then you! I hope the Staff of the Town take up the cause of the Ontario Ombudsman to have oversight in the MUSH sector — Municipalities , Universities, School Boards and Hospitals but I won’t hold my breath for a website to champion that issue! The site gives you the opportunity to register for updates, they are taking your email , they have a privacy policy and no where does it say you are giving your information to the Town of Ajax.

  3. Michael Baker Says:

    I received a “Dear Resident” email from admin@accountabilitystartsatthetop.com on Feb 21 & it was signed “The Accountability Starts at the Top Team”.
    Any letter not signed with a person’s named is unacceptable. Who are you?
    Thanks to you Karem I now know the who & the more you have revealed is very unsettling.
    To think that backroom shenanigans may be taking place between council & staff does not surprise me.
    The Parish email raises more questions than answers.
    Unfortunately the staff & members of council too often have difficulty being completely open & transparent when doing business at our expense.
    I’m completely fed up & turned off with how the Town of Ajax does what it wants to do no matter the cost.
    The voters of Ajax are political non-players … they just don’t seem to care about anything council does with taxpayer money.
    Council & staff have free reign to do as they please without ramifications.
    Woe be us!

    That’s all I wanted– disclosure. I did not get that email, I was alerted via twitter so that is public but you are a private citizen and you were contacted from the information that Town had then.

  4. Marsha Dooley Says:

    I quote from the website, ‘the Accountability Starts at the Top team, believes …’ Who is the ‘team’? Why don’t they have the respect for the public to identify the author of the site? Why dosen’t the author of the site identify itself (About Me/Us tab) and state their relationship to the issue? I feel very uneasy with the apparent duplicity and strategy. Sure feels like this is a ruse as you have stated. A ruse for Mayor Parish to start campaigning with our tax paid staff, to expand his ability to compile contacts outside of our Ajax borders, on our Ajax dollars.

    I did not even think about that — building contacts. You go to Pickering and the answer to the question could very well be “Steve who?” If you send the form letter you have to enter your name and the councillors are emailed through the site the form letter.

  5. Adam Walker Says:

    I got an email as well, but based on the tracking I have on my blog, I traced the path to my email address back to my comments on one of your other posts about the regional chair. I don’t even know where else they might have gotten it from.

    Adam

    Well according to Michael I am wondering if it is from Town information, have you ever emailed the Town or the Mayor?

  6. Kurtis McAleer Says:

    I smell an FOI request into cost of website creation/staff-time creating it.

    I did some general research, it could have been created using some templates so it is point and click but there is a lot of information being loaded on it, a facebook page has been created , time on twitter promoting it. I am not going to bother with an FOI but I am just mad as hell about how this can even be justified. I was listening to Metro-Morning on the way in and they were talking about the Gary Webster thing, they said that Municipal staff are there to provide services and expertise, they are not in the political arena and nor should they. Do we have a code of conduct yet? An Integrity Commissioner yet???? if it was done internally there is no invoice they can tell me whatever they want for time, I don’t want to throw away $5 for that!. I am going to ask all the surrounding Municipalities if they would allow their Staff to be doing this work!

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