Questions regarding the Integrity Commissioner being ignored by Brighton Council

Posted by on Feb 17, 2014 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

The following letter was sent to the Mayor and Councillors of Brighton and the letter was added to the agenda of the January 20th, 2014 council meeting.

I have not yet received a response to the following questions that I sent to both CAO Frost and the Integrity Commissioner on December 17th, 2013.

 

1. Please confirm that neither the Integrity Commissioner nor the CAO is able to provide any information on complaints that have been forwarded from the CAO to the Integrity Commissioner?
2. Please confirm that only complaints that have been investigated and subsequently reported on to Council will be made public?
3. Under what circumstances and with what frequency does the Integrity Commissioner file activity reports with Council?
4. Once an activity report has been filed, is it automatically made public, or does it require a request from a member of the public?
5. With regard to the complaint filed by Councillor Kerr in November 2011. A report was filed by Mr. Fred Dean, dated March 16th, 2012, but it did not indicate the actual complaint(s) filed and to whom it was filed against. Can the CAO or the Integrity Commissioner provide this information?

 

As such, please instruct the responsible party to provide this information without further delay.

 

Additionally please provide answers to the following.

 

6. According to the Municipality of Brighton Code of Conduct by-law 029-2010 item # 5.2.3 v. “The Integrity Commissioner shall submit a final report on the complaint to Council, no later than 90 days after the making of the complaint, outlining the findings, the terms of any settlement, or recommend corrective action.”
a) Is this bylaw still in effect?
b) If so, what are the implications if reports are not provided in a timely fashion according the requirement under the bylaw?

These questions resulted from a report from the Integrity Commissioner where there was no detail provided on the subjects of, or the details of the actual complaint. I discussed that report in the post “What did we get for $22,771.85 in legal fees? “.

In a recorded vote Councillors Kerr, Rittwage, Rowley and Vandertoorn voted to “receive” the letter. This means that they will not be addressing my questions any further or directing staff or the Integrity Commissioner to answer the questions I posed. It should also be noted that none of these four Councillors replied to my letter.

letter_integrity_comm_vote

This to me indicates that they are not interested in answering questions or providing transparency. The question I have is why are they opposed to providing this information?

During the last Brighton Council meeting, Councillor Tom Rittwage stated that “if you don’t like the tone we make, come and talk to us. So I asked Councillor Rittwage if he would like to meet or talk on the phone and he said I’m happy to meet any constituent any time. But won’t meet with you.  Bit of an oxymoron really, but it seems that if you don’t agree to Tom’s pre-conditions you don’t qualify as a constituent. I see value in constructive dialogue and I find it disappointing that Councillor Rittwage does not.

So here we have Councillors that will not answer questions via email, over the phone or in person and yet they are happy to collect their pay-cheques. I don’t think that it is unreasonable to expect better than this from our Councillors!

The following are just a few of the questions that remain:

1. We as taxpayers pay for reports ($23,000 for one report alone) from the Integrity Commissioner and we are not told what the complaint was about. Why not?
2. I asked the Integrity Commissioner (who is being paid by us, the taxpayer) questions and the Integrity Commissioner does not reply to my emails. Why not?
3. I asked Councillors (who are being paid by us, the taxpayer) for this information and the majority of Councillors (namely Councillors Kerr, Rittwage, Rowley and Vandertoorn) chose not to provide this information. Why not?
4. I asked a simple question about a Municipal by-law which seems to be selectively used (or ignored when convenient) and the four Councillors have not provided an answer? Why not?
5. What is the point of using a system where the persons being interviewed or investigated are not required to testify under oath? As such it does not appear to me that there is any finding of fact in a legal sense, rather just an opinion by the investigator.

I think that it is important for the citizens of Brighton to understand that basic questions regarding transparency and accountability are being ignored by certain members of this council.

Until the preceding questions are answered, the process and findings of the Integrity Commissioner will lack the credibility Brighton taxpayers deserve.

 

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Apology request from Councillor Craig Kerr turns sour and citizens of Brighton speak out

Posted by on Feb 9, 2014 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

This is going to be another long post as there was a huge volume of verbal diarrhea expelled during the Brighton Council meeting this past Monday and I think that there needs to be a detailed response to some of the erroneous and misleading information presented. Having said that, I will reserve some of my comments because as Councillor Kerr indicated, this “may well be dealt with at another time and in another forum” and if so I will present my additional comments there. We all know that Councillor Kerr’s statement should be considered as a threat of legal action and incidentally I have received a similar threat from Councillor Rittwage saying that he is investigating his options. If these comments were not meant as a threat of legal action, then Councillors Kerr and Rittwage should clarify their positions immediately.

On November 18th at a meeting of Brighton Council, Councillor Kerr made the following statement “I will say that this question is really posed in the same vein as the one, have you stopped beating your wife”. Click here to listen to the audio file

On December 14th I asked Councillor Kerr via email for an apology.

On January 20th my request for an apology was discussed at Council and Councillor Kerr declared a conflict and recused himself from discussing my request. Councillors Rittwage, Rowley and Vandertoorn supported a motion to “receive” my apology request, which essentially means “file it and do nothing“. Click here to listen to the audio file

On February 3rd those that attended the Brighton Municipal Council meeting were treated to quite a spectacle. In particular I am referring to the discussion around the letter from Alexander Waddling on behalf of Ride For A Dream, www.rideforadream.ca.

Councillor Kerr contends that there is a “well-orchestrated campaign” in the community aimed at discrediting him, yet he does not in any way substantiate this accusation and certainly does not identify the conductor. The reason he failed to do this is that there is no such campaign. If several people have a similar opinion on an issue and express themselves publicly, that is not a conspiracy, that is democracy in action. That may be concerning to a politician, but they should view it as an opportunity to engage with those individuals and address their concerns. Don’t just say that they are being ridiculous, over the top, or part of some imaginary conspiracy. If you dismiss them as being ridiculous, then you clearly do not have any appreciation for them or their concerns!

This issue started with a simple request for an apology. Now it is as much about behaviour and respect as it is about the original offensive remarks.

Click here to listen to the comments by Councillors Craig Kerr and Tom Rittwage

A lot of what Mr. Kerr detailed was of a personal nature and was not germane to the correspondence being discussed and as such I believe that Mayor Walas could have ruled the comments out of order. I am pleased that he reserved judgement and let Clr. Kerr proceed, as it has given some valuable insight into the thought process of Councillor Kerr.

It seems that Councillor Craig Kerr did not feel that an unqualified apology was necessary and attempted to justify his actions and inactions by blaming others in a lengthy diatribe.

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