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.
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.