Tammy Hart & South Stormont Council Retreat on Banning Cameras in Open Council Meetings by Jamie Gilcig

Tammy Hart & South Stormont Council Retreat on Banning Cameras in Open Council Meetings by Jamie Gilcig

tammy parkway HSCFN – Tammy Hart and her very odd council in South Stormont appear to be in retreat after humiliating the township, again.

In an act of truly boggling weirdness she and her council initiated discussion in limiting or eliminating cameras in open council meetings.

Ms Hart and friends have an issue with one media outlet in particular and showing his total lack of understanding and ignorance Mayor Jim Bancroft actually compared a open meeting in a public space to a copywritten performance in a private hall.   I kid you not.

Ms Hart is upset that she is sometimes video taped.  She doesn’t like to answer questions.

or this video of our interview after she leaked a council report over the Integrity Commissioner against herself.


That led to the war that was the election that was filled with lies and misinformation.

Ms Hart after the report came out went on the warpath against the South Stormont News, my other newspaper to the point of leaking a false memo to the public stating that SSN was getting funding and loans, which we weren’t, and she was sanctioned again by Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze.

She worked with a team and slate of candidates and through much chicanery ended up with election results that put her back on council with a team of people, including Mayor Jim Bancroft who she had previously erected a bill board to campaign against, a person who won’t admit that they have a criminal record/pardon, another that illegally corrupted the South Stormont Chamber of Commerce and actually took money to run the Long Sault Farmer’s Market. That is her slate and team.

Here’s Tammy after lying in Council.

Again refusing to answer regarding her lying in Council.

And here she is after being asked about the allegations that she actually snatched a pile of SSN off the counter of The Marina Restaurant in Long Sault.   The printed newspapers were also removed from several other locations during the election.

Ms Hart also was a critical part of a local facebook hate group which essentially targeted her political opponents, this writer, CFN and SSN.  Over 2,000 comments have been captured including violent images, posting pictures of people’s homes and addresses, client lists, and even relatives personal information.  The rare few who stood up to them in the group were attacked including threats to their jobs.  It’s pretty nuts.  What’s nuttier is that local police have refused to issue any charges of mischief or harassment against any of the members to date although a few police officers, off the record, complained that it was the local crown attorney’s office that iced any charges.

aug 10 FACEBOOK currier bbq Tammy Hart Dockery good looking couple

Tammy pictured above at a BBQ that featured mass burning of the South Stormont News.

tammy x f group 3

The original group has gone underground although many of its members are now part of its latest composition including believe it or not Seaway News editor Todd Lihou and a few other local notable haters.

Council mate Donna Primeau, after minutes of the Chamber of Commerce were submitted to members with false and misleading information also doesn’t like cameras. Again, video doesn’t lie. Ms Primeau might, but cameras do not.

She was quoted in the Seaway News as saying;

Critics and others have lambasted South Stormont council for even considering such a ban, complaining that free speech and municipal transparency would be unfairly mitigated by such a policy change.

“We certainly have no objection to having residents know all the business of their township,” said Hart. “This has to do with gonzo reporting in the past year.

“We’re trying to do our due diligence.”

And that ladies and gentlemen is where the truth does lie.   Ms Hart and her council have a problem with a media outlet that simply has told the truth.   Sometimes the truth isn’t flattering, especially when you’re caught lying as Ms Hart has been, repeatedly.

The fact that through lies and bullying she was able to manipulate an election will never change that truth.

Hugo Rodrigues, editor of the Standard Freeholder wrote an editorial about the idea of banning cameras, and to be fair South Stormont only wanted to ban some cameras, in particular those of my own and Reg Coffey.

What are council members afraid of? Being held to their word? Having their decisions and discussions open to scrutiny from those not personally in attendance? Saying something stupid?

It’s funny how the Seaway News and Freeholder voiced out over the banning of some or all cameras, yet were eerily silent when SSN was attacked in the manner it was by Ms Hart and friends, even to the point of her and her team campaigning to kill the paper’s advertising from the township which essentially means that if media write something the politician doesn’t like then they lose their advertising which essentially neuters media’s ability to do their job properly.

Mr. Rodrigues is also President of the CAJ (Canadian Association of Journalists) and I submitted some questions to him to answer while wearing his CAJ hat.  He did oblige and answer several of them.

As a journalist how do you feel when a municipal government tries to limit video coverage of any council meeting that is open and in a public space as we’ve just heard that South Stormont is exploring?
Any time a municipal council limits how the public can access its proceedings, we all suffer. Journalists have no more right to record video and/or audio at a meeting than any other member of the public. Any member of the public should be outraged when his or her council puts up barriers to restrict how they can observe open council meetings.
A council does have the legal ability to put limits in place to ensure its meetings can happen in an orderly fashion. Some councils request that no hats be worn in chambers, or that no signs or placards be brought into chambers. Others place firm rules around how members of the public in the gallery can interact with council members and staff members — not allowing those in the audience to speak unless they’ve signed up as a delegation, etc.
All of these could be frustrating to various degrees, but none places restrictions on observing what council is doing and recording it so others can do the same.
Are journalist’s abilities to perform their duties being attacked and diminished when elected officials take this sort of tact?
It’s an unreasonable limit to place on any member of the public in attendance. For working journalists who need to gather video and/or audio recordings, it can place severe restrictions on how they’re able to do their work. As frustrating as these limits may be, they don’t make the work impossible. Good journalists find innovative ways to make up for these restrictions without breaking any unreasonable rules that may be in place.
 In your opinion does the public have a right to know more of what goes on at public meetings?
The public has a right to know what’s being done by its elected officials at all levels. The Ontario Municipal Act defines the limited reasons where councils can close the doors and if any member of the public believes a council is breaking those rules, we all have the right to ask the closed-meeting investigator to determine whether the rules were broken.
Any business done by a council in open session should be fully public — meaning any member of the public can observe and follow along. Any documents that council members are reading or referring to in their deliberations during an open meeting should be available to any member of the public.
It’s incumbent on municipalities to make council as accessible as possible. In 2015, that means not just to those who are in the gallery, but to those following along from wherever they may be located.
Here are the questions he chose to not answer.  (no offense Hugo)
4) In today’s media reality how do outlets face the challenges of having coverage of political and court events?
5)  A criminal lawyer stated that we media are failing because we do not spend enough time in court rooms covering what’s happening.  Is it media’s role to hold the justice system accountable for the public?
6)  With media consolidation and withering ad incomes how do you see the role of journalists changing in the future?
7) What was the weirdest situation you ever found yourself in as a journalist?
8)   Do you think that media outlets and journalists have a responsibility to be active in the community and not just report what happened?

We decided to give the final word on this issue to the Deputy Mayor as she espouses on everything she understands regarding Freedom of the Press and the responsibility for government to be truly accountable to the public.


What do you think dear CFN viewers?  You can post your comments below.


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