Cornwall Ontario – Holy Paul Fitzpatrick! In what seems to be a chapter out of the ol Kilger council, rookie councilor Justin Towndale went public on his social media page with a statement claiming that council was left out of the loop of the Human Rights Tribunal Case of Nekkid Boobies.
As many of you are now aware, the City is the subject of a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario complaint, along with a number of other defendants. All of this has been reported in the Standard-Freeholder recently, and is public knowledge.
I can’t comment directly on the issue, as it is before the Tribunal and it is a legal case.
However, I do want to comment on how I feel that Council was kept in the dark about this, and how information was withheld from us. I think its important that the public know.
I first found about the complaint by accident on June 6th, when Council received an email about the complaint from a law firm representing one of the other defendants. When any party submits anything pertaining to a complaint to the HRTO, all other parties involved have to receive a copy. A few other emails were sent at this time as well, including one which confirmed that the City had asked for an extension on May 30th.
I waited until June 8th to see if we’d receive anything substantial, ie an email from administration explaining the issue, or a copy of the complaint, etc. Nothing was forthcoming, so I sent an email that evening to the CAO asking point blank if the City was the subject of a complaint, asking when the complaint was filed, and why it was not on our agenda for our June 12th Council Meeting.
The next afternoon, on June 9th, I received a reply from a division manager confirming that we were the subject of a complaint, and that our legal counsel had been engaged. I had to follow up to the CAO for answers to the rest of my questions. I received a reply on June 12th. I was shocked to find out that the City was notified on May 11th, almost a full month before. In addition, I was surprised to find out that our CAO was only informed on June 8th.
The item eventually made its way to the June 26th agenda. This would be 6.5 weeks after the City was notified. Even then, at that meeting we were still not provided with a copy of the complaint, and I had to ask for one. Apparently, the rational for not providing it to us, is that it is 50 pages, and in French. When I asked for it, some thought it was ridiculous that I would want to read it. But how can we make a decision about a legal matter without first reading the initial complaint? In addition, it is our jobs as Councillors to ensure that we are well versed on items such as these. And yes, I have read the complaint in its entirety. Some of my colleagues have opted not to. In either case, it should have been provided to us.
I’m told that the information wasn’t ‘intentionally’ withheld from us, but I can’t see why it took so long to get to us. I’m also not clear on who first engaged our legal counsel and asked for an extension prior to May 30th if the CAO only found out on June 8th.
Right now, the City is going to be shouldering legal costs related to this complaint. The longer it takes, its possible that our bills will be higher. If it had come sooner, its possible that a decision could have been made sooner and our bills could have been that much cheaper. I can’t say this definitely, but it’s a possibility.
Council is essentially the Board of Directors for the Corporation of the City of Cornwall. If this had been a private company, you can be assured the Board there would have been notified immediately. Yet, this is seldom the case with us. In some cases, we are the last to know. The Freon leak at the Aquatic Centre and results of arbitration with the Fire Department are two cases where the media knew information before Council did. There are other examples as well. To say that it is frustrating is an understatement.
As some of you will recall, last year I put forward a motion to ensure that information was passed along to Council in a timely manner. The motion was defeated with some claiming it was ‘micromanaging’, which it was not. (Ironically, immediately after, Council passed a motion instructing staff, grown adults, how to answer the phone. That is the very definition of micromanagement.) We were assured that there is no problem with information getting to us. However, this is just the latest in a number of instances where information hasn’t come through. It can be denied, but information is definitely being withheld, and it is preventing us from doing our jobs effectively. This has to change.
Now this writer has been holding the rookie accountable since he seemed to be using his office for his personal gain and doing his best Bernie Clement hiding impression, but he gets full kudos for playing the game right.
The public should know if there’s a problem at City Hall.
One councilor spoke off the record stating that they’d “given up” on this council as nothing can get done because of internal idiocy and heavy handed abuse by city management.
Clearly council needs to be up to date on all issues, especially one that could cost the city an awful lot of tax cash in legal bills to its out of town lawyers.
There is a slate of candidates forming that realize that Cornwall may need a draining the swamp like another Ontario did in firing over 20 of its managers.
This reminds this writer of the Chem tanks when we saw some really bad theatre by former Mayor Bob Kilger who was caught lying about when he was aware of the tanks.
And there’s still been no answer from Ms Adams about who put an item on a council agenda about nuclear waste although there is a direct connection between Bruce Power and current HR manager Geoff Clarke. Of course Ms Adams is also refusing to answer where she was based when she worked in the auto industry at the same time as Mr. Clarke who worked for Volvo before leaving his gig as VP at Bruce Power to become HR honcho for Cornwall.
What do you think dear CFN viewers? You can post your comments below.