Legal Precedents Are Binding
Mark this day down. The City almost did something right.
On the Council agenda for this week, there is Agenda Item #4 Legal Action - Invalid Building Permit. The details of the issue are quite boring...it's a lawsuit against an Owner and Builder to recover $69,000+ for bounced cheques and interest for building permits. Permission is being sought to start a lawsuit. The agenda item goes through in gory detail all of the events that support starting the lawsuit but does not reveal names of the parties.
This is a shock to me. I cannot recall seeing an agenda item like this before. Normally, it would be handled in camera under the provisions of the Municipal Act:
(2) A meeting or part of a meeting may be closed to the public if the subject matter being considered is,
(e) litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality or local board;
(f) advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose;
Let's be generous and agree for this BLOG anyway that the City is trying to do the right thing and be open to citiziens. Now that the City has set a precedent, and the Mayor knows the importance of precedents as a lawyer, let us ask the City to follow this openness policy on litigation and do the same for the border file.
We learned last Tuesday in the Star that "Council recently approved another short-term allocation of $400,000 for further legal costs" for the border file. Accordingly, when can we expect a full discussion, as in Agenda Item #4, about the issues in the matter so we as citizens can understand what the City is doing. The Mayor feels that he can take credit for past actions--against the Bridge Co., DRTP and the Senior Levels---so let him tell us what he plans to do with all of this taxpayer money.
Let him put the issue in front of Council and the citizens of Windsor for debate to decide as Eddie claims:
- "When you consider what we are up against, we have to continue to do what we need to in order to protect the city's best interests.
It's unfortunate a local government has to be put in a position of having to spend funds on something like this. But what choice is there? Otherwise we might as well fold up our tent and put up a For Sale sign"
I suspect that Councillor Halberstadt will NOT agree with the Mayor either that litigation is the way to go to protect the City's interests if what he says on his BLOG is his point of view.
- "members of the new Council, including myself, have asked for a Council session to review the border file and perhaps alter the cloak-and-dagger approach to border issues"
- "At some point we need to stop acting like a petulant child. We need to end our adversarial relationship with the senior levels of government if at all possible and come to the table to discuss technical strategies that will work for all
- It is time for the City of Windsor to take a more conciliatory stance and discuss pros and cons face-to-face with the other agencies, rather than communicate at arms length through expensive legal letters."
I can think of several other Councillors who have had enough of unproductive litigation and who would be supportive of a better approach.
But don't expect anything to happen. The border file will be "distinguished on its facts" as lawyers like to say. The precedent will be ignored.
Eddie cannot dare show division amongst Councillors to the public or it would undermine his claims of unity. Moreover, if it ever reached the public agenda, then anyone could speak to it and we all know, after the "Tecumseh Council meeting" that Eddie cannot take criticism.
And for all the money his management of the border file has wasted with the lack of any results, there WILL be criticism.
But the main reason it will never reach the Council Agenda: some of the "enemies" might be given a public platform so that they could make their case. That could never be allowed since they might actually make sense!