Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Integrity Comish: Who Done it

HUH!!!!??? Did he really say that? Is this nothing more than a WUC audit report all over again?

Clearly, I am just going from media reports since the City has chosen NOT to release his Report yet. This could all change.

Wow, Daryl Newcombe of Eh-News got off lucky since he was the one who broke the "CUPE leak" story. Good thing I was not the Integrity Commissioner. He would have felt my wrath if he dared remain silent on something so vital to the City's welfare in order to try to end the divisiveness caused by the hardliners and the Star:
  • "He [Basse] said the reporters involved refused to divulge the leak."

  • "Earl Basse, Windsor's integrity commissioner, says the media refused to co-operate with his investigation into who leaked details in June of a tentative deal between the city its striking municipal workers."

Ummm, who cares about the reporters frankly? As you shall see, there is more than enough material for an investigation to be undertaken just from media reports alone never mind talking to people from the City and Unions involved.

Oh this is going to be a loooong mystery story for you to solve. Something to read over lunch or at a coffee break.

I wonder if the City's Integrity Commissioner and I are reading the same statutes.

Who is giving him legal advice? He claims he has no judicial powers and must rely on co-operation.

Yet the Municipal Act under which he is appointed states clearly:

  • Inquiry by Commissioner

    223.4 (1) This section applies if the Commissioner conducts an inquiry under this Part,

    (a) in respect of a request made by council, a member of council or a member of the public about whether a member of council or of a local board has contravened the code of conduct applicable to the member; or

    Powers on inquiry

    (2) The Commissioner may elect to exercise the powers of a commission under Parts I and II of the Public Inquiries Act, in which case those Parts apply to the inquiry as if it were an inquiry under that Act.

The Public Inquiries Act states:

  • Power to summon witnesses, papers, etc.

    7. (1) A commission may require any person by summons,

    (a) to give evidence on oath or affirmation at an inquiry; or

    (b) to produce in evidence at an inquiry such documents and things as the commission may specify,

    relevant to the subject-matter of the inquiry and not inadmissible in evidence at the inquiry under section 11

    Stated case for contempt for failure to attend hearing, etc.

    8.Where any person without lawful excuse,

    (a) on being duly summoned under section 7 as a witness at an inquiry, makes default in attending at the inquiry; or

    (b) being in attendance as a witness at an inquiry, refuses to take an oath or to make an affirmation legally required by the commission to be taken or made, or to produce any document or thing in his or her power or control legally required by the commission to be produced to it, or to answer any question to which the commission may legally require an answer; or

    (c) does any other thing that would, if the commission had been a court of law having power to commit for contempt, have been contempt of that court,

    the commission may state a case to the Divisional Court setting out the facts and that court may, on the application of the commission or of the Attorney General, inquire into the matter and, after hearing any witnesses who may be produced against or on behalf of that person and after hearing any statement that may be offered in defense, punish or take steps for the punishment of that person in like manner as if he or she had been guilty of contempt of the court.

So his Report, months in the making at a cost of supposedly $15,000, is worth little to me.

[UPDATE: Star now reports he said:

  • "Reporters involved refused to divulge the leak and he has no legal authority to force them to reveal their sources other than a costly and time-consuming public inquiry, Basse said."

Frankly, this investigation is that important and steps to set up the inquiry should have been taken to put people under oath! Fear of perjury helps to get people to tell the truth.]

So who is the leakor you ask. It is up to the BLOGMeister, again, to present the facts so you, dear reader, can decide for yourself: Who did it!

Here is the interesting chronology with a bit of fisking on the side:

  • 06-17-2009
    Daryl Newcombe breaks the leak story on Eh-Channel

  • 06-19-2009
    CUPE alleges city reneged on offer

    The hunt is on to find the "free agent" who torpedoed talks in the city strike by violating a media blackout and leaking to reporters what were purported to be the latest offers and counter- offers in the 10-week-old impasse.

    "I think an investigation has to be undertaken," said Ward 4 Coun. Bill Marra, who advised his colleagues Thursday morning that he had faxed a complaint to the city's new integrity commissioner, Earl Basse.

    "I took it upon myself to file a complaint and trigger an investigation independent of city hall, independent of city council."

    Mayor Eddie Francis promised an internal probe and expressed frustration and disappointment that someone would leak sensitive information at a critical juncture.

    Francis denied he was responsible for the leak, as did city negotiators and the nine councillors who attended a closed-door meeting of council Thursday afternoon. Coun. Caroline Postma was the lone absentee. Calls made to her were not returned Thursday night.

    "The actions of a free agent, whomever the free agent may be on whatever side, caused harm to the process," said Francis."

Clearly what happened was significant and the obvious expectation was that that bargaining would be harmed. That served someone's purposes.

Note the narrow but accurate comment from the Mayor, Councillors and Administrators that they did not leak. They did NOT say that no one on the City side leaked.

Have we ever found out the results of the City's internal probe? Why not? Who undertook it? What were the terms of reference? Who was interviewed? It seems like such a long time.

  • 06-19-2009
    Anne Jarvis (with her let's move on philosophy starting)

    That brings us to the last allegation in the complaint, a leak to the media.

    There was a media blackout on negotiations, but the same night that CUPE tabled its last proposal, giving up its fight for post- retirement benefits in exchange for a lump sum payment and wage increases, the details appeared on A Channel.

    The union blamed the city.

    The mayor swore he didn't do it and launched an investigation to find out who did.

    Good luck.

    I see umpteen conspiracy theories. Was it the city, revelling in hard-won victory and capitulating to the temptation to announce the news?

    Was it a union poison pill, started by a dissenter who knew the leak would trigger a complaint?

    When the news was leaked, did the union, without a chance to massage its members, file the complaint to divert attention from the fact it had given up something that people had spent nine weeks fighting for? (Union officials claimed Thursday that the media had been "misinformed.")

    Does it matter?

Oh Annie, already starting with let's move on strategy, inventing theories to muddy up the situation. Of course it matters if there is a bad faith claim and people lose weeks of wages.

  • 06-19-2009

    City, cupe talks collapse; Union files labour board complaint after leak

    CUPE said details of their latest proposal to the city were leaked to members of the media after a Wednesday night in-camera council meeting.

    Francis denied being responsible for the leak and promised an internal probe.

    "I did not provide any details, or leak any details, as was reported last night," said Francis.

    "I would expect that no member of the administration, no member of city council, would leak. We will be having and will be conducting an investigation. Whoever did this, whether on this side or any other side, was acting as a free agent and does not represent the corporation. Whoever this free agent may be has caused harm to this process."

Oh Edgar (aka Eddie) where is the categorical denial rather than "I expect."

I like the tact too of "free agent" so no one can attack the City even if it was a City employee who leaked! I wonder if the internal probe had found something by then.

  • 06-20-2009

    Probes on leak to begin

    The city's integrity czar will be in town Monday probing the media leak that torpedoed talks in the 10-week-old strike by city workers and a lawyer hired by the city will ask councillors and senior administrators to swear affidavits affirming they weren't the source.

    Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and all ten city councillors have now denied being the source of the leak, as have representatives of CUPE, which represents striking city workers.

    Members of the city's negotiating team and senior staff have also denied they were the source, said Francis...

    Basse has sweeping powers under Ontario's Municipal Act to conduct investigations, including "free access to all books, accounts, financial records, electronic data processing records, reports, files and other papers, things or property belonging" to a municipality.

    He also has the power to summon witnesses to give evidence under oath if he chooses to exercise the powers of a commission as outlined in Ontario's Public Inquiries Act...

    "The unions state that the only manner in which the proposal could have been leaked to the media was through the corporation's representatives," said the union in the complaint...

    "The leak definitely created the environment where both sides were not able to conclude their discussions," said Marra. "The union was so upset by the leak that they walked away. It compromised the process. It undermined the process."

Hmmm, back then Mr. Basse seemed to have all kinds of powers to investigate. Why did he change his mind? Did someone tell him he did NOT have the power and if so, who?

Again, note that the result of the Union walking out.

  • 06-20-2009

    Picket-line escalation expected in cupe strike; Atmosphere 'too poisonous' for more talks with the city

    CUPE leaders said Friday that Windsorites could expect to see an escalation in picket line activity by striking municipal workers and that the atmosphere had become "too poisonous" for talks to resume anytime soon with the employer...

    What had appeared to be the possibility of a negotiated end to the bitter nine-week strike collapsed on Thursday after alleged details of the union's last bargaining position were made public. CUPE has filed a formal complaint with the labour board and Windsor's integrity commissioner is launching an investigation on the source of the leak.

    The mayor and all council members have each insisted they are not the culprits.

    "I can tell you, it wasn't from the union," said Wood.

    According to the leak, CUPE appeared ready to relent on the city's insistence that new hires no longer be entitled to post- retirement benefits.

    "Definitely untrue," Wood said Friday when asked by reporters if those benefits, which the city has described as a threshold issue, were taken off the table.

    And Wood said the 1,200 strikers at the information meeting, held in direct response to the leak, were "loud and clear" in unanimously rejecting any concession to the employer on that issue. "The vote for solidarity was by far the strongest we've seen to date," added Fox.

More time was needed for the Union to get instructions from their members which meant no bargaining.

  • 06-30-2009

    City responds to bad faith charges; Fax to labour board denies role in leak

    The city denies it was the source of the leak that torpedoed talks in the three-month-old strike by city workers and suggests, in its response to a bad faith bargaining complaint, that the leak may have come from CUPE members or an executive member of another union...

    In terms of the infamous leak to A Channel News that was blamed for scuttling talks on the eve of fresh negotiations, the city maintains the leak didn't come from Francis, any of the 10 councillors, any member of city administration or the city's bargaining team.

    Francis has said affidavits would be sworn by the councillors and administrators who were privy to the city and union proposals, but that has not yet been done. The city's integrity commissioner is also probing the leak, which Coun. Alan Halberstadt blamed on CUPE National representatives in a recent blog posting.

    CUPE claimed in a bad faith bargaining complaint the leak could have only come from the city, but the city's response points out the leak could have just as easily come from a member of the union's bargaining committee. The city further alleges the leak could have come from an executive member of another union, going so far as to suggest a certain individual had been known to have loose lips in the past.

    "This raises several additional possibilities with respect to how the information made its way to the media, particularly as this individual did not, on at least one occasion, hesitate to share the details with others," said the city's response...

    "As of this writing the city is not aware of the source of any leaks of information to the media respecting bargaining and does not admit that it or any of its representatives were responsible for any leaks of information to the media," says the response.

    "In any event of the foregoing, the city states that information being leaked to the media by any source, while unfortunate, does not constitute bad faith bargaining under the Act."

Whatever happened to those "sworn affidavits?" Were they ever obtained or was that done to intimidate Councillors?

Nice diversionary tactics as I Blogged before. Let the City claim the leak might have come from some other Union member with no evidence whatsoever that it did. Limit the people who could have leaked. Frame the denial to leaks to the media directly not indirect leaks ie to a person who then leaked it to the media.

I especially liked that the leak was merely "unfortunate." Yes, it is unfortunate services were not delivered to the public or that CUPE members had remain on strike and lose wages. How fortunate though that some members of Council could travel overseas during the strike since their salaries did not cease.

  • 07-02-2009

    Transit union denies leak; Local's leader 'wouldn't do that'

    The Transit Windsor union leader whom the city suggests may have leaked details of contract proposals that derailed talks in the city strike has told a fellow union member he wasn't the source.

    Dragan Markovic, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 616, which represents hourly Transit Windsor employees, was identified as a possible source for the infamous leak in the city's response to a bad faith bargaining complaint filed by CUPE with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

    The city's response claims -- without offering proof -- that Markovic "was in possession of the particulars of both offers" before even city councillors were apprised of them and that he had shared the details with others.

    "Prior to disclosing the particulars to others he indicated he would get the details from 'CUPE,' which he apparently did," said the city's response.

    "This raises several additional possibilities with respect to how information made its way to the media, particularly as this individual did not, on at least one occasion, hesitate to share the details with others."

    It is unclear why the city believes Markovic was in possession of these details, how he came to learn of them and who, specifically, the city believes he shared them with. Markovic was not a member of any bargaining committee and was not present during the in-camera discussions when councillors learned of the proposals."

Confirmation that the City's approach was a mere fairy tale to divert attention. For what reason?

  • 07-07-2009

    Bargaining details shared by city manager; Palanacki denies leak to media

    Leaked bargaining details that scuttled talks in the city strike were shared with at least two people by a city manager on the day the information appeared on the evening news, says a city councillor and the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 616.

    Dragan Markovic, the union leader whom the city pinpointed as a possible source of the leak in its response to a bad faith bargaining complaint, vehemently denies he had anything to do with the A Channel News report that was blamed for derailing talks on the eve of fresh negotiations.

    As a matter of fact, said Markovic, he introduced himself only on Monday to Daryl Newcombe, the reporter at the centre of the storm that has spawned a probe by the city's integrity czar.

    "Absolutely, I didn't leak this information," said Markovic.

    Markovic said a city manager told him and a councillor details of a new proposal that could end the strike after a Transit Windsor strategic planning session on the morning of July (sic) 17.

    He declined to name the other parties involved, but Ward 2 Coun. Caroline Postma confirmed she was the councillor. Neither Postma nor Markovic would identify the manager.

    Mike Palanacki, the city's director of operations, was present at the meeting, according to a Star reporter who covered it. Palanacki would neither confirm nor deny Monday that he divulged any details to Markovic and Postma, but he stressed that he did not share any details with the media.

    According to Markovic's version of events, which was backed by Postma, he and a councillor and a city manager were in a boardroom when the manager received, via his PDA, details about negotiations and a notice that a special session of council had been called for 2 p.m. later that day.

    Markovic, who is unaffiliated with the striking CUPE locals but friends with their leadership, was asked about the union's position. Markovic told the pair that he wasn't privy to that information. He said he then asked the manager for the latest details and was given the goods.

    "The manager did give us the numbers," confirmed Postma. "The fact of the matter is that the manager had the information before the meeting and that's the problem -- who else had it?"

    It is unclear who sent the manager the information and how many other people on the city side were also privy to it prior to the in-camera meeting. A message left for Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis Monday was not returned."

Remember that the City's answer to the OLRB complaint was very narrow as well:

As I Blogged:

  • "I like how narrowly the Response was drafted. Look at the limited number of people for which the City takes responsibility.

    Moreover, and here is the important part....everything is tied directly to the media eg source of details obtained by the media. There is no denial that they leaked information to a person who then was the source of the details obtained by the media.

    I especially liked "does not admit it....was responsible for leaks to the media." The City could be responsible for leaks to the whole world but not to the media. Accordingly, the City is saying nothing wrong. Accurate but narrow!

    If the City admits that it is not aware of the source of the leak, then why did it cast aspersions at the head of another local union? Was that a cheap shot so the media will run after him and make him squirm in preparation for new bargaining talks after the Baird bus decision?"

And of course, Councillor Halberstadt on his BLOG threw the suspicions on CUPE too:

  • "It has become clear now that the infamous "leak" (to the A Channel) of the bargaining positions of the city and CUPE was perpetrated by CUPE National. Details were perhaps verified by one or more people on the city side."

It seems clear that information was being sent out by the City, why in such detail, by whom and to whom we do not know. Does the Integrity Commissioner? Did he investigate this? He did not have to interview reporters but City Hall staff!

Notice that even Mr. Palanacki knows how to limit his response to "to the media."

Why didn't the Star follow up with the Mayor or ask his Chief of Staff?

  • 09-11-2009

However, thanks to Councillor Lewenza's Ward meeting we have new facts about what happened on June 17 that may change everything.

Remember his challenge:

  • "Why did the so called "hardliners" on Council fold in a one hour span on June 17, 2009 that caused such an enormous shift in the City's position?"

In the first vote, the Mayor voted to break the tie to reject CUPE's offer but after Helga said her piece respecting negotiations, Council voted again but the Mayor did NOT vote in the negative. Council changed its approach completely.

As Councillor Lewenza stated in answer to my question about the 17th (thanks to Chris Schnurr's transcript):

  • "If you want though, the truth is that, I’ll say it, Helga Reidal, its the first time that administration really starts to speak out and say you know what, this is a pretty good agreement. We’ve done what you’ve essentially asked us to do. We don’t believe that you’re going to get any better than this. You have to strongly consider it."

Next we had the leak.

Who would want to ruin discussions between the City and Union negotiating committees that could have given rise to a quick settlement since it seemed that the City's team had finally had its hands untied?

Why would the Union want to ruin that? Why would anyone on Council after their vote want to go back to the old style where, in effect, Council micromanaged everything? Hadn't that approach just been rejected!

Then we learned:

  • "06-23-2009

    Mayor in hunt for teen games; Francis leaves strike behind for Athens

    Mayor Eddie Francis leaves behind his strike-bound city this week for Athens, Greece, Frankfurt, Germany, and an undisclosed third location to attract foreign investment and chase Olympic dreams for Windsor.

    Francis said he's flying to this year's International Children's Games in Athens to lobby to bring the event to Windsor, perhaps as soon as 2013...

    Leaving the city as it enters the 11th week of a protracted and bitter strike by 1,800 municipal workers, with no new talks in sight, was "something I considered significantly," Francis told reporters after announcing his trip at the end of Monday night's council meeting."

A week after the leak, in the last minute, the Mayor tells Council he is leaving town to go overseas. Oh and did we get the Games?

Ok Sherlocks...Can you figure it all out now. Who had the "Means, motive, and opportunity" to mess up negotiations.

Credibility is a key indicator in making that decision. Whom do you believe?

Remember, what I am quoting came from Star stories and you know that they would be working hard to pin this on CUPE but with no such result.

Do not forget also that in deciding credibility, you should consider what Junior revealed about what happened and the misinformation that he talked about that he claimed was being spread.

Have you figured it out yet, dear reader? Sure you have. I am certain that you are clever enough to know who did it! And why!