Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, April 19, 2010

Is The Commish Neutering Himself

Interesting Council report on the Integrity Commissioner on the Council Communications Package whereby it looks like he himself is trying to prevent himself from doing the job he was hired for by limiting what he can look at.

It looks like he wants to follow Toronto's protocol out of the blue.

This could well mean that a violation of the City's Code of Conduct is never dealt with in an expeditious fashion the way it was supposed to be done under Windsor's system.

Since I have a complaint outstanding, I wrote the Commish suggesting to him that he may be making another "Ron Jones" error by acting without authority.

I expect my complaint which is long outstanding to be handled under the procedure in place when I filed it, not under something else that he has decided to use as he is leaving office.

Here is part of my letter to him:

  • One other matter that I find quite troubling has to do wih your contract extension. The Council Report in the City Communications package on the Council Agenda for this Monday states that you have accepted Council's offer to extend your contract until June 30, 2010 "on the same terms and conditions as his previous contract." [emphasis added]

    In the Hamilton Spectator dated December 30, 2009, you stated:

    "I enjoyed what I did in Windsor...

    "The most challenging part [of being Windsor's integrity commissioner] is the fact that the position is so new. It was new to me, it was new to council in Windsor, and no one really knew how it should work out.

    There are only about seven or eight integrity commissioners throughout the province, so you don't have a playbook. So, the biggest challenge was trying to work without procedures or protocols in place. That's (how) Hamilton is different -- they've already set up protocol." [emphasis added]

    "I would put together protocols Day 1. That was my biggest challenge -- trying to work within an environment where I didn't have a lot of direction. I'm not knocking Windsor -- it's just that it was new." [emphasis added]

    In the Windsor Star, it was stated on February 2, 2010 that

    "the city will create integrity protocols that will allow the commissioner to investigate issues even without a complaint.

    "City council had very little choice but to accept the recommendation of the integrity commissioner to withdraw his report," said Mayor Eddie Francis, who indicated that within three weeks protocols will change." [emphasis added]

    With respect, I was deeply disturbed in reading in the Council Report the following:

    "In addition, the Integrity Commission has provided Council with the protocols he intends to follow for investigating the remaining complaints he has received...[emphasis added]

    It is in my opinion absolutely improper for you to investigate my complaint as you have described using protocols you have chosen to use. It is Council's job not yours to create and change any protocols. You are usurping the proper role of Council by your action.

    It is clear that there are no Council prepared protocols now as there were none when you became the integrity commissioner as set out in your Spectator Interview.

    Your contract was extended "on the same terms and conditions as his previous contract" ie without any protocols.

    Accordingly, I expect that you will investigate my complaint without the use of any protocols since to do so otherwise would be in breach of your Contract with the City of Windsor! There is nothing in that Agreement which permits you to prepare any protocols and you have not been assigned the task to do so by Council.

    Clearly, the only functions you have been assigned to undertake under the Services section of the Agreement is to investigate complaints without any protocols. You have not been assigned any function under the Services section to perform otherwise. In my opinion it would be absolutely improper for you to perform your function otherwise and you would be performing without authority as was the case in the Jones matter.

    In any event, no affidavit setting out evidence is required in Windsor so that any provisions in Toronto's Protocol are not applicable since they deal with complaints that shall include an affidavit.

    My complaint is one on its face which deals with the violation of the Code of Conduct since it is broader as an example than a mere pecuniary interest at Council under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. I am not suggesting either in this complaint a violation of the Criminal Code as stated below. Rather it is the very narrow matter; [deleted].

    Please confirm receipt of this email and please let me know when I may expect to hear from you in relation to this matter given your contract deadline.