An application for minor variance re 600 Mallory Beach Road was made October 30, 2015. The application was heard by the Committee of Adjustment (“COA”) on April 27, 2016. A neighbour at 598 Mallory Beach Road objected to the variance.
It has been reported that at the April 27 Committee of Adjustment (“COA”) meeting, COA member Councillor Vukovic angrily waved her finger at the objectors, disparaged them (“shame, shame, shame”), and belittled them for not having a modern septic system (“do you mean that you go in a
The COA granted the variance subject to several conditions that the applicant had to meet.
The objectors appealed the COA decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (“OMB”).
The appeal to the OMB was discussed by council in closed session June 7, 2016.
The OMB hearing was August 12, 2016. An OMB decision was handed down December 12, 2016.
It is clear from the OMB decision paragraph 34 that someone in attendance at the June 7, 2016 closed session of council had passed closed session information to the applicant or to someone working with the applicant, in clear violation of the council code of ethics in place at the time.
The Municipal Act provides for council to hire an integrity commissioner to investigate possible breaches of a council code of ethics.
I felt that there had been a serious breach of the code of ethics by a member of council, and that the act had been done in an attempt to prejudice the OMB hearing to the advantage of the variance applicants and to the disadvantage of the appellants.
Because I felt that the breach was very serious, I wrote a report to council recommending that an integrity commissioner be hired to investigate the alleged breach of the code of ethics. My report as submitted is attached below.
Using authority she does not legitimately possess, the report was censored in its entirety by the mayor, Janice Jackson.
The report did not make it onto the December 20, 2016 council agenda.
The TSBP procedural by law provides that the mayor can refuse to put a report on the council agenda if any of these conditions are present:
1) the report is in violation of law,
2) the report is in violation of policy,
3) the report would harm the Town.
When I asked specifically why my report had been completely censored, the response I got from the mayor gave no indication of a “violation of law” or of “harm the Town”. But the mayor did claim this: “I sent the report back to you because it went against our policy.”
It is clear that Ms. Jackson was somehow claiming that my report was a “violation of policy” (number 2 criterion).
In fact my report as submitted is neither a “violation of policy” nor “against our policy”.
The policy (Policy A 3.1 Code of Conduct) merely says:
10.3 Any individual may make written complaint to the Clerk with respect to
member adherence to the Code of Conduct.
10.4 The complaint will be forwarded to the Ombudsman’s Office to review the
complaint and take any action deemed necessary by that organization.
Ms. Jackson’s claim that my report violated policy invalid, for several reasons:
1) My concern was about member adherence to the code of ethics in place at the time between June 7 and August 12, 2016. That concern is properly addresses by hiring an integrity commissioner, not by looking to a code of conduct which was not even passed until two months later.
2) Even if the code of conduct had been in place from June 7 to August 12 (which it wasn’t), the code of conduct does not indicate or imply that the only allowable way to deal with a concern is to file a complaint with the clerk so it can be forwarded to the Ombudsman. The code says “an individual may make written complaint to the Clerk”. The word “may” clearly means that filing a complaint with the clerk is discretionary, meaning that other forms of addressing alleged code violations are not prohibited in any way by the policy.
3) Even if hiring an Integrity commissioner were a violation of policy (which it is not), that would not make my report a violation of policy, because the report does not hire the commissioner but merely recommends such.
4) Restricting by policy the way a complaint can be handled would be contrary to the municipal act, and would thus be of no force.
It follows that hiring an integrity commissioner to investigate an alleged breach of the code of ethics in place at the time is not in violation of the current policy. It further follows that my report is not in violation of policy 3.1 .
Thus my report is not a violation of the policy or even contradictory or non-adhering to policy.
It follows that Ms. Jackson had and has absolutely no legitimate grounds to censor my report.
Ms. Jackson has a history of shutting out views that she disagrees with, especially views that are critical of her actions or actions of her allies.
She has abused her authority by: illegally having me arrested for trespassing as I sat in my council seat during a council meeting; having a town lawyer file a ridiculous and unsupportable complaint to the upper Canada law society; having the TSBP land claim lawyer write a letter to Ms. Jackson falsely claiming that I had multiple contacts with that lawyer (https://craiggammieblog.com/2016/10/14/lawyer-denies-councillor-gammie-shut-out-of-land-claim-discussions-gammie-responds-6-4/) ; claimed to the press the huge lie that I had contacted the land claim lawyer daily (http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2016/10/09/gammie-holds-sauble-land-claim-meeting); censored a report about the OPP not dong their duty with respect to fireworks bylaw enforcement; and much more.
I submit that the censorship of my report about a breach of closed session confidentiality is either naivety in the extreme or else an attempt to cover up the alleged transgression. I believe it is the latter.
The censored report is attached below.
The censorship is of concern as it is just one more tool that the Mayor is using to shut out those with views that are different than her own.
If you share my concern, I urge you to let council know.
I would be remiss if I did not warn you that others have been silenced using various retaliatory measures, including intimidation (“something bad will happen to you if you continue to oppose me”).