The Sauble Town Square Fiasco – Why the Rush?

March of this year architects were hired to come up with a design for a town square for Sauble Beach.  On July 18, 2017 their proposal was presented to council.

The proposal was not really for a town square at all.  It was for a rock concert venue for the almost exclusive benefit of tourists and the tourist trade.

At the July 18 meeting it became clear that the idea was controversial.

A council meeting was set for August 5th to get public input.

A July 27th Wiarton Echo article noted the controversy over the project and announced the August 5th meeting.

Residents came to the August 5th meeting expecting an opportunity to voice their concerns or support in front of their peers.   Instead they arrived to find that there was no room on the agenda for residents to comment.

Councillor Vukovic  indicated to the mayor that we would leave the meeting (which would end it for lack of council quorum) if the residents were not allowed to voice their concerns publically at the meeting.

The Mayor reluctantly agreed to allow each resident to ask one question at the meeting, after the architect’s presentation.

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/FileStorage/1C559D8D74594F44862F5C5B06137D8E-Sauble%20Beach%20Town%20Square%20Presentation.pdf

Residents were not permitted to make comments, and the architects and council members were not permitted to respond to the residents’ questions.

It was a sham – not a real public meeting at all.

Residents were invited to submit comments, in writing, as long as they did so by 4:30 Tuesday the 7th (3 days later).   Many complained that the timeline was far too short.

Then on August 8th the mayor called a special meeting of council for Friday August 11th for the purpose of making a decision regarding the town square.

This fast schedule is shutting out the residents to a large degree.   But worse it is pushing council to make a fast decision rather than slowing down and doing it right.

Mayor Jackson said in council July 18, and is quoted in the echo as saying: “My only concern is that it’s up and running by Canada Day next year”.

The fast special August 11th meeting is clearly to try to meet Janice Jackson’s desired schedule.

But there is no justification for such a fast track.   We have managed fine without a town square forever.   The sky is not going to fall if we don’t have a town square completed by Canada day 2018.  The sky is not going to fall if we slow down and do this right, even if that means not meeting Janice Jackson’s schedule.

The August 11th meeting was called to try to ram through a decision.    This in my view is the wrong strategy.

Many concerns have been raised on facebook pages, on blogs, in the August 5th meeting, and elsewhere.   Concerns include the high cost to taxpayers for the structures, potentially very high maintenance and operating costs, feasibility of the composting toilets, noise, liablity, safety, poor suitability for Sauble, and others.   These are valid concerns that need to be addressed in a transparent and deliberate way.

I encourage all residents to email council and suggest that the Sauble Town Square decision process be slowed down and modified to include residents in a more meaningful way.

If you decide to come to the council meeting on the 10th (tomorrow), be aware that residents will not likely be permitted to speak.

Lastly I could not help but wonder why the Mayor is so bent on completing her $900,000 plus town square by July 1, 2018 (less than eleven months away).   Then I recalled that we have an election about October 28, 2018, and campaigning starts in earnest about Canada Day (July 1) 2018.

Welcome to the world of politics.

 

Craig

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Sauble Town Square Fiasco (7-6)

There is a special public meeting of Council on August 5, 2017 at 11:00 am at the Sauble School to get reaction to the latest Sauble town square proposal.   I encourage all residents to attend.

It started out as a sound enough idea.  The town owns land near lakeshore and main street.  Someone said let’s have a town square there where residents could gather on special occasions.

The cost at the early stage was estimated by some as no more than $200,000.

Then somehow the idea morphed into something completely different.

Instead of having a low cost community town square for the residents, the plan is to build an ugly million dollar rock concert venue monstrosity for the enjoyment of tourists and for the benefit of the tourism trade.

The ugly monstrosity was revealed in the July 18 council agenda at:

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/FileStorage/FE43421BCA224AEAA5FB2A42A5D647E2-Delegation%20Presentation%20-%20MJ%20Architecture.pdf

In the presentation it was made crystal clear that the town square was not at all a place for residents, but was rather a “bold gesture to reinvigorate tourism”.

The number of times “branding” and encouraging “tourism” was mentioned in the presentation?  – ten!.  Number of times residents mentioned – zero!

What concerns me most is that taxes keep going up and town roads keep falling further and further into disrepair, yet taxpayers’ money is being gobbled up by the ugly and  noisy “town square” fiasco as taxpayers are once again being forced to subsidize the tourism trade.

Proponents are saying that the increased tourism from the square will bring revenues into the treasury.  Don’t buy it.   Tourists pay parking fees, but the cost burden of tourism is far larger than those revenues, and as a result tourists are a net cost to the municipality.

Proponents are saying there will not be much noise impact because the amphitheatre will be pointed toward the lake.

Don’t buy it.  The sound of very loud rock bands will carry for many kilometers in all directions, not just toward the lake.   And the current council, a majority of which has total disregard for the rights of residents to quiet enjoyment of their properties and the commons,  is geared up to exempt the town square from the TSBP noise by-law.  We could have the noise every night of the summer. Confiscation of one million dollars from taxpayers and what you get for it is to be driven out of your quiet home.

Some, including mayor Janice Jackson, have invited tourists to come to the August 5th meeting and have their say.

Do you want tourists to decide how much taxes you pay?   Do you want tourists to decide how your scarce tax dollars are spent.   Of course many of the tourists will favour a noisy rock concert venue.   It costs them nothing.  But it will cost the taxpayers a million dollars.

The meeting should only recognize taxpayers.  After all the million dollars is your money.

The concept as presented to council July 18th is a monstrosity.     It is a cross between 5 storey industrial scaffolding and a scene from Mad Max From Thunderdome.

Is that really what the residents want for Sauble Beach?

Please come to the August 5th meeting.  Please say no to the confiscation of a million dollars of your money for subsidization of the tourism trade.  Please say no to the confiscation of a million dollars of your money for this inappropriate monstrosity.

Please insist on a low cost town square designed for the residents who appreciate the special quiet rural ambience of Sauble Beach.

 

Craig Gammie

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The 2017 Town of South Bruce Peninsula Budget 6-8

This is my personal viewpoint.  I do not speak for council.

Council and staff have been working on the 2017 budget for several weeks.  The budget is getting very close to being finalized.

At this stage the budget includes a tax increase of about 3.3 percent for the average residence.

But the 3.3 percent tax increase is very misleading.

Because to get the tax increase down to 3.3 percent the plan is to:

 1) siphon cash from our working capital reserve to pay for expenditures and ,

2) underfund and run down our reserves for future capital projects like roads, fleet replacement, a new landfill site, etc.)

If we were to keep these reserves at a proper level, the tax increase could be more like five or six percent.   That is the real increase at this point.  The 3.3 per cent increase is an illusion.

Here are some opportunities to get the increase down:

Clubs should pay property taxes

Currently there are four clubs that do not pay property taxes, even though the municipal act requires that we tax them, and even though the former treasurer said that we had to tax them.  By giving the clubs a property tax break, all other residents and businesses have to pay more tax.  This is unfair to the rest of the residents and to businesses.

Tourism operators should not be subsidized by residential property taxes

There are several budget items that take money out of the pockets of residents and give the money directly to tourism businesses, or spend the money indirectly to assist tourist businesses.  This is unfair to all residents who do not have tourism businesses, and is especially unfair to residents who have businesses or occupations that are not tourism.

Some claim that taxing property owners and using the money to assist tourism businesses helps the economy and makes residents more prosperous.  But that claim does not stand up to scrutiny.   Taking money out of residents’ pockets through taxes reduces their spending on goods and services, and reduces investment (through savings) in the generation of gods and services.  That diminishes the economy.  When this economic drain is compared to any benefit from subsidizing businesses, the net impact on the economy will in my estimate be negative.

In addition to being unfair, subsidizing tourism with property tax dollars is discouraged by the  municipal act section 106, which reads:

Assistance prohibited

  1. (1) Despite any Act, a municipality shall not assist directly or indirectly any manufacturing business or other industrial or commercial enterprise through the granting of bonuses for that purpose.  2001, c. 25, s. 106 (1).

I am not against economic development or growth.  I only oppose forced taxpayer subsidies to businesses.

Sauble town square

At this point there is $400,000 of capital costs in this year’s budget and another $800,000 slated for the 2018 budget for a “town square” at Sauble Beach.   The reason it is so costly is that it is not a town square at all, but is instead a concert venue for loud bands for the purpose of attracting tourists for the benefit of the tourist industry.   The town square design even has dressing rooms for the bands.   Residents will pay dearly through property taxes and in return will lose the quiet ambience that brought them to Sauble Beach in the first place.  And there will be significant ongoing operating costs too.

I would prefer to have a simple town square, a real town square, which could be made for less than $100,000.

Extra school taxes

About a third of your property tax bill is education taxes.   Education tax rates are set by the province. Neither the school board nor the town has any jurisdiction or right to levy extra taxes.  Yet that is exactly what the Town of South Bruce Peninsula does.  It collects an extra school tax and pays it to the Bluewater School board.   You pay huge education taxes and then you pay an extra hidden education tax.   That is unfair and of questionable legality.

I support keeping all of our schools operating.  But we should be getting the funds to keep the schools operating from legitimate education taxes, not from extra municipal property taxes.

Funding doctors

Provision of Health Care services is the sole jurisdiction of the province.   Yet the town collects extra property taxes from the residents to pay doctors to practice here.   While this benefits some, it costs all and is beyond the jurisdiction of the town.

I support a concerted effort to get the province to get doctors to practice in TSBP.  But I cannot support increasing property taxes to pay doctors.

Payments to charities

The budget contains some significant donations to charities.   Donations to charities should be voluntary, private decisions.   The town should not be making your charity-donation decisions for you, without your consent, through property taxes.

—————————————

There are also opportunities to better serve the residents.  Here’s one:

Noise and fireworks by-law enforcement

We have good fireworks and noise bylaws.  We use to have good enforcement of fireworks and noise bylaws.  But now there is no enforcement outside 9-5 Monday to Friday.  This leaves the residents vulnerable to harassment by inconsiderate hooligans all summer long.  A majority of council members have contemptuously decided that residents are not entitled to enjoyment of their properties.  These members do not seem to care about the residents and make disparaging remarks about any resident who asks for enforcement.  One council member has even openly encouraged violation of the bylaws by publically indicating that there will be no by-law enforcement outside of 9-5 Monday to Friday.  This is totally disrespectful of the residents, especially when you consider that the revenue generated from after-hours enforcement may well exceed the extra costs.

After much discussion, however, council members have agreed, some very reluctantly, to add by-law enforcement on weekends for the summer.  But enforcement is needed after hours during the week too.

Public Meeting

There will be a public meeting regarding the budget.  The current date is March 30th at 7:00 pm in council chambers at town hall.

An announcement is at:

http://www.southbrucepeninsula.com/en/townhall/publicnotices.asp

Also in the announcement is information on how you can send comments in or make comments at the public meeting.

 

 

Craig

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The ballot system issue; a counterpoint to the Mayor’s ridiculous spin (7-5)

In the February 7th council meeting we very briefly discussed ballot systems.  The issue was  mail (current) versus internet/ phone (proposed).    A motion to bring a bylaw for internet/phone balloting before council failed.  Against the rules Mayor Jackson carried on debate well after the vote was taken.  Right after the meeting the Mayor sent an email making false statements about my position in the council discussions.  Here are my comments on both the council discussion and Ms. Jackson’s email statements.

Mayor breached the rules by making argument after the vote

The ballot method matter was item 8.9 on the February 7th agenda.   There was very little discussion. Only Councillor Vukovic spoke.  The vote on the item was called (by the mayor) one and a half minutes after the item opened.  Then there was a recorded vote about 1 ½ minutes after the unrecorded vote. The motion failed.

Item 8.9 was at that point closed.  We went on and debated items 8.10 and 8.11.

There are rules governing closure:

 A 19.8 No member shall speak beside the question in debate.

A22.6 After any question is finally put by the Mayor [for a vote], no member shall speak to the question,

A22.7 After any resolution, question or matter has been decided except in those situations described in (a) – (h) below, any member who voted thereon with the prevailing side may move for reconsideration within the same meeting.

16 minutes after item 8.9 was voted and decided, and after we had completed two more agenda items, the Mayor, who had not voted with the prevailing side on item 8.9, started in on item 8.9 again, clearly in violation of all three above council rules.

Rule  A19.10 says:

“Rules of debate and conduct apply to the Mayor in the same manner in which they apply to members of Council.”)

The mayor is bound by the rules.  The mayor was clearly out of order.

Because the Mayor was so clearly out of order, I raised a point of order, but the mayor refused to hear it and shouted me down, (another violation of the rules).

Then with complete disregard for the rules, and in contempt of council, the mayor then proceeded to present the results of her “referendum”/“poll” regarding item 8.9.

Her comments are on an audio recording at:

www.craiggammie.com/audio/council7february2917item8.9ballotmethod.wma

And in a transcript I made at:

http://www.craiggammie.com/audio/Transcriptitem8.9february72017revoting.pdf

I did not change my vote

Jackson said in her February 7th email:

Councillor Gammie voted in favour of bringing forward this change however he reversed his vote today.

This is false.  In the February 7th council meeting the Mayor was clearly confused and had absolutely no idea what was going on.   Because the mayor was so confused the clerk had to explain to the Mayor what issue we had voted on January 17th and also what issue was before us on February 7th.  Here’s a transcript of the exchange between the clerk and the mayor on February 7th.

Jackson: Did we not get to this point in the last meeting? Like is this not the by-law that’s coming forward tonight?

Clerk Cathrae:             …. so at the last meeting you approved that I could bring back a report with the bylaw.  So here’s the report with the by-law and you’re telling me no.  So it’s done.

Jackson: Ok I’m sorry I expected the readings of the by-law today.

The agenda did not have a bylaw up for vote.   Yet the mayor thought we were voting first second and third readings of the bylaw.  The Mayor was very confused.  The mayor either did not read the agenda or did not comprehend what was in the agenda.

On January 17th I voted to bring a report forward.   I did not vote for the by- law January 17.  No one voted for the by-law January 17th.  The by-law was not on the agenda January 17th.  The by-law was not on the agenda for readings February 7th.

On February 7th I was voting against “putting the necessary by-law to approve the alternate voting method of internet and telephone voting on the agenda of an upcoming council meeting for consideration” (emphasis added).

There is no way this can reasonably be construed as “changing my vote”. I did not change my vote.  The Mayor’s statement is false.

Not that there would be anything wrong with changing one’s vote.  Some matters have up to four different votes, on at least two different days, so that we can go out and discuss the matter with constituents, and change our positions if warranted by those discussions.  It is our duty to keep an open mind and listen to the arguments of residents and council members and change our stance if so persuaded.

I did not say constituent’s comments were “meaningless”

In the February 7th email to her list after the February meeting, Ms. Jackson said;

[Gammie] claimed my polling of constituents was “meaningless” and “not a relevant sample”.

This is false, misleading at best.

Ms. Jackson presented her survey as if it was a valid referendum.

In council on February 7th the Mayor said:

…..that I wanted to bring forward which I didn’t really think was necessary but, however, um, and it was a form of a referendum from the people

And,

I think that’s a pretty good polling of how the people feel.

Her survey was presented against the rules.  But because I felt that her so called “poll” was improperly conducted and that the conclusions were clearly invalid, I felt compelled to respond.

My response in council February 7th was interrupted frequently by the Mayor (another breach of the council rules).

Here is a transcript of my February 7th response with the Mayor’s interruptions removed:

Your poll doesn’t meet any of the criteria of a good poll. It’s not a relevant sample.  It’s not random.  All kinds of problems with it.  People on your email list are not a random sample. It’s not a valid sample.  It’s meaningless if you think this is a referendum, you’re sadly mistaken.  You’ve blasted six per cent.  It’s just like you did in that town hall meeting about the about the foodland “all in favour?” as if that was a council vote..

(Hear the full response at the URL above.)

I said the Mayor’s conclusions drawn from her “referendum” were meaningless.  And I stand by that.    I said that the results were not a reliable indicator of the feelings of all of the constituents on the matter.  And I stand by that.  I was trying to express, (while being interrupted constantly by the Mayor), that because the survey size was too small a fraction of the population, and because Ms.  Jackson had asked a leading question, and because the sampling was not random but was rather selective, and because of other problems, that the conclusions were invalid and unreliable and “meaningless”.

I felt that the Mayor’s survey did not necessarily represent the views of the whole population.    That is quite different than “meaningless”.

I did not say and I did not imply and I did not mean that the comments of the individual respondents were meaningless or invalid.  I found the individual responses very interesting and very meaningful.

The mayor was treating her “survey” as a valid referendum and “a pretty good polling of how the people feel”.  I merely pointed out what should have been obvious to her, namely that her survey was neither “valid” nor “a pretty good polling”.

“Spin”

In her February 7th email J. Jackson took a few of my words and presented them out of context and distorted in order to give them a different meaning than was actually delivered and to give them a different meaning than intended.

The mayor’s style seems to be damn the truth and to hell with the facts.

I have to admit she has a gift for “spin”.  But her spin is still lies and is still deceitful and is still bullying and is still behavior unbecoming.

Malice

On February 7th in the short period when the item was legitimately before council only   Councillor Vukovic spoke on the item.   Councillor Vukovic said that the town has more than 13,000 voters and by innuendo said that J. Jackson’s “referendum/ poll” only covered a fraction of that.   Councillor Vukovic did not expressly say that J. Jackson’s “poll” / “referendum” was invalid, but I believe it was clearly implied.

In her February 7th email J. Jackson said not a word about Councillor Ana Vukovic’s position and Councillor Vukovic’s  vote.  And Councillor Vukovic voted after I did, meaning from a technical sense it was Ana’s vote that defeated the motion.

Yet incredibly Ms. Jackson blamed the defeat of the motion on me and only on me.

That is malice.  Or naiveté in the extreme.  Or both.

Standard of review/ Duty of a council member

We were never provided with a proper ballot systems cost comparison, so I had no reliable indicator of whether or not the mail system is significantly more expensive.

My information indicated that security is no more an issue with mail balloting than electronic.

I knew from experience that the slightly longer time to process mail ballots was not a major issue.

But most important for my decision is that I learned that many who had voted with comfort in the past with our mail system would be so uncomfortable with the internet/phone voting system that they simply would not vote.   I believe that any discouragement from voting would be inconsiderate, unfair,  and undemocratic.   In consideration of all voters, (not just those on the Mayor’s list) and in the spirit of democracy, I felt duty bound to vote to stay with the mail system.

While it is our duty to find out what residents think, the standard for decision making is correctness, not necessarily what is most popular.  All members of council were elected to do what is right, whether or not it is popular.

Apparently oblivious to this duty, it seems that at least one council member may be debating and voting not guided by what is right, but rather for what they believe will get them the most votes in the next election.

I will not and would not vote in council for something I feel is wrong (or vote against what I feel is right) just to get election votes.  I would rather lose the next election than be deliberately uncaring or unfair to those in the minority.  I would rather lose the next election than compromise my integrity.

Another, it seems, does not worry so much about integrity.

 

Craig

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

TSBP Clerk /mayor censor another report – could shenanigans cost us the beach?

In previous commentaries I have indicated that several of my reports were censored, without legitimate authority, without grounds, and without reasons being provided.

The latest to be censored is report Gammie 02-2107.  The report is attached as it was submitted to the clerk.

The subject is the Sauble land claim.

I had read the first nations (plaintiff) amended claim of April 2016.  They are still claiming that they own to about 7th street.   I had also read the TSBP amended statement of defence of December 2016.

I felt that with my background on the Sauble Land claim issue, I could improve our defence considerably, and reduce the risk of us losing the beach to the first nation.

All I was asking for in the censored report was for council to grant me authority to meet with town lawyer Johnathon Lisus to discuss the land claim and our defence.

Clerk Cathrae scuttled my report, refusing to put it on a council agenda.

I asked Ms. Cathrae for her authority for the censorship, and the grounds.

Although Ms. Cathrae would not answer directly, it became clear that she was using the part of rule 12.1 which says that the mayor (not the clerk) can reject reports “felt to be in violation of law”.

It also became clear that the “law” that the Clerk felt that my report “violated” was these two resolutions:

R-19-2016  That the Mayor and Deputy Mayor meet with staff on a quarterly basis to review the legal update and bring back to Council as a whole anything they feel needs to have discussion for any decisions.

R-32-2016That Council has already determined that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor will meet with staff quarterly to discuss legal and that this issue not be brought back to Council for the remainder of this term.

First of all, it is clear that the clerk lacks the legitimate authority to censor my reports, regardless of the grounds.  The authority (when there are legitimate grounds), is reserved for the Mayor.

Second, the grounds provided for censoring are preposterous.

The two resolutions are not “law”, and are not anything that my report could possibly be “in violation of law”, so the report does not violate anything.

Even the report recommendations, (as distinct from the report itself), if implemented, would not “violate the law”, and would not even violate the resolutions.

I suspect that the Clerk is not really acting on her own, but rather is being directed by the Mayor.  If true, then it is the Mayor who has done wrong, not so much the clerk.

Every day I become more convinced that something is going on behind the scenes and that Janice Jackson is taking very questionable measures to keep the residents in the dark regarding the Sauble Land claim.

I can only pray that the Mayor’s shenanigans do not cost us the beach.

 

 

Craig

gammie-2-2017-report-gammie-meet-lisus

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More of Janice Jackson’s malicious allegations against Councillor Gammie turn out to be groundless 7-3

Section A 7.6 of our rules prescribes:

“Any notes taken by Council members in Closed Session will be given to the Clerk at the end of the Closed Session. The notes will be destroyed by the Clerk.”

Clearly the rule allows taking notes in closed session, as long as they are surrendered at the end of the meeting.   Clearly the rule cannot possibly be breached until the end of a meeting.

May 12, 2015 at the very beginning of a closed session council meeting, Mayor Janice Jackson accused me of making notes on my computer in breach of section A 7.6.

We were just starting the closed session.  We were a long ways from the end of the meeting.

I argued the obvious – that I could not possibly have breached the rule because we were nowhere near the end of the meeting.

I guess Mayor Jackson did not agree, because she called the OPP and asked them to arrest me for trespassing and to remove me from town hall.

While we were waiting for the police, I proposed a resolution.  I said that while I would not admit to the breach (of A7.6) that I was (falsely) accused of, I would delete the computer file I was working on, close my computer, put it away and make notes on paper instead.

Mayor Jackson accepted my proposal.  When the OPP arrived we both told the officer that the problem was resolved, and that no further action was required.

Then just as the police officer was about to leave, new allegations were levelled:  that I had photographed confidential documents with my cellphone, that I had audio recorded closed session with my computer , and that I had audio recorded closed session with my cell phone.

I was told to apologize for these new allegations or be charged with trespassing and removed.

Because the new allegations were false and unproven, there was no way I was going to apologize, so I refused, and I was handcuffed, marched out, searched, charged, and humiliated.

A week later in council chambers I was told once again to apologize or be evicted.  Once again I refused to apologize for breaking rules I did not break, and so I was arrested and removed and charged and humiliated.

Janice Jackson told reporters that I was out forever if I did not apologize and the apology was accepted by council.

I told reporters that I was going to court to get an injunction to prevent the mayor from keeping me out of council.

Two days later, on May 21, even though I still proclaimed my innocence, and I had not apologized, Mayor Jackson dropped the “out forever” threat, and I was back in council.

I took that as a clear admission on her part that her allegations that I broke any or all those rules were all groundless.  I considered it vindication.

That left me with trespass charges.

Over the 18 odd months since I was charged, there have been many pretrials.

At a pretrial a justice of the peace tries to get the parties to reach a settlement so that matter does not have to go to court for a trial.

At every pretrial I insisted that I had not breached the council rules that Mayor Jackson had claimed I breached, and I refused to admit to any breach of the council rules or the Trespass to Property Act, and I refused to consider any resolution other than dismissal of the charges or proceed to court.

The sixth or seventh pretrial was on January 18, 2017.  As before, I admitted to no wrongdoing.  Still, I got a dismissal of all charges.

And while the prosecutor did not formally admit that he had no case, and did not formally admit that the allegations made against me by Janice Jackson were not provable, the conclusion I drew from his request for dismissal is that he had no viable case.

I considered the dismissal a second vindication of my position that Janice Jackson’s allegations of serious breach of council rules were false and groundless.

I will go one further.  I will say that the allegations levelled by Jackson were knowingly false.

I have had many allegations levelled at me over the past six years, many of which made headlines.   Most I have proven false.  The ones not proven false were shown to be unsubstantiated.

I currently have at least four allegations against me:

  • That I breached the code of conduct by disclosing information from the June 7, 2016 closed session,
  • That I breached the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act in the June 7, 2016 closed session,
  • That I harassed (workplace harassment) the clerk for two years straight,
  • That I breached the Law Society Act (practicing law without a licence) in an August 12, 2016 OMB hearing.

Over and over I have asserted that the allegations are groundless.  Over and over I have refused to recognize Janice Jackson’s kangaroo court.  Over and over I have challenged my accusers to put the allegations before a proper adjudicator.

Yet no one has picked up the challenge.

I am very confident that the allegations will never go before a tribunal with the authority to adjudicate.

But if they do I am confident that the charges will again be dismissed.

Janice Jackson’s barrage of false allegations are bullying, and are harmful, and are an abuse of her position.

No resident should have to suffer through that.

Craig

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Response to Wiarton Echo article: “OMB Questions SBP Councillor’s Role at Hearing” (7-2)

The Wiarton Echo ran a story January 20 titled:  “OMB Questions SBP Councillor’s Role At Hearing”.

 I was interviewed by editor Zoe Kessler on January 17th and again on January 19th about the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) “report” cited in the article.

I explained to Zoe that OMB board member Duncan’s duty was to focus on the planning matter before him and I explained that OMB board member Duncan had no business opining on an alleged conflict of interest at a council meeting that he was not involved in.

Zoe chose to leave all that out of the article.

I also explained to Zoe that the Law Society of Upper Canada had no authority to investigate, prosecute, adjudicate, or anything, and I challenged her to find otherwise in the Law Society Act.

She did not find anything.  I doubt if she even looked.

I explained to Zoe that the real story is that someone (not me) took closed session information  from the June 7, 2016  closed council meeting about the OMB case and gave it to a witness in the August 12 OMB hearing, in clear breach of council’s code of ethics.  I explained to Zoe that the witness actually swore to the closed session information.  I also told Zoe who leaked the information.

Zoe left that out too.   She told me she wasn’t going to touch that one.

Concerned that the article was inaccurate because of too many omissions, I decided to present the other perspective using the comments provisions on the Wiarton Echo Facebook page.  And I did.

I posted comments, and replied to comments by others.

It was a good conversation on the Facebook page.  There was no name calling, no defamation.  All reasonably civil.

But on Sunday the Facebook page and the comments disappeared.

It appears that the Echo is taking a page from someone’s manual and is censoring comments.  (Or maybe the Minister of Propaganda is exerting control of the press.)

For those who were following the Facebook conversation, and for those who weren’t but are interested, I have recreated the Echo Facebook page and all the comments.

My comments are verbatim; I had saved a copy.   Comments of others are from my memory.

Here’s the Echo Article:

OMB Questions SBP Councillor’s Role At Hearing

TOWN OF SOUTH BRUCE PENINSULA – In a recent decision and order by the Ontario Municipal Board, Justin Duncan, board member, said the OMB found it “very concerning” that Craig Gammie, a councillor for the town of South Bruce Peninsula, failed to see a potential conflict of interest when he acted as a representative for a town resident at an OMB appeal hearing.

Duncan raised several concerns in his Dec. 16 decision regarding an appeal of a minor variance granted to the owners of 600 Mallory Beach Road in the town of South Bruce Peninsula.

Duncan said, “It was only during the course of the evidence of the last witness to be heard…that it became known to the Board that Mr. Gammie is a Town Councillor who participated in an in-camera session of Town Council where it was decided that legal counsel would not be sent to this hearing to represent the town.”

Duncan said after this information was revealed, Gammie was asked to consider “whether his role as representative of the Appellant was in conflict with his role as City [sic] Councillor.”

According to Duncan’s report, Gammie had responded there was no conflict as he had not received financial remuneration.

Duncan’s report said while the board was “not charged specifically with making a finding under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act,” it was “responsible for controlling the integrity of its own process.”

Duncan continued, “the Board finds it very concerning that a Town Councillor would fail to see the potential for a real conflict in this situation, which gives rise to the question of whether his vote at the Council meeting was as a member of Council or as agent for the Appellant.”

Duncan stressed Counc. Gammie’s “potential conflict” would not be taken into account in the assessment of the appeal.

At an interview Jan. 17 at SBP council chambers in Wiarton, Gammie questioned how Duncan had received information from a closed council session, adding, “I have never been an agent for the Appellant until the very day of the [OMB] hearing.

“On the day of the hearing, I became an agent of the Appellant.”

Gammie added, “When I was in that council meeting, everything I said, everything I did, every vote I did, was as a member of council.”

Gammie reiterated his belief that, “there are a dozen reasons why it’s not a breach of the Municipal Conflict of Interest [Act]. The fact that there was no money is only one of them.”

In contrast to Gammie’s position, Duncan’s report echoes concerns previously expressed by Gammie’s fellow council members.

In a letter from the town’s legal counsel dated Aug. 31, Steven O’Melia of Miller Thomson LLP raised concerns that Gammie may have contravened the Law Society Act in representing and/or giving advice to residents at the Aug. 12 OMB appeal hearing.

O’Melia added legal counsel was concerned “about the appearance of potential impropriety given that you may have, or be perceived to have, information that could assist a private participant in a legal proceeding.”

At a Sept. 20 council meeting, council voted to make a complaint to The Law Society of Upper Canada on behalf of the town in regard to the matter (Counc. Gammie declared a conflict of interest and refrained from voting).

In an interview Jan. 17, Mayor Janice Jackson said The Law Society has confirmed receipt of the information and said it will assign an investigator “in the new year.”

“We’re taking that as any time now,” Jackson said, adding she expects to hear a decision within the next three or four months.

Jackson said, should Counc. Gammie be found guilty, he would face a fine of up to $25,000 for a first offence. A second offence would include a fine of up to $50,000, she said.

As for the outcome, in an interview Jan. 19 Counc. Gammie said, “I quite frankly believe when the Law Society actually looks at this on the surface they will decline to investigate any further. They will realize it is frivolous and vexatious and they will tell the town so.”

Gammie said he did not believe the Law Society had any authority to investigate in the first place as he is not a member of the Law Society.

———————————————————–

Here are the Facebook comments Thread 1 –

Craig Gammie replied to the main article:

Regarding Mr. Duncan’s thinly veiled allegation that I breached the Municipal Conflict of interest Act:

For there to be a finding that I breached the act, there must be a pecuniary interest.  In other words I have to benefit financially if a particular decision goes my way. And the conflict of interest must be present at the time of the meeting where the breach is alleged.  If a conflict arises after the meeting it does not count, because a conflict that arises after a decision is made cannot possible influence or change that decision.

There is no decision that could have been made June 7 that I could have benefitted financially from.   And the alleged conflict arose after the meeting. Two clear reasons why there was no potential conflict, and no actual conflict of interest.

OMB panelist Justin Duncan stated as a fact that there was a “potential” conflict and claimed by strong innuendo that there was an actual conflict and that I breached the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

He was wrong.   He set himself up as another Kangaroo court.  Not as bad as Janice Jackson’s Kangaroo court, but still improper.   If Duncan wants to accuse me of breach of the Municipal Conflict of interest act, or of having a “potential” conflict, he should go to the proper authority, which is not the OMB, and is not Justin Duncan, but is the Superior Court of Justice.  But Duncan won’t do that.  Because he knows that his allegations are groundless and vexatious and he knows that there are serious consequences for making unsupportable or vexatious or frivolous claims to the Superior Court of Justice.

Unless a competent adjudicator says otherwise, I am not guilty of the allegations levelled against me.

Regarding the possible breach of the code of conduct June 7, 2016:

The municipal act provides for any resident to petition council to commission an inquiry into whether a member of council has contravened the code of conduct, and provides for council to assign an integrity commissioner to conduct such an inquiry.

Concerned that a member had breached the code on June 7, 2016 by leaking closed session information, I requested, via a report to council, that council commission such an inquiry.

Mayor Janice Jackson, exercising authority she does not legitimately possess, censored my report, and prevented my petition from coming before council, and prevented my concerns from being put to a proper adjudicator :

https://craiggammieblog.com/2016/12/19/censorship-of-another-councillors-report-what-is-the-mayor-trying-to-cover-up-6-7/

Regarding the allegation by lawyer O’Melia that I contravened the Law Society Act:

The council made similar allegations at the September 20, 2016 council meeting.  I called it a Kangaroo court and challenged any or all of my accusers to take their allegations before someone with the legitimate authority to adjudicate the allegations. They did not do that.  Instead they got the town lawyer, at great expense to the taxpayer, to make a complaint to the Law Society of Upper Canada.

But the law society of Upper Canada has no legitimate authority to adjudicate or to try me or to charge me or to prosecute me.  They have the authority to discipline their members, but I am not a member, so they cannot try or discipline me.

They don’t even have any real investigative powers.   They can ask people to give statements, but they cannot summon them.  They can ask for documentary evidence (like closed minutes), but they cannot compel them.    Their powers are extremely limited.

I predict that none of my accusers will take their accusations before someone who has the legitimate authority to adjudicate on the merits of the accusations.  Because the people who have that authority do not take kindly to people making unsupportable or frivolous or vexations allegations.  And the allegation that I breached the Law society act is just that – unsupportable, frivolous and vexatious.

The law society act section allegedly contravened  is there so unscrupulous people don’t pretend to be lawyers and take people’s money for providing legal services that they are not qualified or authorized to provide.  The section is there to protect the public.

I have not been accused of taking people’s money for providing legal services that I am not authorized  to provide.    I am not accused of taking people’s money at all. I am not accused of contravening the purpose of the act.

It is clear that Omelai is not going after me to protect the public.

So he must be going after me for some other reason.

In his allegation, when Omelia paraphrased the law that he claims I contravened, he left out a key part of the law.  He left out the part that says “subject to section 2…, .  He left out the part that says  —  if the exception in section 2 is available, you can provide legal services without a licence.

The only plausible reason for leaving that part out is because if you leave it in it quickly becomes clear that I have not contravened the law.   And if I have not contravened then there are no grounds for the accusation.  So I can deduce that the allegations are made not to protect the public, which is a proper purpose, but rather to harm me, which is an improper purpose, which makes the allegations vexatious.

Unless a competent adjudicator says otherwise, I am not guilty of the allegations levelled against me.

I ask how you would feel if a serious but false allegation were levelled at you in a very public forum.   I ask how you would feel if there was a never-ending barrage of false allegations levelled at you.

I had no idea municipal politics could be so rough.  I had no idea how dirty some of the players can play.

I know better now.  But I won’t back down.

—————————————————

Here’s the reader’s digest version from the Charter of Freedoms and Rights

Proceedings in criminal and penal matters

  1. Any person charged with an offence has the right ……. (d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;

MaryAnn Wilhelm replied to Craig Gammie:

I commend you for stepping up to the plate to defend your position. It’s a good read.

Thread 2:

MaryAnn Wilhelm responded to the main article:

They got elected by attacking the Indians.  Just likeTrump got elected by going after immigrants.

Craig Gammie replied:  The first nations sued us for the beach.  I was defending against the lawsuit.   Not at all like Trump.

MaryAnn Wilhelm replied to C. Gammie:  And how is that going?

Craig replied to MaryAnn Wilhelm:

Janice Jackson is trying to make sure I am kept out of the picture.   She has even resorted to lying about my involvement.

She told a reporter that I have phoned TSBP Lawyer Lisus “on a daily basis” since his engagement in February 2015.

On my blog I said that her claim was a “huge, ridiculous, malicious, and obvious lie”:

https://craiggammieblog.com/2016/10/30/the-mayors-big-lie-can-we-trust-her-with-the-sauble-land-claim-file-6-6/

Mid-December Jackson told me she had proof that I phoned TSBP Lawyer Lisus “on a daily basis”.

I said “show me”.

She has not provided the proof.

I maintain my submission that she lied.

Other blog postings regarding the land claim:

https://craiggammieblog.com/2016/10/26/sauble-land-claim-what-is-the-meaning-of-the-7th-street-post-notation-ne-ind-res-craigs-6-5/

https://craiggammieblog.com/2016/10/14/lawyer-denies-councillor-gammie-shut-out-of-land-claim-discussions-gammie-responds-6-4/

How is that going?  Not as well as I had hoped.  But I will find ways to go around the roadblock.

Doug Jordan replied to Craig Gammie:  I remind you that a letter was read at your Amabel Property Owners October 8th land claim meeting from lawyer Jonathan Lisus… that’s the proof.  If you want more proof you should pay Lisus to give you proof.

Craig Gammie replied to Doug Jordan:

The October 7th lawyer’s letter proves nothing.  It’s not even evidence of anything.   The person who made the claim (that Gammie phones the lawyer daily) and promised to back it up with phone records is the one who must supply the evidence/ proof.

Thread 3:

Doug Jordan responded to main article:   The whole world, not just TSBP, should be concerned about this behavior.

Craig Gammie responded to Jordan:  No .. the world should be concerned about some people assuming that allegations are facts.

Thread 4 

Jon Turner responded to main article:   About as expected lol

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment