In the next 5 weeks I will be blogging about the issues as I see them and as I have been able to extrapolate from the last 4 years. Please feel free to comment and discuss the issues. I do not have all the answers but feel free to contact me and I am willing to discuss them.
These issues always instill disagreement during any election. They are catch words that some candidates use when they do not have a viable platform. They are often used to complain about a situation during the election but rarely result in any constructive solutions. Although I am using them, it is with the understanding of what they really mean and accurately reflect decisions that this City Council has acted on.
Two of the most important issues are: Accountability and Transparency.
Accountability means that the elected officials are going to work for and with the electorate to offer solutions and solve the issues that are important to them. It may not be an ideal solution or one that is preferred by the constituent, but it will be one that is fair to everyone concerned. That might mean a resolution may only partially solve an issue.
Example: A young man called and then messaged me on Facebook. He wanted something done about his neighbour and felt the situation next door was potentially dangerous to his family. He did not want anyone to visit him but he did insist on a fast resolution. I contacted the city bylaw officer and the police over some legal complaints. As I looked into it, I agreed that it was a potentially dangerous situation and used the proper channels to resolve the issue in question. While the solution that the constituent wanted would have stepped on someone else’s rights, the final solution was a team effort of myself and staff with bylaw violations dealt with quickly.
I also have a friend who disagrees with a neighbour in the way he cares for his home. I have explained to him that his standards are very high and the city cannot impose them on others. Although he doesn’t like it, he understands.
Accountability is for everyone. You can be guaranteed that I will always resolve an issue with everyone’s rights being protected.
Myself and Councilor Desmarais have had Ward 2 meetings twice per year since 2010. We spoke to all that came and helped them with their issues. We shared information that helped them understand their situation, etc. Interestingly enough, the other 2 candidates have not attended any of these gatherings. Why? I am not certain but I do know that when I was preparing to serve the citizens of Ward 2, I attended all Council meetings for eighteen months prior to the election so that I could understand and be prepared to serve the citizens.
Elected officials are accountable to ALL of the electorate and not just a small group. That is responsible accountability.
An interesting concept that is important to the citizens of Port Colborne is transparency. This describes the action of someone is looking for information and being told that it is available only to a select group. Like most municipalities, Port Colborne also has a group of people that make frequent formal requests for information that the city has not yet received or has not yet been presented to council. When they are told this, they feel that the local government is not transparent to the citizens. It is important to understand that this release of information by government is legislated in the Ontario Municipal Act, therefore, City Council cannot hide information unless it is spelled out in the Act. All activity by government staff and elected officials is defined in the act and must be obeyed. This includes the silence of Council and staff on any business that is discussed in-camera. (ie behind closed doors)
The information shared in in-camera meetings could be about staff, legal information directly related to the city’s activities for the citizens, the sale of city property, etc. Our city clerk is responsible to manage and archive this information appropriately. She is very much tuned in to the Act and makes the final decision on who can be given information. This is done to protect confidential information as well as the rights of all citizens.
The current and past councils have always made Council meeting agendas and minutes available to anyone. Agendas and minutes are available a few days before each City Council meeting by email. Printed copies are available by contacting the city clerk at least one week before meetings. Agendas are also distributed at each Council meeting and and are archived with the minutes at the city library.
Transparency is critical to all citizens of Port Colborne, City Hall and the elected officials have nothing to hide. I have been open and transparent to everyone unless it has been regulated otherwise under the Municipal Act. I can state that the seventeen years I have been on Council, there has been very little information that has been deemed protected and confidential. Any citizen that wants information on the issues can find it if they want to.
During this election, all citizens should ask each candidate for their position on these critical issues of accountability and transparency. I am prepared to answer on these and other questions as they pertain to this important issue.
Election 2014 is all about the issues that are important to you. Read more about me and what I will do for you. If you have any questions, there may be an answer in my frequently asked questions. Feel free to contact me with your own comments and questions. Thank you for your continued support.