Aurora Citizen

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Archive for the ‘Integrity’ Category

Morris Conflict of Interest Case Continues

Posted by auroracitizen on November 3, 2012

Here is an update on Phyllis Morris’s Legacy as Mayor of Aurora.

Last Friday November 2, 1012, at a few minutes before 11:00 am, the door to Court Room 301 at the Newmarket Courthouse was opened by the Bailiff and those who would attend do so and stake out their seats. The room is far more intimate than the one used for the first day of hearings and Phyllis Morris — together with her die-hard supporters — elects the right hand side where there are more chairs. Among her group were her spouse, her daughter, Catherine Marshall, Guy Poppe, an unidentified woman, and lo and behold sitting Councillors Gaertner and Ballard.

With Gaertner, her appearance is to be expected. She has been an unwavering supporter and blindly followed Morris in all things done.

But what is striking is that Ballard would waste a whole day sitting at the feet of a failed politician and unequivocally declaring his support. After his steadfast refusal to declare his support at the last election — which probably served him well — he has now consistently declared his support for Morris and her failed leadership.

Jill Copeland, lawyer for George Hervey, raised the first order of business. She holds up a document and describes it as the decision handed down on October 22, 2012, by Master Thomas Hawkins, arising from a claim for costs filed by the remaining two defendants in the original defamation suit. Ms. Copeland points out the important conclusion reached by Master Hawkins, namely that the defamation action was in fact SLAPP litigation, whose sole purpose was to intimidate and silence certain critics of the former mayor and in which she was the sole beneficiary of the $6,000,000 sought. She felt it was relevant to this matter as well.

Steven O’Melia, representing Morris, objected quite strongly about allowing this document to be entered as evidence.

Judge Gilmore sided with Ms. Copeland.

The day then began with Mr. O’Melia continuing with his drudging litany of misbehavior by Mr. Hervey.

Mr O’melia quoted extensively from Mr. Hervey’s sworn testimony and from letters to the Editor of the Auroran written by Mr. Hervey. He found it somewhat confusing that Mr. Hervey used the date of March 30, 2011, when the Rust-D’Eye Executive Summary was released by the town, as the date that Mr. Hervey knew for a fact that there had been breaches of a pecuniary nature and hence a conflict — while at the same time disagreeing with other parts of the same document, particularly those that opined that the entire operation of the town was breaking down due to poor staff morale.

In other words he didn’t argue that Morris was not in a conflict — but that the case should not be heard because private citizen Hervey was too late in bringing the matter forward to the courts. In legal circles, this is trying to avoid a judges ruling on the basis of a legal loophole — versus arguing the matter on the basis of whether she was actually in a conflict. An interesting strategy.

After lunch,  Mr. O’Melia continued with his arguments — although now, Mr Poppe is replaced by another long time supporter of Ms Morris — former Councillor Stephen Granger. O’Melia concluded at 3:00 pm. A total of 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Ms. Copeland took the floor and told the judge that she had 13 points that she wished to make. These were all by way of specific reply to arguments put forward by Mr. O’Melia and were in now a summation statement. Ms. Copeland’s presentation was completed with a certain amount of controlled emotion; it reinvigorated the Courtroom  and it certainly held the Judge’s undivided attention.

The matter concluded at 3:30 PM, the Judge thanked Counsel and said she would get at the case as soon as she could, although she had a substantial backlog.

This could be several months.

Posted in Code of Ethics, Conflict of Interest, Integrity, Leadership, Legal | 33 Comments »

Judge Rules Morris Tried to Silence Her Critics–Ordered to pay $21,000 in Costs for SLAPP Litigation

Posted by auroracitizen on October 22, 2012

Oct 22, 2012 — 2 years after former Aurora Mayor Phyllis Morris sued 3 citizens for defamation — Judge Hawkins issued a judgement against the former Mayor finding that her action was indeed SLAPP litigation (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation).

With this judgement Hawkins also delivered a precedent setting ruling concerning SLAPP litigation by awarding the defendants special enhanced costs as a result of the SLAPP finding.

Judge Hawkins stated Mayor Morris wanted to hit quickly and hard in order to silence her critics sooner rather than later in the weeks leading up to the October 25, 2010 municipal election.

He ruled that in practical terms, the resolution from the town had authorized Morris to commence an action with the town paying her legal fees.

The full decision can be read online. Hawkins decision SLAPP

So we know what Morris is responsible for — but it also begs the question, what responsibility is shared by Councillors MacEachern, Gallo, Gaertner, Granger and Wilson? They voted in favour of this legal action in 2010. They sat in the closed-door meeting where this plot was hatched. They voted in public to fund this lawsuit against private citizens for daring to disagree with their leadership decisions.

Furthermore,  Councillor Ballard joined the team  this term when he — together with Councillors Gallo and Gaertner — voted against Council’s decision to discontinue funding in early 2011. A clear demonstration that even after the public ran Morris out of office with only 20% of the vote — these Councillors still supported her actions.

And where does former Councillor and failed Mayoral candidate Nigel Kean fit in this mess? Well — days after his 3rd failed attempt to become Mayor, during which he campaigned vigorously against Phyllis Morris, he sent an email to Phyllis Morris and Evelina MacEachern providing them with evidence in this matter, stating that he had kept an email from Aug 2008 as he “felt that some day I would need it. The day is now.”

Do these politicians get off scott-free? Do they not share equally in this ruling? Are they without accountability?

Could their collective support for Phyllis Morris be any clearer? Is anyone unclear that they and Morris are cut from the same cloth? Building themselves up by trying to tear others down.

Politics certainly does make strange bedfellows.

At a time when Canadians are increasingly concerned about the impact of bullying behaviours, here in Aurora we have  a judge finding against a politician for using public funds to try to bully citizens into silence — and awarding enhanced costs because of this reprehensible behaviour.

A politician who has consistently been supported in her actions by a wider group of like-minded politicians.

This is a very disturbing situation. Are these the role models we want in our community? We deserve better from all our leaders. Let’s not forget these actions if they ask for our votes again in 2014.

And thank goodness for the people who were prepared to stand up and fight for the rights of all citizens to exercise our right to free speech. It surely cost them  — but we should all be grateful for their steadfast commitment to stand for what is right.

Posted in Code of Ethics, Council Watch-Richard Johnson, Integrity, Leadership, Legal | 61 Comments »

Is She Really Serious?

Posted by auroracitizen on May 9, 2012

A reader writes … Once again I am baffled by Ms. Gaertner (I refuse to call her Councillor because of the manner in which she treated Mayor Dawe when he first took office – I am sure we all remember it took her a few weeks to stop calling him Mr. Dawe  – and quite frankly I do not believe she deserves that seat she sits in).

Case in point, last night’s council meeting. Now I think  most will agree that they watch those meetings solely for the comedic behaviour that Gaertner, Ballard and Gallo provide but I specifically think  Gaertner  takes the top prize of “class clown” (for many reasons actually).

However, I am not clear on the job descriptions, or the manner in which our councillors get paid so I am looking for someone to provide me clarification, and others opinions on the following point.

Last night there was a discussion regarding a meeting for council that some thought should be open to the public and some thought it should not be. Councillor Gaertner provided her input as to why she thought it should be open to the public but then stated if it were to be a closed session she would NOT be attending (good god this woman is ridiculous)!

Can someone please tell me why if she in employed by the town, to represent our community and its best interests, that she is “allowed” to not attend a work session?  Do the taxpayers not pay her salary?

I know I am not well versed in how our councillors are compensated, but if I told my boss that I was not going to attend a work meeting because I was being a pissy little brat and wasn’t getting my way, I would have my walking papers immediately!!!!  How does she, and where does she get the nerve to not participate in something that is part of her job???

Confusing…… but I am not surprised… Can someone please help me understand this?

Posted in Community Input, Guest Post, Integrity, Leadership, Special Meetings, Town Council | 7 Comments »

When Will We Get A Cultural Centre Update?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 27, 2012

At a Special Council meeting on April 5, 2012, Section 5.1, among others, of the Terms of Reference, was amended to replace two members of Council with two members of Town staff, plus one alternate.

The apparent reason for this amendment is that insofar as the Negotiating Working Group will be meeting in secret, members of Council could not participate. A secret, or closed session that involves elected representatives is only permitted under the Municipal Act in very limited circumstances; the Negotiating Working Group does not qualify.

The above having been said, we are now almost three weeks after the above referenced Special Council meeting. Has there been any public announcement from the Town advising which two members of staff, plus one alternate, have been named to the Group?

Is the composition of the Group just as secret as its deliberations? This does not appear to be typical of our democracy at work.

The Group is only dealing with approximately $500,000 per year of taxpayer money. Is this not a large enough sum to warrant some limited public disclosure?

Has anyone heard any updates?

Posted in Community Corner, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Politics, Town Council | 24 Comments »

The Dirty Side of Politics

Posted by auroracitizen on April 21, 2012

Aurora saw the dirty side of Aurora politics poke its head out of its hole again recently. We had hoped that brand of politics had been run out-of-town last election — but alas it continues.

Recently Mayor Dawe made an intemperate remark during a confrontation initiated by Councillor Ballard. Councillor Ballard was making veiled allegations that Mayor Dawe had strong-armed the Aurora Cultural Centre into concessions that Councillor Ballard disagreed with — and Mayor Dawe responded “I have also stopped beating my wife”. Details can be seen in the April 17 issue of The Auroran – page 6.

No doubt — the comment was inappropriate and Mayor Dawe should apologize.

However, what was of equal concern was the additional fall-out of this remark.

In the April 12 issue of The Banner, a Letter to the Editor was published from Evelina MacEachern, former Councillor and recently defeated candidate and vocal supporter of defeated Mayor Phyllis Morris. It was published as an open letter to Mayor Dawe. In the letter, Ms MacEachern takes the Mayor to task for his comments. Was it genuine concern or political opportunism?

It is indeed a strange day when Ms MacEachern can take the high ground regarding language when knowledgeable Council watchers know she drop F-bombs in town hall on a regular basis during her terms as a Councillor. Her language and bullying behaviour was one of the contributing factors to the resignation by former Councillor Grace Marsh and is potentially part of the matters before the courts in the Councillor Buck abuse of power lawsuit against 6 members of last Council.

Knowledgeable Council watchers also know she was the real brains behind much of the political manoeuvring by defeated Mayor Phyllis Morris last term.

So it came as no surprise that her letter was followed up with an email blast — also on April 12 — by defeated Mayor Phyllis Morris which applauded Ms MacEachern for her letter and then tried to align herself with the yellow brick house and the white ribbon campaign. You can see it on Councillors Buck’s blog. Again, was it genuine concern or political opportunism?

Between these 2 people, they caused more pain and suffering by staff and people in our community than possibly any 2 politicians in the history of Aurora. Yet here they are trying to take the moral high ground on this issue.

Then to further demonstrate how dirty politics is in this town, former Councillor, Nigel Kean and also recently defeated mayoralty candidate jumped on their band wagon in the April 17 Auroran adding his own commentary. Surely if these 3 people are all commenting  — it must be genuine concern — not political opportunism?

You may remember the last time these 3 people worked together on anything. It was immediately after the election — where both Morris and Kean were handed stunning defeats — they joined together in Morris’s doomed 6 million dollar lawsuit against 3 Aurora families for comments made anonymously on this blog.

Ballard, MacEachern, Morris and Kean. What a team, selflessly giving to the Town of Aurora with no thought for themselves. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Genuine concern about an inappropriate comment by Mayor Dawe — we think not. If that was really the case, would not a simple email or phone call to express their disappointment have served the ultimate goal of informing Mayor Dawe. Others surely took that option.

No. Instead they choose to try to embarrass and humiliate Mayor Dawe publically. Their standard method of operation.

Political opportunism — you bet!

Jumping on a comment to try to take advantage for political gain and revenge? You simply need to look at the history of the people involved and how they have worked together in the past to accomplish their goals to form your opinion.

We are pretty clear what the intent is. We also believe that while folks in Aurora may have been fooled in 2006 — they weren’t fooled in 2010. And they aren’t fooled now.

Should Mayor Dawe apologize. Absolutely. But he should do it because it is the right thing to do — not because some political opportunists trying to resurrected their failed careers say so. They have no moral basis or credibility to make the case.

Posted in Code of Ethics, Community, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership | 9 Comments »

Silly Is As Silly Does

Posted by auroracitizen on April 5, 2012

Tonight Councillor Gaertner again demonstrated just how silly she has become.

First, she voiced her opinion that Council was discussing an illegal motion because she felt that the motion of March 28 was contrary to the approved motion from Feb 27. Then, when the Clerk stated that his opinion was that Council was discussing a legal motion — she indicated that she couldn’t vote. She even made a point of stating twice that she hoped the press had heard her.

Yet she continued to stay in the chambers and participated fully in the debate. Then when the vote was called — she leapt from her chair and took 2 steps away — then returned to her chair to vote on the confirming by-law and adjournment. What’s was that supposed to mean?

For someone who seems to be so concerned about following the letter of the rules — surely she also knows that you can’t declare a conflict on a matter unless it is a pecuniary conflict. And furthermore, when you declare a conflict you are required to leave the room.

So what happened to her interpretation of the rules here. The was no conflict and she participated fully in the discussion and was in the chambers during the vote

Since a non vote is considered a “nay”, the Council minutes must show that Councillor Gaertner voted “nay” on the motion.

It will be interesting to see what the record shows.

Hopefully the press saw that as well.

Posted in Community Corner, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Politics, Special Meetings, Town Council | 10 Comments »

Common Sense Returns

Posted by auroracitizen on April 5, 2012

Tonight Council revisited the decisions made in the Aurora Cultural Centre debate and brought some long overdue common sense to the table.

Tonight Council amended their earlier motion to remove politicians from the discussion and now staff will work with the Cultural Centre towards a new agreement — which will then be brought forward to Council for discussion and a decision.

This removes much of the politics from the debate and staff can now look to the Mar report for direction.

Kudos to Councillor Pirri for bringing this motion forward and to most of Council for supporting this motion. Only Councillor Gallo was not in attendance. Of interest was the silliness perpetuated by Councillor Gaertner. See next post for details.

Now let’s look forward to some productive staff-led discussion and a new agreement in place for the start of 2013.

Posted in Community Corner, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Politics, Special Meetings, Town Council | 2 Comments »

Update: Have You Heard the News?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 5, 2012

There is a special meeting tonight (April 5) at 6PM. Because it is a special meeting, it doesn’t require  notice. We have checked the Town website and currently there is nothing indicating a meeting is taking place. Of note, the announcements were updated this morning with a notice of service disruption. But nothing yet about a special meeting.

We found out through Councillor Buck’s blog post “Further Thoughts“. Pity we didn’t find out through the Town.

Councillor Buck indicated that the problems many readers/watchers anticipated are coming true. It will be interesting to see how Council works their way through the mess that has been created.

If you have time, drop by and see the proceedings.

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Updated @ 11:41 am

The agenda is up, but still nothing on the home page. So if you don’t know there is a meeting — so we guess you will never know until it’s over and published.

According to the  agenda, the focus is to seek Council direction on “Council membership of the ad hoc negotiating working group and the provisions of the Terms of Reference relating thereto” which smells like a reconsideration.

Hopefully when they reconsider they will come up with a plan that makes sense and is not subject to the criticism we have heard thus far about inappropriate closed door and confidential meetings.

There is still time to get this situation back on track. Let’s hope it gets done tonight.

Posted in Community Corner, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Politics, Special Meetings, Town Council | 5 Comments »

Have You Heard The News?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 5, 2012

There is a special meeting tonight (April 5) at 6PM. Because it is a special meeting, it doesn’t require  notice. We have checked the Town website and currently there is nothing indicating a meeting is taking place. Of note, the announcements were updated this morning with a notice of service disruption. But nothing yet about a special meeting.

We found out through Councillor Buck’s blog post “Further Thoughts“. Pity we didn’t find out through the Town.

Councillor Buck indicated that the problems many readers/watchers anticipated are coming true. It will be interesting to see how Council works their way through the mess that has been created.

If you have time, drop by and see the proceedings.

———————————–

Updated @ 11:41 am

The agenda is up, but still nothing on the home page. So if you don’t know there is a meeting — so we guess you will never know until it’s over and published.

According to the  agenda, the focus is to seek Council direction on “Council membership of the ad hoc negotiating working group and the provisions of the Terms of Reference relating thereto” which smells like a reconsideration.

Hopefully when they reconsider they will come up with a plan that makes sense and is not subject to the criticism we have heard thus far about inappropriate closed door and confidential meetings.

There is still time to get this situation back on track. Let’s hope it gets done tonight.

Posted in Community Corner, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Politics, Town Council | 1 Comment »

Who Should Be on the Negotiating Committee?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 2, 2012

Here is an interesting scenario posed by one of our readers. What are your thoughts?

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It is my understanding that by April 10, next Council meeting, two Councillors will have been selected to represent the Town on the Ad Hoc Negotiating Committee. They, together with two nominees from the Centre, plus a facilitator selected by agreement of the two parties, will form the Committee.

Councillors Ballard, Gaertner and Gallo seem to have eliminated themselves from consideration as a consequence of their position regarding the relationship between the Town and the Centre. Councillors Abel and Pirri might likewise have eliminated themselves as a result of the motion they placed before Council February 28 to terminate the existing agreement. Councillor Buck, who would make an admirable representative of the Town on this committee, might have also eliminated herself because of her open and vocal opposition to the entire concept of an agreement to manage and operate the Centre. Assuming that Mayor Dawe is ineligible because of his office, this leaves, by default, Councillors Humfryes and Thompson to represent the Town on the committee.

We are not necessarily getting the best or most knowledgeable people; we have simply gone through and eliminated those whose stated positions tend to render them in a kind of conflict of interest situation. And we don’t need any more conflicts of interest in Aurora. Heaven forbid!

So my question is, how is this all going to play out and will the Town be getting the best possible representation on this vitally important committee?

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A further question that arises is since when does a facilitator actually vote? We have never heard of a facilitator voting in a discussion — their role is to remain impartial and “facilitate” a discussion. If they are expected to vote — then how can they remain impartial? Also, how will they be chosen?

This situation gets more convoluted and poorly thought through as the days unfold.

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Conflict of Interest, Integrity, Leadership, Town Committees, Town Council | 45 Comments »

 
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