Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Let the Facts be Known

Posted by auroracitizen on November 19, 2008

First, let’s congratulate Council for taking the initiative to print ads about some recent issues affecting the town. It seems that the awareness created by this blog and the local newspapers has caused them to recognize that pretending that there are no issues doesn’t make them go away.

Hopefully this will be the first of many ads communicating the facts about issues of importance to the community. Let’s hope that the oft repeated commitment to “providing open and transparent government” is more than just these couple ads.

With regard to Mr Whitehurst, this issue will continue to dog the Mayor right into the next election. She and others continue to ignore the point about a conflict. The issue is not that he resigned or what he is billing the town — the conflict is that he voted on an item that had a financial impact on himself personally. It is one of the most clear cut cases of a conflict ever seen. Given the number of times this comes up with regard to members of Council — it is amazing that they continue to pretend it doesn’t exist in this case.

Did we really pay a lawyer $2,144.63 to attend a single meeting as part of an overall $12,345.83 expenditure. To be clear, the taxpayers of the community had to pay a lawyer to defend Council against the very people they were elected to serve so Council could act against the will of the taxpayers and appoint a person of their choosing. Talk about a slap in the face.

As for the unauthorized spending by staff, let’s hope a lot more questions get answered. Here are a few– you probably have more. Send them along and we will publish them.

  1. How did Council miss this issue when the Auroran reported on it a number of times?
  2. How did cheques get distributed without Council being aware of them? The Mayor and at least 2 Councillors regularly review — and question staff – on the cheque registry. Where were the questions in this case?
  3. If proper procurement procedures are in place — then how did this slip through? Don’t taxpayers deserve to understand what happened and what is being done to fix it. General statements about changing roles and working hard don’t provide much reassurance.
  4. Was this used as an excuse to dismiss the CAO? It seeems the issue has been known for awhile, but only became public when the CAO was asked to leave. Are staff being blamed to cover the real issue — that Council simply wanted John Rogers out?

It is offensive that Council is pointing the finger squarely at staff about not following procedures. Where are the checks and balances by Council that should also have been followed. If The Auroran spotted the issue, them why didn’t Council?

Hopefully the media will continue to keep up the pressure until all the facts become known.

Keep your comments coming. Only through open dialogue will these and other issues get broadly discussed.

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19 Responses to “Let the Facts be Known”

  1. Anonymous said

    Just maybe, Anonymous 6:51 might be Mr Phyliss.

  2. Not Walt said

    Ladies and Gentlemen, it would appear that Mayor Morris finally has her much-desired PR flack in Anonymous 6:51 (not his/her first post, I’d wager).

    That vaunted HR experience has come in handy, at last.

  3. Anonymous said

    I remember the other approach… the one where staff were left to do
    whatever they wanted with little or no inspection or interference from
    those elected to ensure they were accountable.

    I remember when things were moved along like “the good ole boys” like
    to do. That’s when I worried about what was going on.

    I remember the days of watching council meetings when I realized that everything had already been decided and for the benefit of those of us able to stay awake there were the issues of parking and garbage to hash out in public.

    The times have changed, with some kicking and screaming, some calling
    foul, and some nodding off.

    I love the idea that staff are held to account. It makes me sleep
    better at night. In my world of business those who have cozied up to
    the boss always start to sweat tsunamis when a new boss comes to town, especially when that new boss is a woman who hasn’t played easy does it with the boys.

    Yes things are being shaken up, and everyone is running around trying
    to see who can be blamed. I’m someone who is loving to see the rats come out of their nests to scramble for the cheese.

    And as usual, Evelyn is Chief Cheese.

    Keep it coming. I’m loving it!

  4. Anonymous said

    No issue today is simple. It is hard to suspend judgment, while exploring the possibilities.
    Some favour the CSI approach. Some favour the 24 approach and some prefer Comedy Central.
    Some like West Wing.
    Some even take the Prison Break approach.
    Some folks love the melodrama associated with The Sky is Falling.
    Me, I like to sit back and take the time required for reasoning to work itself out.
    I like to think there is plenty of time for all to be revealed because all these issues happened in the past, and nothing anyone says now changes things.
    It is in the hands of the law, and it behooves us to believe our legal system is good enough to deserve our respect.
    Call me Choice Chill

  5. Someone Else said

    Why is there a lawsuit?

    Architects insurance was to pay the bill after the repairs were done. They didn’t. The Town paid and is suing for the payment.

    At least that’s my understanding of it all.

  6. Walt said

    Y’know people, it’d be easier to follow if you’d just use the name/url feature in blogger. Trust me, my name isn’t really Walt, but I do like to differentiate myself from the other bloviators here.

    That all said, I’m disappointed that Ms. Morris hasn’t been particularly effective or strong as mayor – I voted for her – and seems stuck in explaining and re-explaining herself on well, pretty much everything. Ad space in the Banner doesn’t come that cheap, I’m sure, but boy, she sure bought a lot of it this week!

    How tiresome this all is.

  7. Anonymous said

    Why is there a lawsuit?

  8. Anonymous said

    This is what I’ve learned from reading the paper, this website and Buck’s blog.

    There was a design flaw. Created mold and condensation bumps on the ice (unsafe for the skaters and the public). The Town’s options would have been fix it or close the facility. Architects insurance was to pay the bill after the repairs were done. They didn’t. The Town paid and is suing for the payment. If the Town didn’t pay, a construction lien could have been placed on the property resulting in court also. The Town did what was necessary, the CAO approved the expense in a accordance with the Policy on Bucks blog. And the Auroran has proved that it was reported out to Council. To me it’s perfectly clear the Town staff took logical steps in the interest of the taxpayers and probably will get every dollar back in court so my kudos go to staff for taking care of the problem timely and brickbats to Council for making it look like staff didn’t do their jobs.

  9. Anonymous said

    This is Anonymous 8:24pm again. Thank you, Anonymous 8:42am for correcting my error. Indeed, I should have said I was replying to Aurora Citizen and not Anonymous 8:54. The outpouring of Anonymity must have overwhelmed me. And of course Aurora Citizen’s face is much more recognizable, so it was a silly mistake on my part.

    Interesting too that Anonymous 8:42am concludes that Aurora Council paid up for “services rendered.” I thought they had already paid, and then paid again when they found out the original work was flawed. Didn’t they expect to get the second payment back through a contractor’s insurance? And if the architect admitted the design flaw, then why isn’t the architect footing the bill?

    Maybe this will all come out in the lawsuits.

  10. Anonymous said

    The comment at 8:54 was posted by the blog owner, not someone who signed in as Anonymous (the comment begins with AuroraCitizen said…).

    That said, either the AuroraCitizen owner is someone who knows how council works. It’s not hard to learn. I’ve sat through a few meetings myself. If you read Mrs. Buck’s recent blog she has highlighted the town’s purchasing procedure. She provides a lot of facts that seem to indicate that if Mr. Rogers was fired for not following procedure, he shouldn’t have been. It sounds like he did follow procedure, and that, despite what the Banner implied in their editorial last week, NOBODY stole money from the town. Money was paid for a job done. I don’t understand why the Mayor’s letter in the Banner and the Auroran said that they’re trying to recoup the money though. Services rendered; bill paid. It sounds like it should be done like dinner. Except for why Rogers was let go. BUT..that was a decision obviously made behind closed doors because it’s about an ‘identifiable individual.’ I can’t imagine Council will issue a ‘report out’ to say what happened.

  11. Anonymous said

    This is Anonymous 8:24, who prompted a response from Anonymous 8:54, who, I assume, is the same person who wrote “Let the facts be known.”

    (Discerning who writes what on this blog requires considerable guesswork. The exercise is fascinating and leads down intriguing pathways. But I digress.)

    Thank you, Anonymous 8:24, for the informative and accommodating response. I was unaware that Mr. Whitehurst had in fact nominated himself for a paid job. You say you know this, but how do I know you know this?

    If beheading were an option, I would rush to nominate Mr. Whitehurst for that too. But then, I am anonymous, like you, so I doubt that my motion would carry.

    Curiously, your carefully measured response did not address the key component of my note: that readers of integrity and goodwill cannot assess the credibility of someone who asserts alleged facts and makes damning accusations without identifying herself or himself.

    I assume your failure to answer this question was an honest oversight, undoubtedly one that you will soon publicly address, lest readers conclude that you wish to hide some sort of vested interest, or worse, an outright vendetta.

    The tone of your note suggests your motives are pure, but you know how some people jump to conclusions.

    Curiously, too, you seem to suggest that I possess facts that might help us correct the record. Sorry, I can’t help. I just apply simple logic to the arguments I read.

    I am not impressed with the transparent biases of either side in this debate. I am a simple resident, with a withering job and demanding family responsibilities. I am not Christie Blatchford or Victor Malarek, investigative reporters who could probably figure this out in an hour or two. (After all, this is Phyllis Morris and John Rogers, not Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber.)

    All I look for is a complete set of unspun, unabridged facts about the alleged improprieties committed by Madam Mayor and/or Mr. Former CAO. I have neither the time nor expertise to suss this out. Maybe the Aurora Citizen(s) can. Maybe there are some journalists in these parts who can find these facts and put them in plain, un-bureaucratic language so the unwashed like me can make some sense of all this.

    Thank you, Anonymous 8:54, for your friendly response. I sincerely appreciate it. In the meantime, I wait for facts – without spin – that lead me to your conclusions.

  12. Aurora Citizen said

    Thank you for your thoughful comments — and questions.

    Perhaps we can provide the answer to some.

    First of all, the review of the cheque registry is a public item that comes before Council. While it may not be generally known, it is a public process which many members of the public who watch Council activities are aware. We make no comment about the procedure for issuing said cheques because we ourselves are not clear on the process.

    One of the most well known forms of conflict of interest is when you vote on a subject that may affect you (or your family) financially. For example, you can’t vote to purchase land you own, or zone property that would affect the value of your property. Out last Mayor declared a conflict whenever certain staffing issues were discussed because his wife worked for the town.

    Mr Whitehurst proposed and subsequently voted to create a position for which he then got the job. The item clearly affected him finacially — therefore it is a clear conflict. The fact that he resigned from the committee after the vote was taken to accept the job does not negate the conflict.

    Yes, we have drawn conclusions. We believe these conclusions are based on facts. You are free to draw your own conclusions based on the facts as you know them. Hopefully you will share them so others may also consider them.

    Our hope is that the dialogue will bring all the facts to light so we can all be better informed about the activities in our town.

    Thank you for contributing and asking questions. We hope to see you back.

  13. Anonymous said

    The nameless author of “Let the facts be known” seems to know facts unavailable to the rest of us. She/he seems privy to the town’s procedure for issuing and reviewing cheques. This suggests an unusual intimacy with the municipality’s affairs.

    The author states that Mr. Whitehurst explicitly violated conflict of interest rules. For those of us who may have missed out, perhaps the author could provide details and context.

    As a relatively new resident, I am trying to make sense of the mud-slinging from both sides. Conspiracy theories make me suspicious. Unsupported statements of fact, presented anonymously, make me wonder whether the author has an axe to grind. A set of facts, honestly considered, can lead different people to different conclusions. In this case, perhaps naively, I thought of several other possible conclusions, which the author appears not to have considered.

    As I read “Let the facts be known”, I kept thinking: The writer could be a disgruntled current, or former, member of council or staff, a friend of Mr. Rogers, a sworn enemy of the mayor, someone with a vested interest in the outcome of this debate. You ask some excellent questions, but before you have the answers, you also draw a conclusion, as if your conclusion is the only one possible.

    How can we assess the authority, authenticity and integrity of a writer without knowing who he/she is and without knowing his/her personal connections to the issue being discussed?

    You may well be correct. The mayor may be a scoundrel. Mr. Rogers may be a martyr. I would simply suggest that until all the facts are known, you cannot reasonably make that leap of faith. As I read them, the facts may take us elsewhere.

    In our society, everyone is innocent until facts prove guilt. It is essential to prod the powerful with questions but suspend judgement until all relevant facts are in. In private conversation, we may indulge our suspicions. When we write publicly, we should to aspire to a higher standard. Wouldn’t that be better for all of us?

  14. Anonymous said

    This MUST be laid at the feet of Phyllis Morris.
    This mayor is so pedantic about every issue that I can’t believe this wasn’t on her radar.
    Alarm bells should have been ringing with the memo to council of May 2007. Her usual forensic follow-up on such a large issue would be expected.
    Her letter-ad to residents placed in the Auroran and The Banner is self-serving beyond belief.
    This happened under her ‘leadership’ and she should take responsibility and provide a full and detailed accounting of the issue.
    Do not let this issue drop.

  15. Anonymous said

    Ev Buck just posted the procurement policy on her blog and it sounds like nothing underhanded went on until the council fired Mr. Rogers

  16. Anonymous said

    I wonder if, in the interests of openness and transparency, the mayor would consider renting more space in the local papers (at who knows how much)to list ALL the taxpayer dollars spent on ALL legal fees since she took office, evey single penny. Very simple, a list indicating the dollars spent along with a column indicating which issue those fees are related to. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request. And, I don’t care if it’s more or less than previously spent by other council’s, I’m interested on what THIS council is doing. I want to see some responsibility taken. Please, no more spin, just the facts.

  17. Anonymous said

    Can you please add the traffic calming mess in the northeast quadrant to the list of concerns that lest not be forgotten. Apparently now, they will be adding speed humps to Mark Street in addition to the maze that currently exists. Who determined we need be subjected to more? Are the chicanes not working, that we need more, and with addiditonal cost. Makes no sense.

  18. Anonymous said

    How did Council miss this issue when the Auroran reported on it a number of times?

    Check out
    Councillor Buck’s Blog, a memo DID go out to Council in May of 2007.

  19. Anonymous said

    Who wrote tis piece?

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