Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Ethics Commissioner

Posted by auroracitizen on April 19, 2009

Noticed an interesting couple posts on Councillor Bucks blog that seem worthy of investigation. After all the chatter about a Code of Ethics and the need for an impartial person to evaluate breaches, why is the issue bumbling along in such a comical manner

First Councillor Buck reported: We have heard nothing of our Commissioner of Ethics for some weeks now. First, on his advice, we had an educational workshop in closed session. Three people were absent: the Mayor, Councillor MacEachern and Councillor Gallo. Their absence rendered the effort useless and a waste of town resources. A second workshop was scheduled. Councillor MacEachern declared she would not attend as it was in closed session.The Mayor claimed intervention. The second workshop was to have proceeded. It didn’t. (Click link to see full post)

It would also be interesting to know why Morris, MacEachern and Gallo did not attend. Do they feel they do not need the same background information that the balance of Council needs. Seems strange since the Mayor was one of the key proponents of this initiative.

Councillor Buck then reported: The Commissioner of Ethics is attending Council on Tuesday. In public. His advice was to meet in private. (Click link to see full posting).

If the Commissioner stated that a meeting should be held in private surely they had good reasons for the recommendation. Why would Councillor MacEachern refuse to attend and subsequently the Council insist it be held in public. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know their reasons and the reason for Council to override.

Also, if the Commissioner gets overridden on such a minor issue, what credibility do they have on much larger issues.

Lots of unanswered questions. Can anyone enlighten our readers?

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14 Responses to “Ethics Commissioner”

  1. Anonymous said

    Would anyone (except her loyal followers) believe this last session with the integrity commissioner(IC) was nothing but more political grandstanding by the Bobsy Twins , Morris and Maceachern. I would not put it past Ms Morris that she purposely avoided the Saturday session with the IC as there was no political mileage to be had in a session far removed from the public. What better way to appear in charge and full of interest, by scheduling another fully advertised session that will have plenty of public exposure. The suckers that attended the first session have already heard it all so the Bobsy Twins basically have the floor to themselves. How pathetic this Mayor must be that she comes up with these schemes and seems to get away with it. Evidence her syncophants chiding Mrakas and Buck for not contributing anything on the second go around.Only in Aurora.Only with this disaster of a Mayor.

  2. Anonymous said

    There is no need for Councillor Collins-Mrakas to apologize for being late, as she stated she had attended this meeting previously as did Councillor Buck. But in true fashion Morris proved to be the star of the show only because she was put to task for not showing up at the original meeting.

    If you know Evelyn Buck you would also know that she was indeed making a point when she asked to meet the Ethics Commissioner alone. You people who continually make the derogatory comments against Councillor Buck only show your true colours, it is to bad that you continually sign on as anonymous, but you are guaranteed that not one, as you do reflect on your fellow councillors, of you will get my vote next time around and I promise to campaign against each of you. You know the old adage I tell one person they tell one person only in this instance you guys have done it yourselves, I just intend to solidify it.

  3. Alison Collins-Mrakas said

    My deepest apologies for being 6 minutes late. Racing to get to these non-regularly scheduled or “special meetings” at 6pm does present a bit of a challenge for those of us who work out of Town. Usually, I can just make it, but unfortunately, this past Tuesday I was a bit late. Again, my apologies.

    As for meeting our new Integrity Commissioner, I look forward to meeting and working with all of our new staff as undoubtedly do all of my colleagues. I don’t think any of us would feel it necessary to say we are “keen” to do so nor would we.

    I understand that you take issue with the fact that most of the Councillors, myself included, did not ask any questions of Mr. Nitkin. Perhaps you are unaware, but the presentation made at the Special meeting this past Tuesday was for the most part a reiteration of matters discussed in a closed session meeting held a few weeks ago, which I attended as did 5 other members of Council.

    The additional Special meeting held this past Tuesday was to afford those members of Council who did not attend the original meeting the opportunity to ask questions. And they availed themselves of that opportunity. As you were present at the special meeting this past Tuesday, you can well attest that two of the members of Council who were not present at the original meeting asked questions and made comments for virtually the entire meeting. I take no issue with that.

    Given this, it’s a bit perplexing why you would assert that I “refused” to ask questions. Again, I assume you are simply unaware that I have already attended this presentation and the questions I had in that regard were largely addressed at the first meeting.

    I think you would agree that it is not effective or efficient to repeat oneself or take up valuable Council time doing so.

    I trust this clarifies the matter for you.

    All the best,

    AC-M

  4. Long Time Resident said

    I wonder if Councillor Buck asked simply to see if she would be “allowed” to meet, or whether the Mayor felt she had special priviledges.

    Sometimes people do things to see the reaction of the other person, which is often very illuminating.

    Just a thought.

  5. Anonymous said

    “Oddly, Councilor Buck did want a private discussion with the Ethics Commissioner in order to have an opportunity to ask her questions. “Open governement”…, only when the public is not invited. “

    Did you see the part where the Mayor said she’d have meetings with whoever she wanted to, because ‘she has the authority to do that’ yet how she jumped all over Buck when Buck suggested she meet with the integrity commissioner herself? That was the Mayor showing her true colours, indeed.

  6. Anonymous said

    Although Councilor Buck and Councilor Collins-Marakas both claimed to be keen on meeting with the Ethics Commissioner that did not appear to be so. Both arrived late to the meeting. Neither asked any questions even though the Mayor offered many times, both refused. Oddly, Councilor Buck did want a private discussion with the Ethics Commissioner in order to have an opportunity to ask her questions. “Open governement”…, only when the public is not invited. The DVD shows their true colours. Get a copy and see for yourself.

  7. Anonymous said

    People need to watch the DVD of this.
    Why is the Ethics Commissioner having a private meeting with the Mayor?
    Is that not an ethical issue?

  8. Concerned Citizen said

    Great letter in the Auroran this week by Nigel Kean.
    Thanks to him for continuing to be concerned for all the citizens of Aurora.
    It would be great to have Nigel back as a councillor.

  9. Long Time Resident said

    Perhaps the lack of attendance reflects where this issue sits on their list of priorities.

  10. Concerned Citizen said

    What strikes me as very odd is that the Mayor did not attend the meeting when she holds herself up to be the arbiter of all things ethical.
    For someone so completely obsessed with the micro-management and optics of every issue, it surprises me that she could keep herself away from any workshop/meeting/discussion of this issue.
    Is she perhaps realizing that many of her actions could be construed as unethical?
    Perhaps she is doing some personal reflection?

  11. Nigel Kean said

    The Ethics problem, or the solving of the Ethics problem has been going on for years.
    During my years on Council, I introduced a motion to strentghen the Code of Ethics. A certain councillor of that time accused me of “looking for evil where there was none”.
    On that council was then councillor Morris who I thought was a strong supporter of the motion.The motion was defeated 5-4 so again nothing was done.
    Now we have an Ethics Commissioner who seems to be powerless. Any findings must be approved by council before anything can happen. This seems senseless as in some cases the council will be voting on one of their own.
    This council has had a strong record of voting with the mayor as a group.
    If the mayor,and certain councillors do not attend the first meeting what does that say as to how serious they are about fixing the problem. All of them must agree to fix the problem.
    I believe that the Ethics Commissioner should be free and clear of council and that council should not interfere or have anything to do with the decision making nor should they approve or disapprove the findings.
    Let that person do the job with no interference.

  12. Anonymous said

    According to the Agenda online – Tuesday April 21 is a SPECIAL GC Meeting, no mention of it being behind closed doors. It starts at 6pm in the council chambers with Mayor Morris presiding.

    The link to the presentation is here if anyone wants to see it:

    http://town.aurora.on.ca/aurora/index.aspx?ArticleID=2691&lang=en-CA

    The second bullet on page three raises a lot of red flags in my mind:

    "Operations of Integrity Commissioner. Aurora’s choices: not to be discussed outside this meeting; let’s set ground rules for office; if you want to bring an issue to public; let’s tonight specifically refer it there"

    Was there a meeting or not? Were any items referred to public? How can the council's choices on ground rules NOT be discussed outside the meeting.

    Please clarify. I'd love to attend!! Evelyn's blog says food will be provided – which makes me wonder again….are they feeding the council and not the public? Is the public not supposed to attend? I don't get it!!! Does anyone know?

  13. Anonymous said

    Speaking of ethics…the question MUST be asked. Enough people in the community are talking about it. What is “The Dream Team” and who are they accountable to? The Mayor and a number of Councillors certainly seem to be supporting their efforts. It is assumed the Mayor and Council have sanctioned their activities. They have a huge public profile with the Mayor always promoting their events. They have been holding many events and collecting sponsorship dollars and donations. Where does the money go, how is it spent? Are these dollars collected on behalf of the Town? Because that’s what those who are making the donations assume. Are they a stand alone group, merely sanctioned by the Mayor? How does one get a copy of the financials involving this group? What is the relationship and how does it all work?
    It certainly seems there is considerable funds being raised in support of great select local causes. Many are souring on their important efforts because of the apparent lack of accountability. That would be a shame for those who are benefitting. If perception is everything, like we constantly hear from an ethical standpoint, I wish someone in the know could clarify these concerns.

  14. aurora 5 by 5 said

    This post raises a lot of very serious issues – most notably how can the new Commissioner have any credibility if s/he bows so easily to the wishes of the co-mayors?

    Isn’t his/her job supposed to be autonomous?

    It’s pretty clear his/her office is not immune to the interference, and meddling of the co-mayors.

    It’s really unfortunate because now, no matter what s/he does as Ethics commissioner (or is it Integrity Commissioner??) it will be suspect. Members of the public will not be able to trust that the Commissioner’s actions are free from bias.

    As the Citizen rightly points out, if the Commissioner can’t stand her/his ground on such a minor issue, how in god’s name is s/he going to make the “right” decision when it’s a more difficult issue??

    Doesn’t bode well, I must say…

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