Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

What does an Ethics Commissioner Do?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 30, 2009

We read with interest the recent article in the Banner where David Nitkin, our new Ethics Commissioner, is quoted as saying he was not there to enforce the rules. He stated, “I am not here as a policeman, but as an educator and facilitator.”

But what does that really mean?

He recommended that no fees were to be charged to the public, that he remain autonomous and that he have a dedicated phone line. He would also only delegate when asked by Council.

Council approved that he will act independently, but no mention of fees to the public. And if they don’t ask for a delegation on a topic, how does the public know what is happening?

Plus any town board or committee is exempt from his mandate.

Since he sees himself as an educator versus policeman will he just make suggestions which Council can ignore and the public never finds out. Or will he make written recommendations to Council?

The Mayor indicated that Aurora has stepped up to the plate. Hopefully Council will also step up and communicate how the Ethics Commissioner will work. What the process is for public complaint and how the public will be kept apprised of his activities. Or will this be just a tool to be used as they see fit on issues they see worthy.

Time will tell, so be sure and let them know what you think.

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39 Responses to “What does an Ethics Commissioner Do?”

  1. Heather said

    Quoting the whole thing:

    “Evelyn Buck, you are not addressing the ideas posed:

    #1 It is unethical to brag publicly about not doing your job.
    #2 Evelyn Buck stated firmly that something was not the case without doing any information gathering as she so often does, with a deep, “No”.
    #3 No other councillor over the history of the town has shown such disdain for the institution of Mayor and Council, and taxpayers of Aurora.”

    My comment was merely that points 2and three that needed ‘addressing’ according to Anonymous…those two points don’t have anything to do with one another.

    Blogger had a problem, or was hacked, or something and MANY blogs had comments deleted. I googled it and found it to be true. The fact that Evelyn didn’t notice comments missing from her own blog doesn’t matter – there were some deleted. I don’t understand why people are dwelling on that so much, honestly.

  2. Anonymous said

    I must agree with Anonymous May 5, 2009 6:22 PM,

    If you are interested in running for election, you’d get my support.
    I like your logic and your tone.
    For me, it’s off to work I go.

  3. Anonymous said

    Anonymous May 5, 2009 6:54 PM,
    I have to assume Robert the Bruce’s comment wasn’t visible to you when you posted.

  4. Anonymous said

    Heather, please, I don’t get your point.

    Do you mean the 3 statements that Anonymous May 5, 2009 5:36 PM wanted to have Evelyn respond to?

    If that is what you mean, YOU needn’t speak to any of them because Anonymous directed the 3 ideas to Evelyn for her response.
    But I may be totally confused because there is no
    “Anonymous #987123” and there are no “three points below”.

    And I don’t know why the second and third idea should be correlated.
    Anonymous seems to be listing three different ideas.

    A list is a list. No relationship between items is required for a list, to the best of my understanding.

  5. Heather said

    Hey Anonymous #987123 who made three points below – I can’t speak to your first point, but your second and third point aren’t correlated.

  6. Anonymous said

    Can’t understand why this post has degenerated to bashing Ms. Buck for missing a council meeting.For those partaking will we see the same venom expressed against Ms Morris or Ms McEachern who pushed hard for an Ethics Commissioner and then missed his session (because it was held away from the public eye hence no granstanding opportunities). What about Mr Gallo, Ms Morris’s desingnated Councillor. What was his excuse? Phylis wasn’t there perhaps? Councillors miss meetings. BFD.
    That Ms. Buck chose to stay away and miss several hours of Ms Morris handing out awards and platitudes seems like a good reason to me. Perhaps the Buck bashers can explain their selectivity.

  7. Anonymous said

    Robert the Bruce,
    I have read your comments with great interest.
    You seem grounded, thoughtful, and logical.
    I like your approach.

  8. Anonymous said

    Evelyn Buck, you are not addressing the ideas posed:

    #1 It is unethical to brag publicly about not doing your job.
    #2 Evelyn Buck stated firmly that something was not the case without doing any information gathering as she so often does, with a deep, “No”.
    #3 No other councillor over the history of the town has shown such disdain for the institution of Mayor and Council, and taxpayers of Aurora.

  9. Robert the Bruce said

    Interesting how the topic of Ethics Commissioner get switched around to slagging Evelyn Buck for not going to the meeting. I feel I must wade into the slagging however, because I cannot see what rationale she had to not go. She should have called in sick maybe.

    1. “The agenda was sparse”. How many times have I read a blog entry complaining that the council meeting went overtime, had to be extended, she leaves. What an opportunity this would be. A “sparse” agenda. A chance to get something done in chambers and get out on time.

    2. “There was an in- camera item I did not intend to participate and another on the public agenda, I did not intend to vote.” I read this and I must ask WHY? Is it not her duty as a civil servant to participate and vote on items that are the town’s business? I don’t know of many people that have the luxury to say I don’t want to participate in something that is their job.

    3. “Ethics mitigate against making a public issue of certain matters.” I am not sure of the subtext here. Ethics would also dictate that if you’re not going to say something, don’t say anything. Saying a half statement leaves the other half open to speculation.

    4. “Eat Smart Awards were being presented by the Mayor and a delegation of three, representing fourteen churches were seeking endorsement for Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast event.

    My feelings about the efficacy of group prayer are personal and will not be shared.” Perhaps this is the real issue? I have already made my point about this delegation and the mayor’s participation. You don’t have to like a delegation’s purpose to be there to hear it. If that was the case, I am sure many council members would be away a lot.

    5. “Councillor MacEachern submitted the Arboretum News Letter as a memorandum. The document had already been distributed in our mail boxes. Why it was on the agenda was not immediately obvious.” Okay, we all know that councillors like to have their faces on TV and hear their own voices. If it wasn’t this topic it would have been Granger talking about the Farmer’s Market. This is not a reason to stay away.

    6. Then the rest of her entry is about the Ethics commissioner. I would have expected everyone to be there for this but I guess ethics is not a valid reason to go to work.

    I am not really sure which one of these issues were the big for her, but not going because you don’t like the topics is not acceptable.


  10. Heather said

    In response to Anonymous (whenever, I can’t be bothered backtracking) who’s comment was that Buck said no, the comments weren’t deleted and I said yes they were…. Evelyn and I aren’t at odds over it, so I’m not sure why it merited a mention here. There were some comments deleted. I noticed when I viewed the comment feed for her blog (same way I view these ones). Unless you’re reading all the comments in a row below each post, you’d never notice them missing.

    And please, call me Heather. If you had a name, I’d use it.

  11. Evelyn Buck said

    The clucking here is horrendous. Who would have thought a post about a missed council meeting would have created such a ruckus? TWO council members were absent by the way.

    I re-read my post to see what might have engendered such fury. But nope, I don’t get it. I try to learn from younger more modern colleagues. They don’t make it easy.

    Last term I had the best record of attendance. What can I say ? I like being part of a council. It’s what makes me run. But when the annual attendance record was reported the comment was “It’s quality that counts not quantity.”

    Well, I thought, in modern parlance it must be bad to have a perfect record of attendance. The person with the second worst record was elected Mayor in the current term.

    I referred in the same post to an award presentation on the agenda. It was a Regional Award. That mention too was a fault.

    Along with seven other councillors and full complement of Department Heads, many hours are spent chained to chairs as a captive audience while awards are presented and pictures shot. As well, multiple delegations appear by invitation of the Mayor to take advantage of T.V.cameras to promote their particular endeavour. Aurora Council Chamber during a Council Meeting is like a Brokerage House for community events.

    The devil finds work for idle hands and my mind is no less occupied. As I while away the hours I regularly contemplate a better use for public resources. Particularly when the hour of adjournment arrives and the corporation’s business agenda is substantially incomplete.

    Award presentations can be made with the same ceremony in the Mayor’s office with councillors and photographers invited. It’s how things used to be done and having been a part of it, I think it’s better.

    The presentation becomes an event then and not just an item on the agenda with people being ushered out immediately to get on with the next piece of non-corporate – business Tea and cookies can be served with an opportunity for conversation and the occasion made that much more memorable for those being honoured.

  12. Anonymous said

    ” Anonymous said…
    I guess if you feel that Buck breached her contract then so has any other member who did not show up for a meeting. The only difference here is that Buck told you why.

    May 5, 2009 7:48 AM”
    Goodie Two Shoes feels that all that is required is honesty.
    List the offenses, then pass them along as long as they are honest: I am a: traitor, a thief, a fraud, BUT I am honest about it.
    End of story.

    To see it the way I do, change the offense to bank robbing , instead of playing hooky then bragging about it in your blog.

    I guess if you feel that **** robbed a bank, then so have other robbers of banks. The only difference here is that **** told you why.

    That’s a poor excuse for shrinking your responsibility cloth, when making your suit.

  13. Anonymous said

    Evelyn Buck said…
    No it didn’t

    May 2, 2009 7:03 AM

    Not true according to Sisman on Buck’s blog.

    A classic comment of “no”, visualize arms crossed.
    Facts are ignored to highlight Buck’s trademark arms crossed, deep “NO”.

  14. Anonymous said

    Brian Solis, commenting on business practices gives us something to think about:
    “… the SEC published a 47-page report that outlines the boundaries for sharing information as well as holding companies and their employees liable for the information that they post on blogs, networks, communities, and discussion forums.”

  15. Anonymous said

    “She publicly displayed her disdain for attending a public council meeting that provides transparency for all us taxpayers.”

    Are you accusing Councillor Buck of NOT being transparent? How much more transparent can you get than admitting that you chose NOT to attend a meeting? How transparent is she for telling the world what’s going on in the council chambers? Give your head a shake.

  16. Heather said

    “And you call this site and some of the commentators biased. Who’s really bias?”

    I’ve watched these comments fly by for quite a while…and this is one that keeps coming back. “You’re biased!” “No, YOU are!”

    EVERYONE is biased. I don’t like shepherd’s pie, cats, ignorance or poetry. So what? Am I biased if I say I like this person but not that person? Yep. Again, so what?

    Those of you who keep posting about bias, either Evelyn’s, the Moderator’s, other commenters…. how can you pretend NOT to be biased? Either you’re only fooling yourself, or you’re attempting to convince yourself.

  17. Anonymous said

    Long Time Resident, Goodie Two Shoes, and May 5, 2009 7:48 AM Anonymous, check out the story about the Swiss woman who was fired.

    I do not trust Councillor Buck to do her job when she decides that a public council meeting is “too sparse” for her to attend.

    Long time Resident there is a huge difference between a private meeting ( private vs public) and a public council meeting where the council does the Town’s business in public for all to see. That is what transparency is all about.

    Evelyn Buck by declaring herself above the responsibility of conducting Town business in public is showing how little respect she has for the institution of Town Council.

    She publicly displayed her disdain for attending a public council meeting that provides transparency for all us taxpayers.

    No other councillor has EVER publicly disrespected the office of Town Councillor so blatantly.
    She should resign!

  18. Long Time Resident said

    Being a Councillor is identified as a part time job, and pays accordingly. The time spent dealing with Town business is far greater that one is ever compensated for. Any Councillor would agree.

    Before throwing stones at Councillor Buck, you should examine the attendance record for all Council and then hold them all to the same standards.

    Didn’t we just read that the full-time Mayor and 2 Councillors missed a private meeting with the Ethics Commissioner — resulting in the need for a second meeting. Yet you have no comment about their attendance record.

    And you call this site and some of the commentators biased. Who’s really bias?

  19. Goodie two shoes said

    The Towns Business is set to be discussed in front of the public between 7 and 10:30. When the towns business is not being discussed until 9:00 and goes until 1:00 am then there is a problem with the timing. I simply think that Awards could be presented at another meeting and the Towns business taken care of at the time that is legally post for it to take place. I do see the merits of awards and volunteers. The world can not function without them. There is not doubt in my mind about that. I just don’t see why they need to be presented at this time slot. Give them there own time slot. When you sign up for a job or volunteer position you do have some expectation of what that job involves and meetings until 1:00 am I am sure is not part of that expectation.

  20. Anonymous said

    I guess if you feel that Buck breached her contract then so has any other member who did not show up for a meeting. The only difference here is that Buck told you why.

  21. Anonymous said

    Swiss woman fired, supposed to be home sick but on Facebook. Company said “all trust in her was lost”.

  22. Anonymous said

    If she doesn’t influence 95% of the votes, and she arbitarily decides when to do her duty by attending, what is the point of her being a councillor at all?

    Talk about audacity. Buck is obviously out of touch with the real world of working constituents she is pledged to serve.

    If she doesn’t want to do what the job requires, maybe she should take the Grace Marsh path.

  23. Anonymous said

    Goodie Two Shoes I too thank Councillor Buckfor her honesty.
    Her honesty shows me that her prime motivation is personal politics.
    I have never seen any evidence from her that she would set aside her own needs for the greater good.

    It’s interesting to consider the notion that giving awards is not part of Town business.
    For me it is an essential part of building good will in the community.When we honour our own, we shine the light on those who contribute to a feeling that Aurora is a good place to live.

    Furthermore, Goodie, Town business is being conducted at all council meetings and Councillor Buck chose to neglect her responsibility to show up for work… for no better reason than because she could.

    And she wanted all of us to know how little respect she has for her elected position, our council, our town.
    It doesn’t sit well with me.

  24. Anonymous said

    Here are Evelyn Buck’s own words:
    “I missed Tuesday’s Council meeting.The agenda was sparse. There was an in- camera item I did not intend to participate and another on the public agenda, I did not intend to vote. Rules require all members to vote on all questions. Ethics mitigate against making a public issue of certain matters.”

    Am I wrong in thinking that Evelyn Buck has shirked her duties?
    Is what she has written a declaration that she skirts issues as she sees fit? Looks for loopholes?
    Has she taken a position that could be considered unethical?

  25. Anonymous said

    Hey Anonymous May 3, 2009 10:34 PM, Buck’s claim to fame IS being the odd woman out.
    She probably wrote about why she didn’t attend the meeting to keep her name out there, circling, building name recognition.
    She loves standing above the crowd.
    She feels uncomfortable in any other role.
    Evelyn Buck, odd woman out: she milks it for all it’s worth.
    Leaving us to ponder what is it really worth?
    Is there a downside? Can she participate constructively in community?

  26. Anonymous said

    The fact remains Evelyn Buck chose to play hooky, because she felt like it, by her own admission.
    She chose to make public that she didn’t go to work because she didn’t feel like it.

    Those of us in the private, competitive work force would risk losing our jobs for doing the same.
    She’s been hired by taxpayers.

    And Anonymous May 3, 2009 10:34 PM, if your point is valid there is no reason for Evelyn Buck to ever attend a council meeting.

    I take the opposite view because I believe anyone with a job serving voters OWES us respect and responsibility.
    I am concerned that Evelyn Buck does not.

  27. Anonymous said

    I don’t know where I read it, but I remember reading it prior to the election – that Councillor Buck had perfect attendance last term. Wish I could find the stats now. Are we going to start asking “Where were you? Why were you not there?” every time someone misses a meeting?

    And, on that same note, do you REALLY think that whatever was voted on would have been swayed by Councillor Buck’s vote? Ninety five percent of the time the motions are passed 8-1, with Buck being the odd woman out.

  28. Goodie Two Shoes said

    I think that Councillor Buck said honestly exactly why she did not attend the Tuesday meeting. I thank her for her honesty. Since when is giving out awards Town business and just how many times to people need to be acknowledged for the same award. When town business is being discussed, I know from past history that Councillor Buck is there to represent her town. Otherwise from the description I read about this weeks agenda the only person who benefited from it was P.M. Why not give these councillors an evening with their families and have a separate night when councillors have the option to attend repeat award ceremonies.

  29. Anonymous said

    To Anonymous May 3, 2009 5:31 PM,
    I fully agree with you that what Evelyn Buck did was a breach of contract/duty.

    You wrote exactly what I was feeling.

    How can she justify not attending a council meeting?
    In her blog she describes how the town corporation agenda would not advance her very personal agenda: hence her decision to play hooky.

    I just paid my taxes.
    Evelyn doesn’t mind insulting tax payers, some recently unemployed, by flaunting her ability to opt out of her responsibilities when it suits her.

    I’m out in the competitive work force, and I resent a politician choosing to do less when I’m pushed to do more for less.
    How many other meetings has she chosen to ignore?
    If the meeting runs over, she’s always the first to leave.
    The last meeting wasn’t going to be too long, so she figures it’s not worth her while to go.
    As a taxpayer I feel I’m being asked to pay her a salary so that she can do, or say whatever she wants, whenever she wants.
    Who else has a job like that?
    Not me!

  30. Anonymous said

    Interesting to note that Evelyn Buck chose to refrain from attending the last council meeting not because she was ill but because she didn’t feel like attending.

    Interesting work ethic?
    Some of us, not politicians, would be found in breech of contract/duty.

    Guess those ethics don’t apply to Evelyn Buck.

    To each her own.

  31. Aurora Citizen said

    Deleted comments are below:

    Anonymous has left a new comment 4/30 @ 7:29 PM
    Why don’t you invite him to write a guest post outlining his response?

    Anonymous has left a new comment 4/30 @ 8:08 PM
    Wasn’t there already a thread on this inspired by Evelyn Buck?
    I note that Evelyn Buck chose not to attend the last meeting.
    Maybe this will be another opportunity for her to fill us in?

    Anonymous has left a new comment 4/30 @ 8:29 PM
    How can Evelyn Buck fill you in if she wasn’t at the meeting?

    Anonymous has left a new comment 5/1 @ 12:04 AM
    I’m surprised to find out Ev wasn’t at the meeting. What a shame. She must have been sick. Hope she gets better soon.

  32. Anonymous said

    Can’t the RSS Reader be used to reclaim the deleted comments?

  33. Evelyn Buck said

    No it didn’t

  34. Can I Get A Witness? said

    I saw the same things the previous two posters did.

    Curiouser and curiouser…

  35. Anonymous said

    I’ve been told the same thing happened on Evelyn Buck’s Blog. I’ve always thought they were connected.

  36. Anonymous said

    Earlier in the day, it said these posts had been removed by the author. Then later it said they had been removed by the administrator. Now it’s the author again. Strange indeed.

  37. Anonymous said

    Aurora Citizen,
    There was some odd trash can icon on the entries this morning, but now they’re gone too.
    Someone is hacking you.

  38. Aurora Citizen said

    The blog administrator did not remove these comments – the note indicates that they were removed by the author — although to be honest, we have no idea how that was done. Frankly we are as puzzled and concerned as you. We have never seen this before.

    If these were not removed by the original author, please re-post.

  39. Anonymous said

    I see four posts have been removed by the blog administrator.

    Is that what an ethics commissioner does?

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