Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

The Spin Continues

Posted by auroracitizen on September 7, 2009

What a week; an ad in local papers, the release of the Integrity Commissioners report, a response from the Mayor and even articles from the ever friendly Banner about Mayor Morris and her leadership and influence with provincial staff. The spin continues.

The agenda for the next General Committee meeting on Sept 8 finally contains the full report from the Integrity Commissioner — as well as a well spun response from Mayor Morris.

Please take the opportunity to read both and form your own opinions. They can be found on the Town website here.

You will need to scroll down to the last 2 agenda items 22 & 23 to see the full text.

The Commissioner sets up his decision with 4 points:

  1. The commissioner will not conduct an inquiry if the matter is frivolous, vexatious, not made in good faith or insufficient grounds.
  2. In addition to the above, the commissioner may dismiss a complaint if it is seen as an abuse of power
  3. The complaint was ill-formed, incomplete and inappropriate
  4. The Commissioner gave the proponents the opportunity to provide additional information respecting the complaint, which they chose not to do.

The Commissioner therefore resolved that based on the above, no inquiry should take place. He further indicated the complaint was ill-formed, incomplete and inappropriate.

He also covered the issues of privacy and confidentiality — advising against the direction taken by Council. Lastly he was very clear about following “Due Process in Law” — something he may have some knowledge since EthicsScan wrote the Resource Guide for Municipality Integrity Officers for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments and provides a variety of services and products to members and non-members. Aurora is a member.)

However, providing an altogether different perspective is the response from Mayor Phyllis Morris.

Mayor Morris claims that “The Former Integrity Commissioner did NOT in any way rule on the merits of the complaint.” Of course she is right.

What the Integrity Commissioner did was throw the complaint out based on lack of merit — as stated clearly in his response.

Mayor Morris goes on to state “her belief” that the complaint was well formed, complete and appropriate.

One must wonder what her basis for this belief is based on — versus Mr Nitkin’s years of experience.

Possibly the much vaunted HR experience gives her this expertise. Or perhaps her work as a Paralegal. None of these qualify her as having any knowledge about the subject of integrity — and it continues to show.

The other question that should be answered is why does the Mayor get to publish her own report on the situation? Shouldn’t there be an official Council Report duly moved and agreed by the majority of Council after discussion — or is this another example of Mayor Morris knowing that she has 5 votes in her pocket so there is no need to follow process?

Lastly, why is this coming before General Committee instead of Council directly? Isn’t that the stated process — and we all know that Mayor Morris is a stickler for process. Isn’t that why they fired the Integrity Commissioner, for not following the process?

Consider attending the meeting on Tuesday. It will be worth the price of admission.

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17 Responses to “The Spin Continues”

  1. Knowledgeable in Aurora said

    I cannot believe that they are going to spend the money to hire another IC. What a bloody waste. I truly hope one of the Councillors will have the insight to remind them all that there is no way they should be hiring anyone in that type of "non-required position" on a contract that would extend beyond their term of Council. When they are done in 2010 so should anyone they hire for this position be done as well. The next Council (that hopefully does not have any repeats from the GOS) should be able to decide on their own if they want a Code or IC at all. If they decide they don't need or want one, let's not have to bear the cost of a payout on a long term contract.

  2. Tim the Enchanter said

    Good Sir Knight

    It is a bit of a sticky wicket for our lady mayor and attendants. She has stressed many times the need for an IC to help her protect the good burghers of Aurora from the likes of Ms. Buck.
    Mayor Morris appears to believe that her battle to slay the Great Plaid Dragon will serve as an inspiration to other towns and villages across the land unfortunate enough to have in their midst a councillor who has the temerity to voice an independent thought or twelve. She has also repeated her steadfast refusal to be deterred from her mission by a tiny group of disaffected naysayers (such as might be found posting on the Aurora Citizen).
    'Twould seem a trifle embarrassing to abandon her quest just because her trusty steed Nitkin refused to engage the enemy and besides, we don't really get to show our anger until next November, plenty of time to saddle a new horse.

  3. White Knight said

    To Tim the Enchanter
    Surely, SURELY we, the taxpayers, will not tolerate more of our money being spent on this IC recruitment/firing/recruitment cycle at the expense of these 6 idiots who are members of council.
    At what point do we say ENOUGH?

  4. Tim the Enchanter said

    When the IC uses terms such as "ill-formed", "incomplete" and "inappropriate" you don't really need a sliderule to figure out that in his professional opinion Council made a mess of this situation and no wonder, given that the entire affair was conducted with all of the subtlety and finesse of a loud fart.
    Councillor Collins-Mrakas was spot on with her suggestion that the IC function be performed by a provincially appointed "rover". He/she could ride into to little backwater towns like Aurora, make a ruling on these petty squabbles, and then tell everyone to shut up and go back to work. As it stands now it appears as if the Town will keep hiring ICs until the GOS gets the ruling they want although I would imagine by this time any potential candidate with a shred of professional integrity wouldn't touch Aurora with a barge pole.

  5. Anonymous said

    I reread the agenda items, and this one http://town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/doc?docId=9496 DOES state it's the interim report from the commissioner – where is the rest of it then?

    Page three of the link contains the report. Have a read and let us know what you think. Was the report only dismissed because it was 'poorly written/formatted'?

  6. Heather said

    During last night's meeting the Mayor advised she wanted to issue a statement providing answers to the public regarding the integrity commissioner. One point that I don't understand is why ALL councillor's were not entitled to receive a copy of the report? All their names were on it, weren't they?

    If all Cllrs are goverened by the code of conduct, even she who didn't sign it – then aren't they ALL entitled to copies of everything?

    Also, there was a kerfuffle at the beginning of the meeting (when the minutes were being approved) where Cllr Buck advised that she was confused over the use of the term "the integrity commissioner's INTERIM report". The Mayor seemed quite frazzled and stated that in no way was this an interim report; it was a typo by staff that was corrected… yet when the item was put up on the monitor, it clearly stated INTERIM report. Would there have been another report, or not?

    Reading the agenda item about the IC report – it sounds like he tried to work WITH the council to have the complaint reworded (or whatever it needed to be made acceptable) but there's no mention of whether council responded…?

    Those are the bits that don't add up to me.

  7. Anonymous said

    Well I attended the meeting and the spin spun ad nauseam. Thank God for McRoberts and Collins-Mrakas although they don't stand a hope in hell of winning any motion against the rock solid GOS. Evelina's venom was scary to observe in person and how hypocritical of her to rally support for staff when it was suggested that it would not be fair for them to issue a response as they had been the subject of the alleged comments that spawned the complaint. She has always been derisive and contemptuous of staff. Just watch the council meetings of the last 3 years. If anyone should be complained about it is her.

  8. Anonymous said

    Well, the IC stuff ended well before I figured it would. Mind you it took nearly 2 1/2 hrs to get to it.

  9. Broderick Epps said

    Having read the agenda for the "special council meeting" I guess its safe to assume both the Clerk and the Deputy Clerk have left the mess known as the Town of Aurora and the shenanigans surrounding a nutty Mayor and her 5faithful minions. Perhaps Ms Gaertner without prodding from her family can articulate why this has occurred.I can dream can't I!

  10. Anonymous said

    I plan to be there even if it has to be to the bitter end. I hope others can be there too to hear and see the spinners in action to the point of dizziness.

  11. Broderick Epps said

    Residents attending the meeting can request council to bring the last two items forward.

    September 7, 2009 9:20 PM

    Check out who is chairing General Committee….Evilina Mac.
    Fat chance she will listen to any public output.

  12. Anonymous said

    I'm not a lawyer, but in reading the IC's memorandum, it sounds like the complaint was dismissed because some of the councillor's whose names were indicated on the bottom REFUSED to sign it, that the impacts of the allegations wasn't provided, and that it was inappropriately presented (no confidentiality, etc) because it was published in all the newspapers.

    I also understood that the IC contacted the GOS a few times to clarify some of the info, to advise them on how it should be worded, etc..the process.

    I don't understand why the Mayor can simply say YES it is well formed, complete and appropriate. She's not the commisioner.

    Of course, she fired him because he didn't agree – so that says it all.

  13. Anonymous for a good reason said

    General Committee meetings aren't televised. Easier for the Mayor to manage her spin.

  14. Anonymous said

    mayor morris stated in the Era Banner that she can help other communities how not to make the same mistake.
    I guess she means that is she decides to move to another community that they should not vote for her like the citizens of Aurora did.
    She is sooooo far over her head that she actually thinks that she is doing a good job and that there are positives to be learned from her. What a joke that is.She further states that the integrity commissioner should have a legal background. Duh, don't you think that a real mayor would have known that. I guess she was using her HR background. Another joke.
    Just think only 14 months until this nightmare is over. I hope.

  15. Anonymous said

    To Anonymous September 7, 2009 8:38 PM

    Residents attending the meeting can request council to bring the last two items forward.

  16. Anonymous said

    It is interesting that these two items are at the very end of the agenda that is 364 pages long.

    I guess because the good people of Aurora, most of whom work in the GTA, are once again veiwed as idiots by HRH who probably thinks that this stategy will leave many to not hold out until the very end to hear the discussion. Or maybe we will fool them all and be there for the outcome, one can only hope more people see the importance of these two last items on the agenda.

  17. Anonymous said

    I will be there, if for no other reason to see first hand the spin that evolves around the Town of Aurora Council table. Oh I just can't wait.

    See you there!

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