Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Haldimand "Really People Should We Even Care?"

I finally had the time to view the Haldimand County Council Meeting of December 10th, 2007. I have got to say that as I was getting ready to post this article, it hit me. It seems that whenever Council makes a "decision" that is "directly" related to them a decision by council is almost always "immediate", with little or no debate. But it seems that more important issues regarding Haldimand County take months upon months, if not years. But of course, "You" be the "Judge" of that statement.

At this December 10th meeting Council passed Recommendation # 37 by staff to hire LAS to be the investigative body for closed-door sessions. I originally wrote about this issue in January 2007. Haldimand "Really People We have Nothing to Hide!"

Here is some information that I found out about LAS;

Local Authority Services Ltd. (LAS) LAS was created in 1992 by AMO to deliver programs and services that help municipalities reduce the cost of "common expenditures and increase revenues."

LAS has established a bulk electricity procurement program for all interested municipalities. This program is expected to realize substantial savings for municipalities for all electricity consumption, including street lighting accounts.

The Natural Gas Program currently purchases more than 10,000GJ of natural gas for over 2,200 physical locations within 175 municipalities and other public sector organizations. In 2006 the program provided members with 14% savings compared to utility gas rates.

The ONE Funds investment program, jointly operated with the CHUMS Financing Corp. offers a diversified way for municipalities to invest short-term and long-term surplus funds. Recently an Equity Fund was launched as a way for municipalities to leverage new investment powers provided by the Province.

Here is some information that I found out about the Ombudsman;

"The Ombudsman, whose services are free, has proven an effective watchdog that investigates government maladministration with honesty and integrity."

What I found very unusual about watching this meeting was that usually Recommendations are read "verbatim" and then discussed and voted on. At the least a recommendation is read "verbatim" before being voted on. Councillor Boyko did not read this recommendation verbatim; he touched on the "highlights" of this recommendation, leaving key information out.

There was very little discussion on this matter, in fact what council seemed to be more worried about was; can "anyone" just put in a complaint and it be investigated? The Ombudsman was never even mentioned, nor the fact that this could be a burden on the County’s finances.

What I really find strange is that Councillor Boyko is usually the one on Council that reads "every single report", and asks a lot of questions, but even he was vague, and didn’t seem to have any real concerns or was fully informed. It just doesn’t make sense to me that our entire Council voted in favour of a two year contract with LAS, in the 38 page "staff" report it states that the "Ombudsman" does not charge a fee of any kind to either the person putting forth a complaint, or the Municipality.

There was a "38" page report by staff "attached to the council agenda and yet Council seemed to have very little information on this issue, in fact this report was never even talked about, or referred to.

I can tell you that this is highly unusual. I would ask did they even read this report? I would really like to ask if in fact this was discussed behind closed doors, as that would make perfect sense to me why this was not really discussed and was passed so quickly. In fact as this short discussion was taking place, Councillor Delmonte made a reference to another issue, not even related to the issue that was on the table. The next thing you know they were voting and passing this recommendation unanimously 7-0. Boom Bang Done!

When I called Mayor Trainer at the beginning of January and asked why she did not vote this recommendation down, she didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. Once I explained to her what was in the report she really couldn’t answer why she didn’t know. I directly asked Mayor Trainer if in fact they had talked about this behind closed doors, she stated that she didn’t really remember discussing this issue at all.

Karen Best, a reporter from the Dunnville Chronicle wrote an excellent article in January 2007 regarding council’s decision. When Karen interviewed Councillor Boyko, he stated that he and most of Council did not know this information about the Ombudsman.

So I now I have a few more questions;

Do you think that Council should re-visit this issue?

Mayor Trainer, why have you not re-visited this issue with council since our conversation in early January?

Councillor Boyko, why have you not re-visited this issue since your interview with Karen Best, when you admitted that you weren’t really informed about this issue?

Are staff members informing our current Council members of these important issues, or just giving them direction?

Has Council since read the "38" page report that was attached to their agendas?

Maybe I am in left field with my opinions on this issue, maybe the fact is that Senior Staff have in fact "not informed" our Council properly on this important issue. In this case I would say that Council has got some serious work on their hands. Now in saying that, Senior staff at "any" Council meeting only answer a question if they are "directly" asked by a Council member. In my personal opinion Staff "did" in fact do their job. What it does make me wonder about is how many other staff reports has this council "not read"!

We must not forget that "Staff’" inform our Council Members on important issues, "Staff" make "recommendations", not "decisions". "Council makes their "decisions" based on staff reports and "direct’s" Staff to "implement" their "decisions".


  1. To answer your question, Yes we need to care.

    Maybe council needs to have more meetings to give them the time to read staffs reports.

    It will be easy however for council to blame this on staff, and I agree with you that staff has done your jobs.

    When are people going to stand up and smell what is really going on in this county?

    You know that council only made this decision to cover their own butts.

  2. Dear Donna,
    In several situations between government and constituents, we see roadblocks which seem insurmountable. When we are the most depressed about a situation is not the time to give up. Sometimes things happen that we never thought would develop to help us. Never stop doing the right thing when trouble is afloat and we can see the difference between right and wrong. All levels of government revel in those who simply give up. Rare is the person who keeps on trucking, if one way doesn't work, wait for the incite into another way. Nothing is carved in stone. There is a solution to everything. In some cases , it just takes a little longer. Those bent on doing a task in an underhanded way, I believe eventually get back what they have sowed. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but at some time in the future, it will come back to haunt them.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Thanks Mary-Lou for your words of wisdom. I always look forward to you commenting on my blog. I am honoured.

    It is true that we sometimes get very frustrated in the way the system works and we must not give up, but it is hard sometimes, you feel that you are doing this alone.

    I can tell you without a doubt that the residents of Haldimand County have the strength to see things through.

    Thanks again

  4. Well here is an interesting update. I was looking for something else on the Haldimand County website and I came across an interesting report.

    CS-CL-00-2007 Dated September 24th,2007. This report was approved and Resolution #905-07 was assigned. This report is from LAS and is regarding Closed Session Meeting Investigations.

    I did not read this report, nor am I interested at this time to even read it. But it does prove one thing to me; I was not in "Left" field on this issue, I was bang on the money.

    This Council knew what they were doing. I really have very little faith left not can I trust any of them, and that is truly a shame.

    I can't wait for 2010, I am really thinking about running in the next election.

  5. I have said this before and I will say it again, shame on Council.

    I have a bigger problem. I have fully support our Mayor, both at election time and everytime she has been attacked by her council. She knew this information as well and voted as wel, no more excuses.

    My patience has run out for our CEO, and I think that it is time for Mayor Marie Trainer to step down and tell the truth. She calls her self a religious woman yet she herself does not tell the whole truth, and has no power with her elected status.

    Step down Mayor Trainer, tell the truth, hold an election and run again, this is the only way to clean up the dirty seven. If you are worthy the job is yours once again.