PDA

View Full Version : Hamilton's Integrity Commissioner


markbarbera
Mar 20, 2008, 8:08 PM
From today's edition of AM900.com:

Integrity commissioner for city getting closer
Ken Mann
3/20/2008

Hamilton politicians are closer to defining the parameters under which the city's integrity commissioner will operate.

They've developed a draft by-law, which if approved, will require members of the public to pay a 100 dollar fee to file a complaint against an elected official.

The complainant would also be required to keep their issue confidential, by keeping it away from the media, until it has been ruled on by the integrity commissioner. Councillor Terry Whitehead says the measures are designed to prevent frivolous complaints.

The Integrity Commissioner could be in place by June, and is expected to be hired on a case-by-case basis. The position will operate within a 100 thousand dollar budget.

Looks like the integrity commissioner for Hamilton is (finally) heading our way. Here's hoping ther isn't a flood of list-minute shenanigans from the usual suspects before the position is put in place...

FairHamilton
Mar 20, 2008, 8:41 PM
I understand that a $100 fee is to limit complaints to “real ones”, and to stop frivolous ones. But, I think if the Integrity Commissioner finds the complaint warranted, the $100 should be refunded to the complainant.

My 2 cents (not $100....)

markbarbera
Jun 11, 2008, 1:11 PM
From Tuesday's edition of The Hamilton Spectator

Council agrees to hire ethics watchdog

June 10, 2008
Nicole Macintyre
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 10, 2008)
Wanted: Integrity commissioner for the City of Hamilton.

Council unanimously agreed yesterday to hire an integrity commissioner to police politicians' conduct.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who promised the office in his election campaign, thanked council for supporting the initiative after nearly a year and a half of haggling over the proposal.

"It has been a challenge, but a good challenge," he said.

Eisenberger said he's hopeful the office will help restore public confidence in city hall.

The integrity commissioner will investigate complaints against councillors and has the power to dole out punishment, including to up to three months' lost pay.

The cost of the new office is still unknown. Council has put aside $50,000, but staff will come back later this year with a better estimate.

Glanbrook Councillor David Mitchell fears the cost could soar as high as half a million a year.

"I've just been forewarned that the costs are going to be incredible."

Council agreed yesterday to fill the office with a retired judge. The position will be paid per diem.

It will cost the public $100 to file a compliant with the commissioner. Council voted yesterday to limit the complaint period to six weeks after an alleged offence.

A subcommittee will now review council's code of conduct to decide what constitutes an offence.

nmacintyre@thespec.com

It's about time...

realcity
Jun 11, 2008, 2:13 PM
Although I think this is a good move. I think Fred bet the Farm on this. Out of all the things he could've championed -- Fred chose this Integrity Issue which falls very short on many radars. And it likely won't stop shenanigans and the antics from Mitchell, McCarthy, Merulla et al. It'll just allow council to wash their hands of the punishment by passing it off to this new commissioner.

SteelTown
Jun 25, 2008, 9:51 PM
oh man lol........

Eisenberger believes he's contravened council code
Jay McQueen
6/25/2008

In his own words, Hamilton's mayor says he has broken city council's code of conduct.

Fred Eisenberger making a statement, saying this was done by way of having an off the record conversation with Specator columnist Andrew Dreschel about a year ago.

A transcript of that private phone conversation, he says, was stolen from his office and given to a media outlet.

Eisenberger says he's not prepared to divulge the context of that conversation, adding it was intended to be private and confidential.

He says he has no reason to believe that Dreschel or anyone else at the Spec released the private taped conversation and and says no one currently working in his office is suspected in any way.

That said, Mayor Eisenberger will now ask the chief of police to launch an investigation to find out who stole what he calls his personal and city property.

Meantime, he's taking full responsibility and is encouraging staff and council to recommend appropriate remedy or action.

The Mayors comment



Media Statement from Mayor's Office

HAMILTON, ON: 25 June 2008

MEDIA STATEMENT

I am aware that a transcript of a taped private phone conversation with Andrew Dreschel of the Hamilton Spectator stolen from my office has been circulated and given to a media outlet. I am also aware that there is some question as to whether I have broken Council’s Code of Conduct for having this “off the record” unpublished conversation with this reporter. It is my belief that I have contravened the Council’s Code of Conduct.

Let me state I have never wilfully leaked or released a private and confidential document verbally or otherwise to any member of the media for express purpose of broadcast. I have on occasion had “off the record” conversations with members of the media to provide context or to correct misinformation.

In that light, I have provided a copy of the transcript I received to the City solicitor, and will ask Council tonight during the “Statements by Members” of Council portion of the meeting, to instruct the City solicitor to review this transcript and report back to Council and the community as soon as possible. I take full responsibility and encourage staff and Council to recommend appropriate remedy or action as required.

I have no reason to believe that Mr. Dreschel or anyone at the Hamilton Spectator released this private taped conversation and have every reason to believe it was stolen from my office. However, no one currently working in my office is suspected in any way.

Given all that, I will ask the Chief of the Hamilton Police to launch an investigation to determine who has stolen my personal and city property.

raisethehammer
Jun 25, 2008, 10:09 PM
what is this all about??

are they not allowed to chat with the media?? DiIanni used to sit in council text message Nicole MacIntyre during meetings.

Video here:
http://www.thespec.com/videogallery/392600

SteelTown
Jun 25, 2008, 10:25 PM
Mayor Fred himself was very strict to not reveal anything to the media. Mayor Fred was quick to leash out aganist councillors for doing that. Now he did it himself. It is part of the new code of conduct.

raisethehammer
Jun 25, 2008, 10:33 PM
what did he leak?

SteelTown
Jun 25, 2008, 10:35 PM
Dunno, transcript isn't out yet.

realcity
Jun 26, 2008, 2:20 PM
this is crap. Now we'll even know less about what goes on in this City. As if we're not already kept in the dark now, now it'll get worse.

Our media sucks, and it's not difficult to keep one radio station and one daily paper (not really a daily, no Sunday and the Monday paper might as well not be printed) to not publish City Hall talks and councilor meetings/conversations.

raisethehammer
Jun 27, 2008, 3:04 AM
no kidding...I remember when I used to get the Spec. that monday paper was an embarassment. The weekend could be chalk full of festivals, activities, great weather, restaurant openings and they manage to put out the worst, most useless paper imaginable.

flar
Jun 27, 2008, 3:10 AM
^^I was offered a cheap subscription to the Spec, so I've been getting it for a couple months and reading the front section everyday. From reading the paper, I wouldn't know this weekend is Festival of Friends if I didn't see the banner downtown. I would imagine there are fireworks sometime soon, but I have no idea when. On the other hand, I overheard someone talking about Sunfest in London the other day...

rant over, return to topic...

thistleclub
Jun 27, 2008, 11:52 AM
^^I was offered a cheap subscription to the Spec, so I've been getting it for a couple months and reading the front section everyday. From reading the paper, I wouldn't know this weekend is Festival of Friends if I didn't see the banner downtown. I would imagine there are fireworks sometime soon, but I have no idea when. On the other hand, I overheard someone talking about Sunfest in London the other day...

This weekend is It's Your Festival (http://www.hamiltonfolkarts.org/itsyourfestival.htm). Festival of Friends (Steve Earle! Canned Heat!) is August 8-10. Fireworks at dusk at Bayfront & Pier 4, or if you're perverse you can listen to the radio simulcast (media myopia Exhibit B: tune in on K-Lite, CHAM or Oldies 1150, who will all apparently be all fixated on the event). Free HSR shuttle bus service to the park from King and John, 6-11:45 p.m. Burlington's fireworks (Spencer Smith Park, dusk) are accompanied by the HPO.

BTW, cheap subscriptions (which, like half-price newsstand campaigns, are often timed during circulation audits to provide a bump in readers) seem to get you on a lot of junk mail/telemarket lists. No free lunch, as they say.

raisethehammer
Jun 27, 2008, 12:48 PM
yea, they came by here and asked if I wanted that $20.00 for 3 months deal. I said no way. No interest at all.
Read today's PR piece with Mancinelli and you'll know why.

by the way, I think Brad Clark needs to give it a rest. He's been at Fred's throat since this term began and is gathering a band of council buddies around him in an attempt to virtually ALWAYS vote the opposite of Fred on the big issues.
It's a shame to see someone deliberately sabotage a term of council due to their own power-hungry greed.
I used to think that I'd vote for him next as mayor if he runs, but no way. Anyone that desperate for power is bad news.

ryan_mcgreal
Jun 27, 2008, 1:12 PM
It's a real shame - otherwise, Clark seems to have very good instincts when it comes to process and asking the right kinds of questions about policy recommendations.

Today's column by Andrew Dreschel digs deeper into the Eisenberger-Clark connection over the taped interview:

http://thespec.com/Opinions/article/393509

flar
Jun 27, 2008, 1:36 PM
This weekend is It's Your Festival (http://www.hamiltonfolkarts.org/itsyourfestival.htm). Festival of Friends (Steve Earle! Canned Heat!) is August 8-10. Fireworks at dusk at Bayfront & Pier 4, or if you're perverse you can listen to the radio simulcast (media myopia Exhibit B: tune in on K-Lite, CHAM or Oldies 1150, who will all apparently be all fixated on the event). Free HSR shuttle bus service to the park from King and John, 6-11:45 p.m. Burlington's fireworks (Spencer Smith Park, dusk) are accompanied by the HPO.

BTW, cheap subscriptions (which, like half-price newsstand campaigns, are often timed during circulation audits to provide a bump in readers) seem to get you on a lot of junk mail/telemarket lists. No free lunch, as they say.


Yes, It's Your Festival, I drove by the banner again this morning. Festival of Friends got a page 15 article in the Go section of today's Spec though. It's a start!

raisethehammer
Jun 27, 2008, 3:02 PM
give up.
you'll never know what's happening in this city by reading the Spec.

markbarbera
Jun 27, 2008, 4:01 PM
Boy, circulating that tape was a bad call on Brad Clark's behalf. Kind of a low-handed way to score political points against a rival, but that is politics for . At least he was quick to come forward and fess up - much like Eisenberger did about the breach itself.

The next obvious question is, how did the tape end up in Clark's hands in the first place? At first blush one would have thought this was an issue to cause serious political damage to the mayor, but now it looks like Clark is going to get it good. And the 'whistleblower' claim just is not going to work.

raisethehammer
Jun 27, 2008, 9:03 PM
yea, he's full of crap. "whistleblower".
He gives it to a different media outlet and two other councillors. Chad Collins would be one of them (he's part of Clark's new band of tough guys from what I understand).
Now Fred looks pretty good. I bet he knew that Clark did this and held that press conference asking the police to look into who stole the tape. Now we know. I'm guessing that stealing stuff from the mayors office doesn't really fit into the city's 'code' either. haha.

beanmedic
Jun 28, 2008, 9:45 AM
duvall and merulla were the two councillors who received the recording and transcript.

raisethehammer
Jun 28, 2008, 6:00 PM
my bad...I meant Merulla...confused my east-end councillors.

markbarbera
Jul 4, 2008, 3:55 PM
From today's Spec:

Councillor steps down over tapegate

July 04, 2008
Nicole Macintyre
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jul 4, 2008)
Councillor Brad Clark resigned from the city's integrity taskforce yesterday -- a move other councillors say is in order for the mayor.

In a letter to the city clerk, Clark also asked that the integrity commissioner investigate his conduct in the mayor's tape controversy.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger is already facing an investigation after admitting he broke council's code of conduct by giving confidential information to a Spectator columnist. Clark confirmed last week that he circulated the tape that exposed the mayor's violation to media and councillors.

Until the "air is cleared," neither Clark or Eisenberger should serve on the accountability and transparency committee, said member Councillor Terry Whitehead. "We should be above reproach. We should be setting the standard."

Councillor Scott Duvall, who is also on the committee which helped establish the new integrity commissioner, agrees Eisenberger should follow Clark's example.

"(He should resign) so he's distanced from it," Duvall said.

But Eisenberger said any calls for his resignation from the committee are premature until the investigation into his conduct is complete.

"I think it would be reasonable not to prejudge," he said, noting he would only step down if directed by council.

Clark resigned as chair or vice-chair of four subcommittees pending the outcome of the integrity commissioner's investigation. He said he made the decision to be "completely above board" while his conduct is under review.

Clark has stated he was acting as a whistleblower to expose that the mayor was leaking confidential information while chastising councillors for the same offence. Critics questions why he didn't take the material to the city clerk.

The integrity commissioner can investigate Clark's conduct because it occurred in the last month. Eisenberger's conduct cannot be because it happened a year ago before the new office was approved. He will be judged by council.

Police have assigned two detectives to investigate the mayor's compliant that the tape was stolen from his office. The off-the-record conversation was not released by the Spectator.

The taped conversation is from May 2007 when Eisenberger's media person was Ian Dovey. He was let go later that year and is suing the city. Eisenberger said Dovey taped some of his media interviews.

The Spectator has obtained a copy of an e-mail that appears to be from Dovey to Clark. It was dropped off at the newspaper in a household composting bag with the label "leak proof" circled.

Clark declined to comment on the e-mail when read its content, stating the investigation is ongoing. Dovey, believed to be out of the country, did not return e-mails.

In the e-mail, Dovey states he is passing along a written transcript to back up the audio clip. He added he strongly suggests "that the story comes out with other Hamilton media" at the same time Hamilton Community News prints its story.

Clark has admitted he sent the audio clip to the community newspaper and forwarded it to two city councillors. He refused to identify his source, but stated he does not believe the material was stolen. The tape is the property of the person who sent it to him, he said.

Well, it looks like Clark, while trying to damage the mayor so to promote his future mayoral ambitions, may have inadvertently wounded his own political ambitions in the process. Play with fire,...

realcity
Jul 7, 2008, 3:07 PM
I agree, Clark is manoevering to a position to run for mayor. I like Clark tho. He stands up to developers/sprawl. He asks tough questions and votes 90% of the time the way I would.

highwater
Jul 7, 2008, 6:26 PM
You have to wonder what he's got against Fred. Unless it's strictly a power thing.

hamiltonguy
Jul 7, 2008, 10:18 PM
Prolly.

That and they're both conservatives.

Conservatives have a history of fratricide.

Boomtown_Hamilton
Jul 13, 2008, 1:23 AM
This weekend is It's Your Festival (http://www.hamiltonfolkarts.org/itsyourfestival.htm). Festival of Friends (Steve Earle! Canned Heat!) is August 8-10. Fireworks at dusk at Bayfront & Pier 4, or if you're perverse you can listen to the radio simulcast (media myopia Exhibit B: tune in on K-Lite, CHAM or Oldies 1150, who will all apparently be all fixated on the event). Free HSR shuttle bus service to the park from King and John, 6-11:45 p.m. Burlington's fireworks (Spencer Smith Park, dusk) are accompanied by the HPO.

BTW, cheap subscriptions (which, like half-price newsstand campaigns, are often timed during circulation audits to provide a bump in readers) seem to get you on a lot of junk mail/telemarket lists. No free lunch, as they say.

Well I guess that explains why they didn't advertise The Festival of Friends at the front page of the Hamilton Spectator that weekend. ;)

$100.00 for every complaint eh? Seeing how we have a bunch of complainers in this town they should be able to generate MILLION$ with this gimmick.:D

SteelTown
Jul 28, 2008, 10:34 PM
Mayor Faces Defamation Lawsuit
Ken Mann
7/28/2008

An update on the latest legal challenge out of Hamilton City Hall.

The former communications manager for Mayor Fred Eisenberger has amended his wrongful dismissal lawsuit, to include a claim for defamation.

Ian Dovey's lawyer notes that the Mayor has "insinuated" that his client stole an audiotape from the mayor's office, after he was fired in May of 2007.

David Skuy insists that Dovey took nothing from the mayor's offices that was not his "personal property". Skuy adds that the allegation has had a devastating effect on Dovey and his family.

Mayor Eisenberger says Dovey's allegations will be defended "very aggressively".

markbarbera
Sep 11, 2008, 9:33 AM
As reported this morning on thespec.com:

September 11, 2008
The Hamilton Spectator
(Sep 11, 2008)
A cloud has been lifted from Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

In June he admitted that he broke council's code of conduct by having an off- the-record discussion with a Spectator columnist about a personnel matter.

But council has accepted an investigator's conclusion that Eisenberger was trying to clear up misinformation and unauthorized leaks and that doing so was consistent with his responsibilities as mayor.

ryan_mcgreal
Sep 11, 2008, 2:55 PM
http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1098

Council Votes Not to Censure Mayor for Tapegate

Last night Council voted 8-4 not to censure Mayor Fred Eisenberger related to his "off the record" interview with Spectator columnist Andrew Dreschel, which was later leaked to the press.

The conversation concerned Council's decision to terminate Lee Anne Coveyduck, the former general manager of planning and economic development, and controversy swirled around leaks of confidential information from Council to the local newsmedia.

Dreschel interviewed Eisenberger about the matter around the same time that the Mayor sent out a blistering email to Council decrying the "blatant lack of integrity" that the leaks entailed.

This past June, the Mayor abruptly called a press conference in which he stated that he believed he had "contravened the Council's Code of Conduct" after a recording of the interview by Ian Dovey, Eisenberger's former media advisor, was leaked to the newsmedia.

Excerpts from the recording were published in the Hamilton Community News. It later materialized that Councillor Brad Clark had leaked the tape after a copy was sent to him by Dovey, who was let go in 2007.

Dovey is now suing the city for wrongful dismissal.

Motives 'Wholly Proper'

Council made its decision based on a recommendation by George H. Rust-D'Eye, an independent lawyer hired to investigate the incident. That recommendation has been made public (PDF link), though it is heavily redacted to protect confidential information.

Rust-D'Eye argued in his recommendation that the content of the mayor's interview with Dreschel was largely already in the public domain when the conversation took place.

[A]t least most of the information communicated by the mayor to Mr. Dreschel in their telephone conversation, represented by that time a decision of the Council already made at the public meeting held on May 16, 2007, and was thus a matter of public record and municipal policy, at the time that the discussion took place.

He concluded:

Both the documentation which I have been provided, and my several interviews with each of the Mayor and Mr. Dreschel, lead me to the conclusion that the Mayor has acted consistently throughout in his attempts to protect the interests of the City of Hamilton, to prevent unauthorized leaks of confidential City information to the public, to provide context and background in response to the publication of what he sees to be inaccuration information, and to [rest of sentence redacted].

Rust-D'Eye noted the issue of "the divulging of the oral legal opinion provided to the City by its solicitor", an opinion that was provided confidentially in an in camera Council meeting.

He concluded that this did constitute "a contravention of the Code of Conduct" but that it was undertaken in a manner consistent with the Mayor's duties under Section 226.1 of the Municipal Act, 2001.

He recommended that the City not impose any sanction on the Mayor, because:

I believe that the motives and objectives of Mayor Eisenberger in attempting to deal with unauthorized leaks of information and to correct misinformation, were wholly proper, consistent with the duties of his office, and done in the public interest.

Rust-D'Eye also concluded that the recording of the conversation between Eisenberger and Dreschel was not a criminal matter.

BrianE
Sep 11, 2008, 3:05 PM
George H. Rust-D'Eye? George Rusty Eye?

I call shenanigans on Council, they didn't hire anybody, they just made up a name and wrote the report themselves. :haha:

ryan_mcgreal
Sep 11, 2008, 3:22 PM
Nicholas Angel: The swan's escaped, right... and who might you be?
P.I Staker: Mr. Staker, yeah... Mr. Peter Ian Staker.
Nicholas Angel: P.I Staker? Right! "Piss Taker!" Come on!
Nicholas Angel: [cut to Angel talking to Mr. Staker] OK, Mr. Staker...

thistleclub
Oct 18, 2008, 3:10 AM
Councillor must declare interest in local organizations (http://www.stoneycreeknews.com/news/article/147952)
By Kevin Werner, Stoney Creek News
Oct 17, 2008

A councillor doesn't have a conflict if they are a member of an outside board or agency not affiliated with the city, says Hamilton's solicitor.

But Peter Barkwell, said the councillor must reveal the membership of the board or agency to council because the politician has a pecuniary interest on the subject being debated.

The issue was one of a number of specialized items members of the Accountability and Transparency committee discussed last week as they reviewed again their proposed councillors' code of conduct legislation.

Councillors Brian McHattie and Terry Whitehead both felt a councillor who represents an outside agency at the council table should declare a conflict of interest.

"I think there should be a higher standard," said Mr. Whitehead. "It raises concerns if (the councillor) is receiving a salary to sit on the board."

Added Mr. McHattie; "It bothers me that a (councillor's) comments are from the other board. That has always bothered me."

Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson, who is a member of the Hamilton Health Sciences board, recently argued against opposing the HHS's restructuring plan. Mr. Ferguson, along with Mayor Fred Eisenberger, were the only politicians that supported the HHS's restructuring plan that would close the adult emergency centre at McMaster University.

Mr. Ferguson has been a HHS board member prior to becoming a councillor in 2006 and he does not receive compensation for his time.

Meanwhile, councillors will be required to disclose their non-pecuniary interests in an issue. Mr. Barkwell said councillors have an "obligation" to reveal if they are a member of a local organization, or are working on behalf of a community group.

The committee is also recommending restricting politicians to receiving only $300 in gifts or benefits from one source for the year. Under Hamilton's current code of conduct policy, politicians are limited to accepting gifts or benefits amounting to $100.

A councillor will be allowed to receive gifts with no penalty during a function honouring the politician, receiving food and beverages during a function and gifts received during the course of his or her duties.

The committee still has to sort out whether political spouses will be required to file mandatory financial disclosure statements, which would be kept confidential with the clerk. Councillors would be required to file financial disclosure statements. About 10 councillors have already filed their statements to the clerk. The committee discussed the financial issues during an incamera session last week.

The committee is expected to finalized its document at its next meeting.

Meanwhile, city staff will be receiving information about possible judicial applicants for the city's integrity commissioner position by Nov. 14.

markbarbera
Aug 9, 2009, 4:02 PM
In Saturday's Spec:

Integrity watchdog raps Clark

Nicole Macintyre
The Hamilton Spectator
(Aug 8, 2009)

The city's integrity commissioner has reprimanded Councillor Brad Clark, saying he was seeking political gain when he circulated a recording of the mayor having an off-the-record conversation.

George Rust-D'Eye dismissed Clark's claim that he was a "whistleblower" in the so-called Tape-gate scandal.

In a 29-page report, the interim watchdog ruled Clark's actions "involved a primarily political motivation with no foreseeable or calculable public interest objective or public benefit."

The city released the report yesterday after "further legal review." It was initially marked as confidential, an apparent contravention of the Municipal Act.

Council will receive the findings next Thursday.

In a public statement, Clark said he accepts the public reprimand as a sanction but does not agree with all the findings.

The Stoney Creek councillor, who is the first politician to be investigated under the city's new watchdog bylaw, disputed the commissioner's "narrow interpretation that there was no public interest in this matter."

He pointed to a recent judge's ruling that allowed a Nova Scotia newspaper to publish tapes of federal minister Lisa Raitt discussing confidential information.

"The courts have found that there is compelling public interest in the scrutiny of government," Clark said.

He declined to comment further.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said "the report speaks for itself."

"I'm glad we can get this behind us and get back to governing," he said.

Last summer, Clark gave a Hamilton Community News reporter and two councillors a recording of the mayor disclosing confidential information in an off-the-record conversation with Spectator columnist Andrew Dreschel.

The conversation, which was taped by Eisenberger's former communication staffer Ian Dovey, related to legal advice about a city employee.

Rust-D'Eye, a lawyer, previously ruled Eisenberger broke council's code of conduct but found he was acting in the public interest to clarify misinformation. He recommended no sanction.

In contrast, Rust-D'Eye found Clark's objectives appear to have been "more political in nature."

Clark told the commissioner he felt it was important the public know the mayor disclosed confidential information when he had admonished council for past leaks.

When asked why he didn't take the tape to staff or council, Clark said there was no process, such as an integrity commissioner, to deal with such concerns at the time.

The integrity probe was delayed while police investigated if the tape was stolen from the mayor's office. The force concluded in February that there was insufficient grounds to lay charges.

In his report, Rust-D'Eye concluded Dovey did not have legal authority to remove the recording from City Hall. Consequently, he found Clark did not have the right to circulate the material and should have returned it to the city.

Clark disagrees that the conversation was a municipal record.

Dovey's lawyer David Skuy said he wants to read the report before commenting.

The integrity commissioner, who has the authority to dole out punishment, chose not to impose a financial penalty on Clark because the information he leaked had already been reported.

In his statement, Clark suggested changes to the process, saying he found it "troubling" that he was not privy to witness testimony and there was no opportunity for cross-examination.

"The entire proceeding was in essence an ex parte hearing."

It will be interesting to see if Council opts to censure Clark. IMO some sort of censure needs to take place. Too often the game of politics is put ahead of the city's best interests, and a faliure to censure Clark would implicitly condone cheap political stunts and renders the role of integrity commissioner ineffective.

markbarbera
Dec 3, 2009, 6:09 PM
A fresh case on the way?

Ex-Whitehead aide alleges harassment

Council may send case to new integrity boss
December 03, 2009
EMMA REILLY
THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

A city staffer who worked as Councillor Terry Whitehead's assistant has filed a harassment complaint against her one-time boss.

The assistant, who now works in another city department, raised concerns about the Mountain councillor's conduct towards her.

Council will decide at next week's meeting whether Whitehead's behaviour should be examined by the incoming integrity commissioner. City sources characterized the complaint as bully-type behaviour.

Whitehead said news of the allegations came as a "complete shock" and he was unaware of yesterday's committee motion.

"I assure you that I'm fully prepared to co-operate with the process," he said last night.

"I'm sure it's going to be emotionally draining for myself and my family, but we need to allow this process to unfold."

The allegations were presented to the audit and administration committee at a closed-door meeting yesterday. The committee then voted to send the issue to council, which will determine whether Whitehead's conduct will be the new integrity commissioner's first investigation.

"What we heard today was disturbing and serious, and that's why we sent it to council for ultimate discussion," said committee chair Brad Clark yesterday.

If the complaint is investigated by the integrity commissioner, Whitehead could face a reprimand, and up to 90 days without pay.

Whitehead was first elected in 2003. Before sitting on city council, he worked for MP David Christopherson, former mayor Bob Morrow and former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps.

He is the fifth sitting council member to face internal allegations about code of conduct violations.

Clark, Mayor Fred Eisenberger and councillors David Mitchell and Bernie Morelli have faced investigations into their behaviour.

Eisenberger's office says the mayor is taking time off for personal reasons and won't be available to comment until later this week.

realcity
Dec 3, 2009, 10:59 PM
creeep

this integrity commish will be the busiest person working in the city.

markbarbera
Dec 3, 2009, 11:16 PM
First thing he'll have to do is hire a lot of support staff.

SteelTown
Dec 30, 2009, 11:24 PM
Integrity guardian used to making calls

December 30, 2009
Emma Reilly
The Hamilton Spectator
http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/697066

In a few days, he'll become council's watchdog. But for now, all eyes are on him.

Earl Basse will begin his tenure as Hamilton's first integrity commissioner Friday. He beat out 67 other applicants during the city's lengthy hiring process.

Basse, 63, lives in Kitchener with his wife of 39 years. The former RCMP inspector and small-town mayor grew up in Kitchener before moving to Manitoba to join the Mounties. During his 21 years there, he refereed for the Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association and became the organization's referee-in-chief.

Basse eventually moved to British Columbia by way of Saskatchewan. It was the loss of his daughter Susan to multiple sclerosis a month before her 25th birthday that brought Basse back to Ontario to be closer to his family.

"Your whole life changes when that happens," he said.

Basse now runs his own business and acts as Windsor's integrity commissioner -- a role he says he intends to keep while employed as Hamilton's integrity czar.

Basse's performance as Windsor's integrity commissioner has received mixed reviews. His first report, released in November, outlined his inability to find the source of a leak during Windsor's bitter municipal strike this summer. Some blame that leak for prolonging the strike for another month.

Basse was also criticized for taking 14 months to dismiss what he called a "frivolous" complaint against Windsor's mayor, Eddie Francis, for meeting with then-Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was an alleged felon.

"It takes time to do these investigations," Basse said yesterday. "You have to be fair, you have to be very detailed and complete."

bigguy1231
Dec 30, 2009, 11:53 PM
Can't see this guy lasting too long. Being a cop or a referee doesn't qualify you for this type of job. Sounds like the council just settled for someone to get the issue off the table.

FairHamilton
Dec 31, 2009, 12:55 AM
I'm just glad we've got another Kitchener-Waterloo resident in a 'key' city position.......

Some (not all) of my favourites from his interview in today's Spec;

What are you most proud of about your work as Windsor's Integrity commissioner?
"Probably what I'm most proud of was that I was in on the ground floor of developing an association of integrity commissioners. It's not formalized, but we all got together and got to discuss things......."

Great the thing he's most proud of was for something he wasn't hired to do, and had nothing to do with Windsor. And not being "formalized", I can only imagine it was meeting over a fully expensed meal, with no follow-up actions.

What do you know about Hamilton and its integrity issues?
"I don't know a lot. I'm going to be right up front with you. I will find out - I'm a quick study - but I don't, as yet, have a real handle on it. I don't think it will take long, but right now at this moment I don't know a lot."

Would have been nice if he said he's been following city politics and issues online. Especially when it was reported on December 10th that his first job will be to investigate Councillor Whitehead's conduct, http://www.thespec.com/article/688042.

markbarbera
Dec 31, 2009, 2:02 PM
In the role of Integrity Commisioner, I think it is a definite positive that Earl Basse comes from outside the municipality. This means he is completely removed from the city's political scene, and subsequently any potential conflict of interest when investigating complaints. His resume (http://www.citywindsor.ca/002906.asp?PFV=1) is varied and impressive.

It is way too early for armchair critics to pass judgement on his performance, seeing as his first day of work here hasn't even come yet! I'd like to see how he handles the Whitehead complaint.

SteelTown
May 27, 2010, 10:49 PM
Integrity commissioner almost ready to table report
Whitehead:‘I will be exonerated’

By Kevin Werner, News Staff
News
May 27, 2010
http://www.hamiltonmountainnews.com/news/article/211366

Hamilton’s integrity commissioner said he expects to provide council with his report over a complaint made against Ward 8 (west Mountain) Coun. Terry Whitehead within the next few weeks.

“There were interviews to be done and a lot of documents to review,” said Earl Basse, who was retained by the City of Hamilton to be its integrity commissioner. “I want to be fair to all parties. It takes time. It shouldn’t be much longer. It’s just about done.”

Basse, a former investigator for the RCMP, and Windsor’s integrity commissioner, began investigating the complaint against the veteran councillor soon after he took over the position Jan. 1. This will be the first complaint that will be conducted under the city’s new integrity commissioner authority since the position and guidelines were approved by council nearly two years ago.

Councillors referred the complaint, made by a former executive assistant, to the integrity commissioner at a meeting last December. The allegations, if proven, could involve council’s new code of conduct rules, and the city’s policies involving harassment and discrimination and personal harassment prevention. Council agreed at the time to keep the complaint private until the commissioner’s investigation and the report is completed.

SteelTown
May 27, 2010, 10:51 PM
Does it really require six or seven months to complete a report over a complaint?

SteelTown
Aug 10, 2010, 1:04 AM
Nearly a year later here's the report.......

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/DEDD1ACD-67A8-4DC2-BF4F-E5936E087D53/65115/council517.pdf

Summed up the Integrity Commissioner found that Whitehead "did not contravene of City of Hamilton Code of Conduct"

markbarbera
Aug 10, 2010, 1:17 PM
So, as of today, the only council members to contravene the code of conduct are Brad Clark and Fred Eisenberger.

Something to remember during the fall election.

markbarbera
Aug 12, 2010, 6:21 PM
I see there were also a couple of reports from the Integrity Commissioner regarding complaints against Tom Jackson and Lloyd Ferguson. As it turn out, both were ruled as being unfounded and vexatious in nature.

This one was of particular interest

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/8F71C3E1-56DD-4B2D-B6AA-B0CF40F4D676/0/Aug12Item516100615FergusonRptEDB.pdf

Surely there isn't someone out in the Hammer with a history of trying to raise up a heritage of frivolous and vexatious behaviour towards certain Hamilton City Council members...

mattgrande
Aug 12, 2010, 8:23 PM
So, as of today, the only council members to contravene the code of conduct are Brad Clark and Fred Eisenberger.

Something to remember during the fall election.

So we have Eisenberger, who contravened the code of conduct and DiIanni, who has his wonderful convictions.

Looks like I'm voting for Baldessarro.

markbarbera
Jan 18, 2011, 5:30 PM
The Spec posted this interesting article online yesterday:


Councillors want integrity reforms
Want to make citizens pay for frivolous complaints

Emma Reilly, Thespec.com

The three councillors who were investigated by the integrity commissioner last year want the city to toughen the consequences for citizens who file malicious complaints.

Councillors Tom Jackson, Lloyd Ferguson and Terry Whitehead say citizens who file complaints that are deemed to be frivolous or vexatious by Earl Basse, Hamilton's integrity commissioner, should pay the full cost of the investigation.

“Why should the taxpayers pay for someone who is trying to advance their political agenda?” Ferguson said.

However, Basse doesn't agree —“I think it would make people reluctant to make complaints.”

Currently, anyone can file a complaint for $100. If Basse finds the complaint is valid, the money is refunded to the citizen.

Tom Jackson, who is leading the move to re-evaluate the integrity commissioner bylaw, says he'd like the city to consider raising the $100 fee and was the first to suggest that complainants cover the entire cost of integrity investigations if Basse finds the complaint to be malicious.

“I think that debate is timely and worthy and appropriate,” said Jackson, one of three councillors who were the subject of integrity investigations in 2010. In his annual report, Basse found complaints against Jackson and Ferguson to be “vexatious.”

The third complaint, against Terry Whitehead, was not ruled to be malicious, but Basse found Whitehead did not break the city's code of conduct.

The three investigations cost the city $45,975. Basse is paid $150 an hour.

Ferguson said he'd also like to alter the language of the bylaw to ensure that Basse is the only one who conducts investigations. In Ferguson's case, Basse hired Toronto-based Walter Podzyhun to look into the complaint. The bylaw currently allows Basse to hire other people to help with his investigations.

“I want to know what the background of the individual is,” Ferguson said.

Basse said he hired Podzyhun because all three investigations were ongoing at the same time and he wanted them to be completed as quickly as possible. Basse also stressed that he makes the final decisions and closely supervises anyone he hires to help.

“It's not the integrity commissioner, it's the office of the integrity commissioner,” he said. “That's just a second set of eyes, as opposed to just one.”

Whitehead said he thinks there shouldn't be a cost to make a complaint. However, he agrees that people who make vexatious complaints should cover the cost of the full investigation.

He also wants to set guidelines about the turnaround time for investigations.

“I think we need to define tighter timelines for reporting,” he said.

Basse says he currently has no ongoing investigations.



The article does bring up some valid items that should be addressed. It is useful to have an integrity commissioner to arbitrate complaints against councillors, but the system can be abused to launch politically-motivated attacks that detract from the work of a councillor.

Ferguson and Jackson have already been victims of vexatious attacks through the office of the Integrity Commission. Those who launch vexatious complaints should be held accountable for the costs associated with their malicious and unfounded complaints that the city (i.e. the taxpayer) has had to endure. The question is, how does one do that without discouraging genuine complaints from being filed?

Perhaps the commissioner can be empowered to use his discretion to recommend fines against vexatious complainants which in turn would require council approval to enforce.

Seeing as the system is relatively new, I suppose we can explain these early instances of vexatious complaints as coming from those with a political axe to grind, who have tested the waters to see if it can be leveraged to advance their agenda and have failed in that attempt. Hopefully this in itself will help discourage further vexatious complaints from being filed. At this point it is probably best to continue reviewing the results of future investigations to see if the instances of vexatious complaints recede.

I am glad this is being covered by The Spec online. Other local online media outlets appear reluctant to report the findings of the Integrity Commissioner for one reason or another.

highwater
Jan 20, 2011, 4:03 PM
I am glad this is being covered by The Spec online. Other local online media outlets appear reluctant to report the findings of the Integrity Commissioner for one reason or another.

Which online media outlets are you referring to? Volunteer-run online magazines are hampered by lack of resources and can't be expected to cover every story. I can't speak for the Hamiltonian, but I'm sure RTH would be happy to publish anything you wanted to submit on the issue.

geoff's two cents
Jan 20, 2011, 5:02 PM
I can't speak for the Hamiltonian, but I'm sure RTH would be happy to publish anything you wanted to submit on the issue.

I second this.

markbarbera
Jan 20, 2011, 6:00 PM
I was actually referring more to the other "real" physical media outlets with an online presence, ie 900chml, metroland, bayobserver, CHCH and the like. You know, the institutions that actually pay staff to cover stories like this. I wasn't really thinking of volunteer current affair blog sites like Hamiltonian and RTH.

While I appreciate the votes of confidence, I am certainly not a journalist by trade, and I would not be comfortable putting together an article that would be suitable for publication anywhere. But perhaps those who regularly contribute articles to these sites (Cam DiFalco, Jason Leach, Ryan McGreal and Graham Crawford come to mind) may find the time to write on the topic in the near future.

Having said that, I have recently discovered an interesting new site called OpenFile Hamilton (http://hamilton.openfile.ca/) where journalists can submit articles and readers can pass on suggestions for articles on to be picked up by intersted journalists to build on. This is an exciting new development in how news is covered in the Hamilton area and promises to be the catalyst to finally fill the void in local news reporting that Hamiltonians have had to endure for so many years. I am not entirely sure how OpenFile works, but if I can figure it out I certainly would be game to post a suggestion to follow this story there for an intersted journalist to pursue.

highwater
Jan 20, 2011, 7:04 PM
I was actually referring more to the other "real" physical media outlets with an online presence, ie 900chml, metroland, bayobserver, CHCH and the like.

Gotcha. I just realized that you specifically referred to the Spec Online's coverage of this issue. I thought you were just referring to the Spec in general, so assumed by your reference to 'other online media' that you were talking about alternative media and not merely the online presences of trad media outlets. (Although I would argue that in the case of the Bayobserver, their online 'presence' is so cursory as to be little more than a digital billboard, and hardly qualifies to be mentioned in the same sentence as the other outlets you cite.)

While I appreciate the votes of confidence, I am certainly not a journalist by trade, and I would not be comfortable putting together an article that would be suitable for publication anywhere.

I realize that this is a disingenuous jab at the amateur status of the generous, hard-working writers behind the dynamic alternative media scene in this city, and that you don't actually believe that only professional journalists are qualified to be published, but I'm in a good mood so I'm going to forge ahead and tell you that it is clear from the quality of your writing on this forum, that you are more than qualified to share your views with a wider audience, and if there is an important issue in this city that you feel is under-reported, you should take it upon yourself to do something about it instead of waiting for someone else to do it.


Having said that, I have recently discovered an interesting new site called OpenFile Hamilton (http://hamilton.openfile.ca/) where journalists can submit articles and readers can pass on suggestions for articles on to be picked up by intersted journalists to build on. This is an exciting new development in how news is covered in the Hamilton area and promises to be the catalyst to finally fill the void in local news reporting that Hamiltonians have had to endure for so many years. I am not entirely sure how OpenFile works, but if I can figure it out I certainly would be game to post a suggestion to follow this story there for an intersted journalist to pursue.

I've heard of this as well and been meaning to check it out. Thanks for the reminder. :) I really am in a good mood.

markbarbera
Jan 20, 2011, 11:24 PM
Thank you for the kind words, Highwater, and I am glad to hear you are in a good mood today. As it happens, so am I! Having said that, I must point out that I've inadvertently left you with the wrong impression regarding your second point in your latest post. I certainly was not attempting to cast dispersion on anyone's journalistic qualifications other than my own personal shortcomings.

highwater
Jan 21, 2011, 1:18 AM
Then please accept my apologies for my assumption, and allow me to reiterate my suggestion that you consider writing something for RTH. Articles are a little more involved, but someone with your verbal skills should be able to toss off a blog post with a link to the Spec article in your sleep. Think about it. ;)