Hamilton limits public letters on council's agenda

News Feb 05, 2021 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s clerks will prevent letters from the public that allege Code of Conduct violations against councillors from appearing on council and committee agendas and instead will redirect them to the integrity commissioner for review.

In an amendment to council’s procedural bylaw, the audit and finance committee agreed Feb. 4 in a 6-0 vote to refer all letters from the public that allege Code of Conduct breaches by councillors to the integrity commissioner. The recommendation will be reviewed at the Feb. 10 council meeting.

Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark, who crafted the amendment, said letters from the public that admonish or criticize councillors for a planning decision or any other city issue will be allowed to be included in council and committee agenda packages that are available to the public.

“We are not prohibiting people from criticizing councillors or council,” said Clark. “They can dispute any issue before council. It’s only Code of Conduct complaints” that will be prohibited from the public’s view.

“This has been a real challenge for me because I’m trying to thread this needle, so we are ensuring transparency and openness in the broader community about the communications that are coming in,” said Clark.

Delineating what letters written by individuals can be made public was prompted by the city’s clerks when they proposed changes to council’s procedural bylaw to prohibit letters that criticized councillors from being available on public meeting agendas. They argued that councillors are not qualified to decide upon a Code of Conduct allegation against a councillor.

“So these complaints that come to us, we can’t deal with them anyways,” said Clark.

The proposed change to the city’s procedural bylaw would prevent communications referring to the conduct of “a member(s) of Council or any member of a body.”

In addition, the proposed change state communications “will not be placed on a Standing Committee Agenda and the author will be advised of the process for filing a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner.”

Hamilton city solicitor Nicole Auty said under the Municipal Act and Integrity Commissioner regulation any complaint that is made under the city’s Code of Conduct legislation must remain confidential. The Ombudsman has also upheld the legislation stating that any communication regarding the behaviour of a councillor is referred to the integrity commissioner.

“By putting them on the public agenda, that puts us in jeopardy under that process,” said Auty.

Clark said if the integrity commissioner reviews the Code of Conduct allegation and conducts a review of the councillor or councillors, eventually the report will be sent to council and available to the public.

Hamilton proposes to refer all public letters alleging Code of Conduct violations against councillors to the integrity commissioner

News Feb 05, 2021 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s clerks will prevent letters from the public that allege Code of Conduct violations against councillors from appearing on council and committee agendas and instead will redirect them to the integrity commissioner for review.

In an amendment to council’s procedural bylaw, the audit and finance committee agreed Feb. 4 in a 6-0 vote to refer all letters from the public that allege Code of Conduct breaches by councillors to the integrity commissioner. The recommendation will be reviewed at the Feb. 10 council meeting.

Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark, who crafted the amendment, said letters from the public that admonish or criticize councillors for a planning decision or any other city issue will be allowed to be included in council and committee agenda packages that are available to the public.

“We are not prohibiting people from criticizing councillors or council,” said Clark. “They can dispute any issue before council. It’s only Code of Conduct complaints” that will be prohibited from the public’s view.

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“This has been a real challenge for me because I’m trying to thread this needle, so we are ensuring transparency and openness in the broader community about the communications that are coming in,” said Clark.

Delineating what letters written by individuals can be made public was prompted by the city’s clerks when they proposed changes to council’s procedural bylaw to prohibit letters that criticized councillors from being available on public meeting agendas. They argued that councillors are not qualified to decide upon a Code of Conduct allegation against a councillor.

“So these complaints that come to us, we can’t deal with them anyways,” said Clark.

The proposed change to the city’s procedural bylaw would prevent communications referring to the conduct of “a member(s) of Council or any member of a body.”

In addition, the proposed change state communications “will not be placed on a Standing Committee Agenda and the author will be advised of the process for filing a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner.”

Hamilton city solicitor Nicole Auty said under the Municipal Act and Integrity Commissioner regulation any complaint that is made under the city’s Code of Conduct legislation must remain confidential. The Ombudsman has also upheld the legislation stating that any communication regarding the behaviour of a councillor is referred to the integrity commissioner.

“By putting them on the public agenda, that puts us in jeopardy under that process,” said Auty.

Clark said if the integrity commissioner reviews the Code of Conduct allegation and conducts a review of the councillor or councillors, eventually the report will be sent to council and available to the public.

Hamilton proposes to refer all public letters alleging Code of Conduct violations against councillors to the integrity commissioner

News Feb 05, 2021 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s clerks will prevent letters from the public that allege Code of Conduct violations against councillors from appearing on council and committee agendas and instead will redirect them to the integrity commissioner for review.

In an amendment to council’s procedural bylaw, the audit and finance committee agreed Feb. 4 in a 6-0 vote to refer all letters from the public that allege Code of Conduct breaches by councillors to the integrity commissioner. The recommendation will be reviewed at the Feb. 10 council meeting.

Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark, who crafted the amendment, said letters from the public that admonish or criticize councillors for a planning decision or any other city issue will be allowed to be included in council and committee agenda packages that are available to the public.

“We are not prohibiting people from criticizing councillors or council,” said Clark. “They can dispute any issue before council. It’s only Code of Conduct complaints” that will be prohibited from the public’s view.

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“This has been a real challenge for me because I’m trying to thread this needle, so we are ensuring transparency and openness in the broader community about the communications that are coming in,” said Clark.

Delineating what letters written by individuals can be made public was prompted by the city’s clerks when they proposed changes to council’s procedural bylaw to prohibit letters that criticized councillors from being available on public meeting agendas. They argued that councillors are not qualified to decide upon a Code of Conduct allegation against a councillor.

“So these complaints that come to us, we can’t deal with them anyways,” said Clark.

The proposed change to the city’s procedural bylaw would prevent communications referring to the conduct of “a member(s) of Council or any member of a body.”

In addition, the proposed change state communications “will not be placed on a Standing Committee Agenda and the author will be advised of the process for filing a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner.”

Hamilton city solicitor Nicole Auty said under the Municipal Act and Integrity Commissioner regulation any complaint that is made under the city’s Code of Conduct legislation must remain confidential. The Ombudsman has also upheld the legislation stating that any communication regarding the behaviour of a councillor is referred to the integrity commissioner.

“By putting them on the public agenda, that puts us in jeopardy under that process,” said Auty.

Clark said if the integrity commissioner reviews the Code of Conduct allegation and conducts a review of the councillor or councillors, eventually the report will be sent to council and available to the public.