Ontario’s ombudsman admonishes Hamilton politicians, while also clearing them

News Apr 25, 2015 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Ontario’s ombudsman has rapped the knuckles of Hamilton council again, even though he cleared the city of violating the Municipal Act for closed meetings.

For the second time, Andre Marin urged Hamilton politicians to record incamera meetings through audio or visual devices. In the ombudsman’s 2011-2012 annual report, he recommended all municipalities audio or visually record closed meetings.

“I encourage Hamilton’s council to reconsider its stance on audio recording closed meetings,” stated Marin.

City politicians at the time refused to adopt electronic recording, arguing they wanted to discuss issues behind closed doors with some freedom. They said sometimes the discussions can become heated and they didn’t want those recordings to be made public and provide an inaccurate portrait of the discussions.

Councillors against rejected the ombudsman’s recommendation last week, citing the same arguments.

“I need that opportunity” to make forceful statements, said Mountain councillor Tom Jackson.

He said Hamilton’s clerks keep “accurate records” of what happens incamera in written form.

Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead said it was “Groundhog Day” with the ombudsman admonishing Hamilton politicians.

“This was addressed by the last term of council,” he said.

Marin stated in his April 2015 report to council that other Ontario municipalities have adopted audio or video recordings, including the townships of Tiny, Madawaska Valley, Midland, and the cities of Oshawa and Welland.

“(Electronic recording) provides the most clear, accessible record for closed meeting investigators to review and assists in ensuring that officials do not stray from the legal requirements during closed meetings,” stated Marin in his seven-page report.

Meanwhile, Marin cleared councillors of violating the Municipal Act for going behind closed doors during a Dec. 10 General Issues Committee meeting to discuss the Hamilton Police Service’s forensic facility, including possible land requirements. Prior to moving into incamera, council cited the reasoning for the discussion due to “acquisition or disposition” of land, and “a matter under another act.”

Politicians, said Marin, listened to a report, but made no decision, beyond asking for further information about the issue. Councillors agreed earlier this year to contribute $5 million, through case, current police reserves and the sale of a Mountain police station, to pay for the new $15 million, 53,500-squre-foot facility, while the Hamilton Police Service is seeking $5 million each from the federal and provincial governments.

“I am satisfied the city’s reliance (on the citation) was justified,” said Marin. “Hamilton’s GIC did not contravene the Municipal Act when it closed a portion of its Dec. 10 meeting to the public …”

Ontario’s ombudsman admonishes Hamilton politicians, while also clearing them

News Apr 25, 2015 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Ontario’s ombudsman has rapped the knuckles of Hamilton council again, even though he cleared the city of violating the Municipal Act for closed meetings.

For the second time, Andre Marin urged Hamilton politicians to record incamera meetings through audio or visual devices. In the ombudsman’s 2011-2012 annual report, he recommended all municipalities audio or visually record closed meetings.

“I encourage Hamilton’s council to reconsider its stance on audio recording closed meetings,” stated Marin.

City politicians at the time refused to adopt electronic recording, arguing they wanted to discuss issues behind closed doors with some freedom. They said sometimes the discussions can become heated and they didn’t want those recordings to be made public and provide an inaccurate portrait of the discussions.

Councillors against rejected the ombudsman’s recommendation last week, citing the same arguments.

“I need that opportunity” to make forceful statements, said Mountain councillor Tom Jackson.

He said Hamilton’s clerks keep “accurate records” of what happens incamera in written form.

Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead said it was “Groundhog Day” with the ombudsman admonishing Hamilton politicians.

“This was addressed by the last term of council,” he said.

Marin stated in his April 2015 report to council that other Ontario municipalities have adopted audio or video recordings, including the townships of Tiny, Madawaska Valley, Midland, and the cities of Oshawa and Welland.

“(Electronic recording) provides the most clear, accessible record for closed meeting investigators to review and assists in ensuring that officials do not stray from the legal requirements during closed meetings,” stated Marin in his seven-page report.

Meanwhile, Marin cleared councillors of violating the Municipal Act for going behind closed doors during a Dec. 10 General Issues Committee meeting to discuss the Hamilton Police Service’s forensic facility, including possible land requirements. Prior to moving into incamera, council cited the reasoning for the discussion due to “acquisition or disposition” of land, and “a matter under another act.”

Politicians, said Marin, listened to a report, but made no decision, beyond asking for further information about the issue. Councillors agreed earlier this year to contribute $5 million, through case, current police reserves and the sale of a Mountain police station, to pay for the new $15 million, 53,500-squre-foot facility, while the Hamilton Police Service is seeking $5 million each from the federal and provincial governments.

“I am satisfied the city’s reliance (on the citation) was justified,” said Marin. “Hamilton’s GIC did not contravene the Municipal Act when it closed a portion of its Dec. 10 meeting to the public …”

Ontario’s ombudsman admonishes Hamilton politicians, while also clearing them

News Apr 25, 2015 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Ontario’s ombudsman has rapped the knuckles of Hamilton council again, even though he cleared the city of violating the Municipal Act for closed meetings.

For the second time, Andre Marin urged Hamilton politicians to record incamera meetings through audio or visual devices. In the ombudsman’s 2011-2012 annual report, he recommended all municipalities audio or visually record closed meetings.

“I encourage Hamilton’s council to reconsider its stance on audio recording closed meetings,” stated Marin.

City politicians at the time refused to adopt electronic recording, arguing they wanted to discuss issues behind closed doors with some freedom. They said sometimes the discussions can become heated and they didn’t want those recordings to be made public and provide an inaccurate portrait of the discussions.

Councillors against rejected the ombudsman’s recommendation last week, citing the same arguments.

“I need that opportunity” to make forceful statements, said Mountain councillor Tom Jackson.

He said Hamilton’s clerks keep “accurate records” of what happens incamera in written form.

Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead said it was “Groundhog Day” with the ombudsman admonishing Hamilton politicians.

“This was addressed by the last term of council,” he said.

Marin stated in his April 2015 report to council that other Ontario municipalities have adopted audio or video recordings, including the townships of Tiny, Madawaska Valley, Midland, and the cities of Oshawa and Welland.

“(Electronic recording) provides the most clear, accessible record for closed meeting investigators to review and assists in ensuring that officials do not stray from the legal requirements during closed meetings,” stated Marin in his seven-page report.

Meanwhile, Marin cleared councillors of violating the Municipal Act for going behind closed doors during a Dec. 10 General Issues Committee meeting to discuss the Hamilton Police Service’s forensic facility, including possible land requirements. Prior to moving into incamera, council cited the reasoning for the discussion due to “acquisition or disposition” of land, and “a matter under another act.”

Politicians, said Marin, listened to a report, but made no decision, beyond asking for further information about the issue. Councillors agreed earlier this year to contribute $5 million, through case, current police reserves and the sale of a Mountain police station, to pay for the new $15 million, 53,500-squre-foot facility, while the Hamilton Police Service is seeking $5 million each from the federal and provincial governments.

“I am satisfied the city’s reliance (on the citation) was justified,” said Marin. “Hamilton’s GIC did not contravene the Municipal Act when it closed a portion of its Dec. 10 meeting to the public …”