Closed Meetings at City Hall

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fowgre avatar“The Municipal Council of the Corporation of the City of London has selected the Ombudsman of Ontario as the closed meeting investigator pursuant to section 239.1(b) of the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended. Requests for an investigation of whether the municipality or local board has complied with section 239 of the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended or a procedure by-law under subsection 238(2) in respect of a meeting that was closed to the public are to be submitted directly to the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, Bell Trinity Square, 483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower., Toronto, ON M5G 2C9. Further information is available at the Ombudsman of Ontario website.”

Despite the fact that I have frequently suggested to members of Council that there needs to be an Ombudsman for citizens to appeal to, and despite the fact that I referred to that when I appeared before the Governance Task Force, and despite the fact that I have also suggested that interested citizens ought to be able to subscribe to topics of interest (via RSS feeds, listserve, etc), not much progress has happened. I only just stumbled across this announcement on the City of London website by accident, while looking for something totally unrelated. And a quick investigation shows that there was no mention of it in any media release (that are posted on the city website).

Given that fact, and the previous communication that I received from the Ombudsman’s office, I’ve decided to make an inquiry about something that’s been gnawing at me for some time…

Do the kind of practices employed by the Corporation of the City of London and which I’ve complained about, effectively constitute a ‘closed door’? Things like:

  • Not publishing agendas online until the Friday immediately prior to the Monday meeting
  • Holding all of the Standing Committee meetings at the same time
  • The problem of citizens not being able to hear proceedings
  • Ignoring requests for recorded meetings
  • Ignoring requests that all votes be recorded
  • Ignoring communications about public safety issues
  • Refusing to allow me to appear before ACCAC
  • The secretive/deceptive manner in which my proposal for a Pedestrian Advisory Committee was handled

It will be interesting to see if the Ombudsman’s office is willing to investigate and, if so, whether or not they agree with me.

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4 Responses to “Closed Meetings at City Hall”

  1. Butch McLarty Says:

    Greg, you should know what the answer is, given your prior response from the Ombudsman’s office and the italicized words at the top of your post.

    The Ombudsman has the authority to investigate closed-door meetings of standing committees, council meetings and those of local boards.

    Plain, simple English words.

    The following don’t qualify as closed-door meetings:

    Not publishing agendas online until the Friday immediately prior to the Monday meeting
    Holding all of the Standing Committee meetings at the same time
    The problem of citizens not being able to hear proceedings
    Ignoring requests for recorded meetings
    Ignoring requests that all votes be recorded
    Ignoring communications about public safety issues
    Refusing to allow me to appear before ACCAC
    The secretive/deceptive manner in which my proposal for a Pedestrian Advisory Committee was handled

  2. fowgre Says:

    Barry, you apparently missed the point of my inquiry, so I’ll try to help you out. The operative word is ‘effectively.’

  3. Butch McLarty Says:

    No, Greg, I didn’t miss the “effectively.”

    What is this some sort of make-work program for the Provincial Ombudsman so s/he can send you a letter explaining the obvious as to why s/he won’t be getting involved in your complaint?

    Once again, I’ll repeat if for you. None of the eight scenarios you’ve mentioned qualify as “closed door meetings,” effectively or otherwise.

    Hey, better idea still, return to Dairy Queen one more time (and another and another) to ratchet up your frustration level.

  4. fowgre Says:

    Ok, you disagree with me. Point taken. As for your reading skills, I didn’t write the DQ post. Enough said.

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