Does anyone recognize the following passage?
“There is a distinction between a citizen’s right to participate, and his or her right to observe municipal government in progress”.
For those of you who said this was verbatim in the Mayor’s inaugural speech, you would be correct. Here is the link to his speech: http://melancthontownship.ca/10notices/dec2-inagural-speech.pdf
But for those of you who said this was from the Ontario Ombudsman’s Sunshine Law Handbook, verbatim, well you would be correct as well. Here is the link to the handbook: http://www.ombudsman.on.ca/media/31041/sunshinelaw-en.pdf
So either, the Ombudsman quoted Mayor Bill Hill OR Mayor Bill Hill quoted the Ombudsman without giving proper credit to the author. Bet I know who said it first.
Wish our Mayor had read and quoted the Openess of Information on the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s (IPC) website that states:
“Openness – making sure that policies and practices about how information is managed within government are available to individuals – is a key element of every recognized standard information and privacy code worldwide.”
Read the full excerpt here:
And here is a best practice listed on the IPC’s website for the City of Mississauga:
“Under this program, Mississauga residents are provided with government records easily, informally, and in accordance with one of the overarching principles of the Act — that information should be available to the public and that necessary exemptions from the right of access (FOI) should be limited and specific.”
Read the full report here: http://www.ipc.on.ca/images/Resources/mrdad-e.pdf
Notice what Mississauga doesn’t do?
They don’t NOT (double negative intended) post information, agendas, agreements or minutes from a July 13, 2010 meeting of Council for five months and then when a resident asks 17 questions to get the information about the “open” part of the meeting, indicate that the next time a resident asks 17 questions they will have to go through Freedom of Information (FOI) and pay the cost, which in this instance was $1,100.00.
And to be fair, the decision to make residents go through a Freedom of Information request to get information that should be publically available was NOT a decision of Council, even though they act as a body corporate, but rather an individual decision of the Mayor.
And again, to be fair, the FOI legislation does provide that municipalities can insist residents go through FOI requests to get information. But making the process of getting public information an onerous and expensive process for ratepayers would seem to contradict another quote in the Mayor's inaugural speech which was "we will adhere to them and be very open and transparent" and this one, "our goal will to be as open and transparent as we can be" and finally "we have nothing to hide".
I guess Melancthon is only transparent if you can afford it and if the Mayor isn't pissed at you.