Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Reader Not Impressed With Quick Municipal Response to New OPP Pricing

Letter to the Editor

Editor,

An interesting article appeared in The Meaford Independent on August 18 written by Stephen Vance entitled “Municipality Has First Look at New OPP Billing Model”. It reports that Darcy Chapman, treasurer of Meaford, released a statement to the news media on Friday 15 August after apparently receiving information on Thursday 14 August concerning a proposed new billing model from the OPP. 

The facts reported may or may not be accurate and Mr. Chapman’s figures are certainly questionable and open to interpretation but I would like to commend, in fact praise, the speed and commitment of staff members in receiving, assimilating, digesting, preparing and distributing their interpretation of this alleged OPP report. All in less than 36 hours!

Well done and thank you for your dedication. However, one has to wonder why a senior member of staff has released this report almost immediately prior to the presentation and discussion of a COUNCIL-commissioned independent consultant’s report on policing which cost well over $20,000 of taxpayers’ money.

What is more disturbing is the manner in which this ‘information’ was released to the press. It was in the form of an email sent at 3:14 on a FRIDAY afternoon by Margaret Wilton-Siegel, Executive Assistant, Administration, ‘ On Behalf of the CAO and Treasurer’.  

Apparently, when questioned by irate members of the public as to the accuracy of these figures, junior staff replied that this was not an official press release. This newly named information sheet ended and I quote, ‘As the CAO and Treasurer are out of the office next week, please contact me and I will redirect you to the acting CAO or appropriate member of Staff’.

I have always argued that our Policing issue in Meaford should not be decided by this outgoing council who have been given a single choice between the OPP or the OSPS before all the facts from both sides have been presented. The final decision should be made by a newly elected council, who can be and will be held responsible for any decision made.  

After numerous council discussions and open debate in  public meetings, there is no doubt in the minds of many, including myself, that  for some reason known only to themselves, senior staff have attempted to create conditions favouring the OSPS option.

Why was this report available so quickly? Why was it released just prior to the consultant’s report? Why was it released late on a Friday afternoon? Why was senior staff unavailable for comment? Why is it not an official news release? Why is it that only junior staff members were available to face irate and concerned complaints?

 The Municipal Act 2001 sec.224 (b) states that it is the role of council to develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality. Sec.227 1(a) states that the role of staff is to implement council’s decisions. I believe that senior staff are in contravention of these sections and have their own agenda that is contrary to the will of this elected council. They are attempting to promote their own policies by releasing a biased, factually debatable, non-official news, news release and at the same time, protecting themselves by holding junior staff responsible.

It is because of actions like these that I am seriously considering running for office in the upcoming election.

David Long, Meaford

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