"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Sunday 13 February 2011

A Legal Dilemma

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Aurora Citizen":

"Meetings are not for the purpose of Councillors going after each other or a staff member to settle real or imagined scores."

I guess that's why you go after staff on this blog -- you've repeatedly attacked the credibility and/or hiring of no less than the CAO, the CFO, the town solicitor and the communications officer


This comment exemplifies a dilemma.

My job is to bring forward a perspective  and cast a vote , as a citizen  and a taxpayer.Probably most residents would cite the taxpayer bit  as most important..

If I perceive, as a person with a ringside seat and authority to speak, we are not receiving value for the dollars we are obliged to pay in taxes, am I obliged not to express my views on the matter because an individual holds  the job.

In particular circumstances I would say yes.  In a Council meeting for example.

Council meetings are taped, televised and covered by  print media . Comments made become a matter of public record. It would be difficult, perhaps impossible,  to make a reference to a waste of tax dollars, in terms of a particular service, without casting aspersions against the  competence of  individuals  providing the service.

The majority of  a council  authorized the job to be created. A person in good faith  applied and was appointed. He exercises good judgment and does the job according to its terms of reference..

It's not his fault, the Councillor who did not believe the  job  to be  a good use of taxpayer dollars remains unconvinced.

Does that mean said councillor is obliged to remain silent  forever and a day, in the face of what she continues to believe is  largely a waste of tax dollars?

In terms of fairness to an individual, yes it does.

In terms of accountability to the taxpayer, not so much.

And therein lies the dilemma.

 I don't believe a small town like Aurora, should be carrying the burden of a  legal department with two full-time solicitors on the payroll.

I don't know when the decision was made to create the jobs. I don't know why. I returned to Council in 2004 and found a legal department with two solicitors and two law clerks.I was surprised but not averse. I like talking to lawyers.

It has taken until now and the comment  in quotes ,to bring me to the realisation ,I don't  believe in-house solicitors are a good use of  tax dollars.For several reasons.

Level of  competence has nothing to do with my conclusion.

The interaction between elected officials and lawyers is the problem. On the basis of my observations over the past seven years, I am prepared to say now, lawyers  on the staff complement of  a small municipality are  redundant  and not good use of the tax dollar
Depending on what I hear during budget discussions, I might even make a motion that the legal department budget be reduced by half.

Whether or not my argument, based  on  experience of what was before and what is now ,will be
well received , remains to be seen.  I doubt it. Does it mean it shouldn't be made?I don't think so.

I also doubt anyone would dispute  the argument is  mine to make. I will do it in public. I will do it
without casting aspersions on the competence of those who hold the  positions.

The budget  for the legal division is up for debate...just like all the rest..



If They Only Knew said...

don’t you just wish that you could just blow open the entire truth and all the intricacies that when weaved together paint a vivid picture of what actually occured over the past four years. Such a shame that others don’t know the half of it and that the stage is being set for a financial meltdown like this Town has never seen the likes of , Oh but wait you mustn’t be critical ,feelings will get hurt and images tarnished, after all its only money and the pockets in this town have no bottom

Anonymous said...

Assuming for a moment your motives in writing about staff is to watch out for the taxpayers (although I suspect the fact all four were hired under the Mormac regime is the main reason you keep going after them), do you really think writing about them doesn't have an effect on them?

I'm pretty sure the CFO doesn't like continually reading that he was, according to you, hired illegally. Have you ever considered the effect that could have on the way staff view him?

You say you aren't questioning their competence. I say horse-hockey. I can go back and pull up dozens of examples of you questioning their competence, not the least of which was accusing the CFO of intentionally cooking the books with regard to water rates.

I don't see the point of writing critically about staff on this blog. It's not part of the official discussion in council chambers so, in the end, it doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

Why don't you bring all your criticisms of staff up in council chambers instead of here?

Anonymous said...

"financial meltdown like this Town has never seen the likes of"

Where on earth are you getting this from?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that there is mention of The Aurora Farmers Market in this years budget.

Could this council not get to the bottom of the funds given two seasons ago.

This was money slated for The Market and yet "Special Events" was the benefit of this.

It looks like a Jazz Festival may have been formed, that was a partnership with the market.Then a sudden breakaway and a Jazz Festival becomes a private entity.

W.T.F....this stinks still.

The Market receive NO money....a sub committee did.

So actually the books are incorrect, and need adjusting.

Did not David Heard who wrote for the Auroran ask this last year at council.

Did he get an answer?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of criticizing staff - who was the councilor, during the last term, that accused staff of "doctoring" the minutes?

Can anybody help?

Anonymous said...

To the last commenter:

I don't see where Evelyn has faulted anyone for having a Legal Department. Evelyn clearly states "she is not averse to it". You have quoted that yourself. One might like to READ AND UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING they print before they fault it.