Calling On NPCA’s Board To Drop Its Lawsuit Against A Former Employee — Niagara At Large

@NPCA_Ontario #Niagara #NiagaraPeninsula #ISupportJocelynBaker #DropTheSuit

‘The taxpayers of Niagara do not fund the NPCA with their tax dollars so that it can pursue lawsuits, under any circumstance, against private citizens. We expect the NPCA to spend our money on conservation efforts.’ A Message from Friends of Jocelyn Baker, a Niagara, Ontario-based citizen group organized in support of former NPCA employee […]

via Calling On NPCA’s Board To Drop Its Lawsuit Against A Former Employee — Niagara At Large

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Niagara the Victim in Press Freedom fiasco, says Quirk

Our friend, and Grimsby representative at Niagara Region and Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, Tony Quirk flat out denies the December #PressFreedom incident happened and states #Niagara is…. a victim.

That’s right folks, Tony Quirk believes it acceptable to use the terminology sexual assault survivors use to describe their experiences in relation to the Region confiscating a venerated member of the press’ notes and laptop before ejecting him from a public building.

If anyone has a right to feel victimized, it is St Catharines The Standard’s Bill Sawchuk and the shocked citizens who were helplessly watching.

No amount of spinning will doctor this record, Tony.

 

The latest from The Standard: https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news-story/8312515-region-victim-in-press-incident-says-quirk/

Or catch up on previous FEWniagara coverage: Cap Caper (the #PressFreedom Fiasco)

The Crux of Reles’ Uncouthness

Also Known As Why the NPCA’s Michael Reles pisses me off.

Reles

Why is Michael Reles’ comment so flippant?

Michael Reles is the Communications Manager/Freedom of Information and Privacy coordinator at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (@NPCA_Ontario); it is literally Reles’ job to release documents requested of the publicly funded NPCA

(or The Authority as they’ve become known in the dystopia that is #Niagara politics).

The Authority’s board of directors comprises of 15 members, 12 of whom represent the Region of Niagara; most of the Niagara representatives at the NPCA are also lower-tier municipality Mayors and/or Regional Councillors.

The FOI process

NPCA 1 001
I requested full expenses including mileage in OCTOBER 2017…

Over a month later, I received a reply from Michael Reles (to the left).

I was called frivolous and vexatious.
For making a request. Through the Freedom of Information process.
For board and member expenses. Of a publicly funded agency.

So, I appealed.

I then requested a two week limit to mediation in favour NPCA 1 003of arbitration.

Mid-JANUARY, 2018, the Mediator informs me Michael Reles has reversed his position; not only am I no longer frivous and vexatious, Mr Reles, and the Authority, now state they would release the records, online, within 90 days.

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and I am not alone.

Local resident, and retired RCAF Major Ed Smith recently spoke with The Standard about his FOI dispute with the NPCA: https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news-story/8291010-smith-npca-in-dispute-over-documents/

The Crux of Reles’ Uncouthness

What about it pissed me off so much?

In his Twitter post, Michael Reles states the media has never mentioned NPCA board mileage before now.

We’ve established Michael is withholding the required records to comment (remember, this guy is the NPCA Communications Manager), but, before he stopped complying with FOI requests, he released Authority Chairman Sandy Annunziata, and former Chairman Bruce Timms, 2017 Q1 & Q2 Expenses (below).

 

The hi-lited lines represent dates where MORE THAN ONE (two or more) PER DIEM were charged in a single day by a single board member.

Unless Latin has made a secret comeback, and changed without my knowledge, per diem translates to per day. Per day, by the day, for the day, daily. Not loosely translates as, or kinda means, but quite literally, and simply, translates to per day.

Not only has the public and media questioned this double diem-ing, Port Colborne council grilled CAO Mark Brickell and Chairman Sandy Annunziata about it in December 2017 https://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/8004769-port-colborne-seeks-provincial-supervisor-for-npca/

Stop the political skullduggery and misinformation at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA); one could make the argument it is you who is vexatious, Mister Reles.

#Niagara Theatre of the Absurd: The Pelham Witchhunt

Tit for TatTonight, Niagara Regional Councillors Tony Quirk and David Barrick will continue their attack on the Town of Pelham and lower-tier autonomy. That’s right people, this is an attack on our local political structure and can not be allowed to pass.
While Councillors Quirk and Barrick try to distract council, and the public, with skullduggery, we have a Niagara Regional Police Service board, on which Niagara Regional Chair Alan Caslin, and Councillors Barrick and Bob Gale sit, is running $7.2 million dollar deficit and just paid nearly $1 million to well-respected former Police Chief McGuire to force him to retire.
The board of NRPS is asking the Niagara Region to cover at least $2 million of the police services boards deficit in addition to the previously approved 2018 budget.
 Councillor Quirk sits on the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority board, where Councillor Barrick is Director, and who spent over a quarter of a million to sue Ed Smith and untold millions on other legal fees and severance packages (claiming poverty as the need to let longterm employees go), has a newly created Board Lounge at HQ, where they never go. This new NPCA board *lounge* includes new leather furniture and decorations.
Niagara Region – leave #Pelham alone and clean up your own boards finances.
#Niagara

Taking A Seat At The Table

As featured in the February edition of The Sound STC: @TheSoundSTC or Facebook

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“Remember who put you in office:
it wasn’t you, it was the people.”
– Debbie Zimmerman,
Niagara Regional Chair (1997-2003)

We live in a time and place where racism and misogyny are rampant and unchecked. Just ask Mohamad AlJumaily, who was accosted by another resident at Regional Council in December and accused of being a terrorist – simply for being a man of colour. What kind of values do we project to the rest of Canada, and the world, when we have a regional council who stands by while our Charter Rights are trampled on? From Andy Petrowski’s antics to the Press Freedom Fiasco, Niagara politics have become a national joke.

I recently attended a workshop at the St Catharines library entitled How You Can Build A Better Niagara: Running for Municipal Office. The event was put on by A Better Niagara, a local non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to bringing Accountability, Integrity, and Transparency, to politics throughout Niagara. I was tasked with reporting on this event for you, the good readers of the Sound, but as I wrote I realized I took more away from this workshop than political campaign knowhow: I left excited and truly believing we may be at the cusp of a great change in Niagara.

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When asked what advice she’d have for candidates, former Niagara Regional Councillor Eleanor Lancaster was quick to state,

“If you are not at the table,
you are probably on the menu.”

That idea has stuck in my head; for far too long Niagara politics have not adequately reflected the community which it serves. Current Niagara Regional council features four women (one in eight councillors); of the six regional councillors who represent St Catharines, Debbie MacGregor is the only woman. At city council, St Catharines is represented by twelve councillors, two of who are women. Meanwhile, not a single person of colour represents the people. Not one. Anywhere.

How do we propose to attract, and retain, businesses and workers if they do not see themselves represented at the table?

There is hope; two thirds of the Running for Municipal Office event attendees were women and one out of every five attendees were people of colour. Local activist, and workshop attendee, Haley Bateman had this to say: The number of people ranging in ages and stages of their career was remarkable. It is inspiring to see so many people invested in making a better Niagara.

It is heartening to stand in solidarity with so many varied and diverse people as we try to shine a light on the darkness within our community. To witness the past, present, and the hopeful future, of Niagara politics working together regardless of sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, socioeconomic background, or even party politics, left me in awe. I awoke optimistic that a better Niagara is not only possible, it is feasible. Women and people of colour are no longer the minority; we are empowering ourselves, and each other, to get off the menu and take our seats at the table.

The Running For Municipal Office series will continue in the months ahead- if you would like more information please reach out to A Better Niagara on your favourite social media platform or abetterniagara.com. While I am a member of A Better Niagara’s Communications Committee, the opinions featured herein are my own.

The Regional Chair, The NPCA, and the Lobbyist

What was the deal with the Integrity Commissioner’s Report, at Thursday’s Niagara Region Council meeting, that had Chair Alan Caslin recuse himself?

Why did NPCA Chair Sandy Annunziata and NPCA Director David Barrick also recuse themselves?

Why did the Niagara Regional Chair and the Director of the NPCA drive to Toronto to meet with a lobbyist?

Questions about the dismissal of the complaint by the Integrity Commissioner, and how quickly and quietly it was swept away, only add to the confusion of citizens.

When asked why he and NPCA Director David Barrick drove to Toronto a few months ago to meet with former NPCA lobbyist Mark Kealey, of Kealey & Associates, Chair Caslin stated he doesn’t remember the purpose of the meeting nor the conversation but believes it may have had something to do with Kealey seeking employment opportunities with the Region.

If I want work somewhere, the CAO of the Corporation does not drive an hour and a half, each way, to wine and dine me… at Corporate expense (ie taxpayers).

Three hours roundtrip, on a good day, plus the time to “lunch”? At minimum half your day, if not your whole day, shot. Then again, I would remember why I wasted an entire workday on the QEW to get to – wouldn’t you?

STAY TUNED – MORE AS THIS STORY CONTINUES TO DEVELOP… and ask yourself how much this mystery meeting cost taxpayers.

Carmen

#OnlyInNiagara #Niagara #ABetterNiagara #ONelection2018

 

Tit for Tat

Tomorrow night, Niagara Region will discuss a recommendation that the OMB look into Town of Pelham’s finances. This is despite all the reports, audits and facts that have shown there’s nothing wrong with Pelham’s finances. Mayor Sendzik from St. Catharines referred to this motion as the “theatre of the absurd”: Theatre of the absurd.

So why does it go on? Councillor/NPCA Board Member Tony Quirk admitted to the press almost a year ago that his and Councillor/NPCA Director Barrick’s absurd scrutiny of Town of Pelham is due to Pelham’s Mayor Dave Augustyn speaking out against the NPCA, an organization which was referred to in court as having “lost its way”.

What this ultimately boils down to is yet another petty bullying attempt from the conservative cabal on Niagara Region Council and the NPCA to SILENCE DISSENT.
We have seen it happen to every individual and organization who has raised fact-filled criticism of the practices and actions of the Region, its Councillors and the NPCA.

The NPCA: Misinformation or Manufactured Controversy? (complete)

The meeting begins at 6:30 at Niagara Region HQ across from Brock University.