It recently came to my attention, after reviewing the Ontario Ombudsman’s website, that Middlesex Centre was not using the Ombudsman, or even the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s Local Authority Services, to provide closed meeting investigation services. Instead, based on the Ombudsman’s list, this service was contracted out to a gentlemen named John Maddox. I don’t know Mr. Maddox, but I wanted to find out more details around the service he provided and how much he had been paid to do so.
I went to Middlesex Centre’s website to try and gather this information, only to find that there were not any itemized budget lines referencing Mr. Maddox or closed meeting investigations. So I found what I thought to be the names of the best people to contact and sent off an email!
January 9, 2014
Hello Ms. Smibert and Mr. Watterton,
I’m contacting you as a resident of Kilworth in regards to Middlesex Centre’s agreement with John Maddox. It is my understanding that Mr. Maddox is Middlesex Centre’s closed-meeting investigator, and perhaps provides other services as well since Middlesex Centre has opted out of using the Ontario Ombudsman for this service.
What I would like to know is:
- How long has the contract been in place with Mr. Maddox?
- How large is the retainer paid to Mr. Maddox each year, if applicable?
- How many hours of service has Mr. Maddox billed Middlesex Centre for since he was awarded the contract?
- Overall, how much money has been paid to Mr. Maddox from Middlesex Centre, and over what time period?
I’m very eager to hear the answers to the questions above, and expect full disclosure as a citizen and taxpayer of the municipality.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Derek E. Silva
January 9, 2014
Good morning Mr. Silva
In response to your email regarding Mr. John Maddox, I can provide the following information:
We have had an agreement for Closed Meeting Investigator Services with JGM Consulting (John Maddox) since January 1, 2012.
The municipality pays a yearly retainer of $ 1000.00 to JGM Consulting. The Municipality has not required the services of JGM Consulting; therefore nothing has been paid to him with the exception of the yearly retainer.
JGM Consulting has been paid $ 2000.00 for the period from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2013.
I trust this information is helpful. All the best for the new year.
January 9, 2014
Hello Councillor DeViet and Mayor Edmondson,
Based on the dates provided by Ms. Troyer-Boyd, it would appear as though this contract was awarded to JGM Consulting while both of you were in office. I would like to know the following:
- Why did Middlesex Centre award this contract to JGM Consulting?
- Why is Middlesex Centre not taking advantage of the services currently provided by the Ombudsman?
- What rationale was used to pay for a separate closed-meeting investigator in favour of the Ombudsman, which would not cost the municipality anything?
Given that every dollar spent has an impact on property taxes, and Councillor DeViet’s recent revelation that our Public Works Dept. has put off purchasing a new truck for two years now (at least partially) for this very reason, I would like to think the municipality would be looking to cut what costs it can, especially one that doesn’t impact services provided to the citizens of Middlesex Centre. For this reason I’m asking the questions above, and would like to see the municipality ultimately opt back in to using the Ombudsman to provide closed-meeting investigation services.
Thank you, and I look forward to your responses!
Derek E. Silva
January 15, 2014
Hi Derek…It took a little investigating to get all the facts around your questions.
First …the main reason that both the County of Middlesex and Middlesex Centre chose not to go with the Ombudsman at that time was perhaps the fear of having the Province do an investigation if one was required. One has to remember that this was a new initiative at the time, and one that probably had the effect on making Councils more aware of the legislation around the rules and regulations around closed meetings in the Municipal Act, and the implications of not following them. That being said, the Government permitted other options beyond the offer of the Ombudsman who seemed to be overkill for a small municipality. Thus both the County and Middlesex centre along with many other communities chose an alternative.
Second… you received the information as to the choice we made and the cost from our clerk. The County, on the other hand, chose to go with a lawyer who was also engaged by several other municipalities. Although I can not speak for everyone, from my perspective it seemed more practical to deal with someone closer to the community than to have to travel back and forth to Toronto, knowing that the rules that we have to follow are the same, and I always have a suspicion that free is not always free if it precipitates legal fees that would not normally be required. It should be pointed out that all three people are quite well qualified to do the job.
Finally…Now that we are more aware of what the experience has been across the province, we can, as you have suggested, take a look at other more cost effective options, and that will be looked at in the very near future.
Thanks very much for both the questions and the suggestion. If you wish to speak further on the matter please don’t hesitate to call.
I finally got around to sending a thank you note to Mayor Edmondson (who is running for re-election) and Councillor DeViet earlier this morning! I’m looking forward to what happens next on this issue.
January 27, 2014
Good morning Mayor Edmondson and Councillor DeViet,
Thank you very much for responding to my questions. I appreciate the time you took to get the background information and send it to me. I will, however, disagree with you on the premise that “free is not always free” in this situation. As we have seen spelled out with the recent trouble in London, the Ombudsman has no authority to impose fines or sanctions on elected officials except in cases where they were found to be lying. The City of London Councillors currently embroiled in a war of words with the Ombudsman are, in my opinion, willingly blind to the poor decisions they have made two years in a row now regarding closed meetings.
Regardless, I’m happy to hear Middlesex Centre will look at other options soon. Given that the Ombudsman’s office investigates 20,000 complaints a year (and the majority are resolved within two weeks), I’m sure it is more than capable of taking on a municipality that hasn’t had any complaints (that I know of) in the last two years.
Derek E. Silva
Though I searched Middlesex Centre’s website for “closed meetings” and “John Maddox” a few weeks ago and didn’t spot anything, I finally found this page today which provides links to the procedure and complaint forms in case you ever need it.