Diane Pouget

Mixed bag of viewpoints at logo public meeting

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A crowd of about 20 people attended the public consultation session at the Libro Centre regarding the proposed new logos with varying opinions on which one they liked best.

Cinnamon Toast New Media, led by owner/creative director Bronwyn Mondoux, made a presentation to parks and recreation committee members and heritage committee members followed by another presentation to the public last Saturday at the Libro Centre. At the public meeting, Mondoux brought forth the results of the “Talk the Burg” survey, which had 558 responses and 468 of those identifying as being from Amherstburg. Eighty tourists replied while ten identified as local business owners.

About 47 per cent of the residents liked “Option B,” which was the stylized “A” logo while 37 per cent of the tourists liked “Option A,” which was the original logo brought forth to council in mid-January.

“Option C,” the other logo that was presented after the council meeting with buildings and waves in it, was the second favourite of both residents and tourists, Mondoux reported. The least liked logo in both groups was the simplified version of the original logo.

Logos discussed include Option A (left), Option A simplified (centre),Option B (top right) and Option C (below right).

Option A will be the one that will again be recommended to town council for adoption, as Cinnamon Toast New Media believes that is the one that will connect with millennials and also will address the town’s strategic plan and values as well as what was in the original Request for Proposals (RFP).

Norm Mickle said of Option A that “I don’t understand the logo concept at all” and that Option B looked too similar to that of the Amherstburg Admirals’ logo. Mickle said that Amherstburg is a town that “pioneers new things” and that “we do things here that other towns follow.” He didn’t believe the logos he referenced would inspire tourism or businesses to move here.

“My personal feeling is that neither of these do any of that,” said Mickle.

CAO John Miceli said the town’s Official Plan that was adopted in 2009 outlines the economic importance of tourism “and how important it is to the growth of this town.”

“We got this right back in 2009,” he said. “It’s been ten years and no one did a thing.”

Miceli admitted he wasn’t a fan of Option A at first and preferred Option C. However, he said Option A captured everything the town was looking for in a logo.

“We’re trying to develop tourism as an industry,” he said. “We’ve said since 2009 that we should be doing this.”

Gord Freeman pointed out local artist Elio Del Col designed a logo several years ago that didn’t get off the ground. He believed the consultants should have been given copies of the two-volume book series on Amherstburg to get an education on what the town is about.

“I am not in favour of rebranding. We are the brand here,” said Freeman. “We are recognized in the province. We are the historic heart of southwestern Ontario. Pretty much no one else has what we have, except Sandwich possibly.”

Nancy Atkinson said she circulated the originally proposed logo to family and friends who questioned what it was. She added that when she vacations, “never do I look for a logo.” Atkinson added that she doesn’t understand why the logo is so important and that festivals “are awesome and speak better for all of us.”

Bob Rozankovic questioned why the recommendation supports the 37 per cent of 80 tourist respondents, rather than the responses from the residents.

“This doesn’t make sense,” said Rozankovic. “Shouldn’t the new logo carry the approval of the residents first and foremost?”

Rozankovic added “a logo will never draw tourists here. I’ve travelled the world – a logo doesn’t do it.”

Former councillor Diane Pouget pointed out that she voted against the $76,000 branding expenditure because “I think it’s a waste of money.” She believed that a logo design could have been found within the community and not by hiring a firm from outside of Amherstburg.

“We could have done it with high school students,” said Pouget, adding “I have not heard of anyone that likes it.”

Pouget added that she was previously at the committee meeting and reported they were having difficulty achieving consensus.

Sarah Gibb believed there was too much focus on the town logo and that it’s “one piece of the puzzle.” She added she plans her family’s vacations and uses online tools such as new websites to do it.

“It’s a bigger picture item,” she believed, of the branding strategy. Gibb added that “we need to attract people here” over other local municipalities.

“I want them to come here,” she said.

Gord Freeman pointed out the town had a new logo designed several years ago by Elio DelCol.

Janet Willoughby supported Option A, believing that “it makes us unique.” She added that logo will look good on a t-shirt or mug and that the colours were nice as well.

Mondoux noted the logo helps “set the tone” but noted there are other components of the branding project to come, including the new tourism website.

“This is going to turn into so many pieces,” she said.

Anne Rota, the town’s manager of tourism and culture, also said the logo “is a small piece” and there is a “beautiful, beautiful website that is coming.”
“Let’s not get stuck on the logo,” she said, though added the recommended option “has a piece of what everyone wanted in a very edgy way.”

Both the town and Cinnamon Toast New Media revealed that the new logo will not replace the current town crest, the latter still said to be in the plans for more official documentation and will stay on town vehicles.

“Perhaps we should have done a better job communicating that,” said Rota.

The matter will appear before town council again Feb. 25.

Council looks for festival bill during contentious final meeting

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

At the now-former council’s final meeting of the term Nov. 26, members pressed for information on the outstanding bill owing the Amherstburg Police Service for service at non-town festivals.

The festivals, which have been said to be the Harvest Festival and the Mardi Gras, were the subject of a Nov. 13 motion by then-Councillor Diane Pouget. Pouget questioned who is responsible, how much is owing and how the bill will be collected.

A report did not appear at the Nov. 26 meeting as administration cited a “procedural matter” as a previous motion regarding the matter would have had to have been reconsidered. Then-Councillor Joan Courtney said “it would have been nice to hear the motion was not valid” prior to the Nov. 26 meeting.

According to Pouget, she said she conducted her own investigation and that the bill began at $20,000. It now is believed to be at $17,000. She said she has asked treasurer Justin Rousseau and “for two years it has been sitting on the treasurer’s desk.”

“It should be very simple,” Pouget said of her request. “Here we are again.”

CAO John Miceli responded that “the bill has not been sitting on the treasurer’s desk for two years” and contented the Amherstburg Police Services Board had it on their books for one year. Miceli said the town has no evidence of a signed contract with anyone and encouraged Pouget to bring it forward if she found one in her investigation.

“If you have a signed contract, please share it with us,” Miceli told Pouget.

“It’s true the bill came before the Amherstburg Police Services Board,” said then-Councillor Jason Lavigne, who was also a member of the board. “They refused to pay it. To suggest we don’t know who owes the money or how we are going to get it is ridiculous.”

Lavigne added “this is no fault of the Amherstburg Police Services Board.” He further charged that Miceli asked the board not to collect that money.

“Councillor Lavigne, that is not the truth,” Miceli responded, stating again the board had it on its books for one year. Rousseau added that while he and Miceli attended an APSB meeting, he noted that collection of town receivables should flow through the finance department.

Leo Meloche, then a councillor and now the deputy mayor, noted the APSB runs autonomously from council. He also questioned where a contract was.

“Do we have a signed contract?” he asked. “That is part of the process we have to follow.”

Outgoing town council members say their goodbyes

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A combined 38 years of experience left town council at the Nov. 26 meeting.

The five outgoing town council members bid farewell at the final meeting of the term. Councillor Diane Pouget said her goodbyes after a combined 14 years of service, as she served from 1991-97 and again from 2010-18. Pouget thanked her fellow councillors, including four that “have been my saviours in the past year. You have done a very good job. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to you.”

Pouget also offered her thanks to administration. She said she fielded the most complaints out of all of council and that she would bring those complaints to administration.

“You were always there for me,” said Pouget. “I thank you for that.”

Thanks were also shared with the Amherstburg Police Service, Chief Tim Berthiaume and the Amherstburg Police Services Board. Pouget thanked Berthiaume for his years of service and hoped the transition to the Windsor Police Service would be a smooth one.

Pouget also thanked the public for allowing her to be one of their council members for the last 14 years.

Councillor Leo Meloche, who has now ascended to the deputy mayor’s job, praised Pouget.

“I know she is very passionate about what she does,” said Meloche. “I really respect her for that. She’s a fighter for the people. I wish her the best in whatever she chooses to do.”

Courtney leaves after four years of service as a town councillor. The former Catholic school board trustee thanked Pouget for “everything she has done the last four years. I admire her more than she’ll ever know.”

Courtney also thanked the rest of her colleagues, stating “it’s been a real ride.” She paid tribute to councillors Rick Fryer, Jason Lavigne and Meloche. Of retiring Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, she stated “I just love you Bart. I wish you well in your retirement.” She also thanked the citizens, including the crowd that regularly attends council meetings.

“You keep tabs on us,” she said.

Thanks were also given to Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, treasurer Justin Rousseau and the rest of administration. She referred to clerk Paula Parker and deputy clerk Tammy Fowkes as “my saviours” for all the help they have given her over the last four years.

“It’s been a ride,” said Lavigne.

Lavigne said “I can’t give enough praise to Councillor Pouget,” recalling her days of helping to save General Amherst High School to the present.

“To those lobbing insults, none of you have given what she’s given to the town,” said Lavigne.

Lavigne said he was mentored by Pouget. He added that Fryer helped get him into politics and also thanked Courtney for her support. He also wanted the community to support Meloche as he moved into the deputy mayor role. He also thanked DiPasquale and pointed out his longevity in public service.

Recommending that people “don’t listen to the noise on social media,” Lavigne said he wants the town to move forward.

“I go out of here with my head held high,” he stated.

Fryer also praised his fellow council members. He said Courtney brought her knowledge of the school board to town council and that knowledge “got us through a difficult time.” He added that Lavigne is passionate about what he does and told him he “did an admirable job the last four years.”

Five members of town council said farewell at the Nov. 26 meeting. From left: Councillor Rick Fryer, Councillor Diane Pouget, Councillor Joan Courtney, Councillor Jason Lavigne, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale.

Like Courtney before him, Fryer referred to Meloche as “a numbers guy” and wished him continued good luck over the next four years. However, Fryer also said he would like to see more county dollars flow through Amherstburg and said, “County Road 20 looks like (crap) right now.”

Fryer said Pouget was “like a mom to me” and also pointed out her passion on town issues. He noted Pouget’s passion didn’t waver despite tough family circumstances this past term. He also praised his father Mike, who was also his campaign manager in every election he ran in.

Even though he was defeated in his bid for deputy mayor Oct. 22, Fryer said he was happy because he got an opportunity to represent the residents. He said he was always thinking of the people when he voted. He said that difficult emotional times after his ankle injury, coupled with criticism from members of the public, caused him to contemplate whether he should “get rid of myself” but “the people of Amherstburg kept me up.” He ran for council again, he said, to show “you can rise above that and be a leader in the community.”

Fryer also said that administration did a great job and “we’ve got to keep moving forward.” He believed social media should be used for such things as congratulatory messages but encouraged the community to not to use it as much.

“Get behind the next council and stay the hell off of social media,” said Fryer.

DiCarlo missed the Nov. 26 meeting due to illness. He did send written remarks, that were read by Parker.

“Over the past four years, this council has authorized and implemented many guiding documents that future councils will rely upon – all with a view to improving the quality of life for residents of Amherstburg,” DiCarlo wrote. “The Community Based Strategic Plan, with its extensive public consultation, will help to shape the future of Amherstburg. But the outgoing council did much more than simply authorize the preparation of these documents – they also acted upon them.”

DiCarlo stated that “strategic initiatives” such as the purchases of the former Duffy’s property and the Belle Vue site and the Bell Fibre to the Home initiative were all supported by the town’s Community Based Strategic Plan.

“A progressive council looks beyond four years,” DiCarlo wrote. “That’s what this council has done.”

Of DiPasquale, DiCarlo pointed out DiPasquale’s years of service with the Amherstburg Police Service as well as his eight years as a member of council – the first four as a councillor and the latter four as deputy mayor.

“It was a pleasure to serve with him as a representative on county council,” stated DiCarlo. “We thank him for his service.”

Regarding Pouget, DiCarlo noted her 14 years of public service to the residents of Amherstburg.

“She is a passionate councillor and her work with the parks committee is something that I think the residents will remember for years to come,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo stated that Fryer “has been a continuous advocate for infrastructure as well as environmental issues. The past two years, he has also served as chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority.”

Of Lavigne, DiCarlo noted that they both served together on the Amherstburg Police Services Board as well as council.

“He has served with passion and commitment,” said DiCarlo of Lavigne.

DiCarlo also thanked Courtney for her service on the 2014-18 council.

“Councillor Courtney brought her experience as a school board representative to the council chamber and served with honour and passion,” he stated in his written remarks.

 

Town council takes no action on integrity commissioner recommendations

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A pair of reports recommending sanctions against council members in two unrelated integrity commissioner investigations has seen no action taken against either council member.

Integrity commissioner Bruce Elman recommended that Councillor Jason Lavigne’s remuneration be suspended for 45 days with council not only rejecting that but also to suspend his pay for one month.

According to Elman’s report, he investigated alleged leaks that came out of a Sept. 10 in-camera meeting and believed that by “circumstantial information” that it proved to be Lavigne who committed the leak. Lavigne has vehemently denied that accusation.

Elman said two of the four council members at that meeting – councillors Leo Meloche and Rick Fryer -would have had no reason to contact Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) chair Bob Rozankovic with information. He said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was “outraged” by the leak, leaving only Lavigne.

Elman also referred to two calls placed by Lavigne to clerk Paula Parker about in-camera information and the discussion thereof. He also stated that Lavigne and Rozankovic were not co-operative during the investigation and that Lavigne refused to sign a “Statement of Assurance.”

“Councillor Lavigne’s reluctance to meet to discuss the disclosure of the confidential information – the first time that this has happened to me in the eight years I have been doing integrity work – leads me to the strong inference that Councillor Lavigne was the individual who leaked the information from the in-camera council meeting to Bob Rozankovic,” Elman wrote in his report.

Elman stated in his report that he wrote to Rozankovic by e-mail a total of eight times.

“Each time I was either rebuffed or put off to some future time. Finally, on Oct. 24, he indicated that he would not speak to me on the pretense that ‘the agenda behind this investigation is lacking in legitimacy.’ I responded that “there is no ‘agenda’ behind this investigation; nor is it ‘lacking in legitimacy.’”

Elman told town council he believed the investigation could have been avoided if the information was shared from the beginning.

“Either one of them could have stood up and said this is how it happened and this is why it happened and we’re sorry,” said Elman.

Pouget pointed out that the mayor was supposed to contact an investigator to look into administration’s role but that has not come in yet. She believed it was premature and didn’t think council should be dealing with the issue Monday night.

There was also a meeting in CAO John Miceli’s office before the special Sept. 17 meeting, Pouget claimed, and that Councillor Rick Fryer was on Miceli’s computer. Fryer would put a motion forward at the Sept. 17 meeting to have Lavigne and Rozankovic removed from the APSB but it was defeated.

Fryer said he never touched Miceli’s computer and that there have been “allegations all over the place.” He said he wanted Rozankovic and Lavigne removed from the board for the investigation only, adding something could have been done that night had someone come forward with the information.

Pouget responded that people had already been “publicly lynched” and that “the only thing we didn’t do that night was tar and feather them. They were already found guilty by some.”

Lavigne said he will defend his actions and that of Rozankovic and that “I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.” He said the APSB has been discredited for several months.

In a written statement, Lavigne stated “I would like to take the opportunity to set the record straight. At no time did I divulge any confidential material to Bob Rozankovic.” Lavigne said there was an in-camera meeting of the board in late-August where information was obtained from Windsor Chief Al Frederick. Administration provided council with a report that contained the confidential meeting from the board’s in-camera meeting at an in-camera meeting of council Sept. 10, Lavigne maintained and that he pointed that out to Rozankovic that confidential information that Rozankovic was already aware of was shared with council. Lavigne said Rozankovic then contact DiCarlo with that information.

“The integrity commissioner investigation was designed to find me at fault from the start in my opinion and after seeing how one of these reports was used against Windsor Councillor Rino Bortolin as a political tool, I decided it was not in my best interest to continue to co-operate. There is a a reason these investigations are generally not done during an election and Mr. Elman made our clerk aware of this fact. It was very apparent that there was an attempt to complete an investigation as quickly as possible and, in my opinion, it would have influenced the election and unfairly discredited Mr. Rozankovic and myself,” Lavigne wrote. “I leave this position with my head held high knowing I did not do what some have accused me of.”

Elman’s written report also stated that he believes the new council should be aware of the report for when it makes its committee appointments next term.

In a written statement to the RTT, Rozankovic stated: “By both the Town’s Code of Conduct, and more importantly the Police Service Act Code of Conduct for Police Board Members, neither Mr. Lavigne nor myself have done anything wrong and been the subjects of a ludicrous investigation that had no legitimacy. Mr. Lavigne fulfilled his obligation per Provincial Legislation (Police Service Act), legislation that supersedes any municipal policy. The Integrity Commissioner had no purview to investigate me as a Police Board Member, and he stated this. Yet he decided to pronounce judgement and as such defamed my character in a public forum. This investigation was rooted in vindictiveness on the part of certain individuals.”

Council voted 3-2 not to sanction Lavigne. The motion to suspend his pay failed with Councillor Joan Courtney, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and Pouget voting against and Fryer and Meloche being in favour. DiCarlo was not at the meeting due to illness and Lavigne declared conflict during the discussion in council chambers.

As the discussion went into accusations over conduct by Councillor Diane Pouget, Elman noted that he “slowed down the report” as not to have it come out during an election season. Miceli filed the complaint against Pouget over comments made at in-camera meetings both in 2017 and 2018 and comments made at a public meeting in 2018.

“It is clear from the documents filed in this Complaint that there is no love lost between Mr. Miceli and

Councillor Pouget. Councillor Pouget did not vote in favour of Mr. Miceli’s appointment and it is apparent that she still believes that he was the wrong person for the position. Mr. Miceli believes, with some justification,  that the Councillor continues to question his capabilities and his integrity and that she is trying to undermine his authority in those areas of responsibility reserved for the CAO,” Elman’s written report concluded as it relates to the second report on council’s agenda.

Elman added later in his report that “Councillor Pouget may have legitimate questions, for example about hiring of staff, but those questions should be directed to inquiring whether the Council-determined policies have been followed. It is the CAO’s job to hire staff and, if Council policies have been observed, it is not Council’s role to second guess the CAO.”

Pouget did not participate in the discussion during the meeting, but a written response from her was part of the agenda package.

“It is important to note, that Mr. Miceli did not file a complaint about the August 21, 2017 In-camera meeting until July 6, 2018, almost one year after the meeting and only a few weeks before I decided to run for Deputy Mayor,” Pouget wrote. “In Mr. Miceli’s complaint to you, Mr. Miceli provided inaccurate wording and information, that I challenged and corrected. This was verified with a copy of an audio. Further to that, I did not use bad language and I did not raise my voice. In  fact, not one member of Council including the mayor stated, that they found my words ‘insulting’ and not one member of Council commented on this exchange of words. In fact, there were no further comments about this meeting, until a complaint was issued by John Miceli almost one year later, right at election time.”

Pouget was also concerned over the timing of the investigation over her complaints of being harassed and bullied. Another issue was over a discussion over money related to Belle Vue fundraising and that occurred after a motion was passed allowing Miceli controls during the lame duck session.

“This motion was meant to protect our taxpayers, yet Mr. Miceli filed a complaint accusing me of not trusting his professional judgment. I believe it was my right to try and protect our taxpayers during this lame duck period,”  she stated in her written submission to Elman.

Fryer believed by not supporting Elman’s findings, it would send the wrong message to the new council and to the community. Councillor Leo Meloche said he witnessed the events and while “I have the utmost respect for council and staff, everyone needs to be treated with respect.”

Lavigne shot back, stating there are members of council that violate the code of conduct by what they have recently said on social media, referencing Meloche and recent comments on Facebook.

Council voted 3-2 to simply receive the report on the Pouget-related investigation with Courtney, DiPasquale and Lavigne in favour and Meloche and Fryer against.

Miceli stated after the meeting that he will defend his reputation and his staff and would file a complaint again if he felt the need. According to Miceli, he said he has had to endure having his capabilities questioned for the last four years. He said council supports one another and believed the decision not to seek sanctions was “par for the course” with the outgoing council.

 

Recount in deputy mayor race produces the same result

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The recount for the deputy mayor’s position was completed last Wednesday and it reflected the results that originally came in on election night.

Leo Meloche retained the position as the recount came back with 2,579 votes, the same as in the Oct. 22 election. Diane Pouget came in second with 2,575 votes, which is also the same total as Oct. 22. The recount was held last Wednesday in the upstairs community room at the Libro Centre and was completed by mid-afternoon.

“The recount went smoothly,” said clerk/returning officer Paula Parker.

Parker confirmed the results were exactly the same as election night. She said Pouget was in attendance as were ten scrutineers and her legal counsel on her behalf. Parker said Meloche was not represented. Deputy mayor candidate Bob Rozankovic was also in attendance as was a scrutineer for Rick Fryer, Parker added.

The Municipal Elections Act states that no one shall examine the ballots as they are being counted, however, Parker noted they were provided an opportunity to confirm the ballot boxes were empty, confirm totals on the machines and confirm the ballot boxes were sealed. Pouget’s legal counsel and Fryer’s scrutineer were also given the opportunity to examine the spoiled ballots as well. All candidates have the opportunity to appeal the process for disputed ballots to the Superior Court within 15 days, she added last Wednesday.

Meloche said he didn’t believe there was a need for a recount as he thought it would end up being the same result.

Councillor Diane Pouget speaks to town council Nov. 13. The recount into the deputy mayor’s race, requested that night by Pouget, produced the same result.

“When Paula told me there would be a recount based on the motion put forth Nov. 13, I had a dialogue with her and I had a right to be there,” said Meloche, “but like I told her, I didn’t want to delay it any further and told her to proceed with me or without me.”

Meloche said he was relieved from the standpoint that “I want this to go away so we can get the business of the town back on track.” He said he wants the town to move ahead and that he was always comfortable with the “computerized vote,” in reference to the electronic tabulators employed by the town.

“I was confident the vote that happened Oct. 22 would be the same as Nov. 21,” said Meloche.

There were concerns over cost, said Meloche, given there was an estimated cost of $25,000 for the recount. Meloche also pointed out that provincial legislation calls for a recount only in the event of a tie or if the matter is taken to Superior Court.
“My biggest concern was the $25,000 cost that was not necessary for the taxpayers,” said Meloche.

Pouget took offense to comments made on Facebook regarding the recount, but said she was also offended to the response by Meloche to the post and comments made regarding the Nov. 13 council meeting, where she asked for a recount.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Pouget told Meloche Monday night.

Meloche said he has apologized for his reaction to the original post, and he posted on Facebook “Apparently a comment I made to a post made by another individual was found to be offensive by some. It was in no way intended to be offensive but none the less I should not have provided a comment.”

Meloche said he will not apologize for his belief on what happened at the Nov. 13 meeting.

“My lawyer was appalled by what happened here on the 13th,” said Meloche. “I make no apologies for what happened on the 13th, not at all.”