Glenn Swinton

ACRG hosts the candidates, public asks their questions

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The group known as the Amherstburg Citizens for Responsible Government (ACRG) hosted an all-candidates event last Thursday night at the AMA Sportsmen Club and the public got to ask their questions.

The 20 candidates vying for spots in the 2018 municipal election met with voters and voters seemed to like the opportunity.

“I think it’s OK,” said Jean Allen. “It’s hard to get to talk to some of them. I learned a few things about a few people that I didn’t know so it’s good.”

“I thought it was good,” added Wayne Marenger. “I got to meet a lot of people didn’t know and got to ask questions.”
Marenger said he found it more personable than the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce “Meet the Candidates” nights as there was more of an opportunity to discuss issues with the candidates.

“You get to meet the people,” he said.

Mayoral candidates Aldo DiCarlo (above) and Glenn Swinton (below) chat with voters at an all-candidates event put on by the Amherstburg Citizens for Responsible Government (ACRG). That event was held Oct. 11 at the AMA Sportsmen’s Association.

For Tiffany Cote and Sandra Fox, it was a chance to see where candidates stood on whether or not to build a new pool locally.

“It’s been very good. I got to ask all of my questions,” said Fox. “They answered them pretty well. We’re trying to keep a pool if it’s not at the same location.”

Cote agreed that they were looking for a replacement for the Lions Pool, which is expected to have a new public high school built on that part of Centennial Park. Cote said they were able to get some answers and talk to the candidates face-to-face.

“It’s going well,” said ACRG member John McDonald. “It’s interesting to see the candidates speak to the crowd. I thing people are getting their questions answered.”

McDonald said that the event gave people a chance to speak with candidates that they’ve been following and get answers. He hoped the event would return in four years and thanked fellow ACRG members Beth Hobbs, Jennie Lajoie, Marcie Graham, Jim Broderick and Tim Brown.

“Hopefully, we’ll find a way to keep this going,” McDonald stated.

Voters hear mayoral candidates talk about the issues

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg’s two mayoral candidates went toe-to-toe in last weeks’ “Meet the Candidates” night at Western Secondary School.

Incumbent Aldo DiCarlo and challenger Glenn Swinton traded viewpoints in the second of two “Meet the Candidates” nights, presented by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC). It was moderated by Patty Handysides of AM800.

The discussion was scheduled to start at 7:45 p.m. that evening, following the deputy mayor debates, but DiCarlo was late entering the auditorium due to an apparent illness. When things finally got underway, DiCarlo said he was “very proud of what we accomplished” in the last four years, stating they worked with everyone for the good of the town.

The town’s financial position has greatly improved, he said, noting four years ago “people wanted the town turned around and turned around for the better.” He said the town got its “house in order” and completed all of the recommendations from the Deloitte report in less than 18 months.” Reserves have grown from $2.2 million to $15.8 million, he said.

The debt has also decreased from $44 million to $36 million, DiCarlo stated.

Swinton vowed to review and release all documents pertaining to the policing issue. One item he pointed out was that the town will still have to pay for costs to run the existing Amherstburg police station.

There will also be a review of the role of upper management with the town and the flow of information to council and the public.

“Currently it appears that the tail is wagging the dog and that’s not acceptable,” he said.

Staffing and salary levels will also be looked at as well as the Belle Vue property, the latter of which should have no tax dollars going to it. Swinton said he wants more public input into the Duffy’s site as well.

Swinton also believed in holding off on development charges for builders, the possible formation of a BIA and to better include areas such as Anderdon, Malden, River Canard and McGregor. Bringing on an economic development officer to go after business was also suggested.

Swinton said the town would be “open and honest like you’ve never seen before” if he were elected.

The first question pertained to the policing contract and DiCarlo stated he supported the switch and that if he were re-elected, he would want to ensure that everything that was told to the community at the public meetings came to fruition.

Swinton contended that promises are not being kept, stating he learned the deputy chief is not being retained. He said he wants to bring things out into the open.

“It’s your tax dollars. Why is it so secret?” he asked.

DiCarlo said once the contract is completed, the hope is to bring it out publicly and “instill confidence that we will get what we said we’d get out of the deal.”

Aldo DiCarlo and Glenn Swinton went back-and-forth discussing issues at the second of two “Meet the Candidates” Nights that were presented by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce last week.

On the issue of transparency and accountability, Swinton believed the same issues are around as when he first ran eight years ago. He said unless there is a legal requirement, council should not go in-camera.

If people take time to come to a meeting, they should be able to watch and hear what is going on, Swinton said.

DiCarlo said accountability is justifying the reasons behind a decision while transparency is acting with no hidden agendas.

“I believe I have acted in good faith this entire term of council,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo added that if the public hears something they should not legally be hearing, it could come back to cost taxpayers money.

Swinton indicated there are Ombudsman reports which show violations and that people still aren’t being told everything they need to be told regarding the policing issue, and re-iterated the news about the deputy chief.

On the matter of town purchases, DiCarlo said he supported Belle Vue and suggested it ties into plans for a hotel. There is a need for more year-round activities, he said, and that there is a plan to use Belle Vue as a conference centre. It is an 8.3-acre property next to a creek, he added.

“It is not the HMS Detroit all over again, as some would say,” said DiCarlo.

Swinton called Belle Vue “a horrible investment” and that it is limited as to what could be done there. Tax dollars being collected by the former owner were traded for “a liability,” he stated.

“No one was purchasing the property for a reason. It’s worth nothing,” said Swinton.

Duffy’s is also “a liability,” he believed, and now the town has to figure out what to do with it. The seniors hub at the former St. Bernard School is “going to cost your tax dollars to make it happen.”

Meanwhile, Swinton said levies were increased to 2.75 per cent.

“I don’t know what you want to do with the property but we’re going to have to figure it out because you own it now,” said Swinton.

Closing streets in the downtown core on a regular basis would limit access to local businesses, Swinton said in response to the next question, but DiCarlo said “a big rubber duck brought 80,000 people to the Town of Amherstburg when we closed the streets.” He added the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival drew 35,000 people and added he supported more closures.

Swinton responded that “a half-inflated rubber duck did bring substantial crowds, I’m not sure why” and that he was not in favour of shutting down access as he wants to treat all businesses equally.

DiCarlo said he supported the re-branding efforts and said that more feedback is still being gathered. He disagreed with the suggestion that high school students could do the work.

“If we are going to compete on a provincial and national level, we have to do so in a professional manner,” he said.

“Before we can brand the town, it has to have a product,” said Swinton. “If there is nothing to put the brand on, you are wasting money. We need something to put the brand on.”

Swinton added: “You can say Coca Cola, but if there isn’t anything in the can, there’s nothing.”

DiCarlo stated it is more than just a logo, but a new website and a greater focus on tourism. He said the town has “a considerable amount to offer” and that a way has to be figured out to use the brand to attract more people to town.

On the issue of a retail outlet for cannabis, Swinton was supportive stating it will be a legal product.

“It is another business, another product. I say bring it in. It’s a legal product,” he said.

DiCarlo did not answer, instead asking for another break and again stepping out due to illness.

In closing arguments, Swinton urged people to get out and vote as it is up to the voters to decide who they want on council to get the results they are looking for. DiCarlo continued with his opening remarks, adding that while more work is needed on roads, the town has invested millions this term on them. He touted the “Talk the Burg” online engagement platform and the new Community Strategic Plan.

Development, including a new high school, is rising and DiCarlo added that an announcement on a hotel could come soon.
“I expect to announce a location in the very near future. It will likely be sooner than you think,” he said. “Stay tuned.”

DiCarlo also spoke about engaging seniors and youth as well as the ongoing fibre optic internet project being done by Bell.

CANDIDATE Q&A – Glenn Swinton

 

The town is going through a re-branding process. How would you define what Amherstburg is and how it should be promoted?

In my opinion, the Town of Amherstburg lacks a definition. The current efforts to re-brand at a tune of some $75,000 are premature. Before we can attach a “brand” to anything, we need to have a product to attach it to. Our town is rich in heritage and term after term, our councils have focused on tourism as our core. This is 2018 and yes, we have heritage, but today’s generation, the generation that is traveling and investing wants something more. They want something they can be involved in, not simply look at. Our town needs something unique that people can either do or participate in, that can’t be done in the surrounding areas.

 

Glenn Swinton is running for mayor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

 

 

Taxes and spending will always be election issues. What is the best way to spend money on roads and infrastructure while, at the same time, keeping taxes at a reasonable level?

Every resident in the Town of Amherstburg surely feels the pain of inflated property taxes. The truth is, taxes are how we finance the operations of the town. If we focus on trying to stay ahead of the maintenance on our infrastructure, rather than avoiding some areas only to attempt playing catch-up later, we may find that the costs are controllable. When our roads are allowed to break down to the point of no return, the cost to rebuild becomes far greater than the simple maintenance that may have prolonged their lifespan. Ideally, if we are to keep taxes at a reasonable level, we need more taxpayers to share the costs. This can only be achieved by encouraging developments (both residential and commercial) and welcoming new commercial enterprises with incentives to come, while providing support that will make them want to stay.

 

 

“Transparency” and “accountability” are words often heard during election campaigns. What specific measures would you undertake to ensure town council lives up to those words?

Election after election we have heard from candidates that claim “transparency”, and it seems term after term we are faced with inappropriate, “in camera” meetings and discussions that have taken place behind closed doors. There are definite issues that are legally required to be held in camera, “legally required” being the key. I believe that if a taxpayer takes the time from their busy lives to be a part of the process, they deserve full disclosure where possible. Upon my election, in camera meetings will only be held where absolutely required under the law.

As for accountability, the process is flawed. Our elected officials are not held to accountability. It seems the process is long and drawn out and the repercussions of their actions or inactions, can only be administered at the next election. Accountability at a municipal level must come from the candidate themselves. Until we start to select our candidates based on integrity, personal accomplishments and political platforms over name recognition, we will never see accountability. Maintaining an open and honest public forum in itself would promote accountability.

 

 

 

 

How would you encourage economic development for the Town of Amherstburg over the next four years (and beyond)?

The economic growth and development of the town is of the utmost importance. This is not a task that can simply be placed on various departments within administration. In doing so, these departments will require some guidance from a single source that is focused on the primary goal. I would consider the appointment of and economical development officer to ensure that we not simply chasing our tail. This Officer could best utilize the assets of administration by providing them with the necessary direction to ensure success.

 

 

 

 

 

The policing issue is still top-of-mind for some of the electorate. Is providing services on a regional level a good way to save money, a detriment to the town and its identity or would you view it on a case-by-case basis?

I don’t believe the organization that patrols our streets makes up the identity of the town, but they certainly add to it. Regional policing has in some areas proven to provide for some additional benefits to municipalities that otherwise might not have access to some services. There can be some cost saving benefits to regionalization but at what expense? The initial transformation could potentially cost a small town millions in severances, hundreds of thousands in lost asset values and thousands in legal bills to hash it all out. Because of these considerations, each example must be considered on a case-by-case basis. A small town like St. Mary’s with only a few patrol officers would not see the same expenses to abolish, as a force the size of Amherstburg’s. They could, and most likely would, see a greater potential savings then we could, since in our case there is a real potential that our projected savings over the first five-year term could be lost in the initial transformation.

 

 

 

CAO files defamation lawsuit against mayoral candidate

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s chief administrative officer (CAO) has filed a defamation lawsuit against one of the two men running for mayor.

According to a statement of claim filed with the Superior Court of Justice in Windsor Aug. 23, CAO John Miceli is seeking $90,000 in the lawsuit from Glenn Swinton. Miceli is seeking damages for defamation in the amount of $70,000, aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages in the amount of $20,000 and “an interlocutory and final injunction prohibiting the Defendant, directly or indirectly, from publishing and/or broadcasting, or encouraging others to publish or broadcast any statements, in any matter which in their plain or ordinary meaning or by innuendo suggested the Plaintiff is mendacious, corrupt, incompetent, or responsible for criminal acts.”

The lawsuit centres around posts made on Facebook. It is alleged that the words and images posted “in their plain and ordinary meaning and by way of innuendo” were meant to understand that Miceli is a corrupt public servant, lacks integrity, is a dishonest person, has disregard for the law and is in contempt of legal proceedings.

“The Plaintiff states that because of his defamatory statements and images, his personal reputation has been damaged,” the statement of claim alleges. “The Plantiff has suffered and will continue to suffer damages to his reputation for which the Defendant is liable.”

“Mr. Swinton has made a number of defamatory comments, in my opinion, relating to me,” Miceli told the River Town Times last week. “It’s a personal matter to me. It’s about my reputation as a public servant.”

Some of the comments are based on the policing matter, with further claims being that Miceli’s employment has allegedly been threatened by Swinton due to Miceli’s request for an apology.

“The Plaintiff states that the Defendant admits to using his malicious crusade against Mr. Miceli as part of his political platform in his candidacy for the Mayor of the Town of Amherstburg,” the statement of claim alleges. “Mr. Miceli has suffered the indignity and embarrassment of being the subject of defamatory statements which in turn spawned defamatory comments by others. All such statements were encouraged by the Defendant and were broadcasted and published by him on his Facebook page for which Mr. Miceli seeks damages.”

Miceli said Swinton was given the opportunity to apologize.

“Mr. Swinton elected not to. That’s his prerogative,” said Miceli.

Miceli said Swinton is passionate about the policing issue but added “I’m passionate about my integrity, my reputation and what the truth is.”

The CAO said his role is that of being in an advisory capacity and that he has no votes on issues.

“If you check the voting record, I don’t think you are going to see that John Miceli voted,” he said.

Miceli reiterated that he has built a 27-year career in the public sector adding that he has never actually met Swinton.

“I have never spoken to Mr. Swinton. I don’t know the man, yet he made all these assertions about me that need to be accounted for,” Miceli stated.

Miceli added that he would “for sure” file a lawsuit against Swinton if it weren’t an election year.

“Mr. Swinton has his position and I have mine,” Miceli added. “At the end of the day, a judge is going to decide. A community is going to decide Oct. 22.”

Swinton told the River Town Times that he has received a “Notice under the Libel and Defamation Act” from Mousseau DeLuca McPherson Prince LLP Barristers and Solicitors, on behalf of Miceli, claiming that he has made libel claims against him and was encouraging defamation throughout Facebook.

“This noticed threatened that if I did not remove these posts – some of which were not even mine – and publicly post the prescript apology that was included, an action would be registered with the courts,” said Swinton in an e-mail.

Swinton stated that “because anything I had posted was already public knowledge and I have no control over other people’s posts, I naturally responded notifying them that because the claims were so far fetched, it appeared to me that Mr. Miceli was attempting to form a basis to argue wrongful dismissal and that no apology would be coming from me.”

Swinton added that about 10 days later, “Miceli had filed his claims with the courts accusing me of defaming him with false accusations, and attacking his ‘exemplary reputation within the community’ as a public servant. Mr. Miceli, with his self assessed reputation, has some how deemed his damages to be in the neighbourhood of $90,000.”

Swinton added that part of his platform in running for mayor is that hires made by the CAO would be reviewed if he is elected as mayor.

“I have made it no secret that Mr. Miceli, his department and any new hires that occurred over the last 3.5 years will be examined thoroughly if I am elected on Oct. 22, 2018,” Swinton stated.

As of last Friday afternoon, an official statement of defense was not available. None of the allegations in this case have been proven in court as of yet.

 

Swinton vying to become Amherstburg’s new mayor

 

By Ron Giofu

 

There will be a mayor’s race in Amherstburg as Glenn Swinton is seeking the town’s top political job.

Swinton filed his nomination papers last Thursday and will be challenging incumbent Aldo DiCarlo for the job. He said he was going to challenge DiCarlo if it looked like DiCarlo was going to be acclaimed and he followed through on that.

“There was no way I was going to let him be acclaimed,” he said. “We have to have a second option.”

The decision to abolish the Amherstburg Police Service and contract the service to Windsor was the key issue which drove Swinton to run.

“It’s the whole policing issue that drove it right over the top,” he said.

Swinton said his first objective if elected mayor would be to review the town’s contract with the Windsor Police Service “and look for an out.” He said he doesn’t believe that the residents of Amherstburg were heard during the process.

“I don’t feel they were listened to,” said Swinton.

Swinton opposed the police switch and said he hasn’t received many of the answers he was seeking.

“There’s so many things in the policing contract where I’d ask a question and it would go unanswered,” he said.

Glenn Swinton filed last week and is running for mayor.

Stating he doesn’t have “a big, long list of things I don’t like,” Swinton said there are other issues as well that he would like to keep his eye on if elected. He said that he wants to make sure the town sticks to the agreement regarding the Belle Vue property and ensure that no taxpayer money is used on its restoration.

The plans for the Duffy’s property are also something Swinton would like to be a part of. He said he looked at the proposal for the site but he said that plan doesn’t fit on the size of the property. He also noted the development of a nearby condominium unit and wondered if building an amphitheatre is the best use of the land.

While believing the current proposal is not realistic, Swinton would like to see the property developed.

“We have it now, so let’s do something with it,” said Swinton.

As for the town’s finances, Swinton said the town is “just looking better” as much of the debt is still locked in. That said, he added he wants the town to keep looking better. The deferral of development charges is a program that is working and he believes that it is a good idea.

“We’re building all over,” he said. “The town is booming. I want to keep that momentum.”

Swinton said he has heard from people who believe the town is overstaffed and there are unnecessary positions that have been filled.

“They need to be looked at,” he said.

The mayor should have the answers and not have to look to administration as much, he believed, and that the mayor should be able to clarify items for council members.

If there are still unanswered questions at the time of a vote, the vote should be deferred.

“I want to move the role of mayor back to the head of council,” said Swinton.

The mayor should be more active and immersed in what is going on, he added.

Swinton said he believes he can handle the role of being on Essex County council.

“It’s going to be a learning curve, absolutely,” he said of being on county council.

Swinton added he is not looking to have a “smear campaign,” adding that is not the objective. He added there are a lot of great festivals in Amherstburg and the town does have a lot going for it.

“We’ve got good momentum going,” he said. “I want to keep it going.”

Swinton added: “We’re working on building a plan. Hopefully we can get some support and make it happen. My number one goal is to do what is best for the town and the people in it.”