City Clerk denies a candidate the right to delegate to Council; then changes his mind

By Pepper Parr

September 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Keith Demoe is a candidate for the ward 2 council seat. He is a pretty direct guy.

As a candidate for a council seat he was invited to attend a Board meeting of the BDBA.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns: spoke when she should not have spoken

During that meeting he asked a question related to the $500,000 the city had budgeted to appear at Ontario Land Tribunal related to the redevelopment plans for the Waterfront Hotel site.
He published a comment in the Burlington Gazette where he made public, information that was in fact confidential.

Lisa Kearns, the ward Councillor had made the amount public.

Realizing that she had broken the rules related to business discussed in a CLOSED session.

Keith Demoe, had learned that Kearns had drafted a Statement that she planned to read at the 20th of September Council meeting. He sent is a request to delegate – which is the process Burlington uses.

The following is the response Demoe got from the Clerk.

From: Arjoon, Kevin <Kevin.Arjoon@burlington.ca>
Sent: September 20, 2022 9:51 AM
To: Hordyk, Debbie <Debbie.Hordyk@burlington.ca>; kdemoe@hotmail.com <kdemoe@hotmail.com>
Cc: Meed Ward, Marianne <Marianne.MeedWard@burlington.ca>; Shea-Nicol, Nancy <Nancy.Shea-Nicol@burlington.ca>; Commisso, Tim <Tim.Commisso@burlington.ca>
Subject: Denied: New Request to Appear as a Delegate Submitted for 9/20/2022 City Council (*New Information Only)

Hi Keith – Thank you for expressing an interest in delegating at Council. Due to the nature of this item (a breach) and that it is to be discussed in closed and is subject to solicitor client privilege your delegation request is denied.

In my decision I am using rule 46.10 of the Procedure By-law to deny your request.

Section 46.10 reads: Where the City Manager or the Clerk determines that a person requesting to delegate is likely to engage in unreasonable or offensive conduct, make unreasonable or offensive statements or demands, repeatedly speak on a subject matter that is not within the City’s jurisdiction, or otherwise misuse the privilege of addressing Committee or Council, the person will not be permitted to appear as a delegate at the meeting.

Thank you,
Kevin Arjoon (He/Him)
Director, Office of the City Clerk/ City Clerk
City of Burlington

In a quick survey of news media colleagues – none had ever heard of anything like this being done anywhere before.

Demoe was stunned – what bothered him most was that the Clerk is the person who over sees the election and certifies the vote count.

Councillor Stolte was aware that the Clerk had denied the Demoe request to delegate and asked the Clerk at the Council meeting on Tuesday and was told that the decision to deny the request was reviewed; the Clerk told Council that he had decided to reverse the original decision and permit Demoe to delegate.

Demoe was advised of the change at 11:14.  He had left his office at 11:00 to canvas and was not aware of the change and that he was permitted to delegate/

City Clerk Kevin Arjoon

While some will think that there was no problem; Demoe was permitted to delegate.  But he didn’t know that he could delegate which meant there was no opportunity for any member of Council to ask what actually took place at the BDBA meeting.  What caused ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns to blurt out that the city had budgeted $500,000 to cover the legal fees that would accrue once the hearing started.

Demoe who is busy campaigning and working on his election organization told the Gazette that he did not receive the notice that the decision had been reversed. Demoe added that he uses several email and the notice to reverse the denial decision may have gone to a different address.

This matter hasn’t come to an end yet.

Demoe, and the Gazette, would like to know what it was that caused City Clerk Kevin Arjoon to change his mind?  Did he arrive at a new decision after reviewing the details – or did someone tell him to change his mind.

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4 comments to City Clerk denies a candidate the right to delegate to Council; then changes his mind

  • Penny Hersh

    A breach is a breach. Both councillors should have been treated the same .

    • Dave Turner

      So a murderer should be treated the same as a robber? Both are criminals and both broke the law. Should you loose your license for speeding at 20 over the limit like a (stunt) driver does for going 50 over?

      Of course in both examples they should be treated differently and according to the severity of the crime.

  • Penny Hersh

    Does the word ” COVER-UP” come to mind?

    When those copied on the email, one being the City Manager Tim Commisso and the head of the legal department, Nancy Shea-Nicole as well as Debbie Hordyk, probably communications saw this they realized immediate action needed to be taken. This must have accounted for the 2nd email being sent over 2 hours after the first one.

    Under the circumstances a second email giving Keith Demoe permission to delegate was not good enough. The clerk should have called him, and not simply left a voice message, but made certain that Mr. Demoe had received the information. The onus was on the City to make certain that Mr. Demoe knew about this decision, not merely by an email that could easily not have been read.

    This entire “fiasco” leaves one with the impression that a decision had already been made concerning Councillor Kearns “BREACH” and the clerk did not want anyone to derail this. NOT HIS DECISION TO MAKE.

    One now has to question – How many others have been refused the opportunity to delegate?

    Also is the playing field level for all councillors? One is raked over the coals, another is given a pass.

    • Dave Turner

      The two words “grassy knoll” come to mind.

      “One is raked over the coals, another is given a pass.” Apples and oranges.

      One deliberately broke the confidentiality rule and showed no remorse. The other inadvertently broke the confidentiality rule and immediately apologized.

      I recall you were very supportive of Councilor Stolte in her breaking confidentiality in the quest for transparency; and against her being sanctioned of a loss of pay.

      Are you now taking the direct opposite position ?

      A question I’d like to know the answer to is “who made the complaint to the Integrity Commissioner ?”. My money is on Demoe ! Now that would be a toxic move.

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