How City Hall refused to share information: We push for better transparency - your job is to demand it.

By Pepper Parr

May 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Every reporter strives for accuracy – they listen hard to what people are saying – waiting for that quote that just makes the story.

Accuracy matters – not as easy to get as people think.

Technology has made a big difference; it allows a reporter to capture what a person said and then transcribe it and use it in the copy being written.

As everyone knows – the technology can bite your bum.

The people best at getting what is said down perfectly are the Court reporters – they have a device that lets them capture what is said and instantly read it back

A number of years ago the City employed what would be the equivalent of a court reporter to capture what was said at Council meetings.

A Court Reporter with the transcribing equipment

The transcript produced was something the Gazette was very interested in getting a copy of.

We asked if we could have a copy.

We were told we couldn’t have the document which we thought was a public document.

We asked if we could buy a copy of the transcripts.

No the city wasn’t interested in doing that either.

We asked for the name of the company doing the work.  We thought we could buy the transcripts directly from them.

No – the city was not prepared to give us the name of the company that was doing the transcribing.

Kwab Ako-Ajei.,Director of Communications

All this back and forth was done by email with the Director of Communications Kwab Ako-Ajei. Director of Communications for the city.  Kwab reports directly to the City Manager.

Someone somewhere at city hall made the decision that the Gazette, a credentialed online newspaper, operating for more than ten years (longer than the people who have their fingers on the flow of news information to media have held their jobs), that the Gazette was not to be given access to the data they need to do their job effectively.

Council talks about the importance of media in the process of engaging the public. At one point the Mayor of the city publicly praised the Gazette for the job it was doing.

We may have done the job a little too well for some.

What to do?

Folks, Burlington is your city, your home.  You elect the government you get and they appoint the administrative leadership.

We push for better transparency – your job is to demand it.

Part 1 of the series

Part 2 of the series

 

 

 

 

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2 comments to How City Hall refused to share information: We push for better transparency – your job is to demand it.

  • Penny Hersh

    Many will remember when transparency was the promise of all the candidates running in the last Municipal election. Residents voted for a new model of transparency and input. Five new ward councillors along with a new mayor were elected and here we are again 4 years later asking for the same thing.

    The last 4 years have seen even less transparency which I find interesting because for the last 2 years Covid has restricted in person meetings and residents were more dependent in knowing what was happening in their City.

    How much more can residents do to demand better transparency? We voted in a new council in 2018.

    Residents have to remember that campaign promises do not necessarily result in change.

  • You are right it is our information and the public need to start hammering at it through our elected councillors. It is also governed by the Municipal Freedom of Information Act – file a complaint as long as it is a public meeting you are interested in.

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