Who said what when about that $500,000 budgeted for the Ontario Land Tribunal appeal over the Waterfront Hotel site development

By Pepper Parr

September 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Last week there was a meeting of the Burlington Downtown Business Association Board. Brian Dean, Executive Director of the BDBA had invited the candidates for the ward 2 Council see to observe the meeting.

Lisa Kearns was there as both a candidate and the city liaison to the BDBA.

Lisa Kearns before she was elected to City Council

During the meeting Lisa Kearns said that the city had budgeted $500,000 to defend the development application appeal made to the Ontario Land Tribunal by the  owners of the Waterfront Hotel.

The information was confidential and Kearns new full well that it was confidential. Quite why she brought the mater up at all is not clear. The event was a virtual meeting and it is not clear if the BDBA has a copy.

What is nevertheless very very clear is that Kearns made public information that had been discussed in a CLOSED portion of a council meeting.

This matter is on the City Council agenda for tomorrow, Tuesday September 20th under the Urgent Business category.

It is important for the public what took place between the BDBA meeting and the Council meeting is to take place on Tuesday.

The following is the email traffic between Pepper Parr and Lisa Kearns on Thursday, September 16th, 2022

Lisa to Parr
Can you please NOT print anything right now about 2020 Lakeshore. Or take it down asap.
I will explain.

 

From: Lisa Kearns [mailto:kearns_
Sent: September 15, 2022 11:55 AM
To: Pepper Parr <publisher@bgzt.ca> Subject: KEITHS COMMENTS PEASE TAKE IT DOWN
Parr:
Keith who?

 

Parr to Lisa
Hey hey hey.

You can’t ask me to take down a comment made by someone running against you.

I need something in the way of a reason,

I am here for the next while

905-462-1948

 

Keith Demoe, candidate for ward 2 council seat

Lisa to Parr
From: Lisa Kearns @hotmail.com]
Sent: September 15, 2022 12:00 PM
To: Pepper Parr <publisher@bgzt.ca> Subject: URGENT

There is a comment published under the Keith Demoe article by him
PLEASE remove it.
I swear i will explain everything just please take it down.

This email was sent after a conversation with Keith Demoe a candidate for the ward 2 council seat
The ward 2 Councillor is Lisa Kearns.

Pepper Parr to Lisa Kearns
Thursday, September 15th, 2022 12:53
My understanding is that KD attended a meeting
He was there as an observer
He heard someone say (turns out it was you) that the amount of money the city is spending on a legal matter

He wrote a comment in the gazette which I approved.

You have asked that I remove the comment because you feel that the information being public will harm the city or that the information will harm a legal situation.

I don’t think that is enough to remove a comment the man made. If the information were false – it could be removed. But it apparently isn’t false.

You want it removed because you have broken a rule. That is unfortunate but the information relates to a public matter and the public is entitled to know the information.

Counsel for us (RossMcBride) is not available – he will get back to me as soon as he is available.

I don’t understand where the damage is being done.

I don’t understand why you have not reached out to KD and explained what he has done.
Pepper

During a telephone call with Lisa Kearns that took place after her frantic emails were sent Lisa said she was with City Manager Tim Commisso.  Kearns said City Solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol was also in the conversation.  I did hear Commisso make a couple of remarks

From Pepper Parr to Lisa Kearns
Friday September 15th

The following is written and conveyed to you WITHOUT PREJUDICE

I have not had a chance to speak to counsel.

I am not a party to sharing information that you claim is confidential.
I published a comment made by someone who participated in a Zoom call that you were in on.

It was not a private meeting

During that call, you are reported to have said, when asked, how much of the $500k has been spent – you replied that the number is confidential.

You apparently did not say that the $500k was confidential.

We will obtain an affidavit to that effect later this week.

The wording in this most recent email from you, which is in this thread smacks of support you have received from either the City Solicitor or the City Manager.

Pepper Parr
Publisher
Burlington Gazette
publisher@bgzt.ca

 

From: Lisa Kearns
Sent: September 15, 2022 1:11 PM
To: Pepper Parr <publisher@bgzt.ca> Subject: Clarity.

I asked you to not be a party to sharing information that is confidential and was obtained in a confidential environment.

The other matters will be dealt with in the appropriate forums in due course.

.

There was nothing else – other than the mention of a candidate (Ward 3 Jennifer Hounslow) attending a council standing committee.

Brian Dean

After talking to Keith Demoe and Lisa Kearns, the Gazette called Brian Dean, Executive Director of the Burlington Downtown Business Association and learned that the meeting at which the $500,000 comments was made was a meeting of the BDBA board.

Dean explained that it was the practice of the BDBA bard to invite all the ward 2 Council candidates to take part in the meeting. They were there as observers in what was a Zoom call.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns was also taking part as the city liaison person with the BDBA

Dean said that those taking part in the virtual meeting were not cautioned that the discussions were confidential. Dean explained that the members of the Board knew that the meetings were confidential – the observers would not have known that.

Shortly after the close of the meeting, BDBA Chair of the Board Bill Wodhams, who happens to practice law at Stoner & Company Family Law Associates sent the following to Keith Demoe and Tim O’Brien.

It read:

On behalf of the Board I would like to thank all copied for attending our meeting of Wednesday September 14th, 2022.

Mr. DeMoe and Mr. O’Brien, as observers to this morning’s meeting I want to extend to you both an appreciation of the rules that govern our conduct as Board Directors. Guided by both our BDBA Constitution and Code of Conduct each Director acknowledges that the content of our Board meetings is deemed confidential until which time an approved set of meeting minutes make it a matter of public record. In other words, each Director agrees that “all discussion, presentations, motions and business before the Board as set out in the Agenda is to remain confidential until meeting minutes are ratified”.

As observers to our meeting we ascribe these same expectations to you.

None of the contents from the meeting of September 14th, 2022 are to be shared with the broader public in any way. The official meeting minutes are the sole record of board deliberations. Our Executive Director will share them with all copied as a courtesy once approved.

If you have any questions about Board policy and procedure please contact our Executive Director, Brian Dean: brian@burlingtondowntown.ca
Thank you Respectfully,
BW, Chair
BDBA Board of Directors

Both Demoe and O’Brien thought they were getting a letter from a law firm representing either the BDBA or the City of Burlington. It caused them some concern for a short period of time,

The Gazette found that there is now an item, Under Urgent Business on the Council agenda and believes it is important the citizens understand what did take place and the manner in which Councillor Kearns wanted information kept from the public that she had foolishly made public.

The Genie doesn’t get put back in the bottle.

Related news stories.

Urgent business

Ward 2 candidate Keith Demoe

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3 comments to Who said what when about that $500,000 budgeted for the Ontario Land Tribunal appeal over the Waterfront Hotel site development

  • Cathy

    I’ve been critical of the Gazette’s articles in the past, but this is an excellent journalistic story that must be told. We must credit to the Gazette for taking a principled approach to responding to Kearns.

    This story underlines Kearns mercurial nature and poor judgement.

    Bottom line, she should not have revealed privileged information.

    She should not have asked the Gazette to conceal her breach of confidential information (As they say, the cover-up can be worse than the crime).

    She undermined her city hall colleagues by allowing the Gazette to hear a staff conversation where they were attempting to clean up her mess.

    Her panicked emails to the Gazette, doesn’t reflect well on her. She didn’t even have the sense to tell the Gazette her communications were off the record.

    And by the way, I’m not impressed with the BDBA board chair. His conduct is heavy-handed. The observers are not obliged to the maintain confidentiality, unless they had earlier signed a legal non-disclosure agreement.

    Furthermore, that the BDBA board meetings are confidential doesn’t let Kearns off the hook. Council had not waived privilege on this information, and she has no authority to unilaterally share it outside of the closed door city council meetings with the city solicitor. This is as bad an argument as Trump’s claim that he has the power to unilaterally de-classify top secret information.

    • Mary Hill

      You say “This is as bad an argument as Trump’s claim that he has the power to unilaterally de-classify top secret information.”

      Well that just goes to show how much you know

      Trump, as President, did have that power. But to exercise it he had to have any declassification contemporaneously memorialized in writing and witnessed by individuals present at that time. The declassification would have had to have been taken whilst he was still President.

      .

  • Alfred

    There are 50 of these appeals that Lisa and the Mayor have caused before the OLT. At $500 thousand a pop they will bankrupt the City so they can get re-elected on the sheer volume of uninformed people and Nimby’s in this community. Really she came out and said that before an election?

    She then must know how many 10’s of millions of dollars that the City will lose fighting all these battles that they will surely lose. The ECOB group and Downtown Nimby’s are costing the rest of us Burlington taxpayers a fortune, with nothing to show for it.

    Pepper. You may want to ask her what the tab to the taxpayers will be for all these appeals.

    I think she will run the next time she spots you. Keep up the good work.

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