While it should it be no surprise that a city run by a less than democratic council would prefer operating behind closed doors and in a heightened state of secrecy. What is surprising is how the secrecy is spreading across the city.
Last week’s revelation by the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association, as reported here by The Square, was most unrevealing. The association filed a Freedom of Information request with the City and has decided to pay some $11,000 for the opportunity to view, “… email and text messages, notes, and records between members of the city’s administrators and members of City Council pertaining to the decision to convert retail space in the garage to parking spaces.”
In a show of solidarity for transparency, the city should have released the requested information. It is why there is such a thing as Freedom of Information, even though the freedom comes with a price tag.
As The Square noted, the, “… city is now denying that the required search and detailed review of the documents has taken place and suggesting that administrators may decide to sever up to 75 per cent of the files from the request.”
To keep the information under lock and key the city is using technicalities, such as, “… sections 7, 10, and 14 of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to possibly deny providing the information. Those sections pertain to advice or recommendations, third party information, and personal privacy, respectively, however each section has exceptions.”
This is not acceptable and simply smacks of the city having something to hide. In politics, optics are everything.
It is also a sign of the times.
Even the judiciary is using the cover of closed doors to keep the public out of the picture of any challenge to the way the local municipality operates elections.
Last month, according to the official Superior Court docket, a session open to the public concerning a municipal matter. But, as soon as the public arrived along with the media, Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance, despite claiming to be a supporter of open courts and claiming it pained her, nonetheless ordered the courtroom cleared of the public.
These are two examples of how the pillars of our once prized democracy, open government and open courts, are being eroded.
How far will it go?