After using a quasi-judicial process to reprimand a volunteer citizen, will Council seek balanced justice to deal with whoever published the motion on the City website?
By Graham Crawford
Published October 02, 2020
Many members of Hamilton City Council were very vocal in their condemnation of actions they say Cameron Kroetsch took that were worthy of an investigation by the City's Integrity Commissioner, Principles Integrity.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger was one of the lead voices calling for a strong reprimand in order to not embolden others to speak out or to take actions deemed inappropriate by the City Clerk.
As Council knows, Mr. Kroetsch did not reveal the names of the individuals that became the focus of their concerns when he posted a tweet on his personal Twitter account that revealed only positions, not names.
However, the City did reveal those names on their own website in the section that includes the Hamilton Police Services (HPS) Board minutes. A fully unredacted motion, revealing both names and position titles, has been publicly accessible on the City's website since 2019.
When this was brought to the attention of the Integrity Commissioner by Mr. Kroetsch in writing a month ago, the IC chose to do nothing with this information. Principles Integrity told neither City staff, nor Council when they presented to Council on September 30. At the time, Councillors hay have been unaware of the unredacted post. Now they are aware.
After I, and others, brought this to the attention of the City and, in my case, Ward 9 Councillor Brad Clark during the day, the City of Hamilton later removed their privacy breach motion and replaced it with a redacted version, with no comment.
That leaves me with a number of important questions.
Who told City staff of the problem?
Who made the decision to delete the unredacted motion and replace it with a redacted version?
What does Council intend to do about the significantly more egregious breach of privacy through publishing private information?
Will this lead to launching an investigation using the Office of the Integrity Commissioner?
Will Council vote to reprimand City staff to ensure they are no emboldened to make such egregious mistakes in the future?
Will the Mayor release a statement to the media apologizing for the breach, since a media statement was released reprimanding Mr. Kroetsch?
Will official apologies be sent the two people named by staff in the unredacted motion posted on the City's website?
I have asked that the City provide a timely response to these questions.
As Council is well aware, this issue has been made much greater through their actions your comments, and as recently as September, a series of threatening tweets by Ward 14 Councillor Terry Whitehead to the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion.
Many in our community, and most particularly those in my own LGBTQ+ community, are feeling attacked by our leaders. If Council is going to use a quasi-judicial process to reprimand a volunteer citizen, surely they will seek balanced justice in order to deal with a paid staff member who committed a much worse infraction than did Mr. Kroetsch.
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