The City just issued a news release stating that the members of today's General Issues Committee voted not to proceed with the suspension of the Farmers' Market stallholder who was suspended for allegedly slapping a customer's hand. Instead, the stallholder will be issued a written warning.
Due to section 8.1 (b) of the City of Hamilton's Procedural By-Law [PDF link], the discussion was held in camera and personal details related to the incident cannot be disclosed. However, it most likely refers to the recent suspension of Ethilda "Tilly" Johnson, which has generated a lot of controversy since the Hamilton Spectator reported the incident.
The GIC committee passed the following motion today:
a) That the current complaint under the Zero Tolerance for Violence Policy in the Hamilton Farmers' Market be terminated;
b) That the stallholder be issued a written warning regarding future compliance under the Zero Tolerance for Violence Policy;
c) That a review be conducted of the process for enforcement of the Market By-law, the appeal process, the Stallholder Contract and the Zero Tolerance for Violence Policy with a report back to the Hamilton Farmers' Market Transition Sub-Committee.
Johnson refused to accept the suspension, arguing that she was never given an opportunity to defend herself against the claim or appeal the decision. She retained the services of a lawyer.
Joe-Anne Priel, General Manager of Community Services, is quoted in the City news release saying, "I want to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with our current Zero Tolerance Policy and its intent. However, there is a public perception that there may be procedural issues with enforcement."
Staff are reviewing the appeal mechanism and enforcement strategy "to ensure that the public has confidence in our process".
Council will receive this vote from the GIC, which includes every Councillor, and have a final chance to ratify the motion at a special June 6 meeting that was called specifically for this purpose.
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