Town rejects FOI request

By Joanne McDonald

The Town of Grimsby has decided to “deny access in full” regarding NewsNow’s request for release of the investigative report dealing with alleged staff complaints about CAO Harry Schlange.

The complaint was initially filed June 12 and clerk Sarah Kim had informed NewsNow in a June 15 letter that a delay would ensue due to COVID-19 impacts.

“Therefore, although we will try our best to process the requests in a timely manner, it will take longer than usual,” wrote Kim.

A Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing spokesman noted the emergency Act cited by the Town allowing delays did not apply at the municipal level.

The Town’s response came three weeks later.

“A search has been conducted and the responsive record has been reviewed. A decision has been made to deny access in full pursuant to section 7, 12 and 14 of MFIPPA (Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act),” wrote Kim.
“You may request the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) to review this decision and fee within thirty days from the date of this letter…The appeal fee is $25.00 payable by cheque or money order to the Ministry of Finance and must be included with your correspondence.”

For the sheer need for transparency and accountability, NewsNow publisher Mike Williscraft said the Town’s decision will definitely be appealed.

“I fully understand what some of the content includes having had direct conversations with Town staff as far back as Fall 2019. There would be some information which should absolutely be redacted from anything released,” said Williscraft.

“However, much of that document would and should be open to public scrutiny.”

As an example, Williscraft cited the censure which five councillors voted in favour of after Mayor Jeff Jordan acted by putting Schlange on administrative leave pending the investigation.

“That would almost assuredly have been part of the independent investigator’s research. When the five councillors stepped in there and forced the mayor to apologize, what did the investigator find there?” asked Williscraft rhetorically.

“Publicly, we know the mayor consulted with two lawyers, general counsel and a labour law specialist before acting. The public should know if there were any findings. That is just one example.”

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