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Thursday, January 15, 2015

CFAX lays out devastating editorial of Saanich Council

On CFAX at 2:30 today Ian Jessop laid out a devastating critique of Saanich Council especially the dishonest conduct of Councillors Susan Brice and Judy Brownoff the transcript is a must read:
Here is the transcript of Ian Jessop's editorial:
Atwell Editorial
January 15, 2015
The more information members of Saanich Council release about their new mayor, Richard Atwell, the deeper they sink into the excrement of their own making.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts of this controversy and ask some very basic questions that have yet to be answered. First the issue of spyware.
In a news release yesterday, BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham points out there are two types of system monitoring of employees: overt and covert. She states, “Overt monitoring is done with the knowledge of the employees and is typically described as an organization’s acceptable use policies. Employees are notified of these policies on their first day of work, or if it’s a new policy, before monitoring takes effect.” She goes on to say, ”covert monitoring could take the form of tracking Internet use, logging keystrokes or taking screen captures at set intervals as part of ongoing monitoring.” That’s exactly the spyware that has been employed by the District of Saanich.
As the Privacy Commissioner points out, “there have been no cases brought before this Office where covert monitoring was found to be justified under privacy law.”

The City of Victoria said it does not use the program that Saanich uses, Spector 360, or any employee monitoring programs of this kind. It does have industry-standard firewalls but it does not track key strokes, search terms or where employees spend their time.
Neither Oak Bay nor Esquimalt senior managers responded to my question as to whether they use spyware.+
Members of Saanich council have been stumbling all over themselves trying to justify the installation of the spyware after the new mayor was elected. As veteran reporter Paul Wilcocks, a man of keen political insight, noted on his blog, it was a lame effort by councillors to justify it. “Weasel words and lack of clarity are warning signs in this kind of situation,“ said Wilcocks.
Here is a list of questions that have yet to answered.
Who ordered the spyware purchased?
Will Saanich release the purchase order?
Did the former Chief Administration Officer order its installation?
Why was the decision to install the spyware made after the election?
Will the municipality make public the memo ordering the installation of the spyware?
Whose computers were targeted?
Why were those computers targeted?
Mayor Atwell says 11 computers have the spyware on them. Why were these chosen?
Why only a limited number of computers?
Do members of council have spyware on their computers?
If the new Mayor did not sign the document alerting him to the spyware being installed, as alleged, doesn’t that mean he did not agree with the policy?
Why didn’t someone at Saanich Municipal Hall alert the mayor that he had not yet signed the form before giving him access to his municipal computer?
Two people can review the data captured – the Chief Administrative Officer and the Director of Corporate Services. Why would the Chief Administrative Officer want to spy on the Mayor?
Given the fact the spyware was ordered installed after former Mayor Frank Leonard lost the election, did its installation have to do with the fact that the CAO said he couldn’t work with Richard Atwell?
What is to be done with the information gathered?
What triggers an incident in which these two individuals who have access to the information can take a look at it?
Why does Saanich feel the need to use spyware when other municipalities do not? Was its firewall insufficient?
What does the spyware do that the enterprise firewall cannot do – besides spy on employees?
Last summer, there was a breach of the web services of the City of Victoria and Oak Bay. Was there a breach of Saanich’s web services?
Councillors have stumbled all over themselves in a lame attempt to justify the installation of the software; talking about what was discussed at in-camera meetings which are supposed to be secret.
Sanders stated, “The mayor raised the issue at an in-camera meeting and staff were able to explain exactly what it was. There was nothing about spying on employees.” Well Vicky, it is about spying on employees. How can you be so na├»ve to suggest that it is not?
Councillor Susan Brice is quoted as saying she can’t speak to any of Atwell’s concerns about spyware but she has total confidence in municipal equipment. What the hell does that mean; the equipment’s ability to spy?
Let’s leave the issue of the spyware and discuss Paul Murray, the former Chief Administrative Officer, who is alleged to have said before the municipal election that he couldn’t work with Richard Atwell.
The mayor of a municipality is the CEO – he or she is in charge. Any mayor will tell you that you need the confidence of Chief Administrative Officer, or City Manager, who closely works with you. That person is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the municipality while the mayor is responsible for the governance of the municipality. They’re a team and need to support each other in the important goals and objectives that council and its management team formulate. If the two of them don’t get along, one of them has to go and it’s certainly not the person elected by residents.
The City of Prince George just got rid of its city manager without the “hair on fire” response that Saanich Council has produced.
But the old guard at Saanich council doesn’t see it that way. They wanted their guy to remain because he knew was part of the entrenched group in Saanich that Richard Atwell wants to change.
Saanich Council agreed at an in-camera meeting to end the relationship with the Chief Administrative Officer but then turned around and condemned the mayor for something they agreed to. Does that make sense to you? If you didn’t agree with the mayor, then vote against him. Don’t be a hypocrite.
Council went on to complain that the $476,000 in severance is tax money that cannot be used for other initiatives of the municipality. What about the $16 million it has cost Saanich taxpayers so far in the sewage debacle that has very little, if anything, to show for it?
Councillors Judy Brownoff and Vicki Sanders never talk about that. Both are members of the sewage committee that has made some abysmal decisions over the years that have wasted millions of tax dollars. On that issue, both are conveniently silent.
As most people in this region are aware, Mayor Atwell has different views on sewage than Brownoff, Sanders and Susan Brice. None of them have ever had the guts to debate Atwell on this issue. Is Councillor Brownoff seeking revenge for having been asked to sept down from the CRD, as has been suggested by former Saanich councillor Carol Pickup?
Now let’s focus on Mayor Atwell.
My advice to him would be to drop the complaint about spyware that you announced yesterday to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. By continuing to pursue it, you just unnecessarily drag this out. Tell officials at municipal hall you want the spyware removed from your computer and to make sure it is. Bring in an outside expert of your choosing to make sure it’s gone. Without fanfare, quietly write a letter to the Privacy Commissioner asking her for her opinion on the spyware’s legality.
Secondly, it’s clearly evident that the police are targeting you; having stopped you four times since you announced your candidacy and not once in the previous seven years. The Saanich Police Association and the Saanich Firemen didn’t support you during the election because you want to include them in the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association. They don’t want to see an end to the sweetheart arrangement they had with your predecessor and his compliant council. My advice is to drop your complaint with the Integrated Road Safety Unit; it’s only going to further exacerbate your relationship with police; a relationship that appears to be beyond repair at this point.
Many successful politicians learn to handle difficult situations with stealth; without public fanfare. My advice to Mayor Atwell is to learn this skill. Learn to handle difficult situations in a quiet, authoritative manner. This will be made easier for you when you get a new Chief Administrative Officer; one you can trust and one who can cover your backside.
Finally, I would suggest you get some different advisors. You need people with keen political insight, people who have been in the trenches and know how to hang a political opponent without them knowing it. You haven’t learned that yet but you have to if you want to survive.
And to members of Saanich Council who are opposed to Richard being the new Mayor seeking change, I leave you with a great quote from Mark Twain; Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

Here is the link to broadcast it is at around the half hour mark https://soundcloud.com/ian-jessop-cfax/january-15-2pm

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