June 11, 2021 (2.5 Minute Read)
It was an interesting week at City Hall. City Councillor Jeff Bowman continues to remain silent amidst calls from community leaders to formally apologize. And in a cybersecurity breach, a former city staffer is criminally charged by Peel Region Police Services.
Councillor Jeff Bowman
City Council established a Committee to review their Procedural Bylaw. This bylaw is a requirement of the Municipal Act, where each municipality in Ontario must establish the rules in conducting Council and Committee meetings. Part of the rules includes how to receive a delegation from the public for civic engagement.
During committee deliberations, Councillor Bowman made the following comments:
“…The delegations have just multiplied since 2014, it seems in every single meeting, now we’re up to, sometimes, 15 to 20 delegates on a single item, which really extends the meeting…”
“…The other thing, Peter (Regional Clerk) is there a limit to the number of times a person can delegate at the same meeting? I mean, we had a meeting a couple of weeks ago, and Sylvia delegated three times, on three different topics…”
“…We have delegates who come to Council, and then the same delegates come to Committee, with the same delegation, with the same presentation…it extends the meeting, there is really nothing new, and I don’t know if there are rules governing if you can delegate the same delegation about the exact same subject, more than once…”
“As we look at moving forward, I think delegations, whether we limit them to the 5 minutes, whether we have a limited discussion, I don’t know what we can do, but I’m open to hear any other suggestions from anyone else”
After hearing these comments, community leaders have expressed their outrage.
Jotvinder Sodhi, is a community leader and Founder of the Home Owners Welfare Association (HOWA). The community group was formed to create awareness of the fundamental rights of Citizens and often delegates to municipalities, school and police boards. Sodhi writes, “Blocking independent delegations who provide improvement suggestions which (COUNCIL NEVER CONSIDER VALUABLE) considered as attack on freedom of speech/expression of taxpayers who contribute towards salaries and lavish perks at city hall…”
Host of Straight Talk on PTN24, Canada’s first Punjabi television channel, Sukhjot Naroo, writes, “In previous council Jotvinder Sodhi was personally attacked (and) threatened by a Mayor/Councillor for delegating too aggressively and I do remember that the Mayor then tried to bring a resolution to bar press”, he continues, “We don’t need another autocrat councillor”.
Andrew deGroot of One Brampton writes, “It was very disappointing that Councillor Bowman would discourage oversight and community engagement. Public participation is an important part of the public discourse and is intended to hold our public servants to account for their actions. Instead of demoralizing community activists like Sylvia Roberts councillors should welcome their participation and encourage others. A healthy city would have 20-30 Sylvias, not try to limit them. “
To date, Councillor Bowman has yet to comment on his stated position. He simply offered frequent delegator, Sylvia Roberts, a private apology.
On June 8th, the City of Brampton issued a media release updating residents on one of their cybersecurity breaches. The city statement includes, “Pars (Paris) Metropoulos was arrested and charged with one count of Interception of Communication contrary to Section 184(1) of the Criminal Code.”
Sources to the Bramptonist, have advised, that Council was informed this week that Pars Metropoulos (former Senior Manager, Digital Innovation & Information Technology – Core Infrastructure at the City of Brampton) was attempting to access Teramind. The software is used to track all user activity for apps, websites, emails, networks etc. while employees are at work. The software also provides a behavioural baseline for users, department or the entire organization taking into account a user’s activity (i.e. how many times a user accessed a file), data pattern (file type, source, category etc.), entity role (application, access level, domain etc.) and other attributes (i.e. time of day, schedule, assigned project).
What remains outstanding is: why was the Teramind software installed in the City, who authorized the installation, and who was being monitored? Was the Mayor being monitored? Councillors? Staff? or All of the above?
As an employee, Metropoulos reported to the Chief Information Officer Katherine Kulson, who in turn, reported to Commissioner of Corporate Services Joe Pittari. All three are no longer with the City of Brampton. Further, all three were initially hired during the tenure of former CAO Harry Schlange.