City co-opting the Ombudsman Office
Our Ombudsmen were, in the past, volunteers; the next one is to be salaried. His or her assistants will, likely, also wish to be remunerated. So will the lawyers that the Mayor thinks the Office will need, if Gatineau is to be considered important. And all these will doubtless need additional support staff. So, what was once an Office will grow into a department .... all to be done within the existing budget, we’re assured.
One of the basest accusations levelled against the Ombudsman’s Office, by the auditor, was its inability to deal adequately with the number of complaints it received. Truth is, most of the problems were dealt with thoroughly and expeditiously. The few the Office was forced to spend an inordinate amount of time on .... and had finally to draft a scalding report on .... involved a singular lack-of-cooperation on the part of elected officials and the City’s administrative personnel: stalling and refusing to accept blame for negligence and ineptitude, in files of marked importance.
What galled the City, and brought out the knives, was that a principled, diligent, and responsible Ombudsman’s Office put the City’s feet to the fire. When their patience had worn out, they complained publicly, on our behalf, for certain issues to be addressed or redressed. They dared to point out that we were being ill served by our elected and non-elected officials.
The City, humiliated, now wants the Ombudsman’s Office to be part of the administrative bureaucracy: salaried, beholden, and wary about what, to whom, when, and how they should complain. No more will the City risk having independent volunteers looking into what they do. Henceforth, the Ombudsman’s Office will speak truth-to-power, only after Council and the upper crust of the City’s mandarinate have authorized what truth is to be spoken publicly. It is to weep.