See, Hear, but share no evil

In addition to writing this blog to keep my neighbours informed about happenings on the west side of the downtown, the blog also serves to get our local issues out into the wider world.

I attend a number of Public Advisory Committees (PACs) for various transportation and planning studies. I share what I learn with my Dalhousie community association, the centretown community association, and anyone else keen enough on local issues to read. That does include some other media and politicians.

Everyone at City-run studies knows that I share the info. I make this clear when I start attending new study, because I don’t want to spill something that might be confidential or too speculative. Everyone has been cheerful about this so far. A few have given me direct encouragement since the story and subsequent comments give them feedback that they want to see. And a number of city staffers have said that without the blog they wouldn’t know what is going on in other areas because City Hall is totally silo’d and they only find out about what others are doing is from the (social and mainstream)media.

No doubt I sometimes misunderstand and misreport things. Certainly my postings have spin to them, after all, it is a personal vehicle and I make no pretence to be some sort of objective reporter.

But I was rather surprised by a recent development in the Ottawa Light Rail project. After attending a briefing, I asked for a copy of the slides. It means I can check my impressions afterwards, and I sometimes use some of the slides in the postings. The answer this time is I can only have them provided I sign a non-disclosure agreement binding on me, and, I guess, the community association I represent.

I currently have some inquiries in to see whether this prevents me from verbally reporting what is going on, or just using the slides to illustrate.

Cue: Deathstar Music.

Now I would like to point out that Darth Vader the civil servant whose name appears on the NDA is not the person who sent it, and indeed he may not have known it was going out (bet he does now…).

And I do wish it was written in plain English ™ so I could figure out what it says, since I am unlikely to engage a lawyer to tell me. Do lawyers really get off writing stuff like this?

Anyhow, one of the joys of dealing with the City is that the left hand often doesn’t know what the right is doing. In this case, someone else already sent me the slide deck. Without requiring an NDA. But I haven’t used it yet, because there is supposed to be a revised deck out by now, but whether or not I ever see it ….

4 thoughts on “See, Hear, but share no evil

  1. After a lot ot to’ing and fro’ing all day, this memo:
    After requesting a copy of a presentation given to the advisory group in which Mr. Darwin participates, it was suggested that Mr. Darwin may wish to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. This was done in error. The materials shown to City advisory groups are developed for the purpose of public consultation and are meant to be shared and commented upon. OLRT is currently engaged in a procurement process, whereby Non-Disclosure Agreement s are used, as set out by the Fairness Commissioner and Infrastructure Ontario (IO), for all individuals who will have access to information that could advantage or disadvantage private sector company who is bidding on the Light Rail project. This policy is in place to ensure that no company receives information that could advantage their submission and is a key element of ensuring a fair and competitive process. A staff member incorrectly applied this policy to the request of Mr. Darwin. Our office has contacted Mr. Darwin to apologize for the error. Please let me know if I can provide any further clarification

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