Monday, August 30, 2010

Unravelling the 311 web: Part 2

My issues with 311 were moved up the chain of command quickly, following the weekend on Monday morning I was being dealt with by the Acting Manager of 311. This is where things go beyond eyebrow-raising.

Part 1 is here if you are interested.

Dear Mr. Hnatiuk,

I have received your email and wanted to take the opportunity to address each of your concerns, please see responses below.

1) All concerns regarding active transportation are directed to the Active transportation coordinator and from there directed accordingly. The role of the City Auditor is not to deal with public complaints.

2) We have investigated your concern and have confirmed RP followed all internal processes related to your inquiry. In cases where email inquires are forwarded directly to a department we do not provide reference numbers.
3) In order to protect the privacy of our employees, it is policy not to provide any personal information.

4) We take all violations of privacy breaches very seriously and investigate any complaints regarding potential violations. It is our belief that our CSR followed internal protocol. If you still have concerns that your privacy as been breached you can contact the Ombudsman related to your privacy concern.

We appreciate all feedback and hope that we have addressed your concerns.


Joel Knockaert
Acting 311 Contact Centre Manager
City of Winnipeg

Yikes, ya hear that? That's the sound of stone-cold lying. According to 311, the Auditor is not to accept complaints from the public. I promptly checked the City of Winnipeg website as I did not believe it, and you can too if you don't, and we all know where this is going: the City Auditor does in fact accept requests such as mine.

311 lied? It can't be. Have you phoned 311? I challenge you to do so. Ask them something you KNOW the answer to. They will say “one second, sir/ma'am,” and you can hear them typing. The sound of them typing, is the sound of them typing a search query into the City of Winnipeg website. 311 is supposed to provide this information, there is absolutely no mistake here. The hypothesis at this point is: the Acting Manager decided that his best action would be to lie to me.

I also find it funny that they supposedly investigated my concerns internally with “Mr Undisclosed”. This would not be the last time 311 tried this one with me, either. Bold move to play the Ombudsman card so soon. I have serious issues with the way the Acting Manager is acting, and the first chance he gets, he basically tells me to piss off and go to the Ombudsman. You know, in case I don't like his political interference and providing false information/lying to me.

Okay, this should be simple.

Dear Joel:

I am following up for clarification.

You wrote that the City Auditor's role is to not deal with public complaints. However the City's website says the auditor's job includes the following:

To examine problem areas, within the capabilities of the audit department, which are brought to the Auditor's attention by taxpayers.

Can you explain why your decision contradicts what the City website says?


Simple, simple. Like I said.

I'll note that it took him more than a day to answer this question. Ombudsman didn't work, I'm not going away. Now the stalling card, using up the allotted 48 hour window 311 upholds.


24 hours is more than enough to answer this simple question. Yet it only took 4 hours to divert my complaint for the Auditor. What is taking so long?


Ah, that's better.

Mr Hnatiuk;

Thank you for your reply. I understand why you are characterizing my response to you as contradictory with the website information. Allow me to take this opportunity to clarify.

While a body like Ombudsman Manitoba is mandated by statute to follow a prescribed process with each and every complaint received, the Audit Department of the City of Winnipeg is not. The Auditor is not bound to initiate any particular process merely on the basis of a complaint received by a citizen. Having said that, the Auditor will certainly receive your complaint as information, and will determine internally what, if any, response is required by him.

Given that you wish to have your complaint considered by the Auditor, I encourage you to contact him directly:

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Yours truly,


Wait, what? Didn't he just tell me the Auditor can't accept complaints from the public? Now he's telling me the Auditor CERTAINLY WILL accept it. Not only that, but he gives me the address to contact the Auditor myself.

Well, thanks. So, I could have done this in the first place, is what he's telling me. I could have done this, not gone through 311. Yeah laziness on my part, I just figured the Auditor's info wouldn't be so readily available.

Joel's bottom line: YOU can email the Auditor, but 311 can't.

What a tangled web we weave when we lie and try to spin people around, eh. You know, I really don't get why there's so much dishonesty. Something has to be going on here. It took awhile to compile the next email as I just could not believe what I was reading.

I'll stick this in here first though. Councillor Jeff Browaty contacted the Auditor on my behalf. Here's what the Deputy City Auditor had to say.

Good afternoon Councillor,

Regarding the first question you posed to Brian, yes, citizens are allowed to bring concerns directly to the attention of the City Auditor.

I really don't need to post the rest of that email. Back to 311's Acting Manager.


Far from clarification, your response only aggravated and elevated the problem I have with 311.

My request was simple: Please explain why you gave me false information regarding the office of the City Auditor in order to justify intercepting private communication to that office and circling it within the city bureaucracy?

In your reply, you delivered a homily about the provincial auditor followed by your permission to contact the city auditor. I do not require your permission to speak to anyone in the city administration.

I am still waiting for an answer from you to my question -- why are you contradicting the information on the City of Winnipeg website regarding the city auditor's relationship with the public? 311 was designed as a buffer between the public and the administration. Knowing that I sent a message to 311 in good faith to be passed along to the City Auditor. Instead, it was diverted by 311 to another bureaucrat for whom it was not intended and who had no right to see it.

You wrote:

1) All concerns regarding active transportation are directed to the Active transportation coordinator and from there directed accordingly. The role of the City Auditor is not to deal with public complaints.

I'm betting man, and I bet the City of Winnipeg does not have a bylaw requiring all citizen inquiries about Active Transportation to be sent to the AT coordinator. Under what pretense did 311 divert my email to the Auditor? Is there a written directive? Signed by whom? If there is, you will have no difficulty providing me with a copy.

As for the role of the city auditor;

The city website reads:

"The mandate of the department with the addition of the Chief Performance Officer role is as follows:
To examine problem areas, within the capabilities of the Audit Department, which are brought to the Auditors attention by taxpayers, department heads, employees, Council, Standing Committees of Council, members of Council and the CAO."

That could not be any clearer. Taxpayers can bring problems to the attention of the auditor general. Yet even in your latest response to me, you continue to contradict the city website by saying:

"While a body like Ombudsman Manitoba is mandated by statute to follow a prescribed process with each and every complaint received, the Audit Department of the City of Winnipeg is not."

Please read the city website again, especially the part that says "The mandate of the as follows: to examine problem areas...which are brought to the Auditor attention by taxpayers (and others)."

In short, your excuse for intercepting and diverting my email to the City Auditor is bogus. Your explanation on why this could not be sent to the Auditor is not acceptable and is an outright lie. Are you claiming to speak on behalf of the auditor? My understanding from information posted on the city website is that the City Auditor is an independent office and not under your control. By what authority are you intercepting private communications to him? By what authority are you able to judge which department an inquiry goes to, despite being addressed to a specific person in a specific department?

By doing so you violated my privacy. You sent my private communication to the AT coordinator who has no right to know what I am discussing with the City Auditor. Furthermore, you continue to refuse to provide me with the name of the Privacy Officer/Coordinator within 311, which is a further violation of the Privacy Act. Urging me to contact the Provincial Ombudsman is an attempt to detach 311 of any responsibility of dealing with my legitimate concerns and unanswered questions.

Your response hardly skims the surface of my complaints with 311. I await your reply.

Graham Hnatiuk

I'll interject again: I feel insulted by the way I was being answered. The quality of my writing would suggest that 311 is not dealing with a dummy, or just some guy phoning 311 about his water metre. I hope it is abundantly clear that I have some knowledge about civics.

Mr. Hnatiuk,

You have indicated that you wish to file a formal complaint that your privacy rights have been violated by 311. In encouraging you to contact the provincial Ombudsman, I was simply attempting to advise you of the process prescribed by law. As you may be aware, s.59(3) of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act provides for the handling complaints such as yours:

“59(3) An individual who believes that his or her own personal information has been collected, used or disclosed in violation of Part 3 may make a complaint to the Ombudsman.“

Should you prefer to direct your complaint to someone within the City of Winnipeg organization, I encourage you to contact Linda Black, Director, Corporate Support Services (the Department within which the 311 Contact Centre resides organizationally).

Pursuant to s.1(1) of the City of Winnipeg Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act By-law:

“1(1) The director of each department of the City is hereby designated as the head of the local public body for The City of Winnipeg for their department for the purposes of the Act.”

Ms. Black can be reached as follows:

Phone: (204)986-2379
Fax: (204)986-5966

As you have clearly been dissatisfied with the responses I have provided you thus far, I encourage you to contact the aforementioned persons. It is not my intention to continue this correspondence directly with you any further, as it is clearly not providing you with the results you seek.

Yours truly,


Thus far, we have the following cards in play:

1. Deflect responsibility (Ombudsman).
2. Lie/provide false information (spin).
3. Stall (delay so citizen will give up).
4. Justify actions (it's not our fault).
5. Pass the buck (send citizen to next bureaucrat).

Again, the dishonesty. Why lie to someone, then contradict yourself, and then just plain dodge the whole issue. By the time the Acting Manager was at the “dodge citizen” stage, he was passing the buck.

I like that last paragraph the best. As you have clearly been dissatisfied with the responses I have provided you thus far... Is this surprising to you? Is it that hard to admit you were wrong? Or that you failed? Is it that hard then, as a public servant, to work towards rectifying the problem? Damn rights I'm dissatisfied with lying, trying to confuse me, deflecting responsibility for wrongdoings, and then passing me along to your superior.

Well, Linda Black is on vacation. Part 3 will be the correspondence between Ms Black's deputy. How far do people go to protect and defend one of their own? Will ANYbody in this chain of command look at my issues and questions and say, “hey, this isn't right you guys...”

In my job, or past jobs, my superiors would not sit by and defend me if I screwed up. I know this because I've screwed up before, and in more than one job. I'd like to think most people have, when you get on to a job and after a while, after your learning curve, people kind of expect you to do things the right way. Apologies are in line, lessons are learned, and if you screw up bad enough you get fired. I've seen people lose their jobs over far, far less than what these series of emails show.

There's just a level of competence employers are willing to accept, and a line that if you should cross, most employers are not willing to accept. The same of course, cannot be expected of civic government. Wishful thinking at it's best.


Gordon said...

Mr. Hnatiuk why ae you so obessed with active transprtation on Assiniboine Avenue and whether your privacy rights have been violated. You don even live in the area that's being talked about in you blog. Your a trouble maker and agitator why don't you give it a rest and get a life you loser and stop you complaining.

The Great Canadian Talk Show said...

The traffic jam on Assiniboine and Edmonton yesterday and today which is the result of the lack of proper neighbourhood consultation and the city catering instead to the 100 hard-core anti-car lefties of the bike lobby, will be highlighted on TGCTS today at 4 PM.

And also an email to the Mayor from an area business to stop construction on exactly that basis.

Good times all week with this story.

einstein said...

Dear Gordon, you are obviously an asshole and a moron. You probably work for 311 or active transportation. You sound like you would feel right at home in North Korea!! I encourage you to relocate there.We need more people like Mr. Hnatiuk to take an interest in The abysmal state of our city.

The Great Canadian Talk Show said...

Gordon is also known as Greg, Crystal, Jack, Vincent and I think one more.

Gordon said...

I do not work for 311 or anything involving active transportation, so I will ignore that response and I don't work for government either I work for one of the big media companies in the city. As for those who say I'am known as Greg, Crystal, Jack, Vincent this is completly false. I just think cars are a waste and haven't been in one in 15 years, I bus everywhere and don't bike.

The Great Canadian Talk Show said...

You are a liar. Multiple harassing emails to Graham and others proves it. The same sentences with the same mis-spellings, the same themes, the same insults, ad nauseum, from multiple ID's.

einstein said...

Gordon you are so full of poop, that my nice lcd screen actually reeks of your bullshit!! That you have a job at all (except maybe as an ineffectual court jester) I find quite surprising.I think you are the agitator, and a rather stupid one at that!!