Early on in the Adelaide ERT process I had asked that the ERT allow for video recording of the public hearing. My reasons were laid out in a letter to the Accessibility Coordinator. The recommendation from the ERT chair was that I write a request to the ERT for the person with the disability, and then NextEra and the MOE could file their ‘response/attack’ in return, and I could respond again.
What struck as wrong about this is that if a person was asking for accommodation for a wheelchair to get into the hearing….would they have to argue it out publicly with Nexterror? No. So I refused to send a request to Nexterror and the MOE. And I wrote the Accessibility Coordinator again, including a doctors note for the individual with the disability, and asked again that the person be accommodated. I also repeatedly asked that the person be treated with dignity and respect and that this information should not be hashed out in public hearings/teleconferences. This was all for naught.
In a telconfrence this past Wednesday the issue was brought up by the Chair, as it hadn’t been clearly dealt with.
Here’s how it went:
Dirk Vanderbent (ERT Chair) – Ms. Wrightman I understand that you have made a request to video-tape the hearing.
Esther Wrightman (appellant) – Yes
DVB – That was reviewed by vice-chair Muldoon and he’ll be providing a decision on that. I believe it will be today. I don’t really know anything about it. I can’t comment on it.
Dennis Mahoney (NextEra lawyer from Tory’s) – So Mr. Vanderbent I’m sorry, I missed a piece of that – my phone… Did you say something about – does this have to do with video-taping the proceedings
DVB – Yes.
DM – Ok, if you check in with Mr. Muldoon, that the application for that was to be provided to the Tribunal and all the parties on Oct 3 by …
EW – We’re skipping that.
DM – Ms.Wrightman, let me finish please. That there would then be an opportunity for everyone to make submissions. It seems to be that process has been skipped and I’d like to understand why.
DVB – OK , all I can do at this point is speak with the people and what I hear from you and see where we go with that from there.
EW – Asking for accessibility for accommodation for disability, is not something that needs to be picked apart by third parties. I’m quite certain of that. If it was wheelchair accessibility or anything like that it would be the same . I wouldn’t have to argue with Nextera and the MOE to require that.
DVB – What you’re saying then is your request is an accessibility request only.
EW – Absolutely.
DVB – The only other thing – I knew there was an issue with the accessibility request. The information I have says you were given a response on the accessibility request.
EW – And what was that response – that we’re allowed to?
DVB – Quite frankly I don’t have that information. So, we’re going to need to clarify that. I thought this would be a little shorter, but that’s not going to happen.
DM – Mr. Vanderbent, let me try to place this in a proper place on a priority list from your perspective. We’re going to have to seek instructions if we hear that some sort of order or direction has been made that this proceeding is going to be video-taped. And it’s been done over our express objection and a confirmation from Mr. Muldoon that we would have the opportunity first to make submissions. So if we hear that in fact some other process has been followed and that starting Tuesday morning there’s going to be a video camera taping these proceedings, we’re going to have to seek instructions, sir. I think this is going to take the hearing right off the rails and we may have to make a court application. We consider this to be an extremely important matter, fundamental to the process. We made that submission sir on Sept. 24 at the preliminary hearing Mr.Muldoon agreed with it. He said there would be an opportunity to make submissions. And on the conference call Mr. Muldoon participated in, (he) set a schedule for those submissions. And what seems to be happening is that we have a process which has been completely skipped. That in our submission would be a denial of natural justice and procedural fairness – a very explicit denial…
DVB – The first thing may be – I would like to confirm what’s going on. It may be that what I said is a misunderstanding of what’s happening. I hear what you’re saying and what I’m going undertake to do is get some clarification – something I can e-mail to all the parties.
DM – That’s fair enough Mr. Vanderbent, I didn’t want you to get out of this phone call thinking this was a minor matter. From our perspective it’s a very fundamental matter and we have said that repeatedly.
DVB – I understand your point. Ms.Wrightman, you were going to say something.
EW – Right, and from my standpoint it is as well, and I will fight this to the end. I see this as an issue that needs to be taken and considered seriously. Fundamental to Nextera’s lawyers – sure. We’re the people who need to hear and I’m not going to discuss a disability any further, because this is a private and confidential matter that needs to be treated that way. I don’t want to do it in teleconferences. I don’t want to do it in public hearings. I would like it to be the people, the ERT panel and the ERT in general, the ELTO.
A day after, the ERT issued this public order (so much for private and confidential…so now that it’s ‘out there’, we may as well discuss it:
So I’m left to wonder – What comes first : the ability for the public to participate in these hearings, or the wants of the Big lawyers, who threaten the ERT with lawsuits? And why does Nexterror and the MOE protest so much to the filming of a public hearing when they have their own court reporter typing every word said anyways? I’ll post the letter received last Friday that somewhat answers these questions from their view….not well though.