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Visitor secretly records Mayor during meeting

A visitor surreptitiously recorded a video of a meeting with Mayor Doug Martin in his town hall office.

The video was posted on YouTube by a blogger who has engaged in a four-year long campaign to embarrass and harass Martin and most members of council except Ann-Marie Noyes and Bob Steckley.

The blogger, Sharon Bowers, an American citizen living in Ridgeway, has also written extensively about broad conspiracies involving public officials and private citizens, unsubstantiated criminal activities and vicious comment on innocent members of the general public.

She also writes about her BFF — webspeak for Best Friend Forever — who is the mother of Tom Lewis whom Martin defeated in the last municipal election.

Bowers also ran a restaurant business in Crystal Beach this summer with John Papadakis who was also defeated by Martin in the 2006 mayoral election and who is currently running for election in Ward 5.

In the video Martin tells the woman who purported to be someone looking to move to Fort Erie, that Douglas Memorial Hospital has not closed and that exaggerations about this by the Yellow Shirts is hindering progress in re-establishing full primary emergency and surgical facilities at the hospital.

A publicity campaign will begin this spring with the message that the hospital can still take care of most patients, but “if we don’t use it, we are going to lose it, so keep using it.”

Bowers posted on her blog Thursday morning, “While Martin continues his daily routine, there are people working diligently behind the scenes to destroy his and the other chosen ones’ opponents in the coming election.”

She explains further: “I am only trying to even the playing field so that the voters of Fort Erie can make a fully informed decision.”

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  1. Anonymous | Sep 17, 2010 | Reply

    Someone that has been diagnosed with a mental illness is most likely managing their disorder under physicians care, medication and or therapy to stabilize the imbalance.
    Treatment paired with awareness makes for normal, sane and calculated perceptions and actions derived NOT from distorted thinking, but rather from personal experiences, established morals and values.
    Alcohol, on the other hand, CREATES temporary to permanent imbalance, depending on the level of abuse.
    As for Martin wanting the Yellow Shirts to back off, I dare him to announce his request publicly.

  2. Mike Cloutier | Sep 17, 2010 | Reply

    Hey, if you’re going to challenge someone or be discreditable in your comments, you should sign your posts.

  3. Buck | Sep 18, 2010 | Reply

    Foolish and immature. And if you don’t like the backlash from your hateful behavior then stay off the world wide web lady.

  4. Stan | Sep 18, 2010 | Reply

    It’s true that alcohol can exacerbate a mental imbalance and would go a long way to explaining her behaviour in spite of the medications and therapy.

  5. Toad | Sep 20, 2010 | Reply

    It is not the mental state of the person who put up the video that is the issue here, but rather that the action of utilizing a hidden camera.

    I would suspect that, that is a criminal offence.

    Sharon Bowers, whether being of an unstable state of mind or not, repeatedly slanders town officials and staff. That is her nature, she is one of those “impossible people” who is mad at everything.

    The recipients of her attacks take it in stride, and just let her snide comments and allegations bounce off their backs. That’s what you do when you are of sound mind.

  6. Mike Cloutier | Sep 20, 2010 | Reply

    I don’t think the act of secretly recording is criminal. But you can bet your last dollar that the perpetrator doesn’t want to be found out.

    This is just sordid.

    I guess it’s one thing if the mayor had said something damaging, then perhaps an undercover video sting could have been justified. Not just damaging to himself but proof somehow that his actions or words are damaging the community. This recording does neither.

  7. Anonymous | Sep 22, 2010 | Reply

    This article was obviously printed to not only expose someone but to also discredit the individual.

    What does a person’s mental disability or illness have to do with a video posted on YouTube?

    Nothing, that’s what, you inserted this irrelevant piece of information for no other reason than to inform the public of her mental illnesses in an article used in an attempt at discrediting her.

    Just because an individual has a mental illness, it does not make them incapable of living a normal life or making rationale decisions.

    In the way her disability was used in this article, I can only view it as promoting negative stereotypes and stigmas of persons with mental illnesses.
    The lives of people with mental illnesses are often plagued by stigma as well as discrimination. Stigma is a negative stereotype. People who have identities that society values negatively are said to be stigmatized. Stigma is a reality for people with a mental illness, and they report that how others judge them is one of their greatest barriers to a complete and satisfying life.
    The rights of people living with mental illness to: health; dignity; bodily integrity and security of the person, and equal treatment in employment, services (including health care), and housing are all fundamental human rights.
    People with mental illness are covered under the ground of “disability” in the Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”). Section 10(1) of the Code provides a broad definition of disability, which covers mental illness under clause (b) people with a “condition of mental impairment” and (d) “mental disorder”

    I find this article to be offensive.

  8. Mike Cloutier | Sep 22, 2010 | Reply

    Your points are well-taken and I respect that you are offended. I am sorry for that, but the inclusion of her state of health — which she has freely written about in her blog — is a huge part of this story.

    On the one hand we have someone who has written about her illnesses (depression, anxiety, reclusiveness and bipolar disorder), all of which skew thinking and perceptions.

    And on the other hand, she has engaged in an exhaustive tirade against “the powers that be” (her words) and “old boys club” and has diagrammed an extensive conspiracy of public officials and private citizens who for selfish reasons are running this town to the ground. And for all this, she has provided not a single shred of evidence.

    If you put the two hands together, what do you get?

    What has she come up with in the past four years? A hidden-camera video of the mayor talking about the hospital situation to a stranger in his office in which he repeated almost verbatim what he said last September and said again this spring in public. From her perspective, this is a big scoop because she wasn’t there to hear it the first time.

    I will also add that she has used her blog to pick on at least one person who is schizophrenic — and she knows it — but he received no quarter from Bowers’ poison pen.

    There’s a lot of people who suffer mental illnesses and it’s not I who promotes the stereotype. It is Sharon Bowers who lives up to the stereotype.

    I am truly sorry that you find my story offensive, but I believe the story is justified.

  9. Mike Cloutier | Sep 22, 2010 | Reply

    The previous anonymous poster provided a lengthy reprint of a magazine article that I don’t have permission to copy. I will post the link to the story if you send it in.

  10. Greg | Sep 22, 2010 | Reply

    How do I see the link?

  11. Mike Cloutier | Sep 23, 2010 | Reply

    I haven’t posted the link because it wasn’t sent, only the copy from the article. But if the anonymous poster would like to send the link, I will post it. I can’t post the article because I don’t have the author’s permission.

    Derek and Niki: would you also like to disclose your connection with the Noyes for mayor campaign, or shall I?

  12. derek | Sep 23, 2010 | Reply

    You gave her mental state and claimed her views are skewed because of her illness as one reason. This is not acceptable coming from you as you are not a psychiatrist. You also cannot claim her views are skewed because she is most likely on meds to stabilize herself.

    You offered her illness as lame attempt to discredit her, but this does not give the real reason for her opinions of the Mayor. It does not answer “WHY”.

    Why did she engage in a four-year long campaign to embarrass and harass Mayor?

    Why does she want to unseat the Mayor in the coming election?

    Why do you, being a journalist, not want to explore the answer to, why is she doing this, or why does she dislikes the Mayor.

    Our Mayor has accused André Marin, Ombudsman of Ontario in the press of being on a “crusade against local municipalities”, he has questioned whether citizens should be permitted to record public council meetings and raised taxes. These reasons alone make me want to see him go.

    Just because someone has a mental illness, does NOT mean they’re wrong. Also a person, who writes negative articles about public figures, does not make them mentally ill.

    As soon as a reporter presupposes mental illness, (almost) no one even asks what led the woman to decide the Mayor needs to go. Their message, reasons, concerns all drop out of everyone’s informational radar. No one needs to actually counter any arguments, refute or reveal any facts or investigate a possible story.

    Your attempt at not addressing her concerns or point of view at all, and by using her mental illness diagnosis, is nothing more than a distraction tactic. “Don’t listen to her! She’s sick!”

    This tactic is very damaging to millions of people who suffer from various mental illnesses who live in silence for fear of negative attitudes and stereotypes being perpetuated by people like you.

    Because you used her mental illness in this way, when she now wants to do something, for good or bad, that challenges something or someone, her thoughts, arguments, and rhetoric are dismissed because she has a mental illness. This is very ignorant.

    You could have and should have written this article with out using her mental illness to make a point.

    Now the way I see it, you should be the big man here and apologize to Sharon.

    I don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish by exposing people who choose to keep their anonymity on your site here. I find it highly unprofessional and under handed. Niki designed Anne Marie’s web site. Big deal, her names right on it. There is NO big conspiracy here. If I write something here, it’s because I have my OWN opinion on a subject and that subject was your use of someone’s disability to discredit them. I could care less whom the person is, I only care how you treat them. If she is so hurtful to others then do not sink to her level. You can’t put out a fire by adding more fuel.

  13. Niki | Sep 23, 2010 | Reply

    Mike,

    Derek just brought all of the above to my attention. I’ve now had a chance to read the above comments, and I’d be happy to respond to your question regarding my involvement with the Noyes for Mayor campaign…

    I have been volunteering my time and services to her campaign. That’s it. No different than those volunteering their time to distribute signs, go door-to-door, make phone calls, etc. I am a Noyes supporter. That’s all. I’m not sure what you’re concern here is. But there you have it.

    As for the mental illness stuff, I believe anyone who’s taking actions, (meds, therapy, etc.) is obviously taking responsibility for a disability and therefore it could probably be safely assumed that they are stable. If she’s been open with any set backs she’s having, then I say cudos to her for recognizing it and I’d assume that her openness about it indicates that she is acting accordingly. I see know need to blame her illness for her views. She seems rather clear headed to me.

  14. Toad | Sep 23, 2010 | Reply

    Derek,

    I tend to agree with your stance on the mental ill issue, however, it was Sharon Bowers herself that spoke frequently of it.

    I suspect that her “mental illness” is depression, or the like. Many Canadians suffer the same illness, but like you said they tend to supress that part of their life rather than plaster it all over the internet.

    Damn it man, this woman, Sharon Bowers, bragged about having a bowel movement in one of the planters on the (OUR) Friendship Trail.

    I agree 100% with Mike Cloutier’s assessment that most of her bitterness toward the current council is because the defeat of Tom Lewis and John Papadakis in the last election.

    I would bet my last dollar that if either of them were elected, none of the issues that she constantly argues against would be of any concern, infact she would support them.

    As to Niki’s involvement in Mayor Candidate Ann-Marie Noyes campaign, that is soooo not an issue. Any candidate could and should solicite any person(s) who would best serve their campaign, so I agree with you on that point as well.

    What I have the BIGGEST problem with is your statement, ” If I write something here, it’s because I have my OWN opinion on a subject …..”

    THAT is where the TRUE problem lies with Sharon Bowers and people’s attitude towards her.

    I have been involved with the local blogs for a substantial period of time, and one thing for certain is that if your opinion does not comply with hers, or her agenda, she take great pleasure ( her words, not mine) in rejecting your post. So ….. your opinion means nothing.

    One of her most recent articles refers Forterians as ” Fort Erie has a reputation of being a community of sheeple “. She has frequently berated Fort Erie and it citizens based on only the figment of her own distorted mind.

    I ALWAYS get upset when she posts these kind of comments, and when I try to post my objection, my posts ALWAYS get refused.

    Certainly, you can look to Sharon Bowels as your mentor, but for me and others ( I won’t attempt to imply a majority as I have not polled anyone, however that is a “tactic” used by the Editor on numerous occasions) she is someone who has a HUGE chip on her shoulder and will complain abouth anything and everything ….. anybody and everybody. And to me, that is not rational.

  15. Mike Cloutier | Sep 24, 2010 | Reply

    I don’t see how anyone can read her library of extreme views and unproven allegations of a broad conspiracy and her own blog posts about her struggles with mental illness and not conclude that they are related.

    I think we are in agreement that the facts of the story are true. The issue is whether the state of someone’s health is relevant to the story. Normally not. But how else do we explain her incessant and long-term harangue about conspiracies? She certainly hasn’t provided any evidence. It’s like she’s got a whole bunch of pieces from different jigsaw puzzles in one big pile and she’s trying to make them into the picture in her head. And when they don’t match up, she just makes one. That all is predicated of course on whether she actually believes what she writes. She insists it’s the truth, so I have to accept that.

    You ask, “Why do you, being a journalist, not want to explore the answer to, why is she doing this, or why does she dislikes the Mayor.” The answers are right there in her blog.

    Regarding attribution — who says something is equally as important as what is said. It allows people to determine for themselves the merit of a statement. You’ve heard it said, “Consider the source.” Putting your name to a statement allows people to do that. I allow a lot of latitude for people to post anonymously. I trust people, by and large, to share generally-held values about truth and fairness.

    About “exposing people” who want to remain anonymous, that was a calculated risk. I was annoyed to learn that the people who I have allowed to post anonymously and to be rather provocative toward me personally are connected to the Noyes campaign.

    That being said, who you are and who you support have no bearing on how your comments will be treated. All respectful and thoughtful discussion will be treated likewise. I applaud your commitment to the election process.

    The important thing I’d like you to understand is the decisions about what goes in a story and what does not are not made lightly. Sometimes I make mistakes. I don’t believe one was made here. You have made some important and valid points worth considering and I thank you for taking the time to make them known.

    I don’t want to hog the last word, so if you want to respond, please do and then we’ll end this line of debate.

  16. Mike Cloutier | Sep 24, 2010 | Reply

    Now, the most important question. Who was the person who walked into the mayor’s office toting a hidden video camera in her purse and why?

  17. Ryan | Sep 24, 2010 | Reply

    I’d have to say this article has created some interesting comments, but Mike I like your last comment – who took the video?

    I would assume it was Sharon Bowers or a close associate (since Sharon admits posting it on her blog), and we would have to assume Doug Martin has a good idea who was in his office.

    Doug is taking the high road on this one – just ignore it. It was a childish act, and Doug really didn’t say anything wrong or important in the video. Sharon claims he is in “damage control” on her blog, but obviously that is only her opinion.

    I have to say I enjoy Sharon’s blog – it’s sort of at the same level as the National Enquirer, or the Jerry Springer show, but I find it entertaining. I however don’t condone the hidden video she posted – it’s unfair, and unconstitutional to “broadcast” a private meeting.

    I do not support Mr. Martin or Ms. Noyes, and I see no real choice in this upcoming municipal election for mayor.

  18. derek | Sep 24, 2010 | Reply

    My only issue here is whether or not was necessary to use the subject’s mental illnesses in this article.

    I re-read this article a few times. I then repeated to read it a few times more. This time I skipped over the illness paragraph to see how it read. I still find that it was not necessary or important enough to perpetuate stereotypes of people with a mental illness.

    I really find it hard to believe your insistence of its relevancy to a story about a “candid” camera video that was on YouTube and her “Blog”. The reason why is because of another “Blog” that I happened to come across recently in which you have participated by offering some of your own comments to articles.

    This “Blog” I am talking about is called “The Crystal Beach Stranded” and it was formed to “get back” at Sharon Bowers, a.k.a. “The Unablogger, (the mentally-ill American welfare case living in Ridgeway, Ontario)”, as she is described in the blog, amongst other unsavoury and juvenile descriptions by others in there.

    One comment in particular stood out the most. You said “Any complaint against Sharon Bowers should be affected like a military operation — without mercy, compassion or remorse”. There are other quotes made by you, such as “Sharon Bowers is the greatest thing ever . . . at least since flush toilets were invented”, “she is an inveterate liar” and you ended another comment with, “So Sharon, go eff yourself” but your word was much stronger.

    This shows that you have very strong negative personal feelings towards Sharon and have previously incited others to go after her without mercy, compassion or remorse. There is an obvious animosity between the both of you and from what I have read started many years ago when the both of you worked together.

    I find it hard to believe that your ability to remain impartial or unbiased while writing this article was not somehow influenced by the fact that you have negative personal feelings towards her. These feelings you have towards her is what I believe influenced your decision to insert the information about her mental illness with the sole purpose to discredit her.

    Ryan, well put.

    As for “Toad” thanks for understanding about the mental illness issues, but her name is Bowers not Bowels. There are other disabilities such as Crohn’s and I.B.S. which are devastating to the person affected.

    Also, I have no mentors anywhere around here, and other than glancing through her blog, I have never met her. But I do feel strongly about this and felt I needed to address this issue.

    If the politicians can ignore her, why can’t you?

    So, who do you support in the up coming election Mike?

  19. Mike Cloutier | Sep 25, 2010 | Reply

    Regarding the Bowels reference, I’ll take responsibility for not catching that and changing it. I do have full control over the content of comments and I could have and should changed that.

  20. Mike Cloutier | Sep 25, 2010 | Reply

    I’ll leave your comments as the last word on Bowers, but I will answer your two final questions.

    I have ignored Bowers from September 1994 until December 2007 when she accused me of two specific criminal acts and then, to incite me further, insulted and offended close, non-politician friends. I ignored her blogs and I ignored her campaign of blackmailing my advertisers. I ignored her attempts to have my accreditation revoked. I ignored her public harassment. I ignored her and her friend “accidentally” bumping into me and saying I assaulted them. I ignored a lot. I turned the other cheek and got smacked again and again. The fact that she, of her own free will and accord, revealed her illnesses, to my way of thinking puts it all into perspective. To ignore this information would be like ignoring the fact that Terry Fox only had one leg.

    The second question of who do I support: it’s not who, it’s what. And what I support, if it’s not clear now, will be eminently clear in the coming weeks.

  21. Toad | Sep 25, 2010 | Reply

    My apologies for miss-spelling Sharon BOWERS name.

    To be absolutely honest with you, I had noticed the error after posting and was considering entering another post to correct my error, but then thought, she has disrespected me so many times over that …. well, it just wasn’t worth the effort.

    I have no problem correcting myself when I have erred, but in this case, to be honest ….. I didn’t care.

    To Derek, I apologize for my error, but to no other.

    I am just a regular person like yourself, but have been battered repeatedly by Ms. Bowers for my opinion, when she chooses to accept them.

    I am sure that you can tell by my posts on this issue on this forum, that my attitude is fair. I do not realize the same response on the Strand, and am called many different demeaning names for my opinion.

    Check out my blog, http://thesilenceofthetoads.blogspot.com

    You will find it to be unbiased, receptive, and encouraging. Attributes which are lacking in the Strand blog.

  22. Bonnie | Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    Kudos to Derek. Points well-made.

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