When the going gets tough …

Just over a year ago, in an impassioned speech to council detailing his rationale for opposing the hiring of a chief administrative officer, Mayor Cliff Barwick stressed, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If I thought we had chaos and everything was falling down, I would be the first person to say as the mayor of St. Thomas, we needed someone to pull us together.”

Well mayor, the wagon is broke. This bus needs a driver.

Jobs are disappearing at an alarming rate, families risk to lose their homes and the ripple effect will impact every business and service provider in St. Thomas and beyond.

Park your paranoia, face reality and collar the best CAO money can buy.

And while you’re at it, the time has come to take a long, hard look at the Economic Development Corporation and its long-standing policy of putting all of its eggs in the automotive sector basket.

It’s not enough to point the finger at higher levels of government and argue it’s their responsibility to come to our rescue.

Gather neighbouring municipalities together, call an economic summit, come up with a Made-in-Elgin plan to address the manufacturing meltdown and then aggressively target federal and provincial dollars.

We’ve wasted enough time dickering with the likes of the Sutherland Press building, the Downtown Development Board and Christmas lights along Talbot Street.

Remember, leadership is action, not position.


Last month Ald. David Warden introduced a motion seeking a zero-budget goal for 2009.

“All it’s doing is setting a target for department heads to shoot for,” Warden explained. “By doing this by resolution, there’s some meat behind it.”

Even though council unanimously endorsed it, most members patted Warden on the head and served up excuses as to why such a budget will never happen.

“It’s a great philosophy, but I don’t know how realistic it is,” chirped Ald. Heather Jackson-Chapman.

Well, guess what folks. The new economic reality dictates the sharpening of pencils and a Herculean effort to achieve that target.

Our mayor and councillors were elected to make tough decisions and the budget brainwork begins next month.

For starters, what are the prospects of a new headquarters for Chief Bill Lynch and his hardworking police service?


Monday evening council will vote on the bylaw to adopt Ald. Warden’s remuneration package designed to equalize payment to our elected officials for serving on boards and committees.

It’s time for Ald. Tom Johnston and Ald. Bill Aarts to put aside their philosophical differences to allow unanimous approval for this compensation package.

Two weeks ago they were the dissenting voices as council endorsed the proposal 6-2.

Johnston objects on the grounds not all members have the same workload, and presumably he places himself in the over-performing category.

Aarts, meantime, has made it clear all along he won’t lend his support, although it’s not abundantly clear why he has reservations.

Both of you have made your point, join your peers in approving the bylaw and get down to the real business at hand … ensuring the economic viability of St. Thomas.


If Brian Hollywood, president and CEO of St. Thomas Holding Inc., and Ald. Johnston, chairman of the board of directors, have any sensitivity whatsoever to the plight of those who have lost their job or face an uncertain future at their place of employment, they will shelve their proposed compensation package for board directors.

The princely sum of $500 to attend additional meetings, retroactive to last September, is nothing short of obscene.

As is Hollywood’s plea in a letter to council in April of this year urging members to deal with this largess behind closed doors.

“When dealing with these matters, the Shareholder felt the recommendation with respect to compensation would be best dealt … in an in-camera session,” he wrote.

This is the wrong time and place for this money grab.


“Is the corporation (Daimler Trucks North America) jumping the gun? Yeah. We’ve been building trucks here for over 15 years … And every year the plant gets better.”

Dave Elliott, CAW Local 1001 president, says it’s time to talk about what it will take to keep the Sterling Truck plant open beyond its announced closing date of March, 2009.


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