$100,000 Club defies economic downturn

Ian McCallum

Ian McCallum

In the same week the last truck rolled off the line at the Sterling plant, the 2008 Sunshine Club membership list crossed our desk.
So, while 700 or so hard-working employees at the South Edgeware Road plant bid farewell to the final medium-duty truck — and their jobs — the $100,000 club at city hall swells by nearly 25 per cent in the past year.

With area job losses now in the thousands, five more municipal employees join the ranks of the $100,000-plus salary club, bringing the total to 27.
That’s up from 22 in 2007 and a mere four individuals just four years ago.
The numbers are based on figures documented under the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, which requires municipalities to publicly report salary and benefits of more than $100,000 paid to municipal employees.
St. Thomas Police Chief Bill Lynch tops the salary list at $135,267.76 ($131,097.60 in 2007), plus another $3,500 in benefits.
The police department held down the second spot, as Deputy Chief Darryl Pinnell checked in at $126,348.32 ($122,509.40).
Four other uniformed staff also made the list, up two from 2007. They include inspectors Mark Traichevich and Jeff Driedger at $119,732.80, Staff Sgt. Steve Withenshaw, $101,627.36 and Staff Sgt. Russell Yates, $101.327.55.
The latter two are new to the club in 2008.
With two time-consuming murder investigations to deal with, overtime was no doubt a factor in 2007.
It would appear the fire department brought its overtime issues in line as Sunshine Club membership dropped to 11 from an even dozen one year ago.
Fire Chief Bob Barber led the department with a 2008 salary of $121,963.19 ($122, 626.11 in 2007). Last year’s top city wage earner, platoon chief Glenn Dutton saw his salary drop to $107,208.86, from $132,052.65.
Sure makes you wonder about those overtime tabs for 2007.
And welcome aboard new member, Senior Fire Captain Glenn Hill, who joins the list for the first time at $104,534.77.
At city hall itself, director of environmental services John Dewancker checks in at $120,014.34 ($117,229.86); treasurer Bill Day, $109,843.30 ($115,280.95); planning director Pat Keenan, $109,792.20 ($107,072.71); human resources director Graham Dart, $109,792.20 ($107,072.71); manager of operations and compliance Ivar Andersen, $104,950.08 ($102,099.96); and city clerk Wendell Graves, $103,341.74 ($101,257..49).
For the first time, female employees joined the club, including library CEO Rudi Denham at $103,434.58; director of Ontario Works Sandra Datars-Bere, $101,617.74 and director of nursing at Valleyview Joyce Gonyou, $100,914.38.
Ah, membership has its benefits.

You ponder that list and then turn to the free employment listings the T-J now prints as a service to those out of work and a sense of desperation sets in.
Registered dental hygienists, long-distance truckers, millwrights, retail managers, tool and die makers … every single employment wanted ad represents a vital piece of the fabric that weaves together St. Thomas and Elgin.
Honest, dedicated, roll-up-the-sleeves-and-get-the-job-done folks who take pride in their work who just want the chance to bring their skills to the table and contribute and some of them have done for decades.
“Willing to do anything, just want to bring home a pay cheque to support my family,” notes one ad.
Getting these people back where they productively belong must be the priority for every level of government in this country.
We’ll continue to run those free listings to assist in any way we possibly can, but it will be damn nice when that corner of the paper returns to its former role of trumpeting various items and services for sale.
If you’ve taken advantage of the listings and gained employment, give this corner a call. We could sure use some good news.

Mayor Cliff Barwick goes to Japan for a two-week junket and all he brings us back is a T-shirt that says “Japan, Wish You Were Here.”
And can you believe the anecdote from his trip, reported in the T-J earlier this week?
While bread-winners in this area fret about losing the shirts off their backs, Mayor Barwick boasts about trading shirts with a company vice-president.
Welcome back to reality.

“Now, they don’t build trucks in Canada anymore. It’s brutal.”
Gerald McCormick, a 16-year Sterling Truck employee, tells it like it is as the last truck trundles off the line.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.


5 thoughts on “$100,000 Club defies economic downturn

  1. If anyone expects the mayor of St.Thomas to be concerned,I would suggest you direct your thoughts back to the real world.It has become apparent that when you need politicians the most,they help you the least.Here in Brampton,Ontario the Chrysler assembly plant is very close to closing down for good,and our Mayor,Susan Fennell was no where to be found,when CTV news came to our city to get an update,on the possible plant closure.The reporter ended his report with,”The Mayor of Brampton was not available for comment”.Turns out our Mayor was vacationing in Miami,Florida as one of our biggest employers was on the verge of collapse.So you see,small city,big city doesn’t matter,politicians are all cut from the same cloth,and the only time you hear a word from them,is when they are up for re-election.Now I’ve visited your beautiful city on several occasions,and it has the workforce,it has buildings that could easily be converted to accomadate any new company,should they decide to re-locate to St.Thomas,all you need now is a mayor who can promote the city effectively,instead of trying on t-shirts in Japan,while his city is slowly turning into Flint Michigan.That american city turned into a ghost town,when General Motors up and closed it’s plant,and virtually left the whole town unemployed.If Mayor Barwick doesnt start taking the job losses seriously in St.Thomas,the city will slowly but surely become a ghost town,and that would just be wrong!!

    Bob Foster

  2. Ian,

    Re: $100,000 Club defies economic downturn

    This is beyond belief; the only folks prospering in our fair city seem to be the Sunshine Club. As I reported in my deputation to council last month, St. Thomas leads the pack in membership of the Sunshine Clubs for cities with a population of 30,000 to 45,000.

    In 2008, here’s how we stacked up compared to cities our size in membership of the $100,000 squad.

    St. Thomas – 22
    Timmins – 16
    Brant – 10
    Stratford – 10
    Orillia – 8
    Innisfil – 7
    Woodstock – 6
    Lakeshore – 6
    Georgina – 5
    Quinte West – 2

    St. Thomas membership at 27 is an obscenity and further indicates a void of financial prudence and management at City Hall.

    Whoever is responsible for this farce should be called upon to explain why the number in St. Thomas is more than the cities of Innisfil, Woodstock, Lakeshore, Georgina and Quinte West combined.

    Re: HE’S BACK

    Looks like he had two personal days (at our expense?) in Japan, why was this not declared in open council prior to authorizing his vacation? Nice of him to report back to our residents that he was thrilled by the “warm toilet seats” in Japan.
    I sure that is welcome news for the unemployed in our city.

    Bill Sandison
    Advocate for a Better Municipal Government
    STR8TALK in St. Thomas

  3. Bill, your comparison to comparable communities is an eye-opener. With fire and police salaries in essence dictated by the province, how many salaries in these centres are emergency services and what does that leave at city hall. More than $100,000 for a library CEO is hard to swallow. Certainly the previous CEO was not a member of the Sunshine Club and she had plenty of tenure in St. Thomas.

  4. Points well taken Ian; Innisfil include Police Services and Woodstock and Georgina include Fire Services while other services are provided by outside agencies.

    So, let’s try and skin the Sunshine cat another way;

    London is 10 times our size and if our Sunshine Club was right-sized at 22, London would have 220 members at $100,000 plus in 2008, but they only had 101.

    St.Thomas is a 1/10th the size of London and if their Sunshine Club was right-sized at 101, St. Thomas members at $100,000 should have been 10 in 2008.

    Kick it, shake it, stir it but let’s have someone at city hall mumble some explanation as 27 is absurd.

    Here a sample nonsensical and expected response (try not to bust a gut) – “we have to pay a little extra to attract and retain talent compared to other like-sized communities”.

    Bill Sandison
    Advocate for a Better Municipal Government
    STR8TALK in St. Thomas

  5. I worked in St.Thomas for forty years.(Timken and Ford) Even though the trains are gone It,s still the “RAIL-ROADING CAPITAL.Evert

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