A CAO is part of the solution for St. Thomas

From Bill Sandison, St. Thomas

Re: “Jobs the pressing issue” (Ray Galloway letter to the Times-Journal, March 30)

It struck me as uncanny as I read Mr. Galloway’s letter just how much it sounded like Mayor Barwick speaking. It seems odd that Mr. Galloway tracks incoming calls to the mayor; maybe he performs secretarial work for the mayor, given he is his landlord. I wonder aloud, are Mr. Galloway’s words his own or is there a ghost writer in that house?

Mr. Galloway should recall that Mayor Barwick had a choice regarding the demolition permit issued by council against the Sutherland Press building, same as he did with Alma College. Court rulings followed Barwick’s hasty decision, one that resulted in crippling our downtown merchants, not to mention the approximately $200,000 wasted for naught. Blaming the courts for the mayor’s poor judgment is ridiculous.

Mr. Galloway’s position regarding a CAO is without merit. One or two bad apples do not mean you should abolish the CAO position. By that logic St. Thomas would not have a mayor beyond 2010. It’s like biting off your nose to spite your face. An unbiased review of St. Thomas against nine like-sized communities such as Timmins, Woodstock, Stratford and Orillia, reveals that all nine have a CAO. In City Scope, Ian McCallum offers the insight of George Cuff who affirms that it is not possible to concurrently perform the roles of mayor and chief administrative officer successfully. Mayor Barwick has demonstrated that in spades.

Jobs are a pressing issue, but St. Thomas has a self-declared part-time mayor and no CAO. The Times-Journal hosted a panel discussion during the 2006 election on the possibility of significant job losses in St. Thomas and area over the upcoming four-year term of council. A harbinger of what was to follow. Then-alderman Barwick’s response, “No, we don’t have any plan in place… but you have to take a proactive stance now”. No plan was ever developed after he became mayor. Further, the mayor appeared forgetful during the December, 2008 broadcast of Politically Speaking when he commented that the job loss catastrophe had all occurred within a six- to eight-week window and had basically caught everyone by surprise. The truth is that it has been an ongoing and mounting crisis for well over two years. Mayor Barwick’s failure to act establishes him as part of the problem.

The existing management structure is dysfunctional; our roads, sewers and services are a shambles. We need to build the framework for a better municipal government, one that should include a chief administrative officer.

Bill Sandison

St. Thomas


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