Two years later and council is still shuffling pieces of the puzzle


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In what has to be the longest-running saga at city hall, the folks in the parks and recreation department are enduring another restructuring — a process that would be comical, except it has claimed two veteran staffers over the course of the bureaucratic bumbling.
The shuffle can be traced back to March, 2007 when Ald. Tom Johnston was the lone voice of opposition to council’s decision to merge the existing parks department (then under the auspice of the environmental services group) with the recreation department.
To manage the new entity, the city plucked Kent McVittie away from his position as manager of recreation and attractions with the City of London.
That resulted in the first casualty — Frank Lattanzio, manager of facilities and property.
“I can tell you that the corporation decided to restructure and that my position is no longer there,” he remarked at the time.

McVittie, touted for his “excellent project management and communication skills,” by Mayor Cliff Barwick, toiled for just over two years and departed last month for greener pastures.
Just prior to that, Ald. Bill Aarts begged off his duties as chairman of the city’s community services committee (which oversees the department) and handed the reins over to Ald. Dave Warden, who advised in this corner one month ago, “council will be looking at restructuring of the recreation department.”
That could only mean one thing, as culture manager Dianne Morgan found out Tuesday morning when she was escorted out of city hall after 25 years of loyal service.
“The recreation department had to be looked at and that’s what we did,” affirmed Warden in a T-J interview on Thursday.
“There have been problems in the rec department for years,” he continued. “It’s a tough call.”
Too tough for the previous committee chairman to undertake?
Now, the call is out for an arena manager to come in and get the train back on track.
“That’s the route we’re going to go,” Warden insisted. “We’re going to hire a guy with mechanical knowledge and everything else to run these two arenas (the Timken Centre and Memorial arena).
“You can’t have two managers in one building,” stressed Warden in reference to Morgan’s position based out of the Timken Centre. “That’s where the restructuring comes in.”
So will the axe cut deeper in parks and recreation?
“I can’t get into that,” Warden insisted. “It was a middle management position, it wasn’t a department head.”
Restructuring — a matter of sensitivity for Lattanzio and Morgan.
ONE RESOURCEFUL MAYOR
Last week we pondered how Mayor Barwick, the resource person for the upcoming training seminar for budding politicians, would be able to fulfill his obligation to lecturer Ray Galloway and still preside over the city’s business during the council meeting scheduled for the same evening, Sept. 8.
Well, Barwick made it clear Monday evening where his loyalties lie when he announced to all he would be late for the municipal proceedings so he can impart his knowledge on those in attendance at St. Thomas Public Library.
Sadly, not one member of council stood up to remind the mayor his primary responsibility is to the ratepayers of the city.
Galloway’s seminar is entitled C.P.O. — commitment, planning and organization. Had the lecturer been more cognizant of the latter two points, he could have avoided a scheduling conflict with the higher-priority council meeting.
CYCLE SAFETY
The near-miss earlier this month involving a city teenager’s encounter with the underside of a van has revved up the issue of cyclists and sidewalks.
Calls and emails to this corner illustrate there is a clear divide as to where the two-wheel mode of transport can best be accommodated — out on the battleground with all modes of motorized mayhem or peddling along the pavement, in the process posing a potential scourge to pedestrians.
The city has a bylaw in place which restricts the size of bike on the sidewalks and this should be rigidly enforced by police is the argument from one camp.
Others suggest the city needs to get serious about bike lanes along arterial roads and designated cycle routes throughout the city. When road reconstruction is undertaken, lanes should be incorporated for cyclists, as was the case with the route along Sunset Drive in Central Elgin to Port Stanley.
At the risk of invoking road rage, we invite your comments and cycle solutions. Just forward them to the address below or stop me on one of my many jaunts along the byways of Elgin aboard the City Scope velocipede.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It was a council decision. If it fails, hang council out to dry. I take my lumps with the best of them.”
Ald. Dave Warden stresses the move to dismiss manager of culture Dianne Morgan this past week was entirely a decision of city council.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to:
mccallum@stthomas
times journal.com.

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2 thoughts on “Two years later and council is still shuffling pieces of the puzzle

  1. CAREFUL WITH THAT AXE EUGENE

    After reading the ‘shuffle’ I had to work in one of Pink Floyd’s great tunes from the album Relics. A little known fact is that the tune was re-recorded for a film, “Zabriskie Point” and re-titled;
    Come in Number 51, Your Time is Up, but I’m starting to drift……….

    This council stuff is not for the faint of heart. Did the axe fall in such a way that it cherry-picked a specific individual; my vote would be YES. Using the ruse of ‘hey, we restructured and your position no longer exists, sorry’ simply avoids claims of wrongful dismissal and fools nobody.
    But where is the testosterone to tackle the whole organization shemozzle top to bottom?

    SPEAKING OF TESTOSTERONE

    Did Warden really mean that only folks that have it need apply for the new Arena Manager?

    “We’re going to hire a guy with mechanical knowledge and everything else to run these two arenas (the Timken Centre and Memorial arena).” Hmm….. really.

    Women need not apply? Or, does Dave and the Gang already have some “guy” picked out?

    Either way, this is not cricket.

    ABBOTT AND COSTELLO

    Who’s on first, you ask? Not sure but it seems the comedy routine is slated to start at 7:00pm in the Library featuring none other than the two kids from 33 St. George Street.

    It won’t appeal to everyone; myself I prefer Ron James.

    SHINE ON, YOU CRAZY DIAMOND

    I had to close with another Pink Floyd tune. It lasts 10 minutes, the same amount of time allotted for a deputation.

    There I feel much better. Unless you are planning otherwise, have a great day!

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

  2. Posted by Ian:
    A point of clarification with regards to the dismissal of Dianne Morgan. She in fact was manager of culture AND recreation for the city. To answer Bill’s query from above, in my interview with Ald. Dave Warden he indeed said the city was looking for “a guy” to fill the position of arena manager. May have been the use of a generic term but it creates the impression qualified females need not apply. He also continually referenced Morgan’s dismissal as a sensitive issue. Yes indeed, when it appears she is being held accountable for the shortcomings of parks and recreation director Kent McVittie, who left for greener pastures leaving much unfinished business and former community services committee chairman Ald. Bill Aarts who obviously saw the writing was on the wall and begged off his duties and switched chair positions with Warden. If there have been problems in the department for years, why didn’t Ald. Aarts bring this to the table? And if such was the case why didn’t Ald. Warden raise warning flags on behalf of city ratepayers? Dereliction of duties on several fronts.

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