There’s always room for one more in the Sunshine Club


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Membership certainly has its privileges. As in, when you are a card-carrying member of the $100,000 Sunshine Club, who needs to return calls from pesky reporters, like the T-J’s Kyle Rea, seeking comment from spokespeople from the Big 3.

That would be the Thames Valley District School Board, the London District Catholic School Board and St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.

According to public sector salary disclosure information released Wednesday, every single elementary and high school principal in St. Thomas and Elgin earned a minimum of $100,000 in 2009.

More breath-taking, 280 TVDSB employees are Sunshine Club members, a bump of 100 from last year and a dizzying jump from the 65 just two years ago.

Over at the Catholic board, a welcoming embrace to 37 new names on the Sunshine roll, bringing the 2009 tally up to 96.

All of this at a time when entire school communities are fundraising full blast to provide basic necessities for students.

For his efforts in meeting budget, through staff and service cuts at STEGH, CEO Paul Collins is rewarded with a raise of almost $4,000 to bring his 2009 earnings to just shy of $205,000.

That would have been beneficial fodder for those frustrated employees who attended Monday’s rally in front of the hospital.

And, how about Cynthia St. John, the subject of a few lines here last week, after four of her employees dropped off the radar screen, maybe. She won’t say.

In any case, her stipend skyrocketed to $150,075 from $123,627 in 2008.

An increase likely to be met with another “no comment,” if challenged on this healthy dose of remunerative largesse.

NOT CLOSE ENOUGH

If you remember, Mayor Cliff Barwick and Treasurer Bill Day have expended considerable energy warning of the financial facts of life facing the corporation this year and into the foreseeable future.

In addition, Ald. David Warden proposed last year all city departments strive to hold their budgets at 2009 levels.

So, with a 3.4% hike in the municipal rate for 2010, how did the various departments perform in relation to holding the economic line.

Taking top honours in the “you-want-us-to-do-what?” category is Valleyview Home, which stretched their budget by a whopping 10.97 % above and beyond their 2009 level.

Nice work in toeing the line!

The treasury department obviously didn’t pay much heed to their boss, or Day believes in don’t do as I say, with their budget ballooning by 5.9 % over last year.

Right behind was environmental services, with a hike of 5.69 %, nosing ahead of the library, which shelved their 2010 budget 5.64 % higher.

Showing admirable restraint were the police service (3.39 %) and fire service (2.1 %). Keep in mind their wages, by and large, are beyond municipal control.

The only department to hold its budget intact was community services, now chaired by Warden.

So, when you hear calls for fiscal restraint at city hall, you know it falls on deaf ears.

CYBERSPACE BOUND

It’s time for St. Thomas to adopt an innovative approach to voting in the October municipal vote, suggests Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands.

She will present a motion Tuesday calling for the city to explore Internet voting as an additional method of casting a ballot in this and future municipal elections.

“The city should be innovative in its efforts to increase voter turnout and demonstrate its ability to change, adapt and be progressive,” she advised in a statement to city clerk Wendell Graves. No doubt, all who sit around the council horseshoe will agree.

ALL QUIET ON THE HEALTH UNIT FRONT

The silence is deafening following last week’s disclosure four staffers at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health were dismissed earlier this month.

Most puzzling is the lack of response from an OPSEU spokesperson in London, who did not return a call from this corner seeking information on the workplace environment.

And all we really wanted to know is whether the number of employee grievances has climbed substantially over the past year or two?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Sooner or later, the city is going to have to deal with its expenses. Otherwise, we’re headed for disaster.”

Ald. David Warden during debate Monday on the city’s 2010 budget.

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

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