Fate of the $40,000 city grant nothing but a kerfuffle


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In what surely has to be one of the oddest television interview segments in some time, Dan Reith, host of Politically Speaking, sat opposite Mark Cosens earlier this month and deftly forced the mayoral wannabe into damage control mode.

The bombshell question from Reith that had Cosens backpedaling furiously came right out of left field, as follows.

“Yourself, or a company controlled by you, received a $40,000 community improvement loan from the city which, subsequent to the bankruptcy filing, still remains outstanding and owing to the city. Is that true?”

What followed is nothing short of a Gray Line Mystery Tour, starting with this opening rebuttal from Cosens.

“That is something I’m really not able to talk to in a sense it wasn’t a decision I made. It was a decision made by the city, without my involvement in that decision and I don’t think that’s something that can be held against me for running for mayor because of that.

“It’s something that hasn’t been fully disclosed at this point in time either. So, that may get cleared up as well. At this point in time, it’s hard to say what that might do to my bid.”

Are you still with us?

This corner can only assume the decision Cosens is rambling on about is the closure of Talbot Street in 2008, as a result of the Sutherland Press building fiasco.

But, then again, this corner may be as lost as Reith, who went on to ask …

“To voters who might not understand the intricacies of the process, and you don’t want them to not consider you because of that, how do you explain that to them. Or how do you explain the fact the city did something without your knowledge?”

Readers are advised to firmly brace themselves for the response from Cosens.

“I can’t answer for the city what they did without my knowledge. It was their prerogative to do what they did. The consequences of it are now their’s. I’m not going to take ownership of those consequences because it wasn’t something that I did.

“Should it hurt me? I don’t think it should. There may be some out there that will try and use it against me or not support me because of it, but perhaps that’s not the only reason they’re not supporting me anyway. And they just want to make a bit of a kerfuffle out of something that they really should be asking the city why that happened and not me.”

So, all you ratepayers wondering where the $40,000 has gone, it’s nothing but a kerfuffle, so move along, nothing to see here.

However, before doing that, you’ll want to know Cosens’ answer to the all-important question from host Reith.

“To clear the air for those who may be wondering, has that money been repaid or will it be?”

“No, it’s got nothing to do with me at this point in time,” Cosens re-iterated. “The city made the decision that caused that to happen and it’s got nothing to do with me at this time. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

A few moments later, Cosens noted, “We bought it (the Capitol Theatre) in 2003 and we worked tirelessly to re-do the entire inside of the building and re-do the façade and nothing was taken out of the Community Improvement Plan. I did the façade at my own expense.”

Which again begs the question, where is the $40,000 received through the city’s Community Improvement Plan?

We might note one of the conditions in the agreement with the city is a full accounting of how the money was spent.

Forget pointing the finger of blame at city hall, the lack of a CAO, the closing of Talbot Street and any other target we may have overlooked.

What’s called for here is full accountability to city ratepayers, the same individuals from whom Cosens is seeking a vote of confidence.

And this corner has to ask, are the campaign teams in the offices of Joe Preston and Steve Peters comfortable with this performance from Cosens?

The full transcript of this segment of the interview can be found here.

SOUNDS FISHY

While St. Thomas is literally floating aimlessly down Unemployment Creek, we note Mayor Cliff Barwick will be going crawdad fishing this June in China.

While he has assured us the two-week Cook’s tour of China is all-expenses paid, what about the two council meetings he will miss while enjoying the breathtaking thrills of a crayfish festival?

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” enthuses Barwick.

Not for the city’s unemployed and countless families with too much month at the end of the money.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“And, maybe because I don’t have to run a theatre and pop popcorn on a regular basis, I now have time to take on the challenges a mayor’s role would task me with.”

Mayoral candidate Mark Cosens.

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

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