Where’s the furniture, not to mention the agendas and minutes?


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As we noted in this space last week, Ald. Dave Warden intends to throw the spotlight on Ald. Bill Aarts when council next meets on July 19 so that the chairman of the Elgin St. Thomas Public Health board of directors can bring all of us up to speed on the comings and goings at 99 Edward St.

Ald. Warden informed City Scope he wanted to thoroughly research details of ESTPH’s lease arrangement with Elgin county, along with other areas of concern, before engaging Aarts in any dialogue.

Ever diligent, this corner has already undertaken that research, which we presented on June 12, and in the meantime had a face-to-face with CEO Cynthia St. John and presented her take on office space, her increase in salary, staff cutbacks and office morale of late.

We didn’t have time to touch on a few other points of contention, and so we offer these to Ald. Warden for consideration.

Negotiations with the county commenced at least three years ago, why has the process of finalizing leasing arrangements dragged on over this period of time?

In October and November of 2009, Ald. Aarts and the board approved a new 30,000 sq. ft, building for ESTPH, complete with architectural drawings. Yet, in December of last year, the motion for the building and 30-year lease was rescinded. Did the board get cold feet, did the developer have a change of heart?

At the December 2 board meeting, the members approved a motion whereby 2009 surplus dollars would be used to purchase office furniture and payment of compensating time and vacation time as funds and operational needs dictate. The motion was moved by Ald. Aarts and seconded by Ald. Tom Johnston. Why wasn’t this surplus carried over to the 2010 budget?

And, by the way, where is that furniture now?

Mysteriously, the board agendas and minutes have not been posted on the ESTPH website since that time. Is this just an oversight?

The organization appears to rely heavily on consultants. Paul Smith and Associates was hired to analyze lease proposals, a local lawyer regularly attends meetings, a request for proposal has been issued for space needs analysis and now John Matsui’s public relations firm has been retained. Although St. John told this corner there is room in the budget for these hired guns, does this not ultimately impact the delivery of health services to the community?

Just how much time is Ald. Warden willing to devote to fishing for answers?

(As an aside, the current board of directors includes: St. Thomas alderman Bill Aarts, who sits as chairman; Ald. Gord Campbell, Ald. Tom Johnston; Marla Champion, executive director of the YWCA of St. Thomas-Elgin; Bonnie Vowell, warden of Elgin county; John Wilson, mayor of Malahide and Jim McIntyre, mayor of Southwold)

UNDER SUSPICION?

It seems odd that around the same time Mayor Cliff Barwick returned from his jaunt to China, CSIS director Richard Fadden raises concerns about the growing influence of foreign governments on Canadian politicians, including those at the municipal level.

If you remember, Barwick told city council he was a guest of the Chinese government and St. Thomas taxpayers were off the hook for any expenses.

We would assume this includes flight, hotel rooms, meals and tours.

“Sponsors wouldn’t pay for travel without an expectation of getting something back,” says Errol Mendes, a constitutional law professor at the University of Ottawa.

The quote is from a CBC News story written by Brian Stewart.

Stewart goes on to note, “I do believe, however, that an extraordinary number of Canadian public officials are acting in ways that are inappropriate, risky and just plain dumb in accepting lavish favours from foreign nations with questionable motives.”

Barwick told the T-J within a year, a delegation from China could visit St. Thomas. As hosts, will city ratepayers then be expected to pick up the tab?

AN OVERSIGHT, OBVIOUSLY

In an interview this week with T-J reporter Kyle Rea, Ald. Aarts pointed out his seven years of experience gained on two terms as city alderman will more than stand him in good stead in his bid to sit as mayor of Southwold.

What Aarts chose not to dwell upon was the wealth of knowledge he gained as chairman of the committee overseeing the Timken Centre, which he opted to stand down from some time ago for reasons unclear. Likewise, the long-time Southwold resident didn’t linger on his accomplishments as chairman of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health board of directors.

I guess this dashes all hopes of Aarts taking up residence in St. Thomas, and what is to become of the scenic wooded property atop Sandymount hill this corner had assumed would be his new permanent address?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“They’re very keen, very welcoming. They certainly knew all about St. Thomas. They knew how many Chinese restaurants we had.”

After his visit to the People’s Republic of China, Mayor Cliff Barwick announced St. Thomas is now on the radar of that country.

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

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4 thoughts on “Where’s the furniture, not to mention the agendas and minutes?

  1. As for the quote of the week; “They’re very keen, very welcoming. They certainly knew all about St. Thomas. They knew how many Chinese restaurants we had.” Mayor Barwick
    This may be one of the most ignorant and unintelligent things I have heard in my life. I am glad our Mayor enjoyed his trip to China on taxpayers money while our city is crumbling. Progressive by nature is an excellent slogan for Elgin County, however St. Thomas is by no means progressive. The problem in St. Thomas is that we (term includes myself embarrassingly) are stuck in a time warp. Our politicians seem utterly confused and not willing to act for the most part or act to quickly to realize they are wrong. Case in point; not purchasing the land that the Trans Canada Trail uses as it comes through St. Thomas. Now the trail goes from coast to coast but cannot carry on through St. Thomas because of short sighted ignorance by our politicians. Maybe its for the best to take a detour around St. Thomas because who really wants to come to St. Thomas. St. Thomas is now going to be known for a dilapidated elephant (what a joke), the place in Canada where the Trans Canada Trail ends, a crumbling downtown, a decaying infrastructure and for its brain drain. Try not to forget about our neighborhood community garden members, who are the real villains who should all be thrown in jail and tried for treason. (Sarcasm) Trip to China was really productive and I hope Barwick brought us all back fortune cookies. All of these problems taking place in the last 12 months. St. Thomas and Elgin County has a number of very good high schools who graduate a large number of students who go on to various Universities and Colleges across the country. The emphasis is on going or leaving, very few of them ever come back because there is nothing here for them. We are constantly losing our best and brightest. That is not to say that some students do not come back, because they do, and they get trapped in factories who are closing, making unrealistic wages, with little or no interest in the community or the greater good. The lack of people coming back from University to live in St. Thomas as permanent residents allows for the status quo to continue. The incestual old boys club gets reelected over and over by the senior citizens of St. Thomas who would reelect John Diefenbaker if they could. St. Thomas is stuck in a quagmire, stagnant and rotting. The saying “the times are changing” is cliche, however times have changed and we have been left behind. A lack of leadership in this city will continue to destroy this city. The youth and the intellectuals of St. Thomas need to stand up and be heard, St. Thomas needs to join the 20th Century now that it’s the 21st Century, vote for change, and allow these fossils, also known as what St. Thomas calls politicians to be put in a museum.

  2. Agree with this guy

  3. Vote Heather Jackson-Chapman – this article says it all.

  4. Thank for this great post, i like what you

    read.

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