Surprise and disappointment in candidate’s priorities


If you flash back to this space seven days ago, we noted how the dynamics of the 2010 municipal election campaign took on a new urgency with the return of former mayor Jeff Kohler to the political stage.
That observation was not lost on Carole Watson, the former chairman of the St. Thomas Police Services board, who reminds us police, fire and ambulance services are some of the most important components of this community’s infrastructure.
“Our citizens expect, and often take for granted, a paramedic, firefighter and police officer will be there to respond if and when we need them, at a moment’s notice, day or night, 24/7, 365 days a year,” she writes.
She notes in recent years city council had the foresight to update and expand the facilities of the fire department and ambulance service with new substations in the city’s north end.

“The police service is the last piece of the puzzle to be modernized,” Watson continues, “so that it can appropriately, effectively and efficiently address the current and future needs of our community.
“I am surprised and disappointed that Mr. Kohler, former alderman, mayor and Police Services board chairman, would not recognize that a new police facility must remain as the number 1 priority of council.”
She adds the current council had the foresight to put funds into reserves, initially earmarked for a new police headquarters.
Those reserves have been largely depleted to help fund the city’s portion of costs associated with the new consolidated court facility, Watson points out.
She concludes, “I too, like Mr. Kohler, believe in the importance of being actively involved in our community to improve the quality of life in St. Thomas . . . and I firmly believe that our emergency services — at this point in time, our police service — must be the number 1 priority of our current council and next city council.
“The future of our community depends on it.”
Let the campaigning begin.
Faithful reader Ron Wilson of St. Thomas passes along this point to ponder regarding mayoral hopeful Mark Cosens and his wife Brigitte Cosens, one of the organizers of the Isabel Street community garden.
“Mark wants to become the mayor and run our city, but is Mark unable to explain to his wife that a bylaw is a law?”
And just when you thought the garden had been put to pasture.
At Monday’s council meeting, Ald. Gord Campbell appeared more concerned about plugging leaks at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health than getting to the root of problem areas alluded to in questions raised by Ald. Dave Warden.
“I just want to make it clear that we’re having some big problems with the health unit when it comes to keeping matters in the closed session,” harrumphed Campbell.
Before you embark on a witch hunt, the information in question dealing with details of the leasing arrangement now on the table was freely given to City Scope by the landlord at 99 Edward St. That would be the County of Elgin.
Very unfair to point fingers at staff and board members in accusatory fashion and most out of character for the chairman of personnel and labour relations at city hall.
Last week in this space we suggested the mayoral showdown may prove to be a two-horse race between incumbent Mayor Cliff Barwick and hopeful Al Riddell.
That prompted the following response from long-time reader, Lois Jackson.
“You should not under-estimate Heather Jackson-Chapman,” she writes. “Not one for grandstanding or posturing, Heather goes about her business in a professional way, quietly and thoroughly. She does her homework and knows what she is talking about.
“Heather Jackson-Chapman is not a pushover and cannot be that easily pushed aside. She has my vote, and not because she is a woman. She is a smart lady, and would be a refreshing change at city hall.
“She will actually stand up for what she believes in. She doesn’t have to look up into the gallery to see what she should say or how to vote. She can speak without pontificating and posturing. Interesting.”
Can’t argue with that, Lois. It is time for new blood in the mayor’s office.
“We have some staff that are three-to-a-desk right now.”
If there are three Elgin St. Thomas Public Health staffers in such a situation, as portrayed Monday by Ald. Bill Aarts, it’s probably because he found himself in the lunch room at 99 Edward St.

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

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