The forty-fourth meeting of the one hundred and thirtieth council of the Corporation of the City of St. Thomas proved the last hurrah for out-going mayor Cliff Barwick.
Love him or leave him, Barwick had a way with words and could contort his face in a particular fashion to drive home a point or simply defuse a tense situation.
That’s a gift that comes from 23 years of service in an elected capacity.
In a night of tributes and remembrance, Ald. Gord Campbell perhaps summed it best, “We come to chamber as new recruits. We come to do what is right for the citizens of St. Thomas.”
Sage words of advice to be heeded long after Dec. 6, when the in-coming council is installed.
In his final address, Barwick reminded all of the difference “between sitting out there, and sitting here.
“Sitting in this chair, you are the lightning rod. I have a profound respect for the office of mayor. It is now time for me to leave public life.”
Always one to grasp the big picture, Ald. Dave Warden was able to put a positive spin on the evening when he observed, “Council’s loss is the gain of casinos and horse tracks.”
SOUNDS OF SILENCE
Cat got your tongue, or have the past four years on city council proven forgettable for Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands.
While everyone else around the horseshoe offered thanks and praise, Baldwin-Sands remained seated and silent.
Some would argue not much different than most Mondays.
Surely it wouldn’t have taken much effort to give credit to those who offered advice, words of wisdom and guidance to the rookie alderman.
SHUT OUT, AGAIN
Out-going Central Elgin mayor Tom Marks can’t get an ounce of respect when it comes to Elgin-St. Thomas Public Health.
As a board member, he was muzzled at the Nov. 3 meeting on a point of procedure before he could attempt to raise questions surrounding CEO Cynthia St. John’s salary, staff morale and a proposed new building, among other things. Read more here.
Five days later, Marks was verbally mugged by the trio of aldermen who comprise the city contingent on the health unit board.
And yesterday, Marks was cut off at the pass once again when he learned a tentative meeting set for next Wednesday was cancelled by Ald. Bill Aarts, board chairman.
It would have been the last meeting of the current board, but in a fax release, Aarts advised, “At this point, I am unaware of any items that require the board to meet.”
Hmmm, what about Marks’ unanswered questions that have prompted several letters to the T-J. And, what about the revelations in this corner last week the Ministry of Labour issued an order to review, revise, clarify and streamline the process for reporting and investigating a complaint of harassment.
“They certainly never called me on the phone to ask me,” observed Marks.
He’s most definitely not the only person waiting in the answer queue.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Faithful reader John, a resident of London but a business owner in St. Thomas, passes along a question for the health unit.
“Would Elgin-St. Thomas Public Health have any interest in posting its inspection reports of city and county eateries on the ‘net? Such a program exists for London and area residents and is quite a hit.”
John, the T-J posed that very same question in February of this year and reporter Eric Bunnell was told the idea has been discussed off and on, but it comes down to time and money.
“We’re really not at the point where we can afford a system quite like that, at this point in time,” advised Laura McLachlan, director of health protection.
However, if you are interested in the results of restaurant inspections, you can call the health unit. Even McLachlan admits that is not the most workable solution.
She did note the health unit is implementing a new inspection system, which may make online posting more possible.
John, your question would have been a dandy piece of new business for that board meeting on Wednesday.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We have not always been on the same page of the hymn book. We each believed what we were doing was right for the citizens of St. Thomas. That’s what debate is all about.”
Ald. Gord Campbell pays tribute Monday to out-going mayor Cliff Barwick.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ianscityscope.