The tale of two aldermen — maturity versus entitlement


Monday’s council meeting was most decidedly the tale of two aldermen.

The definitive issue — who should attend and how much should be spent on conferences and conventions.

Council has budgeted $6,000 for attending such functions this year and four members had sought to attend the Ontario Good Roads Conference coming up in Toronto.

Sam Yusuf

Trouble is, that would eat up about $5,500 of that figure on just one junket.

Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman and the committee chairman, in this case Ald. Tom Johnston, should be the only attendees. Ald. Sam Yusuf read the situation correctly and graciously withdrew his request to participate. In the process exhibiting political maturity beyond his two months of council experience.

Mark Cosens

On the other hand, Ald. Mark Cosens scoffed at the budget, calling the amount diminutive, and asserted he will be in Toronto.

It doesn’t matter there is a fixed budget to deal with. It means nought council is attempting to set an example of fiscal responsibility for ratepayers who are picking up the tab in any event.

No, this is all about entitlement — and a complete disregard for the understanding the mayor and aldermen are elected to serve the people.
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Navistar Makes No Move to Re-Open Plant, Governments Must Step in, CAW says

TORONTO, Jan. 21 /CNW/ – Following months of uncertainty, the bargaining committees from CAW Local 35 and CAW Local 127 met with senior levels of management from Navistar Thursday in Windsor, Ontario. The meeting was requested by the union, as part of its ongoing attempt to have Navistar reopen the Chatham truck facility. The corporation has been demanding massive concessions, significantly reducing the production and jobs at the facility. This facility once employed over 2000 workers and now risks being reduced to less than 100 workers. The corporation maintains that the plant will only be used for cab production, with no trim or paint facilities being utilized. To add insult to injury, the popular Class 8 Prostar and Lonestar which were engineered and built in Chatham will no longer be built there. These were premium trucks that had top quality and were well received by consumers.
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Lack of accountability frustrates concerned residents


The revelations unveiled in City Scope last week ( read here) on the pension two-step performed by the CEO and board chairman at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital generated a significant amount of response in the form of phone calls and emails.

None of them complimentary in nature.

This outpouring prompted a call from this corner to communications and public relations specialist Cathy Fox with an invitation for CEO Paul Collins to personally respond to some of the concerns raised by T-J readers.

Collins resolutely declined.

“(Board chairman) Bruce Babcock is the official spokesperson for the hospital on this matter,” Fox stressed.
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Good news for taxpayers or a healthy dose of double dipping at STEGH?


Have you heard St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital CEO Paul Collins retired last year? Likely not, since it’s a better kept secret than the mystery of the herbs and spices in finger-lickin’ good chicken.

But, you say, if that’s the case, why can Collins still be seen most days over at the hospital? Surely he must be coming in to lend a helping hand in a volunteer capacity.

To clear up the confusion, City Scope this week asked to speak with Collins . . . instead we were directed to Bruce Babcock, chairman of the STEGH board of directors.

As it turns out, Collins’ retirement lasted perhaps a day or two and then Babcock and the board rehired Collins and installed him in his former post at the same compensation, almost $205,000 in 2009, while drawing on his pension at the same time.
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“The kinds of activities that contribute to our patient’s dignity and self-worth are being eroded.”

Twenty more mental health layoffs in London-St. Thomas

From opseudiablogue

LONDON — Mental health services at Regional Mental Health Centre – London and St. Thomas have been place in jeopardy as a result of 20 layoffs announced yesterday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union received notice from the Regional Mental Health Centre that the positions will be gone effective May 12, 2011 due to budget restraint.

These positions include nurses, therapists, recreationist, social worker, clerical, dietary and housekeeping staff.

“The province just spent $495,000 to a private consultant to work on phase III of a 10-year mental health plan while on the ground mental health workers continue to lose their jobs,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member public-sector union. “It’s getting harder and harder to believe the Ontario government is serious about improving mental health services.”

The only hairdresser serving clients at the centre is among those receiving layoff today, raising questions around how some patients will be able to maintain their grooming.

“It’s likely the families of patients will have to make arrangements at their own expense,” says Kim McDowell, Presidennt of OPSEU Local 152. “The kinds of activities that contribute to our patient’s dignity and self-worth are being eroded.”

Skills programming for patients at the centre will be reduced as both workshop activation therapists are losing their jobs.

The layoffs follow on the heels of the recent layoff of 28 child and youth workers at Whitby’s Ontario Shores in December.

Last November 85 staff left Regional Mental Health – London and St. Thomas as part of a transfer of beds to Grand River hospital in Cambridge.

See also The future of mental health care in St. Thomas-Elgin is the thin edge of the wedge and What might have been the future in mental health care.

Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you


As an ardent proponent of the written word, this time of year is particularly enjoyable because of the bumper crop of flashback features recalling the past 12 months in quotes.

It’s been a tradition in this corner to greet the incoming year by surveying the past 365 days to savour the wit and wisdom of our elected representatives.

Of course, when media scribes document a response or comment to the pages for posterity, they must be prepared for the inevitable charge of being taken out of context.

Or, as one anonymous wag noted, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.”
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McGuinty has led us all down the green energy garden path

Guest editorial from Ross McKitrick that appeared in the Stratford Beacon Herald. Original piece can be read here.

Anyone remember the Sprung Greenhouse fiasco? In 1987, Newfoundland Premier Brian Peckford attempted to boost local employment by subsidizing the building of a massive hydroponic greenhouse operation that its inventor, Philip Sprung, said would turn the province into a world leader in green produce. His plan had failed in Alberta, but in Peckford he found a gullible partner willing to abandon common sense and start signing over other people’s money.

During the construction phase the premier pointed with pride to the hundreds of jobs apparently created. Meanwhile the province kept signing cheques and promising that cucumbers and economic renewal were on the way in equal measure.
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You can thank Dalton McGuinty for feeling warm and fuzzy about your St. Thomas Energy bill

From the Toronto Star, original article can be found here

Ontario’s Liberal government is forcing utilities to tout the 10 per cent electricity discount on hydro bills every month for the next five years, the Star has learned.

Over the next few weeks, millions of households, farms, and small businesses will begin receiving the new “Ontario Clean Energy Benefit” on their monthly hydro bills.

The measure is designed to offset an expected 46 per cent increase in electricity costs in the coming five years.
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