County to city . . . pay up or take a hike


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Upon her election in October, Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman made it clear a priority would be a harmonious relationship between the city and Elgin county.

That will be put to the test Monday when a county delegation appears before city council with the expectation of St. Thomas ponying up $118,000 this year (up from $89,000 last year) to remain in a tourism partnership with Elgin.

At the very minimum, the county is demanding $99,000, and for that piddling amount the city’s voice in the partnership would be reduced from two to a single representative.

Anything less than that amount and county staff recommend St. Thomas be booted off the team.

For that kind of cash, St. Thomas should politely decline, wish the county well and fire up its own tourism franchise.

TIME FOR CHANGE

To follow up on last week’s on-going saga of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health, the acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Frank Warsh, contacted this corner to explain he was the individual who accompanied a health inspector on routine food premise inspections, and not CEO Cynthia St. John.

In his email, Warsh explained, “having not witnessed an inspection personally, I felt that directly observing the process was essential to my understanding before being in a position to make recommendations to the Board of Health. The inspector I accompanied can confirm the day was scheduled weeks ago, and had nothing to do with the ongoing investigation.”

He followed that up with a media release Thursday to advise an internal investigation confirms inconsistencies in premise inspection reports submitted by one public health inspector.

And with that, the slight glimmer of transparency was snuffed out with the alert no further statements will be made until the health unit’s legal counsel reviews the findings of the internal investigation.

In other words, are there grounds for dismissing the inspector in question?

In piecing together snippets of information, it appears the inspector may not have thoroughly undertaken the inspection of a Ross Street food-handling outlet.

Furthermore, it is unlikely the health unit twigged to this. Instead it was a government agency, likely the Ministry of Health, that stepped in to blow the whistle.

An embarrassing turn of events for the beleaguered health unit.

So, here’s a thought. Eliminate the CEO position and that of the HR director and bring Elgin St. Thomas Public Health under the direct jurisdiction of Elgin county or the city.

This will introduce a measure of accountability for the powers-to-be at 99 Edward St., and, in the process, stability and a much healthier work environment for the front-line staff.

WHY I JUST MIGHT RUN

After several weeks of dithering at the top end of the provincial riding association and with the nominee hopeful herself, Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands announced to the Times-Journal this week she is seeking the Liberal nomination in Elgin-Middlesex-London.

Her declaration was not without an element of head scratching. Several minutes into her interview with T-J reporter Kyle Rea, she was still insisting no firm decision was forthcoming at this time. However, in abrupt fashion, Baldwin-Sands confirmed, yes indeed she was officially declaring her intent to hoist the Liberal flag in these parts.

Don’t you admire a decisive, take-charge individual like Baldwin-Sands?

Unlike the Conservatives, with a half-dozen hopefuls jockeying to represent the riding, Baldwin-Sands must be one tough trench-fighter who has obviously put the fear of death into any other individuals seeking the nod. With no other takers, she will be acclaimed early in April.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ve grossly under-estimated her ability and should she win the ticket to Queen’s Park, will it just be a matter of time before constituents say, Steve who?

Not likely.

In any event, now that Baldwin-Sands has charted a course, it’s time for her to step aside as finance chairman.

Facing one of the toughest rounds of budget deliberations in years, and the certainty of more turbulence with the shuttering of Ford Canada’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant in the fall, her peers on council and city ratepayers deserve a chairman whose focus is firmly fixed on finance and not personal political aspirations at the provincial level.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“It’s something I’ve been mulling over and giving it a considerable amount of thought, but let’s just drive the nail in that coffin.”

Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands announces she is seeking the provincial Liberal nomination in Elgin-Middlesex-London, or maybe she means the Libs are dead in the water, we’re not sure what she’s implying.

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

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