Behind the scenes financially after the 2010 municipal vote


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Lost in the swirl of indignation following Round 2 of public sector salary disclosures this week were revelations contained in the financial declarations of all candidates in the 2010 municipal election.

This week, we’ll take a look at the three mayoral contestants in what proved, at times, to be a nasty battle, with the beleaguered Sutherland Press building serving as a bizarre backdrop.

Suffering through a double downside was Al Riddell, who lost at the polls and in the pocket.

According to his financial declaration, Riddell poured $17,062.69 into his bid to sit as mayor, nearly double the combined amount of the other two candidates.

That works out to nearly $6 for every vote he garnered. A poor investment for a third-place finish.

Money was doled out for lawn signs and flags ($4,469.15), Pattison Billboard ($1,675), a Meet Al Night ($225.90) and a wrap-up party ($1,545.26).

To compound matters, he personally contributed just shy of $14,000 to the campaign.

Other financial backers included Bob McCaig ($750), Tarry Homes ($1,024.05) and Home Hardware ($750 in kind).

To add insult to injury, Riddell was served with a letter of default for not filing the information in proper fashion.

Ouch.

Cliff Barwick received $6,750 in contributions, while dishing out $5,302.73 in his unsuccessful bid to retain the mayor’s seat.

Major expenses included printing ($1,579) and signs ($1,152).

He chipped in $1,700 of that funding total and other backers included McCaig ($750), various members of the Ostojic family (combined $2,000) and 1330452 Ont. Ltd., (D. Ryckman, $700).

In winning the mayoral race, Heather Jackson-Chapman accumulated $5,767,33 in expenses and received $5,516.46 in contributions.

Major sponsors were Helen Le Frank ($500), Richard Jackson ($750), Wendy Gunn ($500), Gunn & Assoc. ($500), Gord Campbell ($250), London developer Shmuel Farhi ($250), Provincial Glass ($375) and Parkside Landscaping ($500).

Take note of those last two contributors. They financially backed several other St. Thomas candidates.

So why would a pair of London-based firms have an ounce of interest in what goes on down here? Well, the companies do a fair share of business with Mr. Farhi, so draw your own conclusions.

Jackson-Chapman also benefitted from an in-kind donation of $750 from Family Shows Canada, out of London, for campaign signs. I guess sign companies in St. Thomas aren’t capable of providing whatever these were.

So, $1,875 in campaign funding originated up the road in Wellington. That’s more than a third of her funding total.

Also curious, why would Tara Hall Residential Care Home hostel support her campaign financially ($300) along with the campaigns of several other candidates?

All so curious.

Next week, the winning aldermen come under the scope.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT DUE

We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the substantial drop in management salaries over at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.

CEO Cynthia St. John was severely chastised in this corner last year when her 2009 salary was disclosed at $150,075 a hefty hike from $123,627 in 2008.

St. John assured this corner we could expect a significant re-trenching of her compensation last year, and such was the case.

In 2010, St. John earned $135,735.60 over at 99 Edward St.

Don’t want to appear picky, but that’s still 10% above her 2008 income — not a bad jump over two years.

FINANCIAL FOLLIES

After more than three hours of dancing around personal agendas Monday, the budget debate more resembled amateur night at the follies than reasoned financial planning.

Finance chairman Lori Baldwin-Sands lost complete control of proceedings moments after treasurer Bill Day turned the evening over to her.

Furthermore, she didn’t contribute one iota of input during the session. Instead she was continually casting a frantic eye over to Day to bail her out of some mess or other. When she officially receives the provincial Liberal nomination in Elgin-Middlesex-London, get out the hook and appoint a real financial chairman.

What with trying to assign funds to accounts where it already rested, doling out grant funding far in excess of the amount requested and hair-brained schemes to pare infrastructure projects and snow removal — all in an attempt to achieve the unattainable, a zero increase in the 2011 budget — the evening bordered on the verge of slap-stick comedy.

Laughable, until the realization council is forging direction for a $100 million corporation.

And that is frightening.

Oh well, if nothing else, the evening proved an early launching pad for one mayoral campaign.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We’re granting money to people who don’t even want it.”

Ald. Gord Campbell as city council reached the absurdity stage Monday during 2011 budget deliberations. The comment followed several cases in which community organizations received far more funding than requested.

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

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One thought on “Behind the scenes financially after the 2010 municipal vote

  1. BUDGET BLUES
    Missed the 3-hour budget show and Rogers TV no longer airs repeats but if it was anything like the last review the “forging direction” you mention is no doubt a downward spiral.
    When you suggest that a zero increase is unattainable, and it may be beyond this council’s grasp I remain convinced that it can be achieved without any degradation in service.
    I might agree with an assessment that it is unattainable if;
    – The City of St. Thomas functioned like a lean, mean machine
    – There were no available economies of scale or scope
    – All possible financial opportunities have been captured
    But the answer to that is; it doesn’t; there are; and they haven’t been.
    The last time I checked, City Hall could not even tell me how much they spent on consultants annually – worse yet, they didn’t seem to care.

    QUOTE OF THE WEEK
    Every absurdity has a champion to defend it. ~ Oliver Goldsmith

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