A bus-load of mis-placed loyalty just left town


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When you cut through the posturing on parade throughout the transit tussle Monday, one fact is indisputable.

Five of our elected representatives remained loyal to obtaining the best deal for city ratepayers, while three others — aldermen Jeff Kohler, Sam Yusuf and Mark Cosens — demonstrated their allegiance to Aboutown Transportation, the current provider of transit service for St. Thomas.

By a vote of 5-3, council rolled forward and opened up the transit contract for tendering, as per the recommendation of Edward Soldo, city manager of operations and compliance, in one of the most comprehensive reports generated by city staff in quite some time.

For more on this report read here

The above-mentioned trio waved the Aboutown banner, while company vice-president Jamie Donnelly sat in the gallery.

His presence Monday for a deputation to council in itself is cause for concern. His request to appear at the meeting was dated July 11, and yet Soldo’s report was not made public until July 14.

Members of council had a copy of the document on July 8, so who leaked the information to Donnelly?

Oddly, Donnelly agreed with almost everything in Soldo’s report except the critical tendering recommendation.

The current pact is up at the end of the year and the time is right for a complete overhaul, starting with the length of the contract. Who in their right mind at city hall would agree to a 10-year term?

That in itself opens the door to the possibility of abuse.

In fact, the entire heated deliberation was moot, since council last December reached a consensus to tender the provision of transit services.

The more bids on the table from operators seeking to provide an efficient, cost-effective transit service, the smoother the ride for ratepayers.

Three aldermen seem to have missed the bus this time around.

OH SO PERFECT

Talk about a group hug — some of our municipal reps are chuffed about their perfect attendance record to date this year.

“You’ll never get anything done if you don’t show up,” observed Yusuf.

“Being on council is very important to me and so council meetings are a priority,” informed Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands.

The chest-thumping was prompted by a report Monday from CAO Wendell Graves documenting the attendance record of council members.

The above two, plus Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman and Cosens, have yet to miss a Monday night gathering.

“It’s important to me to be there representing all of those people that put the ticks on my ballot,” continued Baldwin-Sands.

Oh my, you would think the CAO was handing out gold stars to deserving pupils.

Let’s not forget attendance at council is one thing, constructive input at those meetings is an entirely different matter. To just occupy a seat for a couple of hours on a Monday night is not good enough.

Otherwise, Ald. Baldwin-Sands, many of those 5,000 or so voters could just as easily have put a tick beside a photo of the water jug.

Can these same individuals boast of perfect attendance at board and committee meetings?

City Scope is now in the process of gathering some of this data to determine who on council is skipping these equally important gatherings and who is wandering in late and deking out early.

Otherwise, what we have here is simply a case of when the cameras are rolling, let’s make sure our faces are well scrubbed.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Couldn’t resist sharing the comments of faithful reader Chuck Siple, who now resides in Debary, Fla.

“I am in my 70th year and I have long ago ceased to be amazed at the conduct of far too many politicians,” he writes.

“They are possessed by a sense of entitlement and a propensity for having their hands in someone else’s pocket. Whether it is where I live now or Canada, people are being pushed down the economic ladder and our leaders continue to concentrate on the short term (i.e. the next election) rather than address those issues that affect not only us, but our children and following generations.”

So, what are we to do, Siple wonders.

“Here we elect Republicans, Democrats and Independents. It might just as well be sheep, cows and pigs. The end result is the same — nothing really gets done and the big corporations continue to spend millions to lobby their interests to our supposed representatives. The question that is never answered — who lobbies for us?”

Ain’t that the truth.

BREAKING NEWS

In a web-only item for this corner, St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital had its hands full Friday with a watermain break that forced a shutdown of water to an area of the facility.The details are on page 4 of today’s paper.

Cathy Fox, the hospital’s public relations director, informed the Times-Journal of the situation in the morning and added later there was no impact on patients or other hospital services.

However, City Scope is investigating whether the water disruption is the only headache hospital administration is currently dealing with.

This corner is investigating possible equipment problems in the operating room, specifically with what is known as a C-arm that is reportedly over 12 years old. In a case of conflicting information, the STEGH foundation has made it known a new unit has been purchased in the last few years.

So, what is it to be?

In what may be an ongoing situation, the autoclaves used for sterilizing operating room equipment apparently are not fully functional and as a result procedures may have been cancelled.

The sterilizers were again impacted Friday as a result of the watermain break and, as Fox confirmed, any equipment to be sterilized had to be taxied to Tillsonburg as there is no backup equipment.

If any or all of the above concerns in fact are substantiated, then the expenditure of thousands of dollars on an image makeover for STEGH is sheer lunacy.

The story continues.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“And then they wouldn’t embarrass themselves when they actually are speaking about an issue that’s already in their report.”

Downtown Development Board chairman Dan Muscat, in a not-so-subtle jab, chides members of city council for what he perceives as a lack of preparation prior to Monday’s meeting where concerns were raised about replacement of 200 deteriorating garbage cans in the downtown core.

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

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3 thoughts on “A bus-load of mis-placed loyalty just left town

  1. ON THE BUSES
    Strikes me as odd that it was the three new passengers who balked at going to open proposals for transit services – any business rationale for their opposition? And why the CEO/City Clerk entertained the Aboutown deputation that appears to be clearly out of order is strange.
    It is not clear form Soldo’s report but I hope the RFP allows for potential service providers to propose multiple solutions to the city therby helping to ensure we get the “best” possible solution.

    TINY STEPS
    As they inch along, it is good that some members of council think that it is important to attend meetings, and certainly meaningful dialogue would be nice, but when might we expect to see decisions, action plans, timelines and accountability?

    TWEET OF THE WEAK
    Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman’s post July 21st on twitter on relationship building with the DDB, “How exactly is the DDB working cooperatively with the City when they issue ultimatums and insult Council?” As an Alderman Jackson-Chapman stopped going to DDB meetings and wanted to be removed from the DDB, now it’s a brand new DDB and as mayor she has problems with them as well.
    June 30th Jackson-Chapman posted a snide tweet aimed at fellow council member Lori Baldwin-Sands about the new courthouse, “How can you stand there & smile when you didn’t support the project?”
    Childish behaviour; is that the sum and substance of leadership in St. Thomas?
    Here’s a suggestion: if you have a problem with the DDB or another member of council, put away your blackberry and work with them to resolve it – you’re the Mayor, start acting like one.

    THE COP SHOP
    Just wondering what has become of the new police station? For certain members of council this was their number #1 priority in the 2006 election and again it was their number #1 priority in the 2010 election. Will it repeat as their number #1 in the 2014 election?
    Did I mention action plans, timelines and accountability?

  2. Re: Breaking News Post
    A few facts:
    No surgical procedures were cancelled at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital on Friday July 22 as suggested above. Due to the water main break on Friday, we experienced reduced water pressure which meant we could not use our sterilizer. Our back up plan when our own sterilizing equipment is not available, is to transport (not by taxi) surgical equipment to Tillsonburg. This plan was initiated and executed immediately, and therefore no surgeries were cancelled. Our priority is to deliver excellent patient care and we have plans in place to ensure minimal disruption to patient care when such situations arise.

    The C-Arm is an imaging device used in the Operating Room (not related to sterilizing equipment or water main issue.) A new C-Arm was purchased in 2007 thanks to generous donations from our community. I am not sure what the conflicting information is regarding the C-Arm, as referred to in the post.

  3. Glad to get feedback back from Cathy Fox, the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital spokesperson.

    Sadly, her comments on the City Scope posting above further murky the waters.

    Point by point here are the areas of conflict:

    1) Cathy notes, “No surgical procedures were cancelled at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital on Friday July 22 as suggested above.”

    Response: Read the post carefully, Nowhere where did I state or imply procedures were cancelled on that day. I specifically stated: “In what may be an ongoing situation, the autoclaves used for sterilizing operating room equipment apparently are not fully functional and as a result procedures may have been cancelled.” It has been suggested to City Scope the autoclaves have been non-functional on more than one occasion and likewise equipment has been taxied to Tillsonburg on more than one occasion. Furthermore there is no backup equipment as we understand.

    2) Cathy goes on to state: “Our back up plan when our own sterilizing equipment is not available, is to transport (not by taxi) surgical equipment to Tillsonburg.

    Response: See response above. In the past equipment to be sterilized in these situations has been taxied to Tillsonburg.

    3) Finally, Cathy advises, “A new C-Arm was purchased in 2007 thanks to generous donations from our community. I am not sure what the conflicting information is regarding the C-Arm, as referred to in the post.”

    Response: Apparently a 12-year-old C-arm has failed on several occasions in the OR, and as recently as last week. Is there more than one C-arm or is the 2007 C-arm prone to failure?

    City Scope will be following up on these areas of conflicting information.

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