With regrets, your appointee doesn’t cut it


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It’s like watching the proverbial train wreck in slow motion . . . and, you’ve got a front seat.
The board of directors at St. Thomas Elgin-General Hospital and city council are destined to butt heads, once again.
And, the object of their attention is none other than Ald. Sam Yusuf.
Let’s run the video back to Tuesday, when the hospital held its annual general meeting and elected Paul Bode as board chairman for a two-year term.
And, things were proceeding nicely from that point.

Melanie Taylor was re-elected to serve her second three-year term on the board of directors, Carol Groves was elected to serve her first full three-year term and Rick Robertson was elected to serve his first term. Kimberlee Haines was elected as a governor-at-large to serve a one-year term.
Former Central Elgin mayor Tom Marks was re-elected as the appointee from Elgin county council and Diane Vaughan was re-elected as the appointee from the hospital’s auxiliary association.
Hmm, that leaves the matter of an appointee from St. Thomas council.
Up until this week, that had been the domain of Yusuf who, if you remember, convinced Ald. Dave Warden some time ago to vacate his seat so that Yusuf could play music chairs and slide over from the hospital foundation board of directors.
That was necessary so Yusuf’s lady friend could be appointed to his foundation board spot.
All very confusing.
Well, it seems Yusuf’s attendance record at hospital board meetings is spotty (and he wasn’t present for Tuesday’s gathering, so what does that tell you), and so when it came time for board members to approve his re-appointment as city representative, nary a hand was raised in agreement.
At some point later in the meeting, we understand a second vote was taken with the same result.
So, the city currently has no representation on the hospital’s board of directors.
In a release from the hospital late Friday afternoon, the situation was explained as follows: “The appointment nominee from the council of the City of St. Thomas was not confirmed and the city has been invited to put forward another appointment nominee.”
The city has been invited . . . can’t see Mayor Heather Jackson taking too warmly to that language, nor can we envision any member of council leaping out of their chair and gesturing eagerly, “pick me, pick me.”
Wait a minute, is that Ald. Warden we see nodding his head and agreeing to come in from the bullpen in relief of the banished starter, Ald. Yusuf?
Do you get the sense, given Yusuf’s dismal attendance record at board meetings and his embarrassing decision back in April to distribute a personal memo from hospital foundation executive director Allan Weatherall to all members of council, that this turn of events at the AGM had been carefully orchestrated?
So, where is this all leading to?
Will the board of directors, having dumped Yusuf, collectively flex their muscle and put any future city appointee under the microscope? Put into effect an interview/assessment process to select a “yes” person instead of an alderman who will attend meetings and report back to council and, ultimately, city ratepayers in an honest fashion?
And, how will this impact the hospital foundation’s need to eventually approach both city and county councils, hat in hand, for millions of taxpayer dollars for what remains of the STEGH restructuring/renovation project?

A CHANGE IN DIRECTION
It’s taken several weeks, but this corner finally tracked down Ald. Tom Johnston to fill us in on the board of directors shuffle at Ascent, formally St. Thomas Energy.
Up until last month, Johnston was the board chairman, a position he had held for about seven years but recently relinquished.
“What I did was I just said to the board, ‘I’m stepping down,’ and it will be reflected in the minutes that way,” Johnston told City Scope on Thursday.
“I didn’t resign, I didn’t get tossed. I decided at this time I’m stepping down. It’s been a huge time commitment and it’s a non-paying position for me. It’s about time someone else took the lead. I’m quite comfortable with this decision.”
Just a thought, is this tied in any way to the departure of Ascent CEO Brian Hollywood at the end of this month?
Moving up to fill Johnston’s position is vice-chairman Jim Herbert.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“This is immediate needs. That’s all that this addresses and this work needs to be done to accommodate some of these areas so they have safe working conditions.”
Mayor Heather Jackson in response to aldermen Jeff Kohler and Mark Cosens who appear determined to confine the city’s police service to an unhealthy work environment for the long haul.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

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