More questions than answers as hospital puts out hand


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Monday night’s presentation to council from the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital Foundation provided little in the way of insight and generated a gurney load of troubling questions.
 For instance, isn’t a partnership a two-way street?
 So, if the hospital wants the city and county to each write cheques in the amount of $4.5 million, then it should be open to financial disclosure. Let’s see some accounting.
 After all, a partnership is more than just cutting a cheque.
 Who is determining the final amount to be raised and the term of payment?
 Let’s see the documentation from the province to the hospital to validate this.
 Has anyone at city hall seen paperwork on what is required at the municipal level?

 To ease the burden on ratepayers, why doesn’t the hospital borrow the money and allow a longer term of payment from the city and county?
 On the other hand, what financial institution would be willing to front the money when the last we heard the hospital had a debt load of $20 million or so?
 Where was Ald. Sam Yusuf, the city’s rep on the hospital board, during Monday’s deputation?
 Nary a peep from his corner. But, what could he offer when we hear he has been missing in action at the last three board meetings?
 Where was the city’s finance chairman, Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands – the unsuccessful Liberal candidate in the last provincial vote?
 Silence. Not a word of support, not an ounce of encouragement. A warm body in the chair.
 It all comes down to a continuing lack of transparency and accountability over on Elm St.

TRUE GRIT
 An upbeat week for Jason McComb (pictured below) and his efforts to bring awareness to those who are homeless here in St. Thomas/Elgin.

Jason McComb on his recent walk from St. Thomas city hall to its counterpart in London.


 He garnered plenty of media attention when he walked, that ís right walked, from St. Thomas city hall to its counterpart in London to appear as a guest speaker of the London Homeless Coalition.
 It was a cold, painful trek, but Jason was nothing but upbeat when this corner met up with him near the end of his walk on Monday.
 Not to be outdone, Jason spent an hour the next day in the office of Mayor Heather Jackson who, at the request of City Scope, agreed to meet with him in order that she could become acquainted with his efforts to serve as a resource to those who are living on the streets.
 And yes, there are homeless people in St. Thomas.
 Never give up the fight, Jason, and to Mayor Jackson, you have no idea how much 60 minutes of your time meant to this advocate for the homeless.
 You want real-life emotion, grit and drama, visit.

IF YOU CAN’T HELP, GET OUTTA THE WAY
 As a follow-up to last week’s observations on the treatment of stray cats and dogs in Turkey from Bob McCaig during his travels through that country, here is feedback from Lois Jackson, who does a crackerjack job at All Breed Canine Rescue.
 ”Thank you to Bob McCaig for sharing information that may be helpful in our work to modernize animal services here in Elgin county,” Lois writes.
 ”He is quite right in his observations that animals should have rights. We live in a caring community and animals are a part of our community. Animals cannot write letters. They cannot vote. They cannot attend city hall meetings. So we are their champions. ”
 Lois continues, “The Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is working hard to improve the conditions of the city pound and learn more about urban wildlife by facilitating cooperation amongst volunteer animal rescue organizations, city hall, and the community. Mayor Jackson and (CAO) Wendell Graves are spearheading positive change.
 ”Effective use of tax dollars is what we are pushing for. We need to develop a master plan to address these issues. We welcome community involvement with people such as Bob McCaig. Working together we can more effectively use tax dollars towards successful community programs.
 ”It is really maddening to me that animals pay a price when humans cannot or will not take responsibility. We see so many tragedies that should never happen. Just the other day we got a five-week-old puppy left in a cardboard box left on a highway.
 ”So many kittens have been found in dumpsters this year. What is wrong with people? I also get just as angry when children, seniors, sick, or disabled are not cared for. Call me a bleeding heart if you must. I will take that label on with a smile. For those who say it can’t be done, get out of the way of those who are working to get it done.”
 Lois isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and damn the ruffled feathers. We need more people like her working in partnership with the city.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“They’ve made some changes on how they’re going about things. You know what, is there any movement for us to do the same thing knowing full well we have tough budget requests as well?”
 Ald. Tom Johnston on whether the province would be amenable to extending the time frame required for the city to raise $4.5 million as its share of costs in the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital redevelopment project.

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

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