Who is accountable for accountability?


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It was a rubber-stamp item on Monday’s city council agenda; authorizing the deposit of $59,047.62 into a reserve account of Valleyview Home.
The money is the final distribution of funds from the estate of Ralph Counsell, a former Valleyview resident who donated $400,000 to Valleyview with the stipulation the money be used in the activation department for the benefit of residents.
The activation department is responsible for the recreation, therapeutic and social activities of the residents.
In a report to council in November of last year, Valleyview staff recommended items like a Karaoke machine, bingo machine and cards, televisions, decorations and a movie projector, among other things, be purchased.

We can only assume this recommendation was followed and Valleyview residents are enjoying the fruits of Ralph Counsell’s generosity.
But will we ever know?
Not one member of council stood to ask whether this money has been used for outings to the theatre or other entertainment venues.
No elected representative asked whether residents are benefiting from any trips or whether the destinations are appropriate or interesting.
No alderman questioned whether recreation or social requests from residents are solicited or considered.
And no one around the horseshoe queried whether the residents’ council has input into recreation and social spending decisions.
Surely such a benevolent bequest from the Counsell estate for a very specific purpose warrants scrutiny at some point to ensure the beneficiaries are indeed benefiting and the money is not tied up in a reserve fund to be used for general purposes.
We rely on council to ask these questions.

FLU SHOT SHOOTOUT

A dandy dust-up brewing that pits the province’s nurses against several hospitals – including St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital- over flu shot requirements.
The Ontario Nurses’ Association has launched a radio campaign aimed at those hospitals who have upped the ante in an effort to get staff vaccinated.
A story in Friday’s Times-Journal quotes a media release from ONA president Linda Haslam-Stroud in which she claims these hospitals “are trying to coerce nurses into having a flu vaccine or be publicly stigmatized if they choose not to.”
The decision to get a flu jab each winter has become a highly charged issue, driven by steadfast personal beliefs.
And statements like this from London’s medical officer of health, Dr. Christopher Mackie, will only fan the flames in the flu shot debate.
“Questioning the whole idea of the flu shot is irresponsible,” insists Mickie.
STEGH CEO Paul Collins has responded in the following fashion.
“To meet the demands of the ONA’s message it may be entirely appropriate, as they have suggested, to ask the Minister to develop a ‘comprehensive province-wide plan’. I suggest that plan be modeled on what we have done here at STEGH and I assume in the other Ontario hospitals that the ONA has identified in their campaign.”
We’ll have Paul’s rebuttal in its entirety on the editorial page of Tuesday’s T-J.”

FIRE DAMAGE
Unfortunate victims of this week’s double blaze on Talbot Street that completely gutted Clinic 217, are several hundred clients of the methadone clinic left scrambling for an alternative remedy.
Levelling of the clinic prompted hurtful and vindictive comments on the T-J Facebook page.
“Kids going there is b.s. let them be in pain and suck it up, they will never touch a pill again,” writes one poster.
“Never supported free illegal drugs, bad idea, addicted, then get off them. Not much worse than smoking but millions have quit on their own. Suck it up,” writes another.
One can only hope the individuals who posted these remarks are never involved in a serious car accident or injured at work and prescribed oxycodone to manage the excruciating pain.
And become addicted to the very thing that brings relief.
Not every client of a methadone clinic fits the unfortunate stereotype.

RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSES
Often wonder why we have to contract out so much city business to consultants when, as witnessed at Monday’s meeting, we have the expertise right in the chamber at city hall.
We have a member who, having read a couple of reports, visited a municipality or two and attended several conferences is an expert on traffic flow, road design and urban planning.
Then there’s the alderman who undertook a spot of Googling and is now qualified to lead a panel discussion on the design of police facilities.
And, we have a couple more on council who can lay out a set of floor plans on their desk and pinpoint what has to be shifted and where, why a washroom is facing the wrong direction and explain why cells aren’t necessarily needed in a police station.
So much knowledge there for the asking.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s certainly a sad day for London because I’ve been through enough of these plant closings over the years that I share the pain of the workers and their families.”
Former Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Steve Peters commenting on the announced closing of the Kellogg plant. As mayor of St. Thomas and MPP, he witnessed the shuttering of several key plants and businesses.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Comments and questions may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

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One thought on “Who is accountable for accountability?

  1. Ian, Ian, Ian…Be thankful it’s called “sitting on the fence” and not “on the razor” or you’d have split yourself right in half according to this column. In the first part of your column it seems that it’s negligent of our city council to stay silent and not ask questions or make suggestions when it comes to accountability for Valleyview, but in the last part of your column it’s met with sarcasm when questions and suggestions are verbalized by council members when it comes to our police headquarters. Who is accountable for accountability indeed! Being on opposite sides of the fence than this columnist when it comes to the need for a new police headquarters, I guess my opinion and suggestion that the police services be given a budget of a mere $5,000,000 and told to do the best they can to bring the present police building up to snuff would be met with sarcasm also. It’s my opinion that when it could involve 15,000,000 to 18,000,000 of hard earned tax payer dollars, the more questions, the more suggestions, the more “expertise”, the better.

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