By the time the closing prayer is uttered Monday, council may well have adopted a code of conduct, not only for themselves, but for appointed boards and committees.
A sad commentary on how questionable the behaviour of some elected representatives has become over the past few terms of council.
“It’s a shame in this day and age this is a necessity,” bemoaned Mayor Heather Jackson on Friday.
However, the continual leaking of information discussed in closed session and the verbal sparring between aldermen Cliff Barwick and Lori Baldwin-Sands are but two factors that lift the proposed code of conduct into the urgently required category.
The mayor’s frustration was evident last December.
“Even this week there’s been another piece of information given to somebody . . . and they’re not even leaking the right information.”
Trouble is, there is no provision for disciplinary action under the Ontario Municipal Act.
“You can’t do anything,” advises Jackson. “There is no method of reprimanding or censuring any member of council for something like that.
“So that’s a key part of it (motivation for a code). With a code of conduct there has to be repercussions. Some times just having that in there is all you need.”
And, as CAO Wendell Graves notes, “The Municipal Act gives the authority to establish a code of conduct and obviously it has to be locked down by the local municipal council to enact a code of conduct.”
Under the proposed code of conduct, disciplinary options for misbehaviour could include suspension of pay, removal as chairman of a committee and censuring from closed session meetings.
Will that be enough to curb the squabbling and stretching of rules?
Or will it take the October municipal vote and the threat of cleaning house to get council back on the rails?
WHAT PRICE LOYALTY?
Just when you think St. Thomas and area has turned the corner, notice is served a restructuring at Presstran will cost 40 good- paying jobs.
“The changes are essential to improve Presstran’s emphasis on continuous improvements and competitiveness, which are critical for protecting job security and winning future business for the plant,” notes Magna spokesman Scott Worden.
Worden went on to point out, “to be here in Canada you have to make yourself more efficient and be able to eliminate inefficiencies and what we call waste.”
That comment prompted a scathing rebuttal on the Times-Journal website from reader Miranda.
“I would like to thank Presstran for the wonderful choice of words. People are not inefficient and waste. You had so many dedicated staff, a wealth of knowledge and numerous skills. That is what made Presstran a successful industry, especially in hard economic times.
“And it took upper management to destroy it. Remember the pay cuts, not being paid for overtime and not being paid for the hours worked.”
Miranda is only getting warmed up. Here is what she had to say about the 40 or so individuals now out of work.
“These people had years of service, kids to put through college, university and elderly people to look after.”
One of those cut loose was Jeff Kohler, a maintenance supervisor, with close to 30 years of service at Presstran.
Forget about loyalty, Magna’s only allegiance is to shareholders.
With the closure of the Bush Line transfer station at the end of February and the city’s alternative in the short haul being a run up to south London to dispose of household trash, it appears the inevitable is underway.
Some thoughtless individuals feel it is so much easier to just dump their accumulated junk on back roads and empty lots.
And why not drop off construction debris, shingles and the like along a roadside ditch and let the weeds and bushes cover the evidence.
We predicted such action would take place and it will only get worse as spring cleaning takes hold in earnest.
A photo from Ken G. has been posted on the T-J Facebook page illustrating junk appearing around Lake Margaret. That prompted several readers to post their stories of other dump-and-drive-off incidents.
Reader Julie posts, “We live just outside the city and have had our share of televisions, couches, chairs, tables, washing machines, dryers, bags of garbage, old flooring, ceiling tiles just to name a few!!!!!
“I am not looking forward to everyone’s spring clean ups! Just remember people … We don’t want your garbage on our roads either.”
And how about this curt message sent out in a police media release Friday: “Please stop the ILLEGAL dumping!”
This is not a new problem, however closure of the transfer station will only exacerbate matters.
The actions of a few thoughtless individuals are not to be condoned, but you have to ask once again why the city did not arrange to maintain the existing transfer station — at least in the short run — as a convenient and familiar alternative until a permanent arrangement is in place.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Overall, I can definitely say Magna is committed to Ontario, to the plants we have. That’s a big part of wanting to maintain that competitiveness, to keep the solid base of manufacturing here.”
Reassurance or forewarning of what may be on the horizon? Scott Worden, Manager of Corporate Communications and Public Relations for Magna International, following Thursday’s announcement of a restructuring at Presstran that resulted in the loss of 40 jobs.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A LONG TIME COMING
In January of 2008, council of the day was requested to adopt a Code of Conduct for its members and were provided with a copy of the City of London Code of Conduct to review and perhaps use as a template. Six years ago, the request for a Code of Conduct was prompted by the behaviour of then Alderman Tom Johnston. Some things never change. Barwick was mayor, and as you can imagine council simply ignored it in chambers Feb. 4th, 2008 without even discussing it.
Yes Barwick and Johnston are quite the pair, who can forget the three-legged elections signs with these two co-joined at the middle wicket during the 2010 election. One got the boot and the other narrowly missed.
If Barwick and council had adopted a code of conduct back in 2008 could any of this council’s shenanigans been averted?