Monday’s procedural put down involving the two veterans on city council — Mayor Heather Jackson and Coun. Jeff Kohler — prompted testy exchanges on the Times-Journal website and Facebook page.
To recap, Jackson ruled Kohler out of order as he attempted to table a motion calling for city staff to obtain quotes from local contractors to renovate the second floor of the Colin McGregor Justice Building.
“Abuse of Her Highness’ power at work,” screamed one online poster.
“Kohler is a hot dogging grandstander,” was the retort from another participant.
Things got so heated, Jackson waded into the fray after disparaging remarks from an anonymous poster about her age — it’s a mystery as to what factor age played in this web war of words.
“Thanks, but I’m not even 40 yet,” reminded Jackson. “I can assure you that your paranoia is in fact just that
as there were not “stunts” pulled at anytime. Maybe instead of hiding behind your fake name you could step up and try to be supportive of this community.”
The mayor’s action was a gutsy call . . . and entirely warranted.
Why would we revisit — at additional taxpayer expense — renovations to the existing police station when this council has clearly indicated it wants to move forward.
Twice this year members have endorsed construction of a new police facility: first when they approved inclusion in Part 1 of the 2015 capital budget (with Kohler voting in favour); and again earlier Monday evening when they approved a recommendation to proceed with a bylaw to authorize borrowing up to $14.6 million for construction of a one-storey building on city-owned land adjacent to the Timken Centre.
Kohler was the lone voice of opposition to the motion. And, a complete reversal of form from 2003 in relation to the findings in a Stonewall Group report on the future of the former Northside Arena.
We’ll delve into that episode here next week.
THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG
A month ago in this corner, we remarked how admirably members of council were engaging each other at the roll out to the new four-year term in office.
Well apparently, all is not so hunky-dory behind closed doors.
Tucked in to Monday’s council agenda is a ruling from John Maddox, the city’s integrity commissioner, on a complaint received from a councillor regarding allegations about a fellow denizen of the chambers at city hall.
The complaint dates back to Dec. 8 of last year — only the second meeting of this council, for heaven’s sake — and originated from an in-camera discussion of committee appointments.
While we will not be privy to the exact nature of the complaint, it appears to involve a message or messages exchanged between the two councillors.
As Maddox notes in his decision, “I have met with the complainant and the member of council in an effort to clearly understand and clarify the sequence of events and detail pertaining to this matter. I have also examined the messaging and spoken to the recipient of the message.
“The message was ‘ill-timed’ and left considerable room for interpretation.”
Maddox concludes there is not sufficient evidence to confirm a contravention of council’s code of conduct and he considers the matter closed “and hope council are able to move forward.”
Talk about the fastest penalty after the game’s opening whistle.
While we are nowhere near reaching the snarkiness level of previous councils, is this complaint a harbinger of what lies ahead?
NO BUSINESS LIKE SNOW BUSINESS
Popular in other Ontario municipalities — Kingston is a good example — Jackson this week unveiled the city’s Snow Angel program designed to partner volunteers with those in need of assistance shovelling the white stuff.
The program provides an opportunity for students looking for volunteer hours; however, any individual is welcome to volunteer.
If you are interested in this program or in receiving assistance from a Snow Angel, contact city hall at 519-631-1680 ext. 0 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
OUR READERS WRITE
Jim Kaplanis of St. Thomas is a tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy and his reaction to news this week Joe Fontana will likely be able to hold on to his cushy MP pension obviously struck a nerve, prompting this note fired our way.
Jim writes, “Who said that crime doesn’t pay. Joe Fontana, former mayor of London and former cabinet minister, will still receive his pension after being found guilty of fraud and breach of trust while he was serving as a member of parliament.
“New Brunswick Conservative John Williamson introduced a bill to strip pensions from MPs or Senators convicted of criminal offences. However, after introduction of this bill was viewed by other MPs, it’s now limited to 24 specific Criminal Code offences.
“The NDP wanted to restore the original parts of the bill but the watered-down version will likely pass.”
Jim continues, “Aaron Wudrick, Canadian Tax Payers Federation Federal Director said that making the bill retroactive to cover Fontana is risky because it would be vulnerable to constitutional legal charges.
“He said MPs were concerned pensions could be revoked for an offence unrelated to their job such as drunk driving.
“Wouldn’t you think that any criminal offence, committed by an MP or MPP, should cause their pensions to be revoked.
“Any person, other than a politician, would be in jail, however Fontana gets to commit fraud and enjoy a very generous pension.”
And, one final observation from Jim, “The taxpayer helps pay for the wedding but never got an invitation.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I think we’re a society that eats too much processed food and not enough thought is put into what we eat and where it comes from.”
Cindy Bircham, a chef based in St. Thomas, at this week’s opening of the new St. Thomas Food Works Centre at Destination Church on Talbot St.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to email@example.comFollow @ianscityscope