The hand is on full-throttle damage control over at Community Living Elgin and as Times-Journal reporter Jennifer Bieman wrote Thursday, a news release sent our way prompted more questions than provided answers.
You have to chuckle when a release opens with the qualifier the organization “would like to clear up any misunderstandings, or inaccuracies in the recent articles and media statements.”
Hey, the confusion isn’t at this end, Tom and Bob.
That would be Community Living Elgin executive director Tom McCallum (no relation) and board of directors president Bob Ashcroft.
The release, by the way, was issued by the board of directors, but was unsigned.
And since issuance of the release on Tuesday, neither Tom nor Bob has made themselves available to answer the many unresolved questions.
But you have to wonder, why did it take the agency and/or its board of directors this long to issue a statement of any sorts?
The announcement of staff and programming cuts occurred mid-August and Tom and Bob should have been front and centre with the media that very day.
You see, that’s how we avoid “misunderstandings, or inaccuracies,” perceived or not.
Here’s a direct quote from the release, rife with corporate bafflegab.
“There seems to be a misunderstanding that we are closing our day programs. We are indeed closing two models of day support in order to generate a new day program that will focus on learning and development for people as well as community based leisure activities.”
So if you’re unveiling this new day program, why weren’t you blowing that horn at the time of the cuts?
The quickest way to counter bad news is to serve up heaping dollops of good news.
And what in heaven’s name does this closing paragraph imply?
“We will continue to work together through this critical time to provide a variety of supports and services within an environment of care and compassion exploring innovative strategies for person directed care.”
Tom, Bob . . . we’re the media, not corporate suits. Talk to us in everyday English.
Perhaps the good union folk are on to something with their plea for an audit of finances and management practices.
Can’t come soon enough.
WHO HAS SEEN THE STATEMENT?
It was clearly documented last week in this corner by Ascent CEO Ron Osborne: an audited financial statement had been presented to city council in April of this year.
CAO Wendell Graves advised early this week no such document has come to council’s attention.
In fact, auditors are still dealing with the 2014 financial statements.
So why is Osborne so evasive? Is the bottom line status that bleak? Can we anticipate losses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars? Perhaps the bleeding covers several million dollars.
Mayor Heather Jackson and Coun. Gary Clarke sit on the board of directors and isn’t this a conflict of interest in itself?
How can they support decisions promoted by the board that may very well run contrary to the best interests of the true shareholders — city ratepayers?
Brace yourself for grim news out of Ascent and that hoped-for dividend this year? No way.
The detractors no doubt will again be calling for the sale of the utility.
YOU HAVE NOT BEEN FORGOTTEN
Long-suffering skateboarders take heart.
When city council returns to its regular meeting schedule on Tuesday, one of the first pieces of business will be a motion to enter into an agreement with New Line Skateparks Inc. for the design and construction of the much-anticipated St. Thomas skate park.
The firm, with head office in Langley, B.C., submitted a bid of $589,000 to create the park, adjacent to the Timken Centre.
New Line calls itself “Canada’s longest-running and most respected municipal skatepark design and construction team.”
It has undertaken close to 200 projects, with over a decade of concrete skatepark development experience.
Those undertakings include Kiwanis Skate Plaza in London and Brant’s Crossing Plaza in Brantford in addition to parks in Texas, New Mexico, California and Sweden.
Roll over to their website at newlineskateparks.com to view numerous venues that are nothing short of spectacular.
A far cry from that long-dismantled first edition of the city skatepark that sadly paled in comparison.
Tuesday evening council will also get down to the nitty-gritty of community mailboxes.
In total, the city will host 375 of them to be operational by Oct. 26 of this year.
Some highlights of the agreement: municipal consents and right-of-way occupancy permits are required; Canada Post shall “at its expense, satisfactorily maintain the community mailboxes”; and provide, at its own expense, “for snow clearing of the areas adjacent to the Community Mailboxes to provide access thereto during the winter for the public.”
Recalling last winter, several photos were forwarded our way reveling mailboxes engulfed in mounds of snow which forced residents to clamber uphill to retrieve their mail.
Who would have thought a trip to the mailbox could become a new winter sport competition.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The announced layoffs are a clear case of an employer that has made a mess of its finances and wants to make the employees pay for it. Community and Social Services provides the funding for Community Living Elgin and they should intervene in this case.”
OPSEU president Warren “Smokey” Thomas speaking Thursday at a rally in front of the constituency office of the Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek, MPP for Oak Ridges-Markham.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope