The dogs haven’t stopped chasing cars


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Following an enjoyable, but all too brief, Christmas hiatus, City Scope returns with a tradition dating back ten years, where we welcome the newly arrived year by way of a final glance back at the wit and wisdom served up by some of those individuals caught in the glare of the spotlight over the previous 365 days.
Since that debut, we have broadened our horizon to include quotes from a variety of sources, among them Times-Journal readers and T-J website and Facebook posters.
As an unabashed hoarder of quotes, this look over our shoulder is an enviable task that conveniently meshes the preceding 12 months into a compact package to revisit upon the demise of a battle-weary year.
As American writer and editor Daniel Okrent keenly observed, “I’m afraid we’ll see reporters stop chasing quotes around the same time dogs stop chasing cars.”   

And for those public officials who bristle at the thought of their words perhaps coming back to haunt them one more time, we can only offer up this observation from George Orwell — born Eric Arthur Blair — English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic.
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
So let’s open up the files and turn back to March and the imminent launch of the #stthomasproud campaign.

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Sean Dyke with a #stthomasproud button.

“By the content of the majority of these comments (posted on the T-J website and Facebook page) it seems that if Jesus were to arrive in St. Thomas and walk across Lake Margaret that there would be a mob at the side of the lake giving him hell because he got his feet wet.”
Reader Jim Stewart posting on the T-J website in reaction to numerous negative comments on the #stthomasproud marketing campaign developed by the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation.
The city’s experiment last winter to determine what happens when you remove some of the garbage bins from the downtown core proved an abject failure.19jt01trashjpg
 “We’re in snow country. If you can’t get the door open after an inch-and-a-half of snow then it’s a poor design. We’re the ones downtown all the time, you think we would have some input. It was done through council and they were about $1,000 apiece.”
Earl Taylor, Downtown Development Board chairman, on problems with the garbage bins (or lack of) along Talbot St. in the city’s core. 13 jt 01 gibbonsjpg

It took several kicks at the can,however what became know as Ryan’s Law gained all-party support last April at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

   “At the end of the day, lung disease doesn’t have the colour of a (political) party.”
 George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association following unanimous support for Ryan’s Law. MPP Jeff Yurek’s private member’s bill is named in honour of 12-year-old Ryan Gibbons , who died in 2012 after suffering a severe asthma attack at Straffordville Public School.
What became known as the disaster on Kains St. proved the motivator for one neighbour to jostle the mayor and staff at city hall.
 “I called the mayor too and the mayor’s receptionist called me and said the mayor didn’t know anything about this house and she cancelled the 46 Kainsjpgappointment. I felt that showed very poor and weak leadership. She should have said, ‘I’ll look into that and make an appointment with you later on when I know more about it.’ Or, she could have appointed somebody to look into it.”
Kains St. resident Pauline Wimbush on the four years she has endured living next door to an abandoned and crumbling house she deems “a health and safety issue.”
In June, Hamburger Joe as he affectionately refers to himself, closed the Prestonbooks on an 11-year career in federal politics.
 “I am happy I had this great opportunity. I made no enemies and I will truly miss my friends.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Joe Preston in a statement to his Parliament Hill colleagues bidding farewell to the House of Commons.
In July, the plug was pulled on the Holiday Fantasy of Lights, the annual tradition that graced Pinafore Park over Christmas and New Year’s Day.
 “It is hard to believe that since our mandate has always been to put STTJ FANTASYmoney back into the park, that the city would want so much money from our group. In the past we were not charged for rental of the pavilions and we do not bring in enough money from donations to facilitate such a large fee.”
According to the Fantasy of Lights committee, the final straw was the $14,000 tab demanded by the city for rental of the Pinafore Park pavilions for this past year’s event and confusion over insurance coverage.
For much of the year, Community Living Elgin made headlines as staff, management and clients struggled with proposed program cuts.

“The announced layoffs are a clear case of an employer that has made a smokey thomsamess 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 at a September rally in front of the constituency office of Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek, MPP for Oak Ridges-Markham.
City council’s dithering over whether to fund St. Thomas Cemetery Company to the tune of $59,000 dragged on into September.

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“This is as cost effective as you are going to get. Trust me, you do not want to run that cemetery.”
 Gail Ballard, a member of the Old St. Thomas Church Restoration Trust, in a warning to city council about getting into the cemetery business. The comments were made at a special reference committee meeting of city council to deal with a business plan submitted by St. Thomas Cemetery Company for West Avenue and South Park cemeteries which it operates.
 Stephen Harper was shown the door in October, but the Conservatives Vecchioremain firmly in power in Elgin-Middlesex-London.
“I look at the job Jeff Yurek has done as an Opposition MPP. Just because you’re not in government doesn’t mean you can’t do good things for the community.”
Then MP-elect Karen Vecchio in a post-election interview with Times-Journal reporter Jennifer Bieman.
We will begin the quote-gathering process again next week in this corner. And we hope your 2016 is a year of good health, happiness and personal accomplishment.

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

 

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