Interpreting Ascent deal through our ‘filters’

city_scope_logo-cmykThree members of council are in favour of keeping the people who elected them to office in the dark about the comings and goings at Ascent, formerly known as St. Thomas Energy.
Well actually it may only be two but we’ll get to that in a moment.
The trio, Mayor Heather Jackson and councillors Gary Clarke and Linda Stevenson sit on the Ascent board of directors which met May 26 to deal with the sale of its Ascent Solutions division to Spark Power of Oakville.
Included in the deal are Tillsonburg-based Tiltran — acquired by Ascent in 2007 — and Belleville operation Tal Trees — acquired in 2009.
This corner — and we’re sure many ratepayers — would like financial disclosure on the sale.
Guess what, that is not about to happen.

stthomasenergyjpg“The board isn’t going to disclose the components of the asset purchase agreement,” acting CEO Rob Kent told City Scope this week.
There is no reason why the board could not make public some of the details and so we asked Kent why the decision was made to withhold any financial revelations.
“We signed a non-disclosure and once we sign that it’s not something we’re going to breach,” stressed Kent. “I personally wouldn’t be comfortable doing that and the board wasn’t either. Whether the city decides once this is done to issue something, I can’t speak for them.”
And yet last month when we talked with Spark Power co-CEO Jason Sparaga, he replied, “We’ll have to defer on that point to the people in St. Thomas, through Rob (Robert Kent) and Wendell (city manager Wendell Graves). I’m not at liberty to saying anything under nondisclosure. If they want to, they are perfectly free to do that.”
However the board is going to remain tight lipped on the transaction.

Laverty, John jpg

John Laverty

And they’ve instructed board chairman — and former acting CEO John Laverty, who recently stepped away from that office with no explanation — not to speak to the media.
Let’s play devil’s advocate. If this indeed is a good news story, why wouldn’t you at least reference that fact instead of hiding behind a wall of silence. In the process leaving ratepayers with the feeling we’ve been hosed in a fire sale.
“I guess people will interpret it through their filters,” stressed Kent. “I can only control what my board wants me to do. And keep these businesses going forward in the best possible position.”
A board with three members of council who desperately want to avoid any insight into how bad this deal might be.
But were all three council members in attendance on May 26? You can safely bet the farm one high-profile member was noted by her absence.

Related posts:

Sutherland stalling hits ratepayers in the pocket

Ascent sale is finalized, and now ratepayers are waiting for financial disclosure

More comfort needed at Pinafore Park comfort station?

Is Ascent realignment sign of a turnaround at the St. Thomas utility?

A duty upheld on the rarest of occasions

Council waffles on future of cemetery

Over-extended reach ultimately hobbled Ascent

Ascent CEO pulls the plug: resigns as of Sept. 30

From bad to worse over at Ascent

Ascent financial picture a shocker

A return to core business or fire sale at Ascent?

27jt01sutherlandjpgIt’s been a week since Toronto owner David McGee and a city delegation appeared at the Elgin County Courthouse and a quick check with Graves on Friday confirms no decision on proceeding with demolition has been received from  Justice Gorman.
To illustrate how desperate McGee has become, his lawyer Valerie M’Garry argued the most recent work order was not properly delivered and was vague in nature.
M’Garry stressed the order “lacked clarity” as to the remedial action required.
“It’s a 30,000 sq. ft. building,” noted M’Garry, “which structural items does the order pertain to?”
How about the gaping hole in the roof to start with.
As to heritage value, as proposed by M’Garry? A bit of a stretch and up to now the heritage value of the four-storey structure dating back to 1913 has not been a compelling argument put forth by McGee.

Related posts:

Sutherland stalling hits ratepayers in the pocket

A little good news on the Alma College front

Round 1 in Demo Derby #2 goes to St. Thomas

Sutherland insurance policy is somewhat reassuring

Should city consider purchasing its downtown nemesis?

What’s next in the Sutherland saga?

The city is playing politics insists Sutherland Press building owner

Sutherland Press building demolition on hold again

Time for straight talk on the future of Alma property

Will council give green light to Sutherland Press building demolition?

STEGH job cuts revive that old two-step episode

Round 2 of demolition derby announced

Sutherland Press building roof collapse raises significant concerns

The Sutherland Press building is on a slow simmer

Derelict building a reminder of dirty politics

Sutherland Press building a backdrop for smear campaign

Not the end of the Sutherland Press saga

Contained in Monday’s city council agenda is a report from Dave White, manager of roads and transportation, dealing with additional cycling facilities for the city.
cycle mapjpgThe document contains a map outlining neighbourhood roads where minor alterations to parking would be required to add cycle lanes. The blue lines are roads where the existing width is available; roads in red would require minor changes to parking.
So, the city sent out 130 notices to residents in these areas seeking input and 14 were returned. Of those 14, four were in favour of adding bike lanes and 10 were not.
So far, so good.
We will quote the report’s conclusion word for word.
“We therefore conclude that only 10 of the 130 residents are not in favour of adding bike facilities.”
In other words, a non-response indicates you are in favour of bike lanes?
Could you not argue a non-response might indicate you are opposed to bike lanes and therefore only 4 of 130 respondents support the addition of these lanes?
Is this the detailed analytical process the city is now undertaking to assess the validity and priority of road/transportation undertakings?
If so, would a dart board not serve the same purpose?

Preston Joe 2012QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We’ll elect a new leader in the next year, and over the next two years, we have to come up with a platform that wins us the country in 2019. So there’s a lot of work to do.”

Joe Preston, following his election last weekend in Vancouver to the Conservative Party National Council.

City Scope appears Saturday in the St. Thomas Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to


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