Not knowing the price is a good thing


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Don’t fall for this scam. Someone insists they know the true cost of a new police station and they’re willing to share the figure with you.
The information doesn’t exist and it never has. Oh, there have been estimates attached to various consultant reports, but they are nothing more than that — rough costing based on a conceptual plan that has no bearing on the final reality.
That was the message driven home Thursday at the initial meeting of the police building committee. A body whose mandate is to do just that — come up with a firm price based on a concrete design.
So, who sits on the committee?
It is chaired by Ald. David Warden and includes aldermen Mark Cosens and Tom Johnston, CAO Wendell Graves, treasurer Bill Day, director of engineering John Dewancker and St. Thomas Police Chief Darryl Pinnell.
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More bacon now to avoid egg on the face later


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After more than ten years of costly dithering, council finally made a decision on what route to take on a home for the city’s police service. However, don’t for one minute assume that will shut the tap on the steady stream of misinformation that has been leaking out from some quarters.
Figures from $20 million all the way up to $30 million have been bandied about by some aldermen and a blog in the city is stoking the fire with a cost analysis that is pure figment of the imagination. If you want to legitimize your point of view, then compare apples to apples.
With her Tweet just prior to Monday’s council meeting, Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands deftly demonstrated the fine art of fearmongering.
Her assertion a new police station “could cost average taxpayer $150.00 per year for 10 yr.” enraged Mayor Heather Jackson and Ald. Gord Campbell.
Such has been the posturing and playing fast and loose with numbers that has dominated debate over the past decade.
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Who is in and who has suffered enough


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With the very distinct possibility we’ll undertake a couple of trips to the polls in 2014, the wind and water are coming together for what should prove to be an entertaining year in the council chamber at city hall.
Thursday was the first day nomination papers could be filed for the Oct. 27 municipal vote and, to the best of our knowledge, no sitting member of council has taken the first step on the road to re-election.
So, let’s do a little armchair quarterbacking and go around the horseshoe and speculate on who is going to do what this year.
Starting at the top, Mayor Heather Jackson will certainly seek a second term at the helm. Will she retain her voter base and has she managed to gain the confidence of a significant number of ratepayers who shied away from her in 2010?
There is a good possibility she will be in at least a three-horse race; has she the stamina and resources to fend off challengers?
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Derelict building a reminder of dirty politics


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Contained in Monday’s agenda was a petition expressing concerns about the derelict building at 80 St. Catherine St., a structure referred to as “a dangerous eyesore.”
Area resident Sally Nickson was allowed to address council in an effort to paint a picture of the five-unit apartment building that has stood vacant for over a year.
As is often the case, there is more to this story than meets the eye.
And, the leading characters in this saga appeared prominently in this corner two weeks ago.
As best as we can determine, the crumbling structure may very well be owned by none other than David McGee. You may know him as the absentee owner of the equally forlorn Sutherland Press building.
Several attempts this week to contact McGee to confirm his involvement – or lack thereof – proved fruitless. Continue reading

Does vacant seat process ‘enhance’ council integrity?


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As referenced last week in this corner John Maddox, the city’s closed meeting investigator, has found no wrong-doing in the process undertaken to bring back Cliff Barwick to fill the seat vacated by Sam Yusuf at the end of April.
In his report to council, precipitated by a complaint from Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands, Maddox concludes, “I have not been able to find any substantive evidence that there in fact was a ‘private’ gathering of any sort that would suggest a closed meeting took place.”
The complaint from Baldwin-Sands suggests the faction on council known as the “Barwick 4” – Mayor Heather Jackson and aldermen Gord Campbell, Tom Johnston and Dave Warden – convened an illegal closed meeting of council.
She could not identify any specific meeting that may have taken place, but felt the process employed by the Barwick 4 on May 6 to fill the vacant seat raised suspicions that some “collaboration may have taken place between a group of council members that could be deemed to have been a meeting and in fact closed to some members of council.”
Of note, Maddox indicates he has received “numerous telephone calls regarding this matter and the process that was followed by council – all of the callers had some degree of objection to the process and outcome.”
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Filling vacant council seat akin to musical chairs


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Monday’s vote to appoint former mayor Cliff Barwick to fill the seat vacated by Sam Yusuf has unleashed a groundswell of anger and accusations across the social media universe.
Not to mention some questionable logic and judgment from both factions of council.
To get the ball rolling, you have to ask, when council had 60 days to fill the vacancy – whether by appointment or by-election – why did the Barwick 4 feel compelled to call a snap vote just minutes after officially declaring the seat vacant?
That in itself brought out the red flags, prompting Ald. Mark Cosens to charge, “it’s obvious that had been orchestrated.”
Point taken.
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Something fishy about the police headquarters vote


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Just call them the king and queen of the flip-flop. We’re talking, of course, about Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands and Ald. Mark Cosens and which way they will lean Monday night when city council votes on the latter’s motion dealing with a new police headquarters.
Last week, Cosens filed a notice of motion that the city “build a new, modern, state-of-the-art police facility” adjacent to the Timken Centre.
The wording of the motion is a flip-flop-flip for Cosens.
We’ll elaborate.
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