New hand at the helm of Community Living Elgin


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Less than two weeks after the results of a provincial review were released, the executive director of Community Living Elgin has announced his retirement.

In a memo issued to staff Tuesday, board president Robert Ashcroft advised Tom McCallum will retire at the end of December after a 21-year stint at the helm of Community Living Elgin, an organization he first joined in 1976.

Ashcroft noted Michelle Palmer, Community Living London executive director, has agreed to provide interim leadership in St. Thomas for up to one year.

Ashcroft praised McCallum for maintaining “a relationship with the people he originally supported over the past 39 years and watched them grow from young children to the successful adults they are today.” Continue reading

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Excitement is good, trust even better


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As retirement announcements go, this was an odd one.
The Community Living Elgin memorandum popped up in mysterious fashion at the City Scope inbox to announce executive director Tom McCallum has opted to retire from the organization.
The timing of his decision raised eyebrows in that Community Living Elgin appeared to have fared well in a Ministry of Community and Social Services’ financial and accountability review, the results of which were released at the end of November.

Continue reading

Over-extended reach ultimately hobbled Ascent


city_scope_logo-cmykWith the departure Wednesday of former Ascent CEO Ron Osborne, board chairman John Laverty takes over the helm on a temporary basis. It will be his responsibility to guide the process that will result in the hiring of an individual tasked with winching the utility out of the financial quagmire in which it finds itself to the tune of $14 million in losses and money owing to the city last year.
Not to mention its long-term debt of what, another $6 million or so?
We caught up with John this week and what many may not realize is the St. Thomas resident was a former public utilities commissioner who has been “kicking around the utility industry on the governance side since 1991.”
He advised the process of hiring a new CEO started almost immediately.
“We decide as a board whether we’re going to use a headhunter or not.” Continue reading

There’s always room for one more manager at city hall


city_scope_logo-cmykAs far as media releases go, Wednesday’s city hall advisory was brimming with corporate bravado.
“With its sights set on the strengthening of its leadership and organizational management, streamlining corporate financial management and the continued renewal of the Environmental Services Department,” the release breathlessly announced, “City Council has put in motion a number of strategic changes.”
What this declaration shamefully failed to include was three people would lose their jobs in the organizational restructuring.
Why the oversight?
Does their escort out the doors of city hall cast doubt on the true motives at play?
This restructuring is predicated, in part, by the findings of a curious report presented to council last fall.
The Dobbie Report — ostensibly an organizational review of the environmental services department — noted senior managers at city hall felt the lack of staff was an issue along with the need for more advanced equipment and technology such as cell phones and laptop computers. Continue reading

Tom, Bob . . . talk to us, we’re waiting


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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. Continue reading

Community Living Elgin cuts will improve quality of life in what way?


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The cuts to staff and programs at Community Living Elgin are nothing short of devastating.
And the union’s call to action urging Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek to audit the organization’s leadership, finances and operations in a bid to bring meaningful change must not go unheeded.
OPSEU vice-president Ron Elliott ups the ante even further.
“We’ve called for the minister to put Community Living Elgin in trusteeship. To take it over, to put in a monitor.”
Citing a $700,000 deficit, the organization plans to eliminate 17 full-time positions — 64 staff cuts in total — as well as close the drop-in centre at the Talbot Teen Centre, eliminate the day support programming at 2 Curtis St., and shut down a group home on East St.
The dire situation prompted Karen Barr, whose sister has been a client of Community Living Elgin for many years and who will be negatively impacted by the cuts, to forward a copy of a letter our way addressed to executive director Tom McCallum (no relation), several directors, board president Bob Ashcroft and MPP Jeff Yurek. Continue reading

Yes, the insurance was indeed paid


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Tony Hofstee sure lit up the T-J Facebook page with his letter to the editor documenting the efforts of volunteers and committee members associated over the years with the Holiday Fantasy of Lights.
His long list of items and services paid for by the Fantasy of Lights will come as a revelation to many, including mayor and members of council
These include electrical work and supplies, upgrades to the washrooms, trees and plants for Pinafore Park, donations to other worthy organizations and the list goes on.
Tony closed his letter with the hope “the mayor and parks director Catharine Spratley apologize to the volunteers who ran the Fantasy. Yes mayor, we did pay our own insurance!”
His letter elicited dozens of responses, including this sampling:
Lori Calvert posted, “Well done Tony. I am glad someone put into print all that we (all previous and current members) did that went unnoticed. But sadly this will fall on deaf ears … if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say ‘why didn’t they ask for volunteers?’ The bottom line is always missed. FOL didn’t ask for hand-outs and money just stop putting up road blocks and charging fees when it is for the betterment of the entire city!!!” Continue reading