Much-maligned Dobbie Report basis for double-digit salary hikes at city hall


city_scope_logo-cmykThe release last Monday (March 5) of the salaries of municipal employees earning in excess of $100,000 in 2017 revealed some eye-popping pay raises to several senior managers.
In the case of Ross Tucker, director of parks and recreation, a salary hike in the 20 per cent range
And for clerk Maria Konefal, a 10 per cent pay raise.
One of the explanations given by city administration is some of the senior managers have increased job responsibilities.
Let’s be honest. How many residents out there have had more work piled on them over the past few years with nary a penny added to their pay cheque, let alone a double-digit wage increase? Continue reading

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A little good news on the Alma College front


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Over the past decade, there has been precious little in the way of positive news emanating from the rubble that is Alma College.
That is until last week when employees of R. Good Concrete of Aylmer uncovered the McLachlin Hall cornerstone that dates back to 1888.
How did the crew clearing the 11-acre site of debris hit paydirt with the discovery?
Credit goes to St. Thomas native Ryan Belanger, who has kept in touch with fellow history buff Steve Peters in an attempt to locate the stone, assumed to contain a time capsule.
Belanger contacted London developer Gino Reale to alert him as to the possibility the object in question was likely buried amid tons of yellow bricks and other building materials.

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The Dobbie Report: Was the damning document hijacked?


city_scope_logo-cmykAfter reading the unabridged version of the Dobbie Report, it’s not so much the concerns raised by the author, London consultant Tim Dobbie, are troublesome — and they most certainly are — it’s the manner in which the document itself was withheld from the previous council.
And we’re not certain all members of this council received “a thorough presentation of this report and an implementation update as part of their council orientation,” a critical recommendation of the report.
But let’s step back for a moment to get up to speed on the report itself.
The organizational review of the environmental services department — budgeted at $20,000 — was undertaken in the summer of 2014 and involved interviews with staff, department heads, members of council and outside stakeholders. Along with 10 sweeping recommendations, the review details major issues facing the City of St. Thomas, including the almost $300 million infrastructure deficit.
A highly edited version was presented to the outgoing council on Nov. 3, 2014. The report was endorsed that evening by a slim 5-3 margin with aldermen Cliff Barwick, Tom Johnston and Dave Warden opposed.

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Should city consider purchasing its downtown nemesis?


city_scope_logo-cmykJust when you thought the Sutherland Saga couldn’t attain grander levels of absurdity, comes word the structure is now on the market as a power of sale listing.
As of March 19, the building is available for purchase from E & M Cavaco for $99,888.
While the listing didn’t quite describe it in this fashion, we can imagine something along the lines of this.
“A spectacular fixer-upper in need of a little loving attention. Ideal for the handyman. With a little time and resources could be returned to former glory. Close to downtown and adjacent to rail transportation. No reasonable offer refused.”
So where does this leave the city and (former?) owner David McGee? They are supposed to appear in St. Thomas court next Friday as McGee attempts again to stall demolition of the structure that dates back to 1913.

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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

My acclamation? Sorry, no comment on that


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He’s the hottest and sexiest political commodity in the country right now and surely any number of eager, imaginative up-and-comers would love to be a player on the Justin Trudeau team as it readies for the 2015 federal election.

And yet we are expected to believe not one single motivated individual stepped forward to challenge Lori Baldwin-Sands for the Liberal nomination in Elgin-Middlesex-London?

The former St. Thomas alderman will be acclaimed on Nov. 20 at a nomination meeting to be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

That’s right, it was no contest.
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