A press release from the Chamber of Commerce created an instant stir on the Times-Journal Facebook page after it was posted late Thursday afternoon.
The advisory, from the pen of Chamber CEO Bob Hammersley, “No New Year’s Bus Service?” suggested “there will likely be no free New Year’s Eve bus service in St. Thomas this year.”
A service underwritten by MADD Canada’s St. Thomas-Elgin Chapter for the past four years.
Was this confirmed with Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman or staff at city hall, or was Hammersley jumping to conclusions?
St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation
A Member of the Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance (SOMA)
SOMA Trade Mission to Japan – November, 2011
The Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance (SOMA), http://www.somasite.com, is a partnership of seven Southwestern Ontario communities grown out of natural economic ties. The members of SOMA include St. Thomas, Stratford, St. Marys, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Tillsonburg and Aylmer. With the sole mandate of marketing and promoting the region as a prime location for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), SOMA’s objectives are clear – to generate investment and provide employment opportunities for its member municipalities.
Let’s put aside, for the time being, the bickering in council chambers and the backroom legerdemain over at the hospital.
Instead, we could all draw inspiration from a young gentleman who delivered an impassioned deputation to city council this past Monday.
Garrett Smith, a Grade 12 student at Arthur Voaden Secondary School and the author of several letters to the Times-Journal, has become quite the outspoken advocate for those with accessibility issues.
His current focus of attention is a dangerous curb at the corner of Wellington and William streets, which proves a barrier for someone like Garrett in a wheelchair.
The hospital refers to it as a media release. Instead, Wednesday’s announcement of a new employment agreement with CEO Paul Collins is instead a feeble attempt at damage control.
The five-year pact has proven to be a poorly kept secret and follows on the heels of the hospital board’s nose-thumbing in the direction of municipal councils in St. Thomas and Elgin.
Let’s put the hospital release under the microscope.
“The board of governors approved a new, final agreement for current CEO Paul Collins.”
The key here is “final” in the hope this will deflect criticism from chairman Bruce Babcock and his board, who have taken heat for not beginning the process of finding a replacement for Collins after his retire/rehire shuffle last June.
In a week filled with grim economic developments, news of Algoma University’s proposal to open up shop in the former Wellington Street Public School is an intriguing scenario.
While it will not be hailed as a significant job generator, the undertaking is notable for nudging the city down the path of diversification.
University president Richard Myers is looking to utilize the city-owned heritage building as a campus offering the first two years of its bachelor of arts program.
The news, emanating from Monday’s city council meeting, did not impress T-J reader Scott Northcott, who wrote a letter to the editor to suggest what is needed at the Wellington Street site is “a specialized program, which develops creativity and innovation with the right mix of theoretical and practical skill and really places St. Thomas as a destination for specialized education.”
The June 30 ground-breaking ceremony at the Elgin County Courthouse thrust MPP Steve Peters into the MC spotlight – not unfamiliar territory for the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
It was an opportunity to savour the fruits of nearly three decades of personal lobbying.
“There was a period where I was concerned, but I think today just alleviates any of those concerns. It’s been a long time to get to this point, but it’s very gratifying to see that there’s going to be a future,” he observed.
At the Feb. 14 meeting, St. Thomas council put the boot to adopting a ward system for municipal elections.
In a 5-3 vote, only Ald. Jeff Kohler, Ald. Sam Yusuf and Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands supported a motion to proceed with establishing such a system in time for the 2014 municipal vote.
Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman explained the majority of council is in opposition to a ward system for St. Thomas because only two similar-sized municipalities in Ontario have such a structure.
Monday’s council meeting was most decidedly the tale of two aldermen.
The definitive issue — who should attend and how much should be spent on conferences and conventions.
Council has budgeted $6,000 for attending such functions this year and four members had sought to attend the Ontario Good Roads Conference coming up in Toronto.
Trouble is, that would eat up about $5,500 of that figure on just one junket.
Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman and the committee chairman, in this case Ald. Tom Johnston, should be the only attendees. Ald. Sam Yusuf read the situation correctly and graciously withdrew his request to participate. In the process exhibiting political maturity beyond his two months of council experience.
On the other hand, Ald. Mark Cosens scoffed at the budget
, calling the amount diminutive, and asserted he will be in Toronto.
It doesn’t matter there is a fixed budget to deal with. It means nought council is attempting to set an example of fiscal responsibility for ratepayers who are picking up the tab in any event.
No, this is all about entitlement — and a complete disregard for the understanding the mayor and aldermen are elected to serve the people.
As an ardent proponent of the written word, this time of year is particularly enjoyable because of the bumper crop of flashback features recalling the past 12 months in quotes.
It’s been a tradition in this corner to greet the incoming year by surveying the past 365 days to savour the wit and wisdom of our elected representatives.
Of course, when media scribes document a response or comment to the pages for posterity, they must be prepared for the inevitable charge of being taken out of context.
Or, as one anonymous wag noted, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.”