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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Finding those new jobs is like finding a life mate


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A question for you: What is this city’s greatest export? Why, of course, shipping mayors off to China and Japan.
With no fanfare, Mayor Heather Jackson announced this past Wednesday at the State of the Municipalities luncheon she plans to join other representatives from the Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance in May for a trip to South Korea and Japan.
It’s a safe bet if you polled the aldermen at city hall they had not an inkling of this trip.
A trip that continues a tradition in St. Thomas dating back to 2006, when then Mayor Jeff Kohler winged his way to Japan.
That junket resulted in the first ripples of discontent amongst city ratepayers.
Reader Eric Swales fired off this comment to City Scope at the time: “Maybe the mayor can forget the trip to Japan and put the cost savings to some road or sidewalk upgrades instead. Isn’t that why we pay the Economic Development Corporation’s manager (Bob Wheeler) to go on these trips?”
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A quotation for everything: the past year in review


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It’s been a City Scope tradition to greet the incoming year by surveying the past 365 days to savor the wit and wisdom of our elected representatives.

As a collector of quotes from a variety of sources, it lends credence to the words of wisdom from British author Dorothy L. Sayers: “I always have a quotation for everything – it saves original thinking.”

Of course, when media scribes document a response or comment to the pages for posterity, we 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.”

With the preamble out of the way, let’s glean through a year’s worth of columns to fully appreciate what transpired in 2012.
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Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you


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“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.” — Actress Marlene Dietrich

As a wordsmith, there is particular appreciation for thought-provoking quotes — be they humorous, timeless, or utterly mangled in their reasoning.
No one fit the latter category better than ballplayer Yogi Berra, who observed: “I didn’t really say everything I said.”
It’s been a tradition in this corner to greet the incoming year by surveying the past 365 days to savor the wit and wisdom of our elected representatives.
This time around is satisfying in that we get to recall the best of the best on the final day of 2011, a year which yielded a bumper crop of memorable moments.
As noted in this corner one year ago, when media scribes document a response or comment 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.” 
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Sutherland Press building a backdrop for ‘smear’ campaign


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The Sutherland Press building casts more than a shadow across Talbot Street . . . the moribund edifice projected a pall over last October’s mayoral race and ultimately proved a game-breaker in the final days of Cliff Barwick’s campaign.

Days before the trek to the polls, building owner David McGee dropped a bombshell — he was suing the City of St. Thomas, Barwick, St. Thomas police and other defendants for $3 million for punitive damages and aggravated damages as well as “mental distress, economic interference and, specifically, loss of income” for what the claim states was “unnecessary demolition” in July, 2008.
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Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you


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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.”
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Good luck, good night and goodbye . . . Barwick bows out


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The forty-fourth meeting of the one hundred and thirtieth council of the Corporation of the City of St. Thomas proved the last hurrah for out-going mayor Cliff Barwick.

Love him or leave him, Barwick had a way with words and could contort his face in a particular fashion to drive home a point or simply defuse a tense situation.

That’s a gift that comes from 23 years of service in an elected capacity.

In a night of tributes and remembrance, Ald. Gord Campbell perhaps summed it best, “We come to chamber as new recruits. We come to do what is right for the citizens of St. Thomas.”

Sage words of advice to be heeded long after Dec. 6, when the in-coming council is installed.
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