Yes, St. Thomas Transit buses are being cleaned and sanitized. But, in a COVID-19 world, when did this begin?


city_scope_logo-cmykWith cramped quarters and no exit doors near the rear of the buses to keep passengers distant from drivers, is it safe to ride St. Thomas Transit in these far-from-normal times?
Well, it appears this week much attention is being paid to the safety of passengers and drivers. But what about the situation over the last month when the transit system was operating a regular service while others in the province had shut down or substantially reduced hours.
And, larger operators with full-sized transit buses could take the front door out of service and have passengers enter and exit the vehicles through the rear door, well away from drivers.
With the city’s fleet of what can only be described as glorified airport parking shuttle buses, the above is not an option.

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Membership explosion in Sunshine Club sure to annoy


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There sure was a rush on seats inside the 2014 Sunshine Club as outlined in a report to council Monday detailing City of St. Thomas public sector salary disclosure.

The city had a total of 96 employees who earned greater than $100,000, a more than 50% increase over the 2013 total of 62.

Breaking that number down, 33 members of the St. Thomas Police Service are now included, up from 16 in 2013.

Over at the fire department, 48 employees earned $100,000 or more in 2014 as compared to 32 the year previous.

And 15 city administrators exceed that figure, an increase of one over 2013.

Topping the earnings list at city hall was CAO Wendell Graves at $172,372 ($165,900 in 2013). John Dewancker, director of environmental services earned $139,693 as compared to $132,309 the previous year and Graham Dart, director of human resources, had a salary of $127,839 in 2014 ($124,784). Continue reading

The naked truth on conflict of interest


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If you’ve read the Page 3 story in Saturday’s Times-Journal, you’ll discover determining when to declare a conflict of interest can become quite the ethical dilemma.
Mayor Heather Jackson is living that now after being challenged by former St. Thomas resident and 2010 aldermanic candidate, Bill Sandison in a letter forwarded to the T-J.
The mayor steadfastly believes she was not in a conflict situation – according to the Ontario Municipal Act – when she debated and voted on the awarding of an Information Technology contract to Ascent (formerly St. Thomas Energy) in spite of the fact she is romantically linked to an employee in that very same department.
We consulted with a pair of municipal governance experts who argue perception is reality to most constituents and taking the high road would be in order when there is the least whiff of a conflict.
“There is no question that the cautious thing to do would have been to not vote,” advised Western University political scientist, Andrew Sancton. Continue reading

You have a cold, city council will have a code


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Mayor Heather Jackson’s announcement at the close of Monday’s council meeting is, if anything, long overdue. In fact, her first step in establishing a code of conduct for city council is a process that should have been jump-started ten years ago during the bitter debate over a new twin-pad arena for St. Thomas.
If you ever bump into former alderman Sharon Crosby, have her recount the tale of why she didn’t cast a vote on the final arena motion.
What prompted Heather’s motion to initiate a code of conduct – among several factors – is the drip, drip, drip of leaked information trickling out from in-camera council meetings.
That is why she has turned to CAO Wendell Graves and Human Resources Director Graham Dart to craft a binding document designed to keep this and future councils on the straight and narrow.
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‘People in a wheelchair don’t have the ability to cheat’


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“I can’t do this without cheating.”

That was the honest assessment from Ald. Dave Warden this past Monday as he attempted to navigate a wheelchair into the downstairs washroom at St. Thomas Public Library.

This corner and accessibility advocate Ed McLachlan invited Warden to revisit the route taken four years ago when he agreed to participate in our initial accessibility challenge.

Backing into a stall was virtually impossible.


He was humbled when it came time to answer nature’s call.

“People in a wheelchair don’t have the ability to cheat,” stressed Warden, has he attempted to back into a stall and then wash his hands at the sink.

“Even if you could use those washrooms, what really concerns me is you cannot use those sinks. You can’t wash your hands and that is a major concern.”
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Green Energy Act a glaring example of Liberal government’s indifference to rights and interests of rural Ontarians


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An Arran-Elderslie councillor wants his council to enforce its rights under the Ontario Municipal Act and impose a moratorium on wind energy projects.

Elderslie ward Coun. Mark Davis said last week the municipality can impose moratorium legislation for one year, with the opportunity to extend it for another year, “if we feel an issue needs further study. These wind energy projects certainly fall under that category,” said Davis, who has always been an outspoken critic of wind turbines.

“Council should consider implementing a moratorium to put a hold on these things until we know more about them, their impact and until the province gets its Green Energy Act in place,” Davis added.

Meanwhile, Arran-Elderslie is joining forces with other Ontario municipalities in a letter-writing campaign to Premier Dalton McGuinty requesting further study into the impacts of industrial wind complexes and other renewable installations.

“Bill 150 essentially excludes Ontarians from any say in the establishment and location of industrial wind turbine plants,” the letter states.

“It provides a glaring example of the Liberal government’s systematic indifference to the rights and interests of rural Ontarians and an inexcusable disregard for public health concerns.”

The letter asks for an independent third-party study “surrounding the rapid and improper installation of industrial wind projects throughout Ontario.”