Subject to council approval Monday, the city will no longer be officially known as the Corporation of the City of St. Thomas, but instead St. Thomas – The Railway City.
And with it, new branding courtesy of adHome – an advertising and digital agency based in London – and a city administrative team composed of various department staff.
The new identity for the city is designed to “reflect a strong, close-knit community that’s continually looking to move forward,” according to city manager Wendell Graves.
In addition, it is designed to “reflect a vibrant culture and progressive business ideals looking to the future with a nod to the past,” continues Graves in his report to council.
Less than 72 hours after reader Bob McCaig last week regaled us with the tale of Madame McGuinty’s Teflon Academy (read here), what does the inspiration for this naughty narrative do but up and quit.
Not content to just step down, Premier Dalton McGuinty prorogued the legislature – effectively shifting the province into neutral.
Where does that leave us?
Short-changed, insists Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek.
We talked to him Friday to gauge his level of frustration with a premier who places himself ahead of those he serves.
“There is so much work that has to be done,” Yurek points out, “especially with the jobs problem in our riding. It’s huge. I’m sharing in their (constituents’) frustration. I’d rather be working in Toronto, trying to get this province fixed. But they’re not willing to deal with the issue.”
While some individuals who, in the past, have been the centre of attention in this corner are likely less than over-joyed, City Scope returns after a three-week hiatus. The words of encouragement directed this way during that time are greatly appreciated and, rest assured, the good fight will continue.
Let’s begin with a cautionary tale from the iPad of Bob McCaig, in an effort to illustrate Ontario’s economic plight.
“Madame McGuinty’s Teflon Academy, was an instrument of power, seeing to the needs – some carnal – of a discerning clientele, trading power for money and money for power,” McCaig begins.
“The men and women who visited her house of leisure, both day and night, nodding acquaintances in public, were often the best of friends, or at least of convenience, behind closed doors.
Two examples this week to illustrate Premier Dalton McGuinty’s complete disdain for life beyond the confines of the Greater Toronto Area.
From the don’t-bother-me-with-the-details file, McGuinty made it clear this week he’s not interested in observing first-hand the incendiary conditions at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.
Not only will the Premier not accept a challenge from Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, to visit the beleaguered facility, he won’t comment any further beyond his observation two weeks ago on a visit to London.
“Obviously, there is more work to be done and I know this is a very important file on the minister’s desk.”
Where, for too long, the file has sat.
It seems like just yesterday that Ald. Gord Campbell made this observation regarding Ascent, formerly St. Thomas Holdings Inc.
“I can’t support this recommendation. St. Thomas Holdings had a difficult year, lost some money.”
Campbell was referring to a council vote a month or so ago on whether the Ascent board of directors should receive a hike in remuneration. Board members currently receive in the neighbourhood of $8,500 for attending 10 or so meetings a year and then chairman, Ald. Tom Johnston, was seeking an unspecified increase in that compensation.
Thankfully, council was united in deep-sixing the motion.
But, when Campbell notes they “lost some money,” how much might that be?
We opened up City Scope seven days ago by suggesting the ball was in the court of London developer Shmuel Farhi.
The comment was in reference to the decision by Elgin St. Thomas Public Health to seek new digs, not located on property owned by Farhi in the city’s west end.
Well, Farhi has rifled the ball back into this corner in convincing fashion.
He is most upset at a comment we made as to where the allegiance of members of council lie.
Specifically, my observation “any dissenting voice on city council (on a minor zoning variation needed by Family and Children’s of St. Thomas and Elgin to move into the 99 Edward St. location that is the current home of the health unit) would certainly be based on allegiance to Farhi . . . rather than to city ratepayers.
That prompted a terse email from Farhi, who asserts he had a deal in place with the health unit for his Talbot Street property.
Re-scope is a word that was totally alien to the average vocabulary prior to delivery of the provincial budget at the end of March.
In the days afterward, the administration at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital, our elected representatives and area residents puzzled over the implications of re-scoping on the hospital’s redevelopment plans.
Well, puzzle no longer.
This corner has determined the definition of re-scope as follows: the massive slashing of funding for a project promised just weeks before an election when the electorate doesn’t deliver.
And we mean ruthless cutting and hacking.
A jam-packed City Scope agenda this week, so let’s get right to it.
If you’re not familiar with the name, the buzz next week will be the release of the Drummond Report on Wednesday.
To set the scene, the Dalton McGuinty government hired former TD Bank economist Don Drummond to review all government programs and services to allow for extensive paring of the province’s $16 billion deficit.
Expect some radical chopping, including a proposal to deep six all-day kindergarten.
The alarm is also being sounded for the well-being of the health care system in Ontario.
Is spending out of control or is the province manufacturing a crisis to justify cuts down the road?
ONTARIO HEALTH COALITION MEDIA RELEASE, JAN 27, 2012
Toronto – The McGuinty government is planning sweeping public service cuts and restructuring without public input and proper democratic processes, public interest groups revealed in a press conference this morning at Queen’s Park. The groups are concerned about the Drummond Commission, which was created by the McGuinty government to make recommendations to cut public services and budgets.
Don Drummond, a well-heeled member of the Toronto elite, has strong links to private health care interests and lobby groups. He has adopted a highly political role, conducting rounds of media interviews to sell his proposals even before the Ontario Legislature has had an opportunity to receive his report. At the same time, Premier Dalton McGuinty and Health Minister Deb Matthews are launching major policy changes through speeches to exclusive executive and corporate audiences.
The McGuinty government, which has been elected with a minority, failed to forge an agreement with opposition parties to set up the Standing Committees of the Legislature during the Fall Session. As such, there is no Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs and no Pre-Budget Hearings. In a minority government, the ruling party does not hold a majority on the standing committees. These committees have real powers to amend legislation and hold public hearings.
The coalition and public interest groups argue that the process is manipulative and inappropriate.
“Drummond is an extremely wealthy retired bank executive and does not in any way represent the values and needs of regular Ontarians. He selected a very narrow elite of hospital executives and pro-privatization lobbyists to consult while he was writing his report. When we and a few other groups met with him in early December – at our request – the report was already written,” noted Natalie Mehra, coalition director. “Despite no mention of these plans during the election only a few months ago, the McGuinty government has forged a mandate for the Drummond Commission that is extraordinarily biased towards privatization. It has virtually no public interest principles to protect the fairness and equity of Ontarians’ public services.”