New hand at the helm of Community Living Elgin


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Less than two weeks after the results of a provincial review were released, the executive director of Community Living Elgin has announced his retirement.

In a memo issued to staff Tuesday, board president Robert Ashcroft advised Tom McCallum will retire at the end of December after a 21-year stint at the helm of Community Living Elgin, an organization he first joined in 1976.

Ashcroft noted Michelle Palmer, Community Living London executive director, has agreed to provide interim leadership in St. Thomas for up to one year.

Ashcroft praised McCallum for maintaining “a relationship with the people he originally supported over the past 39 years and watched them grow from young children to the successful adults they are today.” Continue reading

Excitement is good, trust even better


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As retirement announcements go, this was an odd one.
The Community Living Elgin memorandum popped up in mysterious fashion at the City Scope inbox to announce executive director Tom McCallum has opted to retire from the organization.
The timing of his decision raised eyebrows in that Community Living Elgin appeared to have fared well in a Ministry of Community and Social Services’ financial and accountability review, the results of which were released at the end of November.

Continue reading

Psst, need a courthouse parking permit?


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Seems there is a flourishing black market in St. Thomas that — surprisingly — does not involve sex, drugs or rock and roll.
The hot commodity is permits that allow you to park free of charge on residential streets adjacent to the consolidated courthouse on Wellington St.
The misuse of the permits prompted Queen St. resident Gerry Smith to vent his frustration in an email. He alleges the worst miscreants are lawyers and CAS workers, some visiting from London.
Gerry explains, “These parking passes are issued to people that live in the courthouse area for visitors, I have confronted many people that are parking in front of our house and they tell me they have borrowed the pass from a friend so they can park on our street.
“I have sent the mayor and (city manager) Wendell Graves hundreds of photos and emails since the courthouse opened and they of course have done nothing.” Continue reading

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

Tom, Bob . . . talk to us, we’re waiting


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The hand is on full-throttle damage control over at Community Living Elgin and as Times-Journal reporter Jennifer Bieman wrote Thursday, a news release sent our way prompted more questions than provided answers.
You have to chuckle when a release opens with the qualifier the organization “would like to clear up any misunderstandings, or inaccuracies in the recent articles and media statements.”
Hey, the confusion isn’t at this end, Tom and Bob.
That would be Community Living Elgin executive director Tom McCallum (no relation) and board of directors president Bob Ashcroft.
The release, by the way, was issued by the board of directors, but was unsigned. Continue reading

Community Living Elgin cuts will improve quality of life in what way?


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The cuts to staff and programs at Community Living Elgin are nothing short of devastating.
And the union’s call to action urging Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek to audit the organization’s leadership, finances and operations in a bid to bring meaningful change must not go unheeded.
OPSEU vice-president Ron Elliott ups the ante even further.
“We’ve called for the minister to put Community Living Elgin in trusteeship. To take it over, to put in a monitor.”
Citing a $700,000 deficit, the organization plans to eliminate 17 full-time positions — 64 staff cuts in total — as well as close the drop-in centre at the Talbot Teen Centre, eliminate the day support programming at 2 Curtis St., and shut down a group home on East St.
The dire situation prompted Karen Barr, whose sister has been a client of Community Living Elgin for many years and who will be negatively impacted by the cuts, to forward a copy of a letter our way addressed to executive director Tom McCallum (no relation), several directors, board president Bob Ashcroft and MPP Jeff Yurek. Continue reading