Is sensitivity training sufficient deterrent to deal with workplace harassment at city hall?


city_scope_logo-cmykExactly four years ago, we wrote at length about workplace harassment at city hall, referring to it as a “toxic environment.”
At that time, we postulated the City of St. Thomas, as a corporation, should be held to a high standard of excellence with regard to a workplace environment.
The issue in 2015 involved a city employee we identified as ‘Dave’ and his allegations of verbal and physical abuse involving fellow employees and managers.
In a conversation in June of that year with human resources manager Graham Dart, he conceded “As an employer, we don’t have to guarantee a harassment-free workplace, because we can’t do that.
“There is no expectation or requirement of that. But there is an obligation on our part — especially under the Occupational Health & Safety Act — that we address harassment in the workplace.”

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Not knowing the price is a good thing


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Don’t fall for this scam. Someone insists they know the true cost of a new police station and they’re willing to share the figure with you.
The information doesn’t exist and it never has. Oh, there have been estimates attached to various consultant reports, but they are nothing more than that — rough costing based on a conceptual plan that has no bearing on the final reality.
That was the message driven home Thursday at the initial meeting of the police building committee. A body whose mandate is to do just that — come up with a firm price based on a concrete design.
So, who sits on the committee?
It is chaired by Ald. David Warden and includes aldermen Mark Cosens and Tom Johnston, CAO Wendell Graves, treasurer Bill Day, director of engineering John Dewancker and St. Thomas Police Chief Darryl Pinnell.
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Filling vacant council seat akin to musical chairs


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Monday’s vote to appoint former mayor Cliff Barwick to fill the seat vacated by Sam Yusuf has unleashed a groundswell of anger and accusations across the social media universe.
Not to mention some questionable logic and judgment from both factions of council.
To get the ball rolling, you have to ask, when council had 60 days to fill the vacancy – whether by appointment or by-election – why did the Barwick 4 feel compelled to call a snap vote just minutes after officially declaring the seat vacant?
That in itself brought out the red flags, prompting Ald. Mark Cosens to charge, “it’s obvious that had been orchestrated.”
Point taken.
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Stop the budget bus, we’re headed in the wrong direction


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The focus the government should be taking is job creation, especially in St. Thomas and Elgin. That’s the thumbnail analysis from Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek on the Ontario budget handed down Thursday.
“There’s pretty much zero for job creation or even getting our economy back on a somewhat level platform,” Yurek told City Scope on Friday.
“Spending is up $3.6 billion dollars at a time we’re trying to balance the budget. That’s just the wrong direction.”
Do you start with reeling in public sector salaries? Do you tinker with bargaining rights, as was the case with teachers?
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Simple fun or homage to violence? Zombies stir debate


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Oh my. Where’s the skate park you promised? Why are we paving over paradise in Pinafore Park. All that money to lay down a few hundred feet of railroad tracks and erect a replica station. And now . . . zombies.
Bryan Bakker is a nice sort of guy. Cares about the city and its employment prospects. That’s why he ran provincially for the NDP in 2003 against Steve Peters.
A 2003 bio posted on the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation website even notes Bakker “is an active supporter of Amnesty International.”
He’s an organizer of the St. Thomas Tom Zombie Festival planned for later summer that is geared to local teens. Continue reading

I’m sorry, your patient care has been out-sourced


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It’s an atmosphere that has been described as poisonous. A department where the director is accused of harassing, bullying and belittling a long-time employee who, as a result, is now absent from the workplace on stress leave.
A situation where an individual charged with the financial welfare of a $110 million corporation is in flagrant and repeated violation of that organization’s respect in the workplace policy
What is shocking is the venue – the treasury department at city hall – and the actions of city treasurer Bill Day have put CAO Wendell Graves and human resources director Graham Dart between a rock and a hard place.
And, no matter what action they deem necessary, it could cost St. Thomas ratepayers dearly.
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STEGH provides insight into chief of staff salary, VP details ‘exciting stuff’


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Ten days ago – as reported last week in this space – we contacted Cathy Fox, communications and public relations specialist at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital, seeking answers to the following questions.
Why doesn’t vice-president/chief of staff Nancy Whitmore’s salary appear on annual public sector salary disclosures?
And, prior his arrival at STEGH, did vice-president of corporate services Malcolm Hopkins work outside of health care in British Columbia?
We received the following detailed answer to the first query directly from hospital CEO Paul Collins.
“In 2008, STEGH undertook a recruitment process to replace the previous physician in the role of VP Medical Affairs/Chief of Staff. The successful candidate was Dr. Nancy Whitmore, the first from outside of STEGH. Dr. Whitmore had been a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist in St. Thomas in the early 1990’s before relocating to Stratford.”
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