You have to hand it to our Deputy Mayor: for all his many, many faults, he does do two things remarkably well: hypocrisy and bullshit. Neither does he do in halfway measures. No, when he dons their mantle, he wears the emperor’s new clothes with pride, head to toe.
At January 15’s council meeting, Brian took both bullshit and hypocrisy to stratospherically new levels. Astounding levels seldom seen outside today’s White House; truly breathtaking to see it here in our little town. More proof the kakistocracy is alive and well in Collingwood.
At 2:23:04 Brian made a notice of motion for the town to give the hospital up to $150,000 to help cover their bills. I know: the arrogance of such an offer staggers the mind. After all, it was our very own Blockheads and the town administration who helped make the hospitals costs larger than anticipated. Had they not put up such resistance to the redevelopment, had they not erected so many roadblocks, had their resistance not forced the hospital to hire a consultant planner and lawyers to defend its plan, those bills would not have been so high.
I know, it made me throw up a little into my mouth when I watched the recent council video. Have a bucket beside you when you watch. The hypocrisy is jaw-dropping in its arrogance. Not that anyone will vote against it – but the slime trail this motion leaves is thick and gooey.
The result of the town’s fight against the redevelopment meant the hospital missed the funding window and stalled the creation of new, better health care services in this area by at least three years, if not a decade or more. If we ever get the chance, should a new government get elected. Patient care? Community health and well being? The Block never gave a damn about them.
My sources tell me the town’s refusal to support our hospital’s redevelopment plan cost the hospital more than $100,000 extra in legal and consulting fees. The town also hired a sole-sourced (of course), high-priced lawyer and a sole-sourced (of course), expensive consultant to defend their actions. This, as I understand, cost taxpayers more than $40,000. So far the cost as a direct result of the town’s bullying has cost local residents at least $150,000 – all unnecessarily. And now Brian wants us to double that, simply to pay for the Block’s bad behaviour twice.
Isn’t it great how easy and loose Brian plays with our money? And he doesn’t even bother to stay within the ongoing budget process. It’s almost like he doesn’t give a damn about how he spends it. After all, these snollygosters have already raised our taxes three times this term and plan to raise it a fourth time. It doesn’t hurt them because every time they do so, they give themselves a pay raise to compensate. So why not try to bribe the hospital to forget their actions?
This is the same guy who only a few months ago demanded the Ministry of Health reveal what it reported to the hospital because he clearly didn’t believe them when the hospital posted the Ministry’s comments on its website. The same guy who publicly pretended there was no problem between the town and the hospital, even though he was the cause of much of the adversarial relationship. Ah, the hypocrisy runs deep in this man. Kind of like the Force in Star Wars, except on the dark side.
And yet neither he nor any of his Blockheads have told us why they opposed the move that all of our neighbouring municipalities, and all of the hospital medical staff and more than 95% of the local medical community have supported. Does it have something to do with the developer who has bought up all the property around the current hospital, and has a vested interest in the hospital staying in place? Or are the Blockheads just too inert to do anything but raise their hands and vote as told?
Here’s a suggestion: take the money from the pay of those who argued and voted and whined about the hospital redevelopment. That would pay for Brian’s largesse from their own pockets, not ours. Let them take responsibility just once this term. Make those who caused the problem pay for the solution. But of course, you well know, The Block always blame someone else: they never take responsibility. So they’ll spend OUR money to try to fix their own mess.
Don’t expect this bribe will make anyone forget Brian and his group’s actions against the hospital. Certainly no one at the hospital, on its board, or in the medical community is fooled; no one among the group of activist doctors who have committed to turfing out Brian and his bunch next election. The Block’s war against our hospital will be a central, critical issue this coming election.
While this actually came late in last week’s gong show, Brian’s first act to spread bullshit and hypocrisy came earlier. Council was asked to respond to three questions about the PRC’s strategic plan: strengths, what’s missing and challenges. Brian – as you might expect from a hidebound ideologue – used the opportunity to attack the town’s Centennial aquatic centre and Central Park arena. But of course The Block used it as a platform for politicking. (This very lengthy segments runs from about 0:46 to 2:04 but start at his comments at 1:23:28 and 1:37:40)*.
Of course Brian couldn’t do it alone; Councillor Jeffrey was there to bark for him, too. At 1:20:05 she sets up her leader for his lines with her comment about “draining financial resources for the new facilities,” including “the bubble facilities.” This merely underscores her ignorance about basic architecture. Bubble facilities are air-supported: these are tensile fabric on an aluminum frame. She would know these are not “bubbles” as she disparagingly calls them, if she visited one. Or talked to staff about them. Or read anything about them.
She is underhanded in her comments about these staff-run facilities “draining financial resources” without clarifying how these popular, often-filled facilities are doing that. Clearly The Block are targetting staff.
Then she comments on their “shorter-than-anticipated life expectancy” which again shows how little she has learned this term about the structures or their guarantees. Maybe she merely likes to cling to The Block’s wacky conspiracy theories. And she talks about “their replacement” – so either she plans to tear them down in their prime (and cost taxpayers millions more) or she plans to live to be 110. Plus, since the structures were recommended to council by staff, she continues to undermine staff credibility.
Brian says we will have “life – uh – timeframe issues” for the Sprung buildings in 10-15 years. Well, no, Brian, we won’t and you, too, should do your research before speaking. The outside skin has a 25-year guarantee, longer than what most standard facility tar-and-gravel roofs have including your proposed $35 million Taj Mahal. The buildings are supported by sturdy aluminium beams with a 50-year guarantee.
But neither Blockhead will have to deal with these imagined issues because both will get turfed from office next election.**
He says in the later segment, “our operating deficit has doubled…” for the town’s rec facilities without explaining or documenting this claim (and, like his cohort, subtly attacking staff’s competence). But what would he have made us pay? A LOT more and for what? In his plan, the town would have owned nothing, but owed and paid for everything.
Let’s back up and provide some history. Last term, Brian was co-chair of the committee created by the PRC director (without council representation) to come up with ideas for new recreational facilities for the town. That group – notably without any council input at any stage in the process – came up with one plan: to build a $35 million multi-use facility in Central Park, turn the keys over to the YMCA to run it (and get the income from it). Taxpayers would pay the costs for construction – with an immediate 10% increase in taxes caused by borrowing the $35 million. That loan would cost about $2 million a year to pay back principal and interest. Plus the plan called for the taxpayers to pay the Y’s shortfall in operating costs for at least four years.
Last council wisely decided that wasn’t a good option for several reasons. First and foremost: taxpayers couldn’t afford the 10% increase in property taxes (we had one only tax increase in that term and it was under 0.5%). The plans didn’t allow for a proper competition-size pool with audience seating as community surveys said was needed (the Y started its own rebuild during this time, further negating a properly sized indoor pool). The town would have no control over the facility it paid for. The plan didn’t take into account the heritage status of the Curling Club building. The plan didn’t have a suitable relocation site for the baseball diamonds it would remove. The plan called for the closing and sale of the Eddie Bush arena – despite outcry from downtown merchants – but the plan’s new ice pads would not accommodate the increased demand for ice time nor handle the number of spectators expected. It would take at least five years to build. And so on.
Council chose instead to build two new high-efficiency facilities (pool and rink) using superior technologies, do it in a single year, and used money from the Collus share sale to offset the cost instead of making taxpayers shell out.
The community needs for water and ice time were amply met, there is adequate seating for spectators, and the town manages both (and gets the income from them) not a private corporation – all at no cost to the taxpayer. Brian’s committee plan was politely but firmly rebuffed as unrealistic and too expensive.
(Did I mention that a senior executive from the YMCA was a member of Brian’s committee? Did I mention the Y doesn’t pay property taxes – only $1 a year to lease the town land it sits on? Have you heard the story that one of those committee members quit their job in anticipation of getting a job with the Y as a reward?)
During the election campaign, The Block spread all sorts of rumours, misinformation and unfounded allegations about the new facilities, their funding and non-existent conflicts of interest over their construction. They tied up the OPP with a phony investigation, and made accusations of corruption against incumbents. The smear campaign worked to get them elected.
But back to the present. Last council’s refusal has stuck in their collective craw ever since. Monday’s council was proof of that.
Collingwood deserves better.
*For a good laugh, check out Councillor “Sleepy” Ecclestone’s response to the question about “what are Collingwood’s current strength and assets?” The question asked councillors to identify what we have, not what we want or need. At 1:04:28, Sleepy starts by saying, “Hi” and asking the presenter how he is (Sleepy like to introduce himself at every opportunity, sometimes to people he’s met several times previously).
Then he tells the presenter “people want a splash pad for kids and they want that splash pad to be used in the winter.” Putting aside the comical image of children running around in icy water in winter, that wasn’t what he was asked. The question was about what we have, not what anyone wants. But like so many other times, Sleepy wasn’t in step with the program. Then he talks about skiing on a trail when “there’s no snow on the mountain” which of course makes you wonder how we can import and keep snow here when Blue with all its technology can’t make it. He continues on a roll saying “the people I touch base with also want an outdoor amphitheater” – well, obviously those people are clueless because we already have one, and have had it for years. It’s used for events, movies and concerts. But he wants a covered one for “Shakespeare and stuff.” I know, I know, you just have to roll your eyes and shake your head when Sleepy speaks.
For more laughs: At 1:15:40, Councillor Madigan blurts out, “a lot of has been said and I agree with all of it.” But instead of simply shutting up, he rambles on about how blessed he was to be born here. Stifle your yawn at his grandstanding self-indulgence and his vapid comments about our vague “lifestyle” that don’t actually answer the question. At 1:18:07 he complains that a gap has been in “communications”- this from The Most Secretive Council Ever that refuses to divulge the reasons for its attack on our hospital, our electrical utility, our water utility, our former IT services, our airport, our seniors, our low-income residents… oh, how he likes to spread the hypocrisy around (my next post will expose that more). Communication is a staff responsibility, and, of course, The Block have to blame someone.
And note how he had to throw in a line about how great he is at 1:18:26. It’s a common feature of his comments: I, me, myself.
At 1:42:26 he again says he will “echo all comments” and then, instead of leaving it there, says the town will need “more staffing.” Clearly he wasn’t onside with Jeffrey and Saunderson who whined about costs. Or maybe he doesn’t understand that hiring more people costs more money. And he says “I can sit here and pontificate how intelligent my comments are going to be.” Which is worth a guffaw, of course, because he does that all the time. He adds “I’m not going to bore you with myself.” Too late, Bob.
But the real hypocrisy is that he then praises “letting the public come tells us what they want.” Which, of course, The Block refused to do with the airport, the electrical utility, retaining the former interim CAO, the water utility – and when they did open the floor for public comments about the hospital redevelopment, they not only ignored them, they brought in a sole-sourced, very expensive lawyer and consultant to admonish the public and bolster the administration’s roadblock strategy.
The hypocrisy continues: at 1:43:04 he says “if we’re going to spend money on fantastic people like yourself… we need to listen to it, whether we agree with it or not.” Amusing, eh? The Block refused to listen to the experts at PowerStream, Collus, the planner hired by the hospital, the former IT providers, the electrical utility board (which The Block fired), the water utility board (which The Block fired)… so obviously he wants to pick and choose which experts he listens to, based on where they fit in The Block’s rigid ideology.
** The ever-unctuous website, Collingwood Living, had its usual, biased story highlighting the comments by Saunderson and Jeffrey, giving these two Blockheads centre stage although not ever once asking the PRC director, Dean Colver, to comment on their allegations. Or the mayor. Or the town staff who actually manage the facilities. That would be too journalistic, I suppose, and far too balanced. I think of it as the Alex Jones channel of Collingwood; a publication that is so unapologetically pro-Block, pro-Brian that it should be renamed Brian’s BFF’s Web Site (BBFFSWS). I expect it will be the clarion for The Block’s re-election campaign (along with the political re-animation of at least another couple of council zombies, including at least one ex-mayor).