The Inquiry Cost $250,000 More? Were We Lied To?

Hidden costsFormer councillor Tim Fryer is back on the agenda this coming week, making another delegation to the Strategic Initiatives Standing Committee about the true costs of the judicial inquiry (aka the Saunderson Vindictive Judicial Inquiry, or SVJI). I admire Tim’s tenacity at trying to get the truth out to the public about this debacle. My respect for him has risen considerably since he’s been off council, but I wish he had been such a bulldog for the truth when he was at the table (I wrote about Fryer’s last appearance in front of the committee here).

At the very end of the agenda, you can read Tim’s letter, starting on page 161* and continuing through page 166. What’s most interesting is that he included a letter from the town to EPCOR, included on pages 163 and 164. That letter shows the town agreed to pay EPCOR’s legal costs over the SVJI of $250,000 or more. Yet those costs do not show up on the town’s most recent official accounting of the costs for the SVJI (read it here) **

For a council eager to censor “fact-check” residents’ comments and letters so they conform to the party line, it seems highly hypocritical to find that the town itself isn’t forthcoming about the facts. Yet we now learn that $250,000 was mysteriously left out of the calculations. As Fryer writes,

I figured if a $4 Walmart or $8 Tim Horton’s expense charge could be included then certainly something like the $250,000 or more of EPCOR’s legal expense coverage, as per the Side Letter Agreement terms established with council after the CJI was initiated, should be too.

Continue Reading“The Inquiry Cost $250,000 More? Were We Lied To?”

Another Sad Day for Collingwood

It’s sad to see any council devolve into pettiness and paranoia, but not surprising when this thin-skinned group does. In a story on CollingwoodToday, council voted 4-3* to censor “fact-check” letters or comments from the public. It’s so very Stalinist of them that they need staff to ensure the public’s comments march in step with the party line. What next? Purges? Gulags? Show trials? Oh wait, … (more–>)

The Hypocrisy Goes On

Anyone having supervisory responsibility for the completion of a task will invariably protest that more resources are needed. Hacker’s Law of Personnel, coined by Andrew Hacker in The End of the American Era, Atheneum, 1970. At the end of the Feb. 8 virtual meeting of Collingwood’s “Strategic Initiatives Standing Committee,” under “other business,” Councillor Jeffrey (~2:02:20) worries about the “lack of staff resources” the mayor has … (more–>)

My Report About the Report About the Report

As I predicted (correctly) late last year, Collingwood Council was given a dumbed-down, $700,000-as-important-as-clean-drinking-water-report-about-the-judicial-inquiry-report. More than 900 pages of the original report reduced to a mere 15 to report on the report. And as I also predicted, it would include pie charts.  You can read it here: “STAFF REPORT #CAO2021-02 Phase One – Collingwood Judicial Inquiry Next Steps. You can also look at the PowerPoint presentation … (more–>)

A Municipal Challenge to Democracy?

Collingwood has joined other local municipalities asking the province to revamp its Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA; a guide from the Information and Privacy Commissioner to the Act is also available here) to make the process more restrictive and less open. While some of those changes might seem appropriate to outsiders, I see buried in the wording of the request some … (more–>)

Why Saunderson Should Resign Now

Imagine an issue so important, so utterly non-partisan that both the National Post and the Toronto Star — two newspapers of widely divergent politics, perspectives, and ideology — agreed. That issue is that municipal politicians running for higher office should resign from their municipal roles on council. But our own Mayor Brian Saunderson, running for the Progressive Conservatives, has decided he’s above all that, and will … (more–>)

Saunderson’s Role in Blocking the Hospital Redevelopment

During the previous council’s four years (2014-18), I documented the aggressive efforts to stall the local hospital’s desperately-needed redevelopment by a group of those on council (aka The Block*). Every other municipality in the region enthusiastically supported the hospital’s plan; only this group on Collingwood council put up roadblocks. And they were significant roadblocks raised at great expense to the taxpayer. Collingwood council SHOULD have taken … (more–>)

An Honourable Mayor?

Mayor Brian Saunderson has announced he is running for nomination to the provincial Progressive Conservative party in our riding to be able to stand as the candidate for MPP. According  to a story in Collingwood Today, he is not stepping down from his role as mayor, and will not do so even if he wins the nomination: Should Saunderson receive the nomination, he said he would … (more–>)

Striving for Mediocrity

On a council laden with dunces, deadwood, and dullards, it must be some consolation to our elected representatives, that they can at least claim to be less mediocre than Councillor Steve Berman. We all need someone to measure ourselves against, I suppose, and a low bar is so much easier to rise above. Berman’s first year in office was spent mostly consuming oxygen at the table … (more–>)

Where is Collingwood’s Pandemic Response?

I admit I am stumped. I have been looking online to find something that tells me what Collingwood council has done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year. I’m looking for real, concrete, measurable steps, things that benefit our community; things that residents and businesses can point to and say “This helped me survive.” I don’t want to read about promises, nor bloviations, … (more–>)

What would $9 Million Buy Our Town?

Back a few years ago, the 2010-14 council led by Mayor Cooper approved building for the community several important structures and buying for public ownership several properties, any of which — indeed, several of which — could have been built for less than the $9 million cost we taxpayers are burdened with paying for the Saunderson Vindictive Judicial Inquiry (SVJI) this term. For example, the new … (more–>)

As Important as Clean Drinking Water?

I wonder how the people of Walkerton would feel about Collingwood CAO’s statement, reported in Collingwood Today, that implementing the 300-plus recommendations of the Saunderson Vindictive Judicial Inquiry (SVJI) is “equivalent with the top priorities we have, like providing clean drinking water.” I wonder how many people in our town will be saved from a painful, water-borne illness and possible death if, for example, the town … (more–>)

The irony, the hypocrisy

There’s a letter on the council consent agenda that will either make you shake your head in wonder at the brash irony of it, or laughing at a writer who plays a fawning Rudy Giuliani to Saunderson’s Trump. It’s from Claire Tucker-Reid, the co-chair of the former Central Park Steering Committee (SPSC; our current mayor was the other), the committee that can be argued to be … (more–>)

The Judicial Inquiry and $7+ Million

Was it worth more than $7.7 million of your tax dollars? That’s roughly $8,400 a page (including, yes, the blank pages). That includes $232,866 in town staff salaries and $48,008 in staff travel expenses. Fifty-seven percent of that total went to legal costs, including $1.58 million on the town’s own legal costs. I can’t tell from the article linked above if the total includes the cost … (more–>)

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