As a recent Connection story noted, our acting mayor wept openly when a decision he supported took some community flack. Seriously. He cried at a council meeting. Hardly the sort of behaviour one expects of the man chosen to replace the head of council (our much-disliked mayor who couldn’t wait to get away from his responsibilities).
You can watch the entire discussion on video on the town’s website starting from 04:53:39. Hull’s comments begin at 05:01:05; he breaks into tears around 05:01:30 and is unable to speak for about 25 seconds, then breaks up again. And again. The Connection’s story notes:
At the May 30 council meeting, Keith Hull was brought to tears while speaking to a report about the community response to the proposed archway downtown.
Tears? Over a decision about a proposed sign? And more than once? Geez, how would he respond to a real issue? Hysterics? A tantrum? (Read my previous post about the proposed gateway sign here.)
I don’t recall reading about him weeping over wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars on sole-source contracts for the mayor’s former employers. Or over not giving local workers or businesses hurt by the pandemic lockdowns any financial support. Or when council passed the jobs-growth-and-revenue killing interim control bylaw that killed all new construction here for several years to come.
But he wept over a sign. And not even an actual sign, just a proposed one. Or rather, he wept because some residents didn’t like his decision to support the proposed downtown gateway sign and, apparently, told him so:
Hull said he was surprised by the “ferocity” of the comments from the community, with some questioning his commitment to the town and noting he wasn’t born here. Hull has been a resident for 25 years.
“It was unsettling,” he said. “To question my loyalty to this community. Whether I’m from this community is irrelevant; we genuinely try to do the best for the community.”
Hull actually said being criticized was “unsettling.” I wonder if he got midnight “prank” calls from people or had his house egged in the middle of the night (I received both during my terms in office). That’s “unsettling.”
He cries again at 05:05:35.
Aww. Cry me a river, Keith. This is POLITICS. Politicians need a thick skin to be effective and survive. Elected officials should learn very quickly that not everyone likes their decisions, nor agrees with their vote, nor supports their every choice. Even before the toxic swamp of social media, people argued angrily over political decisions and issues: letters in the newspaper, chatter in coffee shops. Politics was never a back-slapping, Pollyana support group. It’s always been a mosh pit.
Around 05:06:20 Hull says that this council “genuinely tries to do the best for this community.” I’ll dispute that statement (after I finish laughing) and suggest they actually try to do the best for themselves and their soon-to-be-former mayor. But Hull didn’t express that sentiment when he was on the 2010-14 council; his was among the voices accusing us of working against the community’s needs by not pandering to Saunderson’s demands for the town to give the YMCA a $35 million handout.
Ah, the hypocrisy. Where is his empathy towards those who criticized him? Or towards those of us who suffered similar attacks from Hull’s own friends and supporters in previous terms? Even though they cut deeply, we didn’t weep then.
Hull needed to put on his big-boy pants and move on. Get over it (and follow the guidelines about behaviour in the town’s byzantine and restrictive Code of Conduct). But instead, he grovelled. Openly. Collingwoodtoday noted that he apologized for making a decision that some people disagreed with:
“To those I offended in terms of the stance I took, I apologize,” said Hull. “For the few individuals that took direct aim – and these are people I know – who questioned my loyalty to this community, whether or not I’m from here is irrelevant.”
I suspect he went home after the meeting and spent hours searching his closet to find where he’d left his spine.
But that was after he broke into tears in front of the cameras over making a decision that not everyone liked.
Ooh, some people said stinging things in email. Hurt his feelings. Questioned his loyalty. Hold my beer, Keith, because you haven’t received a fraction of the hatred, lies, blog attacks, and accusations some of us are still getting from our 2012 council decision not to give the YMCA a $35 million handout.
It’s not like council is going to rescind your Order of Collingwood, Keith. It’s not as if council is going to send a nasty letter about you to every municipality in Ontario just to humiliate you further (as your council did to Ed Houghton). It’s not like those residents bullied you into resigning, as the mayor and his sycophants did to former councillor Comi. I didn’t see any angry residents, riled up by misinformation and lies, protesting your decision in front of town hall and shouting names when you entered the building. Or carrying signs calling on some unnamed authority to “inpeach council” as Deb Doherty’s partner did to us.
Hull also says “the community has spoken.” Well, no it hasn’t. The “community” had little say (700 responses out of more than 25,000 residents is still well below the number required for statistical relevance: see the footnote here). The people who “spoke” were a small portion who 1) diligently read the town ads in the weekly flyer wrapper (aka the Connection…) or 2) have a Facebook or Twitter account and subscribe to (and read) town posts, and 3) went to the town’s inappropriately-named, user-hostile “engage” portal and submitted their personal data to log in and post their opinion. I suspect a lot of residents, including many seniors, not only didn’t participate but didn’t even know about the survey.
The town’s flaccid “engagement” with its citizens is a passive process aimed at making council feel like it’s engaging citizens when it’s really focused on a small and select group of people online, instead of providing an effective, community-wide communications system. But I digress.
This is just a downtown sign Hull supported and others didn’t. And Hull bawled over his hurt feelings. It’s probably a good thing he’s not running again.
Doherty Files for Re-election
Meanwhile, Councillor Deborah “Ditzy” Doherty has filed for re-election as councillor. Our flakiest councillor feels she deserves to get paid by the taxpayers again for another four years, but for what? Her contributions to the town have been slight, if any at all, although she has provided some of the most amusing WTF moments for council watchers. But don’t be fooled by that goofy exterior. There’s not a small amount of self-interest behind her smile, and a bit of malice, too.
Let’s look at some highlights of her time on the past two councils.
- Doherty was one of Saunderson’s Gang of Six Bullies who signed identical copies of McLeod’s complaint to the town’s Integrity Commissioner over her fellow councillor’s interruption of a Zoom meeting to deal with a missing child. She helped bully former Coun. Tina Comi out of office because Comi acted like a concerned parent during a council training session (which was, inappropriately, held in-camera).
- After helping bully Councillor Comi to resign, she voted to replace the former councillor with a friend, lobbyist and campaign donor (Chris Carrier) instead of voting for the ethical and democratic choice of the next candidate in line (Tim Fryer). She did not publicly disclose that Carrier had donated to her campaign or her personal relationship with him.
- Doherty would later disingenuously comment that her motive for bullying Comi out of office “wasn’t political.”
- In June, 2015, she voted along with Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson, Councillors Jeffery, Ecclestone, and Madigan to dissolve the independent water services board (Collingwood Public Utility Service Board or CPUSB). The result was the later failure of the water system (in 2021), the failure of the town to resolve the pipeline contract to supply water to New Tecumseth (expired in 2020), and the job-and-revenue-killing bylaw that halted new construction here for years passed as a panicked response to council’s own mismanagement. A sole-sourced consultant’s report in 2015 promised a “savings of just over $700,000 per year” from moving the management of the water utility to town control, but ended up costing taxpayers millions more.
- After council’s abject failure to properly manage our water system for two terms, and the failure to deal with the pipeline contract until more than a year after it expired, Doherty was an eager supporter of the interim-control bylaw (ICBL) that was passed by a gormless council without once consulting with residents, developers, construction firms, or water companies.
- Doherty recommended further challenging developers by giving those who had to humiliate themselves by begging in public for exemptions for permits they had already been promised, a “deadline to make an application for their building permits.” Nothing like threatening developers who are already angry at the town for the arbitrary ICBL, their loss of income, and the alleged water “crisis” council itself created.
- Last term Doherty was on the council that ended the negotiations over the pipeline with New Tecumseth that would have seen Bradford pay the $45 million cost to expand the water treatment plant. As a result of this and the neglect this council showed for the pipeline contract after that, this term the town learned we had to pay the entire cost ourselves: estimated at about $60 million. And then the costs DOUBLED to $121 million which local taxpayers are now on the hook for.
- She didn’t understand finances. Doherty said that the costs of financing Saunderson’s $10 million personal vendetta wouldn’t be paid for by taxpayers. She must have thought it grew on a magic money tree behind town hall. Spoiler alert: we taxpayers paid for it. Doherty was one of the five (including Saunderson, Ecclestone, Madigan, and Jeffrey) who approved launching the expensive and wasteful judicial inquiry in early 2018, with millions of taxpayers’ dollars going to Saunderon’s sole-sourced former employers: these five should be responsible for paying for it.
- She voted to rescind the Order of Collingwood from Ed Houghton, who was presented with the award in 1998 for service to the community. In 2012, acting CAO Houghton was instrumental in helping council decide against giving the YMCA a $35 million handout that Saunderson’s committee wanted. Instead, council approved building public recreation facilities at a much lower cost. That began Saunderson’s decade-long vendetta (his SVJI) against former staff and council members, a campaign Doherty has consistently supported.
- She supported Saunderson’s egregious pettiness by voting to send a letter to every Ontario municipality about rescinding Houghton’s Order and then cancelling the town’s membership in the non-political, province-wide water association Houghton worked for (and sending the association a nasty letter whinging about Houghton).
- Last term, Doherty voted to end the collaborative agreement with Collus-PowerStream to provide IT services to the town. That agreement had cost the town about $140,000-$160,000 a year. Instead, the town hired three new people to work from town hall. Council allocated them office space in town hall, and spent hundreds of thousands on new hardware and software (allegedly more than the annual cost from Collus). Now we pay almost four times as much for IT services every year. Good financial savvy, eh?
- This term, she proposed the town create a magical “healing forest” for residents to “connect with nature” in the middle of a waterfront park already filled with trees and wild growth.
- She clearly didn’t understand what was meant by a “dividend” when discussing the revenue from the former Collus-PowerStream utility. That annual income was, of course, lost when she and her cabal of Saunderson sycophants secretly decided to privatize our public electricity utility last term.
- She said six local comments against the proposed downtown gateway sign was a “resounding, mostly negative reaction” she couldn’t possibly ignore, and yet ignored hundreds of signatures on a petition asking the mayor to act like a mayor and deal with Coun. Madigan’s boorish, misogynistic behaviour towards female council members.
- Last term, she participated in more than 50 in-camera meetings, including numerous sessions to secretly and deceptively scheme to sell our public electricity utility to a private, for-profit corporation without any public consultation or engagement.
- She also supported the sale of our public airport to a for-profit corporation without public consultation (and many in-camera meetings).
- In several of those closed-door meetings last term, council and administration schemed how to block the hospital’s redevelopment plans.
- Last term she was one of Saunderon’s staunch supporters trying to block the hospital redevelopment on a new site, and participated in a meeting in which the town hired a sole-sourced, highly-paid lawyer, and sole-sourced, highly-paid PR consultant to chastise the public for wanting the redevelopment to go ahead. At that meeting, Doherty publicly lectured Thom Patterson, chair of the Collingwood General & Marine Hospital Board, for challenging the opinions of the sole-sourced lawyer and PR consultant.
- Doherty attempted to defend her position on blocking the hospital, and in response, developer Thom Vincent wrote a scathing email deconstructing her lame arguments.
- Last term she was a staunch member of the group nicknamed The Block for their unswerving loyalty to Brian Saunderson and for voting en masse for everything he supported.
- Doherty voted twice to grant Fire Marque — the company that employs the new councillor (and donor to Doherty’s previous election campaign), Chris Carrier — a sole-sourced contract to bill residents (or their insurance companies) when our fire department responds to a fire in the home, even though you already pay taxes for that service. Fire Marque keeps 30%, and the rest goes to the municipality, essentially double-dipping.
- Doherty participated in an attempt by Saunderson and The Block to bully and embarrass Mayor Cooper with a complaint to the town’s Integrity Commissioner. Doherty herself demanded the IC read the complaint aloud, to make sure she rubbed salt in Sandra’s wounds.
- In an article in CollingwoodToday, councillors were asked what they felt were council’s greatest accomplishments (our mayor couldn’t even come up with a single thing.) Doherty said it was the Official Plan review, neglecting to mention that the province mandates an OP review every five years, so it had to be done regardless of council’s wishes, and that staff prepare and present the review, not council.
- In Feb. 2022, Doherty attended the ceremony at town hall to raise the pink flag to show support against bullying. How ironic, given that she was one of the councillors who helped bully Comi out of office.
- Last term, in Jan. 2017, Doherty was on the council that received a staff report outlining the dire conditions and continuing decay of our waterfront terminals. And like the rest, she ignored it and let it fall further into ruin. Nothing has been done to restore or remove it this term, either.
- Last term, Doherty was happy to move and vote for Coun. Jeffrey to receive an unlimited expense account so Jeffrey could gallivant all across Canada, schmoozing for votes to get her on the FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) board, wining and dining at the public’s expense. Doherty even asked council to waive notice of motion — in effect sneaking it under the radar of public scrutiny — rather than face any public outcry over her motion. When asked to say what benefit Jeffrey’s participation would give the town, she couldn’t name one.
- Last term, Doherty was appointed council’s representative on the Collus-PowerStream board, replacing a previously-appointed member, violating the town’s own bylaws about committee and board appointments (she was chosen over a number of highly-qualified and experienced candidates). When it came to in-camera discussions about filling the position, she did not excuse herself but sat in on the closed-door discussions and allegedly voted for herself.
- She often gets confused and unable to make a coherent comment as she did at a council meeting on Oct. 31, 2016, when she said: “I wanted to be clear that I am, um, seconding the motion because I’m asking or I’m supporting the notion that this ask (sic) go back to staff but that we consider, um, within our own, uh, objectives and within our own priorities when it comes to operation of the airport. I’m not looking for any kind of a blank cheque.” The anti-business motion she supported helped block development at the then-publicly-owned airport by a firm which promised to generate 1,600 high-paying jobs for the region.
- You might be amused to read her campaign promises from 2014 here. Like those from the rest of The Block, they were ignored shortly after she was elected.
- At a council meeting in July, 2016, she objected to a proposal to build apartment buildings in a new subdivision, although the desperate need for more rental units in town was known even then. At that same meeting, our great legal mind commented that the town shouldn’t just “lay down and play dead when the province tells us we have to fall in line…” over planning issues. She apparently was unaware the town has no option but to obey provincial mandates and laws: the province is the authority and municipalities have no individual or independent authority. And the town is also responsible to Simcoe County for planning approvals. But maybe Doherty knows more about planning and municipal law than the town’s planners and lawyers.
- Also in July, 2016, Doherty asked why the Katano Sister City existed: “Why has this group been formed?” After its 35 years of existence, one would hope she would be aware of the existence of and reasons for our first and oldest Sister City relationship. But apparently not.
- Also in 2016, she and Coun. Jeffrey gave a 30-minute presentation to council (public delegations are limited to only 10 minutes), trying to justify the public money they spent attending the latest FCM conference. This was a few months after she and other Block members voted that “the Town of Collingwood assume all costs associated with Councillor Kathy Jeffery attending FCM’s Board of Directors meetings” with no limit to her expenses.” Done without public input, of course.
- In 2015, Doherty’s behaviour was the subject of an investigation by the town’s Integrity Commissioner. After his report was made public, The Block (including Doherty) voted to fire the IC to avoid further investigation into their behaviour. That council was also the subject of at least one OPP investigation.
- In 2015, Doherty made a motion to explore the town’s already restrictive sign bylaw with a view to even more restrictions, thus tightening the screws on local businesses even more.
- Before last term, Doherty was chair of the confrontational, anti-development, ratpayers’ VOTE group (nicknamed Voters Opposed To Everything) who were responsible (with the help of former mayor Carrier) for stopping the development of the Admiral Collingwood building at the corner of Hume and Hurontario (in Jan. 2007). As a result, that property sat vacant for more than a dozen years; a downtown eyesore that cost the town revenue, jobs, and housing.
I could go on, but that’s sufficient fodder for readers to chew on while you ponder whether you want another four years of Doherty sucking at the public tit without giving back anything to benefit the rest of the community.
Collingwood deserves better.