Misleading mouthpieces

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StinkyContrary to what you might expect, I am not surprised that the Enterprise Bulletin recently printed a letter replete with disinformation and disingenuous claims from someone who might be best described as one of The Block’s more rabid mouthpieces. Call it an editorial fart.

My faith in any objectivity, neutrality of, or fact-checking by the EB was long ago disabused. The EB has been The Block’s tame outlet even before the current editor took the job. That the EB continues to run a similarly biased, inaccurate column by another of The Block’s mouthpieces (albeit one of lesser talent) merely underscores my impression of overt bias.

I am, however, annoyed that no one who knows the facts has come forward to challenge these outlandish assertions.

For example, “The CAO of our town spent 15 frustrating months trying to obtain documents pertaining to the sale of Collus from its CEO.” This is simply incorrect. Any information in the hands of Collus/Powerstream was provided to the town, sometimes several times over.

Frustrating? Yes, for the utility. How many times do you have to keep giving out the same material to the town before it stops demanding what it already has?

The utility could not, however, provide such information as minutes of council meetings because they were the responsibility of town staff to record and keep. But let’s blame the utility for not doing town staff’s work for them.

And then to say, “After reviews by three expert consultants, the town seems no further ahead, being left with more questions than answers.” This failure should be blamed on the out-of-town lawyers and consultants whose work has been lax, incomplete, and erroneous – not to mention it has already cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and the bills are still coming in.

‘Expert’ may be a more generous term than some would use for these firms, given the results. I might prefer to simply call them “buddy consultants” or “ambulance chasers.”

The utility tried several times to update and inform these outsiders, and sent in reams and reams of paper and documentation to correct their many mistakes. But town staff chose not to amend or update the reports, or even to share the corrections with the public. And to date, The Block has refused every request for the utility to come before council, to answer questions and to publicly present its side of the story.

Of course The Block won’t allow anything that smells of accountability, or openness at the table because it would illuminate their own malfeasance. So shame on them, not on our utility.

It is also true that the utility has resisted giving out confidential and private information about staff in violation of Ontario’s corporation and privacy laws. This hasn’t stopped The Block from trying to get it, of course.

The strangely fascist notion that confidential wage and benefit information that is protected by law is somehow “..transparency that the taxpayers deserve…” comes no doubt from The Block’s ideological stance that it is above such petty things as laws or privacy concerns.

But instead of questioning the ongoing harassment of the utility, and the failure of hired guns to accomplish anything more than spending our tax dollars and ruining our reputation, the writer claims the mayor has “…not been an effective intermediary between the two parties.”

Nothing like a little ad hominem attack to add incredibility to your misinformed claims. But mouthpieces don’t have to be informed, don’t have to tell the truth, don’t have to even know what they’re frothing about – they just have to attack, attack, attack. That’s why The Block curries their favour. So someone else can do their dirty work.

Finally the claim that “relieving” Collus of “their water duties saved the town $750,000 this past year…” is simply risible propaganda. They weren’t “relieved” of it: the 150-year old, mutually beneficial relationship between our utilities was torn asunder by The Block. The former COO of water fled to another community for a job, and our ‘new’ water service is in chaos. It’s been an unmitigated disaster.

Plus, a year hasn’t passed and the figures won’t be tallied until next spring’s budget. Second, that figure doesn’t take into account the town having to hire new people for its own water service or additional costs for new facility upgrades, plus IT costs, billing, new computers, software, etc. Third, no one from Collus was allowed to publicly challenge the administration’s figure or present estimates that it will COST taxpayers much more than that, by the time this term is over.

This ongoing depredation against our utility and its staff is, I believe, simply meant to drive a wedge between the town and its partner, Powerstream, with the intention to make the latter so annoyed at the town it will sell its share in the utility and leave. Then, as local scuttlebutt goes, the town will sell the utility to Hydro One (I understand secret negotiations have already been opened) and use the money to build a multi-million dollar Taj Maj rec centre for the YMCA.

Collingwood deserves better than this, both from our council and our newspapers.

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