My Report About the Report About the Report

Dilbert again
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 made to council — which, as I also correctly predicted, would have the report “reduced to a dozen bullets on PowerPoint slides, written in a large font and read aloud, slowly, at a council meeting.” Plus it had pie charts! Nostradamus couldn’t get much better than this. 

I get it: Saunderson’s 900-page, $9-million report** with more than 300 often irrelevant, redundant, or vague recommendations, laden with legalese and moral bloviating is simply too much for most of those at the table to process. But, I suspect, so is a 15-page summary. After all, it has to be read and as we know from watching their meetings last term, the majority at the table really don’t like to read.*

Of course, we didn’t elect the A-team to council. We didn’t even elect the B-team. It’s more like the C-Minus-Team. Big fonts, small words, and lots of pie charts for this lot. More cowbell, as the meme goes. Until, that is, staff can figure out how to make the agendas into colouring books and hand out crayons in meetings.

More cowbellBut wait, it’s not over yet: council is still continuing to spend YOUR tax dollars flogging this dead horse like drunken sailors on shore leave. One report about the report wasn’t enough. We need more cowbell reports-about-the-report. The recommendation in the $700,000-as-important-as-cleaning-drinking-water-report-about-the-report demands they just keep reporting:

THAT Council authorize the development of three white papers outlining potential changes to respective policies and practices as well as the judicial inquiry processes, with intention to engage the public, including (virtual) public townhall meeting(s) and Engage Collingwood consultation for each, as well as direct consultations with stakeholders including other municipalities and the province;

No, we don’t get just ONE more cowbell report-on-the report: we’re getting THREE MORE reports-about-the-report. Reports-about-the-report-about-the-report from the Municipal Department of Redundancy Department. No “thinking outside the box” for our council: they keep building boxes within their already cramped little boxes in which they can hide instead of actually doing something useful for the community. And I bet we get more cowbell pie-charts.

Ka-ching! Hear that? That;’s the sound of the municipal cash register singing as council creates another make-work project for staff to spin its collective wheels at your expense, preparing more cowbell reports while ignoring the actual business of the municipality. And maybe along the way it might help the mayor in his campaign to be our next MPP, since he won’t do the right thing and resign while he pursues his private political ambitions… also at your expense. 

Oops. I was wrong: council wants a FOURTH report-about-the-report-about-the-report to take us all the way into September, a full decade since the events in the SVJI began. The personal vendetta that began when a previous council refused to give a $35 million handout to the YMCA as Saunderson wanted just keeps on ticking away:

THAT Staff report back to Council with a comprehensive set of recommendations for action after each consultation.

So would that be a report-about-the-report-about-the-report-about-the-report? The iterations are making me dizzy. It’s like one of those infomercials: But wait! If you buy two reports today, you’ll get the second one half-price. And if you buy three, we’ll throw in a complete set of Ginsu steak knives…

And I’m poorer because my tax dollars are helping fund this fiasco instead of being used for something positive or benefical. How much MORE will these reports cost us?

And all of this, we’re told, is as important as clean drinking water. It’s obviously much more important than helping local small businesses and restaurants survive the pandemic and lockdowns. Much more important than fixing our decaying streets and crumbling sidewalks. Or fixing our growing traffic problems. Or restoring the grain elevators. Or upgrading our waterfront. But take heart: there will probably be even more pie charts.

Collingwood deserves better.

~~~~~

* For our bibliophobic (or should that be sophophobic?) councillors, I can make it much easier and summarize the SVJI as follows:

Even though we found nothing illegal, we didn’t like the way things were done way back then, so here is a list of things you should change so they don’t happen again. While you’re at it, here’s a list of things someone else has to change. And even though we weren’t asked to investigate these, here are some other things you really should change. PS. Here’s a pie chart.
The SVJI Pie

** The SVJI was originally estimated by town staff to cost $1.4-$1.6 million, although the previous council was warned early on it would likely be a lot more. Chief Justice Heath Smith – who was originally chosen to oversee the inquiry – provided the report on the Mississauga inquiry with a letter about the potential cost escalation to the town (it was shared with staff and all members of council) to “give some idea as to potential costs.” according to the newspaper. Council blithely ignored her warning. And at least one councillor back then didn’t think it would cost anything at all! Mayor Cooper and Councillor Lloyd even voted against their own municipal budget in 2018 because as the mayor warned, the costs of the inquiry would be a “substantial increase (to the budget) which has not been accounted for at all in 2018.” Even a simple estimate of the paperwork involved should have told council it would be a lot more than they pretended. Costs were already spiralling out of control only months after the inquiry had begun And keep in mind that the costs to date do NOT include the costs of the sole-sourced lawyers and consultants hired to set the stage before the inquiry was called for, not for any staff time and expenses that occurred to facilitate the inquiry. The true costs could easily top $10 million if you bring them in.

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One comment

  1. Jeffrey Brydges

    How can so many recommendations be tagged as “completed” when they require on going implementation, monitoring, and reporting?
    Please don’t disrespect drunken sailors on shore leave by painting them with the same brush as those who love photo-ops and self-promotion

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