Our treasonous council


If Collingwood Council operated at a higher tier or government – say the federal level – they would be called treasonous and taken to court for their culture of deception, their attacks on our democratic and civic institutions, and for their ongoing betrayal of the public trust. But because they are only a municipal government, they can merely be called despicable while we await the next election.

The latest act of desperation in the dungheap of this term is the recent motion to demand a judicial inquiry into the sale of 50% of our electrical utility to PowerStream last term. At a cost of at least $1 million.

Just when you think they couldn’t sink any deeper into the muck, The Block lower the bar again. And of course it followed yet another closed-door meeting during which public business was discussed and decided on in secret.

This is, of course, an attempt to head off the upcoming demand for just such an inquiry into this term’s unethical and secretive processes to sell ALL of our utilities to a private, for-profit, out-of-province corporation. Without, of course, public input.

The first sale happened SIX years ago. During that process they all had the opportunity to comment, to oppose the sale, to speak up. Which, of course, none of them did.

Let’s see how the processes stack up. Last term: open process, open meetings, public engagement, full media disclosure and coverage, transparency, all documentation published and available for public scrutiny, world-renowned consultants hired to oversee the process, all money accounted for, and a single in camera meeting held at the very end of the process to open the sealed RFPs. This term: secrecy from the start, deception, illegal acts, utility boards fired and replaced by puppets, OEB investigations into town actions, immoral and unethical behaviour, lies, obfuscation, personal agendashidden documents, rumours of big commissions, no public engagement, a sole-sourced lawyer, a secret deal to hand over our water utility to the same company without public input, the broken shared services agreement that cost taxpayers millions in new expenses, a promised savings of $750,000 a year from separating the water utility from the electrical but that mysteriously vanished at budget time, at least  37 closed-door meetings about the utility,  a secret contract to keep paying the interim CAO after he retired, and secretive terms of the sale the town won’t disclose.

Which one do you think most deserves investigation? Me, too. Secrecy, lies and the betrayal of the public trust this term SHOULD be investigated. 

And, I’m told, The Block secretly informed their pet CBC reporter of the impending motion head of time, so they could get media attention and play the same sort of smear campaign they arranged for last term with their phony OPP investigation (five years later and no charges, not even one police interview of an alleged miscreant: it’s long been proven to have been a hoax).

Hey! Guess who the CBC reporter – the same one who covered the phony OPP investigation – quoted and photographed? Why, our own Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson! Are you surprised? Me either.

Saunderson and his fellow Blockheads aren’t quite bright enough to figure out how the funding of the last sale worked. Instead of actually looking it up, they keep bloviating about only getting $8 million – which is entirely wrong (or egregiously deceptive). The actual amount was $14,458,559 – as has been stated in public many times before. That came from:

  • Promissory Note $1,710,170
  • Cash Dividend $11,598,389
  • Funds held in Escrow $1,000,000
  • Future Dividend $150,000
  • Total $14,458,559

The cash dividend was a combination of money received from PowerStream and from the re-capitalization of the utility. This was reported in the local media and by the OEB, was detailed in the auditor’s reports of 2013 and in the Collus Annual Report of 2013.

One of the reasons the utility was worth more in 2017 than in 2012 is because of the improvements on its equity made through that re-capitalization. The return on equity (ROE) jumped from 2.26% in 2011 to 8.4% in 2014 and the OEB reported it had jumped to 8.98% by 2016 (and may be even higher at 10.86%). (Yes, I know, since The Block don’t even know what a dividend is, they can’t be expected to read even a simple financial report like this).

A good reporter might have stopped to check his facts BEFORE publishing, but maybe that’s not a CBC policy any more. Maybe unsupported allegations and innuendo are the new news. Maybe yellow journalism is back in style.

This investigation could cost the town $1 million or more. And guess who’s paying for this unnecessary expense to fuel their wacky conspiracy theories and their obsession to punish former staff and former councillors? That’s right, you! Taxpayers are going to shoulder the costs of this Block vendetta just as we paid the costs of their phony OPP investigation. 

As you already know, I have documented both the previous term’s open process for the sale and this term’s secretive and deceptive process several times. Last fall, I published two very detailed accounts listing every meeting, every public discussion and every document I could recall or find online for both processes (part one and part two are here and I also recommend this earlier post). These, along with other posts and documents I have, will form part of what I hope is my own presentation at any inquiry.

Yes, I am looking forward to being called because it will be a chance to clear their air about last term and to expose this group for its snakepit behaviour this term. This will be my (and others, I’m told) platform to publicly expose The Block, their machinations and their betrayals of the public trust. It will likely serve to launch more than a few campaigns to turf The Block from office.

And, I suspect, some folks are already speaking to their lawyers about about possible slander or defamation lawsuits. I certainly know several have done so in the past.

In the motion you will see The Block demand to be told, “The salaries, benefits and emoluments of any kind paid to any employee of Collus PowerStream and any other Collus company.” In other words, they want the judge to give them the confidential and private information that is protected by Ontario corporate law, that they failed to get in their previous (and devious) efforts. That failure sent them into a paroxysm of frustration and rage, so they redoubled their efforts. Now they hope to get the personnel information another way. Laws about confidentiality and privacy matter nothing to them. If they had a lawyer among them, they’d know how wrong and unethical and sneaky this is… oh, wait…

And you know what’s sad? These cowards waited until Councillor Lloyd was on vacation to make this motion, knowing they could not face his opposition or criticism. Like any schoolyard bullies, they don’t fare well when confronted by someone with a spine.

This won’t legitimize The Block any more than it will add credibility to the CBC for its shoddy reporting. It will just expose their weakness and their bent for revenge at any cost. This is a desperate act by a group of nasty, despicable people who will do everything they can to hold onto power even if it destroys our community as they do it. 

Collingwood deserves better.

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  1. From a story in Collingwood Today:

    The stupidity of lawyers? Or feeding off paranoid conspiracy theories?

    “McDowell’s presentation included a list – several items long – of unanswered questions relating to the Collus sale. Some questions included: How were the terms of the RFP arrived at? Why sell 50 per cent? Was there effective oversight for the town? Where did the proceeds go?”

    ALL of those questions have been reported in the local media and have been public knowledge for years (See the links, above). They were part of PUBLIC presentations made to council and reported on in the local media. This guy has cost taxpayers AT LEAST $20,000 so far and if he doesn’t know how to find public documents online, then we’re being conned.

    Well, yes, The Block have been conning us for more than three years… but this is an outsider and The Block are massively gullible to this snake oil.

  2. Are all lawyers this stupid or simply massively uninformed and refuse to look up the answers?

    Yvonne Hamlin is a retired lawyer who specialized in municipal law during her career in Toronto. She now lives in Collingwood…
    “We don’t need these rumours, allegations and innuendos about who’s benefiting,” she said. “We need a transparent process … Collingwood has to clear the air on these deals.”

    You’d think a lawyer would actually do a simple Google search before shooting off an uninformed comment to the media. You’d think they would check the PUBLIC records before making allegations about issues. But it seems some are as dim as The Block about the facts. or maybe she’s one of those rare Block supporters and thus doesn’t care about facts.

  3. “The most confrontational among us are usually scared, seeking to control everything they can. If you are someone’s target, chances are he is more frightened of something you represent – perhaps a power or ability -than of you yourself. In school we called these people bullies.”

    From Harriet Rubin: The Princessa, Machiavelli for Women, P.113.

    Explains a lot about The Block: as bullies, they’re afraid of the openness the former council represents. Our good governance is a constant reminder to them of just how truly inept and awful they are at it.

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