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 agendas, hidden 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.