Power, naked ambition, and corruption

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Collingwood sinking...No matter how many times you watch the film, Titanic, the ending is always the same: the ship hits the iceberg. Sort of like watching Collingwood Council these days. They just keep hitting the iceberg. And hitting it and hitting it and hitting it.

But unlike the Titanic’s crew, our feckless crew is doing it deliberately. Their goal is to sink the ship. And they’re doing a bang-up job. Literally. Of course, they don’t plan to go down with the ship themselves: that’s the fate left to our town institutions and facilities. They’re just doing the steering. Into the iceberg.

Although the epithet says power corrupts, I think the corruption had set in among them long before the Block came to power. But their naked ambition, their arrogant disregard for the greater good, have never been so blatant as found in the agenda for next Monday.

I’ve previously written about this council’s aggressive and deliberate efforts to destroy every facility, service, institution, reputation and relationship this town has, and to brutalize staff morale in the process. It’s all part of the subversive personal agendas at play. Well, this week proved me right again. Here’s the motion that’s on Monday night’s agenda:

THAT pursuant to the Business Corporations Act (Ontario), the Town deliver on June 13, 2016 a requisition to the directors of Collingwood PowerStream Utility Services Corp. (the “Corporation”), in the form set out at Schedule “A” attached hereto, to call a special meeting of the shareholders of the Corporation to be held on June 15, 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter, for the purpose of replacing the Town’s three (3) nominee directors of the Corporation;
AND FURTHER that the Collingwood Chief Administrative Officer is hereby appointed to attend and vote on the Town’s behalf at such special meeting of the shareholders, and at any adjournments thereof; and is authorized to take or cause all necessary actions and execute any documents necessary on behalf of the Town to give effect to the foregoing resolution.

The vile Schedule A, below, shows just how self-serving this group is. And as you expected, this was all cooked up in secret, closed-door meetings without any public scrutiny. Conniving behind our backs to further their own goals. Some, I suggest, would call that corruption of the first water, an absolute betrayal of the public trust.

To consider and, if thought fit, to pass the following ordinary resolution authorizing the removal of each of JOHN WORTS, DAVID McFADDEN and SANDRA COOPER, as the Town of Collingwood nominees, as a director of the Corporation:
“RESOLVED that each of JOHN WORTS, DAVID McFADDEN and SANDRA COOPER is removed as a director of the Corporation effective immediately.”
2. To consider and, if thought fit, to pass the following ordinary resolution electing each of John Brown, Marjory Leonard and Sara Almas a director of the Corporation:
“RESOLVED that each of JOHN BROWN, MARJORY LEONARD and SARA ALMAS is elected a director of the corporation to complete the term of office of JOHN WORTS, DAVID McFADDEN and SANDRA COOPER, respectively.”
3. To transact such other business as may properly be brought before the meeting or any adjournment or adjournments thereof.

And, of course, it’s being done when Councillor Lloyd – the Block’s most vocal critic – is away on holidays. How convenientand sneaky….

Our procedural bylaw states that the current appointees’ term runs the duration of council’s term. There’s no mechanism in the bylaw to rescind these appointments. So what? The Block simply flaunts their contempt for the law.

The Block will replace the legally, democratically and ethically appointed professional, experienced board members with staff members who have no experience in the electrical sector. But who clearly do the Block’s bidding (or is it the other way around? Which are the real puppets? It’s hard to tell who runs this town… who plays the role of Rasputin to this autocratic court?).

And doesn’t it look just a teensy bit like a hamfisted power grab by town hall? Like empire building? A hostile takeover bid?

The board is normally composed of members from the public to keep political interference at a minimum. but the Block will blatantly put their pet staffers in place specifically to politicize the board and get their (shrill, unreasonable) demands met. You don’t think there’s a conflict of interest in putting staff on this board?

It’s allegedly about some “missing” documents (aka the Block’s overt invasion of employee privacy). If you’re a history buff, you will know about the Reichstag fire: a device used to set the stage for a complete takeover of the German parliament in the 1930s. Those “missing” documents (they aren’t, really) are the Block’s Reichstag fire. It’s a canard to justify their rampant assault on everything good, decent and effective in this town.

No respect whatsoever for the mayor, none for the considerable talents and efforts of the serving board members. Nor for process, or the public. No surprises: respect isn’t a word in this group’s vocabulary. Nor are openness, transparency and accountability. But who needs those attributes when you run the town with an iron fist, and have a compliant staff and media on your side?

Not to mention that the interim CAO’s contract was already extended twice by this council – but it wasn’t extended to the end of this term. Yet the appointment to this position puts him here until the end of 2018. This signals the Block’s intention to again refuse to hire the permanent CAO we deserve.

They will keep extending the interim CAO’s contract until they are un-elected in 2018. By then it will have cost taxpayers around $250,000 more than if we had hired a permanent CAO. A quarter of a million dollars of your money. And the damage to our institutions will be irrevocable.

This is, of course, has all been part of the Block’s long-term, not-so-secret plan to make the partnership with PowerStream so miserable, so unbearable that PowerStream pulls out. Then council can sell the utility to Hydro One, with whom I understand some of them have already been in contact.

All of which was conducted secretly without even the pretense of public input (but not secretly enough; some people in town are aware of and talking about it). But why would council want to communicate with us? We’re only the grubby taxpayers. They are the elite. Tug your forelock when they pass by.

Once it takes over, Hydro One will likely “harmonize” our electrical rates to rise 10% or more within the first year or so. And continue to skyrocket. But why should the Block care about your expenses? They keep giving themselves a raise to cover any increases in costs.

And what would the Block do with the money from the sale? After all, there’s only so much cash they can throw at Councillor “Senator” Jeffrey’s expense account. (Maybe they plan to buy her her own corporate jet?)

Another poorly kept secret: they plan to use it to build the Central Park rec facility they were denied last term because the town simply couldn’t afford it. Deputy Mayor Saunderson, you will recall, was co-chair of the secretive committee that recommended the $35 million “Taj Mahal” project. You will also recall him protesting in front of the town hall, megaphone in hand, demanding we build it… regardless of costs or impact on taxpayers.

Then they will tear down the existing Sprung structures, fire the staff, and turn over the management of the new town rec facilities to the YMCA. That’s the local scuttlebutt, anyway.

Why attack our hydro utility, you ask. Because last council used some of the money from the sale of 50% of the utility – a great deal for the municipality, by the way – to build these facilities. The then-interim CAO when the staff recommendation to build the Sprung structures was made  to council was also the CEO of Collus. So, in some Old Testament vengeance trope, the Block wants to punish him for daring to support the staff recommendation instead of bowing to the wishes of the (unelected and unaccountable) committee.

And the user groups that supported the new facilities must be punished, too. They had the temerity to express their delight in getting the ice and water time they dearly needed, so their cherished facilities will be torn from them. And no doubt the earth under those structures will be salted.

And perhaps you still don’t think this is a vendetta? You don’t think it’s all a scheme to satisfy some personal agendas? You don’t think this is about ambition, power and corruption?

Don’t think of this as simply the worst of a particularly bad term. I’m sure there will be even worse news to come in the future… Of course you’ll read the real story behind this in the local media… oh, sorry, I meant you’ll read the whitewash. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

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