The costs of the Block’s conspiracy theory

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Wasting our money$6.2 million. That’s how much it cost Mississauga to have a judicial inquiry into its utility Enersource, back in 2011. That inquiry was initially estimated to cost $2 million but the costs more than tripled, according to a story in The Connection.

Imagine what The Block’s judicial inquiry is going to cost us in Collingwood. Millions and millions more.

They’ve already admitted it will cost taxpayers around $2 million. But none of them have even the slightest idea of what’s involved, who has to be called, who pays what, or what the process is. They just swallowed the bait on the hook of the lawyer hired by the former interim CAO without hesitation. But then, none of them care about the costs because it will have to be paid next term, by a whole new council since no one in their right minds would re-elect a single one of this corrupt lot.

After all, it feeds their conspiracy theory – and like all such conspiracies is based on wild, alt-fact imagination rather than anything resembling truth. But it also helps them pursue their vendettas against former council and staff for not building the $35 million Taj Mahal for the Y at public expense. (Remember: some of these are the same people who cooked up the phony OPP investigation that found nothing wrong in five years – but still cost Ontario taxpayers millions to run).

The Mississauga inquiry interviewed nearly 100 people and collected about 35,000 documents and held hearings where 35 people testified over a period of 38 days. And cost the city $6.2 million.

Collingwood’s inquiry is going to be remarkably similar. At least 100 people were involved in the original share sale, including former councillors and many staff from Collingwood, former board members and staff of Collus and PowerStream, lawyers from municipalities and utilities, current Alectra staff and board, the KPMG’s consultant, auditors, the councils and staff of the three Ontario municipalities that were shareholders in PowerStream who approved the sale, our former CAO, our former interim CAO, reporters who covered the public events in local media, PLUS officials and staff at the Ontario Energy Board and Energy Probe who investigated and approved the deal. And some of the current council will be interviewed, too.

PLUS the town will have to pay the costs of lawyers, auditors and accountants who get called (and likely those of people who come from outside the community or interrupt their jobs to testify). There will be town staff who can’t do their work because they will be in interviews. There will be the costs to retrieve and print thousands of pages of documentation.

Thirty eight days of testimony? I doubt it will be any fewer for us here given the number of people involved in the decision last term. I have already spoken to a half-dozen people who are preparing thick dossiers and their paperwork, each of whom will have 100 or more pages of factual documentation and reports to present (my blog posts about Collus are at least that long!). I suspect our own inquiry will require 40 or more days.

I’m sure there are at least as many documents in our inquiry if you include all the emails, agendas, minutes, media stories and reports including the post-sale reports (especially the factual ones from PowerStream The Block refused to accept or allow the public to see).

So expect this inquiry to cost taxpayers millions and millions more than The Block said – not simply because they aren’t very good at telling the truth or understanding facts, but because they haven’t a clue what such an inquiry will cost. And they don’t care. This was never about you, never about the community, never about Collingwood. Taxpayers mean nothing to them. It’s all about them; it always has been. So what if it costs you $6 million? Or $10 million? Not their concern.

And what would we do with $6.2 million anyway? Just fix sidewalks, fix roads, upgrade water and sewer lines, beautify the waterfront, plant more trees, add equipment to parks, add new trails, build more recreational facilities, build a civic centre… nothing The Block can be bothered with. None of it is about them, after all.

Consider this: this term The Block sold our publicly-owned electrical utility to a for-profit private corporation after dozens of closed door meetings, without any public consultation or input, and that money won’t go to any public works or into the public coffers: it will be spent on a judicial inquiry to pursue The Block’s conspiracy theory. We have lost all local control over electrical rates and service with nothing in return for giving them up. And they demanded a judicial inquiry about a fully open, transparent, public process last term. Does the stink of hypocrisy scorch your nose yet?

Collingwood deserves better. And it’s up to you to make sure we get better next term.

PS: Where is the outrage in the local media? Where are the editorials calling out these people for their egregious lack of public consultation and waste of taxpayer dollars? Oh that’s right: you don’t embarrass your friends…

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