The “big” news in the Collingwood Connection this week is the release of the contract between the town and Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE). Now we all know that Elvis tribute artists can’t engage in pie-eating contests.*
The shame, the shame.
The community reacted with… a loud snore. Really? This is NEWS? Who the frig cares?
Why not cover something exciting, something really relevant? Like the contract for the paint for fire hydrants? Or the contract for aviation fuel? Why not get into the nitty gritty of the photocopier contracts? All of them are at least as important and worthy of your front page coverage.
And yet the paper went to extraordinary lengths – and expense – to get a copy.
I know, I know: local news isn’t always exciting, but making a big deal about obtaining this is like a bunch of five-year-olds showing everyone their boo-boo. Aww did widdle oo get a hurtie? Let me kiss it and make it better…
The contract revealed…. nothing of importance. Really: absolutely nothing worth reporting. Pie-eating notwithstanding. But it still got into print and online. Gotta fill those pages with something, right?
It doesn’t get any more trite than this story. Yet here’s the editor puffing out this sort of pap rationalization you’d expect from a council candidate on the hustings:
“We believed this contract should be available to the public, and for seven months we pushed for no less than complete transparency on this matter,” said Erika Engel, editor of The Connection. “The system worked and now we – and any member of the public – will be able to see what is in that contract, which is how it should be.”
Codswallop. Nothing that contributes to the greater good was accomplished. It merely satisfied your own curiosity. The paper no doubt hoped to find something juicy, some evidence of wrongdoing. And what did they find instead?
Hold the presses! We gotta get this story on the front page!
Now, thanks to the Herculean efforts of the Connection, we all get to know that next July, you can’t invite an Elvis tribute artist to participate in your pie-eating contest. Boy, is that going to upset a lot of folks…
Has the Connection asked to see the contract for the town credit cards? The contract for council cell phones? The contract for winter salt? The contract for town insurance? Imagine the stories they will cull from them!
The big item, I suppose, is that the town pays EPE $8,500 to licence Elvis’ name and likeness. Wow. That’s 85% of what council voted to add to Councillor “Senator” Jeffrey’s annual expense account so she can wine and dine herself in style around the country. It’s less than 4% of what the CAO gets paid every year (and they never asked to see his contract).
Surely the Connection has better things to do with its time and money that cover the scandal of Elvii being banned from pie-eating contests.
* The contract was originally with the Elvis board, which was at the time a municipal service board, created years ago as an independent authority under the Municipal Act. That contract was overseen by the board, and (like all contracts that involve the town) approved by staff and lawyers. When the MSB was dissolved in 2014, the festival was incorporated into the town’s structure. There is some question whether the town had the legal authority to divulge contracts signed by an independent authority.