Rather amusingly, the Better Together Collingwood website is still online. The latest event noted on the site is a rally for Monday March 25, 2013. Its Facebook page also remains intact, although the most recent post there is dated Jan. 15, 2015. But what are stale-dated entries about non-existent activities of a fake association among friends, eh? Well, it seems the only friends left for BTC are at the council table.
It’s amusing because as a group it ceased to be a functional entity the moment the last municipal election was held and Brian Saunderson won his seat as deputy mayor. That’s because the real purpose of the group – in fact the sole purpose – was to get him and his minions elected. Which it did. After which any pretence of it being a community or citizens’ group was immediately dropped. The gullible people who tagged along thinking they were working collaboratively towards a better community were no longer needed and there was no need to string them along any more.
And it wasn’t as if the organizers sent emails or letters to all members or supporters saying, “Thanks for your efforts, keep up the good work.” Nothing was said about how the groups was supposed to make sure their candidates ALSO toed the line and behaved as they had promised. The Block just turned their backs and walked away. They never looked back. They were too busy taking things apart and breaking Collingwood.
Apparently the organizers and site manager(s) were too busy celebrating their victory to bother to attend to the infrastructure they used to get into power. So the site and FB page remains as ironic reminders of how easy it is to fool some of the people all of the time. You joined? You were conned.
BTC’s sites exist to rub people’s noses into the fact that they actually believed in Brian and his cabal at one time. Few would admit to that these days, of course. Not after three years of deception, secrecy and pursuit or personal agendas and vendettas at public expense by this council.
And where, oh where was the local media coverage of this debacle? Oh right: no harm or criticism ever done to your friends.
The BTC website opens with the statement,
We will work together toward the re- development of a Town that is economically and socially sustainable, respects the needs of residents, with an achievable plan. We want to see that the Town governance and administration is managed with unquestionable honesty and integrity.
Stop laughing. You and I know the only thing that was worked on was The Block’s election campaign. The only togetherness was to vote for Brian. But even more hilarious is this:
Our Guiding Principles
- Collingwood is a Town with great potential and promise made up of honest, hardworking and well meaning residents deserving of great and inspiring leadership through good governance.
- Public engagement is key to developing a platform that will resonate with the voting public.
- A planned approach will be flexible and nimble in order to meet a challenging environment.
- There are no secrets in Collingwood – remember this.
- Honesty, intelligence, resourcefulness and integrity are the key competencies of the Better Future Committee.
- Understanding how the voting public wants to have input and become engaged will be a key to our success.
Together as in, “Now we’ve won the election, the rest of you can bugger off and don’t bother us again.” The last thing The Block wanted was a citizens’ group looking at council’s avoidance of principles, ethics and legality. That would expose far too much of their true nature to public scrutiny.
Managing the town governance and administration as in “Let’s collude on making sure our private goals are met. Community needs can take a hike while we scourge everyone we don’t like or who opposed us.” This was never about working with others: it was always about power, punishment and vengeance.
Let’s examine this line by line so you can chuckle along with the absurdity (or deceit) of these alleged principles and weep over the lost opportunities and ignored initiatives we might have had with an ethical, committed council at the table. Like we had last term.
1) Good governance. Well, we’ve suffered under the worst, least informed, least dedicated, most self-interested council in at least the past 30 years; inept councillors using public funds and their position to pursue private agendas and personal vendettas, a cult of secrecy entrenched at council and town hall, our reputation and relations with neighbours and partners ruined… worst governance this town has ever experienced.
2) Public engagement? Don’t make me laugh any more, please, I already blew tea through my nose laughing at the first one. The Block have not engaged the public in ANYTHING this term. Everything has been done in secret, behind closed doors this term.
3) Planned approach? This group lurches and fumbles but not towards goals: towards their own entitlements. Sure, they hired a consultant and appointed a committee of their friends to cobble together a vapid, cookie-cutter document they hail as a “community-based strategic plan,” but it is neither a plan nor strategic. It has no budget, no measurables, no deliverables and many of the items mentioned are not within municipal jurisdiction. It’s just woo hoo.
4) No secrets? This the MOST secretive, deceptive council ever. They sold our publicly owned electrical utility to an out-of-province for-profit corporation after almost 40 in-camera meetings but not ONE public explanation – let alone engagement. They killed our hospital’s plans for expansion and redevelopment after deciding on an attack plan in camera. They delayed a major industrial development at our airport and its 400-plus full time jobs after deciding in camera to do so. Everything they do is behind closed doors.
5) None of these attributes are “key competencies” of any Block member. They collectively continually show they have little to no understanding of budgets, planning, procedure, responsibilities and legislation – and even less interest in being educated in them.
6) See numbers two and four. The Block stopped caring about what the public wants or thinks a nanosecond after they got elected. They have shown a cavalier attitude towards the community’s well-being and the greater good since day one. But they sure like to reward themselves – from Councillor Jeffery’s unlimited expense account to allow her to wine and dine across the nation to the three pay hikes they’ve given themselves.
Here’s the “about us” section from their Facebook page. It contains even more risible bullshit:
Our Vision…..Our Desired Future State…..
We will work together toward the re-development of a Town that is economically and socially sustainable, respects the needs of residents, with an achievable plan. We want to see that the Town governance and administration is managed with unquestionable honesty and integrity.
Our Key Messages….
– Let the OPP investigation of Collingwood Council takes it course, we must trust in due process and allow the police to do their work
– We need to ensure that Council has policies in place that keep Council and staff fully transparent and prohibits any wrong doing. These policies include a stricter conflict of interest policy, a lobbyist registry, a guarantee that all work will be openly tendered and further that the public have input before Council decides on major issues.
– Council must stop all discussions on the casino resort, and any developments of all private and public lands until these safeguards are in place.
– We can work together to define and work toward a better future for Collingwood.
Work together? As in, “Now we’ve won the election, the rest of you can bugger off and don’t bother us again.”
Sustainability? Name just ONE sustainability policy, event, directive or goal they initiated the the past three years. Right: NONE. Everything the town has accomplished in that areas was initiated LAST term.
Honesty? They lied about why they couldn’t explain the sale of our public electrical utility – blaming the shareholder’s agreement when it has no such clause. They lied about the hospital, the airport – and everything else.
Integrity? Give me a break. The least ethical, moral, open and honest council this town has ever seen has no interest in even pretending to integrity because they don’t give a damn about anything but themselves. And they have friends in the local media to shield them from criticism.
Of course, The Block want the OPP investigation to stay in play because they hope to whip it out next election campaign as if they got on some moral high ground. But the truth is that some of them and their supporters were responsible for instigating it (we know many of the names and companies involved by now). Without valid cause, of course: just more underhanded politics meant to further personal ambitions and agendas. After nearly five years, no one has been charged and no one ever will. Why? Because it was a con game from the start: it was meant to punish a group of politicians who refused to spend $35 million building a Taj Mahal rec centre for the YMCA – which would give some of them new careers (at least one of them actually quit their regular job, expecting to be hired for the new facility, and had to crawl back and beg to be rehired when council said no). There never was any legitimate basis for the investigation and the only reason the OPP hasn’t closed it is because they are under political pressure to protect those involved in instigating it. But soon the names will come out.
Policies for staff and council? Name ONE The Block have initiated. Name ONE thing this group has done for the betterment of the town, the residents, the greater good. Right again: NOTHING. This group FIRED the town’s Integrity Commissioner because he was investigating them too often, and they didn’t want the scrutiny over their actions. Openly tendered contacts? The Block have given out more untendered, sole-sourced contracts that the last five or six councils COMBINED. They treat contracts like party favours for their friends and relatives.
What became of Better Together Collingwood is what became of open, honest, ethical government: it got chucked out with the rubbish when The Block took power. All you people who believed the codswallop about working together, about honest and open government – you got played. And for three years you have been flipped the bird by the people who rose to power on your faith in them. They laughed at your gullibility and naiveté when they got elected, and they’re still laughing at you today.
BTC went the way of its predecessor, VOTE – not surprising because many of the same cabal that created VOTE were also behind BTC. Both were meant to push forward certain candidates and their private agendas under a guise of being a “citizens’ group.” They were nothing of the kind: they were con games.
Don’t be taken in by them again. All seven need to go. They need to be turfed from office next election and some ethical, honest politicians elected to replace them.
Collingwood deserves better.