Why is this man still working for Collingwood?

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You're firedI am appalled and disgusted, and you should be, too. In what seems only minutes after council and staff received a remedial presentation on roles and responsibilities that emphasized the MAYOR speaks for the town, no one else, the interim CAO was at it again. Speaking out about town issues and events when it is the mayor’s role and responsibility to do so. Not his.

This breach of etiquette should not be tolerated. It shows no respect for the mayor, or her office, let alone the actual events. Such insubordination undermines her authority.

In a story in this weekend’s Collingwood Connection, interim CAO John Brown is quoted as saying:

“The 50 per cent share sale has caused this council to spend money which resulted from the activities of the last council. There is always legal fees (as a) result of us doing our due diligence. I think this council is doing a better job than these figures show.”

This is outrageous and misleading.

During the discussion, Brown said the current council has incurred significant legal fees as a result of the sale of 50 per cent of the town’s stake in Collus.

These weasel words falsely attempt to put the blame for THIS council’s egregious and excessive consulting and legal fees on the former council when it is clearly THIS council’s responsibility.

Last term the sale of half of Collus was legal, open, and transparent.

It was overseen by KPMG and a strategic task force of experts, experienced staff, and politicians, approved by numerous lawyers, the board of Ontario’s second-largest utility and their three municipal owners, with a bevy of their politicians, lawyers and accountants involved, and finally approved the Ontario Energy Board. Literally hundreds of people were involved in the process and oversight.

The resulting partnership was widely regarded as a good business model for LDCs across the province looking at the future of their operation. Morale at our utility soared. Service improved. Expenses dropped. The town was paid an annual cash dividend. It was a success.

Which made The Block jealous. They couldn’t take credit for our accomplishment. So they and the administration set out to destroy it, regardless of the toll they would take on staff and residents.

This council and this administration incurred the costs looking for imaginary dirt and wrongdoing that more than $500,000 of YOUR taxes have failed to uncover. But they continue to spend, spend, spend. It was never “due diligence” – it has always been the Block’s malicious witch hunt and personal vendettas that fuelled this vindictive rampage.

It’s not the former council’s fault for the waste of money: that blame lies squarely on the shoulders of Block members. Those who have approved this spending are: Brian Saunderson, Tim Fryer, Deb Doherty, Kathy Jeffrey, Cam Ecclestone, Bob Madigan, and Mike Edwards. They cannot shirk their responsibility for this debacle.

You want to point your finger at the waste of public funds? Point it at them. They’ve done all of this in secret, behind closed doors, without a whisper of public input. That stink in the air is coming from town hall. Something is rotten in there.

And then Brown added,

“The mayor was given significant authority by council for the whole transaction.”

No, that isn’t true. The mayor was appointed BY COUNCIL to sit on the strategic committee examining the options, along with experts from the energy sector, our former CAO, and experienced, respected members of the utility board. The mayor had a single voice. When it came to sign the final contract, she did as she was instructed, as her role as mayor requires. She appropriately signed the agreement, as ANY mayor does with contracts, bylaws and agreements.

To suggest she did anything wrong is an attack on her role and on her integrity. It should not be tolerated.

And why didn’t the media make the effort to call someone at PowerStream or Collus to get their side? Too much work to lift the phone? Or might it contradict the fairy tale being spun?

The reporter also wrote:

In Brown’s opinion, the town didn’t have much to do with the share sale and essentially contracted the management of it to a task force, which included members of council, senior staff and the Collus board of directors.
Brown told council the fees related to the sale were not dealt with by the town’s finance department and treasurer.
The CAO put responsibility on the shoulders of the mayor.

This is crap. Fulsome, stinking bullshit. Disinformation. I think this might also be libellous and defamatory. Why is he still working for the town after making comments critical of the mayor?

It was not a contract. The committee was created by council and tasked to come up with ideas and options and present them to council for any final decision – perfectly legal, open and proper under the Municipal Act. And COUNCIL, not the committee, made the decision.

The “town” had everything to do with the sale: we heard the presentation from the Collus board asking to investigate options – IN PUBLIC (something this council has NEVER allowed this term). We discussed it IN PUBLIC (something this council has NEVER allowed this term). We created a task force to look into it, hired a world-renowned consulting firm to guide us, held open, public meetings asking for input (something this council has NEVER allowed this term). We discussed it OPENLY at the council table (something this council has NEVER allowed this term).

And almost all of our discussions and deliberations and meetings were reported in the local media (something else this council has NEVER allowed this term).

The decision to go forward with the sale after this lengthy, public process was made by the former COUNCIL as a whole, after discussions about the options, bids, opportunities and challenges of the sale, with input from industry experts, lawyers, consultants and our own utility board.

That decision was made through a democratic, legal vote overseen by , lawyers and town staff – including the former CAO.

If, as Brown suggests, “fees related to the sale were not dealt with by the town’s finance department and treasurer,” that suggests staff in town hall were negligent: it implies they did not fulfill their responsibilities. If true, the blame for that does not fall on the mayor, Collus or the Collus board. It falls on the treasurer and former CAO for not doing their jobs.

But we have no proof, either, of their wrongdoing – it’s all sly innuendo; accusations not backed by evidence. Why aren’t town staff loudly protesting this slur? The treasurer was a member of the management team when the sale was approved by the OEB and she surely knew all about it. Why isn’t she howling in anger?

None of this excuses the excessive waste of our tax money this term on lawyers and consultants to chase specters the Block imagines haunt the process two or three years after the sale was finalized. But I digress…

I find it unacceptable that the interim CAO should usurp the mayor’s role,her responsibility and her RIGHT to speak for the town. He acts as if HE were the elected official, and that should not be tolerated. The mayor is his boss, not the other way around. This is NOT how we expect the CAO of our town to behave, interim or otherwise This is not the sort of leadership we expect from town hall.

It is also unacceptable that he should imply any wrongdoing on her part or the part of the former council. Impudent, disrespectful behaviour towards a boss would not be tolerated in an employee in the private sector. That employee would be out of a job, frog-marched to the street in seconds.

So why is the interim CAO still working in town hall? Shouldn’t the same standards apply in the public sector?

Why has The Block consistently extended the interim CAO’s contract, and consistently refused to hire a permanent CAO, saving taxpayers $50-$75,000 a year in doing so? Simply so they can continue cutting their swath of destruction through our town’s institutions and facilities and use him as their catspaw?

Collingwood deserves better.

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