Bullying the hospital again


Schoolyard bulliesBrian Saunderson never seems to tire of creating conflict with our local hospital. When he’s not acting all lawerly and grilling the volunteer members of the board and its representatives like guilty suspects in a trial, he’s coming up with new ways to be confrontational and adversarial. All in a vain attempt to make it look like he, the town administration, and his sycophant Block minions are not the cause of the problem. Sneaky, Brian, but ineffectual.

You, dear reader, know the truth. You’ve followed the story here, you’ve watched the hospital representatives being attacked and insulted by Brian and his buddies on council and staff when after public presentations to council. You’ve heard the disrespect and the snide remarks, the condescending piffle from taxpayer-paid, sole-sourced consultants and out-of-town lawyers. You’ve read the media stories about the continuing roadblocks and demands the town has put up.

You know without any doubt that The Block and the town administration are to blame for the failure of the redevelopment plan to get ministry funding. No amount of misdirection, no self-righteous lawerly blustering can hide that.

And you also know that local media’s biased reports favour The Block’s antagonistic stand, rather than offer objective reporting. That makes them complicit in this mess.

There’s story in the Connection this week, headlined “Collingwood hospital not ready to release feedback on development plan.” The article notes that the process is still ongoing and the hospital will first respond to the province, then provide the information to the entire public. That’s not enough for Saunderson because his sense of entitlement doesn’t include “everyone.” Saunderson is quoted as saying:

I do find it concerning we’re not being made aware of what these comments say until after a response has been generated. When the hospital says on their website community engagement and consultation is an important part of the redevelopment process, if you don’t have that process until after you’ve framed your answers to these questions at this important juncture, I’m not sure the community consultation is really beneficial.

This from a guy who has gone behind closed doors with his sly buddies to discuss the hospital redevelopment more often than they’ve discussed it in public (not to mention all the other local issues they refuse to discuss openly – selling Collus-PowerStream, selling our water utility, breaking the shared services agreement, creating a new IT services department and hiring three people, selling our airport and so on…). This from The Block who have avoided ALL public engagement and consultation for more than two and a half years over selling our electrical utility, selling our water utility, breaking the shared services agreement, creating a new IT services department and hiring three people, selling our airport, contracting with Fire Marque to the detriment of residents,  and so on… ain’t hypocrisy grand?

And note: the article doesn’t quote the mayor, who speaks for council and the town, but gives centre stage to Saunderson.

What the paper didn’t report was that at that meeting, the Mayor read a letter from the hospital, dated July 11, that said,

In the spirit of collaboration, our sixth joint mayors’ Forum scheduled for July 25 will provide the opportunity for us to share key components of our redevelopment journey with all municipalities at the same time. During this meeting it is our intention to provide a high-level overview of the comments we received from the Capital Investments branch of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care (MOHLTC)… Please appreciate that at this time it is the mission of the hospital, the NSM LHIN and the Stage 1 planning consultants to focus our efforts on responding to the clinical and operational information required (by the Ministry)… CGMH is happy to share a copy of the comments we received from the MOHLTC, with our responses, after we have submitted the document to the MOHLTC in the fall. At that time, we will also post the document on our website, which will ensure the context to all comments and the answers are clearly understood by the public.

In other words, they have to work through the process before they release anything. When that’s done, the information will be made public. Not good enough for Brian, who behaves like he’s king of the hill. 

The paper, however, didn’t quote from the letter or, apparently, asked hospital officials about it. Very sly. But Brian was copied with that very same letter, so he knew what it said.

Saunderson then made a notice of a motion his oleaginous Block sycophants will of course approve at the August 21 Council meeting:

Whereas the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital has received information from the Ministry providing additional comments regarding their redevelopment submission;
And Whereas Council is concerned this information may be of serious significance and impact on healthcare provision in the future;
Therefore be it resolved that Council herein request comments directly from the Ministry regarding the Hospital’s Phase 1A and 1B redevelopment submissions.

You, dear reader can tell this is just more of his confrontational bullshit. First, “Council” isn’t concerned. No matter how high and mighty he thinks of himself, Brian doesn’t speak for either council or the town. That is the mayor’s role. There are two at the table who actually support the hospital – Mayor Cooper and Councillor Lloyd – and Brian certainly doesn’t speak for them.

And frankly the correspondence between the ministry and the hospital is NOT the town’s or council’s business. The town has no authority over healthcare, no jurisdiction here: these demands are merely interference in the process. The hospital has made it clear the information will be released when the process permits. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

Sanderson and his wannabe thugs plan to keep up the schoolyard bullying until they win (of course his Block minions will do whatever he tells them).

So instead of working cooperatively, instead of accepting the hospital’s assurances, Brian wants to go behind their backs (always his way) to the Ministry like some schoolyard tattletale. He knows full well that this request will further exacerbate the town’s relationship with the hospital, and underscore the “lack of alignment” between the town and hospital which the Ministry noted as the reason for not approving the earlier request for funding. Saunderson knows the damage his motion will do and he simply doesn’t care. He wants to get his own way.

Towards the end of the article there is a disturbing paragraph:

CAO John Brown suggested planner Don May come speak to council. May recently made a presentation to the hospital board, suggesting they needed to be “less combative,” in their process.

My first thought, why WTF is the interim CAO recommending council hear from someone who is not involved in the process, doesn’t sit on the board, an outsider. Aside, that is, because Brown possibly thinks that – like when he hired those sole-sourced lawyers and consultants using taxpayer money to defend this position at the public meeting – it will make Saunderson and the administration look good. That it will somehow support their sorry claim that they’re not to blame.

No chance. We’re not fooled.

Having May bloviate in public and criticize the hospital will simply widen the rift between town and hospital and make the hospital look like they are the bullies. Which, of course, is, I suspect, the real hidden motive for inviting him. Unless this was already planned beforehand, and the invitation already accepted, why would Brown mention May in a public statement?

In late June, May made a presentation to the hospital board that might be politely called a stern dressing-down and rebuke:

He also laid the blame for the perceived “lack of alignment” in the community for the Poplar Sideroad site at the feet of the board, citing the hospital’s “adversarial, confrontational attitude towards this undertaking.”

The newspaper reporter slyly didn’t ask anyone at the hospital board or staff for their comments on May’s presentation, but did ask May for his own self-serving comments after:

May told Simcoe.com he was speaking to the board as a resident, and a professional health care planner.
“When you’re watching a process and you know you have so much experience and things are missing in the process you feel a responsibility to speak up,” he said. “It’s like an engineer watching a bridge being built; if they have reason to believe that it’s not thorough, you have a professional duty to speak up.”

(My sources tell me Saunderson was seen at dinner with May in Northwinds in late June, just after this presentation to the hospital. And my sources also tell me the only one on the hospital board who appreciated May’s browbeating was our own Councillor Jeffrey, a pillar of The Block.)

Does the interim CAO really think having another blowhard pontificate about something that he’s an outsider to will cement the Block’s position in the public’s mind? If so, he’s sorely mistaken. It will just make people angrier at the devious machinations in town hall. But like I said earlier, Saunderson knows and doesn’t care. He’s out for one thing only: getting his own way.

Less politely, this has been a massive clusterfuck. While all our surrounding municipalities have gone out of their way to work collaboratively and positively with the hospital, our town and The Block have consistently been at odds with the hospital, and gone out of their collective way to put up roadblocks, attack the hospital’s credibility, and create controversy. The public knows that the “adversarial and confrontational” approach has been our town’s – not the hospital’s.

No matter what deceptive, weasel words the town uses on its website to pretend the opposite, we know the truth. And the community is fed up with it. Next election, this meddlesome, interfering lot needs to be turfed from office.

Collingwood and our hospital deserve better.

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