More costs pile onto the SVJI


Pie in faceIt seems Saunderson’s Vindictive Judicial Inquiry (SVJI) is eating up taxpayer money rapidly, with a little help from other town departments. It was originally estimated to cost taxpayers between $2 and $6 million – and now it seems that could be much more thanks to this latest farcical chapter.

Saunderson’s Vindictive Judicial Inquiry needs space, not just your cash, to conduct its business. Lots of space, it seems. The SVJI crew had set up shop in town hall, and were occupying office real estate therein, but it wasn’t enough: they needed room to expand. With space in the building already at a premium, they looked around town for some larger, commercial space to occupy. Space to spread out all that paperwork and put up posters of Saunderson’s Most Wanted (aka the previous council).

And last month, the SVJI people found just the space they needed in the Sheffer Court building. The town sighed a quiet ‘hooray’ and promptly signed a lease for them. Everyone in town hall eagerly looked forward to the move so they could get their desks and copiers back. Until someone in the Saunderson  cabal caught wind of the new address.

It seems that’s the building once occupied by the Block’s antichrist, Paul Bonwick. And even through he’s long gone, the Block fear Bonwickism is a transmittable ailment that might lead to brotherly associations with the mayor – one of The Block’s principal targets of their bile and hatred this term. Or maybe it’s his Liberalism that could be catching. Heaven forbid: the SVJI members might start hanging pictures of Justin Trudeau or even Jean Chretien on the walls.

Either way, someone had a hissy fit over the closeness of the SVJI to the ghost of Bonwick past.

In full Blockish “sky-is-falling” mode they ran into town hall screaming hysterically, and demanded the move be stopped. Now! This instant! Cancel the deal! Cluck, cluck, the sky is falling! 

But the landlord said, No way. We had a deal. You signed a lease; the offices are yours for the year. And he wouldn’t let the town off the hook. So tenant or not, taxpayers still had to pay for the offices. And the SVJI still needed space.

The solution was worthy of the Marx Brothers : move the town’s entire treasury department and staff out of town hall and into the offices instead. That’s right: take all of the people, furniture, phones, computers, copiers, files, chairs, desks,filing cabinets, Rolodex cards and printers they needed to function and move them down the block. Then install security locks, new phone lines, and new internet and network cables both there and in town hall for the SVJI folk. And, of course, we taxpayers shoulder the moving and installation costs.

It’s not Saunderson’s money, so why should he care? After all, he and his minions have raised your taxes four times this term already – another four years of him will provide the opportunity for another four tax hikes to pay for their wild spending habits. And, of course, for their mandatory pay raises they vote themselves each time they raise your taxes.

Surely the treasury department is as vulnerable to the taint of Bonwickism as the SVJI staff, but the Block don’t seem to have noticed that little inconsistency in their plan during their collective cluck, cluck, clucking.

Now every time the administration needs to ask a casual question about, say, the budget, or get some number on a spreadsheet clarified, or ask for a report, they can’t just walk ten metres to the department and ask someone. They can’t sit across a desk and sip coffee while they discuss town finances. No: now they have to trundle 200-plus metres down the street to the temporary location for an answer. Not bad now, but think of that trip in winter.

Payments made at the town hall front desk will have to be tallied there and the totals walked down the street every night to be entered into the books. Taxpayers who ask questions about their taxes will be directed to leave town hall and walk south to get them. Every time treasury people are required in a staff meeting, they’ll have to leave early to have enough time to get to the meeting.

And just try to find a parking space in that part of town when you need to do business with the tax department… 

The treasury folk have to stay there, isolated from the rest of the bureaucracy, for the duration of the SVJI, inconveniencing everyone and, of course, wasting taxpayer money in the process.

But wait: that’s not the end of it. Once Saunderson’s Vindictive Judicial Inquiry is over, the department has to be moved back to town hall with all their desks and copiers and file cabinets, and all the cables and phone lines dismantled and re-installed. Tens of thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – of dollars wasted.

And guess who’s paying for that back-and-forth dance? Right again: we, the taxpayers. Another example of Brian’s financial follies.

And this guy wants to be your next mayor?

Collingwood deserves better.

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