More secrecy, more witch hunt, less accountability

Marie de France“Those who gain a good reputation should be commended.” So starts the Lay of Guigemar, by Marie de France.

It seems like mere commonsense, doesn’t it? We should laud those who achieve good things, who accomplish feats and goals, recognize with thanks those who work for our greater good.

But it ain’t necessarily so, Marie warns.  The 12th century French poet and fabulist known only as Marie de France wrote fables and poems with stories and morals – the earliest woman in France to do so. And what she wrote still has resonance in today’s world. She continued:

“But when there exists in a country a man or a woman of great renown, people who are envious of their abilities frequently speak insultingly of them in order to damage this reputation. Thus they start acting like a vicious, cowardly, treacherous dog who will bite others out of malice.”*

Words to consider when you examine local politics and the continued leavening of spite and malice against some people and organizations in our community by a small group of malcontents and ideologues. Some of whom sit at the council table.

And consider those words, too, when you read the agenda for Wednesday’s special meeting of council. Yet one more in-camera session continues the witch hunt meant to finally destroy the once-strong and mutually beneficial relationship between Collus/Powerstream and the town. This destruction has been the landmark activity this term.

Earlier, this term, this council destroyed the productive and mutually beneficial 150-relationship between our hydro and water utilities, throwing both utilities into turmoil, shattering staff morale and exacerbating the rift between the town and its utility partner, Powerstream. The provincially-respected COO of the water service quit and fled town. Others in the water service have resigned or retired early.

This move will cost more jobs, and could force our utility to move its offices and operations out of town. And, of course, it was all done without any public input at all.**

In return for the turmoil and plunging morale, Collingwood gets… nothing so far. The CAO and his consultant promised it would save more than $700,000 a year, but that figure wasn’t mentioned once in the preliminary budget meetings. It seems to have vanished. April fool! Wiser heads tell me they expect it will cost the town a lot of money. Smart move, eh?

Personal agendas should not be allowed to interfere with governance, should not set the terms for how a town behaves. These ideologies and personal agendas have already reduced the town’s once-sterling reputation to tatters, made us the laughingstock of the province, and despised by our neighbours and local developers.

On the council agenda for Wednesday is another closed-door, secret meeting to discuss municipal business that SHOULD be discussed in the open. But we have long come to not expect openness and transparency from this furtive council! Secrecy is its watchword. Why do in the open where you might be subject to public scrutiny what you can get away with behind closed doors?

There are two motions already prepared – which basically tells you the results were decided beforehand, probably in one of those secret offsite meetings these folks hold:

1. THAT Council herein authorize the Mayor and Clerk to execute a Shareholders Agreement and Shareholders Directive together with PowerStream to Collus PowerStream to acquire needed information with respect to the Shared Services Agreement.

To the best of my knowledge, the CAO has been given all the information several times over during the last year. The town has everything already, and Collus/Powerstream has cooperated in providing the requested information despite the redundant requests for information already in the town’s hands.

Taxpayers paid for a (IMHO, badly flawed) consultant’s report a year ago on the shared services with much of that requested information. I understand the town recently took all the accounting information to conduct its own forensic audit (at your expense, of course).

The CAO was charged by council to draft a shared service agreement in early 2015. Why hasn’t it been done by now? We’ve spent considerable taxpayer money on consultants and lawyers around this agreement, but nothing has come from it aside from aggravation relationships. Perhaps it’s time for a performance review!

2. THAT Council herein authorize the CAO and Solicitor Mark Rodger to investigate the share options that are in the best interest of the municipality.

Share options? The agreement to sell 50% of Collus was made and approved in late 2011. There are NO share options to be made or changed at this point.

You can’t change an agreement five years later. The agreement was made “in the best interests of the municipality” back then and overseen by lawyers, the Ontario Energy Board, the Collus and Powerstream boards, and KPMG consultants. There’s nothing more to do here except try to cause trouble.

My guess is that the town is trying to pressure Powerstream to either buy the other half or get so fed up with the bullying and pressure tactics that it sells its share back and says good riddance. Which will, of course, cost taxpayers again! And all because of some petty personal agendas.

You can’t rewrite ANYTHING with regard to utility services without going through a lengthy (and costly) process with the Ontario Energy Board, either. But don’t let reason or good sense get in the way of a witch hunt.

It looks, too, like another make-work project for those numerous outside lawyers and consultants the town has been giving so much work to this term. You have to wonder whose friends they are that they keep getting cheques from the town for doing the same thing over and over again.

This is all part of the pre-planned destruction of good relationships, the town’s reputation and working partnerships that served us well for 150 years before this council got elected. That ideology got some folks to the table, and it will continue to wreak its havoc upon us for another three years. ***

It’s saddening, depressing even, how little love and affection for this great town is being shown by the town’s administration and its pet politicians, and how eager they are to damage all that is good here.


* From The Lais of Marie de France, translated by Glyn Burgess and Keith Busby, 2nd edition, Penguin Books, London, England, 2003.

** My sources tell me that the so-called “smooth transition” of the water services and staff under the town umbrella has been a nightmare. The town, I was told, has bungled paycheques for the last three pay periods. Without a shared services agreement, a lot of previously cooperative work is in chaotic limbo.

*** Consider, too, the debacle of the airport that has our municipal neighbours publicly criticizing our council’s foolishness – and the loss of 1,400 potential jobs in the community such inaction threatens. Consider the embarrassment of having two renegade council members exposed for sending out fake – and illegal according to the town’s code of conduct – media releases pretending their personal views were town positions. Consider the fervent anti-business, anti-development, anti-seniors, anti-resident decisions and comments at the table. Consider the tax hike and the council pay raise that went along with it. Consider how council turned to hiring outside consultants and lawyers to tell them what to think – over and over. And this is just the first year

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  1. Pingback: 432 vs 440: Science or Cosdwallop? | Scripturient

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