Thirty-six months ago a small group of disgruntled, angry residents, some with burning ambition to take a seat on council themselves, allegedly complained to the OPP about decisions made by some members of the previous council. Decisions they didn’t like.
They chose to act in secret, through anonymity and stealth, rather than through open, democratic and public processes.
Using biased media, gossipers with their own agendas, sycophant bloggers, protests, ambitious candidates mouthing righteous platitudes, and virulent social media campaigning, they alleged corruption by local public officials.
The OPP must have been mortified at having to investigate a clearly politically-motivated, baseless complaint.
But the law is the law, and the OPP is required to investigate any complaint. The police talked to people. They examined bank accounts, businesses. They interviewed town staff and collected records. In 36 months, nothing has been uncovered to incriminate anyone. Nothing.
In the last 36 months, the police never once confirmed publicly that corruption was the subject of any investigation here. In fact, the police have never confirmed who or what was under investigation, although they did admit they were investigating something. Any other claims about individuals or items under investigation are simply lies.
That something might have been the complainants themselves: under investigation for malicious intentions to do criminal mischief. For costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of dollars to pursue their personal agendas. Taxpayers paid dearly for their schadenfreude.
By now you, too, understand this was just dirty politics. By now you know there was never anything behind the allegations aside from maliciousness, spite and envy. They tarnished the good reputation of this town without the smallest twinge of guilt.
Some of the people involved were angry because the former council chose not to build the proposed, and unaffordable, $35 million recreation centre – the ‘Taj Mahal’ at Central Park – and turn its operation over to the YMCA. Instead, council chose a more modest – but very successful -option to answer the community’s recreational needs: a new arena and a covered, year-round pool, both town owned and operated, and done without raising taxes.
What that did raise, however, was the ire of those who championed the Y-controlled-town-financed facility, as well as that of those who proposed an alternate plan that put the town deep in debt to private sector developers.
Rumours persist that those most upset had been promised jobs and/or commissions if council could be convinced. That has not been proven, but remains a persistent backstory.
Surely the OPP investigated that as a motive for the complaint, too.
Infuriated at the decision, this group began a vendetta against those staff and politicians who participated in the decision, which continues to this day (and I believe is the reason behind council’s current assault on Collus/Powerstream).
From summer 2013 on, we witnessed a vicious, coordinated campaign to discredit and defame members of the former council through gossip, rumour, whispers, allegations, and outright lies. And it worked. People were fooled.
But not now. After three years, people know they were hoaxed, and many know by whom.
In early 2014 came the inevitable flurry of candidates running for municipal office on the “stop corruption” bandwagon. Some local media sided with them to help promote their ideological agendas and endorse them. Some still do.
Despite the campaign of misinformation, 36 months later, the alleged miscreants remain at large: none have been arrested, none have been charged. None have even been interviewed by the OPP.
Not one single thing has been reported by police to support even one of the lies, rumours, or allegations.
Let me reiterate what I wrote in 2014. Here are twelve things we know for sure:
- Approximately 36 months ago, one or more persons went to the police and and filed one or more formal complaints to the OPP.
- The police, as required by law, opened an investigation.
- To date, in the last 36 months, the police have not interviewed the Mayor, former Deputy mayor, Councillors Lloyd and Edwards, nor former councillors Cunningham, West or myself in all that time. That’s seven out of nine members of the former council.
- Police have not once publicly identified any or all of these seven people as subjects of any investigation.
- After 36 months, no one has been charged with anything. No one has gone to jail. No one has been in court.
- No evidence of any wrongdoing has been made public by the police.
- Nothing wrong, untoward, illegal or even inappropriate by these people has even been suggested publicly by the police.
- The CBC reporter who first broadcast this story did not confirm any details of his story with the OPP, even who was under investigation, and simply broadcast unfounded allegations made by his “anonymous” local sources.
- Local media did not confirm any of these details or allegations with police, either, just parroted the same material, in some cases to aid their friends’ political campaigns.
- The CBC reported that one person on the former council complained to the police. That person was not named in the broadcast. Eight out of nine members of that council told local media that they were not the person responsible for going to police. The ninth said his lawyer said not to comment.
- The police have not made any public statements providing any details of the investigation in 36 months. Three years!
- The police are competent enough to know when dirty politics are presented to them.
Here’s what we don’t know:
- What the police are or were investigating (the police, to date, refuse to divulge this information).
- Who the police are or were investigating (the police refuse to divulge this information).
- What allegations have been made (the police refuse to divulge this information).
- When the police will issue a public report on the investigation.
Those are all the facts, all we know. Period.
Anything else that you read or hear about the investigation – especially on local blogs or columns in the paper – is simply self-serving bullshit.
The police don’t give the details of their ongoing investigations out: not to the public, not to media, and certainly not to unemployed troglodytes living off their spouse’s income in their in-laws’ basement, no matter how important they pretend to be.
Two members of the former council claimed publicly to have been interviewed by police. So did a former mayor and a local blogger. No one has yet verified if they were actually interviewed, why the police would pick them or even if they themselves were subjects of the investigation.
So what’s next? Nothing. Why? Because no one on the former council did anything wrong. If anyone had done something illegal, he or she would have been charged long ago.
The only ones guilty of anything are those who filed the complaints and put this community through so much uncertainty and grief simply to further their own petty political goals.
There never was any basis for any charge of any sort. Simply because someone doesn’t like what council does, simply because someone doesn’t like the way a decision was made, or the way a vote went, doesn’t understand the procedures, or didn’t like losing a fat commission or a promised job, doesn’t mean what council did was wrong, illegal, immoral or improper.
Everything done by the former council and its staff was above-board, open and transparent, completely legal and democratic. It was overseen by competent staff and lawyers. The chosen option was recommended by staff. The discussions were all held in public session and all votes were cast in the open (unlike this current council’s many, many secret meetings about our airport and utility services…).
Three years have gone by. Time for the OPP to give closure: let us clear our names and restore the town’s reputation.