CFN – Is Cornwall Ontario in need of reviewing its Conflict of Interest policy?
conflict of interest
the circumstance of a public officeholder, business executive, or the like, whose personal interests might benefit
from his or her official actions or influence: The senator
placed his stocks in trust to avoid possible conflict of interest.
the circumstance of a person who finds that one of his orher activities, interests, etc.,
can be advanced only at the expense of another of them.
Definition courtesy of Dictionary.com
Monday February 13th I watched the Cornwall City Council meeting. There was discussion and voting on Outside Agencies and Councilor Syd Gardiner was front and centre. Of course one of Syd’s other hats is that of President of the Aultsville Theatre.
Now I’m not suggesting any wrong doing on the good councilors part. I’m not suggesting any motivations related to Aultsville theatre’s funding either.
Cornwall isn’t a little town. It’s a city of nearly 50,000 people that’s about to rapidly growth as waterfront development becomes a reality. It’s a city with a budget of over $150 Million dollars.
Yet people like Syd make very large decisions and fail to make others; as do some of the other good councilors.
The purpose of having a Conflict of Interest policy isn’t only to make sure it doesn’t occur; but also the optics. I spoke with Syd yesterday who after still whining about something in CFN said that he wasn’t in conflict because he didn’t benefit financially by this situation.
Again, while in his perception he didn’t do anything wrong; and perhaps in the wording of the current conflict of interest wording in Cornwall he’s done nothing wrong; the “potential” for someone else in Mr. Gardiner’s position is why stronger conflict of interest policy should be considered.
As President of an agency desperately depending on city funding Syd is sitting in meetings and conversations that he really shouldn’t. Voting on his own agency’s funding? Does that pass the stink test?
Same for councilor Denis Carr who is paid to be the big cheese for Heart of the City which is spreading its reach and influence and looks to be swallowing up the Cornwall Downtown BIA as well.
Should the paid leader of his agency be privy to some of the information being discussed in camera or voting even on issues related to outside agencies he’s in charge of? Does that really make sense to the rest of us unwashed public citizens?
Again, I’m not suggesting any wrong doing by any of the parties I’ve mentioned. But if Cornwall is to grow surely we need to consider our foundation and how we do business?
When outsiders see a Keitha Fisher; who Councilor Carr played a role in hiring to run the Farmer’s Market; put in charge of the HOC fencing project on Pitt and Second, and is also on two or three city committees, get to open her restaurant lighting fast and also get HOC funding while two downtown restaurants remain shuttered while struggling to get the city to let them move forward optics can be very very important.
Cornwall has come a ways from the day when a city inspector would tell a business what needed to be done and then give them a biz card for his “sideline” but we need to move past that even further.
Two years ago the city ended up with a monster bill for repairing a parking lot on 1st street because of a HOC project. If we want to lower taxes in Cornwall; if we want to build a better business base we need our city to really get its act together, and that includes how they are perceived not only by their friends and those dependent on them for their jobs, but to new comers or those that want to invest and become a part of our city.
And maybe; just maybe, it’s time for us to focus on doing more within the city instead of some of these ad hoc agencies that don’t fall under the same scrutiny as a city department?
Please post your comments below.