The Optics of Corruption and Incompetence or Cornwall City Council in Action – Meeting 4 PM at City Hall – April 16, 2012

CFN –  Optics in Politics can be everything.  They can make you look bad, and they can make you look like the Cornwall City Council team and Clerk right now.

Transparency and accountability are huge; especially in municipal politics.  Cornwall, which has less than 50,000 residents spends over $145M per year, directed by 10 councilors and the Mayor.

The decisions they make can determine success or ….

In 2010 eight of the current councilors and the mayor decided to change the procedural by law about replacing a councilor or the mayor.  In spite of what options are given by the law they chose a very clear and specific option.  No harm in that.

What happened between 2010 and today?  As you can see above at our first image the council have changed things and not as portrayed in an online media blog with a quote from Queen Bernadette Clement who sat on the committee to change the rules and whose day job is as a lawyer!

The preferred method is outlined in the city’s procedural bylaw, which was under review at council’s regular meeting Tuesday evening.

The wording was changed slightly, adding the option for council to appoint any eligible resident, as the Municipal Act stipulates.

“It allows us as many opportunities as possible to make a decision,” said Coun. Bernadette Clement, who was part of the committee that suggested the changes. “It broadens our ability to make decisions that reflect what council wants.”

Speaking with a few councilors this past week, and longer for other issues, there seems to be one consistent factor; City Clerk Denise Labelle Gelinas telling the councilors one thing; but then reading the document shows a clearly different meaning.

After all what’s on the page is what’s on the page no matter what was verbally said during a process.    Can we blame the councilors?  To a degree yes,but to a degree no.  After all the clerk and city management are there to support and assist council, right?   Not to lead as they are not elected officials.

The Clerk received heat for the secret in camera meetings as well.    Again, optics.  We will probably never know if she’s really incompetent and corrupt or if she’s simply following orders.  Reading the minutes from the last meeting as of press time was very confusing at the least.

We do know that she did not return calls to this and other media requests for minutes from the last Council meeting where this new by law was slipped through however and again those are poor optics.

Today the meeting to appoint a replacement for Leslie O’Shaugnessy most likely isn’t even proper according to the city’s own documents, but that’s only a formality.    The reality is that council does have the ability to put just about any by law through.

Again, transparency is the issue.   Accountability is the issue.     CAO Paul Fitzpatrick was reported seen at City Hall several times last week.  Was his hand on the rudder of these actions even though on Stress leave?  How stressed could he be if he gave a speech at St. Lawrence college?

This is the second time this term that council has debated or changed a by law or decision that they have just made.  The first being on how to pay for the Benson Centre (another mess) It’s a slippery slope.

The current wording for example would allow a mayor or clique (as there is now) to run a popular candidate for election, have them step down, and then replace them with someone that they wanted, but was not electable.   That’s what’s on the books right now.  As a matter of fact  the by law doesn’t even lay down the rules for how a councilor could be chosen?

Democracy is important.  The manner in which this mayor and council are behaving spits in the face of Democracy.  While many of this group will not be running next election due to age and health issues people like Councilor David “Mellow Yellow” Murphy, Maurice Dupelle, and Bernadette Clement if they wish to continue as elected officials have to consider the impact of the OPTICS of what’s been happening under their guard.

Council should never spend more time in camera than out and the public needs to demand what the heck is happening especially if they are not happy with their taxes going up year over year without service or support being increased.

Today’s special meeting is at 4PM at City Hall.  Next regular scheduled meeting is the 23rd at 7 PM.   To reach the Mayor or council you can visit the city web page HERE.

It’s time for we citizens to let council know how we feel about the shenanigans that go on.   There’s an undertone that the if the council don’t respond and hide that things die down and people forget or just don’t care, especially if the media do not report on it.  Do you feel that way?   You can post your comment below.

James Moak


  1. If you are concerned about how your elected officials are working please take the time to let them know. Take the time to write a note or go to the next council meeting. Oh yes………remember we can vote!

  2. Do you think that the gang at City Hall is going to listen to us mere mortals? The town is theirs and they’ll do anything they want! Or so it would seem……

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