CFN – I get asked a lot if I will be running in the next municipal election here in Cornwall Ontario. I have written that if somehow mayor Kilger survives politically and decides to run again I’d run against him as mayor, but not many think that the mayor will finish his term. His cabal will support him as long as the city has some money left in its treasury to hire lawyers to do his bidding, but like OJ Simpson the court of Public Opinion has convicted him ages ago.
Last election I did consider running for council; but a little birdie warned me off. They tweeted that the election wouldn’t be clean and it certainly looked like they may have been correct.
The rest is history; ugly, corrupt history; that has cost the city of Cornwall millions in scandalous wastes of taxpayer money while accomplishing little more than some back door condo development.
Cornwall needs a clean up; but it will take more than one or even a handful of people to change.
So I decided to issue my platform of issues that would be critical to get an endorsement from CFN for any political candidate in Cornwall in 2014.
The 1% Solution.
For any candidate to gain my support they’d need to guarantee that taxes would be chopped by 1% in each of the next four years without cutting services.
I know. Easier said than done; but you have to remember that the near 3% raises in taxes the last few years have been over voodoo magic kind of expenses; mostly legal and not traditional services. A strong mayor and council would lean on each department asking them to find savings that would contribute to hitting the target.
Frankly if those targets could not be met then anyone on council should resign unless they campaigned to raise taxes and good luck on that one.
A New Conflict of Interest Policy
One of the best ways to find some tax savings is to eliminate the gross conflict of interest abuses that hold Cornwall down. There are many benefits besides pecuniary and optics count too. If you’re the President of the Labour Board locally then you sure as heck should not be privy to any city positions when it comes to labour and labour negotiations. Heart of the City is a wonderful concept; but to have a paid staffer on council making budget decisions?
The Mayor and a councilor on a committee asking the city for money participating and voting on that decision?
Having staff not only have their own businesses in the lines of work that they perform in, but also win city tenders and contracts? A city job isn’t too shabby. I’m all for local biz; but should you be having your cake and eating it too.
A New Whistleblowing Policy
After the Hickley and Shay cases it’s evident that Cornwall doesn’t really have a Whistleblowing policy; at least not an effective one.
Maybe something like what they’re doing in Sacramento California LINK ?
The Whistleblower Hotline launched a little more than a year ago, although promotion of the toll free number and web report form (that is now being managed by a third party which can guarantee anonymity) only began recently.
“It has been a very good benefit of providing the hotline in this manner. People are more comfortable coming forward if they do not have to reveal their identity,” said Oseguera.
To date, there have been more than 100 calls. The auditor reports the findings in a report, every six months.
“We’ve been able to conduct several investigations, a few of which, we’ve been able to substantiate and I think by informing the employees and the citizens of Sacramento of this new service, we’re able to provide a very useful deterrent to employees committing acts that are inappropriate, knowing that someone can anonymously report that inappropriate activity through the hotline.”
In 2012, the city was rocked by scandal. Headlines on newspapers and on local TV newscast read, “Credit card corruption by city staffers.”
Change council to the Ward System
Frankly 10 councilors appointed to committees as cookies by the mayor has not cut it. Councilors or Aldermen(women) need to represent their voters 365 days per year. Decisions on where to put facilities and support areas would be very different if this were the case as well as allotment of resources. Cornwall needs this.
A Recall Device
Many governments have recall language. IE if X percentage of the population or council demands it an individual councilor or the Mayor could get the chop. There has to be ways of keeping elected officials truly accountable without spending millions in litigation.
An Investigation into Fitzy/Kilger Gate
The taxpayers need a true accounting of this mess. They need to know who was responsible and who should lose their jobs and/or have city lawyers go after to try and recover tax dollars spent in the continued cover ups. We need to send a clear message that the City of Cornwall will not stand for abuse of tax dollars or elected office and that there are actual penalties; not only to punish those guilty of it, but to deter others who might do the same.
Better Public Transportation
Fitzy/Kilgergate alone could have floated my concept of a pilot project to have free public transportation which I feel would be a social and economic development shot in the arm and something that would benefit the entire community.
An Intercity Transportation Task Force
For Cornwall to grow we need much better public transportation. We need a focus to make sure that Cornwall is easy to visit and commute to; especially to and from the City of Ottawa. We can no longer stick our heads in the sand and allow our services to slowly crumble.
Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The city needs to be more proactive; as our neighbors in Brockville have been in revitalizing their downtown core. Cornwall will never be a destination until we have a downtown and waterfront strip of attractions. While that’s easier said than done every journey, short or long, easy or difficult, always starts with a first step.
Transparency & Accountability
Council meetings should have a portion of time allotted that the public can ask a question. The public should also be able to bring policy issues to council in an easier manner. Situations like Beavergate should never occur again. The future mayor and council have to understand that they are elected to serve; not to dictate. I also would like to see more questions asked of the public via ballot.
Branding and Promotion
Our Economic Development needs a total revamping. We need more than a swirl.
We need to find our soul and revamp our brand. We need the City of Cornwall to stand for positive things and not be connatated negatively and that starts at home. We need our own residents feeling better about Cornwall and the only way that can change is by doing more for our city residents.
That could include annexing the Lift Off organization and no longer having the term “Volunteer Board” be an excuse for failure and exclusivity. No more Rick Shaver’s drunk in the VIP tent complaining about the Welfare Bums sitting in the chairs outside of the fence.
We need to take the fences down. Ribfest showed not so much a love for sugar sauce slathered pork; but for everyone to be able to have a good time whether they drive gas guzzling Envoy’s or have to walk. Cornwall needs to be more Democratic if we’re going to all pull together and if we can do that then we can build a city we all can benefit and be proud of.
This is just a brief list of subjects. This is what I’m looking for from Candidates seeking election endorsements and who will get to use our new Endorsement logo in the upcoming election.
What are you looking for in 2014 Cornwallites? You can post your comments below.
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