Cornwall Ontario Budget Committee Bad Theatre by Jamie Gilcig MARCH 14,2015 #cwlpoli #tagca

Cornwall Ontario Budget Committee Bad Theatre by Jamie Gilcig MARCH 14,2015  #cwlpoli #tagca

jg2CORNWALL Ontario –  The Seaway News editor Todd Lihou was all goo goo over praise given to the paper along with The Freeholder and Cornwall Newswatch.

He doesn’t  get why they get that praise.  During the budget process, of which Ms Clement is the chair, the city has been given a near free pass.

The tough questions aren’t being asked. The script that some at City Hall have written has been pushed by people like Mr. Lihou.

Cold hard cash is the reason of course.   Don’t upset the fragile egos of some on council and you to can get gobs of it for advertising from the City and its tentacles.   I mean, is there really a reason to have Seaway Tourism?    One of the biggest envelopes in our budget is Economic Development, supposedly run by high level management experts.   Do we really need Linda Wilson buying ads?   What is it exactly that   ST does that ED doesn’t and clearly whatever that is they have failed under Wilson.  How much of their near $200K goes to Sun Media, TC Media, and Corus?

Of course that extra funding to them doesn’t come under the same scrutiny that a city budget does.

David Murphy missed the presentation for TAG for example yet showed up to vote against supporting it, cutting the galleries budget other than what it has received to date.    What other issues has he and others on council voted on in such a manner.   If you watch the video he’s piping in to keep funding the same for Aultsville Theatre and the Museum, why attack TAG?

Clearly there are some on Council that have expressed they support the arts.  Clearly those members are staying quiet and not supporting TAG or the Arts Council.  How do you try and talk about an organization’s stability when it’s been in the community for 30 years?

Politics are a funny thing.   Sadly it is a popularity contest some times and sadly in some cities ad dollars buy silence from the media or worse.  That can be as toxic a mix as the core of Big Ben.

Watching video of the budget committee is scary.    They argue saving’s of $5K here and there while saying there’s nothing they can do about the monstrous costs of Police and Fire when there are things that can be done, but clearly the political will is missing.  The same for potentially cutting staff at City Hall where a complaint by Councilor Dupelle that non in camera issues were discussed at a very short in camera meeting.  IE very little was discussed about making cuts at said meeting.

An example of tax waste is the lawsuit by this paper against the city over former Mayor Kilger removing myself for wearing a t shirt he didn’t like.  That essentially, based on the truth, is an open and shut case.  Lawyers like Bernadette Clement know that.

We chose to sue in Small Claims to make a point and not gouge tax payers, because in the end the guilty are not going to be held accountable, and to see the case come to light faster.  It’s now been two years believe it or not and the city is in fact delaying it.

But the City has also blown through a lot of cash. In fact it’s estimated by knowing persons that the city has spent more money on high end legal bills than they were offered to settle.

In Small Claims you have what is known as a settlement hearing.   It’s a chance to save court time and expedite resolutions.    What is said is off the record and the sole purpose is for parties to come together and try to “settle” their claim.

The city sent not one, but two litigators from their high priced Ottawa firm that day.  The cost?  Thousands.    Of course there was nothing to litigate because it wasn’t a trial.   The thick book presented by the high priced lawyers, essentially meaningless and of no value to the process.

After the election there was an offer given to the city which they have refused and instead chosen to continue to fight in court, in a case that Ms Clement could share with council that they have very little chance of winning.

By the end of the day the legal bill alone may be enough to fund one Cornwall Firefighter… or one Art Gallery for one year.

You see it’s all bad theatre at tax time.    Save a penny to look good, and quietly burn millions on important issues.  Why?  Because those firefighters sitting at the back of the budget meetings might push at the next election.  Of course council may be forgetting that artists vote too and that many, even those that were unhappy with some issues at TAG for example, still participated and showed their work there.

Cutting a service to save money isn’t really saving.  Getting better value is.
daveVANThat of course takes work, diligence, and not just being a petty David Murphy.  (It’s not like we wrote about his special friendship with a particular ladder climber or his penchant for hitting on waitresses that he should be such a miserable goose.)

Arts and Culture are important.  Here is some vintage Council debate on Arts & Culture.

How much has the City spent on studies for Arts and Culture?   Does it make sense to wipe out both the gallery and arts council?

There’s more to this story sadly than numbers and tax dollars.   Will the Freeholder and Seaway News risk their advertising and expose it?   (that’s a rhetorical question)

Denis Thibault from the EOTB

Councilor Clement talks at the 2:00 minute mark of the video below.

Do her words pass the stink test?

It is good business to support the arts.

Did she mean those words?  Will she show that support?  Will council?   If you care about the City Budget and the Arts you can phone or email council via the city website link.

For the record here are the elected officials who have shown clear support for the Arts who have not declared themselves in conflict of interest in voting for TAG’s budget:

Bernadette Clement, Mark A MacDonald, Justin Towndale, and Maurice Dupelle.

Those who don’t support the Arts:  Andre Rivette, Claude McIntosh, and David Murphy.

Mayor O’Shaughnessy has not stated support for the Arts to date.

The three that have declared a conflict with TAG are Elaine MacDonald (past President and wrote the gallery’s proposal) Carilyne Hebert (Past President), and Brock Frost ( too silly to even write about)

What do you think Cornwall?  Are you getting good value from your budget committee?  You can post your comments below.

Disclosure: This writer is on the board of TAG Cornwall.  He is not writing on behalf of TAG or of its board.

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