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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Hugger1
Member

Isn’t budget season a fun time in any city?

Diane
Guest

Jamie, I have been around City budgets for 20 years and this budget does appears to be smoke and mirrors. The Fire Association has and will continue to protect it members and I have absolutely no doubt that they will succeed on this issue. Since 2008 there has been at least 5 Whistleblowers who have come forward against the City with little resolution. Past behaviour is a good indicator of future behavior and they have treated us all the same. Their philosophy is Deny, Delay, Divide and Discredit the Whistleblowers. A practise which as served them well with little regard… Read more »

Wow!
Guest

Well I don’t know about no big words like transparency, or Townesdale, or resolutions. But I do know a picture of a {MODERATED} when I see one.

jules
Guest

Any civilized society has an arts centre and many thrive. People who are educated and refined appreciate art. Well I can’t speak much for Cornwall and all there is in their little minds is hockey. Hockey isn’t the only thing that is around to interest other people but you have to be educated to appreciate the finer things of life.

jules
Guest

I agree with what Diane said and yes the firefighters protect one another and who gets in but BOB’s son and oh yes you want to believe that there is plenty of protection there as well as the Barney Fife PD. Oh yes you can’t touch them because they are protected. So many lies, deceipt and smoke and mirrors by the dozens. The people have elected a new mayor but under the same smoke and mirrors – he said that his governance would be transparent LOL LOL ROLF that is a good one indeed. Oh it is transparent alright so… Read more »

Hugger1
Member

Jules, Jules, Jules…..

Pete Walbee
Member

Same council as the last but ONLY some of the names have changed. Now were looking at 2.4 tax HIKE. What a bunch of cocoanuts we’ve elected. There was talk of looking into the microscope to see where serious cuts could be made but at he end of the day, there will be no cuts of city staff, where some deadwood collect big bucks for little work. Much deadwood in many departments but I challenge readers to look into the city department of Parks and Recreation, Building Depart, Public Works, Fire Depart, and Police and you’ll see top heavy managed… Read more »

David Oldham
Guest

Pete Walbee there does seem to be a continued appetite for denial of our reality. Consider this; Cornwall has a much higher average age than the national average. Going forward the population of Cornwall, barring a major about turn in attracting meaningful employment opportunities, will be in steady decline as the aging population diminishes through natural attrition. This is further compounded by the loss of our youth to opportunities outside of Cornwall. So with a looming decreasing tax base when does council start to base decisions in reality? It is apparent that the concept of being proactive escapes the assembled… Read more »

Hugger1
Member

Council has simply put band-aids on a huge wound. Huge decisions keep getting put off by council after council after council. When are we going to get a council with balls that are willing to do what is needed?

Diane
Guest

Yes it is to get elected than it is to actually make difficult decisions. One of the few thing I still believe is that public opinion is the only way to invoke change. Great leaders lead by example a philosophy past councils as a whole could not embrace. The Firefighter Assoc. will succeed in maintain there membership as it has historically and the cost for salaries, benefits, training and equipment will be in the ball park of 500,000.00. Cutting positions in the non union group will result in severance packages at more cost tax payers. Politicians from my experience over… Read more »

jules
Guest

Hugger I did say the exact truth about Leslie and council and I do have to say that BOB (gee I miss my other name for him that suits him well) had a bit of class and Leslie is not doing any improvements but just the same old thing as BOB did over and over and over again. The only different is the change in name. Some of the previous councel were elected again and a few new ones on council that do nothing but complain. You will be stuck with that 2.4% increase because there is plenty of deadwood… Read more »

Pete Walbee
Member

Diane Shay….I’m fully aware that non union staff, many of which who bring their children and relatives into the fold. Pay once for severance package, but after the package is paid, the long range goal means for every position removed then it’s one less sunshine member to collect big money for years and years and years.

jules
Guest

Four more years seems like a lifetime of hell if things do not change for the better. What a nightmare to have around. Cornwall hasn’t had a decent mayor in too many moons ago. Certain families control Cornwall and I see no hope of this ever changing. People have been leaving by the hoards and still leaving. Hope and change? HUH! Where did I ever hear that before.

Hugger1
Member

Municipal politics is no fun, Most people who get into it do it with good intentions. But having to serve so many masters is not easy. To me 2.4% is acceptable. But sooner or later Cornwall will have to deal with the elephant in the room and deal with city department budgets that need to be increased. You can only put band-aid on for so long before things come crashing down. The snow banks are an anomaly (I hope) due to the length of last winter and the number of snow events this winter. Last year’s snow removal budget got… Read more »

Diane
Guest

Pete,

Your statement makes sense on its face, unfortunately there are only around 80 non union employees and when the City has chosen this route in the past, many of those same employees have returned on contract or in part time jobs.
Attrition is would be a more cost efficient approach in my opinion.

Take Care,

Diane Shay

Hugger1
Member

I agree with Diane. I used to work for the federal gov’t. I saw numerous cases of an employee “resigning” on a Friday and returning on a Monday as a “contractor” at three times the pay.

Attrition is the way to go.

Furtz
Member

Attrition is the kindest way to eliminate decent paying jobs.

jules
Guest

Hugger is right about employees resigning and coming back as contract workers. There was one man who had a permanent job here in Ottawa and he was working for quite some years in the government and he left and came back doing consulting work (had his own consulting business) and I ran into him when I left my full time permanent job and went on contracts with the public service and agencies and for years he was talking about doing that kind of work (to be self employed and where the money was at). That was quite a day running… Read more »

Diane
Guest

Hugger,

Part of the retaliation against me was to eliminate my position in 2009 as a budget cut. After hiring a lawyer I was reinstated 6 months later. In January 2010 the Ministry charged the City and Mr. Menagh with retaliation against me which Mr. Fitzpatrick held from Council until January 2011.

Take Care,

Diane Shay

David Oldham
Guest

I have always been a proponent of attrition and less managerial layering. Look at how the administrative layering in the health industry has gobbled up the dollars needed in delivering the care. True of most if not all government departments at all levels but certain departments dominate to the public’s detriment.

Hugger1
Member

Diane….Never easy. But at least you and a lot of others felt you did the right thing. Why governments feel the need for retaliation is beyond me. Especially when they’re the ones who put in the whistle-blower laws.

David Oldham….It just isn’t the health industry. It is all departments (federal, provincial & municipal) that are top heavy.

Diane
Guest

Hugger 1 The action I took in 2008 and again in 2010 and 2011 was the moral, legal and ethical correct action. Like you I don’t understand their rational for retaliation but it is common practise across Canada. Unfortunately Whistleblower legislation has no deterrents and only apply the the few like public sector employees. I just happen to fall under the Long Term Care Act since my issue was elder abuse. Even with that I was not protected and the retaliation continued. A 15,000.00 fine is nothing to the City considering how much they spent on legal fees and continue… Read more »

Hugger1
Member

Diane….I guess cities, etc see it as a “cost of doing business.” Quite obviously the wrong attitude to take when you’re dealing with taxpayers money.

Hugger1
Member

On the matter of fire, police and budgets take a look at the link below. It’s an interesting article on what is going on with Toronto and its police force.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/are-police-officers-getting-paid-too-much-174554130.html

Diane
Guest

Hugger 1

Well the cost of doing business in my case is a very expensive one for the tax payer and it will continue to rise until it is settled.

The police d0 increase their annual salaries with overtime which for the most part is protected through collective agreements.

Fire has little overtime since they employ four extra full time firefighters to cover for sick, vacation etc. I do feel that going to part time firefighters would in the best interest of all but the Assoc. will succeed in maintaining their membership.

Take care,

Diane