Cornwall Ontario – It can be bewildering sitting in a council meeting in Cornwall. Monday night was first one in about three years, but more about that in a later editorial.
Monday night we were treated to a presentation of information from Transport Canada that any journalist or city staffer could’ve had the same answers to years before.
The question was that why didn’t Maureen Adams, as CAO, make sure her staff knew those answers?
A sudden new business motion was made at the very end of the council meeting. Some very thin skinned councilors led by Claude McIntosh were upset that Councilor Mark A MacDonald had called those that signed the now defunct Community Action Group pledge to fight taxes two faced and hypocrites.
The Mayor and CAO allowed the motion to take the floor and it was seconded by non other than Councilor Bernadette “Flipper” Clement who by day is supposedly a lawyer. Councilors who apparently were educated by previous drama, Rivette, Carr and Mark MacDonald voted against the motion.
Councillor: Claude E. McIntosh
Whereas emails were recently sent by Councillor Mark McDonald to Members of Council, Senior Managers, the Chief of Police, the Fire Chief and the media that questioned the integrity of five of his fellow Councillors.
Now therefore be it resolved that an investigation be conducted and that the Ombudsman be requested to offer an opinion as to whether the language used in the emails violate Council’s Code of Conduct and as to whether the City’s email account should have been used for the distribution of such content.
Councillor: Bernadette Clement
The thing is the Ombudsman office is not a replacement for an Integrity Commissioner, which the City of Cornwall doesn’t have. There’s even legislation to have one which will be mandatory.
Where was our CAO’s nasal drone to inform our mayor that this motion was pointless and not applicable? Why on Earth was Councilor Elaine Macdonald, retired school teacher waxing that it would be an educational tool? After all she was part of the council that ambushed Andre Rivette in a closed door meeting a few years ago. You’d think a retired school teacher wouldn’t need more education although I think most people attending understood she was talking about Mark MacDonald (no relation).
Linda Williamson, Director of Communications from Ombudsman sent in the following statement for publication:
The Ombudsman is not an integrity commissioner. The ombudsman does not enforce local codes of conduct and cannot “sanction” anyone, as the Ombudsman cannot impose penalties – rather, the Ombudsman makes non-binding recommendations.
The Ombudsman looks at the administrative conduct of the organizations we oversee, rather than assessing the individual conduct of specific elected officials. We are an office of last resort, meaning that we refer people to local complaint mechanisms to resolve their concerns wherever possible. Our Office is not a replacement or substitute for local accountability mechanisms; rather, we are there to ensure that they work as they should.
As a best practice, concerns about the conduct of individual members of municipal council should be addressed through the development and enforcement of local codes of conduct, and our Office routinely recommends that municipalities have an integrity commissioner for this role. As of March 1, 2019, under changes to the Municipal Act that were passed last year, every municipality will be required to have a code of conduct and an integrity commissioner – or provide access to an integrity commissioner.
(See the Municipal Act, 2001, s. 223.3(1): https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/01m25#BK253 )
For more information, here are direct links to the “Municipalities – General” chapters in our last two Annual Reports. Our next Annual Report will be out in late June.
The CAO of Cornwall Ontario, who lives Long Sault next to her bestie and former disgraced clerk Denise Labelle Gelinas, surely would know the laws of the land while pulling down her whopping salary, no? Did she want to let her mayor and council make complete and utter asses of themselves, yet again? Does she secretly have the hots for Mark and want to make him look good to potential voters in the upcoming election this year?
Yes, that was her facebook profile WHILE clerk during an election she was in charge of! She was allowed to retire shortly thereafter.
Calls and messages to Cornwall City Clerk Manon Levesque were responded to with a wait sign as the CAO was essentially muzzling the clerk. Our Clerk has many years of experience and is one of the few bright lights at City Hall. Why was she muzzled?
As for Councilor Mark A MacDonald. He asked that the motion be stricken from the record. He sent in the following comment:
It’s been a non-issue from the start.As far as I know, telling the truth is not against the law.
Ms Adams also refused to respond in any manner to CFN’s polite question as to how much this motion and investigation is going to cost taxpayers. Clearly she has dropped the ball and appears to have lost control of this term of council and the still unresolved runaway budget.
Under her control the tax levy for the city is up about a whopping 20% as she doles out generous raises to Geoff Clarke and other Senior Management while freezing CUPE salaried staff which may see the City workers on strike in May.
What’s even more disturbing is that taxes were up nearly 20% the term before while she was the chief financial officer. Clearly city management is failing; mostly under Maureen Adams control. You can’t blame One Termer’s like Justin Towndale and the wondrous Zucchini girl for the tsunami of cash bleeding out of City Hall.
It might be time for this council to review Ms Adams and maybe do at least one act of service to the taxpayers of Cornwall Ontario before their term is up?
In the meanwhile there still is no comment from City Hall as to whether they purchased the BOM building for an art centre yet which would be another HUGE expense in an election year. The listing is no longer on the Realtor.com site.