Cornwall Ontario – A weak council has essentially allowed runaway management raises and hirings, labour unrest, a record budget increase, and general communication breakdowns with media outlets including this one.
This month alone we have had to deal with a new public information officer not having CFN on her media list. A list she said was under the direction of the person she reports to, Maureen Adams. A long time and talented clerk stating that she couldn’t answer a basic question until CAO Maureen Adams gave her permission, and this week the oddest of the odd; a violation of the Ontario Elections Act.
At root were requests as to why nomination sheets for candidates were not posted on the election website as per:
Information to be made available
(9.1) The clerk shall make the documents filed under sections 88.25, 88.29 and 88.32 available at no charge for viewing by the public on a website or in another electronic format as soon as possible after the documents are filed. 2016, c. 15, s. 45 (3).
That’s pretty clear. I mean, even Andre Rivette could understand that one. Heck, the Zucchini Girl could probably figure that out too.
Our clerk, Manon Levesque, at first refused, then suggested a freedom of information request, then suggested that those signing the nomination sheets hadn’t signed releases, but if you donate to a municipal campaign that information is public and available.
Last Friday I attended the Clerks office after being alerted to this by Ministry employees who gave information and direction where to find information.
(5) Despite anything in the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, documents and materials filed with or prepared by the clerk or any other election official under this Act are public records and, until their destruction, may be inspected by any person at the clerk’s office at a time when the office is open. 1996, c. 32, Sched., s. 88 (5).
Ms Levesque again, refused to give me access wasting my trip and time. I mean, what could be secret about who signed a silly nomination paper? I mean it’s not like David Murphy or Justin Towndale simply didn’t put one into their nomination package, right? This week or so delay wasn’t to give certain candidates time to put their paperwork in order was it?
This violation might impeach Ms Levesque from managing the city election. It may be an issue for the Ombudsmen or the court to decide as even the optics of prejudicial for or against a candidate would be concern for a fair and transparent election.
Another call to the ministry led to more information about filing a complaint. Apparently one has to go through the CAO if the clerk violates the election act, which Ms Levesque clearly did, and if the CAO doesn’t resolve the issue then to the Ombudsman of Ontario.
This would be an actual issue that the Ombudsman could work on as opposed to the motion passed by council to complain about Councilor Mark A MacDonald suggesting on social media that those on council that took the now Gerry Benson defunct CAG pledge to lower taxes were two faced and hypocrites. (now here’s hypocritical for you; asking council to lower taxes while coming hat in hand asking them for cash for your vanity legacy university idea, getting the cash, and then essentially creating something farcical that the city agrees to give $50K per year to of which most is slated to simply subsidize NAV CAN who doesn’t pay municipal taxes!)
Many are suggesting on social media that Mr. MacDonald run for mayor.
In a new round of weirdness Monday night’s council saw a pull back of some sloppy governance as the City, with record tax increases, decided to hire an expensive Toronto firm to become their integrity commissioner and go after Mr. MacDonald. Imagine, a lame duck council, spending money it clearly doesn’t have (the council had to borrow cash and defer Brown Field funding to get the tax increase to 4%!) on such a waste. That’s Tammy Hart inverted crazy!
Like the Kilger closed door ambush of Andre Rivette last term, this meeting saw Mr. MacDonald, Maurice Dupelle, and Dustin “One Term” Towndale away from the horseshoe while the deed was supposed to be done. One media outlet that uses old lame blog software actually reported on it and then updated their story.
Update 8:25 p.m.: The bylaw was pulled from the council agenda and will come back during the next council meeting on June 11.
Again, Councilor Claude MacIntosh and frankly any of the councilors that supported that embarrassing circus should resign as they clearly are clueless about the true roll of council which ultimately is serving the public and not carrying on like petty thin skinned divas like Flipper.
And who put that circus stunt on the agenda and who pulled it off?
One local lawyer said they were jealous. All their tax dollars leaving the city instead of hiring local law firms as though Cornwall doesn’t have good lawyers. (Cornwall has some amazing lawyers and paralegals!)
It should be interesting to see which councilors will vote to spend city dosh on hiring an Integrity Commish before the City actually has to per provincial mandate, and if any of those are some of the two faced hypocrites that signed the CAG pledge?
And the topper of it all, which even our friends at the Standard Freeholder asked questions of, the utterly insane purchase of the BMO building on Pitt Street to be an Art Centre with an alleged $500K price tag to purchase and estimates of over $2M to renovate. An art centre that clearly isn’t being supported strongly enough be a weak to non existent local art scene, partially at fault by the lack of historical support from the city. The city is still refusing to release details of the deal.
Again, all while city tax levies have gone up approximately 20% per term over the last two terms!
And the biggest consistent factor in a city with low reserves, a growing debt load, record tax increases, being caught blind on MPAC mayhem, record amounts of water main breaks, and a desperately bad local economy with little to no real economic development?
CAO and former Chief Financial Officer Maureen Adams.
You can’t make this stuff up. It’s that crazy. But it’s been her hand on the rudder that people like Andre Rivette rely on for their information to set policy whether as the CFO or the CAO. She clearly has to bear a lot of the burden of the disaster that this city is experiencing financially including the current CUPE strike.
What do you think dear CFN viewers? Is it a time for change at City Hall? In an election year this is the opportunity and it will take much more than simply dumping wastes of space like Justin “One Term” Towndale and Carilyne Hebert, or tax happy labour rubber stampers like Elaine Macdonald who say that it’s good to raise taxes, but something more akin to what the City of Brampton did when it fired over 20 city managers to clean house and move forward?
Is it time for Cornwall to become Brampton 2.0? Are there any good candidates for council that the public can support to make that magic happen? Stay tuned!
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