Monday’s council meeting was most decidedly the tale of two aldermen.
The definitive issue — who should attend and how much should be spent on conferences and conventions.
Council has budgeted $6,000 for attending such functions this year and four members had sought to attend the Ontario Good Roads Conference coming up in Toronto.
Trouble is, that would eat up about $5,500 of that figure on just one junket.
Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman and the committee chairman, in this case Ald. Tom Johnston, should be the only attendees. Ald. Sam Yusuf read the situation correctly and graciously withdrew his request to participate. In the process exhibiting political maturity beyond his two months of council experience.
On the other hand, Ald. Mark Cosens scoffed at the budget
, calling the amount diminutive, and asserted he will be in Toronto.
It doesn’t matter there is a fixed budget to deal with. It means nought council is attempting to set an example of fiscal responsibility for ratepayers who are picking up the tab in any event.
No, this is all about entitlement — and a complete disregard for the understanding the mayor and aldermen are elected to serve the people.
The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce has completed a pre-election survey of area businesses to list and rank priorities as seen by local employers and employees.
Of 26 topics and issues measured, harmony and co-operation among all local governments is the top issue. On an importance scale of 1 to 10, survey participants ranked harmony and co-operation with an average score of 8.93.
Rounding out The Top 10 issues:
2. Value for taxes 8.86
3. Having a visible “Vision” statement prioritizing short-term & long-term projects 8.36
4. Increasing local focus or resources on economic development 8.33
5. Downtown or commercial area(s) quality and development 8.06
6. Local buying/sourcing of products & services 8.00
7. Roads, water services, sewers and sidewalks 7.96
8. Waste management, collection & recycling 7.77
9. “Customer Service” by municipal staff 7.77
10. Municipal debt load 7.71
The electoral tide just may have turned this week after the disturbing display of tag-team thuggery at Tuesday’s council meeting.
A crimson-faced Ald. Tom Johnston and a trying-hard-to-remain-detached Mayor Cliff Barwick partnered in a highly-orchestrated attempt to pummel Ald. Heather Jackson-Chapman over last month’s boil water advisory.
If you remember, while the city and Elgin St. Thomas Public Health stuck to protocol (a procedure that seems to evolve on a continual basis) Jackson-Chapman utilized cyberspace to tweet the information hours in advance of officialdom.
Boy, was that a social faux pas on her part.
It’s been a week since the boil water advisory and Elgin St. Thomas Public Health has finally checked in with their post mortem on the course of events.
Monday at city hall, Mayor Cliff Barwick stressed the city notified the health unit at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 19. He went on to note, “Now, at that point, our obligations to notify the health unit had ended. From then on, the ball was in the court of the health unit, and we will do everything we possibly can to assist them.”
In her media release issued today, Aug. 26, Laura McLachlin, director of the health protection department, advises “the health unit is not responsible for notifying users of the drinking water system. That remains the responsibility of the water system operator working for the municipality.”
That is the case, but as Barwick emphatically pointed out at city hall, “And this is perhaps where some improvements in protocol could be made.”
A review of the role of all partners can’t come soon enough.
Here is the full media release from Elgin St. Thomas Public Health
Central Elgin Mayor Tom Marks bristled each time St. Thomas Mayor Cliff Barwick referred to his municipality and Southwold as clients and not neighbours during Monday’s post water advisory media conference. Water wasn’t the only thing boiling during the 24 hours the advisory was in effect. Marks joins Barwick in calling for a review of procedures, most especially communication, in the wake of the largest boil water advisory ever issued in the area. Here are comments from Marks release on Aug. 25 Boil Water Advisory The Next Step
Here is the full transcript of Mayor Cliff Barwick’s press conference Monday, Aug. 23, 2010 at city hall in response to the boil water advisory issued Aug. 19 and lifted the following evening. Barwick opened by explaining why a state of emergency wasn’t declared and instead a low-risk advisory was issued.
A state of emergency activates a controlled group of a number of people, and brings together in the community a number of resources. These resources include fire, police, ambulance, social services, certain other social agencies, other groups and of course there is automatically put in place a phone protocol.
In this particular situation, this is the first time in the history of the City of St. Thomas where we did not have a state of emergency but we had something that affected the city in a city-wide sense.
The state of emergency – at no time did I receive any advice from the administration, from the emergency measures officer, from the health unit or the medical officer of health to declare a state of emergency. I certainly would not to that on my own. I would only act upon that type of advice.
THE BOIL WATER ADVISORY RESCINDED AT 7:18 P.M. FRIDAY
The water advisory was issued Thursday evening and was expected to remain in effect for at least 48 hours as the result of e. coli and coliform bacteria levels above maximum standards found in water samples. However it was determined late Friday the reading was false as confirmed by an email from the SGS lab in London.
Here is the full release of the now rescinded advisory Boil_Water_Advisory(final)