You’re Not A Suspect

“You’re not a suspect.”

Those were the reassuring words from lead investigator Detective Constable John Armit with the Ontario Provincial Police’s anti-rackets branch when he contacted me.

Armit was reaching out to me in the course of their investigation looking into Beacon-Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney and a conversation he had with his now opponent Michael Schurter.

More specifically, he and Constable Josh Gluck, wanted to talk to me about a phone call I made to Tierney minutes before Elections Ottawa closed its doors to anyone hoping to register to run in the October municipal election.

Schurter, Tierney’s only challenger in the Beacon Hill-Cyrville ward, has said he filed a complaint to police regarding a call he received from Tierney on July 27, the last day to register for the Oct. 22 municipal election. The OPP anti-rackets branch is investigating the municipal elections complaint.

The Sun’s Jon Willing  broke the story. According to Willing, Schurter says while filing his nomination at the Elections Ottawa office, he received a call from Tierney allegedly offering to make a donation to a food bank if Schurter didn’t register to run in Beacon Hill-Cyrville.

Tierney isn’t talking now, other than to say he hasn’t done anything wrong. Perhaps a little late to keep his mouth shut, but that’s another story.

After Schurter told media gathered at the Elections Ottawa office, he was registering to run in Beacon Hill-Cyrville, I went outside to phone Tierney to get his reaction to having an opponent. And I mentioned that call during an on-air radio chat with CFRA’s Evan Solomon.

Hence the visit from Armit and Gluck. A broken wrist had the officers visit my home, rather than heading to their office.  Once again, I was assured I wasn’t a suspect – and then the questions began – many of them clearly standard.

Had I been threatened to cooperate? No, adding if I had, that would have been a story I’d already have written! Was I alright being recorded? What was my relationship with Tierney, how long have I known him and how did he sound when I told him he had an opponent?  Well, according to Tierney, he and his family had just begun an early celebration to mark his acclamation – so understandably – he was disappointed. What was the time of the call, where did I make it, did I know Schurter, had I been in touch with Tierney since news of the investigation was made public?

The pair arrived in suits, not uniforms and didn’t drive an OPP car. So much for spicing up my reputation in the suburbs!

The interview, which was less than an hour, was clearly quite routine. There was no white light beaming into my eyes and no harsh interrogation. In fact, when I asked – only out of interest – what would happen if I didn’t want to answer a particular question, turns out – that would be fine!

We chit-chatted, laughed a bit and then it was over.

Be Careful What You Wish For

So if we’re to believe Ontario Premier Doug Ford, he’s receiving plenty of calls from Ottawa calling for a smaller city council with fewer politicians. Frankly, making a call for fewer politicians is a cheap political ploy, one Mayor Jim Watson has made himself in the past – a campaign promise he may live to regret if Ford sets his sights on Ottawa.

Is it possible to cut city council, here or elsewhere? Sure. Absolutely.

What isn’t possible in Ottawa is to cut the the number of politicians and expect the same level of response from your elected representative and their staff. And it seems even more impossible to cut the number of councillors in Ottawa and preserve the special community of each ward.

This isn’t the time to talk about what a mistake amalgamation was. Yes, it was a mistake.

If you’re talking about cutting councillors in any sort of equitable fashion, how do you balance the special wants and needs of the urban, suburban and rural wards? You simply can’t look at Ottawa as a pie and cut it into equal pieces. No one wants that. And it would never work for you – the taxpayer.

Look, simply cutting city council is clearly possible, but if you’re looking for a city council that responds to your concerns about snow plowing, garbage pickup and dog poop in the park, forget about it.

And those are just the basics. There are bylaw infractions, noise, parking, fences – the list is really endless. Yes, you should go through the bureaucracy, but they’re not elected to represent you. Cutting councillors can only mean your concerns end up in the deep cesspool that is an overworked bureaucracy. And of course, ward duties are only part of what city councillors do. They also represent the city as a whole, and that comes with huge responsibilities.

If you look at the details of the individual wards, you’ll likely be surprised at the differences. There are incredible disparities in not just the population of the individual wards – but the geographical size.

Take this tweet from @Catherinemckenney who represents the downtown Somerset ward.

For Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt, that’s nothing but a dream. That would take him days to do! He represents a huge geographical area that takes up a huge part of the city. And within that ward, there are several distinct communities.

So sure, complain to Ford if you want.

Just don’t expect to have anyone there on the other end of your concerns if your wish to cut councillors comes true.

If you want, cut all your councillors and just see what kind of representation you get.

It’s that simple.

Watson Enjoys American Hospitality

Several months before very publicly turning down an invite to a July 4 party hosted by the American Embassy in Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson readily accepted a freebie trip to Washington in January, paid for in part by that same embassy.

Interesting.

In turning down the invite to the popular July celebration, Watson suggested the United States was acting as a bully to a smaller country and suggested it would be hypocritical to show up and accept their hospitality while in the middle of a nasty trade dispute.

Watson even went so far as to urge others to think twice about attending the event.

Now there’s no doubt the relationship between the two countries was much worse in June than it was in January, but certainly relations were already strained. The January trip in Washington. D.C, was arranged by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, in partnership with the Strong Cities Network. Watson was one of seven mayors and other representatives from Canadian cities for a workshop with American and international mayors on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).

So how does Watson explain taking a freebie trip to Washington but very publicly making political hay by rejecting a party invite? Well, he doesn’t.

As previously noted on this blog, Watson never responds to On the City, From the Burbs.

In fact, his office doesn’t even have the courtesy of acknowledging the interview request. This from a man, who when I suggested politicians and reporters could never be friends, insisted he considered me a friend. Guess he failed to point out he considered me a friend as long as I worked for a daily newspaper.

The mayor is clearly on a bit of a power trip. He’s turning his back on transparency and his head is swelled in the belief he can do what he wants without any real detractors.

What’s also concerning about the freebie trip is that the City of Ottawa rules surrounding the need to declare the trip are so vague, it’s hard to imagine a circumstance when you have to declare a trip. Watson didn’t declare any expenses from the trip on the city’s website.

Here’s just a bit about what the city’s policy on freebie trips say:

“Generally speaking, Members should not accept offerings that would, to a reasonable member of the public, appear to be in gratitude for influence, to induce influence, or otherwise to go beyond the necessary and appropriate public functions involved and offerings from individuals associated with an active lobbying file are not permitted.”

Party or freebie trip? Watson made his choice.

Chris Nihmey: A mental health trailblazer

In the world of mental health and education, Chris Nihmey is a trail blazer.

He’s been sharing his story of mental illness for years now, going into local schools, talking freely to the media, writing books, and did all of that no matter how difficult it was for him to talk about his very dark journey of survival. Nihmey, 44, wanted to be there for the countless others in his same situation, letting them know they weren’t alone – and that it was okay to talk about it. So he took the very scary decision to go public.

He wanted to help others understand that mental illness is just that – a very real, but generally invisible, illness.

At today’s city council meeting, Nihmey was honoured with the Mayor’s Community Builder’s Award. So incredibly well deserved.
In accepting the award on Wednesday morning, Nihmey thanked council for the honour.

“I don’t want people to feel lost and alone. You need to know that you’re not alone and this is not your fault,” Nihmey said in his address to council.

In 1998, Nihmey began his teaching career, living his dream of a successful life with a bright future. The dream barely lasted two years. He was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2001, then with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Like so many before him and many others after him, he hid his illness, fearing stigmatization.

He turned to writing to help him cope.

“After years of struggling with all three disorders since high school, I picked up a pen and began to write my story, the highs, the lows, the worries, the rituals and all the tribulations of three terrible illnesses that were controlling my life in every way. As I wrote, something changed deep within.”

“I started to find a purpose for the suffering I had endured for so long. As I continued to write, I started to work on myself in every way. Writing became the driving force in my healing, giving me the motivation I needed to get my life back on track.”

“I began to become mentally stronger and more confident in my capabilities to heal. I also realized that if I could finish this extremely important project, I could use my writings to reach out to sufferers everywhere and give them hope in their own journeys. This was a very difficult endeavour for me, knowing the extreme dangers of stigma that surrounded mental health. I had to make a decision.”

“Was I ready to go public, to reveal my true identity, to finally stop living the lie to protect myself? Was I ready to take the brunt and bruises of prejudice and discrimination that would come by opening up my life to the world? The answer came easily to me. The answer was a profound yes! I was ready. It was my responsibility as a survivor to share my story. I stepped forward out of the dark and finally spoke up. In 2013, my memoir “Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie” was finally released and my story was unveiled.”

Today, Nihmey is a mental health and wellness advocate, an author, motivational speaker and teacher. And last year, he was selected as a 2017/2018 Face of Mental Illness for the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health.

Incredible.

Certainly, the battle to fight the stigma of mental illness is far from over. But Nihmey has played a crucial role in changing some people’s perceptions.

Having been one of countless journalists who’ve interviewed him over the years, he’s an absolutely engaging speaker. Despite his journey, as he retells his often very dark story, our past interview was actually full of laughter.

“I do not have one regret in sharing my story the way I did, not in my profession, not in my circle of contacts, not with loved ones, or even with strangers. I knew it would be a difficult task but, in my heart, I knew it was the right thing to do, and every day that I help someone find hope and healing in their own lives, I am reassured that I made the right decision.”

“I have definitely faced stigma since 2013 having shared my story, but I have not looked back. I have a reason to continue on for the one in five, or more, who live in darkness and are afraid to step forward because they don’t want to be hurt. My message is crucial. You are not alone. It is not your fault. Healing does happen. I have proved it in my own life.”

Is Watson blocking the haters or silencing dissent?

Should Mayor Jim Watson be able to block Ottawa residents on Twitter – given that his own taxpayer -paid staff sometimes operate the account?
It’s an interesting question.
Given a recent ruling from the United States  that American President Donald Trump shouldn’t be blocking people, the issue has got a little bit more attention.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, a federal judge in New York City, said in her ruling that Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing certain Americans from viewing his tweets on @realDonaldTrump.
The social media platform, Buchwald said, is a “designated public forum” from which Trump cannot exclude individual plaintiffs. She rejected an argument by the Justice Department that the president had a right to block Twitter followers because of his “associational freedoms.”
City clerk Rick O’Connor told On the City, From the Burbs  recently that city staff are reviewing the city’s standards around politicians and their Twitter accounts. And he says they’ll be coming up with a policy guiding municipal politicians’ activity on Twitter.
And the mayor’s penchant for blocking people who tweet him too frequently or simply oppose his positions – has some Ottawa residents crying foul.
Philippe Denault is just one of those who’ve been blocked by Watson. And he’s not happy about it.
Hard to blame him.
Denault is a part of SOS Vanier, which is fighting the move by the Salvation Army to set up a new shop.
He said he was never nasty with his tweets, just part of a movement concerned about what some say is a mega-shelter headed to Vanier.
And he doesn’t believe that Watson – who is supposed to be representing the entire city – should block any of the residents who pay his salary.
“On top of that, the mayor uses his account for official purposes and, without any other reason than being criticized by people (who sometimes only retweeted or used his twitter handle), he blocks citizens from reading his statements.
“I feel that, in city politics, there is too much personal stuff going on that is mixed up with official duties,” he wrote to On the City, From the Burbs.
Watson has also blocked Matt Muirhead, a frequent critic of the mayor. Muirhead is now running for councillor in Kanata against Watson buddy David Gourlay.
“As a longstanding advocate for my community, it concerns me when a powerful politician, (as with Mr. Watson), cannot accept challenging criticism, nor debate, in a public forum like Twitter. Blocking me is also equivalent to blocking the community of Kanata North, where I have been president of two community associations, representing the voice of the community, and having spoken truth to power for many years.
“If the mayor chooses to speak on Twitter, or anywhere else, people should be allowed access to speak up on legitimate issues of concern. Canada is a society that prides itself on free speech, and government leaders should remain accountable and accessible. Cherry-picking support for council candidates on Twitter, or re-tweeting only words of effusive support, are not the ideal of a democratically elected official. Mr. Watson blocking me (or anyone), from communication, who air thoughtful concerns about the mayor’s decision-making, or other concerns, is troubling.
A government leader stifling debate and criticism (including me, as a candidate for city council) befit an entirely different society altogether—not ours,” Muirhead said.
As Denault pointed out, Watson recently took down his Twitter icon off his city of Ottawa run webpage – perhaps in response to questions by Denault and I.
But other city councillors, like Bay Coun. Mark Taylor, still have the link on their city page.
Taylor told this blog he has, very infrequently, blocked followers – but never simply because of a disagreement over policy.
“All blocked for repetitive abusive tweeting. I don’t block for difference of opinion. I block people who swear and at me and question my character, repeatedly mind you, not just once,” he wrote.
And yes, he does sometimes have his staff do tweeting on hs behalf.
Have to admit, as much as I think Watson should be there on Twitter for all residents – agree with Taylor’s philosophy.
Watson blocks people simply because they clog his feed or disagree with him.
But I don’t think Taylor – on anyone else for that matter – need to put up with abusive language.
I don’t think we should expect Taylor or his staff to put up with abusive lanuage over the phone, and nor should he have to take it through Twitter.
And while I don’t represent a constitueny, that has been my stance as well.
People have said some horrendous things to me. And I’m simply not going to have that kind of language on my feed.
But Watson appears hell bent on blocking opposition. In his perfect world, unanimity rules when he’s at the helm.
It’s only fair to allow someone, even a politician, to block whomever they wish on Twitter if they feel that they’re being threatened or harrased. But elected politicians represent all of their constituents, not only those who voted for them, and it seems inappropriate for a politician to prevent their detractors from speaking out. This problem is magnified when blocking is used to silence members of the press, who by their very profession must often speak critically towards elected officials. Politicians of all stripes commonly do this, Donald Trump is only the most well-known example.
Just one such example in Watson’s case:
After I tweeted a series of tweets critical of Watson’s conduct during council the mayor unfollowed me. Seemed entirely childish. I responded in much the same way – by blocking our good mayor!

Harder Lies and That’s the Truth

The word liar isn’t one journalists use easily. No one should. It’s a strong accusation and needs absolute proof. But yet, it is with absolute confidence and proof, I now am calling Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder a liar.

Really not sure what happened to the woman known as the mouth who roared, who didn’t give a hoot about political correctness or what others thought about her. She loved the reputation and it was well-deserved. She just called it as it was – detractors be damned. And her constituents loved her for it. How could they not?

But something has changed. She’s smelled power and she loves it. She’s finally on the inside of council after years of looking in from the outside. And for those of us who liked her better as the free-wheeling honest politician, it’s pretty sad. And hard to take. Harder made it clear she was going to support former broadcaster Carol Anne Meehan as a candidate if she entered the race. The two of us talked about it and we both hoped Meehan would enter the world of politics. And when she did, Harder was there as a supporter. Good on her. A lot of politicians shy away from public endorsements of candidates running against their council colleagues – but again – Harder doesn’t usually waste time on those niceties when she believes in something or someone.

And had she signed Meehan’s nomination papers? Yes, she said, she had. Again, good on her. Do what you believe in. But then, things turned ugly. In an interview with Harder the night before Meehan was to announce, I double checked she’d signed the nomination papers. Yes, she had, she confirmed again to me. But when she realized I was writing about it, she flipped out – insisting I keep that little nugget for later – when it would be more impactful. Say what? Not really a big deal in our world, but Harder was desperate that I not write it.

Then word came down she was going to take her name off of the nomination papers. Okay, that’s crazy. What was she hiding? Or maybe, more likely, who was she worried would find out? Couldn’t be Qaqish, but maybe Mayor Jim Watson? Watson doesn’t like Meehan, not at all. And of course, as is very clear if you watch council, Watson can control Qaqish, so he’s pretty crazy about him!

And then the message exchange went from bad to worse.

Told that I would write that she had put her name on and was now saying she was taking it off, here’s what she texted me: “My name was never there.” When I pointed out the obvious, that she had already told me it was there, here’s her texted response: “You will have to prove that. Certainly I will support her candidacy. My name is not on nomination.”

The problem here? Harder was somehow under the mistaken belief the nomination papers weren’t going to be public!
They are in fact, absolutely public. And yes, her name is there endorsing Meehan.

Another name on Meehan’s nomination papers is former city councillor Steve Desroches. But he too declined to talk about his reasons. Can it be Watson is behind his reticence as well, waiving future support or goodies in front of them?

What are these people afraid of? Watson is a bully. I have absolutely no proof he’s the reason behind their reticence, but as a columnist, I’m free to speculate about what I believe. That’s what I believe. And that’s the truth.

Carol Anne Meehan Taking Political Plunge

It’s official.
Carol Anne Meehan, the popular and much loved broadcaster who was beamed into our living rooms for years delivering the news beside Max Keeping, is entering politics.

Meehan told On the City, From the Burbs she will register this morning to
run for city councillor in Gloucester-South Nepean, taking on incumbent Michael Qaqish.

Rumours of Meehan’s entry into politics have been running rampant in recent days. She has decided to become a candidate, believing the ward needs stronger representation than it’s been getting.

It wasn’t an easy decision.
As the single mom of Evan and Elena Etue, 19 and 14 respectively, she needed to feel she could balance the demands of campaigning with being a mom.
“It was a difficult decision. They’re my number one priority. But I talked to them and they’re both behind me on this,” she said.
And of course there’s Gizmo, her 11-year old puppy.

Though perhaps best known for her years at the helm of the CJOH/CTV anchor desk, Meehan is more importantly – in terms of this municipal race – a longtime resident of the area who understands firsthand the issues facing the ward’s residents.

“We’re a really fast growing part of this city. And we have a very diverse population. And I want to be a more present city councillor. I don’t think we’ve been getting that. I see (incumbent Michael Qaqish) as an absentee councillor,” Meehan said.

And as a self-described fiscal conservative, Qaqish’s spending of around $90,000 on advertising and the like – including more than $6,000 of taxpayers’ money plastering his face on bus shelters – absolutely rubbed her the wrong way.

“I really found that a terribly frivolous use of our money,” Meehan said.

“I’m a long time resident of Ottawa and I’ve watched the city change in so many ways. There have been such great improvements, but we’re also seeing problems arise, like increased traffic congestion. And instead of sitting back and complaining about it, I realized I should just try to make a difference.”

Transportation is high on her list of concerns, along with the rise in crime and violence throughout the city.

She knows she has a lot to learn.

“The one thing about being in journalism you always have to ask questions. I’m not going to be shy about it. And I’ll have help as I learn to navigate the process,” she said.

While her candidacy is new, she has some strong support from Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder, who encouraged her to run.
Harder’s support means a lot to her – and it’s very rare for a sitting city councillor to go against a fellow councillor.

Others already lending their support include former Gloucester-South Nepean councillor Steve Desroches, former senator Marjory LeBreton and former Ottawa city staffer Heather Tessier, along with several local business leaders in the ward.

Along with Qaqish, Zaff Ansari and Irene Mei are also registered in the race. And there’s talk of another entering the race today. Nominations close early this afternoon.

Are Metal Detectors Are Their Way to City Hall?

 

Ottawa City Hall, a strong symbol of the heart of municipal democracy has almost always been welcoming – blissfully open to the public.
That may soon change. Sadly, city staff are now looking at increased security measures, On the City, From the Burbs has learned. Staff are now looking at  everything from metal detectors at Andrew Haydon Hall – where city council takes place – to banning knapsacks and large bags.
Don’t go blaming the politicians on this one.
Blame the world we live in.
Pierre Poirier, the manager of Security and Emergency Management, told On the City, From the Burbs, there are many and varied issues to consider. And city staff are now in the process of looking at all of it. For example, if they ban knapsacks, does that also mean large bags and all purses? Or do they instead check bags. And what happens to the belongings of city staff? None of this is easy, Poirier very rightly pointed out.
“It’s just not as simple as saying no bags,” Poirier said.
“But we do take all of this very seriously.”
That was certainly clear talking to Poirier, in a no-nonsense interview in which he openly explained just some of the considerations staff have to take into account. For example, if a decision is ultimately made to increase security at council, do they do the same for committee meetings, located in a different part of city hall?
At the most recent city hall council meeting, a group of unhappy constituents interrupted council. A handful of them stood up, yelling their points out – and holding placards. For starters, placards aren’t allowed into council. How they got through the doors of council isn’t entirely clear.
Shouldn’t have happened.
But when the group stood up and began yelling and holding their signs, they were asked to stop. They didn’t budge. And frankly, while not every group listens to requests to hold their applause or stop profanities – I don’t quite remember a similar occasion. Or maybe, I’m just more attune to the dangers this world now has for us.
Eventually, a senior female city staffer went up to talk to the group, to advise them to follow the rules. Apparently, this is part of the city’s protocol – believing a woman is considered less threatening. She said her piece, but the group didn’t budge. Thankfully, before anyone else had to speak to the group, they did leave – peacefully.
But then a group of onlookers a couple of rows back from where the protesters had been sitting noticed a knapsack had been left behind. A few years ago, pretty sure none of us would have thought anything about it. Now, having seen what the world has brought us, it was frankly worrisome.
It’s all sad, but it’s our new reality.
City clerk Rick O’Connor told On the City, From the Burbs, he wasn’t aware of the knapsack being left behind. But he added, the entire incident would be looked at by city staff.

Dear Jim

 

Jim,
(aka – Mayor Jim Watson)
It was a bit of a shock to receive your recent letter. Much appreciated, though I have to admit it really did take me by surprise. Of late, after decades of reporting on you, you’ve recently decided to freeze me out. I can’t get you or your office to even acknowledge my emails – let alone respond to them. Knowing you as I do, of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. You don’t like negative press.
You don’t like criticism, you turn real nasty in the face of it. Just ask College Coun. Rick Chiarelli who dared to criticize your budget.
Is it just a coincidence that your former assistant Ryan Kennery is now running against him? Don’t think so.
(And certainly, that’s not to disparage the fine qualifications of Kennery.) Chiarelli of course is just one in a long list of people you’ve turned on over the years.
It’s really just an endless list of people you seem to enjoy freezing out because they disagree with you or criticize you. Of course, you don’t generally freeze out people you perceive are in a position to help you or who could really hurt you. You put up with them. Of course, you keep files on most everyone. I learned from you that keeping emails is smart thing to do.
You used to say I was tough but fair and one of the few reporters who would listen to reason. You’re right. I am. But now, being simply a blogger in your eyes, there’s no longer any reason for you to pretend, is there? It’s really part of your modus operandi. You don’t hesitate to take an opportunity to diss me, to criticize me, to malign my blog.
We could certainly ask popular blogger Ken Gray what it’s like to be on the outside of your circle, couldn’t we? Under you, the city even tried to deny him access to routine emails the city sends out. How paranoid of you!
Longtime, somewhat friendly relationships, can be a tricky thing when they’re between a politician and reporter. As we’ve often talked about the first time I quoted you was when I was news editor of Carleton University’s student newspaper The Charlatan. I was the news editor, you were president of the Rideau River Residence Association.
You suggested you wouldn’t make a very good politician! But you of course were always a politician, even back then.
All to say, our relationship goes way back. I distinctly recall a phone call we once had several years ago where I explained to you – that as a reporter – I don’t call any politician a friend. You said you considered me a friend. But here’s the truth. I didn’t believe you. And your recent cold shoulder is more than proof I was right.
So Mayor Watson, again, thank you for your letter.
And as much as a “behind-the-scenes look at Team Watson’s new Campaign Office” sounds fascinating, I won’t be able to make it.
Thanks anyway,
Sue

Buck-passing and Secrets Revealed

 

It’s amusingly pathetic to see city councillors react in horror and disbelief at the recent findings of an audit into the Springhill dump.
Their outrage is certainly misplaced.
In fact, it’s much more than that – it’s buckpassing at its very worst.

Certainly, there appears to been enough blame to go around. City staff, city politicians, Tomlinson, the Ministry of the Environment, at any time – any one of these could have stepped up and done something. There are any number of problems, lack of documentation, lack of clarity in their roles, bad bookkeeping, bad feelings – the list goes on about the problems with the contract between the city and Tomlinson.

Back in 2012, then auditor general Alain Lalonde was the first to release an audit of the Springhill dump.
That audit, which for some reason still remains ‘confidential’, was obtained by On the City, From the Burbs and reveals many of the same problems and similar recommendations to the one released this week.

Back then, members of the audit committee met on Nov. 29, 2012 – close enough to call it six years ago – to talk about the just-released Springhill dump audit. With legal issues swirling around them, committee members decided to defer the issue until the legal issues surrounding the relationship between the city and Tomlinson – which runs the dump – were resolved.

Who moved the motion to defer? That’s no other than Kanata Coun. Alan Hubley who did his blustery best this week – in his new role as audit chair – to huff and puff and insist he’s not going to take it anymore.

Big words.
Just too bad it’s all false bravado and buck-passing.

Here’s the truth where Hubley is concerned.
Hubley was a member of the 2010 audit committee – charged with dealing with the 2011 audit, and more recently, became the new chair of the audit committee.

He’s known about the problems for years, has been in a unique position to address them, yet has done nothing. And now, he acts like a tough little man ready to rumble.

Pathetic.

He’s not alone. West Carleton-March Coun. Eli El-Chantiry raised his serious concerns this week, in much the same way he did at the 2012 audit meeting. And Osgooge Coun. George Darouze? Where’s he been? This dump is in his ward and he is now a member of the audit committee.

City staff? As damning as some of AG Ken Hughes’ comments directed at the bureaucracy were, frankly, they got off lightly.

As it turns out, according to the audit released this week by Hughes, the problems surrounding the dump are almost as high as the dump itself – and sadly have been around for years. Here’s a little bit of what the 2011 recommended from the confidential report obtained by On the City, From the Burbs.

Recommendation No. 2 in the 2011 audit: That the City ensures that it is proactive in contract oversight and dispute management by monitoring contracts on a regular basis. In their response, city management concurred, saying it is proactive in contact oversight in dispute management by monitoring contracts on a regular basis.

In hindsight, with the full knowledge of the 2018 audit, the city’s response to recommendation number three on the 2011 audit is pretty much gobsmacking: “That when the city has won any aspects of an arbitration, it proceeds without delay in order to ensure that the benefits are achieved in a timely fashion.”

Sure, no problem replied the staff, agreeing with the recommendation – but then adding several caveats to that.

That clearly didn’t happen. And you have to begin questioning the value of audits if city staff simply provide lip service to the audit recommendations. Recommendation number four has the city manager regularly updating council on progress on outstanding issues between Tomlinson and the city. Not so much, but would have been very helpful.

All solid recommendations which appear, given the most recent audit, not to have been taken into consideration.

The dismal relationship between the city and Tomlinson Group over the operations of the Springhill landfill compelled Hughes to suggest city bosses consider freezing the company out of future contract opportunities.

“We’ve never taken a step like this and made a recommendation this severe, this important,” Hughes told the media on Thursday after tabling his damning audit of the Springhill contract. “But given the relationship that existed between the city and Tomlinson, we feel that it’s important that the city evaluate their relationship with Tomlinson based on the fact of their behaviour during the course of this contract.”

The landfill is just one of the contracts Tomlinson has with the city, in fact, has more than $250 million in contracts with the city.

Tomlinson couldn’t be reached for comment.

Keep in mind the first audit was done in 2011. What does that tell you? Yes, there were arbitration issues going on, doesn’t mean the city couldn’t have attempted to forge ahead with developing a better relationship to protect the city.

Once again, your tax dollars at work – or not.