SLEEPING AROUND AT CITY COUNCIL

 

So what does Kanata Coun. Allan Hubley think about taxpayers forking out their money to pay for an assistant a city councillor is both supervising and sleeping with?
Hard to know, despite the answer being obvious.
Hubley was one of several councillors who declined to answer that exact question posed by In the City, On the Burbs.
Councillors can’t hire their spouses or their children, but they can have an affair with someone they supervise – or even hire someone they’re already sleeping with.
As Integrity Commissioner Bob Marleau said in an interview with In the City, On the Burbs, it may not be smart, but it’s allowed.
That is crazy.
And given the current climate, where sexual misconduct and assault are under the microscope, something should be done about this — now.
But strangely, councillors are reticent to get involved.
Why is that?
“I wouldn’t do it (and never have). I don’t get involved in personal issues with others,” wrote Kanata Coun. Marianne Wilkinson.
Interesting.
Councillors put their fingers into so many issues, strange they aren’t interested in closing this loophole.Are they blind to the realities?
Almost universally, those councillors who did reply were quick to point out nothing of the sort has ever happened in their office.
“This is not something I’ve had to give considerable thought to before, certainly never something that’s happened in my office,” replied Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans.
Kudos go to Cumberland Coun. Bob Monette who answered quickly and vehemently.
“I think it would inappropriate for any of these actions be taken by councillors and relationships of this nature should be considered as common-law spouses if it gets to this points. As far as a rule goes, I leave that to the Clerk’s office, however as I mentioned I find it grossly inappropriate to have that kind of relationship with a staff person,” Monette wrote.
Good on him.
The normally forthright talker, Barrhaven. Jan Harder said she didn’t know enough about the issue to get involved.
“I would need to know if HR principles in general or specifically would allow it but it is not something I think about….ever,” Harder wrote.
For the record, city staff can’t engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with anyone they supervise. That’s a smart thing, obviously.
It should be the same for city councillors.
As Marleau pointed out, there’s an obvious concern if a councillor, who oversees an employee, comes on to their employee.
A clear concern there about the balance of power.
Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper put it very succinctly and accurately.
“I don’t believe that it’s ever possible to have a consensual relationship between a boss and subordinate because of the power imbalance. So, it’s never appropriate to have a sexual relationship, the appropriateness of which always relies on consent.
“As we spoke about, I want to think more about how that can be regulated. I haven’t got an answer for your today, but it’s a good conversation to have.”
Even Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt suggested he didn’t think council needed to get involved with regulating such behaviour.
“I wouldn’t exactly say that the relationship you have described is permitted. Just because something isn’t explicitly written down in our rules and regulations doesn’t mean Councillors and staff can do as they please. The Council Code of Conduct does have policies that would pertain to improper influence if that were the case, such as Section IV: Discrimination and Harassment and Section V: Improper Use of Influence. The common concern in these types of relationships is always the person in power using their position to facilitate the relationship or the staff member not feeling as though they can object because of their position within the office. These policies do speak to that, in my opinion.
“Having said all of that, this is about judgment and a basic comprehension of ethics. If an employer and a staff member enter into a consensual relationship, common principles would dictate they should do so considering the relationship and take subsequent steps to remove that employer/employee relationship from the equation. I don’t think we need definitive policies to that effect and that one’s best judgement should lead them in the right direction.”
Among those silent was Mayor Jim Watson, who seems to have a propensity for regulation.
Why is this being allowed?

DEMOCRACY AT STAKE

 

If you’re still confused about the city’s multi-billion light rail project, about the financial implications for Ottawa, perhaps there’s some comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

There are still so many unanswered questions about the LRT and the finances surrounding it. No less than Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum has raised his strong fears about the project, feeling so strongly about what’s been happening that he took pen to paper or fingers to computer as the case may be and wrote an essay for Postmedia.

If a brilliant mind like Nussbaum’s can’t wrap his head around all that is going on, there’s little hope for the rest of us. As he points out, given the miscommunication surrounding the $1 million penalty for the delay in LRT, there has to be concerns about the assurances from on high that the city will be compensated for the costs incurred by that delay.

“This delay will mean the forecasted budget numbers passed by city council – 48 hours before senior staff publicly revealed the likely LRT delay back in mid-December and three weeks after they first became aware of the risk – will clearly not be achieved. What should be made of the public assurances by Mayor Jim Watson and senior staff that the contractor will fully reimburse the costs? As much as I wish that to be true, I have not seen any evidence that the contractor is required to repay the city for additional costs incurred due to a new, permitted, handover date.
“Previously, I might have taken those assurances at face value, but the events of the last weeks have made me skeptical – and I’ve realized how dependent municipal legislators are on the executive branch of government to provide clear and accurate information,” he continued.

Exactly.

How can we be expected to take Watson’s words on LRT at face value a second time around, especially when all we really have are the same platitudes we’ve heard so often in the past? And the mistrust that has now developed creates a real and very serious problem around the council table.

If councillors can’t trust what they’re being told, how can they do their jobs effectively for the constituents who count on them, the very people who pay their representatives out of their hard-earned money?

“Cities lack the kind of independent officers who act as checks on the executive branch in other levels of government…This has two implications. The first is that the municipal public service must scrupulously carry out its statutory obligation to “undertake research and provide advice to council on the policies and programs of the municipality” without fear or favour. This is admittedly easier said than done. One can imagine that providing advice to council that contradicts the public statements or positions of the mayor (such as “on time, on budget”) would make for awkward moments. Yet this is the obligation that the Ontario Municipal Act has imposed on city managers and their senior officials.

“The second implication is that municipal legislators must always exercise significant and vigilant due diligence, particularly on big projects that the public cannot be expected to follow in detail,” he continued.

As Nussbaum acknowledges, city councillors need to be diligent in ensuring they’re asking the right questions and getting clear and specific answers. But anyone who thinks councillors should be reading every contract they vote on doesn’t really understand the role of a city councillor.
Nussbaum’s essay is a bit chilling, but not overly dramatic.

“Protecting and promoting the public interest is what binds the executive and legislative branches of government together. For that shared objective to be achieved, we need to constantly be guided by shared principles of transparency and accountability along with a strong dose of courage and humility.
“Nothing short of public trust in the democratic process is at stake.”

Incredibly well put.

Let’s hope Mayor Jim Watson is listening.

SUPRISE, LRT DELAY!

 

Clear as mud.
That’s the murky picture created by a six-month delay in the opening of the city’s light rail transit system.
For a project of this size, it’s not surprising to many that the light rail system has been delayed.

One of the key reasons for the delay is said to be the Rideau Street sinkhole, something Mayor Jim Watson says no one could have predicted. For sure. However, no one ever thought this would be easy. For example, long before the first shovel went into the ground there was concern about some of the sandy earth that was going to have to dug for the tunnel. And of course, while hindsight is relatively perfect, there were reasons to believe the project was facing any number of potential obstacles.

Here’s a puzzle. It was widely believed the city could and would fine the Rideau Transit Group for $1 million if there was a delay.
And though the project has been delayed for six months, that’s not happening.
Watson is insistent the delay won’t cost the city anything because the contract allows them to bill back any extra incurred costs resulting from a delay.
“We have a fixed price contract, they carry the risk, we didn’t want the risk,” Watson told the media.
He’s right.
The contract does ensure taxpayers aren’t saddled with any unforeseen extras.
That is a good thing.

And while the situation is hazy, turns out there is a provision in the contract which allows the RTG to give the city a heads up if they can’t meet the deadline and if the heads up is done in a timely fashion, they wouldn’t have to pay the $1 million penalty.

Back in the days when the deadline was in May, Watson liked to boast about it being on time and on budget. But the mayor – who loves to reinvent history – now says he always made it perfectly clear he believed the train would run in 2018, so he’s still right.
Not so much.

Make no mistake. This is a huge project and a six month delay isn’t shocking.
What is shocking to reporters, the public and some councillors is the murky picture they’ve been given.
Remember, the mayor, some staff and politicians knew the project was going to be delayed when the budget was passed.
But seems the mayor didn’t feel it necessary to tell us, the people who’re paying for the project anything about the delay.
The news also took many councillors off guard, just as we were taken off guard to learn the $1 million penalty could be waived.
A little transparency would go a long way here.
But that doesn’t seem to be the track we’re on.

The Emperor Has No Clothes

 

What happens when you hold a news conference and actually have no real news?
Absolutely nothing.
And why would you hold a news conference if you have nothing to say?
That’s a darn good question with no good answer.
On Friday, a gaggle of politicians and city staffers gathered outside the office of Mayor Jim Watson to provide an update
on the Ottawa Street Violence and Gang Strategy.
But while the speeches droned on – with Watson and Ottawa Police Services Board chair Eli El-Chantiry saying much the same thing – there was really nothing new said.
Now Watson suggested the news conference was being held because he couldn’t attend Monday’s police services board. That really makes no sense, since Watson doesn’t sit on the board.
Perhaps he didn’t want to be questioned about his absence in light of the number of shootings recently.
To be clear, there should be absolutely no doubt Watson and Chief Charles Bordeleau care about this city and are concerned about the recent shootings.
But holding a news conference isn’t a strategy for dealing with the problem.
The public and the media can see through that.
And in fact, instead of being reassuring, the newser was worrisome. Speaking of the holistic approach now being taken, Bordeleau pointed out the entire force is making this problem a priority. This isn’t new, but with many in the community calling for more patrol officers and Bordeleau pointing out they’re now being given extra duties instead of extra staff – sounds like resources are just going to be stretched even more.
Both Bordeleau and Watson continue to say our city is safe.
But Watson did a better job expressing what the community is feeling on the matter.
“We are a safe community. But when you live in a neighbourhood that has seen gun violence or has seen a murder, that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, us saying that,” he said.
Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof spoke to On the City, From the Burbs on the weekend and his frustration with the situation was palpable.
“This is all just a regurgitation of everything they said last year. The truth is, we don’t have the staff to deal with these problems,” Skof said.
“There’s an incredible sense of irony here. We see the three of them (Watson, Bordeleau, El-Chantiry) talking like this when they themselves are responsible for the staffing problem,” he suggested, pointing to their commitment to a 2% tax increase.
Once again, the public is being called upon to get involved, if you know something, say something.
Surely that’s not what our civic leaders are pinning their hopes on to solve this worrisome and growing problem.

 

Bafflegab, Lies and Mistakes

 

Pretty sure city treasurer Marian Simulik has much more important things to do at Ottawa City Hall than send emails to city councillors about my blog. That being said, appreciate that my story about secrecy within the walls of city hall was deemed important enough to need dissing by someone as high up the hierarchy as Similuk herself
Yes, our municipal politicians are a paranoid bunch. But if you’re reading this blog, you likely already knew that.
The purpose of my most recent blog was to point out that when Mayor Jim Watson appeared to pull a rabbit out of his magical hat and announced found money on the day of the budget, some councillors already knew there was a surplus, others were kept in the dark.
But for some reason Similuk chose to do some bureaucrat bafflegab and ignore the message.
“The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify the timelines regarding the change in the forecasted results for the 2017 year-end, given the recent erroneous media reports regarding this matter,” Similuk wrote in an email to council dated Jan. 10.
Now, Similuk doesn’t name me, but since I’m the one who wrote about the timeline, the odds seem good. So Similuk is right about one thing. I did mistakenly write that Kanata Coun. Allan Hubley bragged in November about knowing well in advance of the city budget that there would a hefty surplus in the numbers. I knew he did his bragging in December, but wasn’t careful enough in my writing.
Mistakes are never okay. I don’t take it lightly. And I apologize to all of the readers.
I always think about Rick VanSickle, one of the finest editors I had at the Sun. He’d been reading a feature length article in the Citizen and couldn’t put it down, the story so well executed, the writing so beautifully crafted. Near the end of the story, he saw a spelling mistake in the name of one of the main personalities in the story. He talked about how it absolutely ruined the entire article for him.
He’s right of course. One mistake casts doubt on the entire article.
So with that in mind, I’m loathe to point out the obvious. But I feel I have to. As serious as any mistake is, it doesn’t change the reason for the article.
The point of the article was all about secrecy at city hall, about some city councillors being given information about the budget and others being left in the cold.
That in no way excuses the mistake.
But there’s also no excuse for favouring residents in one ward over another.
And that’s what’s happening at city hall.
When Mayor Jim Watson chooses to punish a city councillor by not including them in his inner circle, he’s freezing out that councillor’s residents. They’re his residents too of course.
Not acceptable.
And no amount of emails from the very talented Similuk will ever change that.

Secrecy Dominates at City Hall

 

A pattern of secrecy has found its way inside Ottawa City Hall.
And that just can’t be good.
It appears some city councillors are privy to certain information, while others are being shut out.
Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney isn’t willing to sit back and keep her residents in the dark.
So she’s doing something about it.
As McKenney points out, if she and others are being kept in the dark, so too are their residents.
So she’s going to write to the city’s Integrity Commissioner to discuss what she sees as a “pattern of secrecy” coming from the office of Mayor Jim Watson.
McKenney was part of a Group of Eight planning on moving a motion during last month’s budget process for a one-time .5% levy to help the city’s aging infrastructure.
She was surprised — but happy — that enough money had somehow been miraculously found to deal with the problem. It’s not often $10 million jumps out of nowhere but problem solved.
But McKenney says for reasons she’s still grappling with, some councillors were made aware of the budget surplus while others weren’t.
And that’s just not right.
McKenney points to a December interview with Kanata South Coun.  Allan Hubley on CFRA with host Rob Snow.
“Rob, I’m actually on the Budget Review Committee along with the Mayor, Councillor Cloutier and the city manager.
“So we had an indication that we were doing very well this year because we meet on a monthly basis and were tracking the pluses and the minuses so the actual number I don’t think anybody really knew for sure until Monday because the City Manager had asked staff to triple check that number.
“He did not want it coming out until we were solid on the number. But certainly a month ago we knew we were tracking into the plus and well into the plus,”
Hubley told Snow in December.
Now it’s just like Hubley to brag about something where he likely should have kept his mouth shut, but that of course is a different column.
After hearing the news of Hubley’s inside information, McKenney wrote to city clerk Rick O’Connor asking for the minutes of the budget review committee.
Well, interestingly enough, she got the minutes of the November meeting but was told they are confidential. Even more interesting, the minutes don’t include anything about the expected budget surplus. And if Hubley hadn’t spilled the beans, no one might ever have known.
So thank you Coun. Hubley for spilling the beans.
McKenney is absolutely right about all of this.
Secrecy has become a pattern at city hall.
It simply can’t continue.
“You can’t keep secrets from the public. If we know something we have to make sure we’re making decisions with their money based on the facts.
“I would suggest it does point to a pattern of secrecy,” McKenney told On the City, From the Burbs.
McKenney has been discussing how to move forward on this with Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans and College Coun. Rick Chiarelli.
“We will have to ask the Integrity Commissioner about two things, why the board meetings are confidential, but more importantly, what was discussed at the last meeting which isn’t reflected in the minutes of that meeting,” she said.
If the trio don’t get satisfaction at the city, they’ve also discussed going to the Ontario Ombudsman.
Taking on Mayor Jim Watson isn’t easy. But McKenney won’t let her residents kept the dark, pointing out the mayor is supposed to represent the entire city.
“Over the past (few weeks), people I’ve spoken to are concerned. They want be able to trust what they’re told. When it comes to a time you’re making these decisions for the public, that information has got to be on the table. And not knowing where that money is coming from makes (the process) a sham,” she said.
As part of the trio working on ensuring everyone around the council table is given the same information, College Coun. Rick Chiarelli is equally as concerned.
He points to the surprise announcement, after the budget, that the opening of the city’s LRT is being delayed. And that delay has ramifications on the city’s budget numbers, which some councillors knew and others didn’t.
There’s no love lost between Watson and Chiarelli of course.
This situation doesn’t help, that’s for sure.
He accuses Watson of creating a lot of needless drama, when he simply should have told all councillors all of the information.
“We need some questions answered,” Chiarelli concluded.
Right again.

 

Boxing Week Goodies

If you’re going to add city councillors to your Christmas list, you definitely want to shop during the Boxing Week sales. So with all due respect to the big man in red, On the City, From the Burbs is handing out personalized gifts to some of our civic leaders a few days after the holidays.

College Coun. Rick Chiarelli really doesn’t need a thing this year. Why would he? Despite protestations to the contrary from Mayor Jim Watson, Chiarelli has and still is playing a leading role on council. He’s managed to help create and play a leading role on an unofficial opposition on city council, has gotten under Mayor Jim Watson’s skin several times (not hard to do) and is perhaps the most astute and funniest councillor in the game. So Watson doesn’t like him? That’s just another stocking stuffer!

For some reason that is incomprehensible for me to understand, River Coun. Riley Brockington has gotten it into his head I’m thinking of running against him in the next election! It makes me laugh every time I hear about his paranoia and I’ve heard it from people across the city! That’s how unfounded rumours run in Ottawa. Not a grain of truth, but the rumour keeps getting repeated! Now certainly, Brockington’s time over River ward should be contested. He’s let his residents down time and again. But why he would feel threatened from me, a woman who has lived in and loved Nepean almost her entire life, but ran and came in third, is beyond me! So a tiny gift to an undeserving Brockington: I have no intention of running in River ward. Others are, I’m not!

For Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais, a dose of honesty. And that present couldn’t be found at a discount. His incredibly weak and totally unbelievable explanation of why he was breaking his word and running again after two terms when he said he wouldn’t was just laughable. Let’s face it. No other opportunities have shown themselves and he couldn’t possibly find another job that gives him the same perks and salary he now receives. The truth can hurt, even at Christmas.

On the other hand, Bay Coun. Mark Taylor is keeping his word, a rare commodity at council. His future is unknown, having served two terms and promised not to run a third in a row. That is deserving of something special. Rumours abound about his political future and the opportunities out there. Will Bob Chiarelli run again? Will Mayor Jim Watson change his mind about another term? Rumours are fun. Gifts are more sincere. For Taylor, a solid opportunity to continue to serve the city.

Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum defeated Peter Clark to sit around the council table and expectations were high. I’m no fan of talking at council just for talking’s sake. But Nussbaum has more to offer than he’s giving up. For him, a stronger voice heard around council. And a eukulele of course!

There are so many things that could be given to Mayor Jim Watson this holiday season, good health for example. The mayor is now recovering from appendicitis, gets bad colds frequently and tolerable colds even more. And of course, there was his broken pelvis. But the perfect gift? That’s tougher. For Watson, a better understanding that democracy works best when all voices are both heard and considered. And sorry, this gift has a no-return policy.

For Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder, the gift is obvious. Harder gets more time with her family, including husband Larry and all those adorable grandchildren.

And Osgoode Coun. George Darouze is just as easy to gift — nothing less than his own golf cart. Who doesn’t want a golf cart after a night of partying!

With nasty rumours swirling around him, Innes Coun. Jody Mitic recently came forward to talk about an addiction problem. Good for him. That can’t have been easy. Mitic insists he’ll run again. That might not be the best answer for him or his residents. For Mitic, the strength to deal with his issues and the time to recover. If that means bowing out of the next election, so be it.

 

 

Guest Blogger CLOSING NEWSPAPERS and JOURNALISM

If it wasn’t hard enough getting into the field of journalism, it just got harder with the closure of 24 papers in Eastern Ontario, nine of which are in the Ottawa area. When I first started getting interested in the field of journalism two years ago, I knew it was going to be tough, I knew I was going to have to work hard and I knew there would be many struggles along the way — yet I was never worried about how I would be able to make a living in the future.

I was very fortunate to make a series of contacts last year that got me where I am today, yet I knew it’s not where I’d want to stay forever. I always thought of it as a ladder you had to climb. You would start your career in community news, then work your way up to a free daily paper like Metro, and then get your way to Mainstream Media such as the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen/Sun, etc.

Now a big chunk of that ladder is gone and a gaping hole is in your way of reaching your full potential. There are a lot of really good writers out there, yet that no longer gets you your dream job. Community news was not just a way to inform residents of what was going on in their community, yet to give young aspiring journalists a chance to practice in the field and give them the skills needed to write an article you felt proud to produce while following the rules of journalism.

When I published my first print article for the Barrhaven Independent a year ago, I knew nothing about how to write an article, yet thanks to community news, I had the chance to learn from those who are in the field. I still don’t know everything, yet with every article I write, I learn something new.

I’ve often been asked why I cover community news. For me it’s more than just a learning experience. It’s a great way to meet people in your community and it informs residents about what is going on. It also brings out the good in people. When a person’s house burns down, the community rallies together. When a fundraiser is going on, people come in droves to give what they can. I’m hoping this will not be the end to community news. Like Alex Munter did in 1982, I hope others will come forward and start new community papers. I hope more youth will come forward and start gaining an interest in news.

I was 14 turning 15 when I started my own online news network on YouTube. That was two years ago. Since then, I have received more than 72,000 views, more than 50,000 of that in this year alone. If I can do it, anyone can.

Charlie Senack is a young freelance journalist in Ottawa. His interest in journalism came at a young age after visiting the former CTV News studios in 2009. Since then, he has continued to grow his passion for storytelling. In December, he held a successful premiere of Messages from Heaven. You can follow him on twitter @Charlie_Senack or watch him on YouTube at TWIN News.

The Knives Are Out

With his pledge of keeping a tax increase at two per cent being threatened, Mayor Jim Watson is going nasty. And many of his councillors are fighting back as an ugly war of words is being waged through the media, social and otherwise.

The first volley was made by College Coun. Rick Chiarelli when the budget was tabled last month – and he immediately labelled it as fake. Chiarelli rightly pointed out that while staff and Watson like to claim spending is up in many areas of the budget this year, in fact, many of the estimates for spending are lower than what was spent last year.

If you were cynical in nature, you might think the numbers were designed to meet the 2% goal and not necessarily what staff really believe will be spent. But that’s an entirely different column!

The drama intensified over the past few days as councillors sat through a variety of committee meetings going over the details of the budget. And some of them have decided they’re not going to go along with Watson’s promise of the 2% tax increase. In fact, eight city councillors – including Chiarelli – are now standing together on a motion calling for a one-time 0.5% infrastructure levy, which as the group is selling, would be about $1 a month.

Much of the talk during discussions on the budget has focused on the bad state of the city’s roads. The one-time levy would be used to address some of those concerns. None of this of course sits well with the mayor. He’s gone on Twitter pointing out some of the eight made pledges similar to his own on keeping taxes down. Pretty sure they’ve changed their minds at this point!

But Watson has saved his harshest criticism for Chiarelli, lashing out at the College ward councillor, saying he isn’t taken seriously around the council table and hasn’t shown any leadership during the budget process over the years.

Yowser! And yikes! And surely not very becoming for the mayor of the nation’s capital. Part of the problem is Watson lets people get under his skin, he frets about winning instead of worrying about doing the right thing for the city. The high road isn’t one Watson frequently takes in these circumstances. (As an aside, you know that after reading this column, and he will, Watson will continue telling people no one is reading this blog as he says about other blogs in the city)

You can be sure Watson has fully implemented a plan to ensure the Group of Eight go down to an ugly defeat. For sure he isn’t alone with his character bashing. Many are getting into the game. Kanata Coun. Allan Hubley gave an interview this week, generally trashing his colleagues’ motives. (He did say he hated to talk like that, but frankly, he seemed just fine with it.) He also blamed Deans for a bad audit on the city’s daycare, saying she should have known about the problems.

Alerted to Hubley’s comments, Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans herself fought back on Twitter.

“More of the same from the Mayor’s cronies – if you can’t win the argument on the issue at hand, you attack personally. Hubley would be better off spending his time addressing our crumbling infrastructure,” she wrote. Along with Deans and Chiarelli, the Group of Eight also includes Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Nussbaum. Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson. Rideau Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury and Capital Coun. David Chernushenko.

So what does all of this silliness mean for the taxpayer? At this point in time, doesn’t look like anything good, that’s for sure. City council meets on Wednesday to discuss the budget. For the sake of our money and for the good of the city, here’s hoping the kids get their act together.

Hits and Misses – But Mostly Misses

SAY WHAT?

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melynk makes this week’s misses with a crazy tweet telling shamed broadcaster Bill O’ReIlly that he missed him. Say what? Is there any chance Melnyk is the only one around who hasn’t heard why O’Reilly is missing action.
“Miss you Bill! When are you coming back!!!??”

O’Reilly was fired over allegations of sexual harrassment in April, forced out after a New York Times report he had paid five women a total of $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims in the past.

SAY WHAT? Part II

Some of this city’s hard-working volunteers were honoured this past week with a medal from the Senate of Canada. The list included broadcasters Rick Gibbons and Mark Sutcliffe, who’ve both volunteered their time to the community. According to the Senate, 150 medals were minted at a cost of $235,000 to honour the country’s unsung heroes, “Canadians whose generosity, dedication, volunteerism and hard work make their communities a better place to live.” The recipients were all chosen by senators.

Sadly, many of those on the receiving end of the unsung heroes medal were the senators themselves, including Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin. A request to explain how well-paid senators were unsung heroes wasn’t answered by the Senate’s communications department.

Enough said.

PICTURE THIS EGO

It’s hard to know what to make of Kanata Coun. Allan Hubley. Apparently he was so excited to chair his first audit committee he spent $35 of his own money to make up trading cards for all audit  committee members. The trading cards, according to Hubley, will be used to track success in saving the city money. Seriously? Does that make sense to anyone?

He asked his committee members to sign the two-sided cards which feature their own picture so he could frame them to mark his first meeting. Apparently Hubley plans to frame the signed trading cards. Knowing Hubley, it might be best to be on the lookout for said frame to be expensed. Just saying!

MISS, THEN SORT OF A HIT

Ottawans and Canadians were somehow shocked at the long list of don’ts for the ice rink on the front lawn of Parliament Hill. No cellphones, no food, no selfies. And a short skating season to boot! Personally, I was shocked anyone was shocked. This is the feds we’re talking  about folks. But the feds backtracked just a bit. Selfies will now be allowed and the season will go to the end of February.

THIS WEEK’S HIT: LONG MAY HE RUN

Music icon Neil Young came home this week, returning to his childhood town of Omemee, Ontario to promote the release of his new album The Visitor, but more importantly to raise money for music program for the Scott Young Public School in Omemee.
The school is named for his late father. The money raised, close to $20,000 will be shared with The Bridge School in California, a school for children with severe speech and physical impairments. While Young inside Coronation Hall, Omemee’s King Street was busy with both local residents and visitors.

Well done.