No meaningful way to measure ‘transparency’
‘Open and transparent’.
It’s become the favourite phrase of Collingwood town councillors the last couple of months, as if saying it enough actually makes it so.
At a recent special council meeting held on a Tuesday — without the Rogers TV cameras rolling, and only two people in the audience aside from local reporters — it was said three times, as if us scribes would dutifully make note.
We did not.
Truth be told, I was just about ready to jam a pen into my carotid artery if I heard it uttered again.
A few weeks back, Councillor Ian Chadwick noted on his blog that this current crop of municipal politicians is the “most productive, engaged, open and dedicated council I have served on, and reported on while I was reporter in the local media.”
Dedicated is a point I would never argue when it comes to talking about any member of municipal council. Most of the councillors I’ve reported on the last 20-plus years (that’s 32 people who have served as mayor, deputy-mayor, reeve, deputy-reeve, and councillor) have shown a dedication to the job.
However, to say this crop of municipal politicians is any more dedicated than others is mere hyperbole on the councillor’s part.
Most productive? Perhaps. While Terry Geddes was mayor, millions were invested in the town’s sewer infrastructure, and a plan was laid out for replacement through user fees rather than the general tax levy; a new public works building was constructed; the west-end commercial zone was developed; the first bylaws for pesticide use and vehicle idling were implemented. The master development agreement with Fram-Slokker was signed, and work began to redevelop the Shipyards.
One of the final acts of council under Geddes was a decision to expand the public transit system from two buses to three.
Mayor Chris Carrier’s council redeveloped the downtown and First Street, and saw through the construction of the new library, as well as a couple of sewer projects. And, contrary to what the public may glean from the latest piece of municipal advertising to reach local mailboxes, this council had little to do with the opening of Georgian College’s Collingwood campus; that project was started during Carrier’s term.
By development numbers, in Geddes’ final term of council, there was $140.5 million in residential construction, $45 million in commercial development, and $5.3 million in industrial building. In Carrier’s first three years of office, there was $150.2 million in residential development, $12.3 million in commercial development, and $8.3 million in industrial construction.
In the first three years of this current term of council, there has been $139.9 million in residential construction, $25.5 million in commercial development, and $2.9 million in industrial construction.
In terms of residential building permits, in those same time periods, it was 853 in Geddes’ final term as mayor, 827 in Carrier’s first three years in office, and 749 under the present council.
So from purely a development point-of-view, it would be hard to classify the current council as the most productive.
This council’s decision-making record? Yes, they built two recreational facilities (with considerable controversy), purchased the Mountainview property to widen the intersection at Hurontario and First (again, controversial), sold half of Collus to PowerStream (with controversy — and, notably, a loss of income). And yes, Council hired an integrity commissioner, not so much kicking and screaming, but certainly with mumbling and grumbling.
Council is finally acting on the economic development file, though I would hardly term ‘co-locating’ several agencies under one roof as “bold.” The municipality can only benefit from these groups working together, but its success will only be judged once it is put into practice and been operating for a year or so.
But the timing of it, along with the much-heralded ‘strategic financial plan,’ smacks of early electioneering, an effort to make this council appear it’s on the ball.
But ‘open’? As someone who’s covered eight terms of municipal council, I wouldn’t say this group is any more or less open than any other council. During the last council, the ongoing behind-closed-door discussion on Collingwood’s legal challenge of the school boards’ right to levy education development charges always disconcerted me.
This term, I’m astounded by the head-burying that has taken place on revelations the negotiations leading up to the decision to sole-source the largest single purchase made by the municipality were never disclosed to council.
And, the information they were given the night they made the decision, wasn’t correct.
(That the information was later communicated to residents in a newsletter from the municipality is a debate for another day.)
‘Engaged’? A passive-aggressive motion calling on someone to explain the actions of the citizens’ group he heads up I guess is a form of ‘engagement’, if it weren’t for whole 1950s Joe McCarthy ‘start naming names’ vibe.
Or the rather questionable timing of sending out a newsletter in the latest utility bill trumpeting this council’s ‘accomplishments’ at the cusp of a municipal election campaign, with two incumbents already stepping forth into the ring. That’s not engagement, it’s propaganda.
I guess you could ask the 49 people in the Paterson Street area who signed a petition about the location for the entryway to the Central Park Arena whether this is an ‘engaged’ council. Or the folks who live in the Forest subdivision, who probably feel like their concerns about a bed and breakfast operation potentially opening in their neighbourhood were casually swept aside on Monday night. Councillors wouldn’t even give them a tidbit, a request that council eventually be called upon to approve a site plan agreement.
So the next time a council member makes claims of ‘openness and transparency’, you’ll have to forgive me if I scoff, because there’s just no way to measure if it’s true.
I find the story of the resignation of Orillia’s CAO fascinating:
Orillia council’s handling of the recreation file with Tribal Partners has “all the telltale signs” of a project gone bad, says city CAO Roman Martiuk.
“I have the unique experience of having lived the forensic audit on a project gone bad. I can see all the telltale signs. I saw too many of the signs here,” Martiuk said Monday…
In the confidential report, Martiuk listed his concerns: that some members of council have worked with Tribal Partners to help the company obtain a contract with the city, that the city would have to sole source for the project to go ahead at 174 West St. S. and that members of council made decisions without seeking staff advice.
Yes, absolutely no parallels there to our own debate over recreation facilities. Sole-sourcing? Pshaw… Council members involving themselves in the procurement process? Well, thankfully, not to this extent.
But it is troubling, as it’s been proven time and time again – Ian Chadwick’s ‘debunking’ of local conspiracy theories notwithstanding – the negotiations took place with Sprung and BLT several weeks before council voted to sole source the purchase of the two buildings for the pool and the new rink, that certain members of council were involved in the discussions, and that council was presented with information on the night they made the decision that wasn’t accurate.
That’s been proven, time and again, through Freedom of Information requests – the most recent one generating several thousand pages of material (tho’, truth be told, the request did cast a very wide net).
Collingwood’s case may be minor in comparison, but the parallels are there. And that council continues to bury its head over the flaws in the process, to me, is somewhat exasperating; even Keith Hull, the only vocal critic at the table about the deal, has been hanging outside the three-point line on the most recently-revealed process issues and waiting for a clear shot for a field goal. Keith… the shot clock is running down; time to make a hard drive to the basket…
… Councillor Joe Gardhouse files to run for mayor of Collingwood…
Well, I guess that assures there will be at least one vacant position for a new councillor. If we plan this right, the next council could feature Ian Chadwick sitting next to Steve Berman…
Nobody is surprised; me, not so much, because it had been speculated about amongst the core of us concerned about such things for the last couple of months, that if Gardhouse ran, it wouldn’t be for a council position (insert your own speculation about the reasoning for that).
So… cue the campaign to undermine Joe’s campaign, such as whether he would stick around for a full term because of his 2005 resignation (that was a theme used in 2006 when Joe was in a three-way race for deputy-mayor, a campaign I completely gapped on when I banged out the quickie story I linked to above.
On another note, I read this post by Nobody with interest; the number of $53 million was the upper limit of what the debenture debt was speculated to be by the end of 2010 in an article I wrote in February, 2010 (there’s some screwy formatting issues with the story, mainly as a result of how the stories were posted online back then). At the time, it was speculated the debt could potentially be between $48 million and $53 million, and the candidates went with the bigger number; there was nothing really to challenge, because at the time it was the best possible information we had.
It wasn’t until the campaign was almost over that the council of the day firmed up exactly what needed to be borrowed for projects such as the library and downtown rehabilitation; yes, this current council approved the final amounts, but it was part of a two-step process initiated by the previous council.
That said, the individual who passed those comments to Nobody is correct; Chadwick does make a big deal about how much debt this council has paid down, like they deserve medals (the town did not accelerate its debt payments, just paid down its debt as normal; it would be a story if the town didn’t pay its debt!).
But hopefully that clarifies a couple of points… it’s just too bad the fancy charts I had in the February, 2010 article don’t show up well online…
So while we all hold our breath and wait to see what former mayor Chris Carrier is doing (I told him on Thursday I thought his updated web site looked very ‘campaigny’), and whether or not Edward Bunkertoad is all talk and no filing, I think it’s a good time to launch our first poll, and start to determine the ‘power rankings’ of those in the running…
Of the current five council candidates, pick up to two you're most likely to vote for (answers in alphabetical order, just to put that conspiracy to rest)?
- Steve Berman (66%, 47 Votes)
- Deb Doherty (38%, 27 Votes)
- No one tickling my fancy yet... (23%, 16 Votes)
- Ian Chadwick (13%, 9 Votes)
- Kevin Lloyd (13%, 9 Votes)
- Cam Ecclestone (8%, 6 Votes)
Total Voters: 71
Have I got a deal for you: I wonder how Integrity Commish would rule on Councillor Ian Chadwick’s minute-long infomercial for his latest book for Municipal World during council’s round-table update on community events and such. It certainly raised some eyebrows around the council table, and had us media types asking Mayor Sandra Cooper after the meeting whether or not it was appropriate.
It is, after all, something he is paid to do; would it be any different than councillors Hull and Gardhouse — both real estate agents — bringing up their homes of the week? Or Deputy-mayor Rick Lloyd talking about his store’s latest special on roses?
The round-table portion of council is to update the community on events and happenings, not for self-promotion…
UPDATE: Councillor Chadwick provides a nice synopsis of his book here, which is the appropriate thing to do; good for him to be able to do something he enjoys, and make money at it to – believe it or, I do think writing is something he is very good at. But again – self-promotion at the council table is a no-no; the appropriate thing would be for the mayor to have made note of it…
Things you learn: If anyone has been paying attention to council agendas, you’d know that council has not passed an accounts payable motion since May.
I wasn’t the only one wondering, either; a couple of councillors I’ve discussed the matter with were also curious why the monthly tally of bills being paid by the town wasn’t being presented publicly (since we are so busy being transparent and accountable, shurely!), though hadn’t gotten around to asking the question.
As it turns out, it’s not a requirement under the Municipal Act for council to approve its monthly accounts; as the Deputy-mayor attempted to explain to me, taking it off the agenda helps cut down on the length of council meetings… which is, uh, the most ridiculous excuse I think I’ve ever heard in my life. Outlining, on a monthly basis, the cash going out the door, is being accountable to the public, because as taxpayers, we’re entitled to know what the municipality is spending — and it normally takes about five minutes…
I’m surprised none of the other council members have asked the question, publicly…
Truer words never spoken: Councillor Keith Hull, as councillors debated the Parks, Recreation and Culture grant program, a global amount of $50,000 distributed among 20 groups, “we’ve spent at the the table 10 times that, with far less conversation…”
Channeling Yogi Berra (allegedly): Mike Edwards on the town’s strategic priorities, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you could end up somewhere else…”
OK, so I took a few pokes at people on Tuesday; today, we’re going to look ahead*.
This council has made several advances in its first three years, as noted by Councillor Chadwick: new rec facilities (leaving aside the process), improved public transit services, both in town and regionally, a fire hall designed for the next 30 years, and the beginnings of a road map for economic development.
And, to lead the municipality on the administrative side, a seasoned chief administrative officer with strengths in economic development and strategic planning, in place for the next two years.
So, what do we have to look forward to in the new year? Here’s what council will be focusing on in 2014:
Economic Development: Councillor Kevin Lloyd’s proposal to merge several organizations (Centre for Business and Economic Development, Small Business Enterprise Centre, Georgian Triangle Tourism Association, BIA, Chamber of Commerce) is an excellent first step, along with the development of a community profile, dedicated website, and a marketing plan (also in the councillor’s plans).
The key is the marketing plan; the Municipal Act is very prohibitive when it comes to what a community is permitted to do to bring business to the community (for instance, I don’t believe waiving development charges or offering other economic incentives would be allowed).
However — as Nobody pointed out in later posts, and what I believe is the goal of Councillor Lloyd’s initiative — it’s about positioning and marketing the community, and having a individual with strong marketing skills as the point person, and tapping into the combined expertise of the organizations that will be coming together under the umbrella of a regional business centre.
The key will be the marketing strategy to address growth opportunities and target businesses in that sector, ensuring industrial and commercial taxes are competitive, that a supply of serviced land is available (such as the DiPoce lands in the south-east end of town), and working with industrial landowners to market their properties.
There may be other innovative ideas out there beyond my ken; I do know an individual with expertise in municipal planning has launched a ‘think tank’ specifically to contemplate an economic development strategy for the municipality. It could be worth exploring, and it’s quite possible a hybrid of the proposal before council and what emerges from the think tank could be contemplated…
Budget: Will it be a 10%, or a 2% increase? Councillors — and municipal staff — will have their hands full over the next three months to pare down the increase in spending. Deputy-mayor Rick Lloyd has already cautioned it could mean a reduction in services, a municipal operation that can no longer be all things to all people. Will residents be ready to balance the demand for minimal property tax increases against the desire for enhanced services?
And, a few matters that remain unresolved…
Sprung Shield: I hate to hammer on this one, but it’s disappointing to see council — as a group (not individually) — bury their heads in the sand on this topic. Council needs to address the fact that it was not given accurate information the night they voted in favour of purchasing the Sprung buildings, that decisions had been made leading up to that night that were not communicated to council.
And then, to present the Sprung Shield to the community as a component of the building — without even any kind of apology or acknowledgement.
Community Unity: Yeah, like we’ll get that in an election year. A few of us who hang around the three-point line (out of necessity, such as local journos, or by choice) sense that this will likely be the nastiest, dirtiest municipal election in — at least — our memory. It will not be merely mudslinging; rocks, more likely. With pointy edges.
In 2014, my vote will go to the candidates who refrain from the smears and innuendo, the dark whispering behind backs. Let’s hope I don’t have to spoil my ballot…
OPP Investigation: Unfounded? No. More likely that allegations remain unproven, or, perhaps more appropriately, to be disproved. To claim them as unfounded would be to presuppose the investigation by the OPP’s anti-rackets squad.
But as long as it’s out there, it remains a dark cloud hovering over everything this council does. Let’s hope the police come to a conclusion sooner than later.
• In July, it will be the 70th anniversary of the crash of my grandfather’s Lancaster, and his incarceration by the Germans; it will also be 10 years in October since his passing. Gotta get this completed…
• I think I’ve got my recipe for pork ribs mastered; time to take on the next challenge: pulled pork. My first effort on New Year’s Day wasn’t bad, but definitely some lessons learned for the next attempt.
• In 2013, I chopped nine minutes from my time over 10 kilometres in an outrigger canoe. I’m certain I can slice off another five in 2014…
• In 2014, I resolve to not rise to the bait (see below)…
I have to address this one comment in Councillor Chadwick’s review of the year:
The incessant (and continuing) ad hominem attacks from local bloggers, political opponents, and, sadly a former, once-respected and admired friend, hurt and disappointed me personally, but the rest hurt the whole community.
As the ‘friend’, let’s remember this — the councillor started it with this post about media credibility and questioned my integrity as a journalist. He’s told mutual acquaintances that I’ve gone to the ‘Dark Side’, that I’m the Enemy. He may be the one to protest, but he’s also the one who jammed the knife into my back in the first place. Yet he gets to claim being hurt and disappointed…
The ad hominem attacks (publishing the opinion of friends as front page news) have only come from one direction; all I’ve done is present his words and actions in the context of things he’s said and written.
Fine then — I apologize. I apologize for thinking he should be held to account. After this, the resolution in 2014 will be to leave him alone…
Twenty-thirteen was the year Irony came to Collingwood to die.
I wish I could say it was a dignified death, surrounded by friends and loved ones.
No; instead, Irony died cold and alone in an illegal basement apartment on a Monday night while watching a Collingwood town council meeting on Rogers (the hook-up for cable? Also illegal…).
Yes, it was easy to be cynical about local politics for those of us who toil away every Monday night reporting on the shenanigans at the council table. Fortunately, there was enough else going on in town to amuse and inspire us ink-stained scribes.
A triple twist into a forecheck: Former NHLer and now Crossfit gym owner in Collingwood, Scott Thornton, takes part in CBC’s Battle of the Blades, partnered with retired American figure skater Amanda Evora. The skating couple show off their athletic prowess, completing moves the judges note were Olympic calibre, and win the competition — picking up a $100,000 payday for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
My work here is done…: Councillor Kevin Lloyd puts forward a notice of motion calling on citizens’ group spokesperson Brian Saunderson to come before council and explain himself after the group conducts an online survey that finds a high level of dissatisfaction with council by the survey’s respondents. The next meeting, after drastically rewording his motion, and launching into an petulant diatribe about the Enterprise-Bulletin that failed to recognize the separation between advertising and editorial, Lloyd abruptly withdraws his motion. Irony shakes its head in disbelief and consults the Charter of Rights and Freedoms…
Oh, maybe that’s why…: An expert on municipal politics tells the E-B Lloyd’s motion is nothing more than ‘petty’ politics and represents a ‘low point’ for a council. “It’s like kids in the sandlot who didn’t like what they said about you,” said Mitchell Kosny, a professor and associate director of Ryerson University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. “It just strikes me as a petty thing for a council to do.”
Suspicious Minds: After Councillor Ian Chadwick rails on his blog about the illegitimacy of online surveys, the Elvis Festival committee — of which he is is a member — launches an online survey to collect feedback for the 2014 event. Irony does a facepalm…
How Great Thou Art…: Hamilton teen Richard Wolfe is reduced to tears after winning the non-pro early years category at the Collingwood Elvis Festival, and — because grand champion Jesse Aron had earned his entry at an earlier event — gets tapped to be Collingwood’s representative at the Ultimate Elvis competition in Memphis. Of everyone I interviewed in 2013, I can’t think of anyone who was as happy…
Chin, meet floor…: A reader calls — on a deadline day — to demand I devote the entire front page of the E-B to coverage of Idle No More protests occurring more than two hours away, noting I should be doing my part to “defend the white man.”
Passing the hot potato…: When CBC reports an unnamed town council member took allegations of impropriety regarding sale negotiations for the grain terminal to the OPP, the E-B asks council members the question: Was it you? Eight of nine council members deny it was them, while the ninth, Councillor Joe Gardhouse, refuses to comment, citing advice from his lawyer.
Not sure what was harder: Huronia West OPP officers arrest a 27-year-old man, and take him to the G&M Hospital, after he knocks himself senseless by banging his head into utility poles at a Wasaga Beach campground during the Victoria Day long weekend.
I’d still be out on the course…: Chris Stoutenburg — a three-time member of Canada’s men’s paralympic basketball team and an inductee in Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame — becomes the first paraplegic to complete the gruelling five-kilometre MetCon Blue adventure race. With the assistance of some friends, Stoutenburg completes the race in a time of two hours and 40 minutes.
Hello, Vegas? $100 on black…: Collingwood councillors, while saying ‘no’ to a 300-slot gaming facility, decide what the community needs is an ‘integrated resort development’ that would include restaurants, convention facilities and a hotel — along with a casino. At least, that’s the vision presented to council by a registered lobbyist from MGM Resorts International — who emphasized he wasn’t presenting on behalf of that company, but as an expert in the gaming industry and an associate of a local businessman.
What does the school board say?: Collingwood Collegiate teachers Peter Millsap and Chris Young — with the help of a few colleagues and some students — record an absolutely awesome send-up of What Does the Fox Say for the school’s 2013 Christmas assembly. The video goes viral (by Collingwood standards), garnering nearly 44,000 views on YouTube. Deep in the bowels of the Simcoe County District School Board head offices in Midhurst, a tightly-wound bureaucrat’s head explodes…
Oh, my poor urbanite brain…: Clearview Township residents go through an electoral review process that includes examining the township’s ward system, ward boundaries, and whether the township should consider an ‘at large’ system — a process that takes all of four months, including four public meetings that attract a couple of hundred people. It takes me back to the previous term of Collingwood town council, when the majority of council turned down undertaking an electoral review because the concept of a ward system was too complicated for local voters to understand.
Bueller? … Bueller? … Bueller?: During Collingwood’s Remembrance Day services, Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch is asked to come forward to lay a wreath on behalf of the federal government. When it’s apparent she’s not there, her representative is called upon to lay the wreath… and they’re not there, either.
Won’t somebody think of the children?: Leitch is told she’s no longer welcome at the Creemore Santa Claus parade after the main organizer claimed she threw a fit and threatened to hold up the parade after being told to stop throwing candy canes into the crowd because it could cause a child to run into the street — and potentially be run over by a float — to retrieve a sweet. The story goes viral and a day later, parade organizer Corey Finkelstein backtracks on his comments on banning Leitch from future parades. Acknowledging his comments didn’t reflect the position of the Creemore BIA, Finkelstein said the MP would be more than welcome at the 2014 Santa Claus Parade.
What happens when you run things through Google Translate: The Town of Collingwood does a dramatic makeover of its website in December to meet accessibility legislation requirements; the result is a clean, easily-navigable site… until one hits the mayor’s message, which included the word ‘upmost’ (which doesn’t exist), and the sentence, “Collingwood is rich in history and heritage architecture which we are proud of lending to our community’s vibrancy” (a statement which remains on the landing page of the website). Irony consults its Oxford dictionary and an English-Japanese phrasebook…
As it turns out…: The mayor’s message gets taken down after about a day. However, a Google cache search shows that was the mayor’s message on the previous version of the municipal website for at least the last couple of years, and no one noticed.
Thanks for coming out, but…: Residents in the neighbourhood of Paterson and Hamilton present a 49-name petition asking council to reconsider the location of the entrance to the Central Park Arena. After waiting for about an hour for the issue of the park to be presented, the petitioners sit through a 64-minute discussion on the layout of Central Park — of which 51 minutes are devoted to the components of the dog park, which makes up about 9% of the project budget. The petition isn’t even acknowledged, and the residents leave council chambers annoyed. To Mayor Cooper’s credit, she sends the petition’s author an email the next day, apologizing for overlooking the concerns of the residents…
Do as I say…: In spite of writing in his book on media strategies for municipal politicians to always return calls and emails to reporters, Councillor Ian Chadwick doesn’t return calls when the E-B needs comment on a notice of motion he introduced at the council table. Irony considers sending a definition of itself to the councillor…
Social Media Dysfunction: While he mocked Chris Carrier for ‘Twitter blocking’ both him and me from following the former Collingwood mayor on social media during his run for the Conservative nomination in Simcoe-Grey, Councillor Ian Chadwick blocks me and the Enterprise-Bulletin from following his Twitter account. Irony jams a fork into its leg…
Collingwood Bizarro World: Former mayor Chris Carrier suddenly allows me to start following his Twitter account…
Not Exactly As Advertised: Nearly a year after councillors were told the town’s new Sprung structures would be “virtually impenetrable,” someone cuts their way into the Sprung building covering the pool and tips a piece of machinery into the water. Irony looks up the definition of virtually impenetrable…
Not Exactly As Advertised, Too: While council — and the community — was given information about a vandal-proof layer that could be used to protect the Sprung buildings, the layer isn’t included. The newspaper — through a freedom of information request — finds out the decision to not include the layer was made a month before council voted in favour of buying the buildings, even though what was essentially a sales presentation to council included details on the so-called Sprung Shield.
Tell Me What You Really Think: In an interview on the Sprung Shield, and why the town would have included a diagram of the vandal-proof layer in a newsletter sent out to the community, Deputy-mayor Rick Lloyd comments, “This didn’t send a wrong message to the community, unless you knew (what it was), but there’s no way the general public would know. It’s not misrepresenting what was bought at all.” Irony makes a mental note for the next municipal election.
Credibility? What?: While Councillor Chadwick pens a lengthy diatribe on his blog about local media credibility, when presented with the issue of the town’s newsletter — which he designed — including a diagram of the Sprung Shield, the councillor shrugs and notes he just pulled the graphic from Sprung’s website. Irony mutters to itself to keep thinking happy thoughts…
What We Have is a Failure to Communicate: It takes a lengthy interview and several emails to get Mayor Sandra Cooper to comment on whether there was a communication issue in council not being told the vandal-proof layer wasn’t included in the purchase of the Sprung buildings.
Do as I say, too… : The majority of council — except Keith Hull — votes to direct most of the proceeds from the sale of Collus to the purchase of the Sprung buildings. While Hull has been clear throughout the debate he doesn’t agree with the process to purchase the buildings, it doesn’t stop Councillor Chadwick of accusing him on Twitter of voting to ‘raise taxes’. In his book, Chadwick cautions, “Controversy and conflict can polarize the community. Be sure, or present a different, less confrontational message.” Irony looks for something tall to leap off from…
Do as I say, thrice…: A ‘less confrontational message’? I guess that’s why Chadwick, on our Facebook page in response to a story about local citizens’ group Better Together Collingwood, commented, “When is whinging news?” Irony circles Oct. 27, 2014 on the calendar…
A proof is a proof is a proof: After Collingwood’s town council meets for a strategic planning session in December, the municipality issues a news release with the headline, Priorities were the priority at strategic review session. Whew, thank goodness for that; I was afraid noshing on sandwiches on the public tab for the better part of a day would have been mistaken for council’s priority…
My year in the Twitterverse
I was stupid. I was snarky. I tried very hard to distance myself from a beer drinking incident with Mike Duffy from two years ago.
Here’s a few of my favourite tweets (from about 1,500) from 2013.
Of course, issues at Collingwood council tend to dominate:
I should explain; a lawyer representing a golf course was talking about golf balls going in the backyards of a neighbouring residential development. Not so funny when I have to explain it, but I wasn't able to properly function for five minutes after he said it…
This was also the year of the FOI; requests for information under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act jumped 200% in 2012, and the pace continued through 2013:
The E-B's readers are always good for a laugh or two. Ninety-nine per cent? Completely reasonable, logical individuals. The rest?
Oh, yeah, Mike…
Local drivers always amuse me:
And then, there's just my usual stupidity…
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… ’til after Christmas, at least!
I am working on a snarky column for the E-B’s treeware edition; should be in either the Dec. 27 issue, or Jan. 3.
Anyhoo, before the E-E-U enters silent running mode for the next week (disappointing tens of readers), a warm Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 2014 will likely be a hectic one, as I’ll be flying solo in the E-B’s newsroom for the foreseeable future.
I will direct you to Nobody’s blogpost for today, which definitely had me laughing out loud.
As an update to the mayor’s message on the town website; it’s now been removed from public view. However, as someone noted to me late yesterday — and confirmed in a cache search on Google (screen shot preserved for posterity) — that was how the message appeared on the previous version of the municipality’s site. Clearly, no one — including me, nor the social media, journalism, and online expert at the council table — made note of it.
When the new site went up earlier this week, it just got ported over with most of the other content.
That said, this inexplicable line, “Collingwood is rich in history and heritage architecture which we are proud of lending to our community’s vibrancy” remains on the front page of the site (screen shot preserved for posterity); considering the new look, that’s definitely something someone has copy and pasted into the landing page…
I remember when the E-B took a strip out of former Mayor Terry Geddes when the municipality launched a $75,000 website which was clunky, ugly, and littered with spelling and grammatical errors. I bring that up only because as I recall, it was a former editor of the E-B (who wasn’t with the paper at the time) who was one of the more vocal critics in the community of the town’s cyberspace effort.
As Mayor for the Town of Collingwood it is with the upmost pleasure I extend to you a warm welcome.
Continue to read on (unless it’s now been edited, in which case I have taken a screen shot for posterity).
I can understand that some folks have issues with spelling and grammar; for instance, I can’t write
occurance occurrance occurrence without consulting the Oxford dictionary. And I appreciate that there is still some ‘tidying up‘ to do given that it’s just been unveiled today.
But I also try to stringently edit material before it goes online or in the treeware edition — so ‘occurance’ doesn’t show up in my final copy.
It is a nice looking, clean, easily-navigable site — but for the municipality to let something like this go live is completely unprofessional; it would have been more appropriate to post a message that the ‘mayor’s message still to come’.
UPDATE: ‘Upmost’ has been corrected, and someone added a comma to a sentence (but it’s still wrong.).
Here’s an edited version of the mayor’s message, for the town, free of charge…
As Mayor for the Town of Collingwood, it is with the utmost pleasure I extend to you a warm welcome.
If this is your first visit to Collingwood, or if you have visited us time and again, you will understand the warmth and hospitality for which Collingwood is so well known. Collingwood is rich in history and heritage architecture, which contributes to our community’s vibrancy.
Collingwood is located on the shoreline of Georgian Bay, providing young and old with access to the largest freshwater area in the world. Our waterfront offers (presents?) an exciting landscape; whether you are boating or fishing for trout, you will not be disappointed. We are blessed with more than 72 kilometres of trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, cycling or hiking — something for all to enjoy. Collingwood is a place you will want to come to for a visit — and stay for a lifetime.
Our arts and culture events are first-class: Jazz in the Park, Theatre Collingwood, and the legendary annual Collingwood Elvis Festival.
I encourage you to explore our community, which offers the benefits of our natural surroundings and the convenience of our vibrant downtown core.
I hope you have the opportunity to discover Collingwood.