The Stockwell Report E2-V3

THE STOCKWELL REPORT

Last week was a busy time for those residents that

follow the local political scene. It started with the Toronto

Star releasing an article that addressed the activities of the

Wasaga Council regarding the future of the Beach One area

and the proposed Downtown Core.

The article was built around the ongoing opposition to

the efforts of Council to move the future planning of the

area forward by two elected officials, namely Deputy

Mayor Biofolchi and Councilor Bray.

From reading the article it seems that the reporter

started with, what appears to be a visit to the area with one,

or two members of Council, followed by an interview with

the Mayor, and e-mails sent to the balance of Council,

requesting an interview on the matter.

In my specific case, I replied to the e-mail stating that

I would be available at my home over the Christmas break,

and supplied her with my cell number.

She responded saying that she would contact me after

Christmas, however I heard no further.

When the article was published, it was built around

quotes from the Deputy Mayor, Councilor Bray, the Mayor,

and Councilor Ego, as well as Alan Clegg, a regular

facebook contributor, and outspoken critic of Council. The

only other quote was from businessman Jack Prezio, who

commented on his year-round operation of Pedros, a

beachfront retail operation.

If you were keeping score, it wasn`t hard to figure out

that the entire article was heavily weighted towards the

negative.

On the following Tuesday, Council held their monthly

meeting and heard from Robert Swayze, the municipal

Integrity Commissioner, receiving his report " on

complaints filed by Andrew McNeil, Director of Economic

Development and Tourism against Nina Bifolchi, Deputy

Mayor."

His five page report covered three separate instances

where the Deputy Mayor publicly attacked Mr. McNeil on

his handling of matters under his purview.

At the time of this writing an on-line column,

written by Wasaga Sun reporter Ian Adams, was

posted on the newspaper's website January 26th ,

following the meeting in question. It basically covers

the written report submitted by the Commissioner, as

well as the written statement read by the Deputy-

Mayor.

If the reader did not attend the meeting, nor

watch it on the municipal website, they would come

away with the feeling that the Deputy-Mayor hadn't

done anything wrong.

I am not suggesting that the column was meant to

leave that impression, however, facts are facts, and the

fact is that the column only reports half of what took

place.

The next day, January 27th, a second column was

posted on the paper`s website. authored by the same

reporter.

This was a continuation of what took place at the

Thursday meeting, headed," Councilor pushes for

sanctions against Wasaga`s deputy mayor."

This column addressed the tail end of the January

24th meeting, with some members of Council giving

their thoughts on how Council should proceed in

dealing with the matter.

Unfortunately, the reporter didn`t address the

additional comments made by the Integrity

Commissioner, following the Deputy Mayor`s

statement, and prior to the comments of Council

members.

Following the reading of a prepared statement by

the Deputy Mayor, the Commissioner stated that of

the three instances that the Deputy Mayor had

criticized the staff member, his investigation found

that the Economical Development Officer`s actions

were well within his authority, and the " only reason

the Deputy Mayor brought them up in public was to

discredit the staff member, and that was wrong."

To verify the above, I would suggest that you go

to the Town website and review the entire

proceedings.

Councilor Bray entered the debate stating that the

Economical Development Officer had made three

errors, dealing with the three matters that the Deputy

Mayor had sighted. She went on to say that the Deputy

Mayor had not contravened the Code of Conduct.

In answering Councilor Bray the Integrity

Commissioner repeated that the E.D.O. had full

authority to do what he did and none of his actions

gave the Deputy Mayor reason to do what she did.

Councilor Smith took the floor and spoke of the

fact that the Deputy Mayor had no right in criticizing

the E.D.O. in public, in that staff can not defend

themselves against a member of Council.

She pointed out that at one time she served as a

member of staff and she had undergone the same type

of treatment and it is unfair.

Councilor Smith said that Council had thirty days

to deal with the matter and she believed that the

Deputy Mayor should face sanctions.

My comments on the subject were aimed at the

Deputy Mayor suggesting that she make a public

apology to the E.D.O. and bring the matter to a close.

She refused to do so.

It seems to me that the Deputy-Mayor, Councilor

Bray, and their supporters, as well as the Wasaga Sun,

have overlooked the fact that the Deputy Mayor went

out of her way to publicly embarrass a member of staff

and that deserves an apology.

She should swallow her pride, apologize, and

move on.

A few weeks ago Mayor Smith was taken to the

Integrity Commissioner by Councilor Bray regarding a

comment that he made during a radio interview.

The Commissioner released a public report,

pointing out the Mayor`s error, however, did not

suggest sanctions.

The Mayor made a public apology and stated that

it would not happen again.

Adult behavior.

The Stockwell Report E2-V2

THE STOCKWELL REPORT

 

Chad Morrison is the self-appointed majordomo of a website by the name of Wasaga Beach News and Commentary Group.

The Rules of Engagement are stated as a “header”of the site, and read like the ground rules of a high school debating class. e.g. “Try not to name members as well in comments unless it is in a positive way, if you disagree with someone then just post a counterpoint and try not to be just retaliatory but if possibly try to be informed or factual in your remarks.” Mr. Morrison`s favourite comment is “play nice”.

The site has a very large membership, some 6545, as stated in the masthead. The majority of these members follow the site without participating, as do most Facebook followers.

Of those that do participate on a regular basis, there is a very small group that consider the site as an opportunity to ignore the “play nice” request and constantly use the site to attack some members of Council, in general, and  Mayor Brian Smith, in particular. Sadly, they do this without being taken to task by Mr. Morrison.

Two years ago Brian Smith was elected mayor with an overwhelming win over an existing mayor and an existing deputy-mayor. It was an election based on “change” and the voters of Wasaga Beach made it clear that, in their opinion, Smith was a man that could deliver that change, even though he had no previous experience in the world of politics. They weren`t disappointed.

Now, two years later, that small group of ratepayers, who use Mr. Morrison`s website to attack Mayor Smith, continue to downgrade the accomplishments of the present council.

Even though there has been a major increase in tourism, a major increase in attendance at the Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, and a major increase in tourism-related business establishments, the naysayers continue to be critical of Mayor Smith and the majority of his council.

Personally, I am one ratepayer who believes that Wasaga Beach is fortunate to have Brian Smith as its Mayor.

He works a sixteen hour day, carrying out his civic duties, even though he directs his entire salary to charity.

He supports the local Food Bank, hosts a Christmas Dinner for those residents in need, and both he, and his wife, Joanne, volunteer to stand shifts of the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle program, plus a number of other charitable events that are based throughout the town.

He is constantly promoting local business, and continues to push for a local high school, after-hours medical clinic, and the creation of a downtown core.

He is always available when called upon to attend business openings, service club events, and even personal milestones, like wedding anniversaries and the likes. He is known, affectionately, as “The Everywhere Mayor”.

He continues to lead a council that is committed to moving the municipality forward, in spite of the unwarranted criticism that he receives from two members of council and their social media supporters.

In my opinion, Mayor Smith is doing just fine, and the next two years will prove that point.

The Stockwell Report E2-V1

THE STOCKWELL REPORT

The highlight of the final Wasaga Beach Council meeting of 2016 was the passing of the 2017 Operating and Capital Budgets.

The total budget was $48.3 million, made up of $36.6 million in operating expenses and $11.7 million in capital expenses, compared to an overall budget of $49.8 million in 2016.

As usual, the Monday Morning Quarterbacks on Social Media were critical of the efforts of Council, constantly pointing out how well the past  Council handled the financing of the municipality, compared to what is happening now.

This point was hammered home by Morley Bercovitch, a member of the previous council, who served for one term before deciding not to seek re-election.  He stated that before the present council was elected, Wasaga Beach was a leader within Simcoe County, however, now Wasaga Beach is a laughing stock.

Since being elected two years ago I have made a point of not being critical of previous councils. In fact, I have stated publicly that I thought that the outgoing council, under Mayor Cal Patterson, did a good job handling municipal finances. However, such an outrageous statement made by a member of Mayor Patterson`s council deserves an answer.

During the last quarter of 2016, Council tabled a corporate efficiency review, carried out by KPMG Chartered Accountants.

In the Executive Summary of their report, KPMG states the following, “The Town enjoys a strong financial position. Based on its most recent financial results, we consider the Town to be in a strong financial position, with meaningful financial surpluses that are funded through financial, as opposed to non-financial Town assets. While the Town has taken on debt in connection with the acquisition of beachfront properties, we do not consider this to pose a significant challenge to its financial situation.”

Now, in fairness, this statement can be, and should be, shared with both the Patterson and Smith Councils.

Where the two councils are different, is how they handled senior level of government`s financial grants, when it came to the drafting of annual budgets.

The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (O.M.P.F.) is the Province`s main transfer payment to municipalities. The following was taken from a report by  the Wasaga Beach Treasurer to Council, dated November 2016, pertaining to this fund;

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The above chart tracks the O.M.P.F. Grant from 2011 to 2021, showing how the council, under Mayor Patterson, dealt with these grants from 2011 to 2014, and how the present council, under Mayor Smith, dealt with these funds from 2015 to 2017, as well as projecting 2018 to 2021.

Clearly, the Patterson Council used half of these funds to decrease the impact of a tax increase brought about by the amount of spending during their four year term, while the Smith Council spent the majority of their three year grants to build the municipal reserves.

This, together with the fact that the previous council sat back and did nothing to stop the decline of the Beach One area, should be enough to stifle any criticism they may have as to how the Smith Council is moving Wasaga Beach forward.

As we enter the second half of council`s four year term of office, it is time for some “push back” against those Monday Morning Quarterbacks who just don`t get it.

The next election will decide how the “quiet majority” deals with this issue.