A News Commentary by Doug Draper, journalist/publisher, Niagara At Large
Posted November 4rth, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Oh, those damn politicians!
As a group, they’ve never come anywhere near to being the most popular people on the planet. And these days –to paraphrase and generalize something American rock legend David Crosby recently said when he was asked if he could ever see himself voting for Donald Trump – it seems like most everyday citizens would ‘rather eat a porcupine’ than vote for one of them.
If that’s so, there must have been an extra heaping helping of porcupine on the menu in this region of the world this week after the regional council got through hiring Carmen D’Angelo, the controversial CAO of the equally controversial Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, to the loftiest of all administrative roles – that of CAO – in Niagara’s regional government.
In the wake of D’Angelo’s hiring at a hastily called special meeting of regional council this October 31st, I found my answering machine and inbox filled with messages from area residents – many of them saying, in so many colourful words, a pox on them all.
That meant a pox on each and every one of the politicians sitting on regional council and, as much as I share the anger, tarring them all with one brush would be unfair and wrong.
I believe that it is important to point out at the end of a week when so many of us were understandably outraged at the way this whole hiring thing went down, that there are eight politicians on that regional council that had showed the courage and the principle to stand up to Niagara regional chair Al Caslin and his cabal, and to vote “No” to plunking that cabal’s hand-picked character into this most important public service job!
Those eight regional councillors, including two local mayors in Niagara, are as follow, and I urge you to remember their names right up to the next municipal elections in the fall of 2018 so that, should they choose to run for another term of council, we all get out and make sure they get back in again.
Those eight regional councillors, in alphabetical order include – Pelham Mayor and regional councilor Dave Augustyn, Thorold regional councillor Henry D’Angela (that is D’Angela with an “a” so that we are not mixing this good guy up with D’Angelo), St. Catharines regional councillor Kelly Edgar, St. Catharines regional councillor Brian Heit, Lincoln regional councillor Bill Hodgson, Thorold Mayor Ted Luciani, St. Catharines regional councilor Debbie MacGregor and Welland regional councillor George Marshall.
Again, it took a lot of courage for these eight elected people to take the position they did and they deserve our support and a great big pat on the back from all of us who care about open, responsible government that is truly accountable to the people for doing it.
That is why I am leaving a link to the list of Niagara regional councillors, along with their contact information, so that you can phone or email them yourselves and let them know how much you appreciate what they have done.
And when I say it took courage, consider what anyone who steps out of line with Caslin and a certain gang of characters that side with him on that council are up against.
Through my more than 35 years as a professional journalist in this region, I have followed government bodies in this region, on the other side of the border in Niagara and Erie counties, and at the provincial, state and federal level in both countries, including elected and non-elected people working close to premiers and governors, and some of the highest officials in Ottawa and Washington, D.C.
That diversity of exposure had a lot to do with an environmental beat I had at the old St. Catharines Standard when it was owned by the Burgoyne family in that municipality, and when the newspaper had the staff and resources to send me to stories throughout this Niagara region, and throughout the Great Lakes basin.
Through all of that time and exposure to governing bodies, I have never experienced such a critical mass of mean-spirited, bully types as I have on this current Niagara regional council chaired by Al Caslin.
In the days and weeks and months to come, and right up to the next municipal elections, Niagara At Large is going to review examples of this disturbing conduct, from the inexcusable way Mishka Balsom, the CAO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, was treated by certain members of Caslin’s clan when she appeared before the council a year ago to discuss some chamber recommendations for changes in regional governance to the even more disgusting way St. Catharines citizen Ed Smith was treated this spring when he appeared before the council to ask for a full and independent audit of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.
And that is just scratching the surface.
We now have less than two years before the next municipal elections folks, and we have got to get going as communities of citizens now, to find good people to run for seats on the regional council.
There are at least eight people now on that council, however – the ones I identified above – who deserve to be re-elected given the stance they took this past October 31st on the hiring for one of the most important and powerful municipal posts in all of Niagara.
As for those who voted “YES” to the hiring of D’Angelo, stay tune to more about that later.
If you would like to express your support to the eight regional councillors who voted “NO” and share whatever other views you may have to the rest, here is a link to the list of Niagara regional councillors, along with their contact information – https://niagararegion.ca/government/council/profiles/default.aspx .
If some of you wish to learn more or would like a reminder as to what all of the concern over this hiring of Carmen D’Angelo to the regional government CAO job is about, here are a few other recent Niagara At Large posts to click on and read – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2016/11/04/niagara-mpp-raises-concerns-about-how-regional-government-does-business-on-local-radio-show/ .
Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.
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