A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted March 27th, 2017 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – Lincoln regional councillor Bill Hodgson said he was having a pretty enjoyable Sunday this past weekend until he went to his computer and opened up the following email the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s communications specialist Michael Reles sent him that March 26th day on behalf of the NPCA’s board chair Sandy Annunziata.
“Dear Member Hodgson,” began the email to Hodgson who sits on the NPCA’s board. “I hope you are enjoying your weekend.”
“In response to your Regional Councillors report at the Monday, March 20, Town of Lincoln Council Meeting,” added Reles of a report on regional affairs that he shared with the town council he once sat on as the town’s mayor, “the Chair has asked me to contact you for your written submissions to support a claim you made.”
“Specifically, he (Annunziata) is requesting you address the claim that “They say they’re following the resolution, but, really, a grade 2 student would understand, you’re not following the resolution,” the email continued. “He is also requesting that this is done in advance of our Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday. Best Regards, … Michael Reles, Communications Specialist.”
“I was outraged,” Hodgson told this reporter of his response to the email. “The audacity of it” he added. “The lack of respect for the democratic process.”
For those who have not been following the storm of public questions and concerns over the NPCA and its management of millions of dollars of our tax money, Hodgson’s reference to a grade 2 student has to do with a motion he managed to get passed by the board this past January for a third-party, independent audit of the NPCA’s operations.
Hodgson has since charged that this motion, when a version of it was tabled again at a March 8th special meeting of the NPCA board, was reworded in ways that stripped it of its originally intent to have an audit done by a party independent of anyone serving on the NPCA’s staff or board – in other words, an audit that a public wary of the current NPCA management can have some trust in.
“I am outraged that I went to the March 8th board meeting only to be shut down when I planned to explain why I felt the spirit and intent of the motion had been turned upside down.”
By shut down, Hodgson was talking an episode at the March 8th meeting when he cut off and directed to apology after charging that the wording of his motion had been “weaseled down.” Hodgson agreed to withdraw the “weaseled” reference before a majority of board members approved a document he continues to believe does not follow the intent of his original motion.
Niagara At Large called Annunziata twice this March 27th, leaving messages both time as to the reason for the calls, but was unable to reach him for a fuller explanation of why he had the NPCA’s communications specialist send the Sunday afternoon email to Hodgson.
Hodgson said that one of the things that bothers him about the email is that just two days earlier, he was sitting near Annunziata at a luncheon where Niagara’s regional chair, Al Caslin, delivered his annual ‘State of the Region’ address, and Annunziata never mentioned a word to him about his concern over anything he (Hodgson) said during his March 20th report to the Town of Lincoln council.
Hodgson said he also remains upset that, to this day, as the author of the motion ratified by the NPCA board this past January, he has not, in his view, been given a full opportunity to explain why he is not satisfied with changes to its wording.
He said he is prepared to outline his concerns, if given a chance, in open session at the NPCA’s upcoming Wednesday, March 29th board meeting at the Balls Falls Conservation Centre in Lincoln that gets underway at 9:30 a.m.
To read a related stories on this issue, click on – http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/03/08/npca-audit-process-proceeds-after-tense-meeting
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