How Much More Of Our Niagara Region Tax Dollars Are Being Wasted On Unnecessary Staff Buyout?

 This $870,000 Paid Out To Niagara’s Police Chief Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg!

A News Commentary by Ed Smith

Posted February 12th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

On January 29th, the people of Niagara learned that we had paid our police chief $870,000 in order to entice him to leave his position and allow the Police Services Board to appoint someone else to the position.

The $870,000 of our tax money used recently to retire Niagara Region’s Police Chief Jeff McGuire is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much public money is being wasted by Niagara regional councilors to buy out staff for reasons that are, to say the least, questionable.

By their own admission, the Chief was not enticed to leave for any reasons related to negative performance. To the contrary, the Board has only ever had positive and glowing things to say about the Chief. 

Nevertheless that same Board was willing to use $870,000 of taxpayer money to convince him to leave rather than have him serve for the two and a half years remaining in his contract. 

The Niagara Region Police Services Board is chaired by Niagara Falls regional councillor Bob Gale. Also on the Board is regional chair Al Caslin and Port Colborne regional councillor David Barrick, together they comprise 50 per cent of the Police Board. 

To date, none of them has displayed the political will to inform us why they decided to waste almost a million of our dollars. 

To the contrary, at a regional council meeting on Thursday night Bob Gale went on the offensive in an attempt to convince the public that paying the $870,000 was a virtuous thing.  It was a display full of bombastic self-praises and demands for apologies, but woefully lacking in any real substance.

Just as troubling as the $870,000 paid to Chief McGuire is the fact that this is only scratching the surface of pay-outs in the region in the past few years.   

Answers to why and how much of our tax money is being used by Niagara Region’s Al Caslin government and partner bodies like the Niagara Police Services Board and Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority should not be kept behind closed doors. More citizens across Niagara need to rise up and demand to know more about how their tax money is being spent!

Police Services Board member David Barrick is also the Senior Director of Corporate Services at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), an organization that has shown dozens of employees the door in the past few years.  Many of these employees were very high ranking, including former CAO Tony D’Amario and former Acting CAO Peter Graham.   

These two individuals were released from the NPCA in circumstances very similar to the police chiefs and we, the taxpaying public, have not been provided the details of what those releases cost us. 

But it doesn’t stop there.

The NPCA has shown the door to an untold number of senior managers, junior managers and countless long time non-management staff, the vast majority of whom would have been eligible for some sort of settlement package. At least one of these cases is still before the courts for wrongful dismissal and others are being adjudicated (at great public expense) by lawyers in arbitration.  

The cost to the taxpayer for these releases has to be enormous.

As I understand it, Niagara has up to 10,000 people on a waiting list for affordable housing, 10,000 of our neighbours in desperate need while our regional councillors waste untold millions of dollars.  To be certain it is not all regional councillors who are displaying this attitude with the public purse, but there is a predictable group who are very deeply involved.

How many affordable housing units could have been built for the millions of wasted dollars?

We need a full public accounting of what these councillors have been doing with our tax dollars and it must extend into the NPCA. 

Despite all of the releases that have taken place at the NPCA in recent years, the size of the staff remains the same. They are not down-sizing, but neither are they fulfilling their legislated mandates.  We have the right to know what is going on with our tax dollars.  How much has the NPCA spent on releasing employees for no apparent reason?

How many trees could have been planted by the NPCA for the millions of wasted dollars?  How many jobs could have been preserved?

The citizens of Niagara need to start paying close attention, we are all in need of A Better Niagara, and I believe the vision for A Better Niagara is starting to see the light.

We all have a role to play if we have had enough of the waste and the utter lack of respect for the taxpayer, our fellow citizens and the environment.  The next election is October 22nd of this year, only 8 months from now, the time for accountability draws nigh.

A Better Niagara is coming, but it will require your help.

Go to www.abetterniagara.com and be a part of the coming change.

At your service, Ed Smith

Ed Smith speaking at a Niagara regional council meeting in 2016 over citizens’ concerns over the way tax dollars are being spent at aNiagara Peninsula Conservation Authority with a board of directors dominated by 10 Niagara mayors and regional councillors. File photo by Doug Draper

About Ed Smith – Ed Smith is a resident and community activist, living in the Niagara, Ontario municipality of St. Catharines. A retired officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, he found himself battling lawsuits slapped against him by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and its former CAO Carmen D’Angelo (now CAO for Niagara’s regional government) after raising questions and concerns over how the NPCA does business with millions of dollars of public money.

Those lawsuits were dismissed by an Ontario Court Judge last November and the Judge has since ordered the NPCA to pay Smith’s legal  costs.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

 

 

 

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4 responses to “How Much More Of Our Niagara Region Tax Dollars Are Being Wasted On Unnecessary Staff Buyout?

  1. I know my comment will generate a lot of guffaws and laughs but I will comment anyway. Has anyone asked why former Chief McGuire accepted the payout instead of telling “them” to shove it up their asses and coming clean with the public with his understanding of the probable egregious nature of the proposed severance? Was he not under any expectation to have a higher ethical bar if only where optics are concerned? He could have said no! As CHIEF OF POLICE I would have EXPECTED him to say no.

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  2. When I left my very responsible job (as an emergency care nurse) with the Niagara Health System after 40 years, I had a choice of “buy outs”……a cooler, a cheap watch or a pair of binoculars. Where was my $870,000? I wasn’t even offered fifty bucks or a gift certificate for Swiss Chalet.

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  3. Vis a vis NPCA buyouts, let’s not forget the year former head of communications, Mary Stack, made more than the CAO. Because her job was restructured, she had to be paid out and ended up with (I believe it was 2014) in the neighbourhood of $150,000. She was paid out, but was still employed with the NPCA under a different title. They did later on let her go, dropping the number of communications staff down to one – David Barrick;s longtime buddy Michael Reles. The NPCA recently boosted the number of commnuications staff to three, with Reles now heading the department.

    A Note from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper – The information about buyouts in the above public was made public in a media report. Here is the link – http://www.wellandtribune.ca/2014/11/17/senior-staffer-no-longer-with-npca .

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  4. Great comments by Ed calling into question even more of the NPCA’s abuses of our tax dollars over recent years rather than months!
    In the notes following Ed’s piece there is a quote: ‘..Those lawsuits were dismissed by an Ontario Court Judge last November and the Judge has since ordered the NPCA to pay Smith’s legal costs…’
    I think it should be emphasised every time such payments are mentioned that is not the NPCA who will pay a cent, it is the taxpayers of Niagara Region again who are being made liable for these costs.
    Additionally, can anyone explain why the taxpayers should be paying D’Angelo’s legal costs??? He freely chose to add his name to the lawsuits and I really see no reason why anyone else should be made responsible for his own personal and private choice to try to sue Ed Smith? It’s not as though he is out of work and it will still be paid for by the taxpayer!

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