Demand To Know How Much of Your Tax Dollars Have Been Used To Fire NPCA Staff Out The Door!

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

How Costly Have The Pay Outs Been At the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority?

A News Commentary by Ed Smith

Posted February 12th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

With Some Introductory Words from NAL publisher Doug Draper –

With a motion going to Niagara regional council this coming Thursday, March 1st – asking the council to support a request to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority to disclose how much of our tax money it spent firing, retiring or otherwise showing the door to more than two dozen staff members over the past four years – Niagara At Large has decided to repost the following commentary from Niagara area community activist Ed Smith earlier this February.

Ed Smith’s commentary speaks to why the motion being tabled at the March 1st meeting by St. Catharines regional councillor Brian Heit must be approved by a majority of councillors in the name of openness and accountability when it comes to the use of our municipal tax money.

Please read Ed’s commentary, then make sure you contact your mayor and directly elected regional councillor in Niagara as soon as possible and urge them to vote in favour of Councillor Heit’s motion for public disclosure. – Doug Draper

For the names and contact information for your mayor and councillor, click onhttps://www.niagararegion.ca/government/council/profiles/default.aspx .

For Doug Draper’s February 26th news commentary on Brian Heit’s motion and why he is tabling it, click 0n https://niagaraatlarge.com/2018/02/27/how-much-have-all-those-npca-staff-buyouts-cost-us/ .

Now here is Ed Smith’s recent take on how much all of this is costing us for reasons that make no clear sense.

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 February 8th regional council meeting  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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