Four Years of Bluster and B.S. from Certain Members of Niagara’s Old Police Board,  And What Have We Got?

Nine Cents  – That’s Right, Just  Nine Copper Pennies Left – in the Police Budget’s Reserves!

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher            Doug Draper

Posted January 25th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Nine cents!

That’s right, only nine copper pennies left in reserves for a Niagara Regional Police Service with an annual operating budget exceeding $140 million a year.

Or since we don’t have pennies in Canada any longer, let’s round that out to one thin dime. And as the old song about being down and out on the streets of Broadway goes, “one thin dime won’t even shine your shoes.”

Nine cents was all that Niagara Regional Police (NRP) Chief Bryan MacCulloch and the new board of the Niagara Regional Police Force has found left over in a pot of reserve money – set aside for emergencies and unexpected expenses that turn up – that should hold at least few hundred thousand dollars, according to a January 25th report in The St. Catharines Standard.

Here is someone’s impression of, from left to right, then-Niagara Regional Chair, then-Port Colborne Regional Councillor David Barrick and Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Bob Gale (the only one of the three who is back again) on the last Niagara Regional Police Services board.

As outrageous as that is, it is not really all that shocking given all of the concerns raised and reports we’ve heard about voodoo economics and the reserves being raided by members of the old police board, chaired over the past four years by Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Bob Gale – all with a mind to making overall annual budget increases for NRP look good, and to achieve that much ballyhooed zero per cent increase.

This is the same police board, which along with Gale, including then Port Colborne Regional Councillor David Barrick (now the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s “alleged” acting CAO) and then Niagara Regional Chair Al Caslin) that decided in favour of buying out then NRP Chief Jeff McGuire, who was well liked by many rank-and file police officers and was prepared to stay until his contract ended in 2020, with more than $870,000 of our tax money.

When at one Regional Council meeting last year, when a few councillors, including  then-Thorold Regional Councillor Henry D’Angela (who was a police board member when Gary Burroughs was Niagara Regional Chair two terms ago), stood and questioned the McGuire buyout, Gale insisted that it was a “good business decision” and went on to treat the council and weary members of the public to a soliloquy about his board’s accomplishments that seemed to last longer than having a root canal on a diseased tooth.

Over and over again, we kept hearing from Gale and Barrick, right on up to Caslin, what a stellar job they were doing of managing the  finances on that old board.

There was the controversial buy-out of this Niagara Regional Police Chief Jeff McGuire, who said he would have stayed for another two or so years to complete his contract.

No wonder that this past December, after Niagara’s new Niagara Regional Council was sworn in, a good many tax paying citizens across Niagara shook their heads in disappointment and anger when a total of 14 members (almost half) of the Region’s new council, including Gale, voted to put Gale back on the police board for this four-year term.

Obviously, we have a critical mass of individuals on Niagara’s new Regional Council who never quite got some of the pieces of a message that a good number of voters delivered when they went to the polls during last October’s municipal elections – that they want an end to that kind of “management” of our public services and our money.

Isn’t it interesting, by the way, how politicians who identify as conservatives and good fiscal managers are so often the ones that end up leaving us in greater debt or with kitties with nothing or practically nothing left in them for services we need.

If you want a reminder of who on the new council voted in favour of returning Bob Gale to the police board, they are: St. Catharines Regional Councillors Sandie Bellows, George Darte and Tim Rigby, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati, Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Peter Nicholson, Niagara-on-the-Lake Lord Mayor Betty Disero, Niagara-on-the-Lake Regional Councillor Gary Zalepa, Pelham Mayor Marvin Junkin, Thorold Regional Councillor Tim Whalen, Fort Erie Regional Councillor Tom Insinna, Wainfleet Mayor Kevin Gibson, Welland Regional Councillor Leanna Villella , and, of course, Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Bob Gale.

The other two members of Niagara Region’s Council elected to sit on the new police board were Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele and Wainfleet Mayor Kevin Gibson.

Good luck to them and other members of the new police board, including members of the NRP’s staff , in their efforts to get Niagara’s police budget back in order without, hopefully, compromising the vital services the police force delivers.

Peter Gill, a retired Niagara Regional Police Services officer who ran in St. Catharines this past October, but fell short of winning a seat onNiagara’s Regional Council, made his own statement on Facebook this January 25th with this image (above). By the way, when Gill refers to 13 councillors voting for Gale, his number is correct if you don’t include Gale, who voted for himself.

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3 responses to “Four Years of Bluster and B.S. from Certain Members of Niagara’s Old Police Board,  And What Have We Got?

  1. It will be interesting to hear Bob Gale defend this. It will also be interesting to hear his supporters on council support their decision, my bet is none of them will speak to this embarrassment.

    Like

  2. Robert Milenkoff

    I would like to give my two cents on your nine cent story; the Regional councilors who voted to put Bob Gale back on the police board had no sense at all.
    Robert Milenkoff
    Welland

    Like

  3. Bob Gale said they ran the region like a business. That should mean they made a profit. If so I’d like to see it Thank you

    Like

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