We, the People, deserve to see justice done in this matter
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted February 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
What gives with the freshman regional councillor from Niagara Falls, Peter Nicholson?
If a story on the front page of February 19th edition of the St. Catharines Standard is correct, this regional councillor wants fellow members of Niagara Region’s council to reconsider a motion they reportedly passed in closed session this past January to file lawsuits against four of the main players in what has become commonly known as the ‘tainted CAO hiring scandal’ – what Ontario’s Ombudsman dubbed an “inside job” in a report he released he released last November – that rocked and ravaged our Niagara regional government as a credible, functioning public body over the past four or five years.
The four individuals our Regional Council reportedly voted this January to file lawsuits against are the former CAO at the heart of the hiring, Carmen D’Angelo, former Niagara regional chair Al Caslin, a former regional policy director Robert D’Amboise and former communications director Jason Tamming.
The vote to sue the quartet, probably for all of the money the whole nefarious business has cost, and is continuing to cost taxpayers, and for any and all damage it has done to the regional government’s reputation, was apparently unanimous.
And then, according to the February 19th Standard story, Nicholson, a first term councillor and son of former Niagara Falls Conservative MP Rob Nicholson, somehow got “cold feet” and may be asking the Region’s council to reconsider the lawsuits as soon as this February 20th’s council meeting, which gets underway this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for those of you who may now want to show up.
The Standard story says the newspaper made numerous attempts to contact Peter Nicholson to discuss this, but up to at least the time the February 19th print edition of the paper went to press, he did not respond.
So we are all left asking.
What reason could Nicholson possibly have for wanting the Region to reconsider filing lawsuits against these individuals?
Does he think that the individuals actually did the taxpayers of this region a favour over the past four or five years?
Does he think they have done anything to enhance the reputation of our Niagara regional government as a public institution across this or any other region across Ontario and the rest of country?
As I scratch my head for answers to those questions and more, I think of how many different things may have been for all of us who live in Niagara if the CAO hiring process had been handled, shall I say, differently.
How much different it might if we did not have to live through what the province’s Ombudsman characterized as an “inside job” that got Carmen D’Angelo in 2016, and if some other talented person got hired to what is, after all, the position of chief executive officer of a government that delivers vital services to Niagara residents and is charged with the responsible handling of more than a billion dollars of or money each year?
How much different it might have been if our regional government had not lost so many dedicated staff people who were either pushed out or left on their own because they could not stand working at the Region any longer?
We have had a hell of a brain drain at the regional government level over the last 2014-2018 term of council. And the biggest losers of all when these talented people left were we, the people.
There is also the question of the damage that has been done to our regional government’s reputation over the past four or five years, and the difficult our new council (however much better it is than the Caslin gang) may be having getting good people to want to come and work here.
Then there was all of the council time that has been taken up, and is still being taken up, dealing with this whole mess – time that our councillors could be using to deal with so many of the needs and challenges people in our communities look to the Region to address.
And Peter Nicholson has “cold feet!” What is wrong with him?
At this Thursday, February 20th regional council meeting, Nicholson should be made to publicly explain to the council and to the people of Niagara what led him to even consider possibly putting a motion on the table to possibly pull away from filing lawsuits,
If he can’t or won’t explain who or what may have caused him to do this, then perhaps the people of Niagara Falls ought to see if there is any way they can have him removed from his seat and replaced with someone who will take a position that any person of sound of mind would take after reading the facts and findings in the Ontario Ombudsman’s scathing report about this sordid CAO hiring business.
Let’s hope that the rest of our Niagara regional councillors stand their ground and do what is right for Niagara’s taxpayers by making sure that justice is done here.
In the meantime, if you wish to contact your members of Niagara Regional Council to let them know what you would like them to do about this, you can access their names and contact information by clicking on – https://www.niagararegion.ca/government/council/profiles/default.aspx
To read the story that The St. Catharines Standard ran this February 19th on this matter, click on – https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news-story/9857598-all-the-chair-s-men-councillor-wants-niagara-region-to-reconsider-suing-caslin-and-d-angelo-over-cao-hiring-scandal/
To read the Ontario Ombudsman’s November 2019 report, titled “Inside Job,” on the CAO hiring scandal, click on – https://www.ombudsman.on.ca/resources/reports-and-case-summaries/reports-on-investigations/2019/inside-job
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