“It appears it’s (back to) business as usual at the Region.”
A Comment to Niagara At Large from one of many concerned and upset Niagara, Ontario residents
Posted March 16th, 2023
Before we share the Niagara resident’s comment with you, here is a Brief Foreword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –
The comment I am featuring below was recently sent to Niagara At Large as a response to a March 11th news commentary posted here on the recent decision by Niagara Region’s council to agree to settle a more than three-year-old, $850,000 lawsuit against former Niagara regional chair Al Caslin and two of Caslin’s then senior staff, Jason Tamming and Robert D’Ambrose.
The lawsuit was launched against Caslin and other two in response to their alleged misconduct around the controversial hiring in2016 of Carmen Angelo as the Region’s chief administrative officer (CAO) – a position Angelo disappeared from following a 2018 municipal election that saw Caslin and several other regional councillors who relentlessly supported Caslin’s agenda soundly defeated at the polls.
Then, this past March 10th, Niagara’s Regional Government circulated a news release to announce that the lawsuit against Caslin and the others has been settled and that the results of that settlement will remain “confidential,” never to be known to Niagara citizens and taxpayers.
So there we all have it folks. We are right back to those signs blocking the doors of the Regional Council chambers so many times during the Al Caslin era – “Closted session in progress. No entry permitted.”
Poof! It (the lawsuit against Caslin and company) is all over after who knows how many hundreds of thousands of Niagara residents’ tax dollars were spent on this case and after all of the hell and B.S. that Caslin and what many came to call his “cabal” of elected and non-elected minions put residents of Niagara and however many good regional staff through.
Little wonder then that at least some residents have shared comments with media outlets in Niagara, expressing their disgust at this secret settlement. Many more residents quite likely share this disgust, although not openly in a comment or letter-to-the-editor for fear of repercussions. Some of them have expressed their anger to me via email, or a phone call or in the check-out line at a neighbourhood grocery store.
Politicians who wonder why public attitudes toward them and government in general is growing more ugly, should consider the way a majority of Niagara regional council huddled behind closed doors to cave on this lawsuit as one more reason.
Indeed, between the awful way this lawsuit was handled, the recent, outrageously high 7.58 per cent property tax increase approved by a majority of regional councillors, and the spectacle of having most of the councillors role over a play dead at their inaugural meeting last November instead of stand up against Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s move to assault our democracy by picking our Regional Chair for us, I am hearing more fellow citizens – for the first time since the Caslin cabal ruled the roost – talk about abolishing regional government.
How sad it is that there were not enough regional councillors to rally together at that November 24th inaugural meeting and say; “To hell with Ford. We are going to vote for our Regional Chair the same way we have for decades. If he has the nerve to march in and undo our vote, install his own choice for regional chair and show everyone in Niagara what a totalitarian he is, let him!”
On the matter of the closed-doors settlement with Caslin and company, think of the damage that may do to anyone else at the regional staff level or to news reporters who stick their necks out to expose alleged wrong-doing in municipal government. Why bother if a majority of regional councillors are going to cut and run like a bunch of cowards at the end of the day?
Now here is that comment from a Niagara resident that I was referring to. It was sent to Niagara At Large by Robert (known by many as Bob Milenkoff, a Welland resident who has often been seen picketing at public demonstrations going back to the years when members of the Caslin cabal were wreaking havoc at the regional government level and at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.
More recently Bob Milenkoff has also been one of many Niagara residents who has joined protests against plans by Ontario’s Ford government to pave over parcels of our Greenbelt and other natural areas to unleash ever more low-density urban sprawl.
Here is Bob Milenkoff’s comment on the Region’s confidential lawsuit settlement –
By ROBERT (Bob) MILENKOFF
“An article (published in a Niagara, Ontario area news outlet) in April of 2019, stating that the majority of (Niagara) Regional Council had voted not to pursue (legal) action against (former “Regional Chair) Al Caslin because he had suffered enough; and was humiliated in his electoral defeat of 2018 really has to make you wonder what went on (at the Region) recently behind closed doors.
“If the same (regional) councilors were willing to take a blind eye in 2019, what makes you think they have changed their minds now?
“(Niagara Regional Chair) Jim Bradley admits that if this case would have gone to court the Region would have won.
“Mr. Bradley is right on one thing. The taxpayer deserves better and to cover this (the details of a recent lawsuit the Region had filed against Caslin and two former Caslin administrative assistants) up without letting the results out to the public is not only shameful, it is unacceptable.
“This investigation has cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars but it appears it’s business as usual at the Region.”
To visit the recent news commentary in Niagara At Large that Bob Milenkoff was responding to, click on –Niagara Region Settles Lawsuit With Former Regional Chair Al Caslin, Two Others, Over CAO Hiring Scandal | Niagara At Large
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