Author Archives: dougdraper

With the Ombudsman Report Now Out, Will Our Niagara Regional Council Stand Up for Democracy and the Rule of Law When it Meets this December 5th?

“Niagara’s Regional Council now has the power to make the Ontario Ombudsman report meaningless and a waste of time. All of us in the Niagara Region need to pay very special attention to that meeting and make sure the council doesn’t!”

A Commentary by Ed Smith

A Special to Niagara At Large, Posted December 3rd, 2019

Niagara community activist and longtime municipal council watcher Ed Smith calls on Niagara’s Regional Council to stand up for democracy and the rule of law following release of Ontario Ombudsman’s ‘Inside Job’ report

The Ontario Ombudsman’s report ‘Inside Job’, on the corrupt hiring of Carmen D’Angelo at Niagara Region, has finally been released.

But what does it really mean?

The report outlines details and events in a fascinating degree of detail, but I can tell you that many people in Niagara already knew most of these details. 

To be sure, there were some new details in the report, but the gist of the entire sordid affair was well known and understood by countless citizens who pay attention to local politics in Niagara. 

So what does the Ombudsman report really mean? Continue reading

Former Chair Al Caslin is “Proud” of his Regional Council’s Accomplishment? – “The Man Has No Shame!”

Then Niagara regional chair Al Caslin, delivering one of his “there’s-something-you-can-clap-about” annual “State of the Region” addresses.

“I always acted with the best of intentions for the betterment of Niagara.”

– former Niagara regional chair Al Caslin, from a statement he shared with St. Catharines-based Heart Radio/610 CKTB Radio in a statement following the release, this November 29th, of an Ontario Ombudsman report calling the process used under his watch to hire Niagara Region’s now former CAO Carmen D’Angelo “compromised, unjust and wrong.”

A Commentary by the Niagara-based citizens watchdog group, A Better Niagara, with a Brief Foreword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted December 2nd, 2019 on Niagara At Large

A Foreword by Doug Draper – 

Over the past four years, from December, 2013 through to the first few days of December this past year, the then Niagara regional chair – Al Caslin – hardly ever seemed to miss an opportunity to call a member of council or a member of the public, speaking to the council as a delegation, “out of order,” and sometimes even demand an apology from them if he felt something they said was offensive to him and what member of the public took to calling his so-called cabal.

This image began making the rounds on the internet as growing numbers of Niagara residents grew concerned about what was going down with Niagara regional chair Al Caslin and his council.

Sitting up on that high chair and wearing the Region’s chain of office like a king wears a crown, Caslin also banged a gavel a lot (the current Niagara Regional Chair, Jim Bradley, typically doesn’t wear that pre-Magna Carta, medieval necklace and I have yet to see him bang a gavel), and although I never saw  Caslin break a gavel, that probably says more about the strength of the gavel than anything else. Continue reading

Identities of Those Involved in “Inside Job” at Region Should Be Revealed!

Who was the regional “councillor” in the Ontario Ombudsman’s Report who functioned like a go-between in getting Carmen D’Angelo the chief administrative job at Niagara Region?

Who on the council of former Niagara regional chair Al Caslin worked so actively to help Carmen D’Angelo get the Region’s CAO job through a procee the Ontario Ombudsman has called “unjust” and “wrong”? The voters and taxpayers of Niagara deserve to know who that councillor was.

“This (regional) councillor told us (Ombudsman Office investigators) that he does not recall speaking with the employee (Niagara’s regional government) about Mr. D’Angelo as the CAO candidate. However, we obtained an email from the councillor to the employee dated April 15, 2016, in which the councillor thanks the employee for the meeting, and suggests that the employee mention Mr. D’Angelo’s name to other staff as a good candidate for CAO.”                                                                                                       – an excerpt from Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube’s “Inside Job” report, made public  November 29th, 2019, on the circumstances around of  now former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Carmen D’Angelo

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted December 2nd, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Carmen D’Angelo, Niagara Region’s now former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), who got the top administrative job through a process Ontario’s Ombudsman has concluded was “compromised,” “unjust,” and “wrong.” \

Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube’s long-awaited report on the hiring process that saw former NPCA CAO Carmen D’Angelo get the CAO job at Niagara Region – a process that Dube ultimately called “compromised,” “unjust,” and “wrong” – was finally released this November 29th with at least one glaring set of information left out.

The report, as powerful as it was in confirming the scandalous conduct many Region watchers were trying to wave red flags about all along, failed to name who the individuals in the shadows were who aided and abetted the Region’s now former CAO, Carmen D’Angelo, in his quest for the $230,000-plus a year top job.

There are certainly numerous references to “the Chair” (although most Niagara residents who have paid attention know who that is or was – Al Caslin), to “the Chair’s Policy Director,” to “the Chair’s Director of Communications,” to “the Clerk,” to “the Director of People Services and Organizational Development,” and on and on. Continue reading

Ontario Ombudsman Confirms that Process Used to Hire Niagara Region’s former CAO was “Compromised,” “Unjust” and “Wrong”

Carmen D’Angelo – at the focus of an Ontario Ombudsman’s investigation into the “inside job” around his hiring to the top administrative post, commanding  $230,000-plus  a year in salary and benefits, at Niagara Region

“Mr. D’Angelo (the now former Niagara Regional CAO) was provided (prior to his hiring to theCAO’s job) with substantive content to be used in his application materials by insiders who had access to information not available to the general public or to other candidates. The lack of fairness and transparency in the hiring process created controversy and distrust within the region and served to undermine public confidence in local government.” – from the Ontario Ombudsman report “Inside Job,” released November 29th, 2019

By Doug Draper

Posted November 29th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

“Inside Job.”

That is the name Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube gave to his 71-page report, released by his office this November 19th,  on the conduct of former Niagara Regional chair Al Caslin and other former politicos and administrators around the hiring three years ago of the Region’s ex-CAO Carmen D’Angelo.

Ontario Ombudsman calls the process used to hire former Niagara Region CAO Carmen D’Angelo “unjust” and “wrong.” Seated to D’Angelo’s left here is former Niagara regional chair Al Caslin. file photo by Doug Draper

It was a hiring of an individual for a job … through a process that was “compromised” in ways that “created controversy and distrust within the region and served to undermine public confidence in local government,” stated the Ombudsman following an investigation by his office that took more than a year. Continue reading

A Sober Message for Black Friday and the Holiday Season

“Consummerism = Climate Crisis” – from Greenpeace

A Brief One from  Niagara At Large reporter and publisher            Doug Draper

Niagara At Large, November 29th, 2019

A banner reading “Consumerism = Climate Crisis,” written in spanish and displayed on a banner hung from a store in a shopping district  in Spain by the environmental group Greenpeace. Give it some serious thought

Consummerism can also equal mass madness and violence toward others we don’t even know. Click on the screen below.

Somewhere between the Three Wise Men bringing the Baby Jesus a few gifts, and what we’ve got going on now, something has flown seriously off the rails. It works well for the money lenders though.

This Holiday Season, make peace with Mother Earth. Be a minimalist!

Continue reading

Niagara Region, City of Thorold Reach Agreement With Province’s MTO to keep Thorold Tunnel open to Two-Way Traffic

Thorold Mayor Terry Ugulini

“I am pleased with the outcome. ….I have personally heard from  hundreds of residents and businesses as to the importance of the Thorold Tunnel  and I want to assure everyone that we took your concerns directly to the  ministry.”                                                              – Terry Ugulini, Mayor, City of Thorold

News from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted November 29th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – On Monday, Nov. 25, representatives from the Ministry of Transportation, Niagara Region and City of Thorold met to discuss potential solutions regarding  the challenges of snow clearing in the Thorold Tunnel during the construction.

The problem-plagued Thorold Tunnel seems to be in a permanent state of reconstruction. The tunnel has been the scene of water leaks, traffic accidents and other bad scenes for decades. Is it being fixed well this time? File photo by Doug Draper

All parties are pleased to announce that a mutually agreed upon solution has  been reached to keep the tunnel open to two-way traffic this winter.

Monday’s discussion centered on the need to ensure safety for motorists as everyone’s top priority, while respecting the serious inconvenience that a  detour would cause if the tunnel were only available to one-way traffic. Continue reading

Wishing Our American Friends and Neighbours the Warmest of Thanksgivings during Tumultuous Times

And Wishing that All of Us Can Find the Sense of Community I did at a Warm and Wonderful Old Inn on Cape Cod

A Lament for the Sense of Community we have lost in the ‘Geography of Nowhere’ by Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Posted November 28th, 2019

A painting of the Old Sea Pines Inn by one of Cape Cod’s finest artists, Karen North Wells

As friends and families gather across the American side of the border for what I hope will be a Thanksgiving that brings them a little warmth and peace during these tumultuous times, I think back to the more than 20 years my wife Mary, daughter Sarah and I spent with a large gathering of  our American friends each year at this time at a beautiful old New England inn on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

For all of those years, during the last week of November, we would get together at the Old Sea Pines Inn and share our hopes and fears and hugs, and talk about the wins, the losses and the draws in our lives, between walks along a beach or trips to one or more of the towns on the Cape. Continue reading