Here’s the problem with the report generated by City of Ottawa staff on the pothole scandal.
It tells taxpayers in the most basic manner what happened. The difficulty is that it doesn’t deal with how it happened.
Here are some questions that remain to be asked:
- What reprimand or firings occurred as a result of substandard asphalt being purchased and placed on roads?
- Why was the test of the asphalt not done before it was used?
- Why did experienced road people not notice the asphalt was substandard until the test?
- Did staff know about the quality of the asphalt but chose not to report because of sloppiness, not wanting to raise a ruckus or did they choose not to report for some other reason outside the course of everyday work?
- Who is being sued to recover money from buying substandard asphalt or did the firm(s) in question volunteerly refund taxpayer money?
- Why did staff not check asphalt quality when it was well known throughout municipalities and the industry that substandard asphalt was being distributed in Ontario?
- We see that the city is embarking on a program of more effective pothole filling? What does this have to do with the basic questions surrounding the scandal? The horses have left the barn.
- “The Public Works & Environmental Services Department remains committed to providing a high
level of service to the residents and businesses of Ottawa. The department looks forward to
continuing to address these issues in a timely manner to ensure contractual and operational
oversight is strengthened, and processes are well documented and implemented consistently
city-wide.” Just how strong was that commitment in dealing with the use of substandard asphalt? Perhaps the words “remains committed” might not be very accurate. If the department was already committed to providing a high quality of service, this scandal would not have happened.
- Is the department and the City of Ottawa as a whole so ashamed and nervous of its work in this matter that it had to release this document when it was least likely to be covered by the media on Friday evening? From the outside, the release time appears cowardly or someone is very nervous about this.
- Or is there another reason of which we don’t know that is making staff keep this issue as low-profile as possible.
- Is there a need to bring in law-enforcement authorities to look at this situation? Perhaps someone familiar with this situation should file a complaint with the police if that is the case.