Ottawans Must Take Back Their City Gov’t: QUOTABLE

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“An act of misconduct rarely happens in isolation. It is almost always symptomatic of a larger existence and tolerance of misconduct. Individuals engaged in such conduct are also prime targets of exploitation and extortion.”

Software entrepreneur Amir Morv speaking to MPs at a federal operations committee

 

By Ken Gray

Most Ottawans are aware of or have read the conclusions of the provincial inquiry into Ottawa’s light-rail project.

The level of misconduct outlined in that report is mind-boggling. It is the worst nightmare of taxpayers, good citizens, political academics … most everyone involved in public policy at any level of government and outside it.


One of those levels of government is Ottawa’s own municipal sphere. When you take Morv’s comments above and apply them to the billions and hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on LRT and Lansdowne respectively, knowing that many of the same players who were involved in the LRT debacle are still holding prominent elected and administrative positions at the City of Ottawa and govern many, if not all, of the functions practised by the municipality, the possibility of problems in many areas of city procurement and administration are acute.

“An act of misconduct rarely happens in isolation.” How very true. The culture now at the City of Ottawa is sick.

We have the current city manager of the municipality saying her predecessor was a “great” leader. No objective reader of the LRT inquiry could come to that conclusion. She is just, plain and simply, wrong.

From where exactly is Wendy Stephanson coming? Is she choosing to ignore the obvious or does she believe what she is saying?

Let’s take this further.

The City of Ottawa is both a partner in Lansdowne and the regulator of planning in this community … a more profound conflict of interest would be difficult to envisage. How can the city be both the organization in charge of planning governance and a partner in Lansdowne? No separation of powers of church and state occurs there. The City of Ottawa has an overwhelming conflict of interest at Lansdowne. That project is a public-policy nightmare.

Lansdowne Live Chat Sets A Record 50K Page Views

As well, the city is touting Lansdowne 2.0 where there is no possibility of the municipality getting its $419 million of taxpayer money back at a time when the municipality is wallowing in debt and probably failing to extricate itself from a quagmire of problems and costs from the LRT fiasco. The city cannot even create a budget without leaving an enormous hole in the middle of it when the municipality is by law expected to produce a balance budget. Now it wants to create more debt. This is foolhardy and careless. All this while we wait for the rubber to hit the road on our landfill basic service. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars approaching the city and taxpayers very quickly.

We are badly depleted on the basic services of mass transit (and as a consequence, road transportation) and waste. And yet the city is promoting hundreds of millions of dollars on the frill of Lansdowne. That is foolhardy in the extreme.

The City of Ottawa is ethically and culturally bankrupt, incapable of handling taxpayer money responsibility, horribly incompetent and ethically challenged as the LRT inquiry revealed.

Any councillor who votes to support Lansdowne is woefully naive and wildly incompetent. The only people who could even remotely support this deal are misguided sports fans who think we should be spending two-thirds of a billion dollars on a $5-million (if you can find a buyer at any price) CFL minor-league football team.

The City of Ottawa is in crisis and incompetent people want to make the crisis worse.

Normally, this publication would call on the city auditor general to deal with these problems. However, Bulldog readers have no doubt seen the timer running on every page of this website that illustrates exactly how long Ottawans have been waiting for the promised Trillium Line audit and the Trillium Line procurement audit. The procurement absolutely screams audit and investigation and yet it will soon be a year that this city has been waiting for auditor-general action. The Trillium Line audits keep falling down the auditor general’s work plan to the point where they look as though they will fall off. Instead, we have the AG probing municipal minutiae of questionable consequence.

Maybe that is fortuitous because given the gruesome game of paddy-cake that the AG played with the Ottawa Police Service on the investigation of the OPS role in the Freedom Convoy audit, the credibility of the office has been badly damaged. Furthermore, the AG’s governing body, the audit committee has people on it who were a part of the questionable decisions on LRT … not the least of whom is the former chairman of the transit commission. The audit committee is compromised on this issue.

So it is time to take these two issues out of the hands of the municipality. Heal thyself? Highly unlikely.

On Tuesday, a Lansdowne live chat on this website garnered a mind-boggling 50,000 page views. Many of those people are souls of considerable intelligence, astonishing expertise, of good hearts and ethics. They are people of great efficacy. It is time to move. It has been time to move for many months, even years. Action must assume the role of words. This publication calls on these community leaders to show their responsibility to the people of this city. They have done well by this community and this is their opportunity to defend it.

It is time for these very capable people to take these issues out of municipal hands. It is time for a class-action suit to deal with the sobering incompetence and faulty decisions that have compromised these two issues. Not just the City of Ottawa, the corporation, but the people within the organization who are responsible for these monstrosities.

In addition, it is time to file complaints with law enforcement authorities so that the actions of these people can be investigated and these authorities can decide whether or not there is enough, or any, evidence to lay charges. From there, if the Crown decides to lay charges, the courts can administer justice.

The problem with the legal side of this issue is that all three levels of government have contributed money to LRT and the municipality has provided funds for Lansdowne. Thus choosing who to file the complaint could be difficult for the RCMP, the OPP and the Ottawa Police Service receive their funding from government.

That’s a decision to be left to the very smart legal minds who contributed to Tuesday’s 50,000-page-view discussion on The Bulldog. Ethically, this publication can go no further. It is the job of journalists to report the news and express opinions, not to shape events. The Bulldog has reported the news and expressed its opinion. It is there our responsibility stops. We’ve done all we can.

Now it is up to the people of this community, from where democratic legitimacy emanates, to take back their government from people who have treated our system badly. They need to see that right triumphs over wrong. It is their responsibility. You get the kind of government you deserve. Ottawa deserves better.

The Bulldog has laid down the framework for that. As well, The Bulldog will publish the names of the councillors and their voting decisions on these issues so that democracy can exercise its judgment in a public forum.

“An act of misconduct rarely happens in isolation.”

Bulldog editor Ken Gray has been a journalist at five major Canadian newspapers over a career that has spanned four decades.

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4 Responses

  1. Andrew says:

    Fantastic summary! The lack of competence by David White, City Solicitor (and now promoted to Interim City Clerk), as displayed in the council meetings during the Occupation indicates there will be an ineffective city defense against a court Challenge. History has shown the city likes to settle out of court , its easy, and there is less troublesome legal preparation. Note: the meetings are available Online and it is sickening to see how bad the solicitors office was. (One resident had to act on her own with an injunction to stop the horns).

  2. Ron Benn says:

    There is an old adage about how a fish rots from the head. As was pointed out by the LRT Commissioner, this was indeed the case in Ottawa. The Commissioner censured the Mayor, the Chief Administrative Officer and the General Manager of OC Transpo for egregious malfeasance for their collusion to withhold critical information from council.

    At issue is how many other people within the city administration and OC Transpo and RTG were active participants in these coordinated acts of willful misconduct. Do any of them remain in the employ of the city? If so, have their employment records been blessed with a complete description of why they are not suitable for promotion, ever?

    How many city managers and staff, while not active participants in this willful deceit, were aware of the problem? They are what we now refer to as enablers. Have their employment records been noted about their failure to act in to the expected professional standard?

    What speaks volumes is that council did not consider the need for an outside voice to be paramount. A “new broom” to sweep out the corrupt (not money in an envelope corrupt, rather corrupt as not functioning per specifications) elements and set a new tone from the top.

    Is this just another instance of the naivete of our elected officials? Not likely. They decided to reinforce to all within city hall that business as usual continues down on Laurier Avenue. And business as usual includes willfully failing to provide council with the information they need to make informed decisions.

  3. sisco farraro says:

    What would the French have said back in the day of King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette? Oh yeah, “Off with their heads!!!” How about we deal with city council in this manner rather than go through the drawn out legalities of a class action suit and the associated costs to tax payers. It would be the most fun to take place on the city hall lawn since the last Blues Festival held at that locale. Additionally, in the document above your referred to the lack of a transportation system during one of your references to the LRT. Will there be a followup article concerning Ottawa’s next boondoggle-in-progress, electric buses?

  4. Ken Gray says:

    Sisco:

    I expect there will be.

    cheers

    kgray

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