And now you got a mountain

I don’t envy the position that the current mayor and city council find themselves in, but I do see this as a defining moment for them.

With a month under its belt, council was probably hoping it would be focusing on enjoying Bon Soo activities, but instead they are facing a mountain of issues (yes the Searchmont pun is intended), and these may only be the visible tip of the accountability and integrity iceberg.

If you are tired of hearing about the recent scandal at APH, you aren’t alone, however, a community that sweeps something like this under the rug is not one I want to call home. There must be accountability. As columnist Tom Mills wrote, accountability shouldn’t just be a buzzword.

A major part of accountability is liability. Who will be liable for the fallout of this disclosure?

Aside from looking into Rothberg/Rootenberg’s own non-disclosure of a very relevant criminal past, the people who recommended him and hired him must be held to account.

The executive search consultant who has stated that he knew of Rothberg/Rootenberg’s criminal past must be held accountable as well, assuming that he did not disclose his recruit’s past to Dr. Barker and the Board. If he did withhold pertinent information, at a very minimum he should be returning his recruiting fees.

Rothberg/Rootenberg’s past (thank you to whomever finally found this out and went public!) has now led to the implosion of at least two significant community projects. How many public resources have gone into these projects so far? Should we be seeking damages of any kind from any of these parties?

Councillor Myers was quoted as saying “We have been elected by this community to be honest and fair and hold ourselves accountable.” I appreciate the council’s resolution towards understanding the situation better, but a councillor sits on the APH Board… shouldn’t city council already be well-apprised?

Tough questions must be asked, investigations by the proper authorities, and we must remember that ignorance is not a “Get out of jail” card.

Councillors appointed to Boards are there to report back to council. Yes they are Board members, but they are councillors first. As our elected representatives, they have a responsibility to make sure that our money is being spent appropriately and that our interests are looked after.

Councillors sit on the PUC Board as well… how we doing on that brown water issue? How about the free-chlorine stench and taste many residents complain of coming from their taps?

Councillors also sit on the EDC Board. Did I miss the council meeting where the EDC Board reported that they were going to buy Searchmont with our money?

Let’s be clear that I am not saying that supporting Searchmont is a bad thing. What I’m saying is that there is a big difference between providing some grants or forgivable loans versus buying the mountain outright. This seems suspiciously timed to get approvals with a council that didn’t have its legs yet. This may be a great thing, but where is that transparency and accountability that we are expecting from APH?

Perhaps we as taxpayers only had to pay a molehill for the mountain? How much did we pay? What kind of return can we expect?

If we’re going to make significant community investments that are expected to pay a return, maybe we need to look further north to Kapuskasing to their solar and hydroelectric power generating company. Energy Kapuskasing is expecting to RETURN $1.5 million to the community annually starting in 2017. Are we the renewable energy capital of Canada or aren’t we? Wouldn’t it be nice for the PUC to return money to the community?

So to the councillors and mayor, we look to you now in your leadership roles, to lead. It’s time to make mountains out of the mountains, and addressing the elephants in the room. This is not an election year, this is the time to show moxie and resolve. Be accountable, make others accountable, and show us that we put our faith in the right people.

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