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Taxpayer predicts Council will be “blown out” at next election

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 11:38 -- Chris Cooke

She has a new title but not a new job.

Margaret Misek-Evans is Sarnia’s Chief Administrative Officer, a step up from City Manager but without a pay increase … for now.

Councillor Mike Kelch says it is a name change “and only a name change” and he assured First Monday Misek-Evan’s pay packet will not increase now or within the foreseeable future. “Duties of City Managers are changing, other Cities are heading in this direction and it only make sense that we follow suit”.

Misek-Evans, who has been embroiled in controversy since launching harassment charges against Mayor Mike Bradley is paid $181,000.00 after receiving a $25,000.00 raise last fall.

Her new title was highlighted in a seven-minute presentation to Council from Sarnia taxpayer Margaret Bird who asked “is it in title only, or is there a position description change and another increase of salary?”

Bird, who didn’t get any response from Council, highlighted a litany of other concerns. Among them the hiring of Intelivote, a financially troubled electronic voting company that will run next year’s paperless municipal election at a cost of $130,000.00.

Bird noted there had previously been public discussion by Council about paper ballot polling stations along side electronic voting but City Hall administration (Misek – Evans and Clerk Dianne Gould Brown) decided against paper without public consultation.

Brian White says the administration made the decision because the paper ballot system is outdated and expensive.

Bird challenged the administration suggesting electronic voting is not secure and is not safe. She also suggested 75 per cent of Sarnia voters are 50 and older, a large percentage are disabled and some don’t have computers or cell phones.

Bird cited the paper ballot decision and the administration’s desire to “control the message” as an ongoing attempt to stifle freedom of speech.

She took direct aim at the City’s new Code of Conduct restricting what Councillors can and can’t say to the media describing it as “unconscionable”.

Bird, a long time supporter of Mayor Mike Bradley went on to tackle the thorny issue of appointing a deputy mayor. The suspected appointment of Councillor Anne Marie Gillis is among the worst kept secrets at City Hall.

Bird was vocal noting deputy mayors in Lambton County are elected by the people not appointed by Council. And she asked bluntly why the deputy mayor decision isn’t being put on the ballot?

Councillors didn’t respond.

But Bird did pointing out that for “54 years there hasn’t been any need for a deputy mayor - even back in the 1960’s when the City was in charge of many more departments”.

Bird suggested “the intellect of the voting public should never be underestimated” predicting dire outcomes for most members of Council at next year’s election.

“Spending $300,000.00 hiring an integrity commissioner who has no integrity, appointing a deputy mayor, drafting a Code of Conduct, building a wall at City Hall and threatening to move the mayor to the bus depot are issues the public won’t forget”.

There wasn’t any response from Council. Bird took her seat and eventually left.

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