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Chris Cooke's picture

Piano music and Wi-Fi will make Sarnia a world class City

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 16:27 -- Chris Cooke

If you like piano music then call Sarnia City Hall.

If you like to wait on hold and be told how valued you are as a taxpayer call Sarnia City Hall.

If by chance you just happen to know the four-digit extension of the individual you are trying to reach or by chance actually know the name and correct spelling of that person you get a shorter piano recital.

During which, of course your value as a taxpayer and contributor to the City’s massive $140 million budget and burgeoning $12 million debt are reiterated over and over in a continuous recorded loop.

If by chance you become frustrated enough, attempt to hop a bus that comes infrequently or get in your vehicle and actually drive downtown to City Hall you will discover that the young lady who answered the phone and provided service is gone.

So is the $150,000.00 kiosk that was installed just four year ago.

All of this in the name of progress.

Be less helpful, provide fewer services and isolate the bureaucracy from the public that pays the freight.

Supposedly soothing piano music makes it all more tolerable.

In the total scheme of things, the savings from ripping out the kiosk and relocating the young lady to another department equates to bus money in a $140 million budget.

But what do I know about such things?

I only run a $21 million business with 108 employees where a real person answers the phone 24 hours a day seven days a week. Sometimes it is noisy when a press operator picks up the phone with his or her inky hands in the middle of the night. They may not answer on the first or second ring and there is a lot of press noise but I can assure you they are alive and well and prepared to provide service.

Unlike the City, we have hundreds of customers and seemingly a similar number of competitors. But over 27 years we have discovered the first order of business is to answer the phone.

At City Hall we have a weak and ineffective Council. According to our Dan McCaffery, the worst Council in Sarnia’s history. A Council that is oblivious to its customers, the taxpayers who pay the bills.

Case in point is Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze. Council squandered $112,000.00 on this guy. Instead of dumping him for someone better, more thorough and less costly it renewed his contract.

He has a retainer and his invoices lack detail. His investigations appear sloppy and incomplete.

Nonetheless, this administration, this Council endorse everything Swayze does because their agenda and his agenda are the same.

And that agenda is simple. Get rid of Mayor Mike Bradley at any cost.

This Council endorsed Swayze and signed him up for another year even though the County of Lambton has a better, less expensive option.

The County has a Toronto law firm that doesn’t charge a retainer. A Toronto law firm that hasn’t heard a single complaint in its three years of service to the County.

Why you might ask?

It speaks volumes about the atmosphere and attitude of government at the County versus the City.

Resolve issues without leaning on the services of an expensive Integrity Commissioner.

No drama.

No agenda.

Which begs the question of why Swayze, when Lambton Clerk Stephane Thiffeault (himself a lawyer) says the County’s Integrity Commissioner is available as a “bulk buy” to Sarnia and surrounding municipalities?

Getting rid of Swayze would save money, but at Sarnia City Hall that apparently isn’t the objective.

If it was why would this administration be recommending a study of Wi-Fi downtown and in Centennial Park?

Speaking about a service whose best before date has long since passed, municipal Wi-Fi has to rank somewhere near the top.

Hackers love this stuff but Sarnia blunders on allocating $15,000.00 and partnering with Bluewater Regional Networks.

Are you sitting down for this?

Anne Marie Gillis actually believes Sarnia will be left behind as a world – class City if it doesn’t take full advantage of public Wi-Fi at $140,000 to $160,000 a City block.

Has this woman actually been living in Sarnia for the past two years?

I can assure Mrs. Gillis public Wi-Fi won’t do anything for the City’s worldliness. Swayze, this administration and this Council have destroyed Sarnia’s reputation.

Matt Mitro, whose step kid makes $110,000.00 running IT at City Hall actually believes if it is done correctly Wi-Fi could be a boon to the community.

I wonder how he knows that?

By the way I don’t recall Mitro declaring a conflict of interest.
    
I wonder if the Integrity Commissioner has ever looked into that?

Excuse me but I must go now to complain about my taxes. I think I hear a piano recital coming on.

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