STRAIGHT TALK/Norm Puttick
This column is all about common sense and communication.
I find Niagara Falls chief administrative officer Ken Todd’s remarks offensive regarding communication with the Region over several reports that, to my knowledge, have been designed to save taxpayers money and bring efficiencies to the twelve municipalities and the Niagara Region government.
All reports have been discussed over the last five years and information is readily available.
I am also at a loss that Coun. Selina Volpatti is quoted by the media last week as saying “a regional presence is needed at City Hall.”
Niagara’s Regional council has 31 members and is the legislative body of our Regional corporation. Under the Region of Niagara Act, the mayor of each of the 12 municipalities acts as liaison between the region and his or her city.
In Niagara Falls, that regional presence is Mayor Jim Diodati.
At Niagara Falls city hall, both Todd’s and Diodati’s desks are separated by 20 feet or so. They share the same washroom. If these two cannot discuss city and regional affairs, then someone should request a report as to what in heck they do all day, in my view.
I understand the mayor requested Todd report to city council and that is nothing more than looking for an issue in the upcoming local election.
Niagara Falls council chambers always had three seats in the staff section set aside for regional councillors of the day, starting about 40 years ago, but they were usually empty until about two months before a local election and the advent of televised council meetings.
I called Todd’s office twice in the last month, upon his return from a trip to India, and had no reply. I wanted to confirm that the extension of Thorold Stone Road is no longer feasible and that the city has purchased a section of the old street car line to create an entrance to the Gale Centre off Stanley Avenue.
Taxpayers for all elected in Niagara pay for all the electronic gadgets – blackberry, printers, computers and whatever else is out there to make communication instant.
Also, the CAO of each municipality and a regional counterpart meet once a month to discuss issues in Niagara.
Senior staff, like engineering and planning, also meet, along with hydro, gas and water staff to discuss new construction in Niagara.
So, my question is what is city complaining about?
A recent report reveals there are twice as many workers receiving minimum wage than there were five years ago. University students cannot find work they were trained to do. My guess is many of these students could tell Todd how to bring together the information he seeks, starting with the advice to talk to your Mayor, your regional liaison at city hall.
Finally, I guess on the recent trip to India Todd and the mayor took, was there no time on the plane to seek answers from the city liaison.
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