The Craig Gammie Commentary


Volume 1 Number 12

1 May 2011

 TSBP Makes Public The “In-Camera” Genivar Letter Of 14 January – Just What Were They Hiding For 3 Months?? And Why??

 In the council meeting of 11 January 2011, a notice of motion was made by Councillor Jackson to:

 “Sever all business dealings with Jeff Graham, Mike Meyers and Genivar regarding the Sauble Sewer Project effective immediately.”

 A discussion was captured in the 11 January council minutes as:

 After the 11 January meeting, on or near 11 or 12 January 2011, Councillor Jackson was interviewed by Paul Jankowski of the Owen Sound Sun Times regarding the motion. 

The following are excerpts from the interview (full article attachment 1).

Genivar, the town’s consultant on the proposed project, has billed the town $1.2 million over the years it has worked on various studies, reports and recommendations on a sewage system for Sauble, Jackson said.

“We’ve just asked for some space to do some studies of our own and data gathering. We want to make . . . the right decision for the people of Sauble Beach and I don’t want to have Genivar continually working behind the scenes and billing the people more money,” she said after the meeting. “We’re just looking for a break until Aug. 31.”

…………….

“It’s kind of a general consensus that they’ve done an awful lot of work and come up with no answers,” Jackson said. “To me this is a problem. I know it’s a problem for a lot of my council comrades. I’m just really asking for them to just back off for now until we as a council move forward and decide what we’re going to do.” (OSST January 2011)

The article was published January 12 or 13.

On or shortly after 14 January the town CAO received a letter from Genivar, which suggested that the media “have possibly reported misleading information” regarding Genivar’s bills for the Sauble sewer system.”  (The 14 January “Genivar letter” is attachment 2.)

The Genivar letter was on the January 18th council closed session agenda as:

“7.6. Litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipal or local board (Genivar Correspondence January 14, 2011”

 So the official reason for going in-camera was clearly “potential litigation”.

Also on the January 18 open meeting agenda was a discussion of the “cease-Genivar” motion, with further discussion deferred to the 1 February COW meeting.

After the open session discussion of February 1, the “cease-Genivar” motion was modified to:

“Recommendation: THAT council direct the CAO to advise the principles of Genivar to cease work on the Sauble Sewer Project effectively immediately.”

The motion passed, with the Mayor and Councillors Turner and McKenzie voting against the motion. (Councillor Standen was absent).

I was very skeptical of the notion that the Genivar letter of 14 January contained even a hint of threat of litigation, so on April 5, 2011 I filed a Freedom Of Information request for a copy of the 14 January Genivar letter.

My Freedom of Information Request was discussed as a closed session item in the April 12 council meeting, listed in the agenda as follows:

 “5.4 Litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality or local board (Freedom of Information Request)”

In the April 12 closed session of council, a motion was made to make the 14 January Genivar letter public.  This motion passed in open session.

Following the April 12th meeting, Mayor Close was interviewed by John Divinski of Bayshore Broadcasting.

Part of Mr. Close’s remarks were:

“We reviewed this [Genivar] letter and discussed it in closed as some of us felt that it may be pertaining to legal litigation.  We’ve been resolved of that issue and so we’ve made it public.  The letter basically clarifies a lot of the issues over the costing and the justification behind their recommendations and the sewer situation in Sauble. …”

An accompanying article, published April 14th on the bayshore broadcasting website, reads in part:

“SouthBrucePeninsulacouncil has made public, a letter from Genivar recently, after satisfying themselves there was no indication of litigation against the municipality….

Mayor John Close says the municipality cut the service contract after 1.2 million dollars worth of work had been done on the 30-million dollar sewer project……..

Mayor Close says they need to find out if they really need the sewers inSaubleBeachsaying a question that’s never been answered is on the source of pollution that may be caused by humans in our activities.”

A copy of the Genivar 14 January letter (attachment 1) was included in the Council agenda published about April 14th.

I have reviewed the interview article of about January 12, and I find nothing even close to constituting valid cause for Genivar to seek legal remedy.  At very worst CouncillorJackson’s comments may have been a bit strident and a bit unclear.  But there was nothing serious enough to be grounds for a lawsuit.

I have also looked very carefully at the Genivar letter of January 14.  There is, in my view, nothing in the Genivar letter to suggest any threat or danger of litigation against the town or staff or any council member.  I cannot find anything that could even remotely be interpreted as Genivar hinting at possible litigation.  All Genivar was doing was clarifying how much they had billed the town.    If Genivar intended to sue they would have said “make a retraction or we will seek remedies”.   And if there really had been any doubt about whether the letter was a threat or a clarification, surely someone could have picked up the phone and asked the principles of Genivar.

So given no real breach by Councillor Jackson, and no threat of litigation by Genivar, there was in my view no reason to take the letter into “closed session”, for discussion out of public sight.

Yet some council members, and possibly a majority, were willing to say they thought there was enough of a threat to bring the issue into closed session and to keep the Genivar letter from the public.

And furthermore I find it difficult to swallow that the issue was suddenly “resolved” just after I submitted my Freedom of Information request, even though there had been no new information on the “potential for litigation” issue since January.  In my view there never was a “potential for litigation”.

What makes the notion of implicitly threatened litigation even more implausible is that in an April 12th interview Mayor Close apparently made comments to the press that were about as negative (a bit) and about as misleading (a bit) as councilor Jackson’s January 12th comments to the press, yet Mr. Close’s comments got no reaction from Genivar at all.

Both interviewees indicated 1.2 million dollars spent, Ms. Jackson indicating that “Genivar…has billed the town $1.2 million over the years it has worked on various studies, reports and recommendations on a sewage system for Sauble” and Mr. Close apparently saying that “the municipality cut the [Genivar] service contract after 1.2 million dollars worth of work had been done on the 30-million dollar sewer project.

And both interviewees indicated that something important was incomplete.  Councillor Jackson said “It’s kind of a general consensus that they’ve done an awful lot of work and come up with no answers“.  Mayor Close apparently said that “they need to find out if they really need the sewers in Sauble Beach” and “a question that’s never been answered is on the source of pollution that may be caused by humans in our activities.

So councilorJacksonsays Genivar spent 1.2 million and did not come up with any answers and Mayor Close says 1.2 million was spent and they did not come up with any idea of whether there’s even a human-caused problem.   Pretty similar from where I sit.

But while Councillor Jackson’s comments apparently resulted in a letter from Genivar to the Town (either “clarifying” or “threatening litigation”), and several closed sessions of council, and all those machinations about “potential litigation”, almost-the-same comments from Mayor Close got no reaction from Genivar, no closed meetings, no concern about potential litigation, nothing.

Why?  Because “potential litigation” was not the real reason for going in-camera.

So If It Wasn’t “Potential Litigation”, What Were They Really Hiding In Those In-Camera Sessions?

For me the only plausible explanation is that the “potential litigation” threat was deliberately fabricated, deliberately embellished, and deliberately exaggerated, and the Genivar letter itself was deliberately misinterpreted, and maybe even deliberately generated, and then everything went in-camera in a strategic maneuver to try to get councillor Jackson to drop the January 11 “cease-Genivar” motion, and failing that to try to get other councillors to oppose the “cease-Genivar” motion.

In my view the only plausible reason for discussing the whole thing in camera was to hide from the public the fact that certain council members would go to such great lengths to support the 70 million dollar pro-sauble-wide-sewers agenda.

What annoys me most is the contempt that certain council members have for the residents of Sauble, and for the residents of TSBP.

The childish strategy was unsuccessful because it failed to account for the resolve of Councillor Janice Jackson and her friends at the council table.

But that failure does not make the whole sordid affair any more acceptable.

 Craig

Attachment 1

Councillor Wants to Put Sewer Consultant on Hold

Sun Times

January 13, 2011

Coun. Janice Jackson wantsSouthBrucePeninsulato end all business dealings with Genivar concerning the proposedSaubleBeachsewage treatment system until the town decides how or if it will proceed with the project.

The Sauble-area councillor tabled a notice of motion to that effect at Tuesday evening’s council meeting. The matter is to be discussed at next week’s committee of the whole session.

Genivar, the town’s consultant on the proposed project, has billed the town $1.2 million over the years it has worked on various studies, reports and recommendations on a sewage system for Sauble, Jackson said.

“We’ve just asked for some space to do some studies of our own and data gathering. We want to make . . . the right decision for the people ofSaubleBeachand I don’t want to have Genivar continually working behind the scenes and billing the people more money,” she said after the meeting. “We’re just looking for a break until Aug. 31.”

Council had earlier approved a recommendation from its committee of the whole that Genivar’s latest report — which recommended that if the town proceeds with sewers for Sauble that it begin with a $27.8 million collection and treatment system that would serve 719 lots and expand it over three subsequent phases to eventually service 2,435 lots — be filed while council looks at other alternatives. Council is to revisit the issue no later than Aug. 31.

“It’s kind of a general consensus that they’ve done an awful lot of work and come up with no answers,”Jacksonsaid. “To me this is a problem. I know it’s a problem for a lot of my council comrades. I’m just really asking for them to just back off for now until we as a council move forward and decide what we’re going to do.”

Jacksonsaid earlier that the motion would not stop the town from hiring Genivar to do more work on a sewage treatment system for Sauble if council decides to proceed with the long-debated project.

Article ID# 2927506

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22 thoughts on “The Craig Gammie Commentary

  1. Alice says:

    Right On Craig. If you had not submitted the FOI request, that letter would never have seen the light of day. Far too much goes on in closed sessions. In my opinion if something ultimately does not pass the test for closed session, then the entire discussion and all materials should be made public. Keep up the good work.
    Alice (in Underland)

  2. streetview57 says:

    Some random stuff:

    In politics, as in life, it’s the un-documented material that causes the most concern. Conversations alluding to hypothetical litigious situations followed by non-threatening, yet *clarifying* documentation….

    You see, while one may have doubts as to Genivar’s work, one should not have doubts as to Genivar’s business achievements – just look at the money they’ve made thus far on a dead end project.

    Of course, one knows that the legal fees involved in generating the clarifying letter are ultimately paid for by, guess whom.

    —–

    Anyone find it amusing that the parcel of land on municipal road, purchased for the sewage treatment fantasy, at a tremendously generous, as in appallingly high, price, is within eyesight of a property which has a new sign promoting expert septic system installs…. Anyone?

    —–

    The six people who use the 15SR bridge on a daily basis have been disappointed at the recent flooding. On the streets of Sauble Beach, though, reaction has been varied:

    1. Where’s 15SR? 72%
    2. The bridge was out? 22%
    3. They finally replaced the bridge? 2%
    4. It’s about time they fixed it. 2%
    5. Why would they bother to fix it? 10%
    6. What time does the liquor store open? 22%

    * some people gave multiple answers, or asked for money, oblivious to the question.

    —–

    I noticed on a previous post that the martian was disputing your math, yet still managed to prove that the mayor is a liar.

    Let me repeat that – the sockpuppet proved that his master is a liar.

    In the same way that he proved that is co-master, Mr. Turner, had a conflict of interest yet didn’t recuse himself, hence demonstrating a total lack of integrity.

    Very well done, mr. martian – I await with bated breath your next glaring failure at sockpuppetry.

    —-

    Ah, where does the time go? Must be off for now….

    • beachboy63 says:

      tempus fugit
      i see that mr turner is the first exception on the list of suppliers who are not supposed to be suppliers because there may be a conflict of interest…the old boys club still at work?
      beachboy

      • Alice says:

        beachboy,
        I don’t have a problem with this. Why should a business person lose a customer (the Town) just because they had the balls to run for council and managed to get elected?
        Alice (in Underland)

    • amartiannamedsmith says:

      Keep it up, Bud. You might be a stuck record – but in a topsy turvy world of uncertainty and general craziness, I guess we need your boring as batshit repetition to keep our collective feet grounded!

      the Martian

      • beachboy63 says:

        sorry, Bud, but you sound like a stuck record too and your posts personify ‘boring as batshit’. history repeats itself so it helps to remember the bs we have been through. Check out the recorded votes and you will see the lines are already forming.
        beachboy

    • amartiannamedsmith says:

      ………….News Flash…………

      Martian News Service (MNS) has learned that active and retired Sauble Beach merchants are being targeted by a stalker/peeper!

      The individual, who is known to police, has been seen following various business people as they go about their business and peering at their homes from semi-concealed locations.
      It is not known whether this person is using a camera or video system to record his observations but potential victims should be aware that he has a reputation for previously “accidentally” recording events.

      Officials are advising anyone who witnesses this stalker to keep a record of the times and locations as they prepare a case – and to keep their curtains drawn at night.

      MNS has received unconfirmed reports that the stalker meets regularly with a disgruntled group of former councilors and members of committees now disbanded by the current council, but it is not known if any of them are assisting in the stalking or merely cheering him on.

      One possible remedy that has been put forward is to have the local Chamber of Commerce hire a Peeper-event Coordinator to organize volunteers to stalk the stalker and warn members of who he’s targeting and when.

      The stalker/peeper declined an interview with MNS except to say that there may be rumors of a 0% increase in the time he is spending on his mission but he has actually calculated the correct figure to be 7.2%. There is no indication at this time that there is any danger of escalation of this behavior but MNS finds the whole situation …..a lyttle creepy!

      Martian News Service

  3. wiartonnews says:

    After spending over 1 million dollars these professionals provide sewer options that:
    1. Pump the effluent into the river after it sits in a few ponds “airing off” next to a campground?

    2. Pump the effluent out into the lake after it “airs off” in a few holding ponds.

    Why don’t take the approach other forward moving areas are doing “BioGenerator” use the waste(human, farm, food, etc) to make electricity and pump it into the grid and GET PAID. Use the dry residue for fertilizer etc. This approach I believe sends NOTHING into our rivers our lakes.

    Also why doesn’t the Town take advantage of all of the solar “green energy” deals. Apparently the large solar systems are paid off after 7-10years then it’s all “gravy” after that.
    Gee wouldn’t it be nice if we could move away from dangerous, expensive nuclear and really promote the area as a green municipality.
    Solar panel systems on all roofs of south facing town buildings, tied to the grid making power and money for the town and it’s citizens. We could ultimately be making money in this town instead of wasting it on archaic sludge systems that pollute our community.
    Just a thought.
    Great Blog Bruce!!! Keep it up!!!

  4. thedodge says:

    The Genivar letter itself is curious because of the way they would have you agree that they started work in 2005. Actually it was 2 years earlier. It was the same EA and some of the players changed by 2010 but Genivar was a constant. The sewer component was always there but water supply was dropped by 2007.

    The Genivar letter is posted on the Saublesewer site. It says “From the start of our involvement with this project in 2005” meaning the update known as Addendum 2.

    Actually they were involved in 2003 as this document shows:

    http://www.saublesewer.com/Documents/20031216%20COW%20Notes.pdf

    In 2004 they prepared the COMRIF fuding application:

    http://www.saublesewer.com/Documents/20041221%20COMRIF%20Cover%20Letter.PDF

    This application was not successful in attracting funding.

    The 2004 funding application claims the project is construction ready but it was far from it. The problem of finding a place for the treated effluent had not been solved and just as happened in April 2010 it seems likely a C of A would never have been granted in 2005 to operate a waste treatment facility.

    From 2003 to the present time there has never been a suitable way found to discharge effluent from any large area project. Even the current lake discharge plan is not approved and has flaws that will mean it likely would never be approved in it’s current form. This has been a common thread over the timeline since 2003.

    To be fair Council acted on professional advice from their consultant for things such as property purchase and these costs are added in when the total outlay is considered. Genivar does not consider anything except direct billings by their firm in the total and this is made clear in their letter. It is just a matter of which perspective you see it from.

    This is all just history what matters now is that Council needs to follow meeting procedure for what really needs to be in closed.

    Dodge

  5. cuvava says:

    TheDodge said,

    “The Genivar letter itself is curious because of the way they would have you agree that they started work in 2005.”

    Pipe line !!!

    Power Budd LLP invoice to TSBP shows, it started 20th. of October 2002
    J.G. and P.B. meeting in Owen Sound.

    VUF VUF VUF VUF

  6. amartiannamedsmith says:

    Tell us, VUF VUF; do you ever have regrets about introducing Power Budd LLP to the council in the first place?

    the Martian

  7. thedodge says:

    Yes Martian we need to keep our feet grounded and that means following through on what you say when you stand up at the all candidates meeting to ask for public support on the ballot.

    Craig’s point about closed sessions is well made. I suspect that closed sessions were being used for arm twisting and that the word “litigation” was a cover up for a chance to attempt to intimidate some part of council well away from the public eye. The purpose was to get a particular motion withdrawn or changed. Meeting procedure rules for closed session are clear.

    Jim Turner, candidates meeting Fall 2010:

    Jim Turner on Closed Sessions

    • amartiannamedsmith says:

      I was there – I heard what he said and he was right.

      Now Dodge what did it cost you, or anyone else to have a letter that was deemed to have the potential for legal action discussed in a closed session?
      $1000, $500, $1?

      When the threat did not materialize the letter was released on request.
      Turner was absolutely correct in saying that when we have to pay we should know how much and what for, so I ask again how much did it cost you?

      You should know better than to “suspect” what went on in closed – speculation is a waste of effort – unless your goal is to demonize particular individuals or criticize based on demonstrating what you don’t know! For someone who prides himself on knowledge and facts, speculation is, or should be, beneath you.

      the Martian

  8. cuvava says:

    Dear MR. t. I did not introduce Power Budd LLP to the council .Even if I did.

    ” You can take a horse to the water but you can not make him drink”

    MR. t. Check out old minutes and recorded votes on the subject.

    copy,paste and post it here.

    Vuf Vuf Vuf Vuf

    • amartiannamedsmith says:

      Dear Ana. Sure you did!
      Confirmed by four sources!
      Man up, or is that woman up?

      Seems you can open a VUF VUF’s eyes but you can’t make her see!

      ther Martian

  9. cuvava says:

    Dear J.

    Do not believe,He said,She said.

    SUBSTANTIATE with Minutes Minutes !!! With four sources ! You would not have a problem .

    Vuf Vuf Vuf Vuf

  10. cuvava says:

    MARTIANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN or should I call you Mr.TRRRRRRRRRR, Where are you??? Cat cut you tongue ???

    Or you still looking for those minutes? Can not found them??
    They are in my garage, in the first box on the left shelf, with resto of the garbage
    That I may need it in the future !!!

    VUF VUF VUF VUF

  11. cuvava says:

    To late now, to cover there own behind, they should CLOSED the gate immediately after moving in.

    VUF VUF VUF VUF

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