Mayor Close’s Last Desperate Push for Sauble Sewers – Part II
In “Councillor accuses mayor of betrayal” ( OSST September 9, 2011) Rob Gowan reported that “Mayor John Close said he was just doing his due diligence in making senior levels of government and the public aware of the history of a problem of septic systems contaminating well water throughout the town as the town explores implementing a septic re-inspection program”. Mr. Close also indicated that the septic inspections were cancelled because of ministry delays in publishing a new building code with septic inspection standards, and that council authorized his August 22nd letter to Municipal Affairs Minister Rick Bartollucci and an August 23rd “presentation” to MPP Lou Rinaldi.
In fact, contrary to Mr. Close’s statements,
There is no history of Sauble septic systems contaminating well water,
- The TSBP septic inspection program was cancelled because it did not fit with the $70 million Sauble sewers proposal, and,
- The August 22nd letter and August 23rd presentation were never authorized by council.
Is there a “history” of septic systems contaminating Sauble well water?
John Close’s August 22nd letter to Minister Rick Bartolucci implied that septic systems are contaminating wells. In a September 9th comment to reporter Rob Gowan, John Close was more explicit, stating very clearly that septic systems are contaminating wells.
There is some evidence of well contamination. In a 1995/ 1996 sampling, 1.8 % of the surveyed Sauble wells tested positive for E. Coli. But the source of that E. Coli was not determined. There was no indication that any of the “positive E. Coli” was from sewage, and there was no indication that any of the “positive E. Coli” was from septic systems. Contrary to Mr. Close’s claim, there is no “history” of Sauble septic systems contaminating well water.
According to reporter Rob Gowan, Mr. Close said that the information he cited about positive E. Coli tests in wells came from an October 25th, 2010 letter from the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU).
In fact the October 25th letter does not even mention E. Coli test results from wells. In the October 25th letter, author Bob Hart of GBHU completely discredited himself and the GBHU by fraudulently trying to pass off test results from the downtown core of Sauble as results for all of Sauble. The author made a veiled admission to this fraud in his November 9, 2010 “follow-up” letter to council.
According to OSST reporter Rob Gowan, Mr. Close said that on Friday (September 9th) morning when he (Close) read the (November 9th) “follow-up” letter, it was the first time he had heard of it.
The paper trail says something quite different. The agenda package of the 2010 December 15 council meeting, which John Close chaired, includes the October 25th letter from Bob Hart (on page 159), the clarifying November 9th “follow-up” letter from Bob Hart (on page 160), and my December 2nd critique of both Bob Hart letters (on pages 155 through 158). These letters are not hidden. A proper search would have found all three.
My December 2nd, 2010 letter to council, which was sent to council by the clerk in addition to appearing in the agenda package, exposed exactly the same lies (as in the GBHU October 25 letter) that were made by John Close in the August 22nd letter.
Here is an excerpt from my December 2nd letter:
The October 25th [Bob Hart] letter indicates that: “A sanitary survey conducted in 2007 revealed significant concerns with both the condition of private on-site sewage systems and the safety of private drinking water supplies. Over 31% of sewage systems were identified at high risk for failure and 15% of raw drinking water samples were adverse as defined by the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards.”
The October 25 letter does not indicate what constituted “high risk for failure”. So it is not possible to know from the letter whether “31% at high risk” is even a problem for the survey area. (A system that has no record of an approved septic system or has a system greater than 20 years old might be characterized as “at high risk of failure”. But the age of a system is a poor indicator of imminent problems, and certainly does not make a system“at high risk of failure”.)
Similarly, “15% adverse drinking water results”, without a clear definition of what constitutes “adverse”, and without the raw survey data, really doesn’t establish contamination by private sewage systems, and is no grounds for assuming that “adverse” results are from failed septic systems. (Contamination by surface water can also give adverse drinking water results.)
My letter to council of February 2nd, 2011 also pointed out the fraud in the October 25th Bob Hart/ GBHU letter, as follows:
“At the same time two other initiatives were changing focus from the downtown core to all of Sauble. The first was [Genivar sewers study]. ……The second is the 2010 Grey Bruce Health Unit assessment of a 2007 survey of septic systems and water supplies in the downtown core area, which was clearly conducted in only the downtown core, but was incorrectly presented by Grey Bruce Health Unit in October 2010 as a survey of all of Sauble.
In switching, Cuesta has breached their contract with the town, Genivar has breached a Minister’s directive, and the Grey Bruce Health Unit has misled council and the public. All three have diminished their credibility.
It is bit speculative on my part, but I believe that it is no coincidence that these three initiatives inappropriately and surreptitiously switched from core-area-only study, conclusions, and recommendations to Sauble-wide study, conclusions, and recommendations.
It is clear to me that there is an agenda out there that includes Sauble-wide sewers and city-style development, and that the three organizations, Cuesta, Genivar, and the Grey Bruce Health Unit, are all coordinated and lined up in support of this big sewers/development agenda, and in suppressing the facts, and in misinforming council and the public.”
I am quite sure that Mr. Close read the passage above, because he declared my February 2nd letter, including the passage above, “defamatory”.
So I simply cannot believe that Friday (September 9th) morning was really the “first time he had heard of [the November 9th letter]”. The evidence is that Mr. Close had at least three clear indications that the October 25, 2011 letter from Bob Hart was misleading and not credible.
How could John Close miss this? And how could he get it so wrong? And how could the staff member that did the “research” miss all of this?
Easy. It’s called selective research. Just don’t look for or use anything that doesn’t support your case. The first GBHU letter (of October 25th) gave John Close the lies he needed. The November 9th GBHU letter, my December 2nd letter, and my February 2nd letter were contrary to the lies John needed. So he and the CAO ignored the November 9th and December 2nd and February 2nd letters, hoping no one would notice.
Busted by Councillor Jackson, John Close tried to prevaricate his way out of his pile of lies by saying there are “probably two drawers full, two boxes, of septic tank issues and well issues that are on file, studies that are in town hall”, implying that the proof that he is telling the truth is in the “two drawers full, two boxes”. Could Mr. Close really be saying that all Janice has to do is wade through two drawers, two boxes, and presto, she will be enlightened, and John will be cleared, and Ms. Jackson can apologize? My guess, based on the audio I heard of Councillor Jackson scolding John Close for his lies and his betrayal of the people of Sauble, is that she won’t “take the monkey” (the one on John’s back, pulling his hair).
Why was the TSBP septic inspection program really cancelled?
John Close claims that the septic inspection program was dropped because Ministry of Municipal affairs and housing promised regulations on how to do the inspections and did not deliver.
I think not. There is a section in the existing building code from 2006 giving guidance on how to do inspections and what to inspect for. There was a guideline (not a regulation) published by the ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing March 2011 on how to do septic inspections and what to inspect for. The ministry never promised a regulation on how to do inspections. The ministry is not working on a regulation on how to do septic inspections. There is nothing coming in the building code regarding how to do septic inspections. There never was. I believe it was all made up as a pretext for cancelling the septic inspection program that was approved in February of this year.
The false notion that the Ministry had deferred regulations on how to do inspections was introduced at a budget meeting March 29, and also in the June 21 COW meeting. In my commentary number 20 of June 19 I indicated that the June 21 staff report was wrong:
“There is much misinformation in the various reports from CBO McFadden and others….There is no requirement from any ministry that septic system reinspections be conducted in TSBP. There is no “proposed requirement from the Ministry”.”
Apparently John Close told reporter Rob Gowan that “this [August 23rd] presentation [to Rinaldi] had absolutely nothing to do with [the sewer project]. This had only to do with the new building code and septic tank re-inspection.”
The lies about septic systems contaminating wells were in my view deliberate. I do not know if John Close’s lie about septic inspections was a deliberate lie, as he may have just picked up the lie from staff. But that doesn’t make the lie OK. The CAO’s name was on the staff report that said the Ministry had not delivered on its inspection regulation. Knowing well the CAO’s lack of reliability, and lack of credibility, John Close should have asked for evidence that the ministry had cancelled how-to regulations for discretionary septic inspections. He would have found that there wasn’t any. And if he had presented his August 22nd letter to council and the public, as required, the lie about the septic inspections (and the other lies) could have been caught.
Because there was never a proposal for inspection regulations in the building code, the TSBP septic inspection program was cancelled on a false pretext. I believe the septic inspection program was cancelled to serve the 70 million dollar sewer agenda. So while John Close’s August 22nd letter appeared to be about septic inspections, it was in fact was about the “sewers project”. The “waiting for the new Building code” charade was just a tactic for delaying the inspection program. I believe the septic inspection program was cancelled because a successful septic inspection program would weaken the already pitifully feeble case for Sauble-wide sewers. To say that the septic inspection program was cancelled because the ministry did not deliver a province-wide septic inspection standard is a lie.
Did Council authorize John Close’s August 22nd letter to Minister Rick Bardolucci and August 23rd presentation to MPP Lou Rinaldi?
On Friday John Close told reporter Rob Gowan that in his August 22nd letter and his August 23rd presentation he was following directions of council that he take the matter of septic re-inspections to the province.
A direction of council was as follows:
Recommendation to Council: THAT Council notes the contents of the CBO 19-2011; AND THAT staff investigate and bring back a further report regarding the institution of a septic re-inspection program for 2012; AND FURTHER THAT Councillor Klages and Mayor Close speak to the ministry at AMO regarding the proposed legislative dates (from 12 July 2011 Council agenda page 29)
Council direction was clearly to speak to “the ministry” about legislative dates.
But there was no council direction for Mr. Close to say anything about water test results, and there was certainly no direction from council to say that Sauble septic systems were contaminating well water. And in spite of Councillor Jackson’s request to see what John Close intended to present, council did not see or discuss or approve the August 22nd letter prior to its presentation to MPP Rinaldi. John Close was not following the instructions of council. He was selling his personal self-serving agenda, damn the torpedoes, to hell with council, and screw the people.
If the August 22nd letter had been shown to council and the public, the lies could have been caught and this mess could have been avoided.
John Close stands accused of gross misrepresentation and betrayal of the people. The evidence strongly supports the accusations. It’s not Councillor Jackson’s job to go through the “two drawers and two files” to mount a defense for Mr. Close. He needs to do it himself.
But we all know that there really is no defense in the “drawers and boxes”. So instead of digging himself ever deeper into the hole he has so carefully dug for himself, Mr. Close should come clean about the lies, and about the betrayal. And then he should resign and go home. It will be a lot easier for him that way. And for everyone else.