A Grand Idea

TheParkOutside1200This could be the way it will be! Last year local cinephile Ken Prue produced this image of the future, the way he saw it. A renovated Park Theatre – a cultural centre that would anchor the East end of King St. In this report on the “CobourgNews” website Ken was speaking as a member of the group that wanted to renovate the site. Many reasons are given and everyone of them is valid today.

In a move that was expected Cobourg Council, on Monday night, voted to recommend to the full Council that the Town purchase the facility for $500K, lend the organising group (yet to be named officially) and set aside $25K for closing costs. An expenditure of $600K to be funded from the Northam Industrial reserve. A fantastic move and one that we heartily endorse.

Of course there are critics – local curmudgeons, taxfighters and Councillor MacCarthy. She says that without more information she cannot support the proposal. Perhaps she will expand her views on Monday when she has to vote again but it appears that her concerns are valid but do not stand up in the light. This proposal will not cost taxpayers tax money (the Northam Reserve has never been used to offset tax bills) so it sits there to be used for purposes like this. Just remember that Cobourg contributed millions to the hospital, over the years, using similar funding arrangements from the LUSI dividend. The one thing that critics are forgetting is that the purchase price is probably the land value so even if the Town just sits on the land it is ahead of the game. Knowing the passion of the proponents and the organisational zeal that some will provide raising money should not be a problem. We know that we do not want Carol Farren chasing us every year for money – so get on the funding wagon folks.

Using this proposal as an example it behooves us to point out – yet again, what a resource the “playmoney” funds can be to Cobourgers. We have $1.25million a year in revenue from the Town’s assets – LUSI and Northam. We should be taking some of that money and establishing an endowment fund – a “CommunityChest” to fund ideas like this. Not only would we than have a mechanism to fund community groups but funding them from this source would reduce taxes.

Stay tuned

Just a quick note to follow up on the odor of nepotism and cronyism that pervades Port Hope Council. The BR finally received answers to the questions posed to Councillor Polutnik. Of course he didn’t answer them the big cheese did. In a classic display of weasel words Ms Bernardi produced the following email.

click to enlarge

So we now know that the said meeting was legal but only by using an exemption to the open meeting rules – kinda makes a mockery of the whole legislation when you really look at it.

Of course none of this emailing and the shifting of questions to the trained mouthpiece does anything to enhance the reputation of a “squeaky -clean” Council hellbent on transparency and openness.

The next shoe to drop will be the revelation that a complaint has been registered with Port Hope’s Integrity Commissioner. Now that sets up a Battle Royale similar to that in Brighton where a complaint lasted half the term of office and ended with the terrible optics of the Brighton Council fighting amongst itself and squabbling over a report from the IC that criticised the Mayor for overstepping his authority. Sounds familiar! It is rumoured that some of the evidence submitted is a suggestion that Mr Sawyer had knowledge of the job he was going to be given even before the firings had taken place.

Referencing a statement made by Ms Bernardi that “from time to time the municipality uses contract labour drawn from a pool of suitable suppliers” some people have been asking questions about how to get in on the act and why didn’t members of previous Councils know this pool exists.

So we now have a long drawn out public discussion about the propriety of the reorganisation instead of it being a demonstration of decisive cost-cutting. We also hear that some of the ‘fired’ have lawyered up and will be fighting the compensation offered – nope this is not going away.

Mr Polutnik did not reply but the Staff did

For all Port Hopers – please draw your own conclusions: a bit of history, I asked Mr Polutnik some specific questions, as he is the Chair of the Economic Development Committee about the recent changes in the EconDev and Tourism depts.. The questions are contained in the email and are below the ED’s reply to me.

Dear Mr. Bird:

Your email has appropriately been forwarded to myself as Executive Director for the Municipality. 

As you know, we have made some changes in our administration and organizational structure and we are aware that the changes leave us in a position where the services we provide could be affected and that could result in the Municipality not being able to do some of the things we need to do  This is a temporary situation and affects some areas only.  As we move forward we will be able to better define what positions we need to have identified and filled.

In the interim, we have a pool of temporary help available to us and we draw upon them as needed.  These are generally short term , back fill positions that fill an immediate need.   As a result of the recent changes we have drawn upon our temporary resources and they are known to us as being capable and able to fill in.    

The position you are referring to is a temporary short term position that fills an immediate need to facilitate the economic development and tourism staff in identifying operational gaps as a result of restructuring and assisting them in managing these gaps.  It is for 3 months duration.  On a parallel path, the Municipality is working through the process of identifying necessary full time restructured positions and / or new positions that may be necessary to align with Council’s vision and a competitive recruitment process will be undertaken to secure any full time position the Municipality deems appropriate and within the approved budget and in accordance with our HR polices and procedures.

I would encourage anyone who wants to make themselves known or available for both temporary or permanent position to submit a resumes through our Human Resources department.  Consistent with our best practice, full time opportunities are advertised on our web page and in community pages and relevant publications, associations etc.  We courage residents to support the municipality as we move through our restructuring and into renewal for the future. 

Thank you for writing with your comments.

Sue Bernardi

Executive Director

56 Queen Street

Port Hope, ON  LIA 3Z9

(905) 885-4544, ext. 2231 (PH)

(905) 376.2636 (Cell)

(905) 885-7698 (Fax)


” The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” Socrates


——– Original message ——–

From: ben burd <ben@eagle.ca>

Date: 05-07-2015 9:03 AM (GMT-05:00)

To: Robert Polutnik <rpolutnik@technolutionsci.com>

Cc: mayor@porthope.ca

Subject: recent staff changes


Can you answer a few questions about the current staff firings in PH?

  1. If the decision to make changes to the EconDev Dept and Tourism were discussed in camera when was the resolution ratifying the decision made and at which Council meeting. If a resolution was not passed in the open (after all it is illegal to make decisions in camera) who authorised the action and under which part of the Port Hope bylaws or the provincial Municipal Act?
  1. When was the decision made to hire Aaron Sawyer on a sole-sourced contract and by whom and again by what authority?

Thanking you in advance for the answers which in the new spirit of openness and transparency will be forthcoming.


ben burd, Publisher The BurdReport

Let’s cut the stinky cheese

porthopeAll of Council has to wear this one. As reported earlier the Council of Port Hope has reorganised its Economic Development and Tourism Departments, firing seven employees some of whom have been there more than ten years. It has been noted that these people were held in a high enough regard that a “pink slip” party was held last night. Predictably even though some staff and ex-colleagues showed present members of Council did not.

The politics of Fear

fearWhen normal political arguments fail because minds will not be changed by clear and open policies compared to each other by opposing political parties then one side or other will resort to scare tactics.

Finally the figures from the Municipal Election

Finally we now have the ins and outs of the election finances of the candidates in the last Municipal Election held in Cobourg last October. In the Mayor’s race incumbent Mr Brocaniers’ opponents were Miriam Mutton and Don Kirkup. We are publishing in detail the donations for the Mayor’s race. The complete list for everybody in all Council positions, in an Excel file can be found here. Link to a directory where all of the candidates reports (in pdf) is held here

We think we are back to normal


A message from the Publisher:

Without admitting paranoia all we can say is “I agree” with a comment received yesterday to the announcement that the site had been taken down. “I think being hacked means you are doing something significant on this website…otherwise why bother!!!”

Hacked and Gone

The site will be operating on a bare bones layout and not the layout you have been accustomed to. When we clicked  into it this morning there was just the “white wall of death”.


Thanks to John Draper and his hosting service we are back somewhat but some content files are not there and links will not work. We are trying to resucitate but it might be time for a new look at things – so bear with us and we will prevail.


ben burd publisher

Nobody will get what they really want

marinaBack to the subject of the Marina expansion! Various people (stakeholders) have published their stands on this contentious project and with the release of the Cobourg Yacht Club’s (CYC) position the whole project should take a pretty turn. This statement is revealing (read it here – wait a while it is a big one) because it goes against public assumptions, that is that they would be in favour of expansion because they have boats.

Give it up willya!

897prayerI don’t know if the pic distortion was an editorial comment on the content, when it appeared on the 89.7 website, but at the BR we do not appreciate the contortions that Deputy Mayor Henderson is going to place the Town in.

Just heard in the Street

Just as we heard last week, before it was released, now we have the followup to firings in Port Hope. Obviously someone on Council thought so little of the performance of the two senior members of the Economic Development and Tourism team that they had to go. Never mind that the heads being called for, in the election – by the unwashed, were those of Carl Cannon, and Peter D’Angelo.

Word is that there are replacements for the jobs of Ms Selvig and Ms Patterson. This makes the move very suspicious as nothing about this proposal was ever mooted in the last election. If the word is correct about Ms P’s job replacement be it far from us to point out it that there could be a funny smell about the connection between the rumoured person for the job, and a councillor.

Stay tuned!

Enough is enough!

Richard_PopeSo saith Richard Pope. In a scathing indictment of the consultation process he demonstrated his frustration in trying to be heard, and work with, a Council that has repeatedly ignored his presentations on behalf of the Willow Beach Naturalists and the “passive public’.

As one of the groups included in the Marina Users Stakeholders’ meeting he let the assembly have it. His presentation is too long to repeat here but read it in pdf here.

That was quick

firedJust past the one hundred day mark Port Hope Council has shaken things up a bit down at the old Town Hall. Bet these people never though they would be out of a job:

  • director of economic development and tourism,
  • tourism co-ordinator,
  • tourism assistant,
  • director of development and planning services,
  • fire prevention officer,
  • communications co-ordinator, and
  • administrative assistant to the chief administrative officer/mayor.