Budget Passed at 1% increase in Town Spending – Councillor Censured


Thanks to all who attended Monday’s meeting of Midland Council and who have been weighing in on recent events in our Town.

Monday’s meeting dealt with two significant items both of which carried by votes of 4 opposed and 5 in favour.  Once again the voting confirms that a group of four councillors seem determined to try to frustrate every effort to make Midland a better place.

The first major item was the 2012 budget which brings a 1% increase in Town spending and a 0.6% increase in taxes for Town services.  Despite some noise about budget ‘cuts‘ there is no cut in Midland’s 2012 Budget.  But there is a much smaller increase than the initial 7% increase once proposed for Midland households.  Councillors Pendlebury, Jeffrey, Charlebois and Atwood all voted against the budget basically because the spending increase was too low !!!  They grasped for reasons to vote against it and made it appear the real problem is not the budget at all but their five council colleagues who support it. These are the same five colleagues Councillor Pendlebury called the ‘other side’ in one email that has recently come to light.

The second item was a Motion of Censure introduced to formally record Council’s disapproval of emails from Councillor Pendlebury that were recently disclosed to the public.  While a lot of media attention has been focused on name-calling directed at council colleagues and citizens, there is an even more disturbing aspect.  In her emails, Councillor Pendlebury threatens two council members with retribution for voting to restrain spending and for not treating their votes as ‘sold’ in return for labour endorsements.  In so doing, she reveals her own shocking view that endorsements and campaign contributions should influence how elected officials vote on important public issues.

During debate on the censure motion, a majority of Councillors expressed strong disapproval of Councillor Pendlebury’s actions with at least one clearly stating his preference to see her leave office immediately.  Regrettably but predictably, three Councillors in addition to Councillor Pendlebury not only refused to criticize her in any way during the debate but also voted against the motion.  These three Councillors were the recipients or intended recipients of her mean-spirited, threatening emails – Bob Jeffery, Jim Atwood and Jack Charlebois.  Maybe they felt it would be too awkward to criticize the author when they also participated in the bad behaviour.

And what about Councillor Pendlebury herself?  She reads a prepared statement at the start of the Council meeting that sounds a little like it might be an apology, sort of.  But later, she refuses to acknowledge any blame and refuses to vote in favour of the motion.  And so when the vote is called, it is five in favour of censuring her and four voting as a bloc against it.

It is truly sad that local government in Midland has come to this.  The next municipal election is almost three years away – plenty of time to do more damage to our Town if your motivation is to pursue your own interests above those of the entire community. When elected officials lose the trust and respect of their constituents, they have just one honourable thing left to do…

George Dixon and Stewart Strathearn

on behalf of midlandcommunity.ca


2 Comments on "Budget Passed at 1% increase in Town Spending – Councillor Censured"

  1. You’re comment above –
    “Councillors Pendlebury, Jeffrey, Charlebois and Atwood all voted against the budget basically because the spending increase was too low !!!”
    seems to be quite presumptuous towards those councillors intentions. Note that these were also the group that voted to defeat the motion to spend $41,800 in 2012 to provide the councillors with Health Benefits. While the “other side” voted for the Benefits, even though no other part time staff on the Town of Midland Payroll has benefits of any sort.

    • Thanks Robert for joining the debate. In response to your comment, we think some councillors were just practicing the art of political maneuvering. Upon review of the meeting, the four councillors in question do say they oppose the budget because spending is too low – some say exactly that while some say the Town needs a new million dollar aerial truck, a new works depot, a new janitor for the library etc. None of them say they oppose the budget because it contains these health benefits. And none of them say they would support the budget with the health benefits removed.

      Our understanding of Council’s current compensation and benefits is that pay levels and health benefits were voted in by the previous Council which included the former Mayor, the former deputy Mayor and three of the four Councillors you refer to, Councillors Jeffrey, Pendlebury and Charlebois. Strange that these benefits were appropriate several years ago yet suddenly are not today. This kind of politicking by some is just more of the bad behaviour that has become all too customary at Town Hall.

      Pay and benefit entitlements should be driven by the value of the job and not by the individual who happens to occupy the seat today. Still, we don’t support any Council, past or present, awarding themselves unjustified increases in their total compensation. We would like to see members from the community who have capability in the area review this and recommend compensation and benefit levels for Council going forward. To have Council and staff set their own remuneration is akin to having Dracula look after the blood bank.

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