Thursday, March 6, 2014


"Trust me. A vexatious act perpetrated by certain individuals with the intent to destroy the lives of a number of other people will surely meet up with the type of repercussion that could blow their very souls apart

What a pitiful state of public affairs."

Shirley Grace

Shirley asked me to post her statement as she is very concerned over the efforts by a few to destroy the reputations and lives of the four councillors. Those who brought forth the lawsuit against the four are doing great harm to the community and the lives of decent people who were elected by the voters and are doing their best to represent the people. Many good things have happened in this community since they were elected, but there has been a concerted effort to blame the four for all the ills and misfortunes that have befallen this community.  This is a blatant attempt to change the focus away from the failures of others in the community. This town needs a good old-fashioned clean-up and the four councillors have started that task. The fierce opposition to them is proof that they are on the right track. Their opposition has used the lowest of the low to attack and harass the four. They have done nothing to deserve this treatment - except to do the job for which they were elected.  

I join many others in pledging ourselves to making sure that the truth is put out there. 

Thanks to letter to the town from a developer friend of Doug Martin; a poorly researched newspaper article; and comments made by the mayor and the GM of the EDTC, it has become abundantly clear that the effort to unseat four Fort Erie Councillors has gone to the next level.

Not content to have orchestrated a vexatious lawsuit against the four for conflict-of-interest, the mayor-by-five-votes has enlisted a fellow PC member to drop a stink bomb into the middle of the election cycle.

 Last June, N-O-T-L developer Rainer Hummel beat out another interested party to buy an empty lot abutting the Friendship Trail and newly opened Ridgeway Town Square.  He paid $100,000. for a small plot of land that had once housed a building belonging to the town through a donation by the Bertie Historical Society's bingo funds. It was originally bought in 2000 for a reported $167,000. Repairs and maintenance over the years added to the cost until it was decided that the building was not suitable for a museum adjunct. The town then put the building up for sale and there was interest by a local doctor who wanted to establish a local practice on the square. Enter Mr. Hummel who bought the property. Since then, nothing was done to the property and no plans for the property were made public. So, it came as a surprise to many when Mr. Hummel chose to lay the blame for his decision to "abandon" the property on what he called the poor treatment given to the Molinaros during the ongoing battle over the controversial Bay Beach Project (for lack of a better name, since the project for two, then one twelve story tower on public land at Bay Beach has undergone many incarnations and name changes over the past several years.) 

The Molinaros exercised the option they wrote into the original agreement with the town to drop the project after an extension that they built in to the original plan was denied by council.  Far less than the required 45 units had been pre-sold by the end of 2013, and, considering the amount of local opposition, it was probably a wise move to walk away from the project.  Doug Martin and his followers were not amused as they need to have this development go forward in order to justify their very existence. Martin and friends are totally invested in this project and they view the election of four councillors who see it differently as an affront to their agenda. And, make no mistake about it: there is an agenda involved.
The "Fort Erie is Closed for Business" campaign actually started in March, 2012 when a banner was erected at the entrance to town hall blaming then premier Dalton McGinty for the problems besetting the town. Since the recent by-election brought now premier Kathleen Wynne to town with promises to fund the race track for another year and other incentives, the blame has now shifted full bore to the four councillors.

Aided this week by a wildly inaccurate and poorly written article by James Culic of Niagara This Week, the mayor and Jim Thibert have solidified their campaign strategy for the municipal elections coming up on October 27.  They are desperate to get rid of the four councillors who were elected as part of a wave of dissension against a mayor and council that did not listen to the people, especially with regard to the now infamous Bay Beach Project. The mayor himself came within five votes of losing his re-election bid. Since the new council was installed, the mayor has waged a bitter duel with the four, once resorting to a Darryl Issa-like pique of bad humour by cutting off mics at a council meeting.

James Culic has often picked up the mayor's meme in his "news reports" about Fort Erie town doings. He used Mr. Hummel's letter as the basis for his hypothesis that the 4-3 vote often tallied at council is what has driven developers like Hummel away. Mr. Culic did not interview Mr. Hummel to ask him why he bought a small lot in Ridgeway and what he had planned to do with it before he changed his mind. He did not ask Mr. Hummel about his close association with the mayor and why he chose such an unprofessional way of closing out his involvement with a non-existent "development."

Culic goes on to say:"Through various legal challenges, the town spent more than $300,000 to defend the condo project in court before it was cancelled, and then spent another $260,000 to fire its own lawyer and settle a wrongful dismissal case filed against it in the process"  

Yes, there were legal challenges, many of them brought forth by average citizens who were opposed to a twelve story condo on public waterfront property. These people were exercising their right to go through proper legal channels to express their opposition to the project. It cost many of them a lot of money to so this. Secondly, there was never a wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed in the case of the firing of the town attorney. That is a total fabrication.  Culic should know better, but he was probably hoping that people would not bother, as they often do, to research the story themselves.

And the biggest fabrication came from town planner Rick Brady himself as quoted by Culic:

Using some rough estimates, and assuming the condo tower was at full occupancy, Brady said the town would have been collecting an extra $400,000 to $700,000 annually in tax revenue from the condo units.
“That’s some very conservative estimating also,” said Brady. “That alone represents about 1.5 per cent of the general tax levy, and as a planner, that’s my problem with this whole thing. It’s how do you replace that lost income, and how do we as a town deal with that.”
Whoa, there Mr. Brady.  Perhaps you might like to check out what is posted on the town's website as to the yearly projected net income from the condo tower: $70,624.  In Report CS 12-11, the 5 year projected annual net revenue for the town was rounded off to $75,500. No where near the $400,000 to $700,000. per year that Brady claimed.
Culic took this information, published it and never fact-checked it. The claim that the tower would provide 1.5% of the town revenue per year was outrageous, yet it passed by Culic without pause.
Since then, both Martin and Thibert have asserted that developers are waiting until after the October election when presumably a new council will be seated, to come back to Fort Erie. Again, that is an outrageous statement. Just last week, a developer brought forth a plan for a new subdivision in Crystal Beach. There are several others on the go in the town.
Sure, the town is in an economic slump right now and unemployment is high, but that is a trend that is everywhere.  The cities and towns that are slowly coming out of the worldwide downturn are those that are actively seeking and embracing new technologies in ways to bring business and jobs to a community.  Instead, Martin and Thibert choose to try to lay the blame on four councillors. 

Perhaps it's merely an example of projection.  Whatever it is, they should be ashamed of themselves.