The newspaper article reported that 180 people attended the April 16 swearing in of the new/old board of the Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce held at the Buffalo Canoe Club in Bay Beach. Attendance was high this year as there was also an unofficial celebration of the complete takeover of the Fort Erie Town Council by chamber members with the help of the now de facto mayor of Fort Erie, Massa James Thibert.
Like the slaves of old, certain chamber members are taking direct orders from the Massa, especially those on the new council. We have dubbed the two head cheerleaders, Kim Zanko and Marina Butler as the Chamber Maids but they are now bolstered by Stephen Passero (Massa James' Boy), Chris Knutt, and George McDermott. The only non-chamber member of the current council is Don Lubberts who, along with Mayor Redekop, is already considered a Lame Duck by political pundits.
The famous 4-2-0 Plan was 90% effective. Started in 2010, immediately after the re-election of Bob Steckley in Ward 3; landslide victory for John Hill in Ward 4; Don Lubberts in Ward 5; and Paul Collard in Ward 6, the plan included insulting billboards; lawsuits; a whispering campaign; and downright ugly behaviour by the former mayor-by-five-votes, Doug Martin. A couple of so-called journalists piled on further with slanted and misleading stories. It was a team effort, headed up by Jim Thibert who was aware that The Four, as well as others, were applying heat to Jim's "arm's length" corporation (Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation) to be more accountable. Many hoped that Thibert would be fired, but the council could not make that final decision because Massa James was heavily insulated by his cronies and supporters who also held a lot of power in the community. Although his record of accomplishment is far less than stellar, he managed to keep his job and orchestrate the defeat of all but one of The Four.
Keen observers may already be aware that Fort Erie is persona non grata at the provincial level these days. Thibert did manage to get money for the race track, his "other job." He is obsessed with it to the point that he spends a lot of time at the track and runs it like it was an ante bellum* plantation. Fine for the track workers, but is that all there is? What about all the other people who need jobs? Thibert believes they are "not skilled enough" and that is why they are unemployed. Guess the unemployed need to align themselves with a subsidized industry in Fort Erie, like the racetrack. Or be related to someone at Town Hall. Or have a good friend in the town's inner circle. Otherwise, they are SOL. And Thibert blames them for not being skilled enough. Oh, and the town is nothing but a whore to the province, according to his 2014 State of the Local Economy Address.
UPDATE: A well-established local firm is leaving Fort Erie to re-locate in St. Catharines because it has run out of space in its present location. There was no help from the EDTC because the EDTC mandate, as interpreted by Massa James, is only to assist those businesses that employ ten or more people. This three generation family business does not "fit the mandate." On a side note, a suitable location was found in Fort Erie but the rich local mover and shaker would not come down in his exorbitant price for the property in order to keep a local business local.
IN OTHER NEWS: Council voted to reach into the Reserve Fund to fund overruns in the Lewis Street construction. $330,000 (including HST) was taken from the Storm Reserve Fund and the Water Reserve. No mention or promise to pay it back. This is added to the $500K to the Race Track and the DSBN for the "State of the Art" theatre.Meanwhile, council denied preservationists a chance to save a school and its historic bell tower.
The Helena Street Spill.
April 21st at Town Hall from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
This is where the councillors should be demanding answers about the long-term effect of the spill that has apparently leeched into the ground and water table. Very dangerous situation that platitudes from the Chamber of Commerce cannot solve. This is where leadership is shown: how a community reacts to a chemical spill of large proportions. Let's not let this develop into a Love Canal scenario.
PS. I have become very lazy of late. Don't really care about what others say, especially the silliness and Mean Girl antics on Facebook. I am trying to focus my attention on those things I ignored or procrastinated about for the past few years. I prefer now to sit and wait for the inevitable whinging about higher taxes and the balance of power on council going to a 5-2 decision every time. Time wounds all heels.
* (Not to be confused with the great country music band.)
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