St. Catharines deserves better

We should not be paying someone to not do the job for which they were elected.

We should not be without appropriate representation at Regional Council.

On Thursday, June 14, 2018, Regional Council is scheduled to debate extending Councillor Petrowksi’s leave of absence for another three months. Just for 2017 and 2018, this will have left the citizens of St. Catharines without proper representation for at total of approximately 11 months.

This is also 11 months’ worth of salary that we can anticipate the Councillor has been receiving, as you can bet someone would have told us (or leaked to the media) if Council had done the responsible thing with taxpayers’ money and also suspended Petrowski’s pay.

Here is a timeline of events related to Councillor Petrowski and his leaves of absence:

  • On May 29, 2017, Councillor Petrowski sent a pornographic image to more than 100 people from his regional goverment e-mail address;
  • Much of the public called for this resignation and Caslin says he did the same during a phone call with Petrowski;
  • On May 31, 2017, Councillor Petrowski requested a personal leave of absence (it is safe, it seems, to assume this was out of embarrassment or an abdication of responsbility, rather than seeking help for a physical or mental health issue);
  • On the same day, Caslin announced that the Councillor’s access to his Niagara Region email account and corporate devices had been suspended;
  • On June 8, 2017, Council voted to suspend embattled Councillor Petrowski from committees, agencies, boards and commissions he sits on until he takes part in sensitivity training (Barrick, Gale, and Maves voted against it);
  • On July 20, 2017, Councillor Petrowski returned to Counci, but stayed only 30 minutes;
  • As that meeting began, Mayor Sendzik asked Caslin if Petrowski’s return would be addressed on the agenda, but was told it wouldn’t be;
  • On September 28, 2017, Councillor Petrowski apologized via e-mail to Caslin for his behaviour;
  • At the meeting that evening, Regional Council accepted Petrowski’s apology and reinstated him to committees and gave him back his regional communication devices;
  • On December 7, 2017, a few hours before council was to debate a report that found Petrowski violated council’s code of conduct for the fifth time that year, an email was sent to councillors by Region staff informing them Petrowski was stepping away from his seat (again, given the circumstances, it seems safe to assume this was out of embarrassment or an abdication of responsibility, rather than seeking help for a physical or mental health issue);
  • On February 8, 2017, Regional Council voted to extend Petrowski’s leave to May 30, 2018, giving no reason for the leave and not indicating whether or not it was a paid leave (having worked in public relations, this generally means it is a paid leave, otherwise, someone on Council would be likely to stand up and say something to the effect of: “look at us doing the right thing and saving taxpayers’ money, rather than paying someone who is not fit to represent their constituents.”);
  • This coming Thursday evening (Thursday, June 14, 2018), Council will debate extending Councillor Petrowski’s leave to September 25, 2018.

The Ontario Municipal Act lays out a number of points with respect to Vacancies:

The Ontario Municipal Act indicates that if a seat is left vacant for 90 days, Regional Council must take steps to fill the seat. Regional Council should have long ago taken the appropriate steps to address what has been – for all intents and purposes – a vacant seat, rather than continuing to grant and extend leaves of absence to a Councillor who does not seem to be taking leaves for medical reasons.

This is not only an example of Petrowski being irresponsible and not an appropriate representative for the people of St. Catharines, it is another example of poor leadership and inefficient and ineffective use of taxpayers’ dollars.

We need both Councillors and a Chair who will stand up to this sort of behaviour, let citizens know that it is unwelcome, and deal with it responsibly and in the best interests of citizens.

On Monday, October 22, 2018, vote to Reset the Region.

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