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Election to council a licence to eat

13-06-14 — Perhaps Don Lubberts could be forgiven his fixation on lunch at the racetrack since he appears to be the least-invited town councillor to food-related functions in Fort Erie.

According to the minutes of town council meetings over the past two-and-a-half years, Lubberts has attended only three.

The information is gleaned from the announcements councillors make during the first 10 or 15 minutes of every council meeting.

Generally, the news about what roast beef dinner, barbecue lunch or pancake breakfast they fed themselves at includes a little speech about the terrific job the host organization does in the community.

Sometimes, in lieu of suitably fulsome expressions of praise for the hosts, compliments are heaped like mashed potatoes on the menu itself or the accompanying entertainment.

The lesson here is feed a councillor and get a plug on TV. On the other hand, exclude a councillor and get sautéed with scorn, i.e. Lubberts and others’ exclusion from the racetrack luncheon last weekend.

There’s no suggestion here that these are all freebies, although some definitely are, but councillors seem to be preoccupied with food and subsequently occupying everybody’s time during municipal council meetings talking about it.

Perhaps a phrase could be added to councillors’ oath of office — Bon Appétit!

Lubberts hasn’t been to a food function since April 14, 2012 — at least none that he’s mentioned. It was the Black, White and Read dinner for the Adult Literacy Council.

Lubberts waited a long time between dinner invitations and at least one was the result of a happy coincidence that Mayor Doug Martin was unable to attend. It was the 80th anniversary dinner for the Ridgeway Lions on April 18, 2011.

The only other dinner he noted was the health and safety awards dinner for Town employees on May 5, 2011. He apparently did not attend the 2012 dinner, and lo and behold, he proposed in early 2013 to remove that perk from the Town budget. He didn’t go to the 2013 dinner — at least he didn’t announce that he had.

Mayor most-favoured invitee

Mayor Doug Martin takes the cake for most events, having attended 28 meals that he announced during council meetings. Bob Steckley mentioned 20, while Paul Collard and Stephen Passero noted 18, John Hill, 13, and Rick Shular, seven.

Here’s a rundown of the events councillors disclosed and some interesting notes starting with the most recent as of the May 13 council meeting and working backward:

2013

Paul Collard attended a roast beef dinner at St. John’s Church in Snyder on May 10.

Shular, Hill, Steckley and Martin attended the firefighters’ awards banquet on April 27. Collard went to a barbecue on April 26. Martin attended a volunteer appreciation dinner on April 23 and the chamber of commerce annual general meeting with Passero on April 18.

Hill noted that although he was “unable” to participate in McHappy Day as a guest server, he did participate by purchasing some food items. It’s not known if the invited celebrity servers Passero and Shular were fed at the event.

Martin attended the Southern Tier Mayor’s Luncheon along with Shular on March 22, and a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast on March 17. Passero attended an annual general meeting on an unspecified date in March.

Noted at the Feb. 11 meeting was Hill’s attendance at the Niagara Community Design Awards where the Ridge Road project earned an honourable mention in urban design.

2012

Collard attended the Stevensville Kinsmen and Kinettes dinner on Dec. 2.

Hill attended the BIA Christmas party in Ridgeway on Nov. 25. Also that day, Steckley had dinner with the Senior Citizen’s Advisory Committee. Steckley also attended a luau fundraiser for Community Living on Nov. 17.

Martin attended dinner with MP Rob Nicholson to listen to a speech by defence minister Peter McKay.

Collard attended a VIP reception for the Niagara Falls International Marathon on Oct. 19. On an unspecified date, he attended the Communities in Bloom symposium and national convention in Edmonton with Steckley, who noted Collard paid his own way for him and his wife. Steckley’s attendance was paid by local taxpayers.

Martin attended a Thanksgiving luncheon on Sept. 29 and the War of 1812 Great Debate dinner “with several (unnamed) councillors” on Sept. 15. Hill was likely one of the councillors since he is a member of the 1812 Bicentennial Committee.

It was a double-header for Steckley on Sept. 23 with breakfast at the Station No. 3 firehall and a monthly dinner with the Senior Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

Collard attended a pancake breakfast at the Ridgeway Summer Festival in July and noted that he paid, contrary to statements made in a local blog, he said. Steckley also attended.

On July 15 Collard attended the Prince of Wales Stakes luncheon. He did not pay for that. Martin also attended the racetrack luncheon and the post-position draw luncheon a few days earlier. Other councillors were there as well but they didn’t mention it.

Hill did not attend the dinner held after the War of 1812 parade on June 23 because it was held at a restaurant owned by someone he doesn’t like. He didn’t announce that.

Shular attended the Kinsmen Sports Wall of Fame dinner on June 15 and, along with Collard, Steckley and Hill, Ribfest at Fire Station No. 3 in Crescent Park.

Martin attended the 85th anniversary dinner of the Fort Erie Lions held on May 26 and the Town health and safety banquet on May 10 with Shular, Hill and Collard.

Collard attended the firefighters banquet on April 21 along with Martin. On April 19 Passero, Steckley and Martin attended the chamber of commerce annual general meeting and dinner.

Martin, Passero and Lubberts attended the Black, White and Read dinner on April 14. Steckley saw the Garrison Little Theatre production of “Confusion” with 150 senior citizens and members of the Senior Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

There appears to have been a drought during the winter and early spring of 2012 because the only food-related announcement was that Hill, Collard, Steckley and Passero were judges in the chili cook-off as part of the Polar Dip at the Bertie Boating Club.

2011

Martin attended Christmas dinner at Gilmore Lodge on Dec. 8

Martin, Steckley, Collard and Shular attended the “end of day” celebration for the Rick Hansen Man-In-Motion Tour on Nov. 15. One would not know it was food related unless Steckley gave kudos to the Fort Erie Secondary School Culinary Arts Program and their contribution to the event.

On Nov. 2, Passero attended the FESS Honour Roll Banquet.

Steckley attended a three-day event that included meals and a banquet at the Communities in Bloom national convention in Quebec on Oct. 27-30. He and Hill attended a firemen’s breakfast on Oct 23.

Passero attended the chamber of commerce bursary awards luncheon on Aug. 14 and the Communities in Bloom awards banquet with Steckley, Hill and Collard on Aug. 5.

Martin and “several” other unnamed councillors attended the Prince of Wales Stakes luncheon on July 17. He also attended the Sports Wall of Fame banquet with Passero and Shular.

Passero was master of ceremonies on June 12 at the retirement dinner, which Martin also attended, for chief librarian Gord Thompson who has since passed away.

Passero and Steckley attended Ribfest on June 11.

At the May 24 meeting, Martin noted that he attended a “milestone” birthday party for Shular at a local restaurant, prompting Collard to mention that he attended Lubberts’ birthday party on May 21.

Hill volunteered at the Ridgeway BIA roast beef dinner fundraiser on May 17, and Shular attended the Meals On Wheels luncheon on the same day.

Steckley, Hill and Collard attended the Opening Day luncheon at the racetrack on May 7, and Collard thanked the hosts for their hospitality. Two years later, he would remark bitterly in an email about not being invited, “Five million dollars doesn’t get you much any more.”

Opening Day was the first in a double-header for Collard who that evening attended a roast beef dinner at St. John’s Church.

And on May 5, as already noted, Lubberts attended the Town’s health and safety awards banquet. Presumably other councillors attended.

The firefighters’ awards banquet was held on April 30 with Martin, Shular, Steckley, Passero, Hill and their spouses in attendance.

Passero attended a volunteer appreciation dinner at Gilmore Lodge on April 12. Steckley attended the GLT performance of “On Golden Pond” on an unspecified date and attended the chamber of commerce annual general meeting and dinner with Passero, Martin and Hill.

Passero attended the Mayor’s Cup hockey tournament banquet on March 25, and Martin dined at the Pomegranate Restaurant at FESS on March 9.

Hill attended a “gala awards” dinner on Feb. 18 and noted that local businessman Walter “DeBeau” was a nominee for an award. The man’s name is actually Deveau, Walter Deveau. It is one of numerous occasions in which councillor John Nil has taken a casual approach toward people’s names.

Martin attended the retirement party for SPCA manager Roy Pastorius on Feb. 5 and hosted the Southern Tier Mayor’s Luncheon at Bridgewater on Feb. 3.

Steckley attended a fundraising dinner for the Communities in Bloom Committee on Jan. 27 and the Senior Citizen’s Advisory Committee luncheon on Jan. 23.

And the first ever mention of a food-related function during this term of council was made by (drum roll, please) . . . Collard who attended the Mayor’s Cup dinner on Jan. 2.

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