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Mysterious Mr. Hill ‘won’t back down’

People should be allowed to keep elements of their past “secret,” said councillor John Hill, even if they are elected to public office.

[Originally published May 13, 2014]

Hill continues to refuse to divulge specific information about his purported 30-year career in “management in the automotive industry,” as he described it during the 2010 election.

He said nearly as much about his wife and daughter as he did about himself during the campaign, and he has been decidedly zipper-lipped when asked what exactly was his occupation before he “retired” to a nice new home in the Ridgeway-by-the-Lake subdivision in 2008.

. . . continued

Shortly after being elected, he was asked the same questions by the Mayor, the CAO and the EDTC board. They were told it was none of their business.

Hill denies he was asked and wondered, “Why is everyone so interested?”

“Because,” came the answer during a sidewalk conversation a couple of weeks ago, “you’re not telling anyone.”

Word on the street in Ridgeway before the election was that he was the “head of Saturn (car company) in Canada.” This was repeated by, among others, councillor Don Lubberts’ employer, and reportedly by councillor Paul Collard to the Bridgeburg BIA.

Wearing a golf shirt emblazoned with the Saturn logo and pushing a broom on Ridge Road near the Friendship Trail during the community cleanup April 25, he remained reticent.

All he would say when asked directly was that he was “involved” in promotion and marketing for Saturn, a division of General Motors, and he would “travel” to Detroit as part of the job and was “involved” in the roll-out of four Saturn brands.

“Can I write this down?” he was asked.

“No.”

He said that since nobody else is required to reveal their work history to be on council, he shouldn’t be either.

Hill ran for council — in his words — in 2010 “with the objective of fostering an environment of open dialog, communication and trust . . . you deserve to be represented by a council that embraces transparency, accountability and respect . . . I believe in openness.”

Right from the get-go, he’s belied his campaign pledge and is so protective of his past that he will not provide information one should be able to get from a business card.

What are we supposed to make of it?

The performance of Town Council this term has been well-documented in this and other newspapers, and rather unfairly, Hill said.

“Except for two or three things, this council has done pretty good,” he said.

When pressed, he said council has reduced the local tax increase from 8.75 per cent in 2011 to 2.7 per cent in 2014.

Council did nothing, he was told. The Town had to swallow the loss of income from slots revenue that resulted in the large increases and nothing was done to curb spending except to defer infrastructure replacement projects; and, in fact, some of the resounding failures of this council actually added to the spending for no good reason.

He said he made a list three pages long with all the successes of this council. He did not agree to share it.

Proof of his claim that the town is being well-run is in the “BMA study.” This is an annual study prepared by BMA Management Consulting comparing some 98 municipalities in dozens of quantifiable economic and fiscal categories. [A sample starts on Page 3.]

Hill says he did nothing wrong to inspire a conflict-of-interest legal action related to the firing of the Town solicitor in 2012. Any information in the public realm is either false or wrongly obtained.

He refused to clarify.

“I’ve stood up to bigger things,” referring to the possibility of being barred from public office if there is a finding against him in the complaint.

“I won’t back down.”

 

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