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Steckley’s conduct ‘unbecoming’ a councillor

The Ridgeway Herald special web release from April 29, 2011 edition

By Mike Cloutier

“I find it interesting that when things change, the discussion changes,” said Bob Steckley Tuesday as he argued to eviscerate the Town’s position in a lawsuit filed by some disaffected property owners who don’t like the Bay Beach condominium deal.

Basically, he said it was hypocritical that the councillors who support retaining a lawyer now were not in favour of hiring an outside lawyer to figure out a way to squirm out of a contract with the Molinaro Group back in February.

What’s really interesting is that Steckley was not aware of the 2009 bylaw that authorizes the Town’s solicitor to retain legal advice.

And why is the solicitor allowed to do that? Because the law is complex, and political meddling in every legal claim the town gets further complicates and compromises the legal position and the integrity of the municipal corporation.

There’s a well-appointed library in one of the committee rooms. It contains the Revised Statutes of Ontario as well as a bunch of books that describe various regulations of the province.

Without a word of exaggeration, it’s a ton of books. It’s a lot of law to know, and one person is not able to be an expert in all areas — certainly not expert enough to go to court — and then be able to find judicial precedent to support every case that may cross her desk.

Heather Salter’s job — if I understand it correctly — is to dot i’s and cross t’s and make sure the municipal corporation operates within the bounds of the law. And she’s got a lot of i’s and t’s to deal with. It’s a full-time job. She doesn’t sit there twiddling her thumbs waiting for a case to come along. She’s paid well over $100,000 and she’s got to produce.

She writes — or at least reviews — every bylaw, including bylaw 167-09 that authorized her to retain legal counsel when a claim against the Town arises.

That bylaw was written and passed in 2009 under Steckley’s watch, and then he jumps up and down (metaphorically, of course) crying like a big baby (again, metaphorically) because he sees yet another one of these summer-resident machinations go down the drain.

He doesn’t know where the money’s going to come from to pay for the lawyer, he said.

For your reference, it’s on page 11 of tab six of the municipal budget binder, $234,000 for materials and services for the legal and legislative services department. That’s for staples, paper clips and lawyers.

Oh forgive me. That was in the budget meeting that councillors were so eager to get done with so they could run into a closed session to discuss hiring a lawyer to figure out a way to slither out of the Bay Beach deal.

So, maybe we should give them some latitude for not paying full attention to the town’s $23 million budget because this condominium deal is so damn important that it has easily consumed a majority of council’s time in public meetings, closed meetings and private meetings amongst themselves.

Doug Martin pointed out that all the staff have full-time work on their plates and outside help is engaged in just about every facet of municipal operations.

Heck, the Gang of Four — Steckley, John Hill, Don Lubberts and Paul Collard — even screwed $150,000 into the budget to hire an outside consultant to review operations.

They want to do this and they don’t even have a clue themselves how the Town operates or how municipal government works. They bitch about “staff is running this Town.” Thank you for that because these guys wouldn’t know a policy decision if it ran over them with a Zamboni

Let’s pile on top of that Peter Koutroulakis’s dismissal from the Bridgeburg Business Improvement Area for “conduct unbecoming” a board or committee member.

“Conduct unbecoming” was left undefined and severely impugns Koutroulakis’s reputation.

He was turfed because he used his Facebook page to call them out as jerks and clowns, liars and puppets.

That’s not a municipal matter. That’s a personal matter and if Steckley and his gang don’t like it, they have their own remedies. But to use the power of government to settle their scores, that’s conduct unbecoming.

And the pamphlet mailed out to every home in Fort Erie a few weeks ago, a page from which is printed here — Steckley doesn’t like it.

He wanted the clerk to drop everything and find out who was responsible for calling him crooked, even though that is not what the pamphlet says.

You wanna talk crooked? Who gave Steckley the anonymous donation of $750 under the non-existent organization called Fort Erie Ratepayers Association for his 2006 election campaign?

As far as I’m concerned, that money came back into play for the 2010 election because signs he purchased in 2006 with that money were carried forward as inventory in 2010.

That’s conduct unbecoming a guardian of the public trust.

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  1. Rick | May 14, 2011 | Reply

    Mr. Cloutier,
    You are a walking, living breach of professionalism. I would add more but my worse fear is that I may be stooping to your level. Go cover a fishing derby or do a story on the bad roads in Fort Erie.

  2. Mike Cloutier | May 14, 2011 | Reply

    I want to use this one too.

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