This Blog will discuss politics, government, corruption, police, S.I.U., courts, education, min. of attorney general, min. of labour, v.o.i.c.e. and other current and past events of interest to concerned citizens. In the "About me" section to the right and down I have included the names of persons whom I have tremendous respect for. Their influence on me however has been primarily environmental (and personal) and this is therefore a disclaimer that all words posted on this Blog/Website are mine and I alone am responsible for them. I say this with the greatest respect and affection to my friends.
Monday, October 7, 2019
ELMIRA WATER WOES: THE TRIUMPH OF CORRUPTION, DECEIT, AND CITIZEN BETRAYAL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
152.....Back to Chemtura Soon to be Lanxess Canada
152.....CPAC Getting Axed
161.....Woolwich Council Frustrated
Back To Chemtura Soon To Be Lanxess Canada
In Chapter Eighteen I discussed the efforts to bring half the 2014-2018 Woolwich Council to account for what I saw as their incompetence, arrogance, and sense of self-entitlement. Yes, I admit that my indignation and sense of outrage may have been exacerbated by Woolwich Councillors’ biased, ill- informed and malicious attacks on the honesty and credibility of citizen volunteers appointed by the new council’s predecessors. I was as upset by the lying to the public and the closing ranks around Councillor Bauman by Woolwich staff as I was with his original offence. Mr. Bauman along with other Woolwich politicians ably demonstrated their do as I say, not as I do, attitude.
Another fine example of the Township’s ongoing ignoring of rules, regulations, and laws was uncovered by me in the spring of 2015 although not exposed to the public until mid-August 2015. This council just like many of its predecessors had a penchant for holding illegal, private meetings. While the Ontario Municipal Act does allow certain subjects to be discussed behind closed doors such as personnel, legal matters, and possibly potential land acquisitions, there are way too many times when Woolwich Council wanted to discuss, merely embarrassing to themselves, items behind closed doors (i.e. in camera). All I had to do was go through the past minutes of council meetings and find the pathetic and vague excuses they used when they described council returning from a closed session and returning to the open session. The provincial rules also insist that the public must be given clear and specific reasons for these closed sessions, which councillors had not been doing. Therefore, I filed a formal complaint to the Ontario Ombudsman who investigated a number of specific dates and examples of closed meetings that I provided. Woolwich Councillors were found by the Ombudsman to have indeed been in violation with the examples of closed meetings which I provided. Woolwich Councillors were found by the Ombudsman to have indeed been in violation of the Municipal Act. While there are highly paid staff, such as the Chief Administrative Officer and the Municipal Clerk, whose responsibilities include assuring that their municipality comply with provincial and federal laws, apparently they had been asleep at the switch, again. This problem and resulting solution was raised and discussed in an open council session later in 2015. To date, Woolwich Township are at least trying harder not to violate these laws which are there to protect the public interest.
CPAC Getting Axed
In an incredible act of hypocrisy and incompetence in early-June 2015, after months of disparaging CPAC both privately and publicly, Woolwich Council humbly asked Dr. Dan Holt, chair of CPAC, if CPAC members would please carry on over the summer with their volunteer work. This request was reported in the Elmira Independent in its June 5, 2015 edition.146 As of that date the new CPAC had not yet been appointed. As bad as Mayor Todd Cowan’s council had been for procrastination, the Sandy Shantz council exceeded it. As you may recall, CPAC had in the previous Council term been extended for six months after the election to give slow, inexperienced councillors time to get up to speed with either new terms of reference or new members. Recall too that the incoming council in the previous November had authorized advertisements in both the Elmira Independent and in the Woolwich Observer for applications to CPAC for this 2014 to 2018 term of council. This action of course was just one more example of Woolwich Council ignoring its own rules and written procedures. The CPAC terms of reference clearly state that CPAC are to have direct input into the naming of new and replacement members. Both Todd Cowan’s councillors as well as Sandy Shantz’s ignored that and made unilateral changes as they deemed fit. All CPAC and SWAT members along with Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant had filed their applications with the new council in November 2014 as requested. Months later after the “manufactured crisis” and other despicable behaviour, Ms. Shantz pulled another one. She suddenly announced that the Township was going to reopen its applications for CPAC. At the same time she announced that she was throwing out all the earlier ones from CPAC, SWAT as well as the applications from Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant. In essence Ms. Shantz demanded new applications or confirmations simply to be able to appoint her preferred applicants to the new CPAC or whatever name she wanted to call the committee. Yes, the replacement to CPAC would include Ms. Bryant and Ms. McLean, however, it also included some of her curling buddies when she couldn’t find anyone qualified and willing of whom Chemtura and the MOE West Central Region approved of. What a farce!
CPAC and SWAT members of 2010 to 2014 had agreed to stay on through the summer of 2015 although do remember that Chemtura and the MOE still were not attending CPAC meetings. Obviously, Sandy Shantz and her councillors rolled over and gave those two parties that spring and summer everything they wanted to induce them to come back to some form of public consultation. Woolwich Council members generally lacked backbone combined with self imposed ignorance and bias in favour of big business and pleasing the higher tier of government, the province (MOE). Sandy Shantz and Mark Bauman totally sold the farm to the partners in pollution, Chemtura Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Environment. On June 16, 2015 the plan for two new committees (RAC/TAG) went to Woolwich Council as was reported in the June 20, 2015 Woolwich Observer and the June 19, 2015 Elmira Independent.147
The Observer had two articles to address CPAC concerns, both published June 20, 2015 titled “Woolwich to axe CPAC for new review format” with a sub-title of “Goal is to bring Chemtura, Ministry of the Environment back to the table, as both groups no longer take part in meetings.” The second is titled “Woolwich scraps CPAC, approves new format with less public involvement.” Getting these two parties back to CPAC was indeed the primary goal of Sandy Shantz and Mark Bauman. As far as I could tell it was all about optics and appearances. It looked very bad that the two guilty parties wouldn’t attend public meetings and that they had not provided any reason to CPAC members.
In the Observer’s first article written by Steve Kannon, he stated “ Looking to woo Chemtura and the Ministry of the Environment back into the fold, Woolwich is scrapping the citizen watchdog that monitors the Elmira chemical company in favour of a new, less adversarial format."148 Furthermore, Mr. Kannon stated, “In another concession to Chemtura, TAG will be led by an “independent, third party chairperson."149 In the same article, David Brenneman, CAO of Woolwich Township indicated that this new chairperson was likely to be paid by Chemtura. Mr. Brenneman misled the public by inferring that the old chairman, Dr. Dan Holt, had not stuck to the agenda or proper procedure or focused on running the meetings. Finally in this article, Mr. Kannon is quoted as saying “A plan to move away from CPAC’s historical role as a citizens’ group raised some concerns for Coun. Patrick Merlihan, however. “I wonder with the third party chair if were turning a citizens’ committee…if we’re professionalizing it by hiring someone from outside to come in,"150 he said, noting to date the committee has largely involved citizens who have been looking out for the community’s interests.”
In the Observer’s second article, Mr. Kannon states that the two new committees, RAC and TAG, “will provide much less public input and oversight of Chemtura’s remediation of polluted groundwater and ongoing concerns of continued contamination. There’s a different priority, however, as the move spearheaded by Mayor Sandy Shantz aims to bring back to the table the Ministry of the Environment and Chemtura, both of which have been skipping CPAC meetings since last fall."151 The following CPAC members all spoke against the replacement of CPAC with more company-friendly groups, namely Dr. Dan Holt, Vivienne Delaney, Graham Chevreau, and Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach. Mr. Achenbach correctly stated that “Much of the driving motivation for the coming change appears to us to be about personalities. Specifically, CPAC’s association with Mr. Alan Marshall has raised hackles. The hostilities go back over a decade and have festered,” he explained. “We understand the urge to retaliate, but want this council to consider that this is ancillary to the true purpose of monitoring and compelling Chemtura to abide by its commitments. “In short, Alan’s transgressions, are a red herring which allows the real culprits to escape closer scrutiny."152 Lastly Councillor Patrick Merlihan stated that while he was voting for the format change it was “…despite reservations about a lack of public representation….” “I would still like the feel of this being a citizens’ committee, “ said Merlihan, calling the lack of public representation “cringeworthy."153
Following the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m about to present the readers with four thousand words worth of pictures and an excellent one- page Editorial from the June 20, 2015 Woolwich Observer. All the cartoons are produced by Scott Arnold on behalf of the Woolwich Observer.
The first one referencing open season on Woolwich politicians could be interpreted as being sympathetic to them. By May 2015, Todd Cowan was not only no longer mayor of Woolwich but he was facing criminal charges for his expense problems. A week later, the attitude towards Woolwich politicians in the cartoon has hardened. By this time frame Mayor Shantz is as yet clear of election expense allegations. The three men are again Scott Hahn, Mark Bauman, and Todd Cowan. The woman is Woolwich Clerk Val Hummel.The next two cartoons are in regards to the replacement of former CPAC members with a more “company friendly” membership. Hence, the cartoon dated June 27, 2015 indicates to me the lack of genuine substantive reasons for removing CPAC. The last cartoon dated August 1, 2015 also reflects the Observer’s opinion that these changes are all smoke and mirrors.
I had decided to wait about taking action regarding Sandy Shantz’s hopeless financial statement until I had a good idea as to what MECAC was all about. In the first meeting, Dr. Holt, Rich Clausi and I had some hope and by the second MECAC meeting, when committee members ordered a Forensic Audit Report for Councillor Hahn, it looked as if they might be the real deal. Unfortunately, MECAC were all downhill after that. Please note in the June 20 Editorial comments such as re-arranging-the-deckchairs as well as the word appeasement used twice. Note the comments about removal of both the citizen and watchdog from the citizens’ watchdog group. Lastly please note the references to the polluter actually demanding which citizens can and cannot attend public meetings. And Sandy gave in to them. Clearly our local newspaper were appropriately unhappy with the superficial moves made by Sandy Shantz . Superficial that is as far as assisting to clean up either the Elmira aquifers or the Canagagigue Creek. The Woolwich Observer were correct in laying both the blame and the responsibility at the feet of the Ontario Ministry of Environment for their failures to fulfill their mandate.
This removal of CPAC was the most blatant abandonment of municipal responsibility to the public in a very long time and other than the Woolwich Observer and CPAC members there was no significant criticism including from the Elmira Independent. Relations between the Independent and Ms. Bryant and Ms. McLean had been very good for many years and I suspect that Gail Martin may have had an inherent tendency to favour the always calm and cool public approach those two presented. Only those closer to that pair knew what they were about outside the public view. Also I have no doubt that if the Elmira Independent had continued in business that Ms. Martin would have realized how council had sold out to Chemtura and to the MOE, eventually. The Independent closed suddenly on August 1, 2015, which was a huge loss to Woolwich Township citizens particularly in regards to the complete loss of coverage by the media of public meetings held in council chambers. To this day in late 2018 none of the RAC or TAG meetings have been reported to the public by any news reporters-- a huge loss in the fight to obtain public awareness and support for a better cleanup of Elmira. In particular, coverage of Dr. Richard Jackson, the upcoming new TAG chair, and his strong criticisms of both Chemtura and the MOE could have made a huge difference in the public’s understanding of both past and current self-serving misstatements by those bodies and their penchant for gilding the lily.
After CPAC members had reluctantly agreed to carry on for the summer of 2015, councillors promptly produced both new terms of reference as well as the two new committees to replace CPAC starting in September 2015. CPAC proceeded in early July 2015 with a study of part of the Stroh Drain and of an area along the Creek known as Site #20. Graham Chevreau of CPAC had friends in a local company, MBN Engineering Inc. These friends were willing to take soil and sediment samples in these areas and test for pesticides. Their turnaround time to obtain lab analyses put the Ontario MOE to shame. Graham did the organizing and Sebastian of CPAC and I went along in early July 2015 simply as guides. We knew the terrain and the shortest and most convenient routes to get to where we needed to go. The overall goal of the testing was to determine quickly and independently any additional issues in these areas above and beyond what we had learned in the MOE 2012, 2013, and 2014 testing along the Canagagigue Creek.
The Elmira Independent published an article titled “DDT found in creek sediment” on July 31, 2015, which was their last publication although it was done so suddenly by the owners that none of the citizens in Woolwich Township knew even the day before. This article reported the results of the samples taken earlier that month by MBN Environmental Inc. staff whom Sebastian and I accompanied. One sample was taken a few hundred metres downstream from the Chemtura site and contained DDT at 20,000 parts per billion. This amount is the highest concentration of DDT found to date in the Creek. Endosulfan, an insecticide formerly produced by Uniroyal, was found at 410 parts per billion (ppb) and as well, carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). This is simply an indication that the focused upon dioxins/furans and DDT were not in the creek sediments and soils in isolation.154
Gail Martin sent CPAC a beautiful letter on August 6 thanking CPAC and SWAT for our efforts and the memories and assistance given to her regarding technical issues over the years. The shutting down of this newspaper continues to be an incredible loss to the community and to the efforts to hold both Chemtura and the Ontario MOE accountable.
The Woolwich Observer had the final say about what Woolwich Council was doing to CPAC in the summer of 2015 and the public. In its August 29, 2015 edition, a story appeared titled, “As CPAC winds down, longstanding concerns remain.” The sub-heading was “More studies needed to find scope of new contaminants, confirm that 2028 deadline will be missed, group tells council.” Steve Kannon, editor of the Observer, didn’t pull many punches in this article. He stated that “While the company has for years maintained it could meet the timeline (2028), it has recently acknowledged current remediation efforts – pumping water from the aquifer underneath Elmira and treating it for contaminants - aren’t likely to succeed on their own. That’s long been the position of the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee, the environmental watchdog group whose term expires at the end of the month, to be replaced by a more company-friendly arrangement cooked up by Mayor Sandy Shantz."155 Wow! Thank you, Steve Kannon. While I have repeatedly criticized the Observer for its failure to report CPAC then RAC and TAG public meetings, credit does need to be given for the Observer’s strong stance against council’s sham, charade, and my term “manufactured crisis” in order to get rid of CPAC thereby taking the pressure off Chemtura and the MOE. Credit should also go to the only council member, Patrick Merlihan, who showed any commonsense and backbone when he expressed repeated concerns about Sandy Shantz and Mark Bauman’s replacements for CPAC, i.e. the RAC and TAG committees.
In the same edition, however, under another story titled, “New evidence demands further cleanup orders be directed at Chemtura, says watchdog group,” Mr. Kannon also adds that “While expressing support for the idea, council opted to refer the matter to the new environmental committee the township formed when it opted to disband CPAC to entice the MOE and Chemtura back to the meeting table."156 Again, wow.
Woolwich Council Frustrated
Woolwich Councillors were stinging! By mid-August they suddenly realized that as much fun as they were having watching former mayor, Todd Cowan, go through the legal gears, they too were no longer smelling like roses. Throw enough manure on roses and even they begin to smell like … manure. By the August 15, 2015 Woolwich Council meeting, Sandy Shantz had ignominiously been removed as mayor, attended court, and had been reinstated as mayor. The bloom sure was off the rose. Councillors were angry and not used to being on the defense. I booked as a delegation at the council meeting to talk about current issues at Chemtura and on the 15th councillors seemed to be itching for a fight. They were rude, combative, and generally petty as hell. I was repeatedly interrupted by the chair as I read my delegation comments. Eventually the pack of idiots walked out on me. I really don’t think they had actually thought this exit out carefully ahead of time. Likely they were simply trying to provoke me into some bad behaviour with their interruptions and petty complaints that I was not focusing well enough on one part of my delegation versus another part. It was just nonsense and drivel by them and no citizen is obligated to give a professional speech to Council anyway.
Council’s behaviour backfired as I simply quit talking to them as they exited council chambers and turned myself around the lecturn and addressed my comments to the gallery. After a few minutes staff looked uncomfortable as they and the gallery listened to my information. Eventually, staff determined that as employees of the township and whose jobs depend on the good will of council they probably should walk out in support. Talk about the blind leading the blind in Woolwich Township.
The Woolwich Observer wisely decided to support its part-owner, Councillor Pat Merlhan, in their August 15, 2015 edition of the paper; Councillor Merlihan had walked out with the rest of the Councillors. Bad move, Patrick but, hey, he was trying to get along with the turkeys on council whom he called his colleagues. The Observer criticized me and I returned the compliment in my blog, the Elmira Advocate. I referred to the Merlihan boys as the Merlihan sisters. Tacky I admit. This incident was probably a low point in our relationship but I sure wasn’t going to be put on the defense by a pack of ill- educated, ill- informed morons posing as councillors while behaving like spoiled ten year olds. I was following my democratic rights both in holding councillors accountable under the Municipal Election Act and as a delegate to council. Council, of course, went to the well once too often with these tactics and ended up being publicly humiliated in 2016 on another matter, which I will describe shortly. News media throughout Waterloo Region jumped all over Woolwich Council including the Woolwich Observer on this different issue the following year. The Observer did mention at least that regarding this incident the acrimony was personal as it was more about my taking aim at councillors through the MEA than anything to do with my delegation about Chemtura. In fact the Observer referenced Chemtura and the new committees, RAC and TAG, in this same article. The Observer said that the changes were “… prompted largely to reduce public input by Marshall and others deemed disruptive, a bid to get the chemical company and Ontario Ministry of the Environment to rejoin the public meetings.” The reality, of course, was that “Marshall and others” were disrupting to the status quo, a status quo of lying and deceit.
On August 25, 2015 Richard Clausi presented himself as a delegation to the Woolwich Council meeting. Richard had a well- deserved reputation as a factual, accurate, calm individual but in fact he blew them out of the water. It was a sight to behold and one they badly deserved. Nor was it to be the last such defeat for them. The Woolwich Observer in its August 29, 2015 edition reported on Richard’s comments to council under the title of “Woolwich resident urges reform in wake of council election expense woes.” Following is the Observer article:
“An Elmira resident who’s been following the election expense woes that have landed half of Woolwich council in hot water has a few suggestions for local officials. Well, 10 of them, in fact, applicable to ongoing provincial discussions about reform of the Municipal Elections Act (MEA).
Richard Clausi has sat through the Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC) hearings for Coun. Scott Hahn and Mayor Sandy Shantz, and followed the court bids for the reinstatement of both Shantz and Coun. Mark Bauman, both removed from office for failing to file proper expense reports.
“As we know, half of this council have had encounters of the worse kind with the MEA. As we move forward into the future, it is a good thing to examine the problems and try to understand what went wrong so we do not repeat past mistakes,” he said in addressing councillors August 25.
“As often happens, people defensively blame the MEA for being “grey” and “confusing”. And vague. I respectfully suggest that the requirements of the MEA are clear and understandable for almost all candidates in Ontario. Any “grey is an optical illusion, and in the eyes of the beholder.”
Clausi pointed to Shantz’s case as proof the system needs more transparency and accountability. He argued the audit committee should not have accepted revised, after-the-fact paperwork from the mayor, who missed the filing deadline. The Township, he added, should have taken some action when Shantz went to court to seek reinstatement instead of having just one side represented before the judge.
“Imagine a courtroom with a prosecutor and a defence lawyer with this wrinkle - the prosecutor is told “do not present factum or testimony from the complainant and, by the way, be totally neutral and say nothing.” Unbelievable, yet that is what this council instructed their lawyers to do when two offending councillors applied for reinstatement. With no counterpoint, there was no due process, and the judge ruled the only way he could: reinstatement. For sports fans , this is called throwing the game,” he said. Taking an active role in such cases was among the recommendations he submitted.
Reviewing the court document, Clausi noted Shantz claimed she submitted an audited statement to MECAC on June 29 even though committee members seemed to be getting the document just prior to a July 2 hearing.
“Are you telling me that you perjured yourself?” he asked Shantz.
Clearly taken aback, Shantz said the date given to the court was an error, one she raised with her lawyer who was to talk to the judge about it.
Among Clausi’s other recommendations are that staff in the Clerk’s office receive more training prior to each election and that instruction sessions for prospective councillors, especially first-time candidates, be made mandatory."157
Richard’s multi-page recommendations went to both council as well as to a committee involved with Bill 201, the amendments to the Election Finances Act and the Taxation Act. Richard’s question to Sandy Shantz as to whether or not she perjured herself to Superior Court in Kitchener in 2015 has never been followed up until possibly today. While Sandy answered Richard’s question by claiming that her lawyer had spoken to Justice David Broad about the error she made to his court, that has never been confirmed to the public or to me, the complainant. Today, November 6, 2018, I did post an article to my blog, the Elmira Advocate, and sent the posting to Woolwich councillors, CPAC members and two news media outlets. If in fact Sandy and her lawyer did not advise the judge after the fact of the significant error in her submissions in the summer of 2015, then I believe that this omission is one more piece of evidence casting grave doubt on the legitimacy of her reinstatement as mayor of Woolwich Township.
I also believe the legality of her mayoralty casts doubt upon any Motions, by-laws, or initiatives that she took part in over the last four years including the “manufactured crisis” on behalf of Chemtura and the MOE. This would also include all meetings of RAC and TAG, including those she chaired at RAC and the TAG meetings run by the township’s two appointed chairs, Dr. Jackson and Tiffany Svensson. I do not view this possibility either lightly or maliciously. TAG has done good things and no offence is intended to Ms. Svensson and Dr. Richard Jackson who absolutely put both Chemtura and the MOE in their places repeatedly for their sins of both omission and commission.
ENDNOTES for Chapter 19
146 Gail Martin, `Chemtura advisory committee term to end in September``, Elmira Independent, June 5, 2015, p.6.
147 Gail Martin, ``Chemtura committee to undergo changes``, Elmira Independent, June 19, 2015, p.1.
148 Steve Kannon, ``Woolwich to axe CPAC for new review format``, Woolwich Observer, June 20, 2015, p.27.
151 Steve Kannon, ``Woolwich scraps CPAC, approves new format with less public involvement``, Woolwich Observer, June 20, 2015, p.6
154 Gail Martin, ``DDT found in creek sediment``, Elmira Independent, July 31, 2015, p.6.
155 Steve Kannon, ``As CPAC winds down, longstanding concerns remain``, Woolwich Observer, August 29, 2015, p.2.
157 Steve Kannon, ``Woolwich resident urges reform in wake of council election expense woes``,
Woolwich Observer, August 29, 2015