Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
July 23, 2024
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Letters May 29

A Letter from the Mayor
<p>(Jed Tallo/GazetteStaff)</p>
(Jed Tallo/GazetteStaff)

Re: Something In The Water (May 22). Like many others – a group that includes municipal employees and members of Council – I have watched, listened to, and read the characterizations of the “staff” of our municipality. They have been unfairly derided, verbally abused, and criticized. Individual staff members, whose responsibility is to provide Council with the necessary, thorough, and timely information to allow thoughtful and educated decision making, have been held accountable for all manner of recommendations to Council, as well as for their incompetence in the performance of their duties, or both.

Karen Valihora’s editorial quite correctly described Shire Hall staff as, “highly trained professionals. Financial officers, engineers and administrators.” I will add that our staff can also be described as innovative, creative, conscientious, resourceful and motivated in the performance of duties that are subject to scrutiny every day.

In the same edition of the Picton Gazette, examples of some of those qualities are contained in Chris Fanning’s article about our Chief Administrative Officer’s latest quarterly report, and Jason Park’s report about our municipal Clerk’s presentation to the Wellington Community Association.

In the case of the CAO’s report, Marcia Wallace outlines in clear, concise language, “information on the key activities and challenges faced by the municipality. Each report offers context on the implementation of Council decisions, particularly budget decisions. The report also provides a look ahead to the next three months.”

Ms. Wallace’s reports rely on input from the members of her leadership team and involve every aspect of municipal services – finance, operations, community services, long-term care, and so on.

The CAO’s quarterly reports – the first of their kind, and published since May 2020 – are readily available at the municipal website through this link:  https://www.thecounty.ca/government/caos-office/.

Jason Park’s coverage of municipal Clerk Catalina Blumenberg’s presentation in Wellington illustrates the outreach and initiative she demonstrates on a day-to-day basis. Ms. Blumenberg has not only brought innovation to both municipal operations and the Clerk’s role, but her engagement in the community, particularly leading up to the municipal election in 2022, played a significant role in increasing voter turnout from 43% to 47%.

In an email to me and our CAO following the Clerk’s presentation (and subsequently shared with all members of Council and the Clerk herself), Joanna Green, Chair of the Wellington Community Association, that hosted the meeting, described the event as, “well attended and participants were treated to a very informative presentation which included various educational and fun activities….. She was very knowledgeable about the topic and answered questions in an open, straightforward, honest and unbiased fashion. She clearly has an excellent understanding of the system, and willingly shared her expertise and experience with participants. She presented herself in a very confident and professional manner, and is an extremely capable, competent, efficient and proficient member of Shire Hall staff.”

 In the same correspondence, Ms. Green further states that the Clerk, “consistently responds to my calls / emails immediately and is unfailingly courteous, polite, respectful, helpful, patient, and knowledgeable. She is a pleasure to deal with, and it is so reassuring to know that we have such a capable and competent Municipal Clerk at Shire Hall.”
 

The knowledge and professionalism Ms. Green’s comments associate with our Clerk are applicable to many others within the municipal organization who have been the recipients of so much criticism.

Whether in the position of our Chief Administrative Officer or our Municipal Clerk, or in a leadership role in finance, operations, engineering, planning, economic development, facilities management, emergency services, roads, water and wastewater, or in any role in any department in the municipality, we are extremely fortunate to employ the people we do. Each one possesses the skills and motivation necessary not only to undertake their jobs, but to exceed expectations. 

It is blatantly unfair that many have been subjected to the unwarranted criticism and scorn so evident in recent months.

Given Prince Edward County’s highly regarded reputation as an innovative municipality whose creative and precedent-setting approaches to issues such as long-term care home financing or up-front payments from developers, or reductions in bulk water charges from a neighbouring municipality, any member of our Leadership Team or staff would be a welcome addition to any of other municipality — and a considerable loss to our own operations.

 I am extremely proud of the work of ALL our employees and the thoughtful and creative approaches they bring to the table every day. The mischaracterizations about the character of our staff members and the information they provide to Council are grossly unfair to them and demoralizing to us all.  

I am appreciative of the commentary and context provided by last week’s editorial.

Steve Ferguson, Mayor, Corporation of the County of Prince Edward

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 22 edition of The Picton Gazette
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