Opinion| Tens of Thousands Paid Out to ‘Non-Existent’ Fire Services Employee

When Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Shoemaker recently asked council to get another opinion on the traffic configuration at East and Albert Streets, I pretty well knew and didn’t complain that it didn’t go anywhere.
Because getting another opinion, even if turns out that it agrees with the thinking of the population that the configuration is flawed, would only mean we now would have decisions from supposed experts going each way.
So what would we do then, get another opinion to break the tie?
No, I would say rather than that that we gather a group of Grade 6 students to look the situation over and give us their informed opinion.
I am being facetious in suggesting this, of course, but actually it doesn’t seem all that far-fetched when you consider what has gone on up to this point, the new configuration not being designed by our traffic people but through the line-painters reworking the configuration that had served us so well for more than 50 years.
Actually the way to go probably would be for our councillors to go en masse to the intersection with some of our traffic people in tow, giving them an opportunity to justify why they thought the configuration provided by mistake by the line-painters made so much more sense than what we had previously.
Somehow I can’t see any councillor who saw the intersection in person and in action, with some motorists following the new pattern and others continuing to follow the old, buying in.
I made one huge mistake when I started writing about how the configuration of this intersection had been screwed up, the two lanes that had flowed from Albert Street up East to Wellington eastbound being reduced to one lane going up East.
I contacted someone I knew had been involved in traffic, respecting his opinion so much that I offered to take it from either on and off the record.
He chose off.
He said that after reading my initial column he checked out the intersection and agreed with my take on it.
I now get heartburn every time I write about this knowing that the person whose opinion would probably carry the most weight will never be heard.
Good work, Doug.
I have never been able to come to grips with why the city’s traffic people would look to experts, CIMA, to tell them whether the mistake the line-painters made should be rectified or not.
I think most of us, with no official knowledge of how traffic should work but with plenty of common sense, would have told the line-painters in plain language to fix it.
Instead we have the following email Brian Malone, partner and vice-president transportation of CIMA, sent to Susan Hamilton-Beach, director of public works, which I obtained by going through Freedom of Information. I had suggested to Malone that he didn’t have all the information required to make a responsible determination.
“I am writing to keep you informed regarding ongoing communications we receive from Mr. Millroy to CIMA,” Malone wrote. “Copies of his most recent emails are attached. I also would like to provide a clarification regarding his prime allegation that CIMA did not have full information before proposing the change.
“We accept that the information provided to us did not formally show the intersection of East and Wellington. We also confirm that the drawing delivered to the city (from CIMA) only showed the intersection of East and Albert. However, contrary to Mr. Millroy’s comment, CIMA was fully aware of the overall area configuration including the interaction between the two intersections and the East St. road section between them. We do not believe that the information provided to us by the city was ‘flawed’. We maintain our view that the revised layout is suitable for the location.
“We are fully aware that the design is a change from a previous configuration. We also realize that the design is not to Mr. Millroy’s preference.”
“We disagree with his suggestion that the design is ‘stupid and dangerous’. The new configuration modifies traffic operations in the area. It potentially necessitates changes in driving behaviour as right-of-way rules are different than they were previously. This layout, like the previous one, requires interpretation and compliance from drivers of the rules it defines.
“If one aspect of this dialogue is clear it is that changes in traffic controls can be unsettling to some. There can be issues in that regard, particularly when changes are not identified equally by all users. It is important to monitor for this potential. Mitigating treatments to address that situation using “NEW” signing may be appropriate in some situations, for an introductory period.
“In this particular instance however it would appear that awareness of the change is not the problem. We are not recommending the use of a NEW sign or other modifications at this time.
“We would, of course, recommend that the city continue to monitor the operational and safety performance of the location and make appropriate determinations of adjustments, if any, you deem necessary based on findings. If you need any input from CIMA in that regard we would be pleased to assist.”
I consider Malone’s comments about the revision of the configuration potentially necessitating changes in driving behaviour to be gobbledegook of the first order. He offers no coherent reason at all against returning to the original configuration, just support for what line-painters did by mistake.
And he didn’t address what is still a prime issue, CIMA’s recommendation that the yield sign on East Street be removed, allowing unfettered access into the eastbound traffic coming off Albert.
My only appeal now is that this not happen. That responsible heads from somewhere realize the possible results of that removal and put a stop to it.
Surely in the pursuit of safety for the motoring public that is not too much to ask.
I finally have found out through a Freedom of Information request what the payout was for the public educator officer Al Horsman, chief administrative officer of the city, says was never hired by Fire Services.
She received $12,321.88 for regular pay for the six weeks she worked, $3,974.80 in severance and $5,962.19 in vacation payout for a total of $22,258.87.
I also received a copy of her letter of termination.
As you will recall from my column of Feb. 18, when I reprinted the letter, I left out her name, even though I knew it and spoke with her briefly.
The name was included in the copy of the letter of termination I received in the FOI package but I still do not intend to use it, nor that of the public educator officer who remains on payroll.
This scenario was not of their making. All the blame for coming up with a wage of $103,344 for the position, 115% of a first-class fireman’s wage, can be laid at the feet of Fire Chief Mike Figliola.
Although Richard Bishop, president of the firefighters union, said two public educators were hired and one was let go, Horsman said only one was hired, that the second position was not filled because it was decided to await the review recently conducted by the fire marshal’s office.
But since it turns out that two were indeed hired and one was let go, how was that decision made since the two were hired very close to each other? Why did both not go since the reasoning in regard to the fire marshal’s review surely would to both?
I also have a comment about the length of time it took to process my FOI request. I realize the city has 30 days to comply, but when Lorie Bottos was city solicitor the latest I ever got it was the day following my filing.
I filed this request on Feb. 13 and got a confirmation letter. The material from human resources in regard to the summary of pay that was sent to the legal department is dated Feb. 15. It doesn’t say if that date applied to the letter of termination as well.
I got a call on March 9 that the material, for a cost of $23.30 above the original $5 application fee, was available for pickup.
More than 20 days seems a bit much for such interaction between two departments located within the same building, don’t you think?
Doug Millroy can be reached at dmillroy@gmail.com.


Editor’s Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of the Northern Hoot, but only of the comment writer. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please keep comments on topic. For more information on our commenting policies, please see our Terms of Use. If you see a typo or error on our site, report it to us. Please include a link to the story where you spotted the error.

Comments are closed.