Pa­suta de­ter­mined to re­turn to city hall

Flam­bor­ough coun­cil­lor suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries in two farm ac­ci­dents

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - AN­DREW DRESCHEL

I’m hav­ing a lit­tle bit of trou­ble con­cen­trat­ing, but it’s get­ting a lot bet­ter. WARD 14 COUN. ROBERT PA­SUTA

Coun. Robert Pa­suta has been ab­sent from city hall for close to six months with health prob­lems.

That means some 17,600 res­i­dents in ru­ral Flam­bor­ough’s sprawl­ing Ward 14 haven’t had a di­rect voice at the coun­cil ta­ble for al­most half a year.

What does the fu­ture hold for Pa­suta and the peo­ple he rep­re­sents?

First off, Pa­suta says he has no in­ten­tion of throw­ing in the towel.

“I am go­ing to be back; I’m not go­ing to re­sign,” he said in a phone in­ter­view.

Pa­suta suf­fered back-to-back ac­ci­den­tal blows to his head and body on his Flam­bor­ough farm in mid-De­cem­ber, fol­lowed the next day by a blackout episode that saw him wak­ing up in the hos­pi­tal with dan­ger­ously high blood pres­sure.

Since then he’s seen a bunch of spe­cial­ists rang­ing from neu­rol­o­gists to car­di­ol­o­gists and he’s on a bun­dle of meds, some of which are still be­ing fine-tuned.

If all goes well, he hopes to re­turn to coun­cil in June or maybe July.

“I need clear­ance from my doc­tors. I’m hav­ing a lit­tle bit of trou­ble con­cen­trat­ing, but it’s get­ting a lot bet­ter.”

Orig­i­nally he hoped to be back in the winter, but ob­vi­ously that was far too op­ti­mistic.

Un­der the Municipal Act, if a coun­cil­lor hasn’t at­tended a meet­ing for three months, his or her seat is con­sid­ered va­cant and needs to be filled by ei­ther a coun­cil ap­point­ment or by­elec­tion.

Though Pa­suta’s ab­sence fits that bill, in late Fe­bru­ary coun­cil ex­er­cised its power to waive the at­ten­dance re­quire­ments, ba­si­cally au­tho­riz­ing him to take an ex­tended leave un­til he’s com­pletely re­cov­ered.

Pa­suta, who was elected to his third term in 2014, isn’t aware of any con­stituents grum­bling about his ab­sence. Couns. Lloyd Fer­gu­son of Ward 12 (An­caster) and Judi Par­tridge of Ward 15 (Wa­ter­down-east Flam­bor­ough) are pitch­ing in to help with his ward is­sues; both are happy to lend a hand.

“Of course it takes time, but I’d do that for Robert any day,” said Fer­gu­son.

Pa­suta cred­its his ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant, Lynne Cec­chetti, with hold­ing down the fort at city hall. He talks with Cec­chetti ev­ery two or three days and meets her ev­ery two weeks to go over busi­ness. He also watches some com­mit­tee meet­ings on­line.

What ac­tu­ally hap­pened to him on the farm? Most think he just fell off his trac­tor but it was more se­ri­ous and wor­ry­ing than that.

Pa­suta was al­ready feel­ing a bit off when he took a high fall from his big ar­tic­u­lated trac­tor. In­stead of step­ping into the cab he turned and plum­meted seven feet (2.14 me­tres) to the ground, land­ing on his face and chest.

Shook up and sore, Pa­suta sat around for a while to re­cover. Then he de­cided to re­move the big tires off an­other trac­tor. He jacked it up and did one side with no prob­lem. But things went wrong when he knelt to do the other side. A 1,000 lb. (454 kg.) tire popped off and smacked him in the head and back.

For­tu­nately, he didn’t break any­thing. His neck was swollen but in­stead of go­ing to the doc­tor the next day, he kept work­ing. The last thing he re­mem­bers is be­ing at the wheel of a skid-steer loader. His fam­ily says he came into the house, wet, cov­ered in snow and talk­ing gib­ber­ish. But all he re­calls is wak­ing up in the hos­pi­tal.

The doc­tors aren’t sure if the head blows trig­gered some­thing or if his mis­takes were trig­gered by other stuff. Tests found heart is­sues and that high blood pres­sure.

Pa­suta turns 64 in June. He’s tired and tends to sleep a lit­tle more than usual, but lately he’s been able to a do a bit of farm­ing and get out to a few small com­mu­nity meet­ings. That’s a good sign.

It goes with­out say­ing he’s missed at coun­cil. Pa­suta may not have the gift of the gab, but he has the twin virtues of brevity and horse sense. He’s de­ter­mined to come back soon. It’d be sweet if that de­ter­mi­na­tion is re­warded.

An­drew Dreschel’s com­men­tary ap­pears Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Fri­day. adreschel@th­es­ 905-526-3495 @An­drewDreschel

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