Bradley aim­ing to re­store trust

Long­time MPP prom­ises to take ‘col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach’ as new chair

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Front Page - GRANT LAFLECHE

The newly ap­pointed head of Ni­a­gara’s re­gional coun­cil says it’s time to re­store the pub­lic’s faith in the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment.

While anx­ious to help Ni­a­gara Re­gion move for­ward on key is­sues, Bradley said pub­lic trust is job one.

“No. 1 pri­or­ity is to re­turn the trust of re­gional coun­cil to the peo­ple of Ni­a­gara. I think it is go­ing to be very im­por­tant to re­turn that trust, to show in­tegrity, to show ci­vil­ity, trans­parency and open­ness,” he said.

Bradley was se­lected re­gional chair by his fel­low coun­cil­lors Thurs­day morn­ing.

Lin­coln Coun. Rob Fos­ter and Wel­land Coun. Leanna Vil­lella also con­tested for the po­si­tion.

All three spoke of the need to for the Re­gion to break with the pol­i­tics of the past four years and re­store in­tegrity and trans­parency to the gov­ern­ment and of­fice of the chair.

Coun­cil­lors elected Bradley with 19 votes. Vil­lella won seven votes, and Fos­ter got five.

Coun­cil later passed a cer­e­mo­nial mo­tion to make the vote for Bradley unan­i­mous.

“It was en­cour­ag­ing that all three of us as can­di­dates (for chair) had a sim­i­lar theme to present to coun­cil,” Bradley said. “I think we have a brand new coun­cil there, we have some peo­ple com­ing back that will pro­vide us with ex­pe­ri­ence, we have a lot of new en­thu­si­as­tic coun­cil­lors that want a new start for Ni­a­gara, and that bodes very well.”

Bradley, who was a Lib­eral St. Catharines MPP for nearly 41 years, also promised to take a “col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach” as re­gional chair and said he would not act in a “dic­ta­to­rial fash­ion.”

Although Brd­ley did not men­tion him by name, for­mer chair Alan Caslin was at the heart of sev­eral con­tro­ver­sies that hounded re­gional coun­cil. Caslin’s spend­ing, which in­cluded sev­eral ex­pen­sive and un­ex­plained meals, drew sharp pub­lic crit­i­cism.

The for­mer chair was also a key ar­chi­tect in the il­le­gal seizure of a St. Catharines Stan­dard jour­nal­ist’s com­puter and notes on Dec. 7, 2017, that made na­tional news and trig­gered an On­tario Om­buds­man in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The in­volve­ment of Caslin and his staff in the tainted 2016 hir­ing of Re­gion CAO Car­men D’An­gelo is also un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Om­buds­man, as is the lu­cra­tive con­tract ex­ten­sion Caslin uni­lat­er­ally awarded the CAO.

Caslin was de­feated in the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion, plac­ing 20 out of 23 can­di­dates in St. Catharines.

In an in­ter­view af­ter the swear­ing-in cer­e­mony Thurs­day morn­ing, Bradley ac­knowl­edged coun-

cil must grap­ple with is­sues per­tain­ing to D’An­gelo, but he de­clined to opine on what shape that will take with­out coun­cil’s in­put.

“I want to con­sult with the coun­cil on the tim­ing of deal­ing with th­ese is­sues,” Bradley said. “There are go­ing to be mem­bers of re­gional coun­cil who are go­ing to want the om­buds­man re­port be­fore them be­fore mak­ing any de­ci­sions. There may be oth­ers who will say we’ve seen and heard enough and they want to pro­ceed. So I don’t want to be pre­sump­tu­ous and say to coun­cil this is the di­rec­tion we should take or not take.”

D’An­gelo, who in­formed staff he had to un­dergo a “car­diac re­lated pro­ce­dure,” was not at the Re­gion Thurs­day.

In spite of his ex­pe­ri­ence, Bradley said he, like ev­ery new mem­ber of the coun­cil, has some learn­ing to do.

“The last time I walked out of a mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil meet­ing was in June 1977. So I am not an ex­pert on ev­ery­thing and any­thing at this point,” Bradley said. “For­tu­nately, we have some ex­cel­lent staff at the Re­gion who will un­doubt­edly show some pa­tience with me.”


The in­au­gu­ral meet­ing of the new new re­gional coun­cil was held Thurs­day, with Jim Bradley as­sum­ing the re­gional chair’s seat.

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