Rory Ring In attack-dog mode

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If you throw crud against a wall often enough, some of it is going to stick.

And that seems to be what mayoral candidate Rory Ring is counting on to bring him success in this election campaign.

In attack-dog mode, he has been disparaging incumbent Christian Provenzano in news release after news release.

Are all his claims and complaints true?

From my read, not so much.

But then, I think about the wall. I know some people won’t bother to check the validity of the crud (a more polite term than is usually used) that is sticking to it. They will just accept as gospel what Ring has thrown there.

Heck, you only have to look at the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States to see how well that can work.

Ring in a news release early in the campaign said that in April of 2017 Essar-Algoma had won a substantial victory in its assessment appeal with the Assessment Review Board and as a result the value of its land was dropped from $83 million to $39 million.

He also indicated the city had sued Essar-Algoma for unpaid taxes.

He was wrong on both counts.

The lowering of Essar-Algoma’s assessment wasn’t done because an appeal was won; it simply came about through the reassessment that MPAC does for all property every four years.

As well, the city never sued for back taxes. You can’t sue an entity that is under bankruptcy protection.

He also claimed early on that business and industry took a 56.7% tax-rate hit in 2018 because of the loss of taxes from Essar-Algoma and he continues to make the claim that it was in the 2018 budget.

The latest examples of Ring making claims that have no substance came out in news releases this week.

He said a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was made at the Civic Centre for the purposes of disclosing how much money in total had been paid out to employees in the form of severance costs. The request included those employees who had left or were dismissed from employment at the Police Services, Fire Services or City.

“Unfortunately the mayor is refusing to release this information and would rather hide this total from taxpayers,” Ring said. “So I have to ask why, Mr. Mayor? Tell us how much you paid these employees to leave. Is this partly the reason our taxes went up 11 percent?”

Here again Ring is speaking from a lack of knowledge as to how the system works.

“The mayor and council have no say regarding requests made under Freedom of Information,” Malcolm White, deputy CAO / city clerk, told me. “They are not even made aware of them.”

White said Freedom of Information requests are handled solely by the legal department.

Actually I can tell you from personal experience that even top officials in city hall don’t have a say in what is released through Freedom of Information because I have obtained information through FOI requests that wasn’t forthcoming through initial direct approaches.

For his part, Provenzano said all he knew of Ring’s FOI request he had learned from Ring’s press release whereby he announced to the community he had made an FOI request

In the news release up for discussion here, Ring also claims Provenzano is both judge and jury when it comes to deciding what items will be presented to council and which citizens will be heard.

“In the past, two councillors participated on a rotating basis with the mayor in deciding each agenda. Legislatively the mayor and several councillors may set the agenda as long as there is not a majority of council present which would create a quorum and in effect would constitute a closed- door meeting on items which should be open to the public. So far the Mayor’s excuse to be more open and transparent is that he did not change the format of the meetings, but nothing is preventing him from moving back to a more open and inclusive format.”

Provenzano counters that he did not change the agenda review process, that the exact same agenda review process is being used as mayor and council used when he was elected.

He is backed up on this by White, who explained that an amendment to the agenda review process was made in 2011, after resident Mark Brown complained that he was not allowed to attend agenda meetings, which he claimed should be open to the public.

“Prior to this amendment the Agenda Review Committee consisted of the Mayor, two councillors from the wards that were being used that month for courtesy movers and seconders, the CAO and the City Clerk,” White said in an email..

“After Mark Brown’s complaint to the Ombudsman and subsequent dialogue with the Ombudsman it was apparent that the Agenda Review Committee as structured would be required to observe the open-meeting provisions of the Municipal Act, which had been amended by the province. This spurred a review of other municipalities’ practices in setting council agendas.”

White said the review found that in almost all cases the agenda was considered an administrative practice and was carried out by the clerk, CAO or city manager, and sometimes included the Mayor.

In his report to council, White also pointed out that approval of the agenda is carried out as the second order of business at all city council meetings and that items can be added or removed by a majority vote of council.

As a result he recommended to council on Feb. 22, 201l, that composition of the Agenda Committee be revised to consist of the mayor, chief administrative officer and city clerk. His recommendation was accepted and that is the process that remains to this day.

There is nothing nefarious about it in regard to the mayor, as Ring would have voters believe.

I am getting tired of correcting Ring’s gaffe’s and don’t intend, with the election right around the corner, to correct them any more.

I know he hasn’t been here long so can’t be expected to know all that much about the city, but that doesn’t excuse him for the factual errors he is making.

It also doesn’t excuse those who are assisting on his campaign, people who have been here for the long haul and who must know in their hearts that a lot of what he is saying is absolute rubbish.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Opinion: I have lived in the Sault for 13 years, and it long ago became home. I have raised my kids here, contributed to this community in a variety of ways over the years, and have come to know the city in a deeply nuanced way, flaws and strengths, beauty and beastliness- and I CANNOT FATHOM THE AUDACITY of a man who pops in from his failed role in southern Ontario, repeats his failure by leaving our local Chamber of Commerce stripped bare, and then places himself in the running for Mayor- with no idea what the fabric of this community is really made of. Rory Ring sees an opportunity for himself, not SSM. Yes, we need change, but change for the better- and that may have to wait. Sault Ste Marie is home to many deeply engaged, qualified people- let’s focus on encouraging these home-grown potential-candidates to run in the next election instead of falling for a candidate offering little more than basic rhetoric, who has already let their ignorance and lazy approach to politics shine bright through this campaign (failing to ask the basic questions that could have informed a successful FOI request, or cleared up his *confusion* about who makes decisions and on what). From my perspective, Rory Ring’s approach to politics does not respect Sault Ste Marie, does not respect voters, and for all of the above reasons, he will not have my vote.

  2. I ‘m sure it cost taxpayers a pile of money to send the Police Chief packing and then the Fire Chief fiasco. Ring likely wants to have those numbers disclosed? On the huge drug problem there was two meetings attended by many who were concerned about this problem. Was the Mayor there? Good question…..

    • If you are wondering about the Fire Chief look at the 2017 Sunshine list. Figliola made $200,000. dollars For five months work. Not bad for being a screwup.

  3. The election campaign should be about their qualifications, values and who they are as a person. Smearing the other candidates shows bad character and not what we want in an elected official.

    • Totally agree with you Rosa! The sad thing is that there are a lot of people in this city who are buying into RR’s 💩.

  4. Everyone who runs promises…”more jobs, less taxes”….how’s that working for us so far? It’s a meaningless promise, because we all know we can’t lower taxes and can’t wave a wand and create more jobs. Try being more specific in how you’ll pull off that miracle and I might consider that person a serious candidate.

  5. For the past 7+ years our Mayors have been given the power to turn Delegations away (judge, jury and executioner style) from behind closed doors. No media, no nothing…. silence.

    And at the same time, according to DCAO White, the Delegations that were muzzled by the Mayor had to get 7 out of the 13 council members to approve letting them speak?

    What?

    Why didn’t the Mayors have to get 7 out of 13 city council members to approve their decisions to put a muzzle on people who wanted to speak to their city council?

    There’s a definite POWER IMBALANCE here. The mayor should not be given the ability to do the work of City Council by himself from behind closed doors.

    If any of the mayoral candidates are committed to openness and transparency should either PUBLICLY COMMIT to opening up the Agenda setting committee by adding 2 rotating Councillors in the Procedure By-law, or have the Procedure By-law changed so that ALL DELEGATIONS that make a request to speak at a City Council Meeting (in accordance with the procedure) get listed on the city council Agenda so that when the “Approve the Agenda as Presented” part of the City Council Meeting happens it will ALSO take a majority of City Council members to deny a Delegation permission to speak.

    There are no power imbalances with either of those changes, and both are more open and transparent than the current Delegation decision making process.

    My preference would be to add 2 city council members to the Agenda setting committee by changing the Procedure By-law, and then let the Agenda committee decide (with the media and citizens watching) which Delegations get to speak.

    I prefer that because of the request to speak by the man who wanted to have city council fly the fascist flag. Nobody wants that Delegation listed on a City Council Agenda. That type of request needs to dispensed with at an open Agenda setting Committee meeting waaaaaaay before a City Council meeting.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Brown

  6. Anyways, im sure hes better than the douche in there now. The idiot who acted surprised when he was questioned about the drug epademic in this city and still didnt do anything about the months in between till when the episode was aired on tv.

    • Actually he is not , I talked to him and asked him about the opioid crisis , treatment centres etc … and he did not answer , all he talked about was diversity , lowering taxes and creating more jobs he never said how he would accomplish that either . He has no roots here and after talking to him he definitely does not get my vote !!!

  7. Thanks for pointing out Mr. Ring’s factual errors, Doug, there certainly have been a lot of them.

    Even Mr. Ring’s promise to open up the Agenda Review Committee meetings by adding 2 city council members (made at the Algoma U debate) ISN’T enough for me to vote for him.

    And that’s saying something because I believe that ALL Standing Committees, and ALL Committees created by City Council Resolution should be open to the public (media and citizens) so the media can report on contentious items that come up in these meetings as quickly as possible, and citizens can voice their concerns, or support for those items to their elected representatives as soon as possible.

    This is very important because it allows our City Council members to make the most citizen-informed decision when they eventually vote on these contentious items at City Council meetings.

    Openness gives citizens the best opportunity to shape our own future through our elected representatives.

    Closing doors on meetings completely shuts the public out, and decisions then get made by our City Council with no public input. This is very weird because our elected representatives are supposed to be making decisions that makes life better for us. Isn’t it better if they know what we think before they make their decisions?

    There is no down side to openness. It invites respectful input, and engenders trust (there is nothing to hide).

    And there’s more to Transparency than just configuring your committees so you can keep the doors closed.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Brown

    P.S. Mr. White forgot to tell you that the driving force behind re-configuring the Agenda Review Committee back in 2011 was to keep the doors closed. CAO Joe Fratesi said to me back in 2011, “We can’t have the public knowing what’s on the Agenda before City Councillors do”. I guess CAO Fratesi thought that City Councillors should know, or appear to know, everything about all Agenda Items, contentious or not, BEFORE the Agenda is released to the public. City Councillors DON’T have to be know-it-alls they just have to be willing to listen, and then decide based on the information they have, and how they personally feel. That’s it. The sooner you get Agenda Item topics into the hands of the public, the more citizen-informed our City Councillors will be whether or not they know anything about a particular Agenda Item.

    P.P.S. The Agenda Review Committee Meeting is NOT an “administrative committee” because they make executive DECISIONS about who can appear, and who can’t appear as a Delegation at City Council Meetings. The communities that DCAO White referred to as having Agenda setting as a true administrative practice allow EVERY Delegation that makes a request to speak at a city council meeting AUTOMATICALLY listed on their Agendas (now THAT’S open and transparent).

    P.P.S. Open doors are good for us citizens, and closed doors are bad.

    • Give it up Mark Brown. Council meetings are long enough already without having blowhards able to make them last into the wee hours of the morning.

  8. Len makes a good point. Despite the number of contenders, there are not really any worthy choices,in my opinion.
    What the Sault needs is leadership.

  9. Since we do not have even one credible candidate running for MAYOR…..I suspect very few will bother to vote resulting in the lowest turnout ever.

  10. The city doesn’t have a suitable candidate running for mayor. The current one is past his due date because of his ego, his blunders and terrible financial decisions, the current competition is simply not worthy of the office, either.
    Sadly for the city I suspect the current mayor will serve another term though as there are enough suckers out there to vote for him that somehow think he is doing a good job.

      • No just media bias for a single candidate wearing his rose colored glasses. He seems to forget the wasted spending and boondoggle gaffes of the last four years by Mr. Provenzanno and the gang.

  11. Thank you Mr. Millroy for exposing the truth and providing us with some clarity as to the allegations made by Mr. Ring.

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