“Usual decorum seems to have been discarded”: Millroy on the Mayor’s race. (UPDATED)

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Ooooh, I think we have a different mayoral race going on in the municipal election this year. In this one the usual decorum seems to have been discarded, nasty becoming the order of the day.

I think you would have to say the nastiness was started by challenger Rory Ring, who came out early and hard, criticism of incumbent Christian Provenzano dripping off virtually every word in his multiple news releases.

Provenzano, it seems in Ring’s eyes, is the cause of every problem the city has faced, especially when it comes to taxes. Although the mayor likes to say Ring is also including council in his criticism, my read of his news releases is that he gives a pass to the dozen councillors whose votes carry the same weight as the mayor’s.

Provenzano started off the election campaign seemingly ignoring Ring, preferring to run on his record. He points to a study by BMA (Management Consulting Inc.) in 2017 that determined that the Sault has the third lowest residential property taxes among surveyed cities with a population between 30,000 and 100,000; that showed property tax as a percentage of average household income improved to 3.6% (down from 3.8% in 2014); and that the total municipal burden (municipal property tax and municipal water cost) is 4.5% of household income (down from 4.8% in 2014), the year he took office.

Ring, of course, didn’t really have a local record to run on since he only came to the Sault in February 2016 to take on the job of executive director of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, a job from which he has taken a leave of absence to run for mayor.
This week it became obvious that his barbs had hit a nerve with the mayor.

Provenzano struck back, criticizing Ring’s performance as chief executive officer with the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce, his last employer before he took the same job with the Sault chamber.

Provenzano noted in a news release that a deficit of $7,595 the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber was facing when Ring was hired in late 2012 grew to $79,434, on a $500,000 budget, before his “sudden” departure from the chamber three years later.

“As reported by media sources in Sarnia, Mr. Ring abruptly parted ways with the Sarnia Lambton Chamber in September 2015,” Provenzano said. “The Sarnia-Lambton Chamber then hired a new CEO that did not have any chamber experience and enjoyed a quick financial turn-around in 2016, posting a $32,000 surplus.

“Mr. Ring’s record with the SSMCOC shows similarities to his time in Sarnia. In the SSMCOC’s 2016-2017 annual report, the treasurer’s report notes that, ‘Despite a strong aim for profit, the chamber fell short on its expectations with expenses exceeding revenue.’”

Provenzano said Ring has made some audacious claims about what he would accomplish as mayor (you will note his signs say more jobs and lower taxes) but his record with the two chambers demonstrates why he will be unable to deliver on his promises.

“This type of record does not lead to lower taxes – it will lead to higher ones,” he said. “This type of record does not lead to more jobs. Quite the opposite, it leads to fewer jobs.”
Ring, when questioned by SooToday about Provenzano’s claim about his time with Sarnia-Lambton, said the mayor’s release was filled with inaccuracies.
This, of course, was the same thing Provenzano had said to me about Ring’s claims in his news releases.

Ring declined to answer SooToday’s questions directly, preferring to issue a follow-up news release. In it he said, “I left the Sarnia Chamber because I had the strength, good judgment and integrity to stand up against a certain board member who had been accused of domestic assault and against a board member due to a conflict of interest surrounding a real estate transaction. I am sure the mayor did not research these facts before he issued his press release. It is certainly telling that he would shade the truth on such serious matters of personal integrity and good governance.

“During my tenure at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, the business community was suffering from, among other things, the loss of the Motor Vehicle License Bureau contract,: a loss of over 35 per cent of the Chamber’s revenue, heavy cross border shopping due primarily to a favourable exchange rate at the time. Consequently, the Chamber was challenged to renew membership.

“I developed a plan to drive more revenue and cut costs. That plan took root and the chamber benefitted from that work in the years that followed. I was recognized for my performance by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce President, Allan O’Dette.”
The war of words appears to be just between Provenzano and Ring. The other two mayoral candidates, Ted Johnston and Kemal Martinovic, seem to be playing by more traditional rules, no sign of any vitriol coming from their corners.

When it comes to inaccuracies, Ring has to be careful throwing stones. In his news release in answer to the mayor, he claims the mayor used $575,000 of taxpayer money pursuing a futile lawsuit against Essar (now Algoma) and increased the industrial tax rate by a whopping and unprecedented 56 per cent.

The city did not pursue a lawsuit against Essar, it simply paid Toronto lawyers to look after the city’s interests as Essar was under the protection of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. Nor did it increase the industrial tax rate by a whopping 56%.Both of these claims were debunked last year and Ring knows they were.

Ring has produced a chart that shows the tax rate per $100,000 assessment in Barrie is $1,203, in Peterborough $1,420, in Sudbury $1,482, in North Bay $1,544, and in the Sault $1,717.

When I asked where he got the numbers, he replied they were from the ministry of finance but did not steer me to where I could get them. When I asked again, he said he got them from an administrative contact.

When I asked Provenzano about Ring’s numbers, he provided me with numbers that showed Barrie $1,272, Peterborough $1,427, Sudbury $1,444, North Bay $1,456 and the Sault $1,530. He also provided me with specific links where I could verify his numbers.

Who is right? I think it is obvious but you get to decide on election day Oct. 22.

27 COMMENTS

  1. My I sure am not intimidated nor confused or fooled by the lying, slander and harassment of the actual abuser.

    The evidence is clearly on screen without a doubt in my mind.

  2. There appears to be a conflict in respect to the word serious or derivative between myself and another person who has sent input.

    I am sure without a doubt in my mind that I mean in the literal sense completely personal not in the least as a front with all due respect in the true sense.

    Nor personae or image in other words.

  3. There is one crippling issue that none of the Mayoral candidates have given a reasonable answer to IMHO. That being the 59% increase over 10 years to the Small Industrial Businesses.

    These small industrial/manufacturing businesses cannot afford to have a 6% tax increase every year for 10 years.

    Imagine if we residential taxpayers had to pay 6% more taxes every year for 10 years? And if this was announced to us residential taxpayers BEFORE any cost of living tax increases were factored in?

    We’d go ballistic.

    That’s how the small industrial/manufacturing businesses feel right now. And rightfully so.

    This 6% a year tax increase is not good for attracting small industrial/manufacturing businesses to our city… you know, the kind of businesses that provide well paying jobs, and that allow people to buy homes to help spread the tax burden.

    And it’s also not good for the existing businesses that have to pay these ridiculously high new taxes over the next 10 years.

    The existing businesses will not hire and expand over the next 10 years. They may even lay off, and may look to move away… Less Jobs.

    This is a real problem that needs to be solved in 2019.

    Come on Mayoral Candidates. Start talking about where you are going to get the millions of dollars a year that ESSAR had their taxes reduced by, and that was shifted over to the small industrial businesses in our city.

    Stretching this 59% tax increase out over 10 years while you raise the taxes of us residential taxpayers is not going to solve anything. We residents will pay more, and the small industrial/businesses will pay more, and nobody will be happy.

    The $3 million dollars a year that ESSAR is no longer paying needs to be cut from the city budget in 2019, and applied to this small industrial/manufacturing tax class in 2019.

    Where is that $3 million dollars a year coming from candidates?

  4. There’s been no lack of decorum.

    There’s just been some serious questions by Mr. Ring about Mayor Provenzano’s actual record when you compare it to the promises he made for responsible spending, transparency and leadership in 2014. And there have been some serious questions by Mayor Provenzano about Mr. Ring’s ability to deliver on promises of lower taxes and more jobs.

    There’s nothing impolite about that.

    Did you not want them to question each other’s records?

    There’s a Mayoralty race going on for goodness sake.

    You’ve done a nice job of answering the Mayor’s serious questions about Mr. Ring’s record in this opinion piece, Mr. Millroy. Maybe you can answer Mr. Ring’s serious questions and the other candidates’ serious questions about Mayor Provenzano’s record in your next opinion piece.

    For instance, Mr. Ring has asked:

    1) Why did Mayor Provenzano cast the deciding vote against a global 1% reduction in all city budgets in 2017 that would have lowered the tax increase that Saultites paid in 2017? What did Mayor Provenzano think was so irresponsible about that cost cutting/tax reducing measure?

    2) Why did Mayor Provenzano NOT get out of the Mayor’s chair and put his name on Councillor Shoemaker’s Notice of Motion to have City Council have an open discussion about forming a committee to look at ways of cutting the $11 million dollar a year cost of delivering park maintenance, garbage collection, and snow removal without cutting service?

    These are only a couple of serious, “responsible spending” questions that should be answered by Mayor Provenzano in light of the fact that Mayor Provenzano is promising to continue with the same “responsible spending” during the next four years if re-elected.

    Maybe you, Mr. Millory, can get all of the serious questions that Mr. Ring and the other Mayoral candidates have about Mayor Provenzano’s record, and get factual answers from the Mayor so we voters have enough factual information to decide who to vote for on October 22nd.

    That would be very helpful.

    Sincerely,
    MAB

  5. It just is not fair nor right to jump to conclusions about any matter based on hearsay or publicity in media.

    A firing or leaving does not in itself prove anything in respect to needed specifics.

    Sometimes the truth cannot be ascertained clearly for that is part of the human situation.

    There is no doubt in my mind about that.

    What I object to is how he has chosen to want to represent an entire City in respect to mayorical responsibilities or even had he as a candidate for a ward. I base that on the argument that it appears true that he has not been in Soo, Ontario very long as well as for other reasons. I also take exception with the other candidates . I literally mean all of the residents seeking to be .
    elected no matter what all. Whether incumbents or otherwise .

    The motive and purpose for my communication is not wrong without a doubt in my mind.

  6. As a city we seem to find ways to hire rejects from other cities. I think they need a new human resources person at city hall.

  7. It’s now or never Rory, come out and be honest, tell the truth, say it, “I got fired, axed, canned, bricked, Sarnia gave me the old heave ho”

  8. Hopefully we are not going to turn this race into what we see in American politics, slinging accusations at each other, lets stick to what we need. Provenzano is most definitely not for local, Our city, hospital and utilities do not use local services, they use international call centres. That may mean nothing to many, but using local services keeps local people employed, it’s huge for locally owned small business here in Sault Ste Marie.

  9. I am glad that I chose to watch all of the interchange between candidates and those asking the questions on stage.

    Naturally I do not like how the other residents were expected to BE SILENT.

    I am not at all suggesting chaos or a brawl atmosphere in the least.

    My communication is without any wrong motive or purpose without any doubt in my mind.

  10. Though I have not read through everything I sure am glad there was input through this venue no matter what all the differences or conflicts of interest.

    Simply my conclusion not in the least trying to imply that I am in ownership or management nor staff of any sort of this online operation.

  11. If he was fired by the Chamber in Sarnia, how did he get hired by the Chamber here? Mr. Provenzano found some information. Where was this information when he was hired? If it was known that he didn’t do a good job in Sarnia, how was it decided that he’s do a good job here? If it didn’t matter then, why all of a sudden is it serious now? I think I’ll just leave it up to those of you who are educated and well informed.

  12. Politics is a vicious game….a mine field for all voters to tiptoe through..personally I’m not a fan of the negative route. Never have been. The best advice I was ever given and it applies to situations like this….”A sales rep will get YOUR store looking just the way THEY want” As in every election voters are asked to buy what candidates are selling and others are also trying to win control of what they think you should be buying. Do yourselves a favor….do your own due diligence..do the research outside of what others tell you or what candidates say. Make an informed decision.What do you want your store to look like?

    • Interesting to me that you seem to impart that politics or governance in other words is to be a game or have I innocently misunderstood your intended meaning?

      Irregardless, I do highly question what you are trying to do Mr Poluck with all due respect in the true sense.

      This really is not at all a polite instigation to a fight ?

      I know my communication is for no wrong purpose or motive without any doubt whatsoever in my mind.

  13. Hey Doug, I think you just jumped onto the old bandwagon of dirty politics. Congratulations on forgetting the debacles we have seen with the current mayor over the last four years. Why don’t you write for the Sault Star again?
    Sometimes you are spot on but this is another liberal character assassination smothered in hack journalism.

    • Bang on Bill. It sure as hell read like a propaganda piece for the current dufus running the city into the ground

      • The outfit that has been busiest with propaganda has been Rory’s campaign. It’s too bad for him that it has all been debunked by Doug and others. Don’t let the facts slow you down if that’s your choice, but the rest of us have realized that it’s time for this three “Ring” circus to pack it in.

    • I did not watch all of the coverage yet simply because I do not like to take much time to hear a lot of nonsense in action for very long at any given time. I mean the mind games to confuse, fool and manipulate the gullible or the many weak minded residents. That is not meant in cruelty at all. Really without any doubt in my mind. I have not read all of Mr. Millroy’s input with all due respect and credit in the true sense to him. That is simply because I lost interest soon after starting to read about nastiness. What I heard so far was too on the mild side. I am not looking for a showdown, screaming matches or blows lolol (not mockery) . The lolol is not an attempt to minimize my seriousness . My communication is absolutely for no wrong motive or purpose without any doubt whatsoever in my mind.

  14. I have absolute faith that the info Mr Millroy has provided is true. It just reaffirms my decision who to vote for. We already have a LIAR in provincial office (Ford) We surely don’t need one running our city.

  15. I can assure you that my property is valued right around that 100,000 mark and my taxes are definitely more in line with Mr. Provenzano’s quotes. Rory’s are way off.

  16. Rory can’t seem to keep his stories straight. He’s citing stats that no one else can find and providing explanations that no one else can verify. When the Sarnia Observer called him about the Marvel Superhero origin story he sent to SooToday on leaving the Sarnia Chamber, he suddenly didn’t have anything to say. Meanwhile a former board member told the Sarnia paper that Rory’s comments were, not only false but also,”inflammatory and borderline defamatory.” There’s just too much smoke with this guy.

  17. Why doesn’t someone male a call to Sarnia and ask if Ring was fired or left of his own accord. The truth has to come out and soon.

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