Last night’s meeting was by invitation only – if former Rick Chiarelli employee and current BIA honcho Alex Lewis didn’t hand-deliver your invitation, you’re out of luck.
Why the secrecy? Last time the BIA called a meeting, members of the community were welcome to attend as observers, but this time even WECA kingpin Bill Quinn and Rick’s special assistant Catherine Gardner were snubbed.
No need to invite anyone from the Lynwood Village (Bells Corners) Community Association, as it’s been shut down by the councillor and the City bureaucrats, with an illegitimate puppet board led by Tea Party and anti-mosque activist Harry Splatt put into place. Harry’s a snowbird, currently residing in Arizona, so he’s out of the picture (thank the lord).
Okay, fair enough, the BIA Annual General Assembly is for members only – it’s all about maximizing profits for Bells Corners businesses, be they local, big box or giant multinationals. I have no problem with that – what’s good for local businesses is (usually) good for local residents.
But the BIA is spending huge sums of money for its projects – some of it financed by the Chiarelli tax, some of it funded by the taxpayer, so what’s wrong with a bit of transparency? Doesn’t the community (ordinary blokes like you and me), don’t we have a right to know what’s going on? The BIA’s decisions could have a huge impact on the future of Bells Corners. The Chiarelli tax is not chump change – business owners, take a look at your municipal tax bill to see what you’re paying.
A vote was held at the secret meeting tonight – I’m assuming that the current board was returned, including representatives of the Plumbing/Electrical Store, the Butchery, Local Heroes, Thorncliffe Old Folks Home (Lloyd Francis’ son), a few token small local businesses like Sew for It! and of course, the elephant in the room, General Dynamics. Rick Chiarelli doesn’t have to be voted in – he’s automatically a permanent BIA member. Sweet!
I imagine that the election went smoothly – no need for an actual ballot, secret or otherwise, as everyone was probably acclaimed (I’m guessing that 90% of the 350 Bells Corners businesses didn’t show up at the AGM).
Then RC-appointee Lewis probably laid out his boss’s plans: renaming the strip after one of RC’s political cronies, launching the Bells Corners Big Box Candy Cane Festival, financing the BIA banners, buying a lot of airtime from CFRA for a media campaign (“Drive to Bells Corners – patronize our big box stores and stay in our cut-rate hotels.”) and other exciting initiatives.
Then it was no doubt time to share the financial plan, but I imagine the details were skimpy, on a need-to-know basis, typical of our councillor’s modus operandi.
Did anyone ask the uncomfortable questions, like:
What’s the salary bill for Alex Lewis and his support staff? How much did the Mike Patton debacle cost the BIA and taxpayers? What did those banners cost? What’s the rent on the new BIA Price Chopper offices? Is the BIA, controlled by the big boxes, General Dynamics and Team Chiarelli, putting political gain and the big boys’ bottom line ahead of the community’s interest?
If you were at the secret meeting last night and you can shed light on any of these intriguing questions, send the poop to firstname.lastname@example.org (discretion assured).