Chiarelli flip-flop embarrasses mayor (part 1)

At City Hall “looking” democratic is often the best councillors can hope for, and when Rick Chiarelli is cooking up a deal, even that isn’t always possible.

It was quite the zoo at council yesterday. First time I’ve seen Jim lose his cool a little bit, speaking sharply at times, as the procedural wrangling over Rick’s embarrassing Lloyd Francis mess tried councillors’ patience and postponed lunch hour by over an hour.

Basically Rick is arguing that even though 90% of Bells Corners businesses and residents want to just leave things the way they are, because “you’ll never get 100% agreement,” council should ignore the majority, suspend the rules and go along with his costly foolishness.

Eyes were rolling and tummies growling as politicians from Orleans, the Glebe, North Gower, etc. had to once again spend yet another hour trying to understand Rick’s lame reasoning on the renaming fiasco. They’re sick to death of hearing about Bells Corners – one councillor told me (off the record) that it was almost as painful as having to sit through an Alex Cullen filibuster.

At one point Jim threatened to evict Bayshore Shirley and other hecklers in a bid to restore order. The lawyers and clerks were working furiously to find a legal way to pass Rick’s dog’s breakfast motion. The security personnel redoubled their vigilance as the mood turned sour. Luckily somebody cracked a joke about a cow on a roof – even the journalists joined in the mooing. Bob Monette did an especially good cow imitation.

Mary Pitt, sitting in the front row, looked disgusted with the whole process, but hey, what are friends for? She answered the call when Rick needed a quote for his campaign literature, so she couldn’t very well turn down a desperate plea now, much as she must find it distasteful. On the other hand, she probably enjoyed the attention – even the mayor himself, never one to miss the opportunity to schmooze, went over and paid tribute. Rick swaggered over and thanked her profusely for rescuing him. Jay, Alex Lewis, JP and other Chiarelli employees were standing by, ready to fetch her coffee or fluff up her pillows.

Finally the top City lawyer found a way for Jim to regain control and foil Councillor Wilkinson’s attempt to restore sanity to Bells Corners, and it was time to call a vote.

Councillors held their noses and did what the mayor wanted – they’re furious at Rick and they just want the nightmare to be over. More importantly, it was way past lunchtime – what ever happened to Mayor Watson’s vaunted lightning-fast council meetings where everything runs smooth as butter and he never has to raise his voice or admonish his councillors?

No wonder Rick’s in the doghouse at City Hall and sleeping on the couch at home!

Is this the beginning of the end for the ex-McGuinty government cabinet minister/Larry O’Brien wannabe? Another sign of the cracks beginning to show – Mayor Jim Watson got the consultation he wanted on expanding the urban boundary, but just barely. In the closest vote so far by this council, 12 sided with the mayor, while 10 gave the consultation idea the thumbs down.

Jim tries to explains the RC motion to a puzzled Le Droit reporter in his fractured French (sorry for the blurry image – Jay jostled me as he went by)

Peter D. Clark jokes with the CBC guy after the fun-filled meeting

Marianne Wilkinson gave it the old college try. Jim and Rick are pissed at her but she doesn’t care. Al from Corporate Security strikes a pose in the background.

The career politician gives it his best spin, even if his pig won’t fly.

Jim tries to explain the inexplicable and defend the indefensible as a worried Watson political spin doctor looks on.

The Sun journalist ignored the story to work on his tan.

Al from Corporate Security tried to give me the boot for having a sign but I explained to him that it was wasn’t a sign, it was just a large name tag, so this time I didn’t get banned from City Hall.

The real story is here!

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21 Responses to Chiarelli flip-flop embarrasses mayor (part 1)

  1. TonyL says:

    Bells Corners BIA on Facebook about the decision:

    “The compromise for Robertson Rd approved by council today, has shown that businesses in Bells Corners are united and have a powerful voice! (The Re-branding from Robertson Rd to Robertson Rd went fantastic), couldn’t have done it without ya Alex, we are saved!!!!!!”

    – Gag! I used to believe that Alex was my long-lost son, but that was before I heard about his antics at the Cock & Bull. Time for a housecleaning!

    • Gravy says:

      That Bells Corners BIA Facebook feed is brutal. And exclamatory(!)

      “@ OttCity Council re: Robertson Rd. & Richmond Rd renaming & renumbering to the unified street name Robertson Rd. Several businesses present”

      Yes, the businesses were present to OPPOSE the renaming and renumbering. Well, except for the one guy Rick and Alex duped into thinking the councillors were “getting used” to the idea of Lloyd Francis Boulevard. I wonder what he made of the fact that they fought for an hour to save the streets?

      – He probably enjoyed the meeting, since he got the royal treatment from Rick and his staff and heard a lot of funny lines (especially when Rainer, Marianne, Peter, Jan and others mocked Rick’s “compromise”).

      Council meetings can be excruciatingly boring at times, but it’s still great free entertainment with a star-studded cast of eccentric flawed characters playing for the highest stakes.

      I’m still shaking my head at how council works. The more you learn about it, the wackier and less democratic it seems.

      • I just noticed that Alex added a space so I never got his tweet. Intentional because he knew he was lying or is Twitter another thing to add to the list if of things Alex Lewis fails at?

        – Both! Alex, confess your sins and resist the Dark Side. You will be forgiven for throwing in your lot with Mr. Doughnut. It’s NOIT too late to follow Nancy’s example and desert a sinking ship.

  2. Gravy says:

    I had to laugh when Al came over to “supervise” you. It was emblematic of the empty-headed passive-aggression that we’ve all experienced in the last few weeks, and a perfect bookend to the story.

    – Al’s my new buddy. While we were seat-mates at council I managed to convince him that Rick is out of control and delusional. Al now wants to switch sides and join the rebels, like many of his colleagues at Corporate Security – they’re horrified at what Rick has wrought.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I hope Rick is pleased with himself – not only screwing the community and businesses but also fellow councillors, and especially Jim, who are not too happy with him these days.

    All he needed to do in the first place was to offer to talk to the community – some real consultation, not pseudo-consultation while the real decisions are made behind closed doors to benefit certain interests.

    Rick promised he would consult in his campaign literature: “We are continuing to move ahead with an exciting package of improvements for Bells Corners. I want to use my experience to bring the same level of consultation that worked so well in Centrepointe to create a new Bells Corners Community Design Plan.”

    So what happened to the consultation and the Grand Plan? It got no further than the BIA mess?

    – The community design plan is mostly just more Chiarelli smoke and mirrors, a chance for Rick to showboat and pose for photo ops. Only Rick supporters will be be allowed to participate and ratify his decisions.

    The community design plan is just a small part of Rick’s Grand Plan, which is designed to climax just before the 2014 elections. Rick was hoping to jump to provincial politics, but after the renaming fiasco neither the Liberals or the Conservatives want anything to do with him.

    • margaret says:

      If there is a plan, let’s see it.

      Or at least allow the community a chance to form one.

      This has been a fiasco from start to finish and never should never have been allowed!

      – The “community” will get a chance to form a plan – Rick’s about to lay another egg.

      It’s called the Bells Corners Community Design Plan and it will come to fruition just before the next election, just in time for a front page photo op in OttawaThisWeek.

      Rick and his minions, of course, will control the whole process from start to finish, ensuring that only RC supporters are heard. The RC spin will be heavily promoted by his office staff and budget, his taxpayer-funded “newsletters,” his compliant friends in the media, his corporate, Catholic and Conservative contacts, his connections in high places, his BIA buddies, etc.

      Only RC-approved community association executive members will be allowed to participate in the “Community” Design Plan (he’s already completed the LVCA purge and is ready to start in on WECA).

      In any case it’s mostly just a PR exercise and a chance to keep some City bureaucrats busy – when push comes to shove and the developers want something, measly little community design plans (and even council decisions) are routinely overruled by the McGuinty government’s OMB buddies.

  4. Rich Littleton says:

    Reality is more bizarre that fiction and a lot funnier. This whole dog and pony show smacks of “if we give him enough rope he’ll hang himself,” which so far seems to be going according to plan, plus giving folks a lot of laughs along the way.

    – Rick is like a moth unable to resist flying straight into the flames – he just can’t seem to resist hanging himself and there’s no shortage of rope.

    The big question remains – WHY is he doing this, at such great cost to his popularity? A personality flaw? Hubris? Bad advice form Jay? A secret deal?

    • Rick has psychological issues that are magnified by his failed ambition. Look at his life — I would be delusional (or at least be drinking heavily) as well, if that were the reality I had to face every day.

      There was a time when decent staff kept him in check, but now that he has a bunch of life-failures working against him, JP, Jay, his media toadies, and all the other hangers-on are just making Rick’s condition worse and magnifying his embarrassment. For Rick’s sake I hope he squirrelled away some decent savings because, come 2014, he is done politically. Given his delusional narcissism, employment will be difficult.

      – Don’t worry about Rick – Monarch Homes and other developer friends will ensure that Ricky has a soft landing. The Bells Corners drive-thrus are always looking for help if he needs a few extra bucks.

      • Gravy says:

        I would happily lend support to his attempted ascension to provincial politics, if anyone will take him. He moves to Toronto and gets a pay rise, and we’re rid of him forever.

        – After his latest blunder no political party except the ABC Party would touch him with a ten-foot pole.

        Rick will just have to be content with swaggering at the municipal level as part of what the Citizen calls “Ottawa’s power elite”:

        “The difference is that this time, Mayor Jim Watson said the changes would all be OK. And Watson’s word stands for a lot in this community. The mayor is part of the political elite in town that includes John Baird, the Chiarellis and all those McGuintys, so Watson has credibility. He oozes charm. If you were drenched outside and Watson read a weather report that said it was warm and sunny, you’d throw away your umbrella. Nothing sticks to Watson.”

  5. Gravy says:

    Yeah, a “power elite” that caved on LFB. Maybe it’s like being in a union, where you advance just by hanging around year after year.

    Way to stick it to the seniors, Watson! You showed them who’s boss!

    – One visit to Stillwater and those ornery seniors will be eating out of Jim’s hand and lining up to contribute to his campaign war chest.

    Nobody schmoozes like Jim, especially when it comes to seniors (although Bob Chiarelli is a close second). The mayor could charm the pants off a snake, so he’ll have no trouble doing the same with the blue-rinsed set.

    • Gravy says:

      No chance Jim Watson is going to visit the seniors, though. We invited him out to Bells Corners twice, and he ignored it. He doesn’t do anything without a camera on him, and with cameras around he would be expected to have an answer for why he threw the neighbourhood under the bus.

      Which reminds me, when he was tap-dancing for damage control, Rick Chiarelli personally promised CFRA’s Nick Vandergraght that he was going to help the seniors fill out their mountain of paperwork.

      We’ll add it to the list of broken RC promises.

    • wanderer says:

      No one will pull the wool over the eyes of the seniors of BC. Once bitten, twice shy. They know when they’ve been screwed, and their memories are excellent in such matters. I visit there regularly, and ask around, and there are some PO’d’ blue-rinsed seniors who will remember in 2014, and I’ll be there to remind them.

      – I don’t think RC will be there in 2014. Further blunders, scandals and revelations will force him to resign well before the next election. Maybe he’ll be appointed as a judge or shipped off to the Senate so that he has a soft landing. Jim or Rusty could put him to work in their offices or he could go to work for one of his developer friends.

  6. margaret says:

    Or maybe not.

    They might just remember all this …. or can at least be reminded.

    – The people at Stillwater won’t forget. Rick won’t get a single vote there in 2014, after the way he treated them.

    But it’s a big ward and Rick can easily afford to write off small chunks of it. Do you think it bothers him that not a single trailer park resident voted for him in 2010?

    Ticking off such a wide swath of Bells Corners residents is another matter, though. Especially when the media sinks its teeth into the saga – even CFRA hosts were mocking Rick! Did someone say “Don Robertson”?

    I wonder if the journalists will remember in 2014. More importantly, are Rick’s powerful supporters losing patience with him? He had to call in a lot of favours because of the renaming blunder, weakening his position with the corporate and political elite.

    Corporate supporters want a return on their investment in politicians, and they might decide that cutting more cheques for a lame-duck blunderer doesn’t make financial sense.

    Without his business supporters paying for his campaign expenses (the part that isn’t funded by the taxpayer) Rick would be vulnerable to a campaign from a credible candidate, especially if the fringe wackos stay out it so the ABC (Anyone But Rick) vote isn’t split.

    Rick is also worried that other neighbourhoods could be infected with the Rick-has-no-clothes bug. He’s got some pretty solid connections in vote-rich Centrepointe, but he’s vulnerable in most other Nepean communities.

  7. Rich Littleton says:

    I believe Keith Egli’s slogan on his campaign signs was “Trusted Catholic Values” – I’ve wondered what that could mean. Thanks to RC that puzzle has been solved: a buddy of mine is a buddy of ours.

    – Keith and Rick go go back a long way. Gord, we miss you!

  8. Gravy says:

    I was on Maitland this morning. Suddenly I was on Clyde, and then just as suddenly on Merivale. The rescue helicopter pilot and I had a good laugh about it.

    – Rick’s Merivale Road BIA is well underway. After the Bells Corners debacle I doubt that renaming will be on their agenda!

    • margaret says:

      At least Maitland and Clyde have an intersection … but how can Clyde/Merivale ever function in that configuration?

      After all Merivale is at an angle – it just has to be changed … but to what? Maybe Lloyd Francis Blvd?

      How can Wellington – Richmond – Robertson – Hazeldean ever function?

      What’s changed now? Same names – just with a bit missing … in the middle. Isn’t this still confusing?

      Same thing for Fallowfield and Strandherd – no intersection there – just a flow-through.

      I do hope that EMS has enough funds to find all these lost people. Lucky for you, Gravy, that we had helicopters out there looking for you.

      Did dialling e911 on your cell phone work?

      – Another advantage to living in Bells Corners – General Dynamics has a few search and rescue helicopters out the back that can be used for emergencies.

      • margaret says:

        With my cell phone I have been told to dial e before the 911 and I am found … is mine the only one that has this feature? Doubt it.

  9. Guy Annable says:

    His next step was to rename the whole area Chiarelli’s Corners, the Liberal Lloyd plan was just the first move. Rick is way past his best before date.

  10. Guy Annable says:

    Some Excellent comments, I hope voters memories are not as short as politicians running from their Record count on ….this will be an interesting test, All we need is the Copeland park and City view folks to stay home on the 27th

  11. ottawaowl says:

    Guy, you’re better than Rick, which is NOT saying much.

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