| The Crash-and-Burn Legacy of Joe Swantanaź, LCW, Feb. 15
MR. SENSATIONAL: Self-nominating Diamond Jubilee Medal 'winner' Harold Usher says Hubert's budget survey is an exercise in self-promotion, LFP, Feb. 14
5,000-year-old Temple of Fire discovered in Peru, Feb. 14
THOUGHT DU JOUR, FEB. 14: The best indicator politicians have served far beyond their "best-before date" is when they start awarding themselves medals.
CITY OF OPPORTUNITY: Quid Pro Quo is alive and well in Melonville, LFP, Feb. 14
They don't call him Joe Swantanaź for nothing
Unsafe demolition of heritage building under investigation in London, LFP, Feb. 14
Ward 3 Coun. Joe Swantanaź beating the bushes for land developer cash for his full-time employer Orchestra London, LFP, Feb. 12
THIS JUST IN, FEB. 12: Blackfriars Bridge, which connects Ridout Street North to Wharncliffe Road North, was closed for emergency repairs to the wooden deck surface on February 7, 2013.
After inspection of the wooden deck, the extent of the repair work is greater than originally estimated. The duration for the closure of the bridge is now anticipated to last four weeks.
BREAKING NEWS: Pope Benedict to resign Feb. 28, citing health reasons, CBC, Feb. 11
Diamond Jubilee Medals a fiasco, TS, Feb. 10
For a buck-and-a-half, you can be a community hero
THIS JUST IN, FEB. 10:: Dollar Stores in London, Ontario, are now selling Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee imitation medals for $1.50.
Mayor FuntanaRama calls it "A fantastic deal for Londoners. If we play our cards right, London could set the gold standard for knock-off medals coast-to-coast."
Civic Meetings in London, Ontario, from Mon. Feb. 11 to Fri. Feb. 15
When you screw up bad, blame someone else
THOUGHTS DU JOUR, FEB. 9: 1. The notion that London's media is somehow responsible for the city's goofy Diamond Jubilee Medal fiasco, as suggested by Mayor Fontana, Cllrs. Usher and Orser, is preposterous.
It tells you they haven't learned a damn thing from their ongoing mistakes.
2. FONTANA-LOGIC: London's mayor Joe Fontana points to the fact London city council nominated a convicted criminal and itself for Diamond Jubilee Medals as evidence it's the city's "Best Council Ever" and not the "Worst Council Majority Ever" as most Londoners believe.
Boston's city hall on wheels, PC, Feb. 9
BREAKING NEWS: Chris Bentley, Liberal MPP for London West, resigns effective Feb. 14, 2013
LONDON CITY HALL GETS NATIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE (AGAIN)
(* NOTE: Maclean's Magazine obviously went to press before the disturbing revelations regarding Fontana awarding a medal to his old buddy, convicted criminal George Avola, and Ward 11 Coun. Denise Brown nominating her 18-year-old son, Alexander Brown. Ditto regarding the city clerk's position not to release the names of the medal recipients nor nominees.)
From Maclean's Magazine ~ Feb. 7, 2013, page 25 (not yet available online)
Councillors honour themselves
By Julie Smith, Maclean's
When the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals were introduced last year, they were meant to recognize the contributions and outstanding achievements of Canadians.
However, the municipal government of London, Ont., named the "worst councl ever" by one local paper, saw it as a chance to honour its own work.
After the city's scandal-plagued Mayor Joe Fontana (pictured above on Oct. 25, 2010) nominated all 14 councillors for the award, the council voted in an in-camera session late last year to give the medals to themselves, a move that only came to light last week.
The medals were created by the Governor General to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II of Canada. The city nominated around 300 people, including the councillors, but officials discovered there were only 129 medals available.
Members of the community ~ including Fanny Goose, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who ran a downtown clothing store for 50 years, who was told she had been nominated ~ were informed they were not getting an award.
"I was dismayed because they go out and tell a 90-year-old woman she is nominated for a medal ~ and my mother takes it very seriously because she is a Holocaust survivor and democracy [is important to her]," says her son, Steven Garrison.
"We had no idea they changed their mind until we called their office and the office says, 'Oh, by the way, she's not getting a medal now. We didn't get enough.'"
He was shocked to find out councillors had been nominated. "At first the councillors tried to blame it all on the mayor, but they voted on the issue. Anyone else would have said 'Hello, what are we doing here?'"
Even before the medal fiasco, Mayor Fontana was facing calls to step down. Last November police charged the former Liberal MP with fraud under $5,000 after The London Free Press reported federal taxpayers paid to cover his son's wedding reception in 2005. He has denied any wrongdoing.
London, Ontario's Mayor and Budget Chief Joe Fontana is currently facing three money-related criminal charges: breach of trust, uttering a forged document and fraud under $5,000. His second court appearance is Feb. 26, 2013.
In a statement about the councillors' medals, the mayor said he "felt it was more than appropriate" to recognize "their long-time involvement and personal investment in improving quality of life in London."
An anonymous donor has since given his medal to Goose. Four councillors have declined the medals and offered them to someone else more deserving, saying the mayor's list had majority approval but it was not unanimous.
Among then is Coun. Joni Baechler who said nominating council members was "self-serving." ~ Julie Smyth