Rhino's Ramblings - The Lecture
By Robert Thomas - Opinion/Commentary
It has been an ongoing feud between Mayor Fraser Tolmie and Councillor Brian Swanson for months now and that is the ultimate destiny of the Downtown Facitlity and Field House (DFFH) or more commonly known as Mosaic Place or the MultiPlex if you like.
Well on Monday night it once again boiled over and this round it all came down to three things.
That is who is responsible for the financial turnaround at that facility? Where is Mosaic Place headed? And is the turnaround really the best thing for the City?
For the purposes of this column I will be upfront and say I started this column on Friday evening.
So why Friday evening? Well I received more than a few unsolicited reports and photographs during a major concert event booked and promoted by the present management structure - that being City Manager Jim Puffalt.
The reports I had from those in attendance was the music and entertainment was top notch. The problem was the attendance and the big question attendees were asking - where is everybody?
Now I will be honest here and say the return of concerts to Mosaic is welcome and seemingly wanted by many in the community - especially amongst the millenials who sit on social media - but this concert just did not seem to bring in the crowds.
There just did not seem to be any buzz around town in the promotion of the concert. It was basically flat despite a nice glossy poster hung up at the entrance into City Hall.
What I was hearing in the minds of many people prior to and at the event was it was going to be poorly attended and ultimately a money loser. It may have been a return to newly booked concerts at Mosaic Place but at the same time I will be honest and tell you nobody was talking about it.
Now did the concert make any money or should I say more importantly did it lose any money?
Well sorry I am not privy of the details of the concert and exactly how the deal was structured so in the end in reality how it did is anyone’s guess.
But how does this one concert tie into the on-going feud between Mayor Tolmie and Councillor Swanson? Well it is complicated and it is all about not only how we got to this point but rather two visions for the City of Moose Jaw. Depending who you talk to it is either the view of a visionary versus the naysayer or it is the vision of fool hardy versus the realist.
We need to back up to the DFFH AGM and how that played into all of what happened at Council on Monday night.
At the AGM Puffalt took credit for the $500,000 surplus the DFFH’s books showed at that meeting. A surplus that in many people’s minds city manager Puffalt took credit for. A practical impossibility if you happen to follow the actual events which took place at the DFFH over the last four years.
The almost total financial collapse of the DFFH under the management of former CEO Scott Clark. A man who, according to the Meyer Norris and Penney (MNP) Report, withheld information not only from the DFFH board but also failed to understand the true budgetting process and his relationship with Council and its ultimate oversight.
An election which saw an interim board, consisting of Councillors Brian Swanson, Scott McMann and Crystal Froese, who met weekly as a board to right the financial mess at the DFFH. Many of the meetings went on for an entire day as they re-structured and examined what had happened and how to repair things.
A board who was ultimately dismissed with allegations of covering up sexual harassment of female staff by a male staff member who started at least one year prior to the arrival of the Councillor Swanson led board. An employee allegedly let go after he was terminated for the same thing by the City or was it really because he got all pissed up and took two or OK three buddies playing hockey at 3 am at a City owned rink once shutting off the alarm? I leave that for you to sort out.
It needs to be noted during the restructuring of the DFFH the interim board continuously updated Council at closed door meetings whether that was in-camera or at a strategic planning meeting.
So how does this take us to the feud between Mayor Tolmie and Councillor Swanson on Monday night?
Well seizing the opportunity to set the record straight Councillor Swanson commented on the fact city manager Puffalt did not need the subsidy money for the DFFH this year beacuse of the work of the DFFH interim board.
During discussion of the quarterly report the Mayor called Swanson out saying “what is your plan to change it? Our plan, Council’s plan…”
To which Councillor Swanson replied “Mayor Tolmie thinks it is his fiefdom to chastise me all I am doing is pointing out a statistical reality.”
From there the discussion spiralled downwards with Tolmie responding “(At the) DFFH you never spent any money. It is suppose to be an economic driver for the City of Moose Jaw.”
Well if you took a look at Friday evening’s first new big concert and those who attended it if the DFFH is going to live up to its potential and be a major economic driver there needs to be more changes at the base level and showing off in front of the television cameras at Council or to the media at AGMs is never going to accomplish this.
My best guess is we cannot afford too many more concert turnouts like there was on Friday night no matter how great the music was. The sad reality is the back up band from City Hall is way out of tune.