To everything, context…

I’m sure Steve Berman is seeing a significant uptick in hits this morning as a result of publishing some of the details he’s gleaned from six months worth of emails on the town’s rec facilities and the municipality’s dealings with the eventual supplier of the structures for the pool and the new arena, Sprung.

It’s clear that Sprung sales reps were sniffing around Collingwood, likely as soon as they heard we were going through the process of deciding what we wanted to do with recreational facilities. And it’s clear that certain municipal councillors may have involved themselves a little too in the procurement process. If anyone has sat down with the Bellamy Report produced in the wake of the computer leasing scandal in T-Dot, there is a recommendation in there that “Councillors should separate themselves from the procurement process. They should have no involvement whatsoever in specific procurements. They have the strongest ethical obligation to refrain from seeking to be involved in any way.”

However, that said, the first notation of contact with Central Park steering committee chair Brian Saunderson by Sprung needs some context, because to read Berman’s blog, one would think there had already been ongoing discussions. Here is how Berman phrased it:

March 27 – From Brian Saunderson (Steering committee) to Claire Tucker (Steering committee) * Marta Procter, re: A Sprung rep (Patrick Mills) contacting Brian on March 21st to “discuss the project”

Berman provided me with those same emails, so I have the benefit of seeing ‘the rest of the story’. Mills first got in contact with Saunderson prior to March 23; it’s clear the two men know each other, as Mills was a former teacher of Saunderson’s. It’s also clear that Mills was anxious to get Sprung in front of the committee in order to tout the benefits of his company’s product.

In an email dated March 27, Saunderson directed Mills to the blog created as part of the public consultation process; further in that chain of emails, forwarded to his co-chair Claire Tucker-Reid and PRC executive director Marta Proctor, Saunderson indicated he had been contacted by Mills:

“Seems he has heard about the Central Park Steering Committee, saw my name and thought he would give me a call to catch up. Now he is anxious to meet and discuss the project.

“I am feeling increasingly awkward as I thought this was more of a social visit as opposed to a business one. I had a look at some of the info he sent me and don’t believe these ‘tent-type’ would be a good fit – I will send you the info he sent me.

“Should I be blowing this off for now – saying that I am in a conflict? I don’t want to be connected to any particular group, builder etc.”

It seems to me Saunderson acted appropriately, recognizing there was potential for a conflict of interest, and redirecting the Sprung rep to the steering committee’s website to brush up on the process and perhaps come forward when the time was appropriate.

Anyhoo, I’m sure there will be more on this as the day progresses…