No secrecy

Dear Mr. Behan:
Along with several other members of this community, I had the opportunity to watch last Tuesday’s mayoral debate on the local television station. I was very interested to hear what the candidates, particularly the mayoral candidates, had identified as issues, their suggestions for resolution, and their long-term plans for Fort Frances.
Never did I think that my staff and I would be dragged into the debate.
The Fort Frances Times last Wednesday carried a headline indicating that “communication” was a hot topic during the debate—I could not agree more. If I had to choose one area critical to the success or failure of a team, whatever it may be, I would say, hands down, it is communication.
Open, honest communication, based on fact—not perception or innuendo—just facts.
Interestingly, a perfect example of “what not to do” occurred at the mayoral debate. I couldn’t believe my ears when Roy Avis said the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board had submitted a proposal to manage Rainycrest on the municipalities’ behalf, and that the DSSAB member from Fort Frances was not even aware that a proposal had been submitted.
Mr. Avis went even further, alleging backroom politics and secret meetings.
First of all, that comment, intentionally or not, implies that my staff and I, without board knowledge or approval, submitted a proposal to manage Rainycrest. Unbelievable. My staff and I have never, under any circumstance, prepared or submitted a proposal to any body or authorities without our board’s knowledge or approval.
We are well aware of our job descriptions, our policies, and our boundaries, and to imply otherwise is hurtful and disrespectful.
In any sort of debate, especially those between individuals who seek to be the leader of a community, statements made are extremely significant. People are listening to every word.
The public thinks that individuals debating are well-prepared—that they have done their homework. In fact, the audience needs to be confident that the information being presented is based on fact.
To do otherwise only serves to create an environment of distrust and suspicion. Unfortunately, it seems that we’ve had a lot of that lately.
In checking our board minutes and correspondence, I can say with certainty that on Feb. 22, 2005, the board did direct me to pursue the management of Rainycrest, at which time Dan Onichuk was the Fort Frances member of our board.
In March, Ms. Tannis Drysdale was designated as the new Town of Fort Frances representative, replacing Mr. Onichuk.
On March 3, 2005, our proposal was submitted to the Rainycrest board of management. That same day, a copy of the proposal was forwarded to every Rainy River DSSAB board member and every municipality in our district, through the municipal clerks, with a request that it be distributed to each member of council.
One could surmise, I suppose, that there was a failure to transfer information to the new representative.
I don’t know—I don’t have the facts and, therefore, I won’t pass judgment on any one or pretend to know. I can assure you, however, that there was no secrecy, as has been implied.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the individuals who have put their names forward to serve as mayor and council—it is a huge job with huge responsibilities.
I would invite the candidates to call or visit us at the DSSAB office, as we would be more than happy to provide them with information.
Thank you.
Yours truly,
Donna Dittaro
Fort Frances, Ont.

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