By Mike Williscraft
Shock and utter dismay on the part of Grimsby Council and members of the gallery met Monday’s Grimsby Energy status report.
After newly installed Grimsby Energy Inc. board chairperson Delight Davoli made an hour-plus long presentation council went into a closed session to discuss the findings.
The near-capacity crowd filed into town hall’s lobby and the consensus was not anger, but shock, disappointment and dismay.
“I feel betrayed,” said one woman. “I can’t believe they lied to us for years. They need to be made accountable.”
Council’s perspective was not a great deal different.
“I am, essentially flabbergasted that the directors of the company would pay themselves when millions are owed to others,” said Mayor Jeff Jordan after the meeting. He was commenting on Davoli’s point that all per diems and fees of the directors are paid to current.
“It looks to me like the corporation was run like a country club for the directors in my opinion. They all got their money by passing money between corporations like it was nothing.”
Coun. Reg Freake, chair of the Town’s Administration and Finance Committee, said he is most disappointed with the elected officials who were supposed to be protecting taxpayers.
“Councillors are responsible to the Town. They were there. They knew what was going on. They knew how bad it was and where it was going. It was a total case of gross mismanagement from top to bottom,” said Freake.
For Jordan, as mayor of a newly installed council, he realizes council is hamstrung.
“It was worst case scenario. We, as residents and taxpayers, were being duped by council and the directors for years,” said Jordan.
“Doing that to the people of Grimsby has put us in the position of not being able to do what we want for the community. It’s terrible.”
“They made a mistake and kept going with the mistake thinking they were going to get out of it and it just got worse and worse.”
Jordan called on former Mayor Bob Bentley and former board of director members to step up and let council and the community know why they conducted themselves as they did.
“The public has a right to know. I don’t know why they chose to mislead the public. Maybe a former director or the former mayor will step up and explain to the people why they did what they did,” said Jordan.
Freake praised Coun. Dave Kadwell as the only elected official to consistently question council about the biodigester state of affairs.
He also called out Coun. John Dunstall, the only other member of the previous council aside from Kadwell who was re-elected Oct. 22 for failing to question any aspect of the biodigester’s failings.
After the July update at council by then-chair of GEI Shaffee Bacchus where very little in the way of specifics was offered, Dunstall called the board, “pioneers” and praised their efforts.
“We’re going to get dividends,” Dunstall added.
“The goose that was to lay the golden eggs is cooked; no more golden eggs,” said Freake.
Jordan said a meeting will be held with the Town’s solicitor this week seeking approval for a possible motion of direction which could come to next Monday’s council meeting.
“There is a potential direction we will investigate. Council is on side with that direction but it is premature for specifics,” said Jordan.