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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ode to Billy T's

I attended the press conference and the special Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee earlier this week. By now, anyone who is interested in this issue will be familiar with the story of how seven councillors, following a flurry of phone calls the day before, ended up in the backroom of a restaurant on the east end of the city late on a Saturday morning just before the final budget vote. They claimed it was blind luck they were all there at the same time; there was no intention or attempt to conduct city business in secret. Funny thing though: same thing happened last year. They were told then that such a get-together was a bad idea, but some people don't learn. And, despite being found violating the Municipal Act with respect to closed meetings, not a one of them has expressed regret. They remain defiant, ridiculing the ombudsman, their concerned colleagues, and the citizens they claim to represent. The full report from the ombudsman can be found here (it's pretty  interesting reading) along with a podcast of the media conference.  

A lot has been said and written about this matter.  I decided to commemorate this significant event with a poem based on Bobby Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe which you can listen to here. The original lyrics can be found here.

Ode to Billy T's

It was the twenty-third, another February Saturday.
Bud was planning a party and Paul and Dale were on the way.
It was almost lunch-time, they had to find a place to eat,
And just by chance they ended up where Joe and Steve and Joe had decided to meet.
And who was hanging out in the main dining room of Billy T’s?
It was Sandy White just there to meet a lobbyist and shoot the breeze.

The owner-manager told the media it was pre-arranged,
By his friend the mayor, but later his recollection changed,
That was a different time, this time the seven had come by chance.
What’s written in the book isn’t worth a second glance.”
Seems like nothing ever comes to no good with the Fontana Ate.
And now the Ombudsman’s investigating London’s Burgergate.

Marin said he recollected when he got called not that long ago
About another meeting that included only one Joe
At the Harmony, right before the budget vote.
And here they are again; I guess they can’t take note.
I told them then that their luncheon was ill-conceived.
I guess my message wasn’t all that well-received.”

In the backroom they were chatting about Trillium grants
And some interchanges and what to do with shut down plants.
And Henderson was talking about Dale TV:
If he took some advertising, could he charge a fee?
And by the way he knows a billionaire in Florida, USA
Who could rescue Diamond Aircraft, he’ll get on to it without delay.

When the press was called, they quickly lost their appetite.
Like when a rock is lifted, they scattered from the public light.
They paid the bill which was only sixty-one twenty five plus tip
And through the back door headed for the homeward trip.
It was a close call, but not as close as the one from Polhill’s butt,
It left Fontana Ate a queasy "been there done that" feeling in the gut.

Seven months have come and gone since I heard the news about Billy T’s.
Sixty people called the ombudsman and said, “Investigate, please.”
But the stories from the seven were so contradictory,
That the ombudsman said “I’m so very awfully dreadful sorry.
The versions that I’m getting make no sense.
With all those phone calls, could the meeting just be happenstance?”

This week we heard the ombudsman give his report on Burgergate.
It didn’t paint a pretty picture of the Fontana Ate.
It was the worst case he had ever seen, he found.
Especially since it was the second time around.
But the Bay Street lawyers that they hired don’t agree.
And they’re the ones whose bills are paid by you and me.


B. T. Regular said...

You haven't lost your touch, Gina.

Butt Call Polhill said...


Anonymous said...

Sung to the tune of "Get Back"

Joe Joe was a man who thought he was a Mayor
But he knew it couldn’t last
Ate his lunch with friends to call in a favour
They also did this in the past
Get back, get back
Get back to where you once belonged.

Sweet Andre Marin thought this was unseemly
Explanations had a flaw
Sixty people said they had it coming
Lawyers said it broke no law
Get back, get back
Get back to where you once belonged

The voters are waiting for you Joe
Replace you with some new shoes
The taxpayers are tired of your games
Get back, get back
Get back to where you once belonged

And, you didn’t pass the audition!

Roderic Brawn said...

You must know some good candidates who could replace some of those Councillors. You can see from the comments, you still command respect. You are quite a bit younger than Hazel Mcallion. [s.i.c.] There are others who should retest the waters.
My fear is that good candidates, for such positions might find, the atmosphere of municipal politics so odious that thy would not participate. Going ahead is the only way.

Anonymous said...

Shame on them. I'd like to know what it cost the citizens of London for the lawyers to defend these insects. FYI The link to the report didn't work.

Gina Barber said...

Thanks to a vigilant reader, the link is now in working order.

Anonymous said...

gee, seems that I recall Polecat Polhill saying he was there to arrange for a 50th anniversary celebration. No mention of that in the Marin report. Did Spud figure that was more ridiculous of an explanation than the butt call? What a buffoon. Why does he keep getting re-elected? He is shady.

Barry Wells said...

Online letter to the editor of The London Free Press to be published in tomorrow's print edition (Oct. 25):

Barry White maybe?

I have read the findings of the ombudsman and find them to be a fair and accurate reporting of the Fontana Ate. Subsequently, I sent an e-mail to Stephen Orser, my rep at City Hall. The response was, and I quote, call Barry to “sure” your thoughts. Well, I didn’t vote for Barry, whoever he is, I wanted a response from Mr. Orser. Apparently that is beyond his comprehension, so to make it simple I will be at Billy T’s tomorrow. Last row, flower in my lapel. Hope to see ya there.

Garry Davis
London ON

Shurely shome mishtake, Occifer!