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Mike’s Rant — Door of communication just closed

I suck at drawing.

And it’s too bad. If there are any aspiring editorial cartoonists out there, call me…seriously.

So picture this: a black and white cartoon parked where the smiling Leafs tickets winner is. Picture the Whack-A-Mole game you’ve seen at midway arcades.

Popping their respective noggins out of each hole on the board is a caricature of board members of Niagara Power, Grimsby Power, Grimsby Energy…pick one.

Each has a nice little construction hat perched atop their heads, with “Biodigester” written across the front.

Swinging the mallet with a Cheshire grim that only Boris Badenov could be proud of is one Robert
Hattin, former chair of Grimsby Energy.

When hydro needs something – like a co-signer – or there is something positive to trumpet, they are communicative. When tough questions come or, as aldermen tell me, pointed questions come, they duck back inside not daring to poke their collective heads out for fear of being whacked.

We’ve been chewing on this biodigester project for a long time, but the events of this week conjured this Whack-A-Mole image in my head as I thought about GE president James Detenbeck’s proclamation that answering a comprehensive series of questions – some issues he says have been clouded due to misinformation – would “waste time”.

This revelation came about after agreeing in the middle of last week to go over on the questions on Friday afternoon. Friday we met and had a lengthy chat, mutually agreeing he would take the questions home and email back the answers over the weekend.

And that, good readers, is where the biodigester trolley left the track.

Emails Sunday and Monday went unanswered, so a text to Detenbeck generated a polite, if not ridiculous, reply.

To be complete, it read:


Thanks for the opportunity to address these questions but after consulting with the board, I have been instructed to focus on the project and not waste time trying to satisfy Mr Hattin’s concerns.

I look forward to seeing you at the ribbon cutting.

Despite explanations, which had also been outlined in detail on Friday that the questions came as a result of dozens of conversations with taxpayers who took time to come into my office to specifically thank me for having the only paper to critically review some of the ongoing issues in the towns we cover, and to ask for more answers.

Some things I know, some things I don’t. If I don’t know, I say I don’t know and I try to find out accurate information for them. I really don’t care if I am on the Christmas list of local municipalities or not. NewsNow is here to be a voice for the people who live in our coverage area. Period.

As well, Detenbeck was told members of Grimsby own town council had passed along questions they wanted answers to because information was not forthcoming from hydro officials.

To deal with Hattin for a second: granted, there is personality conflicts left and right there, but that does not mean his concerns are not valid. Do I agree with the manner in which he asks some of this questions? Not always. Is there some errors in his calculations? Yes, as we heard at the Mayor’s Breakfast, but why not outline what those errors are instead of just saying his information is all wrong, because it is not ALL wrong.

And don’t get me started on this pomace fiasco. This is like some weird chess game inside another chess game. I do apologize, good readers as I am only one man and I cannot get to everything, but I will get to the bottom of it. Let’s just say – the information coming to me up to 2 a.m. Wednesday about pomace from the Sobie Road site getting dumped where it should not have been dumped – the pomace pickle will come to light.

As for the Q&A, I have pencilled in the answers online which Detenbeck gave Friday as we had already worked through all, not in the detail needed, though.

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