Payne Owes Coulter, Humane Society An Apology

After having witnessed a recent council meeting which dealt with the services provided by the Windsor Essex Humane Society I was compelled to write.

Allow me to open by saying that I’ve read the various messages that the Humane Society posted on their website regarding the issue of City Council investigating alternatives to the service provided by WECHS. I have heard what the mayor and councillors had to say. I have listened carefully to both sides and have done my own independent research on the matter.

As the issue evolved, Melanie Coulter and her colleagues at WECHS did an excellent job of keeping the public informed of the facts and figures surrounding this important matter. At no time did Ms Coulter or the WECHS attempt to deceive or embellish.

At no time did WECHS attack anyone on Council personally, nor did they speak poorly of City Council as a whole.

The recent statements by councillor Hilary Payne, accusing Ms Coulter and the WECHS of spreading inaccurate information, are absolutely false. If either party participated in a misinformation campaign it was City Council.

It’s been suggested that WECHS did not provide documentation to support the initial request for a 22 per cent budget increase. That is blatantly false.

WECHS did provide many pages of relevant material to City Council. There is also public financial records available to any person, including the mayor and councillors, willing to do the research.

The fact of the matter is that WECHS has been historically underfunded by Windsor. The truth is that this shortage has been covered by the generous donors and supporters of WECHS.

The so-called “canned” email messages represented the individual opinion of each sender. I suggest that Ms Coulter and WECHS did indicate administration was recommending that council continue with a five year agreement with the WECHS at the reduced ask.

I would further suggest that most people involved in this issue understood that simple fact.

Even if they had not fully understood, it was not the fault of WECHS. The message from the society and Ms Coulter remained clear at all times, in my opinion. The point, however, is that unless the process has changed, nothing was certain until the vote was taken.

There was no guarantee that council would follow the administration recommendation. Council retains the right to reject administration recommendations and has exercised that right on more than one occasion.

The senders of the email and the supporters of the society understood the process first and foremost.

It seems to me that the mayor and Council spent time entertaining an alternative arrangement with the Lakeshore facility, which couldn’t even remotely offer the level of service being provided by WECHS. It appears that the people in Lakeshore may have been used in order to bully WECHS into accepting less than the original request to Council.

The tactic worked of course.

WECHS decided to accept a sub-par agreement rather than abandon the animals in this community. WECHS took the high road in this matter. It is City Council which should be ashamed of their conduct associated with this issue.

Councillor Payne’s absolutely unnecessary public admonishment of Melanie Coulter, at the meeting in question, was an embarrassment to himself and to those he represents.

Ms Coulter, a reputable professional, was reprimanded by Payne for doing nothing more than her job; and doing it very well, for that matter.

If anyone participated in a misinformation campaign, it was Payne, and any other councillor who insinuated that the issue was decided before the vote was taken. While he berated Ms Coulter, Payne referenced the previous good relationship that council has enjoyed with WECHS.

That good relationship has been maintained because of the generous good nature of Ms Coulter and her colleagues along with their genuine dedication to the well-being of the animals. Attending benefit dinners for political photo ops does not make one a supporter of the animals Mr Payne.

Melanie Coulter is owed an apology by Hilary Payne, and any other councillor who suggested that WECHS had done anything but act with dignity and integrity.

So, as has been the tradition in Windsor, the kind hearted donors of the Windsor Essex County Humane Society will once again be expected to subsidize the legislated responsibility of the taxpayer.

The animals will still receive the stellar care from WECHS, except that money which would have otherwise gone for animal welfare programs will now be spent to subsidize what should have been the municipality’s responsibility.

The citizens of Windsor will still be able to rely upon WECHS for education of the general public and it’s dedication to the well-being of the animals in our community.

How could any councilor rationalize balking at a 22 per cent increase, for a proven value-added service for this community, while continuing to invest exponentially more taxpayer money in sports tourism, with questionable results, and the failing WIATC/Adventure Bay?

It is time to get back to basics.

It is absolutely shameful to be spending like drunken sailors on the glitz and glamour items while bullying upstanding, proven, and dedicated community leaders about the services they provide.

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About the Author

Tim Stewart
Tim Stewart is a regular contributor to Square Media Group. He is a resident and tax payer in Windsor, where he lives with his family. Email Tim Stewart