Council hammers Hanlon

Dave Bartlett
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Hann forces debate on motion to review council duties, salaries

St. John's City Coun. Debbie Hanlon reacts to comments during the regular city council meeting Monday evening.

Debbie Hanlon’s request for a full review of St. John’s council, including the responsibilities and salaries of councillors, wasn’t only voted down Monday evening. It was torn apart.

Hanlon took fountains of flak from her council colleagues, with Tom Hann demanding an apology for besmirching the reputations of those on council.

He said Hanlon’s idea has created a perception in the public that council is “a group of money-grabbing scoundrels who are not doing their job.”

Several councillors agreed the public outcry over Hanlon’s idea throughout the last week has left them humiliated and generated a pile of nasty comments, phones calls and emails.

Earlier in the meeting, Hanlon made the motion to debate the review at a future council meeting.

But near the end of Monday’s meeting, when each councillor gets a turn bringing up items not on the agenda, the issue started creeping into comments.

At that point, Hanlon threatened to leave, objecting to holding the debate before it was scheduled.

That prompted city clerk Neil Martin to caution councillors that debate could not proceed without a motion and a vote from council to hold it right away.

Hann then made that motion and forced Hanlon to open the debate anew.

“When I kicked the hornets nest, I must have kicked it some hard,” remarked Hanlon.

She wasn’t thrilled her debate was being forced through, but she voted with the majority of council to proceed with the debate.

“What’s wrong with putting the spotlight on what we do (as councillors),” Hanlon said. “I have nothing to hide.”

Hanlon said she constantly hears there is a disconnect between council and the people of the city.

She suggested that was just one more reason why a review is necessary.

“I believe we can be a leaner, more efficient council and I will be pushing forward on this motion,” she concluded.

Hanlon also repeated her call for a review had nothing to do with money.

But Ward 1 Coun. Danny Breen said Hanlon let the “toothpaste out of the tube” when she made the motion at last week’s meeting to “have a full review conducted of councillor’s salaries including whether the positions should be full-time or part-time.”

Breen also took offence to the suggestion people who work another job can’t be effective councillors.

“I work full-time,” he said. “But I knew getting into this what I was signing up for. It’s a full-time commitment.”

Breen said he manages to make committee meetings and take calls from constituents around his other job. He added that there are more important issues council should be debating.

Hann said the issue was “the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.”

He said his pride of being a councillor was replaced this week with embarrassment.

Hann also said the original story in The Telegram, where Hanlon proposed council positions as full-time, was “contrived,” pointing to the fact it was Hanlon who approached the paper, inviting a reporter to spend a day with her.

Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary said the injustice of the issue was that Hanlon began a public debate without first discussing it with her colleagues around the table.

She said she has no issue with an investigation into how council could be better run. But she’s never been in favour of a salary increase and has stated so publically.

Ward 5 Coun. Wally Collins said he didn’t want to spend the estimated $50,000 on a review when there are better things to spend the money on.

Both Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay and Ward 3 Coun. Bruce Tilley said what Hanlon was asking for seemed to change as last week progressed.

Galgay said he’s fine with the way council operates now.

He also said it will be the voters in the 2013 municipal election who will adjudicate how well each member of council has done their respective jobs.

In the end, Hanlon’s call for a review was voted down 9 to 1. Coun. Gerry Colbert was not Monday’s meeting.

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Recent comments

  • loving nl.
    March 09, 2011 - 06:36

    I said it before and will keep saying it!,I believe any extra money being spent,Should be thrown into sidewalk snow clearing,These past couple of months were appalling and embarrassing!,There are a ot of ppl. choosing to walk these days and being able to walk safe is a must!,It's hard to believe this is an issue in 2011 it feels and looks like 1911 in this city!,St.Johns "clean and beautiful"?,Not in the winter!,The elderly and Challanged are kept hostage till the spring!,Lost a vote for good here St.Johns!,Seems they find money for everything else even pay raises!,Btw,I choose to walk and have nothing to do with filthy fossil burning fuel That includes buses ,It's the 21st century folks!!

  • Political Watcher
    March 09, 2011 - 06:26

    Cathy Sheehan? Aren't you tghe very same person who has run for just about every office that ever came up in Mount Pearl? Still planning for the future I see. Next thing you will be here saying that Tessier in the Pearl is the hardest working woman in politics...

  • Interested in Council Tom
    March 08, 2011 - 22:54

    Jerry Colbert out of meeting again. If he was paid for attendance, he would owe the taxpayers money - he is one overpaid councillor who will be first to vote for a pay increase. Back with the tan for that meeting when pay increase arises.

  • dawn
    March 08, 2011 - 19:53

    You think she would have learned the first time with new World fitness and had to claim bankruptcy..Why not have the business incorporated to protect your personal assets and have them separate from the business ..??

  • Cathy Sheehan
    March 08, 2011 - 17:45

    I agree we Debbie. She should be granted her request for a full review. Come on! What are some of you afraid of? Are the number of hours each councillor actually overseen? Maybe some actually work thirty to fifty hours a week for the people. Then there are those who spend a few hours at meetings, a couple on the phone and a few more texting. It deserves review.

  • McRocket
    March 08, 2011 - 16:50

    To me, Miss Hanlon comes off smelling a WHOLE lot better then many of her colleagues. And there are only two reasons (imo) why so many on council attacked her so much - 1) they have something to hide or 2) they are WAY too behind the times to realize that people have the right to know what their elected officials are doing on the job. As far as I am concerned - EVERY SINGLE THING a city councillor says or does in an official capacity while on the job should be ALWAYS available to the public - ESPECIALLY what they spend our tax dollars on. BTW - I agree with many comments on this article. But I think 'Youngie's comments from today sum it up for pretty well for me.

  • Ray
    March 08, 2011 - 15:46

    I think I'll run and get a NEW FULL TIME JOB.....HAHAHAHAH

  • Youngie
    March 08, 2011 - 15:00

    I don't protest the councillors right to disagree with each other, in fact I think it's healthy, however, I do feel that Hann and others went over-the-top in their condemnation of Ms. Hanlon. I'm not saying I agree with Ms. Hanlon on the full time issue, and I'm not saying that I don't. I AM saying that the way council jumped all over it in the way they did was enough to make me ashamed to live in this city and see that these are the jokers elected. St. John's city councillors really showed their colours as far as I'm concerned. So much for being professionals. You'll get no political points from me over this, now it's looking like Ms Hanlon will be the only one I'd re-elect.

  • PO ED
    March 08, 2011 - 14:33

    I am sure Gerry Colbert is answering his emails and his phone from a nice worm sunny beach in Florida. It is great to see how someone can get all the attention he needs to get elected from a couple of meetings a year. It is not quite wool over our eyes because he does it and everyone knows it and is afraid to say anything to him. He is well spoken and can talk himself out of any corner. Hope you get a great beach tan before you come back for your visit to our city. It is time that the elected few be required to attend all the meetings and make the commitment before we give them money for nothing.

  • Sparky
    March 08, 2011 - 14:30

    I find most of the comments made at Debbie Hanlon to be "pretty Stupid", becase if : Debbie Hanlon did`nt have any money problems & just out-of-the-blue, called for a review of City Hall workings, every person in the city would have been on the 'band wagon' with her!, you would have hear alot of : Go Debbie Go! but becase all this started at this time every`s against her! I think her heart is in the right place.

  • Wow
    March 08, 2011 - 14:19

    Ms. Hanlon comes forward and says she works full time as a council member, and a few days later it's revealed that she's filing for bankruptcy because of an investment gone wrong. I feel that asking a reporter to follow you around for a day shows us nothing, other than she had a pretty busy day of council-only stuff. I feel that Ms. Hanlon shouldn't have spoken in a manner that seemed so "on behalf" of the rest of the councillors. And I honestly don't mind them speaking out against her. I'm sure they took a lot of flak for her raising this issue!

  • Jacob
    March 08, 2011 - 13:57

    Tom Hann & company didn't sound so "humiliated" awhile ago when they took another raise. What a paracite!

  • ANON
    March 08, 2011 - 13:42

    The City Council hasn't done anything for me, my neighbourhood, and nothing recently creditable for the city as far as I'm concerned. It seems like only the developers have a voice in this city, and they basically tell the city what they want to do and where. I'm for Hanlon's request for a full review. Let's see who deserves what they're paid. Start by getting rid of the person who under-budgetted this year's snow removal cost. We only started getting snow last month and they did a horrible job taking care of that.

  • dd
    March 08, 2011 - 13:24

    Whatever councillor Hanlon's motives, the reaction from her fellow councillors is the real story here. To disagree with a review of "The Job Description" is normal but to to publicly attack ms. Hanlon really makes me wonder what they are hiding. I thing she's right, somethings wrong at City hall and you only have to look around the city to see the result. Except for some new housing and a couple of new building St. John's just does not look the oil-boom town that it should. This city council cares more about keeping everything quiet, simple and slow. They doen't want the city to grow and they doen't want anything new. They get voted in because their supporters feel the same way. We need new councillors and we need young progressive ideas.

  • Wanda
    March 08, 2011 - 12:46

    Smart Debbie smart BUT you never had me for a minute, trying to turn things around to make yourself look good, sure I agree we should have an inquiry about what councilors really do down there but dont forget the big picture,the reason why you wanted it in the first place,you just wanted a full time paid job because you seem to think that you are the only councilor to put in the hours.Getting the news to follow you around for hard days work as councilor. You might be able to sell a house but the tax payers of st. john's are not in the market

  • Barbara Colbourne
    March 08, 2011 - 12:38

    Once the motion was defeated there was no need for the vicious discussion that followed. Souds like the other councillors decided to kick Debbie while she was down (that is in the midst of her personal troubles) and used the motion to try and score political brownie points for themselves. Shame on you. With actions like yours city councillors, you have done a fine job of putting off any other younger residents who might offer themselves up for volunteering themselves to work on council. Keep your head up Debbie and keep on doing what you know is best for the city. This too shall pass and you will come out smelling a lot better than your insensitive, selfish counterparts in the end. The general populace doesn't take too kindly when someone who is in trouble gets a kick in the gut.

  • Ursula Dowler
    March 08, 2011 - 11:34

    What better way to celebrate "International Women's Day" , than to have "COUNCIL HAMMERS HANLON" as front page news .

  • Brett
    March 08, 2011 - 11:34

    Just because you have a review + make the job a full time job, doesn't mean you would retain the same number of councillors. The structure could change, the cost wouldn't necessarily ahve to go up as much etc. But it would be nice for the councillors to be fully accountable. I wish I could find the telegram article that quoted a previous councillor (don't know if they were re-elected) saying that they could do their job from Florida if they wanted, they shouldn't have to be in NL, that they could be in Florida now for all the columnist knew and that it was a part time job anyways. (I'm paraphrasing) - but THOSE comments are the embarrassment. I do worry myself that people who work for someone else/themselves and work part-time as a councillor gov't official - I worry that they have conflicts of interest. That their focus isn't on doing their job, that it's a lesser priority. Or maybe things like letting the old fire station go for sale for 500k (end of duckworth) instead of getting value for the building, or a proper tender on selling the property, start to happen (or continue to happen). If you're going to sell something - why not announce it - give it 3-6 months, and entertain bids?

  • Jarge
    March 08, 2011 - 11:32

    So, if Debbie Hanlon's wages are garnished by her creditors and she gets a pay raise from the City of St. John's, will the taxpayers of the city be paying her debt?

  • Anna
    March 08, 2011 - 11:22

    Debbie, I hope you don't let this matter drop. We need more new faces in council I don't know what people are thinking for voting for the same people over and over. The sad thing is we have to put up with these people until the next election, meanwhile, the sidewalk issue bas been dropped as the snow has melted, now all we have to contend with are the potholes and the lack of street lines until June or July. This city is so mismanaged, I'm amazed they get anything done.

  • Millie Chafe
    March 08, 2011 - 11:09

    The councilors' attack on Ms. Hanlon was really appalling at last night's council meeting. I hope she continues her hard work for our city and is now even more respected for standing up for what she believes. Why would anyone ask her to apologize for it?

  • Taxpayer
    March 08, 2011 - 10:22

    Unfortunately the problem at the heart of this issue ie. the proper management of the City, is now pushed into the background. Any review will be directed toward whether the Councillors are over worked or not in the job they are presently doing and you can be sure that is the criteria they will use. As McLovin says there are many issues that Council does not handle properly and when they appear in the news you can see the present crowd head for cover until the heat is over. If councillors want to change the perception of themselves, start doing something.

  • Dingo
    March 08, 2011 - 10:11

    Wally Collins said there are better things to spend $50,000 on. HEY Wally, as a councillor for The Goulds and I think Kilbride, have you ever driven on Pearltown Road? That road is a $HIT SHOW and YES that is part of your ward! Take some of that $50,000 and invest it on some pavement. You are another clown that deserves a pay increase.

  • turry from town
    March 08, 2011 - 09:59

    The only thing that needs to be reviewed here is council members themselves. Please voters,ged rid of them all in the next election.We need new faces.

  • Bill
    March 08, 2011 - 09:58

    Every citizen should view the full debate from last night's meeting. Total indignation by the remainder of Council that the new kid on the block, the youngest of the senior citizens who make up our municipal government, would dare to say that their roles should be reviewed and that there should be full time Councillors. So Breen says he can work 2 jobs by juggling his time. Both employers suffer with this arrangement. Hann is embarassed; he should be as part of one of the most inefficient Councils this City has ever seen. Tilley was both embarassed and humiliated! Colbert never bothered to show up. In summing up the comments, Mayor Doc was his usual inconsistent self. He advised that there is no need for the review as all Councillors know that once elected they are on call 27/7; but forgot that most are just part timers! Let's hope that all citizens remember these exchanges come the next election, and let's hope there are some 30 year old community minded citizens to put these long in the tooth incompetents out to pasture!

  • Tony
    March 08, 2011 - 09:44

    Good for you Debbie!! I think its about time that the councillors in this city be held accountable for the pay they get versus the work they do.You are a hard worker and you started fr the bottom , worked your way to the top and now you will have to do it again,,and you will.Maybe if all your peers where as dedicated as you, the city would run a lot better. Don't BACK DOWN NOW!!!. The public would love to know how much work they are getting out of their tax dollars!!!

  • Derrick
    March 08, 2011 - 09:27

    I guarantee you that Mr. Hickman isn't into it for the goodness of the city!!!

  • Jennifer McCreath
    March 08, 2011 - 09:22

    Debbie has my support. how can we expect value out of our councillors when they are spending most of their time working at their 'day jobs', or are relaxing in Florida all the time?? it's like anything else. you get what you pay for. you can't expect full time effort and full time results under the status quo. Politicians need to be focused, dedicated, and committed 100% to their job. they also need to be 100% accessible to their electorate. this can't be a hobby. if you want more out of your council, then you gotta revisit their role and mandate.

  • Ed
    March 08, 2011 - 09:07

    I think that the councillors doth protest too much. Of course they are there for the money. We have a retired teacher, a retired school board management employee, a retired Newfoundland Power employee, a retired Board of Trade employee, several people with full time jobs, including one with the Provincial Government. I'm sure that the vast majority of them have other sources of income. Also, what is the average age of this council? IMO some are just too old, & should enjoy their retirement. How many of those councillors were there when Andy Wells made sure that everyone received significant increases? I think everyone accepted their increases then, plus they have this unbelievable pension plan. Of course they should be embarrassed.

  • OutWithTheOld
    March 08, 2011 - 08:57

    Hanlon should throw her hat in for Mayor next time around! She seems like the only one there looking out for the people of this City!

  • rick
    March 08, 2011 - 08:25

    Too bad they didn't think the same way the last time they accepted their FAT PAY RAISE.. If Hanlon was smart she would get out now before the voters kick her out. OH.. that could go for all that crowd there now. N ext election hopefully we will see a lot of new faces at City Hall.. Yes you too DOC....

  • Dick Walsh
    March 08, 2011 - 08:20

    So Hanlon says exactly what a lot of people think about council, "money-grabbing scoundrels who are not doing their job" and requests a review. A review of council is something a lot of people (or at least me) wouldn't mind and wouldn't have much (if any) negative nonconstructive impact on council proceedings. I don't really see the issue in a review, what is Hann scared that they'll find? the whole thing seems fishy. Kudos to Hanlon for speaking her mind, we need more people who are willing to go against the quo.

  • Dick Walsh
    March 08, 2011 - 08:17

    So Hanlon says exactly what a lot of people think about council, "money-grabbing scoundrels who are not doing their job" and requests a review. A review of council is something a lot of people (or at least me) wouldn't mind and wouldn't have much (if any) negative nonconstructive impact on council proceedings. I don't really see the issue in a review, what is Hann scared that they'll find? the whole thing seems fishy. Kudos to Hanlon for speaking her mind, we need more people who are willing to go against the quo.

  • Craif Philpott
    March 08, 2011 - 08:15

    REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! Let's put it all on the table!!!! What have they got to hide?

  • JimmieDean
    March 08, 2011 - 08:08

    Open your eye's said: "Hey Debbie, have a little more respect for people`s intellagence." Wow... you just made us all look bad...

  • JT
    March 08, 2011 - 07:56

    When Hann stood toward the end of the meeting and took out his blackberry, Okeefe made a quip that was obviously directed toward Colbert. Is Colbert on a beach in Florida?

  • McLovin
    March 08, 2011 - 07:46

    I have to question Ms. Hanlon's intelligence in this situation. Here she is in the middle of the winter, with the City taking nothing but flack over basically everything they make decisions on (ie. snow clearing, proposed developments, Amalgamation, etc) and then she proposes to have this review done? It was the biggest gift the rest of council could have received, now they all look like heroes instead of the bumbling fools they all are! Ms. Hanlon, wait until summer next time, when everyone is on vacation and their attention is elsewhere!

  • Gerald janes
    March 08, 2011 - 07:30

    After watching last night’s lynching of Councilor Hanlon at city hall, I’ve decided to throw my hat in the ring for the next municipal election. Sure, why not? It’s a dream job. I could get elected, attend 1 council meeting a year and still draw a full time salary. Don’t have to do another tap. After 4 years they might not re-elect me but who cares, I’ve already pocketed $150,000 and didn’t have to give up my real job to do it. Of course I might have to review my own performance and give myself raises but that’s part of the workload. I’ll be shoulder to shoulder with Tom haven’t a clue Hann, and Dennis gone cruising O’Keefe. I’ll fit in just fine with that lot because I’m only in for myself too.

  • JimmieDean
    March 08, 2011 - 07:28

    I do remember reading an article in which Debbie Hanlon was mentioned filing for bankruptcy to protect her against 'debt collectors'... Is it me or does Missy Moo just want more money to get her self out of trouble.

    • MommyGummi
      March 08, 2011 - 08:13

      That was the same thing that popped into my head too! Funny how she was looking to be classified as full-time, got denied and filed for bankruptcy all in the same week! Looks good on her...I can't stand her!

  • Bryce Wrightly
    March 08, 2011 - 07:24 council voted 9-1 against letting people know what they're doing. No surprise there. It's that thin line between democracy and dictatorship we're walking here. I guess now that they've voted for themselves doing a great job they'll have to vote themselves another pay raise for all that hard work. Why am I suddenly stomach sick?

  • kent
    March 08, 2011 - 07:20

    Nice try Debbie. Ha, ha

  • Open your eye's
    March 08, 2011 - 07:17

    By the way, anyone can do nothing for day's but if I planned to have someone follow me for a day, I could make it look like I was over-worked for one day as well. How many of those emails were personal. Granted I know councillors are busy at times, but does she think were stupid. If you invite someone to do a story on how busy you are and over-worked, it wouldn`t be a story if you sat a coffee shop all day. Hey Debbie, have a little more respect for people`s intellagence.

  • Keith
    March 08, 2011 - 07:17

    I wonder what the other councilers are afraid of. Maybe we do need someone to look into how much time they actually do spend on representing their wards on council

  • Dave
    March 08, 2011 - 07:16

    "He (Hann) said Hanlon’s idea has created a perception in the public that council is “a group of money-grabbing scoundrels who are not doing their job.” I have news for Hann. The public has known for years that council is “a group of money-grabbing scoundrels who are not doing their job.”

  • Madonna Kelly
    March 08, 2011 - 07:08

    Good for you Debbie!!!! You were always a mover and shaker let's see what happens at Council now that you have made the ''s**T hit The fan''!!!.. lol..I'm loving it!!!

  • Gary J
    March 08, 2011 - 07:08

    Hanlon’s idea has created a perception in the public that council is “a group of money-grabbing scoundrels who are not doing their job.” Sorry Tom, Hanlon didn't create that perception, it was around all along.

    March 08, 2011 - 07:05

    but it's just not funny anymore. I guess every tax payer in St. John's should apologize for daring to think that council is working for us. Why, we're blessed to have that lot. If you don't believe me, ask one of them. I couldn't believe the outrage and venom they spewed on Hanlon for having the gonads to ask for a full review. There's no need for a review. Council is doing great. They're all working like dogs and accomplishing amazing things. Again, don't trust me on this ask a councillor and they'll tell you the same thing. It's a sham and it's time it changed.

  • Open your eyes
    March 08, 2011 - 07:04

    I think it's all an act for the eye's of her creditors. It's not like Hanlon's Real Estate company was sold to a stranger, it's still in the family, and doing well. She's not like thousands on Newfoundlander's wondering what how's she's going to make ends meet. K-dinner isn't on her menu. But all this poor mouth talk looks good when you don't want to pay people. And maybe she should resign from council and divide her salary between all the other councillors.

  • Michael
    March 08, 2011 - 07:04

    What? Colbert could vote via Blackberry in Florida?

  • Billy Janes
    March 08, 2011 - 07:02

    "Galgay said he’s fine with the way council operates now." And why wouldn't you be Galgay? Show up once a week for council and once every 4 years for re-election. Great job if you can get it. I'm sickened by the arrogance of the people on council that we're paying. Anywhere else and they'd have been fired long ago. Who are they to tell us they're doing a great job. That's up for us to decide not them.

  • John Dunphy
    March 08, 2011 - 06:59

    Must be nice to be a councillor. Review your own performance. Vote for a raise for yourself. Answer to no one except for every 4 years. Absolutely disgusting. Let's review the whole thing and make them accountable to us the tax payers. Kudos Hanlon for having the guts to question the status quo.

  • political watcher
    March 08, 2011 - 06:48

    "a group of money-grabbing scoundrels who are not doing their job.” Don't worry Tom, we had this thought just after last election when you voted yourselves a raise. Surprisingly enough, Colbert was absent et he was the only other Councillor to be in agreement with hanlon. Times like this there should be a recall procedure.

  • Donny Dooley Dildo NL
    March 08, 2011 - 06:46

    Lighten up Hann! You and the rest of the councillors were the talk of the town long before Hanlon kicked the nest. The entire eastend stinks like raw sewage and area residents have had to turn off their air exchangers and close their windows all last summer. If that's not a reason to hang your head in shame and receive nasty emails I don't know what is. You're the worst bunch of councillors we ever had in the bunker. No offence!

    • The Bottom Line
      March 08, 2011 - 08:20

      Having your personal bankruptcy go public then ask for a review of your underpaid duties. How do you think most viewed your rant? Come on Debbie.........

  • JT
    March 08, 2011 - 06:39

    Hanlon remarked that councillors said one thing in public, and another thing behind closed doors, I wonder what that was about?

  • Steve Winslow
    March 08, 2011 - 06:38

    The steaming pile of hypocrisy reflected in this incident pops out in the last line of the story: "Coun. Gerry Colbert was not Monday’s meeting."

  • JT
    March 08, 2011 - 06:36

    I don't recall seeing Colbert there last night, where was colbert?