‘Do the honourable thing’

Daniel MacEachern
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St. John’s mayor calls for resignation of Grand Concourse Authority director

St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe took direct aim Monday evening at the head of the Grand Concourse Authority (GCA), calling his remarks “abominable” and demanding his resignation.

Addison Bown told CBC earlier Monday that the city’s cuts to the authority’s funding are “a stab in the back” to founder Paul Johnson.

“If he weren’t cremated, I’d say he’s turning over in his grave.”


Grand Concourse says it’s in jeopardy due to city funding cuts

 O’Keefe said Bown’s “abominable” remarks have no place in public discourse, and that the discussions of funding changes have been ongoing for the past two years.

“All and sundry were quite aware of the fact that this change would take place on Jan. 1, 2016. That’s been known by Mr. Bown and others for two years, so it should have been no surprise,” he said, adding that Bown’s remarks about Johnson — who O’Keefe called “probably the most generous benefactor” the city has ever had — were particularly reprehensible.

“To say that it was like ‘a stab in the back’ to Mr. Johnson, and, worse again, worse again, to say that if Mr. Johnson had not been cremated, he would roll over in his grave — remarks like that have, aside from being abominable, they have no place in discussing policy,” he said. “They are totally out of line, totally reprehensible, totally abominable, and I have to say that Mr. Bown should do the honourable thing. He should resign his position as executive authority of the Grand Concourse Authority, or the board of directors of the Grand Concourse Authority should remove him from that position.”

Reached at home Monday evening, Bown said he has no intention of stepping down unless the board asks him to.

“If they were to put to a vote whether I should step down or he step down, I’m sure that he would get the most votes, with what’s been happening down at the city in the last few months,” he said.

To say that it was like ‘a stab in the back’ to Mr. Johnson, and, worse again, worse again, to say that if Mr. Johnson had not been cremated, he would roll over in his grave — remarks like that have, aside from being abominable, they have no place in discussing policy. St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe

Bown also said it isn’t true he and others with the authority knew cuts were coming in the most recent city budget.

“I don’t want to step down because there are 30-plus employees up there who are depending on me to make sure that things are run the way they should be, and I think I’ve got a lot of respect from my employees, and I respect that and I’m staying and doing the best that I can.”

David Johnson, son of authority founder Paul Johnson, issued a statement Monday that said he is “shocked and dismayed that the city has decided to let our hard-won trail system fall into decay,” and urged the city to reconsider.

“Cancelling the funding for the Grand Concourse is not just St. John’s failing to honour the contract with the GCA, it is also failing to honour its own citizens.”

City council stuck to its guns Monday night on cuts to the authority’s grant. O’Keefe said the city is still providing $550,000 for maintenance of trails within the city but has cut about $439,000 from the authority’s usual funding.

“That will take away from the Grand Concourse Authority the maintenance of the trail system in Pippy Park, which is a provincial responsibility,” said O’Keefe. “It will remove from the Grand Concourse Authority the care of monuments in the city, which will now be maintained under public tender, and it will remove from the Grand Concourse Authority the landscaping around city buildings, and that will be done in-house.”

Maintenance of city trails under winter conditions is currently under review by the city’s department of public works, said the mayor, and the city will begin maintaining them itself.

Organizations: Grand Concourse Authority, CBC

Geographic location: Pippy Park

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Recent comments

  • Brucie
    January 26, 2016 - 16:05

    I think the Grandconcourses next step should be to protest this at city hall. I know for a fact they will have hundreds of supporters to back them up. Take it to city councils door step because meetings and going back and fourth through the media aint gonna go nowhere. Im willing to bet a protest is imminent.

  • Brucie
    January 26, 2016 - 15:59

    ADDISON BOWN FOR MAYOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Audacity
    January 26, 2016 - 15:37

    Well, I've read all the comments here and one other major local media website, and there is a definite consensus building, and that is a popular vote of non-confidence in the play pen parliament of St.John's city council, so they maybe should be proROGUEd, recalled, whatever you want to call it, and for the major overreach of calling for the resignation of an employee or volunteer with a non-government organization, maybe "Doc" should be stripped of his "honourary phd." It is proven that the sights, sounds and even smells of nature are a boon to mental health, let alone all the obvious physical benefits. People have cited seamless integration of greenspace into the metro area as one of the reasons for moving here. It's such an obvious source of health and happiness and prosperity. The paths and trails are the envy of people from cities around the world, and the people who come to hike on the East Coast Trail will start to ask, why they can't continue on seamlessly through the city? Because the budget didn't allow it? How embarrassing.

  • Ed
    January 26, 2016 - 14:46

    Dennis, time for you to resign. Do the taxpayers of this city a favour and go home. You don't seem to have any problems cutting funding to some worthwhile city projects but when it comes to the size of the city staff and the pay scales you just don't seem to be able to say no, and that's where we need to have cuts. Your plan to have some of the work done by the Grand Concourse staff in house WILL NOT SAVE MONEY. You cannot provide a service as well or as cheaply as the private sector. The private sector will not have 2 people working with 4 others standing up next to them. Neither, in the private sector, will you see a union contract that gives away everything that was asked for. but then it's not your money - is it? Get the costs under control, downsize city council or go home and leave it to someone else.

  • steve
    January 26, 2016 - 14:12

    Remember election day ABD Anyone but Doc.

  • Peter
    January 26, 2016 - 12:26

    The Grand Concourse is very important to the citizens of St John's year round. I have much more confidence in the Grand Concourse Authority than I do in the Mayor of St John's or most of City Council.

  • Doug
    January 26, 2016 - 12:02

    If anything has been "abominable", it's Dennis O'Keefe's mismanagement of the city's finances.

  • Jim Jims
    January 26, 2016 - 12:01

    Everyone relax! Galgay is in the rear awaiting the media to set up it's cameras before he delivers a magic solution.

  • HaHaDoc
    January 26, 2016 - 11:43

    Yeah, Doc, do the honourable thing, and resign!

  • Joe
    January 26, 2016 - 11:41

    Addison Bown is a fine person. He is honest and sincere. It astounds me how O'Keefe got elected because the vast majority of people don't speak well of him

  • Soaked Senior
    January 26, 2016 - 11:40

    Hold the presses ! O'Keefe is having a press conference shortly. Maybe he'll bow to public opinion and resign. Oh well, we can dream can't we?

  • René Enguehard
    January 26, 2016 - 11:35

    The Mayor of St. John's once more is showing that he is unfit for the job. He is the one who should resign because of his attitude towards the arts and culture in our city.

  • Kay
    January 26, 2016 - 11:17

    Well looks like the vote is in, most comets here are in favour of Doc and his team resigning, what say Doc? Be a good boy and retire, you are now in over your head.

  • Taxpayer
    January 26, 2016 - 11:16

    Too bad there's no like option on this forum. If there was I would press like for all the comments on this article.

  • D
    January 26, 2016 - 10:36

    What about the thousands upon thousands of St. John's residents who have been calling for Doc to resign for years?

  • John Smith
    January 26, 2016 - 10:24

    I would just like to know where the extra...100 million a year is going? They are shutting down walkways, the arts, funding to spca...etc...yet they are spending an extra 100 million on what? Sidewalk clearing? LOL I don't think so...and don't bother to look at the budget, because even the councilors don't understand it....

  • Graham
    January 26, 2016 - 10:18

    Funny they can give Danny Millions more than 700.00 but nothing for the ordinary citizen. Galgay and Okeefe HAVE TO GO.

  • Janet
    January 26, 2016 - 10:00

    Seems to me the City is the problem. My taxes have doubled but services are being cut? The Grand Concourse is a much bigger asset for tourism and taxpayers alike than a bigger convention centre. Priorities on New Gower are totally skewed.

  • Has to be said...
    January 26, 2016 - 09:22

    Dennis O'Keefe is Kathy Dunderdale.

  • jerome
    January 26, 2016 - 09:04

    The Mayor and the whole council should go. What have they actually done with the huge influx of tax money over the last 8 years, I pay over double what I paid 8 yrs ago. I knew the mayor was incompetent when he started spending and more spending and figuring the taxpayer would shoulder it all. So many fiscal irresponsible actions by this mayor is unbelievable. The Grand Concourse is the jewel of St. john's , not the cruise industry as O'Keefe would like you to believe. A poll should be done on the next cruise ship when exiting, asking how much these people actually spent in the city, I think O'Keefe would be surprised , we the taxpayer would not.

    • Bob
      January 26, 2016 - 10:05

      That's correct.The cruise ship passengers simply hop off the boat and go to Tim's for the free wifi then head back to the ship to eat.Most of them don't spend any money in the city.

  • John
    January 26, 2016 - 09:00

    Too bad the Ice Caps cant play hockey on the Grand Concourse, if that were the case it would be in tip top shape year round. High priority.

  • Christopher Chafe
    January 26, 2016 - 08:56

    Can DOC resign, and the city elect a Mayor that truly knows how to attract business to the city.

  • Jason Whelan
    January 26, 2016 - 08:52

    Even better Doc- why don't you step down? I insist.

  • Anna
    January 26, 2016 - 08:50

    Addison Bown would make a wonderful Mayor for this City. He cares about how it is taken care off and his employees that clean up the trails are the best ever, I wish we had more of them in this City. With this budget, our City will be the dirtiest ever, they've cut the litter program, stopped maintaining trails with no consultation with Public Works, they are now trying to destroy all the good work the Grand Concourse has done, all to save Mile One and the Convention Centre. They've had nothing but negative complaints from everyone in the City and won't recognize that they are wrong. I think all of them should resign if this is the best they can come up with.

  • Bob Hallett
    January 26, 2016 - 08:46

    The Mayor has to stop blaming everyone around him who disagrees with his arrogant pronouncements, and start taking responsibility for his disaster of a budget. We need a real leader, not a petulant sook. Time for Dennis O'Keefe to return again.

    • Ryan Hayward
      January 26, 2016 - 10:36

      Bob Hallett for Mayor!

  • HaHaDoc
    January 26, 2016 - 08:33

    Honorable? Council? Haa! Abominable? Yeah, pretty much describes the whole council. Doc's a joke, and so is council. Albeit a very bad one where the joke is on the taxpayers. Boot 'em all out!

  • steve
    January 26, 2016 - 07:59

    You Sir should resign. The city under your command is spend ,spend ,spend . The city don,t have a revenue problem they have a spending problem.Look at the dinosaur called mile one. Sell it to the highest bidder and stop wasting millions on developing it further. 20 percent increases to an already well paid city staff.The lot of them are a joke.

  • guy incognito
    January 26, 2016 - 07:25

    Doc is an embarrassment.

  • N
    January 26, 2016 - 06:19

    This just in..... Citizens calling for the resignation of Mayor and Council for assault on our wallets and insult to our intelligence. Will they comply? Grand Concourse will be able to maintain the trails and do landscaping around city buildings better and cheaper then city employees. This is the type of cost saving, quality enhancing service partnerships the city should be seeking not destroying. Time for these guys to go.

  • Danny
    January 26, 2016 - 05:39

    O'Keefe is the one who should be resigning...

  • Stressed out mayor
    January 25, 2016 - 21:35

    It sounds like the stress of the job is getting to our mayor. Perhaps he should consider resigning rather than to continue to fight with the growing number of citizens very unhappy with his decisions.

    • Observer
      January 26, 2016 - 10:44

      Stress of the job getting to the mayor? Oh please! He has created for himself the most stress- free mayor's position in the country, let alone the province. He sits on the sidelines, rarely makes an appearance except for the obligatory meeting on Monday night, sloughs off the role of spokesperson and de facto mayor to Jonathan Galgay, shows no leadership nor advocacy on behalf of our city on the provincial nor the federal level......Stress? Doc wouldn't know what a stressful job was the way he runs the office and position of mayor.

  • Pierre Neary
    January 25, 2016 - 21:30

    The nerve. Mayor O'Keefe should have done the "honourable thing" weeks ago.

  • GeoffChaulk
    January 25, 2016 - 20:18

    LOL... 'Mayor' O'Keefe calls for someone 's resignation because that person spoke out about budget cuts and the resulting damage that will be done to one of our jewels in the crown...The Grand Concourse. With the damage being done, or to be done, to local small business, and the added tax burden to rate-payers in the recent city budget, its Doc O'Keefe who should do the 'honourable' thing, and either Do His Job as Mayor, which, in my opinion, he has not been, or resign. I'd prefer the latter.

  • Jayne
    January 25, 2016 - 20:15

    Denis O'Keefe it is YOU who should resign. The trail system and its funding was never a problem until this year. Perhaps you should stop going to Cruise Ship conventions, as every business in the downtown core knows those tourists spend a lot less money than you suggest. I'm sure Mr. Johnson would be calling you on your holier than thou attitude. Can't wait to see you tossed in the next election.

  • Dave Murphy
    January 25, 2016 - 20:05

    What a farce by the Mayor. You Mayor O'Keefe should the one resigning for poorly managing our cuties finances. I wish I know of a impeachment process to rid the city of you. A poor leader. A poor manager. Take a cruise and don't come back.