Kick a hornet’s nest, expect it to sting

Pam
Pam Frampton
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“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”

—  Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Italian astronomer and physicist

When St. John’s Coun. Debbie Hanlon made reference to one of the late Stieg Larsson’s thrillers last week during a council meeting, she didn’t acknowledge the many plot twists her own story’s taken in recent days.

“When I kicked the hornet’s nest, I must have kicked it some hard,” she said on March 8.

Indeed. And when she did, all kinds of nasty things came buzzing out.

Hanlon’s kick began on Feb. 21 when she invited a Telegram reporter on a tag-along to observe how hard she works for her part-time council pay.

“I think it should be a full-time paid position,” she told Dave Bartlett.

In his story, published Feb. 28, she said anyone elected to city hall should be paid full-time wages because the workload of the job requires a full-time commitment. That’s not exactly the tune she was singing a year and a half ago when she was gearing up for re-election.

Back then she was “one of the Top 100 female entrepreneurs in Canada,” with plenty of acumen to bring to the council chamber.

In a Telegram story from Sept. 23, 2009, she told reporter Deana Stokes Sullivan that even though she was a well-known city businesswoman and the owner of Hanlon Realty, she was committed to being a full-time councillor.

There was no mention then of wanting full-time pay, and she’d been on council at that point for more than a year.

Hanlon said then that her active businesses were either in trust or being run by other people, and that her realty company was being managed by her brother and two of her top realtors.

Are you keeping track so far?

Mixed messages

Fast-forward to Feb. 28, 2011, and Hanlon is telling The Telegram that, after 17 years of running a real estate business, she had recently turned it over to her brother and walked away.

Why?

“I can’t do both,” she said. “I can’t run a real estate firm and (oversee) 45 people and be a councillor effectively.”

Yet, on March 3, when she was contacted by reporter Steve Bartlett, who had learned Hanlon had declared bankruptcy on Jan. 28, she said she had gotten back into real estate sales and was paying down her debt.

She had to declare bankruptcy, she said, because Scotiabank wanted to garnishee 100 per cent of her wages.

“I couldn’t make any payments to anyone else,” she said. “That forced my hand in bankruptcy.”

But there are two things wrong with this picture:

1) Obviously Hanlon hadn’t been devoting herself full-time to council like she said she would, because she was still working in real estate.

2) As Steve Bartlett notes in a news story in today’s Telegram, Scotiabank could not have threatened to garnishee all of her wages because it is forbidden by law to do so.

See how this thing’s getting twisty?

Now, I take no pleasure in anyone’s financial woes. Bankruptcy is a difficult circumstance to bounce back from, and I sincerely hope that Hanlon can and will.

And if she truly believes that councillors are entitled to full-time pay, then she has every right to say so and to try to get her colleagues onside.

But let’s get something straight.

On Feb. 28, Hanlon said she deserved full-time pay. She did not disclose at that time that she was bankrupt, even though as an elected official who serves on council’s finance committee, that’s information the public should be entitled to.

In fact, she did not publicly acknowledge her financial status until after The Telegram contacted her about it, after which she was all over CBC Radio, perhaps in an attempt at damage control before The Telegram’s story was published.

Switching gears

Once her council colleagues started zinging her for gunning for full-time compensation, she blamed the media for having garbled her message and said what she actually wanted was a review of council salaries and responsibilities, since there hadn’t been one in 20 years.

And she insisted that her sudden interest in full-time pay was not linked in any way to the fact that she is more than $450,000 in debt.

“It’s just unfortunate these things came out at the same time, and I’m so hoping that through proper journalism, that it doesn't get convoluted that it’s me looking for a raise, which is what’s been said since Day 1.”

Sorry, but you can’t blame the media for having gotten the message right — from the get-go.

“I’m not looking for a pay raise,” she told The Telegram on March 3. “I’ve never advocated for a pay raise. I could care less about a pay raise. … How come I’m having a hard time getting that message out?”

Perhaps because that wasn’t the original message. Anyone who says that part-time pay is not adequate compensation for a full-time commitment sure as heck sounds like they’re looking for a pay raise.

Besides, Hanlon’s original notice of motion at council was solely about part-time versus full-time salaries, not job descriptions or responsibilities. That came later.

Whatever the case, Hanlon’s credibility seems to have taken a hit in the past few days and there’s been plenty of public chatter, which I don’t think is quite the kind of buzz she was going for.

As for all those hornets, perhaps Coun. Hanlon can take solace in the fact that some of her council colleagues didn’t exactly come off looking flawless, either.

If anything, the stinging comments that swarmed around Hanlon at last week’s council meeting revealed an important truth — some of them are so desperate to score political points that they’ll take any opportunity to turn on one of their own.

Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s story editor. She can be reached by email

at pframpton@thetelegram.com.

Twitter: pam_frampton

Organizations: Scotiabank, CBC Radio

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • I LOANED A FRIEND
    March 17, 2011 - 09:49

    MS. HANLON LESS THAN GENUINE I THINK SO; U NEVER MENTIONED IN YOUR COLUMN HER FINANCIAL WOES COME FROM "ACCORDING TO HANLON" CO SIGNING MILLION DOLLAR LOAN FOR A FRIEND; GEEZ; I NEVER HAD A FRIEND LIKE THAT; I WOULDN'T CO SIGN FOR A MILLION DOLLAR LOAN FOR MY WIFE AND MOTHER OF MY CHILDREN; FRIENDS MUST BE CLOSER real tight OUT ON EAST COAST after that deflection of blame; i never could stand to listen to anymore of this SELF INFLICTED TAIL OF WOE; I SUPPOSE HANLON WAS FIGURING TO MAKE A KILLING ON THIS KILLER LOAN DEAL GONE BAD; the tangled web we weave when we practice to decive

  • I LOANED A FRIEND
    March 17, 2011 - 09:47

    MS. HANLON LESS THAN GENUINE I THINK SO; U NEVER MENTIONED IN YOUR COLUMN HER FINANCIAL WOES COME FROM "ACCORDING TO HANLON" CO SIGNING MILLION DOLLAR LOAN FOR A FRIEND; GEEZ; I NEVER HAD A FRIEND LIKE THAT; I WOULDN'T CO SIGN FOR A MILLION DOLLAR LOAN FOR MY WIFE AND MOTHER OF MY CHILDREN; FRIENDS MUST BE CLOSER/TIGHTNER OUT ON EAST COAST after than deflection of blame; i never could stand to listen to anymore of this SELF INFLICTED TAIL OF WOE; I SUPPOSE HANLON WAS FIGURING TO MAKE A KILLING ON THIS KILLER LOAN DEAL GONE BAD; the tangled web we weave when we practice to decive

  • Irresponsible way of thinking.
    March 16, 2011 - 08:04

    So Mr. Wrightlt your mindset is Banks are disgusting institutions so let's shaft them. Yes Mr. Whitley some Bankers are as corrupt as the borrowers who set out to obtain loans with no intentionof paying them back, but that is not the mindset of the biggest percentage of borrowers nor are most bankers out to destroy the banking institution. The very reason that the banking industry has endured over the centuries is that most borrowers and bankers are outstanding citizens who want to be honest in their dealings with each other, but I truly don't know who you represent Mr. Wrightly.

  • Bryce Wrightly
    March 15, 2011 - 18:34

    Irresponsible way of thinking...I agree completely, banks are wonderful, amazing institutions that have our best interests at heart and would never hurt anyone. Like you, I also feel they are not motivated by money, but by the good they can do for people. What wagon did you say you fell off?

  • Irresponsible way of thinking.
    March 15, 2011 - 10:29

    What skewed minds there are out there when a person makes a statement such as is made on this site that "Banks often write off bad debt towards their year end to get them off the books for the next year". Dear God, please not let me make the mistake of lending to a person with this mindset. If those who borrow took responsibility for their debts and not take on more than they can deal with, the Banks would not have to write off bad debt, and the ordinary investor would not be on the losing end. When a Bank has to do write offs bad loans, the ordinary investors have to suffer, not only those with lots of money but those with small savings accounts, as well. I cannot understand how this principle is hard for some people to understand. It seems some people take no responsibility for anything they do in life and they just live by the credo "I will live for today and forget about tomorrow or how my irresponsible decisions are impacting on others.

  • Bryce Wrightly
    March 15, 2011 - 08:25

    I almost hate to bring common sense into this fray because you’re all obviously blissful in your ignorance, but I feel compelled. Banks often write off bad debt towards their year end to get them off the books for the next year. They no doubt knew City Hall’s policy of taking 100% of a person’s wages if no amount was indicated on the garnishee order, which is why they didn’t supply an amount. That way they force Hanlon into bankruptcy and get rid of the bad debt. Common sense, folks, you should try it some time.

    • Threce Mightly
      March 15, 2011 - 08:46

      Common Sense is when a bank goes after a person who has the ability to pay off their debts so that the debtor doesn't get away from their legal responsibilities. After all when a person wiggles out of their debts it is the rest of us who pay.

  • axle
    March 14, 2011 - 08:54

    isn,t this story getting old

  • Bob
    March 13, 2011 - 20:47

    A good synopsis of Ms. Hanlon's storytelling Pam. But it put a huge dent is this more women needed in politics myth. Burke and Sullivan come to mind as polititians who fit the Hanlon mould. The way they come across to me is none of 'em suffer from hemorrhoids.

  • Come Off It
    March 13, 2011 - 11:49

    Love all the phony Hanlon supporters. rotflmao

  • Pam Frampton
    March 12, 2011 - 10:09

    Two points, to clarify: 1) the motion rejected by council this week was not Hanlon's original motion on this topic. Her original motion was tabled two weeks before and was, as I said, only about full-time vs. part-time salaries. 2) Whatever the city's practice regarding docking wages, it cannot break the law. The legislation governing garnisheeing is easily found online and once you brought it to the city's attention, it would have no option but to abide by the law. Provincial legislation trumps city practice, and if I were told 100 per cent of my wages were being garnisheed, I'd waste no time finding out what my rights were.

  • Political Watcher
    March 12, 2011 - 09:48

    People, the only half truths here are the ones Hanlon herself out out there. She asked for an increase in compensation for Councillors: if that is not asking for a raise then what is? She tried a publicity stunt that went terribly wrong and winded up blowing up in her face. You supporters here are only trying to do what she has been trying since her fiasco and that is to try and put another spin on her words. She said them and the media wrote/reported them. Nothing else. Again, Debbie, please go away.

  • Chris
    March 12, 2011 - 09:47

    It appears that ''Frank Kirby'', ''William O’Keefe'', ''Ernest Hynes'' and ''Ray Donnelly'' may be one and the same person or, at least, they are all following the same ''I Love Debbie Hanlon'' playbook, written of course, by Debbie Hanlon. The similarities of their comments are highly coincidental – a quote from the column, follwed by a dig at Frampton. Hanlon’s story gets more and more bizarre everyday. And she has only herself to blame.

  • Eli Bowers
    March 12, 2011 - 08:33

    Pam, are you writing this nonsense to deflect attention off your friend Sheila O'Leary who voted against accountability by council members? I wonder how the 25,000 people who voted her in feel about her saying no she doesn't have to be accountable to them?

  • Ray Donnely
    March 12, 2011 - 08:31

    2) As Steve Bartlett notes in a news story in today’s Telegram, Scotiabank could not have threatened to garnishee all of her wages because it is forbidden by law to do so....the use of half truths to imply something negative about someone is standard practice in tabloid style journalism. Why didn't you also pull from that same story the fact that city hall told Hanlon they would take 100% of her wages? Not a convenient truth then is it Pam. To imply Hanlon lied by saying her wages were garnasheed 100% is disturbing at best. I hope she takes this libel to the appropriate boards. It's uncalled for and unacceptable.

  • Sandy
    March 12, 2011 - 08:25

    Debbie Hanlon should resign from council as she cannot be trusted to tell the truth. She is the type of politican Russell is writing about in his opinion article. Everyone should read it. She gives the impression that she works 24/7 for the council. Yet she wanted to become president on the NL Municipal Board and she writes a monthly article for the BUSINESS POST. Where does she find the time and what other business related activies is she involved with?

  • Ernest Hynes
    March 12, 2011 - 08:03

    “Take notice that I will at a Regular Meeting of Council within two weeks introduce a motion to have a full review conducted of Council including but not limited to remuneration, positions, duties, roles, responsibilities and accountability.”...this is Hanlon's motion that went before council and was killed 9-1. The original motion you refer to Pam was never brought forward. And is it wrong for asomeone to broaden the terms of a motion when research shows it would be a good thing to do. You seem intent on picking the tiniest available negatives out of this story of someone actually trying to do something good for our city and spinning them into speculation.

  • William O'Keefe
    March 12, 2011 - 07:58

    "Now, I take no pleasure in anyone’s financial woes. " Yeah, right. Then why the half truths and twisted facts Pam? When Hanlon said, “I think it should be a full-time paid position,” , was that asking for more money or simply people with more time to devote to council on council? Not once did she ask for a raise, yet that's what you and the rest of the media keep hammering at us. Why not do some actually journalism and ask the other 9 councillors why they voted against a review of council? That would mean doing something, I guess, besides kicking Hanlon when she's down. Council will be reviewed no matter how much you try and twist the issue, the people will demand it. Watch and see.

  • Frank Kirby
    March 12, 2011 - 07:45

    "As Steve Bartlett notes in a news story in today’s Telegram, Scotiabank could not have threatened to garnishee all of her wages because it is forbidden by law to do so." Pam, you're walking that thin line between journalism and sensationalism with that comment. Shouldn't you also have mentioned that Bartlett also notes in that story that human resources manager Kevin Breen stated that "...if the city gets a court order to garnashee an employee's or councillor's wages and no percentage is indicated, it claws back the full amount." Shame on you and the half truths you're spewing. Don't you realise you're in a position to harm someone's reputation by those tactics?

  • Political Watcher
    March 12, 2011 - 06:58

    "Turned her Real Estate Business over to her brother" Did she receive any money for it? I am sure that a large, full service real estste firm musy be worth at least half million dollars. Like others before her, Hanlon appears to have been caught up in her own web of lies. She is not broke, maybe a little stunned but not broke. Sure even that the bank tried to take every cent was an outright lie and now we just have to sit and wait for more. As I mentioned earlier this week; please go away Debbie, you have no ore victim cards to play and you are looking sillier by the day. Please, go away...