Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Three D's of Water Utility Communications

Provincial Edition

Today's Letter to the Editor from Ontario Municipal Water Association President Diane Gagner nicely mirrors our local utilities approach to communication - divert, deflect and distract.

First up we have the bogeyman/red herring Walkerton Inquiry. None of the issues or questions being raised has anything to do with the Walkerton Inquiry other than Chair Ken Lewenza's continuous attempts to use it as justification for the price increase.

Next up is an Ontario Water Board. I certainly don't remember Chris Schnurr or anyone else even mentioning a Water Board. Not once, not ever. Regardless, we're treated to a lecture on how the Energy Board caused an increase in rates of 10 to 15 percent.

The OMWA describes their mission on the homepage of their site - "OMWA's mission is to act as the voice of Ontario's public water supply authorities and their customers on policy, legislative and regulatory issues"

Good for them. Unfortunately, none of the questions being raised in Windsor relate to "policy, legislative or regulatory" issues, unless things like raising Councillor's salaries by $16,000 to $17,000 a year through utility board meetings is an OMWA policy related matter. Maybe the OMWA has been relying on information from the "authorities" side a little too much and ignoring the "customer" part of their mission statement.

While not related to the letter, something else occurred to me last night. The Municipal Audit was championed as being the best alternative because the Auditor General wouldn't be able to act any sooner than eight weeks. By my count, we're into our 6th week now and I haven't heard anything on when the Municipal Audit will be starting, who will be conducting it and what the terms of reference are. Tick, tick, tick. If you actually see any local Liberal Cabinet Ministers campaigning over the next several days ask them how things are going. Better yet - ask them if they care.

PS - absolutely loved today's political cartoon. Haven't laughed that hard in a long time.