Friday, July 6, 2007

Two months later: London Free Press trivializes corruption scandal with a puff piece

Two months after information about CUPE Local 107's president Tim Whitworth's alleged secret personal remuneration deals with the City's Human Resources department first broke on Alt-London, and one day after Clay Powell's notice of the story in The Londoner, the London Free Press finally indulged its reputation as the city's major news source with an idle mention of the controversy on the fourth page of the City & Region section. But, true to the Free Press' timid form on relevant issues, the long-awaited article so trivializes the story and misleads the reader that it might well have not even bothered placing it even in the newspaper's hinterlands.

Seizing on a grievance filed by members of London's outside workers union with the City's labour relations and staffing office as a pretext for finally reporting on the matter, Jonathan Sher's article, Union split over leader's pay deal, trivializes it as nothing more than an internal dispute within the union over allegations of secrecy, as Butch McClarty notes in Alt-London. The article not only entirely ignores the far more serious issue of the city's contraventions of its own negotiated collective agreement with the union and the cost of those contraventions to taxpayers, it represents the pay deals themselves as so trivial and banal as to utterly mislead:

There's nothing outlandish about the deal itself, which gave union president Tim Whitworth the same pay he received before he gave up his job as a tree trimmer and acting supervisor to become a full-time union head. Such deals can be found in other collective agreements.
But it is precisely that such deals are not found in this collective agreement that is the issue at stake, and which has led to the union's grievance and escalation of the matter into a major embarrassment for City Hall and potentially costlier scenarios for taxpayers down the road. It would appear that it is the City's embarrassment that the Free Press hopes to spare with this puff piece.

See also our archived posts on The London Fog and the original articles at Alt-London: