Orangeville’s Rock Star

September 1, 2016   ·   0 Comments

It is always interesting to know that celebrities live close by us or even in our very own community. Did you know we have a Rock Star living in Orangeville? It’s true.

Not a Rock Star by typical definition. That said, this person is talented at his craft and is making a significant difference in the lives of many. In fact, thousands of people right here in Orangeville appreciate him every day. I am talking about our incredibly benevolent Chief of Police, Wayne Kalinski. Chief Kalinski inherited a rather dire set of circumstances when he became leader of the Orangeville Police in November 2014. Since then the police have flourished under his very capable leadership.

I met Wayne Kalinski for the first time in late 2011. He was the newly minted Deputy Chief at the time. He was professional and informative the entire time we were together. He impressed me then; he was loyal to his coworkers and dedicated to the town. But I could not have predicted what an impressive leader he would be in the role as Chief of Police. In a town so desperate for leadership, Chief Kalinski is the right guy at the right time.

As I scan my notes regarding his ascent to the top job, it was a particular line in his inaugural  speech that has stayed with me over time. On November 14, 2014 he stated, “I am open and receptive to change and look forward to hearing from the community we so proudly serve.”  My first thought: big deal,  I’ve read and heard many organizational leaders make statements over the years. Candidly, I have become numb to these stump speeches, because rarely do words actually become reality. However, here they have! The Chief has indeed made a connection between the residents of Orangeville and the OPS.  The changes he has implemented have been positive (Strategic Policing Plan, Firm budgets, Ever-present community presence).

Given the significant impact he has had, I wonder if in many ways this vindicates former Police Board Chair Cynthia Rayburn, whose board hired him. It was one of their last acts as board members before the new term started.

It should be noted Mayor Williams and Ms. Rayburn had a rather acrimonious relationship. Their time together ended on bad terms with the Mayor openly questioning the direction she had set forth. It was ugly. Regardless, of the difficult times endured by the OPS, the appointment was implemented under the Rayburn leadership. I am personally sorry that Ms. Rayburn was vilified in the fashion she was. It was an unfair and unjust way to leave such a high-profile position.

Wayne Kalinski has had some difficult things to endure since becoming Chief. First and foremost, he is the unfortunate victim of a political quagmire. The council that he must work with on a daily basis is in crisis. Mayor Williams’ leadership, which at the beginning of the term showed such promise, has been disastrous. His role within the OPS as it relates to council has been confusing and unfulfilling. The reality of today, is in stark contrast to our lives a mere 18 months ago. The way that the Chief has handled the situations he happened to find himself in through, I believe, no fault of his own, has been what you would expect from someone who carries himself with dignity and honor.

Let’s re-cap:

On January 2015, Councillor Gail Campbell stated. “I think it is important that the Mayor be the chair of the police service board committee. He has responsibility really for the whole town, and he needs to be up to date with everything that is happening within the board.” Mayor Williams seemed to agree, “Now that I’m on the board, and as chair, I want to go forward with a more collaborative approach.”  The Mayor went on to say, “Its working together instead of against each other”.

I think we all know that this plan has not worked out very well. The Mayor has made numerous blunders in judgement, which ultimately led to his resignation as OPS board chair and lead member of the police contract negotiations.

Unfortunately, there have been other issues as well, among them pursuing a relationship with Amaranth without council permission, budget issues that council was not aware of, and generally a lack of understanding regarding how the relationship between council and the police should work.

I was at the council meeting on July 18th. Chief Wayne Kalinski and newly minted OPS Board Chair Ken Krakar were there to address council.

Both presented themselves in a professional fashion. They were humble in their approach and exhibited a burning desire to do better in the future. I loved it. Their approach was exactly what is needed. That said, there was an underlying tension in the room as they approached the podium.

Mayor Williams did not seem to want them to address council. In fact, when introducing the police representatives he failed to mention board chair Krakar.

I asked veteran councillor and police services board member Gail Campbell for her thoughts on the exchange. “It is always appropriate to have the chair (of the PSB) address any concerns. Anything we are doing outside of usual practices should be shared with council.”

I also asked Mr. Krakar to explain his position. He provided the following statement:

1. The board had asked the acting chair to address council, to show that we are serious in correcting any processes of reporting to council, while working with Chief Kalinski in running a lean, effective service that is community focused.

2. The board has acknowledged that the working relationship with council may have not been present, and as such we will work to improve the relationship while informing council of items.

Councillors and members of the public are also encouraged to attend the open portion of police service board meetings held on a monthly basis.

To me, the key is Mr.Krakar’s statements in point number two. Specifically, “the board has acknowledged that the working relationship with council may not have been present.”  How can this be? Think about it. The leader of the Police Services Board was Jeremy Williams. The leader of council was Jeremy Williams. How is it possible that two organizations led by the same person do not communicate or have a working relationship? Very, very odd.

To his credit, Chief Kalinski has remained professional throughout all of the difficult circumstances he has had to endure.

The Chief has maintained his support of town council and steadfastly refused to offer negative or controversial comments.

Instead he has personally taken responsibility for any shortfalls or misses that the OPS has been involved in. To me, that is what leaders do. They stand up in times of crisis and make sure people understand that they are accountable. They are responsible.

Chief Kalinski has promised all that relationships with town council and his Police Service will improve. I believe him.

Wayne Kalinski has outlined a very ambitious plan for himself and his organization. Priorities listed on his strategic priorities include road safety, youth-related issues, drug control, increased foot patrols, update equipment, and improve public communication – all worthy areas to spend time on.

As a clear supporter of Chief Kalinski and Police Board Chair Ken Krakar, I would also suggest they focus their efforts on the following:

• ame a Deputy Chief. What happens when the rock star resigns? Do we simply go backwards after Chief Kalinski retires?

• emove Mayor Williams from the Police Services Board entirely. Reinstate him if he is exonerated from his many legal troubles.

• rovide laser focus to the issues of Council and PSB relations. Both organizations should be operating in lock step.

Lastly, please, please keep interacting with the community. We love it.

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