Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Welcome back, Bettens

Mark Bettens LinkedInIt’s taken me weeks to confirm this item, but Mark Bettens, formerly CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke’s executive assistant, has returned to the CBRM Fire and Emergency Services Department from whence he came.

As you will recall, when Cecil Clarke became mayor in 2012, he created two new jobs, which he termed “political positions” — executive assistant to and spokesperson for the mayor. Clarke then handpicked two people with connections to the Tory party to fill them (Bettens as EA, Christina Lamey as spokesperson).

I was tipped off to Bettens’ return to the Fire Department on July 26, at which point I wrote now CBRM spokesperson  Christina Lamey asking for confirmation that Bettens had indeed returned to the Fire Department. Furthermore, I asked if this meant any CBRM employee could take an eight-year leave of absence and expect to return to their original department?

Lamey told me she was on vacation but directed my question to assistant CAO John MacKinnon.

MacKinnon told me he’d forwarded my question to the director of Human Resources who would be “the most appropriate to respond,” however, she was on vacation.

That was on July 28.

This morning, realizing I hadn’t heard back from the HR director, I once again emailed Lamey to ask when I could expect an answer. And, almost one month to the day after my initial inquiry, she responded:

Mark Bettens is an employee of CBRM Fire and Emergency Services. His secondment to the Mayor’s Office in 2012-2020 was done in adherence to all related collective agreements and CBRM employee management policies.

Which has to come as good news to all CBRM employees out there — you, too, are free to take a “political” position for eight years, run up thousands of dollars in travel expenses, then return to your old department, no questions asked.

I was unable to confirm — although I asked, plainly, twice — if Bettens had returned to a new position and if that position might be considered a “promotion,” but I’m hopeful I may yet get a response.

Update —  I received the following response from Lamey on August 27:

No, that would not be correct, that is just his work load [I had asked if he was now head of training] as currently assigned.


Rogers by the Sea

So, this happened: Rogers buys Seaside Communications.

And according to Cape Breton Post business reporter David Jala:

Rogers’ entry into the Cape Breton market means more [emphasis mine] competition when it comes to telecommunications. The market is also served by Halifax-headquartered Eastlink and the large Bell Media network.

But let’s get real: there is no competition between internet providers in Canada. Our market is what John Lawford, director and counsel for the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, calls a “very stable oligopoly” in which “two or three providers” account for 90% of internet, home phone and television services in most cities. While Rogers may offer more services than Seaside currently does, the chances it will do so at actually competitive prices — the kind of prices that would force Eastlink and Bell to lower theirs — are slim to nil. Rogers and Bell, after all, happily co-exist in most Canadian markets and Canadians pay some of the highest fees in the developed world for internet and cell phone services.

Excerpt Rogers 2020 Annual Report

And despite their dominant position in the market and unholy profits (Rogers paid out $1 billion in dividends to its shareholders last year) these providers don’t serve rural communities without serious subsidies from government.

So Rogers took over Seaside and…whatever.


Regular schedule

I’ll be back to my regular publication schedule on September 8.

See you then!