Council, chamber may meet to discuss differencesThursday, April 17, 2014 by: Darren Taylor
While some city councillors and senior staff have said they are upset with statements made in a Sault Ste. Marie chamber of commerce media release issued April 15, chamber president Mark Barsanti says there was no intention to offend, but rather, to help.
The release, issued the day after council approved a zero percent residential tax increase in the 2014 budget, quotes Barsanti, on the chamber’s behalf, as saying “the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce is pleased that its voice was heard during the 2014 City budget deliberations.”
“There were several e-mails exchanged between myself, the Mayor and some councillors last week and throughout the weekend. I believe our concerns were taken to heart and the budget reflects our concerns to an extent.”
That, along with statements from Barsanti calling for council and staff to reduce the city’s dependency on $17 million in provincial support, and a call for council to do more to improve the level of private sector development to spur job growth, has irritated some staff and councillors.
Joe Fratesi, chief administrative officer, told SooToday.com “any input the chamber provided had nothing to do with the end result of the budget.”
“To write these last-minute letters and take credit for an end result that they didn’t influence at all is really not helpful,” Fratesi said.
Barsanti told us the chamber has been criticized by some councillors for not providing input in past budget deliberations and is now being scolded for actually getting involved.
“The press release was not to steal anyone’s thunder, the press release said we were heard and they managed their budget well,” Barsanti said.
Fratesi questioned Barsanti’s call for the city to reduce its reliance on $17 million in provincial funding.
“Municipalities can raise revenues through very limited sources such as tax increases and user fees but the rest comes from provincial funding,” Fratesi said.
“To suggest it’s like a handout we’re getting is wrong…anyone suggesting it’s a bad thing needs to look at the bigger picture.”
“Those comments by the chamber that we should get off that (provincial funding) clearly indicates to me a very naïve understanding of the relationship between the city and the province,” Fratesi said, comparing provincial funding to the city to the vital transfer payments provinces receive from the federal government.
“We put to the mayor a three-page position paper which clearly outlined our position on the OMPF (Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund) and the city is making it seem as if we said we should forego or return the OMPF, when our paper doesn’t say that at all,” Barsanti said.
“The less assessment you have and the greater your need, the more OMPF money you get, but as you get more industrial and commercial properties online, the province will pull back on OMPF dollars because you’re becoming more self-sufficient.”
“The city of Brantford is a perfect example…from 1999 to now their reliance on OMPF funding has dropped drastically and they moved from a population of roughly 75,000 people to 93,000 people by attracting a lot of industry,” Barsanti said.
“Let’s plan our fiscal policy so that we can attract more investors, so that our tax base goes up, our tax burden goes down, and we become less dependent on the OMPF.”
“I don’t think anybody is suggesting that the OMPF be given away, but I don’t think it’s healthy to say let’s keep taking it for as long as it’s there and when it goes away because of changes in political winds we’ll deal with it at that point,” Barsanti said.
As for council and staff to work towards making the city more business friendly, Fratesi said the Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently named Sault Ste. Marie the second most entrepreneurial city in Ontario.
“In fact, over the last 10 years we’ve been on an improvement curve in terms of our growth and stability and to suggest something different should happen is a negative, not a positive suggestion,” Fratesi said.
“We’ve got one of the highest industrial tax rates in Northern Ontario…it’s very hard for the EDC to say ‘come to the Sault’ when our industrial tax rates are higher than other Northern communities,” Barsanti said.
“We need to tax in a way that makes us more competitive, more open to investors.”
To do that, Barsanti wrote in the chamber media release, “we have to ask ourselves whether or not we would be willing to forego some levels of some services.”
“If we know that we can bring in an influx of investment, then maybe we can look at reducing different services,” Barsanti told us.
“It doesn’t have to be closing pools and skating rinks…it has to be a community discussion before making any decisions on what services should be cut.”
Barsanti said city staff should be looking for savings as the city handles a $180 million budget.
Fratesi said elected leaders and the chamber should meet and iron out any differences.
Barsanti said a discussion on Thursday with Ward 1 city councillor Steve Butland was productive.
“There will be a meeting between the chamber and council, but it has to be more than a reconciliation meeting,” Barsanti said.
Such a meeting would have to be a roundtable discussion instead of an appearance before council at one of its regular meetings, Barsanti said.
Barsanti said Butland would speak to council about arranging a meeting.
“I’m sure it will happen.”
“We must talk about how business and government can work together to move our city forward…we need open discussions, we want to get results,” Barsanti said.
nanci 4/17/2014 9:53:58 PM Report
Can we please just Grow up and work together for a common goal?
nitro14 4/17/2014 10:30:04 PM Report
This city doesn't want growth it want the Sault to be a retirement community. They have interest in large industry to create growth.
Mr. Poster 4/17/2014 11:26:15 PM Report
Joe is in charge. He does not want anyone rocking his boat .Mark Barsanti is a bright business man who should be listened to .I hope he is not discouraged by the old goats on council and city hall.
avocet 4/17/2014 11:27:41 PM Report
Our biggest issue is urban sprawl. We have the second highest lane km per capita in Ontario. That "luxury" is very expensive to maintain yet we keep spending millions to widen and extend our roads. If we want to reduce our exposure to taxation we need to stop expanding our road network.
Vicci 4/17/2014 11:31:44 PM Report
If they were such great ideas let’s hear them. I don’t believe these were confidential emails were they?
ti-guy 4/17/2014 11:32:19 PM Report
Ol Capos never change.....
Vicci 4/17/2014 11:44:50 PM Report
What can we do without???? How about trying leasing out our marina operations? Do you think there would be any takers for this? How about the same for downtown parking? Pay parking at city hall? Remove some of the unnecessary traffic lights and street lights. Could we do without one of the fire halls? Less snow removal on residential streets?
nanci 4/18/2014 1:01:20 AM Report
Verbatim 4/18/2014 1:23:33 AM Report
we have a steel plant...a rail system...a major waterway and a border crossing into the states...lots of space and high unemployment...this city needs to get a car manufacturer or some sort of manufacturing company to come here...its a win win situation....im sure we could get ppl to work for a lot less then what they are paying ppl down south
sportsfan17 4/18/2014 1:25:28 AM Report
Agreed with avocet, urban sprawl is going to continue to cost us more and more money to build and support infrastructure. We need to learn to start building up or we're just going to end up with more debt, more traffic problems and more angry taxpayers.
guard1 4/18/2014 7:35:30 AM Report
To Fratesi, Amoroso and councillors, you have been taxing the citizens of the city into the ground. I challenge you to control spending this year so there is a zero tax increase again next year. If you raise our taxes next year we will know that your only intent this year with the 0 percent increase was to get relected. And Joe F whats with the warnings that last time there was a zero percent increase there was a 7 percent increase the year after. Make due with the revenue you collect. Control your costs just the the ordinary taxpayers need to do to manage their households. I for one will not vote for this council this year.
Mr. Poster 4/18/2014 7:47:10 AM Report
Voters are getting smarter...they can see through an election year budget that will come back to bite us next year. need to hot the refresh button at city hall and welcome in some new blood. Only one problem....who would want the job??? We seem unable to even find someone to run these days.
crasher14 4/18/2014 8:28:15 AM Report
Can anyone share with us what Debbie has done for us as a Leader? Looks to me that she is just another puppet to Joe. Won't rock the boat, and people think she is doing well. I still cannot believe the comment she made about our Chamber... OMG. We truly need strong leadership, and need to get rid of the control freak.
crasher14 4/18/2014 8:30:41 AM Report
Anyone want to bet who our next Chief Of Police will be? Nothing against Davies, but it's all about who Joe can control....
OMGWTF 4/18/2014 8:50:22 AM Report
Want growth? Get the planned money from widening Hwy 17 ( it doesn't need it) and give it to the communities like SSM to invest directly in our city. Improve our own infrastructure, roads, etc etc. Lower our municipal taxes so we can invest/spend our hard-earned money in SSM. My home taxes are as much as a $750,000 home in Toronto and my house is valued no where near that price. Barsanti's on the right track. Council and City Staff needs to grow up and be part of the team that we citizens expect from Government and Bsuiness
Mr. Poster 4/18/2014 8:53:25 AM Report
I do not like the idea that our Mayor may get back in by acclamation. I would love to see a battle because only then are hidden city hall agendas brought to light. Ward battles are equally important.
MYPOINT 4/18/2014 10:14:19 AM Report
is as follows ...
In my humble opinion ( and I do not state that I am an expert in any way ) there is a top ten list of things that this great city has to do prior to the next election. They are as follows ...
1 ) Get rid of ALL of the councillors that we now have and go to a city - wide election for a maximum of 10 councillors for the entire city ( NOT including the Mayor ).
2 ) Have 1 person elected as our Mayor ( with the permanent position of Deputy Mayor filled by the one councillor who gets the most votes).
3 ) Have a 're-call ' method put into place prior to the next election whereby we can fire any person sitting on our city council, including the Mayor, if they do not keep their election promises with NO excuses accepted from anyone for them not fulfilling their promises to all of us in order to get either elected or re-elected.
4 ) Make it a city policy to start allowing higher buildings to be built in this city instead of just allowing more and more and yet even more subdivisions to be built which we simply can not afford to maintain.
5 ) Start demanding more accountability from all of our elected city officials who seem intent on pleasing all of the 'special interest groups' in this city at the expense of the majority of our local taxpayers.
6 ) Have our new city council start demanding that all property owners who own dilapidated buildings either start fixing them up to local standards or tear them down immediately ( even if the city has to tear them down and charge the property owner for doing so ).
7 ) Have the new city council implement a bylaw to begin having an annual tax increase of a minimum of 3% with 1.5% of this increase mandated to be used for repairs to our disintegrating infrastructure and the remaining 1.5% to be used to run this city.
8 ) Have the new council vigorously begin looking to attract new industry or business to this area so that our tax base will increase which will help the entire city.
9 ) Institute a bylaw stating that the city must live within the 3% tax increase ( mentioned in #7 above ) and that such increase must be spent as described in same.
10) Finally, and most important, this city must fire Fratesi because he is and always was a control freak who seems to think that he is somehow boss over all of our elected council since most of them always seem to be afraid of him for some reason.
In closing, I would like to state that everyone in this city knows that Fratesi hypothetically blackmailed a council from the past in some way to get his cushy job and it is time to take that job away from him in the same way somehow. I wish to apologize for the length of this post but I firmly believe that it is time for this city to move forward and not remain stagnant as it has been for the past while.
pruden 4/18/2014 10:16:27 AM Report
I thought the Chamber had some very good points too but let's look at the BIG picture folks, we have 'Bullies' in the Federal and Provincial government and Bullies in City Council and Staff; definitely the years of 2000 are the Bully years.......disgusting.....hope the Chamber are not intimidated by the Bullies.
riverman 4/18/2014 10:31:06 AM Report
It sounds like council's collective nose is out of joint and their egos are bruised. Their defensive stance is quite telling and they have embarrassed themselves now by declaring that they didn't pay ANY attention to the input offered by the Chamber of Commerce whose role it is to lobby the government on behalf of local businesses.
It is disheartening to think that arrogance on the part of certain city councilors, the mayor and the CEO might mean our collective voices continue to fall on deaf ears; that they refuse to even consider changing their mindset when it comes to how this city is run.
The majority of the elected officials on council have little to no experience living or working in other cities while Mark Barsanti has come back to Sault Ste. Marie with extensive business acumen and a vision. Instead of feeling threatened by his knowledge and his drive I think they should show some appreciation for his commitment to working toward long term sustainability in regard to our local economy.
soocrew 4/18/2014 11:02:16 AM Report
King Joe has spoken. Everyone now be silent
What it is. 4/18/2014 11:24:27 AM Report
barsanti for mayor
I'm In 4/18/2014 11:31:27 AM Report
Manufacturing is moving either south of the border or south of that border (THANKS TO HARPER WHO WORKING PEOPLE VOTED FOR), so SSM your out of luck with that idea that's been an issue since the 70's still nothing but call centres that are even closing now (GOOD WORK EDC) , in fact manufacturing closed its doors in SSM (ST. MARY'S PAPER). Take London, ON for example its unemployment rate is between 8 to 9 %. One of the reasons SSM can't attract manufacturing is our infrastructure doesn't have adequate highways, a rail system that is dilapidated and no (deep sea harbour which should have happened in the 70's) , and we are too far away from the big markets to manufacture items/goods people require everyday due to shipping costs. So folks in the 50's when the train pulled into SSM with landed immigrants the train conductor said everyone off end of the line and he meant it.
rockbanger 4/18/2014 11:54:21 AM Report
Stop paying $3,000 for food for all the councillors food-feast prior to each council meeting. This is a token jester but these people can pack a lunch if they need to eat so much. Most citizens are unaware of how much money is wasted on pre-meeting food?
Cut every department spending by 2%.
Freeze all wages with anyone on City payroll making more than $100,000 take a 3% permanent wage cut, including the freeze.
Stop all major purchases for two years. Purchase needed items only.
Stop publicly funding non City essentials.. We all know of items that can go on this list. Use tax dollars for City specific needs..ONLY!
Develop the Marina(s) by private management. Attract new people to visit our town.
Start collecting garbage on one side of the street only.. Yes one side of the street (unsafe streets excluded) residents will have to walk 20 feet and drop off their garbage across the street in a designated area.
Make the EDC accountable... If they do not produce real jobs then they will not exist. Sadly it seems to be the same people who work for the EDC then leave for a few years, then come back for another tenure. Find new blood, HIRE the BEST, dismiss the rest. New thinking opens new doors.
As in Toronto have whomever owns the house... clean the sidewalk in front of their house during winter months.
Hire a new CAO with new ideas.
Present management is stuck in maintaining the reality they call their own? This mindset is the last thing this city needs. Leadership is a daunting task and to this point our town has not had the leadership that we amply pay for on a yearly basis.
So many small things can be done if we have the will to do it. Do we have the will?
guard1 4/18/2014 12:12:49 PM Report
Raising taxes by 3 percent is not the solution. the solution is cost control to free up funds. There are numerous ways to do that. We all do it in our daily lives to survive because we do not have a well to go to. Unlike the city hall where they have a well that they can go to if they run short and that is the taxpayers pockets.
Thanks to social media nowadays we can keep the pressure on city council. They do read these comments and as long the comments are civil and meaningful they get through to them.
Mr. Poster 4/18/2014 1:00:46 PM Report
Mark Barsanti would make a great mayor. He is a forward thinking young man wo truly wants to see this city grow.THROW YOUR HAT IN THE RING MARK.
BrianTheDog 4/18/2014 1:08:54 PM Report
Mayor Debbie what happened to Have Your Say??? Next election your slogan should be Joe's Way or the Highway!
Great news 4/18/2014 1:23:49 PM Report
in Federal and Provincial politics you either follow the party lines or you get thrown out. In local politics you follows JOE'S line or you get blackballed. Why pay ALL these elected officials when leaders or locally CEO control everything?
fatafr 4/18/2014 2:34:44 PM Report
This continuing discussion about the reaction to the zero budget increase that took place Monday night at City Council and who should receive the most credit for it is, in my opinion, simply ridiculous and embarrassing. As I see it, there should be harmony between City Council and the Chamber of Commerce; there is instead this disharmony on who should take credit. Personally, I don't think it took any rocket scientists to come up with this final decision Monday night. All Council did was take monies from surplus and monies from the casino revenue to arrive at the zero tax rate increase. That's it !! If and when we can come up with more cost efficiencies in the operations at City Hall; if the Economic Development Corporation continues to increase our assessment base by bringing Industrial and Commercial opportunities here, along with decent paying jobs, then we really will have something to actually cheer and get excited about.
All we did Monday night was delay the inevitable and for that, City Council, has nothing to be excited about. Many Saultites that I have spoken to these past few days feel exactly that way and are in no way disillusioned by the outcome.
Personally, I believe we should have, at the very least least, paid off the $750,000 debt for the Ermatinger Old Stone House and still ended up with a very slight tax increase of about .57%, still below the rate of inflation and that would have been a far better final decision, moving forward.
I've always stated that we should have a respectful opinion of small business and the Chamber of Commerce. There's been miscommunication throughout this dialogue and I am somewhat disappointed with the reaction that has been on display by some on City Council. I totally agree that it is high time that City Council and the Chamber of Commerce sat down, had a good discussion and worked together. This is most definitely something that is long overdue and will no doubt be a very productive and worthwhile exercise.
As long as there is harmony, respect and healthy communication, we can accomplish some very good things.
Our motivation has to be sincere and, most definitely, not self-serving; then I think we should be ok, moving forward.
These, of course, are just my thoughts on this topic.
Mr. Poster 4/18/2014 4:05:34 PM Report
I thought it was a vote by all councillors to ok the zero increase Mr. Fata.You now sound opposed to the idea. If so...why did you not vote against it? Did I read you wrong ?
tba 4/18/2014 5:48:57 PM Report
Message to Joe Fratesi! YOU, are NOT the CEO of this city. The Mayor is!! YOU are the C.A.O. "Chief Administrative Officer".
That means you are the head OFFICE boy,NOT the head of city council( Chief Executive Officer).
Fratesi has no business commenting on the chamber's position one way or another! THAT is for the politicians!
Fratesi's suggestion the Chamber is niaive regarding funding,is absurd.Also,for him to say "In fact,over the last 10 years, WE've been on an improvement curve",supposes it's HIS doing, as well as council's and had little to do with entreprenuers in this city,INSPITE of the weak council! [and an OFFICE BOY,who forgets he's NOT the mayor!]
For godsakes,Debbie,speak up, and tell Fratesi to muzzle himself.John Rowswell didn't trust his C.A.O,and neither should you!
guard1 4/18/2014 5:55:12 PM Report
Mr Fata, city hall collects over 100 million through taxation alone. You and the rest of council needs to standup to Mr. Fratesi and city hall. They may ask for a tax increase but it doesnt mean that you have to ok it. Zero tax increases should be the norm. Instead the norm is tax, tax and tax the ratepayers. And then when an election is near you and council use a zero tax increase as an election goody. Does this council think they can fool the Sault voters? This years elections will be very interesting.
Mr. Poster 4/18/2014 6:21:33 PM Report
Nothing will change at city hall if no one runs against the present council.
fatafr 4/19/2014 12:04:05 AM Report
To Mr. Poster:This is my response to your question above. Yes, I did vote in favour of the "0" % increase. 2 Councillors, in their wisdom, decided to put forth a resolution requesting that there be a zero tax increase. Some Councillors did try to compromise and bring forward a middle ground position, somewhere between 1.35 % and "0" %. There obviously was no appetite for that and it became full speed ahead for the zero increase. Of course, there's many in SSM who applaud that decision because, after all, the last time this happened in SSM was back in 2002.
Personally, I could see this going the same way as the vote for the Grotto, a tourist attraction, that would have seen it located on the little used Bellevue Park property. That vote went 12 to 1, and you should recall who the lone Councillor was who
voted in favour of that location.
Anyway, once the flood gate was opened to aim for the zero increase, and every other Councillor's back was placed against the wall,there obviously was no turning back.
Moving forward, this City Council had better not become too complacent; it had better become very creative and it had better find tax savings,keep its fingers crossed that there are no unforeseen negative surprises and hope and expect that the Economic Development Corp. and the Innovation Centre have some "solid, concrete irons in the fire" for some local economic development, preferably in 2014.
Mr. Poster, I hope I have responded to your comments. You may still think that it was a cop-out on my part, but, I have tried to be outspoken. During the budget process, I raised some cost cutting measures, brought up the issue of salaries, but, when everything is said and done, I still only have 1 vote.
Feel free to contact me anytime for your comments and suggestions. I do respond to people's concerns, always.
Mr. Poster 4/19/2014 6:58:03 AM Report
If you had voted AGAINST... it still would not have changed the end result. The only value in your voting against would have been for the future when the inevitable happens...unforeseen expenses. You then could have pointed out that you thought that might happen and that's why you voted against. I guess also if you had voted against you would have voted your CONSCIENCE and that is an admiral position to take .Being the lone dissenter is not a bad thing. Thanks for explaining your position as I appreciate your candor.
guard1 4/19/2014 8:58:58 AM Report
Mr. Fata, you are correct when you say that council better not become too complacent and better become very creative and find tax savings. But this should be the norm every day and not the exception when you run short on funds. If there is a shortage of funds this year its not due to the 0 percent increase its caused by the lack in spending restraint to date by the council and city hall. Was it really necessary to install all those flag poles in front of city hall (that now requires the perpetual purchase of $15000 of flags each year), was it necessary to fund the norgoma for the 2nd time after the 5 year commitment expired? And what payback will there be to the ratepayer for funding the old stone house. construction?
And why in the world council turn down the construction of queensgate subdivision and the avery subdivsion. These 2 subdivisions would bring in probably close to a million dollars in tax revenue.
pruden 4/19/2014 9:18:17 AM Report
I agree Mark Barsanti sounds like he would be just the Mayor for our town.
Lots of good comments on this story.
David Poluck 4/19/2014 9:19:43 AM Report
I sent this in as a letter to the editor last week..putting into words not only what I was thinking but what I was hearing back from people that I had spoken with for two days after the vote.
Letter to the Editor April 15,2014
What a difference a year makes. During the 2013 budget deliberations the SSMAR had asked for a resolution brought forward to send the budget back to staff to come back with at or below the rate of inflation, which at the time was around 1.2%.
There was lively discussion and the resolution was defeated.
This year’s budget increase, thanks to staffs hard work and due diligence, was recommended at a 1.35%. This recommended increase was far lower than from previous years but much closer to the rate of inflation. Multiple factors on many fronts went into this lower 1.35% as recommended by staff.
To see council press for a 0% property tax freeze for this one year is both surprising to some and welcome by others when last years suggestion of reducing levels to at or below the rate of inflation was deemed impossible.
CAO Joe Fratesi has stated “Next year they need to make sure there’s a surplus and I don’t know if some of those features that presented themselves this year to make up that surplus are going to repeat themselves,”
“We (city staff) tried to give the very best budget we could bearing in mind that budgets are not just about one year but also about planning for future years.”
Keeping CAO Fratesi statement in mind and seeing that a 0% property tax increase has been achieved for 2014, what is the plan going forward for fiscal restraint towards discretionary spending needed within a zero tax environment?
Mayor Amaroso said she believes next year’s budget will return to the “norm” with an increase and taxpayers shouldn’t be surprised to see that happen.
Are we doing ourselves any favours by having 0% property tax increase without looking at what it will require to maintain fiscal levels for following years?
I would like to see developed a ‘live within your means policy ‘’ as a council guideline for the next four years. My suggestion to prepare would be to further and improve the process's of communication between the Finance Committee and the ratepayers of this community on a monthly basis.
Ideally, if we are to move beyond the current preliminary budgets input sessions we should commit to holding monthly open interactive workshop styled meetings. This would allow us to go above and beyond the current method and work towards tax reduction in the future.
Having no property tax increase is good but working within 0% property tax environment will not be easy without further due diligence and fiscal vigilance.
Candidate Ward 3
riverman 4/19/2014 9:29:17 AM Report
@ guard 1 :
Council wisely voted down the Pointes Estates development proposal because they felt there were still to many unanswered questions regarding the environmental impact of the development. They were demonstrating the due diligence that was so sorely and obviously lacking in the Conservation Board's biased ruling.
Queensgate is another matter altogether and one where council members have admitted they based their decision solely on the concerns of neighbouring residents as opposed to scientific facts and measurable statistics as provided to council by the representatives of the Pointes Protection Association.
And your question regarding the Norgoma is indeed evidence of the inability of council to a) plan ahead and b) think outside the box. They just keep putting off the inevitable: without some major innovation, investment and marketing, the Norgoma will never be more than an hunk of steel in the "marina" and someone's going to have to cough up 2 million dollars to get rid of it.
The exciting developments at the old St. Mary's Paper site are all happening because of the vision of private investors and have nothing to do with the foresight (or lack thereof) of city council. Sadly, tourism and culture to Sault Ste. Marie city councilors will likely never be more than the Bushplane Museum, the Agawa Canyon Tour Train and the Old Stone House (which are all excellent attractions with great and still untapped potential, but they do not a tourist destination make).
guard1 4/19/2014 9:46:15 AM Report
we really need someone to challenge Amoroso for the mayors position in this years election. When she publicly states that she believes that next years budget will return to the "norm" with a tax increase and taxpayers should not be surprised to see that happen makes me fear the next 4 years under this council with regard to spending restraints. We will pay dearly if this council stays intact.
David Poluck 4/19/2014 10:43:35 AM Report
Even if the council remains the same..it is up to all ratepayers residential/business and industrial to work towards the things we deem important with those we elect.
That's the ideal...we just have to make the effort to see it gets done.
It is possible.
Any time you want to drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
We can share information to go forward.
Mr. Poster 4/20/2014 9:33:35 AM Report
HOW does the average citizen get to "work together" as you suggest?