A new chapter for Placentia's Bill Hogan

He may be retired from politics, but the former Placentia mayor is not ready to go away quietly

Melissa Jenkins melissa.jenkins@tc.tc
Published on March 26, 2014
Bill Hogan may have stepped away from municipal and provincial politics after four decades, but he is still a prominent member of the Placentia community.
Photo by Melissa Jenkins

Donned in a red and black plaid shirt with his light hair slicked back, former Placentia mayor William "Bill" Hogan rests his ample frame on a couch at his home office in Dunville.

It's late February, and there's a heavy snowfall blanketing the landscape. As a result, the 76-year-old has rearranged his schedule so he can work from home. He has mobility issues, so he stays home in bad weather to avoid the treacherous walking conditions.

He has a busy schedule, but Hogan has agreed to his first sit-down interview since ending a four-decades-long political career in September.

He's welcoming and candid, and even offers "the big man's chair" to his guest from The Compass.

"People keep asking me, 'how's retirement,'" he blurts in a forceful tone. "I am not retired."

Although he's not sitting in the mayor's chair anymore, Hogan is still a very busy man.

Hogan owns his own enterprise - Atlantic Safety Centre Inc. - in St. John's. He has an office in Argentia, only minutes from his home.

When he does get some free time, he tries to keep away from the political happenings of the province.

"I just resolved to myself to (publicly) mind my own business," he says.

Has local opinions

After a dedicated stint on the Placentia council, many would be surprised to learn Hogan hasn't driven past the town hall since the election in September.

"My mind is idle every once in a while," Hogan explains. "I scratch my head and think about what I should be doing next."

Though he's now on the political sidelines, Hogan has never been shy about voicing his opinion, especially when it relates to his beloved hometown., He has very strong opinions about what is taking place in council meetings.

"Because I'm close to it and inquire, I find that the mayor (Wayne Power Jr.) is doing a good job," Hogan states. "He has some members who are dysfunctional and disruptive to a smooth, co-operative council."

He explains how it appears some councillors "don't co-operate to running a progressive community or town council," and some just want to argue.

If it was during his tenure, the dysfunctional behaviour he believes is taking place would never happen.

"I wouldn't tolerate it," he says. "I've ruled people out of order. And it's too bad, you know. What you should have is seven people dedicated to doing something (productive). Seven people to be able to do it and disagree professionally."

That's not to say he doesn't appreciate a good debate.

"Everybody has an opinion," Hogan says. "And you can't have a bunch of 'yes' men or women on council."

Hogan had no problem debating both inside the council chamber and in public during his political career.

"My mother used to tell me, 'if you can't speak good about people, don't speak at all,'" he explains. "Ignore your enemies, and you hurt them more than if you attack them. Not that I didn't attack people; I did. But it was very much warranted."

Being open with the public

Besides previously being up front with councillors and other public figures, Hogan has also been an open book to the general public. He believes that should be a given when elected to any form of politics.

"I don't believe in the words 'transparency' and 'accountability,'" he states. "They're just catchphrases that sound good to the public.

"If it's personal, it should be private. But if you're elected and you're dealing with the public and public matters, you should put it all out there. That's not transparency, that's just doing your God damn job."

On occasion, Hogan is still contacted by the media to give his take on issues. When he speaks out, he doesn't believe in being dishonest.

"A good liar needs a good memory," he says. "Don't tell lies and you don't need a good memory."

Hogan's happenings

He may have a lot of political opinions, but his business is at the forefront at this point in time.

Most recently, Hogan acquired the former American military guardhouse in Argentia, and admits he was expecting to put about $10,000 into renovating it.

Some $70,000 later, the small 1,500 square foot building is looking more like an office.

While renovations have been steady, he has passed on some of the major responsibilities to his daughter, Pam, who is a former school administrator.

"My daughter retired two years ago, so I put her into the company as second in command," Hogan says. "I've been dabbling."

Stepping into new-age technology has been easier for him with his daughter at the wheel.

"She introduced some new processes and I oversaw that from a distance," he says. "It's been helping to initiate new business."

Community pride

Even though Hogan is focusing on his business, with retirement not even on his radar, he does take some time to reflect on his community.

He calls himself a "nationalist," and loves to see work being created in the area and growth due to fiscal responsibility.

"In my (most recent) term as mayor, I was blessed to have some members on council who took their fiscal responsibilities serious," Hogan explains. "Placentia is in a good fiscal state. At least, it was when I left it."

Although he says he is not on council anymore, he doesn't use that as an excuse to prevent open communication with the community.

"I know I'm known for being outspoken," Hogan says. "But after talking (with me), you would also find out I'm a good listener."

Listening to people's concerns and issues will always be something Hogan does, as long as he lives within the community, in the mayor's chair or not.



About Bill Hogan:

° Full name - William Patrick Hogan;

° Birthdate - Sept. 15, 1937;

° Born - St. John's, but spent time in St. Mary's, Labrador City and Dunville;

° Family - wife, Mary; five children, Pam (a retired school principal), Colleen (a physical education teacher), Lynn (an economist, educator), Tim (police sergeant with Royal Newfoundland Constabulary) and Diana (correctional officer at Her Majesty's Penitentiary); eight grandchildren; one great-grandchild;

° Political history - mayor of Dunville 1969-1989; Liberal MHA for Placentia 1989-1993, serving as a cabinet minister (municipal affairs) in the government of former premier Clyde Wells; mayor of Placentia from 1997-2001, lost his bid in 2001 for re-election, but became mayor again in 2005. Retired from politics in September 2013;

° Education and training - completed training for police services with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary; trained in criminology and policing techniques with the Chicago Institute of Applied Sciences; firefighting and rescue training; trained in emergency measures from the Emergency Measures Organization, Arnprior, Ontario; and training with the National Safety Council, Chicago, in industrial supervisory training, safety director and loss prevention and control;

° Current occupation - CEO of Atlantic Safety Centre Inc. in St. John's, with a branch in Argentia;

° Interesting facts about Bill - he once ordered a chair online, and they sent it to a different William P. Hogan in the United States. He eventually received it after a significant delay; doesn't like the new process used to decide the leader of the Liberal party; has never voted Tory; says he has never heard anything of any substance from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business; admits he is not the type of person to smile a lot; former president of the Newfoundland Federation of Municipalities; awarded the Queen's medal for community service in 1978 and 1993; and is a member of the Newfoundland Softball Hall of Fame.