"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Friday, 20 September 2019

TAP...TAP...TAP ...WITHOUT A SOUND

I’m still practising. Reaching down for whatever might be lurking just below the surface of my mind. This may not get published because I’m still groping and no-one is here to help but I find that’s the best way. I’m forced to study the keys and repeat things. Just don’t go away. I will soon get up to speed and into the meat of things. There’s a couple of promising nice mixed metaphors and i just found the key that moves me forward along the line without obliterating what I just wrote.

Bear with me please. Don’t ever leave me I need to do it to get back into the swing of it.

I’ve been writing for more than eighty years. Starting with letters, written by hand of course. I’ve wondered why my bent was not recognized and encouraged. Then realized it was. When my brother’s plane didn’t return from a bombing raid, he was reported missing. I was assigned to write to newspapers for particulars every time we read of airmen in a dinghy being plucked from the ocean. When the war ended and we heard from the father of a flight crew survivor who had been a prisoner of war, that my brother had been killed, I wrote to the War Office to inform them. Whereupon they promptly sent back the information...in a blue-banded telegram. It signified urgency, they were informing us that he had been killed.

Last week someone posted an old Scottish class photo on line. There were forty students in the photo.Today’s teachers think twenty-four students are too many. They are not even teaching them cursive writing and if comments made in social media are an indication, English grammar is a lost art also.

When we came to Canada, there were three Toronto daily newspapers and a section for Letters To the Editor. I took to that like a duck to water. It evolved to a weekly column in the Aurora Banner. The editor was patient and instructive. I learned. I did some reporting.

During...before...and after.... I became involved in politics and my education broadened enormously. NO college or university can teach what there is to learn in politics.

At seventy-five, after a fourteen year absence, I put my name forward again and was re-elected and served three more four year terms. During which time social media presented. To the consternation of some, the delight of many and with the help of Heather Sisman, a young friend at a loose end, I published a blog. 

Never, in a million years could I have ever imagined the opportunity. Without really meaning to, I stopped writing posts and took to commenting on Facebook instead. It’s less work. More casual. But the current state of politics in Canada, from top to bottom is lamentable.

It wasn’t always thus.

I am forever grateful for the opportunities I have received.

The Blog is payback.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

A TRIAL RUN...BUT NOT REALLY

So ...I’m back...It’s going to take a while to get used to a keyboard again and in fact, I’m not using it now. For a reason unbeknown to me the keyboard on my iPad is up and the new one is not responding. I have a feeling my computer literacy is about to take a monumental curve ... up ...or down...It will be a test of my ability. Can’t find the font that changes the size of the print. Can’t take the cursor back to make a correction. Spacing has changed and I don’t know why. I turned a button to 3 but that’s on the new keyboard. Why would that affect the spacing on the iPad touchpad. I don’t even know the words to describe things. I need to look again to see if there is an instruction manual. There is a leaflet telling me how not to start a fire with the batteries...in four different languages. My grandson Aaron found the keyboard for me. He is in his mid-twenties, married and an expectant father. He has never known life without computers. Before he started school, his mother with other mothers had to raise funds to buy computers. And then have a principal tell them how the funds were to be used. Aaron doesn’t need language,he just lets his fingers do the tapping for him. But Aaron’s not here. Hunting and pecking is not good enough. I just thought I would let you know I am up though not quite running on my blog once again.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

OUT OF SIGHT.....OUT OF MIND

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "ONE STEP FORWARD": 

Oh please get back to writing. Your views/opinions will always be valued and well revieved by many! Name me one other person who has been involved longer than you in this Town? I loved reading about when you were a child as well. Those posts were delightful to read. :) 
Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 15 October 2018 
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That's a nice warm welcome and I do have a little story to tell but not  a childhood memory.  

Initially, I supported the incumbent Mayor's election.  I would never have endorsed a candidate without experience except for the appalling circumstances of the times. I was without option.

Having friends on council is not essential. Working in good faith together for the wellbeing of the community is and doesn't require personal friendship. 

It doesn't  demand  agreement on issues either. Making  friends is bonus. 

Citizens' Awards night comes around early...normally a boisterous,cheerful evening.... recipients of all ages with families and friends and councillors making  presentations. An invitation with program was always received. 

Staff organized the event. 

This  Mayor's  first awards night was different. Nothing prepared us.

No invitation was received. Only on arrival I realized it wasn't the norm. 

Councillor Humphreys  , formally gowned, was at the entrance to the council chamber ...greeting guests.

Councillors Gallo and Ballard were off to one side. I joined them to ask if they knew what was happening. 

Ballard and myself went to the rear and found a staff person. He inquired  and advised us to find ourselves a seat.

Then the evening revealed itself. 

A few award  recipients, were seated in the  body of the chamber. Guests occupied the spectators gallery. Participating officials,staff and Councillor Humphreys stood under the video screens...prompt cards in hand. 

On a signal it seemed, the Mayor made his entrance. It was an amazing sight. He  lightly skipped  down the side stairs  in a pale grey swallow- tailed tuxedo.. like  Fred Astaire... holding  his prompt cards. 

We warptched videos of nominations  

The Mayor and Councillor Humphreys presented  awards.  Councillors present were not acknowledged.

When I was first elected ,I had everything to learn and no shortage of people to teach.everybody was helpful. 

Formality and respect of administration toward council was marked. Protocol was paramount It had nothing to do with personal status and everything to do with havingbeen elected. It was the office that mattered. 

Population  was  7,500.  Residences, about 2,500. Clerk-treasurer, deputy-clerk,treasury clerk and clerk to the clerk formed the administration. Additional help was brought in for elections .

Until then, the term was one year . Mine was the first two year term and  first annual budget to top a million. You bet we knew where every penny was spent. 

On the  night the budget was struck , Council, staff and reporters and anyone else present went upstairs to mark the most important  event of the term. Everything flowed from the budget.


A pair of platters of dainty, fresh, sandwiches and sweet treats were served . The clerk-treasurer,
(He who held the keys)'opened the little liquor cabinet and glasses  were raised. 

The sense of an important  task accomplished was nurtured among us. 

That's  how I found things in 1967.... Canada's Centennial Year.

It has changed over years and sooner and more obviously in the incumbent's first year . 

Casting my mind back to library board days , I have realized there were signs. 

In terms of town business, awards nights are not significant. No issue could or would be made.  Recipients were pleased to be recognized. 

It was already a split Council and went downhill from there.  

Thursday, 27 September 2018

ONE STEP FORWARD

I didn't just stop writing.Several half-written blog posts are on hold,untitled and now out of date. 

I've been commenting on Facebook. 

Commenting is not the same. It doesn't require the same discipline.it's fast and lazy. 

I play scrabble with the computer and stay at beginners level so I score hundreds ahead. I like that. Winning is better and I have control.

Friends have been urging me to get back to writing the blog.  Because  they told me so...many have  looked forward to reading it every day. 

Mostly, it was about Town business. Not being on Council now, means not knowing first-hand whereoff I speak.

Meetings  are not televised any more...though I admit...I seldom watched.  Didn't when I was at the table either. Listening once was enough. 

Doug Ford's election has made Ontario politics interesting again. Can't really tell what's coming. 

America's politics are in a dark place.

There's no shortage of stuff  to write about. The challenge is choosing and getting back to the daily routine. 

A commenter would like to know what I'm thinking about the municipal election. I do think about it but I doubt my views may be well received. 

I do not endorse the incumbent for Mayor. Even now,at the end of a third term,his alignment with 
the Mayor of Burlington on an issue for the election must have been a surprise to most voters. 

He has never attempted to create a cohesive unit of council. He gave the impression he didn't see the need to associate. The staff arrangement of his predecessor seemed much to his liking...gave him the influence he wanted and continued to build. 

Of the challengers, I think Tom Mrakas has most going for him. He puts his heart and soul into the job.
What he says he means. 
 
My perspective, as might be expected, is different from Tom's. I believe the primary  function of a council is efficient business management of services to property. Transferring land from  
revenue to the liability side of the ledger, in any other business , is the road to bankruptcy with no 
way back. 

Cheerfully ushering in annual tax increases to make up the shortfall is not good stewardship. Nothing will ever persuade me otherwise.  

Of course it's not as simple as that. 

Nothing ever is. 

It's one of the reasons I stopped writing. 

And If I don't stop now this post now, it may never get posted either. 



Tuesday, 26 June 2018

POLITICS IS PERSONAL

In a weird way ,I have the impression Doug Ford will rely on people who know more than he does 
to govern the Province. I find that comforting. A few references during the campaign gave me 
serious pause. He disclosed his ignorance that Canadian Legion matters were federal jurisdiction under Veteran Affairs. He said, as Premier, he would protect Legions from municipal property taxes.
He was ill-advised.
 
On the eve of the election, he announced a hiring freeze, except for police and fire-fighters.The 
other parties were demanding he disclose where he intended to cut spending. He excepted police  and firefighting  from the hiring freeze but both are municipal services. I'm not aware of any share of either funding or authority from or with the Province. 

Since  Education Boards funding has been transferred to the Province, local decision-making shrunk accordingly. Major decisions are all made at Ministry level.  School boards are redundant. 

We may assume since health services delivered in hospital corridors on stretchers ....and cut- backs in 
educational programming are already under provincial control ...we  should not look for improvement
in those areas. At least not until he's been properly briefed .

That's where the weirdness emanates. Doug Ford has long been involved in municipal politics alongside his brother. Was Rob the informed one....and Doug the follower? Maybe.

Well....Rob was the successful candidate for Mayor. Doug showed no interest. When Rob became terminally ill, he made Doug promise to take up the challenge. Doug was always a loyal defender of Rob, no matter what. Now the question is....will Doug continue to follow advice from people who know better. It would not be a bad thing. 

There's nothing smooth or sophisticated about Doug Ford. That's not the reason he won the leadership. We will watch this story unfold. 

Like we did the last one. 

Within days of taking over, Kathleen Wynn disclosed her woeful lack of familiarity with how the system 
worked. A dispute between the former liberal MPP Cabinet minister, then Mayor Watson of Ottawa about a Casino deal equal to Toronto's led to the exit of Paul Godfrey as Chair of LCBO , Lotteries and 
Casinos . The Premier clearly had no understanding such matters were at arm's length distance 
from  politics and why. She never lost confidence her Master's Degree in Education gave her everything she needed to know to run the Province. 

She worked hard.
She never learned. 
We have just watched the end of her story. 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

TIME FOR RECKONING

At this time in the last election year, Council made the calamitous decision to proceed with the joint facility. The vacancy left by Councillor Ballard's election to the provincial assembly had to be filled to get sufficient support.

Council had  authority to appoint an individual. They didn't. A competition was created and a number of people entered in good faith. A written statement was required and a speech in a public 
meeting . Neither undertaking  is stress free. 

It's true no-one was required to compete. But that  they were sufficiently interested was to their credit.
Unfortunately it seemed obvious to me the decision  had already been made by the Mayor, his henchmen and woman. It was no coincidence the person chosen, cast the deciding vote for the project. 

I often argued against staff recommendations. I was without confidence in their competence . Considering what I knew of their hiring, their backgrounds.or previous advice ; not the purchase of an unsuitable  site from Mr. Leibovitz...nor the  20 year lease of the Hydro property to the QYR...nor sale of the town works and parks sites without a competition...none of it convinced me the town's interest was served . Cost to taxpayers was in the millions. None of it  sensible. 

In my years of service, I learned to make arguments with the force of logic. If the community responded, I was successful. Often, I was not. But my position was always clear. People expected it of me and they deserved it. 

Water  and sewer rates were another example of betrayal. I choose that word deliberately. Meters were installed to create the illusion people paid only for  water used. Staff refused  to justify the increases. The Mayor parroted what he had heard  at the Region. "Water  is the best bargain we have" 

I believe we are paying for treatment systems at Lake Simcoe  and servicing to allow northern York Region to be developed in ever increasing density. 

33% increase in water rates is a tax increase like any other. It's just located in a different column to deliberately obscure the fact. 

Do we read about it in the local newspapers? Do they have any obligation in the matter? The answer
 to both questions is negative. 

The previous two posts are comments. I'm pleased to see them. They indicate interest in how the community  is  not served by our current council . 

I hope it grows and continues. 

MORE OF THE SAME

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "AUDIT DELIVERED": 


How about Aurora's water and sewer rates? A 33% increase this year in sewer rates! It passed like a breeze. Hard to believe our elected officials did not need a little more detail on why. Maybe a note to the department head that says - "inflation is running about 2%, why is a 33% increase required this year?"  

But like the operations centre there seems to be little accountability. 

This operation centre spending looks bad on the Mayor. Especially when he and the Deputy stepped up to control spending on this project.

I Hope Aurora taxpayers are following closely. 



Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 15 April 2018 at 15:42

Friday, 13 April 2018

AUDIT DELIVERED

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "ALMOST CUSTOMARY": 

For those who follow the gross miss-expenditure of town money - the Joint Operations Centre - it is already $454,000 over budget and it is estimated it will take a minimum of $1.800,000 to finish the project. This according to a full audit of the building's construction.

There was supposed to be a Financial Task Force - a five member panel which included Mayor Geoff Dawe and Councillor John Abel, to oversee the project.

The auditor reports that "in terms of leadership, the lack of an overall project management methodology in the Town was lacking. Clearly that should have been in place."

It is obvious that the Financial Task Force knew nothing about supervising or managing a construction project that ended up costing well in excess of $20,000,000.

And now Mayor Dawe's stated intent to seek a third term is to see through to completion two new major projects. This is laughable.

The Town must hire a reputable and experienced project manager to oversee the work and who can report to council the progress of construction and the budget numbers. Senior staff might also be employed.

But please keep elected officials out of meddling. 


Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 13 April 2018 at 07:49

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