"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

Thursday, 19 October 2017

LISTEN TO ME CAREFULLY. ..I WILL SAY THIS MORE THAN ONCE

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "YOU ASKED....HAPPY TO OBLIGE": 

He well deserved it, long before the JOC disaster. The JOC was the final expensive straw that broke taxpayers backs. 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 18 October 2017 at 20:45


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The commenter has not followed  the map I laid out .

Staff replacements were carefully selected during the Mormac term .

Prime criteria was not experience and judgement but to follow the Mayor's orders while appearing to provide professional advice to Council. With a consistent obedient majority of six ,they didn't have to try real hard.  

Service  to the community wasn't the objective , so much as servitude to the Mayor. Under those  circumstances, judgement and experience would have been a liability. 

 At one point,a new town affairs blog  received orders from the CAO, without Council authority,
 to remove an anonymous comment by a stated deadline and reveal the identity of the author. 
They removed the comment but could not provide the identity. 

Litigation was undertaken by the town against three local residents who apparently took turns as blog moderators.

In a closed meeting chaired by the Mayor, the town solicitor was instructed to proceed against the residents ,in the Mayor's name ,at town expense. 

The proceeding was found to be SLAPP action; meaning,  intended to silence public 
participation. In the written decision,the Judge deemed the town solicitor,who filed the complaint on behalf of the Mayor,was the only witness, had evaded answering questions and lied. 

The solicitor's employment was terminated by the new Council. 

He wasn't part of the Unholy Trinity appointed during the Twilight Zone but he was the only one sent
on his way immediately after. 

Legal invoices were being received  several years thereafter. 

The CAO continued in his capacity seven more years. The Chief Financial Officer still 
serves . 

Re-organization of  re-organizations was partially and severally repeated.Without input from Council
or notable improvement. 

Failed renovation of the Family Leisure Complex has been noted previously. That was prior to the last election. 

The Municipal Clerk's office was reduced in status and the office changed hands several times.
It's understood the Chief Building Official  is in charge of the Legal Dept and Municipal Clerk's office. 

Recently heard from my daughter Heather, a regular user of the pool at AFL. The facility was closed 
for weeks for cleaning and renewal. On re-opening ,half the liner was blue like new, the other half ,deep disgustingly, unclean green . Apparently enough funds were available to clean only half the liner. You
have to be in the pool to see the unbelievable stupidity.

Special Olympic Ducks, paying full rates for prime time,have had lanes taken from them to make
room for potential but not real, new clientele .if they appear, they will pay full rates; same  as the 
Ducks. 

Special Needs Olympic swimmers will not be travelling on public transit in the late hours.

I've been writing this blog since August 2007, provided insight not available elsewhere.

Much was never told because normally sensible policies were manipulated to suit the
twisted purposes.

With a change of Council ,some circumstances changed too many did not. If we can sort 
It out, we will. 

Please note the comment that Dawe and Abel were the financial ver sight committee for 
the Joint Operation Centre. 
 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

POLITICS IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN PHYSICS...Albert Einstein.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB ...AURORA HAD A SCAPEGOAT": 

My thoughts:

"Aurora's taxpayers are victims in this story" is a kernel of truth we need to keep reminding ourselves as we ponder the next municipal election.

I guess the Mayor's chair is very comfortable at $150,000/yr. He may need a strong arm to push him out. I hope voters are staying informed and have a strong arm.
Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 18 October 2017 at 15:01

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The current Mayor was first ever elected in Aurora without prior experience or proven competence. The community did have the strong arm. Then they put it down again. . Unfortunately ,he proved disappointing.  

In the next election, he was challenged and re-elected. 

All he had going for him was that he wasn't Morris. 

Yet If he learned anything from anyone, his took lessons from his predecessor. 

His challenger in the second contest was in her camp and presented no option. 

Council has remained a non-entity with no role in town business . Mostly from choice and partly from ignorance. 

I shudder to re-call  the various battles in that first four years : 

3 trees that needed to be removed to make a house habitable. So anxious were they not to lose a single vote, no matter the evidence, the decision had to be wrested like a sword from a stone. There was never an attempt at leadership. 

A cell phone tower on Bathurst St. Councillors urged funding for a legal battle to compel Bell to remove a structure erected in King Township in accordance with all rules and regulations. Not even the solicitor could convince them the attempt was ludicrous. 

Hydro property giveaway and Queen's York Rangers got a lease extended from twenty to thirty years. 
All to foil federal plans. Fort York Armories  in Toronto closed.  But Aurora's taxpayers were saddled with the burden by their elected represented . Silly ass snobbery. 

Litigation compelled the forced sale of 6 acres from a developer for $2+ million and $3+million 
was spent to build a park where none was required. All to satisfy the neighbours who did not 
want the land developed. Councillor Able declared all undeveloped land should be acquired and parks created.

Growing assessment revenue is the business of the municipal corporation. 

Continued  hand-out of $1 million to fund programs and provide space  to a private corporate board to duplicate services already provided within the community.  Culture.

Half million handed to the federal government  for a contaminated drill shed taking up a corner of the town park for more than a hundred years. The town should have been paid to take it ,as is , off the governments hands .

The ongoing, shameful pandering was never kept secret. It was their stock in  trade. 

Whatever was needed to bring it to the attention of the taxpayers, I did.  

To what effect.

The lower the backward bend under the Limbo pole the higher the score in the ballot poll.

Accumulation of support for  pandering politicians will always carry slow pokes forward.The 
electorate shapes the mould. 

What some regard as shocking betrayal of trust,appalling absence of intestinal fortitude,complete lack of integrity and conspicuous  lack of common sense , is haughtily dismissed with insufferable condescension as  " a kernel of truth". 

By another chicken-shit candidate, I suspect. 

Lord....Give  me strength. Make me an instrument ....But not of your peace. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB ...AURORA HAD A SCAPEGOAT

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "YOU ASKED....HAPPY TO OBLIGE": 

The IES Director has already paid the price for the JOC as the sacrificial lamb. 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 17 October 2017 at 17:15

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Mais non, mon ami ....

Aurora's taxpayers are victims in this story. 

Four years ago, salary grid for the position of IES director was within the range of $189,000. It's
likely more now. 

The CAO position was in the range of $200,000. He moved on to $260,000.

Complete with other benefits,averaging  $30,000. vacation around 6 weeks, plus time off for
 meetings attended, the financial impact of administration of town business is real and substantial
 even without the $26 million cost of the project so far spent.

Chief Financial Officer is within the same range as the others. 

Full - time Mayor  salary is  $150,000  or thereabouts , plus benefits. Vacation time is indeterminate and difficult to discern,from days of doing little that's discernible. 

If the pattern established by an earlier termination for cause, on advice from the CFO,was followed,
a month's salary was paid to the departing IES Director for every year of employment. 

Considering value not received for resources expended, sacrifice is definitely on the backs of  
residents. None of the directors referenced lived in the town. 

Aurora taxpayers are IT.

In recent years,three construction projects were completed within budget and on time; 
Seniors' Centre,Aurora Recreation Complex and Leslie Street Industrial Park Development .

All supervised by the longest serving member of the Administration, The Director of Leisure Services. 
In 2006/10, his authority for buildings and facilities was transferred to IES in a re-organisation recommended by the new CAO. The one who recently defected.  He came from the Region,where he served as  Manager of Database in the CAO's office. He wasn't in the Aurora job long enough to know how things were done  before sweeping changes were recommended to do them differently. 

I found no merit in the proposal. I suspected the origin. I voted against .

Not long after, the town's Parks Department was evicted from the Hydro Building to make way for Queen's York Rangers, to save them from extinction. A lease was recommended. 


I found the recommendation to be totally without merit and in fact contrary to town interest. I voted against. 

Mr Ballard ,not yet Councillor but a pstrong supporter of the former Mayor, had a special relationship  with QYR. He was appointed as a citizen member of the Economic Development Committee. 
Councillor Mac Eachern stepped aside to allow him to take the Chair. He took credit for the Promenade Study designed to revitalize the downtown,eventually incorporated in the Official Plan .
It's been seven years. Can't say I've noticed any spectacular results. 

There was one recommendation to budget to replace sidewalks with an ornamental surface and buy heritage street furniture for downtown in a million dollar figure. It was not approved. 

This story has many twists and turns. 

The Family Leisure Complex addition,was undertaken in the 2010 /14 term under supervision of 
IES Director. Completion was months beyond schedule. Cost was millions above budget. Work 
is still outstanding and the project  was a fraction of the JOC contract. 

The IES Director had a business administration degree from a Scottish Distance University. He had previously been a private contractor but came to Aurora directly from York Region's Water Department.

The Public Works Director was an early departure  after Mormac took office.The exodus that followed was fairly steady.The Town had difficulty attracting candidates thereafter. 

One vacancy had 3 candidates.Two had no credentials and even less idea of what the job was about. 
Every vacancy attracts applications like that. But this one only had one with credentials and two without. It was the Municipal Clerk post. 

Although the Municipal Act requires a competition be held for Municipal Treasurer, it didn't happen.

The former CFO gave 3 months notice. Weeks went by, no action. Eventually ,Council was 
informed, behind closed doors, of interim appointment of a candidate of the CAO's choosing. 

The decision wasn't his to make and if truth were told he probably didn't. 

The Chief Financial Officer of a municipality is appointed by Council Bylaw. 

The interim appointment was later confirmed . It was learned the job had been offered 
over a coffee in a doughnut shop. The CFO had worked for Richmond Hill for twelve years. 
The municipality went to a commission system a year before and he had been employed by a consultant since. 

When responsibility for supervising the JOC contract was assigned, failures in the previous project were already known to Council. It was not their first experience. 

But the majority decided to proceed in all haste. It was election year. They had to be seen to be getting things done. 

Disaster was a long time coming ,easily foreseen and only more visible than many others.

Our Town was consistently  ill -served. 

There can be no shifting of responsibility . 

Councils elected to provide oversight and ensure competence and financial efficiency...have not done 
their job. . ..the list is endless. 

One vote makes little difference. 

It can easily be disregarded, dismissed and disrespected. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

YOU ASKED....HAPPY TO OBLIGE

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "THE NATURE OF 

To change the subject to something more local,the JOC has been on my mind. What could have gone wrong? Seems it is now realized it was a very difficult piece of land. Did anyone know about this at the time? External auditors on the taxpayers' dime might be needed to figure it out.

I would love for you to refresh our memory here and perhaps in a letter to the editor on your advice at the Council table when the project was proposed.

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 15 October 2017 at 14:50

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The first half of this comment was rejected. Truth has to be twisted like a pretzel for such a statement
to be made.

I will not repeat it. 

The town's joint operation centre never had my support. Best use was not being made of existing facilities.

I had no confidence in recommendations from staff. It was not the professional advice expected. 

There was an exodus of senior staff at the beginning of the 2007/10  term. 

Under -qualified replacements  were made with the understanding the Mayor was in charge. 

Advice Council received would be what she perceived to be to her political advantage. 

Five Councillors consistently provided the support. Councillor Grace Marsh resigned and 
then there were six.

 Staff continued to be replaced . 

The first sell- out of town interest was  the former hydro property being  handed over to Queen's York Rangers to extend their existence. 

There were administrative offices, a garage /workshop, 5 acres of  electric-fenced storage yard 
and parking lot with landscaped frontage. 

Two lawful options existed; for the property to be sold, realizing the financial asset,obtain an industry, earn assessment revenue and replace the twenty-seven jobs lost when the utility was sold. 

 Municipal Act regulations govern disposal of surplus property. Leasing  to QYR forfeited the asset,  revenue and jobs. As landlord , the town is responsible for upkeep and receives no grants in lieu from the federal government. Adding insult to injury, the town paid the federal government half a million dollars for the drill shed that occupied a corner of the town park since the days of Queen Victoria.
Several hundred thousand was spent on the hydro building to suit QYR needs. 

The Municipal Act requires surplus property to be publicly declared. Invitation to tender to an advertised competition.

The second option, was already in place. The parks department had moved in. The yard was being used for storage, parks furniture was being built in the workshop and town archives were being stored 
In the office building. 

Either the sale or parks' use would have served the town's interest well. Instead parks was evicted
to make way for QYR. 

A newly elected Council could have changed that. Instead, the lease with QYR  was extended to thirty years.

The existing works yard was badly organized. Waste materials were hoarded. Heritage salvage was transferred from the Hydro property. Contractors used space for storing vehicles and equipment. I understood access to vehicle maintenance department was also available.  

A particular service contract, plastic lining  of pipes to prevent water loss, was re-signed annually
without tenders. Even after it was learned Newmarket was getting a better price.  Average of a million dollars is spent annually on the process. All of their equipment is kept at the town yard at no expense to the contractor. 

I asked once when the work would end and was cockily informed ,probably never. When it finished  
it would start all over again. I never saw the logic .
 
Original estimates for the JOC was $13 million ,moving to $18 million and again to $26 million.
 
Initial estimates  must have been meaningless. And that  raises the question of accuracy of specifications. The awarded contract,we now know, was not met. 
 
An audit might show is how much more will be needed  to complete the project as originally 
designed. 

Under the circumstances ,there can be no confidence in the design either.   

Had Councillor Ballard not vacated his seat,the project would not have proceeded. His replacement provided the vote to carry it forward. 

 Mayor Dawe is adamant, "micro-management" of decision-making  will not be permitted. 

So.....neither  Council nor Mayor has a meaningful function.there is no Council control. 

The youth facility addition to the Family Leisure Centre was a disastrous failure. 

As a result , a committee of the Mayor, Councillors Abel and Thompson were appointed to oversee the JOC project. 

The end result of the second was not an improvement. 

There's enough blame to go around. But two main protagonists have already flown the coop. 

The ravine site was  always a bad choice. On a dangerous curve of the Industrial Parkway, a road had to be built to circle the property for  access and egress for an operation composed entirely of trucks and equipment. 

I did not support the project going forward. I urged Council to step back and take a closer look.

The decision was a one vote majority. 

My opposition was noted as negative. A  frequent vote of eight to one was evidence of my failure 
to comprehend.

In Hollywood ,I could never hope to win an Oscar or have a Star on the Walk of Fame. 

In Aurora, my parting gift was a pad of lined copy paper with a plastic cover.... in a gift bag ...with a bow ...from the dollar store. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

A STORY AS OLD AS THE HILLS

A recent comment referenced oral sex, sharp teeth and painful punishment. I didn't publish it  so
don't look for it.

Sometimes my imagination races forward out of control. Horrifying images have to be quickly smothered by different ones. 

I thought of my first catechism.  A small thin blue book. A little wider than a Woolworth diary and a whole lot thinner. Just the size for small four year old hands.

Who made you ? ....was the first question. 

God made me. ..the  answer.

Why did God make you ? 

To know him, love him and serve him in this world and forever in the next.

Catechism was first lesson of the day, every day, immediately after prayers. We prayed in the morning,
before  lunch,after lunch and at the end of the school day.

We prayed for fishermen at sea in storms. For farmers  who needed a dry spell to harvest.
We never needed to pray for rain. We prayed for black babies.  

We hadn't learned to read yet. Catechism questions were read by the teacher and answers rhymed out by the whole class. 

We learned  how God created man in his own image. Eve was an afterthought. Adam's left rib did the trick.The Garden of Eden was their domicile.

You know the rest. Left to their own devices,they disobeyed the rule they had to live by. 

The Lord called them out from where they hid and Adam whined.

The woman made me do it. 

And what did The Lord do? 

Right .... The Lord punished  the woman and every woman thereafter.

We didn't learn  that at the time. Previous  books of the bible, written by Moses apparently,contained all the details.  Our faith was pretty much based on the The  Life of Christ and the New Testament.  

It's two thousand and seventeen years old. It has stood the test of time. 

In short,  Man was made in the image of The Lord. Male. 

Eve was an afterthought. 

Eve committed the first sin . Adam poor boy, couldn't help himself and they lost the Garden of Eden.

That's the current version. 

Written by men. Pages and pages of it;  Gospels. Epistles. Parables. Beatitudes. Cardinal Virtues, Cardinal Sins, Letters to Corinthians by Mathew ,Mark,Luke and John.

Peter was a fisherman. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

THE NATURE OF MAN ........???????

The picnic table had a mound of snow. On top, the owners had scattered seeds and nuts.Three handsome big pine grosbeaks were feeding greedily and noisily. Darting quietly in at the sides, to steal a seed or two ,were a dozen smaller, less green females of the species .They were getting their share but the bigger,stronger males raced down squawking and threatening every time. 

Looked like a simple lesson in survival. Four times as many females at the feeding station. 

This morning's New York Times has a story about harassment and intimidation  in the US Park
 Service. Horrendous reading. 

Similar problems in the US armed services are regularly reported despite their stated  role of protecting 
women and children .

Women of the Toronto Fire Service have made the same complaints recently. 

In TV family shows ,fathers of daughters, are hostile to boyfriends for clearly enunciated reasons.
And a laugh. Dad's always know what boys have in mind. 

Considering consistency of the message of the same complaints in similar circumstances,
a reasonable conclusion might be, every institution, public or private,shared by the sexes
shares the same problem. 

After years in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein is hounded like an animal for his transgressions.  

But in politics ,the acknowledged lecher gets elected to the highest office in the land. 

The woman with a lifetime of working to advance the cause of women and children and the disadvantaged , has her reputation chopped up in small pieces and ground into the dirt by 
male dominated media with the voice of women conspicuous in absence. . 

Back in the day, in rural areas, a  sign on a farm fence warned  "Beware of the Bull" 

Nowadays farmers purchase the product. 

When I was a child, in Scotland, men and women sat on different sides of the church aisle
on Sunday. I never understood why. Still don't. Maybe they knew something. 

Women were not allowed to mix with men in public bars.

But the only thing women sought was the right to vote. And not until men got "Universal 
Suffrage" which wasn't until 1924 or thereabouts. 

There's a pattern .

When women were not in the armed services, .. park services...fire services and every other service that employs males, women were not being harassed or intimidated or sexually assaulted . 

Ever since Hollywood came to be ,women in that industry have been used and abused. It's an 
Occupational hazard. 

So, what's the lesson?

Wherever men have power, it seems women are at risk. 

Can it be fixed ? 

 It hasn't so far and it doesn't look promising. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE LASTING IMPRESSIONS

These days one of the uppermost  topics of topical news appears to be Harvey Weinstein and depravity. Like he's one of a kind. I know little about the man.His name wasn't familiar.  But I have a strong impression he isn't unique in Hollywood. And only a little less so in other sectors. 

Impressions are almost impossible to avoid if one pays  a minimum attention to  daily news. 

I was stirring the pot of left- overs for dinner. Butter chicken with Naam bread. The chicken is rich,flavourful and appetizing. A combination of meat with vegetables and savoury sauce 
improves with melding of flavours. 

Naam bread is nice  and has become better value. Crusty,chewy Italian country loaves
we're/are  a favourite thensupermarkets started churning out light spongy look-alikes at higher cost. 

Anyway, as I stirred the pot of savoury Indian food,cooked last night by grand-daughter Stephanie, 
I had another Sikh recollection. First there was the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Ghandi by her Sikh Bodyguard.  The there was the plane that exploded over the sea off the coast of Ireland. They picked up a baby shoe, a feeding bottle and a tatty little doll from debris in the ocean. 

After that, a young woman I knew, with small children, abandoned by an abusive husband in Vancouver was evicted by her Sikh landlord because  the house was rented to a man. 

Finally, Jag Bhaduria a Federal Liberal Member of Parliament for a Markham Riding was expelled by Jean ChrĂ©tien for bring disrepute to the  Party. He had written threatening letters to school board officials because he was not hired for a position advertised. 

Media reported he had a  landlord/tenant record of disregarding building  hazard orders .

Several petitions were collected by riding voters to have the seat vacated. But he stayed on. 

He sought the Liberal nomination in the next election with turbaned Sikh supporters surrounding 
him in media photographs. 

One must assume his  conduct was acceptable to his Sikh supporters. 

It did not impress me.