"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

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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Saturday, 24 March 2018

ALMOST CUSTOMARY

Out Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "THE WIND AT MY BACK": 

I've been down that road myself. There were lessons that I learned that to this day put a smile on my face every day, mainly due from the my incredible supportive friends and family. There were also lessons that were disheartening. Those lessons like to creep into my day to day life now and again. I've seen Karma do it's magic over the years, I just wish that our legal system can get the overhaul that is clearly needed. Backing away from a fight has never been something I have ever done, although...Would I do it again? You betcha! You Evelyn taught me that lesson. Thank you. :)  

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 21 March 2018 at 09:15

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My fascination with the rollicking  circus in the bouncy house south of us is in good part 
from familiarity. Like my friend above, I already know much of this story.  

In 2003 , I offered to serve again on Council because it broke my heart to see what  Aurora 
Council had become and I thought I could make a difference. 
 
I did. But I had no idea what it would cost or how long it would take. 

The details are tedious. They stretch over years.The challenge now is to capture the fiendish and the ridiculous without choking the story to death. I've never undertaken such a daunting task but I think 
It must be done. 

I lived a long time without this experience. Now I watch it repeated daily on the world stage. 

Last week, James McCabe,senior FBI official was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions for "lack of candour".  The AG himself is also at risk. The desperation is to discredit the  Mueller inquiry,shut it down and bury the findings forever . It doesn't matter whose or how many lives are destroyed in the process. 

As a further act of incredible spite ,McCabe's pension was confiscated as  penalty for daring to investigate the conduct of the lying,swindling, lecherous occupant of the Oval  Office.....his elected boss. 

As my head hit the pillow after the news that Friday night, the memory came flooding back of  the 
day the Aurora Integrity Commissioner delivered his decision to the Office of the  Clerk the similarities were uncanny. 

Delivery of the decision was the first and only part in accordance with law . But the hour was early...plenty of time in the day left for mayhem to evolve.  

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

THE ROAD DID NOT RISE TO GREET ME

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "THE WIND AT MY BACK": 

While it is true that "justice" comes with a price - and sometimes you have to be able to afford to buy that justice - the other thing that I always try to remember is that one person's idea of "what is right" may not be the same as everyone else. 

Your case in point, you felt that certain wrongs were perpetrated against you. The ones that "did it" obviously felt the opposite. Convincing the judge (or jury in other cases) is the job of the lawyers. I think in your case, the factor that weighed against you was past history. You have never been a team player and this behaviour created a situation where their actions were somewhat a response to past 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 21 March 2018 at 08:43

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The above is only useful as an introduction.  I am not an author. I'm content  with journal entries and comments. Facebook has a spot  "What's on your Mind" .It suits me well. A discussion can be up and running with lots less effort than the blog. 

I do enjoy vigorous debate. The purpose of a Council is higher than a  team function.To my mind, the idea municipal politics is a game  is degrading  to legislative authority.

 It's an ill-suited reference. 

My involvement in municipal politics spanned half a century. Only half of that  in office. 
In the off yearsI wrote a weekly column,reported on Board of Education business and a neighbouring township's political business. I served a term on Y.R. Police Services Board in the nineties.  I travelled throughout the Province for nine years in the eighties, as a member of the Social Service Board of Ontario...a quasi-judicial Appeal Board. 

Judgement  is critical in each of those roles.The chance to improve my knowledge and skills was substantial and very much appreciated. The opportunity  did not come without potential. 

Individuality is not the essence of a team. On the other hand, in an election, in a community of 8, 10,18, 30 or 60 thousand people, mental cloning  within a nine people council is neither sensible, desirablenor  possible. 

I did not aspire to be a team member. Working together in the best interest of an entire community 
Is more complicated  when members have different ideas of what is best. The majority rules. The 
majority is not always right. 

I opposed proceeding  with the joint facility. 

Council made no effort to comprehend  the enormity of the project. No effort was made to examine the recommendation. Four years later it transpires ....I was right. Full extent of the mess is still unknown. 

I opposed changing every street light in one fell swoop, at a cost of millions. Today, a story in The Auroran indicates cost recovery was wildly exaggerated. Once more the knell has struck.Taxpayers   interest was betrayed.  

The stories are legion,my friends. 

My confidence in the Director of Environment and Infrastructure was at zero throughout his employment. Multi- Millions of dollars later ,he is no longer employed by the town.

Nothing in the resume of the former CAO ,or his in-service performance,rendered his recommendations sensible to me . A thirty year lease of a property ,needed for our own purposes,was  another sell-out of town interest.

In my judgement, Aurora's  interest is not served  by the contribution of the current Chief Financial Officer. Far from it. 

Circumstances of the  hire and how positions continued to be secure by the current Mayor lend 
nothing  to my confidence that my taxes are well spent. 

No ...you may not count me as a member of this or the previous two incompetent teams serving the Town worse than any other council in all its history.

I registered as a candidate for Council in 2003 . I had not held a  seat for fourteen years. I was not known to most incumbents.They were late arrivals to the town. 

Councillor Evelina  McEachernhad already registered her candidacy but withdrew when she saw 
I was a candidate, She had better things to do with her time ,like spend it with her children,she
said.  It was a public statement evincing little in the way of team spirit. 

The editor of the Aurora Banner was also new to the town since last I served, ...hostile jabs emanated from that quarter as well. She regularly received Character Awards.we have heard little of that 
organisation since her employment with the newspaper ended. 

I was elected, forty-nine votes ahead of the runner-up. MacEachern urged the runner-up to request a recount. He declined. Her last action ,as an out-going Councillor,was to move for a recount. The  seconder to the motion, who had been re-elected, said he did not want to sit across the table for the next three years from  someone who had no right to be there. No team spirit intended there for sure. 

I had never worked with either Councillor. 

The recount was completed with no change to the vote but the pattern of harassment was established
from the beginning. 

I did have a right to be there. 

I won the seat fair and square.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

THE WIND AT MY BACK

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "AN EYE FOR AN EYE....WELL THAT DEPENDS": 

We can start by understanding that we don't have a justice system. We have a legal system. I know you have been through the ringer with our legal system Evelyn, its pretty sad. Can't imagine going through a murder trial of a child and walking away thinking justice prevailed, regardless of the verdict. 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 4 March 2018 at 21:27

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Nothing prepares for whatever happens, like a career in politics . I wrote little at the time of the decision in my litigation. I focussed on putting  it behind me. I calculated sufficient years of my life and more than my resources had  already been expended . 

The time wasn't lost. I did not resolve never to speak of it. Many  positive aspects had evolved.
Not least were the people who rallied to the cause and the stalwart support of my children. 

At the initial legal consult, the question was asked and answered... what do you hope to accomplish?

Me...This is Canada. Such  injustice can't be allowed to happen at the hands of elected officials. They have to  be stopped

They were . But without the support of the legal system.  

Newmarket Judge Mark Edward's conclusion that liberty could be freely abused by elected officials was not shared by Aurora's voters. The next election established that without ceremony or doubt
when the culprits were tossed. 

At the time of the Judge's decision, two years after he dismissed my jury on a trumped up excuse, my 
initial thought was to continue the fight . More than enough perverse logic and mis-representation lent itself to an appeal.

I filed intent .That action cost  another $20.000.Then I conferred with my family.

During the 13 years the process took support was strong. Whatever the decision,I knew that would continue. From the beginning, the fight was never mine alone. 

Judge Edwards notwithstanding, the principle of reason and fairness remained unassailable.

 On the other hand, access to justice proved to be twisted and evasive. No reason existed to 
anticipate anything better going further down that road. At the point of the pre-trial conference, 
I was persuaded to settle. The town's insurance was paying the bills for the other side so that 
did not happen. 

In legal circles there's a wise old saying  ...justice is available ....the question is can you afford to 
win? 

In a long political career, win or lose, I never backed away from a fight. 

I always held the law in respect and at a higher level . 

I had been proven wrong about that and concluded that throwing  good money after bad was not 
the best plan. 

I withdrew my intent to appeal .

I did not close the door.

It's a long road that doesn't have a turn.  

Saturday, 3 March 2018

AN EYE FOR AN EYE....WELL THAT DEPENDS

CBC is still commenting on the murder of the fifteen year old child whose body was wrapped in a
duvet, weighted with stones and dropped into a river in Winnipeg. 

A fifty-six year old man used her for sex was charged,tried and acquitted of the murder by a jury.

The idigenous community was outraged. 

There's  talk of the need for changes in the justice system. Nothing specific though.Nothing  you can put your finger on. 

I've  only read  links on Facebooks posted by David Gonzalves. Listened to the odd newscast. 

The death of another indigenous child is not unusual. Complaints from the indigenous-community are also familiar. 

The child had a mother. But she didn't raise the child.  

She was raised by an aunt. But not really. 

At the time if her murder, she was in the care of Winnipeg Children's services.  But obviously not. 

Parts of the story were never referenced again after first mention. 

In the jury trial,the prosecuting attorney presented "circumstantial" evidence.

No defence was presented . The Defense attorney must have decided he didn't need  to bother. 

The Judge's instructions to the jury were not reported. A judge is supposed to instruct the jury on law. 
Guess whatever he said wasn't worth mentioning. 

In summation, a  fifteen year old child,cared for by no-one throughout her life was brutally murdered...an investigation of sorts happened. A probable suspect was charged and tried. The full paraphernalia of the law was engaged. 

No hard evidence  was presented to prove the charge. No defence was necessary and none was offered.

The judge's instructions to the jury were not reported. 

The jury did all they could in the circumstances. The case was not proven. The suspect was acquitted. 

The community went through the motions of outrage. 

Another child they didn't care enough about to protect had been murdered and little effort made
to bring justice to bear. 

The media skated over the surface of it all .

Tina Fontaine will not be the last child to be used, abused and tossed away. She wasn't the first. 

There's lots of noise and people are well-paid to prevent it. 

But no sign anything will change...or that anybody really cares. 

Or even recognize where the problem lies.