"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, 23 August 2016

SAFETY IN NUMBERS


I am trying not to think about it. I don't want to write about it. Nothing about it makes me want to engage. 

The problem is, it stops me from writing about anything else. 

just watched a video of the late Patrick Swayze and his wife dance together at a 1994 music festival ..very beautiful ...but nonetheless , just an effort to occupy my own attention.  

For weeks I've sought distraction from the real world and the pall that seems to have settled with the U.S. Presidential election. 

It is so disgusting. Everything it touches is degraded.  There's no escape. 

It's like a horror movie script that's never likely to be produced because it's  just not believable.

Yet it is happening in real time and advancing like a juggernaut. Nothing it seems, can stand in its way.

We watch while a civilized society, turns barbaric with inexorable ease. 

I still wonder how The Holocaust could have happened in a civilized society in the twentieth century.

 I think I know after witnessing the conduct of the Republican candidate for the Office of President. 

The brutish duplication over and over, like the broom in Disney's movie,Sorcerer's Apprentice. 

Copies differ but only the original has thatch in varying tones of orange atop its head. Except for colour, not unlike the main character in The Simpsons T.V.series. 

Most units have block heads ,black hair, short back and sides and eyes glittering like black pebbles.

The females are mostly blonde with shrill nasal twang to their voices. 

Motor mouths dominate.They rise and speed up to drown any and all opposing opinions. From time to time, replacements create the illusion of multiplicity. 

With competing voices of journalist "hosts",  the resulting cacaphony is an assault to the ears.  

Lies, blatant distortions, shameless contradictions, false accusations, vile name-calling, none too base to hurl at the last competitor left standing in the way of the buccaneer determined to occupy the Oval Office of the American President. 

Republicans are in great disarray. Appalled by their candidate's conduct, many have defected. Others have obviously decided they can bring him to heel behind the Party line. 

He has obviously,oh so obviously, decided to play along with that belief. The mob backing him appears all too willing to follow. 

It's not how he won support in the primaries.

But no matter...whatever way they turn...they are looking into an abyss. 

The only way they can win is to grind Hillary Clinton into small pieces and feed her to the fishes. 

They are more than willing to try. All pretense at civility is scattered to the wind. 

 It's a sickening display.

It's authentic alright.

Pure and unadulterated vitriol. 

We've seen it before ....up close and personal. 

Friday, 19 August 2016

GIPSY,GYPSY,LIVES IN A TENT

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "THREE BLIND MICE GOT THEIR TAILS CUT OFF": 
Zero comments on this and the previous.

A disengaged public?

HEAT PROSTRATION?

Boring? 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 15 August 2016 at 21:01

*************************

None of the above. 

On Sunday evening, I received a message from my cousin in Scotland . She had received a message from me that I was stranded and send money immediately. 

Skullduggery was obviously afoot. 

It took until yesterday for Stephanie to restore Ipad to somewhat normal. It's not the same as before. The return has been sporadic. Comments to blogs I posted were the last to be recovered and posted. A nasty missile was first to appear. I couldn't help feeling I'd been missed. 

One argued putting up a sign notifying  truck drivers that children play where it would be utterly suicidal for children to play, makes obvious sense. 

Such a sign would make no more sense on Murray Drive, Kennedy Street West, Aurora Heights Drive, Orchard Heights ...all  are through roads from Yonge to Bathurst. 

In their right mind , no-one would suggest any are safe for children to play. And they don't have retail /commercial on both sides of the road at the intersection where Henderson Drive sign is posted. 

It was a week of computer disruption  But it didn't end there. 

On Thursday,Stephanie came up with Calico Jack cradled in her arms. 

"He's not well.Grannie . He hasn't eaten for two days and last night he was pacing the floor and crying". She had to take him to the vet ... a decision not lightly undertaken. Vets are a costly business. 

She came home alone, weeping. The cat was in renal failure, needed morphine to relieve the pain 
At sixteen, likely had reached the end of his journey.  We wept together. The decision would be made on Monday. 

The thought of him spending his last days in a cage in a strange place with strangers was too much. 

On Saturday, she brought him home. He took over the bathroom which seems to be his favorite place.
It's small and compact and has a soft welcoming mat on the floor. Stephanie transported cushions for herself. He promptly took possession of them as well. She had to inject the drug and he offered no resistance. Never moved from the bathroom. An air mattress was retrieved from camping equipment and Stephanie made her bed close by. 

C.J. Is still with us. The encampment has since been dismantled. 

During the day he stretches  himself in familiar splendour on my bed, where he knows he is not normally welcome. He is eating again and fighting the injections.

The house is no longer filled with foreboding. 

For all we know he may have eight lives left to live. 

ON-LINE BUYER BE-WARY

I've been dealing with a problem since March. I think it's worth sharing. 

A $60, payment was made in error to a seldom used MasterCard. I have little use for credit cards. I was  solicited in Superstore for this one. 

A credit can only be redeemed by making a charge against the card. I charged a gas purchase ,a hospital parking ticket and still had a small credit balance. 

I needed a moisturizing cream and did something I've purposely never done before. I gave my credit card number. 

A free trial was  being promoted on-line with payment of a small shipping charge. Ellen de Generis was an advocate.  I do not expect to turn back the clock to reverse the effect of decades of aging but for minimum cost and having the credit, I decided it was worth taking a chance. Whoopee !!!

My first statement showed higher shipping charges than cited but it was  still not a big deal. I made no 
issue. The second statement had charges of $260. and interest on purchases.

I started out on the first phone expedition to correct whatever error had occurred. 

It's an experience in itself. MasterCard's representative explained the free sample shipping container had fine print  attached. Dis-satisfaction with the product required return within fourteen days.

If not returned within the time, a contract would be entered , products would be shipped monthly and charges applied to the MasterCard account. Even as we spoke, new charges had been recorded and the statement balance was over $530.

MasterCard's rep was sympathetic to my plight. Eighty per cent of all client disputes relate to 
the same problem,she said. Which would seem to indicate something amiss.   Unfortunately, they could not correct the problem. 

I didn't see it that way. 

A request to speak to a supervisor required my phone number and a return call within forty-eight hours. I did not choose that either. I called the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Commercial affairs 
to file a complaint.. The shipments were from Cambridge,London and the last from a North York P.O.Box. 

Ministry advice  was to contact the company selling the product. 

I did that. The contact was in South Carolina. The "subscription" was cancelled and a twenty-five per cent refund was  promised. 

My next statement showed a reduced balance and was followed by a notice the outstanding payment of $58. required  the account  be referred to an external collection agency. 

I  composed  a letter outlining my experience.

 I have never been so well off as to afford to be in debt. 

I made another call. Told the story one more time. Thanked everyone for their help and asked the name and address of Presidents of Superstore and Master Card each to receive copies of the letter. 

Scant  hours later,I received a phone call. The upshot of which, the problem is resolved. 

It took from March until August but all's well that ends well and it never hurts to be persistent. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

THREE BLIND MICE GOT THEIR TAILS CUT OFF

YUp

What's  wrong with this picture?

 Posted by the town  Friday on Facebook , in response to a delegation from residents complaining about noise, speed and increased traffic on Henderson Drive.

Appreciation is expressed in a handful of comments.

In the exact location, retail/ commercial frontage occupies both sides of the street. Mary Brown's Chicken closed recently after many years in that spot. The  taters were a special favorite with my grandchildren. Sandwich and salads were the best. The vacancy has been filled but will not likely last forty years. Not without supplies. 

On the south side of  Henderson, Metro supermarket, Harvey's /Swiss Chalet, Dry  Cleaners, Pet Shop  and a couple of other units have also traded since the seventies. A dollar store recently replaced a Drivers' Examination Centre. The latter was a real problem for the immediate neighbourhood with drivers being put through test maneuvers on short ,interior courts . I never understood why the examination Centre was permitted in a retail/commercial zone. The Province doesn't require municipal approval.   

The sign carries a picture of a child running and playing ball on the street. 

It's a lie. A total Trumpian falsehood. I tell you this, it's a fabrication of a twisted and distorted mind. 

In forty years, since the road was opened, as I exited on to Yonge from my neighbourhood, I have never seen a child play on Henderson Drive. Not there , not with a ball, a hockey net, a skate board, a dirt bike ....nuthin'

Why would they? In that location ,both sides of the road are retail /commercial with access to parking lots for business that need deliveries. ..deliveries  that can't be made except with  trucks. 

Council, in all its wisdom, has decided it shall not be. 

Henderson is a through road to Bathurst. Throughout it's length, except for the town house complex
at the Yonge Street end ,one other residence has frontage but no access . 

Residential and  retail commercial at Yonge Street intersection was the original plan of subdivision. 

Henderson had to be constructed  from Lee Gate to Yonge  for the development to proceed, at 
the developer's cost. 

At Bathurst Street end, another developer was required to construct the road from Seaton to Bathurst ,with residential development on the north side only and no lots with access. The developer was bankrupted one Friday afternoon when the road contractor pulled men and equipment off the job because he hadn't been paid. 

Henderson Drive town house residents always shared the road with retail/commercial delivery trucks. The Region required that road configuration. 

Since the first sale, no buyer has ever have been unaware of the character of the neighbourhood. 

Deliveries  are an essential feature of retail business . Banning trucks is contra-indicated. 
People buy. Supplies must be replaced. 

No replacement......business trickles down . ..Zero, Zilch, Nil and Nada......Amen my friend...
Business ends.

Within Environment  and Infrastructure, the town employs a traffic engineering division. 
Untold millions have been expended for space to accommodate the division. 

I'd bet dollars to donuts, no professional input went into the decision to prohibit trucks from Henderson Drive. 

Enforcement of traffic regulation is the responsibility of York Regional Police Department. 

Unless it makes sense, it's not going to happen? How do you tell a truck driver he can't drive on a road he paid to drive on?

I daresay if remaining  business follows Mary Brown's Chicken out of town,  neighbours and Council will be happy to see the traffic problem resolved.

Monday, 8 August 2016

FLIES IN THE SUGAR BOWL, SKIP TO MY LOU

,Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "DICK WHITTINGTON , DICK WHITTINGTON WHERE HAVE YOU...": 

Maybe they were planning for a hotel? 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 8 August 2016 at 14:39

*************

Now that's funny. Again with pie in the sky. Everything except decisions within Council authority.

Like on a scale of one to ten, what are Aurora's chances of enticing a second hotel to locate in Town ?

CAO says 7. Like negating development charges will make the difference.

We already have a hotel. Closed. Defunct. Vacated. Vamoosed without as much as Farewell,
fair friend.

 They  did not exactly fold  their tent and steal away into the night, they certainly left without saying ,
So long, it's been good to know you. 

Whatever problems were there, were not shared with the town. Leaving Council in the awkward position of being last to know and still knowing nothing. 

When realisation set in,Mayor and Council fussed and mused. Oh dear, what can the matter be?

But the hotelier wouldn't tell. Didn't have to. No interest was shown while the hearth was warm, no 
explanation was forthcoming  when the lights were turned out. 

The town has an economic  development  division. Salaries in the sunshine list. Creating a line of communication between town and partners in business is not within their responsibility.  

Tinker Bell is in permanent residence at the Town Hall with an endless supply of thick fairy dust to persuade boys and girls in the circle who believe they have power they don't . 

A site for a hostelry was approved is out there by Hwy 404 seven years since. The  Mayor told 
guests at his first Chamber of Commerce luncheon, the good news. 

Like Stronach's Wilderness Park ,it came to nothing. But unlike the park, for no discernible reason.

So what would a potential seeker of a hotel location seek? 

Good business practices ? The  list of decisions pending, might  soon answer that question. 

Good Fiscal management? The  Culture Centre contract and ditched opportunities for revenue 
snuffs that feeble flame.

A relationship with existing business ? A poke at the archives dispel any illusion the most optimistic of entrepreneurs might have. 

A closed and shuttered modern hotel building would certainly be a red flag. 

St. Andrew's College Banners on town light standards might be noticed.  Does St. Andrew's still provide meals and accommodation to visiting team in summer? 

Competition from the Soccer Club facility and the Legion and all the other clubs that want the town to provide free facilities for meetings and dinners and fundraisers and such might easily be detected. 

A Council responding  eagerly to every citizen demand, at taxpayers' expense,without thought to those trying to make a living while carrying a disproportionate tax load might be a deterrent. 

A successful hotel chain would  likely know what to look for in a preferred location. And what to avoid. 

Damned if I can detect the fancy footwork Geoffrey Dawe and his merry men and maids might need to SKIP TO MY LOU.

DICK WHITTINGTON , DICK WHITTINGTON WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

Pre-occupation with the family gathering for the wedding meant I wasn't paying the same attention to the town's affairs. I wasn't even dividing my attention but I was keeping my eye on the headlines and  the last two issues of the paper were on the table in front of me, most of it waiting to be read. 

Seems the town had a visit from Patrick Brown, head of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. 
Hosted, it appears by the Mayor and one other,not Councillor Paul Pirrie. The doughty pair took  the provincial  pol on a tour of various points of non- interest in the town; the downtown core on a Saturday morning for example.

The Mayor and the  Honorable Member paused for photo opportunity at the library. 

One can't help wondering how the conversation went. 

Would they chat about twenty- odd years and thousands of dollars spent on engineering studies and successive councils that failed to make the obvious decision on redundant buildings on Victoria Street?

Would they lament  the fifty-five year failure to implement avowed intent to revitalize the down-town core ?

Would they show off  the  centre of culture in our town at Church Street School and tell him about the culture contract with a private self-appointed Board that pays neither rent nor maintenance for a public facility and meets in secret and discuss how to spend ,as they see fit ,hundreds of thousands of tax dollars transferred  to them by our elected council?

The old drill shed on the corner of the Town Park and the genius of paying the Federal government more than half a million for the contaminated antiquary  for which they have no stated use, might have been on the tour and entered the conversation while in the proximity, visiting  the Farmers' Market.

There would likely be no time to show off the wizard  traffic calming plan in the Heritage Neighbourhood in the central north- east quadrant or the resulting traffic grid-lock at Yonge And Wellington.

Or new joint Centre for works and parks completed and occupied without fanfare or publicity, almost surreptitiously, just a few short weeks  ago .

Or the six acres here and seventeen acres there, taken out of private  into public ownership at a loss forever of municipal revenue to pay for municipal services. 

Come  to think of  it...what would the trio chat be about? 

What could Patrick Brown, Geoff Dawe or John Abel have to say to each other about Aurora's affairs on a sunny Saturday morning in the vibrant, bustling Town of Aurora. 

What would be the point of the visit?

Saturday, 6 August 2016

WE'LL NEVER SEE THE LIKE AGAIN

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "JUST BECAUSE HE SAID IT, DOESN'T MEAN IT'S TRUE": 

I'm going back to watching Young and the Restless. I'll tune back into this US election soap in
November

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 4 August 2016 at 23:07

**************************

I tried and found it impossible to avoid the saga of America's selection of a President. The  last couple of days of the Democratic Convention however made the news slightly more balanced and palatable. 

Republican gyrations to conceal dismay over the contortions of their candidate has not been without a Cirque De Soleil element. Except all know beforehand the pyramid will collapse in a tangle of arms and legs and bullet -shaped heads. 

Speaking of heads....how could a man of seventy, hair floating around his aging face, like a giant tease of orange cotton candy, be taken seriously as a candidate for any office ? 

Today in Wisconsin, the mop has been trimmed and colour toned down... he has reversed himself ...and endorsed Republicans, Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Senior Senator from Arizona ,John McCain and Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, just days after he said he wouldn't. 

Then there's his trophy wife, younger than Springtime , known by hundreds of thousands through the magic eye of a camera,who presents on television, a plagiarized speech from the current First Lady of the Nation. 

Only in America ,you say. Well, Thank the Good Lord  for that. 

Today at noontime a retired Admiral, they got a million of 'em, explained how a plane with a cargo of money taken from Iran fifty years ago , being returned to Iran  in foreign currency can be interpreted as "ransom" paid by the United States. 

" Iranians think it is" he said "and so,  it is". That's what he said. I kid you not. 

Ordinarily, it would be a puzzle why a retired American Admiral of the Brave Navee, would present as an expert on either side of the question . 

Why a retired American Admiral feels competent to offer an opinion on what modern Iranians think is a complete and utter mystery.

The answer my friends, is blowing in the wind. 

 CNN's questions are more puzzling than  answers. They certainly keep a lot of people employed. 

They  give Trump surrogates all the time they want  to abuse Hillary . 

They cut Hillary surrogates off from defense of their candidate before they finish their answers..

Like they're  afraid of the bellicose billionaire. 

And that's the biggest mystery of all. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

THE CIRCLE GROWS

First chapter of Keenan and Kari's life is concluded. The wedding celebration is almost over. It's back  to work on Monday and life begins again in earnest as a couple. 

As of past practice, it was not a conventional wedding .Yet , in part, it was. 

It may already have become the convention for couples to create their own event . 

Keenan is a lifetime resident of Newmarket . Raised no more than a couple of blocks east of Yonge and less than one  north of Davis Drive. His mother grew up in Aurora and his father in Kettleby .They have known each other since Heather was born and Andy was five years old. 

On the day of the wedding ,Newmarket Main Street was closed to traffic. Containers of flowers 
overflowed from lamp standards and boxes on the sidewalks and buildings,freshly painted in 
pretty colours, sparkled in the sun. 
 
As they walked down the centre line holding hands with attendants following, Keenan and Kari were King and Queen of the Hill. 

Officiating  at the ceremony  with the exchange of vows was cousin Mary. I'm not sure how or why but it was the second ceremony she has conducted. It was beautiful, simple and meaningful. 

Uncle Stephen and Kerr, a friend from Ayr ,Scotland read poems chosen by the bride and groom. 

The venue was the lower level of Police Association Club facility on Bayview. 

The women and Keenan's  Dad and brother Adam prepared all day into the previous evening. Our numbers were handy because there was lots to do. Small cousins made the white paper chain decorations. Table decorations included a cherry wood log Keenan had sliced into plaques . 
Favours were small canning jars filled with  barbecue rub and barbecue sauce  made by the bridal couple

Glass containers for floral centre pieces gathered over the year and a half  prior to the wedding  were decorated by the bride. 

Since the first and second Buck weddings in Canada, small children have always been part of the festivities. 

Stephanie and Myles, first grandchildren,  danced non-stop at Heather's wedding. 

Stephanie was Master of Ceremony at Keenan's wedding. 

 First on the floor after bride and groom, without encouragement, the little ones danced with carefree abandon and  grown -ups immediately  formed a  circle around them. 
 
Nine  small people and two infants, gathered from far and wide at the wedding.

Neither a cry,  nor a wail, or a plaintive whimper was heard throughout a day that started at 2p.m. and ended at 2 a.m.

It was a happy,happy day. 

Not a tear was shed.

Cousin Mark Buck and Mindy will be married in September. 

Cousin Elizabeth and Derek will be married  at Halloween 2017, with a Halloween theme. 

Mary will officiate at both. By then her three little girls dressed alike in pink party dresses for this wedding, will be joined by a fourth sibling. 

Cousin Lindsay's three sister siblings will have a little brother tagging along .

The three Canadian/American great-grandchildren will likely not attend but they'll be with us in spirit. 

The  circle will continue to grow.

Margaret and Cyril  were missed.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

JUST BECAUSE HE SAID IT, DOESN'T MEAN IT'S TRUE

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "TRY AND MAKE SENSE OUT OF THIS": 

"Councillor Mrakas regularly uses Facebook to inform of matters he thinks are important."

And where you regularly troll him  and other commenters. 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 27 July 2016 at 12:46

**********************************

The Internet is still new to many and others are complete strangers to the system. I am still 
enjoying  the new freedom.

As an elected representative I was probably not first to publish a blog.  I believe I may be longest and most consistent poster in Aurora. I continued as a non-elected resident. 

As long as I know people are reading, I will write. To those who read but hate it,I invite to bug off. 

I commend Tom Mrakas for putting his views out there.  I have challenged him. Asked questions . Sought explanations. 

That's not  trolling.

 That's  engaging. 

As a colleague, I would have warned of the risk.
He might have paid no mind. 
I'm not a colleague.
He takes the risk.
I challenge.
He does not respond. 
Engagement is perfunctory. 
So be it.

One who seek office and expects views to be unchallenged,is due for a surprise.

Those who don't seek office but have opinions to express should expect to be challenged.

TRY AND MAKE SENSE OUT OF THIS

If  members of council decide business matters based on personal preference or opinion,without reference to logic or law, policy, principle or precedent,it should be a simple matter to resolve shadow problems indirectly alluded to, by reducing staff at the top.They've done it before. 

The Mayor's weekly report regularly lists fun events. Like social convenor and communications wallah combined. There hardly seems to be a need for both. 

Councillor Mrakas regularly uses Facebook to inform of matters he thinks are important. If all nine Council members were doing it ,that would surely be open lines of communication.

After reading Councillor Kim's reference to the Historical Society and Culture Centre's budget,
I tried to discover from the town's www  which two Councillors serve on the Culture Centre Board.
Couldn't do it. The  process must be simple and straightforward for me to use.  And of course, 
many residents are still not on-line  from choice. Others are not using Rogers. They use satellite 

Councillor Kim's query  could have been partially answered. The Culture Centre contract allows the board to conduct business in closed meetings.  A quarterly report is forwarded to the treasurer showing how the town's money was spent and he in turn, exercises his judgement  and issues the next quarter's installment. 

Council has no involvement except to approve in the next year's budget the requested payment for services. 

The Historical Society receives  an annual grant for no municipal purpose. They have no responsibility for museum, heritage collection or receiving donations.
A few years ago they opted out of a legal agreement to manage the museum because they only had fifty-nine members. 
Since then the town has retained a curator, taken responsibility for the collection and taken over space in Church Street School for a museum. The budget is likely a couple of hundred thousand at least out of town coffers. 

Still  the Historical Society receives an increased grant every year.  

Three years ago,the Mayor acknowledged continuance of the grant needed to be decided but budget deliberations  was not the right time. Since then the grant has increased fifty-per cent. 

Current President of the Historical Society is the same who promoted a heritage theme park for qHillary House and it's neighbours. The Mayor's name was first on the petition of support from prominent citizens. 

Several tens of thousands and weeks of staff time were incurred  before a consultant's report advised  no financial advantage to the municipality. Like we needed an expert to tell us. Like we didn't have a mega-million dollar administration of experts on the payroll. 

The same individual now has $75.thousand with annual increases from the town.This volunteer group has a curator on the payroll to do the work.  Instead one curator authorised by  Council, the town pays for two. 

Councillor Kim's query on these matters could easily have been answered on the spot. The treasurer is certainly familiar with funding history. 

But when he talks about solving unarticulated  budget problems, he offers a reduction in town payroll as a solution. Even while hiring continues non-stop. 

Last time they decided to save  money ,they got rid of the Director of Administrative Services.  

In a re-organisation, responsibility for administrative services was transferred to the town solicitor. 
A Town Clerk was hired.

Since then,the CAO has flown the coop with much fanfare. The town solicitor exited the joint with no public attention. , The  town clerk went off to join the Richmond Hill Municipal Legion. Human Resources Manager and the Communications manager simply departed, silent of kefuffle that we know.

I keep intending to quote some of the phrases and sentences the treasurer used convey funding shortfalls  to council without actually speaking of shortfalls from spending funds they didn't have that now require  drastic action to correct. 

I keep being diverted by diversions.