"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, 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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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.