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

Friday, 31 December 2010

From The Illingworth Hoard

An article has come into my hands dated July 15th 1981. Mayor George Timpson and John West are in the background. Dorothy Clark McClure, President of the Aurora Historical Society in the foreground receiving a cheque from a representative of Wimpey Homes.

Nora Hillary was also in the picture receiving a cheque.

The cheques were support for the town museum and the work of the Historical Society at the Hillary House.

"The donations were in response to an ongoing campaign by the society
for funds to complete the two major projects".

        "Mrs Clark-McClure   was quoted ,the society  was beginning to go" over budget " on
          the expenditures.

So there we have it. Still further proof of a continuous  campaign in the community to raise funds for the museum at Church Street School. There was probably some other  major project going on in the building at the time to keep it upright.

Considering there is no  museum in the school after a further $2.3 million of public resources was advanced for that purpose  and still another $700,000 from federal heritage coffers was expended on the building, could  mis-appropriation of funds by person or persons unknown  be assumed ?

How do we accept   $700.000. from another public agency on condition of its use  for a specific purpose , not use it for said purpose and escape an  accusation of misrepresentation or worse ?

And...by the way, a grant shows in the town's account of $50,000. annually, "to the museum"

All those years, the public contributed voluntarily and through taxation to something they believed was
of value to the community.

Then  Poof ! Before our very eyes, without as much as a by-your-leave,  it was snatched away..Apparently by agreement with the Historical Society.

And something not asked for.... never even publicly discussed...... appeared  in its place.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Stone Face...The Play Is Not Working

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "New Year Resolutions":

I can well imagine how you would have treated Morris if this had happened under her watch. Why does Dawe get a pass from you?


No need to imagine. A quick review of past posts  would reveal  how I dealt with things  during  Mormac's  Regime, "under her watch"

It was my watch too.  Being  elected  is being chosen for  leadership. A Councillor's role is not subservient.  Each is accountable for  stewardship.. 

We are  witnessing,   an addendum  to a play that ended on October 25th  .Scripts have been  written.  The roles of Stone Face  and Fiendish Foe already assigned.

Spurning  the tour arranged by staff for the new Council was the first indication of   direction.

Council's  Inaugural , marked by  liberal helpings of Cold Shoulder  and  A Clarion Call  to "Let the Games Begin" was the second.

At the first business  meeting , new Mayor  in the chair, Stone Face  declared council  under  newly elected Mayor, was starting out  without  respect for  the rules. After the statement, the written opinion  was handed with a flourish to a newspaper reporter.

A delegation  known  to   make  unfounded, unsubstantiated allegations and accusations against a staff member and an entire town department  to promote private interest ,  was enabled to repeat the performance at the first public meeting of the new council  by machinations of  Fiendish Foe..

It was at this point the play became a farce.

The written evidence for  failure to  adhere to time-honoured  traditions turned out to have been written by person or persons  unknown to Stone Face   even  before  said  time-honoured traditions had supposedly failed the test.

Fiendish Foe was forced  to withdraw  nasty insinuations of wrong-doing before the paper hit the table. Declared  it was never  his  intention to insinuate.  Failed to  reveal whose  it was or who dictated the resolution. 

A well-informed guess would be, the same  person or person's unknown who wrote Stone Face's script but failed to inform her  background notes enclosed  were  not intended to be disclosed.

So now we know for certain. The Dreadful Duo have not surrendered.

 So long as Stone Face  and Fiendish Foe  play the roles assigned, however damaging  to themselves ,  Puppet Masters Extraordinaire will continue to write bad scripts and jerk  the strings in a spastic

I will continue to post  a play by play critique from a ringside seat until the performance, degrading to the two sitting members of council comes to an end.

An alternate role would be for me to advise of the pitfalls.

But why ? How long can it last?

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

New Year Resolutions

It's the  time when  people go through the exercise of New Year Resolutions.

I don't usually make them but with a new council, a new term , a return to normalcy, I am planning to  make a habit of it. 

There was little  point  last term. A motion from moi simply meant providing an  opportunity for a prod to remind me  that  nothing I, or the people I represented had to say, was of any relevance.

I worked here for three years and four months  to change that. Four years is a long time for patterns  to be established. It may take a bit to change them back.

Our first Council meeting was a good start but a couple of things happened that give me pause.

A familiar  delegation  had a negative impact.

I knew it would

I moved for the delegation to be withdrawn from the agenda . I  received  support only from my seconder ,Councillor John  Abel.

From the Procedural Bylaw I read the requirements necessary to obtain delegation status and pointed out they were not met. My argument had no influence. The delegation was permitted,

Allegations and accusations against staff and misrepresentation  became part of the public record and were in turn, picked up and repeated in The Auroran newspaper.

They  are now  allowed to stand and influence public opinion until a staff report is presented .

Whether the  report  can combat misrepresentation , now part of the public record and in print media is questionable.  It's a lot easier to misrepresent facts  than it is to correct them..

 I tried to stop it. I  failed.  I thought, well!!  I did what I could. Can't do more. The majority rules.

I wrote a post or two on the issue  A letter to the editor is in the works. In the course of my efforts , I checked to confirm  the  facts and discovered something else.

The request for delegation status had found its way to the Mayor's office

The memorandum from Councillor Ballard , with the delegate's written presentation attached, allowed the item to appear on the agenda, which got around the rule that states a delegate may only speak to an item on the agenda, the purpose of which is to ensure against  external manipulation of the town's  business  agenda by a person with a vested interest . The issue  had  been discussed in the  Mayor's office with  staff  prior to the Council meeting.

It got a pass.

The Director of Leisure Services, the target of the allegations, accusations and the misrepresentations, got the short end of the stick .

Yvonne Cattral's campaign, a repudiation of town policies and procedures  and staff , was  accommodated by the people's representatives.

In the past four years,  rules of order have  been  twisted and turned  like a whirly-gig or ignored completely; to the advantage of special interests.

It was a feature of the Mormac administration. 

I still hope the fallout from this instance of  inequality and injustice against town staff , means  this exercise will not be repeated.

In the meantime,the  damage has been done. 

The integrity of an entire town department was challenged by a delegate with a vested interest, with the assistance  a Councillor willing to use his authority to enable that objective and the approval of Council.

False accusations, allegations and misrepresentation were not challenged on the spot by the administration.

When does openness and transparency become subterfuge and obfuscation?

How is the Corporation's interest protected  in the circumstance?

How is the community interest served?

I thought not to be asking these questions at this point in time.

Saturday, 25 December 2010





Friday, 24 December 2010

It's a Day Like Any Other

It's Christmas Eve and I'm tempted to go out and join the hysteria. I have no reason to do so. Our family gathering  happened last Sunday.  To-morrow, Christmas morning, I will  answer  a dozen phone calls, call my cousin in Scotland , then join  family for the rest of the day.

It will be nice. I will enjoy it fine. It will be a day like many another

My mind will not be occupied with sugar plums and dancing fairies. I will be thinking about  town business. I just can't help it.

I'm glad we passed the resolution effectively blocking funding for the law suit  by the Former Mayor
against three citizens. Our neighbours  were relieved of a great worry in time for Christmas

I'm aware of how the decision to launch the lawsuit  came about. New Councillors are not. I think they  and the public  have a right to  know  the former Council's  rationale ,when  the resolution we reversed on Tuesday, was originally passed.

I agreed to  support a  simple straighforward process  on Tuesday, with the understanding ,Council will meet in- camera in January to receive all  documentation  that led up to the decision we reversed.

 I gave Notice of Motion to waive solicitor/client privilege  and release the legal advice received by Council ..

If the motion is passed, everyone will   understand  how town staff  and other resources came to  be used for  what was always. , in my judgment, essentially  a private issue.

Councillors have been informed the cheque registry is available for scrutiny on the desk of the Mayor's administrative assistant.

It is my intention to take a gander at that early in the New Year.

Legal invoices will indicate exactly when the wheels started turning.

It will take a vote in Council to waive  privilege. It won't take that for me to get answers to my questions. Not any more.

Stuff I Don't Know.

I spend a lot of time writing. Not so much researching. I've noticed a couple of things about the City of Toronto  different to the rest of us.

Council appoints a speaker or  presiding member .The Mayor is not it. Once  I saw the speaker on a news clip. I had the impression  she was perched on a dais.  I don't recall  anyone being  at her side.

The Mayor is  free  to participate in debate. The Mayor has an executive committee. The media refers to it as  "the Mayor's  powerful executive committee'. I thought it was powerful because it had a majority of the Council members and it meant the Mayor had control . Then I saw something else that made me think, that can't be right.

There are forty-four councillors. I believe they appoint  standing committees. They are referred to by the media as  powerful this and  powerful that.

There are community Councils. They are not elected. So how are they constituted? How much power do they have?

Councillors have office budgets. Their offices are not in  City Hall. I guess that's how  millions of  dollars could be overspent on a computer contract  while the computer salesman and  treasury official
were cavorting in the meadow.Nobody was  around the town hall to pick up on the gossip or see for themselves what was  going on.

So. I have a lot of questions about how the City functions I know there's a City of Toronto Act but I have  neither time nor inclination to suss out the details. If anybody out there is familiar with the City's  political structure, I would be glad to hear  about it and spread the word.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The New Beginning

The election brought candidates together. There was a sense of common purpose.

A single issue made that happen.The law suit launched against three citizens by the Mayor of the Municipality with their own tax dollars being used against them.

There was a powerful vigor early in the campaign.News of the law suit galvanized voters and candidates alike to action.

Fairness isn't a complicated formula that needs explanation. Injustice creates a gut revulsion. It is not an intellectual exercise.

The day of reckoning came with the excitement of success,and the feeling that to-gether, we made a difference.

It doesn't mean agreement on all things at all times. Or issues we have to deal with, will not engender passion. It means we have a common purpose. With fresh energy, ideas and determination, we will apply ourselves to the tasks.

A circle of citizens have gathered to engage in the excitement and expecting to be part of it from hereon. A way will have to be found.

It seemed the social media would have an impact on our politics. I thought it would be reflected in a greater turn-out at the polls. It didn't.

As the weeks passed, other changes are apparent.  Council's Inaugural was celebrated and shared. Spontaneous applause and standing ovations greeted introductions in the Council Chamber. The Town Clerk, with thirty five years of experience commented he had never seen anything like it and the new Council should feel very good about it.

We have had two meetings. Both were well attended by residents.

When we made the decision to cut off public funding for the former Mayor's law suit, the audience applauded vigorously.

The social media may not have brought out more people to vote, but it certainly  created an awareness  the business of the Town really is OUR business.

It's real. It's human. It's high drama.

It matters.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Tried and True Tradition

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Clear and Transparent":

I have a question that is not really related to your post.
I see that in the new council configuration, the mayor is flanked by the town clerk and the town CAO.
I think I read in the Auroran a couple of weeks ago that this was always the practice until the beginning of last term when it was changed. During the last 4 years, all town staff sat opposite the council (now that's a confrontational arrangement if ever I saw one). Do you have any idea why it was changed, how it was changed and by whom?
I must say I much prefer the way it is now again. It makes much more sense as the TC and CAO can be conferred with more easily


Traditionally, the Clerk is always at the elbow of the presiding member. For the reason you have just observed.

No staff person can speak during a formal Council meeting without being invited to do so.

No presiding member can be expected to be as facile with rules of order as the Clerk of the Municipality.

If something connected to the rules is mis-stated or misunderstood,it's a simple matter for the clerk to be unobtrusive about the need for an interjection. He is invited to do so by the presiding member.

To a lesser extent and in a different area, the same applies to the Chief Administrative Officer.

When the change was made in the last Council, there was no discussion. We arrived one night and found the officials had been relegated to a position of less

The presiding member had a Councillor beside her and between the two of them they made rules to suit themselves as they went along.There were plenty of times when it was impossible to function. Hanging tough was the only option.

Other stuff has diminished the clerk's role. Not, in my opinion, to the betterment.

Throughout the term, it has not been clear which was an administrative decision and which under the command of the former Mayor. It may sort itself out. I am somewhat less than confident.

The new Mayor is receiving advice from a number of well-informed resources. He made the right decision when he re-arranged the configuration.

It's a good start.

There was a Crooked Man..Who walked a Crooked Mile..He found a Crooked Sixpence..and Climbed a Crooked Stile

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Clear and Transparent"

How much $ will the Town spend in defending the named defendants in the lawsuit brought against them by you Ms. Buck?

Perhaps when you are done gloating over this small victory you can drop your case and get on with the business of the Town?


I am not privy to how the defendants in my lawsuit are meeting the legal costs.

But I can tell you some of what was spent over four years to stop me from relaying information and opinions to people who voted for me in the previous election.

The first retainer was Mr. George Rust D'Eye who responded to an emergency call from former Mayor Morris. There was a reputed "leak" from an in-camera meeting.Mr. Rust D'eye was to "investigate" He provided advice that a Code of Conduct would solve the problem. It was better than a Code of Ethics because a penalty could be imposed.

The invoice was $16,200. The Code was written.The former Mayor stated Mr. Rust D'Eye had wrote it. I'm not sure of that. But the solicitor was present for press conferences and such so that would probably bring the total to $20.000.

There was advertising for an Integrity Commissioner who was retained in November. Signed a contract in the Spring. There was a monthly retainer of $2.000.

There was another emergency in May, a solicitor retained, consultations with Council,instructions given, report received, complaint contrived. filed and publicized.

A figure obtained at that time for the services was $70,000.

Then the Integrity Commissioner was "stripped of his authority" at the same time as a decision was presented,in August, noting "the complaint was wholly political" Likely cost to the town for service was $18,000.

Some months later, more advertising for an Integrity Commissioner. Retained on April 1st at a monthly fee of $3,600. He dealt with two complaints filed by the same individual who signed the first complaint.

His contract is expected to be terminated by March 1st.The sum and substance of the contract will be no less that $40,000.

A rough calculation of the total, including federal and provincial taxes would be $160.00. No doubt additional costs were incurred but that's all I know about for sure.

How much I have spent on legal costs is not for my reader to worry his tiny little pin head about.But he can be assured of one thing. It's too much to turn back now.

As Councillor Gallo noted last night. A Councillor should have a means of defending themselves against defamation. How much more true is that when the fault is with those who disregard the law and abuse public trust and resources in order to do maximum harm to another and with sufficient arrogance to disclose their actions to the entire world while they are about it.

Clear and Transparent

When or if Council changed hands, it was apparent there would be revelations

Two special meetings held last night were the beginning.

The first meeting scheduled for 7p.m. allowed for Notice of Motion .The second provided for reconsideration of the decision made by Council on September 14th 2010.

"the town solicitor be directed to retain external counsel to take any and all actions to bring this matter to a resolution"

During last night's debate last night,Councillor Gallo stated he had no idea the motion would lead to legal action being taken against three town residents. He also said he believed Councillors should have some means of defending themselves against
being defamed. He stayed with his original decision.

But his comment reminded me of a point that needed to be clarified.

When legal action is being taken against the town or the town is faced with the requirement of taking legal action, Council must be informed of the first and must authorize the second.

The question was directed to the town's assistant solicitor.

The fact was established.

Council must authorize when legal action needs to be taken.

Council did not authorize litigation be taken against three residents of the town.

The question has been asked about cost. The answer is nothing at this point though invoices have been received.

Cost for services rendered does not come under the heading of solicitor/client privilege.

I have the figures. I lo-o-ove getting the figures.

The first invoice submitted on October 25th (election day)$4,480.65. The second was in the amount of $38,242.17 was received on November 18th. These amounts are not yet paid.

In summary therefore, the litigation was not authorized by Council as required.

To this point, only the cost of staff time has been expended.

Invoices have been tendered. While the electorate of Aurora were in the process of choosing a new council and making it clear, they wanted no part of suing three residents of the town for critical comments, however severe,against a politician, made by a person not identified.

Last night,the new Council settled the matter and reversed the previous decision.

I have given Notice of Motion,to be presented in January,to Waive Solicitor/Client privilege and release legal advice provided which led to litigation against town residents.

I do not believe the town's interest was served by the action taken. I do not expect the town's interest to be damaged by releasing legal advice that led to it.

I am prepared to argue the case for transparency.

Viewing the blog, I just realized something. new.  The Council meeting was scheduled for September 14th

Council re-convened at 1.11 a.m on the morning of September 15th and adjourned again at 1.14 a.m.

Extending the hour of adjournment beyond 11.p.m. required a two-thirds majority vote.

No record exists of such a vote. Does that mean the meeting didn't happen and therefore neither did the decision.

Making corporate decision at such an ungodly hour has always seemed entirely inappropriate to this pilgrim.

Monday, 20 December 2010

About Those Pesky Rules

Robert the Bruce has left a new comment on your post "The Reported Out Motion":

Evelyn Buck wrote:
Generally when a Councillor moves a motion it's understood the Councillor supports the motion..

However it is not against any rules that someone moves a motion but not support it? I have seen instances when a counciller will move a motion to at least get it on the table for discussion. Also, I have seen a mover have a "change of heart" and retract their "moving" after debate


It is true that a Councillor may move a resolution "to get it on the table for discussion" It is not good practice.

Records are precise. The objective is accuracy. There must be no room for interpretation.

Business completed by Council is confirmed by Bylaw.

That's why Yvonne Cattrell's accusatory and critical comments of staff had no place on the last agenda. They are now undisputed as part of the formal record.

The Clerk's responsibility to to record the decisions of Council "without note or comment" If the statement is, 'I move the motion to get it on the table for discussion", only the Councillor's name is recorded.

If a Councillor moves a motion and after discussion, decides he cannot support it wishes to withdraw support,Council must authorize the withdrawal.I think that may require two-thirds majority vote.

The point is, it takes a motion to be moved and seconded to get it on the table for discussion. Council is then in possession of the motion.It no longer belongs to the mover and seconder.

If the mover after discussion, can no longer support the motion and wishes to disassociate his name from it,the only way to do that is to ask Council's approval to withdraw as mover.

The proceeding becomes part of the record.

It's not a given.If a motion has been under discussion for some time its appropriate disposition is by vote.

A Councillor who moves a motion should be very sure he knows what he's doing. Flip flops do not reflect well on a person's competence. Wasting Council's time discussing a motion which might otherwise never have reached the table, is not good acceptable practice.

The record shows.

A recorded vote is requested if a Councillor has strong conviction on an issue and wants his/her position to be on the record.

When an issue is not controversial or unanimous support is apparent, a request for a recorded vote is also a waste of Council's time and removes clarity from the record.

The purpose of the rules is to expedite the business of the corporation and complete it by the hour of adjournment set by Bylaw.

The Municipal Act requires a Councillor to vote. Under the law ,a councillor is not permitted to abstain. Abstention shows in the record as a negative vote.

The only way a Councillor can avoid voting is to remove him or herself from the Council Chamber.The record shows those present at the meeting. If a vote is recorded,the count for members voting must match members present at the time of the vote.

New Councillors need time to wrap their heads around the rules. They can't learn except by doing. The Presiding Member needs the skills to guide and assist new Councillors in their understanding. Good will,consistency and impartiality are essential.

The Clerk needs to be on hand to add his expertise to the task while at the same time exercising discretion in not being seen to be influencing Council decisions.

Anyone watching last term's Council learned nothing at all about the rules. Except how bad things can be if there is no respect or a common understanding of why a council can't function without them.

We heard a lot about how dysfunctional the last two Councils were and why this or that person was to blame.

When people around the table have no understanding of the rules or why they are necessary and the presiding member wrote her own on the fly and the Clerk was kept at a distance,I always found it interesting how some watchers were so convinced they had it figured and knew exactly who was to blame.

I was surprised to see Councillor Gaertner's name in the minutes of the meeting as having moved the resolution reported out from the in-camera meeting last week. There was certainly no need for one who did not support the motion to get it on the table for discussion.Nor was that comment made.

Some Answers But Nix On Clarity

In the Dark has left a new comment on your post "The Reported Out Motion":

Councillors voted to take any and whatever action necessary to resolve "the matter"

Is this documented in the official record ?
Are there minutes of these in camera discussions?
Would the Town not be in a strong position to recover their losses associated with this illegal law suit?
How do you explain why three members of this council would vote against simply receiving this memo?
Your information begs far too many questions with very few answers , hopefully this picture becomes much more clear and soon , this mess needs to be explained !!!!


A record is kept of in-camera decisions. It is confidential, sparse and resides in the Clerk's office. Councillors can view the record under the Clerk's supervision. Nothing can be removed from the Clerk's keeping.

A comment appeared on the Aurora Citizen blog on the afternoon of September 14th and was circulated at the table prior to the Council meeting that night.

So far as I am concerned, criticism of a politician by a member of the public, is not the business of the corporation. The comment had no business being added to the in-camera agenda. It was done on the direction of she who was criticized and must always be obeyed.

I did not attend the in camera session. It was already past the hour of adjournment.
As it turned out, the meeting continued until 1.10a.m. It was a meeting held after registration for nominations had closed,the election was underway, at a time when principle demands no substantive business of the municipality be conducted at the end of the term when the incumbent Council in the process of being held accountable.

During the meeting, a resolution was passed directing staff to retain external legal counsel and take any and all measures to resolve this matter.That decision was reported out at 1.l1a.m. Councillor McRoberts was in the chair,the Mayor having left the Council chamber at 1.10a.m.

It appears no report had been submitted to Council citing legislative authority to retain legal counsel to deal with a matter of this nature. Not surprising, since the comment had appeared on the blog that afternoon, was circulated at the Council table that evening and direction given to add it to the in-camera agenda at that moment in time.

On December 14th,on a motion to receive in open Council,three Councillors voted in opposition. Until they did, no hint of their intention was received and therefore no explanation.

Solicitor/client privilege, refers to the right of confidentiality between solicitor and client. The privilege can be waived by Council. Effectively allowing legal recommendations to be made available for public viewing.

I think, if town interest is not negatively affected, we should do it more often than we do. We didn't do it this time either.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Councillor John Abel Will Be At The Meeting On Tuesay Night.

Councillor Sandra Humphreys Will Be At The Meeting on Tuesday night.

A Reminder

A reminder

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Reported Out Motion":

Don't forget the new Mayor!


I didn't forget. Mayor Dawe called the meeting.

He put forward the notice of motion for re-consideration at the first meeting of the new Council. Now he has called a special meeting to deal with it before Christmas.

A promise kept No time wasted. Hopefully, three families in our community better able to enjoy Christmas than they were able to enjoy Thanksgiving.

Posted by Evelyn Buck at 12:17 PM 0 comments

Another Response

Councillor Thompson has responded to the call. He will be there. That's a quorum. The meeting will be held. It will  be  in the council chamber.

It starts at 7P.M.

If Rogers cameras are not there. the only way you will catch the drama is to be there.

I heard about a resident last week. The family has to be quiet when council meetings are coming on. He settles down on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and prepares to watch his  show.

When the town hall was on Yonge Street, a resident of Murray Drive used to come out to meetings.The late Ian Agnew came, he said, because there wasn't anything to watch on television on Monday nights.

The room was not large. There were about twenty chairs.for visitors. Ian stomped out one night, bumping chairs as he went and told us in no uncertain terms:

"Ye're a' a bunch o' maniacs."

Ian was Scottish.

He was back at the next meeting.

The Reported Out Motion

A reader asked for wording of the motion reported out on Tuesday, to better understand Council's action in dealing with the Litigation matter referred behind closed doors.

I wanted to provide it exactly. For some reason, no doubt legitimate, I cannot copy
and paste official records. So I have re-produced it in writing .

Moved By Wendy Gaertner Seconded by Evelyn Buck

That the Confidential Memo dated December 14th 2010 from the Director of Legal Services/Town Solicitor entitled Morris v Johnson et al - Defamation Action be received.

Recorded vote 6Yeas 3Nays

The Nays were Ballard, Gallo, Gaertner

Generally when a Councillor moves a motion it's understood the Councillor supports the motion..

A motion to receive means no action  be taken. The recommendation is not accepted.

It's a weird and convoluted situation. I have often listed business permitted by provincial regulation to be discussed behind closed door.

Litigation by the Town, litigation against the Town, both qualify.

Discussing either issue publicly would jeopardize the town's interest. The other side cannot be given ammunition of any kind. It's called Breach of Trust.

In the last term, there was an example of that being done deliberately.Probably not with the intention of jeopardizing the town's interest. More likely to harm moi.

Lots of things happen that shouldn't happen and don't end up in court.

It's  like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly in some circumstances. In all circumstances, it is hellishly expensive.

But the convoluted aspect of this issue is the Town did not litigate against Johnson et al. The former Mayor did. After an in-camera discussion on a matter which did not involve the town's interest, Councillors voted to take any and whatever action necessary to resolve "the matter"

That direction evolved into commencement of litigation by an elected official against three families in the community.

No special meeting was called for Council to authorize litigation.We read about it in the newspaper.

Litigation is not something done lightly. A price tag cannot be guessed. The outcome cannot be assumed. The Town only does it after all other options have been exhausted.

It is my impression, before we do, Council authority to proceed is required.. It seems only sensible.

So far as I am aware, after September 14th, when the initial resolution was passed,
no further meeting was called.

I have difficulty with that aspect.

My second problem is the litigation was  taken by the former Mayor. I know of no legislation permitting an elected official to litigate at public expense against a residents or residents.

The situation became more confusing when the documents  were to withdraw the  official title.

The direction of dealing with the matter behind closed doors and paying for  litigation from public resources quite simply leaves me scratching my head .

I don't get it

On Tuesday, December 21st, two Special meetings have been called by Mayor Dawe to deal with the issue.

First Special meeting will deal with a motion to re-consider the decision made on September 14th. The second meeting will deal with matters arising from the result of the first meeting.

At this point, Councillors Pirrie,Abel and myself have circulated e-mails indicating our ability to attend

Councillor Gaertner has indicated a prior commitment.

Other Councillors may have indicated intent to attend without circulation.

Five Councillors are needed for a quorum. Four are now  confirmed.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Hear Ye Hear Ye Hear Ye

NOtice of a Special Meeting has been circulated to Councillors for Tuesday, December 21st at 7.00p.m.in the Council Chamber.

A second meeting will follow the first both to deal with the Mayor's Notice of Motion to deal with the decision made on September 14th which resulted in initiation of legal action .... Johnson et al V Morris.

Councillors are required to notify availability. A quorum is required. Three Councillors have already responded. Includng the Mayor that makes four. One more is required.

Just a minute till I check

Not there yet

Excuse Me

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Furthermore":

Where does someone go when they do not get a satisfactory response from someone? They go to that person's boss. No satisfaction there, they go higher. It's called "fighting city hall". You may not like it but that is how we have structured all sorts of things - especially with public services.

For example, we have bylaw enforcement which has been explained to me on many occasions as "enforcement through complaints". The person wanting a certain thing is obligated to complain to someone or go over the head of someone in order to get satisfaction.

This should not surprise you at all. The person in charge of the pools was not treated unfairly. There is an attempt to overrule his authroity because we allow it. He needs a thick skin. This is not the forst and will not be the last time this happens


We have not structured anything that allows a town employee to be slagged in a public meeting without even the opportunity to offer his account of the facts.

Publishing unfounded and unproven allegations and accusations of wrong-doing against any ctizen come perilously close to defamation of character.

Is it your position the town be liable for such irresponsible behavior?
It certainly is not mine.

There is a process for a citizen to register a complaint against a municipal employee to his immediate supervisor.

If no satisfaction is obtained at that level, the elected body is the final resort.

No such complaint can be dealt with in a public forum. Nor should it be received that way.

I am not aware of any complaint submitted in the matter of unfair and unequal treatment of the Selkies Club by a particular member of town staff to his immediate superior,the Chief Administrative Officer.

It was by dodging rules of procedure,access was provided to the delegate. The privilege was abused but not without an attempt on my part to block the strategy.

Next time, hopefully, there will be a better understanding of the game being played.

There Comes a Time

Someone who loves this town more than politics has left a new comment on your post "Furthermore":

The issue here is that three non-Town organizations all want use of the facility. Two of the organizations are part of the Old Boys club and get special treatment. The third wants to have a more equitable situation but she is an outsider.

The solution, I see that each club lists the number of members. The allocation should be pro-rated based on the number of members. Then it's fair to everyone


The issue is not as you see it. Master Ducks, Ducks of Steel and Special Ducks are not part of any Old Boys Club I know about.

They are business clients of the Town of Aurora. Yes, they were there first.

The Selkies was founded after the Stronach Centre was constructed. After contracts were already signed taking up all available lanes.

The Town has no obligation to provide facilities for private enterprise. It is in our best interest to have successful revenue producing clients.

If we follow your rationale,anyone should be able to start a business, confident of the town's obligation to provide the facility to accommodate their business.

Could a dance teacher commit to providing classes without a studio?

How many times can a finite space be divided to accommodate every business that appears on the scene?

What right does a latecomer have to demand earlier patrons be pushed aside to make room for them?

What obligation do you as a taxpayer feel to provide facilities for private business to service however many clients they choose to sign up without having facilities to provide the committed service?

I personally feel none.

The town provides swimming lessons in our recreation program. We are accommodating families who wish and can afford for their children to have that opportunity.We are not yet at capacity. Eighty-per cent of pool time is community use.

I already mentioned, Selkies owner was offered space in the Aurora Leisure Complex.It wasn't the preferred option.

Selkies contend Clubs already contracted at the Stronach Centre be pushed out to make room for Selkies.

How is that reasonable?

Since when does messing around with the business operation of a town facility become a responsibility of Councillors?

Staff are provided with policy guidelines set by Council to manage facilities.

Why is it preferable for policies to be bypassed and decisions made on basis of immediate political imperative?

Imagine the time spent at the Council table, hearing from this group about entitlement at the expense of that group?

It is the nature of politicians to wish to please.

We have just come out of a term of council when pandering was paramount.The electorate didn't think much of that.

We could plunge the Town into horrendous debt and build facilities far beyond our needs to accommodate every private swim club that came to our door. Once the word got out, no doubt there would be plenty.

If because of the numbers, clubs ceased to be profitable, what answer would we give when inevitably they sought lower fees ?

We have a situation at the Community Centre with the Aurora Tigers.

Hockey lovers no longer come out in sufficient numbers to watch the spirited game.

They don't feel the need for the excitement. To hear the crack of a stick square against a puck in a powerful slapshot. Or a puck bounces off the goal post or makes it in and bounces back out. Or the goalie stops it and in a flash a stick sends it right back in.

No longer do they need to feel the wind created by an Amazon figure in full gear swooshing past,the sound of ice sliced by skates moving at a hundred miles an hour.

When a player takes off his helmet and sweat pours from every strand of hair on his head. eyelashes, eyebrows, the end of his nose and around his chin, indicating the superhuman energy it takes to play the game.

People don't seem to need excitement any more. They can sit at home with beer and pretzels, watch it on the box, save themselves a trip out in the cold and the few bucks for admission.

Aurora Tigers struggle to survive. Many years the town makes concessions and waits for months for the annual account to be settled.

What else can we do?

We built a state-of-the art home for the Tigers with spectator seating to accommodate thousands and extra costs for operation. We opened it early because that year The Tigers made it to the play-offs and became a Junior A team.

It was our pride and joy. It brought the community together in a way nothing else had. Before,we were driving our kids all over God's Half Acre to find ice time wherever it was.After, we were rousting six and seven year olds out of bed at five on a Saturday and Sunday morning. so that everyone could be accommodated.

Are we going to send the Tigers packing because they have trouble meeting the financial responsibilities?

Would Aurora be better off without a Junior A Hockey Franchise?

Should an empty silent facility built for better times but still costing more money to operate, become nothing but a ghostly memory by a political decision?

Who wants to answer that question?

And talking about clubs and space needs; should the Aurora Figure Skating Club move over to make room for every new club that chooses to organise notwithstanding finite space accommodation?

I'm done with this argument now? If logic and facts fail to persuade,we will simply have to agree to disagree...agreeably one hopes.

Thursday, 16 December 2010


Anonymous said...

To be honest I really don't understand why something like this comes to council. Shouldn't it be handled at staff level anyway? I assume there are policies and procedures that govern something like allocation of time in public facilities. Could someone please enlighten me why this would go up to council?
And as to "Love my town more than politics" saying "Smash those kids' hopes and dreams," really, get a grip. Enough of the melodrama.


This reader does understand how these matters are managed. Council sets policy. Staff make decisions based on the policy.

The clubs, with contracts since the facility opened, were on hand even before it was built.Originally the plan was for five lanes. The clubs urged Council to direct eight lanes be provided.

The facility was built two years ahead of schedule. There had to be a debenture for what might otherwise have been available from development charge revenues.

Revenue from the clubs have been earned since day one. They paid the fees and conformed to whatever town policies were required.Never at any time was there an agreement which did not serve mutual interest. In other words, suggestion of preferential treatment is a crock.

Last time, Selkies club owner bypassed the process,made her way to council through the Mayor's Office and launched a campaign to get what she wanted through the political process. She was successful.

This time she was enabled to bypass the process to delegate to Council with the assistance of Councillor Ballard.

The last harangue went on at the Council table for months, concluding with intervention from a provincial swim organisation.

Selkies owner was offered lane time in the Aurora Leisure Centre. She refused. The other clubs have four,five and six swimmers in a lane at the same time. Selkies are observed to have three swimmers in three lanes, one being the owner of the club

I expect a deluge of criticism from readers for providing information they do not wish to know. It happens when people have been taken in, gingered up for a fight, to be mad at the person who deprives them of their arguments

It's O.K. I am the one in possession of the facts and the responsibility to keep people informed.

When the dust settles, everyone will have a better understanding.

I will print comments that disagree with my perspective. Just don't call me names, tell me I'm stupid or make allegations against my character. It's not nice, your mother would not approve and it brings out the worst in me.

Let Me tell You Why

Jason has left a new comment on my post "Dodging The Rules":

I have read your blog post and am left at a loss. I was in attendance at the meeting last night and listened to all that was said. I didn't find anything said by Ms CATTREL to be "offensive, abrasive, accusatory" as stated in your blog.

I am curious however why it seems to be such a trial to equally divy up pool time. As a basic function of a democratic society a simple Representation by Population method could be used.

Isn't this suppose to be about the children and their opportunity to swim not about whether they are a Duck or a Selkie? Each should be allowed fair and equal access to publicly funded facilities.


TAXPAYING MOM has left a new comment on my post "Dodging The Rules":

Maybe my view is simplistic but if there are 3 clubs, wouldn't it make sense to divide the pool time 3 ways. Surely you have an agreement in place for ice time that works? Unless there is a contractual reason I have not been made privy to I don't see why any group of children should be discrimninated against because of the club they choose to swim with. Judging by your statements, your position on this sounds more personal than professional


I objected to the Selkie Swim club business owner's presentation to Council on Tuesday. It was inaccurate,accusatory and critical of town staff.The views expressed above indicate how effective it was in misleading those who heard it.

Because the written presentation, attached to a memorandum from a Councillor, found its way into the public record, inaccurate, accusatory, and critical comments made against town staff now form part of the public record. They will continue to mislead whoever may reference the record from hereon.

At one point, during the verbal presentation, the microphone was silenced by the Mayor to stop offensive comments.The delegate was informed her comments were not acceptable. At another point she was informed she had two more minutes. She responded she had fifteen minutes because she had three delegations. She continued beyond her time in defiance of the Mayor's advice.

Many parents and small children were present on a sub-zero winter night to hear the Club Owner make her pitch that their rights and interests were being denied.

There is much to understand about the operation of a public recreation facility. Selkies owner understands it very well. Perhaps more significantly, she understands equally well what the parents listening did not, as illustrated in the above comments to my post.

First the town's obligation is to manage business efficiently with the least possible burden on taxpayers as the objective. We do that by maximizing facility use and revenues. The Town's recreation department brings in five million dollars revenue annually. It does not cover costs. Benefits derived by community use of facilities is the offsetting factor.

Different rates are charged for out of town users, private clubs and business operators. We use revenue from private business,to keep rates reasonable for community users.

I am conscious even so, there are families in Aurora who cannot afford to use the facilities. With the exception of the library.

The bulk of pool space is used for swim programs, including swimming lessons, provided by recreation staff. Last summer we provided swimming lessons in backyard pools. Fees are not dirt cheap but we do strive to make them affordable by maximizing revenues from the private sector.

We welcome business from the private sector.

I could give the history of how the Stronach pool came to be built despite heavy deficit forecasts. Let me just say the Ducks and Master Duck Clubs were effective in persuading Council it was a good thing to provide local swimmers the opportunity to achieve excellence and compete with the best.

When it was built, the town gladly contracted out the space to the two clubs.They paid the rate fixed by the town and met the residential requirements of the town's policy. We lucked out with a contract with the Roger Neilsen Hockey School which went a long way to keeping the deficit down. The community enjoys a first class pool facility.The current annual deficit is just under $400Ks.

Most pool time is a variety of community use.

The Selkies Coaching Club business was created two years ago. It is a privately owned business enterprise. The owner was originally a coach with the Ducks who left and started her own club using private facilities.

Eventually she came to Aurora Council complaining her demands to use town facilities were not being treated fairly by staff. She was liberal with accusation against both staff and the two contracted clubs.She was very familiar with the principles of contract.

In the past Council harsh,abrasive accusatory language against some staff members was often permitted. In some cases, I am convinced, it was invited. A Councillor, myself, was frequently subjected to the treatment.

You're damned right it's personal.

Rules of order do not permit municipal staff to be accused of wrong-doing in a formal public meeting of Council. Accusation of wrong-doing are not and should not become part of the public record. Permitting such is grossly unprofessional. A Councillor should not be obliged to object to abuse of privilege. Delegations should be apprised of the rules and warned they will be implemented.

The initial swim clubs did what they were entitled to do. Documentation of residential requirements for members were provided and a contract signed for full use of the swim lanes at the scheduled time available.

From a business perspective, opening the pool with all lanes contracted out from day one was everything the town could wish for

Funds were raised by the Clubs to help pay for the facility.Frank Stronach made a generous contribution which helps offset the debenture debt.

Then along came the aggressive, abrasive, accusatory, fast-talking owner of a new for profit swim club.

I'm here now. I want equal access. I want swim lanes to accommodate my business And by the way, my customers are Aurora taxpayers that entitles me was her pitch.

There is no inherent right for the public sector to provide space needs for the private sector to carry out profit making enterprise. Doesn't matter where the customers come from.

All the same, two years ago, the clubs with contracts did voluntarily give up lanes to accommodate the new one.

But it wasn't enough. The Selkies club owner apparently,despite insufficient lanes to accommodate them. continues to grow her business, while crying foul against town staff and the other clubs for not moving out to make room for her.

With the contrivance of a Councillor,to gain delegation status for a matter not on the agenda, at the first meeting of the new council, again flailing at staff with false accusations of unfairness, with providing a monopoly to the original clubs, with failure to follow through with Council direction and with insinuations of skullduggery in the matter of contracts.

While rallying parents with small children to come out on a sub zero cold winter night to support her false claims and outrageous demands.

We had more than enough of this stuff during the last term of Council.

The community recently had the opportunity to make it clear they want no more of it.

I fought against it last term without success. I expect the situation to be different this time.

If I have left any aspect of this unsavoury situation uncovered in this post, I will be happy to answer any further questions.

It is the town's obligation to be fair to all, to manage business efficiently and economically and not to submit to fast-talking charlatans with nothing but their own interest in mind and friends in high places.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Obfuscation in Spades.

14 December, 2010 3:23 PM

Anonymous Broderick Epps said...

Will Wendy be going to the off-site orientation? She has been against them in the past and indeed
boycotted the last one held off-site.


14 December, 2010 8:11 PM

Anonymous Knowledgeable in Aurora said...

Re Wendy and the offsite meeting - I was wondering that myself. Please tell us Evelyn how that discussion went last night.

And, remember, although she and PM made sure there was no offsite for the 2006 Council, Wendy did vote to allow PM to attend the Region's offsite.

15 December, 2010 7:32 AM


Councillor Gaertner was true to form last night. She challenged the Mayor's authority to file two notices of motion to be presented at the next Council meeting. She refused advice of the Clerk when he explained every which way, why the process was in order.

Councillor Gaertner insisted otherwise and declared to the world,this is a Council which has no respect for " The Town's Rules of Procedure"

In keeping with the Councillor's new-found authority, The Mayor was addressed as Mr. Dawe and the Councillor's rebuke was read from a prepared script.

Brock Weir,the Auroran reporter later received a hand delivered copy of the
presentation and declaration.

Clearly the Councillor is on a mission to demonstrate to the community at large, the mistake they made in their choice of Mayor Dawe to lead the Council in the next term.

Councillor Ballard also voted against the off-site orientation.

Councillor Gaertner, Gallo, Ballard also opposed the resolution reported out from the in camera meeting,against a recommendation submitted to Council at the in-camera meeting.

Said meeting lasted two hours. The same decision could have been arrived at within five minutes. It was the one made by the community, in the matter of legal action against three local families when they elected their new council on October 25th.

I can't tell you much about it because it's mostly a secret. Being an in-camera meeting and all that.

Rogers cameras were not at the town hall. So the first business meeting of the Council of 2010/14 will be lost to posterity. Except of course for the tapes the town makes.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Responding Again

Since my blog is being read it's reasonable to assume readers are on line. The Procedural Bylaw is posted on the town's web-site. The whole thing can be read there.

I've always found bylaws and regulations easier to understand if related to a particular situation. You know that old phrase; for example;

In January, Council will have the off-site orientation.The agenda will be prepared by staff.

Staff have to follow through with the direction of council. They are the ones to identify problems with procedure and recommend changes to help things function better.It's a wise Council that listens to staff experience.

We've wasted much time and goodwill in the past four years arguing about the rules. Nobody came out of it looking good. Although I love words,I'm a great believer in rules being brief and concise. They are easier to learn, understand and retain. It takes little time to be able to cite the rules verbatim.To hear them in your head when you need to make a mental check.

Interrupting a speaker on a point of order, when it's really about disagreement, is really about harassment. If done deliberately to put the speaker off point.the practice is not conducive to good order or collegiality. Lord knows most Councils need all they can get of that.

Marshalling one's ideas, waiting to be recognized, re-arranging thoughts to respond to argument,takes discipline and control. Being interrupted, for the sake of interruption, is hard to accept with equanimity. I don't. I frankly admit. It pisses me off. Engenders all kinds of nasty thoughts and creative monickers.

Rules of Order are not something to be disputed. They must be agreed upon. It's another reason we adopt the Procedural Bylaw anew each term.

Has The Procedural Bylaw been adopted?

A Bylaw is a Bylaw Is a Bylaw. A Bylaw on the books is the law of our small section of the land until it is changed. It includes all manner of things; like the Calender of Meetings for the upcoming year. Places, dates and times are set by Bylaw so that all may know when the town's business will be conducted. They must be on held on a regular basis in the same place at the same time.

Meetings held outside the schedule are Special Meetings. The format of the agenda will reflect the special purpose of the meeting.

Council must re-constitute committees at the beginning of a term Except for statutary committees. which are; Committee of Adjustment or Variance Committee, Accessibilty Committee and Library Board.The Joint Fire Service Committee is also constituted according to an agreement between the two municipalities of Aurora and Newmarket.

All other committees are subject to review and should be, to determine their continuing function. There is no statutary requirement for advisory Committees.

Council may also wish to review the Rules of Order if only to understand how the rules are interpreted and make changes which may be needed to comply with provincial regulations or might be preferable from a new perspective.

We have plenty of work ahead of us. I think we need to look for ways to streamline the operation for both economy and effectiveness and look for better ways to allow everyone who wants to participate. to have the opportunity and keep things moving along lickety-split.

Dodging The Rules

Section 3.10 of the Procedural Bylaw governs delegations.

Delegates on special interest items shall be encouraged to attend General Committee rather than Council.The request for delegation status shall be in writing and shall state in detail the nature of the matter to be presented by the delegate.

Anyone wishing to appear on a subject not on the agenda shall be directed to appear at the Open Forum Section of the meeting.Alternatively, the delegate may be placed on a committee agenda to speak to an issue that is not on the agenda.

A delegate shall be permitted to speak only once on the item.

To-night's agenda has three requests for delegation status. The nature of the matter of all three refers to Item 20.

Item 20 is a memorandum from Councillor Ballard covering an offensive, abrasive, accusatory document, critical of staff from Yvonne Cattral, a private swim club operator, who is dis-satisfied with accommodation provided to her as result of an agreement arrived at during the last term of Council through the mediation of an official from a Swim Ontario Organisation.

Two clubs using the facility gave up lanes they had previously booked, to allow Ms Cattral to be accommodated.

Council watchers may re-call the time and endless wrangling on the issue in the last term before there was resolution. The other clubs signed the agreement. Ms Cattral did not.

The point of this post is emphasize the purpose of the Procedural Bylaw. Rules are legislated so that all may know they are fair and equal.

A memorandum from a Councillor contriving to have an issue placed on an
agenda, so that delegation could be permitted on the issue, which would not otherwise be permitted, to enable a fractious individual to have another kick at the cat so-to-speak, is not conducive to good order at the Council table.

It is important and I believe should be to all Councillors, we start this term the way we mean to go on.

People need to know they will be treated fairly.

Decisions must not only be fair they must be seen to be fair.

They cannot be seen to be fair if individuals can seek out someone willing to find a way to bend the rules.

Fairness happens when the rules and reasons for the rules are understood and respected by everyone.

Three Comments

When I write letters to the Auroran, it's an understanding between myself and the editor the subjects should be Aurora issues. It must be obvious to Auroran readers, that's where Ron Wallace's heart lies and that's what his newspaper is about.It's his and it can be anything he wants it to be.

So, although it's not mine, it is a discipline I have fallen into. When I write about stuff like the fall-out from security for the G20 security and how it reflects on Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, I am not sure my Blog readers will be interested. It is satifying therefore to get a response.

Three powerful statements have been forwarded. Two writers suggest my view is skewed. I did not offer a view skewed or otherwise. I provided a glimpse into circumstances that removes the situation from a facile conclusion.

It is not black and white.

We will talk about it some more

To-day I'm going to write a post about an item I will have to oppose at the first meeting of the new Council to-night.

First I's going to have tea and toast and contemplate the issue.

Monday, 13 December 2010

A Memory Re-visited

I weighed in last week on Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair's contradictory statements.

When the story of a brutal assault by police at the G20 Summit, first surfaced, Chief Blair stated the victim was armed and violent.

When a video surfaced. The Chief dismissed it and said it had been tampered.

When that proved not to be accurate, he declared he would be accountable for the conduct of the police. He asked the public to reserve judgment until the three investigative agencies had completed their investigations.

He had not himself waited for investigations to be complete before dismissing the
allegations and making accusations.

Still, when I saw an on-line invitation to Star readers to vote on whether or not the Chief should resign, I felt a chill in my heart.

There is so much to know about police politics.

About the relationship between politicians and police chiefs.

About the authority of the Police Chief versus the power of the Police Association.

About provincial jurisdiction and municipal authority.

About the authority of a constable.

About our culture.

About the community's need to believe all is well.

About time and money spent to assure the community that all is well.

About the need of the police for community support to do their job.

About the nature of the job.

I remembered a conclusion I arrived at in the late nineties.

Bryan Cousinea was Chief of York Region Police. It was a relatively young force. He may have only been third Police Chief. I was a member of the Police Services Board when he was appointed.

At forty-three years, he was Deputy-Chief and had been a police officer in York since the age of eighteen on leaving high school.

His commitment to create a completely professional police service, his respect for the community he served, his understanding of the need to stay on top of the job. his thoroughly decent personality,loyalty to his officers and respect for the Board. convinced me, Bryan Cousinea was the best and most promising Police Chief the Region of York had had or was likely to have.

At his age, he had time to make a lasting difference.

Bryan Cousinea was not allowed to complete his mission. He barely got started.

York Region Police Association made sure of that.

When it was over,I wept. I remember thinking,no Police Chief in Ontario or even in Canada can ever again know security in the role of Chief of Police.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Headlines On An Editorial Page

I arrived at the page without seeing a news story of interest. The headline of the editorial was an admonition to readers to "make sure your council hears your voice" and "exercise your right to participate in the decision-making process"

I was a second year homeowner when I decided I wanted to participate in the decision-making process. I became a candidate for the office of Councillor.

I was not successful. The term of office was one year.

Two terms later,giving birth in the interim,I was once again a candidate. Again unsuccessful.

Another two terms. Another birth. Once more,I was a candidate. This time successful.

I made my views known during intervening years in letters to the editor.They
appeared on the editorial page of the publication in my hand this morning.

The editor invariably took a strong and cogent positions on local political issues.

We did not always agree.

During this past Council term, residents did exercise their right to convey their views. On important issues,like the Byelection, they were ignored completely, while those whose vested interest was the salient feature, were shamelessly indulged at great expense to the majority.

Editorials on issues were conspicuous by their absence.

Merciless harrying, hounding and humiliation of staff passed without a whisper of editorial sanction.

Few news stories conveyed the facts nor did editorials take a position.The community might be scandalized by a shameful lack of fairness or civility from those elected to positions of trust and authority. The editors maintained silence

On the same editorial page this morning, a letter writer lamented that bullying still exists in schools despite tons of funds expended to correct the situation.The writer clearly expects correction to come from within the institution.

The press has long assumed the role of public watchdog. There was a time when they competed for the title.

How profound and compelling must the silence be, in the face of shameless pandering and clear and obvious injustice, before it is acknowledged, the conventional institution of media has abandoned it's traditional role?

How long before all of its pretensions are shattered?

Friday, 10 December 2010

Contradictions in Terms

Anonymous said...

Don Cherry may come across as a bit of a clown but in these days of defending rights and freedoms, he has the right to say what's on his mind. I am not supporting or condoning what he said or how he said it but at least when he speaks he says exactly what he thinks. He leaves no room for doubt,which is more than can be said about many politicians: federal, provincial or municipal!

9 December, 2010 3:45 PM

I think Don Cherry is great at what he does. The game would not be the same without him. The loud voice, outrageous language and bizarre costumes are obviously contrived to create exactly the right effect; entertainment with astute observations on the play and complete contrast to his quiet mannerly conservative partner. He is the perfect foil.

Don Cherry is a unique Canadian and enjoys great regard.

I just don't think he fits the bill at the Inaugural of Toronto City Council. The role he played was not the right note for the occasion.

Toronto media has been merciless in their denigration of the man chosen to be the City's Mayor in a fair election.

Some Councillors have also been quick to throw down the gauntlet.

But Rob Ford is the Mayor. It is his role is to provide leadership and encourage the best. It will be the measure of the man.

Bringing Don Cherry in to flail colleagues in his inimitable style was not a good start. Mayor Ford won the fight. It's time to start the peace.

Relevant to Councillor Gaertner's deportment at the Inaugural.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Irony":

How about being fair -- she had to leave because of an illness in the family, which she told everyone in the audience. Perhaps that had something to do with her mood. But, then again, why would you start presenting all the facts now?


I keep being surprised by the dearth of understanding of what it means to be in office. Every demeanour belongs to the public who elected you. You are their representative. They transferred their authority to you. You are subject to their judgment.

No-one is conscripted to public office. Being chosen to represent the community is no small honour.

Criticism goes with the territory. Defeated candidates may be excused for a lapse from grace. What excuse is there for one who has been chosen?


I attended the Regional Inaugural last night.I was surprised by glaring lapses in protocol.

Nine Mayors entered in procession wearing Chains of Office.

They do not sit at Regional Council as presiding members. They are Councillors.

Wearing a Chain of Office, symbol of the head of Council, where they are not, is entirely inappropriate.

Election of the Chair was the order of business. There was a written nomination, moved and seconded. A call went out for further nominations. Nominations were closed. The new/old chair was elected by acclamation.

Throughout the proceedings, it was referred to as appointment. Not just by Councillors but also by officials .

It is clearly NOT an appointment.

The speech by the head of the Council is the main feature of the Inaugural.

It's nice for Councillors to be given a couple of minutes to speak. We never used to
and it is not essential to the proceedings.

Last night, twenty Regional Councillors separately repeated congratulations to the Chairman, appreciation to officiating personages, introduced, mothers, fathers. wives, children, wives' and husbands' mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and individual members of campaign teams.

Staff from municipalities were introduced, as well as regional officials. All were commended profusely to the audience. of which they were the audience.

Nobody thought to ask applause be withheld until each list of names was completed. Applause was repeated many,many times over.

The Regional Chairman, naturally pleased at having been re-elected, cheerfully announced, "Now you all know each other"

It was certainly friendly. Everyone was clearly pleased to be there.

But Oh...My...God

Re-election of the chair was predictable. It's not practical for anything else to happen which makes it a bit of a sham.

Nomination of a person other than a Regional Councillor is possible.It has never happened nor is it likely. It's a plum job. Why should politicians who have just been through the rigours of an election give the job to someone who hasn't.

Except that is what they do. The outgoing/incoming chairman has not faced the electorate.

If a newly elected Regional Councillor were to be successful in garnering sufficient support for a successful run at the chair, the municipal seat becomes vacant and voters are asked to foot the bill for a by-election, immediately on the heels of an election. Hardly a gooduse of municipal resources.

I remember Municipal Affairs Minister,Darcy McKeough telling York County Council, Regional government may not be the answer but once the decision is made,it's up to "us" to make it the right one. Work on it,improve it and make it right.

The trouble was, Darcy McKeough did not stay around. Like John Robarts didn't, to make the MTARTS plan a reality. Now people don't even know there was a plan created at great expense which would have fulfilled our best dreams and forestalled our greatest problems.

These two were not defeated in elections. They chose to retire from politics.
I guess it was too hard. The community certainly is the loser.

Now people don't know the difference between appointment and election or how ridiculous it is for ten individuals to sit around a table each wearing the symbol of presiding member.

Reminds me of the game, Where's Waldo?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

It's Quite The Yarn Down There

Premier McGuinty has apologized for changing legislation to give war measure powers requested by the Police to handle security during the G20 Summit. He said it was done in a rush ...not enough thought given.

A video provided to investigators shows a horrifying scene of violence by police against a protester named Nobody. His nose and cheek bone were broken.

Police Chief Blair initially made a statement the protester was armed and violent.

He said the video had been tampered with.

From a podium somewhere in B.C. he said he is Chief of Police and will take responsibility for conduct of police officers. They will be accountable.Also he said he would not resign.

He assured the public the police would co-operate with the three agencies with authority to investigate allegations of police wrong-doing.

At that time, apparently no officers had been identified.

Somewhere earlier on,I read police were not wearing number badges which would have made them accountable. A badge number provided to investigators did not belong to any officer on the force.

There were officers there from other forces.

The Chief is making it clear,officers who witnessed the event must report on what they saw.

Five names of officers have since been provided.

The Chief is not in the city while the situation is evolving.Police Chiefs travel like foreign potentates.

The drama, from a distance is made even more wondrous with a guy called Cherry in a pink high collared jacket and a fancy tie, officiating at the swearing-in of the Toronto's new Chief Magistrate and taking shots at a faction of duly elected Councillors while he's at it.

I have not been paying more than a passing interest.My source is the media.Same as everybody else.

It does seem to be hotting up. Andre Marin, provincial Ombudsman, has reported on his investigation.

The Chief is now asking everyone to withhold judgment until all the facts are in.

He earlier claimed the protester was armed and violent and the video had been tampered with. Subsequently he apologized for those comments. He said he "overspoke".

The Chief of Police made a public statement which proved not to be accurate while
allegations of police wrong-doing were under the spotlight.

He said no, he will not resign.

Firing a police chief in Ontario is well-nigh impossible.

Though Mayor when it all went down,David Miller is strangely silent in the discussion.

There is no attribution to Mayor Rob Ford.

I haven't been paying attention to Rosie Di Manno.

The Toronto Police Force is paid from the city's budget. It forms the greatest part. They are over five thousand strong. They are city employees.

There were officers there from elsewhere in the Province.

If there are damages to be paid whose responsibility will that be?

The "security" cost millions. With all the various agencies involved in the investigation of violence and severe injury to a citizen, millions more will be spent. All of it from taxpayers pockets.

To confuse things even further, I understand the G20 conference happened in Haliburton, where they didn't seem to have security or violence, from or against citizens.

This story has dolts, villains, at least one victim, certainly one hero and a clown.

The man who shot the video has spoken to the three investigating agencies on condition he remain nameless. He says he was both horrified and terrified that such a thing would happen in Canada.

He turned the camera off for three seconds because he thought two officers were coming towards him.

Perhaps a documentary will be done some time soon. They will probably have to change the victim's name from Nobody.Nobody but Nobody would believe it's his real name.They can't name the hero.

The clown would be the guy called Cherry in the pink high collared jacket and fancy tie.

Even so ..... it might not be believable.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What was most interesting was the way Councilor Gaertner hung on every word that was said, her attention never leaving the various speakers.

The way she mixed with everyone at the end could only bring to mind the enthusiasm she showed for the recent bus tour that Council took during your orientation.

Such teamwork!!!


I should clarify. Councillor Gaertner did not join Council on the bus tour or the lunch provided prior to the tour.

The tour was very much appreciated by the new Council. It was organized by Leisure Services Director Al Downey. Department heads were able to comment at various sites relevant to their separate responsibilities. It was highly informative.

Councillor Gaertner was overheard to explain since she had been on Council for seven years, she saw no need to take the tour. Apparently there was a failure to persuade Councillor Ballard he should boycott as well.

Councillor Gaertner does seem intent on displaying her displeasure over the results of the election.

It is to be hoped the phase passes. Four years is a long time to be ostracized. Whether effected against a candidate chosen by the electorate or by self-choice.

It's a denial of the voters right to choose.

Hardly fitting from one who has been chosen.

Too Many Stories

I have to stop or for certain people's eyes will start to glaze over.

I avoid going because I don't know when to leave.

When a visitor indicates intention to depart,I start a new topic.

I could make age my excuse. I'll be damned if I will. The problem has been with me for years.

It could be inferiority complex. We all know that's not true.

It might be nervousness. That's an obvious contradiction.

Talking about the problem might help. I have to take control.

But not to-day. I am compelled to give an account of the Inaugural Meeting of the Council of 2010/2014

There hasn't been one like it since the first I attended in 1963. It was the town's Centennial. Venue was the auditorium at Dr.G.W.Williams High School.

A special guest made a speech and swore Mayor Keith Nisbet and Council into office. Aurora's first Chain of Office was presented to the Mayor, by it's designer, Rod Smythe.

The late Jean Moffat and former Councillor spoke of the new library, the town's Centennial project. There had been a contentious debate about a basement but Council would not agree to spend the extra money. For some reason, $63,000 sticks in my head as full cost of the library. Before that books were laid out on tables and shelves along the walls of the dark and dingy Victoria hall.

The election was my first time out as a candidate. The audience filled the auditorium.

Aurora Town Hall was the venue last night. Though the audience seats in the chamber were full,numbers fell far short of 1963. The town's population has multiplied many times since then.

What was lacking in numbers was made up by enthusiasm.

The crowd spontaneously rose to their feet and applauded time and again to express approval of the new Council.

The Chamber design was used as I imagine it was intended. Council were piped down the stairs from behind the Chamber, escorted by a Colour Party from the Aurora Legion. The national anthem was beautifully rendered in perfect accoustics.

The clerk presided until the Mayor had sworn the Oath of Office. It was administered by a Justice of the Peace in formal gown and collar; a resident of Aurora and friend of the Mayor.

We had prayers of dedication by a multiple Faith group. Freedom of the City was returned to the Queen's York Rangers, North America's oldest regiment,stationed in Aurora.

Mayor Geoff Dawe made a speech outlining what he perceived had been established by the results of the election. It was very warmly received.There were cheers.

After the ceremonial, all adjourned to the second floor. The wide reception area was decorated with hundreds of small white lights and a Christmas tree. A pianist provided pleasant background music. Refreshments were served. The crowd stayed long and enjoyed the occasion.

I was one of the last to leave.

It was truly a memorable evening. Made no less so for myself by the presence of four of my children,eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.It wasn't the whole clan but it was respectable. A benefit of having a large clan is it takes but a fraction of the whole to make a substantial presence.

It was an extraordinarily cheerful, powerful and positive start to the council term of 2010/14

It shall be marked in the annals of Town history.

Google scoops up everything

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Continuing The Discussion

The same argurment could be made for the province to take the responsibility of municipal governments. Perhaps this is already happening? Not long ago, we had municipal funding of education. Before that we used to vote for representatives to sit on PUCs or Hyrdo boards.



Let's talk about that.

We still have municipal funding for education. We still elect trustees. Do they still have the same level of authority to make decisions? I don't think so.

Here's my take on the overall situation. Not based on research, mind. Just on casual observation.

When the City and Boroughs were amalgamated, market value assessment finally had to be applied; thirty years after everybody else in the Province.

Shock and horror could be expected from wealthy denizens of the megalopolis, as had been experienced everywhere else years before.

So the power brokers made a deal.They arranged with the Regions,they would take over future increases in cost for education. In turn, Regions would hand over money to cover Toronto's Social Services. The power elite in Toronto would not notice the impact of phased-in market value assessment and the plan would pass smoothly under the radar.

Except of course if the people in the boonies, now expected to hand over millions annually got wind of it. Chances were, if Regional representatives didn't talk too much,the press wouldn't notice. The sleeping giant would slumber peacefully.

I remember Toronto's easy dismissal of concerns. They said; Regions were the reason for Toronto's high social service costs.I don't remember regions pointing out the obvious. To be eligible for social assistance in a municipality, one must have an address within the municipality.

That Toronto has high social costs for people who come from elsewhere is undeniable. That they can't keep up with the demand for hospital beds is equally true.They have more social housing than anyone else. And more crime.

As long as people in the boonies weren't paying attention, unfairness was not a factor in the plan. Billions of dollars were filched out of the pockets of regional residents before it came to an end. When it did, we noticed little difference in our tax bill.The region just ate it up I guess.

They probably hired more police officers.Not too many though. You don't get many extra shifts for $75 million.

Aurora/Newmarket will be hiring twenty additional firefighters in 2011. It was decided when the two departments were joined. On the basis of predicted growth.

Theoretically, additional revenues from growth should allow the cost of the additional manpower to be gradually absorbed. Financial planning would have been wise. That didn't happen.

The agreement is ten years old. The joint committee, of which I have been a member, learned about the commitment to new manpower last year.

Twenty firefighters can't be trained all at once. Hiring will be phased

When I joined the joint committee four years ago,there was no signed contract. There isn't one now. Firefighting is an esssential service. Association members have no right to strike. The Parties are subject to binding arbitration.

When we had our own police department, an arbitrator once awarded the police more money than they asked for.

Monday, 6 December 2010

A Story About Police Strength

According to a story in the Star, Toronto's new Mayor has declared his intention to hire 100 more police officers.

The devil is in the details and first is a reference to legal requirement for police strength.

I have never heard of the "legal requirements" for police strength.

Why would there be. If the Province,generally considered responsible for "legal requirements" believes Toronto Police Force numbers need to be legislated, why doesn't the Province just take over responsibility altogether and cut out the middlemen.

A second detail was the new Mayor's conversation with the President of Toronto Police Association. It was interesting because he had apparently had no conversation with either the Police Chief or Chairman of the Police Services Board.

It seems Mayor Ford returned a call of congratulations on his election from Mr. McCormack Toronto Police Association president.

This little tid-bit should strike a chill in the hearts of politicians everywhere.

It means Rob Ford won the Mayoralty with the support of the Toronto Police Association. A force to be reckoned.

It bodes ill for McGuinty's Liberals. People of a curious mind bent should look for slight or slights delivered to the TPA or its President in the recent past.

It could have been the drive behind the Ontario Firefighters' Association televised rally around Premier McGuinty on the night of the last Provincial election.

Politicians in the know, would immediately recognize the tell-tale relationship between Mayor Ford, the right-wing politician sworn to contract out unionised services, and President McCormack of the Toronto Police Association, as a sign ofa
Faustian Bargain.

Not because of the Power of Ford. Because of the Power of McCormack.

A power shift has been on course in the Province of Ontario for the past three decades.It was one of the side-effects of Regionalisation.

From my observation, the two most powerful unions have about taken complete control of the Province. They absorb the greatest share of resources.There are no checks or balances.As they grow richer, there is ever less money for other desperate needs.

People on social assistance and low wage earners need food banks and 2010 equivalent of soup kitchens to survive.There is but a token attempt to meet housing needs of average income wage earners.

I understand, the Police and Fire Associations have more money in their coffers than the debt of several provinces combined.

It's where the power lies.As always.


Readers are dropping. Spam is increasing. I followed directions this morning to
increase spam detection. I never did get to the end. But I did click on to comments
and read them all again. They encouraged me to keep going.

Drop in readership may be connected to recent changes. My enemies may have lost interest. That's not a bad thing.

There's not a lot happening on the Council front. We presented separately on December 1st and took our Oath of Office. The Ceremonial is on December 7th. and December 15th we will have our first Council meeting.

Half a dozen of us came together in the reception area outside the Mayor's office on December 1st. Excitement is still growing. They can't wait to get started.

The Mayor is in his office. It is dark blue. Might need to be changed. Apparently we have a young woman on building maintenance who does that stuff. I did not know that.

The Mayor's first request was for a door stop. The security door into the area will be wedged open.I heard he auctioned it. Got a bid for $200. He matched it.For the United Appeal.

I heard about that second or third hand. So it may not be exactly right.But at least if someone feels the need to correct me, it wont be all about my evil intentions.

The snippets about Wikipeak,(not the right spelling I know)have been keeping me engaged. For security purposes,every trivial offhand remark, even at embassy
cocktail parties are grist for the security mill. Anything and everything that might be connected to a dark and devious plot to destroy the world must be reported.

I wonder about the job of sifting through the confetti looking for meaning or at least a pattern of something or other.

How many people it takes to do that and how anything real might be accomplished

How many?

I don't know?

Doesn't it just blow your mind?

I am planning to attend York Region's Inaugural Meeting on Thursday. The chairman
will be "elected". I do not expect change.

For an election to happen,a Council member or mmembers have to be nominated for the office.

If elected,there would be a domino effect. An immediate byelection at the local level following the recent election would be required to replace a member who might be elevated to the regional chair.

It's highly unlikely. But the ritual is followed.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

More About Assessment

Elizabeth Bishenden said...

On the other hand, could we try politics is the art of the possible when compromise is a possibility.

When a property or building is empty, it is just an investment. It doesn't generate income. It sits.

When an enterprise is in place, it has excitement, dreams, plans, and inspiration!

A business contributes to the community in many ways. Tax dollars are one kind of contribution, but giving the community a service, whether it's medical, legal, retail, or any other person-to-person commercial exchange

Treating an empty building as an investment ignores so many other aspects of the community.

So here's a bit of a radical idea. Give the tax break to the places with businesses, not the empty buildings.


When I was first elected, property assessment was done at the municipal level.

The Province paid a share for several municipal services.Roads for example.

A tax differential between commercial and industrial properties allowed residential to be "subsidized" by business.

Our differential was very small so the subsidy factor was not so much. Also the theory was, property tax paid for services to property.

Chinguacousy Township (now Missuassaga) was 50/50 because of the airport. They were the best off municipalityin Canada,I think but certainly in Ontario.

Dominion Stores took the issue of tax differential to court. They won.

The province had to find a new measurement for assessment.

There was another reason. Cost-sharing for stuff like road re-construction,was based on the municipality's assessment wealth.

The lower the assessment, the greater the Provincial share.Some municipalities were not scrupulously honest about assessments.They might just overlook a thing or two. The Provincial share was greater that way.There was something called an equalisation factor.

Initially,responsibility for re-assessment at market value was permissive and left with cities and counties. That way,municipalities got the blame.

Burlington did it first. York County was second. The Province provided the manual.

Completed, the picture was so horrifying, the Assessment Commish was immediately transferred to another bailliewick,a new manual was produced and everything had to be done a second time.

Toronto never did do it. There was serious inequity between millionaire mansions in the city. Ticky-tacky boxes in the suburbs were paying higher taxes. Scarborough for example was paying substantially greater share of Metro's taxes than Toronto.

Tiny perfect Mayor David Crombie was in charge then. A great well of resentment grew between the boroughs and the city. When Joyce Trimble, one of the last of Scarborough's Mayors stepped down, she had bitter things to say about the inequity.

It was likely the reason Brian Ashton, a veteran Scarborough Councillor,member of David Miller's executive committee was dumped by Miller because of the vehicle registration tax.He voted against it. The seat was offered to another Scarborough alderman. He too refused it.As usual the media paid little attention.

Toronto media truly is Toronto's media. Except for every other country in the universe.

The boroughs have just elected Rob Ford. Toronto has gotten her come-uppance. Rob Ford's first item of businesss is to scupper the vehicle registration tax.

Toronto will do anything but increase property tax. Miller boasted it is lowest tax in the GTA. For a politician,that's peachy, if you can get away with it and Toronto's politicians always seem to...until now.

Remember when we were sending $75 million a year for Toronto's social services.We didn't have access to the services, or a say in the budget, but we were footing the bill. We didn't have anybody at the Region putting up much of a fight either.

Mel Lastman used to blame the GTA for robbing Toronto of industry. He claimed we were giving them lower taxes to seduce them. A municipality is not allowed to give tax breaks. But market value assessment, which Toronto did not adopt, had the effect of removing the differential between business and residential. Ergo, taxes were lower for business in the boonies. Toronto property was more valuable. So naturally they sold for a higher price, bought more for lower and hi-tailed it out of there in droves. And paid less taxes.

I remember Municipal Affairs Minister, Darcy McKeough's disbelief when I told him Toronto homeowners were paying considerably less property taxes than Aurora home owners.

Market value assessment was not mandated by the Province. They left it to municipalities to decide. Ontario is afraid of Toronto's power at the polling booth. They depend greatly on people outside the city not paying attention. When you have limp-wristed leaders, people don't pay much attention.

The Government of Ontario also took a drubbing when Rob Ford was elected.

It doesn't matter what political party is in office, Toronto's vote will always terrify them....unless they reduce the number of seats in Toronto. Which would be difficult because of the number of people.

In the assessment world,things went smoothly for a while. Then market value became current market value. Meaning re-assessment was carried out regularly. As property values rose, so did assessment.

Business became restive again. They complained. The Province allowed municipalities to "phase-in" higher taxes from higher assessments on business properties.They didn't tell them they had to. They just allowed them the discretion. It's called dumping the responsibility.

So much for equity between classes of property.

So you see Elizabeth, business is getting a break that home-owners are not.

There's lots of stuff going on in the taxation field that ain't exactly kosher.

There are just not enough people around who remember what was.