Tuesday, August 31, 2010
"Liberals believe they have recovered their Mojo but don't know if they're ready for the election dance yet."
I didn't think Mojo was a word let alone know what it meant. Not for a minute did I imagine I would find it in the dictionary.
But it's there. It 's of African origin.
Mojo means medicine man...magic spell...charm.
My dictionary is Webster's Tenth copyright 2001.
So if we can tell nothing else from the Liberal statement, we know they are up to date on language
Yet if any modern political organisation claims to have Mojo, I fear it may largely be in their own minds.
Apropos of yesterday's post, I have been asked if an assistant was even hired to assist with organising the July 1st Parade.
The invoice and the cheque were made out to an individual. I don't know the person.
Residents may remember three years back, staff reported , no volunteers had come forward to organize the July 1st Parade. A large part of the responsibility was fund-raising. The parade had been struggling for years.
Once I was asked to ride in a car with another former Mayor. I did it out of compassion for the man who was desperately trying to marshall a semblance of a parade.I squeezed into a red July 1st Parade t-shirt three sizes too small and hung out the car window from the waist up and
waved frenetically and wished everybody Happy July 1st Birthday.
Not because little children were likely to recognise former Mayors in a car and understand why we were in the Parade.
Another year, the theme was Old Soldiers. Dick Illingworth stood with another veteran in the back of a vehicle grimly saluting.
Well, you know.... little children sitting for hours on a sidewalk ,with flags and round eyes
waiting to see mojo like they've never seen it before. With music and colour and crazy little men in funny little hats scooting in and out and back and forth in tiny little vehicles squeezing squeaky little horns and generally acting like this day and place and circumstance will never come again.
A parade is to laugh and squeal at the clowns and gaze in amazement and Ooh and Aah and dance and wave the tiny little red and white flag and.... remember
A parade is MOJO. It takes all kinds of imagination and enthusiasm and in a town like Aurora ,
the whole community to be involved.
You can't buy it with money. You can't generate magic like from a slot machine.
When the town made fifteen thousand dollars available to pay for a parade, had they given it in time to our professional staff for that purpose, there would never have been a question about whether or not there could be a magical parade.
Two thousand dollars would have bought a lot of overtime.
I need to make a correction. In my post on the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Code of Conduct I included a sentence included in the copy at hand.
"Communications with the media by Members of Council shall be conducted through proper interviews and media releases .Members shall refrain from submitting letters to the editor and writing a regular column in the newspaper or hosting / or co-hosting a regular televised program."
Having been part of the Council since the Mayor's clarion call of emergency to justify retaining George Rust D'Eye and retreating behind closed doors. I was well aware of the objective of the Code with its potential for enforcement on pain of penalties.
Its inclusion in the Code of Conduct was not a surprise.
After I printed the post, I received a comment which indicates the last bullet point is not in Clause 3 of the Code as it appears on the town's web site.
And thereby hangs another tale.
Monday, August 30, 2010
It was a business meeting like most business meetings, when everything except town business takes priority over town business. The hour of adjournment comes and goes and most of the agenda is still to be dealt with.
Twenty minutes is allocated for public forum. By the time people invited by the Mayor to come and have their say in five minutes, so the Mayor, in ten minutes , can impress all and sundry with a masterly grip of significant matters and awards are presented and official presentations are made, also at the invitation of the presiding member, the clock has steadily moved forward, nothing has been accomplished and Council has once again been used and abused for other than it's proper function.
I may have called the item for discussion. Since I don't believe anything useful is ever accomplished after eleven p.m and if there is no sign of productivity, I generally leave the Council chamber.
The July 1st parade budget was approved as it would have been whether or not I stayed or whether or not I participated in the debate.
A week or so ago, an ad expressing personal appreciation from the St. Kitts woman to every organisation and individual who participated in the parade in any way.Nothing in the ad indicated anyone other than St Kitts was responsible for its placement or payment.
It reminded me of the $2,000 of tax funds provided to provide St Kitts with "an assistant".
It occurred to me to wonder how that was accomplished.
So I asked.
An invoice was submitted to the treasury by St. Kitts.in the amount of $2,000. A cheque for $2,000. was issued to the person named on the invoice by St Kitts.
The town has written and numbered purchasing and hiring policies and procedures written down for staff to follow.
Not for Councillors because Councillors do not do hiring or purchasing on behalf of the town.
So I guess, if you're not a Town of Aurora staff member, written and numbered policies and procedures do not apply.
Ontario has over four hundred municipalities. Only eleven have the gear. Does that suggest integrity is not high on our scale of values?
Reading complaints and analysis, investigations and decisions and the annual reports of existing Mandarins suggests that is not a reasonable conclusion.
Toronto has the longest experience. Rob Ford appears to be the main target.Last week he apparently challenged the ethics of the Integrity Commissioner for reporting a decision during an election period.
Ford had used his Councillor's office and letterhead, paid for by the City, to raise funds for football gear for a school in his ward.
He claimed to have raised a hundred thousand dollars. Turns out he raised only a piddling thirty-eight thousand.
Football it seems, is a sport he knows something about and believes kids would be better off if they have such programs to keep them off the streets. A school in his ward has neither a program nor the means to provide it. It happens in inner-city neighbourhoods.
In his own support , Rob the Incorrigible, argued if an outgoing Councillor could spend $14,000 of a city provided budget in a farewell party to himself, he could use his city paid for stationery, telephone and office to raise funds for kids in his ward.
The Integrity Commissioner said No and recommended donations received by Ford be returned to their source.
Ms Leiper has been Integrity Commissioner of Toronto since August 5th 2009.
"Ms. Leiper, a lawyer and adjudicator, has practiced administrative and criminal law since her call to the Bar in 1987. She served most recently as Visiting Professor, Public Interest Law at Osgoode Law School where she implemented the first public interest graduation requirement for law students in Canada. Ms. Leiper is also the former Chair of Legal Aid Ontario appointed by the Government of Ontario from 2004 to 2007".
I copied and pasted that from Google.
While googling, I brought up David Mullan, Toronto's first Integrity Commissioner.
I found something really interesting.
"Professor David Mullan's Narrative of his Case, and its Successful Resolution"
"This is a narrative of how the administration of the University College of Cape Breton, Sydney, Nova Scotia, tried to compel one of its professors to apologize for writing a letter to the local daily which criticized a story which it had run about the achievements of its then-president, Dr. Jacquelyn Thayer Scott "
Professor Mullan's narrative is lengthy. I soaked up every word. It ended as follows;
"I shall spare visitors to my web site the tedium of my moralizing on the issue. Its significance will be obvious enough to interested persons.
It remains for me to express my heartiest thanks to the many people who have expressed their support over a dreadfully long period of time. In particular my colleagues Michael Manson, Peter MacIntyre, Allen Britten, and Dale Keefe, in their various official capacities in the Faculty Association of University Teachers of the University College of Cape Breton, and to all my other colleagues and friends here and elsewhere; to Mr Jim Turk, Executive Director, CAUT, for his commitment to the prosecution of this case, and to all the officers of that organization, and indeed the entire national membership whose financial contributions to the organization made possible its provision of legal counsel; to Mr. Jerry Kovacs of Ottawa if you need a good lawyer, and one who understands academic issues. . . .who provided excellent representation and a model of diligence in his preparation; to Olga Wojtas and the editorial staff of the Times Higher Education Supplement who provided even-handed coverage of the story in the issue of 26 October 2001; to Clive Seligman and his colleagues at The Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship for their interest in the case and for writing a letter in my behalf to the current administration. Academics have plenty of differences and sometimes they fight amongst themselves about matters large and small, but when the freedom of the academy comes under a threat there is a great movement of closing ranks and presenting a united front. I have been the beneficiary of that unity, and I am very grateful.
David George Mullan, Professor,
History and Religious Studies "
Isn't that illuminating. Especially the last sentence. It bears repeating.
"Academics have plenty of differences and sometimes they fight amongst themselves about matters large and small. but when the freedom of the academy comes under a threat there is a great movement of closing ranks and presenting a united front. I have been the beneficiary of that unity,and I am very grateful."
In times past I have enjoyed the defence of colleagues not only of the right, but the obligation to be forthright in political judgement. I know whereof Mr. Mullan speaks. Except I have not had his resources.
When David Nitkin, during the only permitted workshop held on ethics,boycotted by the Mayor and Councillor Mac Eachern, used the word collegiality, in relation to our current Council, I knew then he had no idea of what he had embraced when he accepted appointment as Aurora's First Integrity Commissioner.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Gail is a member of the Seniors' Club who indulges her love for pretty things. She accepts surpluses of jewellery and scarves in personal caches.She recognizes a silk scarf when she sees it.
Jewellery is cleaned , repaired ,restored to former splendour and offered for sale anew wherever Seniors gather on a special day to raise funds for their endeavours. Proceeds are of course contributed to the club to help fund equipment and programs.
I didn't take down Gail's phone number but I'm sure the Seniors' Centre will accommodate inquiries and contributions
If you haven't seen it, Gail's enterprise would be good reason to visit and discover the excellence of the Senior's Program and uses available at the Centre to the community at large.
A financial supporter of Councillor Adam Vaughan had been appointed to the "Sign Variance Committee". Members are paid $5,000. a year. Councillor Vaughan is on the Civil Appointments Committee.
On a radio show Rob Ford was asked a question to which he responded "I'm saying, there's a conflict here"
Councillor Vaughan took strong exception to the comment. He was not at the meeting when the appointment took place. He did not have knowledge of the financial contribution to his campaign.
Ford apologized and retracted his comment. He was found to have violated the Code but no sanctions were recommended.
A comment in the report is relevant to David Tsubouchi's "investigation" into the Aurora complaint.
Adam Vaughan had indicated he intended litigation against Ford.
The integrity Commissioner wrote:
"Generally if a civil proceeding were under way,the Integrity Commissioner would refrain from further investigation until the proceeding is complete. Councillor Vaughan indicated his intention not to pursue the civil proceeding under the Libel and Slander Act, and for this reason, there is no basis to delay reporting."
The same policy applies to Municipal Councillors. The slightest hint of litigation against the municipality, requires Councillors to clam up immediately.
Mr. Tsubouchi was formally notified of civil litigation in process against the complainant by the person being complained about and that he had no authority to proceed.
The solicitor Integrity Commissioner chose not to acknowledge receipt of the notification and to proceed to report with no record of an investigation.
At a Council Meeting, he stated he had no obligation to provide details of his investigation.
I have to say once again, I regard Clause 3 of the Town's Code of Conduct as a blunt instrument to silence criticism against the current Council majority in Aurora.
I am appalled it was recommended, by whoever, to be included in the Code.
I've repeatedly told the story of the sham and charade of how the Code came into being .
Unlike the Library Code of Conduct which I support, I firmly believe the Town's Code contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I believe the authority of elected office has been used by six members of Aurora Council to cause injury.
I believe the first decision made by the first Integrity Commissioner supports my belief. It was made strictly on the basis of what they did and how they did it.
I believe, there would have been no appointment of a second Integrity Commissioner by the same six who are the subject of civil litigation, had they not been absolutely certain their second effort to silence criticism would be successful and for political reasons, they needed to do it before the election.
Their man, Tsubouchi's first decision as Integrity Commissioner does not stand up.
His previous political reputation remains the same.
There were sweet strawberry crepes.
I had the last pea-mealed bacon on a bun with carmelised onions.White stickers signified other delectables on the board, already sold out.
It was Senior's Saturday.They were strutting their stuff, and I mean strutting, on stage at the band shell and in their various booths with crafts and other items for sale.
Scottish bakery items were among the fare.
Neighbourhood Network were there recruiting volunteers for their many helping programs. .
David Heard had Aurora's History displayed in pictures and T-shirts
Theresa Buck and friends were selling tickets for the Magna Hoedown
Heather Buck, was buying earrings, fashioned before our very eyes by Carey, a friend.
In an area of lush green grass, a group of little tykes in soccer jerseys played the game with parents in little clusters around the field . In the baseball diamond ,ten year olds in baseball gear, had just finished a game.
My great-grandchildren, Cheyenne and Abigail, with others, had fun at the splash pad or the playground with second cousin Adam, my grandson, keeping watch over them.
Blue skies and bright sunshine reigned supreme.
It was a scene to have inspired Norman Rockwell, or the Director of a film like The Music Man.
It was, quite simply, the heart and soul of Aurora on an August Saturday Morn'.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
It was six pages in separate chapters.
Summary... recommendation...decision history..issue background ...comments on investigation....analysis... and conclusion.
When David Tsubouchi appeared at Aurora Council Meeting of August 17th ,he declared himself willing to answer Councillors' questions.
He was questioned by only two; Councillors; Collins Mrakas and McRoberts.
Councillor Collins Mrakas' professional occupation is in the field of ethics. The councillor's curriculum vitae includes a degree in law.
Councillor Collins Mrakas sought details of Mr. Tsubouchi's investigation.
He responded he had no intention of disclosing the information.
He acknowledged having spoken to two Councillors . Subsequently, on challenge, he acknowledged having spoken to only one ...being the complainant, Councillor MacEachern.
His verbal presentation complete, the Mayor inquired if he would stay.
He responded that he would " to watch how this plays out"
Two of my great grand-children are at the Market at town park this morning with my daughter, Theresa , their grandmother.
They are going to play in the splash pad... a new experience for them
I will finish this post later. I'm going to the park and watch how that plays out.
Friday, August 27, 2010
I've been reading annual reports of Integrity Commissioners, Toronto,Vaughan,Windsor and Queen's Park I have a number of decisions as well.
How it's done elsewhere is not a secret.
It seems, there are eleven Integrity Commissioners in Ontario, including Richmond Hill .
The annual reports list all the complaints received, their nature and how they were disposed.
Two complaints, one in Windsor and one in Toronto, dealt with breach of confidentiality .
In Windsor, details were leaked from a union negotiating meeting to a broadcaster.A strike, causing great hardship to employees was extended as a result..
The second was a leak of information about city real estate negotiations. The deal was delayed as a result, to the city's detriment no doubt.
Toronto's Code of Conduct has incorporated the recommendations of Madam Justice Bellamy
from the 13 million dollar Inquiry into the Computer scandal,I think in 2004.Others have used parts of it.
There's information about how Codes were created in various municipalities.
Oh My... we haven't done anything like the rest of them. Not in the creation of a Code and not in the disposition of complaints ,
The nature of the complaints are not similar either.
Vaughan had one complaint from a Councillor against a Councillor.
Nobody had six members of Council paying a lawyer $50.thousand of taxpayers money
to compose a complaint on spurious grounds against a single Council member, advertise it in two newspapers and the town web-site, concurrently with filing it with the Integrity Commissioner
Oh My God. If we ever have an annual report, think what that will look like to the rest of the Province.
I've finished my tea. I have to run
Then someone or several sends an e-mail or makes a phone call and says:
"We've been thinking about you and we want you to know we appreciate everything you do."
Of course there are others.
But I want you to know, you are the reason it's worthwhile.
I'm off to the lawyer's office this morning to examine the affidavit of documents. I'm not looking forward to it but it has to be done.
After that comes a process sometimes called "Examination for Discovery".
Thursday, August 26, 2010
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enshrined in law in 1981.
Three lines at the end, over the signature of Pierre Elliott Trudeau state
"We must now establish the basic principle,the basic values and beliefs which hold us together as Canadians so that beyond our regional loyalties, there is a way of life and a system of values which make us proud of the country that has given us freedom and such immeasurable joy."
As an elected representative , with authority to speak for others, I believe our rights and freedoms must be defended, whenever they come under attack.
I've been elected and I've been defeated. Always for the same reason. Because of my commitment to what I believe to be a Councillor's obligation; to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said.
Aurora's second Integrity Commissioner was chosen by the same six individuals who are currently the subject of civil action undertaken by myself.
Both for libel and slander and for Breach of my Charter Rights.
A twelve month contract was signed with David Tsubouchi, solicitor, on April 1st.
Despite the fact that in an election year, a moratorium on complaints is the norm from August 1st.
He is paid $3,600 monthly from the public purse.
He received two complaints against myself immediately following his appointment, from one of the parties cited by me in the civil action.
He was legally and formally notified of court proceedings and his lack of authority to proceed because of litigation in process.
He neither acknowledged nor responded to the notification. He proceeded.
Without identifying specifics of the complaint; without identifying substance of an investigation; without outlining the basis of his decisions, he made two findings against me.
One of which he amended later by a communication sent to the municipality from his Blackberry.
If this sorry chronicle in the name of righteous conduct does not alert the Government of Ontario to gross abuse of their permissive legislation at the hands of six members of Aurora Council, it is not obvious to me the Charter of Rights and Freedoms prevails in the Province of Ontario.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
It didn't happen.
I don't know why.
It's legal. A non-resident property owner can vote and be a candidate. Whether acceptable to voters is another question.
I have known a couple of people who claimed to be renting space in order to get on the voters' list. The person said to be renting to them had to validate the claim. .
Both were known in the community. Both were elected. One didn't complete the term and the other didn't run a second time.
1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
I can't get used to how easy it is to click on Google and bring up the precise information I need. To be able to copy and paste is the icing on the cake.
Town of Aurora Code of Conduct.
Clause 3. Communications and Media Relations.
Members of Council will accurately and adequately communicate the attitudes and decisions of Council even if they disagree with the majority decision of Council.
Members shall allow respect for the decision making process of Council
Official information related to decisions and resolutions made by Council will normally be communicated to the community and the media by council in an official capacity by the Mayor or designated staff member or through a press release issued by the Corporation.
Information concerning adopted policies,procedures and decisions of Council shall be conveyed openly and accurately.
Confidential information will be communicated only when and after determined by Council.
Communications with the media and Members of Council shall be conducted through proper interviews or media releases. Members shall refrain from writing letters to the editor or writing a regular column in the newspaper or hosting or co-hosting a regular televised program .
The preceding was not copied and pasted. It wasn't as easy as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But that's a quibble
I want you to read that clause from the Charter of Rights a couple of times.
Don't let your eyes glaze over and drift into a trance, as they are inclined to do when you're reading the endless tiny print of official documents. It's a Proclamation, a ringing Declaration of Freedom.
Look again at clause b of the fundamental freedoms.(b)FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, BELIEF, OPINION AND EXPRESSION, INCLUDING FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA OF COMMUNICATION.
Now look at the last sentence of Clause 3 of the Code of Conduct.
"Communications with the media and Members of Council shall be conducted through proper interviews or media releases. Members shall refrain from writing letters to the editor or writing a regular column in the newspaper or hosting or co-hosting a regular televised program"
We have been told the Code of Conduct was written by a lawyer, Mr. George Rust D'Eye a former city solicitor deemed to be an expert in municipal law. I am not absolutely sure he did write it. The Municipal Clerk was directed to prepare it. It was prepared. The Mayor indicated Mr. Rust D'Eye was involved. I have never seen his signature or any submission to that effect.
Be that as it may:
The last sentence of Clause 3 suggests Members of Council who agreed with the clause, also agreed to surrender their " fundamental right to freedom of thought, belief,opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication."
I did not agree to do that. Councillor Collins Mrakas signed the document with that Clause deleted.
Which is not to say other Members of Council did not have the right, if they so chose,and they did, to surrender their fundamental right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.
They just did not have the right to take mine as well.
Federal and Provincial Legislation trumps Municipal Bylaws.
The Charter is natural justice. Such a simple, pure, precious and beautiful concept.
Not every country has one. Canada did not always.
Men have died to protect it.
Let us all repeat together...we will not surrender it.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I expect Councillor Collins Mrakas to make the same decision .
Councillor Marsh was the first casualty of the Mormac regime.
The Good Lord and everybody else in Aurora knows of their efforts to destroy one other...Moi.
I am still standing. But my head is bowed.
The loss of these three to public service in Aurora is devastating.No matter who takes their place, the combined total of what they had to offer and the experience of a term of office is something no municipality can afford.
I look to Toronto for comfort and comedic relief.
In a poll taken August 23rd, Rob Ford is still ahead.with 32% of popular support. George Smitherman. the Liberal plant is at 21%.
Smitherman's supporters dismiss the polls
They point to Ford's latest public statement.
He said "Toronto can't afford another boat-load of refugees "
Smitherman refers disdainfully to what might have been if past governments had refused to allow Irish or Jews to enter Canada.
A Ford supporter interviewed by the Star delivered a telling blow .
He said Smitherman should read more.
Irish people suffered horrendous discrimination in Canada.
A Minister of Immigration was quoted with a negative response to a question of how many Jews should be admitted at the beginning of World War ll.
He is reported to have answered. "None would be too many"
Last week we heard of an Ontario Liberal plan to send a leaflet to seventeen thousand voters showing George, surrounded by numbers of prominent Liberal supporters.
You know....you have to wonder. Where do these people get their sense of the concerns of ordinary people ?
Why would they imagine a candidate's picture surrounded by fat cat elites would make people who are struggling to survive, feel secure ?
Do they have any understanding of what matters?
Last week, The Star had a story about Doug Holyday, a veteran Etobicoke Councillor and a former Mayor of the Borough , successfully suing colleagues with his own money, for voting to pay personal legal bills out of public funds.
Doug Holyday and Rob Ford have both been targets of complaints by colleagues under the Code of Conduct for not charging the city for office expenses. It made the rest of them look bad. They have regularly charged the full allowance of $75,000.
The Integrity Commissioner found Ford and Holyday both had office expenses and ordered them to charge. Councillor Holyday's expenses were something like $3,000.
Toronto Councillors are allowed $20,000 for legal assistance to defend themselves against complaints to the Integrity Commissioner.
I lived in Toronto for two years when we arrived in Canada. I liked it. I missed it when I came to Aurora.
I do not wish I lived there now.
But when I need to give my head a shake, like now,about what's happening in our town, for a comforting and familiar glimpse of politics and how she is still played , I look to the city at the bottom of the hill.
But it did cause the employee distress and that I regret.
I hope I have conveyed the message of change witnessed during this term and how the body corporate has been re-shaped to promote the political fortunes of the Mayor and her followers.
And the cost to the municipality.
People used to further that end are not the culprits. In varying degree, they are its victims, as is the community.
Although, like the community, some of them may not see it that way.
Monday, August 23, 2010
If it is a one off that just happens to be occurring right before an election then you have to wonder. I can't believe that some staff would jeopardize their positions and their professional integrity by using town resources (and our dime!) to get a member of council re-elected not even to mention putting the Town in possible contravention of the Act.
A seasoned public servant knows to do their job without fear or favour. In this case, I would suggest that they not put all their eggs in one basket - word on the street has it that this mayor is on her way out.
Thank You for this comment.
One has to be closer to the scene I guess to understand how much harm has been done during this term.
Except for three,I believe staff who had a good grasp of the separation of authority between Council and administration, are no longer with us.
Except for one, I believe those who took their place have never been under any illusion about what is expected of them from the Town's Mayor.
With A Mayor who does exactly as she chooses, because of five constant votes under her control, there was never a possibility of rules or policies being understood, let alone observed and respected.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have flooded from the treasury to ensure the votes will be there for her at election time.
The list is endless. I believe consultants and lawyers are instructed by the Mayor to give to Council the only advice she intends Council to receive.
Staff reports have dwindled as decisions are made without Council authority and therefore without input from the elected body.
If a specific Councillor had questions, department staff were instructed to defer to department heads.
Public records on such matters as expenditures for external legal retainers, was refused to be divulged.
In camera meetings were convened to hatch plots to settle political scores with a minimum of a hundred thousand dollars utilized to that end.
And that does not include funds spent on two lawyers at the outset of the term designed to destroy the reputation of the former Mayor and political rival .
All under the cloak of A Code of Righteous Conduct and its attendant sham.
When this election is over, the task that awaits the new Council is staggering in its enormity and complexity.
To the knowledgeable person who contributed the comment above,who knows how the corporation should function, you cannot begin to imagine the damage that awaits repair.
It won't happen quickly. It will take an abundance of intellect, integrity and above all a strong sense of fairness.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Until August 2007, my hopes for a working relationship end. Denied opportunity to participate,I created my own with a blog to keep people informed.
September 2007 ... Mayor returned from AMO with free advice for Council from George Rust D'Eye, former city solicitor, now private consultant, for a solution to the problem of... Me
Ontario passed permissive legislation allowing for passage of a Code of Conduct, with penalties, which meant, Mr. Rust D'Eye said, A Code could be enforced.
Failed to mention...purpose of legislation.... to combat corruption.
October 2008... Emergency declared. News of months old decision in a newspaper. Rust D'Eye retained behind closed doors "to investigate the leak"
November2008. Rust D'Eye recommended a Code... retained to write it.... included a proscription on freedom of speech .... Clause 3
November 2008 , Integrity Commissioner appointed. Professional Ethics Czar.
June 2009.... contract with terms of reference signed.
June 2009, different lawyer retained "to investigate" verbal and written public statements of an elected representative.Behind closed doors.
July 2009. Same lawyer reported and instructed to write a complaint. Again behind closed doors. Cost subsequently revealed, $50.000. Complaint advertised in two publications , posted on town web site, signed by six Members of Council, repudiated by three and filed with Integrity Commissioner.
August 2009, Integrity Commissioner's decision. Complaint dismissed...ruled "wholly political".
Concurrently, Integrity Commissioner "stripped of authority" ... not fast enough to prevent decision being distributed to complainants and person complained about.
Immediate departure of town official, responsible for providing decision, from town employment.
September, Councillor files suit for Defamation and other matters under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms against six individuals involved in signing and publicising complaint prepared by a lawyer at a cost, as noted , $50,000.
Lawyer advised Complaint be posted on town's web site in July. Later resolved to stay posted until December 2010. Complaint argued to be pending.
April 1st 2010 Appointment of new Integrity Commissioner. Solicitor and former politician.
April.2010 ....Two complaints filed by one of the original six members.
Integrity Commissioner legally informed the matters are before the courts. No authority exists in the circumstances.
Integrity Commissioner, also a solicitor, fails to acknowledge the communication or respond to contest of his authority.
May 2010. Complainant publicly acknowledges making the complaints.Expresses confidence of an imminent decision.
July 13 2009. Staff recommend moratorium on complaints from August 1st 2009 because of election pending.
July 13th.... Integrity Commissioner's decisions on public agenda ... tabled at Council.
Complaints numbered One and Two.
July 13th.... quorum lost during consideration of decisions.
August 17th ....Decisions tabled again ..... Integrity Commissioner in attendance.
The scene is set. The players in their places.
It was not removed in response to either demand of the Town's Chief Administrator to remove it by a deadline.
The identity of the author was never discovered despite legal staff time employed .
" New Man In Town" was the author.
It was early in the advent of the Aurora Citizen Blog.
It was also an early episode in the new administration and a sign of things to come.
A post from the Chief Administrative Officer to the Aurora Citizen Blog demanding removal of the comment by a deadline, a demand not met, in my judgement, brought the office of the Chief Administrative Officer into disrepute
An in- camera meeting to discuss political criticism of an elected official is not corporate business and not permitted under provincial regulations.
Senior staff directed and accepting direction to engage in a politic issue, clearly not the business of the Corporation, is an example of flagrant abuse of public resources by both parties.
Without discernment between the parties of the need for separation of authority, the public can have no assurance corporate business is being conducted as it should.
Repeat corporate refusal to provide an elected representative with information about funds spent on legal services over the course of this term of office is, I believe , yet another blatant example of deliberately frustrating a system designed to allow taxpayers to demand accountability from the corporation.
A contrived resolution passed by an uninformed and ill- advised Council to remove responsibility for accountability doesn't cut it.
We are coming to the end of a term. Repeat public and private efforts on my part to correct the situation have not been successful. The Political and Corporate joined forces and erected a shield.
An election is a time of reckoning. .. a time for all to be told.
Like the laundry. Time for it all to hang out in the light of day and blow in the cleansing sun and freshening breeze.
The brighter the light...the fresher the breeze....the better.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The larger picture must be viewed to place this issue into context.
From the beginning, town staff were informed.by the Mayor..... if they worked for the town they worked for Herself ...... friends were to be chosen carefully...... Herself had a list.
In an early public meeting, the person in charge of communications presented her annual report and referred to her department as " corporate communications"
The Mayor and Councillor MacEachern tag-teamed with repeating demands for an explanation of the term. It was their way to convey the definition did not suit them. Figuratively speaking, the employee was being beaten into the ground to acknowledge the error of her ways.
From that point on, every media release carried the sentence; "Mayor ...... commented"
or "Mayor ......said " or "Mayor ...... remarked"
No media release was ever released without the reference, no matter how inappropriate to the context.
As staff began to be replaced, there was never any doubt in my mind, of the difficulty they had had in coming to terms with the fact they were no longer servants of the Municipal Corporation.
The former person in charge of communications lasted longest. Eventually and only recently she too was displaced.
It therefore makes sense , replacements would be made to understand at the outset of their real place in the scheme of things.
The Code of Conduct states Council Members must accept staff are servants of the Corporation.
A final statement requires Council Members to read and understand the document and sign two copies. Given the circumstances that seemed to me to be fairly presumptuous.
I made a critical reference once, in relation to staff , to the lateness of council meetings ;
'"Staff are here to serve us.They must be here when we need them to be here " Councillor Gaertner stated with complete hauteur.
I tried to do a tally of lieu time once .I found it depressing. Hardly left time for anything but
being a captive audience to the Mayor's performance at meetings.
Soon after the new CAO's appointment, a blog comment reflected unfavourably on the Mayor.
There was a great kerfuffle. Another improper in-camera meeting. Direction given to root out the culprit . The CAO commented to the Blog demanding its removal. By a deadline. The Mayor is very fond of deadlines.
The town solicitor wrote to Google demanding the identity of the writer be revealed.
The Mayor commented staff had been unable to do" their own work" for weeks since the issue arose.That meant department directors were occupied with what was essentially politics..
It seemed clear to me, the difference between "their own work" and chasing after the author of an anonymous comment critical of mayoralty conduct was well understood by the Mayor. Though not enough apparently to understand or care that it was an abuse of public resources, also a contravention of their Code of Righteousness. .
When the Nisbet Drive resident appeared before Council with his humorless pitch to have a road
shifted to save him from having a sidewalk on the public right of way in front of his property, a "political compromise" was presented by staff and accepted by Council.
The resident had visited the Mayor. A meeting was arranged and....Whamo....a solution was found to please him at the expense of all of his neighbours.
The list is endless.
The most recent was a lengthy report on "the accomplishments of Advisory Committees" being "proof" of good working relations between staff and an "informed and supportive Council"
It represented re-regurgitating four years of committee reports, including the name of every street that came before the traffic advisory committee during the term.Following which the Mayor requested it be condensed because it was "heavy reading"
The resources of the corporation are constantly exploited to boost the political fortunes of the Mayor and followers and that is a secret to no-one .
Least of all, to employees of the Corporation and members of the Municipal Council.
The people who pay the bills certainly have the same right of access..
The town grew in a slow, orderly, and attractive fashion under her leadership. She was with us until she retired.She might still have been doing the job she loved in different circumstance.
I believe she was well paid for a small municipality. The town in turn received full return on our investment. Our Director was among the best in the Province.
Developers , consultants and provincial officials held her in high esteem.
That's measure of competence to be envied by politicians everywhere.
It also leads to a sense of ownership by a Director. It's to be expected and not a bad thing.
Came a time when a recommendation was made for a heritage planner. I did not agree. I was probably the only opposition. The recommendation was accepted and the planner hired.
Subsequently there was a circumstance when I expressed my opposition and cited total cost. I stated neither a specific salary nor an individual.
The Director heard about my reference via a complaint from the newly-hired planner. I was called and taken to task.
To no avail.
I brought the conversation to a halt.
Over thirty years, there had never been a dispute between us.
I gave full respect to a competent Director.
I never presumed to tell her how to do her job.
I wasn't about to let her tell me how to do mine.
We never referred to the subject again.
Two pages of the menu listed a variety of teas. Every leaf you could imagine and more .
Our host personally welcomed us and his lady came to say hello.
It was quiet and relaxing. The conversation was fluid. We spoke of many things but mostly political campaigning. I know something about it. Three hours went by hardly noticed.
The tea came in pots.An egg timer on the table measured three minutes to steep.
Cups and saucers were bone china and the collection had a story. In a long marriage, every time there was disagreement, the husband would buy a china cup and saucer as a peace offering. When the little restaurant opened, the collection was presented as a gesture of good fortune.
There are twenty- four comfortable, high back, upholstered chairs and twelve small tables
The house is small and a hundred and fifty years old. It's a special treat to see how such a small space can be so utilised and so charming.
It's a modest little frame house which undoubtedly has seen many generations of children grow to maturity under its roof. None of whom would ever imagine that one day their home would be a charming little restaurant and people would come to tea and think about them.
The children would walk to school, up and down two hills to Church Street. They would have fun on toboggans in the winter and participate in the soap box derby organized by the Volunteer Firefighters every year, down Tyler Street to the bridge.
Over a hundred of Christmases would be celebrated in the house, some better that others. A depression and two wars are part of its history.
The children probably grew up to have jobs in Collis Leather or Fleury Plough works, which yard abutted their garden.
They would shop in Ardill's at the corner of Yonge and Wellington and later at Caruso's fruit store.
Their entire lives would be in Aurora and its immediate environs.
Some shoe makers were brought from industrial England to Aurora to work at Sisman's Shoe factory and never lived anywhere else.
None of the families of 42 Tyler Street would ever imagine, one day their home would be a charming little restaurant and people would come through the front door to sit down to tea or any other meal.
Delicacies were served on a three tiered Victorian china dish with a brass handle.
Tiny delicate open-faced sandwiches. melt-in the mouth scones with butter honey or jam and delicious petits fours. Everything baked on the premises by renowned chef Bijoy who has cooked for the Queen.
I met Bijoy and his wife at the street sale in June 2009. They were just opening the restaurant .
All this time, I've been meaning to visit. It took an invitation to tea to finally get there.
Don't let it take you so long.
It's special. It's at 42 Temperance Street.
They have parking but the Temperance Street parking lot is handy.
They're on line too at www.bijoysrestaurant.com
The law suit is slower than I anticipated. Too long for me to be careful what I say.The only discipline I've acquired from being a politician is to be careful how I say it.
It has never been a question of whether .
There isn't a politician or a bunch, a bureaucrat or a lawyer in the land, who will tell me, what I can tell you, about the business that is yours to know and understand.
Friday, August 20, 2010
First , I never believed for a second Mr. Tsubouchi would have been retained without foregone certainty of results required.
Even after office hours, the Town Hall is not a secret hideaway Neither is the parking lot. Mr. Tsubouchi is not hard to identify. It is commonly understood , there was a private meeting with the Mayor prior to his appointment.
The six being sued for defamation of character are the same six who signed the first complaint prepared for them by another lawyer, at a cost of $50,000 of taxpayers money.
The same six who voted to publicise the complaint in two newspapers and the town's web site, where it still sits.
The same six who stripped the First Integrity Commissioner of his authority when he ruled the complaint could be seen as wholly political.
The same six whose legal defence is being provided by the Town's Insurance Company.
The same six who voted to accept a decision on a complaint, neither of which are discernible even to the most assiduous reader.
On Tuesday, after another interminable meeting filled with stuff which had no place on the business agenda of a Council, the Mayor, who never tires of her own voice,engaged in criticism of Councillors McRoberts and Collins Mrakas for their refusal, to participate in a questionable process.
Twenty-three pages of written material were read by the chair. Council members left the town hall that night at 1.02 am. The presiding member skipped the in-camera meeting, although she was still in the town hall.
Rules of Order do not permit a Member of Council to criticize another or "impugn" their motives. It has been the rule of the current, hoped soon to be past, presiding member of Aurora Council to do just that.
We have had Professor Robert McDiarmid invited by the Mayor to make a presentation, suggesting Aurora Council members took campaign donations from developers without the slightest evidence to support the contention. McDiarmid had no idea how well he fitted with the plan.
Councillor MacEachern asked for publication of financial statements of election expenses , thereby insinuating the same thing.
Letters have been written to employers and threatening e-mails to residents with accusations of implied wrong-doing.
Elected representatives have been denied the opportunity to participate in the town's business,while non-elected friends of the Mayor,occupy chairs and membership of advisory committees to promote their chances in the upcoming election.
The list of contraventions against any known standard of conduct is endless and keeps on growing.
Yesterday, we received notice 2000 leaflets are going to be distributed ,with more to follow "announcing " Clean-up Aurora, part of the Promenade Study in advance of the plan's approval. This action obscures the fact, pressing decisions pending at the time of the last election were never even approached by the Mormac regime.
Last week, a pamphlet was completed outlining five years of accomplishment of advisory committees and citing "proof" of the wonderful partnership between the administration and "an informed and supportive Council"
.Then there's the sad state of an ever-growing list of outstanding citizens, who served one term on Council with the current Mayor and literally shudder to contemplate the thought of ever doing it again.
You will understand I'm sure when I tell you, in my judgement, Aurora's Code Of Conduct was never intended to be anything but the opposite of its stated intent.
Nor has it proven to be otherwise.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
It was a long comment. It wasn't clear to me if something unkind was said, it was necessarily about me.
Lucky Wife makes thoughtful comments. I appreciate all comments and the time it takes to engage.
The late Bob Buchanan, editor of the Aurora Banner had arule that he would print a letter or not. He would not edit a letter. Only the writer knows the sense of the comment. Editing could change it.
I have a comment now that's a response to the news the St. Kitts woman is a candidate for Council. The comment is personal and it's critical. I agree with the sentiment. I don't owe the St Kitts woman anything. Yet I don't think I can publish the comment.
The difference between something said or written is substantial.
I learned that lesson with the first letter I ever sent to an editor. I've never forgotten how I felt when I read it. I couldn't temper it or take it back. It was an onslaught far beyond my intention. I was not proud.
We learn as we go. Blogging and responding will acquire it's own discipline in time.
In the meantime, we are working to establish what it will be and exercising personal judgement.
We may not always be right but we are well-intentioned. .
The phone has been ringing steadily with calls from people wanting to know that I'm alright after my fall. I am. As they say, I'm a tough old broad.
Mr. Leach wanted to assure me that whatever his comment was when the microphone stayed on, it was not detrimental to myself. I knew that already. Whatever his personal feelings , Mr. Leach is a true professional.
The story about David Heard being harangued at the park is accurate. Councillor Wilson wanted to reiterate his firm conviction that a Councillor cannot be allowed to say whatever she wants ..
The Councillor is firmly convinced a single critic can undermine the work of Council and that can not be allowed.
The St Kitts woman was at the town hall to register as a candidate.
That's all for today. I have a meeting tonight.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I was pruning seed heads from a clematis about two in the afternoon. Nobody around. Not much chance of anybody coming around.
I decided to be comfortable while I contemplated the problem.There was a nice breeze about me and the sun was shining. The chair continued to sink. Soon it was at ground level and the solution presented itself.
I rolled off and crawled through the dirt to the patio where another chair provided leverage to bring me upright once more.
The ground was moist. I had watered the garden before I placed the plastic chair with the knife like legs in front of the clematis.
Anyway, I did triumph over adversity.But I didn't tell anyone about it for a while. My daughter Heather was quite unimpressed by my imaginative coping skills. She laughed hilariously.
The next time, I was perched on a well-designed gardening bench purchased at Lee Valley Tools. I was weeding with a long handled hoe. A particularly deep rooted weed needed a hard push. It didn't budge. I did.
The bench went backwards and again I was sitting in the dirt, my back resting comfortably against the cedar hedge and gloved hands hanging over the edge of the bench like Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.
Heather was on hand . I waited for her to notice my dilemma She wasn't much help. She was laughing too hard .
A couple of weeks ago, the bench was involved again. I was straightening the hose I stood up to handle it. Lowering myself I reached behind for the bench handles. They were not where I expected them to be.
It was evening. I pulled a cushion from a chair and made myself comfortable and contemplated my options . I could wait for Theresa to come home from her class. It was still light .It could be an hour Rain was threatening. .
This time I was on grass. Grass is not as hard as concrete. and not as soft as soil. When knees are arthritic,the degree of hardness is relevant. The chair close by was a spin-around. The potential for my face coming into sudden contact with wrought iron mitigated against that choice.
After gazing at the sky for a bit, I decided to shift. . I positioned my knees on the cushion and waddled to the nearest chair that would stay put under the pressure.
I intended to keep that episode secret. The bruise I couldn't see on my upper arm, gave the game away.
Families have a way of maintaining records of comical events . Intermittent reference frequently involves creative elaboration.
I'm going to be secretive from now on. I won't tell about my Fall at the Hall last night.
Caring hands helped me to my feet.
The Mayor was reading the decision they paid for from the Integrity Commissioner.
'Tis said she muttered sourly
What would it take I wonder to engender a smile ?
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Political people are particularly interesting. Mostly congenial, confident, competitive and skittery; they are quick to react.
They are super-conscious of their image. In or out of politics, they don't change. Politics attracts that personality.
Politics is public .
A Councillor can hope to influence decisions and certainly cast a vote with all the strength of conviction.
It's not a small thing. It requires mutual respect among councillors for the position they hold and the responsibility they share .
It calls for discipline. Animus is out of place. Every decision is followed by another to be made. And the work begins again.
Hostile barbs are not forgotten or easily forgiven . There's a powerful inclination to strike back.
I do it here.
This is not the council chamber.
The cameras are not running.
Those who read, want to know what's going on and what I think about it. I tell .
I get the occasional splutter of vituperative rage from Councillor "anonymous" .
The Mayor's power glower is obviously intended to reduce me to a quivering miserable mass of fear and trembling.
I don't understand why the Mormac twins think any part of public business should be secret.
They clearly believe control of the majority of votes and the administration , should be sufficient power to squelch all opposition.
It may be.
But public business is the public's right to know.
Especially with the only opportunity in four years to cast a vote coming soon upon us.
In all my years and encounters, I have seldom met the likes of Morris and MacEachern.
They are a political aberration.
Seldom seen and never found in pairs. .
Monday, August 16, 2010
He held the space in high esteem. He lived in the town for twelve months and covered Council meetings himself before he wrote any editorials on issues of political substance His principle was, he would not attempt to influence public opinion until he felt confident he had a full understanding .
Buchanan was a veteran journalist of the Toronto and Ottawa scene. He was torn between
being a journalist and a yen to be involved in the political process himself. He loved everything about it but especially how real people are in a small town like Aurora. We were less than ten thousand.
I learned more from Buchanan about Council and Rules of Order and by the way, how to write for a newspaper, than from any other source before or since.
When I was first elected, I took little notes to remind myself of the points I wanted to make. We stood to address the chair then. There were no microphones. No cameras.
"You 're not going to keep that up" he said.
"Well" I said "I'm afraid I'll forget the points I want to make"
" You won't" he said " They don't allow notes in the House of Commons."
He advised me to learn the Rules of Order." If you don't" he said "They'll cut you off at the knees"
So...I did and they didn't. I learned them better and did a bit of truncating myself.
Came a time when the New Democratic Party obtained a regular source of funding from unions. David Lewis was the Leader and a friend of Buchanan.
With new funding, support staff could be hired and David offered Buchanan a position He left Aurora and went to Ottawa . To discover the job was very much support and not the least influential. He was a small cog in a huge impersonal machine.
He had left a place he loved and a job which had been like the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, for a long- held dream of something better.
It may have been that election that saw David Lewis, a giant among politicians, brought down by a woman called Ursula Appoloni. who was never heard from after the election.
I think David was the first casualty of union power in the New Democratic Party. He wasn't the last.
But that's another story.
While Buchanan was still here, The Weekly Newspapers Association , created awards for newspapers within a certain circulation.
The Aurora Banner won an award of excellence for the editorial page.
Buchanan was reasonably proud. I was thrilled. I was part of the editorial page. I wanted to know which page was the winner. Which column , to be precise.
He wouldn't tell. I persisted. He became irritated. I still persisted.
Finally he lost it and told me awards don't mean anything. They are just a form of promotion. There weren't many newspapers within the circulation category. They took turns awarding them to each other.
What a downer.
I've never looked at awards the same way since.
When Aurora won the Prince Of Wales Award for whatever, I became curious. How many towns and cities were in the competition?
St John's, New Brunswick, Elsie's city, was a past winner. The city is one of the oldest in North America. It was pretty run down the last time I saw it but truly a place locked in time and they have some very dramatic art in the city centre.
I phoned the office responsible for awarding the prize and asked who else was in the competition
She wouldn't tell. Said it wouldn't be fair .
The jobs and real estate ones etc,from the core area.
Is it ok for the Mayor to direct Town employees?"
Clause 4. Code of Righteousness
Members of Council shall acknowledge and respect the fact that staff work for the Town as a corporate body and are responsible for making recommendations that reflect their professional expertise and corporate objectives,without due influence from any individual member.
In addition, members shall acknowledge and respect the fact that staff carry out directions of Council as a whole and administer the policies of the Town. A Member of Council shall refrain from using their position to improperly influence members of staff in their duties and functions or to gain an advantage for themselves or others.
Members of Council shall refrain from publicly criticizing individual members of staff in a way that casts aspersions on their professional competence and credibility.
Encapsuled in Clause 4 are all the reasons why it can be said , all principles and precedents have been ripped to shreds during the Mormac regime .
Not only on the side of Council.
Question from a citizen known as Augustinian :
3. How do you see the role of senior staff (department heads) in operating the town vs. that of council? Do we get sound management in place of political posturing?
We pay a high price for expertise at management level. In my judgement, we are not getting full value for our money.
I posted a blog on August 14th entitled Council Report Card 2007-2010.
It was the last straw. A low point. A moment of true despair.
I have stubbornly clung to the benefit of the doubt. I can no longer delude myself.
In a normal Council, there is a process to deal privately with such concerns. We are not a normal Council .
An election is on the horizon. You need to know what I know.
From professional staff, I expect judgement, expertise, high standards, respect for regulations and rules, discernment, discretion and integrity.
I expect each Councillor to receive equal respect from staff.
I have observed in the past, municipal staff at the highest level, have a difficult task. Like walking a tight-rope. Recognizing and rigorously maintaining separation of authority between political and administrative is crucial to good management practice.
Realizing a Council is the sum of its parts is equally critical.
The document I copied into a post on August 14th is irrefutable evidence, we fall short.
A year ago, I asked for the costs incurred for legal services during the term.Three times I was assured they were forthcoming. Then a resolution, acceptable to the Chief Financial Officer, was contrived and passed by Council. It allowed for the information I requested, to be refused.
I asked again recently. A graph of legal costs from the year 2000-2009 was produced.
Apparently it took the combined resources of the solicitor and the treasurer to prepare. It provided no information of any substance. .
In May, I challenged justification for a substantial increase in water rates. "Water loss" was increased from 8% to 12%. When I sought specific details , they were refused. The stated reason was, I might "misrepresent" the figures.
A couple of weeks ago, I sought clarification about an ad in The Aurora Banner. It bore no identifying logo.
It presented as a letter of appreciation from the St.Kitts woman to every individual and organization who participated in the July 1st Parade.
The first account I received was the St Kitts woman had money left over in "her" budget and decided to use some of it for an ad.
Several hours after seeking clarification of the authorisation , I received an e-mail from a vacationing Chief Financial Officer. He stated he had authorized the expenditure at the request of Councillor MacEachern, Chair of the Leisure Services Advisory Committee and" the plans were kept from" the St. Kitts woman.
No Councillor has authority to direct staff. No person other than the St.Kitts woman would have had the list of every individual and organization who participated in the July 1st Parade. No-one else could have written the ad.
I am unable to accept the Chief Financial Officer's assertion that he authorized the ad.
I must conclude the St. Kitts woman gave direction to staff and incurred spending of public
resources. No Councillor has that authority.
The same individual who was formally notified public amenities had to remain accessible to the public during the commercial Jazz Festival but barred entry nevertheless.
Two paragraphs of a statement bearing the name of the Chief Administrative Officer bear repeating here:(August 14th Post, Council Report Card)
The results listed reflect the combined efforts of many individuals. committees and Council members working to produce results that are beneficial to the residents of Aurora. Some of these items will be familiar to residents. Those of a strategic and long term nature will be valuable reminders that the on-going management of town budgets, capital expenditures, planning and services is the focus of staff under the guidance of an informed and supportive Council.
Finally, they are proof of the on-going partnership , between staff, Council, and the committees.
This partnership, along with a shared vision and hard work by all parties, has resulted in the long list of accomplishments outlined in this document.
Chief Administrative Officer
Town of Aurora
My experience as a part of the Council , is not reflected in the patently political and self-congratulatory claims expressed of the above two paragraphs.
The right to judge a Council's performance belongs elsewhere.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The lands stretch from Wellington Street in the south. to St. John's Sideroad.in the north and Leslie Street in the east.
The plan has been in process for the past several months.
A committee headed by Councillor MacEachern has been ...well....steering it.
Environmentally sensitive lands and creeks have been identified. Buffers of sixty metres and thirty metres from sensitive areas are removed from development. .
Twenty-nine storm water ponds are to be constructed because of land contours.
Parks are not to be permitted in the sensitive lands or the sixty or thirty metre buffers .
At the meeting on Thursday, Councillor Mac Eachern referred the consultants to the Town's adopted Master Recreation plan . Not the one drafted by the consultant, the revised one created by herself and Mr. Whitehurst. The land acquisition strategy of the Master Recreation Plan means we will buy lands for parks out of development lands.
The Councillor indicated her intent the water allocation policy be removed from the plan.
The Consultant responded. "Then you want it taken out of the Town's Official Plan" .
"I don't want it . I don't see any need for it" the Councillor responded.
A town planner intervened and pointed out the water allocation is regional policy and Council endorsed it several weeks ago. That ended the discussion.
Twenty-nine storm water ponds were noted." The developers should be required to give the town money for their maintenance" the Councillor said. "Aurora's taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for that ".
The consultant was parrying the issue when I left the meeting. There really wasn't much point in being there.
The hour of adjournment had been set at nine-thirty p.m. It had come and gone and no note taken of it. Points of order do not fare well.
However one might wish , by hook or by crook, that minimal development is allowed within this neck of the woods , there is no doubt , the 2C Secondary Plan is headed for the Ontario Municipal Board with all the attendant costs for legal representation.
Another meeting will be held. for public participation on September 8th
On September 10th, registrations close for candidates and the election begins.
The Council elected on October 25th , will be responsible for decisions related to the 2C Lands Secondary Plan.
The opportunity to fully understand the implications of the plan to be defended should be theirs.
It should not be foisted upon them by a Lame Duck Council.
Still I wanted to know why I couldn't copy and paste it. So I read further into the HTML error that came up on the screen. Noted the word "Meta" and "tag not allowed"
I'm gaining a little confidence . By trial and error
Some things copy and paste easily. Why not others?.
I haven't yet discovered why the tag is not allowed or what "the tag" is. But I've learned " meta = author" and "author = Jason Ballantyne", the town's manager of communications .
How the information came through is a mystery. It appears nowhere in the document.
Mr Ballantyne reports to Mr. Garbe. I suppose being identified as author, although Mr. Garbe's name on the document, could simply mean the introduction was dictated.
But I don't think so. It has public relations writ large upon it.
It's interesting to get a peak behind the scenes. To realise how many people were occupied producing material to guide the public in their understanding of how wonderful everything is in the administration " under the guidance of an informed and supportive council"
I have never seen anything like that written by a member of the Administration.
The first statement by Mayor Morris to staff almost four years ago was reported to be.
If you work for the Town of Aurora, you work for me.
We have been advised, advisory committees, with an army a hundred strong of non-elected residents and one notable non-resident, do not make decisions. They make recommendations.
Council makes decisions.
Mr. Ballantyne's communication indicates the opposite.
For example, it states the Environmental Advisory Committee "hired" an environmental initiatives engineer in 2008.
Actually, Council approved $100.000 in the budget for that position. The administration hired the engineer.
The Mayor had previously stated in public , she planned to write a "Council Report Card"
It would have been accepted as election material and appropriate for a candidate seeking to be re-elected on the merits of previous accomplishments.
Except.... the work would have had to be done by the Mayor and or campaign workers.
It would have been a challenge to go through four years of Committee reports and identify all the accomplishments. Many man hours would have been required and paid for or at least the cost declared in the financial statement of election expenses.
As it is, public resources have been used to compile the material and produce the documentation; twice. A report to Council and a condensed version also requested by the Mayor to make it easier to read.
Directing town staff to produce election campaign material would qualify as an abuse of public resources which contravenes a clause in the Code of Righteous Conduct
Staff receiving direction from a member of Council, even if done in public, also contravenes the Righteous Code.
Of course, this entire post could be written off as sour grapes.
My name is not listed on any of the Advisory Committees.
Other Councillors are listed several times .
The accomplishments of the Library Board or the Joint Fire services Committee are not listed .
I guess they don't qualify as endeavour in the grand scheme of things.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
A report had already been received by Council . The Mayor complimented the CAO on the work of putting it together. She noted it was heavy reading and wondered if it could be put together in leaflet form.
So now it has. The cover page is a beautiful picture of Aurora Town Hall .
The introduction reads as follows:
This document serves to highlight the accomplishments of each council-appointed advisory committee completed during the term 2007-2010 term.
The committees included are:
Seven are listed.
The statement continues.
There is no update from the Arts and Culture Committee as it was retired earlier this year. Its
former members need to be recognized for laying the foundation for the newly- renovated and
re-opened Culture Centre in the former Church Street School building. The project has created a
centrepiece for Aurora's Cultural Community, one that will be enjoyed for many years to come.
The results listed reflect the combined efforts of many individuals. committees and Council members working to produce results that are beneficial to the residents of Aurora. Some of these items will be familiar to residents. Those of a strategic and long term nature will be valuable reminders that the on-going management of town budgets, capital expenditures, planning and services is the focus of staff under the guidance of an informed and supportive Council.
Finally, they are proof of the on-going partnership , between staff, Council, and the committees.
This partnership, along with a shared vision and hard work by all parties, has resulted in the long list of accomplishments outlined in this document.
Chief Administrative Officer
Town of Aurora,
I read the statement over the phone to my daughter Heather who lives in Newmarket. She is clued into Aurora's affairs because it's her former home- town and I use her as a sounding board for my own perspective.
Her reaction was not immediate. I had been careful to keep inflection out of my reading. We needed to talk before she caught my drift.
The Chief Administrative Officer, who knows nothing of the first half of this term of office, has entered the political arena.
Still another example of public resources, flagrantly and shamelessly used to promote a particular political agenda.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Controversy in Britain led to a panel discussion between John Cleese and Michael Pailin and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Malcolm Muggeridge.
It wasn't intended to be funny but it was. As funny as any previous Monty Python stuff. In fact, without sound, a viewer could be forgiven for thinking it was a Python skit with a couple of new characters; particularly the Archbishop.
His hair was like a wig of perfect waves in shoulder length grey. His robe was a beautiful mauve with a highly ornate cross at his chest which he handled constantly and used to gesture in emphasis.
Malcolm Muggeridge is a British media icon, like the late William F. Buckley was in the States. He has a face like a deflated inner tube lying in a heap. I should say, English media icon. Scottish folk are not much given to creating intellectual icons.
If you can imagine it, John Cleese and Michael Pailin were like the comedic foils.
The panel went a long way to demonstrate where the Python group found their insane ideas for humour. It's all around us.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I think I saw direction to provide it ti the Library which means you can read it there.
I checked to see if it is online. Didn't find it. Which doesn't mean it isn't there. It just means I didn't find it
If the policy still applies , you can probably buy a copy at the Town Hall.
if you go way down to the end, there's a link to a 23mb pdf of a
"Aurora Promenade Draft Concept Plan" among other pdfs.
Another reader helps out.
The land was purchased from th he Wood's family .
The question reminds me .....it is believed there are graves of settlers on the site.
In the earliest days, there were no churches or burial grounds.
If my files were organized properly. I could put my hands on the history.
Jackie Stewart our former museum curator provided it to me when the vet was making his bid.
I already knew some of it but Jackie provided documentation.
It was one of the services Jackie provided as well as being curator of the museum collection.
Hosting class visits at the museum from local schools and throughout the summer and history summer camps were provided by Jackie at the Church Street School.
We had that service for almost thirty years.The grant we provided to the Historical Society helped pay the salary and we received ample value in return.
Jackie researched history of old homes to be designated for the planning department before we had a heritage planner on the payroll.
We still pay the grant but the Historical Society is of the opinion the curator is their employee
and attached to the Hilary House which is not our facility. So, it is not at all clear what services wer are entitled to expect.
If anyone knew of artifacts becoming available from an Aurora home, they were either bought by the town or donated to the museum. The collection grew out of the love and respect Aurora folk have for their history.
The Historic Society raised $750,000. locally for the new museum in the the Church Street School. Some of the money was spent on the plans.
A lease agreement was signed with the Society in 2004. It is for ten years, with options for five plus five.It's a current lease.
Cathie Malloy, the curator who followed Jackie, processed a grant application to Heritage Ontario and received $770,000 ....FOR THE MUSEUM.
Now we have no museum. No programs for children. No summer history camps.
The collection is stored in boxes in the basement of the Church Street School.
Instead , we have a near empty building with a grand piano.
We spent more than $3 million to renovate the building as a state of the art museum.
Now it's available free in the name of "Culture" for events like a black tie affair preceding a commercial event staged in our park that we helped financed with a grant of $2,000.
We finance the operation of Church Street School, from our taxes at a rate of half a million dollars a year .
We have an agreement to provide the money on receipt of quarterly statements.
The renovations were completed last September. Almost twelve months ago.
Council has received no record of quarterly statements.
The Mayor informed us last week by e-mail , a September date may be arranged to receive a presentation.
When we received a" business plan" from the consultant retained to outline how the facility. including museum, would be organized , the statement was made the operation would wean itself from town support by $100,000 a year.
Instead the current agreement indicates we will increase the funds for operations by 3% a year.
How's that for a bill of goods ?
I know my reader didn't ask for all that... but it just spills out...in sheer aggravation.... y'ken.
I didn't even mention the "vision" the Promenade Study has for the Cenotaph.
We know it as a Sacred Monument, an Alter of Sacrifice, a Garden of Remembrance with a tree growing for every life lost. I believe there are seventy-five.There are no accompanying concrete plinths on the ground bearing brass nameplates to interfere with seven man lawnmowers.
Under the Promenade Study it will be a passive park where occasionally "events" will be held.
The "vision" has it encircled by buildings and roads.
Currently the rear of the Edwards Plaza is on one side and MacDonald's on the other.
If opportunity ever presented in a redevelopment proposal, a different layout for those two sites should be required.
If I was there when it happened, I regret the oversight. MacDonald's landscaping should abut the Cenotaph not the street. Configuration of Edwards Plaza should also be changed.
The property behind the Cenotaph has a swathe of green.It needs to stay. .
Considering the parks we have, why do we need to contemplate using the Aurora Cenotaph for "events".
Why did the Promenade Steering Committee led by Mayor Morris, feel compelled to include the Cenotaph in their study of the downtown core ?
Was the Promenade Study for the sake of it? To create an illusion of action?
Decisions needed now, didn't happen .... instead, future changes are proposed for things perfect they way they are.
In the last term, staff were replacing the fence around the Cenotaph. They discovered a gate to Edwards Plaza had been installed by a vet who was using the Cenotaph property as a run for his patients. They needed to "go" on grass.
He was told the gate would not be replaced. He appealed to Council.. Some Councillors were so inclined .
Councillor Morris said she and Councillor Gaertner, cleaning up litter on Clean-Up Saturday , found far more disgusting stuff at the back of the Cenotaph.
Councillor Vrancic told us he regularly walked his dog all the way from Kennedy Street to the Cenotaph.
I thought, it's amazing how different we all are. When I put my name forward to serve as a Councillor, in my wildest dreams, I never visualised doing anything so disgusting or silly.
There are a whole bunch of things I won't to do to win a vote. I'm not shy about it.
I demanded the town consult with the Aurora Legion to determine their position on allowing a vet to use the Cenotaph for a dog run.
The vet did not get a gate back into the Cenotaph fence.
Subsequently I received a call from someone who had lived in town for twenty-seven years. She didn't know if I was called alderman or what. She was sure the vet was conscientious. She didn't see dogs any different to squirrels or birds defecating in the Cenotaph property. The whole thing was totally ridiculous.
I listened until she finished. I learned she was twenty-seven years old and a high school teacher. She was speaking from the teachers lunch room. She had an audience.
When I started to respond, she said it was clear she had just wasted her lunch hour. Someone in the background signified agreement.
There was no further exchange.
My God, I thought, they are teachers.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The Mayor was quite upset yesterday about my reference to the Aurora Promenade Study on Sunday . There was a flurry of e-mail
Councillors,management, and the President of the Aurora Legion were copied .
The Mayor was in high dudgeon.
Extensive research carried out yesterday, shows the number of times the Cenotaph has been referred to as War Memorial and Peace Park.
When it became apparent the Mayor's main concern was to deny the Steering Committee for the Promenade Study were responsible for messing with the name of The Aurora Cenotaph. the exchange ended.
I didn't say they were. I've heard it before. It makes me angry every time and regularly I demand;
Who the Blazes is it, thinks they have a right to change that name? I got an answer once.It doesn't stop me from railing against it.
The Cenotaph was completed in 1924. It is one of the finest in Canada ,as was intended.
It was managed by a board with representatives from King, Whitchurch and Aurora, whose joint memorial it is, until the mid- nineties.
Board members were growing old . Aurora Parks had been providing the maintenance for years An arrangement was made to turn the trust over to the town .
It is still Monument to the Fallen from three communities in the First and Second World Wars. Passing the torch didn't transfer the right to change the name.
So..when I hear it...I roar.
I feel the need.
When I'm not here, I hope someone else will do the same. We must keep faith.
The Mayor is invested in the Aurora Promenade Study. Numerous meetings and much palaver.has gone into the task of envisioning a desirable "Urban Design " for Wellington and Yonge Street, bind it with red tape and hope .... people with investment will come ..... and they will build it.
Well, I don't think so.
The only part of Aurora that isn't developing nicely is the centre block of Yonge Street. There is rigid adherence to the notion there is something sacred about that block.
For half a century, I've listened to the phrase over and over "Revitalise the down town."
We always knew people were the answer. We encouraged old existing homes to be converted to new uses. It has been done beautifully and successfully by people who shared the vision. On Wellington Street , Yonge and on the side streets, small and modest , large and gracious houses have been lovingly restored .
They have a charm today they never had in their heyday.
Planning staff lent guidance and assistance to property owners and the vision of forty odd years has gradually been realised to an extraordinary extent.
So gradual it seems, people haven't begun to notice.
But the key plan has not been realised ... more deliberately than accidentally.
The people are not there. The reason is obvious. Our standard of density is appropriate to another time. Buildings must not rise beyond a certain height. They must be kept in scale with buildings of a hundred and fifty years ago which were modest even for their time.
No matter the cost of land or expense of construction, economic viability will not be considered a factor in Aurora.
Aurora continues to insist blighted sites cannot be turned into vibrant residential buildings, filled with people, to promenade streets and patronize stores , beyond a certain height.
No hundred page study will mask the fact that airheads and eggheads in Aurora have refused to come to terms with reality .
It is not reasonable to expect investment if we continue to block all possibility of return on investment.
I predict.....as long as airheads and eggheads are in the ascendancy and Planet Mars is closer to the Sun, our central block will continue its inevitable slide southward.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Last election , I wasn't paying a lot of attention. Candidates don't usually. They're too busy doing their own thing.
Stephen Granger let the cat out of the bag. He went to a home where a Grace Marsh sign was on the lawn. He told the homeowners they should vote for him because he was a part of a group that would get things done.
They shifted the Market from down-town. Turned out it wasn't actually for the Market's benefit. It was to make the band-shell available for special events which involved the St.Kitts woman and the family business.
John Gallo was appointed to Council by the Mayor and followers. As President of the Bayview Ratepayers Association, he was part of the Aurora Coalition of Ratepayers, which planted questions at a candidate meeting. If he is a candidate that would be baggage. It's too bad, I think he has potential.
We can look at committee appointments.
Evalina MacEachern is on several committees and would of course be on the slate, if she isn't breaking loose.
Wendy Gaertner has already declared. She has been on several committees.Wendy is very compliant. She will definitely be on the slate again.
Christopher Ballard has declared. He is Chairman of the Economic Development Committee. He is also on the steering committee for the hocus-pocus Promenade Study.
Quite likely to be on the slate.
Roger Clowater has been a candidate since January. He thinks the Mayor and Council have done a fine job. But he's running for Mayor, so he can't be on the slate.
Then there's the St.Kitts woman from Snowball. Didn't I hear she bought property in Aurora and made a statement a long time ago, she might be a candidate in the next election.We will have to wait and see.
Maybe the Aurora Citizen Blog should ask candidates if they are on the Mayor's slate.
Then people will know.
If people think totalitarian government "gets things done" like Granger says, they will know how to vote.
On the other hand, if they don't think totalitarian government is particularly wholesome and don't like the things that were done , they will know how to vote.
It's quite simple when you think about it.
We should just ask. Maybe they will tell.
And...even if they don't ...well that's like they did.
If Grace Marsh were to be a candidate, everyone would know, she's not on the Mayor's slate.
Bob McRoberts, Alison Collins Mrakas, Evelyn Buck....ditto...ditto....ditto