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

Tuesday 30 June 2009

You Were Asking

My grandson Cameron is not alright. At the time of the accident, he was taken to Barrie Victoria Hospital . He was seen in the trauma ward by three doctors. Oral Surgery was indicated and a surgeon was called to the hospital but that didn't happen .Bleeding profusely with no time to lose, Cameron was sent from the hospital to the surgeon's clinic.

Indications are Ontario Hospital Insurance will not be cover the surgery because it was not performed in the hospital.

As well as losing six teeth from his upper jaw and his jaw bone shattered,three teeth in his lower jaw were broken in half leaving nerves exposed. Root canal work was done to-day on the bottom teeth. He was handed a bill for $1,7oo.

He is twenty-three years old. Successfully graduated from college with a job , massive student loans and horrendous damage to his face. He has been on a regimen of pain killers since it happened. To-day he tried to manage without but lasted only a few hours.

A reader asked what I meant when I said I can't live someone else's life.

I can only speak as a mother and a grandmother. The instinct doesn't fade. It means needing and wanting to do whatever it takes to keep them from harm. It means your heart's yearning to hold them tight and keep them safe while your head tells you, if you really love them, you have to let them go.

It means coming to terms with the reality you can't live their lives or protect them from life .

It's not an option.

But it's not easy.

Monday 29 June 2009

It Ain't Easy

Yesterday was a grey day. Heaven opened and the rain came in a deluge. It suited my mood.

Saturday was beautiful. A new tradition was born. Stephen and Mary hosted a barbecue at the Forrester family cottage on the shores of glorious Georgian Bay. Hayley and Ryan swam between small rock islands close to the shore and paddled kayaks.

The evening sky was extraordinary. The clouds looked like they had been swirled about with a paddle. ..White to grey deepening to dark blue with the hint of a fiery red tunnel at the horizon.

The twins names have been carved in the tree trunk. The third generation of Forrester children who have enjoyed summers in that perfectly and uniquely Canadian place.

My grandson Cameron and his parents,Martin and Marnie were not there. Cameron was hit on the face with the handle of a hockey stick at a ball hockey game being played for fun and relaxation and healthy exercise.

Six teeth were knocked out by the roots and the bone holding them needed surgery to repair the injuries..

My son Andrew, an excellent hockey player, in his forties, is called upon every year to join a men's league. In his teens,Barrie Colts scouted him to try out. He wouldn't .

He had been on skates since he was five. He said; "I've gotten this far with all my teeth and without any scars, I'm not interested in playing that kind of hockey". But every year. it seems there is always a jerk who wants to maim and injure.Andrew can not understand that. It's a game for God's Sake.

What is that about?

The twins are leaving with their mother on Wednesday. Mary's going along with them on the plane to Seattle. They will be living together as a family for the first time, in their father's parent's house.

Stephen will be alone in his house after they leave. Stephen is a proud, passionate and loving father. He has been alongside Vanessa helping since the babies were born. Getting up at night for feeding, changing diapers etc. Full of admiration for his beautiful, strong, intelligent child and his heart bursting with love for her two tiny babies.

Babies born prematurely and under-weight need to be nursed every two hours on the dot. It is more than a full-time occupation with twins but it must be done.They are three months old. Reid is ten pounds and Claire is 8 and a half pounds and all is well.

So, yesterday was a grey day. It took me until this morning to focus back to the fact I can't live anybody else's life. Having one of my own helps with that reality.

I've never said it was easy.


Saturday 27 June 2009

That and This

The Honorable Lisa Raitt is a Federal Cabinet Minister.

I had never heard of the lady until a couple of weeks ago. A tape recorder was left behind somewhere. Its owner failed to collect it. It was listened to and Minister Raitt's voice was heard. It must have been a slow news week What she said, hit the fan.

An injunction was sought in Halifax, the Megalopolis of the Maritimes and a Judge ruled the Minister's words could be published

The media sought an opinion from a Toronto University Professor of Ethics who profoundly stated;

"If you wouldn't like to see it in print. Don't say it "

That is politically sensible and apparently ethical as well.

It could be argued the Honorable Lisa Raitt benefited from the publicity. I now know who she is, her portfolio, some family history and that she thought the Minister of Health could be doing a better political job.

Also that Honorable Minister Lisa Raitt's boss thinks she is doing a sufficiently competent job to keep her around for now.

Still, my knowing won't necessarily benefit the Minister's standing in the next election. Obviously I don't vote in her riding. The comments had no impact on anything. . And enjoying the boss's esteem doesn't matter a hill of beans to me.

Now... if it happened at our level of politics the story could be different.

Right now there's a great kerfuffle going on behind closed doors. while some local politicos strive to recover, at public expense, that which was lost, when a citizen from Snowball Corners, beyond the confines of our fair town, encouraged by our Mayor, expounded at length a variety of unfounded and unsubstantiated accusations and allegations against a member of council within our own council chamber. To the considerable disapprobation of the community at large. .

In the excitement of high drama and general chaos and confusion which passes for decorum in Aurora Council, specific direction was given to staff which was not eventually reflected in the public record and the community figuratively shouted:

" What?'

I answered in a Blog.

In true Morris-Mac strategy, attention had to be deflected from the apparent villain to the true villain of the piece. The target (moi)of the unfounded and unsubstantiated accusations and allegation of the denizen of Snowball Corners, has again been accused . This time of crimes and misdemeanours against procedural rules and ethical conduct. With the assistance of legal counsel, at considerable public expense , acting as investigating officer, prosecuting attorney, judge and jury all rolled into one and not for the first time; in for a penny, in for a pound.... nudge, nudge, wink, wink: talk about yer economics of scale...and all that jazz.

The buzz words around town now and for the past thirty-months is that it is my statements and actions which make it necessary for the Mayor and her co-horts to seek legal counsel on a regular basis.

The devil made them do it.

The main charge against me appears to be failure to respect that staff recommendations must at all times trump the judgement of one particular elected official.(moi).

Ancillary charge ... disclosing matters discussed behind closed doors.

Actually, I only disclose that which I do not believe qualifies to be discussed behind closed doors. And not all of that.

On the other hand, if so accused ... Well...what the hell?


Growing old happens one day at a time. Every day feels the same as the day before.Growing is the operative word.

Every observation ....experience, good or bad....every mistake made, is a lesson learned and filed for future reference.

People who have not lived long. can not have learned how much there is to learn from living. It's relevance may even be cavalierly dismissed. That's a reflection of failure to grow.

An advantage of living long is the opportunity to exercise knowledge and experience and keep on growing.

A sense of the ridiculous is an asset.

Humility comes from facing mortality.

False modesty is unseemly in great age.

Ignorance is sad and such a waste.

Arrogance is ridiculous.

Fear is unknown.

Little is left to fear after surviving life's vicissitudes.

What is there of value to be lost?

Great age cannot fail to establish reputation. Character...good, bad or indifferent has been moulded and cast.

It can't be lost, mislaid, misrepresented or misappropriated. It's of no use to anyone else.

Except as a lesson in someone else's growing.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Response to My Response to a Question

In my in-box his morning I have received the following anonymous comment re Knowles Crescent:

Perhaps a lawsuit would have been a lot more expensive
The super lowered road created a dangerous slope for my property.
We got what was due to us.
We got the point that you thought we should shut up and suffer or pay for it ourselves.
Good for us, them that mess up pay. Not us.
Glad to have a new director

Now.....what should I do with this. Publish it and let it speak for itself. Reject it. Or continue the dialogue. The Knowles Crescent issue was in September 2007. An offshoot is still current.

During the Saga, the Director of Public Works was denigrated in a formal meeting with the mayor presiding. He was pushed aside at the request of some residents. A consultant was hired to negotiate with the same residents and $60k of taxpayers money went out the door. In addition to the million spent constructing the road and underground services.

The value of private properties was undoubtedly improved by the million samolis of public investment. Knowles Crescent went from a semi-rural road ,with ditch and culvert storm drainage and gravel shoulders to as pleasant and pretty a street scape as any that might be found in town. In times past such a project would have meant a local improvement tax on each property.

Council's decision prompted my comment that had I voted to dole out that extra money to a handful of home-owners .I would have considered myself in breach of my Oath of Office .It was a reflection of the power of my conviction, that the community was not well-served by the decision.

I took my advice from the Acting Director of Public Works , charged by the town with responsibility to advise on matters within his area of professional expertise.He had held his post as engineer in the employ of the Town for a number of years and shepherded many similar projects to successful and satisfactory completion. There was sufficient assurance to me of his competence and integrity.

The town is responsible for only that part of driveway on public property. The policy however is sufficiently flexible that private properties are not negatively affected by re-construction.

Regency Acres is almost fifty years old. Knowles Crescent is not the first street to be re-constructed to a vastly improved standard by replacing ditches and culverts and gravel shoulders with underground services. A sidewalk was also an option but it was refused.

The idea that any property-owner "suffered"as a result of the project is utterly ludicrous I was the only Councillor strongly opposed to the decision to hand out cheques to individuals. I am confident I was not the only resident or neighbour who resented paying for it in my taxes .

My comment resulted in the Mayor declaring an" emergency "on another pretext and retaining the services of lawyer,George Rust D'Eye which in turn engendered a legal bill of at least $16,200 and a recommendation that Council adopt a Code of Conduct and retain the services of an Integrity Commissioner.

The Code of Conduct was approved on June 24th 2008. An Integrity Commissioner was appointed in October 2008. As yet a contract remains to be signed .

The service is not of course free. Indications are the complaint process is not fully understood . by a number of councillors. There has been conspicuous reluctance on the part of some to accept instruction. How things will evolve from this point on remains to be seen.

And the beat goes on.... la-di-adi-ah

Monday 22 June 2009

An Email from the Website


Subject: An Email from the Website

Rest assured Evelyn the chickens will be home to roost in no time and as usual no one will say Ev told us so , The big thinkers just don’t get it I’m afraid and this latest attempt at trying to put out the transit dilemma fire with this $33,750 per car monstrosity is nothing more than a fools attempt to extinguish the inferno , It’s easy to sit back and criticize everything government does ,and yes this blub will be waved off , but I’ll leave you with some questions that hopefully your “condescending correspondent” can answer

Is it better to invest in 150 year old conventional rail travel ? Or is it more sensible to invest in new technology, Canadian made high speed elevated rapid transit? Japan , Germany , Italy ,come to mind

Is it better to continue to clutter the roads with those smog producing blue, green ,white and red buses, ? Or invest in Canadian made high speed rapid transit corridors that already exist

Is it better to expropriate people’s homes and businesses, in a futile attempt to widen a road to accommodate Big Blue and a few riders over 5 or 6 kilometers ? Or admit the planning mistakes of the past and live with the traffic gridlock ,it will return with vengeance with or without the expropriations?

Answer Yes or No to this , will the problem of parking in the residential area around the Go Station cease the day, or for that matter a year after the 800 space ,$34,000 per car bunker opens ???

And finally

Is it better to spend upwards of $34,000 to park a single car beside a two lane road ,already overloaded in its capacity? Or would it not have made just a trifle more sense to locate a commuter lot on flat ground just outside the urban area ,say King or Whitchurch for a fraction of the price without impacting anyone living or driving through this fair hamlet or theirs for that matter? Obviously people enjoy driving to the station so what’s another 2 or 3 K matter


Two Questions

Asked from the last two posts: first was whether David Atkins was the problem on Knowles Crescent.

David was not the first victim of the current administration. Wayne Jackson was the Director of Public Works before him. The road construction program was David's job before he became Acting Director.Estimates are prepared for budget purposes. Designs are assigned to a consultant. Knowles Crescent designs were checked. A flaw identified by town staff and corrected.

The original road had ditches and culverts for drainage and gravel shoulders. The new design was for storm sewers to be installed. Sidewalk was offered and refused which meant front lawns were extended and the road bed lowered to accommodate the storm sewers. The road curves in a crescent and slopes towards Seaton Drive.Here and there, driveway grades increased .

At no time were the increases beyond an acceptable grade. But some residents became concerned and their neighbours lent support.

Councillor MacEachern became involved and soon town staff were pushed aside and consultants were hired to consult and satisfy the demands of four or five home owners.The contractor's schedule was interrupted , equipment was taken off the site and at one point it looked as if the job wouldn't be done before the snow .

I live behind Knowles Crescent.I puttered down there on my scooter last week. It is a picture perfect quiet street of fifty-nine well maintained homes fronted by wide sweeping lawns And So it should be with a million dollars of public investment.The residents must be pleased. Four or five of them a few thousand and one ten thousand dollars more than the rest.At the expense of their neighbours of course.

No doubt the councillor will receive her reward in the next election

David Atkins didn't hang around long after that.

A similar drama occurred in the last month of the term ending in 2003. Concrete curbs had been installed in the north-east quadrant at the corner of Maple and Yonge., the heritage neighbourhood. ( The one that got the $211ks traffic calming plan in 2007) Residents had been given a choice of curb designs and made their selection from pictures.

Oh Calamity, when completed they appeared higher than expected. Two persnickety residents acknowledged it was their choice but now they didn't like it.

Councillor MacEachern. like Zorro, was quick to respond in their time of need. .

"How much would it cost to replace?" she asked at the last meeting before the election.

"Thirty-thousand dollars" was the Public Works Director's reply.

"Do we have the money?" the treasurer was asked.

"No " was his short response.

No matter, the order was given Break out the new concrete and replace it with what is called a roll-over curb which is exactly what it sounds like. Vehicles roll over it.

I went to look at it eight or nine months later. It was a muddy morass. I went back to take a picture but the mess had been cleaned up with a bed of interlocking paving stones.

The Code of Conduct calls for councillors to explain to citizens ,the decision and attitudes of council even if they disagree with the majority.

The only attitude I can be sure of is my own. Those kinds of political decisions are the reason I run for office. I may not be able to stop them but while I'm there there I 'll do what I must to make sure people know about them.

Which brings me to the next post. Legal expenditures to stop me from doing that.

Sunday 21 June 2009

And The Mirror Appears

I listened carefully to Lawyer Mascarin at the in-camera meeting of Tuesday last. The picture continues to take shape. As days pass and information grows, reason presents.

My challenge now is to convey my understanding of a complicated situation in a clear and unambiguous format.

Yesterday I listed times and circumstances of legal services independently retained by the Mayor at taxpayers' expense. over the past thirty months.The list was not complete

Town solicitor, Shelley Pohjolla was asked several times to provide an opinion on my public utterances. . The Solicitor's time is a public resource. Her advice was " a Councillor is entitled to state an opinion. Councillor Buck goes to the line. She does not cross it".

Ms. Maclean, Interim Solicitor, worked two or three days a week between Shelly Pohjolla's departure and a new solicitor being appointed. Ms Maclean was instructed to write an opinion on the significance of failure to sign the Code of Conduct. A full page was submitted with no law cited to compel a councillor to sign the document

Two lawyers over a two year period were retained to create a case for wrong doing against a former Mayor and political rival. Phones in an unsecured area of the town hall had been monitored . The effort to prove invasion of privacy ended with an appearance by the second lawyer at an in-camera meeting, where he stated firmly, if an invasion of privacy was successfully argued and a damage suit launched, no award would be possible because no damage had occurred.

He was surprised that no Councillor had received his previously submitted written opinions.

Mr. Mascarin is the latest solicitor retained by council to examine my utterances and conduct for legal infractions. Council had apparently delegated Mayor Morris, and Councillors MacRoberts and MacEachern to meet and instruct Mr. Mascarin on the specifics of his task.

DVDs of council meetings, Blog Posts ,Letters to the Editor and comments to the Aurora Citizen Blog were subject to his scrutiny.

Thirty-three pages were submitted. Except for recording secretary, no corporate staff attended the meeting. It was strictly a council affair.

Mr. Mascarin made comments to me personally at the start of the meeting. They were along the same lines of Mr. Rust D'Eye, that I noted in my previous post. They inferred , I might hear something which might work to my advantage in the event of litigation if I attended the meeting. It would represent a Conflict of Interest for which there are serious penalties in law.

Later , a Councillor expressed severe frustration "they" were having to " talk about strategy while the person against whom the strategy was to be used was in the room".

A citizen who suspects town business is being improperly discussed behind closed doors, can legally request an investigation. A Councillor , knowing matters being discussed behind closed doors do not conform to the approved list and has the temerity to say so, can be accused of breaching confidentiality. The contradiction cannot be squared.

Insurance coverage was recently discussed behind closed doors. If a Councillor is sued as a result of carrying out responsibilities, legal indemnity is provided by the town. The insurance provider takes charge, assigns legal counsel and generally has a controlling hand in the matter.

On the other hand, Legal costs are not provided when legal action is taken by a councillor against another party.

Action for defamation is a matter for civil litigation. Not town business. Because of information, on legal indemnity , in an e-mail to the town solicitor, I questioned the propriety of the Mayor independently retaining legal services.

Subsequently , a recommendation was made from an in-camera meeting for council to approve retaining the latest legal services.

Twice now, I have been formally advised, of a possibility of incurring a Conflict of Interest by attending a meeting of the council of which I am a duly elected member. The reason given,? I might hear something to my pecuniary advantage should litigation ensue.

Since I do not ever contemplate litigation against my town I perceived no likelihood that I might ever be in a Conflict of Interest.

Ah, foolish moi ! At last I understand. The litigation referred to would be against me. I would be the person sued.... by council colleague or colleagues.

But wait a minute! that doesn't make any sense.

An unknown sum of tax dollars, has been expended in pursuit of evidence of breaches
of various Acts of Town Legislation. Abuse of Public Resources is referenced as well as The Code of Conduct. Penalties of Reprimand or Three Months Suspension of Remuneration are often cited.

The town has many Bylaws governing Policies and Practices. Administrative Policy No. 50 which specifically governs procurement practices. has recently been the focus of Mr. Mascarin's attention on the instruction of Council.

During 2008 budget discussions, after the first year of the Mayor making a practice of retaining legal services on her own volition, Mr. Gutteridge. Chief Financial Officer, recommended a line item be included in Council's budget to provide for the expense of legal retainers by Council.

The Mayor and Councillor MacEachern strenuously objected. Services retained by council should be part of the corporate legal services budget, they stated adamantly. Mr. Gutteridge shrugged ; "If that's how you want it Madame Mayor, that's how it will be"

As a consequence, there is no adopted Council budget for legal services.In my judgement, no public funds can be legitimately expended for the purpose.

Administrative Policy No. 50 governing procurement practices.; On page 8 Clause 13 states:

"Elected Officials shall not approve nor acquire any goods or services".

Action for defamation has been identified several times in the last weeks as a civil matter. It cannot be undertaken with public funds. No insurance coverage is provided to meet the cost.

Considering the facts, if any party is at risk of Conflict of Interest by attending a meeting which contemplates litigation . it would surely have to be the party contemplating the litigation and using public resources to forward the intent.

The obligation of a councillor to abide by the Code of Conduct even if the document has not been signed is frequently referenced. I think, if an elected official needs a document to spell out what constitutes responsible and honourable conduct, they are clearly not competent to fulfill the most important and basic requirement of the task.

Be that as it may. Clause 3 . of the Code states in 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 decisions of council.

and further:

Information concerning adopted policies, procedures and decisions of the Council shall be conveyed openly and accurately.

Amen to all of that I say . And I would argue that 's exactly what I am about in the here and now.


Saturday 20 June 2009

The Smoke Clears

The behind-the-scenes meeting with lawyer John Mascarin was held on Tuesday, June 16th. Councillor MacRoberts was in the chair. Mayor Morris was absent.Except for a recording secretary, no staff were present.

Citizens may recall when George Rust D'Eye was retained by the Mayor in 2007, he spent considerable time in the chamber, explaining to me why I might be in a conflict of interest if I attended the "Emergency" meeting called by the Mayor
First he asked, had I retained legal counsel?

"Why would I do that?" I responded. He said he was not suggesting it.

Then he inferred, if litigation were to result from the legal consultation between himself, and Council, I might hear something to my advantage and that would represent a Conflict of Interest for which the penalties are very severe.

Finally I understood my presence was not welcome at the meeting . So I went.

The pretext for the "Emergency" was Breach of Confidentiality.

A news story had appeared in The Auroran that the town had refused to sell land to York Region for a new Regional Police Headquarters. It was assumed there had been a leak by a councillor from an in-camera meeting where council did indeed refuse to sell land we had for sale for that purpose.

A meeting with the Chief of Police and Regional Chairman had been held on September 12th. The decision not to sell the land for a new police headquarters was the following week. The CAO was directed not to have further communication with the Region on the issue..

The "news" did not appear until November. If it was a leak, it was slow .

I suspect in political circles, such an utterly unbelievable decision was too juicy not to be shared. The hoots of derision would undoubtedly have been broadcast far and wide..

The decision was never reported out in Council. So, it was never acknowledged.

Eventually ,Mr. Rust D'Eye submitted a report. Strangely, no inquiry appeared to have been made about the leak. But a Code of Conduct was proffered as a solution to the problem of information being leaked by a rogue Councillor, to be adopted by Bylaw with an Integrity Commissioner to be retained.

The advice was not well received. Apparently, there had been a different expectation.. It transpired from resultant discussion , yet another comment of mine had been the true source of outrage. It never however appeared on any agenda or record.

Almost concurrently with the decision not to sell land for police headquarters , the town had expended a million dollars on constructing Knowles Crescent, a street of fifty-nine homes.Before the pavement was laid, some residents became convinced driveway grades were extreme and had to be changed. Councillor MacEachern took charge of the situation from Acting Public Works Director David Atkins. A spokesperson for the residents asked during a presentation to Council .for the Councillor to be a" Go-to person" in preference to Mr. Atkins.

Eventually five or six Knowles Crescent residents received cheques from the town totalling around $60 thousand in time for Christmas, one for $10k, to pay to restore their driveways to the style they were accustomed.

I publicly deplored the handling of the entire situation and wrote that had I voted in favour,I would consider myself in breach of my Oath of Office.

I am in the habit of using incisive language to express conviction. A practice I believe to be concurrent with the moral and political imperatives of the function of a politician. Much to the chagrin of half a dozen of my colleagues.

I do not occupy a council seat as an adornment in the Council Chamber.

Although I do occasionally add a hint of pink to my silver hair. I like it.

Apparently my latest words to grievously offend, were taken to insinuate wrong- doing against colleagues. The 'Emergency" was forthwith declared and the mayor retained George Rust D"Eye ostensibly to investigate the leak from a closed meeting.

I believe its purpose was to settle another political score.

Fast forward; legal counsel again retained to define "the process was tainted" a phrase I used in a different context.

It involved a second decision, this time reported out, not to sell the same parcel of land. Councillor Gaertner volunteered information for the decision which was not included in the report. I noted the Councillor's reason and mine were not the same. The mayor insisted I explain. So I did.

There had been friction between Councillor Mac Eachern and Chief Administrative Officer, John Rogers. The Councillor requested a package compiled for potential buyers by the real estate firm retained by the town to sell the land.

The Councillor was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement on receipt of the package. It was the property of the real estate corporation and they made the request.

In the beginning,Councillor MacEachern's was the lone request.

Then Councillors Wilson, Granger and Gaertner decided they needed to see the material as well. Councillor Gaertner declared she would not sign the confidentiality agreement arguing her Oath of Office was sufficient to guarantee her integrity.

Asked to explain the requirement for a signature , Mr. Rogers responded he was trying to protect the "integrity of the process".

When the offers of purchase were presented to Council , Councillor Mac Eachern discovered she had a Conflict of Interest . She declared the same and took no further part in the process.

When the Mayor insisted I explain the phrase "The process was tainted" I did . Screeches of outrage were heard throughout the land.

Once again, a lawyer was hired. "The municipality has been placed at risk of being sued" the Mayor declared with ferocious glares in my direction

Once again, advice sought and received and paid for failed to support the contention. Though the threat continues to be bandied about from time to time.

Public resources were again used to tackle yet another political score.

The drama continues to unfold:

Stay tuned.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Clear to The Stratosphere

Robert the Bruce and Tim the Enchanter enjoy a good argument. As I do. But for some reason it seems they have to beat me up in order to set me straight.

If I didn't get a reaction to my posts I would soon assume I'm wasting my time. I'm not saying I would stop doing it but a response means people are reading what I have to say and that is the purpose.

Still, I'm not inclined to let folk come ower ma door and into ma ain hoose and thump me to prove a point. First because it 'll no dae, ye ken and second because it's my space. I have control.

I just obliterated three spurts of venom from Evalina MacEachern who doesn't sign her name of course. But all people, and they are legion, who have received communications from Evalina recognize her style. Plus the fact she is always up and at her computer around the witching hour of twelve midnight when she does it. First we recognise the style , then we check the time, and ...Oh Yes, Evalina again. The blunter her expletives, the rounder my chuckle. I scored again.

Elizabeth Bishenden makes some good points about our love affair with the car. An argument is always better when there is logic on both sides.

I just bought an electric scooter. I rented one a year ago for the street sale and thoroughly enjoyed it. I knew it would be useful and fun to have. Still it took me a year to think about it and a sale with 25% reduction to buy one.

I am wheeling on sidewalks I haven't been on for more than forty years. Last time,I was pushing a pram with two or three young ones beside me. Sometimes when we went to the park,I felt like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Kids came down driveways all down the street and joined us in a cavalcade.

Now it's like discovering a new town. When our subdivision was new ,there were few trees and no gardens. Everything was pretty bare. Looking at the same properties now is like a miracle has happened. The gardens are spectacular and owners all over have done beautiful things to their homes .And there is blessed shade. Forty years ago, it was like crossing a desert.

The scents of the spring flowering shrubs and trees fill the air.There's something special about getting out . I used to take one of the bicycles out at six in the morning. I'd ride from our house up to the abandoned orchard at the north end of town and sit on a tree stump and look down on the town. Wimpey built Orchard Heights there.

We sometimes walked across the fields south of Henderson Drive on a Sunday morning to the railway and sat on a hill and waited for the train to go by. One time, we saw a circus train with decorated animal cages.We shouted and cheered. Tamarack was developed there more than twenty years ago.

I grew up in a society where nobody knew anybody who had a car. We walked. Leather soled shoes wore right through to a hole.And then they might be stuffed with cardboard.

I remember walking to Mass at six o'clock one Christmas morning before going to work. Myself my sister and a couple of other sisters the same age who lived across the street. Each of us swore we had identified the Star that only appeared on Christmas Day.

Well...we were kids walking to church on a cold, dark, special morning with nothing to see but a sky full of stars over our heads. Obviously, we were good mystical Catholics.

There's a whole other world out there when you're not in a car.

I love my car as much as anybody. Its wheels are my wings. I can think of a dozen reasons why it might be necessary to take the car to the station. I just think that sometimes the easiest and most obvious solution is not necessarily the best.

Sometimes the solution is worse than the problem.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Clear The Air

Citizens are currently being asked to join an effort to reduce pollution over a period of three days. They will be encouraged to walk, cycle or use other than a combustible engine to get to where they are going. Is combustible the right term or am I giving my vastly superior and condescending correspondents another switch to flail me. Why can't we just have a civil conversation for a change?

The building on Wellington Street is under construction. There's no going back now.

Land on the other hand, is not under production.I don't understand why the in-filling going on in the town in the last three or four years has escaped your attention.

Yes,it's a good thing for the environment that people take the train to work. It's also very expensive.

That's a good reason to think of other ways to get them to the station.

I don't even need to talk about the impact of cars pouring in to the station to sit idle in free space for ten hours a day, five days a week. The station is in the centre of our small down-town The effect on traffic at the worst time of the day will be seen soon enough.

My point will prove itself.

It would be nice to think surrounding streets will be free of parked cars. I don't think that's going to happen. I've been at a couple of stations with parking lots when the commuters come off the trains at the end of their day in the city. There's a mindless madness in their eyes. They have to get to their cars first so they don't have to wait fifteen minutes in line to get out of the parking lot.It's a collective frenzy.

I think we should be looking for ways to encourage people to leave their cars at home.

Would it not make more sense to provide free bus transportation to the station.

It's a serious bone of contention with taxpayers to see York Region Transit buses trundling around the streets empty for great parts of the day. How much more sensible would it be to have those buses on the street during morning and evening rush hours when they could be filled with commuters who don't have to pay an extra fare.

How many years of free transit would $27million have covered.

Picture the station platform; on one side the train pulls in; on the other rows of empty buses waiting to scoop up the weary travellers and carry them off home.

Why is that not feasible?

And why do you think you can come into my space and speak to me in that disrespectful tone. My children were never allowed to speak to me like that and I'll be damned if I let it happen here either.

A feisty argument about something that matters is one thing. Demeaning,insulting language just doesn't cut it.

So cut it.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Free Parking

The architect of the parking building for Go Transit visited Council a couple of weeks ago. He came to tell us about the structure underway on Wellington Street. east of the station.

It's five storeys high....cement and metal mesh. Entrance is from Wellington Street. Exit from behind. There will be landscaping in front of the building. It's taking up a considerable amount of commercial/industrial designated land which didn't have to be re- zoned.

Because the developer is the Government of Ontario,we don't have any say in the design. The building is costing $27million. There will be no assessment revenue for the town. The province doesn't pay municipal taxes.

A tidy sum would be coming into the treasury if the development had been private.

860 parking spaces will be provided. They will be free. No jobs are being created.

Three more sites are being purchased close by to accommodate commuters.They will also come out of our sparse industrial/commercial land inventory.

Commuters will come in the morning to take the trains downtown. Again in the evening they will leave from there to various destinations.

Wellington Street is congested now throughout the day but of course the morning and evening rush hours will be considerably increased .

Being free, the new parking will make it more attractive to take the train from Aurora to and from the city.

At a time when all levels of government are supposedly encouraging people to leave their cars at home,we will have about fifteen hundred of them idly occupying valuable land, representing lost revenue, in the heart of our community from Monday to Friday between six o'clock and six o'clock.

We are currently conducting workshops for people to provide input into how we would like to see the Yonge and Wellington corridor develop. We are spending $75k on consultants.

We are looking for ideas on how to increase life and vigour to our downtown core.

Traffic on Yonge and Wellington has not helped much up to now. . In fact, it has generally been considered to be something of a hindrance.

Monday 15 June 2009

The Town Hall

At Whitby is magnificent. It's built in the hills north of the old town centre. Nestled in green space, walls of glass are surrounded by trellis. Vines grow up and over the windows to keep heat out in the summer and in their absence, let in the warmth of the winter sun.

Inside space lends itself to banquets, receptions and concerts. Boy scouts and girls can camp there at week-ends. The building melds into its surroundings.
It is breath -taking.

I held a couple of board hearings there. Whitby was a town of eighteen thousand, same size as Aurora

I was completely in awe and admiration of the building and the Council with the vision and courage to make the decision they did. In all of Ontario, I had never seen a more beautiful or impressive Town Hall.

The architect was world renowned . It wasn't cheap. But a Town Hall provides a message.

"We know where we 're going. Join us. We will go forward together"

You don't need vapid sounding logos or clips from foreign newspapers when everything about you bespeaks vision and confidence. .

I consistently argued, if we want developers to invest in design, we can do no less than set the example. If we should be so fortunate as to have the opportunity to build one in our time.

When we were contemplating a second new building, I suggested Council go and see Whitby Town Hall. The Administration Building on Wellington Street , sometime known as Buck's Palace, fully occupied now by the Board of Education was our first.

We do have a few elements of the Whitby building in our Town Hall. The Skylight Gallery as its name suggest, is an Art Gallery. It's also used occasionally for receptions. The building is prominently located on a hill outside the downtown . The Council Chamber can be used for concerts. We had a successful jazz concert there one Sunday afternoon after completion.The
entrance lobby accommodates crowds during an event.

The interlocking brick courtyard lends itself well to the Christmas tree lighting but it's the only time it's used. The place is deserted at week-ends, summer and winter.

The building itself is a red brick Victorian reflection of the downtown core. Downtown was modern design when it came to be a hundred and fifty years ago. They weren't trying to reflect heritage then.They were blazing a trail.

Newmarket Town Hall is the former Ontario Hydro building.It is a commercial building. It lends itself well to the town's purposes and was probably an economical way to provide a facility. But it 's not a Town Hall.

It's location contributes nothing to style and dignity. It's in the middle of a mess of ugly hydro generating machinery. It can't be seen from the road. It says nothing to anybody about the Town of Newmarket. Take that back. It does say something.

John West was Mayor when our town hall was built. The location was criticised as was the cost. He did have courage and vision. Some things I talked about were included. We didn't go to Whitby to see the Town Hall. Probably because he knew he would be just as influenced as I was.

John would risk but not all the way.

I was always ready to use the opportunity provided to do the possible best and devil take the consequences.

I didn't run for public office ...and win ...so that other people could tell me what to think and how to vote.

No sirree...that was never my objective. I never made any bones about it. Never saw much point in having a leadership role and not doing the job accordingly. Still don't.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Statutes are Trumps

I've objected before but to no avail. The practice of inviting staff to refute points made in a political debate is fraught with potential for friction between elected and appointed officials.

Our new solicitor was invited to advise whether the Chief Administrative Officer is a statutory officer. I had made the statement in a "The Buzz Around Town" post that the job is not a statutory function. Mr. Cooper cited a regulatory clause he claims gives the CAO the status. I continue to contend it does not.

On Tuesday, during the debate on a resolution, he was asked to advise if town advisory committees conform to the intent of the Municipal Act. He said they do. I say they don't.

Councillor Gaertner referenced Mr. Cooper's nine years experience as a municipal solicitor. I cited my forty-five years experience of practice in Town of Aurora affairs.

When the minutes of the May 12th meeting were challenged, Mr. Garbe stated he and Mr. Cooper had spent considerable time deliberating how the record should be reflected.

The Municipal Act cites the role of the clerk to record decisions of Council "without note or comment". Mr. Garbe and Mr. Cooper decided a "synopsis" of a non-residents comments should replace the actual comments, despite a less than two-thirds majority vote of council directing the contrary.

Mr. Garbe and Mr. Cooper are not responsible for keeping the record. It is the statutory responsibility of the Clerk.

Mr. Cooper tried quietly and diffidently to stop unsubstantiated and unfounded allegations from being presented in council in the first place. But when it suits her, the Mayor is not inclined to hear anything that might deflect her from her path.

So the situation does not improve.

On Tuesday, I presented two resolutions. Notice had been provided. The motions were in writing and circulated with the agenda in accordance with proper procedure. Everything was very orderly. That was a first. Almost as if an unseen hand was directing the play.

Except for one small issue:

The first motion dealt with make-up of advisory committees. The second was a request for a financial accounting for an annual event held for the second time at the Aurora Legion. and from the community's perspective, under the town's auspice.

I had read of a partnership claimed by Sher St Kitts, the July 1st Canada Day Parade and the Aurora Rotary Club.

It occurred to me, if town staff could not obtain an accounting for the event from the sub-committee, perhaps Aurora Rotary might be willing to share.

"People are asking questions," I said.

"People should come to council and ask their questions" said the Mayor.

Then it was the Treasurer's turn to be invited to contribute to the debate.

Mr. Elliott, sitting immediately to my right, gave a small derisory snort and responded.

"It's not my job to go knocking on the door of the Rotary Club and demand to see their accounts."

Mr. Elliot is our most recent addition to the town's almost entirely new administrative team. Council were informed in closed session by Mr. Garbe, after having three months notice from our former treasurer, that he had made an appointment on an interim basis of a year without conducting the normal recruitment process to fill the position by competition.

Tuesday was interesting .

We had the report from the June 3rd "Emergency" meeting called by the Mayor to deal with the "The Buzz Around Town" post. The disconnect between what actually happened on May 12th and how it appeared in Council Minutes was the subject.

Council has now decided to obtain legal advice from Baird and Werliss on how to deal with my Blog post. John Mascarin, the lawyer who joined us at the council table to steer the debate the night the decision was made not to hold a by-election, is with that firm. He joined us on another particularly repugnant event behind closed doors. Mr. Cooper informed us he has already been consulted by phone on this matter.

Leisure Services Director Al Downey was the last to be invited by the Mayor to contribute to the debate and affirm that his department has no connection whatsoever with the July 1st Parade sub-committee of the Leisure Services Advisory Committee.

Mr. Garbe has affirmed staff have no ability to require an accounting from the committee for proceeds derived from the July 1st Canada Day Awareness event held at the Legion in mid-March.

Mr. Elliott reported the only town funds involved were $400 for four tickets for the Mayor and three Councillors to attend the event in 2008. And $150 for six tickets for the Mayor and five Councillors to attend in 2009. He noted the cheque issued from the treasury for this year's tickets was returned, with direction the money be spent on flags for the parade. Not noted was who the cheque was payable to, who returned it and when.

The big question now is; $10k of taxpayers' money was budgeted to pay for the July 1st Canada Day Parade after Sher St. Kitts informed council ... "No money ...No parade" . Ms St Kitts is a voluntary parade organizer. With a number of other citizens, she serves on a sub-committee of the Town Leisure Services Advisory Committee , chaired by Councillor Evelina MacEachern.

The voluntary effort required for the Parade, is raising sufficient funds to pay for the Parade. With $10k of taxpayers' money to finance it, the effort hardly qualifies as voluntary.

From what we heard on Tuesday from staff and Councillor MacEachern, ( the Mayor didn't say much), there is no requirement for that committee to obtain approval or account for any financial expenditure or tell anybody anything about the July 1st Parade.
Except come on out and PARTEEE....at your town's expense.

However, Council has previously been assured, the town's procedures will be enforced to ensure expenditures are properly controlled.

For the life of me, I can't see how. Considering complete disassociation,independence and unaccountability of that sub-committee with any part of the town's administration.And Mr. Elliott's clear notion of what is his role and what isn't.

Comments on Youtube Video Post

I've published a string of comments without a clear understanding of their meaning.

I didn't know the Moderator of The Aurora Citizen. I didn't want to know. It was enough that it was someone with a handle on things.

Once past the nasties, readership has been growing . People are enjoying the action.

It's normal to avoid political argument because of the chance of hostility. .Political chat with a neighbour or friend is usually constrained because it's not sensible to jeopardise a comfortable relationship.

That's why the opportunity to hold forth in anonymity on a Blog is useful. Gossip is a normal social function.

Exchanging views is my stock in trade.People have a right to know where a politician stands.

At the same time , the working relationship on a council needs to be nurtured. After one decision, then it's on to the next .

An astute politician never goes out of her/his way to make enemies. It reduces the possibility for civil discourse. Politics is not a science. It's the Art of Persuasion and Possibility.

I realise my style grates on people who don't share my views. I've practiced it long enough. Once understood that I'm doing what I believe, it normally stops being a hindrance.

This council has been different. It was abundantly clear from the beginning, there would be one way. the Morris- MacEachern way. No differences would be tolerated. The mission would be to seek and destroy.

I had to consider options on how best to hold my end up. I created a role though it's not entirely new. I've been writing about Aurora's affairs for more than forty years. While I held office, the need to be compatible put a crimp in my style. When it proved to be unattainable, there were no holds barred.

The community is my oyster.

Let's keep talking you and I. But try not to be esoteric.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Hayley , girl !

I wrote about Hayley six years ago. She was about three. They'd had a pre-view of a new child care centre.

A couple of hours after, having given the matter much thought, she informed her mother she would play with only one at the new place. The Chocolate Girl. And that she did. Their friendship lasted until they went separate ways once more.

Around the same time, there was a memorable event in my backyard. Hayley and her cousin Ryan of the same age, had bobbed like corks in the pool for a couple of summers wearing life-jackets. They graduated to leaping off the steps in unison into the shallow end , first with lifejackets, then without.

They were the youngest. Older cousins were jumping off the diving board into the deep end. Whatever else she was doing, Hayley watched .

Then came the fateful Saturday night. The two sisters were swimming after dark with a spotlight behind. That's when she decided.

She hugged her arms, bent at the elbows, close to her side, hands up, fists clenched. She moved towards the diving board with a sound in her throat that was half giggle and half whimper. She climbed up and inched her way forward, toes bent as if trying to grip the surface.

As she got close to the end we called "You don't have to do this Hayley Girl".

By then she had blanked us out. We knew she had to do it. Momentarily. she stood shivering... a slight , skinny, pale, slip of a girl. Then she went. She jumped as high and as far as she could into the darkness and a small thin disembodied voice came back to us with the legendary battle cry of the warrior.

GERONIMO !!!!! she shouted.

I often wondered what stamps a memory into a child's mind. Of all their new and different experiences, why does one scene etch itself in every tiny detail forever.

I wished I knew the secret so that I could create an inventory for each child of mine. It seemed to me a store of good memories would be an enviable resource...worth more than money.

I wasn't worried that Hayley was in the council chamber on May 12th. It was her night of triumph. She was to receive the plaqued poster she drew. Not least of the satisfaction would be that her sister Megan did the same thing several years before.

She had a ringside seat for the St.Kitts display. She knew she needn't worry about her Grannie. I knew she was soaking up another moment of glory.

Would anything shadow her memory of the event ?

I think not. Not our Hayley.

I know grown women AND men who don't have her integrity and fortitude.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

June 9th... Another Tuesday

Royson James of the Toronto Star has a blistering criticism today of Toronto City Council. The Mayor's executive committee, which is a majority of council, is proposing a legal "offence" fund for councillors to allow them to take legal action against whomever they perceive to have "defamed"them. It notes they already have a legal "defence" fund..

Only once have I ever had to give a thought to defending myself. At a meeting of residents in a
particular neighborhood, I advised they had no need to retain legal counsel to deal with their own town council.

The lawyer, who wasn't there, was told I had advised against hiring him. I received a document informing me he was suing me for the value of my house.

S.O.B. I thought and hied myself straight up to the court house and filed a response.

There was intervention . I was implored to come and talk to the guy . I told him I said no such thing . I would defend myself to the hilt.

That was the end of it.

I was not informed then that I was indemnified under town insurance.

At the beginning of this term, when the Mayor had her first" emergency" and retained George Rust D'Eye on the pretext I had spilled the beans out of a closed door meeting of four months previous, when they refused to sell land we had for sale as a location for York Regional Police Headquarters.

A resident told me then the town must provide for a councillor's defence .

I asked and Bob Panizza , former Director of Corporate Services. told me he knew nothing about it.

Last week , information was provided at an in-camera meeting about insurance to indemnify
a councillor . I had seen a clause requiring that in the Integrity Commissioner's unsigned contract.

Aha I thought. That's where it's been hiding. It made eminent sense. So again I asked. Finally information was provided. Behind closed doors.

I considered the new information. Then I got to thinking about how many times the Mayor had retained legal counsel for a variety of non-issues like so-called invasion of privacy when telephones in an unsecured room were monitored during the previous term of office. Two lawyers were retained. The first didn't provide the desired answer .

The second was summoned to the town hall to engage in a spirited discussion with the Mayor and Councillor MacEachern before the two year effort, at tax-payers expense, to prove the former Mayor was guilty of wrong-doing was finally abandoned.

The Mayor never did have authority under the Procurement Bylaw to expend town resources on lawyers. It happened anyway.

Last week, the comprehensive information about coverage suddenly presented a posit against town funds being expended for this purpose. Our town, like the City of Toronto, has a legal defence mechanism to protect councillors being sued for doing their job. Like the City of Toronto, it does not have a legal "offence" fund.

I raised the question of impropriety of the Mayor independently retaining legal counsel at tax-payers expense, to take action against a Councillor for perceived defamation.In the same e-mail that I questioned the necessity for discussion behind closed doors about a matter which had already been articulated by the Chief Administrative Officer in two comments to a political Blog.

I received no answer to either question
However, on to-night's Council Agenda , a recommendation , out of a closed door "Emergency" meeting is made to retain legal counsel. Approval to retain legal counsel is being sought in a public meeting . My Blog post of June 1st; "The Buzz Around Town " was the single item of that agenda.

In that ,I proffered an explanation of why the minutes of the May 12th meeting bore no resemblance to what actually happened.

A torrent of unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations and accusations were hurled in a verbal assault against me, by Sher St. Kitts and by courtesy of the Mayor and her co-horts. By an illegal vote, staff were directed to include the comments as part of the official record.

So... now what happens?

If legal action is to be taken against me by the Council of the Town of Aurora. am I entitled to legal defence for fullfilling my responsibility as a Councillor?


Monday 8 June 2009

Addendum 1 to Baseball Chronicle

After the decision to save a couple of hundred thousand by not grading and servicing the community park at the same time as the ball diamond, Councillor Wendy Gaertner moved the design of the rest of the park be referred to the Leisure Services Advisory Committee.

And so it was done.

Councillor Evelina MacEachern is chairperson of the committee.

So we pared about a couple of hundred thousand of development levy money from the sensible development of a community park identified as a need in the Master Recreation Plan and therefore included in the calculation and collected.

But we included $250.k to spend on the former water tower site, which is encircled by homes on Davis Road, Henderson Drive and the Mosaic Town House complex to be paid $225k out of development charge levies and $25k out of Cash in Lieu of parkland.

I have come to realise, children will not be safe from harm in that location. The need was not identified in the Master Recreation Plan. Therefore not included in the last calculation of development charges. Nor would it qualify because the need has not been created by new growth.

There is no record of a request from the neighbourhood. The park was not recommended by staff nor were they consulted before the decision was made.

Councillor Evelina MacEachern moved the motion in Council.I seconded the motion. I think that was unwise.

Last week, Minutes of the Leisure Services Advisory Committee noted an e-mail had been received by the Committee from chairperson, Councillor Evelina MacEachern.

It recommended certain improvements in the leash free dog park on the Industrial Parkway.

The facility was created by a group of dog owners. At their request, land was provided by the town. They took responsibility for the expenditures. And rightfully so. There is a formal agreement between the town and the committee of dog-owners.

There is no indication the committee has ceased to exist. Although they are responsible, cost of the improvements are negligible and will not only provide comfort for the users but will also present a more pleasing view for the passing throng.

BUT a not so subtle change in roles is apparently happening between political and administrative responsibility for daily operation of town services. Apparently without concern from the Chief Administrator's Office.

We are currently having a consultant do an organisational study of the town's organization.It was budgeted in 2008 but didn't happen. It is costing $95k and being paid out of the general levy. That means property tax .

We also have money in the budget for an annual off site workshop for the management team to "learn" management skills. Over the next three years total cost will be $45k.... $15k each year. A one day session has already been held at St Andrew's Golf Club.We didn't hear if it was the full $15k dollars worth

Now, I'm just a little old lady who has never held a job in the business world and by some references that means I am not competent to comment on anything much of any significance. But it does seem to me a person earning between one and two hundred thousand dollars a year should already have the level of expertise required for the position he holds.

Aurora's new Council was provided with no such opportunity when they first took office. Bless their foolish hearts, they obviously had no idea how badly it was needed. Contrary to a practice which had been in place for a couple of decades, at a cost considerably less than that provided this year for senior management to learn the skills necessary for their responsibility.

Saturday 6 June 2009

A Youtube Video

is circulating of a typically British irreverent version of God Save The Queen put out by the British National Party. A few lines of the second verse seem particularly apt..

Scatter our enemies and make them fall
Confound their politics
Frustrate their knavish tricks

Join the party before our government destroys us and mass emigration is our only hope.

Heather's Note - Click HERE for the link.


Council had a closed meeting on Tuesday. On Thursday, after contemplating that event , I informed the town solicitor I did not agree the agenda qualified for secrecy under the Municipal Act. I gave notice I did not feel bound by the rules of confidentiality and I looked forward to hearing from him in case I was overlooking something I needed to consider. I did not hear..

The town's insurance coverage was discussed and how Councillors may or may not avail themselves of its protection. Nothing secret about that.

A post in a political Blog from the Chief Administrative Officer was the second item. Nothing secret about that. It was published.

A third item, not on the agenda but introduced and read by Councillor MacEachern, was my post "The Buzz Around Town". After persistent challenge by Councillor Gallo, discussion was not allowed.

Never fear. Next morning. the Mayor called an emergency meeting to deal with that pressingly
urgent matter in the evening behind closed doors , prior to the Citizen Awards Ceremony. Alison wasn't there. Councillor McRoberts retirement event was that night.

I do not acknowledge council's right to formally discuss in secrecy or in public ,an observation I have made on town business under my authority as Councillor except during the course of a debate.

I did not attend that meeting

At the first meeting ,there was agreement to disagree between myself and Chief Administrative Officer Neil Garbe about his authority to enter the political arena.

I contend he can't. He argues he has the responsibility to protect the town. The solicitor also argues. he has the responsibility and that he is a Statutory Officer. He referred to Section 227 of the Municipal Act.

So ....I checked . The solicitor's contention the Chief Administrative Officer has statutory authority is not validated by that section of the Act.

Section 227 of the Act states a municipality "shall" appoint a Clerk and it spells out duties under Provincial Statutes. That's what makes the office "Statutory"

Section 229 of the Act states the municipality "may" appoint a Chief Administrative Officer. It refers to general and efficient management of the town's operations and "such other duties as assigned by the municipality". No Statutory responsibility is attached to the office of Chief Administrative Officer. He cannot act outside Council authority on Town matters.

Council did not authorize Mr.Garbe to engage a political Blog with an unknown moderator over an anonymous critical comment made against the Mayor, contend injury to the municipality's reputation and give notice of intended action by the municipality if they did not conform to his ultimatum.

The Mayor would probably like me to tell you she has had conversation with Chief Armand La Barge of York Regional Police. She noted police involvement means entry and search of a person's home.

My daughter Theresa, always likes to hear what happened at council on Tuesday. If she's not up when I get home, she calls me from work on Wednesday. I gave her a sense of things.

"Mum" she said, " I think ...they think ...you are the Moderator of the Aurora Citizen Blog.They thought an ultimatum would scare the bejasus out of you , the critical comment would be retracted, an apology made, the contributor would be outed and when that strategy didn't work, the Mayor cited her connection with Police Chief Armand La Barge and noted the police would be able to enter a person's home and search".

Well... I thought..... why didn't I think of that?

Quick as a whip, I thought about something else. the Mayor said staff had not been able to do their own work for more than a week because they were fully occupied with this issue. Lawyer John Mascarin, who assisted with the by-election issue, has been consulted and who knows how many more town resources will be used before they're done with this particular "knavish trick".

And all I can do about it is tell you what's going on that shouldn't be going on, behind the scenes.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

I Am Woman Hear Me Roar

When I came back in 2003, I ended a speech at an all-candidates meeting. With my arm raised and my fist clenched. I made that promise.

I wasn't foolin' .

It has always been my practice to state my opposition clearly when I believe the community will be ill-served. I am equally emphatic in my support of what I think is best .

Yes, it offends those who disagree but not all.The majority appreciate frankness where they find it. It disconcerts the average politician whose longevity depends on mastering the skill of obfuscation rather than clarity.That's what makes them average.

I have never been a comfortable bedfellow to the comfortable.

I am proud to have been elected time and again on behalf of a sufficient number to give me a seat at the table as their voice and spokesperson.

In Aurora as elsewhere in Ontario. the tradition has been once an election is over those who have been chosen get down to work together for the betterment of the community they promised to serve.

It has not been that way in our town for a number of years. It's the reason I put my name forward in 2003, after an absence of fourteen years.

What we have here is worth the fight.

Yes, people know I'm there. Yes, you will always know what's going down. .

It is what I promised.

It is what I will continue to deliver.

With my Blog ... as good as the best and better than the rest.

My head is unbowed.

Monday 1 June 2009

The Buzz Around Town

How can minutes of a council meeting be doctored?

The answer is they cannot. It took a conference between Neil Garbe and Christopher Cook, the town solicitor to come up with an idea to produce minutes which would "to save the town harmless" from the actions of the mayor and four councillors on May 12th.

Accusations and allegations encouraged and facilitated by the head of the council and condoned by the majority of the council were false and unsubstantiated. To permit them in a council chamber before an audience was not only reprehensible, it was a gross abuse of process and rendered the town liable for legal action.

The vote to waive the procedure bylaw, even if passed, to allow the comments to be included in the public record, dug the hole wider and deeper.

When the Mayor requested the individual to provide her comments in writing to staff, the page was handed immediately to the secretary of the council meeting who sits alongside the podium to provide assistance to speakers.

That action can be seen on the video tape.

Twice during the infamous process, although not by intervention, the town solicitor attempted to advise "this matter is not for council to deal with". His advice was ignored.

If none of it should have been allowed to happen in the first place; if the clear objective of the exercise was to do harm to a person's reputation before an audience, then placing the comments in the public record would exacerbated the offence and would have made the corporation complicit.

A way out had to be found

The option was to follow the illegal direction of council and place the written comments in the record. Or....not follow the direction and for the C.A.O. the town solicitor and the clerk to jointly offer an argument of precedent.

Whether it was credible was neither here nor there. The remarks could not be allowed to form part of the public record.

It was fascinating to watch. The municipality had to be protected after the failure to stop wrong-doing from happening. The mayor publicly stated a meeting with the C.A.O. and the solicitor had been pre-arranged. Did that suggest they were a party to the process ?

Once the mess was created , it didn't matter how things would look to the public, they could not , in law, do what council directed outside of law.

Another interesting fact is neither the chief administrative officer nor the town solicitor are statutory officers. They are not responsible for the public record.

A Director of Corporate Services, formerly municipal clerk, is the statutory officer responsible for keeping the public record. The requirements for record keeping are spelled out in the Municipal Act. A clerk is sworn into office as are elected officials. The Oath of Office provides both authority and obligation under the law. If the law is not upheld by a person sworn into office, that represents a breach of trust, which is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Council direction isn't worth a hill of beans, if it contravenes the law.

The problem is, the clerk has the statutory authority and obligation to advise council, but by establishing a pecking order which makes the clerk subject to the authority of a chief administrative officer, who has neither understanding nor experience of municipal procedures and throw into the mix, a Mayor who is convinced she is Supreme Ruler and councillors who also believe it , " you got trouble in River City " big time.

Neither is a town solicitor a statutory officer, but he is governed by the ethics and standards of the Ontario Law Society.