"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

Saturday 30 October 2010

Good For Table Talk

I am delighted that Geoff Dawe won the race for Mayor, I never doubted that he would. However, before the AC released the news that they were being sued by the Mayor, I never would have imagined him winning by such a huge margin. I wonder at how many of those 7254 votes that Geoff got were really for him or just against Phyllis. I know it makes no difference but I am curious. Morris completely torpedoed her own campaign and she has nobody to blame but herself.

I appreciate the irony though in her five constant supportors giving her the ammunition to shoot herself in  the foot with



Geoff Dawe is the first candidate ever elected to the Office of Mayor without first having served on Council . One can  put up a good argument  the Mayor's Office is the only one  voters really care about. If there is no mayoralty contest, turn-out drops  in half.

This time, I was eager to see if there would be an increase in turn-out. Well there was but not by much. Of course  percentile  doesn't tell the whole story. Not the way it  used to when we did our own enumeration.

I'm no longer sure how  voters' lists are created. l heard they had started using the census. But the census has people  who don't have the right to vote. Somebody said, those who don't have the right to vote don't, even if they are on the list.

Well, supposing  that's right. What does it do to the voters list if  people who are not entitled to vote and don't vote, are on the list ? Does that not skew the  percentile  turn out, to numbers on the list  though not  entitled to vote.How much of a factor is that?

This year, MPAC, the company that does  assessment for the municipalities screwed something up.As a result, the province didn't get voter cards out to everyone. Everyone was asked to carry photo I.D. and one other piece of identification to the poll with them.

It wasn't because they didn't get cards out to everybody. Apparently, in the last election, bus loads of Tamils were dropped off at polling stations in Markham during the election. Voter registration cards can be easily forged so the government quietly introduced new security measures.

But to get back to Geoff:  I have never seen a more professionally organized campaign in Aurora. It started  right after the last election although Geoff himself was not yet the candidate.

 People who had experience of working with Ms Morris had serious misgivings about the town's well-being.  They were not wrong.

After  Geoff  Dawe  finally  declared,  he never put a foot wrong. He made clear the obvious problems without ever making the campaign personal.

At the same time, the incumbent  Mayor was his best asset.She didn't show for the HoJo event and the Sports Alliance event was a wash-out. Lists of numbers at the all-candidates meeting in the library caught nobody's attention.

There is no doubt, legal action by the Mayor, against three highly respected Aurora families , at taxpayers' expense was the last straw. It was the clincher.

But the race was already lost. The  decision to launch legal action was a final act of desperation.A favorite ploy to distract attention.

Alison Collins Mrakas, until the end, kept looking for logic.  I kept saying, "there isn't any"

Until the votes were counted, she could not believe it would happen. While I  never  doubted  it would.

What is often left out of a calculation ,when people look at candidates, campaigns, organizations,  issues, what is consistently left out of  most equations,  is the sense of fairness and decency that resides among people.

When the Smitherman crowd dredged up stuff about Mayor-elect Rob Ford having nothing to do with  issues  and everything to do with personally maligning the candidate, they were doomed from that point. If that was all they had to offer, they had nuthin'.

Rob Ford on the other hand never went off message. When he talked about Kyle Rae spending what was left of his Councillor's allowance  giving himself a  retirement party and he, Rob Ford would stop the "gravy train" at taxpayers' expense.  His audience understood his point well.

When the Miller faction talks about not co-operating with the electorate's choice of Mayor,they know not whereoff  they speak.

Toronto will listen to the Mayor.

 Aurora will too

On The Same Council

I  served with Ms Morris for seven years.  In all that time I  seldom had a sensible conversation with the woman. I know I was not alone. Others reported the same brain-rattling experience.

The language was familiar.The problem was how it was used.

We seldom exchanged a  greeting. Except at some event or other, when the Mayor would hail  me by my first  name and exchange  pleasantries as though  we were on the best of terms.

We all know the idea of  by-election is an anathema to our out-going Mayor. Why the reference was made in that company is for Ms Morris to know and the rest of us to dismiss as more of the same.

At least one member of the group promptly  left the table.

I just thought it was an interesting little tid-bit.

Being repudiated wholeheartedly by the voters, is a hard thing to bear.

It's not uncommon.  It can be seen coming. Like a tornado.

It is  sufficiently ordinary for the means of handling  to be established. Gracefully...or....not.

The  defeated Mayor of Oshawa noted he had  done his best  but "I guess there are no rewards for that"

I always found it easier just to stay out of the way. Nobody notices.  The election is over. The newly elected are the focus of attention.

That's a blessing.

Immediate response from the losers in this election indicates no  inclination to accept defeat gracefully.It's so  silly. Considering the option.

Gordon Barnes has immediately called  to arms  something he calls the Citizen of the Year Challenge2010.  He proposes  a Workshop for Government 101 for  losers.

Mr. Barnes  clearly feels  the authority vested in him  by the outgoing Mayor, when she chose him Citizen of the Year, is a force to be dealt with.

He has apparently not considered a  miscalculation might have  led to such a bleak outcome. Something  might have been overlooked in understanding of what the  electorate expects from the elected.

When Marie Antoinette asked why there was rioting in the streets. The answer was "the people are hungry. They want bread"

She answered "Let them eat cake"

We all know Poor Marie's fate. Elections were considerably in the future at the time.

When people in Aurora complained about spending, Mayor Morris bought them culture.

In my day, history was not made relevant in school. Even  A Tale of Two Cities, by Dickens  didn't bring it home.

As  an adult, I was shocked to learn the French Revolution happened during the time of my  grandparents struggle for justice. The government couldn't  use the army against the people because the army was of the people. So they created a police force, gave them the right to smash into people's homes and use the  truncheons to discourage conversation.

We've come a long way, Baby. In a relatively short time. Too short a time not to maintain watch, and stand on guard for thee.

Friday 29 October 2010

I Am Not

A good patient. Is anyone? I take sickness as an insult to my well-being. I give voice to my discomfort.I don't even try to be good-natured or uplifting.There are limits to what I am  physically willing to endure. I said I wouldn't talk about it. I changed my mind.

The medication is taking its course. My head is clear. From the neck down, pain persists  in muscles and joints.I have six more days of anti-biotic. No doubt things will improve along the way.

Out-going Councillor Stephen Granger is asking for a re-count of votes. Apparently he has difficulty accepting the same fate as several of his closest associates. There will be a cost of $25Ks. which  will be on top of the cost of the election.

Seven years, ago when outgoing Councillor Mac Eachern demanded a recount of my votes, by way of a  friendly  welcome back, regulations required a re-count under a certain number of votes. My votes were well beyond it.

Now there is no automatic requirement for a re-count. The election machines have proven their accuracy time and time again. Including my own.

There's little  chance the vote will change. So the $25Ks will be an expensive lollipop soother for  aloser

A few nights ago, a few new Councillors met to-gether. It takes time to calm down after winning. Winning is better than losing.

The  outgoing Mayor joined the group to assure them of availability if they needed any advice. It must be  hard to let go.

Assurance was offered and a statement made, there would soon be a by-election.

Wishful thinking maybe.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Election NIght

My daughter Heather works off her tension with a drive for competence and efficiency.Win or lose, signs are  collected  as soon as the polls close
The  aim is to have every sign  gathered  before the final vote is tallied.

The election is over. We begin anew.

This time  teen-age grandchildren were on hand to help. They came to see me before the party began, eyes shining with excitement and  happiness. It was good for them to be so close to the action  One never knows where or when  a seed will take root.

Aaron is twenty years old. He is over six feet tall. Good looking and articulate and  always ready for a political discussion. When he talks philosophy, he leave me in his dust.

He will be twenty-four at the time of the next election. He thinks he might be a candidate for the office of  Mayor of Newmarket.

It's not as if they don't hear the bad with the good. Kids talk about things. They repeat what  parents say. Mine know me to be just like any other Grannie except that my interest is a little off-beat..

When I first started writing the blog. Heather Sisman was  helping me . She thought I should publish good comments with bad. So I did.

Then I thought,why should I give my enemies a platform. Let them write their own blog. In the last couple of  days the  rage is  spewing out as well as a torrent of  good  wishes for all of us in the next four years.

Some of it got published accidentally

There is a bit of  advantage. It illustrates the  meanness and lack of self-respect that has been a feature of the Mormac  administrtation, better than any words I could use.

The Citizen Blog had a  dose of it this morning.The theme is, I am not entitled to respect.

I wonder how a person justifies treating  another with disrespect.

For example, if I ever addressed the  outgoing presiding member as anything other than Madam Mayor....or responded to the  eye-rolling  insufferable  condescension, long-suffering glances,.. with
similar behaviour in kind,our Council Chamber would have been a regular exhibition  of deportment no-one would wish to be a part. 

I never did that.

Instead,I  came home to Doctor Becker and  David Letterman and soaked in their humour  of slicing individuals and institutions  to razor thin shreds for my entertainment. It was my outlet.

I am not above resentment. I  do not claim to be  saintly. With respect however, I do take exception to being accused of not knowing how to conduct myself as a Councillor or handle my enemies.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

I Will Keep Faith

The last Mayor of East York was True Davidson. The Province had amalgamated  the Boroughs of York and East York. Beth Neilson was Mayor of York and the two were pitted against each other.True was the victor.

True Davidson was a woman of indeterminate years and a strong facial profile.She reminded me of a droll British  comedy actress named Hermione Gingold.  True wore marvelous hats at all times and was a popular  guest speaker because of her wonderful  wit and the affection she enjoyed.

During her last campaign, she was hospitalised . She  promptly called  a press conference in her hospital room and sent a message to the world at large;

"Rumours of my demise have been vastly exaggerated"

I often think of True  Davidson and her  example of courage and character.

I thought of  her again on election day when my head was low.  When I needed to be out there expressing my appreciation for all the  support I  received  throughout the election and the best I could manage was a trip to a clinic.

So I missed  the opportunity  to convey my feelings  in person ;

We did it together again. Nobody does it alone.

Thank You.                              

I'm Back...Sort of

I've been leaning. lolling and hanging my head for three days now. I have an infectuous infection. I am on a ten day course of anti-biotics. I feel like Raggedy Annie with  the stuffing knocked out  and that's all I'm going to say about that. 

I watched  it on television. I heard the cheers and applause. I was there in spirit.  I may have missed the excitement but not the satisfaction.

How sweet it is!

Our Mayor-elect  ran a class  campaign. He didn't do it alone. He was surrounded by a  group dedicated to  something far more important than any individual's personal ambition.  I wasn't an active part  but I know who were. Months of hard work and nose to the grindstone by people with  nothing to gain but the well-being of our community.

It was a triumph of good. 

How much our new Councillors elect , came to understand the issues during the campaign is not easy to know.  If they are like all the  Councillors I have known and shared feelings with ,they will have been over-whelmed by  being chosen. They  will approach their responsibilities with humility and a determination to be worthy of the trust.

There is  a single  clear message to be gained from this election; when we vote, we delegate  authority. We do not transfer  power.

We troop out in our thousands. One  by one, we take the ballot behind a screen  and  make our selection. Then we gather and wait  to see what we wrought together.

The result is

With fresh energy, commitment and confidence, we begin anew.

Sunday 24 October 2010

My Law Suit

Is close to the point of Examination for Discovery. A date has to be arrived at by agreement between the parties.

I am learning about the process as I go. The  time it has  taken is not unusual.

Here and there, since I launched the action, I have had to refer other documents to Kevin MacDonald, my lawyer. Including the complaints filed by Councillor MacEachern  with their chosen Integrity Commissioner David Tsubouchi.

He was informed he had no authority, since the matter was before the courts.  He failed to acknowledge the communication and dealt with them anyway.

The effort to silence me has been more or less constant since George Rust D'Eye advised  there was a way . At one time, the Mayor stated Mr. Rust D'Eye wrote the Code of Conduct but  I have no  evidence of that.

Depending on what happens to-morrow, hopefully the ongoing harassment will  come to an end.

The suit will not.

A Genuine Query? I Think Not.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Conundrum":

Perhaps you can explain why you continue to use these phrases?

"three Aurora families being served with notice of legal action from the Mayor"

"on the eve of Aurora's Thanksgiving Celebration for all our blessings."

First of all, there were 3 INDIVIDUALS not families.

What does Thanksgiving have to do with it?

Just trying to make it more sensational  than it is


I do not recall  anyone in the Town of Aurora or neighbouring municipalities being sued by their own municipal government ever.

I don't believe this  event could be made more sensational than it is.

Think about it. If someone knocked on your door and handed you a legal notice to inform you, your Town   intends  to sue you  for  $6million,would that news exclude your husband, wife or any of your children?

On the eve of  what  once was and still is in some homes, a religious festival of thanksgiving and good will, celebrated by the community, would such a hostile act not have  doubly powerful significance.

I think so.

I also believe I have a right to call it the way I see it.

Although the Mayor appears to be attempting too late to  pull herself out of the quicksand she created  for herself, more than one person gave approval for this action. We may assume  five  will be required to change the course. At least, the same number who set it in motion in  the first place.

Why any  sensible politician  would even contemplate such an action is beyond me.But this much I know, no single member of a council  has  authority to direct staff or abuse public resources in this manner.

Saturday 23 October 2010

The Conundrum

I may have been the only one who didn't understand the P.McG monicker was not a  name.  I was not the only one who didn't think it was funny.A couple of readers had strong language of their own to deal with  the vulgarity.

Besides  the outrage  in the community by the Mayor's decision to sue three families over unproven allegations, the  action has generated  vigorous intelligent conversation on the Aurora Citizen Blog.

The Mayor's latest twist to undertake the action at her own expense will certainly keep the conversation going.

If it removes the Mayor from Conflict of Interest, where does it leave  Councillors whose vote made it possible  for the Mayor to pursue her initial objective?

We know  a comment critical of the Mayor was taken behind closed doors to be discussed as  town business.

Councillor Collins Mrakas and myself refused to participate .  Councillor McRoberts subsequently repudiated the decision. He stated publicly the resolution which appeared in public was not the one he understood to have been passed by Council.

We currently have a communication from the Clerk  that a further amendment to the minutes of the September 14th meeting, approved by a majority at the  September 28th meeting will be presented at the last Council meeting of the term after the election.

The amendment notes ,on September 14th ,Council re-convened  from the closed session  out to the chamber at 1.11a.m. It further notes the Mayor  departed at 1.10 a.m.The meeting adjourned at 1.14a.m.

I suppose the point is ,the Mayor was not present when Council approved the motion in public,that was approved  in private, to direct staff to retain external counsel ,which resulted in three Aurora families  being served with notice of legal action from the Mayor in her capacity as head of the Council, in a suit for damages for 6 million dollars, using taxpayers resources.on the eve of Aurora's Thanksgiving Celebration for all our blessings.

Now it seems the point has changed again. According to the media,the Mayor has  apparently decided to undertake the action as a private individual and shoulder the costs herself.

The problem is, the action was unlikely to have  been  undertaken in the first place without legal work having been undertaken to determine  what  was possible.

What were Councillors told that allowed them  to believe an elected official could use public funds to sue private citizens  for something it  is  by no means clear they were responsible for doing.

What laws were cited? Who did the due diligence to discover the laws? Who paid for the due diligence? What did it cost? Who received the payment?

If it was  all on hand on September 14th, when was direction given to produce it. Who authorised it? Who signed the cheque?

What will it take to get answers to the questions ?

The election is on October 25th. The new term does not begin until December 1st. Members cannot take their seats until they have taken their Oath of Office on December 7th.

What will it take to get to the bottom of it?

Friday 22 October 2010

I Surprise Myself At Times

Yesterday I looked in the phone book for the name Patrick McGroin to see if he really lived in Aurora. I was suspicious of the surname. It didn't sound like any Irish name I had ever known.

Finnigan,Flannigan,McCafferty,McCabe,Kennedy and McGoogan,
Wolohan,Hoolihan.Monoghan and Gorman
Murphy and McGorrigle

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of others and I do believe I would recognise them all.

Patrick is very Irish.  People who take names seriously don't allow them to be shortened. I always identify myself as Evelyn. My second name is  Mary. I use the initial. It is who I am.

My children are known by the names I gave them. My siblings  names were those  given at the time of Christening.

Only one of my children's names was allowed to be changed.. My son Frank was christened Francis John. Both family names. My father was John. His father was  Patrick and his  father's brother  was  Francis They are  good strong names, fitting for the good strong men I intended my sons to be.

In Canada, Frances is a girl's name. I couldn't let my son be known by a girl's name. I allowed it to be changed. I didn't know at the time there was a great white hunter by the name of Frank Buck but there was no  option anyway.

Names are important. My sons are called .... Stephen, Francis(Frank) Martin, Mark and Andrew.

My daughter Heather is not called for a flower. Heather is a  strong, fibrous bracken that covers the moors and mountains of Scotland  in clumps like gigantic blankets that keep the earth warm, stands up to everything the  environment has to throw at it and  stays strong, vibrant and beautiful in every season.

Theresa is tall and fair and named to please my mother.I did think of the shortened version which was Terry. That was my younger brother's name. Theresa is always given her full name.

So I think names matter. I think a person's name should be  respected. I think people should respect their own name and not allow it to be degraded.

If a commenter to a blog doesn't want to identify themselves that's fine. Better they should say what they have to say,incognito for whatever reason, than keep resentment and anger bottled up inside them. A chuckle should certainly be shared. We don't laugh nearly enough at ourselves.

I think the social  media will prove to be a great advance in  political affairs when we get used to it.

But I don't  think a good strong name like Patrick should be  corrupted to say something disgusting and indecent.

So there! I have revealed a prudish  part of me. Something else that's sacred .

If you don't want to use the name your mother chose for you the day you came into the world,  at least  take the trouble to think of a decent alternative or  better still , one that would  make  your mother smile.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Coming Down to The Wire

Four more days and it will all be over.Actually it is  over for a  many voters already, I hear there were line-ups at the advance poll.The votes will  already be counted and tucked away in  envelopes in their boxes  awaiting  the final tally.

Still I start each day wondering what the Morrisites have in store for me today. It's  quite  weird how I have become their target. The  rationale appears to be, if they can  persuade enough people that everything I  write in this blog is bogus, their candidates will romp  home  past the finish line with time to spare.

For the life of me, I can't see how they imagine they can accomplish that  objective in the next few hours. I've been posting now for three years and four months. If  there was evidence available to prove everything I have written was a figment of my imagination, they have certainly had time enough to prove it.

The  new name of Patrick McGroin has appeared in the Aurora  Citizen Blog making wild unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations  against me. with a chorus of rejoinders  to augment the chorus.

I suspect it is a phoney monicker for a  Mormac supporter who  had reached the tipping point, had   been banned from   Citizen  Blog and  whose slant  is well known to  contributers over there.

I doubt he has much  influence. And if he has, there's not a lot I can do about that. 

I would have to say, the Morrisites  are in a desperate frame of mind.

By this time in most  campaigns, the die is cast .

Whatever will be, will be.

The future is ours to see.

Que Sera,.. Sera         .

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Take A Minute

The phone started ringing  at eight o'clock.

An e-mail is in the inbox from yet another young student working on the election as a course of study.

A sign is damaged and needs to be replaced.

Excitement is growing by the minute.

Candidates are always in the middle of the swirl but this time it's intense .

Damaged signs on lawns must be replaced or repaired immediately.Messy signs give the opposite message from the one intended.

A student getting into politics at a classroom level might turn out to be a Prime Minister some day.No candidate worth his or her salt, neglects the opportunity to come that close to fame.

Comments and opinions are flying fast and furious on the Blogs as  time winds down closer  and closer to the election.

The rumour about bullet proof glass which I didn't dare mention  in case it isn't true .....isn't true.

Sorry to scotch that one.It was vintage  Monty Python.

Something was done to  the  Mayor's office window but it was not replaced with  bullet proof  glass.

I spend a lot of time looking at the leaves on my maple through the window above my computer. There hasn't been time this year to scoop them or shred them as they fall. The person, my daughter Heather,  who usually does that is out delivering leaflets and hammering in signs.

But  we  both noted how nice it is  to see them gathering . They  light the ground.  Without rain, they keep their colour. They swirl and lift and fly and whisper as if  they have life.

Every day  colours change. They float like  small wings  from  branches to the ground. Even when we are not looking, we are aware of them drifting  like spirits sometimes one, sometimes several sometimes a whole bunch blowing off the roof.

The leaves, the wind, the dark  and sometimes rain, are  favourite features of Hallow E'en.

I wrote a few lines on Sunday and immediately  came a comment from someone who came here from another province where few maples grow, to say how much she loves fall in Ontario

When you think about it . Our  leaves  are glorious. So glorious we have a physical reaction to their beauty.

And here's the kicker.

In a world where the material is all around us, where our senses are daily assaulted with pressure  to buy, the most incredibly uplifting sensation of all is free.

It is ours to enjoy if we  but lift our eyes to see or pause to contemplate  the treasure   at our feet.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Two New Sources of Information.

I have heard it  now from two  more sources.  Direction given to staff by Council on September 14th behind closed doors was to retain external legal counsel to discover what, if anything, could be done about an anonymous comment critical of the Mayor  posted in a blog.

I am inclined to believe it was  neither the intention or the direction of  all the Councillors present to give notice of  intent to sue for $6million damages to three families in the community ..

It is not what I read in the record.

It is not my place to defend them or make excuses for them.

They must speak up as individuals for themselves. No-one else can do it for them.

For the sake of their own families and the three injured families,  I would advise them to do so.



Possibly the Minister, whose own government will soon be facing the electorate, felt it advantageous to mingle with Aurora's 'power structure', while it lasts, in order to meet and greet, kiss and shake, some of those whose votes will be solicited when his turn comes.

A fundamental rule, and particularly so in politics, is never break an appointment without at least calling well in advance to apologize with full explanation and in the course of so doing establish another appointment date, possibly for double the time of the first.

No politician who is considered successful, and mormac certainly do not fall into this category, will go out of his or her way to offend any person who might one day render or return a favour.


The Minister did show up eventually.

Escorted  by the Mayor.

He just  wasn't there at 6.30p.m.

He was at the Culture Centre meeting with the Mayor and  Select Friends . On the same  night he was scheduled to attend the Formal Opening of Library Week  in Aurora

Sorry.... I didn't make that clear.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum Last Night

Last night was  Grand  Opening of Library Week in Ontario. Aurora's Library was chosen for the Formal event by the Minister of Culture and Community Services.

Our library is  often chosen for such affairs. I think because it's handy for those from northern parts and the south, We had a Councillor, Librarian and trustee from Georgina Island there last night.

We have the space  and it's probably handy for officials who live close by. The Minister lives in  Markham.

So,  at six- thirty, special guests hoping for a word with the Minister  about library needs were there in strength.Every library except Richmond Hill was there at the time of the roll call.

There was a beautiful flower arrangement on a table. Cheese and crackers and vegetables and dips were artistically arranged by Sue Matheson  a  library staff member  on tables in the Magna Room.

Cake, chocolate and vanilla, and Coffee was served later in the library for the public audience. The cakes  were  donated by Longo's,  as it was last year in the same week.

But at seven o'clock, the Minister had not  yet shown.

It turned out, the Mayor and select Councillors were meeting with the Minister in the Church Street Culture Centre.

Now...there could not have been a mistake. The Mayor had previously declared a proclamation for Library Week in Ontario. Invitations were sent out.

But last week, an e-mail from the Mayor's office was circulated asking Councillors, had they received  invitations to the library event. One response  was circulated from Councillor MacEachern with the   simple answer "No" 

So the hammer fell again.

The Minister was hijacked from the  Formal Opening of Library Week in Ontario  to the Culture Centre in Aurora on the same evening at an over-lapping time.

To which event, no doubt  an oversight,  neither Councillor Collins Mrakas nor myself were invited.

Fortunately none of our  guests from other library communities seemed to notice. Ministers are often held up by votes in the house or traffic or a dozen other  normal circumstances.

Who  would ever guess the Mayor  of  Aurora  would  stoop to revenge  by sabotaging  Grand Opening of Library Week in  Ontario, by hijacking the Minister  on the way to the forum?

Monday 18 October 2010

Incredible As It May Seem

It may be Councillors were not aware three Aurora families were being served with a suit for damages of $6million by their town on Thanksgiving Eve.

At the mid September Council meeting, a copy of an anonymous comment to the Citizen Blog was circulated at the Council table, as an add-on to an in-camera agenda.

It was listed on the cover page as a matter involving litigation  for possible defamation.I saw it as just another crazy example of hysteria.

Council had been dragged out as usual   by various activities including the cavorting St Kitts woman.I stayed to vote on a particular matter but left at ten minutes past eleven.

I cannot guarantee good  conduct  in that company beyond a certain hour of endurance. It is no time to be making  business decisions on behalf of the community. Leaving is my protest against the insanity.

When I left, though it was on the table before me, not for an instant did I imagine  an anonymous comment to a blog posting could be given serious consideration by a body served by legal counsel.

Subsequent minutes of the meeting. indicated staff had been directed to retain external legal counsel and consult on the matter.

I voted against that as did Councillor McRoberts and Collins Mrakas.

Until I received a call from a family member , I had no idea three families had been served notice of the town's   intent to sue for $6million

I cannot therefore be sure the Councillors who voted for the motion to retain counsel had any more idea than I did, how far that direction might be taken.

MacEachern and Gaertner moved and seconded the motion.

In a comment to my post, Robert The Bruce  reports Councillor Granger, a week later, claimed no knowledge  of the legal action

Is it  possible other Councillors were  equally in the dark?

Common decency would  mitigate  against agreeing to such a thing.

Political  instinct for self- preservation would set off wild alarm bells at the idea  of  using  the power of government to take legal action against three families of the community at any time, let alone in the midst of an election.

What possible advantage could there be to align themselves with such a heinous act?

Yet they are responsible.

For four years they  surrendered their authority and failed to exercise their own judgement.

There may still  be time to reverse the damage to the three families.

It may well be too late to save themselves.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Just Heard

From out and about, the Morris election rig is out placing Chris  Ballard signs on the boulevards.

Last week, the Mayor deputized  Candidate  Ballard to cut the ribbon at a new business opening in town.

In the last term, the former Mayor was taken severely to task by the current Mayor when she was Deputy- Mayor and Councillor Keane because I was asked to represent the town  at the 75th anniversary of Girl Guides in Aurora.

They raised hell and  insisted their status at  the polls entitled them to first dibs at any such opportunities.

It's another example of do as I say,not as I do. But more interesting  still is how Ballard is being pushed ahead of all the loyal followers . I guess maybe  they are considered  expendable or all used up or something.

The Maple Tree

The leaves on my tree are gold this year.

Scarlet makes me catch my breath with its beauty.

But the gold creates such a  light it almost hurts the eye with its intensity.

I have such a feeling of optimism for the possibility of change

And the opportunity for positive things to happen.

About That Rumour Of Urban Myth Proportion.

I have heard it. I have no idea if it's true. I have a hard time believing it could be kept a secret.
.I will try and ferret it out. It boggles the mind.

Overheard At The Market

Yesterday I heard, the Mayor was overheard advising a voter every  problem this Council had was due to one person. Moi.

I know it's gossip. But ..  it' s likely true.

I haven't had time to read The Auroran this week. People tell me the St.Kitts woman, David Tomlinson and one other of like mind to the Mayor have offered the same whining complaint.

The collective strategy has apparently  been decided;


Of course, if  the  perceived problem is public awareness  they could be partially correct. I have never considered it the responsibility of a Councillor  to keep town  business secret.

I have a different understanding of politics to the Mormac regime.

Being elected  means everything said or done   on behalf of  the community belongs to the community.  It is open, subject to judgement and criticism.

Unless it's pillow talk, or to a friend of absolute discretion, it cannot be, held to be....a secret

How could it be otherwise? 

No candidate  I  have ever known has  received every vote cast in an election.  It means in the community there are a variety of views. 

Nine members of Council, elected on their own merits, can also be expected to have different perspectives. Withholding one's  viewpoint is not a political imperative in my book.   Every member  has  an interest  in ensuring the community  knows  their stand.

It's what politics are about. The  minority has a stronger reason than the majority for their  voice to be  heard and  rationale understood.They do not have the security of numbers. 

It's why Clause 3 in the Code of Conduct is utterly ludicrous. The idea  a person out of step  with the majority should be compelled  to explain the attitudes of the majority  is the ultimate irrationality.

Before the Code was passed,Councillor Wilson  said. "She has to be stopped. She is undermining everything Council does"

Councillor Granger said; "Bring it on"

They were  revealing observations.

I had but one vote. A single vote undermines nothing.  Councillor Wilson clearly saw my stance as  a threat to  majority decisions.

There was no law to compel me to silence. So they wrote one.

Oh My, how they tried. Always at great public expense.

Still  even at this late hour, in the face of considerable hostility, the Mayor and like minded friends continue to look in the rear view mirror for someone to blame.

They refuse to accept the public's  business is public. A Council is the sum of its parts. It is  subject to microscopic examination as are those who would pick up  the mantle of politics.

You  can run but you can't hide.

You can fool some of the people some of the time. But you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Saturday 16 October 2010

The Word Is Out

The  Mayor of Aurora, at public expense and in the name  of the community...on the  eve of Thanksgiving .... when  families gather to celebrate the  blessings we enjoy..... had three families among us served  with notice of intent to sue ....with all the might of the municipality....with murky reference to political criticism ... for  damages of six million dollars.

At the final  meeting  of Council ....   as  candidates seeking re-election  .... when all other Councils  have already conceded authority in principle.... while stewardship is being called to account .... Morris, MacEachern. Gaertner,Granger, Gallo and Wilson reached out and  smote  a vengeful blow against  members of  our community  whose interests they had sworn an Oath  to protect.

Once again, they huddled together behind a malodorous, masquerade of  wronged righteousness  and  cloak of legal counsel,  bought with taxes collected  from the families being sued and the rest of us, at no time  acquiesced  to be used for any such  purpose.

We are  in the process of exercising our choice in the election of a  Council  to serve for the next four years.

The names Morris,MacEachern,Gaertner, Granger.Gallo and Wilson will be on the ballot.

By this final act, we know without doubt,their understanding of the authority and purpose of  a Council.

It  remains for new candidates  to declare, without equivocation,  a stance on our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the  role of an elected representative to stand in its defense.

Friday 15 October 2010

An Answer Withheld is a Conclusion Drawn

 A reader responded sadly to the post I wrote about not asking  questions from town staff any more.

The  answer  I sought  was specific.

When I get answers, the information is yours to receive. When I don't, that's  also your business

In a normal Council, staff would never  refuse to answer. As the story unfolds so will my meaning

The  unanswered question  related to this years substantial  increase in water rates.

First, there was a switch in accounting. A charge which had previously  made to a specific account in the  amount of a quarter of million dollars was switched to water rates. The treasurer and public works director decided that's how it should be.

We buy water from the Region. They increased the rate 10% this year.The increase had to be passed on to consumers.

If there was any interest in making that increase less of a hardship, it seemed to me to be the wrong year for  changes to the accounting process to add to the burden.

But that wasn't the key question.

I wanted to  be assured   no water use by a tax supported service was being used in the calculation of the  separate domestic  or retail water meter rate.

I asked about use  by fire  protection services. Fire halls have meters. Tankers are filled at the fire hall. Fires are mostly put out with  water from tankers. After the fire is out,  the tankers are  re-filled from hydrants at the location.  Hydrants are not metered. Water taken from a hydrant  can  not be shown as a  fire department expenditures.

It's not a significant factor. Fires aren't fought on a daily basis.

That wasn't the key question.

The Treasurer and  works director decided this was also  the year to increase the "water loss" factor.
It went from 8% to 12% of  all water bought from the region.  It's a substantial increase.It's a hell of a lot of water to be "losing".

Why  increase it this year when the rates are taking such a significant jump ?

What constitutes "water loss"? Why is water loss increasing?  We' ve been replacing old water lines for years? Why should there be an increase in " water loss" ?

The  key question was how many more water breaks did we have last year?

That's the  one  they refused to answer.

Homes are metered.  We  believe we are paying  for water we use and waste to the sewers. We are encouraged to conserve water . We change toilets  and shower gadgets to reduce consumption.

We think we are saving water and cost.

However, if  the  cost per unit of water  includes "water loss" in town operations, and water loss went from 8% of  total consumption to 12% , then we need to know why.What are we not doing right to
account for all that water lost?

They wouldn't tell .

 Council colleagues were not interested in  knowing the answer . Look who  was asking.

Councillor MacEachern scolded and expressed  confidence in the  staff competence.

I wasn't challenging  competence. I was asking how they arrived at the calculation.

They refused to say.

There are town  water uses  which are not metered. Ice surfaces in winter are created from an unmetered  source.

Two water parks  use a  million  gallons  of water  each during a  season from an unmetered source.

Where does it show up as an expenditure in  parks department expenditures?

When  water meters were first installed, the purpose was to measure  water and sewage flow and transfer that cost from the general tax rate to a separate water and sewer rate  billing.

Our sewage consumption  is calculated on the basis  of water measured by meter.

But if the rate charged includes "water loss", we are paying for  consumption we are not using  in our homes.  We are paying for water  used in the parks  from unmetered sources and by the fire department from hydrants.

Is that  the source of "water loss".

I  need town employees to assure  me  rates charged to users  for water and sewers are  a true reflection of   residential  consumption of water and  sewage treatment.

If they do not ,  I am forced to conclude the  cost is vastly inflated.

I think, if the municipality's  rates  for water  and sewage treatment came under the same scrutiny as the energy rate for hydro and natural gas, our town would be found to have committed and be committing, on a quarterly basis , morally  reprehensible acts  against consumers.

The people we have sworn an Oath to protect against such practices.

I voted against water rate increases.

Another one of  those solitary negatives. referenced  regularly  to prove my practice of disruption.  

Thursday 14 October 2010

Apropos of the post .....Still In Election Mode

Anonymous said...I am interested in your response to this....

The post outlined a request for Freedom of Information received at the Clerk's Office. A report on FOI request  has only been provided to Council  once  before for  the month of August.2010.

A Councillor has no role  in the process. The clerk informs the person about whom the inquiry is  made. The identity of the person making the request is confidential.. The Clerk has authority to determine if   privacy might be invaded  If so, the information is withheld.

When the material requested that can be released  is compiled, copies  are provided to the person about whom the request has been made.

As yet I have received no copies.

The first request for correspondence dated August 4th  was determined to be fully exempt. It is being appealed.

Appeal is made to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.

E-mails have been a  terrible problem for the Mayor and others this term

Before I started the blog, I happily chatted  on-line with Council colleagues, sharing information, I thought  might be useful.  It almost seemed the Mayor and Councillor MacEachern objections were to the information.

Negative declarations  were made about  " appropriateness" of  communication by e-mail. A "directive"was given  to  stop the practice. Then things turned  hostile and I was informed by  some  their mail boxes were closed to communications from myself.

Councillor Marsh  circulated  an e-mail  on municipal finance, an  area of expertise, and Councillor MacEachern responded that  Councillor Marsh's e-mails were being saved  and would  be published some day.

Town policy directs  a Director who receives a  question from a Councillor on line,  to  circulate the response to all Councillors.

Councillor Wilson never failed to comment that my questions  represented  a complete waste of staff time.

If I asked  a question  during  a Council meeting, he found that  to be a waste of Council's time. He would  advise Councillors should ask their  questions  beforehand.

Councillor Wilson was quite free with his advice about how he thought I should conduct myself.

Until the virtual  turnover  in  management team, I always had quick access to information.I could pick up the phone and get  an answer lickety-split.

Then  staff  were directed that all questions from Councillors were  to be referred to Department Heads  for response.

It wasn't long before some Department Heads  were not willing to provide  answers to my questions. Apparently they were afraid of how I would provide the information to the public.

The Town Hall was in lock down. A Berlin Wall had been raised

I no longer ask questions

Wednesday 13 October 2010

A Question of History

Anonymous said:

Thank you Ev.for bringing The Cultural Center to the issues. I would like there to be a call for an external party to investigate the grant requests etc. and removal of Heritage from that building. Something just does not smell right and it is not the musty old building it was.

The Culture Centre Board came to the last Council Meeting of Council on September 28th to make a progress report on their work since the Centre opened. They are a volunteer board appointed by Council and no doubt given terms of reference What we understood was going to happen from the Consultant who reported to us on what this arms-length board was going to accomplish and what eventually evolved bears little resemblance to each other. That's not at all likely to be the Board's fault.

In between ,we had an Ad Hoc Arts and Culture Committee to set things up. The resource person to the committee was the Curator expected to be in charge of the museum.I had understood the Committee was to create the Board and administrative structure. The Curator left but not before successfully applying and obtaining a $700.000. grant from Heritage Canada on behalf of a Heritage Building and Museum.So the museum project was definitely on course at that time.

The curator's place was taken by a friend and campaign organiser of the Mayor. After the Board's appointment, the name changed to Culture Centre. Maybe the curator's departure was the first sign of the course changing. The name change was the second. In time, at the opening, we noted no museum. A grande piano was conspicuous in the emptiness. At first the town appeared to be the only user for planning meetings and "charettes" and an employee Christmas Party.

I inquired if we were paying fees to the arm's length board of management. Didn't get a clear answer. Came the opening, the Chief Administrator was Master of Ceremonies.The mayor read the first speech written for her by the new manager of corporate communications. No mention of the museum. I started to wonder about the revenue to wean the facility from town financial support of half a million dollars including building maintenance.

The Consultant had put the objective at $100,000. less each year.I didn't believe that but when you are one among nine saying nay, it gets to be monotonous. I wasn't reading about revenue or admission charges to various events. A financial statement was to be submitted every quarter prior to funds being provided by the town. Council never saw a statement..

In July we heard about the pre-jazz festival black tie affair with an admission charge of $35. I called to inquire about the user fee . I learned it was considered a cultural event and the board's mission is to support and encourage cultural events. I learned a financial statement had been submitted in April. The board was working on their next statement and hoped to be able to make a presentation in September. I queried in Council when the museum would be back in its rightful place.

The Mayor looked toward the Treasurer and said the Board would be making a presentation soon.The Treasurer affirmed Still we waited. I called the new curator and learned she had not been able to obtain an understanding of a future for the museum. There was space in the basement for storage of the collection. Space to work at cataloguing the collection. And provision to mount a historical display several times a year. There would be no museum because museums don't make money.

I since learned the York Region Arts and Culture Association is renting space previously occupied by the museum. The building is designed as a museum. The Historical Society raised three-quarters of a million dollars from the community for the purpose. The Historical Society paid for the designs commissioned to create a state of the art museum in the Church Street School. $700ks grant was obtained for a museum. Funds provided from the town to complete the renovations at $2.3 million dollars were for the purpose of providing a museum home for the Town's Historical Collection gathered laboriously and lovingly with purchases and donations over the years, to be treated with suitable respect, for future generations of Auroran's to enjoy and learn from.

Despite all that, there is no museum. Instead ,there's a Culture Centre. Who decided that?

We were not asked if we favoured the transfer of resources from a museum to a culture centre. We were not asked if we were prepared to spend half a million dollars a year with an annual increase of 3% for the purchase of what a particular group might think of as culture. No-one asked for a purchase of culture agreement by the town on our behalf. On September 28th when the presentation from the board appeared on the agenda, the financial statement did not. It had been received by the Treasurer on August 14th. I noted it here .I said if it wasn't provided at the meeting, I would present it here.

It was a last minute add-on to the agenda. September 28th was the last meeting prior to the election. The agenda was crammed. Nevertheless time was found for the St Kitts woman to be front and centre, applauding herself vociferously for her accomplishments once again. There was neither the time nor occasion for a polite business discussion with the Culture Board about their program or expenses.

It's a pity. They are a well-intentioned group. intent on doing what they are charged with doing. Although not with community knowledge or agreement. to be the responsibility for our cultural enlightenment. Especially since we heard no such talk in the last election. And particularly since we are still expecting our museum to take its rightful place

Tuesday 12 October 2010

An Aspect of The Story

Is yours to know but  first right is not mine to tell. As soon as I have permission I will .I'm not trying  to be coy. It would probably have been more discreet  to say nothing It would be better still if there was no story to tell.

I have only seen The Auroran on Line. It's  bursting with strongly- worded letters to the editor. With two weeks to go to the election, that's phenomenal.

There will still be naysayers who  sit back and declare it doesn't matter what we do at the municipal level.

I think this time, they are going to have a harder time to stay disengaged.

I think it will not just be about a new council taking hold of the reins. I think it will be  the entire community taking back their town.

Do I think it will make a difference ? I sure do.

Do I think we can reduce taxes ? Look at  the spending you know that produced nothing of any benefit. It  represents hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted.

Do you think you will  be better informed by watching Council meetings? Imagine if the Town's business takes precedence,  debate is orderly, to the point and decisions are made and Council meetings end within the allotted time.  Think of man hours saved.

Can  we have Rogers Cameras installed in the Council Chamber?  We  should take them up on their offer.It won't cost us one thin dime.

Can  Council meetings and committee meetings be streamed on utube. We could have been doing it for the last four years.It's insane not to.

Can we cut down  on heating ,cooling  and the carbon  footprint of the town hall? We sure can. Just by closing those damned doors and keeping the heat in in the winter and out in the summer and stopping the HVAC plant from working overtime to accomplish the impossible.

Can we cut down on consultants?  By using  technology to keep people informed and obtain  input from them directly, we can do better than consultants.

Can we cut down on paper? Oh My Lord yes. In a hundred different ways we can save paper and  the power to print it,collate it, shred it and consign it to waste. A truck comes to the town hall to shred paper.It's a contract.

Did I say  revolution...I mean  renaissance...  a  way of looking hard at everything and  really seeing  what we are looking at.

Waste of resources. Waste of energy. Waste of time. Waste of opportunity.Waste of ideas. Waste of good will. . Waste of old-fashioned common sense and thrift that comes from necessity.Waste of lessons hard learned. Waste of our children's future. Waste of ingenuity.

Waste of the best that' s in us.

Wha's like us.  De'il the yin   We can chart the course.

I Get Taken In

Every now and again, I get a comment that sounds like a genuine inquiry. I respond in that vein. Then slam- bam, the vitriol  spews out.

I know other candidates have blogs  and good luck to them. I don't understand why people interested in communicating, which is the lifeblood of politics, would not want to take advantage of  new technology.

At the same time, I'm too busy with my own  to dispute what they have to say.

In the past, a candidate considered time well spent in getting out their own message.

People tended  to be averse to hearing another candidate maligned.They want to hear what you have to say  and why you think you might be able to make a difference in their lives.

This election is different. For three and a half years I have been keeping readers  informed of my perspective on what has been happening at the Council table.

My  impression is,I have an interested and growing audience. Whatever happens in the upcoming election, I feel good about that. I've used  my skills  to good advantage. I don't think politics are ever going to be the same again.

I think we are at the start of a revolution.

When this election is over, we can get  get down to discussing real issues with  the same powerful vigour. Consultants may be a thing of the  past.

 If I am elected,I look forward to a new beginning.

I think ordinary people have never really gotten used to the idea  they could make a difference and that's why we have a low turn out in voting.

I think the social media is  changing  that. The slick operators and  scam artists  have had their day.

A familiar childhood rhyme just popped into my head.   Hard on its heels the thought,rhymes used to-day for children , in Scotland at least, were not intended for children at all.

They were actually a sly and subtle means minstrels purveyed  news as they traveled around the country in a  feudal society.

Ring around a Rosey
Pocket full of posies
All fall down;

It was a story about the plague, posies to overwhelm terrible odours, silence and  people falling down dead.

The one that just popped into my head unbidden tells an  equally horrid story.

Tell-tale tit
Your tongue will be slit
Every little puppy dog
Will have a little bit.

It could be about a medieval punishment for spreading  the news.

The power barons had a vested interest in keeping serfs uninformed.

Slavery didn't start in Africa

We've come a long way, baby

When is Confidential Information Not.

I  had the conversation before. Not because I needed it explained. Just to see if there is anything I haven't heard before.

The Municipal Act is  clear about what a Council can discuss behind closed doors. One is the privacy of an identifiable individual.  Another is the obligation to protect the interests of the municipality. The third is union contract  negotiations.

Privacy and union  negotiations need no clarification. .

Protection of the municipality's interest is not hard to comprehend either.

Real estate  negotiations either in buying or selling are a given.

When a deal is done, information is made  public. Regulations require decisions to be reported out.

But they don't give a time limit.

I guess they don't expect another legislative body  to be looking for ways to dodge  regulations.
Litigation in process is also  confidential. There can be liability  for  considerable amounts if a court battle is lost.

A Councillor  who  provides  information to assist an   opposing party in  litigation  against the town  is in   Breach of Trust and  can be prosecuted.

When litigation is over, information  is a matter of public record. 

When  there are no time limits on  an action that can be taken against a municipality,  some things can never be spoken about. .

All that said and besides,  a Councillor has the right to  exercise  judgement about which matters are required to be  confidential within the meaning of the Municipal Act.  

For example, when a majority of Council decided to go behind closed doors to  devise a strategy to silence criticism of majority decisions.

Or  plot  to destroy the reputation of a colleague  or anybody else for that matter.

I don't think that's right.

If politicians can't fight their battles in public without lawyers to support them, what good are they? 

During the August meeting of Council, David Tsubouchi,  in response to the contention that his report should have been received in camera because it related to the privacy of an individual had this to say;

Elected representatives put themselves forward into the public arena. They do not have the same right to privacy.

In other words, , Mr. Tsubouchi ,the Solicitor Integrity Commissioner appointed by The Six, contends   elected representatives forfeit their right to privacy. 

In September, an anonymous  critical comment  about  the Mayor which had  appeared  in the Aurora Citizen Blog was copied and later circulated  at the Council table by the Mayor. It was a last minute add-on to the  agenda of an  in- camera meeting.

Despite the matter  was not  town business. Nor entitled to be discussed as such    in or out of  an in camera meeting. Nor was it a matter of individual privacy.  Nevertheless, it was discussed.

Staff were directed  to retain external legal counsel to pursue the matter.

Our hands went  into  taxpayers pockets  for legal bills once again.

Even as we exercise our right to choose our next Council the  current ones continue to wreak havoc.

Still In Election Mode

Two  weeks from today. it will be over.

Councillors received a memorandum from Clerk John Leach on Friday. It was a summary of Freedom of Information requests from May to September 2010.

The first was  received on July 12 and released on August4th.

The description of the request reads;

All correspondence from senior management personnel to Councillor Buck relating to criticism of Town staff and of attempts to curtail or remove blog postings of Councillor Buck and all of Councillor Buck's responses to the said correspondence from Town Staff.

Noted In the disclosure column is  are the letters. FE. It means fully exempt.

It is being appealed.

The last requests is dated September 11th 

It reads:

Copy of all correspondence to Evelyn Buck prepared or signed by Neil Garbe,Christopher Cooper,Dan Elliott, Ilmar Simanovski,AlDowney,Marco Ramuno,Techa Van Leuwen,and or Jason Ballantyne re;
Ms Buck's blog postings or her letter(s)to the paper and copies of any responses provided by Ms Buck to the above.Also copy of all correspondence by same staff to Ms Buck wherein concern(s)raised relating to Ms Buck  use of confidential information for the period 2009 to current date.

This one is ongoing.

The identity of   a  person making a  request for  information is secret.

It's intriguing to contemplate. If there was such information,why would anyone want it. Even more interesting  is why would they think it exists.

  Blog posts are out there for all to see. Letters to the editor are as well. It's the nature of the beast.

If there is any personal information about an  employee, the  right to privacy would trump an application for freedom of information.

I have cited an empoyee's name in reference to his job function, removed it when requested and stated my regrets for any distress caused.

I do not use a computer in the town hall nor do I use the Town's e-mail address. My e-mails have a confidentiality clause attached. So that also raises an interesting  wrinkle.

I am informed I am entitled to receive copies of all material  provided under the FOI.

I await with bated breath.

I don't think so.

I thought the information about the process was interesting enough to pass  on. It illustrates, among other things, why there's a charge for the service.

A Comment on "It Happens Sometimes.

because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Comment on "It Happens Sometimes"

Anonymous said

Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Just a wee bit curious about why the following point of view was deemed unacceptable to a woman who believes in freedom of speech and such.
Why exclusion, why no dialogue?

"Call me ignorant but I like the idea of open, transparent teamwork... for the corporation.

They seemingly "did it" in public.
That ain't too shabby, don't cha no... say I, on reflection."


Often  there's a list of e-mails. By the time I've read  them ,responded to some , deleted others , and  published comments, sometimes a comment gets missed. I usually catch up but the more there are ,the less efficient I am.  It's not personal.

We have a different understanding of the function of the Mayor and the  Chief Administrative Officer .

The Mayor is the  Town's representative at the Regional Council. Any candidate who seeks the office presents themselves to the voters as being competent. It means reading , comprehending reports, taking a position and voting accordingly.

We have nine municipalities in the Region each with a Mayor. Imagine if  all  Mayors were accompanied by   CAOs  and  regional meetings were comprised of nodding heads, knowing glances and other body language signals exchanged  between  elected members at the table and local bureaucrats in the visitors section.

It would be a scene so ridiculous, even the Monty Python crew never visualised it. 

A Mayor is expected  to know the job. They make that claim when they put their names on the ballot.

Remuneration  for a regional representative is in excess of $60Ks. On top of what the Town pays.

We either elected   a person of sufficient competence to do that job  or we need to get  someone else who is comptetent. We do not need two people on the public payroll to fulfill a single function. It's embarrassing.

The Chief Administrative Officer's function is to be in charge of the day to day operation of the municipal corporation.

Remuneration  for the job is many times more than a Regional Councillor. He is not paid to  wet nurse  the head of the municipality.

His job is in the Town Hall being Head Honcho of a massive bureaucracy.

Either we need him doing that  or we don't.  If we don't, we can save ourselves a pile of dough,don't cha no.

Have a great day!

Sunday 10 October 2010

The Feast is Under Preparation

I was having my breakfast toast....a bit late, I admit... the blog always calls to me first...  I was thinking back to the beginning of this Council's term.

Immediately, a lawyer was retained, then a second, in a two year ongoing attempt to destroy the former Mayor's reputation. Council were never informed what it cost. But we knew  it accomplished in the town's interest ... nothing, nil, nada, zilch and zero. The final advice received that any action for damages would have to be by a civil suit meaning the  complainant has to foot the bill.The campaign ended there.

Aurora Cable and town staff were harassed for months by Councillor MacEachern and friend Walter Mestrinaro. Aurora Cable is no longer an Aurora business. Dozens of jobs vanished with them.

Then it was Canadian Tire's turn. Hours of legal expertise spent to research a tri-party agreement between private parties and determine the town had no role to play. We did play a role anyway.
We hooked up private parking lot lights to the town street lighting system. 

George Rust D'Eye was retained in an "emergency" to "investigate" how a three month old decision. which should have been reported out when made, came to be "leaked" to the press.He did not do that but a Code of Conduct was written  with a clause for the express purpose of silencing critical discussion  of  majority decisions.

"I will destroy you" threats were overheard screeched at a Councillor in a public place.

The Councillor subsequently resigned from an office she held in high esteem.

In writing, there was an attempt to destroy another Councillor's professional career.

Cruel and inhumane treatment of staff during public and private meetings.

Yet another lawyer hired to "investigate " a Councillor for the second time with  instructions to create a complaint under said illegal clause in the Code of Conduct.

An Integrity Commissioner hired and fired and scurrilous comments made about his reputation resulting in   "Cease and Desist" Order  issued against the Mayor.

A second Integrity Commissioner hired who apparently better suited the intent of enforcing a  Code of Conduct designed to apply only to  one Councillor.

The list goes on. It hasn't ended.The worst is yet to come.

When I eventually click to publish a post, my language is considerably toned down from when I started. Hyperbole is always a good beginning but never a tidy finish. The difference between my initial language and Chris Watts' is generational.

I tone it down even further out of respect for the office I hold and the people I represent.

I am mindful of the discipline of language.

This morning, it is in that serious vein,I offer the perspective, in my judgement, for the past four years, we have been living  under  a regime made possible only by the abuse of public resources.

Thanksgiving Sunday

I wish a Happy and Peaceful Thanksgiving to all of my readers.

Especially to the families of Elizabeth Bishenden, Bill Hogg and Richard Johnstone,
alleged moderators of the Aurora Citizen Blog which provides residents of Aurora an opportunity to express their views, providing they are not unproven facts.

I wish to assure them of the support of all the people I speak for in Aurora. They have provided opportunity to the community which is deeply appreciated.

Technology has brought amazing change in the way we communicate with each other In Aurora, we may have come late to the realization of what is possible. But we have latched on to it with a fury and we are never likely to let it go.

There are for sure people who are inconvenienced by it.

Having been in politics as long as I have, few can know as well , the implications of the new technology on politics and how she will be practiced.

It is certainly inconvenient for those inclined to be, shall we say, less than straightforward; People likely to be tripped up by their own duplicity,
incompetence, hypocrisy, double-dealing and cruelty.

The old saying; "the truth will out" has never been so relevant.

We live in a country that guarantees our Rights and Freedoms in a Charter. Other countries enjoy the same privileges. Few have enshrined them into law.

These rights do not protect abuse of elected authority,abuse of public resources and riding rough shod over the rights and freedoms of others.

These rights are intended to put an end to such a scourge.

On that note, I must go and prepare the Feast that celebrates all that we enjoy in this Blessed Land.

Something has gone wrong

I don't know how to fix it. I've gone over the previous post repeatedly and separated where required. When I click on publish it all jumps together again in a single stream.
I hate to think it might be sabotage. But at this point in the campaign to silence people,nothing would surprise me

Herein Lies The Problem

Anonymous said:

Seems to me the mayor is using her resources well. Looks good to me. What's the

The problem is the reader's understanding of the difference between responsibilities of the function of a Chief Administrative Officer and an Administrative Assistant. Though not sure precisely and it would be entirely inappropriate for me to state specifically the difference in salary may be at least double. A person elected and paid for an office is expected to be competent without support from a functionary.

Voters do not elect two people to the office of Mayor. The Mayor does have an Executive Assistant on the public payroll. Said assistant does not not travel with the Mayor to schlep her goods and belongings. An Executive Assistant stays put and represents the Mayor in her/his absence.

An Executive Assistant is more than an administrative assistant who is more than a secretary. The previous Mayor shared an administrative assistant with the rest of Council. Cookie Ellis , the Mayor and Council's administrative assistant was more than obliging and of great assistance to the administration and generally loved by all, left within a few short weeks of this Mayor taking office.

The Role of the Chief Administrative Officer is not the same. The CAO is not a personal resource to the Mayor. Although he was previously employed by the Region in the Chief Administrative Officer's department, his position in Aurora is the top job. The C.A.O. is Head of the Town's Administrative body; Head Honcho of the bureaucracy. It is a considerably senior in responsibility to that of Executive Assistant to the Mayor and paid accordingly. In fact, the CAO has an Executive Assistant and a host of other personnel within his immediate authority, including manager of corporate communications.

The CAO's office is the hub from which the spokes of the bureaucratic wheel emanate. The Town has not always had a Chief Administrative Officer. Other Ontario Municipalities don't either.

The story of how we came to have one, might bear telling on some future occasion but it is not reflective of this Council. Erstwhile,the Chief Office serving Aurora and most other small municipalities is Clerk of the Municipality, now known in Aurora as Director of Corporate Services.

Though still an important statutary office, in Aurora.it has been relegated to a more menial position.

When the CAO is absent his office, there are at least three functionaries senior to the Clerk in Aurora. When I referred to various activities of the Chief Administrative Officer with the Mayor,overlooked was attendance at various Charity Golf Tournaments referred to by another Aurora citizen. No doubt my references in blogosphere will be received in high dudgeon, similar to high dudgeon expressed in the form of a complaint of harassment by the manager of corporate communications resulting from an apparent broadcast of the nature of his function referred to in this blog.

Uncomfortable it may be, and I respectfully suggest needless , considering professional requirements for discretion in public officials; when circumstances becomes subject of comment within the community, people do like to believe they have been heard and attention drawn to their concern.

I recognise information provided above falls short of an explanation. Frankly, I am flummoxed.

A credible explanation eludes me.

Saturday 9 October 2010

An Amazing Story

I heard something  yesterday that completely astounded me. Actually, I heard two stories but one of them isn't mine to tell...yet.

The first one came from two Aurora citizens. It's second hand but from a reliable source. If it's not my job to keep you posted, I don't know what is.

A couple went to a regional Council meeting.  They observed interaction between  the Mayor, sole Regional representative from the Town of Aurora and an individual in the spectator  area.

The Mayor was clearly seeking direction and receiving it during Council debate. The person providing it  stayed  throughout the entire meeting. He left with the Mayor, carrying the  agendas and files.

The Aurora citizens concluded the person was the Mayor's administrative assistant.

Subsequently, they  attended an Aurora Council meeting. 
They were astonished  to observe , the person in attendance at  the  entire regional meeting, clearly providing  support to the town's Mayor and sole Regional representative was  the Town's Chief Administrative Officer.

We have already heard of the Mayor,  accompanied by the  Chief Administrative Officer, being on the street near the Wellington /Yonge  Intersection, soliciting support and attendance  from passers- by for  meetings of  the much ballyhooed Promenade Study.

We were  already of the opinion , Regional Reports submitted to Council  as from The Mayor, have in fact been written by the Chief Administrative Officer and  not  the Mayor, the Town's sole representative at the  Regional Council.

It is  not much of a stretch to accept the citizen's account of what they saw.

It is no less amazing for all that.

Comment to Chris's Blog

I  tried but had no success. His last post refers to the right to dry campaign launched by our current Mayor. You have to read the Chris Watt's post to place the comment

Confusion  about the right to dry laundry  was created  by a member of  the environmental  committee. He  lived in a town house with a covenant prohibiting  laundry lines stretching across the property. It did not prohibit other means of drying laundry outside. 

It applied to end lots ,where such a line  was like hanging  laundry in the front yard simply because the back yard  is exposed to  the street scape.

I  never saw the covenant. It was explained  by Director of Planning,Susan Seibert.

So who listens to the Director of Planning? Well certainly not the Councillor who set up the hullabaloo. The same Councillor who never saw an opportunity to self-promote too good to pass.

Not the media either who  picked up the story and kept it alive They had a different slant . They thought it was a joke. The rest of us were just embarrassed by the foolishness.

Chris mentions a couple of  examples of  hypocrisy.

It's worse than that. The entire administration, Council and staff were complicit.

An environmental committee was created.  It was to be seven members. . Eleven people applied. It was resolved  all of them be appointed.  It's always easier to go along than to say no.

I said no.

Eleven on the committee meant eleven agendas circulated. Eleven people participating. Agendas not completed on occasion. Multiple meetings. Pretty soon the  committee had sub-committees. More space needed at the town hall for meetings. More staff resources. Other groups displaced. More committee reports; paper, energy and eventually increased waste.

It's how Topsy grows. When I say each of us  needs to be  a steward, I am talking about saying no.

One of the first projects the committee  undertook was  a leaflet  to promote  the Mayor's anti-litter day.

A committee member was a graphic artist and  undertook to design the  leaflet  and have it printed.

There was no authority to spend money. The citizen member wouldn't know that. The Councillors did. They didn't say no.

Director of Public Works, staff  resource to the committee, didn't say no. 

When authority for the spending  was questioned,the Director said he had  money  in his budget to cover it.

It wasn't much money  But it was public money. It can't be spent that way.The committee had no budget.

The next year, the committee had   a budget. A new staff resource person was hired. An environmental engineer. To identify environmental initiatives and attend meetings of the committee along with a committee secretary

So, we had the utter senselessness of spending money, paper and energy to create  litter of several thousand leaflets to promote anti-litter day.

When the scheme  for the green bin program came forward to Council , I moved it be referred to the environmental committee for in depth analysis and report.The committee never reported back.

Clearly they didn't see it as an issue of concern.

Aspects of the plan did not ring true. I have not been assured since  its inception.

I believe  stuff is  going on, we are not hearing.Stuff politically unwise to talk about.All we know about is successful collection.

With  a hoped -for-regime- change, the program, in Aurora at least, can be more closely examined by the people responsible to those who foot the bills.

Friday 8 October 2010

The Wee Small Hours

When I first  left  Scotland, the least expensive  travel from London to Scotland was  by overnight bus. It left Victoria  bus station at  eight in the evening and arrived in Glasgow about  ten in the morning.

In the wee small hours the bus would roll  through narrow streets of sleeping villages, mountains and  vast expanse of fields.

Here and there, a light would shine  in an upstairs window,feet from the  bus window. I always wondered what  was happening  that had a family awake when  the world  around was in deep sleep.

In those days babies were more often  born at home, usually in the night. Equally often, it seemed  life would come to an end in the night and a final  breath drawn.

My kids and I spent a summer camped out at Preston Lake. We came home if there was a storm,  to do laundry and at the week-end when the beach and amenities were  packed with day trippers.

I spent long days stretched on a chair,  watching the kids  in the water.During the week, we  had the place to ourselves.There was lots of  action they could be at,other than the beach. Sometimes, I could close my eyes and  just listen.

At the beginning of the summer, it seemed  the air was throbbing and humming.I could  even see it shimmer above the sand.  In the last week of  summer, all  was silent and still. .

Without offering any kind of learned  scientific jargon, it seems to me, life and the earth has a combined rhythm. A time for living and a time for dying. A time when breathing slows and sometimes stops.

There's always a point in an election ,when something brings me to an abrupt halt. Long enough to  wonder:  why am I doing this?

It was yesterday.

I made a phone call, stated my name and launched into the reason for my call. The elderly voice at the other end  gave me pause.  I  realised I had the wrong number and apologized.He  had to be an Aurora resident. I didn't cut the conversation off. I've  found people mostly  cordial and willing to exchange civilities and elderly folk pleased to chat.

He was  more than willing. He said I  contributed nothing to this Council or the one before it. He had nothing good to say about the current Mayor either  but he charged me with creating the same problem for the previous Mayor.

He told me he is a lot older than I am (83 today) and  spent 42 years in business and knew his stuff. He told me he had  had a visit  from and made a contribution to a mayoralty candidate and had his sign on his lawn...twice.

He couldn't prove it wasn't kids who stole the sign but he was sure it wasn't.

I suggested he should speak to  the former Mayor and get the real deal. We did exchange a few civilities  but he concluded by noting, I shouldn't feel sorry for him, he has lots of interests and activities and  considering it was a wrong number I'd spent a lot of time talking to him.

My daughter dropped off a campaign leaflet  in his mail box this morning wishing him a Happy Birthday. 

Of course I know he's not alone. He is intelligent,of strong opinion and was reacting to what he had heard.  

I put the phone down and thought. WTH. I gotta tell you. He  pretty well spoiled  my day.

It's that kind of shared, common experience that  brings political candidates together in what is frequently referred to as "The Old Boys Club" (before old girls got involved)

I remember  the late Stew Burnett , the Reeve of the Township of Whitchurch,who sat beside me in the County Council, telling me that's why we shouldn't  attack each other's reputation. 

The call I'd been trying to make was to St. Maximillian Kolbe High School. I attended the Awards Ceremony the night before but  didn't get my hands on a program. I didn't join the procession for dignitaries. These events tend to be lengthy.There's a limit to how long I can sit on a small hard seat.

I didn't want to be obvious  leaving in the middle of the program. I sat elsewhere and  left at 8.30pm.

I planned to write a post on the exemplary performance of a large  percentage of  the student body which of course is a credit to the teachers  and the Spirit of the school. I needed a program to get it right.

I still haven't got the program.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Aeons Ago

(Moved from it's previous location on the Personal Blog).

When I was first elected ,Standing Committees of Council were the norm. Three composed a committee.The joint Fire Committee of Newmarket and Aurora is the only standing committee left.
It works fine.

Forty years ago, the Mayor and Clerk jointly prepared a report on Committee appointments. Membership had to reconcile with meeting schedules.Everyone carried an equal share of the work load.

We had a Town Planning Board. Recreation Commission and an Arena Management Board. Council had representation on the boards but they were essentially citizen boards.Committees were entirely elected.

New Councillors got Bylaws and Fire Committee. Every Councillor was chairman of a committee . vice chair of another, member of another or appointed to a board or commission.

Committee meetings were private. Councillors and staff sat as equals at the table and discussion was frank and free.When the report was presented to Council, the Committee chair was expected to be sufficiently well versed to support the recommendation.

Bylaws were never given three readings at the same sitting. First and second reading would be given. Third would come at a future meeting.

It gave the public a chance to know what we were about. A chance to bring concerns to the attention of a Councillor or six and the Mayor. A chance for sober, second thought and to make changes if need be.

The system served us well. It allowed recommendations to be vigorously challenged in public  without reflecting on the competence of a Supervisor or Manager. Debate in Council was between elected representatives. Staff weren't even there except on exceptional occasions. Of course, we didn't have the phalanx of professionals on the payroll anyway.

Councillors could participate in any committee.They didn't often. Small numbers meant no stuffy protocol . If you thought somebody's comment was asinine,you could say it without causing offence because it wasn't public and you were just as likely to get the same back.

The press weren't there to hear it. No risk of a raunchy headline.  It was natural give and take. Nobody was trying to shaft anybody for the sake of publicity and we got the job done.

I didn't see  responsibility of the press the same as Council then and I don't see it that way now.

Decisions were made by the elected, who accounted to the people who elected them, who chose them to make the decisions. It never entered anybody's head to challenge another person's integrity let alone set up a Code of Conduct, with a third party to judge and with penalties yet.

What scandal have we had in Aurora to justify that self-righteous crap.

Nowadays, we have almost a hundred people appointed to advisory committees; some of them chair committees, like the Economic Development Advisory Committee.

This term, Councillor Wilson was the original chair of that Committee. Councillor MacEachern obtained tapes of the meetings. When a report came before Council, MacEachern would speak to it on the basis of what she heard on the tape. Wilson quietly quit. It provided  the opportunity to name a friend as chair who is now a candidate for Council.

The Mayor recently directed staff to prepare a report on "the accomplishments of advisory committees". When presented , the Mayor noted it was a lot of reading and asked for staff to condense it. When that task was completed by staff, the Mayor's name showed as head of every committee as ex-officio.Decisions were noted as Advisory Committee accomplishments.

For example, the Environmental Committee was "cited " as having "hired" an enviromental engineer.

The Arboretum a volunteer group, without a single elected representative among them were given $100Ks to spend as they saw fit.

Management Board of the Culture Centre, has half a million dollar budget to buy culture for the great unwashed, with a guaranteed annual increase of 3%. without a single Councillor among them to represent  the public's interest.

That budget is new spending.

It is .25% more than the three year union contract we just ratified after eight months   with labour lawyer representation of negotiation.

Only a Council with no sense whatsoever of the authority they received from the voters would, for one minute have accepted what Mayor Morris and Councillor Mac Eachern and their friends contrived to put over on them during this term.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Check My Personal Blog

I received a comment this  morning referring  to a position  held about committee meetings when I was Mayor thirty-five years ago.

It appeared in a column published by the late Dick Illingworth in 2005 and was sent  under cover of Anonymous. I didn't print the comment but I did  print a response. It gave me the  opportunity to recollect how things were thirty five years ago and how they are today.

It's in my personal Blog and I don't know how to switch it. 

Dick Illingworth and I were Councillors together. We did not share the same political philosophy. He was loyal true Blue and Orange Conservative and proud of it. He learned it from his mother when he grew up  in the Danforth neighborhood in Toronto  during the depression.

He left school at fourteen and went to work in a woollen mill for a weekly pittance. It was the only family income  because Dad,like thousands of other Ontario heads of families was out of work.

His political beliefs were honed by hardship. They were strong.

My  experience at that age was twelve years after, throughout a war and in an older.different society.  . My political background was Labour. My political inclination was just as sharp and  strongly honed.

The rivalry  between us was real. I had different ideas about what a municipal Council could and should achieve.His were about what they shouldn't.

The  differences were clean and clear.  They created a healthy tension.

If the clock could be turned back and  debate  continued, I would not expect his views to change one whit. Nor would mine. He might mutter darkly about my "socialist"  backgound being the reason for my wrong thinking.  He would be correct about the background. As I would be if I said his  Conservative bias was the reason for his. 

But we would raise a glass to-gether  regularly, toast our differences  and come back  again together, to enjoin and enjoy the battle on another day hence.
Knowing him as well as I did,  I believe today we would be in complete  agreement.   He would share my  concern about the loss of principles and traditions  of basic decency which have governed Aurora's politics throughout her  history.

Councillor MacEachern   has circulated  Dick's comment to the candidates in the election. She is looking forward to my response

Her e-mail shows the comment came from aurora.facts @ gmail.com