"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

Monday 28 February 2011

Who Me?

Spider meet Web has left a new comment on your post "Enough Already":

I can't help but imagine you rubbing your hands with glee.


When a person lives a long life,  there have  likely been  close encounters with several generations of one's  own  family at the very least.

I attended the funeral of Lew Gloin last week. Listened to his son talk in celebration of his father's life. Instead of thinking about their  sorrow, I thought how  fortunate  his children were  to have had such a father for such a long time and how his  memory will sustain them for the rest of their lives.

I came home in a reflective mood. Ah well, I thought most of us probably have done  the best we can given the circumstances. None of us can afford to be critical of another because we have no  idea of their given circumstances.

I tend to be more interested than critical of how  people handle life.

Except when they reach out and clobber me when I am just doing the best I can with the tools I have been given.

I have not been blessed with saintly qualities.I have no inclination towards  martyrdom. My grandmother intoned  once when I was quite young, a line from a Yeat's poem.

                               The Great Gaels of Ireland, whom the Gods made mad
                               For all their wars are merry and all their songs are sad.

I have to tell you, if someone presents themselves, with sword blade flashing, ready to remove my capita,I will  drop the whip  and shoot him between the eyes with my pistol every time.

Yes...... I admit it .......I stole that scene from  Harrison Ford's Movie,  Raiders of the Lost Ark.

In turn ,the  movie directors may have stolen it from a small fiction  written by Winston Churchill when he  was  a very young soldier in the British Army, north of the Khyber Pass...By Jupiter.

I have never been introduced to Mr. Leonard. Did not know him by name.  Never had a conversation with him at any time. Had no reason to cross words with the man

He took that upon himself. Pretty much like Councillor Ballard is doing.


Budget..,Fussbudget ..No.2

Note  time of posting. I am starting at 2.51 a.m.I have already had a few hours of sleep. Arthritis in my shoulders and knees  causes less discomfort sitting than lying down and I have  another tale to tell about the budget. Actually several  but  I don't know how long this one will take before I feel sleep is more likely.

Three half ton trucks at $30K each are  recommended.Someone, it may have been me, asked about the need for three..The answer came back.

One truck might last another one year or two. A second one might last another  year. So ,to me that means  we could cut  two half ton trucks  out of the budget.  $60K is  a sum worth cutting,  Right?
Yes right.

Councillor Pirri moved the two be cut and staff be required to come back to Council if the trucks
needed to be replaced.

That is not what I said before.

I have resolved not to write posts without notes or to go through the process without taking notes

I owe the whole council an apology and I do so wholeheartedly.

I think I may still be suffering after effects of the last council. Four years of sitting at a table with totally predictable votes may be proving hard to shake.  Making an error like that one should help considerably
but I don't feel good about it.
.A second item was $100 K for library carpet. The recommendation was for replacement  with carpet tile.

Some  areas of carpet are  more heavily used than others. By the square foot, carpet tile  is more expensive than broadloom.  It is  less so if one considers the flexibility of replacing  soiled or damaged areas only.The library has all those massive shelf units covering carpet. Carpet maintenance should never be as expensive again.

I noted not all the library floor  has been used to equal extent. Initially,the  library was overbuilt. Not all areas have  been subject to the same  wear and tear. Is it therefore necessary to  replace the entire carpet all at the same time?

Back came the answer. The ground floor could be done this year. Upstairs next year. The budget item could be cut in half.

That should make me feel useful...right?   Wrong.

Initial budgeting is done by managers responsible for their departments. Figures are supposed to run the gauntlet of scrutiny  by  Chief Administrative Officer and Treasurer.  Each item must be justified or it does not survive the analysis.

Why did it take a part-time political representative  to point out  cost to replace  library carpet was twice what it needed to be?

When the budget increase presented to a brand new council ,with sparse collective experience,by a
management team, represents a  horrendous  tax increase?

The answer to that question escapes me as well.

A long.long stretch of  dead end road ,servicing only eighteen homes , was recommended for a tar and chip surface treatment at a cost of $70K  as a line item in the budget. I queried it.

 I drove down there to count the number of homes serviced by the go-nowhere stretch of road.
There had been complaints of "tripping" the report said.

"Tripping" I thought ? is what you get  with broken and heaved up concrete sidewalk. There is no sidewalk there.   I would be  surprised if there was pedestrian traffic of any significance. There are many thousands of feet of wilderness fronting the road. Vacant frontage does not represent income to the municipality.

When land gets developed or "improved", developers pay to improve public rights-of-way.

A brand new million dollar mansion  is conspicuous on that stretch of road.

In the meantime,  lack of sidewalk on Glass Drive which sees  student pedestrian traffic,  probably in the hundreds, from two schools is prominent in my mind because its not planned until 2016.

At the Chamber lunch on Friday, Councillor Abel informed me the $70 K was being cut from the budget. The Region of York is planning to construct a water main along that stretch of road . So it\ has  to be dug up for that purpose. Isn't it lucky we found  out on time before we spent $70k on a tar and chip surface.

But wait a minute..... why is the Region  constructing a watermain on that stretch of road.The town does not provide urban services out there. Properties are serviced by wells and septic tanks.What else is going on that  Council doesn't know about? 

Councillor Pirri noted at lunch, he had walked down the road . Neither  he nor I  noticed a hazardous surface which would cause "tripping" or anything else about the road that  required a new surface.

I think I might sleep now.
But I haven't finished with  the budget.
So hang tight,
I will return.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Between Two Tuesdays

This morning, there is a reasoned and well considered communication to the Mayor and Council questioning  the town's  $5 k 'sponsorship" to the commercial Jazz  Festival to be held in the park.

On the first Tuesday when the  presentation was made seeking funds, there were more questions than answers from  the Mayor and Council. It looked to me  money would  not likely be handed over without the correct answers for the third year in a row.

On the second Tuesday, the tune had changed  and a decision was made  to hand  over $5K of taxpayers' hard  earned  money. In Councillor Gallo's words "I am an arts lover"  and Heigh Ho,away we go and  deep down into our pockets went the greedy grasping hands.

There had been no meeting between the Tuesdays. No intervening public discussion to suggest  a reason for the change.It was like  the night the Town Hall address was changed. And many another night that followed.

With  as few as five votes in hand, there was never a need to offer a sensible reason.. Doing it in public appeared to be sufficient. "Close your eyes and think of England"

I  hear it is a lengthy and expensive business, requiring legal assistance, to create a foundation .
I know it was the case when the Seniors created one when their new facility was built.But once  a foundation is in place, receipts can be given for charitable donations , records must be kept and taxes filed.

It's not hard for an organisation to become non-profitable. Simply hire enough bodies. pay  exorbitant salaries and provide generous expense allowances.  Presto...the deed is done.

We regularly read in the media of gigantic scams of millions of dollars with a single family living high on the hog; million dollar mansions homes, several of them, boats ,planes and Riviera vacations. All paid for with charitable donations from gullible  and generous Canadians  with barely a penny going astray from the pockets of the scam artist.

And we think; how do these people get away with that. The answer is almost always, they not only get away with it.... they are enabled.

So if you object to money being taken from your pocket for a questionable purpose, I suggest you follow the example of this morning's communicator. Let your Mayor and Council know how you
object. It can be civil .It can be emphatic.It can be effective.

Saturday 26 February 2011

Enough Already

Enough Already has left a new comment on your post "A Snippet Circulated To Council Members":

Councillor Buck, in my opinion the comment from Anonymous 8:21 is not clever, it is mean and nasty.

Given your feelings towards his wife, Mr. Leonard may well be foolhardy to enter your blog arena.
However, for you to allow the comment from Anonymous 8:21 to be posted seems to pander to a quotient of your followers whose hyperbolic comments do nothing to support your opinion, but instead dimish it.

While I doubt that is your intent, that is the result for me, and I sense I may not be the only one who feels that way.


I have previously expressed misgivings about  editing comments. I won't do it.  A comment  goes in whole or not at all.But Mr. Leonard did not enter the blog arena in a straighforward fashion.

He circulated  an e-mail to all members of council, myself included, for a purpose which had nothing to do with his wife.

In the past, Mr Leonard has ,on his own initiative, taken other  opportunities  to express his disapproval of myself. And That long before I had any idea  who he was or why he was attacking me.

It was no surprise however to discover he was associated with the St. Kitts woman.

It may come as a surprise to learn, I have no feelings whatsoever about any  member of the circle

 I merely  note who my enemies are  when they disclose their proclivities. It's only sensible .

My objective is to protect  the people I am sworn to defend  from whatever  and wherever  the attack
may come. From time to time, that may call for me to take up the cudgels which I do....merrily, I trow...
when I locate a target large  enough to score a bullseye.

I know Mr. Leonard's missive brought  the tone down. But he wrote it. He determined the level  Any response was bound to be round about there.

He circulated it. If he has insufficient  judgment  not to  expose the breadth of his intellect to all and sundry,  I feel no compulsion to  discourage anyone else from taking aim.

Budget.... Fussbudget ....No. 1

The tree next door is gone but there are two behind I never noticed before. So foliage will not be gone but  shade will be less. That's a bonus.

 I went to sleep in my chair last night and wakened up to go to bed. It  means I lie awake thinking for a while, usually about the current council issue.

Last night ,a T.V. commercial kept going around in my head.  The one about a child, upstaged by a second child who received a pony "because she asked for it"

The sequel  was a young boy focused on gathering chocolate eggs. The adult in the room,sitting on a child's chair. with a foot resting on his  knee and newspaper open,was stealing the eggs as they were collected and stuffing them into his pocket while  chomping on a couple of them  greedily..

I notice the new  sequal  has a couple of children with ice cream cones.

I think  the ad theme is  about investment.  No matter; the child being cheated doesn't throw himself on the floor kicking and screaming in rage. His eyes don't fill up with tears at the injustice of it all.

The expression on his face can best be described as .... wtf.... he is a very young child..

The adult in the piece, bears a striking resemblance to Councillor Chris Ballard. Not in features perhaps. but certainly conspicuous in  the absence of  grace or logic..

We are working on the  budget. At a fairly leisurely pace, I must say. Considering the exorbitant tax increase and apparent  anxiety to spend money budgeted but  not spent last year.

Yesterday at the Chamber of Commerce lunch. the Mayor was guest speaker.  His Worship appeared to be quite sanguine about the huge upcoming  increase. A new crew of firefighters and failure to budget sufficient funds in the past was  offered as the  reason  for  an inevitable  increase of enormous proportions.

Can't say  I've noticed  scrimping and saving in the past. Quite the opposite in fact.

Reserves  in the last two budgets were put away to soften the impact of the increase in JCC budget.Two thirds of the increase for that item is already in hand.

The budget for the Culture Centre  was new spending  last year almost equal to our 40%
share of  the cost of the new fire crew.

Then there was  the deluge of dollars spent on legal bills in the last four years and I suspect substantial amounts paid out in severance settlements

Huge amounts were received fro the two senior levels of government for stimulus spending. And gas tax
share from the Provincial government for roads. I recall there projects that came in under budget by  two million dollars because the  estimates were out that amount.

Twice  reserves were set aside for legal services. One for $100K and  last year for $250K. Both  budgets were overspent in the amount of the reserve.

The Mayor would not know this from his  experience. His  support and  enthusiasm for the co-operation he has received from  the town's  executive  is unbounded.. Most  town executives were at the lunch yesterday.  net-working  with business.

It's kind of interesting the way money goes back and forth between  the Chamber and the town.

At the last budget meeting, I questioned the purpose  of $8 K in the budget for the Chamber. The Mayor explained it  provides an award from the town for excellent business achievement. I knew that. What I didn't know  was how the money is actually used. I had asked before and didn't  get a clear answer. Still haven't.

My question was, does the company with excellent business achievement get  $8K.

No, they don't.

They get their name on a program  for Best Business Achievement and probably a plaque.

It 's none of my business if a company is recognized by their peers for excellent business achievement.

I  just do not understand is why the taxpayers are expected to fork out $8K for it.  .

I  assume the money  is  money siphoned out of  the town treasury straight into  Chamber coffers.

When Tim Jones was Mayor, the town bought a number of  dinner tickets at $125, a pop and gave them away to Business Ambassadors, members of  the Economic Development  Advisory Committee.  I think it was a way of appearing  to contribute to  economic development without actually doing anything at all.

So the town  was  a member of the Chamber,attended monthly lunches, bought a dozen dinner tickets at $125. and sponsored an award that didn't even have the Town of Aurora name on it.

I made an issue of it .. I'm not sure whether  the dinner boondoggle  was discontinued or just never mentioned again.  I noted  at the time, $125. was probably a month's food budget for a senior  struggling to pay property  taxes and hang on to a home, the only asset they had  to show for a lifetime of hard work, fighting in wars, enduring a depression  and  paying taxes to contribute to better  opportunities for their children and grandchildren than they themselves   ever dreamed of.

At  Tuesday night's Council Meeting , awards were presented  to sponsors of the Aurora Borealis Festival of lights in the town park . The Chamber of Commerce was a recipient.  The amounts of  sponsorships were not revealed. But a beautiful and much appreciated winter event in the park was enjoyed by thousands at little or no cost to the taxpayers.

On the same evening, we expressed our appreciation for awards received , we turned around and  gave away $5 K,  we didn't even know we had, to an outfit calling itself a foundation.  fronting for the St Kitts Jazz Festival, claiming to support charity, the main charity being the ST Kitts Family Music Business of  Snowball.

My grandchildren go to concerts of  music of their choice and pay around  a hundred dollars a ticket
for the experience.I doubt  handouts are provided to those promoters by the city of venue. I  also doubt  hundreds  of concert devotees contribute much to the city's economy either after spending that much on tickets.

And here we are in Aurora with bags of money to give away to whoever asks for it.

Friday 25 February 2011

I Do Not Have An Answer To this one.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "It Was A Brazen Demand By A Bold As Brass Delegati...":

Cllr Buck, who are the members of the board of this Aurora Festival of the Arts foundation?


A statement was made a Festival  Foundation had been formed. No further information  provided.Others have searched and come up with nothing.


Robert Leonard provided a dictionary defnition of "double-dipping"

Is he  husband of Susan Morton-Leonard?

I understand he is although he did not volunteer  that information.


A Tree Falls

Or is struck by lightening or torn up by its roots in a fierce wind or it is cut down.

Sooner or later it outgrows its welcome in a suburban  lot. This tree is  in my neighbours yard so I can afford to be philosophical.

The tree has been there for as long as I  remember. Seven or eight families in that house  have enjoyed the tree.  It just kept getting bigger and wider and shutting out the sun earlier  in the day
I have enjoyed looking out into the illusion of a forest.

But too much shade is not good for growing other things.

The saw has been whirring for hours now. It was a while before the tree-cutter in his spikes and belts appeared within my range  perched among the upper branches and I  realised what was happening.

It looks like it will be many hours still before the job is finished.

I have to attend a funeral this afternoon. I will not  likely see the last of the tree. Maybe my maple will take on a new lease on life without the competition.

We shall see.

My Mistake

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Bold As Brass and Twice As Brazen .....11":

Evelyn you wrote, "The motion received a seconder and passed with only one member opposed. Moi" We know your MO is to be the single negative vote.., not this time Paul Pirri voted Nay with you.


Thank You for that information and my apologies to Councillor Pirri.

I take no pride  in frequently being the only negative vote.As a practising politician  I  am always aware that eight people at the table in agreement is far more persuasive than a lone dissent.

I don't do it to impress anyone else. I do it so that I  keep faith with the people who elected me and  live with myself.

It is a comfort and assurance  to know the youngest person at the table made the same judgment as myself on the question of giving away $5K of the taxpayers money. We  may have arrived at the  same
decision for different reasons. But  that only helps to confirm my convictions.

In retrospect, had there been an indication the resolution was coming forward, I should have asked for a recorded vote.As it was, there was no notice. The motion was not in writing. No rationale.was offered.
Nothing about it, including the question of budget, followed the normal process

The motion included a waiver of user fees for the band shell and park facilities.I did not know that until I read it in the press.

In 2004, during budget discussions, I asked the Treasurer of the day, how much is the town's share of the tax levy on  an average home? The answer was $700.

My  guess it would be about  $750.now.   So, $5,000. of the tax levy is  the equivalent of the town's share of taxes  from  at least six average homes.

Six families will pay their taxes, some easily, some with hardship, and  council just gave it away to people who offered no proof that they are who they say they are.

You know,I can't help feeling there's something wrong about that.

During the last  term, it was par for the course. The Mormac regime had a coterie of friends and followers who asked and received.

They all saw it as the road to political longevity

They were wrong.

It seemed  clear to me the electorate wanted something different.

Thursday 24 February 2011

A Snippet Circulated To Council Members

Ms. Buck, 

 Attending Council last night both as an invited guest to witness the Ontario Heritage Trust awards, and as a supporter of the AFA, I was curious about the term "double dipping" that you used. 

Having searched the internet it seems the common definition for 'double dipping' perhaps better describes your position - Please review definition below.

Do you not receive a pension from the Canadian government and compensation from Aurora taxpayers as a Councillor? Before accusing others it is always wise to make sure one's own record is sound. 

double dipping
The practice of drawing two incomes from the government, usually by holding a government job and receiving a pension, as for prior military service.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. 

Robert Leonard

Go Ahead...Ask Me

The post about "sponsorship" for the Jazz Festival triggered significant response.Many questions were posed to which I will try to respond.

Was $5K granted? No.  Council approved a motion to provide $4,230K.

Prior to budget approval, all requests for spending are normally referred to budget.  That didn't happen. An oversight no doubt. But since the budget is not yet approved,I will be interested to know if a cheque has already  been handed over. Before the community has had an opportunity to voice their opinion and before we have even collected the money to pay it out.

Why do we not ask Boy Scouts and Girl Guides to disclose finances?  Because they do not  ask  for a  hand-out of  $5K of   taxpayers money.

Thet don't demand we tax people to hand money to them.

Why don't we ask other groups to provide financial statements?  We do.  User fees do not cover costs of operating town facilities. In order to receive subsidised rates , groups must establish memberships are mainly town residents  and they are  not commercial operations.

If they are commercial ventures, they can still use the facilities. They may even use prime time. But   they pay a  higher rate which  helps subsidize community programs.

Why look for trouble before it happens?    It has happened before.    A fund-raiser for the July 1st Parade held annually at The Aurora Legion  paid for the parade. Until March 2008, when the event declared no proceeds. Despite having solicited donations for a silent auction and charged admission. Several live professional bands provided the  entertainment.  No doubt paid at scale.

What's the matter with promoting a jazz concert with good music,for the enjoyment of an audience. Nothing at all. As long as you call it what it is. A concert promotion, in a venue for musicians to ply their trade and receive fair and just compensation for their performance from an audience that values what they have to offer and are ready and willing to pay for it.

Guaranteed share of the gate paid under contract to the venue owner, the municipal corporation,,  and all risks and liablities undertaken by the promoter.

Don't pretend it's not for pecuniary advantage, or it's in support of charity, or  for necessary education and enlightenment of the unwashed masses or it's a volunteer effort primarily for the community's benefit.

Don't ask free use of facilities normally  paid for by user fees.

Don't fence off public space that belongs to the community and charge admissions.

Don't hire security guards to keep people out of their own park.

Don't order an elderly couple ,enjoying a breakfast sandwich at a picnic table in the park, to get out of their own place.

Don't bar access to the public washrooms,when you have received precise directions  not to.

Don't order town staff, to order port-potties for  children in the water park because the washrooms are yours for the day by virtue of paying a user fee for the park, by way of a sponsorship provided  to you by the town without council approval.

Don't describe a five foot high continuous chain link fence around the park as  normal  requirement  for a  beer garden to satisfy LCBO regulations.


Don't take me for a fricking,flinching, febrile ferret of a fool, afraid to voice my judgment that you should never ever be permitted space or have any part in fund-raising for any purpose whatsoever in our town again.

Not now. Not to-morrow. Not ever again.

If anybody takes  that as  an indication I think such barefaced ,bold as brass and twice as brazen tactics as we have witnessed are not acceptable in our community.

Well, you are not wrong, my friends. You are definitely not wrong.

Furthermore...I do not speak for myself alone...or have you not noticed?

Bold As Brass and Twice As Brazen .....11

Susan Morton Leonard came and stated she was representing a Foundation for the Arts and Jazz Festival and asked for "Sponsorship " of $5K. at the general committee meeting on Feb. 15th.

The St. Kitts woman received a "sponsorship" of $2K from the Chief Administrative Officer last year.She requested delegation status to ask for more. She was advised not to. But she came anyway and changed her mind at the last minute.  That was weird.

This year, the application was apparently made to the Leisure Services Director by a representation of a newly formed foundation, Susan Morton Leonard.

The Director recommended $2K and waiver of the park user fee of almost a thousand.

Councillors asked some pointed questions and did not recommend approval. I was the presiding member so I didn't...ask questions.

The representative and another executive person of the foundation came back  this week  as a second delegation to Council to persist in their initial demand for $5K.

As a Patron of the Arts, Councillor John Gallo moved a sponsorship of $4,230.K.from the town treasury. The motion received a seconder and passed with only one member opposed. Moi.That was something of a surprise.

At no time was the St. Kitts name mentioned. Our former Mayor was there though....taking notes. What was that about?

Why did Council's direction change from the week before.

Damned if I know. Nobody told me. But now we do  know from Stephanie's link ,the St Kitts woman is still in charge. The Foundation and the Morton-Leonard woman are a front.

Morton-Leonard told Council a Trillium grant application had been made and $25K was anticipated.

Councillor Christopher Ballard said getting a Trillium grant is dependent on community support. Apparently, community support has to come from the town's tax collectors. Presumably sponsorships from those  usually touched up for financial hand-outs don't qualify.

Everybody talked about the great success and popularity of the event. It seems not to translate into increased revenue. A hand-out from the town treasury of $5k is still deemed to be an entitlement.

Money from the July 1st Parade has dried up. Shelley Ware our own event organizer whizz kid is in charge of it this year.

Money from the Farmer's Market vanished  as well when the Market declared itself independent of the taxpayer and undesirous of the paid services of promoter Ms St Kitts.

Adam's mother Heather who is also my daughter, knows a bit about Trillium grants. The Down's Syndrome Association applied for funds for a speech therapy program. That's when they learned only a handful are granted  out of hundreds of applications for people in need. The funds are really tight.

So the St Kitts crowd are competing with people with special needs for minimum funding available in the Trillium Grant program.

Another little tid-bit besides the invisible woman, is the town's invisible budget 

At first glance,as it stands,the tax increase for an average home is well over a hundred dollars. Council will be looking for places to cut. I have a number in mind no doubt other Councillors have as well.

One will be the line item in the Chief Administrator's budget that provides sponsorships without Council approval.

I never believed it was Chief Administrative Officer's purview.I suspected a scam to allow the former Mayor to dispense largesse without Council approval.

I note the "request" for "sponsorship" went to the Director of Leisure Services this year.

Morton-Leonard was a member of the Culture Centre Board that gave the St Kitts woman free use of the Church Street School facility for the pre-jazz festival party last year.

Also the delegate requesting funds in the budget for another consultant study for a new heritage neighbourhood. You know, like the one in the north-east quadrant with the quarter-million traffic calming debacle.

I hear a number of members on the Farmers Market Executive are cross members on the Board of the Culture Centre.

Talk about being taken over without a single shot being fired and your back's not turned.


Adam's February Itinerary

He was in Florida at the beginning of the month. He told his friends about the upcoming trip.  Rubbing his hands with glee, he said  he was looking forward to "beer,.hot tub and girls.

His friend Brent had tears in his eyes when he told his mother Susan,Adam was going to Florida  for ten days.  It wasn't clear he was sad that Adam going or that he wasn't.

When they came home, Adam and his family and friends  organized the annual fund-raiser  for the Newmarket Night Hawks Internationa Hockey team to pay for a bus to carry the team to a tournament in Boston this year.

The social is  held in the Newmarket Senior Centre. They  always pay the user fee. Never have asked asked  it be waived. The family goes down in the afternoon and move  tables and chairs to create a dance floor and  set out  chips and cheesies and nuts and make  sandwiches.and set out accompaniments.

They have a D.J. for the music but everyone has a good time. A bunch  come from a group home  to take a table and giggle and kibbutz and dance and have all the pop they can drink  free.

Adam's Dad mans the bar. Sister Robyn sells raffle tickets. Mum never gets a chance to sit down and socialise. She used to buy a bunch of tickets and give them away to friends. Doesn't need to do that any more.

Great prizes are donated for the silent auction.The community is generous.  It's the event that attracts the crowd.

The first year they made $13 k from the evening. It has increased every year. In February, they made $17K.

The next week-end Adam was at a Special  Olympic Swim Meet in Brampton. He came home with three ribbons. One was a first for a main event and two were seconds.

Fund-raisers are a regular event in Adam's family. They have it down pat. All the regulars come for a good time and to  support a good cause and every year there are more supporters there because...

Stephanie's Link

Stephanie's Link: has left a new comment on your post "Bold As Brass And Twice As Brazen":

Aurora Festival of the Arts

Aurora Festival of the Arts ("AFA") non-profit organization operating as Aurora jazz+ Festival 2011 Aurora Town Park. AFA Goals: to showcase & support local talents; to create a musical community gathering; to care for those in need; to build an inclusive Arts/Music Festival attracting those who love culture, arts and music to Aurora every August long weekend. Make Aurora/York Region a tourist destination.

Why Jazz PLUS +? Because it’s an all inclusive arts and music festival including visual artists, film festival artists, several genres of music with a jazz backbone including fusion/Latin/contemporary; big band; rock/roll; R & B; Folk; Soul; Motown, pop and multi-cultural music!

Also supporting two local charities CCAA www.abusehurts.com and Safehaven www.safehaven.to

Contact: Sher St. Kitts

1359 Wellingston St. W.

King City, Ontario L7B 1K5




Wednesday 23 February 2011

I Am A Councllor

Okay you considered it a demand but what was their tone and actual question. You tend to get your back up and as a lover of language, you may have not appreciated their request. Did your colleagues agree that it was a demand?


I speak only for myself, on the basis of experience. I can't begin to imagine what colleagues were thinking when they decided to  put their hands into taxpayers pockets and take  money  that doesn't belong to them to give to somebody else.  

I'm not sure I've ever  met anyone else who feels as strongly as I do about that. Last night, after the meeting ,it occurred to me that's the core reason for my  involvement  in politics

.I do not acknowledge the right of anyone  at the municipal level of government to take what I have, to give to someone els.

At various times I have referred to it as pick-pocketing...filching,,,siphoning from the treasury and funneling  into someone else's coffers.

There is no language strong enough to express what I think of the  arrogance  of those who exploit elected office and  the  responsibility  to protect the interest of the taxpayers and to take what they have no right to take and give it to someone who has no right to ask for or receive it.

Sharing what I have with people with a special need is a right I jealously guard for myself.

I have never allowed  my resources to be  misused without making sure the perpetrator  knowa I object and I will not forget.

If it is not  understood I am protecting  all of our rights, I  must accept that.

There is no law that says I must do so quietly..

A Question To The point

Cllr Buck, who are the members of the board of this Aurora Festival of the Arts foundation?


Only verbal information was provided to Council  from Ms  Morton Leonard. A second spokesperson accompanying her at the second delegation and was introduced as a foundation executive.

The St Kitts woman was not referred to but  the family business  organised the jazz program last year.No doubt it will be the same again this year. St Kitts resigned from the Farmers' Market Executive last year because they were not willing to pay  for her promotional services.

A budget  was provided by the town  to organise the July 1st Parade and  funds to hire an assistant.

Town staff have the task in hand this year.

Bold As Brass And Twice As Brazen

Robert the Bruce has left a new comment on your post "SomeThings Stayed The Same":

Evelyn said...
"Last night Council had a delegation demanding $5 K for the second time for the summer Jazz
Festival. They came last week as well. Pointed questions were asked. It looked like they would not get what they wanted. I was encouraged."

Just curious... was it a DEMAND or REQUEST? If the former, I would have denied it outright no matter what they presented.


They came to Council in committee the previous Tuesday.as a  delegate to request sponsorship of $5K.

Staff recommended providing the same sum as they received in 2010. As well as waiver of the park user fee of  over  $975.

It was not approved. Pointed   questions indicated the request was recognised as  inconsistent with charges paid by  other facility users.

They returned a second time  this week with  several followers  and a second spokesperson to inform council of the considerable costs of putting on a jazz festival . And to repeat the request. At that point,  I considered it  to be a demand

Included in the costs are union scale rates for musicians. Advertising in radio and the press. Rental of porta-potties and promotions in Toronto and beyond.

They have applied  AND anticipate a Trillium grant of $25K. They expect 10.000 people to attend with
an admission charge of $5. They will rent space to vendors in our park and collect the fees.
 They are seeking other exhibitors to join the enterprise. No doubt they will pay a fee as well.
They intend to solicit sponsors  from tax-paying business in the community.

They claim to be a not-for-profit foundation. No particulars of how many members there are.or who they are are provided.

Council agreed to provide $4,230.

So...business providing sponsorships will also pay in their taxes for the town's sponsorship .

Residents  paying an admission charge will also pay in their taxes for the town's sponsorship.

People with no interest in attending a  Jazz Festival will also pay in the taxes for the town's sponsorship

A Jazz Festival which sounds to me like a highly successful commercial concert promotion with considerable numbers of participant enjoying a substantial pecuniary advantage.

In a park, by the way, which deed has a covenant attached  that no admission  may ever be charged
to town residents.

SomeThings Stayed The Same

Letterman had a couple and a cat as guests on his show last night. The cat is a thief in the night and  over the last couple of years brought hundreds of stolen items home. A picture showed him dragging pyjama trousers home in his teeth.

The husband said he  talked to the vet about the  cat's bizarre behavior.

"What did he tell you?" asked Letterman

"The cat loves us" answered the guest.

I like to watch Letterman. He is so irreverent about human behaviour in general and  about some people in particular. My thoughts wander while I watch.

For  some reason the infamous  quote of Marie Antoinette came to mind.

The French Revolution was raging and the Queen asked why the people were so angry. The answer was..."Because they have no  bread"

The Queen said  "Let them eat cake"

We will never know if it's true or somebody just made it up to ruin her reputation.

I think it was  true. It's what I expect of people who have no real connection with life.

It's four months since  Aurora throw the wastrels  out.

Some things change and  some things remain the same.

Last night  Council  had a delegation  demanding   $5 K  for the second time for the summer Jazz
Festival. They came last week as well. Pointed  questions were asked. It looked like they would not  get what they  wanted. I was  encouraged
Staff recommended they receive $2K and the $935 user fee for the town park be waived.I would not have agreed with that either.

Last night the delegation ( St Kitts woman nowhere in sight) talked about how successful the festival was last year. Five thousand people each paid $5 admission. .This year,Councillor Ballard said ten thousand people are expected to attend. Revenue from admission will double.

A Trillium grant  of $25 Ks has been commited and  other grant opportunities have been sussed out.
and they intend to solicit sponsorship from local business as well

Last night the town was presenting awards to sponsors of the Aurora Borealis  lights in the park festival ..
Councilor Gallo moved the town provide a sponsorship of $$4,230 to the Jazz Festival.

I had no intention of putting my hand in somebody else's pocket and taking their money to give it away to the fast-talking emprisarios.

We heard the usual clap-trap about how much money the affair would bring into town while they have vendors in the park selling everything the attendees might want or need and paying rent to the organizers.

It's  funny how money changes hands. A slush fund of sponsorship  money  was provided to the Chief Administrative Officer last year. We have still not approved it in this year's budget.

Yet there it is.... being spent already.

I  heard about only one last year and that was to the St Kitts woman.. Free use of the Church Street School was provided . She charged $35K  for the hoi-poloi to attend a preFestival party with wine and cheese and all that jazz.

 I think of the two young mothers who came to Council last term from Aurora Grove School.A ten year anniversary of their school wasplanned..They asked for $75   user fee to be waived. It wasn't  It was for  tidying up the park and placing picnic tables and garbage containers.

They were refused.

Later, Wells Street School Association asked for  $300 user fee to be waived for a celebration they were planning. They got that.

It's interesting to see how  council responded to the first Jazz Festival delegation with pointed questions  and the second, when it seemed there was eagerness to give taxpayers' money away

It was as if  nothing actually changed four months ago.

On  one hand, town  staff solicit sponsorships from town business to provide  fun events for the community. at no cost  to  taxpayers .On the other hand, the town hands out sponsorships at  the expense of the taxpayer for a commercial concert  promotion.

The more things change, the more they remain the  same.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Still About Road Hazards

Elizabeth Bishenden has left a new comment on my post "An Age Old Lament About Traffic":

Evelyn, you give us all something to think about. The best part is that you don't mind a bit of discussion.

I don't think it is "insane" to consider adding "lumps and bumps" to some of Aurora's streets.

Look at some of the roads in this town.

Aurora Heights Blvd west of Haida is engineered as if it were carrying traffic that travels at 80km/hour or more. Guess what... it often does. The speed limit might be 50 km/hour, but anyone who has lived in that area can tell you that the speed limit is regularly exceeded. Who cares if it is the local residents or somebody from afar? The situation is still dangerous for pedestrians.

There are streets in our community that have either bad design or a design that is out-dated, and they are dangerous.

What is wrong with acknowledging that both road design and driver patterns are not what was expected when the road was built? What is wrong with making things better than what the builders gave the town?


Elizabeth, I will take your last point first. roads are not  designed for pedestrians. They and driver patterns are exactly what they have always been since the advent of four wheeled vehicles . Even horses  galloped too fast  to be able to stop on a dime.

A road takes months to construct. It's done in full view of the passing throng. First there's the removal
 and finding a place to dump the  old material. Then there's the creation of the road bed. There's the grading with the huge machines.  Placement of various grades of material and in between each layer,  rolling and tamping, rolling and tamping and finally  grading and sidewalk constriction  for pedestrian safety and curbs to keep vehicles on the road and boulevards provided to store snow and separate pedestrians from vehicular traffic.

Prime purpose of a road is to allow vehicles to travel in a space separate from pedestrians.Grading is
 to allow rain and melting snow to drain away to catch basins.Water ,storm and sanitary sewers are accommodated in the road bed.

All of it designed for the amenity of  people whose homes front on  that road and others that lead to and from.

Millions  are spent on  roads designed  with every features  necessary to meet  the needs and safety of users.   I forgot to mention street lighting..

In your own neighbourhood , when   new roads were completed ,we proceeded to spend yet another $211.000. scattering concrete obstacles called chicanes here and there like cushions on a couch, to create deliberate hazards to compel drivers to use other roads. We added speed bumps. On top of that we closed off roads making it  impossible  for  people who live in the neighbourhood. to reach their homes without driving twice around the block. Using more gas and spewing  more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while they are at it.

We reduced parking amenity with the infernal chicanes.

If the residents were informed they had to take it or leave it. I never heard about that.

We spent tax dollars on consultants to create a heritage neighbourhood. At one point we broke out a brand new sidewalk because  a couple of limp wrists said it wasn't in "keeping with the character" of the neighbourhood. We spent an additional $30Ks to replace it with a "roll-over" curb which isn't a curb at all. Eighteen months later it was such a mucky mess from vehicles  which   rolled over it, we had to pave with  interlocking stone to clean it up for pedestrians to walk without sinking the mire..

Elizabeth, yours is a charming  neighbourhood. It is old. It has all the flavour of heritage. By it's  nature, it is at  the core  of a developing town. Residents have  the amenity of being able to reach stores and other commercial and professional services and recreational facilities and programs  within walking distance. 

If your desire is to live, where  a hundred years ago.there  was  a village, it is not reasonable to  expect to  turn the clock back to  the days of  horse and buggy and enjoyment of quiet backwater streets You cannot have everything. At least not at my expense. .

If the entire town  must  pay what it costs to provide you with roads and sidewalks  and lighting,you should at least be prepared to share it with the rest of us.

If residents of  Aurora  Heights have drivers driving at excessive speed , they have to take the trouble to pick up the phone and let York Regional Police know about it. every time they see it.  Speeding tickets and de-merit points are the only reasonable and practical way to control speeding. And god knows that service is costly enough as well.

Throwing lumps and bumps about to make roads constructed at a cost of millions for safe movement of traffic, is insane I say.

I live on a backwater street. Not long after I moved here,  I realised the inconvenience of  every amenity  in the town, school, church, swimming pool, skating rinks, art classes at Church Street school. library, doctor not being within walking distance. I started to look in the old town for a handier alternative. Even  taxes were less for the  gracious old homes on  tree-lined streets.

Every time I came home to my ticky- tacky box ,where not an inch of space was wasted, where I could reach up and paint walls and ceilings without a ladder, (I even painted the eavestrough and windows once), which sat on a sixty-three foot wide lot on a street with shoulders for ample parking , and  a mortgage  I could afford, I was glad of it.

 The kids being able to learn to ride a bike in safety. play hockey or soccer or occasionally hit a ball with a  bat, or hop-scotch or skip rope on any part of the road we lived on or visit the salamander pond  and catch tadpoles, and play in a corn field or walk across the field to  watch a circus train one Sunday morning,  that was the offset for having to live beyond walking distance from all town amenities.

 I made a choice. We all make choices. It's not for me to tell anyone else what their choice should be.
But I'll be damned if I let someone else tell me I have an obligation  to fork out thousands of dollars in taxes to fulfill every fantasy out there, to create the illusion of life in the last century and enjoy all modern convenience at the same time.

Insane is what I said Elizabeth and insane is what I meant.


Monday 21 February 2011

An Age Old Lament About Traffic

Good Morning Resident,

I reiterate  my previous response and what I believe is the solution to the problem of speeding on your street.

First let me say, I acknowledge the problem .  Yours is not the only street with the concern.   It is
multiplied many times by amounts of traffic. A long straight road tends to encourage speed because there are no curves or corners to require  a foot on the brake now and then.

In my experience, the only solution  is  enforcement of the urban regulation speed limit. It's the purpose of  a police army at our horrendous cost.

Regulation speed limit in an urban area is 50 kms. Studies have always shown ,people do drive at speed allowed for the area they are passing through. Signs posted at less, are not observed  unless for an obvious reason like a school.

Passing bylaws and posting signs at less than regulation speed limit do not help .They hinder the process. They are a half-assed political solution.

Police are responsible for enforcing. They will not start counting "excessive speed"  from 40kms. They are  responsible for prosecuting charges. So  far as courts are concerned , regulation urban speed is

So, we have a Mexican stand-off.

By doing what residents request and reducing  speed  to 40kms, we frustrate the only method we have for controlling speed . If  drivers are not charged, fines are escaped  but even more significant, so  are de-merit points.

Herein lies  the meat of the matter.  A driver charged with speeding over 40kms ,where  the urban limit is 50Kms has a valid defence. 53 kilometres is not reckless speeding. Except in proximity to a school. A driver does not deserve to lose his licence for driving at  regulation speed.

De-merit points have had to be the most effective tool  ever for controlling driving at speeds in excess of the norm . Nobody can afford to lose a driving licence.

I believe  enforcement is the solution to the problem. A dozen or so tickets issued. periodically, with demerit points to the worst offenders are effective for a while. When the problem starts again enforcement has to begin again and another dozen or thirty  tickets issued.

It is an on-going process and always has been.

I am not in favour of building million dollar roads for smooth and effective movement of traffic and  adding lumps and bumps after the fact to make them difficult  to drive on. That's insane.

It's indicative of the modern concept that no problem exists  that cannot be solved by laws requiring an army of police to enforce.

If the idea of making roads hard to drive is valid. maybe  we should strip the off pavement  and let people skid  about on dirt , around massive pot holes, onto boulevards and across sidewalks. .That would slow them down in a hurry and save us a pile of money on paving roads and hiring police into the bargain.

I say we use  the tried and true method of  controlling speeding drivers by enforcing  regulation urban speed limits on Conover Ave, and give  the process  a chance.

In the past, when we used it on Murray Drive, recipients of  tickets issued were  residents of the neighbourhood. 

"We have seen the enemy and it is us "  Alice's Restaurant.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Wishful Thinking

I wish the police would hand out a few tickets to those who park illegally on Conover outside Hartwell P.S. I have written many times about how parents park on both sides of Conover and their little ones run out from between cars to cross the road. In my opinion sooner or later there will be an unnecessary tragedy. The no parking signs are quite clear but they are ignored. York Regional police, where are you when you are needed?


There's an illusion about police productivity. There seems to be a whole generation that assumes the police have all the powers of spider man. They know where trouble spots are and they get there by magical means.

They do not. They depend on citizen co-operation.

We do not live in a law-abiding society because of all the police we have to enforce the law. We live in a relatively safe society because by -and- large citizens have respect for the law.

Although,those of us who have been around for a while see disturbing changes in respect for our law and criminal activity completely unfamiliar to our society.

How often do we hear the question..... where are the police when we need them ?

The answer is, they don't know we need them unless we tell them. Being on patrol means they can be anywhere except where we are. Same goes for parking control officers.They can't be everywhere at the same time and we could never have enough officers for that to happen.

Same as we could never have enough snow plows to plow everybody's streets at the same time or enough water reservoirs to supply expensively treated water to flood onto expensive landscaping or straight down the gutter from hosing down the most precious possession... the family car...during a damned heat wave for God's Sake

Of course, if police and firefighters were paid along the lines of other public servants, we could have twice as many as we have now. Or our taxes would be a hell of a lot less.

Police and firefighters are an essential service. It means their contracts are subject to arbitration. It means they get what they demand. Couple their organised political power with the eagerness of politicians in general to win their favour.

Couple that with the power of money and you might get a glimmer of understanding of why York Region Police swallow up 24% of the region's budget. Firefighters in Aurora/Newmarket absorb $23%.

Contrast the rise in wages and benefits for the two services with reduction in social services to people in need and you might get an idea of where the just society went awry.We no longer build social housing and we have food banks.

I have wondered aloud on a number of occasions when the province is going to come to terms with the problem of arbitrated contracts. Apparently there have been talks that go nowhere.

It's not surprising. Consider the organisation's  wealth and status in the culture,and the numbers, it is obvious the problem is huge and destined to keep on growing.

It started with Regional government. We created a monster.

I couldn't believe it when Rob Ford's new council requested the Province  legislate garbage collection as an essential service. The union contract would be subject to arbitration.

Of course, chances of garbage collectors winning the same awards as police and firefighters... that would have to be seen, though one could argue comparisons in the jobs.

I had no idea I was going to say all that when I started this post. But it's not as if I haven't been thinking it for a long,long time.

Actually, ever since I've been in politics.

It was bound to come out.

Sooner or later.

It's later.

Saturday 19 February 2011

About Options

Children in the family usually means the desired objective is to live on a street with minimal traffic.

The sound of a train horn, three shorts one long,is unbearable, the desired option is not to live n a house backing on to a railroad track.

The circumstances are different. The option is the same.

Do not buy a house on a street designed to collect cars from dozens of smaller streets and carry them to major traffic arteries.

Do not buy a property with a yard that slopes up to an embankment that carries a track the carries a train that crosses two roads equidistant that blows a long horn to warn cars it's a comin' down the track lickety split.

It's not a good idea even if the council is only too willing to commit however much public money , to create the illusion a remedy is at hand and it is not for the home-owner with sensitive hearing to move to a house that doesn't have the problem.

Councils are elected. Chances are the great unwashed masses will notice taxes increasing faster than their means to pay for stuff that has nothing to do with their best interest.

At the moment, at least a couple of new collector roads are experiencing speeding problems. The problem is not new. It's as old as the automobile.

It's the reason we have thousands of police oficers on the public payroll.And a hefty one it is.

A traffic engineer is part of a town's staff complement. He advises Council on regulation warrants and such that justify certain constraints on traffic to conrol hazards created by drivers.Usually in their own neighbourhoods.

The municipality pre-spends millions on planners and engineers to ensure road alignments are such as to provide for safe and smooth movement of traffic
engendered by the new homes to be built.

Houses fill up, traffic spills out just as intended.

But the amount and speed was never envisioned by home-owners on the collectors. Changes are demanded. Politicians are spooked. Demands are accommodated.

The Regulation urban speed is 50 Kliks. Despite professional advice, speed limit is lowered to 40 kliks. So simple...right?


The Pols can pick whatever airy-fairy number they choose.They do not enforce speed limits.

Police officers do or don't, as the case may be.

Only an officer of the law,on the spot,can order a driver to stop and receive a ticket.

Only an officer understands through experience,a ticket issued where regulation urban speed limit is 50 kliks but the sign says forty, is unlikely to stick and is not worth the paper on which it is printed.

We spend millions on manpower, vehicles, radar equipment and all it takes to control speeding drivers.

Then we do something dumb like tampering with the regulation urban speed limit. The speed at which all drivers, including traffic court judges, police officers, sergeants, superintendents and chief's expect to be able to drive in an urban area. We sabotage the efforts of the only method of enforcement we have,on pain of penalty of fines and demerit points,to drive at a safe and reasonable speed.

We do it because homeowners believe it's right.

It's not..

The pols don't want to argue with homeowners. Traffic engineers don't argue with the pols. Police don't need to argue with people who are not the bosses of them. They are officers of the law. They know what they know.

Round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows. Frustrations grows.Money and manpower are spent. Nothing is accomplished.

If an accident happens and someone is injured and an investigation shows advice of a professional was rejected....

Well what do you think?

Political Soliloquy

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Once More With Feeling and For The Last Time":

Chris, how long have you kept those three gems on the shelf waiting for an opportunity to craft them into one sentence.


I contemplated the above comment for a bit before  publishing, copying and pasting.  On the face of it, it seems civil even complimentary. As a politician, I think not. I publish it to make a point.

This  blog is mine.  My name is clear and identifiable. I write the posts. I  try to discern between  comments having no other purpose than personal abuse.  I do not shy away from critical observations.

I am a practising politician and  I express my views without fear or favour. It's how I believe a politician should be. I exult in the opportunity blog provides to express a view with all  the space needed to elaborate for clear understanding.

I recognise  more than one way to view a situation. It is not an  available luxury. The  imperative for a politician,when it comes time to vote is to choose . He/she  is judged by the choice.  I am content.

There is verbiage  galore  for newly elected councillors. Training courses as well. They reflect  all the displaced public servants resulting from  urbanisation and the  amalgamation of various municipalities around the province.Newly elected politicians are deluged  with  influence from the  administrative aspect of municipal operations.

In a small way I hope this Blog is  countervailing  the prevailing influence.

Our off-site orientation in January  was 100%   ADMINISTRATIVE influence.It was only useful as far as it went.

Team spirit is much vaunted within a council. It's an oxymoron. Each Councillor  is  independent and in competition. A good working relationship with  trust and integrity are important. Equally important is knowing, in municipal politics, one is on one's own.

Surrender one's ideas, except in political debate and  identity disappears into the amalgam.

Confide  a  strategy, it  will  likely  be stolen

There is honour among thieves, you just have to know where and to what extent  and not be disappointed if it's not where and what you thought.

Gifts generously presented are not necessarily returned. Don't expect it.

So, returning to the comment, in response to Chris Watt's comment on my post Once  More With Feeling., cut and pasted at the top, it sounds complimentary. As I  said, I don't believe it is.

I think it is phrased to get past my rule against  nasties.

Chris Watts does not need me to defend him. He is ready for whatever comes. But he doesn't need me either, to provide  anonymous critics with a venue, at no expense whatsoever to themselves. It will be the last.

Cognitive Skills

I have to keep reminding myself, I am only one of nine.  My sole responsibility  is to  express my view   clearly  in the time available and  let it rest.

When the vote is taken, whatever the decision, discussion is over. It's on to the next question and the exercise is repeated. It seems  simple. It 's not.

Listening and waiting one's turn to speak provides time to observe  how differently information is processed. 

At first I was  surprised  by how words were heard  differently. A councillor often claimed  someone  else's  comments as his own.He was sharp, critical and dismissive towards myself but not towards others. Later he was an early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and I  wondered if  that  explained  the eccentricity. I was sorry I had judged him..

Other Councillors avoided taking the floor.They took no pleasure in hearing themselves speak..It wasn't they didn't have an opinion they just left it to others. The vote was what counted.

Others stressed about having to speak, didn't hear  anybody else. It took all their resources  to give  an account of themselves.

What went on in a council meeting didn't matter a hill of beans for some.  Being a councillor was just about being a councillor.

Some could walk into a council seat just by putting their name on the ballot. Lawyers, high school teachers and other professionals are preferred candidates.

Our culture has a high respect for  education,  particularly since  most  have not had the advantage.
There is a reverence which is not entirely deserved. It still surprises me how little. 

Theoretically,  a Council comes to-gether, having read  staff recommendations,  presumably
with  sufficient comprehension to understand and discern both the logic and  the contradictions.

Members  raise hands to be recognised  by the chair, say their piece, listen  to others and eventually the  vote  is cast and a decision made.

Comments to a blog post , like the Aurora Citizen, provide  an excellent example  of how   people arrive at  their own  conclusions and discount others.

Guy Poppe is erratic, Sometimes nice, sometimes nasty.

RTB  is a frequent contributor. He is sufficiently opinionated  to have become  frustrated enough to publish his own  blog.

I won't be visiting. I already know RTB's  prejudice. His views are predictable.

Hugo T Kroon  has  had  a blog. for some time.  I've never visited there either.I do not expect to discover anything of interest.

I never miss Chris Watt's posts. Sometimes they are above my head .  He is often severe in his criticism.  I put that down to the vigour  and certainty of youth  and an obsession with  the power of language. I look forward to his posts.Sometimes he makes me shiver.  I am always intrigued. He never fails to entertain.

Friday 18 February 2011

Once More With Feeling and For The Last Time

Anonymous has left a new comment on my post "The Two Are Not The Same":

If I understand Councilor Buck and her supporters, there was "DOCTORING" of the minutes by the CAO, Clerk and Town Solicitor during the last term.

Very serious allegations. Could be harmful to someone's professional career.

Sorry, I don't see a difference unless you're claiming that Councilor Buck's comments are based on fact and Councilor Gaertner's on fiction. If this is your assertion, Councilor Buck, then why not take this matter to higher level, if for no other reason than to protect the integrity of the Town.


There appears to be a  limit  to the commenter's comprehension.

It was clear to all who watched and to the town's legal counsel that an entirely  inappropriate happening took place at a public meeting, when this Councillor was deluged with unfounded and unsubstantiated accusations and allegations by a non-resident, who had been challenged and failed to provide accountability for funds raised under the auspices of the town for a community event.

Not content with encouraging the comments in the public forum, the gang of six moved for the procedure bylaw to be suspended to permit flagrant abuse of the process to become a matter of public record in the municipal archives.

It has already been established the town's legal counsel attempted to prevent the council process from being abused;  to no avail. 

Having failed, staff apparently determined by conference, the offence could not be exacerbated by being  produced  in  the written record. The  actions could not be obliterated but the written record could and must be expurged.

Minutes were doctored in the exact sense of the word. It was a legal imperative.

A majority of Council recklessly put the corporation at risk.

Staff took the only  means left to save the town harmless from further disrepute.

I did indeed take that and other matters to a higher level. I brought it to the attention of people with ultimate authority to decide  such things..

Proof was in the pudding. The last election more or less settled the matter.

It's obvious the people removed from office have trouble understanding why and are still refusing to accept  such conduct is unacceptable in a civil community.

As long as a surviving Councillor is willing to continue their  dirty work,they will continue to lurk around the edges like shadows in the gloom.

Incidentally, an apology is not the remedy for accusing an officer of the corporation of deliberately falsifying records.

The statement must be withdrawn. It cannot be allowed to stand.

Thursday 17 February 2011

The Two Are Not The Same

Any similarity between the current circumstance of Councillor Gaertner, to the situation when the St.Kitts woman was encouraged by the former Mayor in May 2009 to take the podium and deluge myself with unfounded and unsubstantiated accusations and allegations, is smoke and mirrors, carefully contrived by ghosts and ghoulies of the past council.

For two years,the community had been besieged by horrid fascination of town events. Not unlike a Stephen King movie complete with power glower and awful screams.

In May of 2009, on the DVD of a council meeting could be seen our new solicitor advising the former Mayor, the town had no role in the matter of accusations and allegations against myself. The advice was pointedly ignored.

The St Kitts woman had fund-raised under the auspices of the town in March. Solicited donations for a silent auction. Held the auction during an evening of entertainment at the Legion and subsequently reported no proceeds.

Questions asked in the community were echoed by myself in my capacity as elected representative.

No satisfactory response resulted. Instead, the woman showed up at a council meeting and as noted, was permitted to heap spurious allegations against me with the encouragement of the presiding member.

At a small reception prior to a later council meeting, St Kitts was honoured with a cake as most valuable volunteer at a small reception in a room behind the council chamber.Sort of by way of a victory celebration, on the night the Code of Conduct complaint against me was publicised, at a cost of $70k for a legal hit man.

But I digress. The DVD of the notorious May 2009 meeting recorded a motion moved and seconded to suspend the procedure bylaw to allow scurrilous comments against a sitting council member to become part of the public record. It required and received two-thirds majority to suspend. The motion conformed to the Rules of Order.

Minutes eventually presented for approval at a following Council meeting were not reconciled with the facts.

Contrary to the direction of council, St Kitts' comments were NOT included.

The minutes were challenged.

In response, the Chief Administrative Officer advised Council of a conference between himself ,the clerk and the solicitor and their decision to follow precedent and not include the spurious attack.

Responsibility for the public record rests with Statutory Officer, the Municipal Clerk.

The conference had no validity.

The record was inaccurate.

The record was incomplete

Offensive remarks which should never have been permitted, were excluded.

A spurious attack permitted, encouraged and planned beforehand by the presiding member and others, against an elected member of the Council, was wiped from the written record.

The minutes did not reflect the reality The record was tampered and tinkered and rendered invalid.

Whatever the never acknowledged reason, to save the town harmless from the reprehensible actions of the presiding member and five Councillors, the minutes were DOCTORED.

Similarities between that and the current situation with Councillor Gaertner are none. Nada... Nil...Zilch ... Zero

Amen my friends.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Two Sides Of An Argument

I read your recent comments wherein you put the blame for this issue squarely on Gaertner's shoulders.

The fact of the matter is that the issue was initiated by the Mayor in failing to ensure someone moved the motion. Mr. Leach simply assumed the motion had been properly moved.

While I would not respond with a suggestion of "doctoring", I can see the councilor's frustration with the responses she received. It would have been simple for council to defer the issue until everyone agreed to review the DVD.

Insofar as the Mayor's discretion, it is not unfettered, and I question the right to extend expulsion or censorship beyond the meeting where the alleged misbehaviour occurred.


It is not argued the Mayor's authority is unfettered.

Councillor Gaertner made a firm and shocking allegation the clerk deliberately falsified the record.

That cannot be allowed to stand.

The remedy is for the Councillor to withdraw the allegation of deliberate intent.

Until she does so, no staff person should be placed at similar risk of injury.

Political debate does not involve staff

Rules of debate provide for a question to be asked of staff while a Councillor has the floor. The purpose is to emphasize a political point in debate.

The purpose is not to draw officials in to the debate or to argue merits or otherwise of their professional advice.

I have myself been obliged on occasion to state with respect, my inability to accept advice provided. Disputing or refuting the advice within a formal meeting of Council is not conducive to public confidence. It is also an unequal contest.

Political versus the political is the purpose of a Council debate.It is a poor measure of a politician's competence who uses an appointed official as a whipping boy to score political points.

It is equally poor measurement of judgment of the appointed official who allows himself to be used.

If a councillor has a complaint about staff performance, there is a protocol to follow.

The protocol is not to make accusations in a formal public meeting injurious to reputation, to which there is no right of defence.

Discretion of the chair is a light touch in the basket of tools of the presiding member to ensure justice, fairness and prevent damage from the process.

The Councillor was not censured. She was not escorted from the chamber. She has not been denied authority to participate in debate.

She has twice been given the opportunity to undo the injury.It will no doubt be offered again. She has refused to avail herself.

So far as I am concerned, the Councillor must continue to be denied access to staff for questions during council meetings until she indicates comprehension of the damage to the corporation and personal injury to staff of making unsubstantiated accusations against the integrity of an officer of the corporation.

I do not pretend to be a lawyer. Merely a citizen given the opportunity and charged with responsibility of exercising my judgment of common sense and fairness over a very long period of time.

You might call it common law.

Sorry About That...I Made a Mistake.

In the response to Nigel Kean's letter to The Auroran editor, I cited his surname three times. Once without an e at the end. Twice with. I've done it before. I usually take a scolding.

When it happens,I can do two things. I can post the scold and correct the error. I did both. Deciding between the two was too much effort at five-thirty a.m.

In the second post about "manipulator scorned" I referred to former Councillor MacEachern having fired up the missile launch and lobbed a few already. I gave no particulars.My readers are fastidious. They like to make sense of my stories.

In and out of office,Mac earned notoriety for vituperative e-mails to chosen recipients,usually during the witching hours.

Since the election, all has apparently been quiet on that front.Those in the know know, recognize the evil genius behind Councillor Gaertner's obvious discontent.

Some disagree but I believe Councillor Gaertner would not have chosen that path for herself. I continue to hope she will begin to enjoy being a Councillor again. I shouldn't speak for colleagues but I'm pretty sure most would endorse that concern for her well-being.

Anyway,on Monday morning the rocket pad was apparently uncovered and made ready for use. Mac the Knife is firing them off, right left and centre.

If it means Councillor Gaertner is allowed to accept her role in the town's business while Mormac does their worst, things might get better all around.

Sticks and Stones and all that

Now for the previous missing details. Councillors have been offered Blackberries. Some had their own. I accepted one. I've had it two weeks.Not yet proficient. My regular assistants have been in Florida.

Apparently the do-hickeys were obtained for next to nothing as part of a package of large and small. Councillors use means records can be maintained of e-mail communications.Do not ask me why that matters. I do not know. My Council e-mails still come to my computer but they are routed through the town system.

I think it also means if it's turned on,I can be reached wherever I am. I have no idea what might occur at the town hall to require my immediate attention. No doubt all will become clear in the fullness of time.

In the meantime, the only thing I notice is added weight in my purse.I empty my purse of change to keep weight down.In all the years of carrying a purse, I have continued to feel burdened.

Anyway, the reason for that long harangue is that Mac has fired off e-mails
to discover who decided Councillors should have blackberries? When were they approved? What budget line item did they come from? What are Councillors' numbers?

Obviously,Councillors can expect to hear wherever and whenever the fancy strikes.

Monday was an interesting day. After refusing to withdraw a false accusation and being advised staff would not be directed to respond to questions, Councillor Gaertner did not participate in the discussion.

I am told Ms. Morris tapped furiously on the keypad before her. Councillor Ballard tweeted out a Hot Off the Table headline to his Twitter about Dawe muzzling Gaertner. Mac the Knife was probably promptly apprised and after lunch and a conference, Councillor Ballard sought , without success. to challenge the presiding member's decision.

Neither Councillor Gaertner or Ms Morris returned to the chamber after lunch.

Also...after years of freezing our buns off in the Council Chamber, with the great doors wide open, we are finally closing them to keep the heat in and the cold out. People attending meetings have to open the door and close it behind them.What a novel notion.

Accusations are now flying,of a lack of openness and transparency. That reminds me to ask for a check on energy use. Imagine how furiously furnaces burned to keep that frozen chamber warm...and didn't.

For seven years we talked about conservation and carbon footprints while we passed on the opportunity to use geo-thermmal in the Church Street school and burned thousands of thermal units of natural gas with accompanying exhaust while keeping the Chamber wide open to the winter chill.

We printed and distributed thousands of leaflets to encourage people not to litter
while cutting down the trees which absorb pollution and contributed to the supply of litter.

We paid and continue to pay, huge subsidies to trundle empty buses to and from the station,in rush hours, to encourage people to use transit, while spending in excess of $75 million dollars for a constantly lit building, to store cars for twelve hours a day in our precious downtown core space.

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Manipulator Foiled

Former Councillor MacEachern has fired up the missile launch and lobbed a few already.

Councillor Gaertner did not attend last night's Committee Meeting.

The Procedure Bylaw provides the presiding member with tools. When a Councillor breaches the rules,the chair has discretion.

Councillor Gaertner made an unsubstantiated allegation in a public meeting. Her evidence was refuted. The chair requested the allegation be withdrawn. The Councillor refused. Subsequently, at the following meeting of Council,at the start of business, the chair exercised the discretion of the chair.

A second opportunity to withdraw the unsubstantiated accusation was provided and again refused. The chair informed the Councillor no further questions from herself would be directed to any member of staff for a response.

Adopting rules of order without means of enforcement is perfectly pointless.

In a Parliament, if a member offends,officers of the house are on hand to escort said member from the house, by order of the chair.

In a political party, the leader may expel a member who has brought disrepute on the party or refuses to abide by caucus discipline.

A member expelled may no longer sit with the party. He has no role . He is unlikely to win a future nomination . His career is ignominiously shredded.

Unless of course he fell upon his sword for the noblest of reasons.

Few politicians willingly commit hari-kari

Councillor Gaertner accused the clerk of deliberately falsifying the record by recording herself as mover of a motion, when in fact, she called for the vote to be recorded at the precise moment a motion was anticipated. The Councillor's precipitate action brought forward a seconder to the motion. Moi.

Councillor Gaertner frequently declares herself to be confused. Things can get confusing at times. Anybody can make a mistake.

In this instance,it was the Councillor.

Accusing staff of deliberately falsifying the record cannot be allowed to stand.

Councillor Gaertner was not expelled from the Council Chamber. She was not ordered to vacate the seat she rightfully holds. The opportunity to fulfill her elected authority was not withdrawn.

The remedy is in the Councillor's hands. Acknowledge the mistake. Withdraw the accusation. Apologize for harm done. And move on for Goodness Sake.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

As An Aside...In Response to a Letter to the Auroran Editor

Nigel Kean is three times an also ran candidate for the Office of Mayor.

Twice he was elected to the office of Councillor and had six years to demonstrate his character, competence and suitability to hold the Office of First Citizen of the Town of Aurora.

He never reached his goal.

The names of the Fallen of the First World War from King, Whitchurch and Aurora are embedded in lead in the granite of the front panel of the War Memorial.

The names of the Fallen from the Second World War are chiselled into a granite slab on the Altar of Sacrifice.

No honor can be added to their names. In death, in whatever horrendous circumstances they endured, they earned the utmost respect of a grateful nation.

Nigel Kean can add nothing to the honour for which they paid the price.

They never came home.

We know not where they lie.

We shall not forget.

The effort to exploit their memory for his political advantage, is a telling trait which no doubt contributed to his failure to achieve the honour he aspired of being elected to the Office of Mayor of the Town of Aurora.

If Yonge Street was to be re-named Nigel Kean Street from Lake Ontario to the North Pole, it would avail him nothing.

Hectic but Orderly At Last

The week-end that was. I spent  Saturday and Sunday scrutinising the  2011 town  operations budget ready for  Monday' nine to four meeting  which  Council  and staff  spent  collectively scrutinising the document.

The start of  Monday was odd. The former Mayor was in attendance. At the press table behind me, apparently, I am told, with a tablet of some sort.  The  purpose was not obvious. I suspect it was also not realised .  Councillor Gaertner opted to surrender her right to participate in the process.   Whatever might have been previously planned did not come to be.

A  piece of unfinished business from the previous meeting  needed attention.

Councillor Gaertner, under  twisted logic, clear only to herself,  had accused the  Clerk of deliberately falsifying  the public record.

With the utmost respect and civility, the record was  read back to her precisely  as it  had happened. Still the Councillor insisted the minutes had been "doctored".

Another  Councillor raised a Question of Privilege. The presiding member called upon Councillor Gaertner to wthdraw the  accusation .The Councillor refused. The matter was left pending.

It could not be ignored. 

A statutary officer, responsible for accuracy of   the municipal records, can not stand accused of falsifying  records. The integrity of the corporation rests on the accuracy of the  records.Let them be proven wrong once, they are forever  vulnerable to challenge.

The accuracy of the records cannot be tinkered .Well they can. And indeed have been. But not without consequence. Most residents may recall a memorable incident associated with the ubiquitous Sher St. Kitts.

Where the town's procedure bylaw does not address an issue, Bourinot's Rules of Order are to  be the reference. There is  always a process .

On Monday morning, before the budget meeting commenced, Councillor Gaertner was asked once again to withdraw her accusation against the Clerk. Again she refused.Then the hammer fell. As the hammer must, if we are to have civilised dialogue within  a Council Chamber between administration and elected officials and records held beyond reproach. 

The presiding member informed the Councillor, questions from herself would no longer be directed to staff through the chair. That the resource was no longer available to her and would not be until she changed her mind and withdrew her accusation of wrong-doing.

The Councillor continued to insist she had done nothing wrong and she would simply sit in her chair for the rest of the meeting.

At lunch time she left. After lunch, Councillor Ballard sought the reference  in the Procedure Bylaw for authority to prohibit a Councillor from participating in her elected responsibilities. .

The response was; the decision is at the discretion of the presiding member. The former Mayor had also exited the chamber at the same time as Councillor Gaertner.

The meeting was productive. Questions were asked.  Responses fulsomely provided. The agenda for the day was completed on time. .

I was glad I had moved, in the term previous to the last,  that Rules of Order referenced in the Town of Aurora's Procedure Bylaw be changed  from Robert's to Bourinot's, the small Canadian catechism of orderly procedures.

Sunday 13 February 2011

A Legal Dilemma

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Aurora Citizen":

"Meetings are not for the purpose of Councillors going after each other or a staff member to settle real or imagined scores."

I guess that's why you go after staff on this blog -- you've repeatedly attacked the credibility and/or hiring of no less than the CAO, the CFO, the town solicitor and the communications officer


This comment exemplifies a dilemma.

My job is to bring forward a perspective  and cast a vote , as a citizen  and a taxpayer.Probably most residents would cite the taxpayer bit  as most important..

If I perceive, as a person with a ringside seat and authority to speak, we are not receiving value for the dollars we are obliged to pay in taxes, am I obliged not to express my views on the matter because an individual holds  the job.

In particular circumstances I would say yes.  In a Council meeting for example.

Council meetings are taped, televised and covered by  print media . Comments made become a matter of public record. It would be difficult, perhaps impossible,  to make a reference to a waste of tax dollars, in terms of a particular service, without casting aspersions against the  competence of  individuals  providing the service.

The majority of  a council  authorized the job to be created. A person in good faith  applied and was appointed. He exercises good judgment and does the job according to its terms of reference..

It's not his fault, the Councillor who did not believe the  job  to be  a good use of taxpayer dollars remains unconvinced.

Does that mean said councillor is obliged to remain silent  forever and a day, in the face of what she continues to believe is  largely a waste of tax dollars?

In terms of fairness to an individual, yes it does.

In terms of accountability to the taxpayer, not so much.

And therein lies the dilemma.

 I don't believe a small town like Aurora, should be carrying the burden of a  legal department with two full-time solicitors on the payroll.

I don't know when the decision was made to create the jobs. I don't know why. I returned to Council in 2004 and found a legal department with two solicitors and two law clerks.I was surprised but not averse. I like talking to lawyers.

It has taken until now and the comment  in quotes ,to bring me to the realisation ,I don't  believe in-house solicitors are a good use of  tax dollars.For several reasons.

Level of  competence has nothing to do with my conclusion.

The interaction between elected officials and lawyers is the problem. On the basis of my observations over the past seven years, I am prepared to say now, lawyers  on the staff complement of  a small municipality are  redundant  and not good use of the tax dollar
Depending on what I hear during budget discussions, I might even make a motion that the legal department budget be reduced by half.

Whether or not my argument, based  on  experience of what was before and what is now ,will be
well received , remains to be seen.  I doubt it. Does it mean it shouldn't be made?I don't think so.

I also doubt anyone would dispute  the argument is  mine to make. I will do it in public. I will do it
without casting aspersions on the competence of those who hold the  positions.

The budget  for the legal division is up for debate...just like all the rest..