"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 April 2011

We Got Principles ... If You Don't like 'em ...We Got Others.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Regional Question or Two And One At the Town Lev...":

Could you list ALL the events/charities to which the town makes a contribution, be it cash, waiver of fees, providing facilities requiring town staff labour/vehicles or any event that doesn't fall within the aforementioned?

Which are charities, which are entertainment and which are something else?

Finally, can you provide the cost to the town for each event, in direct dollars when cheques are issued, in waivers of fees, in labour provided by town staff including use of vehicles, and in any other category you can think of?

This will go a long way to being able to understand the demands made on the town, the problems, and how an appropriate policy might come to be written that is clear and fair to all.

Thank you.


The request requires a staff report. I believe any member of the public has a right to request such information from the town. There may be a fee. Certainly there is a cost for a page of printing.

The town has  Grant Funds in the budget. There is a  request form. .There is criteria within which staff may recommend a grant to Council  If the request does not fall within the criteria ,the  applicant will be advised of refusal and  has the option to approach  Council.

There is a  user fee policy  for use of town facilities. Arenas and swimming pool facilities have an hourly rate.

Rates for  groups and organisations  can be subsudised by revenue from commercial organisations.

For example, if the auditorium at the Community Centre on Aurora Heights Drive were to be in use  all the time,  revenuea would keep the hourly rate for  ice down.

Revenue from the Roger Neilson Hockey Club means  the swimming pool  deficit is  less than it would be without.

The more a facility is  used  the less the user fees. There are hours in the day when  facilities  are not in use.Competitive swimmers can be  in school or  at work. They can be out in the middle of the night to get the time they need to compete.

Ice time for figure skaters is more expensive than hockey players. A figure skater needs a patch. So there are not so many users on the same expanse of ice.

The Men's Soccer Club pays nothing for the Highlands  field. They have a club house with a licence. They cater weddings and funerals and election victory parties in competition with taxpaying businesses. They pay neither rent nor taxes nor user fees.I'm not even sure they get a bill for water or sewers. They get fire and police protection, garbage collection and snow clearing but they contribute nothing to the cost.

The lawn bowling club pays no fees . They used to maintain  the lawn  themselves. Numbers fell to twenty-seven and  members were not physically able to continue maintenance.So they asked the town to take it over. The town  did. No user fees are  charged. I noticed in the Aurora Citizen Blog, they are soliciting new members.

The Chamber of Commerce has a highly successful Home Show annually. The pay for the facilities for the days the home show is in operation.  They don't pay for the days it takes to set up and take down.

They also have the greatest street sale in the world in June. They don't pay for clean-up after it's over.

The town has a membership in the Chamber and we give them $8,Ks a year for something called a Platinum sponsorship. Nobody gets a prize or anything. The Town's Logo appears on the plaque.

The Bob Hartwell race for the Heart and Stroke Foundation was started to commemorate a Councillor who died while running a marathon.

Fees for facilities were waived when the event started. It has became highly successful. This year the name was  changed to  A&B Courier Service, A Newmarket company. The event  no longer commemorates Bob Hartwell  and we don't know if the organisers are local any more but we continue to waive the fees anyway.That was $750. worth of  manpower and vehicles to transport picnic tables and garbage bins and clean up afterwards.

A councillor commented when the decision was being made; "We should do it this one time"

The Relay for Life event, a fund-raiser for cancer is not a local organisation but they received a waiver of fees to the tune of $650. They raised  $80 Ks for the charity last year and expect  to do better this year. I guess they figured they needed free facilities. One Councillor figured the picnic tables and garbage bins wre just sitting there anyway. They didn't cost anything.

I'm inclined to think when  the name of the event  was sold  to A &B Courier Service, the Bob Hartwell Race for the Heart and Stroke Foundation might  have contracted  fund-raising out to a commercial fund-raising organisation. That would mean much of the money raised,  pays for salaries and such. It would be another reason why they would not be entitled to a grant.But they got it anyway.

Then of course we all know about the "sponsorship" for the  Commercial jazz festival in the park. They get the $975 user fee waived for the park and the bandshell. Plus a  $4Ks hand-out. The operator is not a town resident.

So we have policies in place to govern  grants. The purpose is to take the decisions out of politics. To ensure people are treated fairly and  equally and not by having friends in positions of power.

But the policy  allows the policy  to be bypassed and politicians to make favourable or unfavourable decisions as the case may be.

The main difference now is they can't do it without you knowing about it. 

Last year  staff granted a sponsorship  to the Jazz Festival without Council approval.

So,you see, while we convey to the world we have policies and principles that guarantee fairness and equality. ..   in reality we don't even pretend to be fair.

Tax dollars are collected and distributed  here and there in varying amounts  and  you are allowed  to guess  at the reason why.

Certainly no logic is offered because there is none.

Friday 29 April 2011

Strategic Plans

Metro Toronto existed  from 1954 until 1998 . Then the entire  area was amalgamated into the single city of Toronto.

 Metro's purpose was to preside over  growth  and  provide hard services in a logical and contiguous design  which eventually created a single urban municipality.

Boroughs within the area were reduced  sporadically  within the forty-three years. Decisions  of course were provincial. When duplicate top-heavy administrations no longer made sense  they were reduced to one.  Metro itself disappeared. The  City of Toronto survived as a huge megalopolis..

It took forty-three years. City problems are still immense. 

When I became Aurora's last Reeve and County Councillor, Metro was  fifteen years old. Toronto and York Roads Commissioner, the late  Jack Rettie was the number one official.  When Toronto and the Boroughs  separated from York County, Jack had the option of  going with Metro or staying with the County.

He chose the County. When  the Region  was created in 1971, he became Chief Administrative Officer.First solicitor of the Region was Ted Oakes. He had been  assistant solicitor in Metro.They were both a source of endless  information about their experiences. I soaked it up like a sponge.

York Region was the second  change in the County since the beginning , a hundred years before. The times they were exciting. Hopeful but by no means secure. Relations  between the Province and  municipalities were on a  more personal and co-operative level. An individual  could have an influence. A lone voice could be  heard.

I don't know the difference in the geographic area  between the Region and Metro. Responsibilities were the same. Objective was the same. Development would be controlled. Investment in public services would make sense.

Media coverage  was different. Political personalities in  the GTA  were familiar throughout.Much has changed but much has stayed the same.

Growth in York Region is taking  the same path  it did in Metro

The northern municipalities have seen growth but the area is still largely rural.

Now there is talk of Lake Simcoe being the resource for hard service to service the northern area. If that happens, development between here and Lake Simcoe will spread like wild fire.

Will it take another forty years. I doubt it.It took only forty-four  for Metro to become completely urbanised . A myriad of government  units disappeared gradually before final amalgamation of the city

The number of municipalities were reduced by half in the Region at the beginning. Aurora and Newmarket were shown as a single urban node. We fought that.We survived another forty years.

Newmarket is grown out almost completely to her boundaries. We have water and sewer allocations  for only fifteen thousand more people.

Council  just authorised a consultant study costing $80Ks for a strategic plan covering the next twenty years.

We have had a strategic plan since the mid nineteen-nineties. Updated every five years at minimal expense.

Now we are stretching our vision to twenty years. The Region is stretching its vision to fifty years.

The likelihood of either government's survival  is doubtful at best. Spending $80Ks on consultant's to hatch a strategy for twenty years ahead, at this time in our history,  is utter nonsense.

Thursday 28 April 2011

A Regional Question or Two And One At the Town Level

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "An $18million Story Of Stupidity":

Does the Region have its own parks, or are the parks within the Region the sole responsibility of the individual component towns?

Most plants, including trees, will flourish if located properly and managed appropriately.

Does the Region not have on its staff one or more persons who could have provided some criteria for this project?

This appears to be another example of gross incompetence and mismanagement involving the cost to taxpayers of many millions of dollars, not to speak of the lack of trees to soften and enhance a street, a neighbourhood.

The Regional chairman has never been elected by taxpayers so far as I know, rather by Regional Councillors, often unopposed.

Does any of this make sense?

If I wanted to write a note about every piece of government mismanagement municipally, provincially or federally I would need half a dozen stenographers to jot down my thoughts, my voice and appetite would have disintegrated and I would be on the edge of some sort of breakdown.

How do you manage to dish out all this crap so consistently?


It's not  hard "to dish out all this crap so consistently"  There's a ready supply . The story about the $18 million dollars worth of waste on planting trees in hostile soil, where they would be  splashed with road salt all winter and suffer from drought all summer was written and circulated  by the Region's communication department in a media release. The Chairperson was quoted and the Chairman of the committee, the Mayor of Whitchurch- Stouffville  They  particularly wanted people to know of their responsibility in the matter. Like they are proud of their efforts.

Furthermore, they are going to keep on doing the same thing, except they are putting in a trench of growing soil for new trees, watering them fourteen times a year  instead of ten and putting some kind of cap on them so that the water is directed to the roots.

That will mean  new watering  trucks and a manpower crew.The trees will still be drenched with winter salt,the roots will quickly reach the bad soil  and they will  continue to waste  millions trying to nurture trees in a totally hostile environment.

Because trees are good for the environment dontcha know? All you gotta do is  spend millions to get the little suckers to survive adverse conditions and your name will be forever known as a champion of the environment.

Undoubtedly  there were experts to advise. The Region does  nothing without an army of experts. We know them as consultants. Neither  as expert as they should be or simply masquerading for politicians or the high price personnel.

I am simply a channeler. I read or experience the stuff and pass it on. I am like Shirley Valentine. She talked to the kitchen wall and  a large black rock on  a white sand Greek beach. My wall is Blog. I only know people are reading in a  daily average of five hundred and  by  the occasional comment and the people who wring my hand and make me promise to keep telling them what's going on.

Fact is, I need to keep writing. It keeps me sane. When I fail to convince Councillors, I always have my readers to turn to for solace.

Take Tuesday night, there was the budget and skewed water  rates that didn't get fixed and a couple of other dooseys.

A cancer fund raising group had asked council to waive user fees of $650

There is no fee to use the park. Parks are public places. If an organisation plans an event in the park, they need picnic tables and garbage bins and a clean-up before and after. There is a cost.

User fees are not plucked from the sky. We know the hourly rate of manpower and the hourly rate for a truck. User fees are an exact reflection of cost. There is no profit factor. If we do not charge the user, the tax-payer pays the freight.

We pick the pockets of the taxpayers to fill town coffers. We do not have a money mint in the town hall basement.We are bound to use the money for services to the community.It is not our money to hand out as largesse wherever we fancy. like  Lady Bountiful.

Council struck the  user fee policy aeon's  ago in order to  assure  the community that everyone receives fair and equal treatment There is a grant policy and  criteria to determine eligibility.Eighty per cent of the group or organisation must be Aurora based, in order to receive a grant from Aurora funds

The most recent group soliciting a  hand-out  is an established  and successful cancer fund- raising group. They raised $80ks last year and anticipate more this year. But still they seek  to cut down on the overheads. They received it before so why not?

It swells their end numbers slightly and the plaudits they receive.

Councillor Thompson  has a resolution on record directing staff to prepare a policy to deal with such requests. So that Council will have precedents to lean on when considering requests. He has been publicly commended for his foresight.

This last request was referred to staff to process as a grant.

Staff  recommended it be refused. It does not meet the grant criteria.The 80% residential qualification is not met.

Ho! Ho!

Councillor Thompson  however solemnly and righteously moved the  hand-out  be  handed out.  . He said we should not use  grant funds. We should  use the Council's discretionary fund instead. As if the money did not still come from the  taxpayers' pockets and the group seeking  the hand-out were still not from outside Aurora.

He said the picnic tables and garbage bins are just sitting there anyway. They don't cost money.

Six  other councillors  and the Mayor agreed .Councillor Gaertner

So you see, the municipality  can have a policy. It can be clear and succinct. It can calculate to the penny, the cost of providing a service. It 's purpose  can be to assure the public of fair and equal and transparent decision making  and it can still be set aside for hocus pocus. smoke and mirrors and abrecadabra  accompanied by soulful glances, full of compassion.

A whole schmier of histrionics and not an ounce of integrity.

The policy  is applied to small groups who don't have much political clout. But not to organisations that  get public attention.

It's the kind of thing that earns politics and politicians  rancid reputations while they still fondly and sincerely believe, they are being righteous, full of the milk of human kindness and they will win he rewards  at the polls as being  solely in the interest of the common good  except for the people who trusted them to protect their interest. 

Like the blockheads at the region, who  themselves revealed the facts of their $18million tree planting debacle, they will reap what they sow and I cannot  help them or save them from themselves.

So...why should I protect them.

Unlike the Region, people in Aurora do pay attention.

They will have their day.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Tree Planting For Free

Last week-end 214 high school  students committed to spend three hours  on  Easter  Saturday morning planting 1,475 trees in Aurora.

200  were planted in East Gwillimbury.

950 were planted  in Newmarket.

Lake Simcoe Conservation authority provided the trees and shrubs,

Neighborhood Network provided the volunteers.

Aurora parks provided the locations.

Mayor Dawe provided pizza and a good time was had by all.

Quite the contrast to a year ago when the project was not permitted in Aurora.

Something To Share...

April 24. 2011

Dear Mayor Dawe,
The core of any society lies in the cultural achievements of its community.  Culture is what survives in the accomplishments of a people – what we write, depict, sing about and build – not our wars, petty disputes, passing fads or careless concerns.  Culture is the best of what we do.  That is why it is laudable that the city of Aurora has chosen to honour the meaningful activities of people by investing in the Aurora Cultural Centre.
I cannot begin to count the ways in which Aurora is extremely fortunate to have the capable and inspirational leadership of Laura Schembri and her team who work indefatigably at this cultural centre.  These people have a powerful, world-class vision of an inclusive and thoughtful community which wants meaningful experiences to educate all who come to the centre. In just one year, they have brought superb programs in music, art, and literature to both young and old alike; they have opened the eyes of the soul to the insights of visual artists through powerful art exhibitions in their galleries and hallways; they have celebrated the artistic efforts of even one small boy whose only  goal is to give to the less fortunate.
My solo exhibition at the Aurora Cultural Centre, “Who Am I? In Search of an Answer” is coming to a close.  My personal journey to finding identity is a controversial one and I commend Laura Schembri and her staff for sharing my story with the public, enthusiastically and with courage.  Laura has a passion for the telling of truth and does not waver from her convictions.  You have an Executive Director who deserves huge acccolades for her dedication and very hard work.
I, for one, as a member of the Aurora community, thank you for your commitment to a high quality of education through the generous funding of this unique cultural centre. I know that you will continue to cherish the work by these people and their valuable role in making Aurora a great community in which I am proud to live.
Thank you for your foresight and vision.
Lillian Michiko Blakey
Past President, The Ontario Society of Artistsggdaweg


The Culture Centre has filed their financial statement with the town.  In  the year 2011. they have budgeted for a $100Ks deficit.

They have a building for which they pay no rent. Maintenance of $143Ks is provided by the town. They will received $346Ks of your tax dollars to spend . They are planning to over-spend that by $100Ks.  

An $18million Story Of Stupidity

The following is a media release from the Region of York.

In 2001,  the region started planting trees They planted 19000 trees . Spent 18 million dollars. 

In 2003,they discovered only 29% of the trees survived and they were not in good health. 

Then they discovered what it takes for newly planted trees to survive.

IN 2010, they discovered newly planted trees  at the side of the street struggled  to survive the first five years due to  poor soils,winter road salt and summer drought. 

Who'd a thunk it.  After nine years, and $18 million, the Region discovered the hard way, what a street
tree needs to kill it. 

In the year 2010.


And they published a media release to tell the world how they buried  $18million of our tax dollars at the sides of  regional  roads, let the salt get at it , watered it into the ground, then let it dry up in a drought and blow away in the wind.

I heard the Region is two billion dollars in debt.

NEWMARKETThe Regional Municipality of York has approved key improvements to the Regional Street Tree program to benefit the health of trees in urban areas. The new program includes improvements to both soil quality and quantity along boulevards, as well as increasing the frequency of watering.

In 2001, York Region established the Regional Street Tree program as part of our Streetscaping Policy. Since that time, 19,000 street trees have been planted, increasing the total to more than 32,000 trees along urban corridors.
Street trees are a key component of the urban forest which improves the quality of our environment by providing clean air, shade and a pleasing aesthetic to our neighbourhoods,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch. “Improving the survival rates and overall health of these trees enhances the quality of life in our communities and protects an $18 million asset that becomes more valuable over time.”

In 2003, a street tree survey found only 29 per cent of these trees were considered to be in good health, prompting critical program improvements to tree planting and maintenance practices. These improvements included increasing watering from four times a year to 10 times each year, installing Gator bags on newly planted trees to distribute water directly to tree roots, increased mulching, tree pruning improvements and changes to tree selection practices to focus on best growing tree stocks while maintaining tree diversity.

Following these improvements, a 2010 survey revealed a dramatic increase in the overall health of street trees, with 76 per cent found to be in good health. However, it also found that due to poor soils, exposure to winter road salt and drought conditions in summer, newly planted trees were still struggling to survive in the first three to five years after planting.

To assist the health of street trees in the critical first few years, the new program increases watering from 10 times a year to 14 times each year and introduces the use of a soil trench along the boulevard. The soil trench will provide a three-metre wide growing space with quality soil to better nourish the trees’ growing root system and increase the health and vigour of newly planted trees.

Establishing comprehensive new planting and maintenance practices for our Regional Street Tree program represents a direct investment in the health, prosperity and sustainability of our urban forest,” said Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville Mayor Wayne Emmerson, Chair of the Region’s Transportation Services Committee. “Placing an emphasis on tree survival during the first few years is a wise investment and will help ensure that our trees thrive through the vulnerable stages and continue to prosper.”

York Region staff are preparing a multi-year business plan for consideration in the 2012 Business Plan and Budget to accommodate for program costs.both soil quality and quantity along boulevards, as well as increasing the frequency of watering.

A Maelstorm

It's how I think of the  last four years  of council. Certainly, it felt like I was in the eye .

It's natural to think  most  residents were paying attention. But I've been in politics too long for my imagination to take such a flight of fancy.

I  did however believe  candidates in the election were familiar with the  issues engendered over the term .

I was wrong .  I am not alone.

Last Wednesday, after the All- Candidates meeting  and the crowd had thinned out,a resident came around the table to introduce himself . He wanted to thank me for my stand on water rates increases. He could not understand why other councillors  had not joined me.

He spoke  of a conversation he had with his wife. If the increases went through, they would have  to sell their home in Aurora .They do not want to do that but they would have no choice.

He said he worked hard in the election for a particular candidate He is very disappointed.

Couldn't understand how he could have been so wrong. He is waiting for the opportunity to tell the elected member  how he feels.

He is not alone in his sense of betrayal.

I've  been hearing it  since the election.

We are  still a hundred times better off  than before.

But Oh My ...

How candidates in our election could remain so sublimely oblivious to the issues that infuriated  taxpayers during the last term is not credible. But it's true.

Last night, Council finally understood, something is seriously wrong  and unequal  with the town's calculation and collection of  water rates and other  charges.

But the Bylaw to impose the new rates  passed anyway.

They are not honest, They are not equal. They do not stand up to scrutiny.

Correcting them would transfer costs to the budget that sets the tax rate,

We passed the budget anyway.

It is the first budget of the new Council.

It does not commend them.


Tuesday 26 April 2011

About Water Rates

Last night, my  mind was running over the issue of  water rate  increases  The inclusion of $49.32 for residential storm sewer on the bill came back to haunt and  infuriate.

Over the years it has been non- identified as miscellaneous on the bill. Out of Council, I challenged it. What right does the municipality have to collect a fee on the water and sewer bill and not identify  the service?

For all we know we  could be paying for a night out for the boys. How dare they charge for something and not say what?

Finally, it was identified as an amount was for managing storm water.

So ....what does storm water have to do with  water  consumption,  used and spilled out to sanitary  sewers?

We don't have storm water ponds in my neighbourhood. Why are we paying for them?

Well....it's about re-habilitating Lake Simcoe.

What does that  have to do with servicing my home with water and sewers, which is the purpose of water meters,water rates, and  the principle of charging consumers for water they consume and the bill I receive every quarter?

No answer was ever provided to that.

As long as the Council supported the charge  no logic needed to be  provided.

Turning it over in my mind again last night,still another question occurred to me. We have a  number of homes in Aurora, serviced by private wells and septic tanks. Do they receive a bill for managing storm water ponds? Are they contributing to re-habilitation of Lake Simcoe.

I was up early this morning. The  new water rate is on the agenda to be approved to-night. It went through general committee again last week. A report was submitted which finally acknowledged that an estimated 12% water loss is not water loss at all. It is  non-metered  water used by town departments, like parks irrigation and street cleaning and such. The estimate was increased last year from 8% to 12% and again by 1% this year and folded into the  rate we pay for water we consume in our homes instead of charged to  tax supported services provided by various town departments.

Last year, I requested proof of water loss. Instead  non-metered uses  have been  identified. Which was my contention all along. 

This morning I wanted the answer to  a new  question. Do homes  that  do not receive water  and sewer bills get charged  $49,32 a year for storm water management?

The clock turned to 8.38 a.m. Pamphlet in  hand  I called the town.

Aurora   You're in  Good Company.   Understanding And Managing Your Water Bill.  After a little homily about how precious a resource water is, the pamphlet displays a phone number to make billing inquires.

A cheerful voice answered.My question was  asked. I could hear it, on the tip of a tongue  touching the roof of the mouth was the answer.

Then she said. I will put you through to the deputy treasurer to answer that question.

If was eight-forty eight a.m. He did not pick up his phone. I pressed zero. Got the answering machine of the previous speaker. Pressed zero again. Got someone who could not answer but offered to forward my question to the Director.

From the last term, instructions are, only Directors are permitted to  answer Councillors' questions.

It is 9.23a.m.  no call received yet.

I'm betting  people who live on estate lots and service their own homes with water and septic tanks are not contributing to the rehabilitation of Lake Simcoe like the rest of us.

Only  urban-dwellers  metered  for water  consumption ,charged for water they do not consume are paying for the re-habilitation of Lake Simcoe.

Still another charge has been shifted  to our shoulders this year. Three subdivisions in the east are serviced with local  sewage pumping stations.  The homes could not have been serviced without the stations. A separate charge for maintenance and operation was legally established at the time  subdivision site plans were agreed and signed.

This year, the Director of Environmental and Infrastructure has decided the agreements are "arcane".

Extra cost for servicing those particular homes should be shared amongst the rest of us. The subdivisions are between ten and fifteen years old.

That too  appears to be acceptable to the rest of Council.

D'you know, when I was a new Councillor.I challenged everything I didn't understand. Which was mostly everything.We have a different breed of new councillors now. Apparently,  they know everything they need to know to  accept direction without question.

Which is why I understand homeowners in Aurora are not getting a fair shake and they don't.

It's 9.41am. I still don't have the answer about the charge for rehabilitating Lake Simcoe on homes that do not receive water and sewer rate bills from the town.

Well I ask you, how could they explain it?

So, it's past ten. I have received the answer. Properties with private wells and septic tanks do not pay the residential storm sewer rate. They do not have stormsewers. Storm drainage is by way of ditches and culverts.

As is my subdivision and many other neighbourhoods in town. Still we pay for storm water management which are ponds in newer subdivisions. The purpose of which is  rehabilitation on Lake Simcoe.

Not a damn thing to do with how much water we use or sewage we produce. But its a surcharge on the water bill anyway.But only for urban residents.

Now understand this. Staff recommend to Council how best to  recover expenditures for water services. If the increases are not reflected in water rates . They must be reflected in tax rates.

If they are reflected in tax rates, they are shared equally across the municipality.

If they are reflected in water rates, they are not.

When  Council adopts staff recommendations, Council is the body responsible for imposing  water rate increases.Council is responsible for deliberately creating inequity among taxpayers.

I have been unable to discern any  concern on the part of this council for the 24% increase in water rates imposed on some ratepayers but not on others  in the past  two years.

That is profoundly disappointing.

Monday 25 April 2011

The Great Debate

It's easy to criticise.  Last Tuesday was my first time being a panel member. I had a few hours  to come up with questions. II didn't do it that well. More time would have made a difference.  But I wasn't a candidate so it didn't matter much. Except  I am my greatest critic in anything I do.

I thought  the candidates acquitted themselves well. Vanessa Long made the greatest impresssion but  won't make a difference.Much of the audience were there in support of one candidate or another. Few   minds would be changed by the debate.

I'm having a vigorous argument with my grand-daughter Stephanie ,at  the moment. She is very dis-satisfied with what 's on offer. I 'm having a hard  time persuading her the onus is upon her own shoulders.

The democratic system works best with two parties. If neither  represents what she thinks they should, she should join one  and set about contributing to change.

Splinter parties create splinters. You can't build a damned thing with splinters.Even the Three Little  Pigs found  that out to their distinct disadvantage.

An election is too late to correct things.

 A grandson, just finished high school last year, informed me last night,he knows the NDP candidate. From high school...  currently a university student. Couldn't attend the debate because of exams. Doesn't have many signs.

Does anyone imagine there was  a nomination contest? Of course not. The candidate  probably  allowed  her name to stand. So  the NDP can claim to be a national party with a candidate in every riding.

That's a bit of a scam isn't it? Well it's good for candidates in  secure NDP ridings to pretend they have a chance to form a government.

I didn't read of a nomination battle for the Liberal candidacy either. It  could mean Kyle Petersen has agreed to take time  from  normal existence to fight for  the Liberal Banner.

What if he didn't?

What if the Hybrid- Conservative candidate was the only  choice?

Certainly the candidate's table was largest, the display the most  extravagant.  Whatever money could buy was on that table.

Money is power, they say.

Can it buy anything?

Well yes....probably...eventually.

Can it buy your vote?

Possibly. Are you  aware of its influence?  Probably not.

Is it a good thing for money to buy your vote?

Ah Yes my friend....but that is the question.

What price is your vote ?

Will more jail cells  do it for you? Will  sexual predators who managed to torture and murder repeatedly before they were trapped by their own mistakes, being  in jail but not forever,make you willing to sell your vote?

Will scrapping the long gun registry, though you've never owned a gun or likely to, make you feel
safer in your bed at night? Is that the price of your vote?

In Welland, the last manufacturing plant is closing its doors. Real estate values have fallen through the floor.   Wellanders are in complete despair.   Free Trade did that for us.  You forgot about that, didn't you. It's what made Ontario a have- not province.

Remember Michael Wilson's and Brian Mulroney's assurances?

My grand-daughter Stephanie was only ten  when that happened. She graduated from university several years ago. Underemployed since and unemployed now, Didn't learn much about politics in any  school she attended.

Anyway,  when it comes right down to it.What is  the price of your vote?  Is it  about being assured of your  safety  on the streets and in your bed , when you didn't even know you weren't?

Is it about knowing your neighbours are unemployed because of a deliberate government policy?

Is it about food banks being the order of the day and  an entire generation  growing up knowing they are second-class citizens without much hope for anything better?

Or is it about hope and confidence and trust that in this great country  our forebears built for us, the best is yet to come.

And it will only happen, as it did before, by being there for each other.

Saturday 23 April 2011

The Elaborate Scam

I went to sleep thinking about Conflict of Interest and wakened up thinking about the first time it was suggested to me.

Ironically by the same lawyer retained by Council to examine the facts of the Morris law suit; George Rust D'Eye.

It was the  November night of the Great Emergency during the last term..A Council meeting had convened .The former Mayor declared Council would now go into closed session and drew attention to the  presence of solicitor George Rust D'Eye in the Council chamber.

The rest of Council filed obediently out. The Mayor brought the solicitor to my side.He wanted to have a few words with me, she said. and  both indicated it should be outside  the chamber.

I invited the solicitor to grab a seat. The Mayor left.

Mr. Rust D'Eye 's opening was a question. Had I retained a solicitor?

I answered ... Why would I do that?

He said  he was not suggesting it.

He proceeded to elucidate the seriousness of  the new Conflict of Interest Act

I had not retained a solicitor, neither  had I invited Mr.Rust D'Eye to advise me, I thought but I didn't say it.I did not want to be rude.

As he talked, his purpose became apparent. My presence was not welcome in the in-camera meeting. I might hear something to my advantage, if the matter were to  proceed to litigation.

At that point I decided  it was time to attend the meeting.

I said. "I am a member of  council. I have a right  to be at this meeting.That is exactly what I intend to do"

If the subject  was such,  a duly elected Councillor should not attend then which Councillor did have a right to be there.Was there in fact a right to hold the meeting?

A news story  had reported Council  turned down a request by the Police Chief and  Regional Chairman to sell land. at the asking price, the town had for sale, to build the Regional Police Headquarters.

The presumption was a leak from an in camera meeting.

It was decided in September. "The leak" was in November. Decisions made behind closed doors are required to be reported out to the public.

Weeks  passed. No sign of reporting out. The entire police department,  were aware of the incredible decision. Yet a leak was presumed.

In camera meetings are not for the purpose of giving cover to  political gamesmanship.

If the municipal interest is harmed by information  being revealed for an improper purpose ; a financial advantage; to sell  in return for a bribe; a serious breach of trust has occurred. That's a criminal offence.

Refusal to sell  land we had for sale at the  asking price  for the purpose of building the Regional Police Headquarters was far more damaging to the public interest than the public becoming aware of the fact..

The reason for refusal added nothing to its lustre.

The harridan pair were engrossed  in their determination to degrade an officer of the corporation sufficiently to compel him to quit

The vote was  not to refuse to sell the lands. The vote was  not to authorise the official to continue to negotiate an agreement.

The great foo-for-aa  about a need for legal advice to deal with the scandal  of a leak and a rogue councillor  was nothing more than an elaborate scam to divert attention from a plan to claim credit where none was due.

Friday 22 April 2011

Elizabeth Bishenden has left a new comment on your post "Paul Sesto's Demand For Clarification":

"The report suggests Conflict of Interest on the part of the former Mayor. Filing a complaint would certainly produce the information sought by Mr.Sesto . A judicial decision would be made, one way or another."

Does anyone in town have the heart or stomach for another lawsuit?

I think not.


Elizabeth, it's clear the decision made by Council to terminate the legal contract and pay fees for  which the parties were "severally and jointly liable", has not satisfied many members in  the community.

Including myself. 

Mr. Sesto is not the only citizen demanding to be informed of how this appalling situation  proceeded to the point it did. Several other lengthy, articulate and persistent letters have been received by Council.
The community is not satisfied to let this matter go.

As it stands , nothing is clear. Even after the town spent  an additional $5,600. on  legal fees, information  obtained is not being released. The taxpayers paid for it. Yet they are not permitted to receive it.

A Conflict of Interest charge is not a law suit. It is a judicial review. All facts are revealed. No stone is left unturned.

Despite  laws and legal advice, nothing is legal until a judge says it is.

If  anyone in the community is  interested in pursuing the truth to the end, I can provide  a  name  and resource.

Paul Sesto's Demand For Clarification

Was forwarded to The Mayor and Council and copied to The Auroran and the  Aurora Citizen Blog.

Responding to Mr. Sesto's questions one by one is not my responsibility.The decisions he challenges were not mine.

I did not attend the closed door meeting on September 14/15 , where a critical comment by an anonymous poster to a blog was referred and discussed.

In my view, it never  was  a matter for council deliberation.

Mr.Cooper, town solicitor had given that advice to Council previously and publicly when unfounded and unsubstantiated alllegations against a councillor were encouraged to be made in public by the former Mayor,

His advice was dis-regarded then

However, I fully expected him to repeat it behind closed doors and the matter would not have been on the table for discussion.

It is my position none of what happened that night should have .

I believe it did because the former Mayor and Councillor MacEachern never saw a policy, procedure or tradition that applied to them. I believe policies and procedures were ignored for two reasons:
  1. I believe the former mayor obtained legal advice suitable to her purpose prior to
    the meeting. There was certainly no council approval for that.
2. I believe the open-ended resolution was  calculated and written prior to the meeting.

3. the support of former Councillors Granger and Wilsom amd current Councillors Gaertner and Gallo provided the majority needed to carry out the intent.

4. I do not believe all of the above mentioned Councillors understood the intent.

Since I do not believe this action is entitled to be protected with confidentiality, I sought Council approval to release the report of George Rust D'Eye.

I was not successful.

The report  suggests Conflict of Interest on the part of the former Mayor. Filing a complaint would certainly produce the information sought by Mr.Sesto . A judicial decision would be made, one way or another.

So far as “new” policies to be struck by the current Council,as referred in the Town's Media Release, policies are already in place which would have prevented this scandalous affair.

No elected official including the Mayor has free access to the town treasury. No politician with any sense of survival would wish to have it.

Since any formal conversation with legal counsel has a tab, that means no politician has free and unbridled access to solicitors for any municipal purpose.

We need no new policies. We need adherence to current policies.

We also need staff , secure in their positions as advisors to Council of adopted policies , procedures and practices of municipalities.

But despite all measures, a mindless and persistent block of six votes will undermine integrity and propriety every time.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Just A Wee Bit Of A Thing

For seven years. I froze in the Council  Chamber in the winter. The doors had to be kept open to signify opennes and transparency.

I railed against the ass-backwards logic and the contradiction to  the hype about  conserving energy.

People came to the meeting to hear a particular issue. When they left and stayed around in the reception area to  chat , they had to be shooed out because Council was in session and the doors had to be kept open.

On Tuesday night, supporters of the trail system were out in force. When they left the chamber, they stayed in the lobby to chat. Through the closed doors, their voices were a soft comforting rumble.

They were using their town hall how it was intended.

If all is not right with the world. In Aurora,things are improving.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Tyler Said

Tyler questions why I am a moderator on the panel of the Federal almost All- Candidates Meeting since i have openly declared my choice in the election.

Tyler is an undecided voter and twenty- four years old.

I am not the moderator Tyler. I am a member of the panel because I was invited to participate and am pleased to do so.

The event is sponsored by The Auroran weekly newspaper as a community service. All-
candidate meetings are not part of the formal election process. If no-one volunteers to oranize such an event, it doesn't happen.

If you have concerns about the propriety of a person declared to be voting Liberal
being part of the panel, you will have to make a decision. This may be the only opportunity you get to see and hear the candidates in the election.

It is going to be on television.

You will have the usual control. I wish you well in your deliberation.

A Small Update On Westhill Legal Costs

I asked for confirmation that the figures given included  costs for the  Divisional Court  proceedings.

They did but another paid invoice had been overlooked so the check was worthwhile.

The new figures  are $498,279.43 for legal. Consultants' costs were $169,678.35.

For a total of $656,678.35.

The figures do not include staff time. Nor lost assessment  of mega millions of dollars.

Imagine being a staff person being compelled to take  a route which you know leads nowhere. Knowing how much  public money and private, is flushing down the sewer.day by day.

Having to say ... Yes Ma-am Yes Ma-am  Three bags full Ma-am

Never, ever being able to say what you think .

Being forced to be complicit in acts that are the absolute opposite of the public good.

Knowing where the bones are buried and hoping against hope ,they will never be discovered.


To-night at six-thirty  nearly all candidates meeting will be held  in the Aurora Council Chamber.

Most candidates will be present

A panel  consisting of Alison Collins Mrakas, Grace Marsh, Brock Weir, Chris Watts and  me will ask a list of wildly exciting questions .

The meeting is sponsored by The Auroran . Mayor Geoff  Daw will bring greetings from the town.

The format is published in this week's  Auroran..

Unfortunately it  may be understood to mean  next Wednesday because that's what it says or so I am told.

Don't let that stop you.

Come one...Come all...bring the family. Tell your friends.

No charge for admission

If I had  a bell. I would ring-a-ding-ding

Tuesday 19 April 2011

I Hear

Councillor Ballard has a blog.

The  Councillor has worn his heart on his sleeve for the Mormac administration since the beginning.

Whatever opportunities present to  find fault with  newly elected Mayor  Dawe and Council,  Ballard, Gaertner and Gallo (not so much) make merry.

As if the electorate had not  repudiated  the dreadful duo and all their works, clear and apparent in the last election.

I do not read Ballard's Blog. I have no expectations of it. I  received an excerpt  from an anonymous donor.  I know not why.

It seems the Councillor objects to a media release.  It pertains to legal fees incurred in a scandalous law suit by the former Mayor against three families in the community. The majority voted to pay.

The Councillor claims since he did not  agree with the decision , the media release has no legitimacy.

The logic escapes me. The Councillor was absent the meeting where the decision was made. His alter ego removed herself from the chamber with  a convoluted rationale, she subsequently requested be included in the minutes.

The media communication  was circulated to councillors as  released.

Within minutes, outraged  e-mails were received from the rear end  of the Mormac Duo, demanding to know  who  authorised it and how.

When  a Council  majority makes a decision, it becomes the town's decision. Why is that  so hard to understand?

It is the essential principle of democracy.

The majority rules.

The minority can and shall be heard.

Irony of ironies...$126,200 that I know about,were spent last term  by the Mormac administration, to silence the minority.

Now Ballard has his  blog. He has the  right to state his  position.. Clearly hopes for Mormac vindication  rest on his and Gaertner's ongoing efforts to discredit the current administration.

Now there's a plan .

So he criticises the current council for dwelling on the past and  challenges the normal process of  a media release.

Much ado about nothing.

Monday 18 April 2011

Westhill Costs...Legal and Consultant Fees

I asked for them this morning.Received them this afternoon.

A straighforward request. A straighforward response.

How refreshing.

Starting in November 2007 to date, legal fees (including expenses for court reporter at the OMB hearing) are $488,404.42.

From April 30th 2007 to date consultant costs for the Westhill matter are $16,678.35

Total for both, legal and consultant $649,082.77

There is no reference to court costs for the five failed attempts to argue a consolidated board hearing was necessary .

I  expect they will be additional . I will check tomorrow.

Toronto Is The Tail That Wags The Dog

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Toronto council has -- for years -- kept taxes unrealistically low. They're now facing massive deficits because of this. Not to mention they're always crying poor to the province and the feds. ****************************** When the Province issued the edict  in the late sixties,that property assessment had to be measured by market value, at first, they allowed municipalities to make the decision. The City of Toronto, part of Metro then,simply refused. It was a source of bitterness for thirty years between the city and the boroughs. There was no equity  between new homes in the newly built borough and  old properties in the city. The Boroughs , because the assessment was new, carried  an unequal burden  of Metro's expenditures..  What was intended to equalise the burden simply entrenched  inequity. No Provincial government  ever had the courage to deal with Toronto's refusal. When Metro was dissolved and the City amalgamated, Regions surrounding Toronto  were required to shoulder the cost of Toronto's social services to reduce the horrendous impact of the amalgamaation. York's share was $75 million.a year. This year, I see that is now reduced to $13 million. There  was nothing fair or equitable in that provincial decision. They  simply  bank on citizens of the regions not paying attention understanding,  or being in the least bit interested. I  assume the woman in the Globe story resides in the old city of  Toronto. The  assessed value of her home and the taxes she pays bears no relationship to what we pay. Nor do the municipal services available to her compare  to ours. How can  it be? Well mainly I think because  there is no-one and has not been anyone at the Region prepared to go to bat for the region's residents.Not since the beginning. They occupy an extremely comfortable pew up there and none of them, including staff now, have any sense of the history history.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Make a Note Of This

It's a story in the Globe and Mail about how a woman  of seventy-three living in Toronto should plan with a few details about current circumstances.

Get this;

House $520,000; registered investments $187,300; TFSA $7,800; chequing account $7,200; insurance cash value $5,900. Total: $728,200.
Monthly disbursements
Property taxes $290; home maintenance $250; home insurance $75; health and dental insurance and expenses $225; transportation $45; heat, hydro and water $195; phone, cable, Internet $90; food $250; clothes $75; charities $10; gifts $100; books, music $50; education/hobbies $50; vacations $85; other $100; business expense $120; professional dues $25; savings $865. Total $2,900.

Pay particular attention to the value of the home. The property tax. And the cost of heat light and water. The house is a century home in Toronto.

Now would anyone else  still like to argue  that here  in Aurora ,we are getting a bargain.

A Tidbit From The Homeshow

A Chamber Member showed me the same card Councillor Abel produced at Council last Tuesday.

It was a St Kitts  Music promotion.

The question was; did I know who was distributing the card? I did not.

I did notice however   continued absence of   acknowledgment of support from the Town of Aurora.

Council has  a recommendation on Tuesday's agenda from the C.A.O. to release $5 Ks to the Snowball outfit ,as approved.

I understand  the Jams and Jelly lady from  the Farmer's Market, was responsible for distributing the card.

Chamber rules are  only those renting a booth at the Show are entitled to promotion rights.

How much more evidence of a total lack of respect  for principle does one need?

The Jams and Jellies lady is a member of the cabal of women that includes  several familiar names.

A Point Can Be Made

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Westhill Development Application":

What about all the wasted staff time with the last council? Maybe we don't need all the additional staff now, and therefore we don't need refurbishment of the town hall.

There is a point to be made.   At the same time, I have been behind the scenes in the treasury department.

Just once; to receive instruction for my blackberry.

My impression is a huge amount of  space is taken up with filing cabinets. People are squeezed in here and there. It is definitely oppressive.

 Staff time was  wasted on the Westhill application.  Council did not accept  planning recommendation for approval in principle with  continued work on outstanding matters in March 2008. They did not accept the Region' s comments. They did not accept advice from the Ministry of Environment or the Toronto and Region Conservations Authority or South Lake Simcoe Conservation authority.

I believe they encouraged neighbours to the property to spend resources on a wild goose chase to win a consolidated board hearing.All the while, causing the developer to spend massive resources on legal fees to defend their application.

Resources spent in three years of  futile legal processes , to defend the indefensible ,was where the  scandalous  waste  of resources both public and private occurred. 

I still maintain the  administrative re-organisation created a questionable need for new staff. I believe  the  purpose was neither efficiency or economy.

 I still contend the  purpose was in accordance with a pattern established from day one of the last term: to denigrate particular staff members; transfer authority from people with  skills to people without;  thereby creating the need for additional staff to fill the gap.

But even without additional staff, there is a need to re-organise the space available. The lease of the hydro building to the DND was  at least one opportunity lost to better utilise available  resources .

I think Council has a monumental task to consider various ramifications of decisions to be made in the near future.Past decisions must be reviewed.

I am hopeful they will not surrender their authority.

Comment On The Budget

Every time I use the name Citizen Blog I feel like a character in a Tale of Two Cities, a Dickens novel about the French revolution in Victorian times. Other aspects of my life  contribute to the same feeling.

I commented on Citizen Blog yesterday that a cut made to the library budget was hard but consistent with others in the town's budget.

Cost  of an additional  fire crew  was reduced by  25% due to the complement not being in place for  a full year. The same logic was applied to new town staff and followed through with the single addition to  library staff.

We provide resources for library service. We have no authority to direct how funds will be used.

In the same comment to Citizen Blog, I indicated I cannot defend other aspects of the budget so easily.

I need to explain that.

The last election demonstrated real and serious dis-satisfaction with  the previous council. Four incumbents  were booted out unceremoniously.

Because I was there. Because I kept people informed through this blog, no doubt exists in my mind as to reason for the election result.

People wanted no more  pandering to special interest groups, no  giveaways to people with perceived political clout,no sponsorships with questionable return, no more  inconsistent application of  grant policies and  no further access to massive spending by groups without accountability.

An egregious assault on rights and  intelligence was  uncontrolled spending on legal fees for invalid  purposes and deliberate withholding of information about the full tally.

In the third year I requested a  total for spending on legal fees. After first agreeing to accede to the request, then sufficient staff prevarication and a contrived resolution to conceal the true extent, the information was simply withheld.

The voters wanted that changed. They made it  abundantly clear.

The current budget does not make the change.

The pattern begun in the last term, is being maintained.

User fees continue to be waived, sponsorships with questionable return , massive funds  provided to groups without accountability,  financial rational for increase in water rates that fails the test of scrutiny, all this and more swell  the 2011 budget.

Little is changed. Little is corrected. 

It is not what I hoped.

Speaking for 5322 voters, I  refuse to accept.

If it passes as it stands, the first budget of the new Council  will not receive unanimous support.

With regret.

Friday 15 April 2011

Westhill Development Application

It has been approved. The Municipal Board decision was not favorable to the Municipality on any count.

 1.  Westhill has fulfilled the Class EA requirements
 2.   the Official Plan Amendment as modified was appropriate
 3.   the zoning bylaw amendment should be granted
 4.   the plans of subdivision and  condominium should beapproved subject to conditions; and
 5.   the Committee of Adjustment appeals on Bovair are allowed.

In July 1999, Westhill filed its revised application for development with the Town. Four years of negotiations ensued.

In October 2003 ,Westhill filed an appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board

A Hearing date was set for April  2008

In March 2008 the  previous council refused the application stating it was premature.Mine was the single dissenting vote. I believed the town could not win.

Money for legal fees has flushed out of the town treasury  into a sink hole ever since.

A full three years later, considering  five failed  procedures to gain a consolidated board hearing ,and six weeks of Ontario Municipal Board Hearings with all the  attendant expense of  time and finances, there is little satisfaction in saying:  See.... I was right again.

What price experience? What price judgment? What price commitment to the best interest of the taxpayer?

Was the town well served? Not a whit.

Did we  fight for a principle ? Are you kidding me.


When I find out,to the penny, how much it cost, I will let you  know that too..

Four More Limericks For Chris

Words are meant to make sense
But first the sense must be tense
If  there's a hint of pretense
The sense becomes dense
And the words, they  just perch on the fence

There was a young boy from Brazil
He practiced his accent with skill
Try as he might
His  rrs were not right
He failed to find favour with  Jill

There was an old lady in politics
She knew more than most about bricks
But the rest were not quick
They kept building with schtick
Their structures fell down in two ticks

A person obsessed
Is a person possessed
Of a habit hard to surrender
But the habit itself
Might be good to access
To  harness the skill to remember

Here's Another Thought

The Government of Ontario spent $74 million on the parking facility on Wellington Street, It cost York Region  Separate School Board $11 million dollars to assemble the land for  St Max High School.
So the government probably spent  the better part of a hundred million dollars for the parking facility.

They swallowed up assessment lands needed by the town. They pay no taxes.provide no employment.

To encourage people to leave  cars at home.

York Region provides a shuttle bus  with a fare of 25cents, to encourage  commuters to leave  cars at home. I know  someone who uses the shuttle bus. On a good morning there might be three or four  passengers.

Parking is free in the government facility on Wellington Street. I'm willing to bet a goodly number of spots are filled with  cars from towns where the train fare would be higher than Aurora.

So they get cheaper fares and free parking if they come to our town.

So they come  They add to traffic congestion. There are twenty minute blocks when the train disembarks.  . They have the convenience of the car waiting for them at the station

They are away to the races.

The building is vacant evenings and week-ends. And lit throughout.

In the meantime, there's the hospital in Newmarket. People come  for treatment from as far away as Parry Sound. It's a district hospital serving a huge geographic area. Only  homeowners in York Region pay property  taxes to fund its construction.We have York  Regional Council to thank for that.

The Province started a single lottery in the seventies  to pay for hospital construction. 

The top director is probably now being paid close to half a million with an unlimited expense account.

Who knows who forms  the  board of governors or how they got there.

The cost of  parking, while attending an ailing  family member, perhaps at the end of  life, is obscene.

Thursday 14 April 2011


My husband is in Newmarket hospital. He will be there for tests and other stuff for a week and a half.
My daughter Theresa has been with him from early morning until six in the evening for the two days he has been  there.

Next week, she will go back to work. Heather is working on the election. Sons are all working. That leaves me.

The hospital room is a long way from the elevator. Too far for me to walk.

Nobody should be left alone in a hospital.

I hate the size of that Newmarket hospital. It's like a massive auto plant.

Theresa paid fifteen dollars for three hours of parking there  the first day there. I don't believe people going to a hospital for what may well be a life or death situation should have to worry about having enough money in their pocket to pay for the parking.

We paid, are paying , for the property  to provide parking. The hospital leases it out to a private operator to charge whatever they think they will.

Nobody is parked in a hospital parking lot because that's where they want to be.

I don't think that hospital was designed or is operated with a realistic concern for the unfortunate people who are in a position of having to make use of its service.

I don't  believe  it has any more soul than a bloody great manufacturing plant.

That it's head honcho earns a salary of half a million dollars and has expenses of $250Ks a year doesn't make me feel a damned bit better about it.

A Bit Part In The Play...a Minor Villain.

Someone  is out there  waiting for my latest post  every morning and  prompt with a response. 

It always starts the same way;  a challenge for me to post the comment and at the same time an acknowledgment  I won't.

A bit ironic I must say, to be challenged by someone  signing himself anonymous.

The objective of the  comment is always twofold; to prove I am wrong in whatever I have written  and the reason for  error is my age and decrepitude 

This morning's  was no different than usual.

Precise requirements of the fire code was cited.

I did not speak of need. I spoke of cost and who paid. We did. 

That the artificial lake, I referred to  was created in  Toronto  and not in Muskoka as I said.

Well that's not exactly a  comfort.

It's tempting to guess from  clues where the comment derives.It's not hard either.

A bit part for  a creepy stupid gadget character could be created in the play I'm sure.

A Plot For The Play

Last night I heard something.  Actually two things . They may be true. They may not.  I wakened up  with a  theme for the play.

It's a military take-over of Aurora. By a cell of the Harper Regime, commanded by the Mormac Regime.It's the beginning of the take-over of Canada by Right Wing Supremacists.

The first clue was  Mor of Mormac  in her office  after the election, until the small hours,  door  locked. furiously shredding documents by the hundreds, sweat dripping from her forehead, smoke rising from the shredder.

Conrad Black carried his out in boxes. He   was photographed.

Second thing is a fund-raiser  organised by Councilllors Ballard and Gaertner,  Lieutenants in the Mormac Regime. A gala event is planned.  The Honorable Lieutenant Governor David Onley is invited as  guest. He is an innocent. 

The  town's Mayor is Honororay Colonel of the Queen's York Rangers.  He  has  not received an invitation.  He is expected  to buy a ticket.

Queen's York Rangers have been taken over by look alike robots. Real military would never commit such a gaffe.

Mor of Mormac is the Honorary Chair Person of the Fund-raiser.   Thirty tickets have been sold.

Yesterday  a defence was offered  for  $50million federal dollars  spent in Huntsville.

They created an artificial lake.....for God's Sake..... In the Muskokas!!!!!

The defence was  the money  wasn't taken from widows and orphans.

Maybe yes.  Maybe no.

The fundraiser in Aurora is for families of servicemen serving abroad.

Since when  are fund-raisers  needed  to sustain  families of Canadian military serving abroad? Did  the Right wing Prime Minister divert their allowances to fund the Muskoka boondoggle>

A fund-raiser  was held for the July 1st Parade in Aurora. It  usually raised between eleven and twelve thousand dollars but last time, nothing, nada,nil,zilch and zero. Prizes solicited for a silent auction must have been silently given away.

I heard the Legion was paid $5Ks for use of the  party room. A diversion of funds perhaps.

The town leased a property, probably worth $10million on the market,to the Federal Government , for $139K a year.

Spent $176K on the building  partly putting in a sprinkler system, as a requirement of the lease. Terms of the lease are confidential because of national security.Why the secrecy? Why a sprinkler system?What are they planning to do in that building?

The lease was announced in time for the election in October. Rent didn't start until February. It's April now.

The only signs of activity  so far has been installation of a sprinkler system. Cost the town about a hundred Gs. Guess the federal government didn't have any money left over to do it themselves.

Mor of Mormac announced it would be occupied by "kiddies" Maybe that's a code name.   The week-end child soldiers are commanded by an official at the Aurora  Legion.  The only identified beneficiary of the fund-raiser for the July 1st Parade for red-hot Canadian Patriots.

It's  a wealth of evidence. Maybe a court case could be made of it. Or a Farce.

The  uniformed female  with  pointed blades  stuck out from the toes of her shoes  from the James Bond movies could fit in somewhere.

Helga  the Gestapo Moll, from the Britcom  featuring Rene's cafe in occupied France during the last war.

The female  member of the French underground "Listen to me carefully...I shall say this only once" in a  beret, a trench coat and a heavy British/French accent.

A stolen painting of the Maddonna with the big boobies constantly changing hands.

Yes...Oh yes...We have a plot... for the boys with  sharpened pencils...we  could  have summer  Theatre in the Park . Maybe we can take it on tour to Newmarket.  Hey... why not the Muskokas.....New York Broadway...here we come.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Here's Some More Stuff

Tim the Enchanter has left a new comment on your post "Verry...Interresting":

Not sure what you mean by
"....not just because the money was earmarked for another purpose "

From the Industry Canada website June 25 2009

"The $50-million G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund was founded in February 2009 and is dedicated
to legacy projects in the Parry Sound–Muskoka area. This strategy corresponds with Canada's Economic Action Plan to strengthen Northern Ontario communities."

So that's what they spent it on.

Yes. $50M is a lot and a fairly obvious case of pork-barrel politics.
I would agree that the approx $1B spent on the G8/G20 was ridiculous
but there seems to be suggestions and hints that this $50M was somehow stolen from the Widows and Orphans Fund and re-directed to Parry Sound Muskoka.
I must be missing something.
That said, full disclosure wouldn't be amiss either so let's wait for the AG's report.

I'm also not sure (I stand to be corrected) that the municipalities had to pony up their share to get the federal money either. We must remember that PSM is considered by the province and the feds to be "Northern Ontario" and sometimes the rules are different than here in the tropical south.

Basically PSM was selected for the summit and so Christmas came early for that riding.

The Industry Canada website lists a number of projects and their costs but I don't recall any complaints from the Libs or NDP at that time.

It's a bit disingenuous to pretend that they didn't know about the fund and what this money was being spent on.

Also, some are wondering why cash was spent on projects seemingly so far away from the actual summit location at Deerhurst.
I believe the answer will be that the region of PSM was considered to be the host - not just Deerhurst resort.
The region/riding is over 150 times larger in area than Newmarket-Aurora.

BTW - Deerhurst Resort was sold in Jan 2011 by a U.S. developer to Skyline International Development who own, amongst other things,the King Edward Hotel in Toronto and Horsehoe Valley Resort.


Thank You for that. We are all better informed.

What I meant by the phrase you quote was what I gleaned from the news reports of the leaks from the the Auditor General's Report that the money was approved by Parliament for another purpose.

It's just another example of the Prime Minister's contempt for Parliament. He  uses  it and abuses it for his own purpose and prorogue it if it becomes inconvenient.

There is nothing disingenuous about a leaked Auditor  General's Draft  Report that says something stringent. And a second leaked report that softens the first draft.

That is not disingenuous. That's deliberate. There's an election campaign being fought, The stales are high. No holds are barred.

Tony Clement is a bit of a carpet-bagger himself. There are a number of appealing Conservative candidates, as there are a number of not squeeky clean Liberals . An election should sort out the wheat from the chaff. And if it doesn't,well that's how democracy works.

"It's the worst there is except for all the rest." That's a quote attributed to Churchill. But the great man   himself would say there is nothing new under the sun."Ecclesiastes 1.9

The Prime Minister's bad temper is legendary. We know that from Belinda's experience.  What makes John Clement a favourite, I wonder.

Bibs and Bobs

 Hi Evelyn, I hope that you post something today about your motion last night to spend $50K restoring Whitchurch's firewood pile (also known as the Petch house). Didn't see that coming.

BTW, loved your words re: "St. Kitts Press release". Nice to see some trepidation around the table as well, save for Cllrs. Ballard and Gaertner. Maybe people are starting to get it. Better late than never on this one

Nobody slid off their chairs  in amazement last night when I put forward the motion for a report from staff about a possible location within the town's park system and a practical and economical plan to restore the Petch House.

It wasn't all that surprising because I gave notice of the motion a couple of weeks ago.

I did so because we have a $50Ks commitment from the Smart Centre developers to re-locate the building and do whatever  else we can  with what is left over.

If we don't do it we forfeit $50Ks. I expect it will cost that and more.And we did get  $8Ks from an anonymous donor. With parks staff doing the work and a suitable  use and location we may come out ahead.

Forfeiting $50Ks goes against the grain. Just getting rid of the structure could not be done without cost.

Our parks staff have many skills. They  are perfectly capable, under direction. of doing  the work themselves. Mr. Van Nostrand of Vandorf  has already restored a twin of this building . He sourced the boards  to re-place  rotted  material and re-located the building to a site in Lindsay.

I've seen it. It is beautiful.

If we have a place for  this one , where it can be used  and enjoyed and its  asset value realised. I don't think that's a bad idea.

So I have asked Council to consider it. They agreed. I'm still getting used to my motions being given fair consideration . It's nice.

On the other hand. the St Kitts family music business is still getting $5Ks of your tax money to finance a concert  promotion in the town park. You will still be paying  an admission charge. Your park will still be fenced off for a week-end. There will be vendors in our park, not paying a permit fee to the town.
Likely filling the coffers of the St.Kitts family  music business.

Councillor  Abel did a fair amount of homework on the situation. Discovered the town is receiving no recognition on their publications. That was supposed to be what we  were to get for the so-called platinum sponsorship.  But  Councillor Abel's  new information  wasn't able to change anything.

Seems Susan Walmer was in communication with the Chief Administrative Officer about the deal .  Word on the street is Litigation Lizzie  is also part and parcel of the entire boondoggle.

That would explain Gaertner,Gallo and Ballard support. Don't know what to tell you about the rest.

I received a cartoon in an e-mail this morning. It was a two -storey outhouse. Upstairs for politicians.Downstairs for taxpayers. I copied and pasted it. But the picture didn't come through.


Tuesday 12 April 2011


From day one, the media had the election decided. Well, they have their polls don't you know. It always interests me how they make elections their own.Of course, if I didn't watch the  media, I woudn't know that, would I ?

It's almost like  there's a lottery prize for predicting the winner. They are at it before the electorate  even realise an election  has begun.

We all know the impact the social media had on the Obama election. I'm not sure  it could happen here.It hasn't been tested yet. Those of us who use the internet assume more people are on than are. I think it's growing but it's not as big as we think it is.

The discussion on the Citizen Blog is thoughtful and lively and civil too. Of course that could be the  influence of the moderator.

Fifty million dollars spent in the conservative riding of Huntsville is big. Not just because the money was earmarked for another purpose  but because.....well  fifty million  is big.

It's hard to spend that much money in one place, in a short time without somebody paying attention.

I remember reading about Huntsville shopkeeper's concerns at the time of the conference. Nobody was talking about  the shot to the local  economy of fifty million dollars of federal funds.

I saw the Mayor last night on television in a press conference. He seemed to be emphatically denying any involvement. How could he not have been involved?

Stimulus funds called for municipal investment as well. Fifty million would require  a substantial municipal share. Huntsville  wouldn't have it.

Think  of the  public planning,  meetings,zonings , design specifications, tendering, site plans, contract awards, how could  all that happen without municipal involvement.

Who authorised the spending ? Things don't move that fast at the municipal level.

Look at our own meagre experience with the federal Department of National Defence. We spent $175Ks  before occupancy of  the hydro building , which we needed ourselves ,when we leased it to the feds . It swallowed up the first year's rent and more. We heard the lease was signed prior to the election. Then in March, we learned the rent didn't start until February. Then we were informed we couldn't see the lease because those are the  federal rules.

Municipalities don't usually have much to do with the federal government. It's often a three way deal  through  the Provincial government.

If I were an opposition party leader, I would be digging around at the local level in the absence of the precise wording of auditor general's report.

Deerhurst Inn was featured in photos in the news yesterday. Is that still privately owned or does the Province have a stake in it?

They showed pictures of a cinder block public washroom. A few hundred of them could be built with fifty million dollars and plenty left over for other stuff.

Another beautiful building looked like an arena and conference centre.Who owns that I wonder?

I gotta check the news.

In For A Penny ...In For A Pound

Elizabeth Bishenden has left a new comment on your post "You May Have Heard About This":

I would be interested to know if those charities operate in Aurora.

As many of you know, the Town does support a few Aurora-centric (sorry for inventing a new word) registered charities and not-for-profits, including the Aurora Cultural Centre, the Aurora Public Library, and several other sports, cultural, and general membership groups.

While some people believe that the Town should support no charities, I believe the Town should develop a policy that treats all charities and not-for-profit groups equally.

Councillor Michael Thompson has made a notice of motion to Council that he will be asking them to address this particular issue.

Be sure to let Mr. Thompson and the other councillors know your thoughts. Undoubtedly the Town will be looking for a variety of points of view.

All the Councillors can be reached at allcouncillors@aurora.on.ca.

Elizabeth  I do not agree with your  basic premise. The Library  is not a public charity. It is a long established public service .It is wholly supported from taxes, mainly municipal but a provincial grant is also received.

The library board applied for status as a charitable foundation in order to be able to provide receipts to donors who pledged support to the capital cost of construction of the new building. Other voluntary donations are received from people who believe in the value of a library.

The Aurora Optimists Club contributes annually from proceeds of a book sale. The funds are not part of the library's operating budget.

Sports organisations  and various arts and cultural associations are not charities. They provide services  in return for a membership fee.

The town does not  have a  policy to support charities. Council does it though.  By a waiver of user fees for a facility usually.

 I do not agree with that. It's not fair to those  who pay the fees with the understanding everyone makes  a fair contribution for use of the facility.

If  event organisers anticipate raising thousands of dollars for a charity from public participation. they should not ask for free use of facilities. If asked, politicians should have the intestinal fortitude to say no.

Neither do I believe it is  at all reasonable  to direct staff to recommend which charities should be supported and which  should not.

It's a poor excuse for a council that can't exercise judgment without a policy drawn up by staff to tell them what to do  every step of the way.


Monday 11 April 2011

What You See Is What You Get

In this blog, I do not tell anybody what to think. I tell you what I think. I provide information.  Readers must make of it what they will.

In the last term of Council, the town experienced  a huge  loss of  experienced  staff.  A loss, in a short time, of 75% of the  knowledge, experience and institutional history is devastating to a town's operation. It was also deliberate.

Vacancies were filled but replacing what we lost can not happen instantly.It took years to build. Months to destroy.How long to restore remains to be seen.

Hopefully within four years. we will have made inroads.

In the second half  of the last term, we had the "re-org"  

Responsibilities were shifted from people with skills to people without. Titles were changed. Bodies were added. Keeping track became impossible. If you don't know what was, how can you know what should be. I watched for improvement. Saw none

Town experience still kept going  out the door. 

Long winded reports take the place of substantive action. Costs climb. Improvement is impossible to discern.

None of it  was done without Council approval and I suspect a heavy  erratic hand  steering  the course. I  suspect it because the line between the authority of Council and responsibility of the administration became ever more blurred. 

From my perspective, after the election, there needed to be a sharp  corrective turn and a new direction steered.

Easier said than done. Everyone needs to agree it's necessary. Also easier said than done.

A juggernaut is an unstoppable machine.

I don't think that's what we have here.

Hopefully, within the next four years, together, we can make it better

More Grist For The Mill

Somewhere out there is a pair of gimlet eyes keeping track and forwarding information which I am glad to pass on.

I don't know why the Provincial government passed legislation to require public service salaries over a hundred thousand dollars to be published  annually. It was probably another example of  handwashing.
Like the legislation  to hold local elected officials responsible for water quality in the Province. After they got rid of the O.W.R.C., the provincial agency which kept our water safe for decades.

One party got rid of it. The second party did not restore it. Just made local politicians criminally liable
for failure to keep the water safe.

That ought to fix it. Right.

If  publishing salaries over a $100Ks  was intended  to control them. Well, that really worked  out didn't it. Last year,  I received information about the previous  top honcho at South Lake Health Centre having a salary of $450Ks and expenses of $250Ks.

The retiring Chief of Police had a salary of $400Ks.

In comparison  municipal  top honchos probably feel ill served.

Still,  information sent to me this morning shows they are doing better.

In 2006   Town solicitor earned $105.512. In 2010, the same post paid $154.224

                Chief Financial Officer earned $120,983. In 2010 .it was $147,084

                Director of Public Works earned $126,302.  2010. it was $147,084.

                Chief Administrative Officer earned $153,799. 2010 it was $174,737.

                Leisure Services Director  earned    $117,112.    2010 it was $136,865.

                Director of Planning  earned $117,112.     2010 it was $136,865.

                Director of Building earned $103,913.        2010 it was $136,865

We had the re-organisation. Some people with skills and experience  had responsibilities  taken away with no loss in pay.  Others, without skills and experience, received new  responsibilities and a commensurate increase in pay.

To my unskilled eye, the results were, a drop in efficiency  an increase in cost and the whole derived from advice obtained  from consultants at a substantial  additional cost to the public purse.

I only mention it because despite an election and the public's judgment passed,  we continue to:

Row  Row Row the boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily. Merrily

Blithely as a dream.