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

Tuesday 31 May 2011

A Thank You...sort-of...I'm not sure..Dammit ,yes I am..It's Not Appreciation.


Do you require more detail? We understood the formal reporting would
occur end of October.
Susan Morton-Leonard
AFA Communications
Little disappointed that a supportive quote was not provided by the
Mayor. In an effort to not continue the negative publicity for the AFA
or town we chose not to submit a press release about our delight in
receiving sponsorship from the Town. Instead we will offer thanks
through a news article and/or personally such as individual invitations
to Council.


Following up on other failures to acknowledge appreciation of taxpayer dollars to special interest groups, I  inquired of the Chief Administrative Officer  about  the event to be held in a fenced- off  town park with an  admission fee of $5.

The above  was a tag end note of a list of places where the town's Logo will be displayed in association with an  event, in return for five thousand dollars worth of  cash and service provided by the municipality.  The so-called "Platinum Sponsorship Package" of  the AFA.

Apparently  the town's symbol  will only  be one of  a myriad of  logos of  a variety of organisations  having purchased sponsorships. to finance the event. Including the $25 thousand  Trillium grant

Several pointy points were made in the above  first name exchange  between the CAO and communications officer of the AFA.

First was criticism of Aurora's Mayor, to the top official ,that there was no gush of enthusiasm accompanying the  flush of  money.

How appropriate was that to send or receive?

Then  reference to  the effort to avoid negative publicity for the town in the matter of forking over $5 thousand of tax payer dollars for questionable return.

It hardly seems necessary to point out  no publicity whatsoever would have been incurred had  the demand  never been made or acceded.

Then  the statement "we chose not to submit a press release about our delight in receiving sponsorship from the town. Instead we will offer thanks  through a news article and /or personally such as personal invitations to  Council "

Like the five grand  was a personal  donation from Councillors. Instead of Councillors putting their hand into  people's pockets and  filching funds without as much as a by-your-leave. Being ever- so- coy about it in the process.

Reviewing the whole issue  certain points become prominent.

The event is being held in the  publicly owned town park. The publicly owned band shell is  being used. Publicly financed power  consumed. Public washrooms  utilised with water steadily flushed into sewers all at public expense. None of it metered.

Vendors are  renting  in  publicly owned space. Parking is provided on public property. Artists are exhibiting in public space.

The Town's logo used to promote the event. Town funds  supporting it.

Not a penny of the proceeds being returned to the town Treasury to pay costs let alone contribute to town revenue. 

A gala, dress-up,  pre-event is being held probably at the Culture Centre , last year provided  at no cost, on the righteous basis of promoting culture for the great unwashed and of course at the expense of same. 

One thinks of  other affairs  organised by  the special events division of the town's leisure services

Summer Concerts in the Park, Arctic Adventure, Easter Egg Hunt, July 1st Celebrations in Lambert Wilson Park, July 1st Parade, Santa Claus Parade,  Borealis  Festival , with  the park turned into a fairyland of lights with music and free skating and hot chocolate to the delight of all participants.

All provided with no other purpose in mind but to bring people together in enjoyment of  family life   and community . All supported by local business sponsorships and at minimal  or no expense to residents and taxpayers.

None of it for the purpose of funnelling undisclosed funds into the pockets of unknown recipients and all of it accountable to the public to the very last penny.

All  marvelously well-done, to the credit of Shelley Ware our special events co-coordinator, skilled and willing helpers from various town  departments and generous support from community businesses.

I am  not on the Morton-Leonard's invitation  list.  I will  not likely be privately  informed of  any expressions of delight or receive an invitation in return for  public funds provided in the shape of a hand-out , to swell the coffers of a private commercial  enterprise.

It's not a list I aspire to.

Me and the Mayor..... we are in good company,

Sunday 29 May 2011

Double The Money....A&B Courier Race Raised $144,000

If   a waiver of fees from the Town of Aurora had not been granted  they would have raised $143.350

Would the difference be a poor reflection on  community support for the event?  I don't think so.

When  all those who made the event an outstanding success  were being named ,Steve Hinder, who initially created  the event to honour a friend who died prematurely and whom he admired tremendously, had a lengthy  list.

 Aurora council  was not named for voting to waive user fees.Nor were Aurora taxpayers, in whose name the grant was provided. In terms of the final figure, the assistance  was miniscule.It represented no effort at all on the part of councillors. No generosity  was reflected. No compassion.  Not when you 're putting your hand in someone else's pocket.

Yet, in principle, as it relates to the town's obligation to maintain equity among  users of  town facilities,it  does matter.It matters a lot.

Organisations using  recreation facilities are mostly parents striving to provide offspring with opportunities to round out their lives. They too engage in fund-raising events to  keep costs down  make sure no child is excluded because of  cost. I don't think that happens. But they try.

In calculating  fees, the town also strives to meet that objective.   Opportunities to generate revenue  are sought to subsidise user fees. Loss of revenue from fees waived are a contradiction in terms.

Any statement of principle about equity and fairness in the face of fees waived for special interests is a scam against the  public  consciousness.

It's a bold-faced lie. It's a fraud. It is shameless exploitation of public trust

In my judgment,there was  nothing of merit in any decision to waive user fees. It made no difference to the success of the event. Not enough even to get a mention.

It's the reason politicians are held in such disrepute.

So transparent for what it is, it earns no respect, even from  recipients.

Polo for Heart in Gormley will be back for its 32nd year in June. Last year they raised $240,000.

If the A&B Courier Run is an indication, the community will generously double  funds previously  contributed in support of the event.

Polo For Heart could also request a grant of $650 from the municipality to be paid  from  taxation and expect it to be granted.  They never have. How appropriate would that  be?

Yet  the funds they raise come from the same source, for the same cause.

Saturday 28 May 2011


Just because I haven't been posting doesn't mean I haven't been writing.

Correspondence between residents, staff and fellow councillors takes up more time, all the time.

I received a copy of the Arboretum News letter on Friday. June Yates is the editor.. June is an excellent photographer.  The newsletter is graced with  many beautiful pictures of blossoms of various species.

It  acknowledges financial  support from the TD .A  photo of very fine informational signage identifying various species made  possible with their  financial support is featured.  Pictures of volunteers in yellow slickers planting the rain is a positive sign of progress and appreciation is  expressed. 

What is  missing is acknowledgement of  financial support  of $100Ks from the town budget and the  hard lifting of  employees of the  town parks department which makes this project possible, is also absent..

I am sure it's an oversight. But  hardly excusable. Members of the Arboretum have been heard to express profound satisfaction in the town's confidence in their competence  to the extent of annual allocation of  $100Ks of town resources to spend as they will.

Last year,  $87Ks  was spent  removing construction debris from around the Aurora Family Leisure Centre to make room for flower beds bordered with expensive stone.

I was not thrilled.

But the new council and  Mayor were perfectly satisfied and allocated yet another $100ks for similar enterprise while contemplating a substantial increase in taxes and water rates.

I think the failure to acknowledge the town's contribution to the project in finances and manpower,while puffed up with their own success  in the scheme of things, denotes a total lack of respect to the corporation for which I am at least partially responsible.

I take exception.

But I have  learned over the years, the more toadying, the less respect  paid to the taxpayer, a corresponding lack of respect is engendered for the political body.

It's  weeks now since $5Ks was  turned over for a "Platinum " sponsorship to the St. Kitts Jazz Festival,fronted by Susan Morton Leonard. Promotional material had already been distributed without acknowledging  town support. The material had been printed prior to the town's commitment, it was explained.  It didn't stop the organisation from using the town's commitment to obtain a Trillium grant.

Council has  since not received any indication of  the return expected for the sponsorship award.As time passes that also is  an area of diminishing return.

There does seem to be an impression  money doled out so carelessly and  generously  may  not  in fact be connected to  the pockets of  long-suffering taxpayers. The Corporation may have printed it in the basement, found it somewhere or won it in a lottery.

Perish the thought, it might  have been squeezed out of a pension cheque or the limited resources of an unemployed  principal family provider hard pressed to make ends meet.

We are obviously of  such affluence. none of that needs to be considered.

Let them eat bread from a food bank and enjoy circus in the park. After they have paid for admission to their own park of course.

Friday 27 May 2011

A Message Received



"This message (including any attachments) is intended solely for the specific individual(s) or entity(ies) named above, and may contain legally privileged and confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by replying to this message and then delete it. Any disclosure, copying, or distribution of this message,or the taking of any action based on it, by other than the intended recipient, is strictly prohibited.

Anastasia Ifandis, Esq., LL.M.
NY Attorney & Counselor at Law
US Foreign Legal Consultant

51 Elderberry Trail, Aurora, Ontario, L4G 6X1"


"Oh Grandmama , what a big nose  you have" said Little Red Riding Hood.

"All the  better to nuzzle you with my dear" said the Big Bad Wolf in Grandmama's bed dressed in Grandmama's  Cap and Nightie.

I printed the message in quotes  so as  not to reveal any of the preceding lengthy list of demands and instructions informing me of how badly I have been misled and staff  have provided  inaccurate information  and have an obligation to call an emergency meeting to allow myself to be better and more competently informed by the above signed resident.

I suspect the plan was  hatched even as the writer crouched beside the doughty Councilllor Gaertner in her council seat, lone stalwart  who clearly perceives herself,  defender of the faith of the previous administration   solitary guard against the  infidels  of the current and single vote opposing the staff recommendation.

On Tuesday , a whole crowd of new faces appeared before council pleading ignorance and innocence. The Mayor recessed , provided  a meeting room with the Director of Planning and time for the crowd to inform themselves there and then of  particulars they so clearly desired.

On top of a four month deferment  agreed to in January also to allow residents to meet with the proponent to negotiate changes to their satisfaction. .Three meetings were held. The proposal was scaled back
As a result , a new  ratepayers' association  has been  organised and has party status in the upcoming O.M.B. pre-hearing. It appears they are still not satisfied.  I did not expect they would be. 

If the town does not  present to the O.M.B., we will be deemed to be without a position or kahunas, take your pick.
Town staff cannot be called as witnesses against their own recommendation. The decision will be made on the basis of  proponent evidence which could include our published staff recommendation, and the neighbours' opposition
The position of  some  residents  is apparently, the town should do as we did  with  Westhill . Spend hundreds of thousands of  tax payer dollars, instruct lawyers to defend the indefensible,  lose on all counts and look like  bloody fools in the process.
Which  we were but are not any more.

Praise be...

Wednesday 25 May 2011

I'm Back

My muse  deserted me. Or more to the point. I had  nothing of interest to tell  for a change.

We had a bit of a kerfuffle at council  last night. A crowd of residents from the south end of town came to oppose a  staff recommendation on a planning application.

They swore up and down and sideways, they knew nothing about the application until hours before the meeting. They demanded  council not approve the recommendation, to give them more time to acquaint themselves with the details.

Much the same  occurred in January,when  staff  previously recommended  the town's position  following  an Ontario Municipal Board directive in a mediation process.

The town asked the O.M.B. for an extension of time. four more months were  spent, three meetings were held with interested residents and the proposal was scaled down to meet their objections.

But not enough.

So last night a whole new crowd  appeared before Council and vowed they knew nuthin' 'bout anythin' and  again demanded the town reject the staff recommendation.

Last time Susan Walmer, Queen of the Jungle Telegraph,  was  spokesperson for the opposition.This time, a new spokesperson took the podium.

But Susan was there. As were other representative of a ratepayers association formed to represent the interest of the neighbours.

The application was denied  by Council  during the last term of Council. That triggered an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. The decision was taken out of the town's hands and the town became subject to  Board

Just like the Westhill Development application upon which we spent  two years, hundreds of hours of staff time and ended up losing on all counts. At a cost in legal fees alone of $650Ks.

The upshot of last night's deliberations were, the staff recommendation was approved. The vote was eight  to one. Councillor Gaertner being the one.

But it didn't happen without a chorus of mea culpae  from councillors for failure of due diligence in keeping people informed of the process and admonitions to do better in the future.

Short of knocking on  doors,  pulling people  out by the hair, to force  them to attend meetings, to  hear discussions which will affect their interest, there is nothing  more I know the town can do to make people  attend meetings and participate in the process. Everything that could be done was done. Including deferring the decision to allow time for meetings between aplicant and neighbours.

No politician is unfamiliar with the cry "Nobody told us" . "It's all your fault" "Stop the train we want to get off"

In the election before last, Susan Walmer who was the ex-mayor's campaign manager , organised a second all-candidates meeting  on behalf of a Coalition of Ratepayers  at the Town Hall. A great crowd attended. It was within days of the meeting regularly organized by the Aurora Library staff.

I was surprised by the size of the  audience. I commented on the fact to Ms. Walmer.

"Oh  you'd be surprised what can be done with a network  Councillor Buck"  Ms Walmer  slyly responded.

So last night's audience was another surprise. With Susan Walmer leading the opposition to the application, how could it be so many residents in the neighbourhood only heard about the application within  hours of last night's meeting?

It gives one pause.

But the staff recommendation was approved. The town will not be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars  to defend the indefensible at the Ontario Municipal Board .

The opposing residents can go there and make the case for themselves

At their own expense for legal fees, if they so choose.

As is their right..

Sunday 22 May 2011

The Question is Pending

A BBQ...eh.

Hot Dog ...Where is our museum.
21 May, 2011 3:52 PM


The Historical Society own  Hillary House.
The town owns Church Street School. 

The Historical Society paid  fees for the Architects and demolition expenses to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars.

Almost 3  million  was spent from our Hydro asset fund  to create a state of the art museum. Architects  were specialists. The  museum curator, mostly paid by funds from the town, successfully applied for a grant  from Heritage Canada to be used for a museum. We  received $770Ks

We could have used it for a heating system which would have contributed zero carbon to the atmosphere. It would have been expensive at the outset but it would have  been true to all the pleadings and prayers of the previous council to  protect the earth for our  children.

We didn't take the opportunity.

In September 2011, the building will have been open two years. 

We gave  $260Ks to a volunteer board for the final quarter  of  2009.

We provided $340Ks in 2010  and  the same amount in2011. Even though the  board has budgeted for a deficit this year.

They pay no rent .They provide no maintenance. 

Cost of  maintenance is $140Ks a year. 

By my reckoning, they have received hard cash and services in kind to the value of a million dollars give or take a dollar or four to date.  

All of it from the tax levy. The town put its hands in our pockets and extracted that amount for this purpose.

Revenues at the facility are minimal.

In 2006, when the decision was made to provide funds to complete the project and get the museum collection out of  boxes and up and running for the enjoyment and enlightenment of the community, the primary function of the building  was to restore the  museum.

The secondary purpose was to allow space  for  cultural activities that would blend with  the museum operation .With a curator in charge of the museum ,town staff could have handled other rentals as they do all of our other facilities and have done efficiently in the past. 

The project was a big ticket item. The debate was full and open. No objections to the spending were noted. No arguments that the objective was not worthwhile  or  spending was profligate. 

An election was held. Church Street School... the spending.... the museum....none of that was an election issue.

Plans proceeded the project was completed.

The theory was to have an arm's length board operate the facility

Keep it out of the hands of politicians and it will not cost the taxpayers an arm and a leg to operate


The reality is the museum has been ousted.

There is no indication  the board or staff understand the objective is to be self-sufficient.

This year ,they are receiving half a million dollar support again  from the town, free use of the facility and they have budgeted for a deficit.

No alerts have been posted to Council.  No alarm bells are ringing.

The town's budget process was completed. No changes were  made.

They still get the money every quarter in return for submitting a financial statement o the town's Chief Financial Officer.

Who has no requirement to report to Council.
I understand our Executive Leadership Team meets often at the Cultural Centre.  I believe the town makes  frequent use of the facility. I asked once but wasn't able to discover if we are paying  user fees.
Or  are town staff  simply helping  to make it appear to be functioning?

Like I said last week, I think Council has been neutered. Like the Region. 

Council is however committed to discussing the entire issue sometime in June.Along with other significant spending items.

The Historical Society still hopes for an arrangement to satisfy the original intent of the project; that
 the museum will have its rightful place in the Church Street School.

My own hope is the tap will be turned off  from  providing free space and professional fees for  art  exhibits and  "world class" piano recitals.

My hope is  common sense and accountability will be restored to our town affairs. 

I should add....I am not holding my breath. 

Harm can come to a  young girl like that.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Blogger Down May 14th

Blogger is currently unavailable. I have received an apology for the interruption .It is expected to be back in service soon.

So I write in another program. As I have been advised to do before now. Never did. But needs must.
I will utilize my newly acquired ,copy and paste skills when Blogger is back.

I followed direction and went into “blogger status” to learn more about the problem and discovered there had been problems before which were corrected even before I knew about them.

So now I must simply wait; as disconcerting as that may be.

Actually, my mind is somewhat taken up at the moment with matters which I am restricted from discussing.

The last four years of Aurora's political history have been something of a twilight zone in terms of order and normalcy.

The latest event caps the lot.

The town's former Mayor has had a complaint filed against her under the Conflict of Interest Act.

It is of no small consequence.

The complainant seeks an order for the town to be reimbursed for public resources expended in litigation against three citizens of the community and approved for payment by the current council.

We are all learning about the wheels of justice.

The town will likely become a centre for attention to municipal matters.

It's about the second anniversary of events that led to myself taking what seemed to be the only logical and available action to defend my rights and reputation.

Who could have guessed the chapters written in the intervening years prior to resolution?

One day, I hope to write the story.

In The Hillary House Garden

You’re Invited!

To the AHS
Family & Friends Barbecue

Wednesday June 15
6-6:30 p.m. – social time
6:30 p.m. – dinner

Join us for a fun evening with
*good food (burgers, sausages, salad, dessert),
*an opportunity to hear about some exciting upcoming events and plans,
*a chance to win some terrific lucky draw prizes
*a relaxing evening in the company of good friends on the Hillary House grounds.
*celebrating our volunteers who have made great contributions to help AHS!

Here’s What You Bring
*$5.00 per person ($2.00 children under 10) to help cover costs
*a lawn chair and - your appetite!

In order to help us plan quantities we need to hear from you. Please call the office at 905-727-8991 before Wednesday June 8 to let us know if you will be joining us.

Catherine Richards
Aurora Historical Society/ Hillary House National Historic Site
15372 Yonge St.
Aurora, ON L4G 1N8
Phone:905 727-8991

Nitty Gritty of Politics (Mostly Gritty)

A  thorn in one's side. A stone in one's shoe. Or anything else that keeps one from becoming sellf-satisfied or complacemt.

It is a truly marvelous morning. All the expensive alternatives to  weed killer I have tried have not worked. There is nothing for it but to go out and dig the weeds  with the help of my trusty garden claw which  I will do when I finish this post.

I have the Star story on the suit against the ex-Mayor for "allegedly breaking the Conflict of Interest rules"  It did not appear on-line. It indicates The Star on-line is not the same as having the newspaper on hand.


The story re-counts "the Town's" dis-avowal of the law suit  initiated against citizens during the election campaign.

It notes also " the town  reiterates that we welcome  constructive criticism  from everyone who lives,works,plays and pays taxes in Aurora. it also said"......"the town depends on the public for important feedback on how it can better serve  everyone's needs."

I don't remember"the town" saying anything like that. If I did , I would have pointed out a couple of obvious inconsistencies.

In the first place    "the town" is not in a position to discern  between various forms of criticism.

"The town" is not a thinking, feeling, entity.  If you prick her, she does not bleed. 

In the second place, people who can't stand the heat in the kitchen do not belong in politics.

Hell-for leather, cantankerous criticism from citizens who pay taxes, have expectations.  are ferocious about their rights and real or perceived insults to their intelligence are definitely occupational hazards for politicians and must  be anticipated if one is inclined to take a position on any town related issue.

It's par for the course.

Only  those who make point  and practice of pleasing everyone, no matter how unreasonable  the expectations, can hope to escape criticism.

Even that is not foolproof.

But  that is changing  also. The Age of Blog has made a difference. Comments appearing in Aurora  are positively wimpish on contrast to many appearing as footnotes to Star  stories online.

The   idea a city's reputation could be injured  by anonymous  extreme commentary is simply disingenuous.The less temperate the language, the less impact.

The city is not a thinking,feeling entity.

Neither is the town.

There really is no  place for wimpish or paranoid  politicians to hide

Friday 20 May 2011

Dead Tree Sentinels On Both Sides Of Regional Roads...Monuments?????

I drove up Bathurst St to  Davis Drive yesterday.  The dried sticks planted  on both sides of the road at least five years ago are still there. Dead trees, in the normal course of events, offend my senses. I feel they are a testament to something or other. After reading the Region's media release about eighteen million dollars being spent on trees  and seventy-five per cent failing to survive, I can't help counting the dead ones all the way.

There they are, complete  with  wired supports  to hold them up, green plastic wrapped around their feet and mulch piled around the base and dead as a dodo.

They've been there for at least five years. You'd think the Region might want to get rid of the evidence of their  extravagant failure and scandalous waste of resources.

I've been reading The Star on line again this morning. Nothing much is happening in Aurora politics. Agendas shrink a little more each week. We seldom sit beyond eight-thirty. Compared to last term, when we didn't even get to town business till  nine, that's a plus.

On Tuesday we had three delegations listed.  One  asked  for ab  OMB application fee to be waived.

A newly arrived resident believes a  retail commercial development in her neighbourhood should be reversed. First she argued to Council the property should be a park instead.

 Now she intends  to file an objection with the Ontario Municipal Board and wants the town to waive the fee.

This is not a user fee. It is not a charitable enterprise. A person  bought a home in a particular neighbourhood and now  she has arrived she wants different neighbour than the one well advanced in the planning.

Apparently she has the right to take the matter to the Ontario Municipal. It could be done without Council knowing anything at all  or having anything to say about it.

Except that she  came to ask  the town to absorb  the cost of filing  her  objection as well as all the other costs and years of  processing the application to the point  it meets all   town  requirements of land use and zoning and has town approval.

I spent some time arguing such a request had no business coming before Council for a political decision. the fee is administrative and approved by bylaw.

My logic was lost.  The delegation was received.

Then there was the delegation from the Parks Ambassador program and staff recommendation it be
forwarded to an Advisory committee for study and report.

We had a lengthy argument about why that would take too long and Council should make the decision without study and report from an advisory committee.

Earlier in the year, we rejected a staff recommendation advisory committees should not be re-constituted .It would be more cost and time  efficient  if  decisions were made by Council.

We approved an application for removal of nine trees on a building lot to accommodate a driveway. But not before we spent time identifying the location of the remaining  trees on the lot.

We approved street tree plantings with developer's money. But not without argument.

We spent the usual  time  wrangling about procedures.  At least twenty of the ninety minutes we spent on the agenda in total. 

We approved contract awards for three roads projects.

A list of names compiled by staff to provide to developers for their  possible choice  in naming streets.
They don't have to use them. We just provide a list.

It  used to be the job of assistant to the Clerk to make up the list.  Now Council  approves it.

I guess filler  was needed  to  create  an agenda.

Even with   arguments about process,  delegations presenting and  non-issues decided, we still   adjourned the public meeting  by eight-thirty.

We went behind closed doors and re-examined a development plan which has been fully discussed in public before.That kept us at the town hall until nine o'clock.

I think Council has been pretty well neutered.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Private Contract Versus Organised Labour

I watched part of an Agenda program on the above subject. Toronto Council was talking about contracting out garbage collection. The strike held the city hostage all  last  summer and brought David Miller's Mayoralty to an end. It was about keeping unused sick pay credits. They are credits built up if an employee is lucky enough not to get sick.

If you don't get sick and have to take time off ,you get credit for the sick time you didn't have to take off because you weren't sick. 

The city has decided to contract out part of their collection service. A union spokesperson argues it will not save cost. It will be more expensive.

On the T.V. program, a guest referred to the City of Manchester in England. He said there was no more labour oriented city in the U.K. To control service interruptions,(strikes) and costs, the city decided to contract out. The Unions bid on the contracts. And won them.

And everybody lived happily ever after.

The Mayor and Councillors had an e-mail from a spokeperson for the Firefighters' Association yesterday.The Association is making a public statement about their commitment to full fire protection to the community.

The implication is management is putting the community at risk.

We just added a new crew to the fire service. At horrendous cost.

The Premier of Ontario has repeatedly acceded to demands from the Ontario Firefighters Association. They will have a serious impact on cost to property owners. The demands have not yet ended. They got the Liberals elected.  Once again it's time to pay up.

Costs for fire protection  increase without adding to fire protection.

To save their industry, auto giants in the recent economic crisis negotiated a sale of benefit entitlement plans to the unions. Because of increased life expectancy,entitlements were putting the industry out of competition with foreign car-makers and out of business. Thousands of jobs were at risk.

The unions recognised reality and took ownership and responsibility for the entitlement plans.

I think we should at least contemplate a similar arrangement with the Firefighters Association.

If the  Association sincerely believes they speak with greater authority than the municipalities for commitment  and quality of  service, I think they should  put their money where their mouths are. They should have full responsibility for the efficiency and cost of providing the service.

I think we should contract out the service. I believe there is plenty of  opportunity for fire companies to be formed and participate in the bidding process right here in River City ... in the Greater Toronto Area.
We have not had a signed contract with the Association for more than four years. 

I heard of a Toronto Firefighter who lives in Vancouver. His wife is an air hostess. He gets free flights. He flies across a couple of times a month for a couple or four days, completes his shifts living at the firehall and flies back to Vancouver to enjoy the  lifestyle of his choosing.

Nice work if you can get it.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Park Ambassadors ?":

Evelyn, Who's idea is this, and which councillors are backing/pushing it?


The idea was brought to us.  Council  consensus  was that it was a good idea.

I didn't think there was any harm in it  although I wasn't as enthusiastic as others because it sounded like Neighbourhood Watch of years ago.

Council  agreed it should go to the advisory committee for study and report. But it  also received agreement in principle so that it can be promoted  and get a start at the street festival.

I went home and went to sleep thinking about what I'd heard about it.  I wakened up with a completely different take on it.

That's the value of discussing something in committee. You have a week to turn the idea over in your mind , talk to people about it and hear what they think. The  decision made in committee is to recommend to council.

There is time for sober second thought, community input  and a more careful decision.

Babes In The Woods Of Oxford County

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Is Toronto The Centre Of The Universe?.....Certain...":


"A hundred miles from Toronto is north of Barrie. Outside the GTA."

A 100 miles is also London or Trenton if you think in three dimensions instead of one. The response of "North of Barrie" from you is normal for those that live in the GTA. They see the GTA and all parts north of it as an extension of the GTA. Drive down to a town in the London area the same size as Aurora (St. Thomas, Woodstock, Chatham, etc.) and ask about how Toronto impacts them - they will tell you it doesn't. Other than a place for GTA garbage, there is very little perceived impact


You are missing my point. I do not think of myself as a resident of the GTA. I am a resident of  Aurora.
If I go anywhere, I prefer it to be points north. so that I don't see the changes wrought in the area closer to Toronto.

The impact of Toronto is  political .

The four year term of office for municipalities is an example. Both senior levels of government recognise four year limits for themselves.

If there's a vote of non-confidence, the  government can be brought down and the people get to choose again. Or if the government feels it  can't accomplish in a minority situation ,it can  prorogue parliament or engineer a non-confidence vote to bring about an election.Theirs does not have to be a four year term for the senior levels of government.

No such options are available to municipal  electors. The four year term  benefits only Toronto.. Size and numbers make election  costs horrendous for candidates and the city.

The Council  is more remote.

Market value assessment was brought about , at least in part, to ensure equity among Ontario taxpayers. Toronto didn't adopt it. Their assessment is completely out of date. Taxes in the city   bear  no similarity to other municipalities. Financial support from the Provincial government doesn't either.

There is no equity among Ontario Taxpayers. No measurement to determine equality of support from  Provincial coffers.

Half-assed permissive legislation such as Code of Conduct,  with penalties yet, was Provincial  knee- jerk reaction to municipal corruption in  Toronto.

Corruption such as could never happen in a small town like Aurora or St Thomas. No official  in either town could be wined and dined and bedded by a sleazy computer salesperson  without the whole town knowing about it, let alone the Mayor and Council being totally in the dark.

No Adam Gambrione having sex  on a couch in the office of Chairman of the TTC and overspending his  personal discretionary budget (what is that) by thousands of dollars.

There is no couch in any office in Aurora Town Hall.   Only in the Councillors lounge.

Oh Yes...  and changes made to negotiable benefits for fire-fighters in Ontario,who are municipal employees. Remember the election eve pictures of the Premier surrounded by Firefighters of Ontario carrying placards above their heads.This election's objective of  Ontario  Firefighters  is the right to retire before sixty-five. At one time it was the right to work until sixty-five. What's your guess they will get that? And who do you think will pay for it? Yes indeedy, the somnambulant  taxpaying residents of Aurora and St. Thomas.

The Provincial government fielded one of their own as a candidate for  Mayor  in the recent Toronto election.  Does anyone imagine  political strategy was not involved there? Maybe it wouldn't be so obvious to a resident of St. Thomas. It certainly should have been  to a resident of Aurora.

Taxpayers of St. Thomas and London may not be impressed by the denizens of the megalopolis that is Toronto. If they even give a thought to the city on the horizon as they go about their daily lives.

But their lives are impacted nevertheless .In so many ways,  few of us can even imagine.

The population is there.

The votes.

Ridings  to be wrested this way and that.  Myriad  promises to be made by candidates about what they will do for the city if elected.

Caucus confidentiality not available to municipal politicians.
Cabinet seats to be distributed like the spoils of a swashbuckling  Carribean Buccaneer exploit.

Oh Yes...London, St Thomas, Chatham  and Aurora ,we are all impacted by Toronto's politics.

Like it or not...in your hiding place you shall be caught.

Park Ambassadors ?

I went to sleep last night thinking about a new volunteer program being pitched to Council. I hadn't thought much about it when it was initially introduced. It sounded like Neighbourhood Watch that was  all the buzz for a while, then just faded away never to be heard  about again.

The idea did not excite me.  But it sounded typically righteous and not  worth arguing about.

At General Committee,  staff  recommended  the item be referred to the  Recreation  and Parks  Advisory Committee for study and report to council

Ironically, after rejecting  staff recommendation not to re-constitute advisory committees, last night, the committee route was too circuitous.  The project  needed to get going in a hurry.

That irritated me. The time spent  having advisory committees study and report to Council  was part of the reason for recommending they not be re-constituted. The other reason was cost of manpower and resources to support the committees.

People have to wait twice as long for decisions. All the hullaballoo and money spent on  consultants to advise on how to perfect customer service while  we take two months to deliver a decision when  two weeks would do it.  All so that citizens can  have an opportunity to "participate"

It can be  entertaining  to watch how things evolve on occasion. Also extremely satisfying to point  out to colleagues in case they haven't noticed.

Anyway,like I said,I went to sleep last night thinking about the proposal for Park Ambassadors  and wakened up with quite a different take. From  an innocuous notion when I closed my eyes,  it turned into a thoroughly obnoxious idea .

People are to  be "recruited"  to be "park ambassadors". They will be trained by the police. They will wear armbands for  identification.

If they see beer bottles or cans in the park, they will call the parks department to alert them as to  location. If they see illegal activity, they will call the police.

This morning the title "Park Ambassadors" no longer  seems benign. Spying on people at leisure in  the  park was a more appropriate description of the activity.

Suddenly, I have a negative reaction. Armbands and watching people in their daily activity has a connotation for a person of my vintage.

Picking up the  beer bottle and dropping it into a waste receptacle might be more ambassadorial than calling the parks department to attention.

I don't even know  that beer drinking  and bottle dropping in the park is a problem in Aurora.

The town  has  security  on contract to patrol the  parks. A problem  with illegal activity has not been identified  to Council.

Once I heard of young people being caught in the act, by parks staff vandalising lights at a sports field.Man, those suckers are expensive. The police were called. They refused to take any action with  the kids.

Teen-agers swarm together in places in the summer. Generally out of reach or view of anybody. Down through the generations, teen-agers have  done that.It seems to be a herding instinct. Something they need to do. They arrive at an age when there's a drive to  be where  action might be. They crave it.

Sometimes harm comes to them. Most times not. Otherwisethe numbers surviving clearly would not.  It's a hazardous time. Being a teen-ager is not easy. It's not something I would like to repeat. or live through again with my children.

Young males have a more difficult time making the passage. Though young females have a different vulnerability. It's a hazard in more ways than one.

Getting through it is survival for teen-agers and their  parents.

I'm not sure unleashing an army of  trained spies wearing  armbands will make anybody's life easier .

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Is Toronto The Centre Of The Universe?.....Certainly Not The Celestial Universe.

 a new comment on your post "Toronto Is The Tail That Wags The Dog":


For those that have not lived in the GTA, it's hard to imagine that there is anything "out there" beyond the "Green Belt" that Bill Davis imagined way back when.

Toronto and GTA residents may think that they are in the center of the universe, but the reality is - that's not true. In fact Toronto is the scourge of most Ontarians.

Growing up in small town Ontario in the '60s and '70s, a trip to Toronto was a wonderful excursion. Back then the school library got the Globe and Mail and it was a newspaper from the far away place of Toronto. While it was on;y a 2 1/2 hour drive away, it was not our center of universe.

This opinion, while diminished over the years, still holds true outside of the 100 mile radius of downtown Toronto. Mayor Ford is no different to any other Ontario Mayor to them. His perceived power stops when you cross out of 905 and into 519.


I write a post I think might not  be of much interest but I feel the need to write it

It gets comments.

To my delight.

A hundred  miles from Toronto is north of Barrie. Outside  the GTA. Some  politicians and municipal staff within the GTA are still  very conscious of the impact of Toronto's influence on Provincial decisions.

 the identity of the Mayor is not the key factor. It's the electorate. The number of ridings up for bids. And I do mean bids.

Forty years ago, when the rest of Ontario was pressured into adopting market value assessment, Toronto did not. It's the reason  why a house assessed to-day at half a million dollars pays half the property tax of a house assessed at half that much in the GTA.

It's the reason the Regions surrounding the newly amalgamated city were required to pay  the entire cots of  the city's social services. York Region forked over seventy-five million dollars annually for the purpose.

It has been gradually decreased, But this year , we are still sending $13 million.

It's the reason we had four year terms of office imposed upon us throughout the  rest of the Province.
An election costs too much in Toronto to have it more often than a Provincial election.

Toronto's  corrupt  computer scandal  was the reason for  legislation  permitting municipalities to adopt A Code of Conduct complete with  imaginative creative wording  contravening   the Canadian Charter of  Rights and Freedoms.

Yes Indeeedy.   Toronto withdrew  from membership of the Ontario Municipal Association during the single term  of David Miller because their will was not obeyed. They still get benefits but they pay no dues and the OMA is emasculated by their absence. 

Then of course, we have  silence from Regional Councils where  reports of such  enormity are produced, regional councillors have local staff read them  and advise what they have don't have to worry  about.and ghost write reports on their behalf to the local council.

Still, we have our local  council. A pale shadow of its former self but better than all the rest. Because we can still communicate with the people who elected us. Who knows if we can hang on long enough a generation might return  who understand the value , the principles and the ethics of government for the people, by the people.

Monday 16 May 2011

Toronto Is The Tail That Wags The Dog


How does this relate to Aurora, or does it?

I would really like to keep Tronna political news out of our town.

Does due diligence occur any more or is it simply a catch-all when everything else fails?


I write here about our town's business and whatever I feel relates to  it. When I read the Toronto Star story about the  City Clerk of Toronto removing a Councillor from office, I immediately connected.

The municipal  election in Toronto was hard fought. Provincial Liberals ran a candidate for Mayor  with  attributes, they felt would be ideal as a partner  to work  with in the City of Toronto.

Who  exerts   most power in Ontario? Toronto or the Province? That has  been question in Ontario for years.

In the recent municipal election it seemed obvious if Liberals  had one of their own in charge things would be simpler for them.

But  despite  all their effort and support or perhaps because of it, their  plans ran agley.

A most unlikely candidate  was elected. Considering the  recent sweep of seats to  federal hybrid Conservatives  in Toronto with  support from  the red-neck, true blue, conservative Mayor of Toronto. whose popular support continues to grow, Provincial Liberals have good cause for concern.

If they were to stop calculating strategy at the shallow end and start attending to what is happening  at the deep end ,in the lives of people, they might have a chance.

On the other hand, the NDP is likely to look like a reasonable alternative after their showing in the federal election. But be that notwithstanding, Provincial Conservatives will  likely get the support of the "Ford Nation" in Toronto.

If  Conservatives, under  current leadership, take the Province in October, it most certainly will have an effect on our town. It was they who stuck  the GTA  with  Toronto's social services at a cost of $75 million a year share  with no audible objection from York  Region.

Funds are still being siphoned off at $13 million this year.

My questioner, despite  a lack of interest,  asks , does "due diligence" occur any more or is it simply a catch-all phrase?

A question more to the point might be; does an election matter any more?  When the electorate makes a decision , is the  decision no longer sacrosanct.

In Aurora, we had four years of   a particular Councillor  being marginalised. A  takeover of the town's administration . One Councillor  quit early to be replaced by someone favourable to the Mayor, two more  Councillors were eventually ostracized, as well as an almost complete turnover in staff and a takeover of the administration.

The question of ethics  or principles became little more than a passing sneer and  relegated to the distant past.

What happened in Aurora was unthinkable until  it happened.

It  became real because of a block of votes in the majority.

As the Toronto Star tells the story, the City Clerk's decision to  remove an elected Councillor from office,  to the exceeding pleasure of the Mayor's office,whom the Clerk  did not consult though she did communicate  and  which  has avowed  its might behind  election of a different  Councillor to add to  his majority  does indeed have a connection to Aurora's affairs.

The true- blue red-necked Tory Mayor of the City of Toronto will not just control the City for four years. He will control the Province of Ontario of which  we in Aurora, are but the creatures. 

If it was O.K., without rhyme or reason, ethics or principles, to make home and business owners of Aurora pay for Toronto's social services, to keep Toronto's  property taxes at a fraction of our own, what else might  they do?

If the Clerk of a municipality has authority to pick and choose who will hold office  and who can be tossed, at the pleasure of the Mayor,  what exactly is the point of an election here, there or anywhere?

Without a single shot being fired, our rights are surrendered to the obsequious

Sunday 15 May 2011

In Toronto

Something  weird is happening. The Toronto Star tells the story.

A court decision  has determined irregularities took place during the municipal election.Forms adding voters to the list were not properly signed by elections staff. 

A Councillor has been removed from office by the municipal clerk. What?

How can that  happen?

69 votes separated  the  two top candidates.

 A  re-count was  not requested. The vote was certified. The Inaugural took place.The Councillor was sworn into office and took her seat. Six months of the term is completed.

The clerk has decided a by-election will be held. The Councillor and her staff must remove themselves  from city hall.

The ward will have no representation until a by-election is completed.

The  Clerk apparently reversed a previous decision to appeal the court decision.

The Mayor did not consult with the City Clerk.

The City Clerk "communicated"  with the Mayor's staff.

The Councillor "removed from office" by the clerk is not a supporter  of Mayor Ford's agenda.

The candidate defeated by the Councillor removed from office,  is an avid supporter of The Mayor's agenda.

The Mayor's spokesperson has declared the "Ford Nation" will be out in force to defeat the incumbent Councillor.

I know of no regulation or law which gives a City Clerk/Elections Officer authority to change the result of an election. Removal of the Councillor from office does exactly that. 

The  City Clerk / Elections Officer had previously legally  certified the election count.

Even when a re-count has been requested ,a  Councillor declared elected, takes the Oath . the seat at the table and occupies that seat  until such time as  the votes have been re-counted and a change is determined.

On the other hand,  irregularities cited in the court decision  are the responsibility of the Election Officer/ Clerk.

In allowing the decision  to stand without appeal, the Clerk/ Election Officer is acknowledging  a failure of due diligence.

A public avowal  that the  failure  will  not  happen again is scarcely  good enough.

The City's legal department has apparently nothing to say on the issue.

The times, they are  verrry interrresting

Saturday 14 May 2011

Once Upon A Time

When I was Mayor, I received a call one morning from a resident. It was about ten- minutes- past- nine. She had just arrived at work,still shaking after having witnessed a near miss between a child and a dump truck on Wellington Street West.

It was before nine. The child ran  across Wellington .Late for school. The truck missed him by inches. No crossing guard  in sight.

An inquiry established  agreement between the crossing guard and the person. whose job it was to manage the service. By eight-fifty-five am "all" children had crossed already. The crossing guard could leave.

The arrangement was immediately changed to  five after nine  a.m. 

At the time of re-construction of Wellington Street, there was considerable opposition.It cost me the office of Mayor.

There were two schools on the street. No sidewalks. Dump trucks loaded with gravel,  heading west represented a considerable  share of the traffic, gathering speed on the incline from Yonge Street .
There had been a  reported incident of a dump truck's brakes failing but fortunately without injury.

Children crossed from north side of the street  to  the  elementary school.  on George Street.

During a particularly bruising meeting, an angry teacher from George Street rose to her feet to make her point.

"The road  being  re-constructed  makes it  more dangerous for students" she said.

"What about the student I might hold back in school after the crossing guard has left" she demanded to know.

I responded by asking; "Do you hear what you are saying?  Why  would you even think of holding a child back in class until after the crossing guard has left Wellington Street?

The question  infuriated her further.

One of the anomalies  repeatedly brought home, is how willing people are  to believe" the government" has everything in hand at all times.

When a child is killed  by a vehicle, the entire  neighbourhood shares  the shock and grief,First there is stunned disbelief. Then  rage. Then  blame. Then determination never to allow it to happen again.

If  the rules were changed , it would never have happened.

In  fact, there are no rules, no government institutions. no amount of public expenditures  that
provides security for a child the way a parent can and should.

If a parent is prepared to leave their child's security  to someone else,why would they not understand  that someone else,  might  be prepared to leave it to someone else and someone else until there is no-one else.

How many times does a kindergarten child come home with coat open and mitts hanging?

It's not teacher's  job to make sure the child  is warmly clothed before going out into sub-zero temperatures.There are twenty-four children...only one teacher.

I never grew accustomed to the reality of how  people rely without question on "the government"to think  and act like a parent or even a person.

Even stranger is how determined people are to  deny the obvious.

Friday 13 May 2011

Google Service Interrupted

I wasn't able to post directly because of service being interrupted.

So, I wrote a post on Office Writer.

Now I can't figure out how to transfer it to blog.

Maybe it was not meant to be.

Tomorrow I will start afresh.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Dithery Dans and Slippery Sams

I’m curious to know how you feel about Cllr Piri’s motion to make recorded votes. random. Sounds like it won’t make a difference for some (you’ll have your opinion decided, but will listen to the other councillor’s debate if there is one), and will vote as you see fit. This could pose an issue for some councillors who maybe don’t think for themselves, and on past councils were just told how to vote. Do you care one way or the other? Do you feel you’re advantaged by being at the top of the list? Would you likely change your vote if you were the last one?
10 May, 2011 8:09 AM
According to procedure, a recorded vote has to be requested. The request can have a dual result.
Unlike Hansard which is a verbatim record of all remarks made at the upper levels of government, and I think even at the Region, the minutes of a Council meeting are extremely sparse.
The Municipal Act  charges the Clerk of the Municipality with keeping the records. It further states the  decisions of Council shall be recorded " without note or comment"
So... all that's  required is the name of the mover and seconder and whether or not the motion was approved.
If a Councillor, usually opposed,  feels strongly enough about an issue to want his/her vote appear on the record, then a request is made for a recorded vote.
If the issue is controversial and public interest is evident, a  recorded vote can have a  salutary effect  on a Councillor who may be straddling the fence. It's handy to be able to vote for or against then claim  the opposite stand, depending on  the view of the voter one happens to be  sharing their views.
A recorded vote removes  ease of shilly-shallying.
There's always plenty of that about.
I value the right to cast a vote the way I see it. I believe it's expected of me.
The vote is taken at the end of debate. By the time it's called everyone should know their  intention. Shouldn't make  whit of difference when one's name is called.
But for some it does.  
Whether  not  knowing when one's  name is going to be called will help Dithery Dans  and Slippery Sams to make up their minds, I do not know. 
It certainly wont make a difference to me. 
I think the idea  panders to the invertebrates among us.

Doublespeak... Nineteen -Eighty-Four Chapter 2.

I should probably read the book again. I never saw the movie. Trouble is,I do re-call not enjoying the book.At the time, I  finished every book I started. Later on, if I'd read a third of the way  and a story had yet to start, I would  quit while I was ahead.

Later still  I learned  huge tomes  of books,  intermittently used up thirty of forty pages of minute,  boring, descriptive detail. I  would skip those  to get back to the story.

One scene  from "1984" stuck in my head.  It seemed people were constantly watched, even in their homes by  camera.  A character in the story  found a spot ,where there was an angle to the wall, where he could hide and write  a few thoughts Video cameras  that could spy on people all the time hadn't been invented at the time.

I may have to read the book again. I was probably too young to appreciate the nuances.

Policy 64 and 65, imposed by the administration in March but not  presented for  adoption  by Council until May. It was prepared by the "Executive Leadership Team" formerly known as Management Team Reference in the document is made to "the corporation will not tolerate"

It strikes  a jarring note. What is the corporation? I remember difficulty the former CAO had  explaining to the Dreadful Duo the concept of corporate communications. It meant  communication to the community of whatever had been  established  by a majority vote of Council

The pair were determined the  division should be political promotion of the Mayor's office rather than the corporate communication device. And so it became. And is still. Though it did the previous office-holder little good.

Now  we have  two policies  implemented  months ahead by the administration without input let alone a vote of Council.

It's difficult to see how why the  policy should be corporate.

The elected body  has no authority over  day- to- day operations. Employee relations are outside its purview.  Council  does not hire or fire or review performance or give direction to staff  below the level of director.

Why therefore should the word " corporation" be used, as opposed to  "administration" ?

Is it simply misuse of a word. Without discussion I cant be sure of that fact.

Dire warnings are repeated in the twenty five pages of policies 64 and 65, that the rules, without tolerance, shall  apply to all, regardless of  level.

A frequent phrase is "can be reasonably understood to mean". Requirements are  to complain about objectionable behaviour .

Without an adjudicating process to determine merits of complaints ,other than the judgment of the Human Resources  Manager or the CAO, complaints by one employee against another  can become part of an employee's record. or a reason for  termination or heavy fines imposed on  the municipality or incarceration of person or persons.

Responsible authority for imposing heavy fines on the municipality or sentencing to incarceration is not identified.

It seems such extreme measures  would be the result of injury or death of an employee; like a firefighter for example.

That's when use of the word "corporation" as opposed to "administration" becomes relevant.

The elected body, with no authority over the day to day operation of the municipality , adopts the policy. It is  owned by the corporation. It then becomes the responsibility of the elected body.Not the administration.

Would the elected body then be more liable for incarceration or heavy fines?
I think so.

The Report to Council notes the  policies were prepared by the Executive Leadership Team. Council on the other hand chose not to have input. They  simply rubber-stamped the report.

They probably weren't the only Council in Ontario that did that.Why waste time on something you can't do anything about anyway?

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

On the other hand, you can lead sheep to the edge of a cliff and watch them jump over.

Tuesday 10 May 2011


When I was twenty, George Orwell's "1984" seemed like a time so far distant, it wasn't worth contemplating. The story was just as difficult to comprehend.

Occasionally,I am reminded of it. A couple of weeks ago Council adopted two policies, as required by the province,to support legislation for the prevention of violence and harassment in the workplace. The theme of the novel came back to haunt me.

I thought Council should take time to consider the policies prior to adoption.The Mayor invited the CAO to provide input. The CAO noted the policies had been in place since March.

The staff report noted an alternative to the recommendation was for Council" to provide comments on the policies and programs as presented and refer back to staff for amendments or further consultation as so directed"

That's not what happened. The policies and programs were adopted holus bolus.No need for Council to worry our pretty little heads about things that staff have in hand.

"Nineteen-eighty-four" is a novel about "an oligarchical collectivist society".A film was made of the book. It was entitled "Doublespeak"

The problem I have with the policies to prevent violence and harassment in the workplace is the language . I find it threatening, intimidating, fraught with potential for misinterpretation,harm and harassment.

At one point, it appears to suggest, despite the alternative provided in the staff report, no negative comment can be made about the policies.

Just by writing about the report,I may be in breach of town policies to prohibit violence and harassment in the workplace.

I've read the report several times. I don't always trust my first reaction.

It's not clear if the language used is from the actual legislation. Not that any assurance can be obtained there. I'm convinced there's an army of thousands of gremlins at Queen's Park whose main purpose is to create mounds of verbiage destined specifically to create legal problems for municipalities bound to implement their cockamamie legislation.

The language is disturbing. Potential for misinterpretation even more so. But the part that might be most helpful to particular municipal employees. which might have been useful to discuss will slide under the radar once again.

Two firefighters were recently killed. They entered a building and the blazing roof collapsed on them immediately.

Firefighters work in crews with one in charge. I waited to hear if they were ordered to enter the building.Was there an indication of lives needing to be saved.

Several years ago, seven firefighters were killed in a warehouse fire in the west-end of Toronto. It was the second fire in days with the same circumstances. Two warehouses stored gigantic rolls of absorbent paper. The men were ordered to place ladders against the sodden giants. The tissue collapsed. They ran to the rear of the building. There was no escape.

Firefighters came from world-wide to the funeral to honour their bravery.

The new legislation provides for huge fines and even incarceration if greivous harm harm or death results from disregard for safety.

The second conference I attended as a relatively new councillor, was a firefighter's conference.

A speaker advised the majority of injuries and death suffered by firefighters are the result of not following safety rules.He didn't mention following orders of the heirarchy.

I thought there was at least one aspect of the beefed-up health and safety and violence in the workplace legislation that was relevant and could stand some scrutiny by those of us, by virtue of adopting the program and policies,who will now be held responsible for employee safety on penalty of massive fines and possibly incarceration.

But Council decided it was not to be. It was more important to give it the rubber stamp efficaciously.

Time doesn't need to be wasted on  serious deliberation.


Monday 9 May 2011

A Two Way Discourse

Your Worship~

I am presently a subscriber to the Great Artist Piano Series at the Aurora Cultural Centre. I just wanted to drop you a note to congratulate you and all members of the Aurora Town Council for the decision to approve the renovation of the old Church Street School building, and for the ongoing operational support of the Centre.

It is a wonderful facility and the Board and Staff are most energetic and creative. The Piano Series has been sold out due to the world-class pianists attracted to perform in Aurora at this impressive venue.

I also understand that there is a significant positive spin-off to the community at large (e.g. restaurants) when arts and cultural events take place.

Thank you!


Good Morning Newmarket Resident

Thank you for your e-mail expressing your appreciation of the piano series at the Church Street school.

Considering space available, a sold-out audience would not be hard to come by.

I picture the evening as a soiree at the White House with President and Mrs Obama and friends enjoying the performance of a world-class pianist.

I am glad you appreciate the financial support of the Aurora town council. I am sure you are aware it is not their personal generosity contributing to your enjoyment.

As a member of Aurora Council, perhaps you can assist me with a rationale of why property owners in Aurora should contribute financially to your particular taste in entertainment.

I acknowledge the only world class piano player I am familiar with is or was Glen Gould and even that was by courtesy of television.

Council has not heard from any business in town experiencing an upswing in business as a result of the piano series at the Church Street school. Considering their increased taxes, water rates and other utilities, and notwithstanding the energy and creativity of the staff at the centre, I doubt and I speak for a considerable number, it would represent an off-setting benefit of any substance.

But thank you for taking the trouble to convey your thoughts on the issue.
Evelyn Buck

On The Face Of It

Marie Watson has left a new comment on your post "An Event in Our Town's Business":

“After the Banner was sold it continued and actually improved as a newspaper for a while. Then when all other competition vanished, it hardly even pretended.”

Sorry, Evelyn, but the Auroran, with its clashing typeface sizes, sycophantic photo captions and limited “news” has been “pretending” for years as well.

Printing photos of local politicians and letters to the editor is not journalism --- it’s a hard-copy blog.

I don't find this event sad at all


The comment re-calls what a local newpaper means to many. It's always a bit of a shock when I hear the force of outrage about what someone has seen or not seen in the paper. Where it comes from I don't know but people do have a sense of proprietary ownership of their local newspaper.

It means so much to see a son or daughter's name appear, even if it's just in a team listing. A clipping becomes a keepsake.

Marie looks at The Auroran with a professional eye.No doubt if Marie was the owner,publisher and editor, it would have a completely different look.It might even have a wider readership. But we can't know that for sure.

I do know, in lineage of news and Aurora commentary,The Auroran far exceeds anything offered by the competition. And it does reach every home in Aurora.

Something else we know is whatever it is, it has a market value solely due to the energy and creativity of it's erswhile owner and his team.

It may be just a hard-copy blog. It may be that's all it could be.But if it made people pause for however long it took, to read what it had to offer,that's a lot more than publications ten times it's size have accomplished since they decided world news is more important that what is actually happening in our own immediate neighbourhood and within our own sphere of influence.

It's not going to happen soon. But when the changeover takes place, no doubt the little hard-copy blog will change to reflect the ideas and priorities of its next editor.

Like it or not.... we will become..... accustomed to her face.

Friday 6 May 2011

An Event in Our Town's Business

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "First Things First":

What do you think of the sale of the Auroran?


I thinks it's the end of a chapter. The Auroran is very much a creation of its publisher. It was something of  a marvel which  would not have been possible thirty years ago.  It took the place of something that   literally vanished.Modern technology is the reason for its existence.

The sale is not a surprise. We knew Ron was interested in selling it. It won't change as long as he's in charge of it. Essentially, a newspaper is an advertising machine. News items are a bonus for the reader
They are also  the reason a newspaper gets past the re-cycling box  into the house.

I don't know much about what happens in other communities.If other publications like Ron's appeared or if it's unique. It's obviously not clear if the new owner's intent is to continue the paper as we know it.

After the Banner  was sold it continued and actually improved as a newspaper for a while.  Then when all other  competition  vanished , it hardly even  pretended. If another little publication popped up, it was quickly snapped up and snuffed.

So , now we have to wait and see what are  the plans of the owners.Apparently, they bought  a few other surviving small newpapers in this part of the Province.

Maybe they are planning an all -out battle with Metroland for control of the print media. Maybe its amonopoly. Maybe an oligarchy. Who knows?

It's not likely to change  as  long as its creator is in charge for another year. It will give him a chance to discover if he really wants to let go of something that has been part of his life since he was a mere boy.
Being a newspaperman is not like any other job. Creating one and making it a success  has to carry with it a special satisfaction.

Not owning it any more is an unknown quantity.

That's what I think about it.

What I feel about it is sadness. It's the end of something positive in the community.What will  emerge, if anything, remains to be seen. But not for a year yet.

I wish Ron and Patricia and all the great  family at The Auroran well in their future endeavours.

Onward  and Upward,

Thursday 5 May 2011

First Things First

I have nothing more to say about Federal politics.    For now.   Whatever is, is.  Whatever will be, will be.

The Mallards are  back. One day last week, she came down and swam around and quacked for him to
find her. He didn't. So, she left.

Yesterday, he came down and quacked for her to find him. She didn't. So, he left.

To-day they are both here. Side by side. Head tucked to the side.Taking a rest ,in the warmth of   the black tarp overlap on the deck.

They will  stay a few days before making their way to a better place for a nest.

Things are greening up fast. Buds swell a little more each day.  I really have to find a long-handled weeder. this year.  I find digging weeds out of the lawn and garden to be very therapeutic.I can use my walker to sit on while I'm doing it.

Lily of the valley is spilling out over the garden and  sprouting from  the driveway. It took years and many efforts  for the beautiful little flower to take hold and now the scent is  sheer delight for a week or more. I have more than enough to share.

We took down some trees  at the end of the year. There will be more sun than shade. I think I'm going to miss the trees but not the shade. It will change things in the yard.

I came home from the dentist and sat in the car with the door open to listen to the end of  Frank Sinatra'srendition of the ballad  "I have been a rover."

Now, I just want to go back out there . There's a single red tulip almost ready to bloom but there's grass and weeds around  her  that need to be removed so  the tulip can look her best at her best.

I really need to see to that.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

There's A Weirdness Abroad

Even with  talking heads on the boob tube chattering as always,  there's a feeling  of incredulity abroad.People are stunned by what was  wrought on Monday night.

A gargantuan battle was fought. Low blows struck again and again. But none of that  new.

Our local  results were not surprising. Sufficient credence is never given to the work an incunbent does in the community.Comments are  made about  low profile on Ottawa if that's the case. But if people need  help locally and get it,  what's going on in Ottawa. doesn't carry the same weight.

There was a dual  drama on Monday night.  First was what happened to Michael Ignatieff. He worked hard. He got better.He clearly had  intellect and competence to do the job.

But  he came late to politics, He lived in the States, earned his living there and apparently, at times, identified himself as an American. Political acumen comes in the school of hard knocks.  It was   just too big a hurdle to go around.

The demise of the Liberals began earlier than Ignatieff. I think it began with Chretien. He was never  big enough  to share the stage.He grew less  as he grew older. Bad feeling between Martin and  himself.  The sponsorship scandal in Quebec that Chretien didn't catch.  The wrong choice of leader to follow Martin and  bitter resentment against unseen enemies when he went down.What was his name?

A political party full of turmoil and bitterness with a leader who did not emerge naturally, does not do well.

I watched a Liberal  called Dan Donovan  with a publication in Ottawa, tear savagely into Bob Rae last night. Hardly a good start to recovery.Tear each other apart why don'tcha. Let your enemies peck at the pieces.

If  the Liberals  had been in good health  Jack Layton would not have taken over the vacuum  left by the inevitable collapse of the Bloc.

Mr. Layton didn't win Quebec. Gilles Duceppe lost it. The Bloc was a changeling child in Canadian Politics. It could  not survive.

The last great drama we witnessed was  in Quebec. The night Rene Leveque lost the Yes vote by less than a point.

He stood on the stage in a massive arena  facing  followers, with  a look of  such  sorrow , arms half  raised in a gesture of  helplessness, hands upturned.  Thousands wept shamelessly.  Then gradually,their voices rose and grew stronger in song.  I remember the tune...  never knew the title ...didn't need to, to understand the  passion.

So, now Dapper Dan Layton  inherits the mantle. Sweet irony.

The N.D.P. has seen its fortunes rise and fall this way before.  Diehard Liberals and Conservatives  both park their votes from time to time with the N.D.P. It never  proved to be permanent and it has never been fraught with the same complexity.

Creating  Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition out of such a mixed bag will undoubtedly prove  difficult.

It's going to be a play within a play

How many acts remains to be seen..

Tuesday 3 May 2011

You Were Asking


How would you categorize yourself when you first decided to seek public office?

We know you today as a clarion call for good, fiscally responsible government, but surely that didn't get you elected the first time.

Please share your story


I don't fit a category. I was a new Canadian, a refugee from war-torn Europe,tired of wars and rumours  of wars and  and eager for a new start in life..I was a housewife. a mother. I claimed no other status.  

I had strong opinions and a need to express them. I discovered satisfaction of writing letters to the editor and seeing them published.

I wrote the first at someone else's suggestion.

Eric Franklin  of Richardson Drive and John White of Jones Court,  had published a couple of editions of  a  news letter called the R.A.R.A.News

I was  critical of the President of the Association for covering for the developer of our homes.  Eric suggested I  write a letter to the news letter  So, I did.

It started a dialogue that continued in the Aurora Banner. It was still owned by Jim Johnston.

There were three daily newspapers in Toronto. The Star, The Telegram and The Globe and Mail. My opinions ranged over all manner of issues, I had letters published in all of the newspapers. I wasn't thinking about  politics.

Regency was a seven- hundred and fifty home development. Many families had exited the U.K. after the Suez Crisis. Toronto and its environs were inundated. It wasn't long before the community became interested in town  affairs and vice versa.

Most everyone   commuted to  work in the city. Somebody suggested I should be  a candidate for Council. It seemed  a reasonable thing to do though  I wasn't then and am not now a  social person. I just had opinions about how things should be.

I didn't get  elected but I discovered  I enjoyed the give and take. I did it another time  without being elected.The term of office was twelve months. I diiscovered  I had as much to offer as any other candidate and decided I wanted the job.

I was elected in 1967,  for the first two year term of municipal office.. It was Canada' s Centennial Year. A great time to be in public office. I learned fast . I did it well. I had found my niche and great satisfaction in being in a place where I could make a difference.

Many people are offended that  I persist in stating  views contrary to their own. More appreciate common sense , opennes and honesty than don't.

It became my mission in life to prove  a person can be completely frank and honestand survive in politics.It's not necessary to sell your soul.

I am the kind of politician I  want to  represent me.

I'm the only one I know.

I was here for Aurora's hundredth anniversary.I am proud to have been part of her history.

It's not a dramatic story but it's mine.