"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

Friday 30 September 2011

A Request

I've been advised to post in office writer and transfer to the blog when the post is finished. That was to prevent the possibility of losing a few hours of work.

My last post was an e-mail first to a correspondent. I cut and pasted it to the blog. I don't know why it came out larger.

I am writing this in office writer. I have enlarged the print. Whether it comes through on the blog , we shall see.

If it works, it's another reason for me to work in office writer first.

Now I will discover how to transfer it to the blog.


I couldn't figure it so I cut and pasted.

In Response to a Question

I think Bourinot's rules of order  for debate should simply have been adopted with changes to suit a council meeting. The  rest of the  procedure and  schedule and times of meetings ,should all have been handled in committee  and would not have needed much time.
In the last administration, at the beginning, the CAO  proposed daytime meetings. It would have meant the entire staff would not have to attend  for the whole meeting.They could be in their offices doing their own work until called upon. 
Thumbs were turned down on that idea or any other advice he had to give. Councillors are part-time ,they said.  They can't be expected to attend daytime meetings. 
Now we have an increasing number of 4.p.m.  meetings with only the member of staff present for the item being considered.

The new schedules have been become a regular feature.I may have missed the discussion.

Like agendas, with twenty-six items at one meeting plus presentations and delegations and other meetings with one item ,such as  the last one. How is that efficient use of time ?
When the Clerk presented  his  revision  to council on June 14th,  a solicitor sat alongside  to assure council , he found the bylaw  satisfactory as written. He was  retired legal counsel to the Region of Sudbury.
What was he there for?  Can't we do anything  without bringing in consultants to  fatten up the payroll ?
Last week, the Mayor told Councillors we could let the Clerk  know of further concerns we had on the procedure bylaw, by e-mail.

I did that already, every time I thought of something. Nothing came of that approach. I thought a list  might be compiled for council. The Clerk  can't change stuff now that the revision has been before Council.
It seems to me some of the boys decided how it should be, from stuff they learned at workshops for councillors. They've decided it's not worth spending time to get everybody on board  or even  a shared understanding.
I'm firmly of the view,  wording should be reduced to a minimum. It's far from there at the moment.  There should be no room for interpretation. If it gets passed in its present form, we will continue to spend as much time disputing rules as we do attending to real business
We should  discuss and agree  for example, whether  a point of order  means disagreement with a point being made in debate. It doesn't. 

Opposite views on an issue is debate.
Does a point of order mean a councillor can be interrupted because somebody  else doesn't understand or disagrees with the meaning of a word?

Or  somebody decides they know  better the meaning of improper conduct?
Why is it appropriate to record  comments of  non-elected delegates while the  Municipal Act  does not permit notes or comments made by elected representatives in the public record to be kept by the clerk?
Why is the person who can recruit two more to expand the time allowed to delegate, have fifteen minutes, while an elected representatives is to be limited to ten?
Why are non - elected allowed to come back again and again to press their case,  when  councillors are not permitted such excess? Nor should be.
This  crap was  introduced during the last administration  to  create a champion  for those who felt they  have the more authority than the elected, to participate formally in the decision making process.
At the end of the term, staff were directed to prepare a report of all that was accomplished by  volunteer advisory committees.  It was so much reading  it was directed to be condensed. That was done too. 
Staff time was  no object.
Doesn't anyone understand the reason we hold elections ?
My God, why is it  hard for people, who put their name up for office, tramp the street for weeks and knock on thousands of doors to be given the trust and confidence of the people, to understand the authority they have received on successful election.
The entire slant of the last administration was to remove authority from all  but one  and to denigrate the role of Council.
It doesn't look like  change  is intended in the current term.

I just recalled an exercise  from the Council of 2003/6.

We had  an interim CAO  until the deal with Power Stream was complete.  His contract was extended because the deal took longer. 

During the extension , he occupied some of his time with Councillors individually to hear their concerns with the procedure bylaw. He had been  CAO in the Town of Vaughan for a couple of decades.

He produced a revised bylaw. Can't say what became of it.

Stephanie Phoned

Left a message . I was out to dinner at the return of the highly successful Mayor's Charity Golf Tournament.

"I need to talk to you Grannie"  Stephanie said . "I am so angry. I need you to calm me down"

I told you. my grand-daughter is the Green Party candidate for  the Nickle Belt Riding in the Provincial election.

She introduces herself at meetings as coming from a political family.

C 'est moi, mon ami. C'est tres neat. n'est pas"

It seems the Liberal in Sudbury Riding has made a joint  announcement with Sudbury Mayor.

 They  talked with a mining guru, who told them prospects of finding metals in the James Bay area within something called the Ring of Fire, are positive.

They  talked with a smelter operator, who said,  if  ores are found, he will operate a smelter in the Sudbury Riding.There will be jobs,jobs,jobs.

"These are Aboriginal lands,they're talking about Grannie...they haven't even talked to the Band Chiefs"

"Well. don't worry about it"  I said. "It sounds to me like the guy is running scared and dreaming  stuff up with a little help from his friends. People will make up their own minds if they want to believe it.... or not "

"He's not in your Riding.  You have to focus on your own campaign. Focus on what you have to tell people and look for opportunities to get your message out"

Apart from being a candidate for the Greens, the Nickle Belt Riding is geographically humongous.The challenge is great. To do the job as it should be done, a candidate would need a small plane and a water craft.

By contrast, our own riding of Newmarket-Aurora is  beautifully compact..

Eric,Stephanie's partner sent me a message on  Facebook this morning;

"Your grand-daughter is out of control and I love it. It's great to watch."

I commented back;

"She's not out of control. She is just coming into her stride.  Stand clear"

At grandson Myles wedding  party a couple of summers ago,  Eric sat  beside me and  asked;

"How come all the women in your family are insane?"

Theresa, my daughter, Stephanie's mother,  had just won the competition for  removing  her bra without touching  outer garments,  in the least number of seconds.

But actually, it was my  grandson  who was the star of the show. As soon as the party music got going,Adam zig-zagged across the floor, tossed his jacket aside and went into a break-dancing routine that lasted for hours.Ruined the expensive white shirt his mother had to buy for the wedding.

He had the floor to himself for ten minutes before his cousins, Patrick and Cameron and Mark and brothers Aron and Keenan joined him and gave us a show even they did not know they were capable

Soon the Uncles and Aunts joined the fun to keep up with the young ones.Uncle Frank. glass raised. did his version of the Grand Fandango, barely lifting a foot off the floor.

Goodness Gracious!!!Great Balls Of Fire!!!! That was a party.

Erik just reminded me.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Be True To Yourself

I generally delete  virulent comments.

Now and then  I publish a sample.

I published an uncomplimentary comment  on  Councillor Gaertner. I eased my conscience with one against myself for balance.There were others.

I always know when I've hit the ball out of the field.

I think  the comment came from an unseated candidate. Though none of them have been around  town  forty years

It was 1963 when I first ran for office .My  involvement has been forty- eight years in total.

I have  held office  twenty four years. At the end of this term I will have been part of  an Aurora Council  longer than not, within that time.

The writer is right. My interest never faltered, in or out of office, during all of those years.I do enjoy politics.I am good at it. I never found another candidate who offered  what I look for in a candidate.

It is theatre. Sometimes theatre of the absurd.

Thinking  on  one's feet ...extemporaneous expression...it's all  part of the challenge. People are born with the need to speak out. Politics provides the opportunity. Being part of the decision- making process is the prize.

I believe it is a worthwhile and necessary  endeavour. A politician  can be honest. earn respect and make a contribution.

Blunt honesty  is bound to piss some  people off  as often as it re-assures others. I have found it  easy  to be who I am.

My commenter's plan  for what he is going to be in his old age is flawed. If he hasn't discovered himself already, it's too late now.

However long your life may be, you will only have contentment, knowing you didn't waste a minute being someone other than who you are

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Making Sausage

The procedure bylaw was discussed  again last night. In a televised council meeting. The Mayor's  call.

As we were leaving the town hall, a comment was made, the meeting was so exciting, a reporter fell asleep.

Arguing about rules is like cooking porridge. You have to keep stirring or it goes lumpy. Edible but not appetising.

Rules of Order are an  agreement upon how we conduct ourselves. Without  commitment, meetings are like the traffic pattern  in the north-east  quadrant; plagued by obstructions and deterrents to the safe, smooth, efficient movement of traffic.

According to the agenda, the bylaw was recommended for approval. I had a position .

The discussion opened with the Mayor's announcement, we had already  spent eleven hours  on the issue therefore each Councillor would be limited  forthwith to ten minutes to speak.

Well, I thought. That's a new one for the book. Also not the Mayor's decision to make. Let's see how that works.

Councillor Gaertner was first up and  focused on the clause that dealt with the problem of  improper conduct. The  question and answer session certainly seemed more than ten minutes.

I may have to buy a stop watch. It will go in a bag along with the hand-cuffs I bought to chain myself to the railings in the event of an attempt to remove  me from the seat to which I was elected.

I may also have to buy a bull horn to ensure against an attempt to deny me  the right to speak or finish my thought.

Many dismiss politicians as a bunch of thieves and robbers.

In previous terms the view appeared to be shared by a select group of town representatives.

The supreme beings determined the solution was a Code of Ethics followed by the Code of Conduct followed by the  appointment  an Integrity Commissioner. 

They were the answer to the implied problem of the lack of integrity or ethics among the elected.

They brought Aurora to a "gold standard of integrity".

Extraordinary expense was incurred in a failed attempt to ensure purity and righteousness in public affairs  and bring the  main transgressor to heel.

The time came when  the community made its  own judgment.

Councillor Gaertner was  re-elected and clearly feels the  responsibility to defend the gold  standard.

Seeking to understand what  comes under the Councillor's  heading of  improper conduct, I posed a question.

When the  Councillor  accused staff of deliberately falsifying  records and  refusing to withdraw the accusation or apologize. as requested by the presiding member, would that qualify?

The Councillor called a point of order  and angrily proclaimed herself innocent of the charge.

Being so righteous an' all.

Therein lies the crux of our problem

There is no shared  understanding of  rules or even the meaning of words.  Councillor Gaertner regularly sets herself up as an arbiter of words. Meetings are frequently disrupted while she re-defines a word in someone else's vocabulary and argues it means what she determines it to mean and it's not permissible. And  somebody should apologise to somebody.

In the circumstances,  a lack of consistency or  order  continues to bog the Council down.

Providing the presiding member with power to penalise will not solve the problem. It  creates yet another.

The Municipal Act does not intend  the duties of a Mayor  to provide leadership and guidance means  wielding a whip.
Parliamentary rules have been in print in Canada since 1984. Amended regularly to keep them up to date.

They are tried, tested and true and acknowledged and used successfully throughout the world

By the Mayor's count, Council had spent, before last night's meeting ,eleven hours trying to re-invent the wheel.

Finally on recognition by the chair, I expounded on the principle of restoring authority to council .

I spoke for twelve minutes.Two minutes more than the presiding member's decree.

I was not permitted to complete my thought.

I have one more opportunity to do so when the bylaw is presented to council for approval

I can't promise it will be exciting television.

What's exciting about stirring porridge?

Tuesday 27 September 2011

That's Enough

I've let Prickly Pete frolic in my blog space  more than long enough.

Now Buck Off  !!!

Post your own blog.

See how many readers you  attract.

Thirty minutes

Depending how much snow falls in winter, we may move a lot or a little  from  Yonge Street between Wellington and Mosely.

We didn't used to. I  re-call getting an occasional  boot full making my way from  car to  sidewalk.

For as long as can be remembered, the snow was taken to a location currently the site of  the community gardens.  Now flourishing, despite contamination from salt that may or may not have  been present. If  evidence of our eyes is to be depended upon. there was no salt.

It is currently dumped, and  has been for several years on a gravel parking lot in the vicinity of Lambert Willson Park.Similarly, no visible signs of salt damage to surrounding vegetation.

The proposal is to pave the parking lot, build a curb around it to  contain  melting snow, pave the driveway leading to it and build a treatment facility  that separates everything  except  salt.

Silt  and oil referred to in the report, remains on the surface  after the snow has melted  with no help from an elaborate treatment facility, designed at a cost of $123Ks.

Cost of the project is  estimated and included in  the town's capital construction budget increased to $800Ks. $500Ks  has been there since 2007, with the above amount already spent for  design.

Ar  the time of budget discussions, I argued against the recommendation, strictly on the basis that  salt dissolves in water.  It can't be  removed. The premise the project would reduce contamination from salt in the environment is not valid.

Council deferred approval of that project and others. 

Last week, a second report was submitted to  Council  acknowledging "soluble" salt is not removed by the process.

Salt is salt. Wrapped around aggregate or whatever, it is still soluble.Brine is salt in a soluble state.

The new report claims the project is a requirement of the Minister of the Environment.No cited regulation accompanies that claim.It cannot be  accepted. 

As they did at budget time, council deferred the decision until after the Minister of Environment has approved the plan.

I contend Council should exercise its  own mandate and reject the recommendation.

I voted for the deferral. Beggars can't be choosers.

If a town can be embarrassed, I think our town should be, to forward this cockamamie scheme to the  Honorable Minister for approval.

It does nothing for our image.

The recommendation the project should be paid for with money collected from new homeowners on the pretext the work is required because of growth is a glaring misrepresentation of  facts.

It cannot be countenanced.

Another Challenge

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Challenge":


What does the system actually consist of? If in excess of $120,000 was spent on its design and the capital cost is likely to exceed $800,000 there must be something to show for all of this.

Or is it just a big parking lot whose perimeter is contained so that the dumped snow will simply melt, the resulting water will evaporate, leaving leaving behind a mixture of salt and other scum? And how will one separate the salt from the scum?

I have yet to have determined for me to any degree of satisfaction whether this matter is one mandated by the Ministry of the Environment or is an option for municipalities to consider.

Can you please do this.

A Challenge

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "At This Time Of The Year":

On matters of engineering, I'd certainly take the opinion of someone who has an engineering degree over that of a career politician whose credentials include being a stay-at-home mother.


Even when the engineer recommends  a treatment system costing  $800Ks  to  remove salt dissolved in water that  wasn't  confirmed to be there in the first place?

What exactly do you have against a mother who stays at home to take care of her children?

What are your reservations about a person who has been involved in  town business over a span of forty-four years?

When a person  has enjoyed the confidence and trust of the community sufficient to have been elected eleven times , once as Reeve and County Councillor and twice as Mayor and Regional Councilllor; at what point, is such a person  deemed to qualify to be well-versed in what he or she does?

At what point does that add up to an ability to recognise a lack of logic where there is none?

We are not talking about designing a bridge here?

We are talking about the basic principle that salt dissolves in water and unless  the water evaporates,
salt cannot be removed.

E-mail to Council From Gordon Barnes

Posted with permission:
Following a knee-jerk response to a question from Chris Ballard this weekend, the subject has bubbled on the back burner.
Without exhaustive supporting numbers, I see it this way through a triple-bottom-line perspective.

Environmental:  marginal if any benefit.
    A Catch Basin removes floater and sinkers (petroleum products and lighter than water debris plus road sand).
    Salt is dissolved in the water therefore out-flows with the water.
    In the current situation, most (or all) of the floaters and sinkers stay on the parking lot, not entering the river.
    I believe that the existing parking lot and the proposed one should be viewed as equally hard, im-permeable surfaces.
    Most of the snow-melt stays on the surface until it hits the grass or a sewer entrance.

Social: medium benefit.
    The addition space will provide about 15 more parking places - an increase of 30-35% over existing.

Financial:  As a taxpayer - federal, provincial and municipal - it seems very poor Return on Investment.
    If it is an Infrastructure project, we may be committed to the agreement or suffer penalties on withdrawal.
    If it is mandated - rather than suggested - by the Province or LSRCA, then there is no choice.

This TBL stool has but one short leg.

The Arboretum concern is for the 5 Ginkgo trees, planted by the Town and ACA in the spillway.  The ACA requested and received drawings of the area. We commented on the increased saline into the area and suggested that continuing the out-flow pipe to the Nokiidaa Trail culvert would remedy the situation for the trees.  It should be noted that the existing drain in the parking lot directs the outflow into the same spillway - where the trees are - as the proposed project.  The capacity will increase by about 30% in area so the contaminant load would be expected to similarly increase. 

These are are slow-growing trees, but they do not appear to have been adversely effected by the previous annual saline influx.  

If further reflection is of value, please let me know.
Cheers <<gb
Go for a virtual nature walk www.auroraarboretum.ca

Monday 26 September 2011

At This Time Of The Year

I become very conscious of the last few day of summer ..I used to feel the urge to go someplace and feel the wind off the ocean on my face.

If I'm not up writing a blog at the crack of dawn, by the time, I  respond to citizen's e-mails, post  comments that can be  posted, have breakfast, wash dishes, the day is half over and I have to get out.

I had a sarcastic comment yesterday congratulating me on my engineering degree. Like... unless  a person has a degree,  no credibility can be deduced from anything they  have to say.

Like engineers and other consultants aren't retained  to bring about a pre-ordained result.

Consultants don't answer to the taxpayer.

Councillors do.

Some lose their seats  after a single term and are reduced to making bitter,senseless comments anonymously through the internet.

Aurora Council had a Professor make a presentation by invitation of the  Mayor last term

He had deduced  council decisions were the result of contributions from developers to  campaigns of municipal councillors.

His study amounted to sitting in front of a computer and pulling  off figures from candidates financial statements. All planning decisions made  were attributed to that evidence.

He was invited  to  present his findings to Aurora Council. He acknowledged Aurora wasn't included in his study . But he declared his confidence Aurora was the same as all the rest.

The Mayor nodded affirmatively  and cast her forbidding glare in strategic directions around the table.

The Professor got his five minutes of  fame and appeared on talk shows and was quoted in newspaper articles here and there.

Somebody took the trouble to check the financial statements after the next election told me, the only donation  from a developer in Aurora  was from the Rice Group who built the Longo Shopping Centre on Wellington Street.  They got an entrance from a regional road within feet of a signalized  intersection.

But not before Longo's sent a letter to Council informing they had terminated their contract with the developer.

It appears  the donation went to the campaign of the town's only regional representative.

Of course it was all perfectly legal and above board and  proved the Professor's point.

Just not about all  the candidates in  Aurora's election.

Sunday 25 September 2011


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

Oh, do be cautious. Evelyn. Fiefdom builders do not
appreciate challenges to their turf.


What do I have to be cautious about. I'm just stating facts. I don't know anything about a $300.admission event. So I can't say anything about that.

I do know that after registration for election closes. everybody registered is a candidate. The outgoing council is officially a lame duck.

It cannot commit the municipality or the upcoming council to anything substantive,
particularly financial and especially legal.

A rental lease ordinarily starts with the first and last month's rent and keys exchanged. Ordinarily there's a termination clause.

Why are we hearing the Armories building will be for sale?

Is a ten year lease without a termination clause. really a transfer of ownership for a pittance of the building's value? Somebody must know these things. Shouldn't it be us?

Rent for this building started on February 1st. Two months after the current council took office. Four months after the election.

I think Council and the community is entitled to answers. I intend to ask them.

I don't think the nation's security is at risk. Do you?


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "All I Know About The Hydro Building":

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG without the music -

Is this properly another example of the former's malfeasance?

What militia are you referring to? Those with the $300 admission, or others.

We should have this information so we can better understand the role of Canada's Defence Force in Aurora.


I don't think it could properly be described as malfeasance.

Two parties are involved in any lease.

More than one person is engaged on either side.

Contracts are signed on the part of the town by the Mayor and Clerk. They must be authorised by a resolution of Council.

The agreement is or should be drawn up by the Town's legal department.

The Town's Finance department should be briefed to anticipate collecting rent.

I don't know when the contract was amended. I received the e-mail circulated from the former Mayor  that the Minister of Defence had signed the agreement.

I think she'd heard I asked for that to be delayed

I don't know when or if a formal request was made for an amendment.Who made it? Or who received it?

I doubt it went to the Clerk. It would have had to be processed through normal channels. That could not have happened until the new council had taken office. It did not happen after the election or before the new council took office.

On the other hand, the clerk is co-signer to the agreement. His signature would have had to be on the amendment to ensure legality.

The solicitor would have had to have been involved.

That an amendment of sorts was made,  is not in doubt. The rent did not start until February 1st 2011.
Therefore that's when the lease began. Which puts authority for  the lease properly with  the  new Council.

The new council was never at any time made aware of the lease beginning two months into our term of office. Three months after our election.

I don't think malfeasance is the correct term. The word suggests exploitation of a position of trust for personal financial advantage. I don't believe there was any hokery-pokery with finances

The term militia means to me. a peace time army. The guys who hang out at the armories and play week-end soldiers. They take themselves very seriously. My impression is the most important thing they do is provide an army training program for young people; the "kiddies" the former Mayor referred to when she announced successful negotiation of a lease agreement with the Queens York Rangers.

That's what this multi-million dollar property was given up for at the expense of potential assessment revenue and twenty-seven jobs and realisation of capital revenue, or alternatively space that was sorely needed and  used by the town for town purposes.

Go figger...

And Another Thing

Source of funding for the snow storage site and treatment facility is  recommended from development charges.  The report claims it can be attributed to new growth.

Whether or not a project qualifies for development charge  funding is the responsibility of the Director of Finance.

I contend it does not.

New areas of town have storm water retention ponds.

Streets have boulevards to store snow until it melts. If there is salt in the snow, boulevards would not be green in Spring.

Besides that, only streets in the old  area of town are so narrow, there is no place to store snow when there  is an accumulation. That has nothing whatsoever to do with new growth.

Our development charges are among he highest in the GTA. They are in excess of $30.Ks.Politicians and municipal  administrations love them. They are found money.

They are required to be  paid  at the time a building permit is issued. They  reflect in the price of the home.

The price of the home is the basis for property  assessment. Which is the measurement for the amount of taxes to be paid. Taxes are paid on taxes forever and a day. They impact the down payment and the mortgage

They drive both parents out to work to provide shelter for their families and children are raised in institutional day care from a year old.

The new homebuyer is not aware of the inequity.

The municipal councillor most certainly is or should be.

Just because a taxpayer is unaware of  inequity,  is not a reason to perpetrate injustice.

It is a shame and a disgrace.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Check This Out

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Minister "requires municipalities to reduce salt" that’s Odd,check out http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/environment/en/resources/results/index.htm?txtSearchType=library&txtSearchValue=Snow Disposal and De-Icing MOE Guidelines on Snow Disposal and De-icing Operations in Ontario appears to suggest something completely different , words like "Guidelines" , "Suggests", "Preferable" "Where ever Possible" scream off the page No mention that it's required. Maybe you better dig a little deeper into this Councilor , ???? 1 million can be better spent ,or not at all ****************** 
Anonymous Anonymous said...
You should get 20 copies of this week's posts and comments put into file folders and distributed to members of Council and all Department heads. The folder should be titled: WE THE PEOPLE Maybe someone will pay attention.

Here's something else you need to know about. The report speaks about the need to build a snow "storage site " and treatment plan to protect the ground water supply  as well as to protect the well head area.

Our ground water supply comes from an aquifer deep down. Many layers of material separate it from the surface. Including an impermeable layer of clay.It's a geological feature of our area.We are the headwaters area  for Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario. Water comes from springs deep within the earth.

We have bottomless lakes.The theory is they are connected by an underground river.
Lakes are spring fed. Swamps dry up in the summer.

Forty years ago when we tapped into this aquifer, the water was carbon tested. It was thousands of years old. It was cold. clear and pure. The Region tests regularly. Nothing has changed.

A second supply to augment the ground water comes from Lake Ontario.

So, even if there is salt in the snow that gets scooped up from the Yonge Street Centre Block.it has no impact whatsoever on the water supply.

We do not take water from the wellhead area identified by the Region as in need of protection.

The water supply is in no need of protection by a million dollar snow storage site and treatment centre.

The question of how much salt there is in the snow, remains unanswered. The previous site used for twenty years is now the location of  a flourishing community garden. So much for the argument of salt pollution.

I had salt left over from  winter this year. There's no point in storing it. It absorbs humidity and turns into brine. I used it to kill  weeds on my crushed brick driveway. They didn't come back where the salt hit them. That has to be a first.

I know about salt absorbing moisture from the atmosphere from using it in my basement before I could afford a de-humidifier.

All I Know About The Hydro Building

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Here's The Deal":

Speaking of Waste , can you fill us in on what’s going on over at the old Hydro Building, looks desolate as hell , is there some kind of top secret military think tank happening over there , have they constructed a subterranean entrance into the place , Has the Town canceled the Deal ? fill us in Please


It's still empty. Desolate. Nothing appears to be going on. It's not an old building.

This time last year, the town was using it. We were storing archives and  stuff there..

The Parks Department was using it as a workshop. They built parts for a gazebo there in the winter,
 brought it out  and erected it in the Spring. Somebody asked me how come you spent all that money. We didn't.The Parks Department built it.

It was vacated by Power Stream  months after they signed a  year's lease with no penalty clause. They left with one month's notice.We had a legal department then too.

It was built by Aurora Hydro when they outgrew their space on Mosely Street. It  became an asset of the new utility when the Province decided all utilities should be privatised.

When the town  sold the utility  to Power Stream, the property  housed twenty-seven employees with a huge workshop, garage and a five acre yard ,

Property  assessment was  worth $69.Ks a year to the town.

I thought it should  be sold to bring in revenue, replace twenty-seven jobs lost and realise millions from  the sale.

Nigel Keane thought it should be a teen centre. Tim Jones agreed  and it  became an election issue.

Neither of them were elected  and in the new term no decision was  made until an opportunity presented to ingratiate the Mayor with the militia crowd.

When the announcement was made about the lease with the militia, the Mayor remarked . "Now the kiddies will have a place" I assumed she meant the army cadets.That was in September of 2010.

The rent was  $139Ks a year. We  were not told we would be spending in excess of $200Ks to make it ready for the militia nor that we would be responsible for the building's maintenance. 

When I asked in  March ,during budget discussions. what column the rental revenue would show,  We were informed there hadn't been any until February 1st.

I heard afterwards the former Mayor had amended the lease, after  the Minister was supposed to have  signed it  and after the election, when she was defeated.

The lease was put  forward  until February 2011. two months after the new council took office.

Now  a consultant is being paid to examine  space needs of  works department and parks department with a view to spending  twelve million dollars on a new facility.

We will have less than seventy thousand people at build-out   as opposed to the current fifty-four thousand ,but never mind, we are currently adding  staff complement and space to accommodate them  as if there is no tomorrow.

The militia will have a building for "the kiddies" to  play in  which would have accommodated the Leisure Services Department; offices, board room,  parking, landscaping plus an electrically charged security fence around the yard.

Here's The Deal

Town staff do not approve spending. Council does.

This $800Ks boondoggle is a carry over from the previous term

The comment is frequently made  we should move on. The past is past.  We should get on with the job and stop harping on about the past.

Remember the past!!! The first person out the door in the exodus was Director of Public Works. Close behind him went his associate. He was pushed aside in the Knowles Crescent debate in favour of Councillor MacEachern as the preferred go-to person. $60Ks worth of cheques to restore driveways ro former elegance were distributed in time for Christmas.

The Chief Administrator was not allowed to do his job.   He left. The Town Treasurer wasn't long after him.

The Director of Planning retired although it was not in her plans and we certainly lost an invaluable resource and the keeper of our institutional history.

The Director of Corporate  Affairs/Clerk managed to survive for two more years until he could retire with full pension benefits.He did what he had to.

The Clerk who replaced him signed a five year contract but left after eight months when she handed me the decision wrought by the Integrity Commissioner. who lasted four months less.

He was "stripped of his authority" after elaborate efforts to contrive his dismissal before his decision was " known" to Council.

Had the clerk not provided it to me  as required under the  process, I doubt the decision would ever have seen the light of day.

They would have hired Tsubouchi  sooner rather than later and completed  their evil objective.

The snow storage plan got into the ten year capital construction forecast during the  period when nothing at all was allowed that wasn't designed to promote the public persona of the presiding member and her loyal band of followers.

The entire administration was commandeered for that purpose. No person under the Town Hall roof was allowed to forget to whom they owed their job.

The plan  was started, consultant fees  were paid and a design prepared.

Staff are bound to proceed with this and other foolhardy projects until this council decides to stop it.

They must be removed from the forecast or they continue to move along like juggernauts towards completion.

The onus is now upon those you elected to turn things around and get back on a sensible track.

At budget time, a number if items were deferred until council could  spend more time considering theimplicatons. But back they came, one by one.

Huge expenditures for repairs to the Aurora Family Leisure Complex have already gotten through by sleight of hand.

The snow storage bamboozle is next on the list.

It did not get past the first barrier. We can only hope.

An Ongoing Dilemma

Tuesday's  General Committee  meeting presented a  repeat problem.

A newly worded report on the  snow dump and treatment facility was  presented again to Council for approval.

This time, the first page suggests the Minister of Environment "requires" municipalities to reduce salt going into the environment.

The last page, disclosed the  project proposed does not remove "soluble" salt.

Estimated costof the project has gone  from $500Ks to $800Ks.

$123Ks was already spent in the last term  for a design.

The report was signed by the Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Environment and Infrastructure.

It was presented by its writer.

In a  team management system, all reports written  by managers are approved by the executive team  and authorised  for recommendation to Council.

 Councillors comments indicate they have been informed, the town is "mandated"  by the Minister of Environment  to undertake this project.

My  dilemma presents as follows; if. on the basis of my  experience and observations, I am unable to accept  a  recommendation, must I hold my tongue or risk interruption on a point of order, to be criticized by Councillor Gaertner, against rules of parliamentary procedure, for criticizing staff  by disagreeing with a  recommendation 

Or. risk staff interrupting me, to be accused of impugning  integrity of said staff,  making it impossible for him to think and do his job.While distracting me from doing my job and disrupting the meeting.

Or,  if a report  is presented  more than once with changed wording and I. more than once, launch  into  opposition  because of inability to accept the new argument plus the old argument, plus throw in information learned since the last time the report was discussed; a complaint of harassment might be lodged against me for making it difficult for staff to do their job and lose status among their peers.

Thereby hangs the dilemma Does my job trump their job.

There is no soft or gentle way to express strong opposition to a recommendation.My
purpose is rejection.

I can't skate around it, mince my words or dress it up to appear to be something it is not.

My task calls for  scrutiny, analysis,  a conclusion formed and presented  in forceful terms for the purpose of  influence a sufficient number of votes or failing that,  to command  public attention.

Particularly when  an expenditure of  best part of a million dollars is proposed.

It's my understanding of my reason for being at the Council table.

The obvious flaw in a system that pits elected against appointed,  allows reason to be   obscured  by  sympathy for the hapless appointed.  Who must  publicly  endure a  point by point critique of a report written with  best intent.

It is not an equal contest.

In the past,council authority has been ruthlessly exploited for evil intent . 

On Tuesday,the issue was deferred until November,when it's said, the Minister will  rule on the plan.

But, before moving on,Councillor Thompson, for the second time ,gave  assurance to staff for excellent work.

The community, by and large, has no difficulty understanding  my arguments.Their thinking comes from the same practical level as my own.  I'm regularly asked,why don't they listen to you Evelyn?

Well, they do. It's just easier  to dismiss a forceful argument from a politician than a rationale from a professional.

Inclination of the fair- minded  is to defend the person who appears to be unfairly  under attack.

This time, my argument was not dismissed .The decision was deferred.

Signs are, the honeymoon really is over. Awareness has grown of whose interest we are there to protect. It's not always a tidy and amenable process.

That's progress. Whatever was done and continues to be done to keep it moving  is appreciated.  .

Thursday 22 September 2011

Anonymoose Again

Anonymoose has left a new comment on your post "Another Opinion":

"I don't understand. the Mayor is not a stupid man."

Indeed he is not. So perhaps you should instead be asking yourself if your information sources are as reliable and fair as you'd like.

You can't believe everything you read on the Internet you know. That goes doubly so if the issue has anything to do with this town.


If I don't write a post first thing, I very often don't write one for that day.

This morning, I had a number of other things to write .When I finished, it seemed like this might be  a day I wouldn't post.

Then the above comment came through. It made me smile. It amuses me  to guess the author. Who, among all the people I know, would be most likely to offer  that opinion.

It  recommends, without subtlety, don't be believing everything or anything you read on this blog or in this town.

Which begs the question.  If you believe nothing you read in this town, why are you reading it?

The second point is; there's a far greater  chance of what you read being true, if the author takes responsibility for accuracy by providing his or her name.

Chances are increased if the person is elected. A councillor has access to facts.Or to be more precise. A Councillor is entitled to have all  facts related to town business.

Number three;. a Councillor could believe in the responsibility to communicate the facts to whoever, within the community  is interested in knowing.

Number four; facts can be verified.

Number five; a  record  for integrity  may well be the most important qualification a couucillor  brings to the  table.

Number six;common sense  mitigates absolutely against the risk of being proven to have misled people or distorted facts when people depend on said councillor to provide information that helps formulate an opinion.

I bless the advent of the internet.

In all history, there has  never been  a better opportunity to be informed and participate  in  the democratic  process.

It was never thus.


Three more comments came in response to this post. Al  abusive. None worth the space to print them. So don't be holding your breath Anonymoose.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Another Opinion

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Rise And Report":

With respect to this post and the previous one, it is obvious that if Aurora Council had a speaker, the work on hand would be accomplished much faster, in accordance with the agenda for each meeting, and with far less acrimony.

I do not believe that time will improve the situation.

The more opportunity wayward councillors have the to play their stupid little games the more set in their ways they will become, and it will become impossible to bring them to heel.

Are there no long serving retired councillors or former legislators, either Federal of Provincial, with experience with the rules of procedural conduct who might be happy to work for a few hours each week within easy driving time of Aurora? Even at a princely figure of $100 - $200 per hour the cost would be repaid very quickly through Council efficiency and more rapid decision making.


Speakers in the House of Commons,  Ontario Legislative Assembly and the City of Toronto are perforce elected to office.

Our system of gvernment gives the electorate the right to choose who will make decisions
They may be "wayward" they may "play stupid little games". it may be impossible to" bring them to heel"  

They were  chosen by the electorate  to do the job as they see fit for the next four years. There is no role for anyone outside of the elected body to change that.

Possibility for improvement must come from within with positive and critical  feedback from the community. I continue to be optimistic.

Letter To Mayor and Council . Number 2

The first Letter to the Mayor and Council came  from the  Head of The Arts Department of Sacred Heart High School in the Town of Newmarket.It's three pages long .

It's  not clear the York District Catholic School Board  intends  involvement  in the merits of  Aurora using  a facility that cost three  million dollars in capital construction for a purpose other than  intended.

The museum  was squeezed out of the facility by the Culture Centre Board , Not the other way about.

The letters are undoubtedly  part of an ongoing  campaign launched by those at  the cultural  centre with  interests to protect. Giving free space to individuals to promote their  commercial advantage no doubt entices a loyal  following. Nothing like giving money away to draw a crowd

If there is envy in neighbouring municipalities, I doubt it comes from the municipality itself. 

The people who hatched the scheme are no longer in charge Mr Griffith or have you not noticed. .

Mr.Griffith comments I have voted negatively on anything positive to do with the Cultural Centre.

 I am  aware of  one vote.

It was for approval of half a million dollars  to be spent without  accountability to the people who foot the tax bill. 

I  voted against that.  I will do it again in the next budget debate.

I may not be alone on Council.  I am certainly not alone in the community.


To: Mayor Dawe and Aurora Councillors
September 21, 2011

Here we go again with Evelyn Buck and her museum. She has cocooned herself on Aurora Council by voting negatively on anything positive that has to do with The Aurora Cultural Centre. If she really wants to shrink The Cultural Centre in favour of a museum, then let the tax payers see some numbers first. No responsible organization would embark on a project like this without a lot of research into its viability, how much it would cost tax payers and how many people could be expected to visit it.

If our neighbouring municipalities, with museums, are any indication of visitations, it deserves a long hard look. I did some research on my own and was astonished at the few “ Open ” hours they can justify. Also, it should be noted that these museums offer more than artifacts in one building. They also have old houses, one room school house, railway station, etc. that can be toured.

Presently we have a vibrant Cultural Centre that has by far outperformed all expectations of it. During the first six months of this year more than 9000 people have participated in its extensive activities. That is an increase of 3000 over the same period last year.
[ doesn’t sound like just a Culture Club to me. ] If a person has never visited or taken in some of these activities, they have no idea of what it is doing for our community of Aurora. I would suggest that Council Members go to the Centre and talk to the staff about the variety of programs that are offered to all ages from pre-schoolers to seniors.

There is designated space for atifacts to be displated at the Centre, and I’m sure more can be acquired if needed. It should be up to The Historical Society, who owns these items, to see that artifacts are displayed, on a systematic basis, so they can be enjoyed by the thousands of people visiting The Centre.

The success of any venture requires more than a warm fuzzy feeling by a few people.

If you listen to other people, you will find that our Cultural Centre is envied by many other municipalities.

David Griffith
Aurora Town Councillor 1991 to 2003


Mr. Griffiths lost his seat  when  a   former Mayor, septuagenarian candidate,  after a fourteen year absence  from council was elected.

I think I may presume  to speak for others besides myself.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Rise And Report

We used to  rise and address the chair. We did not have microphones. We were not on camera There were no audio tapes. 

The Council chamber in Aurora was a big room. The County Council Chamber was  bigger .

Standing to address the chair has a salutary effect. It  called for focus,and organisation of one's thoughts. A person really needs to be prepared.
Sitting around a table, directing random questions at this director or that to help one firm up a position   instills no confidence in the argument  presented....if one is.

That's what debate is.

There were fourteen municipalities in the County  each  represented by a Reeve and Deputy Reeve.

Contribution to debate  was optional.  It still is
There were no consent motions to approve recommendations without discussion.

Standing committees recommended to council. Staff were not in the direct line of fire.

At  County Council, a  committee would  rise and report. They would  leave their seats and assemble at a  table in the centre of the horseshoe with the appropriate  director.

Challenges to a recommendation were from councillors  to committee members.  If a committee chair could not answer a question , only then was the director allowed  to participate

Public display of  dependence on staff to help one formulate a position, does not reflect favourably. It illustrates failure to prepare, absence of judgment or both

If a councillor has not done their homework or is incapable of comprehending the recommendation,  best not put that on display.

"Better to be silent and  thought a fool than open one's mouth and remove all doubt" Socrates.

At the head of our table conferencing is visible and  constant between the presiding member , the Chief Administrator and the Clerk of the Municipality.

What we do in Aurora  Council scarcely resembles  formal debate. Being seated reduces formality. Creates a casual environment. Consistent application of the rules suffer as a consequence.

At the last Council  meeting, the procedure bylaw was recommended for approval. I came prepared to debate. My points of dispute were clear,  I hoped to illustrate how many and how significant they were   and argue for postponement  for further  work to be done.

The presiding member directed  each of my points to staff for a response. It was not my intent.It took far more of council's time than  intended. And frankly I was extremely uncomfortable being steered into a process that I  absolutely oppose.
But I believe the chair was well intended.

I stopped before finishing. The bylaw did not accompany the agenda. The item was referred to the next council meeting.

In my judgment,a formal council meeting is not the right place for  work that still needs to be done.It's the place for debate and decision.  I allowed myself to be sidestepped. It  happens when lines are blurred and  people are working at cross purpose.

Commenters are expressing frustration  with the Mayor's difficulty with  the rules.

Patience is  not an option.

We needed to elect Geoff Dawe. He offered to serve. Learning in a fish bowl how to provide guidance and leadership to an eight member council, without requisite skills is not an easy task. It's not easy for a person with requisite skills. When  it looks easy and things run smoothly, that's  a reflection of considerable skill.

We knew that or should have, when we voted. What we need  to do  now is recognise  it's not a one-man show. We need to  work  to-gether  with due respect for  the Mayor's responsibility.

If he succeeds , we all succeed. And vice versa

Monday 19 September 2011

Toronto Has a Speaker

Appointed from  Council membership. The City of Toronto Act calls for it. But not for other  municipalities in Ontario. I don't think it's necessary ..

The  problem  we have are tampered  standards. People have gotten used to the idea, rules can be interpreted to suit the occasion. 

Councillor Gaertner is convinced  asking endless questions of staff  is legitimate debate.

A change in the rules limits time for debate but allows that to continue.

I think that's crazy. Debate is  taking a position for or against the question.When all sides have been heard, the question  is put and a vote taken.

A Councilor either  contributes to debate or not.  They should be prepared to speak, listen and think on their feet. If they are not, they should not.

It wasn't happening during the last four years. Former  Councillor Mac Eachern would be recognised  by the chair without even turning  and would monopolise the next twenty minutes with  an endless run of questions. Following which, she was ready to vote
Gaertner stubbornly sticks to what's familiar.Brings written questions to the table and charging everyone else with being know-nothings.

When I came back in 2003, Morris, Kean and Vrancic  were at the top of the table. They hogged  the best committees.  I expressed my dis-satisfaction. I had been used to Mayor and Clerk working on committee memberships subject to  preferences and tabling  a report  for approval.

"Well" I said. "makes no  never mind.  Councillors are entitled  by law to  participate in town business
wherever it's happening. 

Council Kean indicated no. That was not so..

I checked the bylaw and discovered changed wording.  A Councillor could attend  meetings and participate ... IF....  recognized by the Chair.

I  moved  to amend.  Councillors have authority to participate, They may not vote if not a member. Recognition  to speak from the chair is a given.

A Councillor cannot be excluded from discussion on a whim of the chair.

Councillor Vrancic saw no need to amend. He did not foresee  a Councillor being  excluded from  discussion.

In fact it had  happened.

Former Councillor Betty Pedersen  attended a Leisure Services Advisory Committee. Took a seat at the table  and was directed by the chair to leave the table and sit with  non-members.

Councillor Vrancic was the chair .

The vote changed to favour the amendment.

Kean, Morris and Gaertner opposed.  A Councillor was absent. Missed the discussion.  Was there for Council's decision. Voted against it . The amendment was defeated.

At the first meeting of  the 2006 term, the first time I spoke, I had not said six words when Councillor Mac Echearn  interrupted with  a point of order.  Upheld by the chair.

I apologised and committed to doing better and continued in humble mien.

The second time I  spoke, Councillor Wilson called a point of order before I'd gotten  five words out.

A pattern formed. When I spoke, Councillor Wilson would slide down in his chair, let his eyes roll up in his head and his tongue loll out of the side of his mouth.

People  watching at home at home were both astounded and horrified. .

I endured  that conduct  for eight months.  I started the  blog in August 2007 when it was clear nothing was going to change. Y'know...if a fight is what you want, a fight is what you'll get.

Enmity was real and palpable. It was not about positive change. It was about seek and destroy.

Four years of distortion and manipulation took their toll  on the practice of rules. The new Council has followed on what was.

But they are intent on doing  better. It  will take more work and good will and working toward  the same objective  to get the town's business done in a timely and efficient manner.

Agendas need to be manageable and assembled with more consideration and respect for what can be accomplished in a single sitting.

Rules need to be brief, succinct , easily memorised and no longer subject to interpretation.

We just need a little more time and knowing we can trust each other.

A Council  swims together or it sinks.

I don't believe anyone fancies that.


Again With The Rules Already

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "I didn't Mean":

Ummmm, who decides that it is RIGHT before it can be put to a vote? Some HIGHER authority than council?


It's the point I have been trying to make. Rules of order governing debate should not be subject to dispute or disagreement,

Governments have had an accepted standard for hundreds of years.

Some lucky students acquire  debating skills in high school.  They learn "the rules".

Organisations and associations observe and practice a common standard.

The Parliament of Canada and Provincial Legislative Assemblies observe the same rules.

When the House meets, the first order of business is appointment of a speaker. An M.P.who enjoys the respect and confidence of all parties and who agrees to surrender his/her right to participate in debate, is appointed by a unanimous vote to the role.

He/she is then, according to ritual, dragged unwillingly to the Speaker's chair by the leaders.

The speaker does have authority. But not to participate in debate. The iron rule is impartiality. He/she casts the deciding vote in a tie.

I haven't researched the issue, so don't hold me to exactitude.I have simply observed. In all the years I've been observing, I've never seen a member challenge the rules.

Mostly what we see on television is Question Period. Members are chosen by party leaders to ask specific questions of the relevant Minister.

If the Minister goes on too long with the answer, the Speaker  simply rises in his chair and says"Minister" to indicate he should shut up now.Pages rise along with him.

I have seenmembers escorted from the Chamber. Usually for making an accusation of criminality against another member.There is no penalty for "disobedience" The requirement of the House is for the member to withdraw the accusation and render an apology. Usually willingly accorded.

If a member disrupts the proceedings, the member can be removed. Until he sobers up presumably or makes the required apology for a serious accusation.

No power exists to remove a member from the seat to which he was elected.

Markham had an M.P. a few years ago by the name of Jag Bahduria.

He was expelled from the Liberal Party for reasons of scandal.

Voters in Markham campaigned for months the right to replace him. They collected petitions to persuade the government. The government was unable to accede.

What voters had decided in an election cannot be put asunder.

The member sat alone excluded from\ participation. Until the end of the term. He sought the nomination again. He had his supporters. He did not succeed and the problem was finally resolved.

The municipality is a legislature in the same sense as the senior levels of government.Bylaws have the same force and effect. Provided they make sense and are enforceable.

It's no earthly use passing a bylaw that can't be enforced and doesn't have a hope in hell of standing up in a court.

No bylaw can be passed at the local level which contravenes the law of a senior level.

From my perspective, rules of order must be agreed upon by all members. There can be no room for individual interpretation. They must be applied consistently and impartially.Members must learn them, abide by them and respect them.

Continual points of order, interrupting a member who has the floor is harassment and bound to lead to exasperation and loss of cool.

A continual stream of questions, monopolising the time of council is not permissible.

A member cannot choose to use debating time for fact finding.

The rules call for the chair to recognise a member  indicating a desire  to speak.

On recognition ,the member shall address the chair.

The member shall speak to the question.

The member shall not stray from the question.

The member shall not repeat points made
The member shall be allowed A question.

When the member has completed his/her argument, the member will take his/her seat.

In the past, if an argument had already been made the same argument would not be repeated by another councillor.   A member might simply state agreement with an argument already presented or say nothing.

There is no requirement for a councillor to participate in debate. The requirement is to cast a vote.

There is no role for staff to participate in debate once a professional recommendation has been received their role is ended.

Right or wrong, decisions made are the prerogative of the elected and accountable body.

There is an obligation for all members to be mindful of time available to complete town business prior to adjournment. It doesn't just rest with the chair.

The problem of a council member using time to embark on a fact finding mission at every meeting is easily resolved.

It is not an orderly process and should not be permitted.

Council members receive an agenda in advance in order to make their inquiries and prepare for debate.They should have a position. At the same time they should be prepared to listen to others.

That's where agreement with the rules between Councillors is essential.We cannot function with different Councillors applying separate understanding of the rules.

It brings the process into disrepute.

I rest my case.

It's Amazing What You Learn

A resident called  on his cell phone. He was waiting for a bus. He'd read  about the contract for school crossing guards and had something he wanted to share.

He  worked in Vaughan when they signed a contract for the service. In one instance ,someone took the job of crossing guard who lived in the Beaches area.Had no car. Had to use public transit. Was given a map to show where he was expected to be.

The job is mostly an hour in the morning before school starts and another in the afternoon when school ends. In some schools, students don't go home for lunch

How could a person work an hour in the morning and another in the afternoon, live twenty miles away and depend on public transit?

I was curious so I made a call.

The contract service we have  is local.  Recruitment is within the neighbourhood. So that's alright.

But there's more. We have three long term crossing guards . Pay ranges from $14.92 to $16.13. Payment into the town;s pension plan is optional. If the option is taken the contribution is 6% each.

It's not a popular job. Rain, wind , snow, sleet and  sub zero temperatures are not to everyone's taste or ability to withstand.

A person looking for full-time employment might be glad to take the work but as soon as they land full-time employment  they leave. That's reasonable. But time spent recruiting, checking backgrounds, training is all wasted and must be repeated.

Using pay duty police  officers was tried. Theyhave to  be paid for  a minimum of four hours.The cost  was $500. for  an hour with 12% tacked on for administration. They had to be paid for each shift separately.

Procedures for issuing a cheque in a municipality to ensure everything is exact and proper is an elaborate process. Not nearly as simple as the former Mayor picking up the phone and retaining a solicitor on a whim every other week.

Contract  service for crossing guards is a bit more expensive than the town doing recruiting,hiring and adding to staff complement. But time saved in the process makes it even. A guarantee the crossing guard will be where needed is the added benefit.

There are ten crossing guards.Three are ours and seven from the contract service.

The school year is 196 days including two professional development days. That's 37 weeks. The hours
are a fraction of a work day. It calculates down to seventeen weeks.

The  contract  for seven crossing guards for three years is in excess of $300Ks.

The thought occurs; suppose  no contract service was available.  No person to be found willing to do the job. No matter how high the cost could go.

Who should be responsible for the safety of children crossing roads to get to and from school?

Supposing it became impossible to provide the service.

It simply came to an end ?

What then?

Sunday 18 September 2011

I didn't Mean

To start  let's  jump all over Nigel  movement.. He  didn't get elected. There is no election. He is not a candidate. Anyone who chooses,  has a right to be a candidate.People have a right to vote but not to challenge a person's right to let their name stand and take their chances. 

The story I told to-day was relative to rules of order and  unexpected results if misapplied.

Council has spent considerable time on the procedure bylaw, as it pertains  to rules of order.

I don't think we've got it right yet and we should take all the time we need. Since it only applies to how council works, it should not go back onto the agenda of a  council meeting or a general committee meeting until we've finished  it.

I think we should  sit together  around a table and hammer out  outstanding issues until we agree. It's not a matter for the majority to impose their will on the minority.

It's a matter for mutual  agreement, confidence and trust that we all have the same understanding and support for the rules. 

Legislative bodies under  British Common Law have had rules that worked for centuries with amendments to bring them up to date. The basic principles still apply.

We did too until the last several councils decided they could mess with them to  the  advantage. of special interests.

I don't care who hangs with us if they want to but nobody should have to sit through  the working session  other than the clerk and  council
The Bylaw has  been scheduled to be read at the next council meeting. . I think that's a mistake.

That' not what I said.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Authority To Expel":

Nigel Kean said that Council debate was beneath contempt; it interfered with drinking time.

Did you find this humourous?

Was he a secret tippler or an outright souse?

From some of his ads and letters in the Auroran I could never be sure.


From what I know, he was a convivial fellow with his friends. He intended the remark as humorous I am sure.  I did not find it entertaining.

He seldom missed an opportunity to denigrate   a  Council debate   as "politics"

I did not intend to suggest drinking was excessive.

But, from my perspective, within the political arena, he was a mean spirited individual.

Authority To Expel

People who run for office frequently have different ideas about what the job entails.

Some don't think of it as a job at all. For them, it's all about power.

My impression of Nigel Kean was that he was carrying a grudge and getting elected was payback. I felt the same thing  with  Evalina MacEachern.

I registered late in 2003 as did John West. Ms MacEachern had been registered for some time. Her name was withdrawn. A public statement was made  that when she saw who was running, she decided she had better things to do with her time.

The comment was offensive. It also illustrated presumptuous contempt for  voters' right to choose.

MacEachern started the practice of wasting Council time with an unending, seemingly pointless stream of questions directed to staff.At first I  thought she didn't know how to get off the treadmill

The presiding member proved unable or unwilling to bring  the disorder  to a halt.

Tim Jones is my friend. I hold him in high affection. But I wouldn't give a hill of beans for his ability to provide leadership and guidance to a council.

Tim excused himself laughingly by claiming to be a lover not a fighter.

Leadership means different things to different people.Providing guidance calls for a similar skill set. Tim never mastered the rules let alone their application.

Nigel Kean ran for the Mayor's chair without having been a Councillor. One reason stated was anger against the Mayor.

Finally elected to Council, he showed little respect for the role.His pre-occupation was with the Royal Canadian Legion, the Darts Tournament, Bowling for Big Brothers and creating the Farmer's Market.

He frequently and contemptuously  dismissed  debate as "politics" that  interfered with drinking time.

It seemed the comment was intended to be humorous.Everyone laughed on cue.

There was nothing humorous about his determination to humiliate former Councillor John West.

In his first term. almost his first motion was to re-name John West Way.He didn't propose a new name that I re-call. Just the removal of John's name.

He contended it gave the Councillor an advantage of thousands of dollars of free advertising in an election.It was the essence of his complaint.

He tried again in his second term.Didn't work then either.

His third bid was successful. He changed the motion to place an address of the Town hall parking lot driveway of Municipal Drive.

The effect was to remove  West's name from town hall stationary.

Councillor West was a sitting member of Council.The road had been named fourteen years previously. It had been chosen by the developer and approved by Council.

Kean's motion was seconded by Morris..Morris,Kean,Gaertner were consistent allies.

No rationale was provided with the notice. No reason offered when the motion was presented.

The absence of supporting argument  clearly indicated,  mover and seconder were confident of a majority vote. They had  no need to  provide justification for their action.

The lack  provided an opposing argument. I stated it was clear members supporting the motion were complicit in agreement beforehand.

Councillor Vrancic called a point of order and stated he had not done that.

Mayor Jones supported the point of order and directed I withdraw the word "complicit"

For once,the Mayor was adamant. I concluded he was reluctant to cross Vrancic and counted on me to help him out of an awkward situation.

He misjudged the limits of my friendship.

I refused to withdraw the word. He directed me again or he would be obliged to expel me from the Council chamber.

"No, Mr. Mayor. complicit is the word I used and complicit is the meaning I intend.  I will leave the Council Chamber before I will withdraw the word"

So I had the questionable distinction of being the first Council member ever to be expelled from Aurora Council Chamber.

Mayor Jones,the first Mayor ever to enjoy that questionable distinction along with me. Hardly for a noble cause.

It did not serve him well. He lost the next election.

Morris and Kean were the contenders. Morris won with less than a majority.

The contenders apparently made a pact they would not attack each other.Instead, they would jointly focus their efforts to discredit  Jones. An agreement Kean had cause to regret.

The focus of this post relates to rules of order and how they can go awry.

In the last term, the former Mayor attempted three times to order me to do something or other or she would expel me from the Council Chamber.

It never happened.

Apart from my vow. I would never again accede to a demand that I leave the chair to which I was elected . Not  if Moses himself came down from the mountain, complete with beard and commandments chiseled in stone.There's a practical reason why it cannot be accomplished.

The rule allowing for expulsion of a member who is disrupting a meeting and not allowing the nation's business to be completed,comes to us from the Parliament of Canada.

In the House of Commons and the Legislative Assembly, Officers of the Law are on hand at all times for security of persons.

No person other than a sworn officer of the law has authority to lay a hand or even a finger on the person of another, except as witness to a law being contravened detrimental to peace and good order.

I wouldn't bet a plugged nickel on the chance of any member of York Region's finest, responding to a call from  Aurora Town Hall to man-handle the octogenarian or any other councillor out of a seat to which elected.

I would not go quietly.

I don't know why a politician worth his/her salt would willingly give power to over-ride the voters choice.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I didn't make that up.

Ding Dong !!!!!!The Witch Is Gone

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Another Interesting Tidbit":

Bash away till the cows come home , it helps to reinforce the fact that it was the worst of the worst, and hopefully never to be repeated,Even better when one of the former members brings it up


Before we leave the issue, not necessarily for all time, I need to mention another point attempted apropos of nothing at Tuesday's meeting.

The motion  on the table, moved by Councillor Gaertner seconded by Councillor Ballard, was direction to  staff to recruit a new Integrity Commissioner. It failed on a vote of seven to two.

In  support , Councillor Ballard hammered home the contention that even though a Councillor has not signed the Code of Conduct, all Councillors  are bound by it.

The comment had no connection to the motion on the floor, nevertheless,Ballard was not called to order. A point of order could have been called from the floor but I forbore.

It is such a waste of time.

Failure of a Councillor  to understand the rules of debate and failure of the chair to provide leadership and guidance is a continuing problem.

It can create resentment. No good can come of it.

The Code  and its consequences are the subject of litigation before the courts, identified as  abuse of authority and abuse of public resources .

Just to touch for a minute on  validity of The Code.

It's useless if it can't be enforced.

And it can't. It Isn't worth a tinker's damn.

Not a smidgeon.

Zilch, Zero.Nada and Nil.

It isn't worth the paper it's been hundreds of times copied on.

It's not worth the powder to blow it away.

It's a gigantic bluff.

First is clause requiring all members to sign .

Three times, legal  means were sought to make that happen.


It requires all members to "read and understand" .

It presumes competence to do so.

Think about that. How many times have we heard a question asked, an explanation given, sometimes more than once, and the plaintive cry in response "I don't understand"

Remember Stephen Granger.

Another clause purports to compel a member, who disagrees with a majority decision to explain "the attitude" of  the majority.

How can a person who opposes, understand others' support,, let alone explain it?

And  when I did, did they appreciate it?

The record shows  not.

Still another compels a member in disagreement to hush up and never speak of the matter again.

Yeah Right!!

I'm told the same Code of Amazing Righteousness and Virtue has been endorsed by other municipal politicians.

What does that teach us?

Saturday 17 September 2011

Another Interesting Tidbit

After Councillors Ballard and Gaertner's effort  to defeat  the motion to direct staff  to prepare terms of reference for a museum curator and program, Councillor Gallo had something to add,  as if  buoyed by the vigor of the argument.

"While we're at it" he said "I am sick and tired of the continual bashing of the last council"

It wasn't clear how the comment fitted with rules of order,  to speak to the question, banning criticism, required decorum and use of parliamentary language.

Even if it did, there had been no "bashing of the last council"

I said "The last Council did what they did. Now it's this council's responsibility to move forward and do what we must"... or words to that effect.

It was as if Councillor Gallo had bolstered his resolve to make the statement and could wait no longer for bashing to occur.

Or more likely still, at the pre-conference, bashing was anticipated, the councillor was given his lines by the director and felt honour-bound to deliver them even though the occasion did not arise.

Sometimes, nothing goes according to plan no matter how contrived the effort.

Friday 16 September 2011

"The Holy Grail "

A motion  to  direct Director of Leisure Services  to flesh out terms of reference for a  museum curator and program . passed by  a recorded vote of six to three on Tuesday.

It was not a vote to expend funds.

Facility  maintenance and  permit space for programs  were under direction of the town's Leisure Services Department when Church Street school was in operation.

Before the aggressive demands of a  Historical Society spokesperson that the  town  butt out.

Argument against the motion was slim.  Opposition  by Councillor Ballard was  the motion was not accurate.

It could  have been  interpreted to mean: the motion  was  deceptive.  The motion was misleading. The motion lied.

It was my motion. I did not take that meaning.  I did not  demand a retraction  and apology on pain of being expelled from the meeting. 

I argued  $50Ks was included in the 2011 budget  for the purpose of retaining a curator, at my request, and council supported.  

"It would be my intention to restore the museum to its rightful home" I argued during budget discusssions.

I  looked around the table  and received  confirmation of  my re-call.

But the Councillor was adamant.. He requested  affirmation of the record from the treasurer.

Wording composed by staff was read from the record. It was imprecise.  .

I said   the wording was not "accurate". I could have said imprecise. But accuracy  was the point in contention. It was their word.

Councillor Gaertner intervened on a point of order to argue my comment was   a serious accusation   against staff.

Shades of  the not too distant past .

In Councillor Gaertner's  guided view,  it is apparently  acceptable to challenge  accuracy of  a motion  presented by myself but not acceptable  to  apply it  to an  imprecise phrase used by staff.

It was  the same twisted  logic that dominated the last council . It continues to support Council Gaertner's view of the supreme righteousness of the remnant  cabal  and  upholds her  conviction only she,Councillors Gallo and Ballard  are  keepers of all truth,logic and virtue.  The only ones capable of discerning and applying  appropriate rules for all to live by.

The same  argument was presented later for the motion to appoint yet a third Integrity Commissioner to enforce a  Code of Conduct that requires all members to read and understand it.

Not necessarily  for all to have the same understanding. Just  enough members to pursue a particular objective.

A scene in Monte Python's  movie. "In Search of The Holy Grail" comes to mind.

A small   white rabbit  leaps out of a cave  in a gigantic curve and bites off the head of  anyone  who dare to pass in "Search of The Holy Grail.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

What Comes First...Chicken or Egg

Council supported several resolutions last night. 

Leisure Services  are to  work on terms of reference for a curator's position and museum program.  Funds were  added to the 2011 budget for the purpose.

Reference was made  during  council's debate by the Chief Administrative Officer to the issue of ownership of the  museum collection. The CAO raised his hand to be recognised  and he was.

Historical Society members were in the audience. There is  opposition to the  curator  being an employee of the town.

Their ownership of the collection is cited as an argument. It's spurious.

The collection has been  assembled over  years. Some artifacts were purchased by the town. Artifacts may have been  received from an estate or donated  for  care and keeping to the Historical Society.

Like any volunteer organization, society membership is fluid. Anybody can  be a spokesperson.

The collection has been  stored in various venues for years. At  one time,  the town  received a statement indicating a storage fee of $12Ks for the  collection owing to the Historical Society.

Hillary House  is owned by the Historical Society. For the purpose of funding, it's been argued it should  be the town's museum. 

This year the town  provided $10Ks  to  the Historical Society to mark an anniversary. As well , the usual grant of $50KS.Their  employee  is identified  as manager/curator.

Forty-two years ago, the Historical Society, gladly accepted space in the old school for a museum. The annual grant began  when a curator was appointed.  Town and Society worked comfortably as partners  for  years, under different councils,  to accomplish a common purpose.

 As a town facility, the building was managed by the Leisure Services Department. Organizations such as Big Brothers and Sisters and the Seniors Friendship Circle shared the space.

Then the building had to be vacated for renovation needs. The Society gutted the interior. 

Then a particularly aggressive  society spokesperson declared, if they were to raise funds and renovate the building, they had to be in charge. They required complete control  An agreement was signed giving them what they wanted. The Leisure Services Director was excluded.

Three years passed. The building. costing town resources for maintenance,sat idle and useless/ 

The town authorized $2.3 million to fund the renovations, a grant of $770.K was received and used for the same purpose. The work was completed.

The  noisy spokesperson left.  They didn't raise or contribute further funds. They pulled out of their commitment to manage the facility. With a new spokesperson, At fify-nine members,they were too few, they said.

Council should consider giving them a budget like the library board, they said.

It's anybody's guess who put that idea forward  though we  all know who pulled the rug out from under when the time was right to claim star status  for raising Aurora's culture level  by vinyl bootstraps.

Arguments the Society owns the collection are a canard. No matter, the collection  currently has no home.

The persistent notion, the town should hand over money and butt out of business; has become irksome to more than myself.

When the irrelevant question of collection ownership is insinuated into a council debate as a serious consideration, by a person with no authority to participate in a Council debate, a point of no return has been reached.

The town is bankrolling a payroll at the culture centre to the tune of half a million dollars.  Programs offered  are duplications of those offered by the Board of Education , Seneca College and Aurora Leisure Services Department.

Classes are offered in unfair competition with  taxpaying business  trying to make a living

So far as I am concerned, nothing is happening here but a determined and obnoxious  campaign to protect vested interest.

It's well past time for the town to put the community's needs come first.