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

Monday 31 October 2011

Who Dat?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "I Do Not Forget":

"OK. What am I missing here ? ... the Town owns the historical collection"

That's what you're missing. The collection is the property of the Aurora Historical Society NOT the Town.


Ownership of the collection is a canard that keeps being tossed out from the shadows into the melee.

I have  heard numerous references; Nobody knows where it is. It's just a bunch of junk picked up at yard sales and donated because it might be part of  town  history.

At one point, the town  received a financial report from the Historical Society,noting town responsibility to pay $12,000 for a year for storage of the collection.

The town was not pursued for payment. Probably because the town was providing a grant of $50,000 a year while  there was no museum and  no collection to curate and display.

We were angrily informed once, the curator had nothing to do with the town either being entirely the employee of the historical Society.The  Society's curator now has the title of manager/curator.

The claim of ownership always comes up with the question of the missing museum.

No  name is attached to the claim. The statement is never challenged.Therefore in the absence, it would appear  to be accord with the Society's position.

There is never a point made with  the claim.

Does it mean, if the collection is not owned by the town, it's not the town's business.

If the town doesn't own the collection  does the town (Councillor  Buck) have the right to speak about its stewardship?

We hear about  talks going on between the Historical Society and the Culture Centre Board .... for two years already. The Historical Society is  represented on the board. What is that about?

Still the collection is in storage. A sort of limbo. Bearing  the stigma no doubt. of absent parentage. Destined  to be seen only in glimpses in the facility built to receive it. Brought out of boxes  on certain days, to be dusted off and given a number for a purpose  yet to be identified.

Out of the depths and shadows comes the regular rumble."Butt out of our business.Buck,the collection is ours "

 I  reply.....Who are you sir?  Are you spokesperson  for the Historical Society?

Reveal  yourself and your intention.

Are you friend of  the  museum?

Or  just foe of  the Church Street School museum?

Hands have been  stretched  out  these many years  to receive  largesse straight  from the pockets of ye old  town taxpayers?

There was never an  argument about ownership of the collection when the town provided  millions to build  a state of the art museum  and  over almost thirty years, a cool million and a half, towards the salary of  a curator and free space for the museum as well.

No sepulchral  voice cried out from the wilderness, the museum is none of the town's business while   money fell like manna from heaven to feed the multitude that which they desired.

When all's said and done, it would be  helpful to know the Historical Society is a friend of the Church Street School museum ?

Could  they  therefore be persuaded to disassociate from the spurious claim of ownership of artifacts that clearly belong to the community and not to some puffed- up anonymity hidden in the hedge making scary noises.

Sunday 30 October 2011

I Do Not Forget


A special invitation to Councillor Evelyn Buck

The Aurora Cultural Centre and the Aurora Historical Society
warmly invite you to the launch of
Faces of War
Fine Art Exhibition
Lest We Forget: War & Remembrance
Images and Artifacts from The Aurora Collection


I am the grand-daughter and daughter of two women who lost sons in the first and second world wars.

I know  horrifying details of  the deaths of James Diamond and Patrick Finnigan  at twenty-two and twenty one years old.

I have and will hold the memory of  my mother's and grandmother's grief, in my heart all the days of my life.

As they did

Every time I read or hear of another son or daughter killed in Afghanistan or wherever  they are sent,I  relive that grief.

I have five sons,two daughters.

And  conviction

War is not glorious. Neither is it victorious.

 Memorials  in  towns cities and villages remind us, with the names of  children who paid with an awful death, the  terrible price of war.

Memorials built after the First World War and the Second do not  celebrate war.

They remind us of  carnage, grief and loss.

History records.

Records do not legitimize the causes of war.

There is no nobility.

Only evil and stupidity.


Since starting  this blog, my opinion on war and its consequences have been  clear. I don't harp on it but followers cannot fail to  have understood where I come from on this topic.

 Since the  home of the Aurora museum was stolen out  from under us, culture centre staff have 
hosted  several  presentations.

The  Aurora Temperance movement has been highlighted.

  The Ontario Provincial Police have provided a glimpse into their history.

The militia  has had their turn.

Now the  Culture Centre and the Aurora Historical Society is offering, for our enjoyment, a lecture and presentation of  images and artifacts  of war.

I have received a special invitation to attend.

I will not.

I will not enter that building until the Aurora Museum is restored to its rightful place.

To engage the community with the history of the positive, progressive,confident,small settlement which laid the foundations and principles of a place to grow and prosper in this small corner of the world.

Saturday 29 October 2011

There May Be A Point Here

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Can't Find The Comment":

They cannot understand that you take pleasure,
sometimes even joy, when they take themselves so
very seriously. People don't like to be considered
amusing when they are trying to impress themselves
and others.


I think my reader may hit the nail. The problem may  lie within ourselves, dear Brutus,  The fact we are on camera  at all  times, councillors  may be  worried  about building  and maintaining  an  image.

Even Councillor Pirri occasionally takes it upon himself to lecture in my direction.

He is  young  but  not to  be taken lightly. He is intelligent. Works hard. Does his own legwork and is determined to do  the best job  possible. We are frequently on  side.

But I cannot deny, in moments when  he seeks to advise from his great breadth of experience,, I have an  impulse is to squash him like a long bug.

I don't of course. Respect begets respect. Discipline is hard to shed. Certainly in the council chamber. The electors' choice must be respected.

Notwithstanding, small and large barbs shot across the table are collected and stored.  A politician who doesn't  understand defence does not enjoy the game.


Leaves left on the maple tree above my head are  a luminous  gold. Most have fallen already.

My neighbour's tree is  still mostly green. I think it's a scion of my tree.

I used to be sad when the leaves fell. But no more.

In a matter of weeks, they will be back; full, fresh, and green with summer once again stretching ahead

And who knows what excitement in between.

Can't Find The Comment

I received last week contending a councillor who does not agree with a majority decision has the responsibility to explain to the public the "attitude" of those who made the decision.

I think my own attitude might be relevant.

I run for office on the promise, I will exercise my best judgment, communicate constantly and  express myself openly and honestly.

I swore my Oath of Office on the same principle

I do that.

I spend considerable time doing it. I probably work as hard as any person in a full-time occupation.

I exult in the new media that provides me the opportunity to be in daily contact with people who elected me and whoever else chooses to read it.

Responsibility to explain the "attitudes" of councillors who arrive at different conclusions to myself ,I did not seek nor did I make a commitment to that end.

If I were compelled  to put into words, in a council debate, my understanding of the thought process of others, I would be in breach of a rule of order; the one prohibiting criticism of a councillor or a  decision of council.

There are different ways I might describe attitudes of persons who do not think as I do. None of them, during thrust and parry of  a substantive argument, likely to be complimentary or  the least bit welcome. All of them carrying  potential for mayhem and disruption of a council meeting.

That the code made me do it, would be small comfort either to the majority or their friends.

I do not do that. 

As long as a councillor can justify his/her decision, I think that's what electors expect.

It worked for me down through the years.

Though I do occasionally wonder,how long a person needs to be successfully engaged to be credited with competence, knowledge and experience?

Is there a factor involved  here that's not easily recognisable?

Friday 28 October 2011

Wit And Wisdom..........Stupidity and Corruption.

"The reason Politicians try so hard to get re-elected is that they would 'hate' to have to make a living under the laws they've passed"


The presentation from the region at Tuesday's council meeting,about identifiable risks to the water supply is only the first part of a larger exercise.

It establishes road salt is not a risk. Dry cleaning fluids and other chemicals used in business are. In-ground heating fuel tanks are also a potential problem.

Next steps are for municipalities to amend official plans and zoning bylaws to prohibit or make subject to permit application, the use of the identified substances.

It would be sensible to deduce fertilisers will also be banned or controlled by bureaucrats in planning cubicles throughout the province.

All because under "the common sense revolution" of former Premier Mike Harris of Conservative persuasion. the government decided the Ontario Water Resources Commission which kept our water safe, could be done away with to save money.

Resulting in the deaths of nine people in the Town of Walkerton.

That the deaths were needless is undeniable. That there was honest error is neither valid nor acceptab;e.

That the catastrophe was inevitable under the circumstances is unquestionable.

That it was the result of shallow and terribly unintelligent political decision-making is equally without question.

Did we ever hear the points made in political debate? I don't think so.

Were there well-informed opinion pieces in the press>? I don't recall any.

I am reminded of an advice poster on the wall of a former York Region Medical Officer of Health.

"It's not corruption you have to worry about. It's stupidity"

Now we have a ring-side seat to watch the consequences and cost of that initial act of stupidity and irresponsibility.

All the busy beaver bureaucrats working overtime on the public payroll,clicking furiously on computers to determine where this and that is happening.

Has been happening without consequence for decades.

Must be stopped from happening because of course it's the obvious way to prevent another Walkerton .

The government which took over from the Honourable Mike Harris hasn't thought to restore the Ontario Water Resources Commission and the protection it provided to Ontario residents.

That would be too simple.

It might also acknowledge Provincial responsibility for needless deaths of nine Walkerton residents and misery to countless others.

And we must all rally round do busy work to distract attention from the real problem and "save the government harmless"

And I suspect, watch rates charged by the region for the best quality and supply of water in the province,increase annually for six years to pay for an exercise in phenomenal inconsequentiality.

A Morning Smile

Best Scottish Short Joke

A bloke walks
into a Glasgow library and says to the prim

'Excuse me Miss,
dey ye hiv ony books on suicide?'

which she stops doing her tasks, looks at him over the top of her glasses and

'Fook off,
ye'll no bring it back!'

Thursday 27 October 2011

And sae The Lord Be Thankitt

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Hey, Look me over...Lend me your ear.":

Oh Dear no. We couldn't have that. Let's point the finger at  municipal councillors instead and make them  legally liable..

Oh no... council wants the control over a department but not the "legal liability"? Why not? It is council that makes the decisions that ultimately contribute to the quality - or lack of quality of the water. Perhaps the legal liability would force councils to think things through better.

As far as the cost of water.... You get what you pay for. If water quality is ensured... I will pay for it.


I had a conversation with Wendy Kemp this morning. Wendy made the presentation on" risks to water" to council on Tuesday. I needed to clarify a response to a question about road salt. Listeners thought the answer was, we don't use road salt. I  knew that wasn't right but I needed to check.

We do use salt. We have to. But apparently not enough  to  risk the water supply.

I confirmed  once again what I knew  to be true.

We  have an excellent supply of excellent water. The aquifer is way,way down in the earth,  separated from the surface by an impermeable layer of clay. It is over four thousand years old.

We have a string of kettle lakes in the  area and there's  a theory, they are linked by an underground river.  Rivers lakes and streams are not created by rain or snow  They are spring fed.

We are fortunate. We should be thankful not fearful.

The region is responsible for the supply of water .The town is responsible for its distribution.  

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Everybody Has A Cross To Bear.

I finished the post and thought; better have some breakfast and go do some shopping. I need brown  and white  sugar and eggs. I have ginger, flour and molasses. I always think about making ginger snap cookies for Hallowe'en handouts.

It goes back to my childhood in Scotland, when apples, nuts and home made toffee and tablet were handed out. The harvest  ritual dated to pagan times but like many others was taken over by the Christians and given a totally different and scary meaning.  Holy Souls in Purgatory being punished for  sins  haunting and reminding us of their need for our prayers.

In England, the  Hallowe-en  time ritual was Guy Fawkes night. Ginger perkin was the associated sweet. treat,  a large flat biscuit with a cracked surface and a white almond in the centre.  Ginger snaps are a smaller  crispy  and sparkly version of a perkin without the nut.

I checked the  in mail before I left the computer and found the following.  It came in at  12.59    I posted at 11.42


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Hey, Look me over...Lend me your ear.":

Oh Dear no. We couldn't have that. Let's point the finger at  municipal councillors instead and make them  legally liable..

Oh no... council wants the control over a department but not the "legal liability"? Why not? It is council that makes the decisions that ultimately contribute to the quality - or lack of quality of the water. Perhaps the legal liability would force councils to think things through better.


Read that retort again.

Who is it who would feel a  political challenge to  administrative methodology for calculating water rates would signify a  councillor was  trying to take over the responsibilities of running  a department.?

Who would suggest legal liability would encourage politicians to be more responsible, as opposed to administrative personnel?

I have my own idea.Readers need  to come up with their own answers.While you are at  it, there's something else  to think about;

Included in the calculation for water rates is maintenance of water lines of which  there are probably hundred of miles.. Property throughout the town is serviced with water and sewer lines.  Parks,  schools, public lands,industrial properties and vacant properties .

Stores  and buildings have water and sewer lines running past. Like the vacant  Thompson's furniture  store . The water meter is shut off . Without a water bill, the owner  is not paying for the maintenance of water lines or sewer lines either.  Yet the lines are being maintained. Who is paying?

Only metered water users are paying for maintenance of water lines and  paying for the whole schmeer. All those lines running past vacant industrial lands and buildings. parks, running  in from Yonge Street before buildings begin are wholly on the backs on meteredusers.

So....now we have water used by  parks  and fire department , not measured,  not assigned to town budgets and thrown into the calculation of water rates, as water loss.

Maintenance cost of  water and sewer lines are not shared .

Properties with private wells  don't pay the  surcharge along with  the rest of us  for storm water ponds to improve quality of water of Lake Simcoe which have nothing whatsoever to do with our water supply.

And now, after last night's disclosure of all the  messing about  by the region , on the relatively simple task of bringing  crystal clear pure water , with no manufacturing costs, out of the depths and to our taps,who knows what other  goodies are hidden in the mix.

No, sir!!! At the rate I' m paid, I feel no  responsibility for how water departments of either the town or the region are being run.

But I damned well have the right to accountability for how it 's done and  demand equity in how we pay fot what service.

That's just the cross that will have to  be borne  at least for another three years.

Hey, Look me over...Lend me your ear.

Very little business on Council's agenda last night. It's becoming the norm.

Three delegations took an hour.One came from the region about water. A second was the conservation authority about the Holland River. The third was from Snowball St Kitt's  Jazz Festival.

There are nine municipalities in the region.  All  would likely receive the same presentation. Three people  would take twenty- seven hours. Add travel time and mileage and a week's executive salary, could easily be tallied.  There might even be a meal  depending on  distance and timing.

What's it all about, Archie?

Well. it all stemmed from nine deaths by negligence.  Walkerton  Council  gave  responsibility for   water safety  to an  individual  completely out of his depth in the job. He went to jail.

First the Province of Ontario, wiped out the Ontario Water Resources Commission to save money. The commission  was an essential  resource to municipalities and  safeguarded  the water we drank.
Wells  in Walkerton are surrounded by fields regularly fertilized  with  fresh  manure. E-coli got into the water and  people died. Swift and horrible deaths.

There was an inquiry.

Following which, the province introduced new  requirements to keep water safe. New chemicals to be added.   Applied province wide, they made it possible for elected officials to go to jail instead of some poor bastard who got  the job, probably because he was cheap.and his brother was a volunteer fire fighter.

The Ontario Water Resources Commission was not re-established.  That might  have acknowledged    culpability in the Walkerton  deaths.It would also have required the province to spend money.

Oh Dear no. We couldn't have that. Let's point the finger at  municipal councillors instead and make them  legally liable.

So  now .... last night's presentation .

Pages and pages of graphs , statistics, maps,drawings and designs depicting this and that.  No doubt, the product of weeks of busy beaver engagement in  cubicles at the region. How many more people on the payroll: is  anybody's  guess.

Our water supply  is fine. No problem with  quality. The aquifer is 300 feet deep protected by variable layers.

The purpose of the exercise was to pinpoint risks.

Oh my Goodness yes...there are 187  of the little blighters in  Aurora. X marks the spots. Shaded red for severe .... orange for next to severe.

A chemical has been identified. It's used in dry cleaning.

Silly me... I asked if it was a natural element  found in the ground or had it been put  there?

I thought rapscallions must be  dumping the stuff illegally.

But that's not it at all.  The chemical is being used by industries. Like dry cleaners.

So now, because of Walkerton, we have an entire  army at the region, sussing out all possible risks to  water from  people going about their business, innocently and legally. Big brother has sought  them out.

I have been hearing whispers about the region spending millions, completely unneccessarily, replacing  structures, to meet provincial dictum on water.

Last night's presentation was the travelling show.
Connection to  increase in water  charges by the region  was not referenced.

I went to the Region's Inaugural this year.  Each member  made inaugural comments.It was like yuk yuk.

I don't expect much from that elected body.

 I  launched a second  challenge  this year to  Aurora's  methodology for calculating  water rates

The  Mayor, our regional representative,  without experience of any kind on the issue, dismissed my concern with the comment. "Water is the best bargain we have.".

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Get The Connection

The following is copied from Aurora Citizen Blog

Given the connection between freedom of expression and the Internet, the Supreme Court has signaled that it will look with great skepticism at laws that could have a chilling effect on the ability for Canadians to fully participate online.


Clause 3. Communications and Media Relations.
Members of Council will accurately and adequately communicate the attitudes and decisions of Council even if they disagree with the majority decision of Council.
Members shall allow respect for the decision making process of Council
Official information related to decisions and resolutions made by Council will normally be communicated to the community and the media by council in an official capacity by the Mayor or designated staff member or through a press release issued by the Corporation.
Information concerning adopted policies,procedures and decisions of Council shall be conveyed openly and accurately.
Confidential information will be communicated only when and after determined by Council.
Communications with the media and Members of Council shall be conducted through proper interviews or media releases. Members shall refrain from writing letters to the editor or writing a regular column in the newspaper or hosting or co-hosting a regular televised program .


The above is copied, once more,  from the Town of Aurora Code of Conduct. Wonder what the Supreme Court might say about that?

A municipality cant pass bylaws  contravening the law of the land.

The Town of Aurora Code of Conduct ,according to the  former Mayor, was written by an "expert" in municipal law and recommended by staff

Several lawyers  were asked and advised on requirement of a councillor signing two copies of the Code  on pain of esoteric catastrophic effect of  scrutiny of public opinion.

All of this  crap, the word it is apt, was provided as  legal advice.The perfect cover for political posteriors.

Do we  yet understand the importance of electing  people capable of exercising  and articulating independent judgment ?

Do  current council members  understand  the significance of  examining advice, from the critical perspective of legislators, to fulfill the purpose of being elected?

I hope so.

This council is almost a year into the term. Time for learning is past. A second budget looms.

My challenges are repeatedly followed  by  Councillor Nice Guy providing 100% assurance of    confidence  in staff , or Councillor Not-So-Nice  introducing weasel words like "smearing" into the debate ,  or continuous interruptions with illusory points of order from resident dingbat and final insult,  a gag order of a ten minute time limit  for  elected representatives to present  reasoned arguments, capable of persuasion, to other elected representatives, on behalf of the people who pay the freight.

Time is not running out but the glow has diminished by 25%.  Full first of four semesters.

Monday 24 October 2011

Some Hae Meat But Can nae eat ... Some Would eat That Want It...But We hae Meat ...And We Can Eat...And sae the Lord Be Thankitt

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

What exactly is the point of this piece?

A fat white man is losing while a slender brown man is winning?

Is it because of their absence/presence at their respective city's gay pride parades? Surely there is more substance behind their approval ratings, isn't there?

So what.


When I cut and pasted  part of Toronto Star column by Royson James on Saturday, the particular prejudice  raised  by the  above comment  had not occurred.

When it appeared , my instinct was not to publish .

I didn't.

I didn't reject it either.

When I opened my eyes this morning  I knew I would.

The James piece reeked of  prejudice.  I just thought it was another kind. 
I don't think better of Police Chiefs and  Mayors and other political leaders because they walk in Gay Pride  parades. That's  not courageous. It's just plain old-fashioned soliciting votes or popularity.

I'm not inclined to tell anyone  how to lead their lives in the bedroom. By the same token, I don't want  them to tell me  about it either.

Plenty of stuff  doesn't need to be  talked about.

Lots of people who are homosexual  consider it their own business.They are not ashamed of it .They just don't need to talk about it. Any more than I  possess  a prurient interest.


My friend Chris Watts has a  post this morning about the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast. I was hoping somebody else would pick that  up.

He invited an Amen . I think;   Hallelujah !!!Hallelujah!!!Hallelujah!!! is the right  response.

I did not accept an invitation to the first exclusive prayer breakfast. Nor the second.  Knowing what I knew, nothing about the event was inviting. 

This year, our current Mayor bought a table and sent invitations. I politely refused. I was glad I hadn't already told him what I thought about  "The  Mayor's Prayer Breakfast"

Then  Chris told us  it's no longer called  "Mayor's Prayer Breakfast"  and the former Mayor led the prayer. for a return to  integrity.

Well, I thought.  I wonder what the current Mayor  and whatever Councillors or staff  who joined him at his table  thought about that?

Bet he doesn't buy a table next year.

I wonder if he used the Mayor's allowance?

I wonder if they  donate the money they raise  at the Prayer Breakfast to the food bank?

All in favour!!!!!

Saturday 22 October 2011

Curiosity Killed the Cat...Satisfaction Made Him fat

I  googled the City of Toronto population statistics and 2011 budget.

The last budget  was 10,630 billion dollars.

Population is 2,539,281 million.

Did the same for City of Calgary ;  population 988,193. Third largest city.

Budget?  Couldn't get a straight answer.

The Mayor is not slim. Watched him on  Utube. Remembered  him  from  Halifax in June. Closes his eyes a lot while speaking .Lots to say about  process and how it was going to be improved under his administration.  Never got around to saying anything specific about the budget.

Like I said ,couldn't get a straight and specific  answer . Might be just my  lack of computer literacy Also  got tired of asking 

Discovered the Province of Alberta took over the cost of Emergency Medical Services  in  2009.

The last  local fire department figures show 51% of the Joint Fire Service activity is Emergency Medical Services.

I've been arguing since  municipalities  took over ambulance service,  a long time ago,  medical  service is a provincial responsibility.

We provide it.  Many  owe their lives to it. Obviously the service needs to be provided at the local level. And we do it well.

But home-owners should not be responsible for its cost. It's clearly a provincial responsibility. The province is collecting revenues from health premiums and  I understand ,from the Liquor .Control Board of Ontario . Both are used to foot the  health services bill;

Lotteries were  introduced to pay for hospital costs.  3%  provincial sales tax  raised so much money,the surfeit was an embarrassment. Now look where it's at.

Fire service   is deemed essential  therefore,although subject to negotiation,, both sides must submit to arbitration.  Costs are  not under anybody's control..

Police and Fire budgets continue  to increase  their  share of municipal budgets. While they do, ever fewer resources are available for other municipal services, specifically social, particularly housing.

Add to that,  the Honorable Dalton McGuinty's publicly stated support  for the financial well-being of  members of the Professional Firefighters Association and their solid appreciation for his government, I think that adds up to a solid argument for the Honorable Member to step up to the plate and finance the whole enchilada.

I wonder what the Honorable Andrea Horwath might have to say about that?

The Toronto Star

By Royson James City Columnist

What if?
What if Mayor Rob Ford wasn’t a rotund, rich, balding guy from the suburbs whose suits don’t fit, who doesn’t deliver a great speech and who didn’t have a big brother who doubles as mayor and says outlandish things?

What if Rob Ford hadn’t slobbered you with incessant talk of “gravy train” a year ago?


The above is just a smattering of language in  to-day's Royson James column . The top sentence is the opening. The theme has been constant since the announcement of candidates in the last municipal election.

The column parallels one about the  new Calgary Mayor whose "honeymoon" continues.He is young. a rookie, good-looking, slim,  single,  raised by Muslim immigrant parents, Harvard-educated  with  no sign of a portly white brother on the scene and lots of other good stuff.

Ford is  going to save $12 million dollars by reducing the city payroll by attrition by  1500. A far cry from the $200 million he said could be saved when he was a candidate.

Calgary's Mayor is proposing a 5% tax increase in this and  each of the next three years.  Three new libraries,one central branch and four recreation facilities are on the horizon.I suspect already planned before his advent.

Calgary residents are hoping to shed their "red-neck" image. The Mayor is hoping to persuade the Alberta government  to open up  the purse strings. He has an in there. He helped the new premier get elected.

His colours during the  campaign were purple. A mix of red and blue to signify allegiance to  both or neither, Conservative or Liberal philosophy..

Cute ... eh!

The story states  the Alberta government has already taken $45 million off their share of the city's  property tax bill. The Mayor however is telling Calgarians not to look for  a  tax break.

It's a tad difficult to make the comparison between the two Mayors and cities  Toronto has had a larger budget than  prairie provinces for  most of the last century.

Calgary's Mayor has failed to reduce the police  and fires services budget as promised during his campaign.

Rob Ford did succeed in obtaining a commitment over this year and next from the Police Services Board,  to a reduction of ten per cent. I  missed seeing the final figures on  the city's  budget so the picture is still a bit fuzzy. Because  obviously it's still not finalised.

It's clear enough  though for Royson James  and the Toronto Star. It's probably safe to conclude James and  the  Star  were  Smitherman supporters in the last city election.

Didn'r help him much. Maybe the support for Smitherman blew a  Chinook in  Ford's favour.

I   am amusing  myself   We have no stake in Toronto or Calgary politics.

But  media involvement. or lack thereof,  in municipal  politics always intrigues. The area where they have greatest opportunity to comprehend, they don't. It's where Canadians live.  But it's not worth the time or space. 

On the other hand Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,Libya, Belarus,Bosnia,  they really help us to understand  our world, right?  I don't think so.

The media  deplores, as a matter of course,  lack of public interest in  government affairs.

Their own  role is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Still they employ guys like Royson James to turn us off.

Four decades they nurtured  Hazel McCallion . Now Hazel advises young people not to get involved in municipal politics. Because of the  merciless media.

How droll

Friday 21 October 2011

Alright! O.K ! Sure Thing !

"Heinous, grievous offence to be severely punished " were my words to describe Councillor Gaertner's persistent,  critical attitude towards moi for what she perceives to be  offences under the Code of Conduct or whatever rule she contrives  to suit the occasion.

The Councillor has  continuing  confidence  in her own righteousness and  authority to judge others. 

We have served together on Council for eight years. Throughout that time,she has constantly sought guidance from one or other of her idols.  Today is no different from yesterday. Except they are not there.  She is. I am.  No lesson  learned .

From time to time, her name will appear here because I don't pretend to be  anybody's idea of a saint.
There's a limit to my patience and I know she reads  the blog.

"Put that in your blog"  she  contemptuously threw at me across the table  recently.


No...It's Not Right

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Yous Were Saying":

I really do not understand why you even post stuff like the beginning of this entry. Let me summarize.

"I was in meeting that I am not supposed to talk about. There were people there - can't tell you who - and they were mean to me - can't tell you how. Whoa is me - feel sorry for me because they gang up on me."
Is that about right.
For someone that feels she has the right to speak her mind.... speak your mind! Stop the inuendo - say it or stop the pussy footing


It's how a person might paraphrase something that isn't there.

Let me explain. According to the Municipal Act  town business is supposed to be conducted in  public. With a few exceptions. One of which is  individual's privacy. The individual would ordinarily be  staff  or  resident not politician.

The rule is not intended as a cover for political chicanery.

However, on occasion, the privacy of those  entitled  means  political posteriors are covered  as well.

The previous comment raised  the phrase "wartime tribunal"  It was a trigger.

When the last lot went behind closed doors to huddle with lawyers to plot and scheme, it was not to protect my privacy.

Nor did it entitle them to theirs.

No-one has ever accused me of pussy-footing before.

I think you should give yourself a break and read something more to your liking.

Yous Were Saying

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Ghost Of Council Past":

It is obvious that Councillor Gaertner does not possess the ability to read and understand.

"Heinous, grievous offence, punished severely."

We are talking about a medium-sized Ontario town, not a war crimes tribunal.

What is the councillor's problem?


Well ,y'know , not to put too fine a point on it ... there was a  tribunal conducted behind closed doors that can never be disclosed  because of the need to protect the innocent.Quite the  conundrum because  the innocent  were treated like felons behind closed doors ,complete with selected evidence and one-sided  cross-examination by the lawyer who lent himself to the exercise.

The same lawyer was hired  to " investigate"   all of my public utterances, letters to the editor, comments  in council debates and blog posts and further  instructed to compile a report on his spin  on my intent, leading to construction of  a  much publicised complaint to an Integrity Commissioner  appointed and compensated  for the purpose of rubber-stamping the legal beagle's enterprise.

$70,000 of taxpayer's money was spent.  The complaint to the  Integrity Commissioner resulted in the Commissioner being  "stripped of his authority".... for calling it as he saw it.

We may not have been  engaged in adjudication of war crimes  but neither were we conducting  a children's choir or  any other  performance recognizable in a small , medium -sized, or large Ontario town .

Not a war zone exactly.

Certainly a twilight zone of unreality.


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Bathurst Street Resident Says":

To: Not the same, et al

I the similarity is that councils spend our money fighting a cause - the turn lane in this case - only to give in later. It was only after a threat to take bat and ball and go home did they change their minds.

Add to that list the Petch house round and round. The CTC lights. The Town Hall address. And so on.

Councils waste money.

Before you chime in and say that was the old council with the evil leader.... not so fast there are examples of money wasting going back to the dawn of time.

A council - and it's members - will always think about their chances of getting re-elected. Any councillor that tells you different is a liar.


Now take that last sentence: "any councillor  that tells you different is a liar"

No councillor would ever tell you that. But they might tell you  "I am not a politician"  as  though it's a shameful thing .  Even as they do it , they deny it.

I don't buy lottery tickets . I've never been to a casino. Even a raffle ticket provides not a shiver  of excitement.

But I  enjoy  the risk  in politics. I believe  the odds of being elected by being unscrupulously  honest and determined are exceptional .

I have spent almost fifty years of my life practising my formula.

Since the advent of the internet, the odds have increased commensurately.

I'm on a roll.

Thursday 20 October 2011

A Ghost Of Council Past

 Last night I was a guest of Allison Collins Mrakas on  the Auroran on- line show about town affairs.

Councillor Gaertner will undoubtedly have something  to say about it at  the next  meeting of Council.

The Councillor insists  the Code of Conduct is in place, all councillors are bound by it and anyone who disbelieves  is guilty of heinous and grievous offence and must be punished severely.Failure to adhere is a sign of degradation of  past Council  Gold Standard.

The Councillor is supremely confident of her own righteousness and authority to judge others.She is not alone. A body of opinion in the community believes there is merit to a Code of Conduct and its predecessor  the  Code of Ethics .

The previous council  sought and received  several legal  opinions  on the  clause requiring  all councillors   to sign two copies of The Code , one for themselves and one for the town's files.

 After considerable verbiage, contending a councillor's refusal to sign or be bound by the Code MIGHT be viewed by others as contravening the Councillor's Oath of Office. It MIGHT mean the Councillor would be placed under scrutiny. Presumably for signs of  behaviour contravening of The Code. The final  advice was inevitably, there is no physical means to compel a Councillor  to take pen in hand and affix a signature.

The times, they are not medieval. 

The Code is claimed  to have been written by a legal expert in municipal affairs. The clauses,I am advised ,are standard.  What does it  tell us about all the people who have signed ?

Clause 3. Communications and Media Relations.
Members of Council will accurately and adequately communicate the attitudes and decisions of Council even if they disagree with the majority decision of Council.
Members shall allow respect for the decision making process of Council
Official information related to decisions and resolutions made by Council will normally be communicated to the community and the media by council in an official capacity by the Mayor or designated staff member or through a press release issued by the Corporation.
Information concerning adopted policies,procedures and decisions of Council shall be conveyed openly and accurately.
Confidential information will be communicated only when and after determined by Council.
Communications with the media and Members of Council shall be conducted through proper interviews or media releases. Members shall refrain from writing letters to the editor or writing a regular column in the newspaper or hosting or co-hosting a regular televised program .

Other silly stuff is cited  in the Code such as "Members shall read and understand."

How many hours have we listened to Councillor Gaertner's questions,  answers received , and  finally   the plaintive cry "I don't understand".   Sometimes after several  increasingly desperate but  futile attempts at explanation.

How can a  Code of Conduct compel a Councillor to "understand" any more than it can require the physical act of signing a document?

How can a bylaw require by law something  beyond  the realm of achievement? Who is to judge?

An unenforcable bylaw, a fiendish plot, a legal hit man, a hand-picked  Integrity Commissioner, all under the heading of  Righteous  Conduct are  matters of public record in the Town of Aurora.


Wednesday 19 October 2011

Bathurst Street Resident Says

Barry Hall comments on the post about noise barriers. I have been around since the discussion started and  I would not quarrel with any of the information provided.

I would point out however , it was a town planning policy that required  the houses to be set back farther from the road to maintain the natural environment as part of the character of Bathurst Street. It was a deliberate intent.The trees were part of it.We call that the urban forest.

The second relevant aspect is  the public expenditure  Developers have been required to install noise barriers in the other areas Mr. Hall references.  It  means homebuyers themselves paid for the amenity.
None of that stuff comes out of developer profits even if its a requirement.  It doesn't come out of the public purse either.

I just think people should know how the region is spending  our  tax money. It's   just a tiny glimpse.
We should all be concerned about it.

They just got around to removing  thirty dead stalks of trees that never took when they were planted  seven years ago and they have acknowledged  of a tree planting program costing twenty million dollars, seventy-five per cent  failed. They never did mention any recovery from the planting contractors. 

No doubt properties with noise barriers  costing   $32,000 each to taxpayers  have increased in value by that amount. They are  not to be compared to a wooden privacy fence which would cost several thousand and be wobbling on its pins within less than five years.

I live within hearing distance of Bathurst Street traffic. I hear it. Yet I don't  It doesn't drown out conversation. It has become part of  noise ambience. I only notice the silence  early Saturday and Sunday mornings before the lawn mowers get going. I like that.

How Very Very Nice

Hello Mr. Tree,

You must heave a sigh of relief whenever a portion of the trail is completed and you stop hearing from the residents who had so many concerns about the project.  Well, I felt that I had to send you one more email anyway to let you know that I'm now feeling pretty silly about all our protestations and copious questions.  The trail is simply lovely.  It has been created with a great sensitivity to the nature all around it and it's a beautiful shape, twisting and turning, uphill and down, nestled at the edge of the woodlot.  It has beautiful views and feels private at the same time.  Yes we've walked it several times and will continue to do so, hopefully, every day.  I felt it was important to tell you this, especially after having used so much of your time over the past few years discussing it all.

We were impressed too with the work project itself, running quickly, quietly, and very neatly over a short period of time.  It was barely noticeable.

Thanks Mr. Tree, you were right to go ahead all along and we really appreciate the time you took to answer every email and call with patience and concern. 

Barb Mahler.
The above e-mail was forwarded to council by  Director of Parks and Leisure Services. I asked for permission to share it.   Such a message brightens everyone's day and makes everything  a town does  worthwhile. 

We spent four years without building an inch of the trail  despite  years of planning and obtaining easements from landowners to make them possible. The  Willow Farm  trail extension was a twelve year easement. We had only one year left to make it happen. Now we are. Just in time.

Last week,  a meeting  was held with staff , Klaus Wehrenberg and the Region's Director  of Transportation.and  the Mayor . I attended as well. 
Our trails master plan shows  three underpasses on Leslie Street and one on St John's Sideroad. We will approve it next week.
The town had indicated to the Region we wanted  design  specifications for  Leslie Street to include underpasses to put a fix on cost.

The region determined  cost at $1,2 million apiece and decided for us, it was prohibitive and  crossings should  be at grade  level.

Futire development will have thousands of residents on one side of Leslie. And thousands of jobs and shopping on the other side with  half a mile and four lanes of regional traffic separating them.

At the meeting, we learned the region  could fund fifty-fifty and of another possible source of funding 
from bicycle rights of ways  reserves.
So now we begin again to discover  options and  ways and means to accomplish the objective or not.
The decision is political. Like all political decisions, it should involve  public awareness and input from the community.
But how can  the community  have input if they don't know what's going on?

The Nokiida trail and now the one  referred to above are complete and we are hearing from people all the time, who had no idea how much  enjoyment they provide.

But not only that. Trails are the answer to encourage people to leave cars at home. We now have a
safe and enjoyable route for Aurorans to go to and from Newmarket to work.and for Newmarket residents to do the same.  It could be walking cycling, skate boarding or snow shoeing.

All the money we spend, creating jobs. huge amounts  on publications, to promote the idea of  leaving  cars at home with no measurement of success.  While the answer stares in our face.
Give people an  appealing option  and they will  take it.

What's wrong with  meeting Dad or Mum at the station, walking home to-gether  and actually seeing the beautiful place we  live and the people who share it.

Even winter is a wonderland.

Ms Mahler's e-mail is the best thing that's happened this term.

The Darndest Think

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking; "hey, wait a minute"

We had an official from the Region's engineering division at the general committee meeting last night.

He  gave us a lecture about what it takes to keep  road surfaces  in good condition. We never used to need lectures. All we needed was money. He came by invitation. I've been asking why our roads are in such bad shape  so soon after they've been reconstructed. Why do  catchbasins fall into a hole. Why does grass grow between  asphalt and concrete when only dandelions grow where grass is supposed to

He didn't provide all the answers because I didn't have the opportunity to ask the questions.

But he did reveal something. The noise barriers currently being constructed in  some  places  on Bathurst Street cost  $1.4 million. to protect 44 homes. That's about $32.000. each

I asked if they were constructed on the lot line.The reason I asked is because they are so-o-o  ugly.

The town has planning principles that compel developers to site houses  a considerable distance from Bathurst to maintain character.  King's side of the road is mainly fields. Aurora's mainly  forest. Now.
where  $1.4 million has been spent, forest is  hidden and enclosed behind  noise barricades.

Not all homes on Bathurst are protected.

Apparently the barricades  couldn't be constructed on the  private side behind the trees. It took a long time for the project  because of  negotiations  with  home-owners to agree to allow the region to  provide them with protection from noise with barricades. .

Now that's odd. The reason  barricades were requested  in the first place was because some  home-owners were objecting to  noise  from the newly constructed four lane  regional road which they did not expect when they bought their homes.

I figured at the time it would  be a problem for the region. How could they provide noise barriers for some  and not  others?

Apparently I was wrong because they did it .

I hear the noise from  traffic on Bathurst Street when I'm  outside. I wonder what the chances would be  of persuading the region to hang baffles from the sky? Cost no object.

But then again, when it comes right down to it, I don't think I would care to see  baffles in the sky.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...
Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?
This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society
and Library in Salina , and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , KS - 1895 
Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,''play,' and 'run.'
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000.. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft.. Long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of   America by Columbus 
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States 
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas 
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour) 
[Do we even know what this is??]
1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?)
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks
and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America 
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa , Denver , Manitoba , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco 
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each..
8. Why is the Atlantic    Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.
Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete. 
Gives the saying 'he only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning, doesn't it?!
No wonder they dropped out after 8th grade.  They already knew more than they needed to know!

Sunday 16 October 2011

Enough Said

The exchange on the missing  museum was vigorous. It's done for now.

 I have  made it clear, numerous times, the board and staff at the Culture Centre did not create the  original  problem.

The agreement, written by the town  and  its interpretation is at the crux .

No-one  argues arts are a bad thing. Aurora has supported the arts  as long as I can remember.

The Skylight Gallery in the town hall was built for an art show that grew from the idea of two young mothers,Cathan Schoniker and Mabel Pearson almost fifty years ago, to the juried art show it is today. 

We accepted  the  offer of a concrete box with a roof to provide a  group of thespians with a board to trod and  out of it they created  a perfect little jewel of a theatre  which provides myriad opportunities for young and old.

We provided space in the bottom of an empty  water reservoir for a pottery group to have a kiln and a pottery, which has became  part of the Aurora's arts scene.

We didn't spend million  to make it happen. We saw opportunities for space. And let artists among us have their chance to shine.

We  provided the  seniors with a place. Volunteers went to work painting and sewing drapes to make Victoria Hall a cheerful venue. Then they had more space and a daily program in Church Street School.

The firehall was vacated and  half a million was spent  to convert it  into  a  seniors  facility.

Finally, a new building to suit their needs, and  others. They have an arts club, a wood-working shop and an annual art show and sale. Opportunities to discover skills and  accomplishments they never knew they had. A computer lab with equipment and teachers to literally open up new vistas.

The town's churches  and service clubs have forever made facilities and services available to fill needs  as they saw them.

Summer concerts in the park have entertained  us for  decades. They enjoy tremendous audiences.People are always sorry when they come to an end.

 I haven't even mentioned the schools in town and how well they have done over the years competing in music festivals , arts and sciences and heritage fairs .

In the matter of culture, Aurora does not take a back seat .

Is there always room  improvement ? Of course there is. When the school was renovated, that was the plan.

But the  prime tenant was the Historical Society and the museum.

The Dream was theirs.

At least a third of the cost of the project was paid from Historical Society funds raised in the community for the purpose. As well as generous heritage grants.

There was no  plan  to burden residents with  half  million dollars on their annual tax bill.

The  town's leisure services department has a budget of $7million . $5 million is  expenditure for programs which  are offset by $5million in revenue.

We know how to do it.

Leisure Services  projected  the  annual expenditure  for programming at  Church Street School at
$340 Ks.  The revenue side had not yet been calculated when  the project was taken out of the hands of  staff and put into the hands of  Ken Whitehouse friend and campaign manager of the former Mayor. 

It  may have been  intended as the jewel in her crown. going forward into the election.

It made no sense from any other perspective.

It was also too little and too late.

Friday 14 October 2011

The Night Before

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Wrong Must Be Made Right":

Y&P is a very skillful plant. Nurture at your own risk.


Everything I do  here is at my own risk. Every post and every comment.

Y&P asked a  question about the Case of The Purloined Museum

He opened the door. I sailed right on through. D'you think I don't know all the various characters in the feindish plots.

That  last account of  the museum saga reminded me of another little play within a play.

The night before Grace Marsh resigned.

Grace was still under the illusion she was dealing with a rational  being. Little could have prepared her for the awful reality. She had made a casual  observation  in the  reception area of the town hall, after a council meeting, which set the harridan Mayor off in a screeching  tirade from the stairs.

Grace's late father had been a firefighter in the beaches area of  Toronto. She  spoke of him often. She had followed her Dad into municipal public service.

Being elected  was especially significant. Membership on  the Joint Fire Services Committee was an add-on.  Becoming vice chair of the committee really mattered

Sometimes I had the impression much of what Grace accomplishes in her life, she sees  through the eyes of her father.

She had the normal municipal staffer's respect for  the Office of Mayor. 

 Even before that last night, she had been the target of an earlier degrading exchange in front of a town staffer. In a conversation at the town's booth at the Chamber of Commerce Trade Show , she put forward  an idea for  social housing on the old library site on Victoria Street.

The  Mayor erupted in outrage.  Informed her she had her own plans for the property. If Grace were to even attempt to put that idea forward she, the Mayor, would destroy her.  Then she turned to the staffer and said.

"And if you know what's good for you, you will forget you heard that"

So, the night before Grace  resigned her seat was not the first or only degrading experience.  But it was the last.

Next day at mid-day, she attended upon the Clerk, still in a state of shock and  proferred  resignation from her council seat. It was accepted with regret.

It was another sad ending.

I am telling the story now because Grace Marsh came in for considerable criticism and snide references following her resignation.

At the time, the full story, complete with details, could not be told and certainly not by Grace.

Wrong Must Be Made Right

young and progressive has left a new comment on your post "A Little More Detail":

Evelyn, I don't understand...I thought the museum closed for a few years. Anywho, can everyone not work together to incorporate both ideas of art/culture and heritage. I am a big fan of history and have loved my trips to the museums, black creek pioneer village as a child. What do you propose? What are your ideas? Let's not get hung-up on what was or what should have been. I would like to see your proposed idea. What can be done. I am so excited to be living north of the city and I love the beautiful Aurora. I want to see things move forward...please help me understand why there is so much banter?


The museum collection was packed in boxes to be stored and the building  vacated  for renovations to proceed.

When I came back to council in 2003, the Historical Society had completed gutting of the building and were undertaking a fund  raising campaign to undertake  re-construction of the interior.

A special event  was held on the second floor to celebrate the first stage and to reveal the building exactly as it had been as a school  Two Historical Society members, the late Bill Devins and Les Oliver, former students at the school were  there. They were lifelong devotees to the town's history.

There was a sense of a dream  realized.  

False ceilings had been removed .Tin  tiles bore the traces of  smoke from the  last wood burning in the  basement furnace.  Stoking the furnace was a student chore. On especially cold days they wore their coats  to stay warm  at their  desks in the cold classrooms .

Windows were single pane glass and  they reached to the ceiling. Once again  they were revealed with removal of the false ceiling.

For authenticity single pane glass had  been installed. But  $770,000 Heritage Canada grant provided  for interior storm windows  and a special HVAC system  specially designed to  keep the air clean and protect museum artifacts.

The Historical Society  had  gutted the interior. The fund-raising  campaign was going well.

By 2006, the building was still empty.

The town had sold the hydro utility. $24 million was realized in the sale. Council resolved the funds would only be used for something special. A project that would otherwise be a burden on the taxpayers.

It would  be a clear and identifiable asset. Not the same as the one we sold. But an asset never-the-less.

We tossed some ideas around for a bit.

I envisioned a building that would provide for every imaginable activity to make a difference in people's lives. Dance studios, music studios, writing and acting labs, art studios,.I remember a young man coming to a meeting and proposing a boxing facility.

A building several storeys high...  windows ablaze with lights well into the evening. People of all ages coming and going from morning until night. I have just this minute realized,I was picturing it on the site of Wells Street School overlooking  the town park.

I did not see a particular advantage to keeping the money in the bank. The longer it stayed there the more likely the vision or the purpose would fade. But I did see the need to wait for the right  idea of how to use it to its best possible advantage.

 Church Street School was still empty. There were costs to heat and maintain.  The museum  had been  missing for four years.  It occurred to me, using some of the hydro money to complete the project would be a good use.

I moved ,Councillor Ron Wallace seconded , Council adopted the motion and it was on its way.

The Historical  Society was already heavily invested in the project.

How would anyone conceive under such circumstances, when the project was completed, with a  museum design commissioned and paid for by the Historical Society and so much more invested for its special needs , a  museum would have  no place in the completed building.

That people with no idea of the years of devoted commitment, the dreams , the financial investment  the actual physical labour ,would be given authority by the town, to exclude the  museum.

Yet that is what  happened.  I am ashamed to say it was on my watch.

I hesitate to use the word  moral in a political context.

Yet I must.

The agreement  that excludes the museum from the Church Street school is morally indefensible.

I will not rest until  the wrong has been made right.

Critique Of An Agreement Chris Watts

October 13, 2011
worst, agreement, ever!
The fact that the Aurora Heritage Centre was funded by the Aurora Historical Society (AHS) and multiple sizeable grants were awarded specificaly for heritage use, the primary use being a museum, and the agreement that the Cultural Centre believes to be acceptable shrugs them of any obligation to house a museum, only to "collaborate where possible" , yeah there "may be a misunderstanding".

A big one.

Laura Schembri is trooted out in this article to act as P.R. for the centre, she talks about the centre but like before doesn't address the issue.
Instead she speaks about what a success she believes the centre has enjoyed.
I'm skeptical as to the "tens of thousands" of visitors claims, perhaps if she was able to provide real sets of metrics like the library they would mean more than the spin she is trying to spread.

It's amazing that she can't hear what the public is asking for in programming: A museum.

Regardless of the heritage offerings that the Cultural Centre "enjoys presenting", what have they agreed to provide, and how effective are they in being accountable to their "core" funding source : the Aurora tax payer ?

In the April 2008 Novita Report, on page 21, it states:

"The inital success of the Arts and Cultural Centre project depends heavily on providing clear information on a regular basis in order to set public expectations and to encourage broader public involvement."

I haven't seen any evidense of this, and being at arms length from council this no doubt was the reason an audit had to be performed.

In reading the the final June 2008 Novita report, which you can find here:

This updated document provides instructions as to how to read the report.

Interestingly enough it states in these instructions : "the report is more descriptive than prescriptive"

WTF? number 1.

Page 3 emphasises that the Cultural Center will be a seprately incorporated organization with close ties to the town.

So where are those ties? And how close are they?

Under the heading of agreements with the town:

"Core funding from the town will provide "stability" to the centre."

Certainly contradicts the intent of the report outlined in the notice as:

"establish conditions that will allow the Cultural Center to be established and be sustainable"

The Cultural Centre is the farthest thing from sustainable.

Page 64 discusses R.O.I. and over a 5 year period projects the town spending $2.5 million dollars that will be used to "create services and opportunities which are not currently available in Aurora."

WTF? number 2.

The same page outlines some laughable benefits

1.) Appropriate use of town-owned heritage building

How is a Cultural Centre a "more appropriate" use than a museum?

2.) contribution to "animation" of historic core

How has our historic core become more animated thanks to 2 years of the Cultural Centre? It hasn't.

3.) Provision of a focal point for cultural development in Aurora

Why does cultural development for a town of 50,000 people require a "focal point"?

4.) Fulfilment of "many" of the town's policy goals

Which ones and specificaly how?

As fo engaging "all" sectors of the community, that is a lofty claim that the Aurora Cultural Centre is far from achieving.

The report creates a thin guise of accountability.

On Page 5 we are to understand:

"that all programs at the centre be delivered in partnership with the community"


"that the town uses its resources to ensure that the cultural centre corporation has the highest level of leadership"

And how is that being achieved, when the town is kept at arms length?

It continues on page 6:

"the close ties with the town will ensure accountability of the project to the residents of Aurora and the municipality".

What are the close ties with the town that ensure this?

Page 33 outlines "governance strategy":

Apparently there is a "covenant with the town for service delivery.

Interesting choice of words.

It also mentions "clearly defined" and "mutualy supporting" fiscal arrangements.

According to whose interpretations?

I have yet to see a single communication from the Cultural Centre that has been "clearly defined.

Fiscal arrangements to this point have been supporting the Centre, I see nothing mutual for the town.

Page 35 outlines a pathetic "communication strategy" in which it states a structured plan for communications is a "very high priority".

If "There is a need to identify the various stakeholders and enter into two-way communication with them." then, why isn't there one?

Page 43 outlines 3 agreements between the Cultural Centre and the town:

Provision of Services
Asset Management

All three are incredibly flawed.

It is particularly interesting that the occupancy agreement is structured as such:

the town will confirm the Cultural Centre as the "sole occupant".

WTF? number 3.

If it's the town's building, why would it be agreed to that the Cultural Centre be the sole occupant?

In the services agreement it goes on about "fiscal accountability" of which there is little and also speaks to the maintenance of "appropriate" program mix.

Again, who decides what is "appropriate"?

Page 44 identifies that the relationship between the Arts & culture advisory comittee will need to be defined.

Not only was this not done, that comittee was abolished.

We also read that "The process for bringing forward the budget will need to be defined."

How many years has the Centre been operating without said process?

All of these do little to reinforce the aformentioned ideals of accountability at all, but wait there's a section for that on page 50 where it identifies further opportunities that can be achieved:

1.) council representation
2.) ratification of the board by town council

neither happened, why?

3.) approval of the center's core budget by the town council

how can this be approved without propper process of presentation?

4.) monitoring and evaluation tools

none exist, no evidense of any being sought/implemented

5.) A program advisory comittee

Never implemented.

Accountability is all talk, and no follow-through.

The report believes that the Centre will be held accountable to key performance indicators:

1.) achievement of "balanced" program mix

Where is the balance between heritage and culture?

2.) engagement of citizens of all ages and walks of life

Given the outlandish ticket prices, how is the centre engaging all walks of life? It exists to cater to a very small elite group.

3.) achievement of high fiscal responsibility

Given that an audit was required, that the numbers show the Centre to be nowhere sustainable yet that is the reason some have floated for not having a museum, what is the Centre spending its money on?

If they want to be responsible they need to provide the public with a budget similar to the Aurora Public Library's.

On page 70 it laughably read tha the center will actively work to target programming to meet community needs.

It has failed on several fronts to do exactly that, in fact the report even indicates how the Church Street school is inadequte to hold anything more than small gatherings.

Aurora is large, culture is created throughout the town an in large venues, the majority of them a huge success and without $500,000 a year from the town to centralize and program.

Clrs Humphreys, Buck and Abel have reinforced the town's greatest need : our museum, which was sadly displaced for this costly experiment of a Cultural Centre to play out.

It is unfortunate that an agreement that mentions no obligation to house one is being defended as a loop-hole to "collaborate where possible".

Heritage is an integral component of Aurora's culture, if that isn't going to be reflected in a "Cultural" Centre than that organization shouldn't be receiving any financial assistance from our town, let alone "core" funding.

As far as I can tell, the Centre has little if any core, and the way they conduct themselves is shocking.

Thursday 13 October 2011

A Little More Detail

Matt Maddocks has left a new comment on your post "Home Home On The Range Where The Deer And The A...":

To "young & progressive"...

To the best of my knowledge, the Aurora Museum became operational in the old Church St school in 1972, and celebrated it's 25th anniversary there in 1997. My wife and I attended the anniversary celebration, as well as visiting the museum several other times without finding the doors locked (I suppose the fact that we checked the posted "hours of operation" was key to our successful access).

A few years later, government funding was provided to update the HVAC and mechanical systems at the Church St school for the express purpose of maintaining a balanced air environment suitable for the display of Aurora's artifacts. (This fact seems to have been lost on many - it would take quite a stretch of logic to argue that a state-of-the-art temperature and humidity control system was installed to help singers hit the high notes, or for arts & crafts glue to meet it's maximum adhesive properties, or to ensure the bratwurst is at it's freshest.)

As you suggest, the new model for museums may be to have them incorporated into a living/culture/arts centre. Of the cities you list; Burlington (approx pop 175,000), Mississauga (approx pop 730,000), Richmond Hill (approx pop 190,000), and Markham (approx pop 280,000), all do have beautiful arts & culture facilities. However, there is something they all had prior to these centres - beautiful museums.

Perhaps then, Aurora (approx pop 56,000) would be better served to have it's historical artifacts returned and displayed in the building deliberately renovated for this purpose, allowing "culture" to build naturally around our history. Embracing our past, I believe, furthers our ability to fully embrace change.

I apologize for carrying on with what you describe as "banter", but that's often the nature of those of us not so young & progressive. I am though, a supporter of Clr Buck, our museum, and of the Town of Aurora - the 1st most favourable town to live in - in my opinion.

Matt Maddocks


The museum was first set up in the Old Waterworks building on the site of the entrance to Park Place Manor. It had been vacated by the Aurora Police Department  in 1971, when the region was formed and police forces were amalgamated.

They moved to the second floor of the Church Street school when the Board of Education and the town jointly completed the Administration Centre on Wellington Street in 1976. The Board moved out of the school building which they had leased for $1. a year since York  County Public School Board was created in 1969.

In all the years the museum was on the second floor of the school,  the facility was shared comfortably with other users and without strife.

The Historical Society poured  finances and hundreds of  thousands of volunteer man hours into the building in preparation for it to become a state of the art museum .

A  bequest from the estate of  a  Historical Society member , the late  Margaret Brevik, in the amount of $200Ks was invested in the building along with other Historical Society resources.

The Historical Society never had problems sharing the facility with compatible groups. There was no intent to squeeze out  cultural activities. It was they who were squeezed out by the  "Culture" group.

Eighteen months of "talk" about accommodation for  the museum and ancillary services does not constitute  willingness to reach an agreement. A sub-lease of  the planned  museum space to a York Region Association does not indicate well-meaning  intention.

Staff chatting with staff  at the culture centre will not likely cut it, as far as this Councillor is concerned. I look forward to  a report from the town solicitor on how the agreement between the Culture Centre Board and the town meets  the community's  goals and objectives and the history of this project.

Jackasses Are Not An Endangered Species.

When I write a post, I never know what the response will be.

Am I the only one who thinks like me?

Am I  revealing too much of myself  during  these days of continuing litigation?

Will  the topic  interest  anyone out there?

Yesterday's post received an  immediate  flurry of three comments from someone with  the monicker of  "Artsy-Fartsy". He/she  commented  again this morning to suggest I hadn't posted the comments  because I was  afraid.

My policy is simple. I will print  opposing comments so long as  they contain logical argument and are  civil.

I print some that don't make sense to me but are civil; thinking someone else may understand the thread and wanting to encourage participation. It's a roomy tent.

I will not print venomous comments . Especially from someone caught in the coils of admiration for self-styled promoter extraordinaire,the St Kitts woman.

From exploitation of the Farmer's Market. To  accounts of requesting  money to allow her to shop at a supermarket,  as opposed to buying product from  vendors to donate to the food bank, to quitting  the executive when her objective had been achieved and fees were refused  for what she considered her valuable  promotional skills.

As a member of a sub-committee of the town, taking charge of  an event which had always raised sufficient  funds to pay for the July 1st Parade but in her charge, produced  only enough  to pay  costs of the event, the last occasion  it was held at the Legion.

To be first to muscle up to the bar for free use of the town's Heart of Heritage facility, purloined by other devoted friends of the town's former Chief Magistrate for their own purposes.

To demanding  free use of  facilities at  the town  park and ordering people entitled to be there, seated comfortably at a  town picnic table  provided in a location for the purpose, enjoying a  breakfast sandwich purchased at the market, to leave the park.

To ordering  town staff to rent  port-a- potties for  regular park users not paying an admission fee to the St Kitts Jazz Festival.

To claiming ownership of  the toilet facilities until legally notified otherwise.  

To  compelling seniors and people with children to  walk around  the park to gain access to washrooms without entering through the  five foot chain link fence controlled  by security guards on her payroll.

To  accounts of demanding service clubs providing  food and operating a beer garden to support their own community service projects,  to surrender  proceeds  to herself.

To putting Susan Morton Leonard out as a front in 2011, as speaking for a foundation,  to demand  a   "sponsorship" from the town in a specific amount , while committing to provide a financial accounting  after the event and not doing so.

The event  was  declared a monumental success by  SML to the media , acknowledging  support from all except the Town Of Aurora. They collected rent of $250, from vendors in our park, an admission fee of $5. a person from  attendance of  6000, a town grant worth $5KS, a Trillium grant of $25KS and a food vendor and a beer garden, presumably contributing what the service clubs would not.

I regard St Kitts the Untouchable to friends and admirers, to be a monumental opportunist the like of which this town has never seen before; bold as brass and twice as brazen

Without fear ; favourable mention  of the St Kitts family business of Music and Entertainment, accompanied by abuse of myself, or not, will  not be provided in this space.

Not now.

Not ever.