"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

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Why Oh WHY

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Why do you constantly refer to politics as a "Game". A game tells me that it is a hobby or recreation or a distraction. If you were serious about politics, you would consider it your job and not a game.
30 November, 2011 8:38 AM
Why do you constantly read my blog and suggest  meaning that is not there ?
And why do you still, after all these years and all  evidence to the contrary, continue to argue  I am not  absolutely  as serious about representing my community as they are about having me represent them?

It Was Indeed A Stylish Affair

I was an invited guest at a town hall  last night.  Awards were being presented. I was aware  the date of the  annual event had been changed but little else.

Councillors normally have a role role in the program  and are informed beforehand.

I wasn't paying much attention so I didn't think of it until I got to the town hall.

I was greeted as a stranger by strangers in  theatrical costumes . Councillor Humphryes was by the  Chamber door, clearly in an official capacity. The Mayor was there as well, in  white tie and tails.

As I encountered various councillors, I asked if they knew  anything about the program. Councillor Abel said he had attended a dress rehearsal in the morning. Well, I thought, that's new. What else don't I know?

Councillor Gallo didn't know any more than I didn't know. I kept going  and found Councillor Ballard who was also as much in the dark as myself.

Finally I encountered  Rick, the smiling face behind the reception desk in the evening, who prepares the council chamber for meetings, tidies up afterwards and takes care of security. He was busy with preparations but he went off to inquire. He came back and said  councillors should  find seats in the gallery.

Programs were handed out. The audience was smaller than  usual.  The chamber floor  was  set up differently with red carpet and all.

The event proceeded.  Only volunteer awards were  presented.

Videos were shown  on the two screens at the back of the chamber.

Nominators  gave  the background for  winning  nominees.  It was very nice.

It became obvious  the audience was made up of  winners and other nominees. The Mayor commended the organizing committee of  communications division staff , chaired by Councillor Humphreys.

Finally it dawned on me. The event was by invitation.I was an invitee.

It was a very nice  affair but  something about it didn't sit right.

Later I  expressed  as much  to Theresa, my daughter.  It  was a public event in a public place.  It should not have been by  invitation.

"Things change, mother" she responded archly.

No, I thought. Some things do not change.

But  conscious of my  super critical bent that must be kept in check. I said no more and  sat down  to watch  television. 

When I wakened later,  I was no  longer in  doubt.

The town hall and town resources can not be used that way.

Either the people who pay for the whole shebang get to attend  or there can be no shebang

It will not be me who tells  the community, awards were presented in their name, in their town hall   organized by staff on their payroll  and they were not welcome at the party.

Doing it while planning to increase taxes adds insult to injury.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

What Price Influence?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Keep The Record Straight":

How is it that someone as dedicated as you are (politics is your life), someone who is as knowledgeable as you are, and someone who is as clever as you are, has so little influence, regardless of who is on council?


And the sting is in the scorpion's tail.

Supposing my life is dedicated to politics as the game is  played.  And not to the community that chose me to represent them.

Supposing I am as knowledgeable as you say.

And  as clever as you claim.

What does  it take to be as influential as you think I am not?

How difficult  can it be?

The last council thought they had the secret. They gave and gave and gave.  No matter how outrageously selfish and shameful  the demand....  council gave what was not theirs to give.

More often that not mine was the only opposing vote.  Solitary status  held out to prove my lack of relevance and how little influence I had  in the scheme of things.

What is the scheme of things? Where lies the  influence?

Is it with  a bunch of toothless tigers seated at the table for a single term in office?

Or is it twelve thousand, full red of tooth and claw,  who move things about a bit  every four years.to better fit the scheme they have in mind?

Keep The Record Straight

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Last NIght And The NIght Before":

Take away points from this post...

1. A delegate, no matter where they are from, asking for a fee waiver has no direct impact on budget discussions. It is even more horrendous if they have anything to do with St Kitts.

2. Effective councillors are created when they baffle the simpleton public with bulls**t rather than intellegence.

3. The Mayor and CAO are making decisions without the benefit of council discussion. hmmmm sound familiar?

4. No news is good news from an employee staff performance perspective. I guess if we hide in our shells and not hear about any problems, there cannot be any problems.

5. We are spending $10k on a provincial membership for the second year in a row. Where was our eagle-eye councillor to pick this up last year????? I think she has let us down, perhaps too busy with lawsuits and such.

6. Executive staff at the Town are paid in excess of $100k per year. This is too much if we have to pay the province another $10k to help them perform better - even if it is not immediately noticed.

I think this post is proof that at least one councillor is out of touch with the reality of living in 2011. I don't think we are in Kansas anymore Toto.

Larry Fyne......


If the poster was paying attention last year. he would  be aware, this councillor did not support the 2011
Budget. The main focus  being the half million dollars given away to the Culture Centre Board with no requirement to  council  for its spending.

$100,000 granted to the Arboretum group to spend as they determine, was a second substantial figure beside which all else pales in comparison.

 The CAO has authority to make expenditures up to a certain figure well beyond $10,000. I believe the figure is closer to $50,000.

In the CAO's first year, we had $75,000, in the budget for "leadership training". And I believe a similar amount in the second year.

Those first two budgets  were in the last term.

Stay tuned.   More info to come from this year's budget.

Last year's budget was the first for this council, within weeks of  election to office. 

This year's story is not yet complete.

I am not hopeful.

Last NIght And The NIght Before

I didn't sleep much.The night before. it was contemplation of the mega-million dollar budget.

Last night, it was the after effect  of a frustrating day of budget discussion  A La Dawe et Garbe.

They are a team.

Morning started off with  yet another presentation on behalf of  the St Kitts Jazz  Festival.

The delegate informed us she had  met with The Mayor and CAO  who assured her of their support and great value to the town  of the Jazz Festival. The request was  for waiver of  user fees for town facilities to be included in the budget. 

We  probably  spent half an hour of our tightly scheduled day on the issue. 

No doubt the Mayor and CAO  felt it  was something to make  council  feel useful.

As an administrative process, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the  budget.

After a relatively sleepless night, I bestirred  this morning with the image of something learned early in my  career dancing like a sugar plum in my head.

I  watched  a  particularly glib veteran councillor converse with a resident and  realised  his effectiveness came, not from what he knew, but from what the other fellow didn't.

Jimmy could have said  the sky was purple  and the guy would have walked away thinking his eyesight had failed overnight. 

People believe  essentially what they want. Those in the  know , don't have to be  intelligent or well-informed or even possessed of integrity. Just sly enough to know when to take advantage but not always smart enough to know when there's a  difference.

Willingness to believe without thinking is the grease that keeps  economic engines  smooth and slippery.

It allows town  budgets to climb by the millions without any real effort at control. 

The Occupy movement has yet to realise  Wall Street predators and other scam artists are able to freely indulge their  greed, because  people with life savings are only too eager to share the spoils.They are gullible but willing partners .

 Here's how  the budget has gone so far.  The CAO and  half the directors  made presentations of  goals and objectives  and outlined what they need to accomplish  department objectives for 2012

Then the Mayor asked if there were  any GENERAL, comments or questions  of the directors. That portion  concluded,  discussion of particular items was invited.

A recommendation was prepared for us in two parts.  first  was to receive the presentation;  second  to approve the budget as is.

Most department budgets were  approved  as is. I asked for the clauses to be voted on separately.  But it's hard to keep track of how the votes went.

I understand the session was taped. I think it could be and should be.shown on the town's web site.

Certainly Councillor Gallo doesn't think he has had his last opportunity to make a difference.

I think that's what's intended.

In 2011, it was agreed to put $50,000 extra in council's  budget  for a curator capable of organising a museum and providing  guidance and leadership  to volunteers. The Director of Leisure Services was directed to report on terms of reference for the position The report is ready to be presented.

Yesterday the funds were dropped  from the 2012 budget.

The CAO and the Mayor have held meetings with the Historical Society's business manager. Reference  was made to  the question of ownership of the  museum collection. Subsequently, despite a public debate and a vote of council in support of the direction, the money was removed from the budget and  the project effectively  discarded.

No concern was expressed by council about the new direction decided by the Mayor and CAO.

The CAO's  department budget came forward. An item referring to a program from an  Institute for Excellence.

I asked about that. Turns out to be something bearing the  imprimatur of the Lieutenant Governor. Membership  is $10,000. It's the town's  second year of  membership which  means we  shall have spent $20,000 of town revenues. 

Membership.provides individuals to come to the town hall to train staff to function better.

No previous reports indicated they were not functioning well.

Awards are presented upon completion. We got one of the thingies last year. A dignitary we never heard of came to Council-in-Committee and made the presentation. It wasn't done on camera. That's why you didn't notice.

I asked  if the taxpayers would see  direct  benefit from the program. The CAO said no but  in the long run , they would receive better service.

It's not how I see it. The institute, like many others,  has likely been created to create jobs for friends of people in positions of sufficient influence to be able to pull that kind of mullarkey.  Quite possibly  campaign workers or contributors or the children of such, graduates from universities unable to find employment. 

In small town Aurora, the  Executive Leadership Team , less the Mayor, are among one per cent of Canadians who possess all the wealth in the country.

We hire staff  and pay them commensurate with the skills they need for the job.They are not poorly paid.

Benefits are humungous. Worth as much as  annual earnings for some people.

Twice as much as income of a  pensioner eligible for the guaranteed annual income supplement.

Value of the benefits increased again this year by more than a Canada pension increase of several years.

I expect staff to be capable of doing the job they were hired to do.  If not, the guy who does the hiring isn't.

At the salaries we pay  directors, I expect them to have all the skills of a so- called trainers of excellence.

Willy-nilly awards in the name of the governor -general to whatever sucker municipality willing to hand over $10,000 for  annual membership do not excite me.

That's you and me folks. Courtesy of your elected council.

I failed to have the item removed from the budget.

Sunday 27 November 2011

A Lively Exchange

Nineteen comments made to the posts about the Church Street School. That's a record. By far the  majority  in favour  of re-working the agreement.

I am inclined to scrap it.

The initial rationale for management of the facility came from  a former treasurer, He  had experience with  a historical building in Cobourg.  On the  town's  main street  it was constructed  when municipalities  vied for the chance to become the Capital of Upper Canada.A hundred and fifty years ago.

Holland Landing was in the running.

Cobourg  built a Parliament building to give them an edge.

A hundred years later, when it became clear they were not going to be the Capital, there were plans to demolish the building. It had served as a very grand  town hall in the meantime. Cobourg was actually a Village. 

An elderly woman of the community  took it upon herself to  mount a battle to save the building,won and was awarded the  Canada Medal.

The annual conference of small urban municipalities was often held in Cobourg . A tour of the building was provided and  it's champion introduced.  It truly is a very fine historical artifact that never came to be.

Aurora's treasurer, for a couple of years, was involved in the restoration and operation plans for the Cobourg building.

To prevent it from becoming a sink hole for public  resources, an arms length board was appointed. Seed money was provided and reduced each year.

The objective was to make the operation self-sufficient  and separate from the political imperative.

When the consultant presented the business plan for Church Street School to  council, start-up funds of $500.000. to be reduced by $100,000, each year were recommended.  The  operation would be self-sufficient in five years .Funding  would be  $1.5 million in total.

The board would  be required to operate  as a business. They would seek sponsorships to contribute to the program.

An Ad Hoc Arts and Culture Committee  had been  appointed. Councillors Gaertner and Granger were council's representatives. The former Mayor's friend Ken Whitehurst was  a member.

Catherine Malloy,  curator had been  recently appointed by the Historical Society and served as   staff resource person to the committee.

Ms Malloy  successfully processed an application for a grant from Heritage Canada and $770,000 was received. It paid for the HVAC system and interior storm windows neccessary to  provide suitable atmospheric conditions  for the museum.

Subsequently, Ms Malloy left and accepted a  position  in  a Markham museum.

Ken Whitehurst, a committee member,  was temporarily appointed resource person to the committee with remuneration.

It's not clear who wrote the agreement  in place and now  being reviewed by the town solicitor. It's a fair bet there was no legal input and the treasurer with the experience was no longer with the town.

The  principle of  operational  self-sufficiency apparently got lost along the way.

The museum was interpreted right out the door.

And the facility has become exactly the sink hole of  public resources originally feared.

There is no justification  for that to continue.

The community's interest is not served.

Saturday 26 November 2011

It's Not Corruption, It's Stupidity You Have To Worry About.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

once again, when it comes to the Aurora Cultural Centre, you have no idea what you are talking about but nice job on spreading half truths and innuendo. thousands of visitors to the centre have found great joy in the programs , moving exhibits like the Faces of war put on by AHS last few weeks and just a great addition to our community. Week after week of negativity from you .........it's getting tiresome


The above is posted to throw light on another facet of this problem.

I am a member of Aurora's Council, I have both responsibility and authority to ensure tax resources are managed wisely.

From time to time, maybe much of the time,my questions may rankle with people who expend town resources.

Tough noogies

My inquiry went to the town's CAO.  Who referred it to the Centre's Executive Director.

A response came from the Centre Board Chair. Written for him by the Centre's Executive Director.

Quickly followed by a flurry of comments critical of myself, posted to my blog by the Centre's Small but Merry Band of Brave but Anonymouse Warrior Defenders.

It'll no dae, ye ken. What was done badly will be undone. I won't let go of it until it's fixed.

Another Piece Of The Puzzle

Last term ,I voted against the re-organisation study and  its  recommendations.

I've seen nothing  since to persuade me I was wrong.

I   find things that convince me the plan was as bad as I thought it was.

Responsibilities were shifted between departments. Management of facilities was transferred to the domain of  Infrastucture and Environmental services from Leisure Services .

Leisure Services provides the programs within the facilities. Half the department's responsibility  was  managing and maintaining the space needed for the variety of programs provided by the department

It takes skill. It takes experience. 

A clause in the Culture Centre Agreement requires the town to approve  lease agreements for space within the centre.

The first decision made by the  Centre board was  to lease  space intended for the museum to the York Region Arts something or other. Request for approval went to Environment and Infrastructure. They gave it. 

Why wouldn't they? What would  they know ? Management of  facilities to provide for  needs of groups requiring space  for different  programs was not a skill they possessed.

In the "re-org" they got the manager of facility maintenance. Management of space stayed with Leisure Services.

Ergo...chaos and confusion.

A Piss Poor Agreement

At times it seems I am losing whatever basic skills I have acquired. This post is a follow- on to the previous post. The post below filled the window and I couldn't move down  further with  the rest of what I had to say.

Council directed the solicitor a few weeks ago to review the Culture Centre Agreement, its  pros and cons, and report back on how it serves the community's  interest.

The Mayor had a bit of a problem with that. Said he was aware of  the solicitor's heavy workload.

The solicitor said he understood the request  and  would be able to report in a month.

It happened in a public meeting so I am not telling tales out of school.

We haven't heard yet

I think it's a piss poor agreement.   Subject to all kinds of interpretation. It should be an  embarrassment to all.

The Historical Society's former  curator informed me, the reason given for no space provided for a museum was because a museum doesn't bring in any revenue.

We regularly see events such as sing-alongs promoted  admission free. Held on week-day afternoons, they  were previously entertainment for the seniors in their own facility, designed for such events.

So ...what's up with that.

Seniors pay membership to belong to the club. The greater part of the fee is paid to the town.The service to seniors is not free.

In return, the town provides a beautiful facility plus maintenance  and staff  on hand to program events.

When  events  such as sing-alongs are  held, the group providing the entertainment are compensated. Naturally.  Seniors pay an admission fee to cover the cost. Seniors have an executive who manage the business affairs of the club.

At the Church Street School, the entertainment is free while costs are absorbed.

I don't know if that's why  events,once held at the seniors' centre, are now held at the Church Street School.

Obviously, if  sing-alongs were not being held at the  school, nothing else would be at the time. Equally obvious, if  they are not being held at the Seniors centre ,that facility is not being used for the purpose intended.  And,  if the expense of a sing-along is not met by revenue from admissions, it's met by funds provided by the town from tax revenues.

How does that represent sound financial management of  town affairs?

I don't need a solicitor to advise  the community's interest is not  served  by maintaining an  agreement for  a further  three years with an expenditure of  one and a half  million dollars funded  by the town's hard-pressed residential and business  taxpayers with no accountability whatsoever.

I will move the item be removed from the town's budget. I will not vote  to continue funnelling  more than half a million dollars of tax revenues a year  and free space  to an organisation with no responsibility or accountability to  the taxpayer.

Piss poor agreement or not.

The Pesky Agreement

I forwarded the latest promotion from the Cultural Centre to the CAO , asking to be informed of how using the facility for sales of products fit into  terms of reference for the operation.  My request was forwarded. I received the response below later in the day.

The 'Starry, Starry Night' event, is more correctly described as a fund raising event.
Fundraising by the Church Street School Cultural Centre is explicitly stipulated in our Cultural Services Agreement (paragraph 11.4) and implicitly through the stipulation in paragraph 2 that we function in accordance with Strategic Study which also mentions fundraising.  Regards,
Rob Layton
for the Church Street School Cultural Centre
On Fri, Nov 25, 2011 at 12:01 PM, Laura Schembri <lauraschembri@auroraculturalcentre.ca> wrote

Friday 25 November 2011

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "What's Wrong With This Picture":

Simply say NO to the begging bums.

They should try another town.

What's Wrong With This Picture

The one in the post below. I think  there's a way of shrinking a picture to fit into a space. I just don't know how.

The picture is a promotion for a silent auction being held at the Church Street School building.  Items you see in the picture are available for sale to the highest bidder.

Proceeds of the sale will "contribute" to programs provided at the centre. It doesn't say  by what percentage.

The items can be seen  at the" show" at the centre on six afternoon a week from one to four.

The town's logo is in place at the bottom of the  promotion. The centre gratefully acknowledges funding from the town.

The town provides a building worth several million dollars,  rent-free  to  an arm's length  Board. We also provide maintenance services and utilities free of  the cost to the tune  of $150,000.

Last year  the town provided  funds in the amount of $347,000 to spend as the board saw fit.

No accountability for any of it.

Space in the building  is rented out to another organisation. More revenue without accountability. 

Various programs previously provided in other locations within the community are now  provided at the school facility on an  admission "free" basis.

Now the facility is  being used to sell, what appear to be gifts, in time for the gift-giving season, to raise even more revenue.  For which they are not accountable.

I have asked  town staff to provide an explanation of how the latest enterprise fits in with the terms of reference for this operation.

For the sake of comparison, .the town's  operation budget for  other leisure facilities this year was $5 million. Revenue from the same was $5 million.

To-night, members of the Aurora Optimist Service Club are gathering at the library to organise  new and nearly new books,  for their annual  book sale. Which happens tomorrow.

There's a Childrens room at the library funded by the Optimists. Proceeds from the annual book sale contribute to  annual  service provided.

At Tuesday's Council meeting, the Mayor presented awards to three local businesses which , over and above contributing to  the town's  assessment base and providing jobs in the community, also pay for the summer concerts enjoyed by thousands of  residents in the park with no admission charged.

the concerts are not funded from the town treasury.

This year,  the Aurora Rotary Club contributed the first of three payments of $5,000. for improvements to  Rotary Park.Rotary club members work hard to raise the funds.

What's wrong with this picture?

Local businesses and service clubs dig into their pockets and contribute to the social  and cultural well-being of the community. They operate businesses and provide jobs and pay taxes in good times and bad and still they go  above and beyond.

Then we have others, who hold their hands out, demand payments from tax  resources and enter into competition with the very businesses and clubs that keep on giving.

It ain't right, y'know. There's nothing about it that makes any sense.

Check This Out

Engaging & enriching the community through arts, culture and heritage  
Aurora Cultural Centre Events
A Starry Starry Night

Thursday 24 November 2011

Look At This

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Have a Great Day":

But you closed-mind mouth breathers are missing the point of the original question..

"What does Phyllis Morris have to do with this topic at all."

I think you can't see the forest for the trees here. this entire situation occured after the last election. Are you suggesting that Morris spends her time trying to bring this town down?*7

I refuse to believe such fabrications until you prove it to me with real facts.


I have lost the thread of this discourse.Without trying to re-connect, I want to point out a couple of things:

 " A closed mind  mouth breather"conjures up a thoroughly  unattractive image. Do you need that to  make the point of your argument.

I no longer know which  situation  it is that  occurred after the election.

I can tell you though,there's little point in asking anyone to explain the  actions of the former Mayor; including the former Mayor.

This argument is over now.

Continuum of Previous Post

Something is up with my keyboard. I may have fixed it. But I'm not exactly sure how.

I was saying:

The government made the decision during the election campaign to cancel  construction of a gas fired  power generation plant being built in Missausaga to replace the dirty coal-fired generation plant which Hazel made them promise to shut down during the previous election.

Questions were asked why  construction did not actually stop.

People said; "What about the  money already spent? "

Understandably so.

The answer, not provided, would have been problematic. Only now has construction stopped.

The process to arrive at  a contract award and construction underway is  lengthy and  hugely expensive for all parties .

It can be stopped . But only by agreeing to pay. Oh My how we pay.

Quite possibly full cost of the contract. Whatever horrendous amount that might be.

Awarding  a government contract is  more  than a friendly handshake. Engines crank into high gear which cannot be shut down.

Materials are not bought off the shelf.  They have to be manufactured for the purpose.

Manpower has to be in place for the term of the contract.

Funds have to be secured pending government payments.

Everything  swings into gear, at great expense, for governments  plans to be realised.

Once the contract is signed and sealed both parties are obligated . No ifs ands or buts.  

If the government changes its mind. The government pays.

A contractors with a legal contract  for  a mega million dollar project cannot be bankrupted because politicians conduct themselves like flibberty-gibbet teen-age divas driven by hormones during election campaigns, while going about with solemn countenance  and inspiring hand gestures to  instill  confidence and trust among the people.

So..... When ......

The Minister Stated

  there is a need, “to examine everything the government does, piece by piece, to find creative, efficient and effective ways to deliver public services.” 

He was kidding....... right .....  Yeah right.

The Minister Stated

-       The Minister stated  there is a need, “to examine everything the government does, piece by piece, to find creative, efficient and effective ways to deliver public services.” 

During the recent provincial election campaign AMO advanced a number of pragmatic, cost free proposals.  Among them, the Premier has promised to work with municipalities to explore:

-       Opportunities to collect up to $1 billion in unpaid Provincial Offences Act fines; and
-       Reviewing joint and several liability which would help protect property taxpayers from rising insurance rates and excessive claims.

The Premier also said he would honour the existing social service and court security upload agreement of $1.5 billion by 2018 and:

-       Protect Ontario’s municipal property tax base from any new downloaded costs;
-       Create a permanent fund for municipal roads and bridges;
-       Provide permanent Provincial Gas Tax revenue – of at least $318 million annually – for transit;
-       Promote personal and producer responsibility within waste management systems;
-       Ensuring that clear and fair energy policies support sound planning and investment in Ontario’s electricity system;
-       Avoid caps on property assessment or taxation; and,
-       Continue to consolidate housing programs that are supported by current or increased funding.


The Association of Municipalities of Ontario sends out communiques to members almost daily.The one above came through yesterday. Note the verbiage:

        promote personal and producer responsibility within waste management systems:

It means the government will do a lot of talking about the merits of responsibility within waste management systems. It won't actually do anything. Though it  might  periodically send  a reminder to municipalities depending on how many people they have sitting around in offices needing to occupy their minds and hands and justify their existence. 
The reminder  may in turn be re-interpreted and relayed to politicos  as legislative requirements. Said politicos not knowing the difference  between baffle gab and legislation might well embark on  an $800,000 project to meet government requirements.

       Ensuring that clear and fair energy policies support sound planning and investment in     Ontario’s electricity system;

This one is precious.  Just  yesterday  the government affirmed a decision made during  the election campaign  to stop construction on a gas-fired (clean-alternative to coal) hydro generation plant in Mississauga.

In the previous  election, they  committed to close down coal fired hydro generation plants in Mississauga.  And they  did

Odds And Sods

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Field Facility Is A No Go":

Have the Mormac attacks tapered off or are you
culling them ? What happened to Anonymoose, Guy
Poppe, Prickly Pete and Young Progessive ? Are your
mornings quieter ?


Since I have no idea who they are, I have no idea what,if anything,happened to them.I'm not culling
abusive comments much .. They have tapered off.

My mornings are not quieter. I have  a cat and a dog  and  two budgerigars living with me for a while.

They have a lot to say for themselves.In budgerigar speak. Especially if I'm speaking on the phone.They seem to think they need to join in.and drown me out.

 It's a good thing they're in a cage.  I swear they would perch on the phone and chirp and cheep,full of  sound and fury,  into the voice end.

 I went to a party last night. Couldn't stay. Had a planning meeting to attend.

My friend Ron Wallace is retiring. There was a great crowd there to wish him well.  I just wish he wasn't retiring.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Have a Great Day

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Field Facility Is A No Go":

To anonymous at 11/22 @ 5:07pm...

Honestly, what does Morris have to do with this topic at all? This is the sort of childish comments that have led a number of good contributing posters away from this site and others like it.

It has been over a year since the election. Time to get over this.


My numbers do not affirm your contention. They continue to grow.

They are not huge but considering the subject of my political blog is pretty much confined to our town's affairs that's to be expected. I do not target a greater audience.

The election has indeed been over for a year. The former Mayor continues to draw attention to herself.  Reaction in the community is not  surprising  in the circumstances.

The blog shapes itself to a considerable extent on what people are talking about. Nothing else gives us that opportunity. Nothing ever has before. I think it's grand..

Have a great day. It will not come again.

Simplicity Is The Key

Rules of order should be the essence of simplicity. 

We passed the Procedure Bylaw last night after several  lengthy discussions.The rules are part of the Bylaw.

Last evening we spent more  time discussing whether  the Bylaw should be deferred than any other item  on the agenda.

Rules of order don't  relate to  anyone or anything else in the community except councillors.

They are about  preserving  civility; ensuring every councillor has equal opportunity for input, without interruption or prohibition because of time. .

They are about respect for the office we hold. The need to deal with town business in efficient and  timely manner

They do not exist for their  sake alone.

No  more than the chairs we  use; the desk; or microphones that permit voices to be heard.

We  perform in public. Hopefully, the community attends, With cable television, the opportunity presents.

How we do it. should not distract from  decisions being made.

At the same time,  debate should not be so calm, smooth  and efficient as to be tedious, boring, stuffy, bombastic and compleat with  the importance of being earnest.

It is our role  to make decisions. Nine people  participate There are obvious risks..

Unanimous agreement is not  essential.  It's not even generally desirable.

A  majority is not necessarily the right decision. It doesn't have to be. .

Democracy is the right to be wrong.

If  consequences are to be suffered and the Good Lord Knows  we have had consequences, it's best  the majority is responsible.  .

So, last night we passed the  new rules. .

Not for the purpose of catching each other in error, poking  each other with a pointy stick,harassing or embarrassing each other .

The purpose is to work together under a set of  rules that serve.

Several clauses I think will interfere with that objective.

But they are not chiselled in stone. The book is not closed. If we experience difficulties, changes can be made.

There always comes a time when everything that could be said, has been said, for the time being

Tuesday 22 November 2011

The Field Facility Is A No Go

The treatment facility for   a per cent  of !% percent of the snow that falls on Aurora's roads this winter will not be treated by a facility that was to cost  $800.000.

$163,000 already spent on a design last year is a write off.

The item was once again the subject of vigorous discussion at a budget meeting last night.

It was not approved.

At one point  a voice was  raised  and a hand hit the table... forcefully

I do not  apologise. I really get upset when I see  taxes in millions piled on  people's  backs for no good  reason I can fathom.

I know some  people who don't see taxes as a hardship. Not surprisingly, many of them are on the public payroll.

Some of them,the 1% earning the mostmoney in Canada.

I heard  that on television.

I myself don't see taxes as a hardship so long as the community  receives a full return.

Last night we  talked about spending $14,3 million on  an architect designed,combined works and parks building on a different site estimated at $5 million.

The architect made a presentation. It was revealing

Current space  is  poorly  organised.  Space is wasted. Washrooms, showers and change rooms are inadequate.

Storage for road salt required based on per capita populations is inadequate.

Vehicle bays are used for storage. A board room is used as a lunch room.

Contractors  store  equipment on town property . Probably use the facilities as well.

Stored materials are not properly separated  and  get mixed up as a result.

We saw pictures.

There's a safety issue. Site lines are not clear for trucks coming and going. Poorly planned access is the problem 

The works building is old.  It's falling apart. No details were provided. 

The site is not big enough for two operations but too big for one.

Heritage salvage is stored  elsewhere.

Ifa site isnpurchased at  the  estimated $5 million  elsewhere, operations can continue on the current site while the  architect-designed building is being  constructed. 

We turned down an opportunity to buy an abutting site to add to the ours in  the council term before last.

Thirty-five years ago, the current pre-fabricated building was purchased and assembled on the site.

The new plan was not rubber-stamped last night.

Council Gallo expressed the thought that council should have an opportunity to  discuss how departments operate and consider efficiencies.

I thought that was a very polite way of saying... WTF

According to the report,  there is ample room for such a discussion. I am always intrigued when informed  of wasted space,disorganisation and other inefficiences and the only solution  is to spend $14.3million dollars on a new building o a site

Part of the advantage of contracting work out is that it saves space, employees and equipment.

Last night's debate  produced a spark from the other side of the table.  Opposing the idea of council  learning   how department's operate came the argument

" If you want to run the town departments"

I'm not sure if it came from Councillor Thompson, I don't think so. Or Councillor Pirri.  I know it wasn't Councillor Humphreys or Gaertner.

It was a reckless remark. It won't be forgotten.

Nor should it.

Politics is the only place one can engage in all-out battle without worrying too much about whose feelings are being hurt.

We are not fighting for ourselves but for the people who sent us.

I know little about Councillor Gallo except  occasionally seeing photos of his two beautiful children.

I believe he manages a property maintenance company.

 I don't know if the company manages company- owned  properties.

I do know the property maintenance business is  brutally  competitive.

A company can  fail  instantly by  the  loss of a contract.

Efficiency in such a business is key to survivaI

It's not the same in public business.There's always the taxpayers pocket.

I think council took a few steps forward last night.

Towards more full and lively exchange in future debates.

Much like the Aurora tradition.

A Simple Question

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Who Says So?":

A Yes or No Question to end your long day. Chris
Watts seems to know how many people check in daily
who just use him for information or amusement, Can
you figure out what percentage actually provide you
with any feedback ?


Saturday 19 November 2011

Who Says So?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Small Is Good":

Deleting comments after you've decided to publish them sure doesn't look good.


Two  critical comments  of blog are posted.  And the last shall be first.

I published comments yesterday that I deleted this morning. I want people to be free to comment. Sometimes I have misgivings. Strong enough at times not to publish.

I can be in full agreement with a comment but fairness dictates. It's a low blow when a  person can't defend him/herself.

Those I published yesterday and deleted this morning were expressive but highly personal.They were warranted in the circumstance.

I compromised. I gave them exposure  but not lasting or permanent.

My battles are not with people. They are with ideas. Sometimes it's hard to separate the two.

I rail  against policies and procedures that do not serve the interest of the community.

That swallow millions of dollars of public resources with no benefit  gained and  hardship created.

We elect people who are comfortable and successful, because they are comfortable and successful.

 Then we  expect them to empathise with those who are not.  I think we should be able to expect that.

Last  council  term  saw millions of dollars of profligate  spending. Everything done was for political gain. Not an ounce of logic justified it from any perspective.

We elected a new council to turn this ship around.  I believe that was and still is their intention

It should mean budget cuts.  Spending needs to be brought back in line with reality.

Wildly extravagant projects started without rhyme  or reason need to be reversed.Good money should not be thrown after bad.

Instead we contemplate again with equanimity,budget increases in double digits.

I don't believe that was the intention of the last election or of the current council.

But last year's budget was a disappointment.

It makes this one harder to tackle.

Still, there are hopeful signs.

We don't need an Occupy movement and tents in the town hall courtyard yet.


Critical comment 1.

The person who thinks I should be writing worthwhile stuff like recipes is into the wrong space.
The Blog is what it is. It 's about the town's business.

Thank Goodness For Google

The last post is  obviously a copy of a news article.  I had started to add  bits and pieces of information to the  one previous post. Then I  realised the whole article is relevant to our current situation.

Toronto is providing a twenty-four hour operator service. High absenteeism is a problem and uneven performance.

Membership in  the public service union  means  absenteeism  affects service but not  the bottom line.

If  it's  like Aurora, employment  starts with three weeks vacation.

So for every seventeen operators, one extra is needed to cover for vacations

It's a  24/7  service. We just hired eighteen fire fighters to fill three shifts

How  complaints can there be about pot-holes and garbage collection in the wee hours of the morning? Who would the  calls be directed to in the nine to four operation?

How did  Toronto Council allow themselves to be persuaded this boondoggle would be a good thing?

Maybe the former Mayor's executive committee got it  through without the rest of council understanding what a crock it was.

If   Mayor Ford   decides to remove that baggage off the gravy train, what will  accusations will be hurled at him?

It would be acknowledgement of  eighty milllion  dollars down the drain.

It is currently described as a problem that needs fixing"

How much more would it cost to get rid of it?

Toronto has full-time aldermen. They each have an office and $75,000 office budgets. I think there are forty-five of them .They control their own budgets. Spend as they will.

Remember  the provincial E-Health scam that swallowed millions and produced nada.

There was  a director there earning  hundreds of thousands  a year, who expensed a coffee and a muffin at an airport restaurant.and contracted out work to consultants.

George Smitherman was  Minister in Charge.Then  candidate for Mayor. of Toronto.The scandal was remembered. He didn't win.

No-one will be sitting in an office at  city hall ,worried about losing his/her job over the useless and extravagant call service. Too many  were complicit in approving the plan, up to and including the elected body, the former and current Mayor.Not the same.

 Rob Ford with all his rough edges, ran a campaign in opposition to "the gravy train"

Will  this  mean city departments  go back to looking after their own complaints  and elected members  doing whet they are paid to do?

Will it mean smaller municipalities, tempted to jump on that  fast-moving  train because neighbours are doing it, might pause and take a second look at where that train is heading?

In these days of social media, issues tend to linger near the forefront.

They do not fade into the background as once they did. when private news media were in charge of all information.

We can only hope it makes a difference. 

Here's The News Article

Toronto's 311 service needs a fix

Posted: Nov 17, 2011 9:36 AM ET

Last Updated: Nov 17, 2011 9:26 AM ET

A report from Toronto's auditor general says one in five calls to the city's 311 information line go unanswered. A report from Toronto's auditor general says one in five calls to the city's 311 information line go unanswered. iStockTorontonians who dial 311 are usually hoping for help with a problem – but an audit of the service suggests the line itself needs a fix.
Operators at the 24-hour line are supposed to field public inquiries and improve accessibility to non-emergency services, but 21 per cent of calls are never answered at all.
The report from Jeffrey Griffiths, the city's auditor general, points to high operator absenteeism as one reason the line is struggling. He also notes that staff performance is not uniform.
Call logs from March show that one operator answered 98 calls while another answered only 21.

'People get really frustrated'

Councillor Josh Matlow says he and his colleagues at City Hall find it easier to order a pizza than to get basic service from the help line.
People living in the Beaches—East York area, or Ward 32, make the most 311 calls per capita, and constituents have complained to their councillor, Mary-Margaret McMahon, citing long wait times and inaccurate information.
"We're way behind other cities and that's not a good place to be," said McMahon.
Citizens call about everything from ordering a new recycling bin to reporting graffiti.
"That's your front line for helping people in the city and if it's not working then that's a problem and people get really frustrated," she said, adding that the two-year-old line is still experiencing growing pains.
"We're way behind other cities and that's not a good place to be."—Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, Ward 32
Griffiths points out that other cites such as New York, San Francisco and Ottawa answer more calls with fewer staff than Toronto. He recommends the city address chronic absenteeism and ensure workers take more calls.
The city spent nearly $40 million to implement the 311 system and now spends nearly $20 million annually to operate it. Most calls are related to garbage collection and pothole repair.
In addition to the phone number, the city also provides a range of online services, including self-service requests.

Friday 18 November 2011

Small Is Good

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Separation of Political and Administrative":

Rules of order I feel are guidelines rather than hard and fast rules when it come to local government.

Was there any harm caused by Sandra's actions?


The writer is misguided. Rules of order  are legislated by bylaw for the purpose of  completing corporate  business in a timely and  efficient manner.

Nine people are engaged in  decision-making.

It's  not possible  without acceptance of a set of rules all agree to live by.

Rules  should not stifle debate. 

Rules must be fair to all.

Rules should be few, simple, straightforward and easily memorised.

Points of order  to silence a  point of view or  prevent information from being brought forward do not contribute  to good order. They feel like harassment. 

Rules must be combined with even-handed  judgment. 

With  social media  at our finger tips, that which  is not allowed to be said during a debate in council  will   effectively be broadcast  elsewhere.

Without pros and cons, the essence of debate is lost.


I caught a flash news item day before yesterday. An audit of Toronto's 311 phone service has revealed 21% of phone calls are lost. They get no response.

 311 is apparently the number for  citizen inquiries or communications with the city.

Two years ago, it cost the city $40million to implement and $20million to operate. 

It sound like a Customer Service Gizmo that doesn't work.

You can call me an old-stick-in-the- mud. I have argued against  a "customer service" system being introduced at great expense  and  lost the argument.

Funds have been expended and more will be. It's included in the budget.

 I know of no  problem with customer service that needed attention. People call the town office. If, for any reason, there is no response, they have eight Councillors and a Mayor available. Calls I receive are nothing I can't handle. I imagine most members  would say the same.

We are a small town. We are not, in the foreseeable future,  going to be anything  but a small town

If we  can't  provide  quality customer service to residents without buying  an expensive "system" devised by some outfit  with a crack sales pitch, something is seriously out of kilter and its not.

I don't care if Whitchurch-Stouffville and Newmarket are doing it.

I wonder if  the severely critical audit report to Toronto Council means the system will be deemed to have created  problems that weren't there in the first place?

How much of the taxpayers money will have been wasted?

What will it take to get out of the mess?

We are glad we don't live in Toronto . We  should be able to influence the decisions to be made.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Separation of Political and Administrative

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Climate Change in Aurora":

Is the CAO running the town or is Council?

This is a very serious question that must be addressed immediately.

I don't recall voting for Mr. .....


The answer is the CAO is  top  man  within the administration.

It is  a position of  authority and responsibility.

The  town is managed by an  Executive Leadership Team.

It used to be known as Management Team.  I think the title and function  were  more apt..

The Mayor is  Head of Council. The two positions are not  the same. Each councillor has authority and separate accountability.The Mayor's role is leadership. Not the same thing as being the boss.

I have previously referred to the disadvantage of  being Head of Council  without  political  experience.  A big  drawback  is not knowing ,what you don't know and learning it by doing it in a fish bowl.

Something  happened on Tuesday which indirectly illustrates the point.

 A delegation  presented for  the Farmers' Market.  Councillor Humphreys had been  named contact person between Council and the Market. I'm not sure what it meant but everyone seems  pleased about it.  . So that's O.K.

Councillor Humphreys engaged the delegate in a lengthy conversation. Which the rules do not permit.  No point of order was called.  Sandra is well regarded.

Had  Councillor Gaertner  done the same thing, someone would assuredly have called a point of order.  Wendy has rubbed more than a few people the wrong way.

But that's  not right.  Called from the chair or the floor, the  rules must  apply without bias.

If not, more problems than solutions are created in a heavily competitive political  environment..

Resentment  poisons the atmosphere. You have to be on the receiving end of bias, to appreciate the
counter-reaction. It may not be pretty.

A  presiding member  who does not understand the imperative of impartiality,. does not have an opportunity for leadership.  It  is not subject to command.

Dynamics of a council are fluid.  Currents  run beneath the surface. They twist and turn  and sometimes. instantaneously, gather force and suck everything down into a vortex.

The  Mayor  operated  a successful business. Decisions were his alone to make.

Working  with eight other people  to achieve a majority decision, with  everything happening  as it should and each Councillor bringing a perspective to the table  to be heard before a vote is cast , calls for something more an orchestration.

Any hint of   group conferencing   prior to debate is not conducive to harmony. It bespeaks a lack of confidence,  courage and a tendency to dependency.

Councillors are wise to seek knowledge from staff .  But it's only  part of the responsibility.

Personal judgement is the other part. Each Councillor  is accountable  for the vote he casts.

If the electorate considers  facts presented and  withheld and arrives at  a different judgment,it does  not profit a councillor to  explain "I did my homework and  thought it was right"

People will make up their minds if they have all the facts. They will make up their minds if they don't.

It's best if they have all the facts.

If I don't believe a particular expenditure is in the best interest of the community I serve  it's my job to say so and articulate the reason why.

Climate Change in Aurora

A scent of roses  fills  my kitchen. The yellow buds opened overnight in the vase over the sink.My daughter Heather brought them in yesterday because the  forecast indicated they would not likely  survive another night outside.

Other flowers have already  been nipped and died .The rose continued to bud and bloom and the snapdragons still flourish.. Not  quite in so much profusion as summer but still a cluster.

The garden is at the side of the house where originally  was driveway. They are sheltered from wind on either side but not at  the  ends .It's a remarkable thing, in mid November to still have flowers blooming.

Not only that,snapdragons re-seed .They  survive winter in the ground and come back in  great profusion every spring.

The rose is more than thirty years old. I planted it  with a dozen others, all  long gone.

 I may have   inadvertently created an English garden in a Canadian environment  or the globe really is warming. The latter is more likely than the former.


Chapter 2

Snow does not fall to the extent it  did..  Some years, gardens come out of the winter parched and hard. Plants are no longer kept warm with a blanket of snow.

Children don't build snow forts in the ditches at the end of driveways. There hasn't been an  occasion in years, when we had to walk  to Yonge Street for  bread and milk because it couldn't be delivered

There's room  to walk, so kids on the way to school  don't have to share icy stretches with vehicles.

Other things have changed. Fewer retailers are  in  the town's core.   From Wellington to Mosley, parking is never fully taken up . Saturdays are like Sundays with barely a sign of life.

I remember having to step wide and high over slushy snow to get into the town hall.  It was  not collected  and taken elsewhere to melt. 

We had no sidewalk plows either.  Sidewalks had to be shovelled by owners. 

We don't have sidewalks on  my road.. So there's nothing to plow.  We pay for the service  just the same.  It's an  irritant that  makes one especially sensitive to  inequity and  other senseless actions


Chapter 3

A report  returned again  on Tuesday. It has been presented several times. It is altered a bit each timeit appears. Signed by the Chief Administrative Officer and  Director of Environmental and Infrastructure Services,it was back despite a council directive otherwise. 

A  dis-used parking lot off  Industrial Parkway  is  used  for snow taken from the downtown core block   a few times durimg  three months of winter.

$800,000  has been budgeted since 2007 for a treatment facility for  melting snow.

$163,000 has already been spent for a consultant to design a treatment facility for salt abatement to ensure safe drinking water.

The contradiction that  first struck me is that salt dissolves. It can't be removed. Unless of course one is intent upon changing a desert into arable land.

Eventually, it was acknowledged  salt cannot be removed. 

But  it was  the stated purpose of the plan.,to satisfy an Environment Ministry directive.

After discussion  and input from the community, the very  existence of salt in snow melt became questionable.

The Mayor volunteered  public works uses brine not crystallized salt.  When snow is on the way, brine is applied to pavement. It melts the snow whenever it hits.Brine is  crystallized salt with water added. 

 We apply  minimal salt  to keep roads passable.

Any salt  remaining  in snow plowed to the side of the road, would continue the melting process. There would be no snow to remove.

The aquifer from which our water is drawn is hundreds of feet below ground and separated from the surface by an impermeable layer of clay. It has been carbon dated at four thousand years old and  despite centuries of human habitation on the surface,it is crystal clear and free of contamination  from any human activity.

The  report came forward. again. This time with  a map of the well head area. Wells are on the other side of Yonge Street at the far end of the community centre parking lot. on Aurora heights Drive.

The new report said pollution from salt would take two years to travel. It moves horizontally.Well, I ask you; since when does water move sideways without a purposely built  obstruction.

We had a presentation from a regional rep with results of several years of study,  identifying  risks to  ground water supply.

Dry cleaning fluid was one.

Road salt was stated not to be a risk factor.

Council directed deferral until Ministry of Environment approval had been received. It was anticipated in November.

The report was on the agenda again on  Tuesday despite Council's decision. Ensuring council's  direction is followed. is the responsibility of  the Mayor and Municipal Clerk.

By coincidence, a letter of approval from the Office of the Ministry of Environment was an add-on to the agenda which included re-appearance of the report.

The Ministry gave five year approval for a Plan for Salt Abatement.

Tuesday's  report provided new information; snow is removed for the convenience of commuters.

The town does not provide parking for commuters.

No  salt is  used in parking lots provided by the town.

Why the town's administration  deems  it reasonable  to persist in recommending  $800.000 be expended on a plan that  has not stood the test of political scrutiny totally mystifies me.

I suspect other representatives of the people  may be having the same difficulty.


Concluding Chapter.

If,despite  evidence to the contrary, soluble salt,by some process unknown to man , remains suspended in particles, in snow, without  melting  said snow and being carried  below a permeable layer of clay to an aquifer tested and determined to be 4,000 years old and free of all pollutants caused by human activity, two  options are available to us.

The first is to leave the  stuff where it is. at the side of  the road. as we do in all other areas of the town,to melt naturally  and find it's way into storm sewers, installed for the purpose, also at great expense to the taxpayer.

Did I mention the theory that water with unproven salt comment  moves horizontally over a two year period  towards the well head area rather than sinking into the ground. to be taken up over a two year period by growing vegetation.

The second is...well there is no second.

If you are still with me, thank you for your attention.

Imagine what it's like to respond  again.and again. civilly and respectfully, to that which makes less sense as  the argument continues. and involves spending$800,000 o your hard-earned resources.

Wednesday 16 November 2011


christopher watts has left a new comment on your post "E-Mail Flurry":

Clr. Buck,

Could you please help me to clarify my understanding of the issue of naming this park.

On page 14 of the 2011 Capital Projects report available online here:

Project 73133 is listed as "David English Park"

Under Explanation/Highlights it reads:

"This Park has been named David English Park resulting from Council approved fundraising event where the naming rights of this proposed park were sold."

Am I to understand that there were two fundraising events to name the same park?


No.... there was one fundraising event.  It was a hospital building fund event, I believe. The town donated naming rights for two separate parks to the auction . Several thousands of dollars were bid on each. It was highly  successful. The former Mayor was very pleased by the amount of money raised in this fashion. As were the organisers ,I imagine.

No Post Yesterday

I spent the day trying to connect. By the time I did, it was time to leave for a council meeting.

Where we learned there is as much nincompoopery at the Ministry of  Environment as in any other environ of government.

The day before, Monday, was an all- day session to discuss capital items in the town's budget.

I was an hour late for the start .

I do not normally  commit to be anywhere before noon.

It has to do with my pattern of living. At night, I allow myself to fall asleep in my bug comfy chair. It's an indulgence in which  I luxuriate. I am usually watching Letterman.

Then after an hour or two,I  bestir myself and hie  to bed. More often than not, I lie  awake for the next couple of hours. Not infrequently  I will  rise again  and write a blog. It's not a problem. I  can go back and sleep until I wake. Which could be ten o-clock or later.

Who's to care?

So.... on Monday, I wasn't sleeping.  I had to be at the Town Hall by nine a.m. I rose at five a.m.  I thought I would write a short post explaining why I wouldn't be writing a post and go back to bed and get a couple of hours sleep and be on my way in plenty of time.

It's not how it happened . A couple of hours later, I wrapped up  the post.

Not a good idea to go back to bed and maybe  waken at ten or thereafter.

So, I went to my chair. I have this marvelous facility for cat-napping. I can close my eyes and drift off. Twenty minutes later, I'm back in time to be where I  need to be.

On  Monday morning it was not to be. I could not drift off .I was thinking about where I needed to be and when.  Finally I did. When I opened my eyes again, it was an hour later than it needed to be

But at least I didn't nod off after lunch.

Another luxury my lifestyle permits.

Monday 14 November 2011

E-Mail Flurry

There was a little flurry this week-end. Council's  agenda  recommends yet another contract award.This time for construction  of David English Park..

Staff have had to request funds beyond the original budget. An explanation was attached as required.

The park was to have been built by the developer. Staff had worked to make that happen. He wanted it in place for would-be-home buyers to appreciate the neighbourhood.

The project  was designed and costs calculated. Development charges would have been credited.

The plan did not go forward.

When the site plan was being considered by Council, former Councillor MacEachern objected to inclusion of a park. It was a small neighbourhood. While the park would be funded with development charges, maintenance cost would be a burden to taxpayers.

The argument did not carry. The park was included in the site plan. .

A Master Recreation Plan had been commissioned by Council. The draft was submitted and referred to the Leisure Services Committee. chaired by the former Councillor.

The Draft did not re-emerge from the committee for many months. When it did.it had been re-written by the Councillor and committee member,and former mayor's friend, Ken Whitehurst.

Council adopted the re-written version of the Plan.

The David English Park did not proceed. Approval of the Master Recreation Plan had to come first.

As is the norm,the subsequent park  design  was  in consultation with new home-owners. It includes a playground. The price is $126,955,52 beyond the original.

As noted above. development charges collected are not sufficient.

At the week-end, a Councillor circulated an e-mail to the Director and the rest of Council, requesting confirmation of his understanding of the report.

It was Sunday. I took it upon myself to provide the confirmation and several other pertinent details and replied to all.

Since a former Councillor's name was  referenced  in my e-mail. Councillor Ballard forwarded it to the former Councillor and invited input.

Another small but interesting facet relates to the story

Naming the yet-to-be-built park ,was a prize in a successful fund-raiser for the cancer care facility at South Lake Health Centre.

The former Mayor took a deal of pride in several thousands of dollars being raised in that fashion.

You were asking

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "$444,610.80 Authorised Spending.":

"Being re-elected twelve times might reflect voter satisfaction with my understanding of public service within our town."

How many of those are from THIS millennium?


There have been four elections in THIS  millennium . I have been a candidate in three . I was elected each time I was a candidate.

Aren't you glad you asked ?

Sunday 13 November 2011

$444,610.80 Authorised Spending.

Soon after election in 2003, a call came from a resident on Yonge Street North. The view from her  sitting room window  was rented housing, in sad and neglected state, across the street.

A mattress was half leaning, half lying on the ground  between two houses. A bus stop and traffic lights were in close proximity.

The  view of our town by the carriage trade did  not commend us.

My caller  understood  the mattress  was on private property but it was a long-standing irritant and she  hoped there was a solution.

I called the Works Director and conveyed the problem.

Before the day was out, the mattress was gone.

Aurora collects such items as garbage. The sidewalk in front of the house had limited capacity. A mattress is bulky. Ownership was questionable.It  never found its way out.

At the end of the day, my caller was content.

I was re-assured all was well.

The Works Director and his Foreman are both gone now. After the Director's departure, the Foremen told me in a conversation how a call would come through;  "Drop whatever you're doing " would be the command.

The problem would be relayed and promptly acted upon.

Last Tuesday. I  brought to attention, in a public meeting. a pile of concrete rubble on a town boulevard. It had been there long enough for grass and weeds to mature and obscure  it.

At the meeting, I was asked by the director to specify the location. The project was affirmed to be regional and contracted out. I had spoken about it previously. to no avail.

On Friday,at the end of the work week, the rubble was still there.

Discussion at Tuesday's meeting focused  on awarding a contract for a soft ware program in the amount of $444.610.80

The objective is to track assets

Work orders  are to be processed by computer.

Staff are to be "trained ". New staff are to be hired.

Problems  needing correction were not identified in the report.

No work plan outlined.

No savings or payback time specified.

My question is; how will an abandoned mattress on private property, fit into a program, designed to track assets and work orders.

Obviously it won't.

Does it mean such a problem will continue to be solved to the satisfaction of residents?

Not so obvious.

The Region was referenced on Tuesday as  having satisfactory experience with the software.

Evidence might indicate otherwise.

Thirty-seven dead tree stalks, left in full view on a public right-of-way, surrounded by expensive planting paraphernalia for several years, do not commend the region's asset tracking system.

Assets purchased and planted. Assets failed to survive. Assets not replaced. Assets removed after years. Assets lost.

New concrete pads for bus stops are obvious assets. In more than one location, the task was incomplete. Cost of asset likely paid.Full value not received.

Asset on the corner of Industry Street and Mary Street likely entered into data bank. Was left-behind rubble recorded? Considering the passage of time,not likely.

I claim no private business experience. I consider it almost entirely irrelevant to the role of a municipal council member. In fact, in some situations I have observed , I consider it a drawback.

Service expected by people paying the freight to the municipal corporation; that I know about.

Odd and unexpected problems occur at any hour of any day, in and out of the work week.

What consultant can envisage each and every possible problem a town department might have to deal with in an ordinary day?  What software design to track assets would fit the situation?

The Region  has no such  responsibility. They do not deal directly with a municipal population.

The Town is not the Region

On Tuesday, Councillor  Pirri, supported  his vote to spend $444,610.80 on  soft ware by claiming to have done his homework. He did not reveal the relevant  homework..

Councillor Humphrys commended  staff for excellent work. It was hard to comprehend  comparison.

Both  Councillors and others still have limited municipal experience .

Homework does not teach what people expect or how front-line staff regularly respond to the problems that present. That comes from experience.

Being re-elected twelve times might reflect voter satisfaction with my understanding of public service within our town. It could be regarded as an asset within the  council.

There's little sign the asset is appreciated and  it is certainly unlikely to appear in any software program.

It will not fit neatly into the confines, no matter how many thousands of  hard -earned tax payer dollars are spent on it.

Or how much regional experience argues satisfaction.

It's been several years since I was able to assure Aurora residents tax dollars over-all, are being wisely spent on their behalf.

The day is no closer.


Friday 11 November 2011


I was at the Cenotaph. There was a good crowd in attendance. Traffic was stopped. Two minutes of silence observed. For me, that 's the significance of the day.

When I was a child ,the sound of Big Ben's chimes were broadcast across the land. at the hour of eleven. a.m. on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Children in  classrooms.stood beside their desks and bowed their heads for two minutes of silence.

In the streets, traffic stood still .I imagined London's cab drivers cabs leaving cabs and standing to attention beside them.

In Aurora this morning, the sky was clear and  brilliant  in the morning sunshine. The nice young police officer who let me park in the Canadian Tire parking lot entrance opposite the Cenotaph, told me there was snow north of Newmarket and two inches of the stuff in Barrie.

In  the U.K., the sky would most likely be leaden. In year's past, the first of London's pea soup fogs would  be drifting through  the streets.

We are in the tenth decade of the time when the first Armistices day was marked, to denote a nation's sorrow.

The war was over. Almost an entire generation of men in the flower of youth had  been wiped out and loved ones  devastated.

Thousands of others, missing limbs or disabled by mustard gas became familiar sights.

Years passed. Life went on. The 1914/18 war was resumed and yet another generation of youth was annihilated  during the 1939/45 war,  even more horrifying than the first if possible, with  new and terrible weapons invented for the purpose.

Whoever thought of  people gathering throughout the world to  mark two minutes of silence to remember the awful sacrifice, did a good thing.

It  has not  ended  wars.

But it makes us pause and dwell upon those who paid the price.