"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 23 July 2012

Legislation Not Worth a Hill of Beans

Much as I would like to, it would not be wise to publish your comments on the status of my legal action against the former Mayor and followers
They are a dodgy lot for sure. 
At the time of notice of the action , Evalina MacEachern was quoted as assuring the others the whole thing was a joke. 
Al Wilson was quoted , in his judgement ,
" She'll be dead before the case ever gets to court".
It has been an interesting journey and an educational process.
When it's over, I will share the entire experience. 
It might be useful to  municipal  Councillors who find themselves, despite being citizens of  a country with a Charter of Rights , and a Province rife with rules and regulations to guarantee integrity in municipal government, as part of a Council  with a majority who   recognize no limits to their power.
I hear Codes of Conduct are no longer popularly regarded as a guarantee that those elected to office will conduct themselves in an honest and straightforward fashion.
What a ridiculous notion that people given  trust and confidence 
at the polls require  a document to spell out what exactly what is required of them  . 
Remember how it started:
Spending on computers in  Toronto  escalated to millions,while the salesman wined and dined and romanced a finance official. Mysterious payments appeared in bank accounts, mansions were purchased and expensive Disneyland family vacations were enjoyed with no obvious means of payment. Furtive comings and goings came and went  in the underground parking at City Hall. 
Madam Justice Bellamy carried out a Commission of Inquiry and uncoverd the  whole seamy,degrading mess .for all the world to see at a cost of $13 to $14 millon dollars. 
The Province played a lament on  the fiddle and drew up permissive legislation for municipalities to create Codes of Conduct compleat  with a means of punishing  recalcitrant  Councillors guilty of such reprehensible conduct.
Former municipal lawyers exulted at the new found source of easy money  and  taxpayers groaned under the burden.
Years passed . No notable benefit resulted from the legislation. 
So...what else is new?.  

Friday 20 July 2012

Query Box

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "News":

Does "Unanimously" mean that everyone that was in attendance voted the same way? I think that as long as a quorum was in place,and everyone in attendance voted for it... it was unanimous.

For the purpose of a municipal record a vote would be categorized as unanimous if all present voted the same way
The record wold also show  elsewhere ,who was present and the names of absent members.
For the purpose of evidence in a court, to suggest the entire Council was unanimous if the entire Council  was not  present  is not an accurate representation of  facts.
On the status of  court file no. CV-09-096918-00; examination for discovery of my evidence took place  August 3rd 2011.. Discovery of the defendants  has yet to take place. 
Justice Boswell has been appointed by a Supreme Court Justice to 
case manage the file. 
A Code of Conduct  is  enforceable  with  an Integrity Commissioner appointment. No Integrity Commissioner has been appointed since the last one was notified of termination.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Question Posed and Answered

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "News": 
I know that Aurora voted, over the usual objections, to stop funding Morris. But I am not SURE that this would have prevented some obscure insurance policy from continuing to support her. Does anyone know - for SURE?
The Town's insurance does not  indemnify  a member of Council to 
litigate against another party .
In the relatively short period of his employment, the former town solicitor advised Council of that on at least two occasions. Once I believe. in writing. 
Councillors are indemnified  for litigation  against them for decisions made in  performance of their duties. 
Coverage extends  apparently even after they have been removed from office in an election
In  defence against legal action  to contrive  a Code of Conduct complaint against a Councillor, other municipalities including Toronto provide a fund for a legal defense.
But not in Aurora. 
The process proved to have had  a single purpose.. It was never used for any other.  
Redress through  the Courts  for Abuse of Authority, Abuse of Public Resources  Denial of Civil Rights and Defamation of Character. is therefore the only option available.


The wires are abuzz today with  a story emanating from a final hearing on costs for defendants  against  the Morris defamation litigation against two resident families.at taxpayer expense.
It seems Morris ,through her lawyer , claimed the September 14th 2010 council  resolution which stated "that the Town Solicitor be directed to  retain external legal counsel and to take any and all actions to bring resolutions to this matter" was "carried unanimously"
Morris' lawyer omitted that  two Councillors  refused to attend the in-camera meeting on the basis Council had no business in the matter of critical comments made against the  former Mayor in a Blog .
Or that the Deputy-Mayor who did attend, repudiated the decision in a statement made in  open Council and declared the action was not, in his opinion, permitted under the Ontario Municipal Act.
Because the  account  was read from The Auroran, Morris lawyer dismissed all that as "hearsay". 
The argument for costs in the action is being heard  by a Master.
The decision is expected to be handed down in a month. Which will be almost two years since the  action  commenced with the Town ultimately paying out $65,000. from tax revenues in  legal fees  .


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Pyramid Scheme Aurora Style": To Anonymous 11:19....

"Negative and skewed"??? Your post is certainly positive and not skewed at all! NOT...

.I would not be astonished at the backgrounds of some of Evelyn's readers. Not sure what that has to do with anything however. I've met some of Evelyn's readers. Not astonished at all. The Town is full of interesting and impressive people. You'd be astonished at my background if you took of the blinders long enough to look. The comment about shady dealings being more common today is a reality. This is not the same little Town that Evelyn waxes on about. We have developers, we have power-seeking councillors, we have lobbyists trying to get their causes heard. This is the way things are done now. We cannot continue living in the past (except a number of the readers here want to). Evelyn talks about politics being a game... I disagree with the analogy but if it is a game, the rules are changed. Either get in a play with the big boys or get out.
I  came to Aurora with the second largest subdivision built in the town's history. 
Except for  when I was Mayor, when the Province froze our growth, development has been constant.
Councillors have always sought to influence  decisions.. Why else would they  be politicians?
Residents  with vested interests always sought their own interests.
Why would someone who came lately, imagine they understand more about change in the town than I do?
It's an interesting question  often repeated.
Why do  younger people feel free to patronize  people who are  older ?
How juvenile is that?
What are the rules referenced that I need to get with or get out??
Is it suggested Councillorsare subject to different pressures today  therefore personal integrity is no longer a factor in politics?
Is there something I don't know  about politicians after a lifetime in politics?
The Mayor and eight Councillors engage regularly and  listen critically to separate slants of debate.
 Somehow that makes me sublimely unaware.
Pish Tosh and Balderdash!!!!
The biggest scandal  in these parts in recent times was  a  Councillor in Richmond Hill who bought golf clubs with an allowance provided  by the municipality. He said  it was less expensive than renting them when he was obliged to play in charity golf tournaments.
It recalls a comment by a Councillor in my first years in office, who lamented the hardship of spending hours in smoke- filled rooms at conferences. He was talking about the Good Roads Association. He  smoked black cigars and played poker.
The second  modern scandal  is of  a Newmarket Councillor, leaving a  public reception, fully tanked, getting behind the wheel of  his car and bumping into another.
He didn't hurt anyone. But he could have. 
He pleaded guilty as charged . He's been doing his best to make amends ever since while being continually taunted by a  virtuous colleague. 
Whether he will be excused  by the voters will not be determined until the next election.
It's his burden to  carry.
Maybe the voters will let him off for time served.
In Aurora, Councillors are  virtuous and well-intentioned to the point of  obsequious.  It's positively nauseating.
Last night we almost voted to hold  two committee meetings in 
school venues for students to see how it's done to stimulate their  interest in politics .
I think it would have  the opposite effect.
We  did vote to encourage  town employees to go to an underdeveloped country and help out with  government problems.
God help them! 
I think we would do ourselves a  bigger favour by not permitting Councillor Pirri to attend any more FCM conferences by himself.
I didn't say it of course. 
The Mayor was already peeved by my lack of enthusiasm for what he believes are good ideas.
We have  our share of sheep dressed in wolves clothing. 
A roustabout  rascal would show well  in  contrast.   

Tuesday 17 July 2012

KA-NON has left a new comment on your post "Pyramid Scheme Aurora Style":

The link below indicates that Town passed a resolution to consider alternate forms of Town ownership of Hillary house.


Is that not what this is? Do you remember the resolution from council? 


I recall  a previous meeting between Historical Society representatives , once again ,the Mayor and  CAO, neither directed nor authorised by Council,which discussed  mainly disposition of the museum collection.
I do not view a poorly disguised  promotion to  acquire  two  privately owned properties in the same context..
Who  knows who  is  connected to what?
How long has  the scheme has been cooking?
At what point was it decided to  cast the net  to reel in  town  Councillors?
What about the structure of the Aurora Historical Society?
A hundred members  who meet annually?
An Executive Board and an Executive within the Executive?
Kind of like the Federal Government.
Government members.  Cabinet . Privy Council.
What is that about ? 
How can the Aurora Historical Society  meeting  once a year,
withdrew from a commitment to operate a museum, surrenders
financial interest in the museum's home, declares itself willing to divest itself of the museum collection ,also willing to unload the Hillary House, be considered  serious representation of the Town's Heritage ?
Who would have thunk it?
Wheels within wheels.
Am I the only one who thinks that's weird ?

Pyramid Scheme Aurora Style

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Eh1 What's dat you say":

Are furtive liaisons, where pitching and wooing take place, the usual way political business is done municipally?
I thought that there might be a few on this present council who wouldn't operate that way. There go my idealistic hopes again!!

Actually ...No!... Shady dealing by shadowy individuals are not the 
usual way political business is done municipally.
There is no cover.  
Suzanne Reiner's invitation for  private individual meetings with this Councillor was refused.  I  responded immediately  such meetings were entirely inappropriate.
Apparently, they proceeded anyway. 
Up to the point, a shady meeting  with shadowy characters was held last week with the Mayor, the CAO and  Director of Parks and Recreation.
All conducted without  direction of Council.or Council  even being informed of the goings on.
Bruce Sprague,   owns  one of the properties in play.It is designated for miltiple-residential development. Has been  on the market for seven years. 
Obviously, the price is not right. 
John McIntyre, a member of the Historical Society's executive,  owns the other  property in play.  Not  publicly offered but stands to gain  by never having to take his chances with the market..
The price touted  is $1.2million apiece for the Sprague and McIntyre properties.
The Historical Society were not initially promoting the real estate deal. 
The president and an executive member initiated the process, independent of the Society.
I  inquired of the structure of the Society. It involves  membership and an annual meeting. .
The last firm membership figure was from a previous president when the Society withdrew from autonomous commitment to manage Church Street School and operate the museum.
There were fifty-nine members.
The small number was a shock.
Until I realized . It does not reflect  community interest in the town's heritage..
A figure  heard since is around a hundred members.
But that too does not tell the whole story. 
The Society  meets  in February.
An Executive Board of eight meets regularly. .
Within that is  yet another executive group.
It includes the President and   member who have aligned themselves with a real estate agent to float something which amounts to a pyramid scheme for a park on Yonge Street. 
An investment of  $2.4 million for the private properties is required. 
It's not known if a public offering of shares will be floated..

Monday 16 July 2012

Eh1 What's dat you say

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Last Of The Mohicans":

You sure are putting your daughter, the Historical Society executive member, in a tough spot, aren't you?

How so?
Was this wonderful scheme already promoted  on Alyson's show by Tim Jones  as an idea for use of  the hydro funds ???   was it all   supposed to be  secret ?
The last people to hear being the public about to be fleeced like sheep.
Who have themselves been asked to think about a worthwhile replacement for the town's hydro utility.
Was I not supposed to tell about the invitation I received from the President of the Historical Society to meet with the real estate operator, owner of one of the properties being promoted in the scheme, and the third person a second member of the Society's executive and the second property in  private ownership of another member of the Historical Society.
If the whole thing was supposed to be secret until  all the right names had been  rallied  in support of something I see as nothing but a money grab for personal gain, then my friend, I was the wrong person to rell.

'Tis TheSeason of Boondoggle.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Last Of The Mohicans":

I think you are incorrect about Councillor Ballard's not being one who met with the proposers.

The comment  could be correct. That's the problem with furtive behind the scenes meetings. There are no records. No minutes.
Nothing to indicate  meetings ever took place. Or what deceptions, extravagant embellishments, coercions and cajolery or general skullduggery took place at the location
Three people on one side of the equation, cooing and doving and whispering sweet nothings and  on the other a person unaware, never thinking; something  is wrong with this picture.
If the concept is so brilliant and above board  and to the  eternal benefit of the community ,why did  it not warrant  a public  presentation  in a delegation before Council with trumpets blaring????
The scheme has been kicking about for weeks,being talked about 
 molded and manipulated ,support solicited in the right places.. preparing labels like " unfriendly to heritage' for the opposition..
It is still without substance.
The objective is clear.
Let's grab us a share of that public mullah .Property owner's with most to gain, out there in the forefront of the potential boondoggle.   

The question was asked  some time ago, if Messrs Granger or Wilson are ever heard of or have they flown the coop?
Granger, I believe is still about.
Wilson is for sure. The sound of train whistles on Saturday and Sunday is a severe trial to him.
Every time I hear the whistle, I smile and send a small prayer of gratitude heavenward. 
Councillor Pirri received an e-mail from Wilson when the trains started to run  at the week-end. 
Now look what you "bunch of brain-dead turds" have done, he said. 

Last Of The Mohicans

Would this be the same well-paid staff that seem to be unable to deal with Aurora's birthday celebration? It shouldn't have been such a surprise. I guess we should lower our expectations if they cannot handle what is needed now - before the new soft-ware system kicks in. Silly me. I thought it was Council who called the shots. 
Yesterday's post title came to mind as I dwelt on  tomorrow night's  general committee agenda  and another item that came to hand. 
Readers may note at this time, decisions are made by Council. Council is accountable.
Whether or not they called the shots is neither here nor there.
I am no longer confident  this Council understands the authority invested in them by the electorate.
Or has an interest in exercising it even if they understand it. .
Last Wednesday I was a guest on Alison's show. Tim Jones was also.
The topic was the Hydro Sale Asset. How and why the sale
happened  and  intention of the Council after  the deal closed.
Mr. Jones took advantage of the opportunity to introduce an idea that has no legs.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned  an investment scheme being floated in Historical Society  quarters since disposition of the Hydro Reserve Fund came back to the fore.
Councillors were invited individually, by Suzanne  Reiner, President of the Historical Society,  to meet privately with a group of three to discuss the scheme. 
A real estate operator was one of the trio.  He owns a property for sale for the past seven years.  Obviously not priced right.
A recent new member of the  Historical Society executive was the third entrepreneur.
The Historical Society appoints its executive. Like the Culture Centre Board.
Applications are invited, candidates are interviewed  and a selection is made.Membership it seems, has little to say.
Apparently all but three Councillors have met with the real estate dynamo, the Society President and the unelected  Executive Member. 
 It was reported the scheme received support from Mayor and Councillors. 
A five page outline,entitled The Hillary-McIntyre Park has been issued complete with pictures 
Presented  last Wednesday to the Historical Society Executive as "A Vision and Opportunity" .
No authors  identified.
Five  pages are filled with glowing descriptions of the two properties for sale ,Hillary House  and their "national " status..
The last part of the document identifies " Next Steps". 
Number two is " to approach town officials to float the concept starting with heritage friendly Councillors and the Mayor.
A meeting  for the following morning had already been scheduled . with the  Mayor, the CAO  and the Director of Parks and Recreation. 
It is understood Councillors Gallo, Ballard and myself were  Councillors  who did not meet with  the schemes promoters. 
It may be assumed ,we three have not been deemed 
"heritage friendly".
It might also  be  presumed  "heritage friendly" Councillors are  a party to  goings on thus far. 
Open and transparent ? I don't think so.
As a matter of fact, no member of Council , including the Mayor, has authority to direct staff to undertake any action.
That would include holding meetings and discussions not directed by a resolution of Council. 
Such action can only be directed  by resolution of Council. 
Policies are written to that effect. 
Similarities between this and  the last Council are becoming  increasingly uncanny. 
Rules mattered not a whit, so long as there was  a gelatinous blob willing to support whatever happens with a vote after the fact. 
We shall see. 

Saturday 14 July 2012

New Information

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Conversation Continues":

I am struggling valiantly to keep up with all this verbiage about IT technology. What does seem increasingly obvious is that everyone agrees that the system is not working, may never work and might not be the right product. Can we leave it at that and try to clean up the resultant waste so as to stop spending more money stupidly? That was, after all, a large part of why the current Council was elected. Otherwise we are simply replacing excessive legal bills with over-the-top tech bills.

Many of us are struggling with IT language. But needs must and I commend you.
While I am not sufficiently conversant with the lingo myself,I can help you understand that  what you read here is my perspective.
It does not reflect opinions  of other members of Council.
Mine was the only vote against purchasing the Machimo program.
Here be the result of my efforts to determine facts about the success or otherwise of the program elsewhere, And my knowledge of the town's daily operations.
Yesterday I spoke to the  manager of the program at the Region. He was  positive and helpful.
While acknowledging  implementation has taken a long time, it is beginning to show benefits.The Province likes it. The annual audits
are well received.
Implementation has been underway since  2004. There has been an increase in staff  to assist in getting the information from the field into the computer.

"The initial implementation costs for Maximo was $800,000 which did not include consulting costs for business process development and improvement for work order and inventory management.
Initially when we implemented Maximo, annual licensing was $56,000. With the purchase of new modules and add ons, and almost double the staff licensed to use it now, we are at an annual licensing cost of approximately $100,000"

What I take from that is, initial cost of buying the software 
was not the end.
Additional consultant services, new modules and add-ons have been required for the system to work. 
Annual cost for licensing fees at the Region has gone from $56,000, to $100,000. More staff are using the system.
Considering  a higher  number of people in the field at the Region,our licensing fees will not be so high.
They will however be a new  annual operating cost in addition to the payroll for new  staff needed to make the system work.
The  Region's operation is not like ours Field operations at the Region are mainly in transportation.
The Region is responsible for supply of water and treatment of sewage. 
We  treat the water, distribute and market it. We collect sewage.
Infrastructure to do both is our responsibility.
We make contracts for garbage collection.
The Region signs  contracts for its disposal.
They sign three different contracts for bus service.
They don't participate in contract negotiations so it's unlikely  daily operation is their concern.
A software program functioning at the Region, after eight years requiring ongoing consultant service  and  adaptation with new modules and add-ons and a dissimilar field operations, is no more likely to be  functional in Aurora than it was in the beginning at the Region. 
That it is likely to be adaptable to our function,even after considerable additional  expenditures. is not realistic in my view. 
I am mindful of placing town staff in compromising situations.
I believe  the  person who recommended  purchase of Machimo for the Region also advised the purchase for Aurora.
I stress.The view put forward here is mine. It is not shared 
by any other member of Council
I believe it must be shared by some staff at the town hall who are involved in the process.
They are not likely to be asked for input. Nor would they be encouraged to offer.
They are under orders to provide no information requested  by a Councillor.
All information must first be vetted by the relevant Director. 
It's the times we live in.      


Friday 13 July 2012

The Conversation Continues

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Lesson Continue":

"I think perhaps an impediment to staff buying in , might be the process makes no effing sense."

I wrote the original comment, thanks for publishing it.

Your comment above however is one that I also hear every day. It is usually heard from staff who are supposed to be using a software package. They typically do not like change. They do not understand the need for the software. This is where management has failed. Management has to explain from top to bottom what the software will do. How it will do it and why you have to do what you have to do.

If you never understood how a car works, it may make no effing sense that you need to pour a liquid into a hole in the car.

Thank you for giving us the benefit of your experience.
I think your last sentence is completely pertinent to the situation.
I am of course not an employee. But I think, if I found a simple task taking longer and  less work being completed in a day because  useless information that has to be fed into a computer. I might not be persuaded to understand the merits. 
As a Councillor. I would view it  no  more sympathetically.
It's good to be able to talk when the only objective is  exchange of information.
We need to be able to connect the dots.
Before management can educate employees  of the benefit of change  they need to understand  what  the employees  is doing in the first place. 
The  region manager is positive about the program. I tend to think it might  be a better fit for the regional operation. Tasks undertaken  in a particular operation are I imagine repetitious in nature.
Work orders in a small urban operation are likely to be myriad  and anything but repetitious.From collecting beer bottles or broken glass in a park, to expunging graffiti from a cut stone wall supporting the railway bridge at the south end of town.
Which I brought to the town's notice weeks ago and it's still there. 
Neither task has anything to do with maintenance or condition of infrastructure.  But very much to do with  service  expected by the community. .
From my conversation with  the Region, it seems adaptations have had to be made in terms of extra staff to make the system work.There is acknowledgement, it has been a long time .
The time schedule provided to AUrora Council  does not seem realistic. Three months after the original purchase was approved,  Council was asked to approve an additional $38,000. that had been overlooked in the original  purchase package. 
The system couldn't be set up without it.
How many more  unexpected demands are likely to be made.
When can we expect the sytem to be operational?
A car without fuel  has no useful purpose. It ain't goin' nowhere.
A computer program without useful data is equally without purpose 


I wrote a paragraph in the last post about all the staff  names I was given who might be able to provide the information I was  seeking at the Region. 
Yesterday, I was able to speak to someone who answered my questions freely about  progress of Machimo. Every person I spoke to was helpful and congenial. Information was provided without fear or favour. 
It has always been that way at the Region.
Contrast that with Aurora;  Councillors are instructed to address questions only to  the Department Director in charge of the project. Lesser staff are not permitted  to  provide answers to Councillors.
Of course, like the Machimo software package, it doesn't work precisely  if there' s not a firm  "buy-in'"  by employees.

The Lesson Continue

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "So I asked And GOt The Answer":

"The Province had directed municipalities to make an inventory of all assets and maintain records. " ... "The assets took years to inventorise. It was done on Excel spread sheets."

If you could provide the Provincial direction, could it possible detail specific requirements about the records?

Excel should NEVER be used to maintain records. That's like using 3 x 5 index cards wrapped in elastic bands in your drawer. It does not provide for proper search facilities nor does it ensure data integrity.

This is a situation where staff have done their homework to find the software that addresses the need. Where they have fallen down is in the education of the council and the users. There must be complete 100% buy in that this is the thing to do.

As far as the comment about Mr Watts calling it right.... I think his expertise is not on large-scale software projects. He is at the same level as Councillors. This is bigger than a server and a PC.

I deal with stuff of this magnitude every day. This is NORMAL - unfortunate, but normal


The provincial edict was that municipalities must create an inventory of all  assets; every piece of land,equipment,vehicle and building. From thenceforth the inventory must be maintained. 
It is my understanding the inventory was completed on excel 
spread sheets
The correct software package  for  maintenance  would have cost $50,000.
It was not recommended. The inventory is still being maintained on spread sheets.
I take the writer's point;  " it does not provide for proper search facilities nor does it ensure data integrity"
Nevertheless,that's what  we're doing .
Instead of the $50,000 software package to allow Provincial  requirements to be satisfied, Maximo was  recommended by staff  and approved by Council at a cost of $788.611.
The  same  program that after seven years, is only now producing some benefit at the Region. 
Still not doing what was expected.
Even after changes in personnel and equipment.
It occurred to me  half an hour ago, the financial outlay  at the Region and how it has grown since the outset might be useful to know. .
I sought to obtain that answer.
Connie in Financial Services  is not picking up her phone. Kelly is on vacation. Rachel is not picking up her phone but provided a cell number. Debby is not picking up. Neither is Tom or Amelia.I did speak to Michelle who referred me to Brett, Manager of  Operations, Maintenance and Monitoring, which department is using Maximo. Brett is not picking up his phone. 
Debby just called me back to let me know she will  find the information for me. .. 
Now to go back to this morning's published comment " staff have not done their  homework to educate Council "
I am the only Councillor who did not buy into the program.
The usual patronizing comments  about moving with the times were shot across my bow.
Insufferable condescension from people who have no other reason  to feel superior than not having lived as long,  is a small irritation in the lives of people fortunate enough to have lived longer.
So far as I know, mine are the only questions about the status of the program, Answers  provided do not assure me.
My questions have been circulated  as have the answers. No  concern  emanates from among my colleagues.
Which is why I am so glad to have you to talk to.
Until I wrote the  first blog, I wasn't even referring to the software  by its name; Maximo. Now look how we have all learned.
One contention  keeps repeating,  is the need for buy-in to the program. "If  employees  don't "buy-in", the program will not be function."
It  appears to be a known  impediment to success of  the Machimo program. 
I think perhaps an impediment to staff buying in , might be the process makes no  effing sense.
Job satisfaction is a known component of a happy work force. 
I went  to a Public Works Conference once.  I heard a comment  ring clear and true. 
"Management invites employees to hang up their brains with  their  hats when they punch  the time clock.They wonder why  they have labour problems. They cause labour problems with such disrespect." 
Debby has not yet called me back. When she does, I will let  you know what else  I have discovered.    

Thursday 12 July 2012

So I asked And GOt The Answer

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "My Secret Anxiety": 
Can't you just ask someone at the region whether or not they have been through a failed attempt at implementing Maximo, and what it cost? If they do not answer, is this the type of information that can be gotten through the freedom of information act?
So I asked. The Region has been working with the system for
six and a half years  The first year and a half prior to implementation. .Five  years  of  implementation without complete success. 
Some benefit has been achieved. Not what was expected, There have been changes in equipment and personnel in the process.
The system has not been abandoned
Neither has it accomplished its aims.
I did not obtain a figure for amount expended. 
The program is used in Regional Environmental Services. A different progrem is used in for  Regional  fleet assets. 
I suspect  the region's cost would not be relevant to the Town's.
According to town records, the first step was taken in August 2010.  A call for expressions of interest was  recommended and approved.
Recommendation to approve purchase of software in an amount of $444.611 was accepted in November2011.
A further sum of $38,000  was approved in February 2012.
The total budget to date is $788.000 plus. Almost all expended .
I have not full  confidence in my own ability to assess such contracts and programs. 
Staff expertise is an essential component of  my judgement. 
But intuition intervenes. I have learned to be sure of my ability to discern.
I had received a communication which caused me concern. 
The Province had directed municipalities to make an inventory of all assets and maintain  records.
The assets  took  years to inventorise.  It was  done on Excel spread sheets.
A  program to meet  Provincial requirements would have cost $50,000.
That was  not the program  recommended to Council. 
Even after  and if the Maxima program is fully implemented, the asset  inventory will still be done on Excel spread sheets. As it is now.
The Maxim program is far more far-reaching in its objective and as can be seen , costs twelve times more. 
It calls for workers in the field to file details by computer after every work order is completed.. 
Garbage in,garbage out. Computers have created mountains of useless information.
An example;
Two weeks ago all the painted picnic tables were assembled  in the courtyard outside the town hall for judging. 
This week,there are two.
The rest have presumably, by work order, been distributed among the various parks.. 
What purpose is served by a member of the work crew sitting  down with a computer to file  details of that job, while  everyone else on the crew waits for  that task to be fullfilled before proceeding to the next work order.
It may or may not be as simple. But whatever it is ,it will not be the same.
A second work order might be forming a foundation pad for the Petch House in Lambert Wilson Park behind the senior's centre.
A project not likely to be repeated any time soon. 
What use could possibly be made of a computer file on that.project?.
These are the things I understood about the Maximo software program .We paid $444,611. for it  in November 2011 and another $38,000. for in February 12th 2012. With previous expenditures ,a total of almost $788.000 plus.
Even before  I was aware of the Region's experience with the same program. I could not support it.
Now that I know about the Region ,frankly my friends, my heart sinks. 
It's not a good thing to know you were right when being right means
 a bad,very bad outlook for the  town's taxpayers. 
The Region is five yeasr into trying to make this program work. 
In their fifth year, we launched ourselves into the same predicament
The Region is obviously too far in to extricate itself.
I fear  we are too. 
It isn't as if we could not have made ourselves aware of the problems.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

My Secret Anxiety

Recently I asked for a report on  cost of a repair  on my street.An observer had observed manpower and equipment  which appeared  excessive for  what seemed to be a relatively small project. I recalled a purchase of $444,000 software approved by Council  in November 2011. From the purpose explained,  I thought it should provide all  details necessary to explain to my watchful neighbour what she had observed.
Ah pauvre moi.
Turned out it didn't. The program is not yet up and running. 
Even more recently I sought from various venues an update on the status of the program .
The table below is a memorandum circulated ,to be on Council's agenda on  July 17th '
Readers will note total cost of the project is $758,000.
It first appeared as a budget item in January 2007.
A staff report  was  received  in  August 2010. 
As can be seen from the table the project is not expected to be completed until 2014.
Now I must confess the source of my anxiety.
I have heard  the same program was implemented  by the Region of York. 
I have heard it has been abandoned. 
The program  requires employees in the field to provide feed back with  computer hardware all  details of  work orders when completed.
Computer operator functions added to the physical labour of  work orders in the field have  proven to be neither practical nor feasible.
I am not sure, under the circumstances, if anyone would be  willing to  confirm  the rumour ..
The cost thus far in Aurora is $758,000. 
The Region's cost would have to be multiplied many times .It would undoubtedly be in the millions.
A  waste of public resources in  horrendous proportions.
Not something the Region would be happy to proclaim.
Nor Aurora either.   

Summer School

Assignment for lazy bones ....not. 

RE: Work and Asset Management System (WAMS) Update
Memo 05-12
This memo is provided as an update report on the above project to address some recent questions.


The WAMS project is proceeding on budget. There has been a schedule delay primarily related to hardware delivery caused by production issues in Asia. This has only resulted in a minor overall project delay as other activities where advanced where possible. The following is a summary of key milestone end dates:

Phase 1- Vendor Selection

  • Review current practice and asset requirements
Dec 2010
  • Vender RFP Process and selection
Oct 2011
  • Council Approval for Software Vendor
Nov 11, 2011
Phase 2- Work Flow Mapping

  • Practices and Process Design
April 2012
  • Data structure development
June 2012
Phase 3- Software Implementation

  • Maximo Software Purchase
Dec 2011
  • Order Hardware
Feb 2012
  • Hardware Install and configuration
May 2012
  • Maximo software Installation
May 2012
  • Core team overview training
June 2012
  • Software requirements review workshop
June 2012
  • Maximo configuration to design requirements
Sept 2012
In progress
  • Data load and testing
Oct 2012
Not Started
  • Development of interfaces with other software systems
Oct 2012
Not Started
  • Acceptance testing
Dec 2012
Not Started
  • End-user training
Dec 2012
Not Started
  • Go-Live
Jan 2012
Not Started
  • Go-Live support
Feb 2012
Not Started
  • Follow-up training, support and skills development
Jan 2014
Not Started
Financial Summary

The following table outlines the approved budget and confirmed commitments. There is $16,551 remaining uncommitted and is available should unforeseen issues arise as part of the contingency allowance.
Budget Item
Approval Date
Funding Commitment
Approved Budget (31047)
2009, 2010, 2011

2012 budget increase for hardware
Feb 14, 2012

Total Budget


GHD- Requirements and Vendor Selection
Aug 17, 2010
GHD- Business mapping and data standards
Jan 18, 2011
Createch- Maximo software and implementation
Nov 1, 2011
City Wide- Sub-ledger and forecasting system
Dec, 2011
IT Department- Server Requirements
Mar 2012
Total Project Commitments


Net taxes (1.76%)13,555


The following table provides an earned value summary. GHD has completed their assignment and we are waiting receipt of the final invoice. The server hardware has been installed and paid. The remaining work is related to Createch and City Wide, being the two primary software venders. Createch is responsible for the overall implementation and integration activities and will be completing the bulk of their work between June and December. City Wide is a minor component to the system but integral to the financial reporting requirements that will be supported by the asset databases developed through Maximo.

Approved Payments
Percent Complete
Createch (Maximo)
City Wide
Server Hardware

Council Approvals (Reports attached)

Staff Report IES10-037- Aug 17, 2010
Award of initial RFP to GHD for $78,620

Staff Report IES11-005- January 18, 2011
Increase GHD Assignment by $152,825

Staff Report IES11-058- November 1, 2011
Award Software Supply and Implementation to Createch for $444,611

Memo to Budget Committee Jan 11, 2012
IT Department Server Requirements $38,000

Please contact me if you have any questions on the activities to date.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Logic or LackThereoff

Richmond Hill councillor Carmine Perrelli sues town over bylawPublished on Monday July 09, 2012

Noor Javed

Staff Reporter
A Richmond Hill councillor is taking legal action against the town for a bylaw that requires councillors to invite fellow councillors and staff to any councillor-held residents’ meetings regarding new developments.
Carmine Perrelli — the same councillor who charged taxpayers for $1,181 in golf equipment last year (and has paid back the town since) — says he believes the bylaw is illegal and won’t hold up to a court challenge.
“I have brought legal action against the town to have the bylaw quashed,” said Perrelli, who filed the suit last Friday “I am not suing for money,” he said, although he will be seeking costs.
“I’m so convinced the bylaw is illegal, that I am willing to put my money up to fight this.”
Councillors voted 6-2 against discussing the suit in private session at Monday’s council meeting.
“If in fact I don’t get all my costs the question I need to ask my attorneys is can I make a claim against the councillors personally because they’ve breached their fiduciary duty to not only pay me for my costs but to possibly refund the town for spending taxpayers’ dollars,” said Perrelli after the meeting.
“I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Are the councillors prepared to put their money where their mouth is? It’s easy to put their mouth where the taxpayers’ money is,” he said.
His concern is with a bylaw which narrowly passed in April that would require councillors to invite all other council members and appropriate town staff to any resident meetings they hold regarding development projects that have regional infrastructure of transit implications.
Perrelli believes the bylaw is too vague, and that it will interfere with his ability to do his job.
“These are not public meetings. These are by invitation only meetings,” said Perrelli. “I don’t understand what the bylaw requires me to do: Do I have to invite other councillors a minute before the meeting? Do I charge them a fee to come?
He said the bylaw is illegal because it imposes rules on how “private meetings” should be run, and fall outside the jurisdiction of what the municipality can govern under the Municipal Act.
Perrelli said he made many attempts to get council to rescind the bylaw, but his motions were not supported.
The bylaw motion was brought forth by Councillor Brenda Hogg, who felt the council-wide invitations would be in the best interest of the town.
I've been asked for my thoughts.
I read the story twice . 
Richmond Hill has wards.
Property owners  are entitled to invite residents to a meeting to explain  a development proposal  and answer any questions that arise.
Developers are often advised to do so before a public planning meeting is held. .
They can hear concerns.They can make changes to a  proposal to meet the concerns. 
They may  overcome residents' objections. They may not.
They don't have to  make the effort.But they would be wise to do so.
A property owner  in the municipality, has a right to ask any Councillor to meet and hear what is being proposed. .
It is for the  Councillor to decide what is wise.
In Aurora,  Councillors may request the use of  the Council chamber to hold  a meeting of residents to discuss  issues.
The tree bylaw ,Wells Street School closing, Williams High School relocation, Hydro One's plans to increase loads on overhead wires
have all been the subject of  such meetings.
No such  meeting in a town facility can be closed to the public or the press. 
If a meeting is held in a private facility, like a resident's home, it's hard to  see how a town bylaw could  compel an invitation to any
person,whether or not a regional issue was being discussed .
The argument is as much about Council's right to pass a bylaw, as it is about the right to hold a meeting in a private setting without being compelled to include Councillors and town staff on the invitation list.
A Council can pass whatever bylaw they choose,as long as it doesn't contravene Provincial or Federal legislation. 
But a bylaw is only as good as it stands up to a legal challenge. .
The court of public opinion. needs also to be considered.
The news story does not include the purpose of the bylaw. How it will  be enforced?  What  penalties are to be imposed?
Proceeding to  litigation  to uphold  a Councillor's right to hold private meetings with developers is  definitely a dodgy  principle   It poses obvious questions.
In politics, things don't just have to be right.  They must also appear to be right.
The news story has obvious gaps. 
Neither side takes a grip on logic.


Sunday 8 July 2012

Hope Springs Eternal

Posts are likely to be erratic for the next little while.
Family matters take precedence.
Sometimes I feel a steady stream of controversy  is likely to be tedious and  regular readers will lose interest.in reading.
Certainly there are those who would like  to convinced  me of that.
Then I think...I don't control the items of concern. I can't  make a  choice of what I will write  and what I won't. 
If  readers were not interested in getting the whole schpiel,
readership would have dwindled  a long time ago.
There are things happening you need to know about .But they can wait. Council will not meet again until July 17th at 6.00p.m.
The picture may have improved by then.
I'm an optimist

Friday 6 July 2012

Confidence Lost Is Not Easily Regained

I wasn't slacking off yesterday. I had inquiries to make involving  lengthy communications.
The last one related to the half million dollar software program the town purchased  about eight months ago. 
It was an expenditure of $440,000 or thereabouts,  before year's end. 
A consultant was involved so a fee there also.
I argued  against it the project. To no avail.
A couple of months later $38,000  additional funds were  requested. Something had been overlooked in the previous purchase.
You may recall the software package was for the purpose of asset management. 
A record would be kept of  daily work orders. What repairs were required. How much manpower, equipment, time and other details would be funneled into the system.
I must confess the need for that level of detail completely escaped me.
Then I received a query  from an observant resident about  manpower and  various equipment on site  to repair what appeared to be a relatively small task.
AHA!! I thought.
The perfect opportunity  to illustrate the benefit of the expensive software . 
I  addressed the question to the Mayor at a Council meeting. 
"Certainly, Councillor"  the Mayor assured me  "Just send your question to the Director.  he will be able to provide the information."
So I did. 
But I didn't... get the information.
The system is not yet up and running, the director informed me.
Weeks went by. Yesterday I forwarded an inquiry to the  manager of the I.T. department.
Is the new system up and running?
Received a response instead  from the Chief Financial Officer  advising  only Directors  provide Councillors with information. To ensure the information  is correct.
You may recall in 2010,  Directors advised Council  water rates were to increase 12% ,if I re-call correctly.
Estimates of water loss,  increased from 8% to 12%   partly  justified the increase. 
The Directors  insisted  all parks, works and fire department use of  unmetered water  was accounted for in department budgets and  not part of water loss estimates.
That year , I asked for a record of water breaks in the municipality to understand a 50% increase in water loss. 
The information was refused.
Directors  could do that in the last Council. 
It was like when I asked for  legal costs incurred  by the Mayor's practice of retaining legal counsel on her own initiative. 
Those figures were also refused. .
Despite the law that entitles all of us  access to  information on public spending.
Another substantial increase in water rates  was imposed in 2011 with  the same insistence  all  unmetered water use by works, parks and fire was charged to the various department budgets.It was not included in water loss estimates.
Which were included in calculating rates for meter users.
Finally, in 2012, it was  acknowledged  unmetered water used by parks,works and fire had not been previously charged to the various departments .
Meter users had been overcharged  in previous years by an amount 
of $470.000 or thereabouts.
Details were not provided.
Just the statement the directors could no longer justify  charging non-metered water use by town departments  to  residential and business  metered users.
It took the second year of  a  new Council. 
It took  persistence  of a handful of  residents  to wring that admission from the Directors. 
It will take more, much more, than that to restore  my confidence in information provided to me by some Town Directors.
That is a serious state of affairs.   


Tuesday 3 July 2012

Do The Sensible

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Eenie Meenie Miny Mo":

Catch a ___________ by the toe.

What do you fill that blank with?

Eenie Meenie Miny Mo
Catch a tiger by the toe
If he roars let him go
It would certainly be sensible  to do so