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

Tuesday 30 April 2013

The More things Change...The More They remain The Same

I drove down Leslie to Wellington Street yesterday. I  looked for a particular house.  Didn't see it. I will return. I did see one in ruins.

It was the home of a couple  who, on an occasion during the last Council term, spent several months  in California with a family member .  On return,  they discovered to  their horror, part of a metal pole could be viewed framed in their dining room window.  It wasn't there when  they left .

New light poles  had  just been installed for the new Stewart Burnett Baseball Diamond  on Wellington Street abutting the Sronach Recreation Centre.

The couple were aware of construction of the diamond. They could hear the earth movers. They couldn't see anything because of the natural  woodland screen.

The season had changed,  Foliage was off the trees and  they could see a  portion of a
metal pole.

They were not concerned about the lights. Just that section of the pole framed in the dining room window.

They came to Council in high dudgeon. The wife  had been in contact with  Councillor MacEachern  who was  a source of solace. Now the only question was what  would be done  to resolve the  perceived problem.

The first  solution was to move the newly installed pole to  another location.

Sports field lights are installed according to a plan.  They cost hundreds of thusands of  dollars.
It was hard for me to see how one pole could be easily re-located.

The second solution was to plant  evergreen trees high enough to obscure the offending section  of  pole. The top part didn't matter. It was  not seen  from the dining room.The bottom part was obscured by scrub bush. It was just that itty-bitty part in the middle.

Estimated  cost  was $8,000 of trees  of the right height.

The owners had no intention  of staying in the home.

Property  use had changed from rural residential to urban commercial. It was opposite the
Walmart shopping centre . It was the property-owners intention to realize  vastly improved  asset.

One real estate listing has  already expired.  A new listing was intended.

Except for a tripod rather than a section of a pole and  $8,000. versus $150,000 , the situation was peculiarly similar to the current foo-fer-a on Bathurst Street.

And Oh yes.... a different Mayor and Council but pretty much the identical knee jerk  hysterical reaction.

Monday 29 April 2013

Just give us the facts

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A conundrum": It’s not the SAC can’t pay the Town of Aurora for the development charges, it’s that if they can continue to defer it then it doesn’t come out of their bank accounts. In essence, they don’t have to pay at least for now and their money stays in the bank or gets put into other projects around their campus. They may be deemed non-profit and a charitable organization but these are just classifications to the government and how they run the school. In the end a private school, any private school is still a business. They have to collect revenue (tuition and gifts) and pay expenses (teachers’ salaries, administration and operational costs, marketing for new students, capital costs for buildings, etc). Being deemed non-profit by its very definition just means that any surplus revenue (after expenses) goes back into developing the school as opposed to going into some shareholders pockets. Being a charitable organization as defined by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) means that they can issue official donation receipts for gifts to the school. So they can campaign their alumni for funds and give them tax receipts. You can look at CRA website and find that lots of private schools have charitable status including for example local to Aurora, Pickering College in Newmarket and Country Day School in King. They are set up to educate the students whose parents can afford to send them and want them in that school. Like any organization they will use the rules to their advantage. I am neutral to SAC, its students, their parents and alumni. Yes, it is good that they do work in the community. But if their argument is that they do so much good for the community and then ask for the tax break then essentially Aurora is paying (because it’s money out of the Town’s pocket, read as taxpayers) for the work that they do. The community work that they do would be deemed as part of the educational experience and the opportunity that they provide their students. Thus Aurora is subsidizing the students’ experience and essentially their tuition. If the tuition has to go up, so be it. Or find a way to reduce your costs. Don’t build such elaborate buildings, cut back on your programs. They are a business, be it a business of educating students for a fee. It is not as if their students don’t have other options – there are other private schools (also competing for students and their fees) and there is the public system. The school needs to pay their own way and this applies to any other school or organization in Aurora trying to do the same thing. What’s fair for one has to be fair for all. For everything that they do – they do it for their reasons not the Town’s. If they didn’t want to rent the soccer fields they wouldn’t or they would put the cost up so high the Town would say no. And if they did the Town would have to find another solution. Yes, hosting the Special Olympics is a good thing, but they still get something out of it even if they are doing it for free. It’s an opportunity for their students to perhaps volunteer, for their school to be associated with the Special Olympics - certainly that’s good public relations. In the end everything they do is towards getting and retaining their paying students. That is their purpose. Nobody (at least almost nobody) does anything for free, there is always some return for them be it experiential, emotional,

Council take note. The tower will stay

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Spending like Mc Guinty": The Tower is in up and is either now or soon to be working. I have to assume that Bell would have followed all of the procedures required by Industry Canada. It wouldn’t be there first tower. So you want to shut it down or have it moved. What would you have to do to accomplish this. Show that they did not follow procedure and/or specifications and illegally erected the tower or that the health concerns are so real and blatant that the government forces them to shut it down. What is Aurora putting forth for this argument? Approval process – No, Bell followed it. King and Aurora can throw mud at each other, but King also followed the process. Aurora for that sake did the same. You may not like the way Aurora handled it but they were informed as per the process. Health – Not enough evidence. Esthetics – Not a real argument. So Bell did everything to spec. but you are unhappy about the approval process. Fine, you fight to get the process changed for the next one, but the Tower will stand – you are not going to move it. Change the process how municipalities communicate to each other over such projects on their borders – but this tower will stand. Plan B – You try to pay Bell to move it. (First why would they?) You are asking them to go through the whole process again- finding another site, applications, approvals, meetings, letters, new residents to deal with. They have to re-do all their engineering, site preparations, civil engineering design for a new concrete pad, electrical hook-up at new site, crane rentals for disassembly of the existing tower, trucks to move the tower in sections to new site, re-erect the tower, hook-up, testing, etc, etc. Plus they have to compensate the Bathurst St. landowner at the present site for breach of contract (they have to pay this property owner on the deal they struck with them for putting the Tower on their land in the first place) and they would have to restore his land to the original condition. Meaning removal of all Bell equipment, concrete pad, restoration of vegetation, etc. How much do you think all of that is really going to cost? Certainly not $100,000 from the Town of Aurora. And why would Bell do it? Pay them enough and make it lucrative and they will move it. But at a tidy profit. $100K is peanuts. They have other business to attend to and new towers to keep on schedule. And why as some suggest would they drop a tower to cover an area where no one lives? It’s like putting a gas station at the end of dead end road. (What is this, the “Field of Dreams” movie – “if you build it, they will come”). No, Bell’s return on investment is to provide service where the most users are located. Fight the process for the next set of towers, but this one is staying put. Anyone saying otherwise is leading you astray, be it most of council. There is no battle here, none to be created. It was over before it started.

Sunday 28 April 2013

A conundrum

"Let's leave the Siftons out of this"  somebody has said.

It sounds like a bit of a scold.

I'd like to point out , we didn't bring the Siftons into this. Mr. Sifton was part of the delegation  representing St. Andrew's College on  Tuesday night. He was introduced to Council..  I  don't think he was on a social visit.

I doubt the  Sifton family wealth and influence would come as much of a surprise .

I think  the fact  St.Andrew's is classified as a non-profit charitable foundation  is the contrast that made people sit up and take notice.

But  now the fact  of  wealth has been raised , the details contribute little to the discussion.

What surprises me is that no-one is shocked by the amount of Development  Charges  not been collected from St.Andrew's

With added fees for this and that, it's  two and a half million dollars over and above what it costs to build the facilities.

I still pause when figures run into double digits , let alone seven. Not my colleagues though.

It;s proposed to scatter a hundred thousand dollars at the feet of Bell telephone. They will be pleased to move the tower. We will keep the threat of an injunction at $150,000. in our back pocket to scare them into submission,

Well.it's only money. We've  got  plenty where that comes from. We will increase the charges on new home buyers of town houses with barely a footprint on the ground to make up.

We'll make the ticky-tacky box  home owners pay up  for the million dollar mansion dwellers.

But I digress.

The  assessed value of the school buildings is not relevant.  The  non-profit .charitable foundation  classification means no  property taxes are paid.

Staff residences are assessed and taxable.

Another  question just popped into my head.

The agreement with the town allows deferral of development charges until such time as the use of the property changes or the property is sold.

In the event of  the latter , the new owner would  then be liable for development charges on whatever new use may be made of the property,

The municipality, the Region and the Board of  Education would be in the position of  collecting  development charges from St Andrew's when the sale is made and  again on the  developer who purchased the property for development.

I'm not sure how the municipality would collect DCS owing if the property were to be sold. Is the agreement registerd against the land title.  Nobody said so.

Council was not given a copy of the ten page agreement. We have no idea how that's supposed to work.

I doubt very much thought was given to that aspect of the deal. Not for a minute do I imagine there is any intention of the use or land changing hands.

I am convinced the agreement is nothing more than a dodge to escape paying development charges.

And the preferential treatment  for St Andrew's is  quite acceptable with the Mayor and Councillors.

By the way, Councillor Ballard  joined me in not voting  to extend the agreement.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Spending like Mc Guinty

Mike Sifton is a member of the Board of St. Andrew's College. Might even be the Chairman. He is not  the Headmaster  but something tells me  his family have been involved in subdivision development. In the Brampton area. Applewood strikes a chord.

Councillor Gallo is chair of the General Committee meeting on Tuesday.

We had a special meeting scheduled  for Monday ,to deal with a Procurement Bylaw. That's been shifted to  half an hour before the GC meeting. The special meeting will be spent  developing giant-killer strategy when we go after Bell for  constructing a tower with all legal authority

The tower is complete.  It's a new design intended to be less obtrusive. And it is.

The town solicitor must have-spent every minute of Tuesday, possibly with other staff  members, finding out everything  there is to lmow about injunctions and such.

In the first place, an injunction is to stop something from beng constructed. I don't know how you  try to stop something from being constructed that's already been  completed.

The solicitor obtained answers for every question that might be  asked.

Councillors Ballard and Gallo simply could not accept  the  answers. Then when two people express doubts, the rest get spooked as well.

So, we are spending more money  for someone else to  give us a different answer. We know a lawyer like that.

The last Council went through numbers of lawyers.  If they didn't get the answer they wanted another one bit the dust.

Council hasn't been able to complete an agenda since March.  But a white tripod tower goes up
when residents weren't paying attention ,when they should have been paying atention .and all hell beaks loose and everything else gets shoved to one side.

It hardly demonstrates the Strategic Plan principles of Dignity and Integrity.

 I think  obsequious conduct is completely lacking  in dignity and integrity. I can not respect it.

It was interesting to read about a feud between  King and Aurora.

I didn't  know .  But then I didn't know Aurora's Mayor tried to  put the Blame on King's Mayor.

Who reacted  exactly as one might expect.

We did spend money on an effort to silence the train whistle.  Stuff was happening for  a couple of years .More  than one resident  complained . There were twelve.

Maybe  all their homes were sold. Or they just got  so used to the whistle, they didn't hear it any more.

The tower will be like that. The leaves will come out. It will no longer be conspicuous and unless a resident is fixated, the tower will vanish from consciousness.

But it won't stop the scamble  and spending money  like McGuinty.

Nothing will be done because nothing can be done.

An election will be held. Those who spent taxpayers money for nothing will lose votes from the general populace and those who were unsympathetic  will lose votes from the neighborhood.

New people will come along and promise  to do  things differently.

They won't. They will  be too chicken.


St Andrew's College got their agreement for deferral of development charges  approved on Tuesday.
Except for the Mayor, it was a complete switcheroo of the vote at Committee. 

A  pattern emerges. Something goes on between meetings and decisions  are  reversed.

Mr. Sifton , a Board member and the  Headmaster  of St Andrew's delegated to Council  

We heard  a litany of good works St.Andrew's does  in the commnity. How building plans would  be cancelled if development charges had to be paid. 

Councillor Thompson  noted when developers have to pay DCs ,they can just pass costs on to new homebuyers.  But  St Andrew's would have to increase their fees. 

The Mayor talked about  summer programs in support of Children's Aid Society. 

Recreation Director talked about  St. Andrew's soccer fields being available for community use.

The Mayor talked about the College hosting York Region Special Olympics this summer. 

Finally, the  decision was  approved to extend deferral of Development Charges until  use ofthe property   changed or the property was sold. 

Total relief of development charges for Board of Education,Town and Regional  combined  for an  ice arena, and addition  to kitchen  is  two million,two hundred and fifty-seven thousand nine hundred and  sixty- two  dollars.

It's a tidy sum. 

At what point I wonder does charitable giving cease and  become very expensive cost rccovery.

Despite being classified as a non-profit, charitable organisation, St Andrew's College 
is a  school for children of  wealth and privilege  to cement their future.

That is it's purpose.It has no other.

At the same meeting, representataives of Aurora Rotary Club delegated.  They came to present a second cheque for $15,000. of $50,000  previously committed by the Club for improvements to 
Rotary Park .

Rotary is a small club. They raise funds with golf tournament, beer gardens and selling hams. 
They work hard. 

They contribute to helping programs throughout the  world as well .

 They contributed $100,000 to building the town's new library.

They don't ask  for anything. They  simply make regular contributions to the community's well being.

How ironic. 

On Tuesday, they were squished between  St. Andrew's and million -dollar -mansion dwellers 
in the vicinity of a white tripod tower,outlined in a blue sky, with a shroud to conceal the workings at the top .  They demanded the Town fight Bell Telephone with  an injunction  to  take down that tower which so offends their sensibilities.

 It's  in a neighboring municipality . It's legal. 

To add to the farce, Councillors ran around in ever decreasing circles like chickens with heads cut off , so very eager to please.

A snippet of  new information  has came forward .

The person slinging most abuse and misinformation had her house listed before the tower appeared .

The hullabulloo about how awful  it all was and who was to blame was  more like the shroud at the tripod, hiding  its real purpose. 

Friday 26 April 2013

We make no false claims

A comment  expresses the hope I am not suggesting readers of this blog represent the community at large. Of course it does not. No more than do the residents of the Marsh Harbour neighborhood .

 When a Council holds meetings with twenty-four hours  notice and makes decisions involving  hundreds of thousands of dollars,  it's  hard to argue the community at large  has had any opportunity
to have input and the decision is representative of the community at large either

A meeting scheduled and advertised to deal  the issue of a new Procurement Bylaw has been hi-jacked to deal with the issue of the cell tower.

An issue which had a full meeting scheduled, will now be squeezed into a hlf hour early start to the next regular meeting of Council.

The entire Council  an the Mayor are taking a beating over their  handling of this matter.

What isn't seen is how much of this came about as  the result of  weeks of calculation. This is a Council without much in the way of political skills. They have not had time to learn what people expect of them. They don't  even know how much there is to learn.

These are the tactics that  put politics on a par with the oldest profession. Like the  zebra mussel and the life- sucking green beetle , they are not native to these parts.

This Council, with  the  exception of three, possibly four members has  no idea of the calculation that
went into the cell tower issue and how  easily they were sucked into the vortex.

As I write  I recall  a young inexperienced Doctor Martin Dobkin , elected Mayor  of the  newly created  city  of Mississauga. Regional Councillor Hazel McCallion , former Reeve of  the village of Streetsville, oversaw  his crash and burn . Then she slipped into the seat next  election and has been there ever  since.

I doubt the young Doctor ever  knew what hit him.

I came out of a meeting during a recess a couple of weeks ago and came across Councillors Ballard, Gallo and Humphryes  in a huddle.  AHA, I thought.  what  are they up to.  I think I  know now.

Another image comes to mind.

 An all candidates meeting organized by Susan Walmer. for the 2003 election. It was a Sunday. The turn-out was tremendous. The format included random questions being drawn from a hat  by the late well-regarded  Dick Illingworth.

Former Councillor Mac Eachern was a candidate. She had not run for the previous term . But had served the term before t. No other candidate had  served that term.

She was asked, apparenyly at random, ; had  she observed  any conflict of interest among the  Mayoralty candidates.

MacEachern said, "I can't believe I'm being asked that question.

Then stated Tim Jones  had failed to declare a pecuniary interest  on a  matter of employee
compensation  She stated he did in camera but did not in open Council.

It was cheating on several levels/ Not least in using  the late Dick Illingworth to give the  affair
a semblance of  integrity and impartiality.

The question was asked of the only  person  in the slate who could have spoken to that issue. No other candidate  could have made that  allegation. They were not members  of Council during he last contract negotiation.

Councillor Ballard has not organized the Cell tower brouhaha.  He's not smart enough. John Cunningham ,who went from door to door last week-end  encouraging residents to flood Council members with tales of outrage  and betrayal was not likely the mastermind either.

If  Susan Walmer's name  was even hinted , it would have  blown their cover.

The cell tower is one of a succession of  contrived  events.

Like  Mayor Doctor Martin Dobkin of Mississauga., forty-two years ago , the  current neophytes on  Council  may never know  or acknowledge what hit them.

But  some of the residents, marshaled  for  the  crowd scene  at Tuesday's and Wednesday 's meeting might, after listening to the  solicitor on Wednesday evening. have begun to smell a nest of rats.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Fallacy leading to an Extravagant Farce.

A week or so ago I wrote a post about an interview with Democratic Senator Carl Levine of Michigan. The Senator has been in office thirty-four years and will serve two more.He has been elected 9 times.

He is working with  Republican Senator John McCain to eliminate some of the entitlements for tax relief  for business in the U.S. Total  share of tax revenue from business is nine per cent. It was  fifty per cent not long ago.  Senator Levin hopes to  complete the task before he retires. He explained  to his  interviewer Charlie Rose, it is  a very difficult and complicated task.

Charlie asked him what he needs to be successful.

He said wistfully I thought, he would like more elected representatives to have the courage to risk losing votes or even risk losing an election  by  doing what's right for the country.

It seems obvious lobbyists in the States have the country in a death grip.

What excuse do we have  in  this little town that prevents a Council, elected  with such high hopes from acting in the best interest of the community -at - large  as opposed to the special interests of a few, time and time and time again.

I have asked  the  town solicitor if  he would post  last night's advice to Council  on the town's web site.

If I get  approval from Council he will.  Of course that calls for a  notice of motion to be on the agenda of the next Council meeting, to be a motion two weeks later. It may or may not win approval from Council.

They may not want you to know all the information provided that made the idea of  filing an injunction an act of complete irresponsibility and total wasteful extravagance.

Comments are coming in to the blog fast and furious. It's clear there is no  synpathy for the Marsh Harbour  residents' position.  Nor support for the direction Council is taking.

The story will come out in The Auroran on Tuesday. Too late for people  to have an opportunity for input.

The web site will likely have an  item on  Wednesday's action. The  story is not complete without the Solicitor's report.

I believe it should be on the web site without  the need for direction  from Council.

People who want to know the facts should call the administration and say so.

Wednesday's meeting was held with twenty four hours notice.

A decison representing  spending more than a hundred and fifty thousand dollars  was made with less than the forty-eight  hours  required for an emergency meeting. A motion to waive procedure  was passed to allow it. 

It's  about  the  deliberate distortion that formal action was  taken without  people in a particular neighborhood  being notified in time for input.

How's that for a contradiction in terms.

Guest Post

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "LAST NIGHT'S CELL TOWER CHAPTER":

You’ve got to be kidding. (I see I'm not the first to comment in a similar vein).

Councillor Ballard is leading the council astray.

There’s got to be better causes to fight for.

I can understand that the neighbourhood has to deal with change, but there’s probably more risk to people using their own cell phones than this tower.

It’s titled as a “mega-tower” woo… what do then call the CN Tower.

In a couple a months people won’t think anything of it. It will just be part of the landscape. I drove past it last evening to see what the big deal was about and almost missed it. Really what's the big deal about. It's not like you can use it as a new Aurora landmark. "Oh, I live over by the cell tower". "Oh, really, where? Which cell tower?"

Councillor Ballard labels the tower with a caption of “a once idllyic vista is now ruined for dozens of home owners”. Really… time to get over that. What if it was a new subdivision going in there, well there goes the neighbourhood, there goes the idllyic vista. What about all the development straight across Aurora of what used to be farmland, meadows, forest and nature. Now that was a vista, no one seems to care about the thousands of home and people that are being “intensified” across Aurora and the loss of that vista.

This is NIMBYism at its finest. Everyone wants cell coverage though don’t they.

What’s Bell going to say… we followed all of the regulations, did everything that Industry Canada said that we needed to do, we covered all of the bases with King Township, the tower is up. End of story.

Does anyone really think it’s going to move. Unless it can be proven that it is a grave danger to life and limb, forget it. Lawyers are the only ones who are going to benefit. But… but… C. Ballard is there to lead the fight don’t forget it at re-election time. He went to bat for that neighbourhood. Do some at the Town think they can “buy” a move with $100k. Has common sense been thrown out the window?


I’m surprised though that C. Ballard has published some negative comments (to him) on his blog about this affair. (we’ll probably soon see those disappear). Mark my words this is going to be another checkmark on Ballard’s list at election time as to his perceived mismanagement of Aurora and why a crusader such as himself is needed to right all of our wrongs.

I guess I step back I have to see the bigger political picture. At times our representatives have to look like they are listening and helping and finding solutions so that in the end they can then say “sorry, we tried our best, but it just couldn’t happen”, full well knowing it was a lost cause from the star

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at April 25, 2013 at 11:33 AM


We went round the table four times last night to be sure everything that could be said was.

Councillor Gaertner and Pirri were not there and Councillor Sandra had to leave for a prior commitment.

Residents from the neighborhood were there but not as many as Tuesday. Nor did they  seem quite as volatile.

The Town solicitor had a full report on costs and implications of  filing an injunction  against Bell as well  as other information,I did not know. He left nothing out that we needed to know.

I wish you could have heard it. Or read it.

First an injunction is heard in a Federal Court. I may not  have details entirely accurate. There wasn't time for a written report .

Injunctions are a specialty area of the law. They are seldom successful. Lawyers who handle the specialty are not eager to take a case that has little chance of success. The arguments  ,such as damage to health, need to be proven  in court. A team is required to undertake the task. The cost would be $150,000.

There are twenty cell towers in Aurora already. I did not know that.  I do not know when they were erected. I never heard a word about them and I've been on Council for the last  nine years plus.

Which means no-one else has  made a great noise or at least not enough to be heard.

Yesterday's  blog post  said twenty residents had been notified by Bell.  Actually, it was ten.

I am  often stunned by what I hear in Council. I comfort myself  with assurance the  place is full of residents. Some are there to listen and make sense of what they  hear .

Comments to yesterday's post certainly indicate awareness in the community.

Councillor Ballard wants to spend funds to get a second opinion from another lawyer. My God, the man is at least as obsessed with lawyers and  imaginary crimes as his mentor.

Who would have thunk it?

He  said he could not support spending $150,000  on an injunction  then  argued in favour  of proceeding along those lines.

Councillor Gallo  simply could not  imagine how the process could possibly cost that amount. I had to bite my tongue at that point. The night before Councillor Gaertner  thought it would be a simple matter of filling out a form.

Councillor Sandra was steadfast in her support of ab injunction no matter the cost. . The applause  was light and only  came from her corner of the room.

The tower is complete. All that's left to do is  flip the switch.

Councillor Thompson thinks we  should use $100,000  instead to pay for the tower to be moved .someplace else. He didn't say where. Maybe some less prestigious neighborhood..

Councillor Abel fully supports that idea.

Councillor Ballard urged  allocating $4,000. to investigate staff to determine who was responsible for what. It's not clear what what is.

Apparently the latest  circulating  scuttlebutt is that  bribes  were accepted to accommodate Belll's
evil plans.

Picture fair maiden tied to  the railroad by black cloaked and hatted and curled mustachioed
Landlord and train fast advancing.

Councillor Ballard likely did not make that accusation but  he has certainly plowed  the field and continues to cultivate  to sow the seed for  such a completely implausible  and totally offensive  suggestion.

The tenor of e-mails received from people signing  with professional credentials  has to be  read to be believed.

The end decision  was not clear. I think the Mayor is directed to meet with Bell to discuss options with  the threat of an injunction in one pocket and a hundred thousand in the other to move the tower to  any other location as long as it's not there.

You know, one of the things  a  politician  must avoid  is arrogance.. It is definitely a potential pitfall when one has been engaged as long as I have

But I have to  risk it and tell you there are times when I feel  like an adult sitting in the middle of a sandbox surrounded by pre-schoolers, each feverishly  occupied building the best  castle in the sand.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Different Faces Same Old Spaces Between the ears.

Last night's debate on the Bell Communication tower on Bathurst Street was interrupted  frequently with hard ,prolonged  belligerent applause.

The scene has been repeated many times in the Council Chamber.  At times it seems the only thing missing is the  sound of jack boots pounding on the floor.

An emergency meeting has been called  to decide if the town should spend money on legal fees to file an injunction to stop Bell from continuing  construction.

In brief, the story is as follows;

The tower is in King. Industry  Canada  has authority . King was notified and asked to comment.

A sign was posted on the property informing of the application.

Twenty  residents within a certain radius, were notified.

An Open House was held in June in a venue in King. Two residents from Aurora attended. The meeting was re-scheduled  for August. No residents attended.

The sign was not convenient to read from a passing car.

Now construction is under way  and weeping and wailing and gnshing of teeth is heard throughout the immediate neighborhood,

 Aurora Councillors received a stream of e-mails full of accusations of negligence and failure to look out for the interest of the residents and other sundry insults.

One woman sent a photo taken from inside her home showing a simple structure barely showing above a tree line and demanded to know  "How would you like to see this from your stairs.?"

Prominent  in the picture are three beautiful windows and a fine deck outside awaiting warm weather.

A couple of Councillors have jumped on the bandwagon and declared the town culpable.

The loudest cheers of  all greeted a proposal  to spend town resources to  force Bell to take down that tower.

We've been here before. Many times.

 A former mayoralty candidate limped into office with votes from people who sucked in her promise to get the power lines in the  transmission corridor buried .

It never happened. Homes are still occupied despite claims  of studies proving children' s health was at risk .

Public resources were spent.

Power  lines were not buried. But the candidate who  won on the promise was well and truly in the next election .

Now we have almost the exact scenario repeating itself.

To-night ,we will discover how far it will play itself put.

An early lesson learned

I wasn't a day older than six . But the memory is as clear as if it happened this morning.

My walk to school was down a dirt road to the Meadow Farm. If it was raining we had to skip across puddles. After the rain stopped and the sun came out ,sparrows would flutter their wings on the edge of the puddle  taking a bath.

 At the end of that road was a smoke blackened ,spooky old school for Protestant kids.

Then a stretch of road with high walls on either side. Around the corner, alongside the river to the footbridge was the Waterside. I

I had to cross the river. Once across, the swings were on one side and the slaughter house on the other. If they were killing, the blood ran out  from a pipe straight into the river.

 School was on the moor at the top of a brae. Protestant kids were coming the opposite way to their school. I became aware of a bigger girl regularly making threatening moves. I watched and went out of my way to avoid her.

 Then the inevitable happened. I looked up one morning and found her looming over me. Feet planted wide,arms akimbo, I knew there was no escape.

 At six years old, you don't really know who you are. Most experience is new. I could have yelled. I could have cowered. I could have covered my head for protection. Or I could have begged for mercy

None of those things occurred to me.

 I clenched my fist, pulled my arm back and landed one right in the face. Then I ran . In a wide circle and never looked back until I was safe inside the school gate.

 I was a skinny little kid with a limp. Typical target for a bully.I doubt my small fist did much harm. I never saw my tormentor again.

 But I never forgot the satisfaction of landing that punch and taking care of the situation.

I don't go out of my way looking for a fight. But I never back away without giving a good account of myself.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

I'm thinking about tomorrow

No post again today, Places to go and people to see .
And Council to-night.
Tomorrow .... Tomorrow.... I'll write you tomorrow.
It's only a day away.

Sunday 21 April 2013

I don't know

   Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "More of the story about Hidden Taxes":

Why wasn't the "usual complete background info" provided by staff to Council last week? Was it just a slip?

I  don't  know why. We had four-hundred and fifty pages  and twenty-six items of business to  get through. Plus we met at 6 p.m.  for an in camera meeting .W dealt with 2 items on that  agenda and deferred the third. 

Only one committee and one Council meeting was scheduled for March. We haven;t caught up with the  town's  business still. 

I left at 10.45 p.m. on Tuesday. The rest of Council went on until 11.28 p.m. and still didn't get everything done .

A seven o'clock start means by  ten minutes to  ten, people are slowing down and not really doig justice to the decisions they have to make. 

In the old days we started at eight and adjournment was 11.00 p.m. 

Then some bright spark probably thought if the start was earlier,the meeting would finish earlier.

Nope ...that's not what happens.

So... we had four-hundred and fifty pages to read and twenty six items to debate. There was an agreement of seventy five pages and one of sixty-nine to read. 

Several items were deferred  after I left the meeting. 

There was lots of background material. The skate board park was an item. The Recreation Director always has his  material complete, That one was deferred. 

The recommendation to top up maternity benefits so that  growing  a family doesn't create financial  hardship to the family was also deferred. I'm not even sure how that item got on to an agenda. The Human Resources Manager  recommended  it.

If I want  to put forward an idea  to Council, I have to put forward a notice of  motion; in writing. Two weeks later I have to follow up with a motion in writing. The motion has to be seconded by  another Councillor before it gets an  the table to be debated. And I'm an elected representative of the people paying the bills.

That reminds me, the job  of Customer Services Manager has been  posted internally. The pay is $88,000- $100,000 a year plus  benefits.

The customer service thingy was supposed not to cost us any extra . Now we are adding space to the town hall at a cost of a million to accommodate extra staff. One of whom is a manager of customer service at a very generous salary. What does a Manager of  Customer  Service manage?

We  dealt with  a recommendation on Tuesday to retain a consultant to do a study of service levels.
That was a motion from the Mayor. I askked what it was about, How did it differ from Custmer Service. Didn't understand the answer.

The $440,000 software program we bought a year and  a half  still isn't up and running and I've 
 lost track of how much more money we've spent on that since we bought it  and it would be hard to tell how many more people.

Anyway, to answer the question,I don't know why the background was missing. I didn't notice it was  with all the other stuff I had to read. I only thought about it afterwards when I thought about everything I'd heard . I had to go back to the agenda to see if it  was there before I   could say  it wasn't .

Weird space and bits of flotsam appeared at the end of the last  post. It doesn't mean anything. It wasn't meant to be. 


More of the story about Hidden Taxes

The story   about St Andrew's deferral of DCs is revealed piece by piece. It has generated considerable interest and comments have been fast and various.  That's a good thing.  Right.

Yesterday Councillors received  by e-mail, documentation of the request  from St. Andrew's for deferral of D.C.s payment

The usual complete background had not been provided by staff.

The report was written by the Treasurer and reviewed  only by the Solicitor and C.A.O. as noted before. None of the three were part of the administration. in 2002.

Documentation provided by St Andrew's is substantial and relevant.  The  intent is to delegate again on Tuesday and provide Council with the history.

A decision in Council in Committee is a decision to recommend to Council. It is not the final decision.  It's the procedure we adopt as the first item of business of a newly elected Council.

In 2002, when  a building program  was contemplated, the  College  learned Holy Trinity School in Richmond Hill, a private school, made an agreement with that municipality  to defer  payment  of D.C. s.

An application  was made to Aurora  for the same  consideration under appropriate legislation.

A ten page agreement was signed.

The site plan for  current  construction plans  was not anticipated at the time. It was not included in the agreement.  It has been  in the works for a year.  Not until the permit granting stage was information  provided about D.C.s of 2 million dollars being required to be paid.  
 I have concerns about collecting D.C.s in the amount we do .

I make the point at every opportunity.  So far as I  can  gather, I am the odd man out in municipal circles.  It's easy money for municipalities and there is little accountability for the money.

For developers, time is money, they pay the fees and pass the cost along  to the home-buyer .

Retailers and industries  it's a cost of doing business ,so they pass it along as well.

But that's another story.

Part of the argument to grant St Andrew's a  deferral was that public schools do not pay D.C.s ,
For tax purposes ,  private  schools are classified as not-for-profit, charitable organizations. 

One of the  arguments the College had in 2002  and still offers, is no longer valid. 

Last term, Aurora Council did   impose  D.C.s on  at least one school. St. Maximillian Kolbe  High School on Wellington Street.   Cash  in Lieu  of parks was required to be paid.  

No matter that new student population making the school a requirement, were from  families who had already paid D.C.s in the purchase of  their family homes.

Aurora Council was adamant.

Councillor Thompson  referred to Montessori Schools , which  are  required to pay D.C.s, despite being private schools.

It's a key factor in the decision to be made on Tuesday.

But there's  another part to this story .

 St Maximilian Kolbe High School was close to not being built at all .

Provincial approval for the school were long since obtained. Land had been assembled  at a costof eleven  million dollars, if memory serves me right. Designs were complete.  Site plans finalized    waiting to be approved.

They were not.

They were refused by  Council.

It took a  delegation of  parent spokespersons from every separate school and Father Don MacLean, Our Lady of Grace parish priest, to speak to the need for the school  for the decision to be changed.

The delegation heard about the Mayor  being taught by nuns and Councillor MacEachern's daughter being a student at Cardinal Carter High School when the decision was changed.

After that came the decision to  impose the Cash in Lieu of parks fee. Almost like an afterthought

And the OMB hearing and having to  pay a legal retainer to argue the indefensible.

And lose.

It appears St Max might be the only public school where fees were charged,

But it's enough to make the deferral of  fes for St Andrew's to be a Cause Celebre,


And refused.   At committee stage.

Elizabeth Crowe Chairman of the Separate Board had to rally parent  reepresentatives fromevery school

 and Our Father Don

Saturday 20 April 2013

Fill-in requested

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Consider This":

Why were staff making such a recommendation at all? Is there any way to check the source of their impetus? It all appeared to be a shock but I suspect that at least one individual instigated the idea. We don't require another witch-hunt on the order of the alcohol expenses but clarification might be a 

Decent idea.

I  had that information in the  version of the post that got lost. St. Andrew's is planning a kitchen addition and construction of an ice arena. They already had an agreement to defer payment of development charges signed in 2002.  The agreement is ten pages long and "defers payment of Development charges until a substantive change of use occurs or change of ownership occurs of the property?"

The request would  properly be made of staff. Sr. Andrew's business manager  delegated in support of staff's recommendation.

The report states "unfortunately late in the process, staff have confirmed that  these buildings were not included in the  original deferment agreement."

The staff report goes on to say;

Staff are supportive of  extending the  deferral agreement to these projects. It is difficult to suggest that circumstances at the property, the college. its mission.purposes and primary purposes of the property have changed since the town entered into the original agreement. Accordingly, it is difficult
for staff to put forward arguments against  changing  our current practice of deferring D.C.'s  in rspect of the College.

Staff are also in contact with counterparts at York Region to assist in any way facilitating the  processing of te College's request the deferral of the Region's D.C.s for these same projects.

The link to the Strategic Plan is cited as follows.

Extending the  existing deferral agreement with St. Andrew's College demonstrates continued support
of the Town's past commitments, demonstrates the Strategic Plan principles of Dignity and Integrity,
leverage partnerships. and recognition of community partnerships.

The report was reviewed prior to submission by the CAO, Solicitor and Treasurer  "only".

It was signed by the Treasurer and the CAO

I note that because if the  report had been reviewed by the Executive Leadership Team , the Director of Recreation would have been obliged to input the town's  opposite decision on the collection of fees DC's from the Separate School Board. Who also  stand for  Principle and Integrity, Leverage Partnerships and Community contributions  but were required to pay  from tax revenues for education purposes, the   town's pound of flesh before receiving a building permit.

That occurred during the last term when at least one Council member was aware of that agreement
and was most insistent  on gathering up the largesse.

What are we getting for our money?

A telephone conference between two of my grandchildren hass resolved the  wall of  words problem....I think.

I took  Stephanie  to collect her car . Drove my regular route to the town hall. Noted once again , litter in the gutters.. It has been there  since the end of last summer.  The light stuff  blew into  the shrubs and bushes in the fall and stayed there all winter.

The Mayor and school children will be out soon  with gloves and garbage bags picking the stuff out of the shrubs and bushes and the gutters.

Its good to teach children not to litter. The  poster competition is great fun.

But I gotta tell you . I never saw picking up garbage fom the street as an appropriate role for the Mayor or the school children. 

Call it snobbery, reverse-snobbery, lack of involvement. lack of environmental awareness'; call it whatever you like. I have never had an inclination  to go out with agarbage bag and pick up garbage. from the streets . 

We pay a contractor to keep our streets clean. We have a piece of equipment that cost $180.000 to 
augment the contract program.  I have repeatedly drawn the mess on the roadside   to attention at public meetings. . To no avail. It still doesn't get cleaned up.   

it's still there  for the Mayor and the school children to pick up in the spring.

A former  deputy-Mayor told  of her experience   A discussion was about a veterinarian  with an animal hosital  . He had cut  into a town fence  and installed a gate into the  grounds of the Cenotaph for an amenity  for his  paatents..

There was a Council  debate about whether  that was acceptable. The former Deputy Mayor  said it would be nothing to what she and Councillor Gaertner had  seen at the rear of the Cenotaph.
during litter pick-up day.

I reember thinking   "How disgusting " 

I  fervently hoped  they didnt have anybody's  children with  them. I also worried  about virus-laden mosquitos  and-what the Medical Officer of Heaalth might have to advise about that.. 

Anyway here we are. It's Spring again. The  Mayor and school childre are going out to do what should have been done by the town's work force more than six months ago.

Maybe that was the plan.

Friday 19 April 2013

Consider This

The post about a town agreement with St. Andrew's College for deferment of Development Charges (DC's) was a lot of work to write. I had weasel wording of the Strategic plan that allows the town to vary principles. I also had tables of figures. It kept coming out in a wall of words. After trying a number of times to change that I decided to leave it until this morning and touch a few buttons. I'm always leary about doing that in case I lose the whole thing. Well guess what. I arose this morning with the intent of discovering the abracadabra. I lost the whole thing. Now I have to start again.

There was considerable interest in the post and a number of comments. It just occurred to me I might have lost them as well. Oh well...stuff happens.

The gist of it is, staff are recommending an agreement be extended that provides for deferral of Development Charges for construction at St. Andrew's College. The original agreement was signed in 2002. New construction is proposed.

No-one on the current Council can speak to the rationale for the agreement. It came as a surprise. I am not aware of another. The deferment is until such time as use of the property is changed or the property is sold. There is a law that allows the municipality to make such an agreement. I did not know that either. The subject has never come up.

On the other hand, during the last term, collecting development charges from the Separate School Board for the construction of St. Max High School on Wellington Street was an issue. The Board pointed out no other municipality charges school boards for DC's. Richmond Hill's DC Bylaw excludes school boards and other public entities. The Town refused to relent. There was at least one Councillor who must have known about the agreement with St. Andrew's.

The Board appealed the town's decision. Not on collection of DC's but on the amount. They argued the town had over-valued the property therefore the amount required to be paid was too high. The town was taking cash in lieu of parks.

The Board had legal counsel. The town retained legal counsel and off we went to the OMB, jointly spending more of the taxpayers' hard earned dollars. The Town lost the argument. We had to return money AND pay the legal fee.

That was another one of those times when I was not in accord with the majority of a Council decision.

Taking DC's from another tax supported body made no sense to me. The town's decision with the Separate School board was relevant to the discussion on deferment of DC's for St Andrew's College. Montessori Schools pay DC's. They too are private schools.

The decision was not to recommend the agreement with St.Andrew's College be extended. It will come forward next Tuesday for ratification.

Thank You Councillor

Councillor Abel has a different understanding of process than I do.

 Mr. Albino received a decision from Council several months ago. He was told to come back with a business plan to demonstrate feasibility of a Heritage Park. I told him I wasn't buying what he was selling but Council's decision was satisfactory.

 Nothing in town procedure permits a delegation to an advisory committee to circumvent a Council decision. The delegation produced a motion without notice, to direct a director to asses the issue and estimate cost of a feasibility study.

Why would a Director's assessment trump a Council decision. ?

Nothing more is involved here but a promotion to facilitate a fast , easy lucrative sale of three private properties.

In no way is it the town's responsibility to determine feasibility of the promotion. It's not the first time Council has made a decision only to find the issue back on the table for a second time obviously intending a different decision to be made. Councillor Abel knows the experience well.

 Sly.devious,underhanded manipulation has been de rigeur since the beginning of the term. If this Council has any sense of its authority , it will put a stop to it now.

 Council is having a hard enough time completing business agendas without re-hashing the same items two or three times until the Mayor gets what he wants.

Guest Post by Councillor Abel

John Abel has left a new comment on your post "Now You See It Now You Don't": I would like to draw attention to what I said on the Heritage Park at Council April 9th. If you refer to Rogers telecast at or around the 1 hour 45 min mark. I clearly state that I am not interested in spending any Town money on this initiative. Certainly not $6 million. It must be sustainable and not cost the Town any money once established. No funding to maintain this project. Yonge Street is prime real estate that should be used for intensification and maximize tax assessment opportunities, or for the development of condos with shops. My thinking is along the lines of the anonymous posts of April 18, 3:18 PM & 8:09 PM True I brought forth a Motion to ask Staff to prepare a report. I did so in my role as Chair of the Heritage Advisory Committee - HAC. the HAC voted and recommended that Council direct staff to prepare a report on the Heritage Park initiative and costs for a Feasibility Study. It was not unanimous, but it did carry. Councillor Humfryes volunteered to prepare a Notice of Motion. For clarity and to move along the recommendation in a timely manner. Councillor Humfryes had to attend to an urgent matter as the time line for Notices to the Council Agenda drew to a close. I stepped forward to meet the deadline. I believe it is a good practice to allow residents who prepare initiatives to proceed through committees to allow full and complete discussion. There is a small cost, that being staff resources to be utilized. Council directs Staff, and that is part of their job description. It is not a large cost, but it is fair. Very similar to the Fluery Playhouse initiative. I am a regular reader of this blog, and I appreciate the opportunity to contribute now and then. Publish Delete Mark as spam Moderate comments for this blog. Posted by John Abel to Our Town and Its Business at April 19, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Thursday 18 April 2013

You keep saying that ...

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Odds are not as they were": "The inclination is to be agreeable and do what the "people"want." An inclination, it must be said, that you have assiduously resisted. __________________________ I don't know why you say that.There's no logic in your contention. Aurora is a town of 55 thousand people. Why assume all of the people think alike all of the time. I've been elected more often than most. My judgement on issues is based on information before me, my knowledge of town business over almost half a century and judgement. I believe people voted me to be their voice based on what they know of me. If I cast the single negative vote on council, you may not assume it to be solitary in the community,attribute it to a lack of judgement or experience or a childish wish to be contrary. I work to fulfill the trust of the electorate. I do what's expected of me. Voting without fear or favor is my idea of conduct expected.

The Odds are not as they were

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Now You See It Now You Don't": "...to make a different assessment to the one already made by the elected body." "A majority of Council,under the leadership and guidance of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are prepared to spend hard-earned resources to buy a pig in a poke." So, some democratic majority decisions are okay, but others - the ones you ______________________________ The abiding principle of democracy is the majority rules. There is no maxim that the majority is always right. Neither a requrement for the minority to surrender judgement. Many factors can combine to create a majority: Coercion. Bullying. Payback. Followers. Neither courage nor conviction or a simple lack of judgement. People who run for office or have never held public office often underestimate the pressure to please. The inclination is to be agreeable and do what the "people"want. Doing the right thing and what "people" want,isn't always the same thing. Removal of obstructions to the smooth, safe. efficient movement of traffic in the north-east quadrant is an example. Councillor Abel noted all but one e-mails asked for the "diverters" to remain in place. Of course they were. They were from people who enjoy the advantage. They enjoy all the amenity of living in the core of the town with none of the inconvenience. The purpose of public rights of way, costing millions annually to maintain,is entirely frustrated by barriers to discourage their use. To add insult to injury,those deprived were also required to pay for the privilege of being deprived. An elected official might honestly not ccomprehend the wider picture or see it well enough but hope others don't. They don't notice or the argument will be forgotten by the next election. It's a risk they take. Not as good a risk as it was before the social media, The minority factor is not what it was.

Now You See It Now You Don't

The McIntyre Heritage Park had a booth at the Home Show. Situated with the Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society. To the average observer, the plan would appear to have substance and authenticity. What do we know about it. The name McIntyre is familiar. John McIntyre owns one of the properties involved. He is a long-time member of the Historical Society. Also, an honorary member of the town's Heritage Advisory Committee. I think we allowed his family name to be used. But has Mr McIntyre suggested the town spend ten million of the Hydro Reserve Fund to buy his property for a Heritage Park. I am not aware of it but it would hardly be kosher. Bruce Spragg, real estate developer is owner of the third property. Council has seen neither hide nor hair of that individual. Yet promoting the sale of real estate is his business. The Historical Society owns a property. They have not been part of the presentations so far. There have been three. Thanks to Councillor Abel, who received the delegation at HAC which opened the door to the third presentation which opened the door to directing staff to make a different assessment to the one already made by the elected body. Rumours are circling of withdrawals or resignations from what has been called a committee of citizens but isn't. Maybe it's time the town took a hard look at the Historical Society. Who are they? How mny are they? What accountability is there ? Can anybody simply pay $5.membership and infiltrate the organisation to use it to promote a commercial hard-sell. We know of the Mayor's strong support for the scheme. Maybe he's the eminence gris behind the scenes. Maybe it's Councillor Abel,who made it possible for Mr.Albino to lobby HAC and get a secod opportunity to repeat a presentation after Council had already made a decision. Councillor Abel brought forward the resolution to direct the Director of Recreation to make an assessment of the proposal. Like Council's assessment was not good enough William Albino is the only name we know promoting the scheme. What do we know of him He joined the Historical Society in February. By March he already had his wagon hitched to their horse and wheels in motion. A internet search to discover what credentials Mr.Albino might have in the field of Heritage Parks came up empty. What would qualify him to make such a recommendation to the municipality? The only information provided was in association with the province's E-Health scandal. I don't know the connection. Only that he wasn't the whistle-blower. I believe that was the Honorable Peter Kormos. recently deceased, Member for the Provincial Riding of Welland. Now you know everything I know. Except for bits of scuttlebut and names I can't publish for reasons of privacy. A majority of Council,under the leadership and guidance of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are prepared to spend hard-earned resources to buy a pig in a poke. For all I know,the town might even have funded the booth at the Home Show. The administration has authority to spend money on what they think might be an economic promotion. They did it before without Council approval. Maybe this Blog will flush it out. So far, in terms of identifying an organization with substance or credibilty behind the Heritage Park scheme, we have Nothing,Nada, Zilch,Zero nor a scintilla of evidence. Amen my friends.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Canadians by birth or government approved deviant strategy

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan was a guest on Charlie Rose' program a couple of weeks ago. He has been a Democratic Senator for thirty-four years and will serve two more. With Republican Senator John McCain, he is working to remove an entitlement for U.S.corporations. A company can create a corporation off shore. Sell its intellectual property to the outfit created for the purpose, then lease it back to conduct its business in the States and be relieved of taxes. Senator Levin explained the strategy and others like it have reduced corporate share of tax to the U.S. treasury from 50% to 9% of all revenue. Days later, on a Sunday evening,we learned the Royal Bank is using the same strategy. They created an agency in India to allowed them to hire workers with temporary work permits, terminated their Canadian employees and required them to teach their replacements how to do their own jobs. It seems being able to work in Canada gives temporary workers the right to permanent status. Within seconds, comments were being tweeted. Within days the President and another official of the Royal Bank were apologizing and promising the Canadians their jobs back. We already knew the Royal Bank was not the only business employing the strategy to use cheaper labour and uncrease profits. I switched my telephone service several years ago for the same reason. A few weeks ago, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney commented on The West Block television show,how concerned his government is about the well-being of those who are "Canadians by choice and not by chance" I am a Canadian by choice. My children are Canadian by birth. Not chance. The Honorable Mr. Kenney's remarks and his governments policies are not appreciated. .

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Come out .Come out...whoever you are

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Good Morning Aurora": I think a lot of the negativity directed toward Mayor Dawe on this blog is ill-founded. Just because he's proven to be less compliant to Cllr Buck's way of thinking? Because he doesn't defer to her ad nauseum-voiced vast experience or rely on her self-proclaimed expertise on all matters Town Council? He's hardly alone in that regard - now or during previous terms - it seems all (but one) of her fellow councillors find little value in Cllr Buck and her bloviated dissent for dissent's sake. _______________________________ I think a lot of the negativity directed towards the Mayor is derived from his opinions stated in a public forum. I don't put words into the Mayor's mouth. It's enough to find the right words to express my views on behalf of the people who elected me. The whine above is not unfamiliar to be sure. The problem with our modern day politicians is they can't get used to our modern days. The social media is well and truly entrenched If I went around telling people the things I do, it would be seen as back stabbing. But the blog is up front and open. My name is there for all to see. Errors or omissions or misrepresentations can be challenged. The Mayor holds public office. When He speaks he is deemed to be speaking for the public. The onus is for anyone who disagrees to say so, His comments are rightfully subject to scrutiny. There's no personal feud. Simply a gap in political perspective. It was probably always there but took two and a half years to emerge. Given different backgrounds why should a different perspective be a surprise or a secret. Whatever...his opinions are out there and his name is attached. .as are mine with my name attached.. Now , who is this person above who claims to speak for so many and so far back,in defense of the Mayor.

Share The Wealth

The Human Resources director recommends topping up maternity leave E.I. benefits to town employees by $5,772. a  year so that they won't suffer any financial hardship when they decide to have a child..

The town hires  a replacement for maternity leave.  The job is kept for the employee on leave.

The  recommendation means  if an employee decides to have a child, it should cost  taxpayers $5,772 more  than it would if they didn't.

The Region  of York does it.  I didn't know that.   The Region doesn't collect taxes.  So they don't answer to anyone for the  tax burden.

They just inform the  towns how much they want and we  reaach into your pockets and get it for them .
The Region may not even be aware of  the economic reality of life  outside the rounded
towers of  remote officialdom

I hear the Chairman's salary  was up to a quarter  of a million  dollars annually. Don' t even know what his expenses might be. He goes to  many of the events the Newmarket Mayor attends.
The Region probably pays for all his tickets and donations to charities as well.

You know, I think that's weird. They take all that money in salaries. Then they give all that money like they're really generous and caring. But they're really taking that as well.

Probably getting receipts as well that they file with their tax  rturns.

I posted the salary of the  last  President   of the Newmarket hospital  a few  years ago . It was $450,000.

His expenses  for the same year were $270,000 .

I've  no idea what the current  hospital Pooh Bah rakes in .

D'you ever get the feeling the people who work for us walk with their feet two inches  off the ground. I do.

A House of Cards and a Couple of Cardboard Cavaliers

At last Tuesday's meeting during the discussion on the north-east , one -of-a-kind traffic calming plan, the Mayor decided to participate in the debate.

I had responded  to a comment by Councillor Abel about the problem of speeding traffic.

I said the solution  was not to build blockades, barriers or barricades to undermine the purpose of the road system. The solution was to call the police to enforce the speed limit.

The Mayor responded by  informing Council, there are twenty-two traffic hotspots in the Region. He implied calling the police was not the solution.

The statement literally took my breath away. Not that I believed it. But that the Mayor, ourregional representative   offered it.

York Region Police would be the last to suggest no service is available to Aurora because of being too busy elsewhere,

Enforcing speed limits is what they do.

The process is simple. A car is sent to the problem location.

A number of high-priced tickets are issued. Probem soved for a while.

When it starts again, the police are notified  again and back they come  to repeat the process.

Invariably,the police report  the tickets are issued to  residents of the neighbourhood.

Readers are worrying  about the next election already and regretting their choice in the last.

It will come down to, as it always does, to choice.

The choice in the next election is not known at this time.

Choice in the  Mayoralty in the last election was a foregone conclusion. Four years of calamitous errors in judgement  by the former Council propelled it in  that direction.

Unfortunately, the worst  impact of the previous decisions have not been reversed and there is nothing to indicate time will improve the situation.

We are busily creating a facade to cover what lies within.

To-night we have an agenda of 450 pages. We have not completed an agenda since  February.

No meetings were scheduled in the first half of March.

There are  31 items of business ,including two agreements, one of 75 pages a second of 65 pages on to-night's agenda.

We could approve the lot in an hour if we simply rubber-stamp  staff recommendations.

I do not have that level of confidence.

With this amount of work on an agenda, I do not expect the town's business  to receive
the level of scrutiny it deserves  in a single sitting.

Monday 15 April 2013

Good Morning Aurora

Yesterday blogging was tedious. Overall I'm becoming more at ease with the Ipad. But some days are better than others. The last three posts have been published in paragraph format. But they have printed in a wall of words. I don't know happens, so I don't know what to do to correct it. The more I mess with it, the bigger mess I seem to make. In the end,I don't want to look at it any more.It has to stay as is or be wiped out. I'm not inclined to wipe it out. There's a lot of stuff that isn't told. There aren't enough hours in the day. The posts I do manage to churn out need to stay with all their faults and failings. I received a comment this morning from a dis-satisfied reader. He's so annoyed with my spelling mistakes and such,he isn't going to read the blog any more. He's sick and tired of trying to figure out what I'm trying to tell him. Then I received the statistical report and the average jumped by ten since the previous report. The report comes in daily. The numbers always go down during a holiday and take time to rise again after. If something out of the ordinary is going on, the numbers always jump. The Mayor's aggressive stance in support of the real-estate boon-doggle heritage park proposal without a shred of accompanying documentation to suggest anything resembling practical reality fits the category of unusual. So despite my erratic performance with the Ipad and notwithstanding my irate correspondent,readership I am glad to say is constant.

Sunday 14 April 2013

A Scam is a Scam ...Whatever way it's dressed up

It often happens. When I've finished writing,I discover I've recorded something I didn't realize before. That's how I noticed the outfit promoting the heritage park scheme didn't have a name. The proposal made to Council involving three properties on Yonge Street did mot identify authority to speak for the owners. In February Mr. Albino who made the proposal to Council,joined the Historical Society.It seems he immediately became a director. In March,he presented the idea of assembling three properties and creating a heritage parkto the board. He suggested the town grant be used to create the plan. A list of names of citizens in support of the idea was compiled later. People were asked to allow their names to be used. The hard sell began with the presentation to Council. Mr. Albino was asked to come back with a business plan. That didn't happem. Instead, weeks later, he went through the back door and sought delegation at the Heritage Advisory Committee. The committee was lobbied for support. Last week, Mr. Albino was back at Council. Again with the hard-sell. Still no business plan. This time, Councillor Abel, a Heritage Advisory Committee member, obviously friendly to the proposal, had a motion prepared to direct town staff to assess feasibility and prepare terms for a study. Exactly what the delegate had been after from the beginning. Everything paid for by the town The Mayor had devised a new tool. He ruled he could preside over debate and participate at the same time. And by the way,escape being subject to rules of order. He referred to support for the plan from prominent citizens He suggested direction to obtain input from the community about use of the hydro reserve was tantamount to an invitation to any fly-by-night opportunist to consider it open sesame on town resources. It's not how he expressed it. It's what he meant all the same. So, the illusion was created,the Historical Society was proposing the project. it was not a fact. People known for community involvement were said to be in support of the scheme. That's questionable. The Mayor's name was on the list. The Mayor's office cannot be used that way without authority from Council. Council procedures were exploited. The hard sell is in motion. We've seen it all before.In almost exactly that format. Nice work if you can get it. You can get it,if you know the right people.

The Omens are Ominous

We are two years.four months and two weeks into the four year term.The Mayor's views,contnue to confound. Never more so than last Tuesday evening. After consultation with someone, he said, as he inclined his head towards the Clerk,Council were informed he did not have to relinquish the gavel to provide "a sunnary". At a previous meeting, he allowed the 2013 budget to slip through without note or comment or"summary" However, when a shameless boon-doggle,real estate bid to relieve the town a a precious asset is before the town ina third attempt at lobbying, the Mayor deems it worthy of a "summation" by the presiding member. The carnival huckster scheme has the Mayor's support. On other occasions, the Mayor has argued in support of a motion only to turn around at the end and do the opposite. Debate on terminating the Culture Centre contract is previous example of duplicity. Debate was ensws. A pause took pace.When the vote shouldhave been called, instead there was an amendment pbviously prompted, from Councillor Humphreys, seconded by Councillor Thompson. The Abel-Pirri motion was effectively castrated. A year of staff time was spent in negotiations for a new agreement. Also promptly neutered. Authority to control funds became meaningless when more funds were provided than the previous agreement would have allowed. A second benefit of the new agreement was scupprred with a vote to defer restoration of partial museum service in the Church Street School until the Cultural Master Plan is complete. It hasn't even begun. A MAJORITY was achieved by Mayor Dawes and Councillor Pirri votig with Councillors Ballard, Gallo and Gaertner. The huckster heritage park carnival scheme to access hydro reserve funds by an un-identified outfit,envisages the museum being located elsewhere than Church Street School. In his "summation" last Tuesday,the Mayor stated in his view the idea would be an excellent use of the hydro reserve fund. The Municipal Act defines the role of Mayor as providing "Leadership and Guidance to Council" It's not as simple as it sounds. A Mayor has power only equal to a Councillor. Each member has a single vite MAJORITY rules. Leadership within this context, requires trust. Guidance without trust is a contradictiion in terms. After two years, four months and two weeks,it may be safe to say there is less trust than before. It does not bode well.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Mea Culpa Mea Culpa

I have a confession.I have examined my conscience carefully. There can be no other conclusion. I am an agist. Councillor Gallo has helped me to see the error of my way. At Tuesday's Council meeting,I was arguing against referring to staff,a real estate boondoggle scheme to separate the municipality from millions of dollars of Hydro Reserve money. Why would a staff member have better judgement than an elected member. I chose my words. I did not use the word "boondoggle". Nevertheless, Councillor Gallo,interrupted on a point of order. It's a pattern. He disagrees with my argument and recognizes no rule that compels him to present a reasoned argument in response. Like a small child, he simply interrupts. He is the arbiter of language. Under the rules, a point of order is required to be stated clearly and succinctly and await the ruling of the chair. But Councillor Gallo likes to ramble. He states his enjoyment in listening to me "talk". Then invariably, he references the patience he exercises in listening. Hw gives no hint of understanding the difference between formal debate and social conversation. It's always at that point,in my mind,I fall into the error of bias. I look at the Councillor and listen while he speaks. He has four years experience under his belt. He indicates post-secondary education at York University. Yet progress as a Councillor has been minimal. He no more understands the difference between casual conversation and formal debate now than he did initially. If competence is not there to grasp the logic of simple rules of procedure, how much judgement may we expect on serious matters. His contribution,like most around the table, is a serious of halting, hesitant questions of staff and obvious difficulty comprehending answers. Years of discipline mostly prohibits me from revealing my thoughts,exploding in frustration and crying out to All the Saints in Heaven to preserve us. The rules do not permit Councillors to criticize one another. So I don't. I think... Oh My Lord!!! What has Aurora done to deserve this ? Then I rationalize the lack of knowledge and judgement with the lack of life experience. There it is. In a word, I am an agist. Mea Culpa!!!!!Mea Culpa !!!!!

Friday 12 April 2013

Bear with us

Baffled Observer has left a new comment on your post "Let's have a sense of proportion.": Speaking solely on the issue of whether or not alcohol expenses (regardless of how much or how little) should be paid by taxpayers, I stand by my words. From my individual perspective, it's a matter of principle. I am not interested in personal attacks or partisan vendettas; simply stating an opinion on a very specific point. If that isn't an acceptable use of this forum, I apologise for my intrusion and will respectfully decline to comment further. -------------------- Absolutely the blog is an acceptable forum for differing opinions. One sparks a response and means the comment is respected and worthy of a response. It's not always polite and sometimes my hand hesitates over the publish button.I may err on occasion but not on the side of caution. We are particularly sensitive to the almighty effort at horrendous public expense to silence critics. You may find yourself in discussion with someone with a wider perspective than your own. Obviously that's a risk you must be willing to take. I hope you'll stay with us and join the exchange.

Let's have a sense of proportion.

Baffled Observer has left a new comment on your post "Volunteer Fire Brigades":

"The moral of the story is, firefighters are still doing many of the things they always did. And they are respected for it. But they just can't have it all."

And as it is for the firefighters, so it is for Mayors and Town Councillors. Wining and dining may be the accepted and expected method of sealing deals and luring business prospects, but alcohol consumption does not play any meaningful or necessary role in building positive municipal relationships (in fact, it's more of a detriment), and - especially in a diminished economy - taxpayers should not be expected to foot the bill for booze.


$56 over a period of twelve months  amounts to $4.60 a month. Not much wining  and dining  is being expensed at that rate.
It  hardly warrants  creating scandal within the community by an elected representative who claims to be on the side of the angels in terms of righteous conduct  and pure ethics.
The same Councillor who  approved more than half a million dollars  be  handed over "during a 
period  of  diminished economy" to people who have not been elected, are not accountable, known to the community and make decisions behind closed doors.

Sorry about the mess

It had nothing to d with the i-pad. The power outage was the problem. I had something o say and it couldn't wait.
I used the notepad and learned how to cut and paste with iPad.
I kew there was a way but there was never anyone here to help me  at the  right time.
To-day, because of the ice storm , Stephanie was here.
So, it was a combination of power outage, ice storm and tackling a transfer from notepad to
blog with iPad.
It didn't go well as has been pointed out by a couple of readers. But I'm trying.
I think I've fixed it.
I will endeavor to ensure it doesn't happen again.
I  regret I can give no guarantee.
If I had no other demands on my resources, I  would  have bought a new computer a month ago.
But don't worry about it. I will  get by.

Volunteer Fire Brigades

A comment received on the beer dispensing coke machine story  has made me realize it needs to be complete.
A Volunteer Fire Brigade was never just a fire protection service.
There may still be communities in Ontario or Canada where Volunteers  are the one and only  helping organisation.
They organised minor hockey and baseball, raised funds to keep taxes manageable. They helped widows and orphans, as well as provide  fire protection which would  not otherwise  have been available. And wasn't a required municipal service.

The volunteers even raised the funds to buy the equipment.
When I was elected, the stpend was $5 a call and paid at Christmas . It meant families enjoyed  a

small financiall advantage that made up for husbands and fathers hanging out  at the firehall so much.
The firehall was  a club house.
In Aurora a room behind the bays, accommodated  a bar, a billiard table and a dart board as well as other recreation devices.
I  knew there was a bar because I was invited myself on occasion. Until the coke machine, episode, I never knew the facility was a watering  hole for those in the know.
We had standing committees in those days Each Councillor had a chairmanship. Second from the bottom in the polls got the Fire Committee. Bylaws went to the Councillor at the bottom.
The Volunteers ran their own show. They picked their Chief and Council appointed him. It was the ony full-time position.
Having  served as a volunteer was the best  recomendation  possible for an aspiring Councillor. 

They were the local heroes.
The club house, behind the fire bays was not secret.

It  was not an expense. 
It meant , if a call came in, the men were already at the firehall.
When  the new  building was built  on Edward Street, we still had a Volunteer.
When 12 full-time positions were created,there were still Volunteers. 

The club house continued.
But change was coming. 

It would have been better handled  at  staff  level. Preferably by the Chief. But remember, he had been the popular choice of theVolunteers.
There was dis-satisfaction among other town workers.  Some volunteers had worked alongside.

When full-time  firefighter positions became available,the jobs went to them.
They went from jobs that paid $14. an hour to  wages  and working conditions very much

They worked office hours .
The reason for a full-time department was for the firehall to be mannned twenty-four /seven. 

That didn't happen. 
Administrative jobs were created.
The resulting morale problem among non firefighters was  inevitable.
I wasn't a member of Council at the time. George Timpson had taken the Mayoralty.
In the eighties ,the club house amenity had to end.
The beer dispensing coke machine could not stay.
Somebdy had to bite the bullet.  Run the gauntlet of firefighter outrage, so to speak.
And so it  came to pass.
Around the same time we read of a department  in New Brunswich threatening  to strike over the loss of the drinking amenity at te firehall
In another instance , firefighters demanded their Chief's resignation for  taking away their bar.

The moral of the story is,  firefighters are still doing many of the things  they alwys did.
And they are respected for it. 
But they just can't have it all.

Evelyn Buck

Thursday 11 April 2013

Council's function and staff function is not the same.

I don't see as my role or the taxpayers' responsibility to provide commercial entertainment .
Santa Claus  Parades , Easter Egg Hunts and July 1st  Parades and Picnics  are an exception.
As a community, we provide stable, consistent and happy childhood memories. I think it's worth doing.
Summer Concerts in the park bring  people together and help  cement a community.
Blocking neighborhood use of a public park  for a commercial promotion is not my idea of
public service.
The town's experience of dealing with a festival huckster and supporters are not conducive to a repeat performance.
The episode was and is still degrading to the town and needs to be put behind us.
There is a  policy to  permit events in town facilities.
Two presentations were made to Council on Tuesday.
The dates  overlap.
It is not my function,as a Councillor, to discuss or decide merits of an application .
It's an administrative process .
To be handled by staff.
I voted  accordingly.

A blast from the past

Councillor Gallo forwarded the e-mail he received from the Fire Chief. It answered the questions asked on Tuesday night because the Mayor ruled they were out of order. Not our business,he said.
Newmarket has a contract with King and Whitchurch Stouffville.
Aurora has contracts with both those municipalities.
No mention made i the e-mail of a contract with East Gwillimbury.
Not to have a contract would be the decision of E.G.
The 12 minute response time therefore would  appear to be solely the responsibility of East Gwillimbury.
Aurora Mayor's  judgement that no questions could be answered   regarding any responsibility    we might have shared in the tragedy  was  not  better iluminated.
The e-mail forwarded by Councillor  Gallo from the Fire Chief was extensive. It provided details
of mutual aid  as well. The information was promptly and fulsomely provided in response to a request from a Councillor.
Under the circumstances, it appears communications were working as they should.
Newmarket never received  a call.
I am almost positive East Gwillimbury did have a contract for fire service with the town of Newmarket. A twelve minute response time from the nearest volunteer firehall would certainly indicate the need.
East Gwillimbury residents in the neighborhood of the tragedy certainly do need to take up the matter
with their Council.
It would seem to be  about saving money.
Not to take anything away from the seriousness of the issue,  I have a  story from years ago.
Before the amalgamation of Whitchurch-Stouffville.
A Councillor from Whitchurch came to Aurora  Council accompanied by Whitchurch
Police Chief. We had a contract to provide fire protection.
Grass fires were common in Whitchurch. Farmers started them to burn off winter dieback.
The Councillor had a suggestion to save costs.
The idea was before the fire department  responded to a call , the police chief should go to the location and make an assessment of the necessity and maybe put out the fire himself.
Grass fires were mostly controlled but occasionally  they would get out of control and become a threat to property.
Response time always was  and is the  most critical aspect  of an incident,
On one occasion, Aurora Volunteers arrived at a  barn fire south of Oak Ridges
before  the full-time brigade from Richmond Hill.
After I was defeated in the Mayoralty, Aurora established  twelve full-time fire-fighter positions.
They worked  office hours. If  they had to attend a fire after hours,they were paid the fire call fee
in addition
For several years  they had  a coke machine  that dispensed  beer  at the firehall.
When I returned to Council, I  privately tried to discourage the practice ; to no avail.
Eventually and inevitably, I received a complaint of tipsy firefighters, in full uniform
receiving food donations at the firehall.
I raised the question in a Council meeting.
At a following meeting several Councillors rose to disassociate themselves from my
disgraceful behavior. Volunteers wives  were in attendance to  witness  my comeuppance.
The coke machine was removed . Only after did I discover the firehall had been a favorite watering hole for  years to people in the know. Like the  Mayor who created the full-time department, various town officials and the postman and such.
Public works employees had asked at one time to be allowed beer in their frig to have with
their lunch sandwich. That was refused. At the time, I didn't even make the connection.
A coke machine appeared on the front porch of a house on Metcalfe street and stayed there for a while. Obviously not dispensing beer.