"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

Sunday 30 June 2013

Clause 7 and the unwritten rule

Clause 7 of the Code 0f  Ethics   states the following:

Use of Town of Property

Members of Council will:

 *  only use town property ( including but not limitd to , real property,municipal vehicles, equipment,material supplies,intellectual prioperty and documents ) or services  of consequence,
for activities connected wuth the discharge of official duties or associated  community activities
having the sanction of  Council  or its committees.

This one is interesting.

The title  of Mayor is the property of the Town.

The person elected  to the office bears the title for four years. 

The title cannot be shed in a matter of town business.

It cannot be used  in a matter of private business.

The rule has always been  understood. Long before  there  ever was either a Code of Conduct or Ethics.

The key clause is "having the sanction of Council"

I had  to inform  the previous Mayor of the  restrictions on her use of the title  couple of times.

When the Mayor lent his name to the  list  of  names  used to influence  various organizations like the Rotary Club , the University  Women's Club  the Chamber of Commerce and whatever  other groups received a presentation from William Albino and Associates, the Mayor had no authority to do so.

No presentation had been made to Council. No support had been sanctioned by Council.

The Mayor's office was inappropriately used for the purpose of promoting a  private interest real estate deal.

It's not a Conflict of Interest, whatever  that's worth under current  legislation.

The Mayor does not stand to gain  financially from the scheme.

But it doesn't change anything.

The group went around making presentations to influence groups within the communiity claiming  to have  the Mayor's  support.

We don't know what else the groups were told . We were not there. . There is no record. They were not public meetings as we understand them.

Last week, in his comments in support  of the scheme, the Mayor said there were no secret meetings. Said it was inappropriate to suggest such a thing.

It was actually said by a member of the Heritage Advisory Committee where Mr. Albino apparently requested an in- camera meeting.

No such meetiing took place because advisory committees do not have the authority to hold in- camera meetings.

Nnevertheless last Tuesday Kathy Van Nostrand , speaking in Mr.Albinos place told Council hundreds  of residents have signed their names of the scheme.

They went about the town soliciting support from influential groups and collecting names and using the Mayor's title without the sanction of Council.

Well you know, according to the Code of Ethics and  the unwritten rule that preceded it, that is not precisely  Kosher.


Anonymous said...

It is natural for Aurorans to roll their eyes at the denial of the existence of secret meetings. We do have a precedent of just such gatherings from very early in this term. The only reason that those were ' discovered ' is because the other party involved publicized the matter. There was no announcement of a possible COI from the Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Clarification CLR. Mr.Albino at his first presentation to council asked for an in- camera meeting.Its on the video of that meeting.It has been watched and verified as fact.

Anonymous said...


What entity is the registered owner of the land and building that is Hillary House? Are there specific restrictions on the use of same?

One of the three houses that are the subject of so much discussion has apparently been for sale for seven years. Is this correct? Is this the house that is all boarded up, a shell, and does it carry a Heritage designation? If the answer is "yes' to the questions, are there specific restrictions on its use? Is this the property that was the subject of closed session discussion last October when apparently a selling price was indicated by the owner/authorized representative?

What is the status of the third house? Who owns it and to what use is it being put at present?

If there are several hundred signatories in support of a proposal related to the three properties, it would be good if the leadership of the group could provide the names of these people. Or is this an underground group conspiracy apparently operating on the basis of using the Mayor's title in support of a specific agenda? Is this appropriate, or even legal?

Anonymous said...

I have been unable to find an asking price for the 3rd property. Councillor Abel asked if the Town had both numbers & was closed out on the one. It might have been revealed in-camera but without that information the entire thing is an exercise in futility. But, then, we know that one the Mayor gets the bit in his mouth, he is going his own way.

Anonymous said...

This post is a real stretch, Councillor.

Anonymous said...

Was rummaging around into history of Hillary House and found a notice from the Aurora Historical Society of an Employment Opportunity: Educator

This is a contract for six months starting August 1, part time, 21 hours per week @$15 per hour.

Cover letter and resume must be submitted by July 5.

Details can be found if looked for.

Time to put your feet up and sip some scotch.

Anonymous said...

6:52 PM
A woman's stretch should exceed her grasp or what is heaven for ?

Anonymous said...

It is too bad that we can't bottle a weekend like this & use it when we get a run of stinkers.

Anonymous said...

It is becoming increasingly difficult to follow the thinking of members of Council in connection with the proposed Hillary-McIntyre Heritage Park and the expenditure pf $25,000 on a feasibility study.

For clarity I will refer to the three buildings by name and relative location. Hillary House, at 15372 Yonge Street, is a designated National Historic site. Readman House, at 15356 Yonge Street, is boarded up and in a state of serious disrepair with possible structural damage. Horton Place, at 15342 Yonge Street, presently occupied, is designated Historical Part IV under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Hillary House, with nearly two acres of land, was purchased by the Aurora Historical Society in 1981. According to the latest information from the AHS restoration costs to date have totalled over $550,000. There is still costly restoration work to be carried out including the interior, repairs tp woodshed and privy. It should be possible to find out what the purchase price was, and in addition what tax revenues might have been waived on the part of the town.

Readman House was apparently the subject of a closed session meeting of Council last October where a specific number of dollars was suggested as what would be required to acquire the property. Only those in attendance at that meeting would be privy to that information. However, since this property is central to the proposed Heritage Park it might be appropriate, at this time, to indicate the magnitude of cost.

Horton Place is apparently owned and occupied by direct descendants of the Webster family going back to 1901. It was designated in 1987 under the Ontario Heritage Act for its historical and architectural significance. This was at one time the residence of the McIntyre family and hence its name on the Park proposal.

Only Hillary House might be considered to be within the ownership reach of the town of Aurora, subject to title search.

Presumably the other two properties could be purchased, but at what price and for what use? The McIntyre property, because of its heritage designation can not be used for any purpose without the approval of Aurora council, possibly not even sold, and only then with stringent conditions.

At present there are ideas floating about as to the use for the 500' combined property along Yonge Street, including but not limited to cultural, civic and private activities. These include a 10,000-square foot addition to Readman House for a medical museum, permanent Aurora Collection exhibit and the proposed Aurora Sports Hall of Fame. An amphitheatre, picnic areas and formal gardens with water features would also be built on the grounds.

All of this sounds wonderful, but is our grasp not exceeding our reach? Council has approved spending up to $25,000 on a study to investigate the feasibility of developing the three properties, presumably along the lines outlined immediately above, and to see what provincial or federal grant monies might be available.

Is it not premature to spend money on properties that are not now owned by the town, and whose cost might render the entire project moot? What would the cost be for this Heritage/Amusement Park and over how many years? To say that the Hydro Fund is flush with $34million does not entitle this Yonge Street venture to a single penny of that money. It could take many consultants many months to conduct a full cost and benefit analysis, and even then, a great many assumptions would have to be made, both with respect to cost, benefit and public use and revenue generating ability.

Anonymous said...

Part 2

The vision that a few hundred people appear to have seen and expressed is cheap, so long as it remains just a vision. Are any of these visionaries prepared to invest their money into such an endeavour? They could be given the opportunity to do so through the creation of a public-private corporation.

This is not meant to condemn the concept, but to point out some of the things that must be taken into account.

It is highly unlikely that a 500' piece of property will have a great deal of impact on the Promenade Study. It, like Heritage, will take years, probably millions of dollars and a great deal of private investment in order to become a reality.

We should never stop dreaming and having visions, but at the same time cost and benefit must come along for the ride.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how anti-Heritage Park comments are published, while those in favour of it aren't...

Legal beagle. said...

There was a comment made at council to the places to grow legislation.Is this plan even legal?

Anonymous said...

8:10 AM
Doesn't councillor Ballard have a Blog?

Anonymous said...

Kudos for the clean-up of Yonge Street after the Parade.

Anonymous said...

I am completely in favour of the park provided it doesn't cost the town a penny either in the creation or in lost tax revenues.

Anonymous said...

Hillary House was purchased by the Aurora Historical Society more than thirty years ago through the generosity of a number of individuals (some quite wealthy) and corporate donors. Government grants might also have been obtained. If so, what did these total?

Did the town contribute to the purchase or the building's restoration?
If so, how much?

Does Hillary House receive favourable status with regard to property tax?

What is the town's cumulative investment in Hillary House, both direct and indirect?

How does this compare to the Cultural Centre?

Anonymous said...

Be Honest. Hillary House & the Centre will NEVER be able to stand on their own. Aurora will always have to provide for their upkeep. There is absolutely no way the town can afford to increase its responsibilities with an additional 2 properties. This so-called ' gem ' of a ' vision ' is nothing more than a Germ.
The current council might be capable of creating a pet burial grounds that would attract visitors to Aurora. Anything more visionary is beyond their budget and ability.
If you require additional proof of the stupidity of this nonsense, the ROM has tours booked all year round & still is always in need of funding.

Anonymous said...

You're barking up the wrong tree, 10:15 AM.

We can't have a proper debate about an issue if only one point-of-view is allowed to be expressed.

Anonymous said...

"How does this compare to the Cultural Centre?"

What does that have to do with anything?! Sorry - new council, new agreement - the train carrying that poor, flogged, dead horse has well and truly left the station for good...

Anonymous said...

Political Points
" Ontario Liberals to call 5 by-elections for August 1 "
Great to call them in the middle of summer. Not.

Anonymous said...

Normally a Feasibility Study is undertaken to determine, based on certain known cost elements, whether a project has merit from both a capital and operating standpoint.

It is my understanding that a price indication was suggested to Council in closed session last October. By the sound of things this figure was extremely ambitious.

There has been no price indication given on the other property that is privately owned.

Five members of Council have voted to spend up to $25,000 of taxpayer money on a study that has no basis in fact, as a significant cost component is unknown.

Is the study going to state that the cost component must be qualified, and can only be estimated to within the nearest million dollars?

This is not proper. Stronger words come to mind.

Anonymous said...

The Auroran is up. Brock Weir expresses my sentiments on the feasibility study very nicely.

Anonymous said...

Brock Weir makes more sense than five members of Council.

Anonymous said...

2:58 PM
Then get your own Blog. It isn't expensive & you spend far too much time on this one trying to disparage the opinions of others.

Anonymous said...

3:04 PM
Last time I looked the Centre was still there unable to sustain itself. That ' train ' as you call it, is incapable of leaving the station under its own steam. So whoever made the comparison with the new situation has a valid point.

Take a Look in the Mirror said...

"...you spend far too much time on this one trying to disparage the opinions of others."

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Anonymous said...

Okay, question; what municipal service or amenity is 'sustainable'? Which, if any, actually do pay for themselves?

Anonymous said...

Do the sports centres support themselves? I truly am "just asking."

Anonymous said...

I notice the term ' municipal services ' & ' amenities ' are once more being brought into play.. The problem would appear to be determining just which and how many of these items Aurora can afford to maintain. We have to look ahead & not burden ourselves or those who follow. The current Council was unable to reduce the tax load THIS year. In fact, Mayor Dawe wrote an article about that being a poor suggestion that could lead to trouble. If we could see tax reduction over a period of time, then additional responsibilities might be feasible. Not today.

Anonymous said...

10:38 PM, you're "just asking" the right kind of question.

Anonymous said...

1:13 PM
People use sports centres. All kinds, ages & shapes of people. They are hives of activity. How often does an Ontario resident visit an historical building such as Colbourne [ spelling might be off ] House in TO? Once or twice a lifetime? Maybe take the kids & combine with the haunted place of the bald rebel leader?

Anonymous said...

July 2, 2:42 has clearly put the issue in perspective. I agree.

We have a very large payroll at municipal headquarters that overlaps with the very large payroll at York Region. Then layered on top we have consultants studying all manner of things. How about the Town/Region take an in-house look and provide a report? They might even pose some direct questions to the proponents.

This Mayor has been bitterly disappointing in his financial leadership. It is not likely to change,