"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

Saturday 31 August 2013

Make sense of this if you can

So...this morning, before the UN Inspectors report their findings, the U S  has found the Syrian government did gas their own citizens.

The  Syrian   government said they did not.

The Russian  President   said it is "utter nonsense" to suggest the Syrian government wold gas their own  citizens.

He raises the question of how many Syrian residents would be killed by an  American  strike.

The Americans and the Russians have  battleships in the Gulf.

If the Americans fired off a missile in a particular direction, could the Russians intercept it?

Would that mean the Cold War had been ignited.?

 Israelis are said to be afraid  they would become the target of a Syrian attack. People are buying gas masks in preparation.

The British government has  rejected intervention in Syria. Remembering the war in Iraq based on false information. 

The French military is ready to intervene if the President decides they should. 

In Canada,  Cabinet Minister the Honorable John. Baird says that although the Prime Minister has said we will not  be militarily involved, we are in complete support of friends and allies. 

At this point it's not exactly clear which fiends and akkies he's referring to. 

This morning, two Canadian warships ,out in the open seas, on their way to Hawaii, bumped into each other. The Algonquin is coming home with significant damage and won't be sent back there again. 

The U.S. government  might be relieved to have  only  moral support  rom Canada for whatever action they decide they can take with moral impunity. 

In Error

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The pieces of the puzzle always came together":

I think I can help with this one. The Swiss will no longer accept bank accounts for individual Americans. It is required to show your passport - if that document is American, the response will be negative. The rule has been circumvented by companies registered elsewhere although their shareholders might be American.
That was a big problem for Romney in the election. There were trusts & companies which he would not discuss.

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 29 August 2013 12:40


The above comment was accidentally deleted.

Thursday 29 August 2013

The pieces of the puzzle always came together

At Christmas , when children  were in the house, two gifts were traditional.

One was a paint-by-numbers poster. The other was a jigsaw puzzle of hundreds of pieces.

After the excitement of opening gifts, the family activity for the rest of the day , would be completion
of one or other of these two projects. The paint-by-numbers posters became harder to find .The jigsaw puzzles were a perennial.

The satisfaction of piecing together  the puzzle within the  time was immense. Doing it together added to the excitement.

I've found life to be similar to  the jig-saw puzzle.  Dozens of small indiscriminate pieces make up the whole.

They are all there. Everything has its place . In the end  the picture will be complete.

Yesterday a small piece went together with no help from me.

I  had referred to the role Swiss banks play in helping wealthy Americans evade taxes. It wasn't the focus of the post.

A lengthy , obviously knowledgeable  response seemed to refute that minor detail.

A  headline appeared  last night on one of those  twenty-four hour news channels:

The U.S. government is having discussions with Swiss  banks about rich Americans  using Swiss banks to evade paying taxes.

I think I probably learned in school about Swiss neutrality and the role of their banking system.
That's a long time ago.

U.S. government discussions  with Swiss banks have probably been ongoing  for years with neither energy nor success.

I think the U.S. economy, other practices  like shipping jobs offshore ,leaving Americans
with massive unemployment and realization of "the dream"  not being  realized , gradually filtering down to the masses , may have put a  burr under the saddle of the powers that be.

I can't help thinking about the Royal Bank and the speedy reaction of Canadians to the story about bank employees  being required to train  non- resident replacements   for their jobs and government work permit rules being exploited .

Whether the bank stopped the practice is not clear . What was clear was Canadians lost no time
reacting against the bank.

I think the social media had a hand in that.

A piece of the puzzle dropped into  the right place. .

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Definition of Irish Vernacular

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Age of Phobia":

Wasn't it a senior Conservative Senator who referred to ' lick-spittle ' liberals and journalists? I had to look that one up. She seems to be in a bit of trouble herself right now.

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 28 August 2013 10:39


A lick-spittle is a limp -wristed liberal. A person with no firm opinions. Ready to agree with the last person he spoke to. A jellyfish Julian,.

Oh Dear, what can the matter be?

The  information  published below is welcome . Thank you.

Why did you feel your contribution  needed to be accompanied by a scolding for  moi?

The point of my post was not the history of Switzerland, noble though it may be. It was how phobic our age seems to  have become  about  imaginary slurs and insults.

This week I confess to an opinion that top level staff who earn their living in  public service in this community ought to live here with us.

Since none of them do ,the question is academic.

But I am immediately accused of  bias . My view on the matter is  compared to cars in a parking lot.

What is that about?

I write  another opinion  and a reader demands  I write a learned journal on the subject.

It's only  a  topic of conversation .

Thank you for your contribution.

Lighten up for  Fritz's sake.

What Do You Know!!!!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Age of Phobia":

If you are going to categorize a country please do so in full, not merely a passing and inaccurate comment.

The Swiss Confederation dates from 1291. That makes it five times as old as Canada. The Federal Constitution dates from 1848 making it one of the oldest in the world.

One neat aspect of Swiss voting, at all three levels, the commune, the canton and the federal level, is that by calling a referendum, a group of citizens may challenge a law enacted at any of these levels. There is also the right, the federal constitutional initiative that allows citizens to put a constitutional amendment to a national vote. There are varying numbers of signatures required for the three different government levels where a referendum is desired.

This sounds like a great improvement over our system of creating legislation, where any majority government at any of our three levels can pass just about any law and only be subject to judicial review, ultimately by the Supreme Court.

Banking is not Switzerland's national industry and your concept of wealthy people stashing their money for security or tax purposes has changed, if only recently. One never had to surrender the citizenship of one's national country in order to live in Switzerland. Shania Twain has lived there for years.

The Swiss economy, including banking, consists of pharmaceuticals, watch making, engineering, high tech manufacturing, its most important economic sector. This includes specialist chemicals, health and pharmaceutical goods, scientific and precision measuring instrument and musical instruments. Major contributors are insurance, tourism and international organizations, i.e. the Red Cross and WTO.

There is also compulsory military service and after having served two years people get called back for refresher training every so often. There is usually a military rifle to be found in every household where a member has completed the compulsory service. And these are not ancient Lee-Enfield rifles like that used by our arctic adventurer Prime Minister during his recent target practice from all three positions.

So do a bit of research before you comment on a country, one of the best in the world.

And you can't beat the scenery.

Mark as spam

Moderate comments for this blog.

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 28 August 2013 11:20


Something has altered in the function of  my magic box.

I reach the bottom of a page and the print  slides into the shadows.

I don't know what's wrong so I have no idea where to look for a solution.

I apologize for any muddle that appeared at the end of the last post.

I hadn't finished . But I did run out of patience.

The Age of Phobia

Is discrimination as real as the phobia?

Oprah Winfrey read  racial slur about a  Swiss sales  clerk's refusal to  show  her a purse  valued at thosands of dollars from a secure place on a high shelf behind the counter.

I'm fairly certain if I were the person asking to handle the  same purse,  I would receive the same response.

It would have nothing to do with the colour of my skin.

It would have  everything to do with the fact that I don't look like  the Devil  Who Wears Prada.

Switzerland is not a place like other places.

No matter the nature of the dispute ,Switzeland is always neutral in war.

The national industry is banking.

It allows people of  wealth and substance to stash  stuff  safe from  their own government in times of war.

It also provides a haven for  wealthy Americans to protect them from their nations taxes.

I think they may even surrender Americn Citizenship for that advantage.

Oprah Winfrey was in Switzerland  to attend the wedding of her friend Tina Turner.


Last week an MLA  somewehere else in Canada was compelled to apologize to a colleague for  making a reference to a colleague's"male friend"

The Premier  required the apology on pain of being expelled from the party cauicus.

But isn't that what the battle has been about. For  legal recognition of same sex rlationships.

Why do they insist on co-opting language to obscure the reality?

Gay  was a word in the English language with a clear  and succinct meaning.

A rainbow was a natural phenomena.


Early in this term I used the  term Niger Brown. I was assailed because it  was similar to another word spelled differently.

A couple of weeks ago I used the term "limp-wristed liberal"

Immediattely there was an explosion from the sidelines.;

"WOW!! You'r e homophobic. I bet you wuldn't walk in a Gay Pride Parade"

I am not. Why can't the term "limp-wristed liberal"  be allowed to mean what it says;

A flabby thinker. A person with no firm opinions. A weak reed that bends this way and that ,however the wind blows. A jellyfish Julian.

The commenter was right about one thing though. I would not walk in a gay pride parade. I see no merit in parading sexuality. I wouldn'ty walk in a heterosexual pride parade either.

a reference to that pesons's "male friend"  The Premier of the Province required him to do so on pain of bein expelled from he party caucus.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

A Shared Irritation

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Leadership....what is that?":

But we didn't get to vote on staff. Many of the top guns are hold-overs who live out of town. To them, we are just a play-yard from which they return home at the end of a ' creative ' day

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 27 August 20


All of the top guns live out of town.   I confess  it's a source of irritation. 

The Municipal Act requires that top level positions are filled by competition. 

Statutory Officers are appointed by Bylaw. Only Council can approve a Bylaw. 

The competition cannot be limited to local applicants.

However, there is nothing to stop a Council from asking the question of a potential  hire.

"If we offer you the position would you be willing to re-locate to this community.?"

Additional points could accrue to an affirmative answer.

I think  having so much influence,  senior staff should live  among the people they serve.

There should be opportunity for residents to take a measure of their judgement and commitment.

And in turn, they should  learn the values of the people they serve.

And they in trn should learn something of the people they serve.

.  They should be known. People should be able to make an assessment of their commitment and judgement.

Post Script

When the Region was created , authority to approve  municipal debt was transferred to that body.

But we seldom need approval for debt.

The money we  strong-arm from developers when they apply for building permits ( no tickee no permit) allows major projects to be built with cash .

No Holds Barred.

Every wish shall be granted.

The joint facility we are building for parks and works has a green roof . Can't get anything much more expensive than that.

It's being built to Gold Standard Energy.

It has an extra floor on it for possible use in the future.  And don't forget the treatment facility for melting snow. That's another cool million.

 We really don't know what all those  other extras cost.

But heigh ho,  what's a million ?

 Why should t  we  not  have the best.? We have all that hydro reserve money crying out to be spent.

The Water Reserve probably did have to have unanimous approval before it could be borrowed.

Back In The Days

There was another really practical reason  a Council would not  likely approve a major project  without wholehearted support,

There were no development charges. No reserves of millions of dollars. No cash on hand to pay the piper. No  nee homeowners who could be fleeced when they didn't even know it was happening.

Debentures had to be issued to realize funds.

The Ontario Municipal  Board was created during the  Great Depression  when munocipalities were likely to fall into bankruptcy.  

The function of the Board was to  receive and approve or reject municipal applications  for approval to issue debentures.

Like  planning applications to-day , municipal decisions could be appealed .

That's what happened to the Railway Museum. One member of Council filed an appeal. The latr James Murray, who was Reeve at the time an had held the office of Mayor.

One might say it was a battle between the old and new.

The project was abandoned.

The town was seven thousand-five hundred people then.  About twenty-five hundred homes.

Elections were  held every  twelve months.

The voters list was not so all inclusive.

Monday 26 August 2013

Leadership....what is that?

I watched Doug Ford,  after the vote to  make an appointment to fill the vacancy on City Council. He made  the point about millions of dollars of  city spending being decided by a single vote.

I wondered how manyToronto  property owners would understand the significance of  what he was saying. 

Doug  and Rob Ford  are  second generation  Toronto  politicians. They may have absorbed  an understanding of   municipal politics without realising  , a new generaation exists who do not understand.

When a major decision is made, it's important for Council to be in accord,

A division in  Council  causes  discord in the community.

Council is the leader. 

If Council sends a mixed message, how can the community understand the message? 

Forty-six years ago,  when Aurora had the opportunity to create a  museum of railway history, one Council member  was opposed.

The project was abandoned. The reason was not articulated , But  it was  understood.

Such a project requires the support  and enthusiasm of the entire community. 

It cannot be controversial.

Aurora Council is  falling into a pattern of  split decisions decided by one vote.

A decision to  spend millions of taxpayer dollars  by a single vote  majority  cannot be  considered  a community decision .

Only half plus one support  it. 

When the electorate  chooses a Council,,   they  expect  something better  than  a  tug of war. Better than a score of one vote advantage. 

They expect Council  to work together  in the   best interest of  the municipality. 

That's not what they're getting. 

No Policies or Principles Apply

In response to a  comment  on the difference between Mulock and Bathurst Street  to account for the Region paying for $2 millions worth of privacy fencing:

Before it was a  Regional Road  Bathurst was a  Toronto and York County Road under the jurisdiction of the Toronto and York Roads Commission.

The road stretches from Lake Ontario to Bradford.

It means  the traffic using the road is travelling from one municipality to another.

The function of the road never changed. it was always intended to be a north/south arterial collecting
and distributing traffic along the way.

There may have been only two lanes of pavement. The width of the  right-of- way established  the future use.

The fact that it formed the boundary between Aurora and King , Aurora being urban and King being rural   was not an indication that it was either a local or a rural right of way.

The development of  homes backing on to Bathurst  added to  traffic volume .

It was still a beautiful location to buy a home . Residents along its length, north and south , built their own privacy fences .

In Aurora they had additional setback and  a stand of  old forest between them and the traffic. It made their lots even more exclusive and no doubt more expensive.

I have heard Regional staff bend over backwards to accommodate  regional politicians.

Whatever the pols  want, they get . No principles or policies apply.

The half million dollar  Red Cross donation for Tsunami relief  was at the instigation of then Mayor of Markham , Don Cousens  with a large voting population from that part of the world.

I haven't heard a proposal  for a  similar donation to the flood victims of High River Alberta .

Or Lak Megantic in Quebec where that horrifying train wreck caused such
terrible  loss.

I do not suggest there should be.

  The  lack  of  consistency in financial management is my point.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on a  tree-planting contract. Without warranty the
job would be completed  satisfactorily. It wasn't. The money was pissed away.

Indeed I do speak for the community

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A short exchange":

"You mean like all the national polls before elections?"

No, I mean like trying to gauge local opinion based on a handful of blog comments.

"How can you generalize about what ' most of your fellow residents ' may be feeling or thinking ?"

I don't know, probably the same way Cllr Buck does when she tries to reinforce her argument when purporting to speak for "the community."

"I sure don't know except by talking and listening to them. Which I try to do."

Good Luck with that.

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 26 August


It seems to be the day for lessons. 

Councillor Buck speaks for the community by virtue of having  ben elected to do so.

I paid the hundred dollars fee to register as a candidate. 

I attended upon the Clerk, Commissioner of Oaths, in his office to swear on oath that I am who I say I am. 

I conducted a campaign for a period of weeks and informed the community what I stood for. I askeed  them to trust that I would exercise my judgement on their behalf. 

On Election Day I garnered a sufficient number of voites  to  be eligible to take a seat at the Council table. 

But before I could do  so I swore  again an Oath of Office to abide by the laws of the land. 

Then and only then ,did  I have the right to speak for the community along with eight other residents 
who went through the same process. 

That  different  viewpoints are expressed  at the table is entirely appropriate  connsidering  the entire community  is represented. 

The percentage of the  people who  vote is more a reflection of the numbers on the voters list than it is the community's interest in  public affairs. 

At any given time the population is shifting. People leave. New people move in. New owners need time to catch up on what's what. 

Tenants , unless they are former  homeowners, do not take the same interest as property owners. . They do not pay taxes directly.  They are less  likely to be permanent residents. 

Young people of eighteen years and thereabouts are also less likely to vote for the same reason. 

All that having ben said. I  do not "purport" to speak . I do speak for th community. 

Because they have given me the authorityy to do so. 

Many.many. many times.

Young people of eighteen y

A Field Trip to Illustrate a Point

To bolster my judgement. in this instance upon the Region's fiscal  management.

From Henderson Drive north, on the east side of  Bathurst, new privacy fencing  has been installed and paid for by the Region. I have heard the  cost was  $2 million . I watched the project underway

 I have no difficulty accepting that figure. The funds would  derive  from our  property tax.

On Mulock Side road, east towardsYonge Street, privacy fencing of a different style protects the homes. Wood  sections  are supported by massive brick pillars.  The  structure  is several years older and  built by the  developer of the homes.

Cost would be included within the price of the homes.

Market value (the price) sets the assessment upon  which property taxes are calculated.  Mortgages are negotiated . Interest is  added  and  taxes  are  collected forever and a day.

In effect, owners of homes on Mulock and elsewhere in the region  pay for  all amenities provided with their homes , pay taxes on the amenities and pay  in addition, taxes  for privacy fences erected by the Region  at no cost to property-owners on Bathurst Street.

Some  ten  years or so ago, the Region contracted to have trees planted on the east side of  Bathurst from Henderson Drive North. Seventy-five per cent did not survive the  transplant.

Seven years later dead stumps  still stood  in evidence of thousands of  tax dollars scattered to the wind.

New  trees  are being planted  on the road side  and close to the privacy fence erected by the Region.

I  have inquired about the  purpose and type of tree . Purpose is not  apparent. The trees are white spruce.

They  are not hardy against winter road conditions.

On the other side of the fence , mature forest  and , I believe, a thirty meter setback was required to be retained when the land was developed.

 The town set the standard.

To maintain the  country ambiance of  Bathurst Street and protect  residential development from the major  arterial Bathurst is and has been  for forty years.

So ....I do not share the confidence of my  Council colleagues in the fiscal acumen of the Region of York.

I cannot commend it to the  taxpayers of Aurora.

City Council is debating the question of appointment or by-election to fill the vacancy left by Former Councillor Doug Holyday . On Channel 24

Sunday 25 August 2013

The Mosaic

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A short exchange":

I heard you loud & clear. But you were speaking to those who will not/ cannot hear. I'm not sure if councillor Pirri really understands taxes .And that is not a crack at his age or living arrangements. Just an observation. When would he have opened any of those envelopes?

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 25 August 2013 10:24


I think that's a valid observation; age and living circumstances included.It's all part of the mosaic of our governing structure. 

The Councillor does seem to have difficulty separating his role as  representative of the taxpaying community  from   back-up for administration. 

The  problem may  even have increased since he became employed  as a municipal public servant in a neighboring municipality outside of the Region. 

A short exchange

Th Financial plan was the question . I had the floor. I was making the point that the Municipal Act does not permit municipalities to budget  a surplus or  deficit.

The  town's financial year is from Jan.1st until Dec.31.

The  principle is  that municipalities , having only one area of taxation, will tax to raise sufficient funds to cover the cost of  providing services for  a period of twelve months.

I cited the "tax stabilisation reserve " as a means of  collecting  more taxes  needed in one year to reduce taxes in future years.

It means property owners  living in the town in 2013 pay to create a slush fund to be used in future years to reduce taxes.

I disagree  completely with the policy.

Councillor Pirri enjoined the debate and, through the Mayor , asked  a question  of the Town Solicitor.

He  stated  that I  was arguing the Municipal Act does not allow municipalities to  create reserve funds . That reserve funds are against the law.

On a point of order, I objected to the town solicitor being brought into  a  political debate to refute
my opposition to a specific tax item.

No matter,   the  Mayor directed the solicitor answer the question.

The Solicitor's answer was the Municipal Act  permits municipalities to create reserve funds.

And so it does and has always done.

My point  related  to a   specific fund under the heading of  "tax stabilisation" and to  this Council's
accountability  for the four year  term  and specifically for the level of taxation in each twelve month budget period.

With the help of the presiding member, Councillor Pirri was successful in obscuring the issue.

The  debate ended  , I thought somewhat to my disadvantage and frustration.

There was no furtrher opportunity for rejoinder.

But that's where  blog is such a boon.

In my capacity of spokesperson for people who pay taxes, I contend  the municipality has no business
collecting taxes fronm today's property owners, to provide relief to those who  may or may not come after.

There is no equity in  such a policy. Giving the fund an officious sounding title does not change it from what it is; an unjust tax.

The very thing that Councillors are elected to protect us from.

We are accountable to people who live here now not  people who  may or may not live here ten years from now.

We should pay  what it costs for services  rendered in the  current year.

Future residents should do the same.

Friday 23 August 2013

A Day of Arrivals and Departures

That was Wednesday.  Grand-daughter  Stephanie  planned a trip to St Johns Newfoundland to attend the wedding of friends.

Great grand-daughter Cheyanne  has a grandmother, resident of Corner Brook Newfoundland.

Stephanie decided her niece should  accompany her on the trip.

It  is to be a camping trip of two weeks.

Cheyanne lives in Penetanguishine with her family.

On Tuesday  afternoon with her mother and two sisters, Abigail and seven week old Emma  Cheyanne arrived   at my house.  Packed and ready  to leaver at four a.m. ,for the flight to St John.

Theresa , maternal grandmother  came  home  after work.

Aunt Heather, master  packer and veteran camper,  came down  from Newmarket  with Andy her husband to visit  and pack  gear for a flight, a wedding  and a camping trip of  two weeks ,on a rock,  several thousand miles distant , in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

My deck was a scene of great activity.

Tickets had to be collected for the flight. Legal permission  had to be documented from both parents for Cheyanne to leave the province.

The dog had to be taken for his own expedition.

Skinny dipping  after  dark was part of the adventure.

Finally theywer asleep.

And then they were gone

But not really.

Texting with photos  keeps us in touch.

They are camped in Pepys campground in the city until after the wedding. The Newfie friends have lent them cooking gear.

They organized a bonfire   the first night and  fed them  their fill of mussels and lobster cooked right there on the beach.

The wedding is today.  they will be on their way after that.

Two weeks is a long time  for two  girls to be on the road . I know very little about the place.

But I've heard and encountered the legendary kindness..

I look forward to the tales they will have to tell.


Tax Affordability in Aurora

I have been elected about  a dozen times  in Aurora.

I've been a candidate  in twenty or so elections.

I have listened to hundreds of candidates make various commitments in their quest for voter support.

I have never heard a candidate say voters should be prepared to sell their homes  and leave town if they cant afford to pay Aurora's taxes .

Once I heard the Mayor of a neighboring municipality make the statement at a regional council meeting;

"If people can't  afford the  taxes, they should sell their homes and find something they can afford"

Silence immediately fell  upon the room. It was palpable.  As if  the collective breath was being withheld.

The  significance of the  mistake was instantly apparent.

There was no going back.  No explanation possible.

No votes are won on the  promise of higher taxes.

Municipal voters are  well aware of the connection between taxes paid and services rendered.

They vote for an assurance of value  received in return for taxes  paid.

The Mayor of the neighboring municipality was not re-elected or ever elected again for any office.

Stupid is as stupid does

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

8:45, if you are referring to King Henry's Arms, my comment is regardless of the council of the day, you can't fix stupid. You have to pay suppliers, you have to pay rent.


Ah yes....  it's true ...Oh Dear  Lord yes, how true it is... .Council cannot fix  stupid.

That having been said however, the town has a department entitled   "Retention and Expansion of Business"

Every year, at budget time, this  Councillor  asks for a single example of "retention or expansion "of a business within the previous year.

This year, there was an example;  "AW SHUCKS"

Now......if the bureaucracy can take credit for one company expanding  into larger
space, could they not  also have  advised  management of the highly  popular King Henry's Arms
it's a good idea to pay the  rent?

Thursday 22 August 2013

The first

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The other shoe":

One-time Reply
The job is NOT just a summer job - you have to work all year now & can't just waltz into a job. So school and job must co-ordinate along with transportation. After close to 3 years, this grand-kid has moved a tiny fraction up the job flag-pole.
But I love the solutions being offered. Instead of perhaps having Council rein in their more egregious spending, my family should move. I believe the solution could have come from the councillors tackling the budget and taking a pass on the other junk.
Obviously I offended sensibilities. 

Won't do that  again

Tuesday 20 August 2013

We are here to stay.

Someone   who is not a politician but who has   opportunity to observe  the character of various communities , informs me ours is  more engaged and better informed  than any other.

If I needed it , the information  persuades me to believe my confidence is not misplaced.

The Blog is six years old. It has  grown and evolved solely  as a result of  the exchange between us.

We have been  striking a path and finding our way  together.

I don't think I'm about to lose my core group of commenters.  They are not going  anywhere.

I think the numbers  will just continue to grow.

Even those who abhor what  we have to say, can't resist logging in to read it.

Conclusion to Previous Post

The computer is being erratic these days.

My conclusion  was that now thoughts recorded in social media  allows us to examine their validity in a way never  before possible.

If  we can stop pummeling each other for not thinking the same or  for jumping to  erroneous
conclusions , it may be ,the precious gift of liberty and freedom of  thought and expression  can become a meaningful thing.

Emotional turmoil might become less  and rational thought  take precedence.

History of Science

I watched History of Science last night on PBS.  I scribbled down a couple of statements:

"Humans are creatures of rational thought and emotional turmoil "

I thought....they've got that right.

'Language. literature and now computers  are the difference between ourselves and animals'

That's right too.

Now that we have social media ,people are recording thoughts in a way never  before possible.

I quoted my first-born grand-daughter's use of a "bad word" a couple of days ago.  She used it as a form of expression to describe a person  who made a  negative comment  about her grandmother

Another person responded that she  is a "rude  little girl who should wash her mouth  out with soap. "

Hard on the heels came another comment  that  I refuse to change no matter what.

I thought the comments were interesting in what they revealed.

The first person assumed my grand-daughter is a child because she  is a grand-daughter.

It is not so. My first-born grand=daughter is of a parental geneation. Her younger  sister has  a

child of eleven. years..my first-born great -grand- daughter.

My first-born grand-daughter is a  Facebook generation.

My Ottawa artist grandson, Patrick, confessed recently to being embarassed to realise that I  read  vocabulary he uses on Facebook. 

He doesn't use it in conversation with myself.   It's obviously common parlance with his friends. 

So what should I make of that.?

Should I attempt to change  my grandchildren's  reality with my idea of   permissible language?

Or  should I go with the flow? 

Do I have  a choice? 

Am I a partcipant?  Or an observer?

A creature of rational thought and emotional turmoil ?

Or different to all the rest?

I doubt I am different.   Except that I have lived longer than most of the rest. 

I have been where they are and know about that. 

I am where they have not yet been  and know stuff they don't. 

Does that call for me to apologise  ?  I don't think so. 

But I o think, seeing our thoughts in writing

Guest post

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A rejected comment":

While there may be a perceived difference in one's functioning in public life as opposed to in private, i.e. in business. this does not necessarily mean that one act one way in public and another way in private.

If the mayor is the CEO of Aurora, he has a Board of Directors (councillors) and a group of executives who act as department heads

In business the CEO and Chairman of the Board has fellow Board members and various officers, President, several vice-presidents, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, human resources head, purchasing, manufacturing and sales.

In order for the CEO to be successful he must be a leader of people and fully understand the nature of the company's business in the context of its place within its industry and that industry's place in the greater, global economy.

The public CEO must administer the services and facilities that are reasonable for a town of a given size within the context of the money available. He gets to meet his shareholders every four years for their assessment.

If he is successful as a leader it will be because he can talk with his fellow Board members, his officers and his staff, and can listen to what is being said and can make a case for what they are saying, and if he doesn't agree he must be able to convince all of them that his suggestion will benefit the company more.

Business is all about making a profit and making a company expand and grow. Ultimately the shareholders will determine the success or failure of the CEO. There are several very interesting situations with companies as diverse as Dell Computer, Herbalife, JC Penney, and Apple that are actively in the news. In Canada Blackberry is struggling for survival and Telus, Rogers and BCE are all fighting the federal government for its offer to Verizon of a huge subsidy to join the fray in the telecoms business on ridiculously generous terms.

The only difference that I can see between a CEO of a public or private enterprise is that the public CEO does not have a place to hide if he makes a stupid statement - it is out there immediately for all to see. If these people function at the regional level in relative privacy then they can make fools of themselves and this might never become public.

Private company CEOs are really only challenged when the company fails to meet its sales and profits targets, or when there is a scandal involving inappropriate activity, bribery, insider trading, price-fixing, etc.

Sunday 18 August 2013

A rejected comment

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The more things change, the more they remain the ...":

I think I might have gotten an idea from the post that if, & when, council ever gets to New Business, there could be a slight chance that the refurbishment of the Youth Centre might be re-cosidered. But, only if someone switches horses. Our resident switcher, for the most part, has been the Mayor. So. it seems highly unlikely although we can hope. His switches generally cost the town money.
Have a nice day.


Comments mean a lot to me. They make what I do here worth while. 

Now and again a comment gets rejected by accident. This one was. So I've had to copy it rather than 
publish it in the comments section.

It's not a focus on criticism of the Mayor although that's probably how it seems. 

I've told the Mayor before  in a meeting; I think his problem is  that he's  accustomed to  functioning in private business and  fibds it hard to get used to how the public's business must be conducted. 

It's not at all about Aurora having  changed into a major metropolis ithou my being aware. 

It's about the difficulty the Mayor has in learning how to function in a more restrictive and  publicly accountable environment. 

I also think that's why  he is more comfortable at the  Region. 

They function pretty much out of  the public eye. 

Remember the half million dollars  donation to the  Red Cross  for Tsunamai  Relief 
 approved by the Finance Committee a few years ago.  The Chairman wrote  the cheque and sent it off before anybody knew  a thing about it. 

And the point is?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Being a Unit of the Region":

Cllr Buck, you really looked out of your depth during the Fab Lab discussion. I guess 21st-century technological innovation isn't one of your strong suits.



I shared this comment with my  First Born grandchild. 

I do not hesitate to seek support from her when I need it. 

Grandchildren ten years younger are even more proficient .

I have learned what I needed to learn to do what I want to do. 

I  hesitate to wander further  afield in technology. The spirit of Steve Job has not descended upon me. 

When I have to acquire a new understanding I do.  Being  dragged  kicking and screaming backwards through the bushes. 

My grand-daughter says I would probably  learn  it easier if I didn't do so much of the kicking and screaming. 

She  also says the person who made that comment is a DICK.

Follow the white dot

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Being a Unit of the Region":

Has anyone Googled Fab Lab to see what it is all about? There are already dozens of these high tech sites around the world allowing anyone with an idea to come in and experiment using computer technology, 3-D printers etc. to create new products or improve on existing things.

Sounds like something we should explore further and maybe be proud to have in our town.

Not something for people who don't understand the concept to throw rocks at!



The issue on Tuesday was  why Council  had no information and were last to be informed.

 An advisory committee report was  on the agenda noting receipt of a staff  report  which  required  a staff report  dealing with future use of the old buildings in library square , in accordance with Council direction , should be deferred  again. Not for the firt time. 

Only in cross-table  discussion did Council learn  the committee report derived from a request  received from the Region to make an application for a Fab Lab in co-ordination with Seneeca College , using the old library building as a  potential location. 

The  information  about the Region's request was provided as though there was  merit to  Council  and the community being left  out of the discussion.

All discussion at that point had  apparently occurred  at staff level. 

Month's ago, once again , by majority vote,  directed  staff to spend time and man hours  to accomplish a certain objective. 

Rules do not permit  Council re-consideration of  a vote for a period of six months.  Staff   followed the direcxtom. Did the work. Not without cost to taxpayers. 

But when the report is presented , staff in another department have taken off in a different direction with no  authority from  Council. 

The reason town business is conducted publicly is for the community to be  part of the decision making process. at least follow along or let their objections known if so inclined.

It is the public's business.  

Saturday 17 August 2013

Being a Unit of the Region

Speaking of  such.

A staff recommendation  resulting from Council direction was set aside this week.

After years of not making  a decision , a report finally presented two options.

It was set aside to consider  something from the  Economic Development Advisory Committee.

I say "something" because no particulars were  presented to Council.

It seems someone at the Region has become aware of the building on Victoria Street.

It appears  someone at the Region thinks because of the thickness of the concrete floor, the old library building may be suitable for something called a Fab Lab.  It would accommodate machinery.

Staff have  reported to the  advisory committee  that the region has  requested  the town make an application to  establish  a Fab Lab  in the building.

It's not clear how said communication  managed to bypass  Council . Or the neighbourhood of the building.  But there  it is.  One of those inexplicable occurrences .

Councillor Thompson ,chairman of the committee, explained the Region had made the request.
Like  that explained everything;

The library building is  an institutional  use in a residential  neighbourhood.

Lack of parking is a serious problem. Has been since the new library was  built.

Machinery suggests an industrial use. Institutional use can exist  in an industrial zone.  Industrial use cannot exist  in a residential area.

Neighbors would undoubtedly have something to say about it.    I  think  the law requires they be given the opportunity.

But Heigh Ho ,the Merry Oh !
Maybe  being a major metropolis  with  a mighty budget
Means Council and residents don'r have to worry our pretty ,empty, little ,heads .about anything
Staff and the Region will take care of  it all.

Trivia????? You choose

The lat thought in my head before I went  to sleep was the yeae I was  first elected. 1967.

I re-call the Mayor's statement the night the  budget was struck. It was  the most important event of the year. All things stemmed from the budget.

It was the first budget to reach a million dollars.

The population was  7,500.

Water was a flat rate less than $7.50 a quarter.

The Water Reserve Account was the only reserve we had.

We built a third bay on the  fire hall that  year and borrowed  the money from the $18,000 Water Reserve Account.

We also ad to borrow from the bank to pay the accounts until the first tax  payment was collected.

Sewers were on the tax rate. We had a Volunteer Fire Brigade  and   ur own police force.

The town's share of the tax bill was around twenty-nine per cent.

The biggest share went to the Boards of Education. Which were also municipal.

Now,including water and sewer rates separately charged, the budget is a $1million a thousand.

The Province has absorbed increases in  education costs for the past decade.

The  Town's Financial Officer  feels it is to allow the municipality more room to tax.

I would argue  the purpose  wasto relieve  property owners  of  exorbitant  taxincreases.

That is not what happened.

So, to re-cap,  forty-six years ago, property taxes were  $1 million  per 7,500 people.

This year, the burden was  $1 million per 1,000 people.

Of  course it's not that simple.

But  I didn't make the equation  between the municipality's size and the annual operating  budget.

The current Mayor did that on Tuesday night.

By the way, in 2013 , the budget was slipped through with no message  from the Head of Council to the community about the state of the town's economy.

Nothing  at all  was said about  budget on Council's most important decision of the year.

The  amount of which apparently signifies a change to major metropolis status.

Friday 16 August 2013

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

When a  question is decided, it  is not  allowed to be considered again for a period of six months.

Unless and except if a  motion to re-consider is brought forward by a member who voted with the majority and the motion is supported by two-thirds of the members. 

No member  who voted with the majority, there were five, put forward such a motion on Tuesday or referred to the poll. 

Had the agenda proceeded to New Business, the Auroran Poll and  the 87%opposition to the Youth Centre space might have been raised. Likely, it would have been ruled out of order by the Chair.

The statement has been made ,Aurora is not a small town any more. 

I suggest, in the minds of some, Aurora is not a town at all. it's little more  than a unit of  the Region  of York. 

Maintaining  the town 's character is  generally a solemn commitment  by candidates at the time of  election.  I doubt anything less would  win support . 

The population is 55,000.   The election list is around  33,000.  It's bigger than it was  fifty-three years ago. Proportionately, Aurora is  NOT a big town. Not too big for the people to understand the disproportionate level of spending and taxation. 

$52. million  operating budget is staggering. 

Too big for  people  not to have a  sense their interest is not being  well served. 

The Mayor is  certainly not alone in his  view  the town no longer belongs to the people it serves ,

I am  equally sure I am not alone in my view ,the town  continues to belong to the people and Council is elected to serve the community at large. 

Theoretically,  we will not discover  the numbers on either side until the next election. 

In the meantime,  I will continue to believe  I know what this community expects of me. 

I don't think this Mayor has anything to teach me  that I need to know about the Town of Aurora 

He most certainly doesn't believe  he  can learn from me. 

I was here fifty-three years ago.

I am here now. 

I have a better sense of  change than the Mayor, 

I've seen more of it. 


I moved here in 1960. I  was a candidate for the first time in 1963.  First elected in 1967.

The chicken before the egg. The cart before the horse. A rof to last longer than the building.

A couple of interesting decisions were made. Aurora Community Centre One was approved for a new roof. A metal roof.

. It costs twice as much as the current roofing material but it lasts twice as long.

 Forty years instead of twenty.

 Steel is hardier than poly-vinyl and it will match the roof on Community Centre Two.

 Councillor Abel remarked on a leak in a dressing room in Community Centre Two.

But no information was forthcoing on that and it was not pursued.

 The Director of Environment and Infrastructure had no knowledge of the matter.

 In the re-organization of last term, approved by Council, responsibility for facility maintenance was transferred to the Director of E and I from the Director of Leisure Services.

 Now, the Director of L.S., sitting next to the Director of I and E would have had the answer to Councillor Abel's query. He leases the space to users

. In his previous capacity, a leak in the roof of a dressing room would have been brought to his attention. If mot by the Manager of Facility Maintenance, certainly by the fee-paying clientele of Leisure Services.

 Another interesting factor was not considered. Council has approved reserves be set aside for replacement of facilities anticipated every forty years. Sufficient funds are collected in taxation and stashed away for the purpose.

 But, you know, Community Centre One is forty-six years old.

We just approved a double expenditure for a roof to last another forty-years (according to the sale pitch)

It means a building that reached end of its life cycle six years ago will now have a roof to last until it
is eighty-six years old.

 We probably shouldn't worry over much. The metal roof on Community Centre Two hasn't lasted forty years. If the heavy panels on the vast expanse of roof of Community Centre One don't blow  off in high  wind and cause other collateral damage, backdating demolition of the building six years might make sense after all.

Thursday 15 August 2013

A Rundown

If we borrow from internal sources like the Hydro Reserve, interest is paid. Council is elected to make decisions . Staff are appointed to make recommendations. Councillors are accountable to people who freely gave them the responsibility. Staff are not. Master plans are to be reviewed and renewed every five years. They are not chiseled in stone. Builders with a schedule generally pay whatever the municipality demands. In Canada, time is money. Time wasted ,is money wasted. So they pay up. The home building industry did appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, Orangeville's Development charge when the economy went sour. Municipalities , Aurora included, had to provide refunds to save themselves the cost of OMB hearings. Debenture debt, rather than taxing to build a reserve fund, is my preference for tax stabilization. Nobody finances a home with cash. They pay for it while it is providing shelter for the family. With a debenture, people using the facility are paying for the facility while it's being used Development charge revenues is easy come, easy go and makes people forget principles of equality. New home buyers pay ninety percent of the cost of new public facilities within the price of their homes and therefore within their private mortgage. The building is not exclusive to their use. A huge percentage of the price of a new home is hidden tax. Taxes are paid on taxes forever and a day after. Mayor Dawe is strong in his convictions. He stands by them. I do too. At the end of a long meeting, people naturally get tired and slightly peevish but civility is mainly maintained. This blog is about politics. Politics are about differences. Vive Le Difference

Mystique of Development Charges

It's more complicated than it seems Municipalities have to justify the amount they take from developers. First we have to have Master Plans that set out what the new needs will be to serve the new population that results from the new development. Then we take it at the time applications for building permits are made. To justify taking it, we have to spend it for the purpose we said it was needed. Every five years we re-calculate the amount the Development Charge needs to be for upcoming needs. We can't charge for th same thing twice. And if we didn't use it for the purpose we said we needed it the first time, we can;t charge for it again. So, we have to use it or lose it. Timing becomes a factor. Funding from development charges to pay for a facility are a sure thing. Timing of development is not. Planning a facility from start to finish can be unpredictable. Bringing all things to-gether can be tricky. It means sometimes proceeding with a project before the funding is in the kitty. It doesn't mean the funding isn't forth-coming. Borrowing from the Cash-in-Lieu Reserve is always legitimate Even using CIL funds is appropriate. Cash in Lieu Reserve has not been less than $11 million in the last ten years. It's money we take in lieu of parkland. For example,when Canadian Tire built their last addition, we took cash-in-lieu instead of making them provide a park. Don't ask me why Canadian Tire's expanded business would make a park necessary. It's just another cash grab. But the government lets us do it. So, we do. And we can always use the money. Except that we don't. We've been stashing it for years. Anyway, it can be used for the Youth space until applicable DC funds come in. When we sold Hydro, we never intended the money to be stashed in a reserve fund. The intent was to replace Hydro asset with an asset of equal value. Something we would never be able to justify adding to the tax burden. Never again would we be likely to have such a sum available. We should put our heads together and come up with a facility the community could enjoy years into the future. Like a Culture Centre with a Foundation. Hydro was key to Ontario's development. It made the Province one of the better places to live in the world. We should try to make that happen again in Aurora. We sold Hydro in 2006. We have had two new Councils since. Still nothing. And don't talk to me about a real estate deal that would take valuable Yonge Street properties off the assessment roll for some cockamamie,half-assed idea of a Heritage Disneyland North. Any more questions?

A little bit of this...A little bit of that

Tuesday's Council meeting was different. The Mayor has become assertive. Council has too. A couple of staff recommendations were not approved. The Mayor made a number of amazing statements. When the Mayor speaks at the end of a debate, there is no opportunity for rebuttal. Which is not to say his comments will not return to haunt him. In Tuesday, he defended the Region's $2 billion worth of debt. Said it was a sign o good financial health. A triple A rating, he said. The argument may go down well in Financial circles. I doubt there would be joy in Aurora households. He declared forcefully regulations were coming for full cost recovery for water and sewers. I'm not clear who the Mayor thinks has been paying the freight for water and sewers until now. In a scolding tone, Council were informed. we are not a small town any more, we are a $52 million operating business corporation. Of course, we are still proportionately a small town. Spending $52 million a year to service a population of 55 thousand does not Aurora a major metropolis. It makes us a small town with a ridiculously high annual budget. The Mayor has become clicker-happy. If a Councillor doesn't stop talking when he says so,he turns off the microphone. I am sure it gives him a sense of power. The problem is,the Mayor over-steps his authority. A Council is the sum of its part. Aurora Council is nine parts. Each equal. The Mayor,everywhere except in Toronto,is but one of the parts. He has extra responsibility to maintain order. He does that by applying the rules all have agreed to abide by. There is no autocratic power. Nothing. Nil. Nada. If the Mayor fails to call a Councillor to order, a Councillor may do so from the floor. Order can and should be maintained by a gentle reminder of an applicable rule. It bespeaks familiarity and facility. If the Mayor is obliged to make a ruling ...the ruling can be challenged. Council support the chair's ruling...Or not. Risk of challenge is not to be taken lightly. If a ruling fails to win support, there's a loss of face. Face is important in politics. A Mayor needs a good working relationship with Councillors. Politicians tend to be skittish...always champing at the bit. Tuesday's agenda was once again completely unrealistic. At 10.30p.m, a motion to extend the hour of adjournment passed. At 11.p.m. a second motion was made to extend the hour. Two third majority is required. Three members voted in favour. The meeting adjourned with a substantial amount of business incomplete. There were no presentations or delegations or speakers at public forum. Just a series of weighty items to be decided ad a Council electing to exercise its authority.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Bread straight from the oven ...lashings of butter melted into it.edd

Glen-Aura Ferry still runs all year and the fish hatchery is still there. The family bakery is no longer at the end of the Main Street in Picton but at the other end.next to Tim Horton's an Artisan bakery had hot bread straight out of the ovens. (t was expensive but I bought three loaves, one for each family and the scoffed it with butter in no time. Fresh bakery bread was always a must every morning. Kids still love it. Cheddar cheese and hot sweet tea

I Have To Tell You This

My mind and heart are still in Prince Edward County. I spent a couple of days on the beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park. Four generations of my family were gathered there. We discovered it when my youngest son was an infant in my arms. We were on a trip and camping overnight wherever we found ourselves. It was near dark when we checked in to a private campground. The site was deep among the trees. When we made our way to the beach in the morning, we came out of the gloom into brilliant sunshine, sand dunes,a beach that stretched for miles and the lake spread out before us sparkling and blue with a horizon that dropped off the face of the earth. We had to drag the kids away to continue our journey. It wasn't easier for me. Except for the smell of the sea, air that feels like gentle fingers touching one's face, the scene was straight out of my childhood, probably the happiest,most carefree of my entire life. Sandbanks became the annual trek for my family. This year, four generations formed a semi-circle on the beach. Four children built castles, made moats and splashed and floated in the water for hours. Two infants, one still unaware and the second, just two months older, drinking in everything he could see; the fourth generation to enjoy that glorious place. We hailed from different places;Aurora,Newmarket,Penetanguishne, Kitchener and Washington in the sky. The entire clan wasn't there. But enough. My daughter Heather and husband Andy Brookes ,son of my best friend, the late Margaret Brookes, last Postmistress of the Village of Kettleby, are the continuity. They graduated from a canvas tent, a fly sheet over the picnic table and one infant,Special Olympics Champion, to four children,now adults who still spend time there and have to tear themselves away. Now they have a tent trailer. The third and first new. The field kitchen is an organizational joy to behold. The camp fire always plentifully supplied. Smors, popcorn and marshmallows on a stick are de rigeur. They take bicycles and have a day of golf. They sleep up off the ground,play cards and scrabble and watch movies on an iPad on rainy days. I've sometimes wondered if gypsy isn't part of the family genes. Life outdoors seems so right. I had my scooter with me. They rode on bicycles ,I tootled along on my four small wheels. My grand-daughter Lindsay and Scott and their three girls had a site abutting amenities of flush toilets, hot showers and laundry facilities. A tent trailer can be rented and placed on a site as part of the camp service. Ontario was growing a provincial parks and campground program when we discovered Sandbanks. They stopped a long time ago. There were no food banks then. Social housing was a recognized need. I think full-facility campgrounds are the ultimate summer life style for Ontario families. I think food banks are an appalling reflection on societal values. I think $billions squandered in desperation politics is criminal.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Addendum To The Last Post

Another morsel of info for the pot just garnered. Probably ninety-nine per cent of all snow that falls is plowed back onto boulevards and left to melt where it sits. The remainder, in the narrow streets of the central core, depending upon how much, is scooped into dump trucks and transported to the disused parking lot that serves as storage until it melts. Manpower and vehicles add to the cost of "treating" melting snow. Hourly rates for both are a matter of record. It appears a stationery snow melting machine might cost as much or as little. depending on one's perspective, as $200,000. A mobile machine maybe as much as $400,000. We are probably talking as short a period of service as four months a year. The option has never been presented in detail to Council. There was an old lady who swallowed a fly I don't know why

Ten Pages

To-night, Council's agenda is 279 pages and twenty nine items long. Item 9 is a ten page report on debt financing of $21,607,000 , being the combined total for the joint facility for public works and parks and the approved youth centre and ,I think, the skate board park. The total is $2.6 million short. The report was likely written before an additional allocation was approved for the Youth Centre by Council at the July meeting. I am about to repeat a tale of woe. It bears repeating. I won't apologize. The point will be revealed. A snow storage facility at a cost of almost a million dollars is included in the debt picture outlined in the report. Snow , from a few central streets, is currently dumped on a disused gravel parking lot.It melts there as in nature nd filters into the ground. The actual dump is not an expense. It costs nothing; nil,nada,zilch and zero. The million dollar cost is for a facility to "treat" snow melt. The project has been on the books since 2007. A design is already prepared at a cost of $167,000. Three times the recommendation has come before this Council before finally being tacked on to capital cost of the joint facility, in June, I think. The first rationale was removal of salt. It was pointed out,salt cannot be removed once dissolved. Salt lso mitigates against the presence of snow. Then....salt was not the problem. Pathogens were. What are pathogens? Animal excrement. How much can there be? Then ....it was because the snow dump was within the wellhead protection area. Why does it have to be there? or anywhere? Finally, after a lapse of time, the recommendation returned to Council, to be included in the capital cost of the joint facility. Without supporting argument, the " snow storage facility" at a cost of a cool million was tacked on to the to the overall total. I have to tell you, my friends, I do not regard myself competent to design a joint facility for public works and parks. At the same time, if a recommendation makes no sense to begin with, it does not acquire credibility with time and persistence. Cost of the project was already increased on a motion by Councillor Thompson I believe, to increase the energy standard to the "platinum" standard. So now, as noted, cost is escalated by conscious choice, to almost $22 million dollars.It will increase again by $2.6 million added at the last Council meeting for the youth centre. The moment of truth is upon us. According to the treasurer, we do not have immediate access to cash. We are selling our current site of p.w. and parks for $3 million. But we don't know when. Property we own and serviced at Leslie Street could realize $7 million. It could take years. It was originally purchased for recreational purposes with development charge revenues. More Development charge revenues are forthcoming but not yet awhile. We have R and R Reserve funds but we don't want to touch them. They are precious. Hands off R and R Reserve funds. That leaves the low-hanging fruit of the Hydro Asset Reserve Fund to borrow. Oh yeah, verily I say to you it is the fruit that tempted Adam. The same one Eve used to promise wisdom from the tree of life to seduce him. And he discovered his nakedness and covered himself with a leaf or ten.

Sunday 11 August 2013

Things Can Only Improve

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Party Trappings and All That Jazz": I'm not sure if there was ever a province as ticked off at politicians as Ontario is at the moment. The lack of a viable alternative is partly responsible. Imagine having a kid who is bright, good at public speaking & hard-working & who suggests he/she might want to be a politician ! *********** We do not have to look much further than our own community or far into the past to find the source of the problem. Consider the persistent demands of a neighbourhood for the town to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to effect removal of a Bell cell phone tower erected in accordance with all the rules and regulations. A couple of decades such a demand would never have been taken seriously In the mid-nineties a base element of politics took hold starting at ground level. It was there before but never had the upper hand. The political element that encouraged residents to believe selfish and unreasonable demands were reasonable. The one that allowed an inadequate individuql to believe the only route to self-promotion was denigration of another. Every school child is familiar with the tactic. I scooted around Knowles Crescent the other day. It is one of the presttiest streets in town. Fifty-nine homes form a crescent. In the last term,a million dollars were spenton re-constructions. Curbs and storm sewers transformed it from rural to urban standards. A few homeowners became concerned and encouraged by a Councillor to believe, while the project was ongoing,their driveway grades were too steep. The Director of Public Works was pushed aside and a consultant hired to deal with the problem. A spokesperson told Council they wanted Councillor Mac Eachern to be their "go-to person" The project stalled for weeks. An additional $60. thousand was doled out in cheques to five property-owners to complete the driveways to their idea of elegance. One heque was for $10,thousand. The option, it was claimed.was for the town to be sued. Sued? For transforming an entire street into something beautiful with public resources. Hogwash!!! The cell phone tower issue is a replica of the same excess. There's no doubt some homeowners were encouraged by some Councillors to believe their demands are not ridiculous and excessive . No greater principle is involved here than the rudimentary conviction that all politics are base. Hand over the keys to the treasury and one's future will be secure. Never....ever....say No Your demand is not in the interest of the community. Even now we are paying fees, in addition to the cost of the town;s legal department, to advise that the cell tower is up. It will stay up. A contrived and extravagant witch hunt, in the form of a judicial review, to turn up a culprit within the administration won't change a damn thing. Council opted to pay for additional legal advice to avoid being held responsible for the obvious decision that had to be made. They failed the test of leadership. They flunked out. Last week I came back from Sandbanks Provincial Park to find an e-mail from a reporter in my inbox. He had been informed the Mayor and Council had received an offer of admission tickets to Rogers Cup Tennis Tournament. He had also been told because of their value, acceptance of the tickets was a breach of the Code Of Ethics and the Mayor's office should have immediately refused the tickets on behalf of the entire Council. There was no evidence anyone had accepted tickets or how much the tickets were worth. But that didn't aappear to be relevant. The reporter was adamant the Mayor had something to answer for. If I were asked to guess which Councillor was the snitch, I would say Councillor Ballard. Does it set him aside from the rest. Unfortunately no, not really. The fate of the last Council at the hands of the voters , for practising politics at gutter level and treating the electorate with total disrespect, seems not to have made any impression on the current Council. They follow precisely in their footsteps. I would encourage a young person who is bright, enjoys public speaking and thinks he would like to be a politician. There's a desperate need for candidates who believe the job is worthwhile or its own sake. It's a challenge like no other. Universities do not teach it. As newspapers duplicate the mistakes of the politicians and fail anyway. (Did anyone notice he headline about The Star unexpectedly losing 25% of revenue? ) As people switch attention fom T.V. to social media. The need can only grow for citizens willing to give what it take and accept the challenge.

Party Trappings and All That Jazz

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Messy Management is Not Management. It's Chaos": 16:21 August 10 Unfortunately there is not enough space here nor an inclination on my part to cast spears at the "leaders/former leaders" of the major political parties every time I say something. If my observation appeared partial it is because I was commenting on three members of the PC/C party. I could just have easily have zeroed in on members of the others, and then I would be criticized by someone else. If the RCMP is investigating senators over inappropriate expense claims I feel that former Premier McGuinty should likewise be investigated, for having directed and abetted a cover-up. In his case we are not talking about a paltry few hundreds of thousands of dollars but rather about several hundreds of millions of dollars. Have a nice evening. Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 10 August 2013 19:19 **************************** If I understand the bits ad pieces I've picked up along the way and what Frank Klees has said,cancellation of the gas-fired generators at the lakefront, the decision is currently under investigation by the police. The current Premier has declared that no decisions will be made for the benefit of the Party in her administration. The Lady is having to think fast on her feet. The problem for the Party extends farther to previous to the last election. When on the eve of same, then Premier Dalton McGuinty made the decision to shut down the gas -fired generators at the lakefront. In his time, he created a second agency of government to manage Hydro generation and distribution. The first was Hydro One previously known as Hydro Ontario, which itself was responsible for the supply of power to keep the Province humming and developing. Something like the Ontario Lottery Association. That institution moved lottery decisions to arms length from politics. It didn't stop the current Premier from leaping in with both feet and assuring the Liberal Mayor of Ottawa and a prior provincial colleague there would be no difference between cities when it came to an agreement. Nor did it stop her from firing Paul Godfrey who had chaired the organization competently ,within the rules ,since he had that responsibility. Paul Godfrey has been a mover and shaker in Toronto politics for forty years. He is a prominent Conservative. Did he have anything to do with the Conservative win in Etobicoke -Lakeshore ? Did the Premier's "political" decision to placate the Liberal Mayor of Ottawa at the expense of the Toronto economy? have an impact? I think so. It didn't do a hell of a lot for the Provincial economy either which is in dire need of whatever help it can get as opposed to a kick in the teeth. Paul Godfrey did not complain. He did not explain. I would not be in the least surprised to learn, he got even. The Premier had set him free. I am continually surprised by the absence of political acumen demonstrated at every level of government. On election night, Doug Holyday stood in the shadows behind Tim Hudack and waited while the Leader used up the oxygen of victory in promoting himself. The Conservative Party had nothing whatsoever to do with the win. Doug Holyday had more than forty years of service in elected office to offer the voters of the Riding. It was like the old time religion. He was sought out for the nomination on the basis of proven competence and public recognition. It wasn't the colour of his skin, or his religion , or the numbers of this ethnic group or that on the voters' list. But there was Tim Hudack on election night displaying his total lack of comprehension that the voters get it. The time is long gone since people voted blindly for a party label. I think , in this day and age, we should be able to discuss the merits of this campaign or that without tying ourselves into knots with party trappings.

Saturday 10 August 2013

Curiouser And Curiouser

I just had a phone call. From a student at Toronto University. A research project is being conducted on behalf of the Province. The subject Public Health Services. The purpose is advocacy for more health services. Those were the words used. One of the questions; how often do we have water tested? The caller's words tumble over each other in their haste and there's an inflection that makes for even less immediate intelligibility. How many people over the age of eighteen live in the house? Three. Which one has the next birthday? That's the one who must answer the questions. She's Not here. When would be the best time to call? Not known. I had a few questions myself like who is paying for the project? The government. Are we talking about Public Health Board services? Yes that's right. Do you know what the Public Health Nurses do? Not the one to answer that question. So,the Government of Ontario ,in deep deficit, paying a University to call homes in Ontario,speaking only to the person who has the next birthday , to ask questions about health services to determine what additional services might be advocated. There are four-hundred and forty municipalities in Ontario. Every Region and County has a Public Health Unit. No doubt there are places less well served than others. Likely the same places that don't have the resources to pay for the services. York Region is not one . We have Public Health Nurses attending monthly committee meeting of a Trails Advisory Committee without apparently making any contribution. Actually, it's difficult to imagine what a Public Health Nurse might contribute to a discussion about trails. A Master Trails Plan has been endorsed by Council. Even the reason for continued four hour monthly meeting of the Trails' Advisory Committee is not exactly clear. No doubt, in time, all will be revealed.

Friday 9 August 2013

Once More With Feeling

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "An Appeal": 12:14... nice to see that you pay attention to the clock, too bad it's not accurate. However, the Blog's host has an issue with community groups hijacking council meetings, how can this appeal from a community group be any different? And don't tell me it's different because this is not The Town; well, it's called "Our Town and its Business"!!! ****************************** The Blog's host has no issue with community groups. I do have an issue with Council being content with a process that in no way conforms to the requirements of the Municipal Act. After taking the Oath of Office, adopting a Procedure Bylaw is first Order of Business. The Act requires that a Calendar of Meetings shall be published. Agendas are required to be published in advanced. The purpose is to inform the community when Town business will be dealt with and which items will be decided. Town business shall be open and transparent. Council is the decision-making body. It's why we have elections. As we do it, delegations can be requested until the last minute. In the last term, it became apparent the presiding officer was encouraging groups or individuals to delegate to Council. It became an accepted pattern. Yes, Council meetings are televised. It should mean the town's business is conducted openly and transparently and according to schedule. Not so when a meeting continues until midnight, one and a half hours beyond the scheduled hour of adjournment and half the agenda has to be deferred until the next meeting a month hence. There is no order in the process. There is no efficiency. There is no clarity. No evidence of competent management. Requirements of the Municipal Act are not being met.

Messy Management is Not Management. It's Chaos

Of course it's a good thing for Council to lend support and encouragement to volunteer organizations who provide various programming for their children. Every organization has an executive to manage business affairs. Promotion is part of executive responsibility. It is not a function of the Town's Council. The business of the municipality should not be set aside to promote the activities of volunteer organizations. High -priced administrative personnel should not be kept sitting idle at the Council table . having to be compensated with time off in lieu or payment for time sent that accomplished nothing. The town des support volunteer organizations in many ways. Facilities for programs, advice for start-ups to name a couple. The Bulletin Board is accessible to voluntary organizations to promote their events. The town's web site contributes to circulation of information. We have a Leisure Services department with an $11 or $12 million budget in support of services other than services to property. The Council meeting is the town's executive meeting to deal with an operating budget of $52. million or thereabouts. Management of a business agenda that provides insufficient time for cmpletion on a consistent basis is not management. It is mis-management. Staff have, from time to time, tried to steer Council to recognize business priorities, to no avail. Councillors are not willing to take responsibility for properly organizing time. They are unwilling to risk the wrath of people who believe Council meetings and town business are solely about their interests. And don't anyone try to tell them otherwise. During the cell tower brouhaha ,Councillor's Gallo and Ballard asked me to remove their names from my e-mail list . They did not want to be associated with my "insults " to a resident. They circulated their request to the same e-mail list. Which, by the way, was not mine to begin with. A resident who was unable to attend one of the number of Council meetings the residents delegated, had not appreciated my response. He forwarded a number of questions for me to answer. I responded , civilly, with a couple for him to answer to himself. Gallo and Ballard decided they had something to teach me and circulated their reference to insults. The story encapsulates the a political dilemma. I believe the town's business is in chaos, starting with ill-managed business meetings which are never completed and cannot be completed because no control is exercised and time is improperly allocated. If that's what you see in the public forum ,why should anything different be expected behind the scenes. If Councillors are not encouraged by the community, and indeed are discouraged from making the necessary correction, there is really no reason to anticipate any improvement.