"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

Friday 31 January 2014

Life comes without a guarantee

This  has not been like other days.

A call came through. My  brother's son died last night in his sleep  in a hotel in Vancouver.

He was there to accept an award on behalf of  his  company.

He was in his mid-forties. A strong, healthy man

I was trying to remember the last time I saw him.  At his Dad's life memorial.

My mind was a blank.

Then it cleared.

I got the word  on Remembrance Day  2003, at the Cenotaph ,to say he was in hospital  and had  almost died.

He was still with me at the time of the election. ..very  aware.... enough  to  share.

He lived a short time longer.

On the day, I  remember sitting  in a restaurant , placing an order with my own, my sister and my niece Susan.

Thinking once more.... incredibly ....this is what it's like.

Family gather and  talk ...normally ....like a loved one  hadn't just  drawn his last breath.

Like there wasn't a great weight of sadness sharing the space.

My brother was  younger than I was  but ill and in his seventies.

None of us would have wished what his life had become, to continue a day longer.

But Craig was half his father's age.

His life was still waiting .

All has been revealed

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Politics,,,The Art of Satisfying the greatest N...":

Mayor Dawe inherited a gong show, and has done quite a good job of trying to run this town regardless of some of the councillors still at the table! Unfortunately when you work with clowns, the circus continues! 


Yes sir...I think that sums up  the Mayor's attitude  just about right. 

He 'inherited a gong show" 

What do you do  when the voters give you a gong show to work with.  

Neuter  it wherever you  can. Degrade it ...reduce  it  to zero....without authority or respect. 

Form alliances to assist  in the strategy.

That would be wherever  and whenever, there is no camera. Cameras  have a way of reading between the lines. 

People have an intuition about  things not  being quite what they should be,

The comment  will  certainly assist their comprehension.

Now they know ....Council are just a bunch of clowns. 

Our  fearless but valiant leader has succeeded despite the circus that surrounds him.

Hey Ho,,,the Merry oh.

What will he do for a sequel, I wonder ?

Will that comment be his first endorsement  for a second term  as  Mayor?

Litigation Proceeds

A statement of claim was filed   by the  Town in the court on Wednesday. 

It is a public document.

I can tell you what it claims.

I cannot comment.

The town is asking the court to uphold the Town's  right to purchase Block 208  at the same purchase price and terms as in the Minto agreement with the YCDSB)

Should the court not award specific performance of the contract, the Town is alternatively seeking
damages in the amount of $4 million being the estimated difference between the price the Town could have purchased Block 208 and the current market value of such piece of property.

Talk about that among yourselves.

Aye,,,there lies the rub

The Town filed suit on Minto Development on Wednesday

It's a public  document . More later.

On Wednesday, a Public Planning meeting outlined  an area within the Promenade Study  to be eligible for grants and loans from the town treasury  for renovations and repairs to private property
that  will lead  to revitalization and realizing the Vision  of the Promenade Study.

Right now I want to talk about  Julian Fantino ,the Honorable Minister  of  Seniors and Veteran's

First time Mr. Fantino  applied for the  Police Chief's job ...he didn't  get it.

He  became Chief of the London Police Department. Signed a  five year contract but never moved to that city. Didn't honor the contract.

When he didn't get the job in York, the Italian Press  quoted him that the "Region wasn't ready for an Italian "

Well now he is the Minister for Seniors and Veteran's Affairs.

In a truly outstanding and extraordinary reaction , a spokesperson for Veterans have demanded his resignation

No  Canadian Institution  is  more supportive of government,duty,respect and protocol.

 When  Legions were what they were intended to be, no politics were permitted within the premises,

Remaining veterans of the Second World War must be substantially reduced.

Their  memory of the  horror, the sacrifice and  how lives were changed .will be no less

Canadians fought and died in Italy. Those who came home left a part of themselves.

In the campaign against Hitler's ally. Benito Mussolini

To name a person without experience to any Cabinet post was questionable wisdom.

To name an Italian to phase out Veterans Affairs is typical Harper. Totally without sensitivity.

If  a way was being sought to  reduce history to zero, they could not have found better,

Julian Fantino is not about much more than himself

Politics,,,The Art of Satisfying the greatest Number

You Should Know Better has left a new comment on your post "Whose Town is it ?":

"Do you think maybe the Mayor owes somebody for something and this is a payback?"

Do you think you should be publishing comments that may be libellous?


If I thought the comment was about corruption. I would agree it should not be published.

But this is about  political currency, not the coin of the realm. 

I think the Mayor had many individuals working  hard for him in the last election who contributed 
to his success. 

No factor contributed more  to his victory than the defeat of his pre-deccessor.

Not for a minute would I argue a debt owing  in that direction.

I  think we might assume there were people with expectations.

It doesn't mean " payback"  in the sense of corruption.

In political terms, it means fulfilling the commitment , whatever that was understood to be.

I've known all the Mayors of Aurora in the last half century. I have made various assessments of their competence.

But I have never seen anything to  indicate any one of them might have sought or accepted  a
"payback"  such as suggested in the comment above.

Did I help the  Mayor to be elected?

Yes I did.

Did I get what I expected ?

No, I didn't .

Does  it mean nobody did ?


I think  a shrinking circle  may get all they hoped for....at the expense of the rest of us.

Is  there not something nefarious about  that?

Not at all,not at all.

Ir's  just a politician who has no idea what  people expect.

And sadly, didn't learn.

Whose Town is it ?

Missing from the previous list is the Fab Lab project contemplated for the old library building.

There is one already in Markham  with support from the Region , with our taxes and all and in partnership with York Region.

We don't know how well the concept is working out down there.

But no matter, every municipality should  apparently have one of their own.

With such fabulously successful entrepreneurs for advisors ,no doubt the Midas touch will grace our efforts

When Kathy Van Nostrand  called last week to invite me for coffee and five minutes , the time on the phone stretched beyond  that while I was subjected to the hard sell.

Each member of Council was  similarly approached.

Except of course the Mayor,whose office was committed  even before the project had legs.

Kathy kept referring to "we " in her references.

I kept asking  who  are "we".? You and who?

She kept dodging the  question.

 "their " use of the  town funds, $25,000 . to determine feasibility was referenced .

The  Probus Presentation ,circulated by the Manager of Special Projects , to consider before dealing next Tuesday with the 100 page report written by himself   plus the consultant study.

The  Probus Presentation  sets out  the financial feasibility formula

                   Town to fund 50% of the cost,
                   Donations and fund-raising to fund 50% of the cost.

Even as I write it, I can scarce believe they put that in writing.

The  sense of unreality grows as Councillors  are individually lobbied and pressured  from inside and out.

Thursday 30 January 2014

Hush !! Hush !! Sweet Charlotte

Yesterday Councillors received an e-mal from the specials project manager of the CAO's  office.

It  was noted time  had elapsed since Council received the original presentation of the Hillary -
McIntyre  theme park.

In preparation for next Tuesday's meeting , something known as  The Prpbus Presentation " was

A Pdf  disclosed a succession of beautiful colored photos of   heritage houses nestled in the midst of  forests of high rises resplendent in the glory of night life in the city.

The last item of the presentation was funding.

It's a simple formula.

50%  from the town.

50% from donations and fundraising.

Doesn't say who would  be responsible for that,

Figures vaunted  are $11 million  from the town.

To  be matched by donations and fund-raising.



Council just decided to provided the Historical Society  $50, thousand to cover their 2014 program.

Apparently it couldn't be raised  from donations or fund-raising.

At the bottom of the  employee e-mail  to Councillors is the  advisory clause that the communication is confidential. Not to be shared with any person.

This term of office continues to be a journey of discovery

All kinds of unexpected, uninvited , inexplicable confidences are thrust  upon me

Usually behind closed doors.

Now in an e-mail from an employee.


The list of  contemplated  mega  $million projects keeps one's mind in a spin.


The Province issued invitations to universities  for "expressions of interest" for   an outreach 
program to accommodate 1000 students. 

That's not a secret. 

We are advised by those wiser than we , the offer of  free real estate  to a university  could  make us the newest university town in Ontario. 

Whamo!!!  It's  in the Strategic Plan. 

Of course it would not be free to us. 

No time  to waste confiding in stakeholders or seeking their input.


In the  2C development , 14.5 acres of land have been  assigned service allocations and put out for bids to the development industry. 

Ninety-two homes can be built on forty foot lots. 

Value is what the top bidder/builder is willing to pay.

The land abuts  the Stew Burnett Park.

The information is already in the public domain.

I can't tell you anything else. You are not entitled to know.


The  six acre unrequited school site on Mavrinac  Boulevard  has been valued by the owner at  $6 million.

The town thinks we should get it at the price of raw land. 

What do you think it would take to compel a developer to sell land worth $6million  to the town for $2 million ?

You are not wrong. 

But you are not entitled to know or have any input into that decision either. 


The list grows. 

The joint works/ parks facility  decision is pending at $26 million .

Youth Space needs are underway at $6 million. 

The town hall renovation space was $6 million. 

$300,000.  was spent preparing . 

Cancelled  it at the point of awarding the contract. 


So here we are in an election year.  

Don't  they come wound fast.?

Now they're going to ask you what you think.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Perception is the reality

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Let's Talk": No, 20:50, what's "too bad" is your bias.


One person's bias is another person's perspective.

Monday 27 January 2014

A Day in the Life Of

The  bronchitis is back. Got a prescription today.

Two tablets every  twelve hours.

 Have to wait until ten o'clock  so the repeat isn't during the night.

In the meantime, talking brings on coughing. 

I have two puffers. They seem such silly  things. I can't believe I'm doing it right.

When I was on my way out,  a man saw me brushing  the snow off my car,  stopped and said

"Here let me do that . Get in the car and make yourself comfortable."

Thank you, Chris Moffat


Tim the Enchanter has left a new comment on your post "Let's Talk":

I am not involved with the Aurora Historical Society.
I am neither a supporter nor a detractor.
I do not have the facts or the inclination to express an opinion as to the quality of AHS management.
I shall leave that to others.

But I am a taxpayer.
I did not decide to give my money to the AHS.
The Town of Aurora did. (by Town I mean our council and staff)
The Town is responsible to me, as a taxpayer, for the manner in which my money is distributed.
The Town is responsible for placing the necessary conditions on any agreement involving the use of my money complete with goals and objectives that are clearly explained and not subject to interpretation.
It is NOT within the Town's mandate to use my money to ensure the continued financial viability of the AHS or any other special interest group.
However it is the Town's responsibility to ensure that the recipient of my money fulfills the agreed upon mandate by obtaining the information necessary to perform an accurate and honest performance evaluation.

If a review indicates that the AHS has not kept their end of the bargain then it is the Town's responsibility to me, the taxpayer, to discontinue funding.
If the AHS loses funding then it can be left to its members and interested parties to discuss and point fingers among themselves.

However, speaking as a taxpayer, there is no such thing as "shared blame".
The Town, and only the Town is responsible.

That there appears to be continued debate surrounding the existence of a museum, or lack of same, is the fault of the Town and no one else.
Either an agreement was made to construct or house a museum or it was not.

That there appears to be continued debate on the subject of artifact ownership is the fault of the Town and no one else.
Either the agreement includes the definition of artifact ownership or it does not.

Defenders of the Town might counter by saying that those that are not directly involved in the matter don’t appreciate the difficulties.
That one can't lay blame without having all the facts.
That there many interested parties exerting their influence.
That pressure has been brought to bear.
That new councils bring new perspectives and attitudes.

These seemingly reasonable excuses are completely without merit.
The Town is not duty-bound to sign agreements with the AHS or ANY special interest group.
"We made the best deal we could under the circumstances" doesn't apply.
Compromise is not necessary.
There is no 'rock. There is no 'hard place'.
No 'devil' - no 'deep blue sea'.
The Town need only worry about the interests of the one party that matters - the taxpayer.

The grand-standing and constant squabbling that results from poorly constructed agreements is the sole responsibility of the Town.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Let's Talk

You can't  tell  a volunteer organization  to fold.

I believe there is  no longer any justification for a grant of taxes.

It is  also obvious  a structure as old as  Hillary House  is  in constant need of maintenance .

Some projects a lot more expensive than others.  Not do-able by volunteers.

Since the Historical Society seems to be willing to transfer ownership, I suggest they transfer it to Ontario  Heritage Foundation.

The Sheppard  house is  maintained in good condition by that organization.  They have tenants.

High Tor  farm is  in the hands of Ontario Heritage Foundation. There are no buildings . No practical use being made of it.

I doubt that was  the purpose envisioned by the donor.


John C. has left a new comment on your post "Jack And The Beanstalk":

Where did the 1400 missing artifacts go.I think David might have been right to raise concerns and that was quite some time ago.


The artifacts were the responsibility of the Historical Society. Storage had to be found when the old School was  closed for renovations.

Bits and pieces picked up here and there indicate the  collections had to be stashed in several places.Hillary House, basements, attics, rental storage.

I recall something about school desks  disposed of because they were not authentic Aurora artifacts .
There likely just  wasn't a place to put them.

The school was closed  for seven years.  And for four more there was no museum. The Society is a volunteer agency.   Members  come and members go. Presidents  change.

Under the circumstances , it's  not surprising the collection is not complete.

There certainly isn't anyone to blame.

There may be still a stash  hidden  in an attic or a basement.

I'm not speaking with any certainty

Just looking forward to getting things back on track.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Micro Managing versus Micro Manipulation

A presentation was made  to Council by a lovely young lady about" Outreach " from the Historical Society.

The program takes forty minutes to  present. . Teachers are said to be enthusiastic.

The Historical Society has been receiving a grant of $50,000. from the town for over forty years.

It provided curator services and the museum until 2003. The grant continued when museum closed in 2003.

The Historical Society has  withdrawn from responsibility for the museum and divested itself of the collection.

The town has  reclaimed space for a museum, owns the collection and  must provide in the 2014 budget for the service

The Culture Centre Board has heretofore been receiving  town funds for heritage and culture programming.

No more  heritage programming necessary. No interest in participating.

Grants to Historical Society  and  Culture Centtre for service no longer provided must be terminated.

The town has a full-time heritage  planner. Expertise relates. Dual function suggests.

The presentation on the "Outreach program" by the lovely young lady indicates the Historical Society has a different idea.

The Outreach Program  duplicates museum service.

The Historical Society's grant should end.

They comprise a hundred members. Less than half attended a  recent meeting.

They own  and operate Hillary House.,a federal heritage site.

Self-sufficiency should be their goal.

Continual dependence on taxation should not.


Jack And The Beanstalk

Kathy Van Nostrand called yesterday. Wanted a few minutes of my time to discuss  the merits of spending millions of  taxpayer resources acquiring properties on Yonge St for speculation.

The lady was very comfortable advising me of the town's best interest. Of how youth needs could be met . Notwithstanding millions currently being spent for that specific purpose.

There was a hint a museum would be part of the project. Notwithstanding the twon alreay spent millions on Church Street School for that precise purpose.

We must save the Horton house she said. John's only going to live in it for another years.A developer will scoop it up and build condos. You wouldn't want that to happen.

Kathy Van Nostrand scooped up an old house on Wellington Street and spruced it up for professional use.

Actually  John  could recover the value  and protect the heritage  by transferring ownership to the Ontario Heritage Foundation

When Sheppards Bush  was donated, it was agreed the  "donor"  continue to occupy  for five
years and he  negotiated for longer  still.

The last argument was it would be a good investment .The town could buy and realize  substantial profit by selling it for a higher  price down the line.

In the first place, speculation is not the function a municipality.

Speculation in  general  is frowned upon.  Not quite kosher. It's the reason Capital Gains Tax was introduced half way through the last century.

Ms Van Nostrand kept referring to  "we" and "us" during  the conversation.

I kept  asking about "we" and "us"  She kept dodging.

Town  funds  appear to have been used by the group.

Things became  even more puzzling.

The Mayor is part of the group. His office  was listed  in support  even
before council had any idea what was afoot.

Ms Van Nostrand assured me prominent supporters.

Yes, I knew about that. Quite the strategy.

Rally support from people who know nothing at all about  practical realities and  have no

Put the Town's Mayor at the top, tag the President of the Historical Society(less than fifty active members )... with a minute element of credibility and  we're off  to the races.

Well Really !!!!!!!!!

BTW  I wasn't  the only one getting the treatment.

Friday 24 January 2014

20% Logic ..80% Emotion

I  tell you because it's  true and it's relevant.

Time was a zoning application had to be made  for a "group home"to be located .

Every application resulted in  uproar in every neighborhood.

It didn't stop until Provincial regulations removed the need for re-zoning.

It was  finally understood, people with special needs  are people like everyone else  with the same right to live in a residential neighborhood .

They are not lesser beings.


The tree bylaw was back on Tuesday with a  new barrel load of twaddle.

An hour of general committee ,an hour and a half of Council spent dipping into the stew cooked up by the Environmental Advisory Committee.

The pesky bylaw was sent back to the committee.

Serves them right.

Former  Councillor, many times failed candidate for Mayor, Nigel Keane was  the original author.

Clear-cutting had not been observed in town . It was election time.

Under the Bylaw, Property owners were  compelled to post a sign,notifying neighbors of intention to destroy or injure trees  and  provide opportunity to prevent the crime.

On receipt of application, staff  descend upon the property with arborist. calipers and gear for

Trees  are identified  by type, examined for health, measured for size and pin-pointed for location.

Permit fees are  established  by numbers of trees . Thousands of dollars  are extracted in the process.

Recommendation  to grant is made by staff .

Decision to grant ..or not... is made by Council.

Fees are not refunded ,if permit not granted.

An application came from the owner of a tree covered lot. He wanted to build a house.

He notified  neighbors, hired experts, paid permit fees and waited.

Bylaw -author -Councillor  Kean moved  refusal.

The motion was defeated.

Everything  needing to be said about  lame-brained, idiotic, asinine. time-wasting  tree bylaw was said in Kean's motion.

Annual applications  to remove trees are in low single digits.

Mostly for heavily wooded building sites.

Such construction is mostly in estate lot subdivisions.

Mostly in the Oak RidgesMoraine and regulated by the  OakRidges Moraine Act .

Provincial legislation trumps local bylaws  every time

A house  built in the Oak Ridge Moraine is subject to site plan approval and simplified subdivision agreement.

Removal of trees is part of the planning process. Not the tree bylaw.

Thousands of trees are planted  annually in Aurora  Looking down Yonge Street from Newmarket
the town cannot be seen for the trees.

Destruction and injury of trees by a horde of black-hearted villains is not of note.

Never a hint , sign twitch or twinge  of wholesale slaughter  of verdant companions is seen.

Would we could ,pass a Bylaw outlawing  interminable debate on foolish, nonsensical rules and compulsion to punish will-o-the-wisp offenders.

The province has given the Region authority to control tree removal on golf courses.

Town movement into that domain will likely be speedily renounced.

We are a nation of laws.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Pride Goes Before A Fall

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Pardon Me for Feeling Proud.":

It's too bad that you don't feel this regularly


You have to be  there to understand  the pressure when a group of residents decide to pour everything they have into bludgeoning a Council to do what they want.

It's brutal.

One or more inevitably caves.  It's  always been that way.

Councillor Gaertner has emphatically stated .......We are here to do what the  people want.

Some  Councillors develop skills at  speaking one way and voting another. Switch hitting without
the blink of an eye.

You can  feel secure with the majority  and find yourself ,without warning, hanging out to dry.

I"m not talking about myself. I've  never caved. but there is a penalty and I've  paid it.

 I'm willing to take the risk for what I think is right.  I like to live dangerously.  It's the way I'm bent.... or don't bend ...in a manner of speaking.

Yes  I was was proud of colleagues  at Tuesday's meeting.

The elephant  in the room was unmistakeable.

Council came through for the good guys.

Last night,  after midnight, I watched  a program called Independent Lens  on PBS .

The focus was  on problems of  administering  Berkeley University in California. 

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labour in the Clinton Administration.  was teaching a class about the principles of leadership. He talked about the  importance of feedback and the value of having people around  willing to  be honest when you ask how you're doing. 

Pride is not  a useful attribute .

Self-respect is essential.

Feedback is critical.

Pardon Me for Feeling Proud.

Council  made me proud at Tuesday's meeting.

We had been receiving e-mails ,possibly from every resident but one on Wetherfield Court the the last
couple of weeks.

A vehicle parked in the driveway of a residence exceeds the  size permitted  by the Zoning Bylaw.

An application for a variance to the bylaw was filed with and denied by the Committee of Adjustment.

The Committee is a quasi judicial body ,independent of  municipal authority.

Refusal of an application for a variance  provides  a right to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

It appears neighbors may have opposed the  application to the Committee, as they have a right to do.

They were successful in their opposition.

Now they are requesting....forcefully....the town  request status at the OMB hearing and support the Committee of Adjustment denial of the variance.

They also insist the town enforce the  town's bylaw and compel  removal  of  the offending vehicle.

The vehicle in question is required to transport residents, two of whom require wheelchairs. to get out and about.

Neighborhood  indignation at having to suffer the inconvenience of seeing a bus in a  driveway that exceeds the  size permitted is unbounded.

Among the reasons I have given, in a civil and polite exchange for not being able to accede to their request, is the  town's inability to physically compel compliance with the Bylaw.

The process requires prosecution  of a charge  and  appearance in court to argue the merits of the Bylaw.

There's an inherent risk in following that line of action.

A court has the power to strike down a  bylaw if  restrictions are deemed  unreasonable by the court 

Conventional municipal wisdom has it that a Bylaw is only as strong as it stands up in court.

I also argued  in the e-mail exchange with the residents, the town has no authority  to enter private property and  remove private property therefrom.  In effect, that would be trespassing and theft.
Definitely not a practice to be advocated.

On Tuesday,   during public forum , a neighbor argued the property is not private. It is public.for with public funds and operated by a public agency.

The agency referenced is Community Living York South.

Hundreds have reason to be  profoundly thankful for Community Living.

Thousands of family members, friends  and volunteers support financially and otherwise , Community Living.

Homes may be purchased or bequeathed by family members.

Billions  less are spent than the cost of  institutional care.

Programs planned by parents may receive  partial funding.

Enlightened politicians  at every level of government made the difference and  transition
to  privacy,dignity and normalcy.

19 Wethersfield Court is a private home. Private citizens reside  at that address.

Council stood firm on Tuesday night.

Not a one of them buckled .

They made me proud.

Guest Post

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Former Hydro Facility is Ours...We Need it":

Members of Council seem to be well intentioned, but naive. Naive when it comes to expect residents to express an opinion about just about anything, including the two multi-million dollar projects presently under consideration, the joint facility and the Heritage Park.

The public is aroused by an issue or a thing that can be identified as a matter of personal interest, often very small in the broad scheme of things.

During this term a few were able to stoke the fires of something that became huge, out of all proportion to the town. One was the Culture Centre agreement, that saw a virtual mob seize and hold the council chamber hostage to an outpouring of vitriol. This was totally unnecessary and a symptom of irrational behaviour. The same end could have been achieved through civilized intercourse, and ultimately could have resulted in a better and more meaningful agreement.

And who can forget the three-time delegation to Council in connection with the camel in the park? This was total lunacy and wasted hours of Council and staff time, with, in the end, no change taking place. A firmer hand at the tiller should have been able to control this better.

More recently the three trees occupied an inordinate amount of Council and staff time over a matter that had originally been handled with dispatch by the Director of Parks and Recreation. Unfortunately the feelings (rights?) of a few neighbours hijacked a simple administrative matter and created an expensive mountain where the smallest of molehills had existed. This should never have been permitted, and in the end the first decision was also the last, the only logical one.

Trees seem to be a sacrosanct subject, as witness the ad nauseam discussion about numbers and size and public and private property, including golf courses. A golf course is designed for whatever degree of difficulty is desired in combination with a pleasing aesthetic. Usually these represent investments of several millions of dollars and the operators of these facilities are aware of the need to care for the grasses and the ponds and the trees. They usually have experts either on staff or in a consulting capacity. For a town council to dictate to the owners of a golf course how many trees may be removed and of what size yearly is really none of the town's business and the inclusion of golf courses in the new tree by-law is simply wrong.

The town is embarking on another ill advised project, a downtown Heritage Park on Yonge Street involving a potential real estate site of some 4.2 acres that contains a National Heritage building, in dubious condition and a couple of other houses, one of which has been boarded up and empty for 20 years. It is suggested that this project could be feasible if at least half the funding ($5-$6 million) could be dug out of the provincial and/or federal government. Considering the state of the finances of these two I doubt they will be sending over a cheque via courier anytime soon. And if Aurora is going to have to finance what could be a $20 million joint facility it may find it difficult to find its half.

The point of all of this is that the populace of Aurora, as is the case pretty well everywhere, is not interested in this sort of stuff. People want their garbage collected, the snow ploughed from the roads, water, heat and hydro, parks, a safe environment in which to live and raise their children, and all of this at the lowest possible cost. They simply don't follow the blogs and the newspaper.

How many people turn out for publicized public meetings to provide input into anything? How many people even bother to vote?

There, you have answered my question.


Whatever the number is, it determines the outcome  of the election.

People are reading blogs....watching Council ...talking among themselves

The elephant in the  rational you present is failure to  understand the significance of leadership . 

A failure not entirely the fault of the  current Mayor.

  I knew it would be an uphill battle  .

I hoped to be allowed to help.

I thought it was do-able. 

But first the need had to be  recognised.

Then  there had to be  the will.

Then courage.

Finally, respect. 

Without  these  elements, there  is no leadership. 

Regrets are not useful. 

Change had to be.

While things are not best they are better than they were.

I once made a claim in a campaign

As good as the best....better than the rest.

The comment    on   adequacy  of  current Councillors ... an obvious response  ? ... may we expect to see your name.?..  will you care to disclose it ?  on the ballot ?

Wednesday 22 January 2014

The Former Hydro Facility is Ours...We Need it

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Pox On The Joint Facility":

15:26 shows his or her ignorance of the topic.

The Hydro Building is not being used by the cadets only. The building is the armoury for a Canadian Army Militia Unit. The Queen's York Rangers. When I was in the militia, there were parades 2 nights a week (usually Tuesday and Thursday) and most Saturdays. Some weekends there are full weekend exercises. The cadets would have their parade once a week.

The building is used to store vehicles, weapons, ammunition as well as office space, parade space, etc.

I am not sure about the QYR, but there is probably a number of full CAF staff attached to the unit as well and they use the building space as their workspace.

What difference does it matter how many hours it is in use. It is no longer available.


How much or how little  QYR uses our building  is not  of much interest to me as an Aurora Councillor.

It's a federal responsibility. I'm content  for the feds  to take care of their business.

An Aurora Councillor's responsibility is to do the best for Aurora residents.

A space needs study, done after Hydro was sold  and  Power Stream vacated , recommended the property  nut  be sold. . It should be kept and used for town use.

The building housed twenty-seven jobs and  had an assessed value to produce $69,000  a year.

No decision was made to sell .

Neither  was  the building  declared surplus.

It  was occupied by the  parks department.

No public statement was made  that the building  was available for lease.

No opportunity to compete for the advantage.

The town did not sell the building. For a time we used it  to good advantage for parks and other purposes.

In the same way Church Street School was  slyly diverted from its intended use, the Hydro Building was leased  to the  Federal government.

QYR  had adequate accommodation  in the Armories drill shed ,  It was built and used  a hundred years for the purpose.

It's still there.

We  own the hydro building.

The Feds are another level of   government

There is no moral imperative to honor  that lease.

Responsibility for  Aurora is ours . The Federal government  shares that responsibility

I see no reason  why the lease for the Hydro building should not be terminated and the Rangers go home.

An Aurora Councillor who holds otherwise is more concerned  about QYR  and votes they might lose than they are about votes they won in the last election to represent the town's best interest .

We did not burn the bridge behind us with a property lease .

Possession (ownership) is nine-tenths of the law.


More About The Meeting last night

It was a long meeting laast night and we didn't finish the agenda. There was a presentation on clear bags. Not sure why that was needed but it was on invitation of The Mayor.

Councillor Abel's list of congratulations and events attended  in the community was not as long as usual but the Mayor's  list was longer than usual

This bit of business was new to me when I  came back in 2003. It has nothing to do with
town business.It's at the beginning of the agenda. So  there's alwasy time for that ,no matter what else doesn't get attention.

A lovely young woman employed by the Historical Society explained  a new  outreach program to elementary schools  from the Society.

They don't have the collection any more.  Hillary House is proposed to be unloaded. The building may not  remain upright much longer without substantial funds for  foundation restoration

Whatever museum service evolves will be the Town's financial responsibility. The Historical Society appears to be developing a new reason for being .  No doubt contemplated  with continued financial support from the town.

The outreach program  described takes forty minutes to deliver. Teachers are very appreciative.

The program used to be provided by the curator  whose job was funded by the town  when we had a museum.
The curator also used to provide research for the planning department into old properties.

We have a full-time planner  in the planning department doing that now.

That's all  about that  for now.

Bill Gates is on Charlie Rose on PBS for an hour from 5 to 6 p.m.

A Pox On The Joint Facility

The comment about  contracted town services is to the point. We need more observations like that.

The town contracts out out snow plowing , street maintenance , street lighting and sundry other services.

Logic dictates  savings  from flexibility of manpower and equipment .

Vacations,statutory holidays, sickdays , funerals, time off in lieu ,charity golf tournaments , week-ends, sleep, create significant down-time for space, equipment,light,heat and washroom facilities  in town  facilities .  The more  facilities you have multiplies down time.

The same principle applies for ice rinks , baseball diamonds, soccer pitches, tennis courts, schools, parks, and swimming pools, to name but a few.

So the question about  needing  more facilities and manpower ,while contracting out services is valid.

Contracts should mean reduced requirements for facilities.  Manpower contracts mean considerably less overhead  and greater control.

It should  mean reduced work load  due to less building and subdivision development leading to  less revenue should be offset by less expenditures.

It  doesn't always.

Last year , in the budget approval was given for two contract employees  in the works department to become full-time because they weren't getting benefits other employees were and  that wasn't fair..

Service  contractors are provided  free space for vehicles and equipment because well I guess because the space is there.

But if we have  surplus space for contractors to use,  why are we in such desperate  need for new space at a cost of $26 million dollars , built on a shelf , jutting out into a ravine, edging into  a flood plain.

We collect heritage architecture salvage. It was stored in the yard of the  former hydro facility.

When  the  parks department was evicted to make room for the federal department of national defense to use for the week-end soldiers, we paid to transport the "salvage " to the works yard.

The new joint facility  will accommodate "heritage salvage", otherwise known as construction debris. We don't need it . It's there for anyone who might.

Accommodation  cost.... $181,000.

In a heavy snowfall, accumulated snow  is removed from downtown streets. A snow "dump " previously identified as a snow melt treatment facility , at a cost  close to $900,000  was included in the new facility. It's removal from the $24 million  helped to bring the price to $19 million.

Council  deferred the project a couple of times but agreed  to include it in the new facility
Snow melting equipment would cost a fraction of the cost of removing snow from the  core and  require only enough space to park it.

Council  agreed we should have  a green roof on the facility and a platinum standard of construction We should "lead the way."  So that's in the cost.

Saints  preserve us...even the Conservation Authority  couldn't afford that extravagance.

For me to introduce these pesky little details into a discussion about the "desperately needed "
new facility would lead to an accusation of micro-managing ,don't you know. Councillor Abel tossed out the term again last night,

Along with  a comment  about how easy it is to criticize  while we never hear anything positive or constructive while looking sidewise  in my direction.

The Taj Mahal of a works building will be debt financed. Money costs money, It's not a factor in the estimate.

Last night, discretion was the better part of wisdom. Council agreed to defer  for a month while throwing out the challenge for options.

It's time for  observations like the comment received this morning.

It's time for councillors to consider rent from the federal government for the hydro  property, cost of maintenance, loss of tax revenue, and  measures  against the cost of  new space for works and parks.

Because you know... if we took back our property from the feds, there would be no need to move from our present location to incur twenty-six million dollar debt for a joint facility for parks and

Parks could move out of their space  and works could take it over.
A new building  could be constructed at a fraction of the cost.

That's a fact and an option, my friends.

Council has not sought an opportunity to drill down to real cost.

A "workshop"  was arranged ,with  architect and  engineer on hand to help glide over  the bumps and Councillor Thompson thoroughly briefed.

The vote to recommend  was split , with the Mayor breaking the tie.

On a project of this dimension ,that's political suicide.

There's no passion  in the community about a public  works and parks facility.

No  appeal to social needs of the community to justify the investment









To be continued:

Monday 20 January 2014

The Labourer is worthy of hers hire

I took poetic license with the the multiplying factor in  the last post. It should have been  six to eight times ....not eight to ten.

A couple of  immediate and predictable responses received....one  calling me a hypocrite ....the other that I'm ready to fight against every expense except Councillor salaries.

There hasn't been a fight and there isn't one now. 

These days, there's  very little that can't be talked  about

Why can't we talk  about what a Councillor should be paid without getting twisted out of shape?

Who should talk about it if not  someone who's had the experience?

Why should a committee  of residents , needing support from staff be superior.

Council still  has to make the  decision.

Why  do we  go through the ridiculous rig-a-ma-role  of  make the decision before an election so that we can  pretend  to be  deciding for somebody else.

What's that about?

A candidate once made council  pay a campaign issue. He said  they shouldn't get any.

People scoffed.

He didn't get elected. 

In another election,  a candidates said he was running for the money . 

 He didn't get elected. 

When  I brought up the issue  last week the Mayor said he agreed.

He discussed it with someone who had done a study, which  concluded since the job was part-time , a similar position should be selected and if the salary was $100,000. a Councillor should  receive half of that. 

The Mayor said he would support that  "for the next council"

Yeah right...I thought... you  didn't suggest the Mayor's  increase should  be deferred to the next term. 

Someone said  Markham  Ward Councillors are paid $65,000.

I noted  Markham  Councillors  also receive funds  to rent an office and two Councillors share an administrative assistant.  Calls  are taken and problems attended  on behalf of the Councillor.

An Aurora Councillor's salary is  around $25,000.  A flat mileage  payment  brings it  to $27,000.

No office, no administrative assistant ,no benefits , no life insurance or severance on retirement or defeat.

What is the job about ?

Meetings you know about.... like in a fish bowl.  Some function better in that venue than others.

Members serve on advisory committees and attend more meetings.

Responding  to calls from constituents and following up with whatever assistance is  required.

Attendance at community events. People  like to see an interest from Council.

I  respond to e-mails, phone calls  and write a blog post every day...sometimes more than one.

Criticism  goes with the job.  A necessary occupational hazard.  Nobody enjoys it. Neither are they compelled to be in office.

Despite a variety of opinion about how this or that Councillor performs,  it must be said,
Aurora Councillors. the only ones I know, are a conscientious group.

They attend meetings....come prepared....read the reports .. and participate.

They do what they committed to do , were elected to do ...they should be paid accordingly.

What's Wrong With this Picture

Budget again ....9 a.m. Monday.

i will rise at 6.30 a.m. 

Shower,dress, make-up ,breakfast, clear snow off the car

If it was easy I  would still be in full time employmrnt.

I' m not being paid for it either.

I wont lie.  As the day wears on , resentment will grow.

This second full day  budget session  is not for the convenience of  "part-time" Councillors.

Staff will  be handily accommodated.

The budget  will  be completed and  time cleared for  mid-winter break . 

I  raised the issue of Councillor salaries at the last budget meeting. Created a slight stir but 
that's all. 

Councillor remuneration has  kept pace with outside workers  union rates .....not management level. 

It's been that way for ten years. 

Except for the  position of Mator.

An ad hoc committee  recommended $9.thousand dollar increase for th at office and full employee benefits....health..dental...life insurance, long-term disability...etcetera..etcetera 

Councillors can have benefits as well as long as they pay for them.

No recognition for increased  responsibility or time demands .

Minimum wage ....nada benefits....accountable for  a budget pf $75 million and authority 
over staff earning eight to ten times as much.

Sunday 19 January 2014

The Mayor's Comment

The  quote  attributed to the Mayor was not made  during last week's committee meeting.

The  insane hokum scheme  to  remove three Yonge Street frontage properties from assessment rolls
was not discussed.

The  Report  was received for information; to  return mid-February for deliberation.

It may or may not be the decision  at Tuesday's council.

I detect a level of ,shall I say,  dismay, among Councillors .....confusion  about when the considerable work  the report represents was authorized.

I  chaired the meeting. My job was to move the agenda forward smoothly, ensuring  each members had opportunity to state position on matters before them.

It means I don't participate in the debate. I do not stir things up from the chair.

When the Strategic Plan  was updated and enfolded into the Official Plan  and adopted by Council, the CAO expressed  gratification that Council had placed such confidence in staff.

I did not vote to  adopt the update . We  already had  a plan. All  it needed was a  review and determination if it still fit. . If not make the  necessary adjustments  to bring it up to date.

$80,000.  for a consultant study was an unneccessary extravagance in my view.

Not having voted  to approve and cringing at the  juvenile and  excessive language and unreal objectives of the new edition, I  emained consistent.

I was concerned by the CAO 's understanding the green light to bring  the airy-fairy  crazy stuff
to fruition  had been given by adoption of the plan.

I cautioned Council  on what I perceived to be mis-perception on both sides.

I was advised of the need to move forward and get with the program.

Ding Dong    Ding Dong

Council  continued down the road  divesting themselves of  authority  all the way ....surrendering the town's future to others.

Spending authority for the CAO  was increased from $50, thousand to $100, thousand.

$200.thousand had been recommended.

The CAO  had now received authority and resources  to bring  objectives  of the Strategic Plan to reality .

No need to slow things down with reference to Council  for approvals.

Lickety split ...that's the ticket.

Heritage Theme park, Fab Lab, Post Secondary Institution(University) , Cultural Tsunami, Town Hall Renovation , Joint Works and Parks facility are  all objectives intended  to provide an exceptional  quality  of life for all . 

All straight from the pages of the lofty and superior plan .

The report tabled on Tuesday was written by the Special Project Planner signed by the CAO. and had a consultant study attached.

The Exalted Executive Leadership Team apparently had no role to play.

The Mayor has apparently swallowed holus bolus,hook,line and sinker , the plan of assembly of millions of dollars worth of real  estate  To find out  later how it might be developed  into a mini northern Disneyland  in the glow of the Aura of Aurora.

All ya gotta do is throw money at stuff and something is bound to happen is a philosophy not heard
often in political circles.

It might be reasonable to assume the remark was made to The Banner

This may be  an epiphany for  Council.

One can only hope.

To be sure,  it's late in the day.

But not too late.

There's still time to redeem commitment.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Certainly you have a right.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Will The Information be Forthcoming?????":

Communications enters every facet to town business. It is becoming obvious that the current state of affairs is not cutting it. But, are you going to get into hot water because the complaints are landing on your Blog? I know we aren't allowed to criticize staff, but is a department fair game ?


Communications is a town service.  You do have a right to declare satisfaction/ dis-satisfaction with a town service. Any time you don't  think you are getting value for  your tax dollar you have a right to say so.

Mr. Simanovskis , Director of Infrastructure and Environmental Services, formerly known as Public Works, has a question at the bottom of his e-mail communication  asking people to let him know how "we are doing".

Obviously  the town needs feedback.

I'm not sure this blog is the best place to accomplish that.

The comments  are anonymous and nobody is compelled to read it.
An email to the Mayor and Councillors, noting it is intended  as confidential , would be far more effective.

And it is private. An e-mail solely to the Mayor or a Councillor is even more private.

Councillors also need to know what you are thinking about things.If they don't hear, they assume everything is fine.

 Communications has four and a half people in the department.The person at the top came from the Region "on loan" and eventually became manager.

I believe there's  a request for an additional staff person in the budget.

I am not well-informed about web sites and such.  I don't have to be . I am in the ring.

I depend on what taxpayers have to say to know how well received  the service is.

That's the test.

Comments  indicate users are  under- impressed.

Streaming of committee meetings  is a problem.  Last week it didn't happen.Don't know why.

Blog comments  assure people they are not alone.

Unfortunately since  they're anonymous, it might only be one person...who would know for sure.?

An e-mail to the Mayor and or a Councillor is the most effective communication

Then I know I'm not the only one getting it.

Prior to 2009 Communications  were under the jurisdiction of the Director of Corporate and Legislative  Services.  In  the first  re-organization  in the last term,  recommended of course by a consultant, responsibility was transferred to the CAO"s department.

An e-mail to the CAO expressing dis-satisfaction with the service would not be remiss. But it would not be as private as an e-mail to your  Mayor or Councillor.

If you are really upset you can let one and all know about it.

Just don't be abusive, It's a real turn off. Not likely to be producive.

Will The Information be Forthcoming?????

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Not Here..Not Now...Not Bloody Likely":

"A tourist attration (sic) intended to put Aurora on the map as Heritage Capital of Ontario ,if not Canada, if not the world if not the Universe."

Nobody likes a smartass.


The above is only partly true.


Drafts od two Notices of Motion:

Moved by Councillor Buck           Seconded by------------------

Whereas Council has eliminated a Director position in the interest of economy. 

And whereas, economy is achieved by greater efficiency and reduction in expenditure.

And whereas   although title of Director is removed, responsibilities remain  and no public report hto establish efficiencies and saving is available

And whereas ,the  former Director was due to retire within twelve months and a severance 
package  is normal to avoid a complaint of unfair dismissal

Now therefore be it hereby resolved:

The Executive Leadership Team be directed to report  specific  efficiencies and savings  anticipated by  the elimination of the  Director's position, requiring a severance package  (payout with no return) within twelve months of  the director's retirement.


Draft of  second  Notice of  Motion

Moved by Councillor Buck     Seconded by   --------------

Whereas 2014 is  municipal  election year , registration for candidates are already open and planning for the election underway.

Whereas  the Town Clerk is  Elections  Officer and heretofore Director of Corporate  and Legislative Services .

Whereas the position of Director of Corporate and  Legislative  Sercies has been eliminated for the purpose of eonomy and a severance package granted.

Whereas the next nine months  are required to plan and manage the town's election.

Now therefore be it hereby resolved ;

The Executive Leadership Team be directed to  publicly report how  resources to plan and organize
the municipal election  will be available  at the same time  economy is achieved   with the elimination of the  position of  the Director  with the relevant  skills necessary.


Neither of the  resolutions will reach the table   for debate and decision without a seconder.

I have sought to be informed of the basis  of Council's decision without success.

My intent is to be publicly informed of the whys and wherefores of a decision to eliminate a  Director's position.

Despite the  services of a Communications Division,  I am not aware  relevant information has been provided.

Certainly nothing to indicate efficiency and  or economy  can be  anticipated all things considered.

Friday 17 January 2014

Not Here..Not Now...Not Bloody Likely

Christopher Watts posted   the  website  here for the  Staff Report presented to Council on Tuesday to be received as information.  It recommends  something called a Heritage Park on Yonge Street frontage. A tourist attration intended to put Aurora on the map as Heritage Capital of Ontario ,if not Canada,  if not the world if not the Universe.

Maybe Richard Branson can  be persuaded to make it a destination for an international balloon trip.

That's all you get.

This  blog will not be used to promote the scheme.

The idea is an embarrassment.

Publicly suggested  price of $1,3 million dollars for the Horton House that calls for the owner to continue  to live  in the house, paying rent, to provide protection for the property until a plan is complete is  utterly bereft of  any kind of sense.

Not a scintilla....soupcon...hint...or trace.

Nothing ....Nil ....Nada....Zilch...Zero

Get outta here.

Memory...Peculiar to the owner thereoff

Recently I was told I have a phenomenal memory.  It's been said before. I think it must be true.

The thing is, mine is the only memory I know. I've never thought it was different.

It explains why I might have had unreal expectations over the years. Particularly with my late  husband. If he didn't remember things the way I did I thought he was deliberately trying to annoy me.

It must have made me difficult to live with.

This is not a lament or a confession.

 A good memory is an asset, no doubt about that. It's not perfect re-call.

I think maybe  the greatest advantage is being able to  connect the dots and string happenings together  ending  with a picture spanning a long period.

Kind of like a  gigantic mentally completed  jigsaw puzzle.

The challenge in politics lies in  getting other people to see what's in my head.They don't have to.

Council has been receiving a steady stream of e-mails  from neighbors of Wethersfield Court  over the last three days,

A bus parked in a  driveway is bigger than  zoning permits.

Neighbors  complained.

Owner  applied for a variance to the Committee of Adjustment.

Variance denied..

OMB appeal triggered.

Neighbors feel the town should  support their position at the OMB and have  bus removed forthwith.

I've been  responding with reasons why I can't  support that.

The CofA and OMB have been in place since Zoning.

Takes decisions out of  the political.

I think that's a good thing.


Over the week-end I will re-tell  the story  again about the Petlovany property  complete with sequel, before Council tackles the decision about building a Joint Use facility  in  a ravine nearby

Thursday 16 January 2014

That's an excuse not an argument

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Last Call Gentlemen Please":

I really wish I thought you were right, Evelyn. But I can't agree. There may be opportunities there but it is awfully late for reversals. 

It's the beauty of the democratic process. We have a right to disagree.

If we are making a decision on behalf of the community, we have na obligation to provide 
an argument to support it. 

Being too late to  reverse a decision not yet made is not a valid argument. 

It is not an argument at all. 

It's a lame exc
Council  can not be more confident that the  current estimate of $19 million dollars is  any more firm than the original of $14.5 million or the immediately previous of $24 million. 

A hospital in Niagara Region has this week been approved by the Province at a cost of $26 million .

Think about that.

The current  works and  parks sites  are still in public ownership.

The bylaw required by  provincial legislation, to declare the property surplus has not been passed. 

There's more to be said . And I will say it.  But right now, I need to have breakfast.

Last Call Gentlemen Please

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Out of
Confusion.....Clarity ????":

I read with interest in the Auroran about how badly Aurora needed to do the
Heritage purchase & all the reasons that the opportunity should not be
missed. The proponent was not one of the property owners. It was our own
head of staff. Can't recall ever voting for the man who I don't think even
lives in Aurora. I, on the other hand, am very familiar with the properties
in question, one of which has been rejected by the market for about 2


I do not know that the above statement is true. 

I do know Mr Albino  appeared as leading proponent with a real estate operator hard on his heels. 

The Historical  Society  was used in the process. 

The  Mayor lent  his  Office in support. 

The Report  to Council on Tueday is signed by the CAO. 

Written  by a Special Project Planner  subject to direction of the CAO.

A consultant study has been produced .Funding for same is in question. 

I am   not persuade to merit in the report .

Real estate speculation is  not the  role of  a Municipality .

Taxation on people's homes and business cannot be considered a source of risk capital. 

When Council  approved an  updated  Strategic, the decision  did not .could not  authorise staff to implement in a  myriad direction to make the vision
To take that meaning is to demonstrate failure to understand the basic principles of elective authority.

Strategic  Plan visions are excessive and language unbelievably juvenile. 

I cringe at reference to the  goal of   " an exceptional quality of life for all"

The right of people to choose  decision-makers is inviolate. 

I  believe  intent  of  members is to be the best they can be. 

The mandate ends in nine months. 

Time yet to demonstrate growth in competence and confidence. 

Immediately pending  decisions provide opportunity. 

First being the go-ahead for a Joint facility for Works and Parks to be constructed on a shelf  built out on the side of a ravine requiring massive retaining walls at a cost of millions to make  a poorly chosen site suitable  for the purpose . 

The  roject is as  sound and stable as the site is not. 

A review  and termination of  a lease to the federal government of a  town-owned site and building would  negate the need  for $ millions of excessive spending.

Little current use  of the facility  by the tenant is observed 

There's more . .. much more

The budget process provides .  Opportunities abound.

It's  alast chance.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Out of Confusion.....Clarity ????

I chaired the general committee meeting last night.

A couple of contradictions were corrected.

The  agenda of the in-camera meeting  prior to the Committee meeting  listing acquisition of Yonge Street property,  was not the same acquisition  of property listed in the agenda of  the in-camera meeting held after the  general committee meeting.

In fact, the first acquisition was not even Yonge Street properties. Apparently I missed a second brown envelope containing the agenda of the Special Council meeting held to authorize the first in-camera meeting to happen.

And apparently the meeting was not held to authorize acquisition of properties that are not really on Yonge Street.

What we did was authorize staff to keep tabs on something  cooking between the Province and the post-secondary academic community.

That's all I can tell you about that .

The 107 page report , on the cockamamie heritage theme park , aka  by me as a real estate scam ,that was first item of the agenda of the general committee meeting .was received for information, to be dealt with at a general committee meeting a month from now.

Dismay was noted by some Councillors about how authority was conveyed for this work to be done
and the report presented.

No doubt all well be revealed.

But the word is, Council is not on the edge of parting with  massive chunks out of the Hydro Asset Reserve Fund to  convey to a couple of property-owners for  creation of a Heritage theme park.

The report should be at the Library for anyone who wants to read it.

It's called the Hillary-McIntyre Park  Cost Benefit Study   ..Report CAO 14-001

The one that got away

Stirring the porridge , a picture flashed through my mind of a summer afternoon at the Sandbanks.

We were making our way to the beach ,adults in front,small ones  following. We stopped  at a T-intersection and  I looked back to check the entourage.

Four little cousins  strolled quietly, hand in hand gazing here and there and upwards. The ten and seven year old  sisters on either side,four year old twins in the middle.

We were at the bottom of an incline. No-one else around. It was quiet and peaceful.

The trees towered above ....brambles and wild flowers clustered at the edge. Four-legged,furry creatures  also silently shared the space close to the ground

The small figures were diminished further by the breadth and  height of their surroundings.

In bathing suits and flip-flops ,they were part of the nature surrounding them.

I didn't have a camera. I never have a camera.

It will always be the picture, that can never be re-captured ,that I really minded not taking.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Smoke and Mirrors and Barbecue Sauce

Years ago, when Sterling Drug was  located in Aurora, there was a union strike that went on for some time.

The town was less than ten thousand. Most of the employees were Aurora residents.

The Aurora Banner  sought anddained an interview with a management spokesperson.

I remember a  quote from the story , only one, but it stands out stark and clear in my memory.

 The VIP told the newspaper;  "We could teach monkeys to do what they do"

I thought; " whatever you have learned mister, you have acquired  no judgement whatsoever.

Comments  on remuneration yesterday were interesting.

I  think judgement is an essential quality of management. It's what we pay for. If it's not there, we are not getting value .

A comment  suggests to  determine he going rate for the job  is how to decide on appropriate remuneration is to

It's  the constant measurement used.

On Saturday's budget discussion it was noted the IT department had asked for a  trainer position. The request was denied. Suggestion made t seek to share a  trainer with  the Town of Newmarket.

At an OMA conference a couple  of years ago,I attended  a  workshop on the Work Asset
Management  System aka WAMS.

Municipalities in Ontario are having  considerable difficulty implementing the system.

In November 2011, Aurora bought a  WAMS software program at a cost of $440,000. The IT department were neither consulted nor informed.

The next audit produced a management letter indicating  problems in the treasury department linked to a lack of training and direction for hands on staff.

Since the system was purchased  additional bits and pieces  have been purchased. Council really doesn't know the final tally.

The budget advises of the merits of hand-held devices . Another likely future purchase.

As near as I can determine, field employees are having to come in earlier to input into the computer  the  daily record of tasks accomplished .

It's what  the Work Asset Management  System is about.

Hardly surprising  many municipalities are having difficulty with the concept.They can't all afford to spend  money on a consultant to recommend the purchase of a $440,000 soft-ware program and wait two years for it to  be "up and running"

Ontario has 440 municipalities. Not all  GTA. Not all collecting billions in extortion money from builders of homes and  spending willy-nilly on luxuries and toys  and airy-fairy entrepreneur schemes never dreamed of  when  it was clear and transparent who was footing the bill.

And poor judgement  in decision-making  was equally conspicuous .

Aurora shares fire protection services with the Town of Newmarket. Our water system is connected.

The transit system is Regional.

The Northern Six municipalities  contract garbage collection and insurance coverage.

Now it's suggested  an IT trainer  might be shared with the Town of Newmarket.

Consultants are retained to tell us what to do next and eliminate a position  to save money. Which was promptly done without time to turn around.

So who is accountable?

Did the devil make us do it?

We shift  department responsibilities in  consultant-led   re-organisation  and when it doesn't work, we shift them again.

We take out  membership in a Canadian Institute of Excellence  then we apply for a Bronze Certificate  to  cover ourselves in glory and tell the   nation know how great we art.

In the meantime  good employees are thrown away  like they were so much flotsam.

I hear  at the present time ,Management Team meetings are attended by a conciliator to help the team get along.

A Low Point

It's 4.23a.m.

I am not sleeping.

I've been carrying a great weight inside of me since Saturday morning.

It's always worse in the night.

 I have nowhere to go with it. I need to share.

A comment notes  I weave a marvelous web.   I suppose, if  a story is told , as it happens, it  could be perceived as a web woven strand by strand until it's complete.

On Saturday morning ,before the budget meeting started, I learned I  had  been powerless to prevent  two decisions  which by my standards were  merciless and unjust.

An employee of twenty-six years service  was displaced by  a decision to eliminate her position . I sought  an explanation  and was informed  that would be micro-managing.

On Saturday, I learned of a second position eliminated. Council made the decision  this time. The employee was informed a week before Christmas.

The tasks remain.  Cost  still needs to be borne.

It's hard to reconcile the decisions with an argument for economic efficiency. There is none.

Even harder to justify  the devastation to a loyal  and conscientious employee.

The  cold,  grey heartlessness that countered my concern ... the lack of empathy around me ...was certainly an assault on my consciousness.

Experts have determined all decisions  are based on 80% emotion and 20% logic.

What emotion  was involved in the  two decisions?

It certainly wasn't compassion

Or  even simple humanity.

How  were eight people , Mayor and seven Councillors influenced by a single emotion?

I had no stomach to join  the group  on Saturday for budget discussion.

 I did anyway.

I did so again last night.

I will again  to-night.

In a $75 million dollar budget I  argued  against membership in an Institute for Excellence ...competing to be one of a hundred best  employers in Canada. 

And  against  an $8,000 grant to the Chamber of Commerce for Business Achievement Awards;
framed paper certificates presented to  businesses lucky enough to survive, presented at a  gala dinner which may or may not be held within the municipality. 

And against $8,500 to advertise  in a commercial  sports magazine ,

Trivial amounts to be sure. 

Symbols  nonetheless , of  a perception  that's not really true.

We are a small town ....eighty-five thousand souls.

We elect a Council of nine  to serve the community's interest.

At  the very least we  should expect no harm to come of  it.

Monday 13 January 2014

Only One Thing Is Known

The  position of Director of Corporate and  Legislative Services has been eliminated by Council. 

The Municipal clerk who holds the position is still  working . He was at the Budget meeting on Saturday and will be there again to-night.

 He presented the  department's 2014 budget and everyone at the table knew what they had done. 

The responsibilities of the position are still  there. 

It's not clear how they will be carried out without the Director in place.

I have yet to discover that. 

A conundrum.

I can't  publish comments  that reflect  negatively on staff.

 I  don't want to edit comments.

Comments that add to reader understanding of  municipal business  are  particularly welcome.

I have a problem when I receive an informative comment that reflects negatively on staff.

Would you  please send the 2012 list of salaries over $100.000. again without editorial comment

It would really be appreciated

Thank you ,whoever you are.

Airy Fairy ,,,Peter Pan ....Tinker Bell....Lost Boys

The idea for the theme park appeared to  have originated  with the Historical Society.

In these modern Aurora times , one learns not to depend on appearances. Scratching the surface, frequently reveals a plan within a plan ....a strategy leading to a strategy.

Aurora Historical Society recently celebrated  its fifty year anniversary.I have been around  and been a supporter from the beginning .

Half a century is a period in history.

I returned to Council in 2003.  The Society had been raising funds. The old school had been gutted with hundreds of  volunteer hours....collection in storage... curator in Hillary House.

A retired School Board Director was retained adviser for school renovations.

Sharon Nisbett was a feisty and determined President.

$750,000,  had been raised ...  future of  the museum was firm.

The building was always to accommodate museum and cultural events.

Legal Counsel was retained  and an agreement  struck  with the town to protect the Society's investment in a building they did not own.

After three years,  the building,  with millions already invested in structural restoration,stood  idle, empty and costing.

Hydro was sold and realized a substantial asset.  That decision was compelled by the Province.

I moved, Ron Wallace seconded and Council approved ,funding to complete a state of the art museum Eventually it  cost $2.3 million and was completed during the next term of office.

The  Society had commissioned  and paid for the  design.

Society president changed ,The group withdrew commitment to operate the museum.They were too few . They had fifty-nine members. The agreement was set aside. The museum never came to be...until now.

A horrendously expensive agreement to purchase culture took its place.

Fast forward...another new president. Organization numbers slightly over a hundred.  Structure of executive slightly fuzzy.

Volunteers  for fund-raising events are frequently sparse. Failure to muster half the membership at the last  annual meeting meant a plan to change the name was abandoned.

A new member , William Albino, joined. An executive within the executive ,including Society President, was suddenly functional. From there, like computer generated artifice, the idea of a heritage theme park  was preseted to the board and then introduced to the community as the idea of the Historical Society.

A list of prominent activists were solicited to lend their names, Mayor Dawe among them to lend their support.

Persistent  manipulation  and calculation  has proceeded since and up to the current position of recommended the land be assembled.

From where I sit , there is no substance to the  scheme.

$25,000 of taxpayers money has been spent on a consultant, despite  te initial decision of Council was for proponents to make that investment .

Proponents include two property owners , one a real estate operator one a member of the Historical Society, who stand to make in excess of a million dollars apiece if the town agrees to purchase the properties

There's a pattern here.

I think  we have a number of  would-be Warren Buffet's  squashed together in a tight closet in Hillary House yearning to  make the Swan's leap in the ballet of that name, into centre stage of the election.

Oh My Goodness.