"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

Wednesday 26 March 2014

They know not what they do

Voter turnout in the last few elections.

2010 - 38.5%
2006 - 38%
2003 - 33%
2000 - 41%
1997 - 33.8%
1994 - 40%

A Special Meeting of Council was held on  Monday to choose wording for a question on the ballot on wards. 

Council previously approved putting  the  question on the ballot in  October's election. 

Wording is as follows:
1. Are you in favor of electing all Aurora councillors, other than the Mayor, by ward vote instead of 
     Town -wide vote?
2.  Are you in favor of reducing the number of  councillors. other than the Mayor, from eight(8) 
     to six (6)  councillors?


I understand  for the question to be binding,  voter turnout  must be 50%.

As noted above, the closest  turnout  in  the last five elections (twenty years) was the year 2000  
Turnout was 41%.

Each election cited had a mayoralty contest.

When there is none ,turnout can be and generally is as low as 20%.

Council also  recently passed a resolution to allow for "re-call" if enough people signed a petition.

Premier Kathleen Wynne  has announced  new legislation  to place  municipal councils under the oversight of  Ontario Ombudsman , Andre Morin.

Mr.Morin is not admired in government circles. He first came to eminence with the Special Investigative Unit, oversight of police where a death has occurred.

He was relieved of responsibility for that job.

Eyebrows raised when he was appointed Ontario Ombudsman. 

Aurora's  Mayor has commented  publicly  if he really  had CEO  authority, there would be changes
at the Council table.

He did not specify.

I will not speculate.

At a time ,when one hopes citizens are contemplating candidacy,  what encouragement is there in all of this  to take additional risk.

The Code of Conduct Act, Integrity Commissioner legislation. Conflict  of Interest  Act.

Ontario Water Act that could find  an entire Council guilty of an inditable offence punishable by jail time.

The normal  everyday process of  being a candidate carries its own self-inflicted  costs and penalties.

$100. registration :

Thousands  of dollars  costs of a  campaign.

Audited financial statements at the end of it;

Hundreds  of milles walked; thousnads of steps and stairs climbed.

Thousands engaged , at least half  with no interest in the enterprise.

On the fateful night,watching  the tally and finally, potential public rejection.

There are always more candidates than  seats.

People have always done it. Some, out of conviction ,two or three times before being elected.

Most never  risk it again.   It is not an enviable experience.

Now we have the Honorable Kathleen Wynne's government ,eviscerating the people's right to choose
and live with their selection.

At what point does priceless liberty become, for an individual, not worth the  price?

Are we perhaps there already ?

People  have authority and  power, who know not what they do


Anonymous said...

Wow ! welcome back !

Anonymous said...

Yup They held a " Special Council " to determine the questions on the ballot & no one on Staff or council thought to have it streamed. And they seriously expect a big turn-out at a public meeting ? It is to despair......

Anonymous said...

A proponent of the ward system asserts that if the threshold is not met during the election, Councillors can vote to go ahead anyways. Given the Municipal code, that is quite possible. I don't know if this guy is running for Council or Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Great to have you back.

You are the only member of Council who is consistently using one's brain. I don't know how the others make decisions. Possibly a Tarot deck.

But before turning to the two questions proposed for the ballot in October, I would like to refer to Mayor Dawe's Column in this week's Auroran and I will quote: "We hosted a very successful Open House on February 8 at our operations depot on Scanlon Court, which gave our residents an opportunity to tour our dated facility and demonstrate the need for a new one. What became abundantly clear from the comments I received from the many who attended, was the great deal of misinformation and disinformation circulating concerning the Joint Operations Centre.

In the report from Mr. Downey it appeared that a total of nine (9) residents attended, and there was a complimentary Bar-B-Q. Apparently the mayor finds that a single digit turnout was successful and that this number can be used in the same context as "many."

This is simply the height of stupidity.

So far as publicizing the JOC the town has a Communications Department that costs in excess of $600,000 per year. Surely this department should have been capable of publicizing the need for the new facility, even though the land on which it is to be built is CHALLENGING and will add several millions of dollars to the final cost, which could be considerably higher than that which has been budgeted. But then, to this council, what's another couple of mil?

The two questions to be added to the October ballot involve the creation of a ward system and a reduction in council size from 8 to 6 councillors.

Looking at Aurora, the creation of 6 wards will subdivide the town even more culturally and financially than it already is. There is a core residential area within a few blocks of Yonge Street and then there is a complete other residential world and area between Bayview and Leslie.

I don't know if people are aware of the fact that a ward councillor does not have to live in that ward. So is he going to have to open an office in his ward in order to provide access to those he represents, similar to what MP's and MPP's do? He is certainly not going to meet his neighbours by walking his dog or driving his kids several miles to play on the park in his ward. How will he become expert at the problems of his ward dwellers, for presumably that is what is supposed to happen? Is this ward system supposed to keep councillors ignorant of what is happening across the town and is he expected to make a meaningful contribution to discussions and decisions that are town-wide?

A town the size of Aurora is far better served by councillors at large. Wards will simply become another divisive factor in our coin cil's already inept performance.

Mr. Anthony Pullano, by letter last week and by address before council this week, strongly favours full-time councillors. He has suggested a pay-range of in the order of $50,000-$60,000. I have no idea how this would sit with those members of council who were re-elected as full-time to receive this kind of money. For some it might be great, for others only a trickle in their lives. By comparison the Mayor of Toronto receives $177,499 while councillors receive $105,397, for 2014.

And would full-time councillors not need full-time assistants? What would these cost?

Councillors in Guelph, Barrie, Kingston and Peterborough are paid $31,222, $30,332, $29,260 and $26,780 respectively.

Quite frankly I couldn't vote for Mr. Pullano if he was the last man standing. His letter is full of so much vision and so critical of who we still are that he would make Aurora into a performance centre so as to bring the world to our doorstep. I don't want the world, or Mr. Pullano involved with my life.

And the final point of the Ballot questions requires 50% of the eligible voters to vote in favour. If this does not happen then there will undoubtedly be all sorts of council wrangling that will make an NHL game look like a walk in the park.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information on Mr. Pullano. We don't need eight councillors and we certainly don't need any of them full time.

We currently have a very large payroll at Town Hall who are capable of doing some of the legwork for councillors. Unfortunately, some existing councillors want staff to think for them too. Some cannot make a decision unless staff have blessed it for them.

We also don't need a public works garage costing some $26 M and rising. The mayor's open house was, of course, just a stunt to justify this expenditure.

He is generally missing in action when an average citizen brings a problem to his attention. In my view, he seems to think he is above this. So, here's hoping he has a nice retirement party prior to this garage being constructed.

Anonymous said...

Ms Wynne is a huge disappointment. She is messing with stuff that is none of her business but she refuses to fix the math curriculum in the schools.

Anonymous said...

I quite agree. I don't think it has crossed their minds that residents might vote to reduce the # of councillors and reject the ward system. Unless something radical occurs, that would be my voting intention.

Anonymous said...

"Looking at Aurora, the creation of 6 wards will subdivide the town even more culturally and financially than it already is."

What the hell does this mean?

Anonymous said...

TO mayor's Debate at 5 CTV

Anonymous said...

In regards to the proposed joint operations centre I am reminded of the old saying, "a fool and his money are soon parted" - in this case the "fool" is the taxpayer. Further, I think our mayor thinks the "fool" gladly agreed to this expenditure by putting a few hot dogs on the grill one winter day to hook the "fool".

Some may think rising costs are an issue. Not so, this detail can be easily handled with tax increases.

Anonymous said...

ALL Councillors in attendance voted for the ward questions. No one addressed the costs or logistics of the move.

Anonymous said...

No way this will fly. If there was/were ? a ward system in place now, we would likely be in Cllr Humfryes' ward. Should a problem arise we would have to deal with her. She'd just smack a " Heritage " designation on the house and expect that to suffice. I want someone like Evelyn who prowls the entire town, thank you kindly.

Anonymous said...

Daily Brew
" While its own navy waits, Canada sells new military helicopters to the Phillipines "

Anonymous said...

Good to have you back again, E. don't over-do it.

Anonymous said...

Council meeting on the 18th wasn't televised by rogers, even though Rogers programming had it scheduled. And no streaming on the 24th! Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I really am trying to wrap my small brain around this ward system. I find wards are basically divided so that the particular geographic area is represented by a councillor to represent its residents and the needs for that area. I feel that geographically Aurora is too small for this type of representation. I respect Mr. Pullano's opinion but cannot agree with him. As far as bringing the council members down to 6...well I’m still not too convinced on that one, but I do believe that the job should definitely be full time with maybe an assistant for every 2 councillors. It’s quite evident in the last 4 yrs who has full time jobs and who don’t. This position is a lot of work, and I expect that my tax $ would be well spent for those who are dedicated to Towns business full time.

Anonymous said...

In Mayor Dawe's this week's Auroran column "In Good Company," he pats himself on the back for our town's high standing in a magazine survey - Number One in York Region.

He states " During this municipal term, our Council has consistently delivered prudent, accountable budgets that make key investments in our community while minimizing the financial impact to our taxpayers."

This sounds great, but where's the beef? There have been various consultants engaged in studies and plans, but what has actually been built?

What appears to be a foregone conclusion is that a new Joint Operations Centre is going to be built on some very suspect land, at a present and latest up-to-date cost estimate of some $26 million, nearly double the amount first considered a couple of years ago.

To me this is neither prudent nor accountable. It's simply a number that keeps going up and I wouldn't be surprised if by the time it is complete the cost hasn't mushroomed to $30 million.

Surveys are wonderful, but often they are as accurate as polls, and we know all about those.

Less back-patting and more nose to the grindstone, Mr. Mayor.

Anonymous said...

I remember when the Mayor stated if he really had CEO authority, there would be changes at the Council table. It was at that time that I really started to closely pay attention to everything he says and how he presents ideas. Wish I could say I've been impressed. I took a look at how he voted at some of the Regions issues. I was even less impressed. He’s still a hell of a lot better than Morris and dare I say Jones. But I still believe we will one day have a great Mayor. We've had them in the past…I’m holding on to the idea that one day we will again! Common October 27th!

Anonymous said...

Leaving aside whether or not it is a good idea to have 6 full time councilors instead of 8 part time ones, it would be fairly easy to fund.

We currently have 8, at roughly $30K per year each, an annual cost of $240K. If we increase the salary to 80K (including benefits), and add 2 assistants at 50K each total, the total cost increases to $580K.

The difference of $340K could be easily found within the current waste at town hall. I'm thinking Culture Centre money, Historical Society grant, Arboretum grant just to name a few.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor sits on the budget Committee of South Lake. You would think he could have picked up fiscal prudence. But then he secretly attended Centre meetings too.

Anonymous said...

A number of posters make good points on the benefits of the at-large system. The only problem I have is in the selection of candidates. Many don't have the time or inclination to carefully examine each of the many candidates. In a ward system it is much easier to examine candidates who you feel are the best fit for your ward. I think it also follows that when a person is elected in a ward one might be more likely to hold them accountable to what he or she stood for.

Anonymous said...

Mr Pullano seems to believe that a ward system would " empower " councillors & prevent than from forming " gangs ". I think that is nonsense. We sure don't need councillors with more power - look at the mess the current crop have given us with their red herrings and expensive projects and studies. And in a ward system several councillors could still stifle another.

Anonymous said...

How many meetings when no one bothers to show up is it going to take them to realize that residents do not want to waste time and money on studying a ward system? It's all about the Economy. Jobs and Taxes, stupid.

Anonymous said...

Who is writing the Mayor's speeches ?
They are just awful.
For his own sake, he is going to have to do better in an election.

Anonymous said...

Don’t know what Mr. Pullano is talking about when he says that a ward system will prevent the forming of gangs. He should take a look at our neighbors to the south. This term council in Richmond Hill has given a whole new meaning to the word “gang”.

Anonymous said...

16:10 I actually find them quite entertaining. Almost as much as the comics I read in the paper.

Anonymous said...


How is it better in a ward system to examine candidates in order to determine if they will represent your ward to the best of their ability as they could live in another ward on the other side of town?


They don't have to be your neighbour; their dog doesn't have to get walked on your street; their kids don't have to play in your park with your kids.

It's still just a pig in a poke.

Anonymous said...

Ms Wynne and her government are now in really big trouble. Those tapes just won't go away. I think the NDP will be forced to pull the plug on that group and we will have an election.

Anonymous said...

He is running for election so he does not have to make sense. All he wants now is name recognition.

Anonymous said...

@ 19:30
Not to worry. Ms Wynne is now Cllr Ballard's charismatic BFF & he will twitter to her a few times & fix everything.

Anonymous said...

9:23- If “Many don't have the time or inclination to carefully examine each of the many candidates”. With a 3.75% tax increase….they better start engaging with what’s been going on and getting to know these council members and candidates!

Anonymous said...

20:36- He’s still busy writing up their Code of Conduct and Ethics

Anonymous said...

Just judging from the comments her so far, it looks like the idea of a ward system is not of any interest. Not, it seems, is the concept of reducing the # of councillors. Th election should be interesting but woe to any who rely totally on the thing.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That mess with Mr K's errant trees could not have been handled by a single councillor. It took anger from the entire town and even then it took much too long and cost him and the town far too much money.
- It would be funny if he ran for election - he knows how bad it can get.

Anonymous said...

I had a relative who was a Reeve. He had his tires slashed, his daughters threatened & there was an attempt to blackmail him. He refused to quit but did not run again.
From his experience, it just became the family mantra Not to get involved with politics.
Since I was never even tempted, that was easy - until I say what was happening here in Aurora. Suddenly the family history was wiped clean out of my head.
So I do appreciate those who chose to run...tempered by the knowledge that some will be better at it than others.