"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

Monday 9 March 2015

Once, Twice, Three Times a Changeling

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2014.Taxes were Increased. Services were reduced. ...": 

There was a noticeable decline this winter. In previous years we had a young driver handle the big Freightliner with heavy plow and wing like it was a volkswagen. He was up and down and by the time I could get a few streets over with the dog he was just finishing this street and moving on to the next. He could make the big Freightliner dance.

You can't help but notice the drivers in our area do not yet have the experience to handle the big trucks. They are late and have been struggling.  

As for calling the town to ask if there is an explanation for the delay (trucks break down, drivers get sick etc)there is only a programmed response referencing service standards from the CUSTOMER SERVICE REPS.

I hope one of our elected members will call the director of the engineering dept. to account - in very clear and concise language.

I read it again. The story about cutbacks to winter maintenance to reduce taxes.  Once,twice, three times for enlightenment. Logic was as elusive as  tax savings.

As the story  grew so did the complexity.  After Councillors, it was the turn of staff to shoot down
Councillor Mrakas motion  that winter maintenance should be returned to previous standards.(2013)

Mr. Simanovskis said the standards had not been met for ten years. That's as long as  he has been in town employ. Despite the statement the standards had not been met,  returning to unmet standards would mean three new positions would be needed.he said.

If that's not sufficient contradiction, the matter of annual business plans and key performance indicators enter the picture. . Every year at budget. Council are subjected to a presentation by each department head  of business plans to support the budget being presented. It's mind-numbing stuff which  I have always thought was designed  for that purpose.

Now we have it direct from the horse's mouth, standards cited in the business plan were meaningless and had been  for ten years.  2014  standards were not reduced. They were simply a reflection of the way it was.

If true, why did Councillors each and every one, except the Mayor, argue reduced standards reflect reduced costs.

In 2013  a consultant  studied service levels. High levels were offered to explain comparative high taxation .

To cap that we  learn  from Town Solicitor Warren Mar high winter maintenance standards, unmet, render the town liable for claims. 

Mr.  Mar is quoted as advising Council  "the municipality's insurance counsel voiced a concern that
Aurora's standards were above the minimum and the increased  level would be the standard they
would be held to in court for these cases."

What cases?
What "insurance counsel"
Where did that come from?

Do we now have insurance counsel studying town insurance coverage?

Is he/she searching for the clause that enabled  close to a million dollars to be spent against the town's insurance coverage to defend the indefensible?

When and  where  was that decided?


Anonymous said...

It does seem awfully convoluted. The more explanations we receive, the less we understand....
We did see a report last term that Aurorans paid more than most towns for their services and the reason offered was that they were exceptional. This new information does not jibe with the original.
One or the other must be incorrect. Good luck ferreting it out.

Anonymous said...

Either our service standards are high or they are not. How complicated is that for the councillors ? All I know is that we are being billed according to some study that showed us to be on the high end.

Anonymous said...

This post and the previous one have you standing at the edge of a giant quicksand bog.

There is nothing you can do to cross it; 'tis best to go around.

In the annals of bureaucracy, the civil service is master of not just its own house, but also that of those to which it is supposed to be responsible.

This may sound bizarre, but unfortunately it is true.

The funniest and truest two television series dealing with this subject originated with the BBC. "Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister."

The winner ends up losing while the loser ends up winning.

You can't cross the bog. Go around.

Anonymous said...

The comment you quoted said it all.
It is time for a Letter from the Mayor........

Anonymous said...

Until there is a clear line of communications open between the town and residents besides a Keynote Address, there will continue to be misunderstanding. This one about the cost & quality of town services is a perfect example.

Anonymous said...

I did hear about a couple of cases where residents sued the town for negligence - sorry, wasn't paying attention to the details - it was at a council meeting so should be in the minutes somewhere.
But then how does one research minutes when the communications is so spotty with just every day stuff ?

Anonymous said...

Ahhh…back to the communications stuff. Last night council meeting, there was a motion for the Town to hold a multicultural festival. There was a lot of support for this from all councillors , when apparently something similar was voted down in the last council. Councillor Gaertner made a statement how she doesn’t remember this being brought to council in the last term. I tried to look for it in the minutes on the Town’s website, and of course found nothing. So either it never happened or God knows where in the bowls of our website it’s located.

Anonymous said...

George Street was reconstructed last year from Wellington to Kennedy Street West and already there are cracks and severe wear signs. A couple of the manhole covers in the middle of the street are about 2" below road grade level. And where George intersects with Kennedy Street West the north-east and north-west corners, which are actually fairly round, have obviously never been completed. All you have to do is take a look and you can see the old road lying beneath the new.

I don't know what it cost to do this job, but whatever company it was did a half-ass job, it is not completed. That company should never again even be considered as a contractor for any future roadwork that the town might be contemplating.

And if someone from the roads department (I forget their new name) is ever over that way to take a look, they should also inspect Kennedy Street West between Temperance and George. This looks like a battle zone but I haven't heard any Canadian fighter jets bombing it.

Anonymous said...

What amazing weather !
I wish there were some way we could bottle it for use throughout the rest of winter.

Anonymous said...

Gllr Gaertner would have voted for one so she would remember the incident if it took place.

Anonymous said...

No clear garbage bags!

Anonymous said...

HeeHee Clear bags are not yet to be mandated.

Anonymous said...

This is a quote from the Agenda for the Council meeting that was held yesterday, March 10, 2015:

"2. A proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the
Town or Local Board; Re: PR15-007 - Purchase of Lands at 100
Vandorf Sideroad, Formerly Hallmarks Cards

That Closed Session Report No. PR15-007 be received; and

That the confidential recommendations of General Committee on
March 3, 2015 regarding the Purchase of Lands at 100 Vandorf
Sideroad, Formerly Hallmark Cards, be approved."

If this closed session concluded that the town should purchase the above property, which includes up to 215,000 square feet on nearly 20 acres, in large part immediately to the north of an existing premium condominium complex containing 30 homes and also of Timberlane Athletic Club, would it be the intention of the town to construct multi-level condominiums? This would take the pressure off the ignorant proposal for Timberlane that suggests 68 condo units.

At one time the Hallmark property had been suggested as a local university, until clearer heads prevailed, but not until a joint Aurora-Newmarket plan for one was tossed by York University, as being too much in the country for its tastes.

Quite candidly I would like to know what has brought this property back for discussion and consideration by members of Council? At one time the asking price was close to $20 million but that might have come down as the building is virtually empty.

Can members around the table please explain to the tax-paying public just what the hell is going on, unless this was a matter to throw the subject out with the clear garbage bags?

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised we don't need more legal staff. The ones we have are run off their feet putting out messes while communications creates them.