"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

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Innocent until proven

The blog will not  be used to promote the idea all politicians are criminals and should be in jail.

Our Justice  system doesn't even warrent that al prison inmates are criminals.

Any more than all doctors or  lawyers or police officers or any other group that exercises power
over our lives are criminals and should be in jail because some among them exploit the power.

Politics is the only one  called publicly to account  on a regular basis.

It's how it has to  be.

It's not easy nor to everyone's taste.

Those who volunteer to service should at least be deemed honest  until .or unless.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Beating a dead horse

The Attorney General of Ontario has authority to order charges be withdrawmn.

 A local Councillor has no such authority.

Any citizen has a right to ask a police officer a question of procedure.

The Crown Attorney has responsibility to decide if a charge should proceed to trial.

The police officer who witnessed the incident ,and only that officer, has the duty  to lay the charge.

The Crown Attorney has responsibility to determine if the evidence supports the charge and is sufficient to obtain a  verdict of guilt.

On any day of the week, courts are filled with cases. where the Crown Attorney  has  not opened the file to make a determination until the morning of the trial.

The trial proceeds with no determination the weight of evidence is sufficient.

If a lawyer is assigned chances are there's not much of an argument on either side.

The police officer is in the court awaiting the trial. If he is not on a regular shift, he is of course paid extra for court days.

If the trial does not proceed for any reason  he will be in court on all future days until the trial is heard.

If he fails to show on a particular day, the charge will likely be dismissed.

And so the wheels of Justice turn and turn unless  they fall off.

There is no mystery

Friends are still wondering about the election

 I'm not in the habit of doing an autopsy.

It is what it is.

Life goes on.

Of course  there's a story.

It's relevant to why  Cabinet Ministers are compelled to resign when things go awry. When a seed is cast it always takes root.

I knew it the night of  the Sport  Aurora all-candidate meeting at the Legion And the  one before at the Town hall.

Gayle  McIntyre ,a former Councillor and not overtly hostile, confronted me with the statement
 I  was suing the town for $90. million.  Gayle is many things .Subtlety is not one.

"Add another ten why don't you". I said.  "And make it  a nice round figure"

I had an opportunity to speak to Gayle  again and perhaps make the correction.  I felt  it was already too late.

There were other signs

Bruce Walkinshaw laughed  easily and said he was still supporting me but no, he would not put a sign on his property again.

Another past supporter made a point of speaking to Councillor Pirri at his table and turning his back on me.

At a second presentation from a Vice President of the town's insurance company in September , Mayor  Dawe made the statement " people are  talking about the obscene amount of money being spent on the litigation"

The figure of $845,000 was  revealed for the first time at that meeting. He said the normal process

was to seek a settlement but failed to disclose why the normal process had not been followed.

He was asked.

Councillor Abel endorsed the Mayor's comment and added the action was to obtain millions of dollars in damages.

It wasn't hard to make the connection to  Gayle McIntyre's  expression of outrage.

It's five years since six members of Council retained a lawyer and instructed him to write a complaint
for  the newly appointed Integrity Commissioner.

Mascarin's report was published in two newspapers and the town's web site

It was read by Councillor Gaerner into the formal record of  Council proceedings.

The complaint was DISMISSED. by the  Integrity Commissioner as PURELY POLITICAL mere hours ahead of the decision of the same six individuals to strip him of his authority for not following the procedures they had set down for him.

Five years is a long time for people to remember.

When a  Mayor and Deputy Mayor make a joint statement,  people have every right to expect it to be true.

From my perspective, there really was no puzzle about the outcome of the election.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Hopefully it can change again":

Fat lot that did us

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 15 December 2014 at 09:47

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Valid Question

Last week the media reported Toronto Alderman Georgio Mammolito had filed a claim with the City Clerk for payment of  legal fees  for a judicial review of  a Council decision to suspend his remuneration  for three months.

A complaint against the Alderman  under the City's Code of Conduct was filed  for overspending in the last election. The Integrity Commissioner found  for the complaint.

 The Councillor pleaded guilty to overspending in the election.

Toronto provides an allowance  of $20,000 for an Alderman  to file for legal representation in a judicial review.

Apparently the cost is more than the allowance. Mammoliti has filed a claim for the difference.

The issue is of particular interest.

The complaint against Mammoliti was found . He acknowledged it by pleading guilty.

The  challenge is to the city's authority to suspend remuneration for a job he was elected to do.

He did it.

What the city could  not do was unseat Mammolito or compel him to cease and desist doing a job that was not the city's to give or take away.

The question of whether remuneration  for the job set by City Bylaw can be denied is certainly one ,to my mind , for a judicial decision.

It's  just another example of  half-assed Provincial legislation like the Conflict of Interest legislation.

Provincial  legislation is a serious occupational hazard for a municipal politician .

No offence can be charged under the  Municipal Bylaw. Without enforcement penalty, the Bylaw cannot be enforced.

The legislation so states.

An  Integrity Commissioner can recommend a penalty but cannot impose it.

ANeither can Council.

The question to be decide by judicial review is can a  Council enforce vacation of a council seat for any length of time?  If not can they  withhold  remuneration?

I would say not.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

It's alright

Outside my window small  birds are feasting from seeds on the snow. My son Andrew  didn't
have time to remove the spent summer foliage this year. Andrew is a neat freak.

Thistle  heads still cling to fall asthers . They will still be there in Spring, providing nourishment.
for  the birds.

I had read the seeds nourish the birds that stay around in winter. I thought the seed would fall off and  wondered what happens with  a blanket of snow.

This morning I discovered . The birds land on the ground,  fly up and knock the branches about, then  they feast on seeds knocked off and clearly visible on the snow.

Putting bird seed out is an option. But it must be there every day. Birds have to feed every day to generate enough energy to survive the night.

If food is put out for them they depend on it. They don't look elsewhere for a food source. The feeder must be filled every day or the birds die.

The cedar hedge and spruce trees provide shelter, a tangled mass of withered fall asthers provide bounty and red cardinals, brilliant blue jays and  little birds in dark gray tuxedos and pale grey
vests find everything they need to make a home in my garden.

It's how things are supposed  to be

Friday, 12 December 2014

I depressed myself with my last post. It's one thing to pay passing attention to politics at the provincial and national level. Writing about it means you have to think. And that is positively perilous. To-day I'm going to get my hair done and lunch with friends. My iPad is doing queer things.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Hopefully it can change again

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The loss is more than material":

Politicians were never on the short list of what you wanted your kids to be when they grew up.
Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 11 December 2014 at 20:14

It has not  always been true. 

Polticians have always been  easy targets for critics. 

It didn 't mean they had no sense of the dignity of their role. 

I am constantly being reminded how things have changed.

I keep providing glimpses of the past that illustrate the change.

If mistakes  or wrong-doing were uncovered  a Minister took responsibility and resigned

Resignations were accepted. A heavy personal price was paid by an individual.

It was how government assured the public of commitment to integrity.

They didn't sic the dogs on others to distract attention.

Slithering and sliding  and flat denials to escape responsibility were  not the norm.

Nowadays the public  is compelled to witness degrading conduct while politicians brazen their way through, playing for time and  banking on the short attention span of media and the public.

At times it seems there's nothing left. but foolish yammering.

We are all of us degraded. By it.

The loss is more than material

Joan Smith was an Attorney General in David Petersen's Liberal cabinet in 1989. A phone call in the middle of the night from a distraught constituent brought her to a police station.

The resultant uproar from the opposition, NOT  THAT SHE WAS seeking preferential treatment  on the basis of her office  for a constituent but that it might appear to be so.

The Honorable member submitted her resignation . It  was accepted by The Honorable David Petersen.

It would appear not only the standards of yesterday are no longer observed. But  modern  age politicians are not even aware they exist.

As I watched  question period  on Tuesday  another memory came to mind.

Education Minister Liz Sandals was responding to a question about the loss of day care spaces as a result of the government's introduction of all day kindergarten.

The Minister was seasonally clad in cyclamen jacket with satin tuxedo style lapels

Her style of presentation reminiscent of an experience I had on the hospital board.

A fund-raising tea being organized by the Women's Auxiliary had to be approved.

I asked why  permission was needed from the all- male board .

The President of the Auxiliary responded in a tone  heavy with long-suffering forbearance.

"We don't mind Mayor Buck"

The Honorable Liz Sandals  answer was longer but the tone was maintained throughout.

Answer completed,  she flounced  down so hard in her chair, she bounced .

The Honorable Premier and the Minister are both former school board trustees.

Trustees were always inclined  to define themselves differently to politicians Like the President of the Women's Auxiliary .... being  engaged in a higher purpose and all that.

It occurs Premier Wynne's need to demean municipal politicians may have a deep-seated prejudice
as well as the need to deflect  public attention from their own conduct of the people's business.

Unfortunately, municipal politicians themselves seem to have lost all awareness of the dignity of
elected  office.

They are fighting a rear guard action.

Yes Indeed.....Things do change

I was thinking  this morning of a man called Dalton Bales. He was a lawyer and a North York Alderman before being elected  provincially to the  Robarts government  in the late sixties.

He rom became Cabinet Minister in several important portfolios. A controversy erupted over a  joint purchase of land in Markham by several cabinet ministers.  Bales offered to resign from Minister ofMunicipal  Affairs Premier Bill Davis,who succeeded Robarts,refused to accept his resignation.

The first Conflict of Interest guidelines for cabinet ministers followed thereafter .

Mr. Bales was dropped from cabinet in the next shuffle .He quit politics in the next election.

He stepped off the curb in front of a car on Bayview at ten-thirty on a rainy night and was killed.
A small item in the media noted  the manner of  his death.

He was fifty-nine years old.As a student he was employed in a law office.

I often think of Dalton Bales.  And Darcy McKeough. He also was  Minister of Municipal Affairs.

At that time the Minister had to sign  off on all subdivision agreements in the Province.

His family were active in  development in the Sarnia area. He inadvertently signed an agreement
along with  a pile of others . Resigned his post. Returned to a comfortable and  secure private life soon after.

The day before yesterday,  even as Premier Wynn was proudly promoting her government's avowal to
municipal accountability, the  Minister of Energy was  angrily denying revelations of billions of dollars of waste and excessive spending and over and mis-leading  charges to consumers to pay for the boondoggle.

The Provincial auditor, appointed by the Province, to fullfill a function prescribed by law ,was being challenged  and  figures disputed by both the Minister and the Premier .

The Minister's resignation was  neither offered nor accepted.

The bizarre sequel to this story was provided by Andrea Horvath, august leader of the NDP.

Her profound observation  was the Minister was sexist because the  auditor was female.

It is to weep for what once was.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Off limits

I am trying to wean myself from Aurora council business.

Accordimg to observations ,the new Council  has been elected  in expectation of  positive  performance. As opposed to negativity of the  past Council.

Despite being defeated,  my thinking on any of the issues I opposed in the past term has not changed.

But authority to participate in decisions to be made is no longer mine.

Opposition will have to be expressed directly to Council members or I suggest a letter to the editor.

Open and transparent.

As a conduit this blog can not be effective.

I will take a position from time to time. Probably when it looks like an idea has traction.

See That ragtime couple over there...watch them throw their shoulders in the air

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "What you see is what you get.

Better than Coles Notes? At least Cole Notes are validated for accuracy.

The problem with Wikipedia is exactly what you said "an individual can actually write a correction". But an individual can also write fiction and no one will know.

It is an easy place to get research, but I cringe every time someone considers it fact. 

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 10 December 2014 at 0

***** *************************

Coles notes would  probably be useful if I were trying  to compare to a Shakespeare character . 

Some might argue  there 's more than an element of truth to his fiction.

My first encounter with Fantino was as  large as life and twice as obvious. 

His progress has been fascinating to watch. He obviously knows  his value to politicians  and pursues it for all it's worth.

He understands the political imperative to curry favour with the Italian vote. For a multitude of reasons. Not least of it financial. It appears Woodbridge voters don't put much stock on competence.

I went to Wikipedia to confirm my recall of media  reports of his handling as top Provincial Cop,
of  a volatile situation of Aboriginal protest. He is reported to have pushed aside trained negotiators and made threats against an Aboriginal leader.

Dalton McGuinty Honorable  Premier at the time, also refused  demands for his resignation.

It's all there in Wikipedia .Complete news reports. Different newspapers. And lots more beside.

Yesterday Honorable Provincial Minister of Energy  Chiarelli was doing pretty much the same thing . as Fantino .. angrily denouncing  the Provincial Auditor .

Even as  Honorable Premier  Kathleen Wynn was answering questions in the house and waving acknowledgement of the Provincial  Omboogyman in the visitors gallery  to give assurance of the
Provinces new accountability rules, the Minister of Energy was energetically  excoriating   the  Provincial Auditor  for getting the figures wrong about more billions of dollars of wanton waste in his department's spending.

Ontario residents are paying millions of dollars of cost in phenomenally higher hydro bills.

It 's about Smart Meters.

It rather  reminds me of other  meters in Aurora . Hjgher costs of water never quite explained.

Save to say ...

It must be right because ...

Everybody's  doing it...doing it..doing it. ..

and all that Jazz.