"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, 3 March 2015

Cold Hard Unforgiving Inexcusable Facts of the Matter

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post ""The Mouse That Roared"":
The discussion had been about the missing penalty clause and Evelyn was correct. Council did have to pass a motion to include it in all future contracts. It had not been requited before and was largely responsible for the town paying so much for the Leisure Complex modifications. 
Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 2 March 2015 at 15:38


It is not accurate that  lack of a penalty clause was the reason the AFLC project  cost  zoomed above the contract price and  completion was five months late.

I don't believe Councillor Mrakas motion was intended  to obscure the facts.  It was hardly his job to  explain how things went wrong.New Councillors are being managed. It will take a little while for them to recognize it.

Penalty clauses are like window dressing. They make the product  look good.but have no value in themselves.

The AFLC renovation and addition  was  five months late in completion and  exceeded  the contract price by  $1.650 million. An absent penalty clause was not the problem. 

The town has a legal department with two competent lawyers who have not been afraid to provide
straightforward professional advice to Council.

They were not retained by the Mormac regime to enable whatever political exigencies were presented to them .  Town Solicitor Warren Mar has not been quoted on any aspect of a penalty clause. That"s anabsence to be noted.

 The contract price escalated because  plans  for a structural component failed to be  included in   specifications and had to be added after the contract was awarded.

Considering  strict legality of  the award process for public contracts,the  failure wouldnot be to the town's advantage in any dispute over liability. A million dollar oversight does not qualify as a minor
change order.

Mr Simanovskis  has noted lin a public meeting, staff had no idea how much time was needed to
supervise  the project. It follows  the right amount was not expended.

For the Joint Facility  he recommended as an afterthought  and received approval to hire a. project  manager  to supervise construction .ALREADY. UNDERWAY  since July 29th 2014.


Even if  the AFLC project  had finished on time, both projects would have overlapped  and plans were for supervision  by staff  already working  at  full-time functions.

Even if that  was practical, what does a Directorof Environment and Public Works Infrastructure and
the Manager of Facility  Maintenance know of  particular features of a multiple recreational facility

Oh Dear Me No!!! The  failure  had nothing to do with lack of a penalty clause.

Everything to do with stupidity. ignorance. lack of due diligence and plenty of blame to share.

If ever Council needed an in -camera meeting to dig beyond the surface for  answers this was such an occasion

At least they might have been able to provide a logical  explanation instead of  the faulty  logic of errors and omissions in a legal contract.

Monday, 2 March 2015

"The Mouse That Roared"

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Is English Our First Language ?": 

Come on - give her a break. She was a Reeve, Councillor and Mayor.  

They fact she does not know what encumbrance accounting is - something municipalities do - is not important either

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 2 March 2015 at 09:19

I am Queen of my castle.  V.P. of communications for The  Good Ship Lollypop.

I was also Deputy Mayor of Aurora for a bit. Then as now, the Procedure Bylaw had to be passed before any other business of a new Coincil. An  alternate had to be named to sign cheques and agreements and read the Riot Act if  the Mayor was absent.The title of Deputy was used in the Bylaw. Not otherwise.

The town operated a police department. In the absence of  real criminality, the Chief's pre-occupation was "The Mafia " and public morality.

A chain of dry-cleaners opened a branch in the shopping centre. The Chief  suspected  it was really a money-laundering operation. 

On one occasion, he decided  a  movie at the George Theatre was  pornographic. " Box Car Bertha'' was the title. The chief ordered it shut down.The  Riot Act did not have to be called to deal with 
public outrage .The theatre complied and anyway, it was in the Northern Town of  Nefarious Newmarket.

If anything seamy happened the blame was assigned to the denizens of that community.

Aurora was a righteous and severe Scottish  Presbyterian town. Newmarket was an Irish Catholic
community with all known and  recognizable traits and a few more besides.o

Come to think of it, I'm  not sure Aurora's chief had any power in Newmarket..Maybe their Chief  let him assume the Mantle of Authority considering the seriousness of the matter.Anyway it's all  in the Annals of History  if anyone at all has been  paying attention.

The  Regional Police Department  is forty-four years old now. In Aurora a person struts about
with the  title of Deputy- Mayor.

The Prime Minister of Canada  dropped into York Region Police Central Command in Aurora to alert the community to terrorist risks.

Canada's  world-wide reputation of  peace-keepers and mediators.is abandoned in favour of tough
guys intent on whipping bad guy Russian President Vladimir Putin into submission.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Not Something To Think About.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sex Complicates Things": 

Sex meant to be explored and not explicitly thought. I think sex education should be for parents so parents can answer questions and know how to talk about sex. We are turning something beautiful and personal to way too much explicit especially for our children at their sensitive age. "Wayne", got it wrong. Sex is about reproduction and it comes with pleasure, otherwise we would not have sex. "Wayne" is promoting the pleasure part of sex more. It is impossible to reproduce orally or through anal sex. Like i said some things need to be explored, and sex is one of them. If she called this a safe sex education then I would think differently

Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 26 February 2015 at 11:04   

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Is English Our First Language ?": 

A motion had to be made directing staff to include a clause designed to compel completion on schedule? You mean there was never one there?? They have to be told??? I thought we pay professionals to drawing up these contracts? 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 28 February 2015 at 20:06


We do indeed pay professional staff to draw up contracts. Each on the rising scale of the sunshine list.

Clauses in  contracts are easier to insert than they are to legally enforce.

Failure to perform according to a penalty clause can be  the fault of the client or  contractor. The client's interest is to ensure plans and specifications are complete and accurate before contracts  are awarded.

Significant changes and obvious oversights illustrate inefficiency at best and incompetence at worst and would undoubtedly mitigate against the client in any court action.

The AFLC project is five months behind schedule and almost a third over contract price.

Other factors prevail against us. We were losing a year's revenue by closing the facility for construction. Late completion means additional revenue lost. At least half as much again providing all clients return to the facility.

Architect fees are based on completed cost .Fees will be almost one third higher than financed.

Lost revenue will create higher user fees or a red line in the leisure services budget. Neither reflected  in final cost of  the project. Yet it is part of the cost whoever pays it. 

 A Council snippet watched on Tuesday evening  was a revelation.

Director of Environment and Infrastructure  Simanovskis sought approval for a single source contract
for supervision of construction of the Joint facility.
Cost $77,000.
The main contract was awarded on July 29th 2014.

The night Mr. Constable was appointed to fill the Ballard vacancy.
Councillor Humphreys was on vacation.
A single vote won  approval of the project.
The vacancy did not need to be filled until August 23rd.
One candidate offered to serve without pay.

Plans for the project were underway long before the contract was awarded.Plenty of time for staff to think of everything. Not enough for Council due diligence.

On Tuesday ,Mr. Simanovskis informed Council supervision of the Family Leisure Complex project
took more time than he and the maintenance manager expected.

Architects also provide supervision,he said.

When Mr. Somanovskis finished his explanation Mayor Dawe advised Council he and Councillor Able had attended two or three meetings. He wanted to complement Mr SImanovskis for his advice to council that supervision was needed for the project.

Councillor Thompson queried the town's commitment to the purchasor of the current works site.

The CAO affirmed the commitment and the hundreds of new jobs that go along with along with the sale.

Councillor Kim asked if a job description of supervision would be provided.and was assured.it would. 

Hours are twenty a week Contract $77,000.

All  council queries answered. Lickety split. Approval granted.

Then the most extraordinary thing happened.

The Mayoir looked  straight into the camera or at a person in the audience.
He crossed his eyes. Then rolled them upwards in their sockets. Then stuck out his tongue slightly.  All in a matter of seconds following the decision being made.

Finally he covered his face with both hands as though washing off all telltale signs of relief and satisfaction.
A little late perchance.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Is English Our First Language ?

The new addition to Aurora Family Leisure Complex is opening today.

Facebook has a cheery picture from the Mayor of three Councillors in the gymnasium in sports gear  holding basket balls. It was likely taken earlier in the week.

It's certainly a good time for something bright and shiny new when everyone is so tired of the long hard winter that isn't over yet.

There were no invitations to the opening. Probably because the red ribbon and cake cutting was in October before the election . Architects, contractors, press and all relevant  officials were on hand to receive plaudits for success of the project.

The celebration was held at the time the project was supposed to be completed.

But completion  is five months late and cost is more than twenty-five- per-cent above awarded contract price.

It's no small thing.

It's not clear how but it seems plans approved were deficient. A structural component at a million dollar  extra cost had to be added after the contract was awarded and construction was underway. It swallowed up the  contingency fund and another $400.thousand beside.

Last December the new Council were informed another $650,000  was required or work would stop.  The project would be abandoned unfinished.

Consternation  was expressed at the Council table. New councillors reported  community dis-satisfaction  with progress and their own  displeasure at being presented with an ultimatum. Pay up or else.

In terms of explanation,  silence was deafening.The Mayor and  Deputy who regularly sing from the same hymm sheet, on this occasion, had nothing to trill about.

At  Tuesday's meeting, Councillor Mrakas presented a resolution directing staff  to include a clause in all future contracts designed to compel completion on schedule.

The motion was not debated.

The motion begs the question.

How did it happen the AFLC project five months late in completion?

Why did cost mushroom to more than twenty five per cent of the contract price awarded?

Where  facts asuggest competence or efficiency?

Is there a separate understanding of  the word accountability ?

Friday, 27 February 2015

Guest Post

GAnonymous has left a new comment on your post "Time Goes By In A Flash": 

It was just announced that Canada's inflation rate for January was up by only one percent from January of last year. This was a huge deviation from the expected one and one half percent that economists had forecast.

The culprit of the moment is the fall in gas prices, and related fossil fuel items.

Low inflation could lead to deflation, where prices and costs decline, and eventually even salaries and wages.

How to fight deflation? Look at Japan for over 20 years and they haven't overcome deflation.

Most western industrialized countries are trying to keep deflation at bay by central bankers reducing interest rates. This is supposed to entice companies into borrowing to invest in new plants, thereby 
creating new jobs. We have been living with these for six years.

But this is not happening. Corporate profits are at record highs as a result of severe cost cutting, sometimes even as a result of staff layoffs.

Apple recently borrowed $5 billion for five years at an interest rate of 0.7%. There are hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate treasuries, often borrowed, even though not needed, simply because the cost was so low.

There are now half a dozen European countries, including Germany, that are charging customers to keep their money in the bank; a so called negative interest rate.

But I don't see any of this reflected in our community, where this week's Auroran features an article that says the property tax rate for 2015 is now down to a proposed 5.66%. This follows fine tuning the Central York Fire Services request that would have seen a tax increase of 6.1%.

How is it that the country's inflation rate of 1%, and a great concern at that, can exist simultaneously with Aurora property tax payers who are looking at more than five times that?

Municipal government is obviously too expensive and its managers, both staff and elected members, are simply not doing everything necessary to contain costs, even if some services have to suffer.

Instead of monotonous discussion about clear garbage bags, why not cut collection days by fifty percent, or some similar service reduction.

By all means, explain it to the people, but then just go ahead and do it, and they might actually say thank you
Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 27 February 2015 at 21:32

Time Goes By In A Flash

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Saga Of Melting Snow. Now You See It. Now You ...": 

In his annual State of the Town address last week, Mayor Dawe's opening remarks 
"Taking risks - calculated risks - is an integral component of success."
This may be true if all the research has been expertly done. 

On the snow storage project, lacking even the most basic common sense, it would have been cancelled before huge amounts of taxpayer money were squandered.

Who was or who were responsible?

Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 26 February 2015 at 13:59

The project was a carry-over from the previous term. It kept coming back and being deferred. The  final vote was taken at the 
same time approval was given for the Joint Facility. 

Councillor Humphreys was absent. But mr. Constable had been 
brought  on board in time to safeguard the vote for the facility. 

He voted against the snow treatment facility which had reached a million dollars by that time. It was that vote that killed the project. 

The Mayor supported the project from beginning to end. 
Someone just commented we are only three months in to the term 
and three years until the next election. 

We have three new Councillors and Councillor Thompson.The latter may have realised his alliances in the last term were not particularly advantageous. 

The three new councillors acquitted themselves very well in their first campaign.They should be nurtured and encouraged. 

Stupidity Is The Coin Of The Realm

Christopher Watts has left a new comment on your post "Bathurst Tells The Story": 

"It's not indifference we see at election times. It's a severe malaise. Like a fever, it my have to run its course."

Brilliant quote Evelyn, but what if what we are seeing is not a fever but the return of terminal stupidity? 

Running its course seems to be the motto of the antivaxer movement when what we really need in out politicians is for them to muster the courage to roll up their sleeves and take a shot of common sense. 

Posted by Christopher Watts to  Our Town and Its Business at 27 February 2015 at 10:15

I know nothing about the antivaxer movement.

Nor do I know what is meant by " the return of terminal stupidity.

What would encourage our local politicians "to roll up their sleeves and take a shot at common sense ? " 

Lack of success in the last election ? But that's not what happened. 

I was the champion of common sense. I was the one defeated. 

Mayor Dawe apparently confided to a colleague after his first election, he only wanted  two terms in the Mayor's  office. 

Now the second term is secure, we  are watching his successor, Councillor John Abel  being lined up to occupy the office next term.

Like....dividing the spoils. 

Now let's see how comfortable the rest  of Council is being clumsily shifted in that direction. 

It's the ultimate triumph of stupidity.

Bathurst Tells The Story

An elaborate accoustic fence  is being constructed to enclose the former Glenway golf course  on Bathurst Street in Newmarket. Obviously by the developer.

Further  south, in Aurora ,a decorator wood fence has been constructed on the same side of  Bathurst to enclose  back yards of subdivision.homes. It rises and dips with the contours of the land. In some places it disappears  below  the road level and serves no useful purpose whatsoever. Not even decorative.,

It was built by the Region. No expense spared. Trees were cut down. New trees planted.

Aurora originally  required lot lines be thirty yards back from  the.road  easement to maintain the ambiance of   countryside. No doubt the Region will be responsible to  maintain that fence forever and a day.

I believe $2 million tax dollars were spent. Regional staff  are said to be extremely accommodating to regional  council members. From the way it happened I doubt the fence was a capital item in any long term forecast.

It would not therefore be in any calculation of development charges.

Homeowners gifted with the fence had complained they bought homes when Bathurst Street was a country road with little traffic aand expected it to stay that way. Since they came ,traffic increased  dramatically and they were entitled to protection.

And so it came to be. At the expense of the rest of us. No principles apply. 

I doubt we should look for principles other than purely political in any Regional decision. Out of sight.out of mind.

Any more than we expect them  at the Provincial or Municipal or Federal levels of government.

The similarities are outstanding.

It's not indifference we see at election times. It's  a severe malaise. Like a fever ,it my have to run its

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Saga Of Melting Snow. Now You See It. Now You Dont

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Perception Is The Reality": 

Ah, 20:10. Do try to enjoy the bright days and the fact that no one here appears to be agitating for some scheme to treat our snow. I have to wonder how many, if any, municipalities bought into that region initiative. 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 23 February 2015 at 20:5

It was not a regional initiative. It was a copy cat from Richmond Hill. 

A new  budget item in 2006 was an environmental engineer at a cost of  $100.thousand a year to start off. It costs  $30 thou.to equip a new staff, plus space.The recommendation came from  the citizens environmental advisory committee.

I asked the function. .  "Identifying  environmental initiatives "  was the answer 

Each year thereafter I asked for  initiatives identified. 

The question would  be greeted with bemused but knowing glances around the table.

Subsequently $750,000. appeared in the capital budget for a treatment facility for "stored " snow.

By the next year $167,000 had been spent for a design of  a treatment facility. Approval  was sought  to build the facility.

Snow from a few central streets is dumped on a permeable parking lot that wasn't used in winter. The previous dump  is now the community gardens site. It just sat there minding its own business until it melts in the spring.

Now staff were ready to proceed to the next step of calling bids for a facility to remove salt from the melting snow. It involved paving the parking lot creating a runnels for the melt to dlow into the
"Treatment " facility.

My first thought was that parking lot is a permeable surface. Melt would filter through.The lot is
on the edge of  the Lambert Wilson ravine.Why is treatment needed? second thought :  salt can't be removed from water.  Third, where there is salt, there can be no snow.

Salt is contra-indicated.

Conclusion  :what kind of a cockamamie scheme is this?

Then  they said it wasn't really about removing salt. Pathogens were the problem. They come from animal excrement.

The unlikelihood of dogs squatting at the side of Yonge Street to relieve themselves in the snow was
pointed out . That explanation was not used again.

A Regional official  was brought in to inform Council the snow dump was on the well head protection
area.  The treatment was needed to protect the water supply.

So, why not just move the dump I said or buy e quip net to melt the snow where it falls.

Approval was withheld  but neither was the project rejected. Instead the price went up to $850,000.

Accommodation for the treatment facility was included in the plans for the new Joint Facility for parks and works department.

As luck would have it ,the price of that boondoggle rose to $26 million from $14 million.

Finally the snow melt treatment facility was eliminated.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Sex Complicates Things

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sex In The Classroom": 

You are clearly in the dark ages on sexuallity.Get with  the times or at least close to it 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 25 February 2015 at 14:01


O.K. So we are going to talk about sex.

The comment may be correct. I may be in the dark ages.

The question for him to consider is how many of us are. 

I have no inclination to tell another adult how they should live their lives. We can't know each other's experience. 

I believe marriage is essentially a legal contract. Whoever wishes to make a legal contract has a right to do so.

If someone dear to me informed me he was a homosexual, I would love him no less. I would not consider it glad tidings. I would be concerned about problems he might encounter.

 Child-rearing has never been easy. We do our best but I doubt many feel their best was good enough

Nurturing matters. Protection from harm is part of it. Knowing who they are with. What influence they are exposed to.is all part and parcel  It's hard.

Surrendering parental authority to guide character to a government institution is not going to be an easy sell.

Sex is more than  momentary satisfaction . It is part of a healthy relationship. And self-respect.

Take those two components out of the equation. What do you have left?

Sex In The Classroom

Do we have an opinion about the province's sex education curriculum. ? I think yes.

Are we going to engage in the discussion?  Maybe not.

The exchange between Barrie MLA John  MacNaughton and Premier Wynne makes for an interesting start.

Mr MacNaughton,leadership candidate for Conservatives ,said something about the government,
"Eapecially Kathleen Wynne" should not be .........

City line reporter Cynthia Mulligan asked the MLA directly if that was a shot at the Premier because she is lesbian.

Mr. McNaughton said  "Of course not".

But if it.wasn't,what was it ? Why did he say it? And why did he back off?

The Premier on the other hand decided to call Mr.McNaughton out on his comment.

In the legislative assembly  He was asked to explain:

"Is it because I am a woman ...is it because I am a mother...Is it because I have a Masters Degree in Education....is it because I have served as Minister of Education . Mr. Speaker" she asked.

She  did not ask . " Is it because I am lesbian?"

Both  members are equally aware of  what they were talking about.

Both tip-toed delicately all around it.

I think it may be the sticking point of the sex education curriculum.

Are.we  going  to teach children in the classroom that homosexuality is an acceptable life style?

Are parents prepared to  go that far?

I believe it's past time to accept that children are sexual beings and society needs  to have a conversation about how to teach them  what they need to know for their own protection.

The issue is huge. If parents don't do it, plenty of others are willing and apparently have filled the vacuum with stuff parents are not willing to live with.

If  sexually transmitted disease amongst children, particularly girls, is the crisis pushing this curriculum forward ,parents need to know and deal with it now.

I have read or heard about that  aspect but not extensively.

If anal sex and oral sex are the root of the problem  that's a question of hygiene and God  knows what other health scourge might develop.,

The awful consequence of the practices  is surely sufficient and natural argument against them.

To say nothing of the need  to respect one's own body.

Teaching children how to do it safely is ass backwards in my judgement.Pardon the pun .

It's not likely to gain acceptance. And neither it should.

Furthermore if parents are not the ones to teach their children, why would teachers do it better.?

Are they not parents also?

What  kind of a mine field is being set up for teachers ?