"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, 25 May 2015

NOW YOU SEE .IT ...NOW YOU DON''T

Rogers has stopped delivering my mail. I have been switched to Yahoo.  There are differences in process that I have not yet mastered. Particularly dealing  with comments.

I think I may have  removed content previously published. 

I apologize. I  get lost  If I travel  too deeply into squirelly stuff. I'm going to  leave it alone for the day and may not come back to it. 

If you don't see your comment ,or saw it and then didn't .....that's the explanation. Please send it again. Unless it was abusive ,.. then don't. 

There is a difference between critical and abusive. 

Criticism  is a legitimate component of politics. 

Abuse is  a component of ignorance. 

MONDAY......MONDAY

The comment  Councillors with charitable impulses should dip into their own pockets has been made before. Frequently.  It makes not a whit of difference.

Appreciation from those receiving the contributions is the relevant factor. When a member of Council votes for a fee waiver or deferment of development levies and suggests massive returns they are 
banking on the returns  at election time.

It's all very fundamental and the reason politics are considered  by many to be the second oldest profession. Shallow perception has become conventional wisdom 

Leadership is at an all time low at every level and the future is murky.

Councillor Tom Mrakas has opened up a line of communication on Facebook. 

I have seldom seen one that wasn't inviting. 

After listening to all the blether  about Saturday's Irish Referendum and last year's  Scotttish Vote for Independence , I conclude it's a feature of old country culture not fully developed  in Canada. 

"The Great Gaels of Ireland ,the men whom God made mad, 
For all their wars are merry and all their songs are sad."

Clubs are created over there for the intense and ferocious pleasure of argument.  

My views do not jibe with Tom's but it's great that he puts his ideas forward  Inherent  risk and at the same time benefit, is the possibility of dialogue. 

Long life and continued experience shapes my thinking. 

I'm glad to read Chris Watts is spending time at the museum. I'm planning a visit myself.

Christopher says  the old school is like a mausoleum. That's not how I pictured it. Council representation has changed. Maybe Councillors Mrakas and Kim should visit the facility themselves
to discover what's what.

C.C. Is celebrating  a five year anniversaryrepresenting more than $3 millions spending on programming .I believe at least six people are employed on a full-time basis. 


Saturday, 23 May 2015

APPLES AND ORANGES

I love oranges. I start every day with a sweet juicy seedless Californian Sunkist and consider myself blessed. 

A couple of City news items caught my attention last night. Mayor Jiohn Tory was speaking of  better management of week-end traffic when major arteries are closed for marathons and for essential repairs and re-construction. 

He said groups should sit down to-gether and pull names out of a hat if that's what It takes to create order out of chaos. Nobody has ever accused John Tory of being impractical 

The most interesting  item that emerged was city revenue  of millions  from charity marathons. 

Users pay. ...Handsomely. ...Taxes do not subside charitable fund-raising.  Toronto property taxes are are lower than Aurora. 

Contrast that with various charity runs and Chamber of Commerce Street Sale and Rib Festival in Aurora. 

No user fee has ever been charged for  Yonge Street to be closed for the Street Sale which by any measure  is a phenomenal  commercial success. 

On the contrary, the town pays week-end premiums for employees to be on hand before and after for set-up and clean-up. 

Like the Jaz┼ż Ferstival ,we hear about great advantage derived from the event. We see no signs of it. Yonge Street  Aurora is still the saddest, loneliest place on a Saturday. Wherever they are, Aurora residents are not crowding the sidewalks of any section of the  main thoroughfare. 

Councillor Abel and Humpfreys always find it in their hearts to waive fees for the charitable runs. 
"it's for a good cause " is they emotion expressed. "These people do good work" 

It means the funds collected for charitable causes are augmented by support from town coffers, are derived from taxes imposed on the same people running and sponsoring and voluntarily contributing 
to the cause. 

It's double-dipping. 

Council's role in operating corporation's business efficiently is not a consideration. Lady Almoner and Bountiful is how they see themselves. Doling out money they took from other people's pockets. 

The city is considering increasing  separate charges on water bills based on the square footage of roof. Run-off  from property contribute to flood problems . Infrastructure,neglected for years is in desperate need  of renewal . 

After the Region was created forty-four years ago, Aurora undertook to re-construct all roads in the old town. At the same time storm and sanitary sewers were separated. 

 Storm water ponds are constructed in all new subdivisions to deal with run-offs from roads and roofs .
Cost  adds to home  prices. Property taxes paid for ever and a day reflect those hidden costs. 

The town spends a million dollars iannually lining pipes with plastic

Despite infrastructure improvements adding  multi million dollar to the tax bill, water bills were deliberately increased 100%  in four years . 

One explanation offered  to explain the increase proved not to be factual.  Others were refused by the administration for  fear of how the information would be used .

iLike maybe telling the people who pay the bills how the money is being used.  

Toronto has authority to impose  a variety of levies. 

The city draws millions every day to work,and play. Toronto has expenditures nobody else has. 

It cannot be suggested the tax rate is readily comparable . 

At the same time, the idea that any part of the function of  a Municipal  Council is to distribute largesse from taxation to everyone who " does good work " is monumentally idiotic. 

Volunteerism is an essential part of any family community. Some being compensated while others not 
is anything but practical,sensible or fair. 



Friday, 22 May 2015

THREE STREAMS


I watched Rex  Murphy do his little stint at the end of THE NATIONAL, Peter Mansbridge's bailiwick
on CBC.  His  function is to end the news program on a light note. He's no Andy Rooney.

To-night he chose to compare various terrible  current events in the world with the long farewell to David Letterman on American television. The  late-night program has ended after thirty-three years.
By any measure ,it was an enviable success. 
Murphy had scathing comments about Letterman's lack of  wit throughout his career .

For all intents and purposes, Rex Murphy makes his living in an associate field of endeavor.

He reads his material in a monotone without a vestige of visual expression. His  presentation never varies. Obviously, it's not easy being funny on cue. He is not in a good place to criticize.

He might not even be there if the CBC was a private corporation. 

***********************

Our Lady Of Grace

The  Auroran has  published a slew of letters from parishioners on the loss of a  much beloved priest.

Joe Gorman's decision to leave the priesthood was communicated to the parish with simple dignity and a heartfelt message of  kindness and good will. 

I think the whiff of scandal may be exactly opposite to the former priest's intention. intention.

******************

Magna Leaving.

Magna is  processing  an O.P. Amendment to King to change another farm or two in the rural municipality into heavy industrial use.

Word is there's not enough space in Aurora to meet the needs for angicipated  expansion.

 Magna's  decisions are theirs to make.

 They should not be expected to do anything but benefit Magna  interest.

Because of the reason given however , there is room for comment. 

Magna recently processed a  final parcel  in Aurora ,except for the private golf course, to  residential development. It was sold at auction. It wasn't the first sale of land designated for development. 

Making money by buying , processing and selling land is not a new initiative. Magna is not the first .
But it always helps to be well-in with the locals.

But  Magna's claims for  need to re-locate tbecause of limited space  in Aurora for long -term expansion is bogus. 

The Mayor of King is naturally delighted. Like a puppy dog barking for master's approval. 

Who dares oppose  Magna's Midas Touch .

Premier Kathleen Wynne perhaps. 

Regional Council is unlikely.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

WINNING BY SELLING

I caught a glimpse on T.V.. of Patrick Brown being escorted into the Legislative Chamber at Queen's  Park a day or so after he won the Conservative leadership. 

He is a slight insignificant-looking individual. I was frankly taken aback. 

It matters. 

In another shot, he was surrounded by Conservatives. They seemed to tower over him. The full Implication of his Pyrrhic victory was in that scene. 

He appeared to be meeting most  members for the first time.  In contrast, they are seasoned members of Provincial politics. However competent ,however effective, they are secure in their seats  at least until the next provincial election. They owe him nothing. 

As a party in opposition ,there are no appointment to offer a member to  persuade him or her to relinquish a  hard -won seat to Patrick Brown. 

According to news stories, he won the leadership by selling memberships to the South Asian Community.  A strategy  hardly guaranteed to inspire confidence  among  the Loyal True and Blue Members of the House ?

During the  campaign he criticized the party for not being  sufficiently patronizing  of ethnic groups. 

Premier Kathleen  Wynne answered a question from the press that she would not delay a byelection 
to elect the new leader to a seat in the  House. But, Yes, she said firmly ,the Liberals will field a candidate wherever that might be. 

I know nothing at all about Provincial Conservative rules for choosing a Leader, but whatever they are, 
a review is probably timely.

I think overly-ambitious Patrick Brown has a few hurdles to overcome before he takes a seat in The Ontario Legislature. 

Nothing indicates he has the skills, the personality the winning smile or support of the Party. They may put a good face on it. Or they may just not have the stomach. 

Membership sales  at $10.00 a throw may not be the cache it was to win the leadership. There's nothing there to inspire confidence and trust. Nothing more than sleight of hand. 

No loyalty. 
No political conviction. 
Nothing more than calculation. 
Nothing to hold  fast for the long haul. 
No Conservative values









Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A BUDGET STORY

It's  cool out this morning .Looks like rain. I finally got around to reading the budget news story a second time. Particulary for an indication staff followed Council direction and provided information on  disposition of the 2014 budget for staff training. Didn't find it. 

I found information the budget was underspent by $48,000 or $50,000. Both figures were referenced in the story.,

2015 proposed budget was $196,000. 

Councilor Mrakas proposed a cut of $100,000. 

Staff opposed it.  Training has great advantage this way and that was the argument. 

Chief Financial Officer cited serious impediments to documenting  how the 2014 budget was spent. 
Despite purchase of $ 440,000. software for work and asset management in 2011 for exactly the purpose . Last time  that  swoon doggle was mentioned it was not yet up and running. Bits and Pieces of hardware were still being added to make it functional. 

The Mayor and Councillor Thom voted against requiring the documentation. The Mayor being critical  of Council's effort to  "micromanage " the business.  

Debate on the issue was interesting if not completely logical. 

Councillor Thompson was reluctant to support the $100,000 cut because of not knowing what the impact would be. Despite the Councillor's initial support for precise direction to staff to provide figures that would inform Council of the impact. 

Councillor Abel professed clear understanding of the point "the new council " wished to make and 
"If they want clarity I am not going to stand in the way of that or their direction" Councillor Abel has clearly in his mind divided the Council between old and new. 

Councillor. Thom , a new Councillor, declared those pushing for the cuts should be able to "make the case" to the rest of Council. He acknowledged his lack of understanding "for the cut  other than it is a nice round figure"

In the news story, Councillor Kim rounded out the debate ;

"Given the lack of information (on training ) thus far;$100,000. Being a nice found figure is good enough reason for me." He said. "I don't totally agree that those who want to cut the budget  further by $50,000 that that party has the burden of proof to provide that evidence.It should just as likely be the 
other side who wants to maintain or increase to have that burden of proof as well"

In the end ,if one is to track the comments in support of the $100,000 cut ,it  seems a majority of five  spoke in favour. 

Yet  the  story reads the  tax increase is based on a cut of  $50,000 not $100,000.

Go figure.

The town's web site doesn't help.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

SEE THAT RAGTIME COUPLE OVER THERE

With one thing and another,I've been busy this week. If I start a post first, it takes several hours to finish then I have no initiative to start anything else. At this time of the year tons of stuff needs to be done. 

I haven't read the news story on the budget yet. Just the headlines and a quick scan. I do have comments but not until I've read the whole thing twice. 

I'm still thinking of a theme  change for the blog. 

Before I started it in 2007, I tried to discover what I could . I read of a wildly successful blog by a man who was dying of a terminal illness. He wrote every day  about his experience. Hundreds of thousands of people world-wide logged in to share the experience. 

I suppose if one has been given an approximate date for checking out it could become the most important date on the horizon and a person could easily become pre-occupied. But I don't want to read about Immediately impending death. 

I hope  this week-end and  to I get flowers  to plant.  I've never seen such beautiful flowers in the various markets.  I may try dahlias again. 

We have replaced the railing on my deck with black spindles in red cedar and it looks amazing. A couple of years ago, Heather placed a short rough grey stone faced wall three stones high around the garden. The effect of black spindles and red cedar against the grey rough stone was completely 
unexpected . And beautiful.  Now there's a lot of  Joe-boy work to do. 

I like doing it. Don't mind at all spending hours at it. I especially like the time to think while my hands are busy. The potential problem is finding myself on my ass on the ground and having to look around for a way to get back up or wait for hours for help to arrive. The extreme  has not happened yet. But there's always a possibility when I go out there on my own. 

I don't have a cell phone. I don't want a cel phone. I know it would be convenient but I've done without it  all my life and  I can do without the expense. 

I'm thinking about  a blog  theme of  changes in life style as one ages. 

Everybody's doing it. 


Friday, 15 May 2015

MEMORIES RUSH IN

Another flash back .A summer day on the way to the shore. Sand dunes covered with course grass. An empty cement bag made a  good slide. Sand dunes are good to run down as well .Soft sand makes for a soft landing. 

On the way home from school in my early years another slide on grass flattened by a succession of small behinds down the river embankment. It was a bumpy ride. 

In winter, slides on the road with fifteen or twenty kids taking a run and sliding on a path  of ice made by many feet taking turns hour after hour.. 

Not many had roller skates. Skate boards unknown.I do remember boys with bicycles that didn't have a seat, wheels but no tires or treads on the pedals. 

Nobody, absolutely nobody had a car. Not even the parish priest. He did have a bicycle. He was a short round Irishman by the name of Dermot O'Reilly ,irreverently known as Pop by non-Catholics among us. 

There were three mail deliveries; morning,mid-day and afternoon. Three trips daily by a postman to the station with a covered basket on two huge wheels with handles for pushing or pulling. No postwomen until wartime. 

A letter could be delivered the day it was posted. Trains were frequent.

Nobody had telephones. I remember the first red telephone boxes being installed in the neighborhood. We could dial zero without putting in a penny. Hanging around the telephone booth was good for a couple of hours of entertainment at first. 

Another option was to gather under a street lamp and tell ghost stories. Martha had the most amazing stories about her uncle. Later  we realized it was  an escape  from reality into  fantasy. Martha lived with brutal grandparents . Her single mother had gone off to America and left her. We listened enthralled and never doubted the stories for a minute. 

Most families had five or six kid and  had moved from two storey tenements in older parts of the town .

Kids congregating was natural . Our games were myriad.

There was no swimming pool, arena or organized sports.

None of  our activities were organized. We skipped rope, played beds with a peever (hop-scotch) bounced ball ,played hide and seek, races, guessing games and played cards in the lobby or close when it rained. Often.

There were circle games with songs. None were about winning  so much as who finished last and 
had to be IT. Usually the youngest or otherwise slowest. 

We walked to the woods in Spring and picked snowdrops. In May, mayflowers and marsh marigolds grew on the riverbank.

I looked for fairies there. 

"Down along the river bank ,some make their home
They live on crispy pancakes of yellow tide foam. "

The  summer I could read that was all I did. Pushed two wicker chairs together and read every book  in the house. Not iall suitable for an eight year old. 

I read it anyway not understanding so not coming to any harm. The Scarlet Letter  I read that summer. 

Childhood came to an end at fourteen years old. Though secondary education and post-secondary 
education was free, a student had to qualify to continue past legal school-leaving age.

Bursaries  were provided for those qualified  but family support was necessary for a person to continue school as opposed to going to work.