"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

Sunday, 2 August 2015

LIFE IS FULL OF OPPORTUNITIES

I did write as a child, mostly letters; for want of a penny, not always mailed .

Family members had me write letters but nothing was made of it. My childhood was not the norm for the times. It's the one I know best so I am in no position to judge. 

Writing about my life would mean re-living all of it. I have no inclination. I often reflect, If people knew what was ahead, they wouldn't go. That's idle thinking. "Gather ye  rosebuds where ye may" to make life palatable. 

A homily posted on Facebook yesterday notes one doesn't have to attend every argument 
invited. It's true. Many are not worth the breeze to blow them away. 

But life is chock- a -block with foolishness. Only three options exist for an individual to maintain equilibrium. Complete withdrawal, abject acquiescence or fight the good fight. 

The first two hold no appeal. I choose to stand and fight. I regret only the ones I let get away. 

Chritsmas before last ,Theresa gave me a  hundred dollar gift voucher at a new spa in town.
Despite the  hard sales pitch launched immediately into the session I enjoyed the pampering. 
After  it was over I did pick up a magic potion before leaving. No price tag. The cashier rang up $65.45. It was a shock. I wasn't sure about sales tax. I asked for details. Price was immediately dropped by $20. without explanation. 

I always regret not making an issue of the deliberate overcharge. It probably happens regularly 
and not just with elderly clients. It was never repeated with me.

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

The first in camera meeting of the 2010/14 Council was another invitation I let slip by.

Councillor Gaertner had earlier indulged in offensive  defence of the defeated alliance. 

Mayor Dawe in closed session, in accordance with no procedure rule ever heard of, ripped into the Councillor and threatened her if she ever did that again.  

O.M.G. I thought...what have we here? 

The Councillor had allies at the table but no reaction ensued to gratuitous belligerence from the presiding member.

I owed Councillor Gaertner nothing.  But I regret not taking up the cudgels to defend the dignity of the  office won fair and square in the  recent election. 

It may not have made a difference. 

But that's not the point of taking a stand on principle. 

So, yes .....every invitation to an argument doesn't need to be taken up. But split second decisions sometimes let the right ones slip away. 

The ones one remembers with regret. 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

FAREWELL TO A FRIEND

My old friend Norm Weller took his leave last night. He was in hospital  a week while they tried to put a stent in his heart. I'm not sure that's the correct medical term but it doesn't matter because it wasn't successful. 

Our sympathy is with Shirley and their family. Norm was eighty-five.They were married for sixty-three 
years. He was a giant of a man with unbounded energy. Except for the last ten years. 

He had surgery and a tumor the size of a tennis ball taken out of his gut. It didn't get rid of the cancer.  The drug that killed the cancer, came close to killing him and left him with severe sight and mobility problems that took away much of his enjoyment of life.

His family, particularly grandchildren, gave light to his days.

So now it's done. He has said many times over he would welcome it when it came. 

He lived a long, productive, happy life and achieved his goals. 

So Bon Voyage  Norm. If there is a place beyond, you will have as many friends there as you leave behind. May you continue to enjoy the Divine Comedy.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

MEMORIES ARE EASILY TRIGGERED

My biggest cooking pot was employed last night. This morning I used it as a basin to wash the dishes instead of filling the sink. I have taken the foam off the top and the water will go on a patch of new sod that has turned brown. 

Life time habits are hard to break. The dish water was soapy when I was young  and  kept aphids of the roses. Still does. Dishes were routinely washed in a basin especially if water had to be heated in a kettle. 

The fishmonger, fruitmonger, coal man,milkman  baker and the man with kindling in neat little bundles tied up with string and  green fairy soap and paraffin for the little oil stove that cast light patterns on the ceiling. In a thrift store, I found a short one coloured blue enamel instead of black and it sits in my garden.  I'm not sure if I ever told anyone why it has pride of place. 

The pedlars came around the streets daily with horse and cart,crying their wares. One man, between the shafts, pulled a cart behind him calling  HERRING  ..FINE FRESH HERRING.

A Frenchman wearing a black beret got off the train and came around the streets  on a a bicycle with onions braided on a string of straw around his neck. Maybe he was Spanish,the onions were beautiful to look at.

The only car belonged to Pepini ,the son. He had an ice cream colored convertible with an ice cream freezer in the passenger space. He made the rounds on Sunday afternoon. People brought out bowls or jugs and bought tuppence worth of ice cream and a pennyworth of wafers.

The  beautiful car with a cheerful jingle for a horn was pushed into the harbour the night Fascist Mussolini joined the axis in the second world war. 

Italian families had to take refuge with friends while their homes and businesses were ransacked and belongings, even their clothes, were scattered and tossed  into the harbour and the river. It wasn't because they were fascists. It was because they were Catholic It was also because hooligans never need an excuse to be hooligans. 

Mrs Guzzelli whose shop was down near the shore was always crying. I don't think she was ever happy living in that cold and dreary place even before that night. There were days when the wind was so strong, it literally blew the river back up into the hills. The whitecaps were breaking in the wrong direction. 
 
The vandals waited in entry closes for the nine o'clock news as a signal to start the rampage. No guns or knives. Just big stiicks and a lot of pent-up envy. Italians kept to themselves .When their children grew up, somebody went to Italy to find spouses for them. The children were as Scottish as the rest of us but the culture was important and not to be mixed. It took a post war generation for that to change. 
Theresa Pieronni married Terry McGinn.

Propaganda is a powerful weapon during war. Harper's doing a number on us right now; like a war between Russia and Canada would be a brave new world. 

Back In the day, some  women carried bread knives in bags along with important family papers in case they came across a German parachuter. 

Windows had blackout curtains. Air raid wardens shouted abuse from the street and fines were imposed if a glint of light was allowed to escape.

Street name signs were removed. So that a stray German parachuter would not know where he was and wouldn't be able to find his way to wherever he happened to be going which might have been to sabotage the local munitions plant. We managed to do a pretty good job of that ourselves on occasion without help from the Germans. 

The only Germans we ever saw were prisoners-of-war working on farms. 

But I digress .

Horse dung was never allowed to stay long  on the road.  It was cleaned up immediately by whatever kid got there first. À coal shovel was goid for scooping  and the right size. Horse manure is especially good for roses .

Everybody had a  garden plot where rhubarb and  parsley and carrots and cabbage and kale and turnips  and sweet peas grew in neat rows. There was always a midden in a corner.

Grannie got her parsley from Mrs. Miller's garden and the Campbell's on the other side always had plenty of rhubarb. Rhubarb has to be pulled to flourish. I takes up a lot of space in the garden. It's called a rhubarb patch. Rhubarb with a poke of sugar was a treat. 

My sister or myself would be sent to ask for the rhubarb if my mother was baking tarts. And parsley when Grannie made soup which was most days. 

My grandmother had a small square of grass edged  with strip of garden with alternating crocuses and snowdrops blooming together in Spring.  A fence made from slats of butter barrels divided grass from the garden proper.

Roses flourished  but the most spectacular display was Gladiolii. People stopped in passing. They couldn't miss the amazing display of colour. Every day a fresh vase of the beautiful blooms were picked and brought indoors. 

Hyacinths were  forced in bowls in a dark press in the living room and every room in the house had a pot with a different coloured cluster. Room doors would be kept closed so the scent would be concentrated inside. A brown bowl with faded pink roses in the design hung from the ceiling above the kitchen sink with masses of pink and purple fuschia with long white stamens cascading over the sides. 

I've grown each and every one of the  flowers in my grandmother's garden at different times. But they never flourished as well as they did in the salt air and dampness and coal block soil under her care in that faraway place. 

The family name was Diamond.The main flower bed was shaped in a diamond and four beds around it with paths between  formed a square. The  backdrop was upended railway ties. Beyond that a signal box and wagons loaded with coal and lumber and bricks clanked together day and night in the railway switch yard.The railway station and steam engines with  brakes screeching metal against metal and bells and steam whistles as they came and went throughout the day were a prominent feature of every town. 

This post took off in its own direction this morning. 

It wasn't what I  intended when I opened the IPad. 

Have  a great day. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Stephanie took the photos . Also posted them to the blog for me. 

I bought the bulbs at the 2014  Aurora Home Show. They  cost $10.00 for three or four but they were huge. I don't believe I ever spent so much for so few bulbs.

The bag stayed in the car. it wasn't the best plan. By the time  they were  planted, I wasn't really hopeful. Weeks went by and no signs of life emerged above ground. It was hardly surprising. The car was hot. 

This Spring pale green shoots appeared. They grew. Tall and spindly. Then clusters of buds appeared.

They grew ....and grew ....and  grew. Finally ,on Tuesday, Stephanie came into the house with a spectacular photo on her cell phone screen . The flowers were a deep and vibrant pink. Each petal sported a precise white  border. 

It was one of the lilies I thought had desiccated in the back seat of my car in a brown paper bag. 

Two days later the second bloomed...snow-white with dark red stamens. 

Then the third, as beautiful  as the second. 

So  I'm sharing.

I figure they deserve to be shared. 

Not just for their beauty. 

LILIES IN MY GARDEN


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

STEM ROT IS A BAD THING

So....we have dialogue . It's a good thing. 

Brock Weir excels in using accurate quotes. Choice  of quotes is his decision. 

I take cues from the Auroran. It's  the source of news for most. I fill in details from personal experience. Chris Watts posts are extremely informative. . Anna Lozyk Romeo attends meetings and posts regularly on her Blog. 

I think Brock is biased but no more so than any other reporter. He's not writing Hansard. He has to start, flesh out ,finish every story and fit it into available space. It's the nature of his job. 

It also represents  an occupational hazard for politicians. 

The former CAO has been credited  with maintaining order at meetings.

It's not his job and that's not what happens.,

Staff reports bear two signatures. The relevant Director and CAO's 

Had  he still  been on board, the CAO signature would have been the second on the radio station feasability report. 

Unless he decided Council's authority should be disregarded. It wasn't likely. It clearly was the Mayor's 
Heart's Desire. resolutions by a Presinf Member is not the norm. 

During the last term and the previous, the elected body was frequently disrespected. Resolutions passed were never heard of again. The process was selective and the Mayor was complicit.,

If a Council can't depend on the Mayor to support  their collective authority.,they are compelled to exercise it themselves. 

That never happened.  

The right to govern ourselves, well or badly, as far as I could tell, was a foreign concept to this Mayor and the former and various staff members.


The Chief Administrative Officer is not a traditional role and is loosely defined in the Municipal Act.

The Municipal Clerk carries the weight of  statutory responsibilities. His signature accompanies the Mayor's on all legal agreements and municipal bylaws. It is his/her job to ensure Council direction, determined by resolution,is precisely followed.

He is under pain of prosecution if things are not done according to his  legal responsibility. 

Public Records rest entirely with the Clerk. 

A duly certified municipal clerk  and deputy-clerk are required to be appointed by law. No such stricture applies to either CAO  or Town Solicitor position. 

think the office of CAO conflicts with legal responsibilities of the Municipal Clerk. 

In the last ire-organization, recommended by the CAO, the position of Director of Legislative Services  was terminated  to "save money" . The Municipal Clerk now  serves under the jurisdiction not only of CAO but alsoTown Solicitor, who is also not required by law.

Bad stuff happens and has happened in Aurora because of lack of clarity and confusion generated re authority of the  role of CAO and Municipal Clerk.

The former CAO exercised authority surrendered to him by current and former Mayors , each for a different reason but both for political ends.,

In my judgement, the community is not well served by the circumstance.

Successive Councils have failed to recognize or exercise their authority.  The Mayor is but one of nine. 

A Council  member disrespected means all members and the community at large  are disrespected.

The institution fails. 

Nothing good can come of it. 

And nothing has. 

AD HOMINEM IS NOT A MODE OF REASONING

A flurry of comments today make no sense except they are personally abusive. Anger literally splutters on the page. 

It's  interesting. 

I wasn't in the council chamber. I don't watch Council on Cable. Yet I knew Lsomething was missing from the news story about the "community" radio station.,

The report was tabled, declared to be a mistake and a decision made that bore no relationship to the substance of the report or the resolution that triggered it.

I followed the links Chris Watts provided in his post and tracked things back to the Mayor's resolution
giving direction to staff. 

Despite the outrage, bitterness and abuse, no alternative explanation is offered.

The event does not reflect well on Council or the Mayor.  Despite the hazy,lazy days of summer, It has generated substantial interest in the community.,

A resolution directed staff to report feasibility,  a report submitted under the signatures of two directors, the Clerk's responsibility to compile the Agenda, the Mayor's responsibility to vet the Agenda, the second  item of every Agenda calls for a motion and vote of Council to approve the agenda.

It's just that simple. No room for error. 

If It's wrong show us how. Calling me names is not conducive to a different understanding. 

Had the former CAO  been at the table, the Mayor's dodge and weave might have been more skillful under guidance The report might not have made it's way to the table despite being directed.
 
But the cost of equipping a broadcasting studio would still be the same.Reserve funds  legislated by Bylaw can't be tampered with so the only source of funding is an additional dip into taxpayers' pockets. 

Over.

Monday, 27 July 2015

DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

The unfinished room available for a broadcast studio is a detail of the incomplete renovation for  youth needs at the Aurora Family Leisure Complex. 

It was to have been finished by October 2014. Obviously it still isn't. 

The renovation budget was exceeded by hundreds of thousands. Still  there's a space with  no floor covering or electrical outlets or purpose it seems. 

 $10,000 spending has been added that won't show in the over-run.  It could have taken up a quarter of a million.

The Director in charge of the $6 million renovation project was initially put in charge of construction of the $20 million Joint Facility project. He thought it was the architects responsibility to supervise the project. 

The project was undertaken under the former CAO while he was taking a Certificate Course in Business Administration at the Schulich  School of Business at the town's cost of $15,000.

The Mayor and others were re-elected with improved ratings.They can't be faulted for believing it  meant approval of their efforts in the previous term and encouragement for more of the same in the
future. 

Whether by vote  or non- vote, the electorate chose the path. 

I could sniff haughtily and maintain a dignified silence. 

Sometimes candidates pack up and remove themselves from the scene of defeat. 

I have always enjoyed explaining  details to anyone interested.  I think there's a need .

I plan to continue what I do well.

 In or out of office, in the long run, it does tend to have an impact.

ALICE IN MUNICIPAL LAND

Standing over the sink washing breakfast dishes thinking about the radio boondoggle and the feasability report requested from staff:

The report was precisely to the point. The cost to equip a studio is quarter of a million. To obtain the funds the town's budget would have to be re-opened and taxes increased by that amount. 

It might have happened had the report not been called for discussion. 

Councillors's concerns were about how to manage a radio station. 

Not how to manage town business.

No questions were reported about implications of re-opening the budget. 

Was the Treasurer on hand to answer?

Was it explained how that could be accomplished? 

A budget is  struck and legislated by Bylaw.

Did the solicitor speak on the issue?

I've never known a budget re-opened. 

Think about it. 

The mill rate is calculated in April. Tax bills  have been printed and distributed for each of three payments until year end. 

budget is struck every twelve months. 

What is so urgent about a radio station to. Compel  the budget to be re-opened and  a second mailing of higher tax bills sent out two-thirds of the year through. 

It's another example of how little comprehension there is of the reality of the municipal operation.  

How much it matters to have competent staff. 

The Municipal Act states the function of the Mayor is to provide leadership and guidance to Council. 

The Act contemplates whoever holds the office has  the competence to fulfill it. 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Respects

Veteran federal politician Flora MacDonald dead at age 89 (via @torontostar) http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/07/26/veteran-federal-politician-flora-macdonald-dead-at-age-89.html

I recall Flora Macdonald's alliance with Dalton Camp. No-one else had the courage to do what needed to be done when John Diefenbaker needed to be replaced .

Flora was Party Secretary at that time and she paid a price. 

I shook her hand before nine a.m. on a London street campaigning with a candidate, every inch the lady and twice as charming.

I particularly remember her reaction on  being defeated in her last election.

It's no shame for a politician to be defeated .The shame is not to have tried, was how she responded.

She never stopped trying to make the world a better place.

ELEVEN TWELVE .....DIG AND DELVE

Following the links to the July meeting ...reading the agenda....continuing on to reports....the museum 5 year plan ... the municipal radio station.... reminded me of regular summer exasperation. 

This July agenda was 279 pages long. Several important issues listed.  Each deserving a separate meeting for thorough discussion and analysis by Council before making a decision. 

So much is regularly  crammed on to a single summer agenda, important issues never do  get the attention fthey deserved. 

From a staff perspective .....I couldn't help wondering. 

Regular town business was heavy enough workload for part-time Councillors without seriously entertaining opportunistic ideas from outside. 

Yet it keeps happening. Like there's an invitation outstanding. Like Aurora is known for it. 

Ten year Capital forecastes are updated every year. 

Official Plans,Master Recreation Plans, Strategic Plans, Emergency Plans, and now something called Master Cultural Plan are the staff workload that generates a hefty payroll that produces little real substance.

Every need  that can be planned ....is. Price tags are fastened and eventually automatically realised.

 Without ever having been seriously analyzed in public or the ability to pay determined. 

Like a juggernaut it advances. 

And Still, will-o'-the-wisps like a university, incubator lab, heritage parks and now a radio station are frenetically chased by air-heads anxious to leave a lasting impression. 

None of these projects ever appeared in any ten year capital forecast. 

The radio station boondoggle might have passed  at that Council meeting without garnering any attention.

The Mayor and others might have been counting on that.

Had it not  been called for discussion, approval would have slipped along unimpeded.

But it was called. 

The  $240,000  price tag stuck out like a sore thumb and that's where it stopped.  

Plainly, up to that point, the project had been fostered,nurtured and ushered along by the Mayor. It was his resolution with nine whereases    that brought it to the table with a recommendation. 

And suddenly it was  abandoned.  The Mayor reversed himself. 

Deemed it to have been miscommunication that the Mayor never intended it to cost public money. 

Yeah Right. 

Like how does one get to be President and CEO of a radio station that doesn't exist without a penny of private investment.  

Funds to process a Licence application from a $1000. grant from the town and $3,500. from the Mayor's Charitable Golf Tournament;  a decision made by himself alone. 

We should talk about merits and otherwise of that tournament one of these days.