Sunday, November 25, 2007
My response, submitted as an email to the Mayor and all Councillors:
I have read the Media release and letter to the editor you presented to council as a fait accompli on November 20th which you signed as Mayor and Councillors. Since councillors were not apprised of the letter, the press conference or the media release, until after the fact, it is difficult to comprehend why you felt you had that authority.
I wish not to be associated with either of the documents for the following reasons; the documents state what was not illegal by council and what did not take place at in-camera meetings. While they do not deny there were meetings, they make no reference to what actually did take place. Combined, they are a masterpiece of obfuscation.
I have been attempting to understand the purpose for which Mr. Rust-D'eye has been retained by yourself and council. On November13th you declined to respond to my request to specify the reasons for your precipitate action. I have requested by email, Mr. Panizza to forward terms of reference and parameters of the contract with Mr. Rust-D'Eye and the section of the Municipal Act which provides authority for council to expend public resources on this project.
The information has not been forthcoming even three weeks after you presented your plan without apparent notice to anyone but certainly without prior consultation with myself. In fact, things are less clear today.
Mr. Rust-D'Eye informed me on November 20th, he had been provided with numerous documents; blogs, emails and letters to the editor written by myself and read by himself. Since my original purpose in writing the various missives was to share my thoughts on town matters with as many people as wished to read them, I have no concerns about the solicitor becoming familiar with how I think and communicate with the people I am committed to serve. However it throws no light on why Mr. Rust-D'Eye has been retained at substantial cost to the public treasury. The question looms large in the minds of many in Aurora.
Council was informed after the fact, on November 20th Mr. Rust-D'Eye was on hand at the press conference. He was quoted in the Media Release as making statements on what was and what was not. Rules of evidence, Madam Mayor, dictate that unless a witness is present, the evidence is hearsay and therefore not valid. The press conference was in response to a column in The Auroran to which you took exception. It therefore appears Mr. Rust-D'Eye's services were being used to support your political agenda. The Corporation's interest was not affected.
The question derived from this is, who will pay for this service provided by Mr. Rust-D'Eye. I believe it is incumbent on yourself and those councillors who agreed to retain the gentleman's service to indicate how they intend fees to be paid. If not at personal expense, then how is the public expenditure to be justified.
You indicated, Madam Mayor, all in-camera meetings will be suspended. It is not clear why or how you propose to suspend dealing with essential items of town business and what part of the Municipal Act provides the authority to make this unilateral decision.
I note we have an in-camera agenda for November 27th. How does that reconcile with your dictum there will be no such meeting until an undetermined date?
As you can see, a number of significant questions are posed. We hold office to deal with the public agenda. Personal and political matters are not part of our function as members of council. I take no comfort or assurance from your concept of how public business should be conducted. That is regrettable. I cannot however allow it to interfere with my own responsibility to keep my commitment to the people who gave me their trust.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The average return from the fare box is 40 cents on the dollar. Transit is planning to terminate a route that travels down Industrial Parkway in Aurora four hours in the morning and three in the afternoon. It carries an average of four passengers an hour and loses ninety-two cents in the dollar. For every eight cents recovered from the fare box, taxpayers pay ninety-two cents
An average of four riders an hour means twenty-eight fares in seven hours. That could mean a total of fourteen people using the bus to get to get to and from work.
Councillor Gaertner led the argument not to terminate the route. Chamber of Commerce support was solicited for that position. On Tuesday. a presentation was made by the Chamber. Industry people had been contacted and they want the route to continue. They were not informed of ridership or losses incurred by the service.
The business community is often consulted about public policy at all levels of government.I personally would be interested in knowing how many could survive while losing ninety-two cents of every dollar spent to manufacture their product or provide their service. What does it say in general about business acumen?
Council was assured by Transit, the comments would be considered when the decision has to be made. I offered mine that the route should be terminated.
I do not use the bus service. Users obviously appreciate the amenity. Ridership is lower in Aurora than other municipalities. People notice empty buses trundling round the streets, especially in the evening. They are obviously incurring a deficit, and equally obviously contributing to pollution. These are not positive attributes.
But neither are a concern to some councillors.
In total contradiction. on Tuesday evening , we had a repeat of another argument . A small subdivision of sixty- one homes is proposed on a property bound by Bayview Avenue , Vandorf Sideroad and the Hydro corridor. It is a cul-de- sac with an entrance from Bayview.
The plan was first proposed in 2001. It eventually had a public planning hearing in 2006. That laborious process was repeated again under direction from council a couple of months ago. Each time, there has been a recommendation for a park in the staff report. Each time it has been challenged. Councillor Gaertner and Councillor MacEachern argue taxpayers cannot afford the burden of maintaining a park for so few families.
On the same evening they argued taxpayers should continue to carry the burden of a bus route that loses ninety-two cents on the dollar for a ridership of fourteen return trips over a period of seven hours a day , they also argued a neighbourhood of sixty-one families should be denied the amenity of a park. because the tax burden is too great. Other councillors appear to agree.
So we muddle along. We take two steps forward and three backward. We pour millions of dollars into planning for rational decision-making which is regularly sabotaged at the political level for reasons that defy logic but sound good as notes from a trumpet.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Council had a full agenda. Items had been deferred from the previous meeting. The Mayor's Emergency Meeting to deal with an unspecified Emergency had taken precedence over town business.
The scenario was repeated last night. At the beginning of the meeting .two thirds of council voted to go into closed session. It was necessary, the mayor indicated, because George Rust D'Eye had been requested to attend and “Lawyer's don't come cheap."
I voted against the motions to recess, suspend the rules and proceed behind closed doors. I was considering whether I should boycott the session when the Mayor approached with Mr. Rust D'Eye who wanted a word with me before going into the meeting.
In hockey, there's a play where the guy with the puck gets sandwiched by opposing team players and shoved to the side. I've watched the game and my political instincts are finely tuned.
“Grab a chair, Mr. Rust D'Eye.”, I said. “You want to talk to me , we will do it here.” We were in full view of the public and the television cameras.
He asked whether I had retained legal counsel. Why did he think I needed to do that, I asked. He said he had been retained to carry out an investigation and he had raed numerous documents - blogs, letters to the editor and e-mails, written by me. He assured me he was not taking sides in the issue. I asked him which section of the Municipal Act gave council the authority to retain his services to carry out such an investigation. He introduced the term Conflict of Interest, having a pecuniary interest and finally the word “Litigation” was floated.
It was at that point I decided to attend the closed session. “I am a member of council", said I. “I have a right to attend this meeting and that is my intention.”
Now the dilemna becomes apparent. It is clear from Mr. Rust D'Eye's comments to me prior to the meeting I am the subject of the investigation. Also clear, solicitor-client privilege was the reason for the in-camera session. While I am one (a client, that is) and at the same time, the object of the investigation, that represents a problem. The law they say is adversarial.
In a budget meeting last Saturday, a figure of $25,000. appeared as a line item for councillors. In response to questions from the Mayor and Councillor MacEachern, the treasurer stated it was because of Tuesday's decision to retain outside legal counsel. He has no idea what the amount should be or where it should appear. He had done some research among other municipalities and found nothing like it anywhere.
Friday, November 9, 2007
TOWN OF AURORA
SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES
Aurora Town Hall
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Mayor Morris in the Chair; Councillors Buck, Collins-Mrakas, Gaertner, Granger, MacEachern, Marsh, McRoberts and Wilson.
Chief Administrative Officer, Director of Corporate Services/Town Clerk, Director of Building, Director of Leisure Services, Director of Planning, Acting Director of Public Works, Director of Financial Services/ Treasurer, Town Solicitor and Council/Committee Secretary.
Mayor Morris called the meeting to order at 7:12 p.m.
I DECLARATIONS OF PECUNIARY INTEREST
There were no declarations of pecuniary interest under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
II APPROVAL OF AGENDA
III CONSIDERATION OF MATTER REQUIRING DISCUSSION
Moved by Councillor MacEachern Seconded by Councillor Granger
WHEREAS it is our duty to uphold The Oath of Office and, as elected officials, to conduct the public business in an open and transparent manner; and
WHEREAS it is our duty to the public we represent, to ensure that the laws of the municipality and the province are upheld;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council take all appropriate steps to ask the appropriate authorities to investigate the allegations made against Council, staff and members of the public that have been published in various media; and
THAT Mr. George Rust D'eye be retained to represent Council and the Town of Aurora in these matters.
On a recorded vote the resolution was CARRIED.
YEAS: 8 NAYS: 1
VOTING YEAS: Councillors Collins-Mrakas, Gaertner, Granger,
MacEachern, Marsh, McRoberts, Wilson and
VOTING NAYS: Councillor Buck
IV READING OF BY-LAW
Moved by Councillor MacEachern Seconded by Councillor Gaertner
THAT the following listed by-law be given 1st, 2nd and 3rd readings, and enacted:
4970-07.C BEING A BY-LAW to
confirm actions by Council
resulting from Special meeting 07-28 of November 6, 2007.
On a recorded vote the by-law was ENACTED.
YEAS: 8 NAYS: 1
VOTING YEAS: Councillors Collins-Mrakas, Gaertner, Granger,
MacEachern, Marsh, McRoberts, Wilson and
VOTING NAYS: Councillor Buck
Moved by Councillor Collins-Mrakas
THAT the meeting be adjourned at 7:18 p.m.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Someone told me once they admired my courage to say what I think, despite knowing I would be hated for it. If it was a compliment, I didn't deserve it. I don't believe a person should be hated for being straighforward. It doesn't take courage. All it takes is a powerful aversion to what passes for modern political discourse, a penchant for declaring the obvious and willingness to risk for the sake of honesty; like a player in a high stakes poker game.
After the recent provincial election, the usual lamentations were heard about voter indifference. Again we heard, there ought to be a law requiring people to vote.
What about a rule against simpering, insipid, nauseating, pandering, mind-deadening, scrupulously artificial twaddle spread around in layers thick enough to choke a hundred horses, to obscure the fact candidates are diverting attention from the things people are concerned about.
I have recently been frustrated in an effort to have council consider a review of signs in the North East Quadrant, locale of the infamous Traffic Calming Measures. My intention was to provide a measure of relief to neighbours who have been deprived of their right to use roads they have paid for. Three members supported re-consideration. Councillors Marsh, Collins-Mrakas and myself. Four, led by the Mayor, voted it down. Councillor McRoberts did not vote. Councillor MacEachern was absent.
My notice of motion experienced a relatively arduous process with repeated reference to requirements of the Procedural Bylaw. There seemed to be a peculiar determination to prevent the motion from appearing on the agenda or any other part of the public record, such as the Town's web site.
In an immediately previous meeting, other motions were verbally presented and voted upon, involving significant expenditures, without benefit either of notice or a motion in writing, of which both are requirements of the Procedural Bylaw. They were expedited by the presiding member, Mayor Morris, with no regard for the rules and without intervention from the Director of Corporate Services. It is his job it is to advise council against contravening the town's legislation. But nowadays in town, one risks one's job to do it properly.
One motion was to provide an additional $65,000 to satisfy the demands of a handful of residents on Knowles Crescent for the completion of their driveways. (The total has already escalated to $71,000.)
The second was to approve in principle $400,000 to the South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority for a project they have in mind.
Both motions were made in immediate response to requests made by delegations to council. Even Sears could not beat that level of service. Buit we aim to please.
In this edition of The Auroran, is an advert displaying the motion so deliberately prevented from ever becoming public.
Municipalities are required by law to adopt a Procedure Bylaw for the purpose of consistency in orderly, open and transparent conduct of public business. Haphazard application is worse than no application. It bespeaks skullduggery.
Between Knowles and Holman Crescent there are a hundred homes. Tax revenue to the town from both streets , is approximately seventy thousand dollars. That's the amount of extra money provided over and above the million dollars spent to construct an upgraded road for fifty-one homes on Knowles Crescent.
Half of seventy-one thousand went into the hands of six residents to pay for driveway aesthetics far in excess of any neighbour on their street or mine.
At their request, Council sidelined Public Works and paid a consultant eleven thousand dollars to do their job. He sat down with residents and made a record of their requirements to present to council. It was received as information .
Anyone who wants to see how tax money was spent, should drive to Knowles Crescent and take a gander.
Do I take exception to mine and my neighbours' tax money being spent that way? Damn right, I do.
Had I voted for that, I would have been in breach of trust to the people who elected me. Malfeasance is the term used in the Oath of Office.