"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

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. 

Monday, 11 May 2015

HOW TO MAKE A MESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

So ...I heard stuff about  newly elected leader of the  Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown yesterday.

He is thirty-five years old. Has been an M.P. In the Harper Party for the past four years. 

Before that he was a ward alderman in the City of Barrie . He is said to be a lawyer. He was  elected at twenty-four years  of age without ever practicing law. Not sure what kind of a lawyer it is who does not practice law. 

He has never been married and has no children. 

He is said to be pro-life and against same sex marriage. 

His father and grandfather were/are solid N.D.P. supporters. 

He sold 70,000 memberships to win the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

He acknowledged  during the vote he has does not have the confidence  of the party establishment. 

He also does not have a seat in the Ontario legislature. 

The last person who won the leadership without a seat was John Tory. An M.L.A. stepped  aside to allow him to run in a byelection in a safe Conservative Seat. John Tory  lost the safe Conservative seat for the Ontario Party. 

Can't say I remember John Tory ever actually functioning as leader of the Conservative party. 

If he did , it sure wasn't long enough to make any kind of a mark. 



Saturday, 9 May 2015

THE AIR SHOULD BE CLEARED

I'm not an active member of Our Lady of Grace parish. That's another story. 

I  decided against commenting on Joe Gorman's situation. I thought he would prefer that. But there has been discussion and despite high regard,affection and heartbreak In the parish over the loss, a cloud of doubt still lingers. 

I don't think that's fair. 

The spokesperson for the Archdiocese has been careful to stress  no financial benefit derived from financial irregularity. But it's not enough. The punishment outlined is extreme. 

As I hear it, a donation was made with instructions from the donor  how it was to be  shared. 

And so it was .

The donation was recorded .As was the disposition. 

According  to the rules, the Archdiocese was supposed to get a cut. 

That didn't happen. 

That was the irregularity. 

The parish priest is not the  parish book-keeper.

In the past , Aurora parishioners have taken themselves off on a Sunday to other churches.  Richmond Hill, Oak Ridges and  Newmarket when Father Bill Scanlon was the parish priest. 

Father Bill was loved far and wide. Baptisms ,First Communions were every bit the joyful celebration they were intended to be .  The Even the church he built was inspiring. 

But  the powers decided he should be transferred to Richmond Hill. 

And that's what they did. 

But they didn't lose a priest. 

Now they've done it. 





It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood

Whether or not State Farm was sold,it makes no 
never mind about whether or not people lose jobs. 

I attended the opening.It's  my impression State Farm took great pride in retaining staff long term
and in fact most employees came with them to 
Aurora. 

The fact the operation was sold and the Incumbent Mayor gave assurances no loss would accrue to the town matters little. 

The town could have done nothing even if it did mean losing jobs and assessment. The retention and expansion job description  in the administration is a bunch of twaddle. 

Neither mayoralty candidate stood to win or lose on the issue. 

Character was not an option either. 

In the world in general, poltics is in a state of ...
Flux. 

Netenyahu is forming a government with the extreme right-wing in Israel. That can't  be good. 

The Scottish National Party has replaced Labour in the U.K.  Cameron's majority is a questionable advantage.  America's best ally may have become their biggest liability. 

Alberta beef-eaters have elected the N.D.P.with five experienced M.P.s and tons of other problems. 
We'll see how that turns out. 


Evelyn Buck

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

ON IT'S AXIS

I thought about the days when Aurora residents had to pick up mail at the old post office on Yonge Street. 
There was always a line-up. People chatted while they waited. 
Same thing happened  at Elwood Davis garage where we lined up every year to re-new car licenses. 
Former Councillor Walt Davis told me once, the sidewalk on Yonge Street was impassable on Friday nights. Folks came in from the country to shop and gather in groups on the sidewalk to catch up on the week's news.  
A person on the move had to step into the road to make headway. Every store  downtown was a retail outlet. Retail is no longer in the same place. 
People need to drive here and there. No Chat. No gossip. No interaction among residents. 
The Aurora Banner was sold. 
The change was phenomenal. 
Modern planning is responsible.

Homes must be separated from commercial amenities. Homeowners are passionate about that.

Retail must have parking and planting and screening.

More space is required so it sprawls into the
countryside. 
Tenants pay rent for space and parking and lighting and cleaning and to be where retail is.
Downtown became an old-fashioned concept. 
Malls were the place to be. 
Then along came consultants with goofy advice about replacing sidewalks with decorative concrete and placing heritage street furniture.
where  crowds once entirely occupied said sidewalks standing about chatting and catching up on the news. 
Councillors, with little knowledge and less interest in how things were, before they became what they are and why...swallow the goofy advice holus-bolus to the delight of administrators, who take it as validation and proceed with time and effort to make it happen. 

Then .... common sense prevails ... it doesn't happen... it's back to the drawing board with  a new work load generated. 

And so the world turns.