"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, 26 January 2015

"Follow The Yellow Brick Road"

Council is having a budget meeting tonight. The public are welcome to attend and  have input.

The town wants the public to have input.

I don't plan to attend. Not that I  don't have strong opinions on the budget.

I object to hundreds of thousands of tax dollars being transferred  to a self-appointed board with no reason to exist.,

I object to a grant of whatever -they -request  to the Historical Society.

The Town has assumed  responsibility for the museum collection, provided space for a museum and hired a full-time curator. There is no justification for continuing the grant to the Historical Society.

The other outfit doesn 't even know it 's supposed to be self-sufficient.

I am a taxpayer. I do have an informed opinion. When I was a Councillor my input had zero impact.Why should any other citizen expect opposition to spending to make a difference?

The invitation is a scam.

Unless it's intended as an opportunity for special interests to request additional spending.

About positive versus negative.

Like the Yellow Brick Road to the Land of Oz .

Same Experience...Different Perspective

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "How many of these fit on the head of a pin":

I was perplexed by Cllr Thompson's comment about such thing being expected when one renovates a building. If such were the case, that should have been taken into account during negotiations by both parties.
Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 26 January 2015 at 10:10


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It has not been my experience. 

Stronach Centre came in under budget and on schedule in 2006. 

Church  Street school renovations were completed on time and within budget.

Development of town-owned lands also completed within budget and on time.

Petch house was taken apart,transported to a yard, transported again to its current location and re-assembled within budget and time constraints.

All projects were under management of Recreation and Parks.

The Family Leisure Complex was taken through the design stage  by Recreation and Parks,then construction  oversight was  transferred to the Department of Environment  and Infrastructure already occupied with the $26 million dollar Joint Facility project.

The Family Leisure Centre Project  completion is  now five months late and out of funds.

Petch House stays vacant because no purpose has been assigned. The decision to install heat and
light is dependent on use and subject to the authority of the Chief Building Official.

Millions invested on developing lands at Leslie are still outstanding.
There have been no sales.
Now it just sits.
Waiting.
Providing a sterling example of why the town in its wisdom should buy and develop everything in sight

Sunday, 25 January 2015

How many of these fit on the head of a pin

I submitted a letter to the editor on Council responsibility for delayed opening and extra cost of the Family Leisure Complex addition
Whether published is a decision of the editor.
The CAO  of the town objects to  criticism. He challenges the editor's judgement Not unsimilar to  the challenge to the moderator of the Aurora Citizen Blog.  SLAPP  action launched  with town resources indicates threat is not idle.

If the letter is published, space mitigates against complete disclosure .A  review of process might re prove to be enlightening.

The youth facilities site was chosen contingent upon soil conditions. It follows soil tests were required to confirm the choice.

A variety of  activities for youth were recommended to and approved by Council.Consultants had to be retained for design services. A bidding process is necessary to choose the consultant.

Cost estimate are received and approved by Council.

Specifications  are required  for the building contract to be called

Specs must be precise for competition to be  measured.

At each step of the process, background checks must be undertaken to ensure competence and past performance.

Council approves specifications and authorises bids to be called.

Approvals are required every step of the way. At no time is Council off the hook.

To obtain specifications, contractors must submit a certified cheque. The intention is to
ensure only qualified contractors participate in the process.

Bids are opened at a time and date for all to know and attend. No decision is recommended at this step.  Not until all bids have been analyzed,backgrounds checked is a further recommendation made to Council.

Despite  the weight of responsibility, council approvals can be  given without the item being called for discussion.

Control of the meeting rests with the chair. Less discussion, faster disposal. Agendas can number hundreds of pages with dozens of  business items with

no possibility of due consideration,transparency or  accountability.

Management of a project is not decided by Council.It's an administrative matter.

Aurora is managed by a team system.

The legal division is responsible to ensure contracts represent town interest.

Chief Building Official is responsible to ensure all building complies with the Building Code adopted by Bylaw ,to ensure safety ,security and provide inspections along the way.All building  plans must be approved by the Building Department.

I think that's why the Petch House is still not in use.

Despite staff involvement,  steps  necessary for approvals, Council was informed in a public meeting proper soil investigations were not undertaken at the start,  required additional support beams were not realised until later, plans were deficient and mould  that has to be dealt with ,was  hidden in air ducts.

The final insult to Council authority was that  work on the project will stop if an  additional,$6 hundred thousand  is  not paid and  a chance of litigation was hinted at against the municipality.

The question of competence is a matter of personal judgement.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Courage Mes Amis ...Je Reviendrai

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "More About Hazardous Waste Heading For the Inciner...":

It is " supposed " to divert hazardous waste from the collection into the bins. everyone to whom I speak is already doing their best. Clear bags will do nothing to improve the situation. They just make the politicians feel better

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 21 January 2015 at 10:0

******************
Hazardous waste does not go into bins.  Special depots have been set up within the region to receive batteries and electronic waste .

I think the devil is in the sorting  system. Too many details. Expectation of success is unrealistic.

ThIs morning I read the conditions of the environmental assessment approval....nineteen pages.

Entirely about monitoring.

An Advisory Committee is required to meet and report annually from date of approval; Oct. 2010.

The  committee  is composed of representatives from lower tier municipalities in York and Durham.
That's the town; nine in York, I don't know how many in Durham.

York is a 30% partner in the incinerator project.

I looked for annual reports that might reveal problems with public participation in garbage separation

They didn't pop up  quickly and I had had enough of repetitious jargon for one morning.

Aurora is following Markham  with the  clear bag program. It may mean Markham and Aurora are the only towns experiencing problems with participation.

It may not.

We know from back and forth here, some retailers  like Staples accept used batteries.

The CAA  took my car battery last Saturday .

We learned some  retailers are accepting plastic shopping bags for recycling.

We did not know that.

 I would guess the town didn't either. Else they would have told us...right?

$300 million public dollars have been invested on a system to dispose of garbage that depends
entirely on  public participation. .

Without it the system will not function effectively.

Yet what is required is use of a "clear (translucent) bag" as opposed to black or green.

Garbage collectors taking time to examine each bag to determine acceptability of contents.

If  acceptable bag proceeds

If not , collector removes safety gloves, retrieves sticker from wherever he keeps it. sticks it on the bag and returns it  to the curb.

Collection time is increased and more trucks and manpower required to complete the weekly collection.

It's a good thing garbage collectors are not town  employees hooked up to the Work Asset Management Software System.

I plan taking time off from the blog.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

More About Hazardous Waste Heading For the Incinerator

community FOCUS Aurora Ontario has posted new content, 'What is the Clear
Garbage Bag Program - My Understanding'

According to the Town of Aurora the clear garbage bag program is a household
waste diversion program. It will require Aurora residents to switch from opaque
(usually black/green) garbage bags to clear (translucent) garbage bags. The
purpose of the program is to divert items away from the garbage which belong in
the recycling blue box, [...]

You may view the latest post at
http://www.livinginaurora.com/what-is-clear-garbage-bag


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

When Margaret Thatcher was U.K. Prime  Minister an American company was permitted to build
an incinerator for toxic  waste in a  Scottish farm area

Employment was provided.

The disposal process required  exceedingly high temperatures.

Soon noticed was a high number of  still births and aborted litters among farm cats.

Cows ,with longer gestation periods aborted or had still- births or calves born with gross deformities.

Eventually, in turn, abnormally high rates of miscarriages, still-births and babies born with terrible abnormalities were noted among human mothers.

One particularly horrible example was of an infant with one eye and that in the middle of her forehead

Scottish National Television did a weekly series  covering the story in depth from start to finish .

Before they could be prosecuted the incinerator operation ceased and those responsible left the country.

Except of course for government officials responsible. The series ended without dealing with that
aspect.

A public inquiry revealed the incinerator had been deliberately operated at lower than required
temperature.

Toxic waste had been spewed unadulterated into the atmosphere to come down in rain on everything living within it's radius.

I was in Scotland for several months when the series was run.

During the decades the Region was searching for a way of dealing with garbage other than landfill,
elected  and appointed alike traipsed off to Europe to see for themselves, how the service  was being managed elsewhere.

Countries like Sweden, without landfill option, were successfully incinerating garbage.

Sweden is a country unlike many other. A social conscience is shared between government and the people. I doubt any private company is given responsibility for ensuring public and environmental safety.

Permission for  York Durham to use incineration to dispose of garbage was not easily obtained.The cost stated  in Wikipedia  was $15 million.

Capital construction was $276 million.

Claremont community opposed  the project until the bitter end.

But permission to incinerate.has conditions attached connected to successful separation of garbage stream collection.

The incinerator started operations in 2014   About the same time as the proposal to change to clear plastic bags.

Metals can  and are being recovered from the residual waste.

They are not therefore the reason as stated for the change to clear garbage bags.

There is no new hazard to garbage collectors.

York and Durham have contracted the operation of the plant while remaining entirely responsible for environmental standards.

Since this conversation started we have learned Staples and other retailers accept used  batteries.

Neither the Region nor the municipality provided that information.


Monday, 19 January 2015

Life Has Never Been Easy

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Spot the Strategy":

There are too many conflicts of interest in our complicated society.

Do we believe anyone or anything?

Truth and trust are two words lacking from our vocabulary.

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 18 January 

******************************
Today's society is bombarded with information. Particularly rules and regulations about what used to be matters of  personal judgement.

To be judged accordingly by electors.

Transparency and openness may be the most over-used words in our lexicon, having nothing  to do with truth ,trust or  personal judgement.

Not surprisingly, politicians have different version of truth and separate understanding of  trust .

Citizens have altered expectations of  politicians.

Conflicts of interest do exist between well-being of community-at-large and entitlement.

It's always been that way. But the pendulum has shifted . Entitlement has the upper hand.

To-days politicians are hand-maidens.

To meet the change, ordinary citizens have to pay more attention and work harder to make sense if it all.

A lot less trusting and a deal more independent thinking.

Fortunately, it becomes a habit

A Slip of The Finger Again

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave":

Anna's blog, Living In Aurora has an interesting post in regards to her take on the garbage.
http://www.livinginaurora.com/clear-garbage-bag-program-not-necessary-consider-education/

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 19 January 2015 at 15:42



Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave

In the seventies as a Regional Councillor, I went to a solid waste management conference in Atlanta .

Focus was on the most effective way of handling garbage from a  cost and environmental protection
perspective.

Every method known to man had already been tried elsewhere and land fill determined to be best.

Decades rolled  by.  York Region shipped garbage at great expense and no social conscience to the States. No political fortitude  existed either at the Provincial or Regional level.

In the nineties, during the short-lived NDP government, a site for land fill was identified
in East Gwillimbury. Sufficiently remote and of sufficient size to create no problem to human habitat.

No progress was made.

Ultimately an incinerator was built. After years of opposition and environmental studies and at a cost which may never be known.

The operation is undoubtedly closely monitored and policed.

Two years later the clear garbage bag idea was floated.  Insinuated into what had previously been proclaimed to be a wildly successful program of garbage separation; combustible from recyclable and compostable and separately disposable.

I believe we have not being told all there is to know.

Something nobody thought of before they lit the flame under the York/Durham incinerator.

Something as simple as small household batteries.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Spot the Strategy

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Another New Beginning":

"Canada's crisis-in-waiting" and it isn't trash

In a major editorial in today's Globe and Mail

"Since we are all going to get old and die one day, we have a stake in how well Canada's health-care system looks after senior citizens. The problem is not many of us are confident that it's going well.The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) released a poll in August in which Canadians expressed a sincere set of worries about their medical prospects in old age.Four out of five said they aren't confident they'll be able to access the health service they will need. Three-quarters are worried they won't have the money to pay for services that aren't covered by medicare after that retire. And 61 per cent doubt the country's hospitals and long-term care facilities will be able to meet the demands of Canada's relentlessly aging population."

The above represents one eighth of the editorial.

Every Canadian above a certain age should make this compulsory reading.

The garage issue is certainly a challenging one but it can be solved in a trice and at a fraction of the cost of the failure that seems to be an inherent part of our nation's health care system.

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 17 January 2015 at 20:47


***************************************
Note  reference to a poll released by the Medical Association in August in which Canadians "expressed a sincere set of worries" about their medical care in old age.

I do not believe it for a minute. Our affluent majority in Aurora ,at least those  with  public service pensions and benefits that just keep getting better,don't have a care in the world about health care.

As for the politicians , I think there may be an entire colony retired in Mexico.

As it happens  a Medical Association  is negotiating  with the Ontario Minister of Health, Honorable Eric Hoskins  M.D. on the question of remuneration, according to the Minister.

Association spokesperson tells  a different story,  He says it's about level of  care available as the population grows.

There was a time when thy out and out suggested  doctors would go elsewhere if they didn't get what they wanted.

The Minister was a candidate for Liberal leadership, last time around. He is taking a firm stand on the issue. One might say showing leadership.

We owe it to our representative to look twice at  information coming at us  and consider which interest it represents.

Revenue  source for hospital facilities comes from the  LCBO . The Province  says  how much it wants and that's what they get.

Non-union LCBO employees, management, have not had an increase in compensation for seven
years.

It will be interesting to see how long Health Minister Hoskins keeps that job.

The Medical Association is a powerful lobby.

They can create fear .......without the help of  Globe and Mail editorials.

Why would they conduct a poll if it didn 't  serve their interest?

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

Last week  on Watts Trending , we learned  the late and former Prime Minister  Pierre Elliott  Trudeau once identified himself  as a "John A MacDonald  Conservative"

Did anybody notice Justin Trudeau sporting a  young John A MacDonald hairdo in his last T V  appearance.He was talking about  recruiting soon -to-be-former Toronto Police Chief  Bill Blair as Liberal candidate in the next election.

' Tis said Conservatives might be in hot pursuit as well.

Blair has  at least one thing in common with Former Police Chief and now former Cabinet  Minister Julian  Fantino; neither had contracts renewed in the Toronto Police

It might be fun to develop a game of Spot The Strategy on the Blog .

From lack of choice, we might rarely be able  to influence outcomes in elections but at  least we would have the satisfaction of outing the silly bastards.

"There Is Nothing New Under The Sun "" Ecclesiastes 1:4-11

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Another New Beginning":

There are just so many darned things about which we can do nothing. If that isn't depressing enough, we have to realize how fortunate we are compared to others. 
. 

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 18 January 2015 at 09:30


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

We have to realise we  have one life to live....one day at a time, find joy  ... and take it where we
find it.

It might just be an awareness of the comedy that surrounds us and the opportunity to share the discourse.

Ordinary people have not had that before. As it is, experts are bedeviled about where it might take us.

In the meantime we should just enjoy the trip.

Last week  on television , I watched Network  a film that won four Academy awards. Second  to do so  after "Streetcar Named  Desire"

I went out to watch it .....at the Sayvette (long gone) retail complex  on the south-west corner of Yonge and  Steeles ......twice  in one week.

Each time  I heard dialogue missed previously,

I asked Stephanie last week if she had ever heard  the line  "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more"

She thought it was familiar but didn't know why. The movie was made before she was born. But the
woman has a university degree in that stuff.

Last week,during the tsunami of outrage about the atrocity in Paris, we heard ,read  and enjoined, another phrase repeated in rallies throughout the western world.

"Je suits Charlie"

Pencils were carried (whole and  broken?) to symbolize  solidarity with the right to draw satirical
cartoons in a world where nothing is sacred.

But there is  anomaly.

In the movie Network, new learned of things thatbare sacred. The right to capitalize is sacred. The opportunity to profit takes priority against all else.

Every journalist learns very quickly how decisions about which stories will run and which will not.

The economy of media  is not about news. It's about advertising.

News and other content is about enticing readers and increasing circulation upon which to establish profitable rates for advertising.

It is a very simple formula. Make money and you stay  in business . Lose money and you don't

The French magazine lost no time  exploiting opportunity to publish and sell hundreds of thousands  of additional copies of  the publication.  A golden opportunity for international circulation has not been missed.

Maybe even government grants on the grounds of economic development.

Is that idealism? Or is it capitalism?

Network was made forty-eight years ago in the heyday of television. A  redundant news anchor ,
in his last broadcast became Messianic ....electrified a  jaded national audience and inadvertently sent station ratings sky high

The only thing missing from the fiction versus the real event is the presence of politicians.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Another New Beginning


A headline in the Auroran yesterday was a moment. The town is going to encourage the use of backyard compost bins.
I smiled.
Before the Green Bin program, the Region promoted backyard composting and sold bins at a competitive price.

 At the start of the program the home composting program was eliminated.

The material was required for the Green Bin system to work.

Single family homes were provided with two buckets. One for outside and a smaller one with a lid to collect  the scraps indoors and transfer to the  green bin in the garage ,if you had one

There being  no satisfactory way of separating garbage  that slides down a single chute, multiple residential buildings were not included.

A question of  viability of a partial program was brushed aside with a  promise of further study.

Prior to Green Bins, homeowners transported garden waste to the organic waste recycling yard  created by Miller Paving under contract to the Region  on Bloomington Road.



Finished compost could  be obtained there at no cost.

The Green Bin Program was launched  later with fanfare, substantial increased cost and no more free
compost.

Turtle Island won the contract.

Miller Paving,the competing contractor argued  experience and equipment in the bid were not properly analyzed and the award was not competitive.

Residents bought into the plan . Bottles, jars and tins were washed, boxes flattened, plastic folded  and paper tied in bundles.

Once a month  organic waste, branches cut to a certain length and tied securely, was collected
curbside.

Mothers demonstrated to children how the planet could be saved.

Buy-in was phenomenal. The program was declared a resounding success.

No plastic was permitted in the green bins.
Not much later that changed.
Plastic bags were quietly re-introduced. The fast- changing organic nature of waste proved to be too disgusting  to contemplate.

Subsequent failures in collection required meetings of the northern six municipalities and Turtle Island. More equipment had to be purchased.More personnel hired. No extra cost reported

Fastidious  householders started to notice and comment that garbage separation was futile. It was being undone at curbside.

Since the Green Bin program started, a composting plant in Newmarket proved problematic.Separating  plastic covers from disposable diapers was a problem.

The plant was eventually closed by court  order because of offensive odours from the process.

Composting  material has had to be transported to a facility in Quebec since .

A joint  York/ Durham  garbage incinerator was completed and is no doubt in operation.An extravagant opening celebration was organized.

Turtle Island  has been sold to another contractor .

Now a new beginning is planned . Clear bags  presumably to ensure prohibited material will not find its way into the incinerator, while opaque bags  are permitted inside the clear.

Garbage limits are proposed to be imposed .

Policing  of new restrictions will be enforced. Stickers will be stuck on uncollectibles.

Restricted service is reduced service yet  no reference is made to reduced cost .