"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

Saturday, 30 April 2016

ONE POTATO ...TWO POTATO...THREE POTATO ...FOUR

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "SANTA CLAUS IS ALWAYS COMING TO TOWN": 

"Chairmanship is key to success.All can be made right by an experienced chair."

Geoff Dawe's tenure in the mayor's chair exceeds your own, it must be pointed out.

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 29 April 2016 at 21:58

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

Well .... no....It's not precisely relevant.  

Mayor Dawe is in the  second year of a second term of office. 

I completed two terms  of office as Mayor of Our Town. 

I am proud and humble to have had the opportunity to serve. The experience lives with me still. 

Staff ,Council and Community  we made a difference. Together, we moved the town forward. It was a great feeling that cannot be denied. 

Mayor Dawe still has time to begin to make his mark.

I wish him well.

If he succeeds, we all benefit.

It's about more than counting votes and choosing sides.

Friday, 29 April 2016

COMMON FEATURES OF A CAMPAIGN


D'you notice how often Hillary has said :

"Donald Trump's comments are not only wrong ,they  are  dangerous"

Trump's inflammatory remarks, reported hourly 24/7 by Trump, CNN journalists, male and female, have fanned the flames and the fire spreads. 

Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper repeat the comments with a lurking grin then solemnly report anger growing in the community, like they have had no part in generating the fury. 

Riots have begun.

Angry youth and the police with weapons are pitted against each other. 

Both are at risk. 

It has all the potential for catastrophe. 

No responsible, political candidate,male or female, messes with those  underlying forces. 

Trump has the police and  a secret service detail to look after his safety. 

Hillary must be having  an invisible moment. 

She spoke and was not heard. 

She sounded the warning but "the entertainment " continued. 

Except...now it's acknowledged as a strategy to draw in  "blue collar, less educated" 

 Trump's people whom he  so dearly "loves" 

Yeah, right. 

It's a good point to stop and examine how male thinking differs from nurturing. 

A boy is more likely to up his dukes and settle a dispute physically. 

Mum's the one who has to clean off the blood and grime and patch up wounds and torn shirts.

For obvious reasons, sensible women think beyond immediate visceral satisfaction. 

They put it on the back burner and go about things differently. 

CHRIS IS UP

Christopher Watts has left a new comment on your post "SANTA CLAUS IS ALWAYS COMING TO TOWN": 

Here's a few.

In pursuit of an exceptional quality of life for all The Town of Aurora can boast the following accomplishments over the past 10 years:

- Found a sustainable use for the Petch House.

- Held enough business and recreational events to sustain a hotel.

- Put shovels in the ground at library square.

- Revitalized the downtown core.

- Invested over $600,000 total in yearly grants to the Aurora Historical Society for them to properly care for a collection, maintain a National Historic Site and create a Heritage Centre.

- Maintained and improved well capacity of the town's aquifers, reducing the need to blend water from Lake Ontario.

- Translated the successful reduction of energy on Earth Hour to a noticeable townwide reduction in every other hour.

- Meeting the needs of MAGNA, retaining their corporate headquarters in Aurora.

- Applied pressure where required to reduce daily parking rates at Southlake Hospital to less than $10/day.

- Achieved the gold standard of democracy through the implementation of a code of ethics and enforcement by way of issuing a necessary SLAPP lawsuit on citizens.

- Championed for a radio station, the exact mode of media that everyone has been scrambling to build here in town over the past 40 years yet were stymied by overwhelming competition.

- Invested $20,000+ in a pretty study on the private interest led Hilarity-Macintired project.

- Maintained a thriving Chamber of Commerce that has adapted to the needs of business while never entering a deficit situation.

- Elimintaed train whistles at all crossings in Aurora.

- Stopped a cell phone tower from being erected in a completely different municipality.

- Set an example by purchasing a SmartCar for staff to use to perform duties with no risk to their safety. Added bonus the car was such a hit sales spiked at a local dealership.

- Adopted a tree protection policy that has prevented massive clear-cutting of trees by developers.

- Brought in the Joint Ops centre on budget and with a gold LEED standard.

- Operated an Architectural Salvage program, retaining and caring for items from the numerous heritage homes that have been demolished thus saving elements for adaptive reuse

- Brought in the Family Leisure Complex renovations without issue or cost.

- Implemented a South East Heritage Conservation district through ample consultation and communication with impacted residents.

- Effectively traffic calmed a section of town through use of chicanes and one-way street restrictions at negligible cost resulting in no accidents.

- Implemented an up to date Communications plan, social media strategy and Crisis Communications Plan.

- Fixed the broken LED sign at Aurora Heights & Yonge.

- Hosted Prince Andrew’s dedication of Aurora’s Queen Diamond Jubilee Park in Aurora.

- Through working together with the local MPP implemented an effective graffiti program that meets its objectives.

- Conducted a thorough site evaluation before purchasing the Aurora Armoury

- Rolled out a fully mobile website on time, migrating all content.

- Rolled out streaming of committee meetings.

- Put Aurora on the Cultural map through leveraging a Heritage Centre into a Cultural Centre thereby allowing the booking of acts of superstars like Dan Hill to draw in sold out crowds and boost tourism.

- Maintained the town's corporate identity and logo by keeping the retired flag securely shelved and not flown around town.

- Accounted for all water in the town with no reported losses.

- Implemented a "Cultural Roundtable" that is inclusive of all cultural groups in town including the Aurora Museum & Archives.

- Implemented a Glad Clear garbage bag policy for waste diversion, instantly solving the town's rampant abuse of the waste collection program that was in place. 

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Posted by Christopher Watts to  Our Town and Its Business at 29 April 2016 at 14:12

SANTA CLAUS IS ALWAYS COMING TO TOWN

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "ONCE MORE WITH FEELING": 

I could be wrong but I suppose that these directors have also the job of being part politicians as well. When a new CAO is in Town I would imagine that there are going to be some directors on their way out.  

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 29 April 2016 at 08:30

**************************
There are nine politicians at the Aurora council table, each trying to make his/her presence felt.

They're not hard to read. 

Some think before they speak. Some are entirely predictable. Some read lines together like a script 
prepared beforehand .Others wait to hear what's said and keep tabs on agreeability. Repetition is oft repeated. Logic is rare and vastly under-appreciated.  Lap-tops became a feature last term and reduced the level of debate a notch or two below zero.

Chairmanship is key to success.All can be made right by an experienced chair. Failing that, hours of fulminating pass without actual achievement. 

There are as many Directors at the Council table as Councillors.

A revolving door at the town hall is not a positive sign.

 Under certain circumstances it may be unavoidable. 

In no circumstances can it be seen as indication of a town previously well-managed. 

Try making a list of accomplishments in Aurora in the past ten years.

Name them.

ONCE MORE WITH FEELING

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "THANK YOU FOR ASKING": 

Being in their 2nd term, that group of councillors has no intention of heeding the new CAO. They know it all now despite having Mr Garbe baby-sit for them when they were first elected. 
Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 22 April 2016 at 15:36
*********************************

I'm still surprised, after 9 years of this blog that readers have still not understood circumstances 
of replacement of various directors in the town's administration with the  Mormac election. 

It was never intended  for council to receive sound professional advice. Credentials, therefore, did not signify. In fact, less qualified, better suited. 

With each replacement, the strategy became more pronounced. Decisions henceforth were contrived exactly as directed by the dreadful duo. 

The town did not thrive. Bad things happened. 

The list is endless.

Consequences linger.

Not least, two Councils without guidance or experience of even a hint of competent management of town business. 

The task of the new Chief Administrive Officer is particularly difficult. 

Departure of the previous was start of an exodus. 

Manager of Communications ...Town Solicitor/ Director of Corporate Services...Manager of Human Resources and the latest we hear, Municipal Clerk. 

If he's good at the job, the challenge will not faze  the new CAO. 

Changes required cannot be subtly accomplished. 

Council can't be changed  but if well-served ,it can be improved.  

Thursday, 28 April 2016

TRUMP FOLLOWERS....LINE UP AND SIGN UP

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "GUEST POST": 

Maybe we could adopt the Admiralty Flag too. 
It is all huff & puff. The OMB is not going to change itself. But I do think that Mr B might be vulnerable if the conservatives can get their act together. 
Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 26 April 2016 at 11:02

********************************
Councillor Mrakas isn't huff and puff. He really believes he is on the right track.Today on Facebook, he cites Richmond Hill's  position on OMB reform. Property owners should not have the right to appeal after only 180 days of municipal refusal to decide. 

They should be required to negotiate until agreement is reached. Presumably even if it takes forever ...or at least until the next municipal election.  

Kind of like Aurora Council; they organized three public meetings for residents to continue to expound their opposition to development.

Regulations require one public meeting.There didn't use to be a time limit. Then it was three months.
Now it's six .  

So far, town strategy has been successful. No site plan has been approved. No staff reports appear to have been submitted.  The OMB cannot accommodate a six week hearing for twelve months and meantime, 57 municipalities have endorsed the resolution to remove OMB  authority. 

A municipal "Summit" will be held in Markham momentarily where Councillors take turns on the peak, flexing muscles and thumping chests and in general, show the Province who's boss. 

All the while. services continue 24/7 , taxes rise commensurately, fully serviced idle land, that could and should earn revenue to pay for services. produces not a red cent. 

No reports identifying  fiscal mismanagement are received  from staff, well-heeled neighbours get what they want and  not a single Councillor gives a tinker's dam about the rest of us. 

In Richmond Hill, according to information provided on Facebook by Councillor Mrakas , a single Councillor voted against endorsing Aurora's resolution. His contact information has been widely circulated so that he can be contacted by citizens and "persuaded" to see the error of his ways. 

GUEST POST

Christopher Watts has left a new comment on your post "WIKIPEDIA IS A WALK IN THE PARK": 

10:50

Wikipedia does not exist merely to be the repository of information to settle bets with roommates.  

Aside from consistently registering with multiple sources as one of the top 10 most popular sites on the entire web Wikipedia is an established educational tool, and you can learn more about how it is integrated into academia through its own Wikipedia Education Program here: https://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Education/Case_Studies

You have included an example from 4 years ago in support of your belief that Wikipedia is inaccurate. Ironically you have failed to include a source for this example.

In a 2014 blog piece on the subject of the reliability of Wikipedia for academic research I cited Project Information Literacy and an LA Times article:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/nitpickypedia/

Regardless of academia any researcher should be cautious of their sources, which brings us to the perception of "experts".

As a philosophy student Dylan Meert is no stranger to academic research. His March 1st piece in EngagingCities adresses Wikipedia: http://engagingcities.com/article/why-citizen-experts-are-new-paradigm

"Wikipedia shows that building an encyclopedia made by ‘amateurs’, relying on their active participation, creates a larger, more up to date and virtually as accurate collection of knowledge as the Encyclop√¶dia Brittanica."

His source: Nature.com the International weekly journal of science
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html

Meert goes further to explore the role of citizen experts:

"The collective participation of amateur and expert users generates value. The legitimacy of professionals dealing exclusively with specific problems appears hollow. After witnessing its success on a public level, we need platforms that enable participants to create this value on a civic level." 

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Posted by Christopher Watts to  Our Town and Its Business at 28 April 2016 at 16:29

WIKIPEDIA IS A WALK IN THE PARK

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "SEE THAT RAG TIME COUPLE OVER THERE..... IT'S WHAT...": 

Thank You, Captain Wikipedia. 
Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 27 April 2016 at 23:29

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

Captain Wikipedia is a  good friend of this  blog. I'm still getting used to the marvel of having it at my fingertips. 

I especially love being able to find lyrics of just about every song or nursery rhyme ever composed.
I believe I know and love them all. 

If I know something that Captain doesn't, I really get a lift out of that. It happens. 

Mostly, it's just a great tool. 

Nobody with a curious bent should feel awkward about using it and sharing what's learned.

A writer in his nineties named Roger Angell was a guest on Charlie Rose recently. His  book just published was "This Old Man : All In Pieces."  The book was about being an old man and the pieces were baseball stories he'd written in his journalist career. He was fiction editor and sports editor of the New Yorker Magazine. His mother was the magazine's fiction editor before him. The Magazine is not that old and I learned its history from a television feature. 

Charlie has a universal curiosity but he really enjoys sports and hearing about the stars. 

Mr. Angell  wanted to talk about being old. When the niceties were over he went straight into an account of being at a gathering and joining a conversation. When he finished speaking, the discussion continued , as if he hadn't spoken. He told Charlie, it was like being invisible. 

He caught my attention immediately but Charlie  turned the talk to stories in the book about games and sports personalities. He wasn't listening. He wanted to talk about his interests. Charlie is never rude. He is an excellent host. But he did the very thing his guest wanted to talk about. He made him feel invisible. 

Charlie had no interest in talking about an experience he had not yet shared. Roger Angell ,the man in his mid-nineties who wrote the book had something of interest  to convey to a young man of sixty-four. 

The old one did not persist. He understood. He knew what it was like to be sixty-four. Charlie doesn't know what it's like to be ninety-four. 


What the author needed was a man of his own vintage for conversation and a chuckle about their shared experience. Maybe consider the advantage of being a fly on the wall. 

He is content. He  writes and spoke of the effort to do it well. What it takes to be readable. 

Writing every day, makes the day worthwhile.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

SEE THAT RAG TIME COUPLE OVER THERE..... IT'S WHAT YOU GET

I've commented little on the American presidential nomination process. I've been watching it. I'm better informed than I was. Lord knows, there's enough repetition ,much of it beyond my comprehension. Particularly how people allow themselves to be persuaded .

Especially women.  

Certain aspects of politics are not useful to dwell upon. 

They simply are. 

The media is. 

It's a living and of course, in Canada ,we see a fraction of all that's presented . 

This afternoon Donald Trump is on CNN giving a speech on foreign policy.the studio awaits his presence. My T.V. Is on mute and will stay that way.

After months of collective disbelief of the unbelievable, emanating from an entirely unlikely candidate,the speech is promoted, at no cost, by Wolf Blitzer as "very important"  on foreign policy. 

Nothing whatsoever in his eccentric conduct throughout the campaign indicated a potential miracle and the candidate could suddenly got sensible. 

He did not seal the nomination last night. His equally hateful rival gave no hint of conceding. 

The ever-so-humble governor-who -would -be -President, self-effaced himself like a gentle genie and was siphoned right  back up the spout of his own lamp. 

The change last night has been referred to by the media as "a sweep"  for the Bellicose, Belligerent,Bombastic,Bafflegab Batman Billionaire.

In all the percentages referenced, every possible quantum question by pollsters to influence pollsters, although the numbers appear in every update and they tell the same story, it's never noted democratic votes cast are almost consistently double the votes cast by registered Republicans.

The Reality T.V. Show Host  took every State in last night's vote. He had higher percentages than Hillary, with only half the number of votes cast in his favour.

We understand every State has different rules. We heard of direct intent by Republicans to hinder voters from registering to vote. 

Hillary won all  states except the lowest populated  State of Rhode Island. 

Not being familiar with the system,I hesitate to form a firm conclusion.  

Suffice it to say, by avoiding reference to the FACT of twice the number of votes cast in her favour,while repeating over and over , she "is not liked" by  men, women, or youth, begs the question of who is actually doing the voting. 

The prize, being the nomination, hangs like a toy  from a branch,twisting,turning and shifting in the wind with as much reliability and stability. as substance and dependability. 

The view from the window :

See that rag-time couple over there
Watch them throw their shoulders in the air
See them snap their fingers 
Honey I declare
It's a bear ..it's a bear..it's a bear

Ev'rybody's  doin' it ...doin' It...doin' it....
Ev'rybody's doin' it now-wow-wow.


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A SNOWBALL'S CHANCE IN HELL

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "GUEST POST": 

Maybe we could adopt the Admiralty Flag too. 
It is all huff & puff. The OMB is not going to change itself. But I do think that Mr B might be vulnerable if the conservatives can get their act together. 
Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 26 April 2016 at 11:02

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

The OMB did not create itself. It will not transition itself either. Just because Councillors  and a bunch of nimbies think it should. 

The Board was created after municipalities were organised. Because a job needing to be done was not being done properly. 

Every  time Tom gleefully announces another town has endorsed the Aurora's resolution, the full scope of abysmal ignorance of the history of government in Ontario is displayed. 
 
Before settlement, transit was by waterways. Mrs. Simcoe wrote a diary. 

Then trees were cut down,logs trimmed and laid side by side to form corduroy roads. They still exist under original  arteries . Currency was British Sterling.

Post offices  followed roads  and were placed at intersections for widest  convenience. 

Settlements grew around them.  Aurora is  typical. Councils were created to manage local services.
Mostly roads. 

In the early days government was by trial and error. Councils were dominated by local business .  

They were responsible for education. 

Of typical colonial mind-set, children of the well-to-do were sent to boarding schools in "the old country" . 

Councillors were not keen on educating the children of factory workers. 

Boards of Education were created. Responsibility for funding remained with the Council. 

During the depression, some  Councils borrowed to fund their operations , then declared bankruptcy to escape paying the bills.  

The OMB was created with authority and for the purpose of controlling municipal debt and stop bankruptcies. 

A hundred years went by, regions replaced counties and  borrowing authority was transferred to  Regions. Huh!

Planning Boards were separate from Councils because politicians could not be trusted to make sensible  planning decisions. Politicians whined about non-elected bodies making decisions and municipalities having to foot the bill .

Responsibility for Property assessments had to be  taken from them as well.

When Regions were created,the  municipal councils became the planning board .A Planning Act was passed and implemented with regulations. 

In Aurora, decisions that might cost votes were avoided and a  petition is now  circulating to deprive a class of property owners the right to appeal .

A million dollar price tab liability is due to land on the town's doorstep. 

 The simple solution is to prohibit the  right to appeal and btw, stop building , making  a living for themselves and a few thousand tradesmen and sustain the provincial economy. 

The solution is simple alright but simplistic is better. 

It has a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding. 

Monday, 25 April 2016

GUEST POST

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "IT INTERESTS ME": 

I saw a recent letter from the province ... "Thank you Aurora councillors. We will immediately change the mandate and structure of the OMB so you can be awarded full authority over a $100,000,000 property. We will fix it so the owners will not realize a penny. If you like, we can put in a clause that an owner of a golf course must maintain it for the next 50 years in its original state at no cost to you."

"Good luck with your summit on golf course redevelopment and congratulations to you and your Mayor for your leadership. We all know how hard you work passing these motions."

Yours truly,
Minister of ....


cc. Chris
Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 25 April 2016 at 16:17

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

As  a newly elected Councillor(1967) it was my understanding responsibility of the Clerk-Treasurer was to inform Council of the Municipal Act, the Regulations and how they are interpreted.

I thought that was the purpose of Statutary Officer; statute being the operative word and the rest being the requirement  to function within the law. 

Our first CAO was the former Clerk-Administrator. 

The position of CAO was created on advice of a consultant to overcome a problem with certain shortcomings within the administration. 

Needless to say, the problem did not correct. 

As the procession of CAOs, Mayors and clerks grew , things became somewhat more obscure. 

A CAO ,who is not Statutary Officer, has no responsibility to inform Council of the law.

A municipal clerk who must be a Statutary officer and has the responsibility but is subject to authority of a CAO ,who has neither the responsibility nor the credentials, is in a line of authority less than likely to succeed. 

Jobs at different levels became dependent upon preference of this one or that. 

Never a good thing for an official with responsibility to exercise authority but not free to do so. 

Apart from expense , it doesn't work. 

Judging by numbers of endorsements, Aurora's resolution advocating Reform of the Ontario Municipal Board along the lines they favour, the Province may be compelled instead to contemplate the need for Reform of Ontario Municipal Administrations. 

They could start with a joint review of the British North American Act; especially the missing part that provides power to municipalities. 

A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "IT INTERESTS ME": 

5:31
Nope. You are incorrect. What you see is what you get now that the CAO who guided the Mayor has moved on.

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 25 April 2016 at 17:07

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

I was not there when a third CAO was appointed in John West's time as Mayor but I was when he left.

An interim CAO had to be appointed because the Council that included  Morris, Keane and Gaertner could not agree on a replacement after a full recruitment process. 

The eventual replacement had not applied. He was CAO in a neighboring municipality. He was  sought out and offered an acceptable contract.

I was there during the incorrigible period of public degradation of the Office by Morris and
McEachern to make him to leave without honouring  his contract. 

I was there when the replacement was made. If I knew nothing of behind the scenes of that choice, It quickly became evident by the replacement of the Chief Financial Officer without  the recruitment  process required by the Municipal Act,  the purpose was not to build the best professional administration within the Region. 

The purpose was to follow without question, she who must be obeyed. 

The successful candidate did not apply during the first round of recruitment. 

Several hundred thousand dollars were budgeted for his training and education. 

By the time Director of Corporate Affairs position had to be refilled for the third time in less than a year, the town received two applications. One had credentials.

The Municipality's  notoriety as an employer had travelled wide. 

A couple of week's ago ,I found it interesting the gathering at Victoria Hall to discuss parking problems 
In the neighbourhood surrounding the station and the "cultural precinct" was addressed by the new CAO. The Mayor was not noted as present. Councillors were photographed in the audience. 

The Culture Precinct idea was Scotched during the meeting.

It may be  ,for the first time , Aurora can look forward to see what it looks like to have a Chief  Administrative Officer responsible for efficient management of the Corporation and accountable to the elected body. 

It was certainly not what we had during the previous decade.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

IT INTERESTS ME

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "PREMIER SPEAKS TO THE POINT": 

How is it interesting that Mrakas and Thompson are the councillors advocating for OMB reform? 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 24 April 2016 at 22:37

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

Councillor Mrakas regularly reports new Councils have  passed resolutions to endorse  the Aurora  resolution to reduce  authority of the Ontario Municipal Board. 

I understand Councillor  Mrakas moved the resolution and Councillor  Thompson was seconder. 
 
The  resolution was adopted by Council. 

At that point, it become the decision of Council. The  mover and seconder no longer have ownership.

As Head of Council, the Mayor is  town representative in any business of the town. 

Unless there has been delegation of the Mayor's authority. 

I haven't read of that. 

On the other hand, it seems a good part of the last campaign emphasized working together to get things done. 

Haven't seen much of substance getting done and not much working together either . 

PREMIER SPEAKS TO THE POINT

The link to the Duffy decision is at the beginning  of the Globe and Mail news story. I will get back to it. 

If readers don't turn to page 22 of this week's Auroran for the complete interview with Premier Wynne, 
they will  be half-informed on the  Province's position on the issue of development of an idle parcel of land.

MLA Ballard's input makes  it even more interesting .His concern is with provincial policies of infilling and density. Yeah right.

The Premier comes right to the point. Each  municipality is responsible for adequate green space being provided  in a Town  0fficial Plan. 

"One size does not fit all "

The chance of a  hundred acre land parcel suddenly and conveniently  becoming available to serve community needs  is utterly ludicrous . 

Just as the rationale  for 6 acres of land in the Mavrinac development was needed for a park after that
development was complete. 

Mr Ballard lives in the former golf course  neighbourhood.

 He did to his neighbours as John Gallo did to residents of the Mavrinac neighbourhood. He led them to believe it was reasonable for idle land  to serve  as an exclusive leisure domain . And to fundraise  thousands of dollars for legal fees to protect "their interest"
 
It's interesting also that Councillor Mrakas and Thompson are the only Aurora Councillors names and faces featured  in the so-called "summit" to pressure the Province to reform the OMB to disallow land-owner development appeals. 

At the moment,the most startling thing about the enthusiasm of numerous municipalities eager to 
Reform the OMB is their  illusory status as independent authorities.