"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, 29 June 2015

SO MANY QUESTIONS....SO FEW ANSWERS

Supposing I'm right and Council has agreed to retain a consultant on a six month contract to  recruit the new CAO and serve as Interim Chief Administrative Officer at the same time.  What does he bring to the job ?

From the release provided  on the Town's web site, he has advised many other municipalities. Of what?

Municipalities provide a basic level of services. Many similarities exist between them. But none are precisely alike.  

Different problems and priorities needing to be resolved.

A  parachutee ....no matter how smart ,knowledgable or experienced,  cannot simply pick up where another left off. 

Pending  decisions like disposition of redundant buildings will have a definite stay of execution.For a minimum of six months but probably longer. 

Directors of Departments  will have the responsibility of bringing the new and interim chappie up to speed. 

Aurora has an eight member management team.  Each with authority for a  department and substantial staff resources. Each has a  record of  competence which should be known to Councillors and  the Mayor.  

Each director has a different level of institutional history. 

Some are better known in the community than others. Some know the community better than others.

Each has had ample opportunity to demonstrate level of competence. 

Last we read,  the Mayor and Human Resources Manager ( both on the sunshine list) were delegated to  develop terms  of reference for the  position of CAO. 

A job description is already at hand. Lord knows we've seen enough organizational charts. 

But that's not what they recommended .The Mayor and HR did not do as  Council directed. 

Instead, an outside consultant on a six month contract to act as Interim Chief Admknistrative Officer and assist in recruiting a  Chief Administrative Officer  is recommended. 

It creates a needless hiatus in town business. 

Nothing commends it. 

Cost of the exercise is not indicated. 

Will the town advertise the job and conduct interviews? There's a known cost for that route. We have the staff resources on hand. 

Will the town retain a head -hunter consultant? Fees can be determined for that service too. 

Is  a consultant  needed to advise  Council which decision to make? Isn't that part of their job? 

Has consideration been given to promotion from within? If not, why not?  There must be a rationale. 

From the sunshine list, we know the CAO job pays $220,000 a year.  Are we not entitled to share the logic that determines the means of filling that position? Who is accountable? 

Maybe we should spend less time worrying about cell phone towers, how best to deliver mail  and  why a Howard Johnston Hotel did not succeed in Aurora and more time talking about things that are town business and Council's responsibility.  

BTW , the town's economic development department has at least two planners on staff. One on the sunshine list.  Why is  the hotel's failure such a deep dark secret?

Isn't that their  job to know ? 

If it isn't ....what is?










Sunday, 28 June 2015

QUEER GOINGS ON

It's a dreary day. Things needing  to be done in the garden. Or just enjoyable time to be spent. The weather is not enticing  and a couple of stories in The Auroran keep demanding I read them again. 

One was  about Council and staff's concern over budget numbers. The other  the appointment of an interim CAO .

Memories of the last interim appointments are hardly satisfying .

First was appointment of statutory office of treasurer.

 According to the Municipal Act, the position must be filled by recruitment . The appointment is by bylaw and only Council can approve a Bylaw.

That's not how it happened. 

Council was informed  by CAO Neil Garbe in a closed door  meeting, he  had appointed a  treasurer on an interim basis. 

The previous treasurer had provided three months notice. He stayed until the budget was completed. 

Despite repeated enquiries  no recruitment process ever took place. 

After the interim appointment, Council were later informed ,Mr. Garbe had made the appointment  
permanent.

The  previous twelve months  employment  had been with a consultant. Prior to that he had been Treasurer of Richmond Hill for a number of years. 

 Richmond Hill had adopted a Commissioner system and the top position was filled by recruitment of a new Commissioner of Finance. 

After his appointment ,Mr. Elliot  apparently informed new colleagues in Aurora, the job offer was made over a coffee in a donut shop.

Aurora's current Manager of Communications  was appointed in equally unusual circumstances.

 Prior to Mormac , the town had one and a half persons in communications. 

The work load grew but  additional resources were denied.

It was decided to create a manager's position  requiring a Master's  Degree  in English. 

The  person doing the job satisfactorily for seven years  had a humble B.A.

A Manager was  ultimately appointed without the required Master's Degree touted in the media by the CAO.

The person doing the job returned  from vacation to find her office occupied and her stuff in boxes
elsewhere.

She left the town's employment with a satisfactory settlement .

The new  Manager was not long on the job before he disappeared into  long-term disability. 

Current Manager of Communications. was "seconded" from York  Region and appointed on an interim basis  to the Aurora position. Soon as per previous practice it also became permanent.

Communication staff swelled substantially in numbers. 

I  must admit I find  it hard to imagine how the eight hour days are  filled  five days a week. 

So now we have another interim appointment to fill the Grand Pooh Bah position. 

Listed credentials are incredible. ..literally. 

Nowhere is the title of consultant stated.

Yet it cannot be otherwise

Why so shy?

And why is no fee stated ?

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Addendum to the last post.

Council had authority to fill the vacanct seat  by appointment.

It could have been accomplished without inviting individuals to  make presentations as candidates only to be publicly rejected in turn. It was certainly clear to some of the people who came forward in good faith that there never was a possibility of being selected.

Public rejection  is no small matter. 

Without Mr. Constable, a majority vote for the project was by no means a certainty. His friends were at the meeting  to Celebrate his "victory" . No subtlety was employed. 

The joint facility is a  $26 million project

A simple majority vote, engineered, is hardly  a good way to inspire public confidence . 

The decision deserved greater time and effort to arrive at a consensus.

It was my judgement then and it's my judgement now.    

Since the election ,it has been learned  the AFLC project was terribly mismanaged. 

It was an add-on to an existing facility at a fraction of the cost of the joint facility.  

To this point, it  exceeded the budget by  twenty-five per cent and completion was months beyond  
schedule. 

Opening was celebrated twice. Once before and once after the election. Further remediation at considerable expense is still pending.

Now " soil problems"  are cited on a site that had to be created as compelling the need for  a 
supervisory contract not anticipated at the time estimates were presented to Council. 

The Officer responsible is no longer responsible and Council has approved a process to replace the individual by open competition.

It is conceivable a person having no idea what has gone before will be appointed. 

There is no reason for  public confidence. 






LORD HIGH ADMIRAL OF THE KING 'S NAVEE

Anna has references in  the Community in Focus post on the Joint Facility project. One  in particular.
needs to be expanded. 

Anna remarks how  big a chunk of the  Arboretum  has been taken  for the town project. . 

Therein lies an irony. 

The town acquired the site from Joseph Lebovic at  a "good price". 

At one time, the developer inquired about possibility of changing the designation from industrial  to residential. Difficulty of access and rear of the parcel being  ravine were cited.  

The town disposed of the current works/parks site without offering it in a public sale. Whether an appropriate price was obtained cannot be determined.  

Mr Lebovic was happy to sell to the town. 

As noted by Anna, the  ravine is the Arboretum. Because it had to be protected. 

But not  from the town apparently. 

Problems of access  on a hazardous bend on a heavily travelled  artery intended  as an industrial bypass for Yonge Street were acknowledged. The solution  suggested was to double the points of 
access and egress. 

"Remediation" of the site contributes substantially to cost of the project. 

A shelf had to be built on the side of their ravine to create a  building site. "Remediation not available  to private developers. 

As noted in Anna's  post,  reason given by the director for extra cost of hiring a project manager  is "soil problems"  "discovered" on the site .soil problems are discovered when a site is being excavated And only if  soil tests were not completed beforehand. 

It seems when a shelf is being constructed on the side of a ravine slope ,the problem might be more of  a landslide rather than an excavation. 



Almost a year  into the project it has been realized by staff that  architects, engineers and staff all  had their normal work loads to accomplish. Adequate supervision of the project could not  be provided at the same time. 

Well ...DUH !

Readers may re-call compelling urgency to approve this  project. 

call went out to invite candidates to fill  the vacant seat on Council to secure a majority. 

An exercise was undertaken with presentations from a number of candidates for a seat that did not have to be filled for three months. 

Two candidates said they would not accept compensation  for the task. Considering the timing the offer was reasonable. 

Don Constable , personal friend of Councillors was appointed. 

. When the  joint facility project was decided. Mr. Constable voted in favour  because " there was an urgent need". 

There never was an  argument about need..

Disagreement was about suitability of  location and  exorbitant cost. 

It seems full extent may not yet be known 

But revealing over-runs to correct" unanticipated soil problems " no longer  rest with he who was 
originally responsible. .

 Or the CAO who delegated responsibility. 

The latter has already flown the coop. 

The  former, no longer the Grand Pooh Bah. 

On hand  am I to answer questions needed to further clarify the idiosyncrasies 







Tuesday, 23 June 2015

NEITHER FISH ,NOR FOWL ,NOR GOOD RED HERRING.

Anna has a story of  total ineptitude on the  $26million joint parks and works facility project. 
Anna doesn't describe it that way.  It is my determination and was always my fear. The Mormac crew were intent on creating an apparatus that would serve their bidding with little regard for professional 

After the fact,the administration discovered required supervision of the $26million project would not be possible. 

After the fact of appointing Don Constable to fill the council vacancy to ensure a favorable vote for the project without a complete analysis. 

And after the  fact of the total screw-up of the Family Leisure Complex addition construction. 

My cataract surgery was completed last Tuesday. Three more weeks of eye drops and I'm good to go. 
I was actually good to go immediately after the surgery. 

Yesterday I  sat in a spot on Heather's driveway and  clearly saw two storks  with long legs and necks and small heads with long black beaks standing at the fountain at the rear of her garden. Weeks ago all I saw were indeterminate splatches of green. 

I had no idea how much my sight had faded.

 We live in wondrous times.

I took last week off from writing for comfort sake. 

I concluded I should stop writing the blog and start on the story of my Joust with Justice. 

But first I need to comment on a couple of things f

The media handling of John Tory's flip-flop on the police carding issue is worthy of note. 

Tory said he changed his mind  after listening to people and decided it could not be continue. He changed his mind again at the board meeting and voted to continue the procedure. 

Toronto's Mayor was  a right-hand man to former Premier William Davis. It was a puzzle that he could be so close to the power source and not understand that  police are governed by a body separate and apart from politics. 

I went into Wikipedia to  see if the Ontario Police Commission was still operating. It's a  body provides oversight and has authority of  the police function in Ontario.

 Come to think of it, I don't know why municipalities are responsible for providing police services, considering laws being enforced are provincial. 

I found an interesting  Wiki story about the Mayor of Peterborough being thrown off the Police Board because he was critical of the police.

 He defended himself with a lawyer. 

Said he had a duty to express his views on behalf of the people. 

The  OCPC  would have none of it. They  insisted he had to be thrown off because he had a legal right to be on the board. 

He  tried a couple of other moves to prevent it from happening. ....Like resigning. 

am not making this up. They said he had  undermined the police with public criticism.

They didn't say what he said ...Just that it should have been said in private. 

As a contrast,John Tory's criticism of the carding policy seemed not to call for attention. The media, the President of the Police Asociation, they seemed to tippy-toe around the situation. 

The Province had nothing  at all to say about it until after the  board vote was taken to confirm the carding policy. 

In another contrast the Ford brothers were unfailingly  and pointedly supportive of Toronto police. 

No matter how clumsily, inappropriately and repeatedly former Chief Bill Blair spoke of investigating wrong-doing by Mayor Ford that was never proven. 

Bill Blair lost his $400ks a year plus benefits galore job and still the media makes no reference to the  difference between Tory and  Ford in this matter. 

But days later, they made the comparison  between the political rivals in support and lack thereof for Gay Pride week and raising the Rainbow flag at city hall .





Saturday, 13 June 2015

THE UNEXPECTED


There were eighteen comments to the last post.,The last  one made me smile.

"Communist " it said in sharp response to "Neocon"

The reaction was not what I expected. 

Society is at fault.

Political Parties of all stripes  are the villains. 

Parents no longer care about their children. 

Broken families are responsible for society's ills. 

Teachers and the education system are to blame. 

The strap is no longer allowed in  schools. 

There are no consequences for bad behaviour. 

All the old saws we repeat to each other all the time were repeated in the comments
  
The most disturbing information provided in the post came from the psychiatrit's lecture at Hart House f

He said our children are being diagnosed with mental problems  and prescribed medication to control their behaviour as a result of  the pharmaceutical industry successful promotion of their product to the medical profession. 

He came out of retirement to make the statement .  Children  are being used, I would say abused, for no reason other than commercial greed of companies that manufacture mind altering drugs. 


Friday, 12 June 2015

TIME PASSES

John Tory's progress in the Mayor's office is interesting to watch.He is not a light weight. His loafers 
shift on terra cotta. 

Time is money.  Decisions must be made lickety-split. 

He reads studies and reports,takes a position and answers questions openly and transparently. 

He is comfortable in the spotlight and supremely confident pushing for ascendancy.

decision made is worth two in the bush. 

The position is entirely  practical in the business world and to many in the electorate. 

 The Municipal  Act defines the Mayor's function to provide leadership and guidance. 

A couple of problems are inherent in the definition. 

Number one; the Act obviously anticipates the Chief Magistrate will be a person capable of judgement, knowledge and experience.  HA! 

Two ; the Mayor has a single vote. 

To provide leadership and guidance without personal experience or knowledge or ....Saints Preserve us.....judgement ...means  having enough sense to listen to experience,knowledge and judgement among the Council. 

John Tory's experience  was in the back rooms of  party politics where caucus members do as  bidden by party minions or risk expulsion. 

By contrast ,municipal councillors  have authority and opportunity to influence decisions.

Each  has a vote. 

Imagine all the foolish, airy-fairey notions of the  last term in Aurora that might passed had the people not been sufficiently well informed in time to bring them to a screeching halt. 

Think of the evil and appalling record of the previous term. 

Toronto's vote  last week on the Gardiner Expressway was a squeaker. It  has a long way to go and many hurdles to overcome. Many strong voices in the community are opposed 

John Tory's success has less than an even chance of prevailing in a fractured Council. 

Years will be wasted. 


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

WHEN IS ENOUGH ,ENOUGH

There's a comment today about eighteen teachers leaving a school in the Region because of mayhem in the classroom . Kids on drugs are throwing classroom furniture about. 

Last week a boy about ten was put off a school bus by the driver. It was recorded with a cell phone. and had all the elements of scandal until the school board responded with another video . It showed the driver being struck on the side of the head with a heavy school bag swung by the ten year old. 

The driver was physically stunned. 

The week before we were treated to a seventeen year old student defying authority In the matter of appropriate dress for school.

Young women in Toronto have an annual walk called " Slut  Walk"   It was started as a protest against a
Policeman's fatherly advice that girls should not dress like sluts. 

Young women everywhere were outraged that anyone would suggest they could not wear what they pleased. 

 The media give the Slut Walk prominence. No negative comments are reported. 

At no other time in life can foolish behavior be excused.   It might be argued mistakes are essential to becoming sensible. Hard lessons are  best learned as a consequence of poor judgement. 

But comes a time when lack of judgement cannot be excused. Like when one is responsible for raising 
a family  or a salary is being paid. 

A significant element of  to-day's society may be the first generation prescribed drugs to control classroom behavior. Self- discipline is not evident. Entitlement is rampant. Social conscience is conspicuous in its absence. Integrity is obsolete. 

Forty-five years ago I covered  a school board meeting where the top regional student was being recognized for academic excellence. She. was seventeen. The only child of the Regional solicitor.  

The chairman of the board anxious to express hiigh appreciation for excellence said her generation would be responsiible for correcting the mess  made by their parents.

He was speaking of the generation that grew up in a depression, fought and knew deprivation and loss of war in teen years, afterwards worked hard for modest wages and paid taxes to provide high schools universities, community colleges and hospitals. So that life would be better for their children. 

They did it without complaint. 

There were no RRSPS and  no funds  to stash away for old age. 

The only asset they had was house they lived in. 

I remember thinking at the time, I hope that girl is sensible enough to know she's listening to pure baffle-gab. 

Now according to the phsychaitrist I listened to ,more children are being diagnosed and pumped with drugs than ever before. 

I'm not sure lessons are being learned. 

I think of a  citizen delegation demanding Council go to court to compel a communication tower 
erected within all the rules  be dismantled and my doubts are compounded. 

Imagine my thoughts as I watched elected representatives prepared to go that route.

Yet another lawyer was retained to tell them they couldn't win that fight. But some still were They were not inclined to listen to the solicitor on the payroll for the purpose. 

External legal advice allowed them to make the right decision while covering their political asses. 

They were rewarded. 

Disorder In the classrooms ..  It's not hard to believe . 

I've seen enough in other unexpected places. 






RAIN IS A GODSEND

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A BEAUTIFUL SATURDAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD":

No rain tonight - maybe we are done for a wee while.o

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 10 June 2015 at 02:51


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

We put grass seed  down six days ago. The weather has been perfect...cool nights ,warm days and rain  Yesterday the light green haze was already visible on the dark earth. 

No need to use town water costing an arm and a leg and we are not allowed to know why.

 It's not good for the garden anyway with all the added chemicals.

But by some queer method of book-keeping  we pay for it anyway. 

The town advises the Region of  anticipated  need and that's what's billed ....used or not. 
Then if angicipated use does not occur .the water account is in deficit and has to be made up.

If you have trouble understanding that it's not because you have an attention deficit. 

It's because it makes no more sense than a treatment facility to remove salt from snow which could not co-exist with snow in the first place and could not be removed from snow-melt in the second place.

 Richmond Hill  constructed one of those phoney-baloney salt removal treatment facilities with approval from the Ministry of Enviraonment . So it must be practical , right yes.?

No .....wrong and wrong again. 

A few weeks ago , on TV Ontario I watched a phychiatrist in the wee small hours of a Sunday morning.  He gave a lecture at Hart House in Toronto. He had retired because of a sick wife and other reasons but a book he wrote was worrying him.

The book was  partly on the subject of diagnoses . After it was published, numbers spiraled upwards 
accompanied by a huge increase in use of prescriptive drugs. He felt obligated to give the lecture and 
try to undo some of the damage.l

He was obviously trying to push back on a tsunamai.The drug industry being the main force behind it. 

He said a third of people presenting will  get better on their own. A third are helped with place,and third benefit from treatment. 

The doctor's main concern appeared to be the level of prescriptive drugs doled out particularly to school children

A child having trouble settling down in a classroom can be directly related to date of birth.

Based on that factor, a child in a classroom can be a full year younger than the rest. Therefore 
less mature and less able to sit quietly at a desk and listen to a teacher. 

Yet in Grade one they are being diagnosed  with attention deficit disorder,prescribed drugs and labelled for the rest of their school years. The damage from both is horrendous. 

Involvement of the pharmaceutical industry.is the main culprit. Doctors are wined and  dined and treated to golf vacations and  many other enticing gratuities by drug salesmen

It starts with pizza lunches for med students, said the phsychaitrist. 

That scandal  hit the news decades  ago.

 It seems nothing has changed. 

Except now the smallest children in school are the victim