Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Political Campaigns--Ward vs General Vote Elections
Hints for Political Success in a Ward Voting System
2. Be very helpful and efficient in handling all problems that your constituents give you.
3. Talk to your constituents…ask them what they think should be done in the neighborhood.
4. Knock on doors regularly even between elections to meet your constituents and get their input and feedback…make sure they have your contact information so they can call you any time of day or night.
5. Attend as many functions in your ward as possible so the people come to know you and feel welcome in seeking your help.
6. Represent the interests of your ward strongly on council.
7. Send news flyers regularly to keep your constituents informed.
8. Always ask for advice from your constituents on important city-wide issues.
9. Put out surveys asking for public input.
10. Make time for scheduled community forums where you can engage in discussion about the issues with your constituents.
11. Communicate, communicate, communicate, listen, listen, listen.
12. Set aside time regularly on a scheduled basis and in a regular location to make yourself available for consultations with individual constituents.
13. Work hard at your political job...always remember it is a 24 hour job! You are always "On Call".
14. Like Alice in Wonderland, you'll have to run as fast as you can just to stay in the same place...so keep those buns and those feet movin for your ward boy or you'll soon be out of a job.
Hints for Political Success in a General Vote System
2. Make sure that you are very visible on the televised council meetings and try to dominate so that you get more than your share of face time.
3. Try to be controversial, argumentative, and unruly as the media will more likely reward you with the press which is good for promoting your name.
4. Whatever you do, don’t support the ideas of fellow council members, even their great ideas, as they are your competitors for votes in a general vote. You want to do everything in your power to prevent your competitors from getting the press...especially for something good. Avoid this at all costs!
5. Make sure you listen to the large groups in the city like the trade unions, churches, the golf club, senior’s centers, etc. as these groups have the potential of influencing their members who live city wide to vote for you…so be a friend of the large groups…do what they want!
6. Election funding is expensive…so be especially friendly to the development industry and other potential big election donors and do everything in your power to keep them happy with your votes.
7. Try to secure help from the large organizations in promoting your name within the organization particularly for things like getting sign locations and election help as big organizations and big budgets are required for election... If you are especially friendly with these large groups, they may be a good source of campaign volunteers. Keep the large groups happy with you!
8. Try to glad hand at large functions around town. Try especially to get your name and picture in the paper or any communications published by large groups.
9. It is quite impossible to get to enough doors city wide, so campaign by having a mail drop of your material and holiday in Florida during the election. There are so many candidates that no one will miss you. Election will just come down to the money you have been able to raise…so pay someone to run your campaign and pay workers for things that have to be done. There will be so many candidates at All-Candidates Forums getting 2 minutes each and so no one will miss you when you don't attend.
10. Above all…relax during the campaigns…because political campaigns are not too important in getting you elected. If you’ve done a good job in promoting your name, you won’t have to do much else to get elected. You’ll have a seat for the rest of your life. There will be so many candidates that the sucker voters will not know any of them and will just go down the list aimlessly marking the names they’ve heard---yours! You’ll thrive with the impossibility of voters making informed choices. The voters will be frustrated with the immensity of the task. They won’t remember that you got all of the press by all of the negativism that the press thrives on.
11. Make sure that you use all of your middle names fully spelled out on the ballot because the longer the name, the more it will stand out and attract votes. If you don't have enough names, invent some. It would be helpful if you were born with a family name starting with "a" as names are alphabetical on the ballot and names listed first have a better chance of being selected. So maybe you should change your name for election purposes to make sure it stands out in a preferable location on the ballot. The position and visibility of your name on the ballot may be the most important factor in getting elected in a general vote as there are so many names on the ballot, no voter gets to know who the candidates are or what they stand for. Because of this, you want to enhance everything about your name in attracting as many random votes as possible.
SO NOW THAT YOU HAVE SEEN THE TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF CAMPAIGNS, WHICH DO YOU THINK WOULD PRODUCE THE KIND OF POLITICIAN YOU WANT FOR OSHAWA?
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
We Got Smarter City Council Than You Got---Da de da!
Eat yer hart out Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, Brandon, Winnipeg, Moncton, St. John, Yellowknife, Inuvik, Halifax, Barrie, Gravenhurst, Guelph, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Kingston, Peterborough, St. Catherines, Sarnia, Thunder Bay, Stratford, Sudbury, Timmins, Windsor, Waterloo, Flin Flon, Charlottetown, Chicoutimi, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Regina, Saskatoon, Whitehorse and my goodness, little South Algonquin, my favorite place, the location of my cottage. All yous guys still have da ward system cause yous guys not near progressive as our guys.
We soon gonna get somethem you not got…a general vote for de election of our local council. We gonna have somethem that is rarer than spare change at Oshawa tax time. But then we are bigger dan many of yous guys and so it makes sense that our council smarter too.
We so progressive, guess we de only guys to see the light. Good thing we got dem council guys lookin after us. We jus let dese guys go do what they think best for us.
We got Tweedle dee and Tweedle dumb. We even got Tweedle dumber lookin after us. Tweedle dee, he just throw out motion and Tweedle dumb and Tweedle dumber jump up and dance, “We support that!” Sometime they jump up so fast dat their little pointy hats fall off. Along with Councillor Joe, we call dem de gang a four.
Councillor Joe--he even a mind reader. He know which way he gonna vote even before he hear da motion.… He say, “I’m never gonna support motion from dat guy!” Bet you other guys wish you had guy this smart on your council! He know what he not support before he hear it.
Us guys in Oshawa, we glad to have set forward thunking leaders…imagine us in Oshawa treaden democratically where no one else dare to go. I guess we set pattern for all yous other guy in Canada to follow our lead.
Oh! I know dat dere is one guy, Longworth in town…a real disturber who wants to keep our election system dat all yous guys in Canada use and maybe he so busy debunking and debating our grate Oshawa leaders that maybe he don’t see the light. Maybe he should start using his energy to defend our smart guy on city council.
So eat your heart out Canada, and hope someday that yous get de smart guy wid the smart idea like we got.
If you want dese guys, I know they be free after next election and maybe come to help ya den.
“Proud” from Oshawa
Monday, February 26, 2007
Hey Council...How About These Plebiscite Questions?
Nester Pidwerbecki who introduced the motion gave as his rationale, "I think it is simply time to ask the public about this." He might just as well have thought it was about time to ask Oshawa people if they were in favour of renaming our city because that makes as much sense.
Council even gerrymandered the question so that they could get a result favourable to them...the people be damned!
So using Pidwerbecki's "I think it's about time we asked" rationale, I think it's about time we asked the public the following questions that I'm sure are of far more public interest in answering on any plebiscite posed by council.
In the interests of seeking public opinion, I challenge council to ask the following plebiscite questions...
1) Are you in favour of decreasing local politicians city and regional pay packages by 50%? --- Yes or No
2) Are you in favour of limiting council members to two terms on council so that we can guarantee fresh leadership and ideas arising from council members? --- Yes or No
3) Are you in favour of those elected to council working full time at the position in light of their handsome pay and requiring those elected to take leave of all other sources of income during their council tenure? --- Yes or No
4) Are you in favour of all city council members working at least 40 hours per week on city business and being responsible to keep time sheets accessible to the public for the purpose of documenting their hours? --- Yes or No
5) Are you in favour of public disclosure of all regional and local salaries plus all honoraria, expense, travel, and benefits costs including those monies accruing to them yearly toward their retirement and severance packages be a matter of public record published annually in the public media?---Yes or No
6) Are you in favour of public disclosure of all gifts, gratuities, and donations made by the development industry and others and a public record published at the same time of council member's votes in respect of all issues of interest to the donors? --- Yes or No
7) Are you in favour of having all pay increases for members of council being approved by the public by way of referendum?---Yes or No
8) Are you in favour of Oshawa politicians being compelled to keep a written record of all constituency problems they've received and statements of the resolution and that these documents should be a matter of public record?---Yes or No
Hopefully council will ask these questions and then implement the results. After all, they are interested in public input and equally interested in upholding plebiscite results in the name of democracy....aren't they?
Sunday, February 25, 2007
The Plebescite Question--Why?
It is clear though that Pidwerbecki had been working for some time behind the scenes to drum up interest in putting this question to the voters.
It is unfortunate that he was able to get enough support in the last council to get the question on the ballot and that he has been able to get consistent and unwavering support from the "Gang of Four"--himself, Kolodzie, Parkes, and Henry, on every vote on this council concerning implementing the general vote. But then...a move to the general vote is "self-serving" for the incumbent politicians!
Pidwerbecki has received intermittant support from Councillors Sholdra and Mariempietri and Mayor Gray for implementation of the general vote. Their support usually results in a 7-4 victory on many votes.
The present opponents of the general vote on most questions are Councillors Cullen, Nicholson, Neal, and Lutczyk who are usually outspoken opponents of the change. On one occasion, Councillor Cullen left the room thus avoiding a recorded vote on the issue.
Therefore two of the seven must be convinced to change their mind on the issue. I believe Mayor Gray and Councillors Sholdra and Mariempietri are possible converts but they need calls and letters from you.
While the real rationale for the plebescite question is unclear since none has been publicly expressed and no justification can be advanced by any knowledgeable person on this being the better system for electing a municipal council, we can only look to some of the reasons following, all of which have been advanced by those close to the action
1) Some councillors are getting too old to campaign in ward elections which requires a lot of door-to-door contact and also are getting too old to exert the energy required for demanding constituency work. Both of these could be avoided with the general vote.
2) The theory has been advanced that the prime "general" behind the move is an "agent" of a defeated prominent politician who feels chances of re-election under a general vote are excellent but are negligible under ward voting.
3) The idea has been expressed that some council members have outside alliances with past politicians who are still working to exert control and pull the council strings.
4) Petty politics among council members who believe that the general vote will engineer defeat for a present ward councillor who is a strong advocate for his community that the less effective general vote backers don't want on council.
5) Anger being expressed by a prime supporter of the general vote because of the competition he faced from a fellow council member in the last election.
6) One of the councillors got knocked on the head and has not been the same since the accident a few years ago....actually expressed and described to me!
7) Testosterone infighting on council for dominance!!!
8) Hatred and anger at not receiving some councillor's support for favourite projects and this is the payback.
9) Jealousy being expressed because some councillors are far more effective at getting things for their ward...and a need to get rid of this high achiever. Maybe council feels they all have to drop to the lowest common denominator!
10) Some council members want to go into semi-retirement and this is not possible under the demanding ward system.
11) Petty beefs and petty politics among council members.
12) Some members who have Mayoralty, Provincial or Federal ambitions want to test and promote their city-wide vote.
13) Some council members want their council work to be part-time and this is difficult under the ward system.
14) Probably any and all of the above
There are strange things done neath the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold...Many of these ideas seem strange to me but I have heard all of them from those close to the action.
Politics breeds strange bedfellows and oftentimes outlandish almost schizophrenic schemings. Believe Me!
It's unfortunate that some politicians will put the city in turmoil simply to satisfy their childish and churlish agendas...all at the expense of Oshawa's health.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Council Blocks Citizen Input and Comment
This, despite the fact that council failed to provide any public information, a rationale for raising the issue, or background on the issue to the public catching voters “cold” in the voting booth where they were considering the question for the first time. Voters were also confronted by a council gerrymandered question that was continually revised so that voters had to vote “NO” to preserve the ward system that had been used in Oshawa for over 20 years. The information that the Council failed to provide is a basic necessity of an informed electorate which is the very foundation of a democracy.
If democracy is so important to this council, I would ask why they have policies and practices to block any public input and comment on important issues coming before council.
At the Council Meeting of February 5th, council considered a staff report that suggested that council could change to a general vote without fear of appeal to the OMB for a sober second thought as long as they retained the present ward boundaries.
Council adapted this position simply to avoid appeal to the OMB.
This was an important issue that deserved public comment and input. To be heard at Council, it was required that delegations that wanted to express opinions to council on the issue would have had to request to speak on the issue prior to City Hall offices closing by Wednesday, January 31. No one knew that this issue was going to come before Council however until the agenda was made public after City Hall offices closed on Friday, February 2.
How can a council that holds up Democracy as a virtue then have policies that absolutely thwart public input so voters cannot express their opposition to council at their meetings?
With Council’s practice of stifling public opposition to their self-serving attempts to return to the devastation of a general vote in Oshawa, I fear that the public meeting to be held to consider the bylaw to return Oshawa to the general vote will be a sham meeting. How can it be otherwise to a Council that has already made up its mind on this matter?
The public meeting will be an exercise in futility on the part of concerned citizens.
Democracy is only a word for Oshawa Council; it is not a practice!
Friday, February 23, 2007
Here's The VOTES Election Strategy
We believe we elect politicians to serve us…not themselves.
In the unlikely event of a general vote, we will form a political party whose prime objective will be returning to Ward voting and to defeat politicians responsible for the change as the only purpose of the general vote is to guarantee election and the exorbitant salaries, expense allowances, honoraria and perks to the incumbents until they die or retire.
In a general vote election, politicians will not be able to hide behind our lack of daily press in Oshawa or expensive campaign financing of the Development Industry and others who contribute to their campaigns.
Politicians are also looking to hide behind inadequate public knowledge of their voting records.
To insure an informed public, we shall continue to publish this blog throughout this term of council and expect it to grow to be the prime political news source with an ever expanding readership. We intend to keep the public informed.
We also intend to field a slate of candidates all of whom will be determined to return ward elections to Oshawa. We may invite some present council members who have proven to be firm supporters of ward elections to run under our banner. We will be inviting requests from prospective candidates from the public to join our movement. Interviews will be conducted to select appropriate candidates from across the city.
The plan is to pool our financial election resources and run a common advertising campaign, colour coded election signs, and common election brochures. We shall develop an election platform and invite voters to support our common platform. We are working on developing election strategies to allow the public to easily recognize and identify our candidates on the election ballot.
While we support Mayor Gray’s leadership on most issues in Oshawa, we are not supportive of his votes to implement the general vote despite his statement that he believes ward voting to be best for Oshawa. Oshawa people expect our politicians to vote for what they know to be best for Oshawa and feel voting otherwise is a sellout to the trust we placed in them with our votes. The only vote we expect and can support from our politicians is to do what they believe is right and best for Oshawa…despite any other variables that might intervene. Otherwise, Oshawa’s long-term health is at risk.
In recognition that the Mayor’s race is the most effective way to get our message out during the election campaign, we shall run our chief spokesperson against the Mayor. This is the only race that is guaranteed significant press and exposure at public meetings where the public “face-time” will allow us opportunity to get significant exposure for our message about the injustice of a return to the general vote. We will also publicly concentrate on naming the supporters of the change that we want to defeat in these public forums to undermine their vote.
In the Mayor’s race, we shall work on the significant public anger the unwieldy general vote ballot will arouse and channel that energy behind our candidates and against the politicians who voted to revert to the general vote.
We are very serious about this. We will not let Oshawa die with a return to the General Vote.
Oshawa---you have never seen a campaign like this in the history of Canadian Municipal Politics.
As Oshawa’s motto goes---“Prepare to be amazed!”
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Why Would Council Risk Losing Integrity?
The public then might ask the question, if no knowledgeable person would ever suggest reverting from ward elections to the general vote, why would politicians risk their integrity in making this move to a form of municipal elections that is virtually unused in Canada, a form of local government that is acknowledged by all experts as being inferior?
The answer is the “big bucks” politicians are being paid these days and the recently introduced four year term.
Under the general vote, politicians cannot be defeated in elections and so the system insures their continued re-election until their death or resignation. This was the history of the general vote in Oshawa prior to the introduction of ward voting in 1985.
With the 4 year term, and city council member's REGIONAL COUNCIL pay, their LOCAL COUNCIL pay, auto allowance from both the CITY and the REGION, expense allowance from the CITY and the REGION, benefits packages, pension, severance pay from the CITY and REGION upon their defeat, CITY and REGION charge cards, CITY and REGION office expense budgets, and other perks including their blackberrys, entertainment expense, use of for city box at GM Place including free inside parking, travel costs to international conferences or to “represent” CITY or REGION at destinations of their choosing, etc. approaching half a million dollars, it is little wonder that the politicians want to move to a system that insures them a lifetime seat.
Oh Yeah!....almost forgot hidden HONORARIUMS for non-jobs like city or regional committee chairmanships, vice-chairmanships, etc. and being city/regional rep on some organizations like CLOCA, etc. because it's a huge responsibility to chair a meeting from a staff prepared agenda.
Remember, all of the salaries are 1/3 tax free and the expense allowances and honorariums are non-taxable and not public so that politicians neither pay taxes nor are accountable to the public for all of these “extras” that "disguise" and "balloon" the huge monetary rewards they are reaping.
Big bucks are involved. Big bucks indeed! Big, big bucks! Big bucks are involved and they keep double/triple/quadruple dipping into the taxpayer pot…they’re like pigs fattening up at the feed trough!
Since no reasonable explanation has ever been offered why the question was brought up in council to be placed as a referendum question in the last election and there was not a whimper of expressed satisfaction from voters to want a change, we can only assume that the whole question was self-serving for the politicians IN GUARANTEEING THEIR CONTINUED FEEDING AT THE PUBLIC TROUGH.
The "huge financial rewards" provide politicians with big motivation in serving themselves first rather than providing good democratic government for this city.
With the 4 year term, and salaries, benefits, expense allowances, and honorariums approaching half a million dollars, it is little wonder that the politicians would risk their integrity by wanting to change to a system that insures them a lifetime seat.
There’s no “nickel and dime-ing” the public…rather it’s $1000 here, $1500 there, and $2000 there…all hard to trace and pin down…and understandably the politicians are not commenting on all of these “extras” that take their salaries and tax free allowances to the moon. Even their blackberries don’t sound like much…but at $150 per month, that’s $1800 of tax money for each of the 11 members of council yearly…it all adds up to the $500,000 of financial benefit councillor’s will receive over their four year term…if they don’t vote themselves more money and benefits!
So Oshawa voters would have to ask themselves again, why would Oshawa politicians want to move to a system that is virtually unused in the country. The answer…political greed! The huge financial benefits are pushing politicians to serve themselves…rather than the people who elected them.
There is still time to stop this lunacy of council if enough people write to the mayor and council demanding the retention of the Ward System, the system that serves the people and not the politicians.
The address for your letters addressed to the Mayor and Council is found in the right sidebar or is highlighted below. Simply click on the address firstname.lastname@example.org and your email “send box” should come up so you can easily write and send your message.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
A Note From A Concerned Citizen
I've just had a look at your web site. It's certainly very colourful and informative. I like the ward system and want to keep it that way.
I was led to believe that council has now voted to get rid of the wards based on the vote last November and that this is basically a done deal.
Is this correct?
I am troubled that the councillors who voted to have the referendum in the first place now back track against having had the vote? They just don't make any sense; they got us into this mess.
My councillor is now John Henry in Ward 5. What is doing about this? Do you know anything about him? Is he doing a good job? I know all about my other councillor (Louise Parkes) already and hoped this new man would be good for our ward. I'll wait to hear your opinion.
Can we really put a stop to this?
Thank you for your work.
E.R.---identify confidential as we do not as yet have permission to publish the name.
VOTES RESPONSE TO CITIZEN LETTER ABOVE
Dear Ms E.R.
Thank you for your interest in the Oshawa ward/general vote issue.
The two council members you quote both have voted against retention of ward voting in every motion having to do with the issue that has come before council. While Nester Pidwerbecki and Joe Kolodzie are the prime movers, both Louise Parkes and John Henry have voted with these two on every motion supporting the general vote such that I now call them "The Gang of Four"---the solid foursome that have their minds made up in an unthinking and unwavering way on all motions or suggestions having to do with supporting a move to the general vote. We hope to launch a public campaign in the next election to remove all 4 from office and are at present keeping an open mind on some other councillors that we hope will come to their senses and support ward voting. But the "Gang of Four" seem to be a lost cause--so fixed are they in their thinking!
Both Councillor's Parkes and Henry have said that they believe that ward voting is best for Oshawa but are continuing to support the referendum result in the interests of democracy, they say. They realize “by design” council didn’t circulate any public information justifying the change, no information as to what the change would mean, and caught voters “blind” in the voting booth where they were confronting the question for the first time. Parkes and Henry also know that council met a number of times gerrymandering the referendum question until they got "just the right question" to produce the desired result. They also designed the question so that voters would have to vote “NO” to retain the present system. Democracy…now that’s a laugh! Parkes and Henry should look up the meaning of the word!
No matter what other variables come into play, we DO NOT and NEVER WILL support politicians who publicly admit that they are voting against their better judgment...that they are voting to support something they know to be wrong. This is not the responsible, honest, and principled leadership we expect from our politicians. If they know something to be WRONG for Oshawa, there is only ONE WAY TO VOTE! Oshawa's future health depends on this!
It is true that council has voted to support drafting of a bylaw that would revert to the general vote at the same time as keeping the ward organization in the city. They have supported this approach to avoid any OMB appeal that would result in a sober second look at the situation to see in fact if there was any reason to change from the ward to general vote and if it was in the interests of Oshawa.
The OMB states that any change would have to be made on evidence of voter dissatisfaction on a large and fully informed scale and/or evidence of inefficiency with the existing system. Neither of these conditions existed in Oshawa under ward voting and the idea for change was brought up solely by the politicians without a whimper of public dissatisfaction with ward voting. Politicians brought the idea up out of self-interests...not in the interests of a healthy Oshawa. The General vote is self-serving for politicians in insuring them a lifetime seat on council without any serious competition.
Experience with the general vote in Oshawa prior to 1985 demonstrated that politicians simply could not be defeated under the general vote. Therefore all change on council took place through death or resignation on a rapidly aging council. The general vote serves the politicians but not the people. In the absence of any other explanation offered by council, that seems to be the sole rationale for introducing the change.
Under ward voting, Oshawa had become the fastest growing place in the GTA, had developed new recreation centers and libraries throughout the city, and had attracted large inventories of high-level housing reflecting the vibrant and desirable place Oshawa had become. There was no need to change from a voting system when so much positive growth was happening here.
Despite council's attempts to thwart any appeal to the OMB, we are continuing to press forward and are presently developing three different grounds for an OMB appeal and are confident of getting a hearing. At such a hearing, we believe that preservation of Oshawa's ward voting system will be a "slam dunk" as no rational person can justify reverting Oshawa to the general vote. When making the decision, the OMB only considers what is best for Oshawa, not what is best for the politicians.
In the meantime, you and your neighbors can help by emailing your viewpoint to Councillors Parkes and Henry, talk to your neighbors and ward friends about them, and start a local petition to retain ward voting. These petitions could be sent to Bill Longworth @ 159 Spirea Court, Oshawa, L1G 6S8 and will be presented both to council and to the OMB at any hearing called to examine the question. All of the necessary email addresses are found on the right sidebar of the oshawaspeaks.ca website.
Thanks so much for writing and, once again, thank you for your interest.
VOTES Chairman (VOte To Eliminate Self-serving politicians)
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword
Without ward voting, there is no politician accountable to you and your neighbours. There is no politician that is responsible to solve problems in your community.
All Oshawa citizens who WANT CONTINUED NEIGHBOURHOOD REPRESENTATION on city council must get involved in helping to retain ward voting which is used in virtually every community in Canada.
How can you help? Besides letter writing to the politicians and the press, you can pass on the www.oshawaspeaks.ca web address to all of your Oshawa Contacts and encourage them to read the site to become familiar with the issue. Everyone must become aware, concerned and active in regard to this issue.
You can also collect names on a petition demanding the retention of ward voting. The strongest petitions are small independent ones where residents write up their own wording and get their neighbours and friends to sign it. All petitios require is an opening statement something like, "We the undersigned demand that Oshawa City Council retain Ward Voting to ensure that our neighbourhoods are represented on City Council" or any other wording of your choice. Following, there should be a place for people to sign their name and provide their address. These petitions should be sent to the attention of Bill Longworth at 159 Spirea Court, Oshawa, L1G 6S8
While you are getting your neighbours to sign your petition, you will get a chance to explain ward voting vs. the general vote and encourage your neighbours to start their own petition. You will also get a chance to name the politicians who are leading the charge to the general vote. These at present are Councillors Pidwerbecki, Kolodzie, Parkes, and Henry. We are keeping an eye on the voting record of others and may add to this list at a later date. The voting record of these politicians indicates that they are more interested in looking after their own electoral interests rather than providing good leadership for the citizens of this city. We have to take these politicians out in the next election.
We have to get serious about this if we are not going to allow politicians to take us in a huge backward step for Oshawa by returning us to the electoral system which serves the politicians by virtually insuring them a life-long seat on council but which does not serve the city or its people.
One cannot expect Oshawa to remain the progressive place it is today if we return to the general vote which proved disastrous for Oshawa when we had it prior to 1985. At that time, the only change in city council politicians was through death or resignation and all of the representation came from a few richer areas of Oshawa’s North End. The south end of Oshawa had not been represented on council in living memory. Because politicians were less accountable to the people, they provided little in the way of leadership for Oshawa...and no service to the people by way of working to solve your local neighbourhood problems and concerns. Because no one was responsible to you by virtue of being elected by your community, there was no politician your neighbourhood could call to listen to your concerns.
Inaction and passivity will not solve the problem. We need active involvement of all who care about Oshawa and who want to retain it as a vibrant place, the fastest growing region in the GTA, a place that has developed vibrant recreation centers and libraries for the citizens in all sections of Oshawa, a place that is becoming an attractive place to live. All of this will be lost if we get a general vote council where politicians replace service to the community required under a ward system with the promotion of their name recognition which is necessary under the general vote. Under that system, city council becomes a contentious place where nothing happens as politicians are too busy bitching, complaining, backbiting, and fighting in an effort to grab the press and promote their name recognition. When a council member comes up with a good idea, it will not gain support of council as no member of council will want to give his council competitors credit (and press) for coming up with a good idea.
Let’s get serious about this! We need your actions and your energies now.
As Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing”.
We need you to collect petitions and send them to us now.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
The School Yard Bully at Work
It has all of the elements of life…the aggressive bully powering to get everyone to fall into line, the bullied, the silent, the followers, the obedient, the young guy trying hard to warm up to “the boss”, and the strong who cannot be bullied. This could make top rated “reality television” and you can watch this stuff regularly on the Rogers Cable coverage of Oshawa City Council.
We’ve all seen the bully in action----attack, overpower, beat down! Maybe not the brightest in presenting ideas but his personal attacks intimidate and browbeat the people into line, too timid to jump into the fray lest they get in the line of fire, too frightened of being targeted for personal attacks to express any opposition to the bully--even afraid to do what they know to be right if it doesn’t have the bully’s backing.
Maybe the frightened are those less verbally able to express their ideas or to defend themselves.
The bully attacks the person with competing ideas, he never debates the ideas. Ontario’s Safe Schools Policies would dictate that he would be pulled into the principal’s office these days and suspended from school if he didn’t clean up his act.
See if you can identify the different characters playing the various roles.
The bold comments are the writer’s who will play the role of the TV moderator…you know--the guy you never see but who fills in the extra details.
So here is the actual transcript of part of the meeting.
Councillor Nicholson seconded by Councillor Neal--I’d like to move that council provide a written notice to each household within the city of Oshawa with the date and time of the public meeting to be called on this issue and that no further action be taken on the issue until following the public meeting
Councillor Kolodzie---Would Councillor Nicholson mind repeating his motion
Councillor Nicholson---That city council provide a written notice of the public meeting to each household in the city of Oshawa and that no further action be taken on this issue until after the public meeting
Councillor Kolodzie---I won’t support it…
Note no reason has been given. On a later Nicholson Motion, Kolodzie said, “I’m not going to support any motions proposed by that member!” This is maturity isn’t it? The guy says he’s not going to support motions even before he hears them. Is this the kind of person we’ve elected in Oshawa?
Mayor Gray---You won’t support it
Councillor Kolodzie—Just telling you…he’s spinning again
Councillor Nicholson---Can I speak to my motion?
Mayor Gray—Councillor Nicholson, you have the floor
Councillor Nicholson---You know we just said we were going to call a public meeting…now we don’t want to tell anyone about it…I have no idea on the thought process on that….we want to hear what people have to say ..The public will say at the public meeting so obviously the second part that we take no action until after the public meeting is in order…and all I’m suggesting, staff gave us a list of options…to go out there to get the information before…household. The only option that guarantees that every household within the city of Oshawa gets notice of the meeting is to provide them with a notice of the meeting…and that can be done through postal walk, its not expensive…my god, it’s probably cheaper than putting 4 or 5 ads in papers and things like that that only some people will see…somebody may miss it if they don’t see the right page –they will not get the right day and then we get people arguing to us later on, well I didn’t see the paper therefore this meeting’s no good…you can’t argue pro or con to this issue if you get a notice …if we’re going to have a public meeting then we send out one notice to every household in the city…you know, that’s all we have to do…we’re not taking sides on the issue, we’re just telling them when the meetings going to occur, what its on, where its at, time it begins, and encourage them to show up…now what’s so hard about that? But I can tell you if you do anything but that, you just raise the spectre of someone saying I didn’t see the ad or I didn’t hear the radio ad or I didn’t get the PUC bill cause some people don’t get PUC bills, you know some people get it sent to other addresses…what are you afraid of? You know you say you’re required by statute to tell them about a public meeting, so tell them..Can’t be that hard…and I still believe it’s probably the most cost effective and the most effective way of doing it and I think most members of council know that because that’s what they do during the elections to get their own message out…so if we’re serious about getting it out there, tell them.
Mayor Gray---Are there any speakers?
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Am I next? Are we not going to be debating I guess till the wee hours how we’re going to send the information out with regard to the meeting…I think it’s here, is it not?
Mayor Gray---we’re dealing with the report right now…and Councillor Nicholson pulled the item and moved that we use the method of doing a postal walk
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Now I think….Is that just on that issue? I need clarification here because I’m a little bit astounded at the statement that we send out the notification to everybody, every householder, every voter, and that nobody is to inform anybody about anything until that meeting and at that meeting. Does that mean then that the city has no more…we don’t do any more advertising, we don’t do anything else, we don’t go in the paper, we don’t go on the radio
Mayor Gray---That wasn’t the motion, but…
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Well I want clarification because his motion says we do nothing further than do that…and I want clarification
Mayor Gray---From my perspective, I don’t think any of us should…could have an issue with that…unless you’re planning to try to do the bylaw before the public meeting…so basically all you’re just saying is we won’t do anything
Councillor Pidwerbecki—(interrupting)…we can’t, we can’t, (LOUDER), “BY LAW WE CAN’T DO IT!”
Mayor Gray---So that just…
Councillor Pidwerbecki---(interrupting) You know I just heard Councilor Nicholson say…
Mayor Gray---Could you just let me answer your question?
Mayor Gray---So basically even though he’s thrown the words in there they’re not threatening because you’re not planning to do anything till after the public meeting…that’s when you can take action
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Are you finished Mr. Mayor?
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Can I speak?
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Thank you. But what he’s saying is he wants this done so that we don’t pass the bylaw…once again the Municipal Act is very specific…you will hold a public meeting before passing a bylaw…now what is this all about? Really! Come on! The spin is getting out of hand here. Don’t you think?
Mayor Gray---None of us need to take exception to that wording
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Well I take exception
Mayor Gray---It’s not threatening
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Well I take exception to the statement that he has made that he wants to be sure that a fast one isn’t pulled …that we don’t pass the bylaw
Mayor Gray---We can’t
Mayor Gray---We can’t
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Come on
Mayor Gray---That’s why…
Councillor Pidwerbecki---(Interrupting)---So what’s the spin all about…the deputy mayor keeps coming up…about three or four times….
Mayor Gray---It behooves all of us to stay a little bit on the calm side
Mayor Gray---The fact is…we can’t …
Mayor Gray---The fact is we can’t do anything until after there’s a public meeting. One way or the other…so I mean those are just extra words, flowers up the language of the motion
Councillor Pidwerbecki---(Interrupting)---Just spins it around…I’m tired of the spin all the time
Mayor Gray---We can’t do a thing
Councillor Pidwerbecki---(Interrupting)---Are we not tired of the spin?
Mayor Gray---But what’s it done is it got your dander up and it didn’t need to
Councillor Pidwerbecki---No it’s making me laugh because we’re putting up with the same CRAP we’ve been putting up with all along, spin, spin…
Mayor Gray---Now why we don’t just….
Councillor Pidwerbecki---does this also
Mayor Gray---starts to speak…
Councillor Pidwerbecki---(Loud)---I had the floor…You allowed me to speak Mr. Mayor, I think
Mayor Gray…But I’m just trying to urge some calm….
Councillor Pidwerbecki---(interrupting)---Okay so let me ask you this…let me put through you Mr. Mayor, does this mean that once we put the ads out. Once we send out whatever notification to each householder, to each voter nobody is to do anything until the meeting and that means on your blog, no blogs, nothing on the inter… you can’t go out and do anything in your own ward , you will not do anything until that meeting. …am I understanding this correctly or are we getting set up here again?
Mayor Gray---No that’s not what I took from that motion
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Well can I have clarification from the mover?
Mayor Gray---that’s why I…
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Can I have clarification from the mover?
Mayor Gray---Let me just explain to you what I took from that motion.
Councillor Pidwerbecki---I’d like to hear it from the mover…..Mr. Chairman….
Mayor Gray---Well I’d just like to give it to you so I can give it in a…you know, from the chair’s perspective. We’re going to go out and hold a public meeting, the notification will be done through a postal walk, so there’ll just be a notice going to every household, and that he threw in the extra language “that no further action be taken on this issue”…we can’t as a city take any action on the issue until…till you have the public meeting. That’s why you don’t need to get upset about the language. Councillor Nicholson didn’t even need to put that in the motion, I agree with you,
Mayor Gray---But it’s not something we need to argue about. We don’t need to argue about it
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Mr. Mayor, I get very suspicious when a certain councillor puts those kinds of words in there…the hair stands up on the back of my neck…because something…something is going to happen here that we’re not too sure about
Mayor Gray---Just to do that for you…so let’s just stay calm here
Councillor Pidwerbecki---I haven’t had my question answered…does that mean there’s no more blogging, there’s no more going on the computer and putting out one sided issues to the public…is that what we’re talking about here
Mayor Gray---You can set up the Nester Pidwerbecki blog and I look forward to it….knowing what your computer skills are, I do look forward to it
Councillor Pidwerbecki---Mr. Mayor…I don’t have the time to confuse the public on those blogs, I’m sorry. Some people seem to have too much time on their hands for that anyway…thank you
Mayor Gray---Are there any further speakers?
Councillor Henry---Mr. Mayor…Through you to the clerks office…what would the cost for a postal walk to the entire city of Oshawa be?
City Clerk---according to the information that we received, a postal walk would be $5000 to print the flyers and another $4700 to distribute
Sounds a little inflated…At the same meeting Council received reports re production and distribution by Canada Post to every household of an 8 page 11X16 full colour brochure, “Inside Oshawa” with photographs, graphic illustrations and budget information on 60 lb. paper---$16,000 quoted in staff report---The notification brochure for the ward/general vote bylaw will be a simple flyer devoid of info except for purpose, date, time, place as politicians don’t want to provide any rationale, background, need, description, etc. of the change or what it means. They still want to keep the public in the dark. Again…a bias is shown for changing to the general vote by quoting inflated costing figures.
Also a report was received showing estimated Oshawa ad cost expenditures for 2007 as $236,000 (Oshawa This Week and Oshawa Express, $150,000, Durham Radio, $10,000, TV, $61,000, Other $15,000…Oshawa This Week ads cost taxpayers $109,500 in 2006 or about $9125 monthly…so $10,000 is small potatoes! And the issue is the most important Oshawa Council will face this term!
Councillor Henry---$10000…I’ve never made a motion or added something on the floor so I’m rather excited about this. I don’t believe that this should be a city expense so I’d like to amend the motion that it’s paid for out of the councillor’s expense salary
Does this make sense that Councillors should use their own office expense budgets to inform the public about this important issue.
Mayor Gray---This is a city wide issue
Councillor Henry---So if the councilors are absolutely serious about sending information to the residents of the city then they should pay for it out of their own councillor’s budgets. I’m absolutely serious about this…I don’t think the city should pick up the tab for something that we can’t control anyways. So if the councilors are absolutely serious about sending the information to the residents of the city then they should pay for it out of their own councillor’s budgets.
Does Councillor Henry also think that the “Inside Oshawa” publication should be distributed at the expense of Councillor’s office budgets. I wonder also if he thinks that the Councillor’s office budgets should fund the $10,000 monthly advertising budget to Oshawa This Week Newspapers. The Councillor should remember to put his mind in gear before his mouth. Methinks he tries too hard to please his other members of the “Gang of Four”---but this is one of the roles played in the bully schoolyard referred to in the opening paragraphs of this post.
Mayor Gray---Lost for a lack of a seconder
Amazing that none of his fellow “Gang of Four” saw fit to second this ludicrous proposal---but then this Councillor is on a learning curve.
Councillor Nicholson---Point of privilege Mr. Mayor…I’ve sat here and not insulted anybody and I know that Councillor Pidwerbecki ran against my brother in the last election and he’s upset and that’s understandable but I’ve listened here and I’ve not attacked Councillor Pidwerbecki in any motion and I’ve counted at least 8 times where he has personally insulted me, personally attacked my integrity, personally accused me of lying on this floor of Council, not just once…and I think the Council Rules should be read again to everybody that there is no rule where you can stand up and you can cast aspirations or accuse a member of Council of lying…now I’ve not accused him of anything tonight….not one thing…not even mentioned his name tonight and I think its time for Councillor Pidwerbecki and some others got past the last election…if they want to fight the next election, bring it on…Mr. Chairman, my motion was a simple motion. Council was asked in the report, I ask you to look at the report for two directions, how to advertise the meeting and whether or not it wanted to give it direction on whether to include the ward boundaries or not within the system. My motion deals with both of them. It suggests a method of election and my motion suggests that that decision be deferred until after the public meeting…that is all I moved in my motion…and the gentleman’s paranoia is getting the better of him tonight.
Mayor Gray---Well I think there’s been a level of rhetoric by a number of people and I actually can say sitting up here that some of your rhetoric was a little on the hot side too and so I think every body should just calm down…let’s get to the vote
City Clerk---Just a point of clarification if I may…Councilor Nicholson’s motion states no further action including whether it means no dissolution of wards as we know them…in order for council to have a bylaw available for the public meeting, to technically hold the meeting, we need to know council’s direction on that or else the bylaw cannot be developed.
The city could have alternative bylaws drafted to put to the public but mind is made up…but they are approving in principle a bylaw that will move to the general vote and keep the wards simply to avoid any public appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. They could have produced alternative bylaws a) to keep the election system as is with ward voting, b) to move to the general vote dissolving the ward organization so that a public appeal to the OMB for a sober second look would be possible, or c) a bylaw to move to the general vote but keep the wards organization so that no appeal to the OMB would be possible. Because Council's mind is made up, they voted to direct that a bylaw by drafted that would move to a General Vote but keep the existing wards...but not use them---all to avoid an appeal to the OMB. They have made up their minds on this issue and the public meeting is going to be a sham.
Mayor Gray---Thank you very much for that clarification Madam Clerk
Councillor Nicholson---I will withdraw the second part…we don’t have to deal with that tonight. I didn’t know that at the time I moved the motion
Mayor Gray---Can we get somebody to move that so we can satisfy the requirements by the clerk
Councillor Nicholson---What would you like it to say?
Mayor Gray---You have to provide clarification on the wards
Mayor Gray---Well I’ll take that first and then we’ll come to that…so we have a motion on the floor right now which deals with doing a postal walk, it gets printed up and distributed
Councillor Pidwerbecki---And that’s it.
Mayor Gray calls the vote---Those in support…those opposed…that’s carried!
Call for a recorded vote
Mayor Gray---Madam Clerk…a recorded vote
Councillor Parkes---Can I have clarification please? We typically place ads for public meetings in Oshawa This Week and Oshawa Express and I think those ads have value and people catch them. Sometimes, depending upon how a notice is folded in a postal walk and sometimes people don’t go to the postal boxes for a couple of weeks in the north end its not as effective an advertisement so I have a concern….so are we still going to do the ads in the newspaper in addition to the postal walk
Methinks Councillor Parkes is stretching too far for justification to not support providing information...she knows no system will guarantee everyone sees it but she also knows that a postal walk guarantees that more people will see it than read it in the newspaper as stuffed as they are with advertising flyers and rather slim on news. Ms. Parkes no doubt uses a postal walk to deliver her own election flyers and she knows full well it is the better way. When we stretch the truth too far to justify our locked-in positions, we lose credibility! It is ludicrous that she believes that the norm for people in the north end is to not check their mail boxes for weeks on end! Does she really believe this???
Mayor Gray---No. Because the motion if it’s carried would be that it would be a postal walk
Councillor Parkes---Well your worship, under those circumstances I cannot support it because ward six relies upon information from the paper…they wouldn’t necessarily get to their box
Recorded vote on Revised Motion:
Yes: Nicholson Neal, Cullen, Lutczyk, Marimpietri, Gray, Sholdra
NO: Parkes, Pidwerbecki, Henry, Kolodzie
Guess the “Gang of Four” didn’t really want to make sure a notice was delivered to every door. They favored newspapers which are really “carriers” of a “multitude” of advertising brochures which would overburden the chance of most people seeing the city ad. All of the “Gang of Four” found ways to speak against distributing notice of the time and date of the meeting to all residences by postal walk.
Well dear reader…did you identify the different role players. The bully who beats people into submission, the followers, the strong who cannot be bullied, the weak trying to befriend the bully, etc. It’s not too hard is it? It’s too bad that the bully shouts out, “Are you calling the people dumb,” when anyone questions the referendum result and the convoluted question. The people are not dumb…but they were certainly not informed…and council failed the people on this important issue.
If you asked me a question about a multitude of things that would seem ludicrously simple to some people, “Is the Robertson screwdriver the one with the square head, yes or no, my answer would be as likely to be right as wrong as I haven’t been informed or I'm not interested…but don’t call me stupid…call me uninformed! Just like the people were uninformed on the meaning of the different electoral systems and were further confused with the way the question was worded…they had to vote NO to maintain the ward system. But this is the way Council designed the question so that it was likely to give them the result they wanted. Politicians are expert on politics and electoral systems knowing the advantages and impact of each. They know that the General Vote is a system that serves the politicians…not the people! They want to return to the General Vote because it guarantees them a lifetime seat on Council.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Receive Automatic Notice Of New Postings
Laying Down the Gauntlet!
c/o Oshawa City Clerk
cc: Letters to Editor, Oshawa This Week, Oshawa Express
We have indication that many members of City Council are regularly checking our website at www.oshawaspeaks.ca.
Saying as how Council members have given the public very little explanation for the way they have voted on the ward/general vote issue, we challenge them to provide the public with their rationale for including the plebescite question on the ballot and/or their rationale for their voting record on this issue. We think the public has the "right to know".
The public also has a right to know why Council has neglected and/or refused to provide any information describing the various systems and the benefits accruing from each so that the public could make informed decisions on this important governance issue.
Without all of this information, the escalating "revolution of ill-will" will continue to grow culminating in "outright anger" when voters are confronted with a "general vote" ballot of 50 or 60 names in the next election when it will be impossible to make an informed choice absolutely necessary for a healthy democracy.
We expect our city leaders to have solid, responsible, and explainable reasons for their votes on important issues...and the ward/general vote governance issue is the most important item that Council will address this term. It is so important for Oshawa's health that some jurisdictions where the same question has been addressed have called it the "most important issue for the next 50 years!"
We are especially interested in arguments that Council Members may have to state why they believe the general vote is better at serving the interests of Oshawa. Certainly if Council Members cannot justify the General Vote as being the "better way", and in the interests of the City of Oshawa, they should not be supporting the change, no matter what other variables arise on the issue. The only justification for supporting the change is that it is best for Oshawa. The future health and vibrancy of Oshawa is at stake here.
We pledge to publish any and all submissions from Council Members on oshawaspeaks.ca in entirety without revision to our rapidly growing readership. If Council prefers, we would also invite them to submit their items as Letters to the Editor, Oshawa This Week or Oshawa Express. I know these publications as well are eager to hear a rationale for your votes which, in the absence of explanation, does not seem to make a lot of sense.
After all, the public does have the right to know.
To insure that this invitation and challenge comes to the attention of all members of Council, I am sending it as a letter to the Mayor and Council so that it officially comes before Council and is acknowledged in the Council Minutes.
If no rationale is forthcoming from Council Members, we will know that they have none that will justify their positions outside of "self-interest" in insuring their permanent Council positions.
Politicians, or anyone wishing to respond to this challenge, can email their submission to me using the communication link near the top of the right sidebar on this site.
Founder & Chair of VOTES (Vote to Eliminate Self Serving Politicians)
Friday, February 16, 2007
Democracy--Lip Action Only!
For your information, attached are 2 recent letters sent to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and also to Oshawa This Week Letters to the Editor that analyzes and undermines the elementary argument that some councillors have made, "we have to accept the public will on the referendum if we accept their decision in electing us."
I would also request prior notice when any item concerning the ward/general vote issue is to be discussed at council and a standing request to address council "on short notice" regarding any and all of these items when City Hall guidelines make it impossible to meet the existing guidelines.
At the February 5th meeting of Council, for example, it was blatantly undemocratic to have an important item on the agenda whereby council was going to consider a staff report suggesting that council could adapt a general vote and avoid any appeal to the OMB as long as they maintained the existing wards. It was required that objectors to this strategy had to request to address council by Wednesday, January 31, 2007, even though this report was not made available to the public until after City Hall closed on Friday, February 2, 2007.
These timelines seem designed to stifle any public objection and public input to this important decision and thus is blatantly undemocratic...the principle that some councillors have flagged as the very reason why they supported the referendum result despite their best judgement that the ward system is best for Oshawa.
The referendum question was gerrymandered continually by the last city council until they got the "right" question...right because it would produce the desired result. There was nothing democratic in this. Also, Council kept the public in the dark regarding any rationale for the change and any benefits from the change to be accrued to Oshawa. Nothing democratic in that either. Democracy requires an informed public and council refused and continues to refuse to inform them. Those who claim "Democracy" should not keep the public in the dark. Those who claim "Democracy" should not continue to use the word while working to pull a "self serving fast-one" on the Oshawa public.
Council should become far more open and democratic. In the end, it will not "fool" the public about the manoeuvring on this ward/general vote issue to get the result that they wanted and make Oshawa "unique" in the country by becoming by far the largest city to adapt the general vote without also adapting a political party system as in Vancouver.
There is evidence already that if we have the general vote, a political party which will utilize a growing "Revolution of Public Ill-Will" will spring up to return ward voting to Oshawa and will utilize this negative public sentiment against the self serving actions of this council to remove those supporting a change to the general vote.
We are presently working on our organizational plans to "harness" the negative public energies that will be focussed on an impossible ballot in any General Vote containing the names of 50 or more candidates. In the event of ward voting, we will organize the wards defeat those who have proven they are more interested in their own council seats than in serving the interests of the city. In the event of a general vote, the city will be organized for the same purpose.
Founder & Chair of VOTES (Vote to Eliminate Self Serving Politicians)
159 Spirea Court,
905 579 3971
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Marimpietri Unduly Influenced by "Gang of Four"
The only thing that saved him so far...his vote to hear VOTES chair Bill Longworth at the Feb. 5, 2007 council meeting...one of his few positive votes regarding this issue so far.
At that meeting, Council tried to pull another "fast one" by "sneaking" in a staff report that suggested that Council could avoid an OMB appeal if they supported a move to the General Vote but at the same time kept the existing wards, a strategy they adopted later in the meeting.
This report became public after City Hall closed on Friday, February 2, and any request to speak in opposition to that report would have had to have been received by the city clerk by the previous Wednesday, January 31. Such are the "FAST-ONE TRICKS" being used by City Council to PULL THE WOOL OVER OUR EYES and SNEAK things in without public comment.
Realizing the unfairness of this undemocratic strategy, Councillor Nicholson made a presentation to Council quoting the timelines that made opposition comments impossible and so Councillor Neal moved, seconded by Councillor Nicholson, "That a delegation from Bill Longworth be heard." This was supported by Councillors Nicholson, Sholdra, Cullen, Lutczyk, Marimpietri, Neal, and Mayor Gray. The "Gang of Four", Councillors Parkes, Pidwerbecki, Kolodzie, and Henry were opposed...naturally!
Mr. Longworth made his presentation, the text of which appears in the February 6th post on this site, and we are working on posting the TV coverage of his presentation on this site.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Democracy is dead in Oshawa!
At the City Council Meeting on February 5, some very reasonable motions were proposed that would provide you with information and also a chance for greater input to the politicians regarding the present ward system for electing council members and the change they are proposing to the general vote. The "Conspiracy of Silence" continues. Council defeated all of these motions because they must want to keep this most important issue affecting the future of Oshawa a secret. They want to keep this most important issue that the council will face as silent as they can so they can continue pulling a “fast one” on you. They figure if they keep it a non-issue, that it’s unlikely the citizens will protest. If they can get this passed, it will guarantee their re-election until death or resignation without requiring them to perform any real service to the people.
What motions did they defeat?
Moved by Councillor Nicholson, seconded by Councillor Neal
“That a series of (rather than one) public meetings on the ward/general vote issue be held in each ward similar to those that occurred during the Strategic Plan Development Process.”
FOR A SERIES OF PUBLIC MEETINGS: Councillors Cullen, Lutczyk, Neal, Nicholson, Shouldra
AGAINST A SERIES OF PUBLIC MEETINGS: Councillors Henry, Kolodzie, Marimpietri, Parkes, Pidwerbecki, and Mayor Gray
Why limit public input and debate of this vitally important issue that will affect the future of Oshawa by disenfranchising voters in huge sections of the city, guarantee a stagnant council because no new ideas will come from new people on an aging council as politicians will either have to resign or die before they are replaced, and having unaccountable politicians who will get elected only on name recognition and not their service to the various communities of Oshawa. You’d think responsible politicians would want as much public input as possible on this vitally important question.
Moved by Councillor Nicholson, seconded by Councillor Neal
“That staff be directed to prepare an information brochure on the pros and cons of ward system versus central vote methods of election and that a copy of the brochure be circulated to each household in the City of Oshawa prior to any public meetings on this issue.”
THOSE WANTING AN INFORMATION BROCHURE PROVIDED: Councillors Cullen, Lutczyk, Neal, and Nicholson
THOSE NOT WANTING AN INFORMATION BROCHURE PROVIDED: Councillors Henry, Kolodzie, Marimpietri, Parkes, Pidwerbecki, Shouldra, Mayor Gray
Why does Council want to keep the citizens uninformed about this vital issue? Don’t they realize that the very essence of democracy is an informed public? They should have prepared an information brochure for distribution to all residents before the last municipal elections….but I guess they felt an informed public wouldn’t give them the result they wanted! Is Democracy dead on Oshawa City Council?
Moved by Councillor Nicholson, seconded by Councillor Cullen
“That the City Clerk provide written notice to each household in the City of Oshawa outlining the date and time of the public meeting concerning city-wide elections.”
FOR NOTICE OF TIME AND DATE OF PUBLIC MEETING: Councillors Cullen, Lutczyk, Marimpietri, Neal, Nicholson, Shouldra, Mayor Gray
AGAINST INFORMING PUBLIC OF TIME AND DATE OF PUBLIC MEETING: Councillors Henry, Kolodzie, Parkes, Pidwerbecki
This motion passed so at least residents will be informed of the time and date of the public meeting, but sorry...no information about the issue in this mailing. BUT LOOK AT THE DINOSAURS THAT DIDN’T WANT TO INSURE THE PUBLIC KNEW ABOUT THE PUBLIC MEETING---TALK ABOUT KEEPING THE PUBLIC IN THE DARK! You will note also that this “GANG OF FOUR” IS THE GROUP WE’VE TARGETTED FOR DEFEAT IN THE NEXT ELECTION. Now you can see why. Also cross reference this gang with those voting to defeat the other motions regarding the issue. They voted against every one! They do not deserve your support. They are more interested in their own agenda rather than the health and vibrancy of this city.
Moved by Councillor Parkes, Seconded by Councillor Kolodzie
“That ads be placed in Oshawa This Week and Oshawa Express outlining the date and time of the public meeting concerning city-wide elections.”
This is the lowest order of information. Now how many of you check these papers for this kind of announcement? While a few may, flyers sent to every residence as proposed in Motion 3 would be far more effective and would have a far greater chance of being seen. The provision of information about the issue is the most important aspect however but politicians voted against providing information. Why?
Why do we need the general vote when the ward system was working well without a whimper of public complaint?
Moved by Councillor Nicholson, seconded by Councillor Cullen
“That the by-law to be presented at the public meeting stand for a general vote election system and dissolution of ward boundaries”
For: Councillors Cullen, Lutczyk, Neal, Nicholson, Mayor Gray
Against: Councillors Henry, Kolodzie, Marimpietri, Parkes, Pidwerbecki, Sholdra
The information provided to councillors suggested that Council’s move to a general vote could not be appealed to the OMB as long as the wards were not dissolved. Those voting against the motion, “THE GANG OF FOUR + TWO” don’t want the impartial and objective Ontario Municipal Board to review the need for this change and council’s actions leading up to it. Perhaps they feel that if the OMB looks at the issue, they will also feel that Oshawa Council is pulling a “fast one” on the people and find the change unjustifiable by any case the city could present. The change just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever and is being done purely for politician’s personal and selfish self-interest. There can be no other reason!
Moved by Councillor Parkes, seconded by Councillor Henry
"That the bylaw to be presented at the public meeting stand for a general vote election system and retaining ward boundaries"
FOR: Councillors Henry, Kolodzie, Marimpietri, Parkes, Pidwerbecki, Sholdra, and Mayor Gray
AGAINST: Councillors Cullen, Lutczyk, Neal, Nicholson
The GANG OF FOUR + THREE want to insure that the bylaw is not appealed to the OMB for an impartial and objective “second look” to insure that the change is in the interests of Oshawa. They want Oshawa to be the largest city in Canada using this system without political parties like Vancouver. They want the area and number of people represented by each member of Oshawa Council to be twice the size of our Provincial and Federal Members of Parliament or three times the population size of the average federal riding in Canada. They believe that it is democratic that the bulk of city politicians come from a few of the richer areas of the city leaving most parts of the city without any representation. They believe that they deserve a lifetime seat on Council that is not at all dependent upon the leadership they give to the city. I have lost my belief and my trust in them! Those who want to serve themselves rather than the people of the city need to be turfed out of office…and I think voter anger will swell up to do just that!
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
We Need To Keep The Ward System In Oshawa
Seeking Clarification re OMB Appeals
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing,
Dear Minister Gerretson
In researching recent revisions to the 2001 Ontario Municipal Act, I note that permissive powers have been given to single-tier municipalities like Toronto and Ottawa to pass bylaws in respect of their governance structure. Such permitted changes I understand cannot be appealed to the OMB.
I do not see, however, a reference to this same authority being extended to cities like Oshawa that are principally governed by an upper tier regional government and thus I expect actions being taken by Oshawa City Council to revert from ward voting to a general vote could be appealed.
Would you be kind enough to have your officials provide clarification on this question, and if I am wrong, could you have them provide the source details.
Irrespective of the questions above, could your officials please provide me the current step-by-step OMB appeal process as there are at present two additional arguments for appeal beyond the permissive powers above that we are developing.
You and your officials may be interested in the site www.oshawaspeaks.ca where we are working to provide Oshawa Citizens with information on the ward vs. general vote question.
Feb. 13, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
YOU...Are Our Greatest Strength
The fight to save the Ward System is everyone's in Oshawa... Everyone must get involved to STOP the undemocratic push toward the General Vote. If the politicians behind a return to the General Vote are successful, we will all suffer. The entrenched council supporters of the General Vote seem to be Nester Pidwerbecki, Joe Kolodzie, John Henry, and Louise Parkes. At this time, we are targetting these individuals for defeat in the next election. They have to show a lot of change before we change our mind on them. We are keeping an open mind on some others even though they haven't yet shown the necessary democratic spirit for representative local government for Oshawa.
The only winners in a general vote are the politicians who want to guarantee themselves a lifetime seat on Council. Our organization will work against their self-interest over the term of council and into the next election. Oshawa needs politicians that want to serve the city, not themselves!
The ward system guarantees accountable politicians and assures citizens that they will work for us...not themselves!
Write letters addressed to the Mayor and Members of Council, the newspapers, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and demand an end to this self serving action of council.
Also pass on the address of this web site to all of your Oshawa Contacts. We have to get everyone active and involved to stop this undemocratic, irresponsible, and self-serving nonsense from Council!
A Reader's Comment---Campaign Street Litter & Overflowing Recycling Bins
Now, let's look at the averages. From using an average of 3 regional candidates per ward (22 in total) and 5 local candidates per ward. Instead of receiving propaganda from the 3 mayoral candidates, 3 Regional candidates, and 5 Local Candidates, we will NOW receive material from the 3 Mayoral Candidates, as well as ALL FOURTEEN Local Candidates, and ALL TWENTY-TWO, yes, that's right, ALL TWENTY-TWO Regional Candidates!
So, that means that you, the people of Oshawa, will have to make your choices, based on seeing a few flyers from THIRTY-NINE DIFFERENT CANDIDATES IN THE ELECTION!!!
Why is it that there are some out there that ACTUALLY believe this is better? Ironically enough, their reasons are simple and selfish.
They know that there are certain entrenched politicians in this city, that THEY HAVE A PERSONAL AGENDA AGAINST.
Now, they choose to ignore the fact that they cannot vote for nor against that person or persons, because they do not live in the wards in question, so they think the only way to get these people out is to make them run city wide, instead of having them focus on wards.
What they FAIL TO REALIZE (shockingly), is that the reasons that they dislike these people, are because these particular politicians, are doing EXACTLY WHAT IT IS THAT THEIR CONSTITUENTS HAVE ELECTED THEM TO DO!
Realistically, the day that ANY of these politicians FAIL to represent the people of their ward in the manner that is expected, they find themselves unemployed. It happens to them all! So, why is the change from Ward System to General Vote needed?
In fact, what everyone seems to be missing, is that Oshawa OVERWHELMINGLY supported the Ward system when it was first introduced in the 1980's, and as such, WHY WAS IT EVEN BROUGHT UP IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Bob Graham, Oshawa
Comment from Bill Longworth...as explained in an earlier post, the chances of a small group defeating an incumbent politician under the general vote is negligible. A group of 200 people make very little difference in a general vote of 20000 which is a ballpark figure that the winning candidates may require. On the other hand, a group of 50 or so have a far larger impact in a ward vote of 3500 votes that the winning candidate may get. Quite apart from this, however, is the fact that ward voters will get to know a candidate far better than the city wide population and will probably be in a far better position to judge the worth of the candidate and defeat him/her if they are not worthy of support. A far more difficult problem is that politicians will do what is required to get elected. If it is service to the people required under ward voting, then they will provide this. If it is "growing" their name profile across the city, they will concentrate on this rather than providing service to the city and its people. Under the general vote, as well, because all politicians are competitive with each other, they are reluctant to acknowledge and support good ideas arising from their peers on council. Therefore, we lose on two counts...1) no one to troubleshoot, investigate, and provide service to little ward problems, and 2) no real political leadership coming from council which stagnates into "name recognition" contests. Both of these problems have very serious consequences for growing Oshawa as a desirable and vibrant place to live. If Oshawa once again becomes an undesirable place because nothing happens here as occurred under our general vote councils prior to 1985, all homeowners will suffer with decreased property values. It will hurt us all!
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Conspiracy of Silence
City Council failed to provide any reasonable information regarding the plebescite questions catching voters “cold” in the voting booth where they were confronted with the plebescite questions they had neither considered nor thought about. This was by design of council. I suggested information flyers be prepared and sent to all Oshawa households but council failed to acknowledge this suggestion or act on it.
Neither have they ever given us any rationale why the plebescite question would be on the ballot.
At last Monday’s council meeting, council defeated motions calling for information flyers to be distributed to all households and then decided only to publish the date of a public meeting to be called to get public “input” into the question. I fear this public meeting is a “sham” though as politicians have already decided that they will switch to a general vote but keep the wards intact so as to avoid an independent OMB inquiry into the change. The city solicitor has been quoted that, “it is a done deal,” as has Nestor Pidwerbecki who is working behind the scenes to solicit council support. Some council members have stated that the ward system is best for Oshawa but that they will vote to support the plebescite in which they kept the citizens in the dark. Hardly democratic!
When the city manager was asked by Mayor Gray if it was possible to prepare an information flyer on this question for the public, he responded, “We couldn’t get it right!” Does he mean that there is no way to prepare an honest and objective brochure at the same time as satisfying council’s earnest desire for a general vote to protect their lifetime seats on Council without serious threats of defeat?
Changing to the general vote is purely a political question with no logical reason to change and no positive benefits to be achieved. In fact, the general vote will have a severe negative effect on Oshawa’s future, even affecting the value of real estate here as vibrant and accountable leadership vanishes from this city.
Because of the political nature of the question, as the city manager suggested, responsible and professional staff certainly could not produce a flyer satisfactory to their masters, the politicians, since they know also that politicians want the general vote, and there is no other reason to change.
The city manager could have suggested a flyer be produced by political science consultants or professors expert in municipal government who could write the brochure expressing the pros and cons of each system. These experts are independent of staff and not accountable to the politicians but the city manager would realize that this would not get the support of council.
Council certainly uses communication experts for their other publications…why not for this one? Of course, city politicians would want none of this…if there is a message getting out, they want to control its content! And a change to the general vote cannot be supported by any honest logic other than to protect Councillors from serious competition at election times. Realizing this, one alderman under Oshawa's old general vote used to holiday in Florida during election campaigns and still got re-elected. She realized that virtually all change in council took place through death or resignation and she was on Council until one of these events occurred.
Politician’s also expressed the question in such a way that the “yes” vote that the majority of people would naturally give resulted in a change to the general vote. People would have to vote “no” on the convoluted question to preserve the present system. The politicians revised the question a number of times until they got what they considered the “right” question. Right because it would produce the desired result. They operated on the principle of knowing what result they wanted and then phrasing the question to solicit this result. And then in the interests of democracy (they say), insist on voting to uphold the plebescite result despite statements they think ward voting is best for Oshawa.
Oshawa voters have been misled about why the question was worded the way it was. Mayor Gray has explained that council was informed according to the municipal act, they needed a question with a “yes” answer if it was going to result in change. This rationale says if you want change, word the question so that a yes response describes what you want. In point of fact, Guelph also put the ward/general vote question on their ballot but the question was "Are you in favour of retaining the current ward system as the method of electing city councillors?" This was the way Oshawa voters were told the question could not be phrased. Why are we being misled? The Guelph question in all probability would have resulted in keeping the ward system in Oshawa, a result the politicians didn’t want.
If Oshawa Council proceeds to the general vote, it will be necessary for political parties similar to Vancouver's to be formed so that voting makes sense to the people so they know what promises have been attached to their votes. They will vote for a political party platform by choosing the slate of that political party. There is evidence of such organizational efforts already in Oshawa.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Here You Go Oshawa…Here’s Your General Vote Ballot
FOR MAYOR---SELECT ONE
Alexander William KEMP
FOR LOCAL COUNCIL ONLY---SELECT UP TO THREE
John C. BURNS
Louise V. PARKES
FOR LOCAL AND REGIONAL COUNCIL---SELECT UP TO SEVEN
Mary Jo CUNHA
TRUSTEE, DURHAM REGION SCHOOL BOARD---SELECT UP TO THREE
David C. CONWAY
Margo E. HAWKINS
Kathleen Ann HOPPER
Does this make sense to you? We have to turn around Council’s ludicrous move to implement a general vote….just to insure their lifetime seats on council. That is the only reason why this move is being put forward. Voters are more likely to select names they've heard of, the members of council, whose names are regularly in the press. That is why politicians will argue, backbite, bitch, and bicker to get the press to "grow" their name recognition. As every council member is a competitor for votes under the "at-large" general vote, they will be reluctant to support council peers with good ideas that is likely to provide them press. The result? Council stagnates into a "do-nothing" government as happened under Oshawa's past with the General Vote prior to 1985. We can't let Council turn back the hands of time to the devastation of a General Vote.
If you demand a stop to this council "self-serving" nonsense, then write the mayor and council and tell them so. The link is on the right sidebar and any letter addressed to the mayor and council has to be accepted by council and appears in the official minutes of Oshawa City Council. Letters to individual members are unofficial and can be disposed of with no record of your concern.
We need a system that serves the city and its people, not the politicians!
Friday, February 9, 2007
Recent Letters Received...Published with Permission
We did not know we were going to be voting on this to begin with.
Knowing you only get about 25% turnout for elections of any kind, why would such an important question be asked in the first place?
We all get tax bills so why not include it in that and then it gets to EVERYONE.
Also the wording of the questions were not clear. Both my husband and I are University educated and I answered wrong by mistake. My mother at the age of 85 wanted to cast her vote for councilors but had no idea of what was being asked in the questions so she just didn't answer.
I am having problems with vandalism in my area and am having difficulty getting help from my WARD councilors as it is now, so what hope do I have with no ward system. I would like to help you with this issue which I feel is major.
Please let me know how to sign the petition and help out.
P.S. - I watched the Council meeting and was also disgusted with council members stating that they do not agree with getting rid of the Ward system but then voting to get rid of it. How can we trust these people?
Following is an Unpublished Letter to the Editor...Oshawa This Week
This is going to turn into a popularity contest only. I will not go out to vote if we have no Ward system.
Judging from news items and letters to the editor, the issue of election by ward vs. election at large is not one that is going to go away any time soon.
Councilors, many of whom have admitted voting against their better judgment, will need to caution staff not to expend too much time with the conversion, lest it be reversed.
There are times when, the voters having made a bad decision, a councilor has to do what is right and then educate the voters to his/her position in order to obtain re-election.
One point that has not been addressed is that conversion to a general vote puts an exceptional amount of power in the hands of the media.
In this day and age, politicians and CEO’s are increasingly being paid celebrity incomes rather than merit incomes.
The media are in an excellent position to give face time and recognition to specific politicians and to create, and destroy, celebrity status.
Those conditions follow increasingly when voters do not know their elected representatives personally.
Wrong decisions by councilors also follow when the councilors do not know the people they represent, whether they voted or not.
Somehow we have drifted into (by) law making using the adversarial system rather than looking for consensus. The adversarial system should remain in the law enforcement arena, not in the law making arena.
The ward system does not set one ward against another. That is kind of thinking that caters to special interests, rather than the general interest, for which council needs to strive. The ward system does allow representatives of the wards to bring the interests of the wards to the table. That having been done, the consensus of the general interest or interests of the city takes over.
Another point that needs to be made is that election at large invites even more participation of political parties into local government. It is generally accepted that election to local council needs at least the tacit support of one political party or the other.
Now that all levels of government are committed to the 4 year electoral cycle, with increasing political party involvement, we are aligning ourselves increasingly with the Republican system of the United States.
VOTES Chairman comment 1...As Mr. Goertzen states in his item above, I think there is evidence at this early stage that we are seeing the seeds of development of political parties in Oshawa Muncipal Elections. This will be a "must" with general vote elections in a city the size of Oshawa. It will be impossible for voters to get to know all of the general vote candidates and therefore people will have to be presented "party platforms" so that elections make sense to the voter. Without party platforms, voters will not be able to make informed decisions. The City of Vancouver that has the "at large" (general) vote has approximately 10 political parties that run slates of candidates and people vote for candidates because they are part of certain slates. Of course when Oshawa had the general vote prior to 1985, the Oshawa Labour Unions selected slates of candidates and many politicians of the day kow-towed to the unions to get their blessing. One of the problems with the general vote is that it caters to the wishes of large groups and organizations at the exclusion of the interests of the individual homeowners and ratepayers. In Oshawa's history with the general vote, a question of increasing taxation levels for the Oshawa Golf Club came up to the dismay of the golfing fraternity. The result...the golf club members organized and took over city council. The result? You guessed it!
VOTES Chairman Comment 2--The author above talks about the power of the press to create/destroy celebrity status to selected politicians...The newspapers are in the business of attracting readership and increasing their circulation as advertising revenue depends upon circulation. They choose to print things that will help in this pursuit. As a result, they are more apt to print something "quotable", "outrageous", "controversial"... and not "good news" stories. Politicians realize this and their comments and behaviour will start to reflect the competition among them for press. Under the general vote, name recognition is the name of the game for electoral success, so this becomes "job 1" of general vote politicians...all at the expense of co-operative and serious work on behalf of the voters. Fixing a problem on your street is not worth one line of print and maybe only 1 or 2 votes and so this kind of work is not going to be worth the time and effort of general vote politicians who have to campaign across the city and may need 25,000 votes for election even on a poor voter turnout. Therefore, general vote politicians will only devote time and effort to big issues attracting lots of votes...but every politician will compete for recognition for doing big things...but other politicians, being competitors, will be reluctant to support things giving another politician any credit or press...the result...stagnation! That was the devastation of Oshawa's past under the general vote when city politicians would not even replace our burned out library or arena. Nothing happened in Oshawa...and so few wanted to live here. The result...the cheapest housing around...cheaper than Ajax, Pickering, Whitby and even Bowmanville and Newcastle. Because housing here didn't sell, the only new development we could attract was townhouse complexes, co-ops, and assisted housing units. Under the ward system, Oshawa has wonderful new recreation facilities throughout the city, a new university, expanded library services, tons of high quality housing, and one of the fastest growing places in Canada. Let's hope we don't turn back the hands of time to the sleepy nothingness of the past.