Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Note From A Concerned Citizen

Hello Mr. Longworth,

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.


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 website.

Thanks so much for writing and, once again, thank you for your interest.

Bill Longworth,
VOTES Chairman (VOte To Eliminate Self-serving politicians)

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