Friday, June 22, 2007

Bill Longworth's Council Presentation on April 30, 2007

City council was scheduled to pass a city bylaw implementing the General Vote at their regular council meeting on April 30, 2007.

Bill Longworth's 30 minute presentation on the ward/general vote issue to council at this meeting appears in the four video clips below.

PART 1 - Bill Longworth's presentation to April 30, 2007 Oshawa City Council Meeting

PART 2 - Bill Longworth answers questions from Councillors John Neal and Robt. Lutczyk, both of whom support retaining ward elections

PART 3 - Bill Longworth answers questions from Councillor Louise Parkes who supports change to the general vote and thus poses hostile questions to Mr. Longworth

PART 4 - Bill Longworth answers questions from Councillor Mary Anne Sholdra who supports change to the general vote and thus poses hostile questions to Mr. Longworth

While Council invited written citizen submissions up to noon hour on this meeting date, these citizen submissions were not copied to the politicians for their deliberations, nor were the minutes of the April 19th public meeting held at Sikorski Hall to hear public input to council on this matter. All of this proves beyond a doubt what I have been saying all along...all invitations for public input was just a sham and a waste of taxpayer time in preparing such input.

Council knew what the end result of all of this was going to be from the November 2006 municipal elections and they were unwilling to seriously listen to any constituent input solicited as a result of their invitations for public submissions.

They continued to try to avoid controversy by denying citizen delegations at their April 30th Council meeting where they were to pass the permitting bylaw for the general vote.

Mr. Longworth was scheduled as a delegation at this meeting because council denied his organization a "Partnership Grant" so that he could provide an information brochure on the ward/general vote issue to all Oshawa residences. Democracy cannot exist without an informed public and council has continually voted to deny citizen's the needed information.

Mr. Longworth stepped into the breach to do the job that council refused to do and was seeking city funding to do so.

Council's refusal to provide citizen information shows profound disrespect for the citizens.

Mr. Longworth used his speaking opportunity to address the ward/general vote issue which is the subject of the videos associated with this post.

Citizens have to know how the general vote alters their interaction with city politicians, why the politicians felt it necessary to hold the plebiscite despite no public displeasure ever being expressed with the ward system, what was wrong with the ward system such that politicians felt a change was needed, and what benefits politicians expect to accrue from the general vote. They further need to explain why the system they want for Oshawa is not being used in any city in Canada the size of Oshawa without the use of political parties.

Experts at The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing suggest that a population of about 20,000 is the upper limit for the use of the general vote and Oshawa is about eight times that size. The wards formerly used in Oshawa were about this optimum size.

The VOTES group will continue to communicate to the public throughout this term of council with the objective of defeating Mayor Gray and Councillors Pidwerbecki, Kolodzie, Sholdra, Parkes, Marimpietri, and Henry at the next election as these individuals have continually supported change to the general vote thus reducing democracy and political accountability in Oshawa. Their votes will result in the loss of politicians elected specifically by your community to represent your interests at city hall.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

All Canadians Must Know of Oshawa Council's Undemocratic, Irresponsible and Self Serving Actions

Attention The Producer
CBC The National

cc Peter Mansbridge, Chief Correspondent, CBC The National

Re: Suggestion for "On the Road" Story for "The National"

Love your "On The Road" investigative reporting stories.

Oshawa politicians have strategized to implement the general vote for the election of council giving members constituency sizes twice the size of our federal or provincial members of parliament.

They "designed" a convoluted and confusing plebescite question and denied voters information before or after the vote simply to institute this system that will guarantee their election till death or resignation.

The Mayor publicly stated that City Council had NO RESPONSIBILITY to communicate details of this issue to the public prior to the vote.

They have since refused to communicate any details of how the administrative structure has changed, how citizens should now respond to changes in the system now that their local ward representative has been lost, any benefits they expect to accrue from the change, or any logical or sensible reasons for bringing the issue forth as a plebiscite question since not a whimper of public disatisfaction with the ward system had ever been expressed.

The only rationale given by politicians so far for introducing the plebiscite was, 1) It was about time the question was asked, and 2) Oshawa was getting too large for the ward system.

This change reduces democracy and political accountability in Oshawa and this self-serving manipulation of the system would be a good subject as a "Road Story" on The National.

The change removes the power of the vote in determining the composition of council which is a serious erosion of Canadian democratic principles.

Oshawa at about 160,000 population will be three times the size of the next largest Ontario Municipality using the general vote and the largest city in Canada using this system without the use of political parties.

Experts at The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing suggest about 20,000 as the upper population limit for this electoral system.

Check for more details.

Bill Longworth,
Founder and Chair of VOTES (Vote to Eliminate Self Serving Politicians)

NOTE: Oshawa residents should know that I have it on good authority that Council's idiotic self serving move to the general vote has received some ridicule from London Ontario Council members. We intend to send letters to the Mayor and Council of all members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities bringing Oshawa City Council's self serving and undemocratic moves to the attention of their fellow members. This official communication to all municipal councils across the country should bring additional ridicule to Oshawa City Council. Oshawa politicians who have voted for a political system to serve them rather than the public may cause them to have to travel incognito among their municipal peers to avoid embarrassment.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Oshawa's not the LAUGHING STOCK of Canadian City Politics---Or Is It?

The following letter has been sent to the Managing Editor of FORUM MAGAZINE, the Political Journal of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities sent to politicians of all levels across the country.

Unbeknowst to you, loyal reader, 6 of our 11 council members were at their recent conference in CALGARY thanks to your local tax dollars---the highest in the GTA.

Oshawa's representation was so large that it may have constituted a forum for regular city council meetings...perhaps one should have been scheduled there.

Robert Ross,
Managing Editor
FORUM--Canada's National Municipal Magazine
Federation of Canadian Municipalities


Re: Oshawa Council supports change to the general vote

Contrary to the belief that municipal government should be closest to the people, Oshawa’s City Council has voted to implement the general vote for the election of our municipal government thus insuring that the constituency of each municipal councillor is almost twice the size of that of our Federal and Provincial members.

By moving to the general vote, they have also taken away local neighbourhood or ward representation thus making all of our council members less accountable to the people. They believe that all members of council should be responsible for the constituency concerns of all city residents in this city of 160,000.

When Oshawa last had the general vote for seven councils prior to 1985, the vote was not responsible for any change on council as all changes took place through the death or resignation of members which then left an open spot for fresh representation. Because the experience demonstrates that councillors could not be defeated under the general vote, the votes tendered at elections were not real votes that made any difference whatsoever to the composition of council. This is a lessening of democracy when the vote is ineffective in determining your political leaders.

In addition, out of the 109 council seats voted on over that time, not one of those seats was won by anyone in the half of the city south of King Street. Huge areas of the city were unrepresented as most politicians came to reside in a few of the more affluent areas of the city. Eight of Fifteen Council members came from one of seven wards in the city and three council members resided in one polling subdivision. This is a lessening of democracy when the system is not inclusive of all demographics of the municipality.

It appears as if council members are more interested in securing their council seats until death or resignation rather than providing good governance for this city. It is a disrespect for democracy as well as the citizens when politician’s want to institute a system that puts their interests before the citizens that they purport to serve.

Your recent conference in Calgary was well attended by Oshawa Council members Mayor Gray and Councillors April Cullen, Tito Dante Marimpietri, Nester Pidwerbecki, Joe Kolodzie and Robert Lutczyk, four of whom (highlighted in bold type) voted in support of the change. The italicized member is the introducer of the motion and prime supporter of the change which he justified by 2 reasons---1) It was time the question was asked, and 2) Oshawa was getting too large for the ward system.

A confusing referendum question was designed after a number of council revisions whereby people had to vote “NO” to retain ward voting and “YES” to reject it. The question carried unfortunately: 1) In all probability because its confusion made it hard to understand, and 2) because council’s strategy was to keep it as a low-profile “non-issue” and thus failed to adequately inform the public about it or promote any public debate or discussion. Council had a public meeting before the vote that was so low-profile that only two citizens attended. The result then was that voters were confronted for the first time in the voting booth by a convoluted question about an important and complex issue they had not considered, thought about, or discussed---hardly a democratic process.

In adopting the general vote, council voted to maintain the existing city wards, a technicality that allowed the politicians to implement the change without any possible citizen appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board for any outside and objective scrutiny of the merits and benefits of the change.

Most council members voting for the change say that they don’t support a change to the general vote but are voting in support of the referendum result. Obviously they are supporting a severely flawed process---not the public will at all.

Beyond that, who ever expected that politicians would vote for something they have publicly stated to be “not best” for the city. We trust politicians to bring their best judgment to issues and vote accordingly.

It appears that council knew what they wanted and then designed a strategy to get it.

Council has never communicated to the people what benefits are to come from the change or indeed what was wrong with the ward electoral system which appeared to be working well since not a whimper of public dissatisfaction was ever expressed about it.

Mayor Gray publicly stated in a regular city council meeting that council had no responsibility to communicate information about the change to the public prior to the vote saying this was the responsibility of taxpayers who were opposed to the move….incredulous! Is this democracy in action?

As Canada’s largest city with the general vote devoid of party politics, perhaps Oshawa politicians know something about good municipal governance that is worthy of being written up in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities FORUM magazine so that politicians of every Canadian municipality can take advantage of the wisdom of our Oshawa politicians.

In addition, we believe that invitations should be tendered to Mayor Gray and Councillor Nestor Pidwerbecki to address your next convention to explain the benefits of the general vote to municipalities and perhaps even the process municipalities can follow if they too want to introduce the general vote.

After all, we in Oshawa believe in sharing our political knowledge to make Canada a better place, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities organization has the mandate to communicate best local governance practices across the land.

If our politicians do give such an address to your organization, this would be the first opportunity for Oshawa citizens to hear of their rationale for the change and the benefits they expect to accrue to our city.

We don’t for a second believe that Oshawa’s moves to the general vote would make us the laughing stock of Canadian Municipal Politics but a breath of fresh air for all others to follow.

You may find more detailed information about this issue at

Bill Longworth,
Chair/Founder VOTES (Vote to Eliminate Self-Serving Politicians)
Contact details removed