Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cullen Garden Miniatures Fiasco Raises Important Questions & Some Ethical If Not Legal Issues!

If you're not an Oshawa taxpayer, Oshawa City Council's purchase of the Cullen Garden Miniatures is a laugher. For those of us in Oshawa, it says something of City Council's ludicrous priorities and their ability to manage our city.

At this time when council is trying to keep our tax increases below 9%, the tax money they blew on the miniatures purchase seems like a spending rounder of a drunken sailor. It has every appearance of being an inside job.

Without any idea of what they would do with them, council voted to spend $234,000 of our hard earned tax dollars on the 182 unit collection of the Cullen Gardens miniature buildings. This comes out to an average price for the "dollhouse" buildings at $1285 each.

Of course to make the purchase far more palatable to the politicians, Oshawa City Council were given an appraised value of the collection at $678,000. So at $234,000 the price seems like a great bargain.

Only problem was, the appraisal was provided by a Cullen Gardens insider; the guy who designed, built, and managed the collection for Cullen Gardens.

I guess you could tell this Oshawa Council gang anything and they would believe it. Hopefully they are more astute shoppers with their own money.

But that's not the end of the story. They bought the stuff in a "private meeting" without any public knowledge or information about the potential purchase.

Remarkably they were prepared to spend another $120,000 for restoration and an additional $2,400,000 to develop a site to house them---Only trouble is: What were they going to do with them? Where they going to put them?

Council's first idea for a site was Lakeview Park where they would probably last a week before destruction, and then they suggested Camp Samac where the public has been barred for the last number of years due to liability concerns. Other sites considered were the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens and the Oshawa airport south field.

For a council that wants to limit its responsibility to do important things like informing the public about the plebiscite question on Oshawa's move to the general vote, why do they want to get into the business of developing tourist attractions. Even Whitby which had housed the miniatures for years refused to cough up the bait to buy the collection.

The whole charade stopped when council debated spending an additional $50,000 to hire a consultant to prepare a plan. Maybe they had in mind hiring the Cullen Gardens "insider" who had built and then appraised the things for valuation purposes.

The result? Oshawa will now try to sell the things.

I wonder how much they will get for them. I think it is doubtful that they would get $1000 for the Parkwood miniature which the insider said cost $22,000 to build and is now appraised at $17,600, requires $3,400 in repairs, and we are told has a replacement cost of $29,000. Amazingly, the $22,000 build cost is about the same build cost as my full size home in Beau Valley which in all probability was built about the same time.

Even if they are given away at a !00% loss of taxpayer's $234,000, this is still a blessing to Oshawa since, according to Mayor John Gray, who supported the miniatures purchase in the first place, $4,000,000 has to be carved out of the budget to keep our tax increase to 4%. Even throwing these miniatures in the dumpster will provide a savings of close to $3,000,000 of that in budgeted development costs. I guess Mayor Gray earlier thought that a 9% increase was justified if we could keep the Cullen Garden miniatures.

The real question? One city councillor, who from all press coverage took a leading role as an advocate of the purchase by the city admitted in the October 2nd meeting of Council's "Finance and Administration Committee", according to a Letter to the Editor published in the October 24th issue of Oshawa Express, that her company did consulting work on behalf of Cullen Gardens and the Cullen Family.

One might legitimately ask the question then whether this councillor had a conflict of interest as a protector, defender, custodian, and guardian of taxpayer's money and her role as an advocate and consultant for the Cullen Family.

If she indeed had a conflict in her role as city counsellor and with her business relationship with the Cullen family, did she declare it on occasions when the issue of the Cullen miniatures was discussed and excuse herself from all discussions on the purchase?

Press reports indicate that she took a leading role in the discussions.

If the councillor had a conflict of interest, what is the responsibility of other councillors and the city to take action to report on the situation and seek corrective action?

Something indeed may be rotten in the State of Denmark!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hitler, Mussolini, & Mao had centralized control too!!!

Hitler, Mussolini, & Mao had centralized control over information flow. And so did a host of other despots throughout history.

They built their power by controlling what the people could think, say, and know.

They instituted this control first through a series of perks, privileges, and power they dispensed to government members and finally extended it to the citizenry as they instituted thought control throughout their nations.

We cannot allow this to happen in Oshawa!

But thought control and information restraints are already upon us.

First city council conspired together under the mayor's leadership to withhold plebiscite information from the people. Along with a gerrymandered and convoluted plebiscite question designed to manipulate plebiscite results, city council has returned the general vote to Oshawa.

While this system limits democracy and accountable politics in Oshawa, it does serve the politicians by assuring their council seats until their death or resignation.

It does nothing to serve the people or the city. If the general vote was better in serving the city, wouldn't it be used widely? Instead, Oshawa will be the largest city in the country using it without political parties which, with the exception of Vancouver, are not used in Canada.

In terms of the plebiscite, Mayor John Gray said it was not the city's responsibility to inform the citizens about details of the plebisicite question, why it was being asked, what the general vote meant for the people, why the general vote was better, or indeed even to insure that the people understood the question they were being asked by City Council. He said all of this was up to the citizens themselves. He said interested citizens had to fundraise and organize the communication plan themselves to inform the public. Does this sound sensible or democratic to you?

Under Mayor John Gray's leadership, city council refused citizen appeals to communicate plebiscite details to the public and when they refused to do so, turned down citizen requests for city funding to carry out the communication job that city council refused to do.

And now Mayor John Gray wants to muzzle city council. He wants to limit what city council members can say to the press and wants such communications to be submitted to his office for prior approval.

These "muzzles" on city politicians will effectively put "blinders" on the people.

But all of this is an attempt to further centralize all of the municipal political power in this city and keep the people in the dark.

So how is this much different than Hitler, Mussolini and Mao?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Request for Audit on City Council's Plebiscite Efforts

Mayor and Council,
c/o City Clerk,
Oshawa City Hall

Hon. D. McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
Hon J. Gerretsen, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Members, Oshawa City Council
Local News Media

Canada’s Supreme Court says that information for voters is a basic right in a democracy, and Elections Ontario guarantees the democratic voting rights of all Ontarians.

John Hollins, Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Ontario, states in regard to the recent Provincial Electoral Reform Plebiscite, “Our mandate, as defined by law, is to ensure that Ontario voters receive clear and impartial information about the referendum process, the date of the referendum, the referendum question and the content of the choices in the referendum,” and, he continues, “Our focus over the remaining days leading up to the referendum is continuing to increase awareness of the referendum question and educating voters about their choices.

With the priorities placed on an informed voting public by both the Supreme Court and by Elections Ontario, I am requesting that Oshawa’s Auditor General be directed by City Council to perform an audit on how well the City of Oshawa measured up to these ideals.

The auditor general should include a comparison of Oshawa’s efforts with those of other civic and provincial jurisdictions that included recent plebiscites on their election ballots.

In addition, the auditor should commission a survey of Supreme Court cases having to do with the requirement for voter information leading up to elections and the Supreme Court rulings in this regard.

Further an independent polling service should be commissioned to establish the knowledge Oshawa voters had of the plebiscite question prior to voting.

The poll should have enough random respondents in all parts of the city to reach the 95% confidence level and should ask Oshawa residents:

1) If they agree with the removal of local ward representatives elected by their communities;

2) If they agree that they could become knowledgeable enough of up to 100 candidates for election on a general vote ballot in order to make an informed choice;

3) Whether citizens were aware prior to voting that a plebiscite question was to appear on the election ballot;

4) If citizens agree that they were fully and sufficiently aware of the details and ramifications of the what they were asked on the plebiscite;

5) Whether informing the voters of details and ramifications of a city plebiscite is the responsibility of the city or of private citizens who must personally finance an information campaign; (This question is especially important because Mayor Gray says it’s not the city responsibility to inform the public…it’s up to the public themselves to fundraise and organize an information campaign, and Councillor Kolodzie who states he’s never heard of a government providing information about a plebiscite question!—this film clip is under preparation!)

6) Any other questions a professional polling organization deems useful given their expertise in the area of political and public opinion polling.
I would ask that any audits commissioned on this issue be completely independent of city council, that reports and study design be completed without input or approvals of city politicians, and the results be distributed widely to the public.

I understand that I must first propose this audit to a committee of council and await details of when I can make this presentation.

Bill Longworth
Chair and Founder
VOTES (Vote To Eliminate Self-serving Politicians)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Is the Vote a Joke in Oshawa?

Aren’t we fortunate in Canada to get a vote. We should take this privilege very seriously because it is something that the majority of people in the world do not have.

Many people in the world would give their life for a democratic vote to have a voice in their political destiny…and you only have to read the news to know that many are doing so daily to win the privilege. Still others are giving their lives to help bring the democratic vote to places that don’t have it.

The vote is a serious matter and we have to take the whole process seriously. No one expects you to vote randomly picking and choosing without the necessary background information on any vote in question.

Random voting would be considered irresponsible as would not being informed about the vote you were about to cast.

Candidates and parties (in the case of Provincial and Federal Elections) campaign by informing voters of their beliefs and viewpoints on the various issues of the day. Similarly, when governments seek public opinion by way of plebiscite, they have a responsibility to provide background information for voters.

The only valid vote is one cast by a knowledgeable voter. Everyone knows this. So if a government is seeking public opinion on an issue, they know they must provide background information on the issue and promote public dialogue, debate, and discussion.

If they're not serious about getting an honest measure of public opinion, then they don't provide the information. They try to keep the issue as quiet as possible. They may even gerrymander a complex question to skew results in a way they favour. All of this was the case in Oshawa when they had a plebiscite about electoral change on the ballot.

Because city hall was not interested in getting a valid plebiscite result, they didn't provide any information for voters.

Democracy depends upon an informed voter and cannot function without it. Indeed Canada’s Supreme Court says voter information is a basic right.

So what do you think of a government in Canada that refuses to provide information to the voter…a government that didn’t want their citizens to know anything about a question they were asking their citizens...a government that treats the vote as a joke. I’d suggest you’d think this was impossible in Canada.

But you haven’t heard of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

Oshawa’s local government wanted to seek citizen opinion about a potential change to its electoral system…but refused to provide any background information about the question. They said giving information to voters was not their responsibility. Indeed Oshawa's Mayor publicly stated this. Unbelieveable!

So if you were a council member and a motion was made “that staff be directed to prepare an information brochure on the pros and cons of the ward system vs 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 meeting on this issue,” how would you vote on this question?

Does it seem reasonable that council would defeat such a reasonable motion?

Well you are not aware of Oshawa.

Watch this film clip and “Prepare to be Amazed!”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

VOTES files complaint with Ontario Ombudsman


All fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required
*First Name: Bill
*Last Name: Longworth
Rest of Contact information removed!

The Ombudsman Office hours of work are Monday to Friday, 9:00am-4:30pm (EST). Please indicate the best method and time to contact you for information:

Any time

1. What government body is your question or complaint about? (please identify by name)

Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing---Insufficient oversight and supervision of irresponsible and undemocratic actions of Oshawa City Council

2. Who have you dealt with in this organization with respect to your complaint?

Hon. J. Gerretsen, Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Hon. D. McGuinty, Premier of the Province of Ontario

3. Please summarize the matter you are complaining about and include any relevant dates.

City of Oshawa's Bylaw to move to a general vote for the election of Municipal Council. In this city of 160,000 people, the impossible election ballot will contain upwards of 100 candidates and give members of council constituency sizes twice the size of our Provincial and Federal Government members.

Officials of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing have been quoted as saying that the maximum size of a municipality for a general vote is about 20,000—about the size of Oshawa’s present wards. At 160,000 population, Oshawa will be 8 times larger than the maximum general vote size suggested by the Ministry.

Changes to Provincial Legislation give municipalities authority to determine their own governance but insufficient provincial guidelines are provided to municipalities to insure adequate public communication including rationale for the proposed change, definitions of terms used in referendum questions, levels and quality of information to promote understanding and public debate to insure that citizens are adequately prepared for informed plebiscite voting.

An informed public is a requirement in a democracy and a basic right of voters according to both Canada's Supreme Court and Elections Ontario.

In Oshawa's case, city council introduced a plebiscite question in terms of Oshawa’s governance and then acted irresponsibly in providing no information, stimulating no public debate, and gave no rationale for the plebiscite.

In view of the fact that no dissatisfaction was ever expressed with the existent ward voting system, voters are entitled to know why the question was asked.

All of the suggestion and initiative for abandoning ward voting in favour of the general vote came from the politicians who then tried to keep it a non-issue.

They then designed a referendum question to skew the vote to the result they favoured.

The mayor publicly supported city council's “secret” strategy by saying city council had no responsibility to inform the public.

Because of the way the issue arose from council, the "secret" strategy they followed to catch voters "cold" in the voting booth and the convoluted question in which they were required to vote "NO" to preserve their existent system, we must assume that the change is self-serving to councillors...they want a system that serves them rather than the people they are supposed to serve.

Oshawa City Council’s actions are an affront to democracy and because of the severely flawed process I feel that the Provincial Government should step in and postpone Oshawa's moves to the general vote until after the next election and only then after calling another referendum after satisfying the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing that they have a plan to sufficiently inform the public and promoted public debate about the change.

It does not make any sense whatsoever that Oshawa's local government that is supposed to be closest to the people has councillor constituency sizes twice the size of our Provincial and Federal government members.

There is no appeal process for Oshawa Council's action because their bylaw changing to the general vote includes retaining the present ward boundaries. These wards will not be used but have only been retained to avoid an appeal to the OMB.

Because wards are associated with ward voting in Ontario, and Oshawa is moving to the general vote, for all practical purposes they are effectively reducing all of our presently defined wards to one for voting purposes.

This practical change to one ward for voting purposes should be appealable to the OMB.

4. Summarize what steps you have taken to try and resolve your complaint including any grievance, appeals and/or requests for reconsideration you have submitted and what response you received.

1. Letters to city council committee in charge of the referendum strategy to provide information flyers to all households giving:

a) the rationale for change,
b) consequences of the change,
c) benefits to accrue from the change.

2. Addresses to council

a) problems with the change,
b) shortcomings of the referendum process,
c) requests for funds to have a brochure independently prepared and distributed to do the communication job that council refused to do.

3. Numerous letters to the Mayor and Council

4. Letters to the Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Premier

5. A website
5. If you have received a final decision on an appeal or request for review or reconsideration of your complaint, please indicate what the result was and why you feel this was unfair.

Council has approved a bylaw to move to a general vote despite considerable objection in the community and receiving inordinate amounts of public comment and letters that the plebiscite question was confusing, not understood, and that after many exclamations by voters who felt they had voted the wrong way.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is taking no apparent action.

6. Describe the result or outcome which you would like to see for the matter you are complaining about.

1. Oshawa's general vote bylaw declared invalid because of a severely and purposefully flawed process and an "engineered" plebiscite question tailored to skew results the way council wanted.

Oshawa city council should be told that if they feel the general vote is best for Oshawa that they should have another plebiscite question on the issue at the next election but only after they have satisfied the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing that they have provided sufficient information and promoted public debate.

2. The Municipal Act revised to insure that sufficient communication is provided and debate is promoted prior to any plebiscite on municipal governance systems.

7. If you consider the matter urgent, please explain why.

City Council's self-serving manipulation of the people is fostering a loss of confidence in this council to the point where they will be rendered ineffective in providing adequate government for this city.

Oshawa will be the largest city in the country using the general vote without political parties and it will be undemocratic to have an impossible general vote ballot approaching 100 candidates.

I believe that those drafting legislative changes to the Municipal Act did not foresee the shortcomings of the changes in terms of the potential of allowing an irresponsible council to introduce governance changes to make local government far less accountable to the people, far less representative of the demographics of the city, and that a city the size of Oshawa at 160,000 would pick up on these shortcomings to reduce democracy and take city government further from the people that our Provincial and Federal Government Members.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Oshawa City Council’s Seriously Misplaced and Misguided Priorities

According to a page 11 story in the Sept. 28, 2007 issue of Oshawa This Week, the City of Oshawa has won one of 42 national marketing awards for its “World Cuisine Guide” that features a list of the city’s multicultural downtown restaurants.

This award was presented to the city by the Economic Development Association of Canada at its 39th annual conference in Saskatoon recently.

The guide is a “pocket-sized” pamphlet identifying 24 of downtown Oshawa’s multicultural restaurants detailing hours of operation, availability of outdoor patio, entertainment details, etc. and 10,000 copies of the guide have been distributed. A new guide showcasing Oshawa’s business services is in the works.


In Oshawa’s submission for this recognition, they were required to define their distribution system for the 10,000 copies. This would be a laugh! Did they say each of the restaurants got 500 copies to collect dust or did they mention a potential landfill site?

In the submission, they were also required to define their governance structure. I wonder if the city reported that Oshawa is now the largest city in Canada without municipal political parties with a general vote council whose member’s constituencies are twice the size of our federal and provincial government members.

Oshawa City Council is a real anomaly in civic governments in the country and undoubtedly the laughing stock of Canadian Municipal Politicians.

Unfortunately, we citizens of Oshawa must also be the subject of some national ridicule for allowing our conniving politicians to foist their self-serving contrivance on us.

At a time when staff propose tax increases in the order of 8-9%, which are apparently supported by the mayor, it's amazing we find some surplus funds to produce this free advertising for our downtown restaurants.

And city council approves these expenditures even though they continually voted to keep the public in the dark regarding the referendum question by refusing to produce information brochures on this much more important issue.

While the province was expending $6.8 million on its own referendum on electoral reform, Oshawa spent nothing and indeed the Mayor publicly stated that it was not city halls responsibility to inform the people whose opinion they were seeking…Incredible!

I’d think that the downtown area is so small nestled in a 3 or 4 block area that anyone would be easily able to locate these restaurants if they indeed wanted to visit the downtown. Those who work and lunch downtown already know the area like the back of their hand.

A city council bunch that cannot get their communication priorities even close to right hardly has the common sense or intelligence to make more important decisions for our city.

In addition, because of the profound disrespect they demonstrated to the Oshawa public in refusing us the background information that was required to make a valid plebiscite judgement, the city council and its civic administration should be disbanded.

In order to get our taxes under control in this highest taxed region in the GTA, we should all work at eliminating Oshawa City Council similar to the municipal amalgamation which was done in Metropolitan Toronto. This would wipe out one tax devouring superfluous and redundant level of government since all of the important work of local government is done at the regional level.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The electoral reform wipeout!

Well we had our Provincial plebiscite yesterday on electoral reform and the thing got shot down in flames.

This despite a massive $6.8 million advertising program that was designed to inform the public.

Few voters could have missed the blitz that turned up everywhere…print media, television, and even popped up regularly on your internet screens.

Journalists on all sides of the issue in all media wrote reams about the change. The systems were compared, differences highlighted, advantages and differences were given…it seems that no end of information was provided.

Most voters must have been aware that the proposed system was devised by an independent citizen assembly commissioned by the government as a result of rising critiques of the existing system.

After all of the information that had been made available, the question asked was very straight forward….Which system should Ontario use? (a) The existing system, or (b) The alternative system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly?

Despite the massive communication efforts, critics today are saying that the public was still ill-informed.

So what would these same critics say about Oshawa’s recent plebiscite about electoral reform in Oshawa?

Unlike the Provincial efforts that have been criticized for not enough information, Oshawa provided none!

Unlike the Provincial efforts where the idea for electoral reform arose as a result of public criticism and then the solution was proposed by an independent citizen assembly, Oshawa’s electoral reform was all an inside job by the politicians…they proposed change when no criticism was heard, and then gerrymandered a question using technical and undefined terms that had meaning to them but not to the public, and the question they asked was convoluted and difficult to comprehend so that voters had to vote “NO” to retain the system they were obviously satisfied with and “YES to reject it for the system favoured and proposed by the politicians.

Oshawa’s plebiscite questions regarding City of Oshawa council were:
1) Are you in favour of electing those councillors who represent the City on City Council and on Regional Council by general vote as opposed to ward vote? And,

2) “Are you in favour of electing those councillors who represent the City only on City Council by general vote as opposed to ward vote?”
Realizing that most people will answer “yes” to things they think experts are proposing, council asked the question in such a way that the “yes” answer proposed the change they wanted.

The Oshawa questions would have given a completely opposite result had the politicians transposed the order of words to read, "ward vote as opposed to general vote!"---but this was not the result the Oshawa politicians wanted!

Council deliberately designed a question to skew the results the way they wanted. In the process Council has manipulated voters and treated them as fools and in the process has debauched, debased, defiled and demeaned the very basis of democracy.

No doubt had they asked the simple question as the Province did, “Are you in favour of retaining the present system?”, the question would have been simple to understand and the overwhelming response would have been “yes” to keep the system that they were familiar with and satisfied with.

The whole Oshawa process was so flawed that the Oshawa plebiscite has no validity whatsoever. Politicians know this and designed the process this way…and then many have the nerve to say they support ward voting but must uphold the voice of the people as expressed through the plebiscite.

Oshawa City Council’s strategy in this whole thing explodes any credibility city council members might have.

Isn’t it about time the politicians “come clean” with the Oshawa public and fess up to the fact that the only reason we’re getting the electoral change is to protect incumbent’s council seats until their death or resignation?

The politicians are choosing to serve themselves rather than the people they are supposed to represent.

There can be no other reason.

And what is the cost of council’s self serving actions? Oshawa citizens will pay the price through a loss of our neighbourhood council representation, less accountable politicians, an electoral system that depends upon name recognition rather than service to the people, a fractious and non-productive council as all members fight to grow their “name recognition” to compete for the same city-wide vote, and a council that grows stale because of limited turnover.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oshawa…The head of the pack again, eh---NOT!

Oshawa city council has again distinguished itself across the country with another first! NOT!

FIRST--Oshawa Council voted on April 30, 2007 to return to the general vote for the election of city council for no reason other than to protect their council positions until their death or resignation. They rigged a plebiscite question to confuse voters and skew results the way they wanted, refused to provide any public information about the question or the reasons why it was being asked and now at 160,000 become the largest city in the country to use the general vote without municipal political parties. They know that with an impossible general vote election ballot with close to 100 names, their ability to raise the necessary $35,000 campaign funds through political donations from their political favours and their ability to grab the press over the term of council, that they will be the only candidates familiar to the voters and thus will be impossible to dethrone. This method of election means that city council is not accountable to the citizens and they can rule dictatorially with impunity…something they are presently doing in regards to University/College student rental housing. As an Oshawa "First" for the country, we may have the only city council in the country that puts their personal electoral interests ahead of the public good….shame!

SECOND—With police and a locksmith in tow, Oshawa Bylaw Officers enter private student residences without permission searching bedrooms for rental documents. In most parts of the country, we’d call this a “break and enter.” We might understand this uninvited entry in the event of criminal activity…but for student rental documents—never! With no doubt, this is an Oshawa “First” for Canada.THIRD—As another Oshawa “First” in the country, Oshawa politicians devise a bylaw to license and control student rental accommodations in a defined area of Oshawa. This is blatantly discriminatory against the owners, some of whom had been approved for up to 7 bedrooms by city planning officials and had plans approved by the building inspections department. If the city succeeds in closing this student housing area, the students will simply move further afield. In the process though, the city inconveniences students in causing them to live further from their studies and drives up student rents.

FOURTH—City Council calls a public meeting to get input regarding their bylaw. Despite an overflow crowd with many legitimate and intelligent concerns being raised by spokespeople, not one voice I heard spoke up in defense of the proposed city bylaw. No matter, if citizen experience with the general vote/ward vote issue is any indication, the meeting was a sham anyway. Council will plunge ahead and do what it wants no matter the opposition. The real test will be comparing the bylaw council passes with the draft distributed at the meeting.

The large turnout at this meeting resulted from the real and immediate personal financial consequences to everyone involved. Unfortunately, the ward/general vote issue did not attract the same attention because the consequences to the public while just as real were unfortunately more abstract. People have not yet realized that this kind of irrational council action will be repeated by a general vote council that is not accountable to the people because councillors know they are not in danger of being voted out of office for irrational and irresponsible actions.

On the other hand, perhaps council action will motivate those affected to solidify their organizations and work for the defeat of council at the next election. With the general vote, block voting of the size represented by those concerned will be able to turf the whole council out of office.

I would be pleased to lend my efforts to any such organization

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Knock! Knock! The Oshawa SWAT Team Calling!

What kind of town are we living in?

First City Council denies citizens information they need to make intelligent decisions on a city referendum on the voting system to use and then a City SWAT team with police and locksmith in tow show up at UOIT/ Durham College private student residences to search student bedrooms for leasing documents. This was such an enormous news story among North American Universities that it was featured on an international website about university towns.

In the case of the plebiscite on the voting system we should use, City Council comes up with a trick question to skew voting results the way they want and then deny citizens information to catch them “cold” in the voting booth to vote on a difficult question that they are seeing for the first time without any prior knowledge, consideration, or debate about it.

This is contrary to everything that is basic about a democracy. In Canada, the Supreme Court states that citizens have the “right” to information before voting, as does Elections Ontario which is expending $6.8 billion in informing the public about the Provincial referendum on Election Reform.

And yet Mayor John Gray states emphatically, "city council had no responsibility to inform the public!" Amazing.

And now, at the behest of city council, civic officials with police and a locksmith in tow and armed with a search warrant enter private student housing often while the students were in class snooping for evidence of bylaw infractions …incredulous!

What will they think of next?

Doesn’t this remind you of some Nazi actions or those of other despots who slash and burn through their citizenry?

I wonder if the university students in Kingston, Toronto, London, Guelph, Hamilton, Peterborough, North Bay or the many others across Ontario and the rest of the country get their residences ransacked by civic administrations accompanied by police and locksmiths at the direction of politicians…simply to look for housing rental agreements.

We could understand such police raids if they were to pursuing criminals or criminal activity…but student housing documents? NEVER!

Will your house or my house be next? Can't we expect sanctuary in the privacy of our Oshawa homes?

Yet the Mayor says it’s okay! And this is the same guy who said city council had NO RESPONSIBILITY to communicate details of the plebiscite question to city voters.

We have to start questioning Mayor Gray’s judgment and his connection with the people. Is he a heartless mindless bureaucrat blinded to the rigid routine of administrative details without exercising any judgement?

Our Mayor cannot be a cheerleader for these un-Canadian actions.

Under the Mayor's leadership, our city fathers are undermining the reputation of our university and this city for potential non-resident students. This will jeopardize the quality of the institution for our own Oshawa born students.

These strong arm tactics may motivate UOIT/Durham College students to rise up and organize to take over city council which they will have the power to do under the general vote.

It’s hard to believe all of this is happening in Canada!

So I wonder what’s next for our city council gang under the leadership of Mayor John Gray.

Will they put out a call to hound you or me?

It seems nothing is beyond this Mayor and his gang of followers!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Video---We have a serious democracy deficit in Oshawa

Bill Longworth
Presentation to Oshawa City Council
April 10, 2007

We have a serious democracy deficit in Oshawa

Democracy absolutely requires an informed public You have followed a strategy to keep the public uninformed---to deny them the information they needed to make the plebiscite decision.

You have refused to provide public information…so as a concerned citizen, I have stepped into the breach

I am working to keep the public informed on my website that you all are aware of.

Since I feel more information has to be provided, I have requested city partnership funding for a professional brochure written by political science professors about this electoral change and had planned for this to be distributed to all Oshawa residents.

This information is important because the public has to know that the general vote takes the real and meaningful vote that can make a difference away from the public

You are stealing their vote.

And amazingly we are discussing this loss of the real and meaningful vote One day after Canadians celebrated our WWI victory at Vimy Ridge where thousands of Canadian soldiers died trying to preserve freedoms for the world and for those back home in Canada…we are today fighting to save the “Real Vote” that is the basis of our democratic freedoms…the very thing our troops were fighting for…and they are continuing to do that in Afghanistan today…to bring real votes to people so that they have some control over their political destiny.

We have huge populations in Oshawa of Eastern European Heritage. Their forbearers came here to obtain freedoms like the Real Vote that could make a difference…We have some councillors whose ancestors came here for that freedom…and surprisingly, these Councillors with this Eastern European heritage are today voting to take away the real vote that their ancestors cherished.

Council defeated a motion ”that staff be directed to prepare an information brochure on the pros and cons of ward system vs 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.

This motion sounded perfectly sensible and wise to me but it was defeated on negative votes of councillors henry, Kolodzie, Marimpietri, Parkes, Pidwerbecki, Shouldra, and mayor grey…Why? Why don’t you want people to have information?

Your failure to provide necessary information to the public was undemocratic and irresponsible and completely invalidates the plebiscite result.

Oshawa’s history with the general vote shows all change took place through death or resignation of members…not the vote therefore the vote itself was meaningless in bringing change.

Why are we getting no information.

Are you trying to hide something?

Do you have some hidden agenda?

Are you afraid that people will discuss and analyze the change and discover that you, our members of council, are the only beneficiaries of the change since it will guarantee you a lifetime seat on the "gravy train" of city council.

Doesn’t council respect the people enough to provide information to them

Do you think the Oshawa people are stupid and don’t deserve to be informed?

Aren't voters entitled to know why the plebiscite question was asked when there was not one whimper of dissatisfaction expressed with ward voting?

Aren't voters entitled to know what was wrong with the ward system when it seemed to be working so well?

Aren't voters entitled to know the benefits council expects from the general vote?

Aren't voters entitled to be reminded of Oshawa's history with the general vote when all of council came from a few of the wealthier areas leaving most of Oshawa unrepresented?

Aren't voters entitled to know that all political change under Oshawa's general vote took place through death or resignation of members?

Aren't voters entitled to know that the general vote is virtually unused in Canada and is not used in any city as large as Oshawa without the use of political parties?

Aren't voters entitled to know all these things?

So why does council continue to deny us the information?

Council's actions hardly remind us of the way governments are supposed to act in Canada.

So how I wonder how Oshawa voters feel being taken for patsies and fools?

I think they are damn mad and this will become more pronounced as they become fully aware of what you’ve done

This will culminate in their absolute repulsion at the next election of those responsible when their attention will be focused on a huge general vote ballot where it will be impossible for them to make intelligent choices.

I know I am damn mad and am doing something about it---and I am determined to keep this focus over your entire term of council to keep your irresponsibility front and centre with the public.

I am determined that you will pay a price at the next election.