Friday, December 7, 2007

Oshawa City Council "Hall of Shame"

We're going to institute a new feature on City Council "Hall of Shame". This will appear as a featured sidebar item like our "Best of" sidebar item and will be a perpetual watchdog for readers on the extravagance, waste, and failures of Oshawa City Council

While I realize that all councillors did not vote for those issues "making the list", I will attempt to identify those who did.

Some of the "Hall of Shame" stories have already been published on the blog and will appear as links to the stories. Other stories will be researched and written up in an ongoing way over the life of this council.

Those politicians supporting the "Hall of Shame" items will find their names linked to these issues as regularly as possible during the next election in our attempt to discredit and defeat those whom we feel are not positive contributors to Oshawa's long term health.

Some "Hall of Shame" stories we will be featuring in our growing list will be:

1. Oshawa City Council members, Mayor John Gray and Councillors Pidwerbecki, Kolodzie, Henry, Parkes, Sholdra, and Tito Dante Marimpietri all of whom voted to refuse to provide ratepayer information re the general vote and all of whom voted to take away local neighbourhood representation on Oshawa City Council.

2. Oshawa Council calls plebiscite question but refuses to inform public as Mayor Gray says its not Council's responsibility...this was up to private citizens despite Ontario Muncipal Elections Act roadblocks to third party campaigning.

3. Oshawa highest taxed jurisdiction in GTA yet mayor supports a further 9% increase.

4. Oshawa Bylaw Officers forced entry to UOIC student housing searching private quarters for student leasing documents.

5. City Council's misplaced communication is absolutely wrong to spent big bucks on world contests like LIVCOM contests to communicate to the world when council refused to communicate important information to the Oshawa public on the plebiscite question.

Communication begins at home!

Why ask a plebiscite question when you refuse to tell the public what its about or to insure understanding and promote public debate about it?

We are presently researching costs and other questions on the city's LIVCOM submission and will publish an article once we have established all of the necessary facts.

Early indications though are that there were few entrants, delegate presentations seemed to have been made privately to the judges without any public audience or other display of interest, that large cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, etc. did not enter, that potentially all entrants were shortlisted to the final--in short, the whole contest was about meaningless optics and possibly a "holiday abroad" at taxpayer expense for the delegations. I wonder whether a cost/benefit analysis was done on this extravagance?

6. Council's continual votes to deny public information on the plebiscite.

7. Introduction of the General Vote which reduces council accountability, reduces inclusiveness in Oshawa political life, and removes neighbourhood representation from council. The General Vote further isolates political leadership from the people of the city and is completely unworkable without municipal political parties which are not at present encouraged by Ontario Municipal Elections Law.

8. City Politician's total renumeration packages including untaxed Expense Accounts, Auto expense allowance and political honorariums for sitting on community committees alongside unpaid community volunteers, conference attendance costs, blackberry costs, entertainment/meal expenses, etc.--all details under investigation at present and freedom of information request(s) is/are being prepared. Some city politicians conferenced (partied?) in all of Calgary, Ottawa, and Europe at taxpayer expense over the summer months.

9. GM Place costs citizens half million dollars this year but you can bet your boots that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment that manages the site did make money on the operation. What is total cost when city borrowing costs including PUC monies are included? This whole area is being explored...but you can bet that there is going to be a continual taxpayer cost going forward...and continual profits to the management group MLS&E (of which my pension group is the majority owner!. My pension plan, one of the best and most profitable in the world is much smarter than city politicians and only invests where their return is assured!--in this case without putting any up-front development monies into the mix.)

10. The Cullen Garden Miniatures purchase fiasco which from all reports looks like an inside job with potential politician conflicts of interest.

11. Some council getting confused on a partnership funding question for the VOTES group where they were confronted with a "plebiscite-like" convoluted question and got confused voting the wrong way.
That the 2007 Partnership Grant request from VOTES of $25,000 as outlined in Report ABCS-07-95 be denied as it does not meet all the criteria established within the Partnership Grant Policy.
Realizing that they erred on a question similar to the plebiscite question that they insisted was so easy it wouldn't fool anyone, they voted against the committee/staff recommendation that VOTES be denied funding. In my books, this means that they had to support providing the funding to communicate plebiscite details to the public...but hey...council makes the rules and simply referred it back to committee so that they could bring it forth another time "so they could get it right!"

12. Plans to demolish and rebuild parts of city hall under the pretense that they need a "customer care" area...I bet that the public service area if they build one is miniscule but that political office space becomes gigantic...all at taxpayer cost purported to be about $12,300,000...but we'll believe this when we see the final figure. After all, our city politicians do need palatial spaces, don't they? And with the general vote, they'll all claim the need for bigger salaries, more staff and bigger watch!

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