Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why the Ward System is Best...and why then did city council want the general vote

Why did the general vote question arise out of the blue from the politicians? Why did council not provide information about the change to every household? Why did council not make this an important issue for public debate before the vote? What are the benefits to Oshawa of the change? What is the rationale for the change? Why did some council members press so hard for the change?...How will the change help Oshawa? Why? Why? Why? Too many questions….and not one answer!

Why did council ask the plebiscite and not tell us any of the aforementioned details. The answer is easy...They wanted the general vote because it insures incumbent's re-election and so they designed a difficult and convoluted question that nobody understood, kept the question as quiet as they could to avoid public discourse and discussion, and kept the question secret to confront voters for the first time in the voting booth. Realizing that "YES" answers are more likely from those who don't understand the question, they designed a question where a "YES" vote favoured a rejection of the ward system...a system that no one had publicly faulted. They did all this because they wanted a system that served politicians rather than the people. The Mayor even stated publicly that it was not city council's responsibility to inform the public about details of the question council itself had decided to ask voters. Incredible! If council wanted a considered and accurate measure on the question, they would have provided information. Because council didn't provide the information, they showed they didn't care about an accurate measure of public opinion...they just cared about introducing a voting system that would serve their personal interests...and so they designed a strategy to fool voters into giving politicians the answer they wanted... Incredulous!

Even more important--- politicians knew that there was no justification beyond their political self interest for asking the question and implementing the general vote and that no student of Canadian Municipal Politics could ever be convinced that it was best for large cities like Oshawa.

In Niagara Falls, Ontario, during a 2000 ballot pebiscite, the majority of citizens voted in favour of retaining the ward system. But because less than 50% of eligible voters turned out at the polls, the city council was legally able to ignore the results of the plebiscite. They ignored the plebiscite because they favored the general vote. Here in Oshawa, politicians supported the non-binding plebescite result because they favoured a change to the general vote. In 1985, Oshawa City Council ignored a plebiscite favoring ward voting because they wanted to retain the general vote. How politicians handle non-binding plebiscites has nothing to do with democratically upholding the public will but rather what action supports Council's desired outcome.

A citizen group in Niagara Falls developed and published a document listing 99 reasons to keep the ward system. Excerpted here are 29 solid reasons that pertain to Guelph...and to Oshawa

You may also be interested to read the rationale for suggesting the general vote for London by its prime mover, Councillor Rocco Furfaro. You'll see that they are about as significant as Oshawa Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki's rationale for suggesting the plebiscite question for Oshawa.


1. Every area of the city deserves equal representation.
2. The ward system encourages councillors to become fully knowledgeable about the area they represent.
3. Running in a ward makes councillors more accountable to neighbourhood voters.
4. The at-large system gives an unfair advantage to wealthy candidates.
5. There is not, nor has there ever been, any public desire to abolish the current ward system.
6. The ward system works. City council has never offered any substantial evidence to the contrary.
7. Your vote carries more weight in ward elections.
8. Without a ward system, local politics will become more remote than ever before.
9. The ward system prevents the undesirable possibility of having all councillors come from the same area of town.
10. A council elected at-large is more susceptible to being influenced by non-territorially based special interest groups.
11. The city is growing and becoming more diverse. A ward system can best accommodate these changes.
12. The ward system gives us a diversity of opinion on council.
13. Election debates are unworkable in an at-large system.
14. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that “the cream rises to the top” in an at-large system.
15. Citizens who need help know exactly who to contact and can hold them directly accountable at election time.
16. Printing election materials and lawn signs for over 60,000 voters would be cost prohibitive.
17. Guelph is too large for councillors to have intimate knowledge of every neighbourhood in the city.
18. Ward elections allow candidates to personally visit each home in the ward, to speak personally with a member of each household they seek to represent.
19. An at-large election system means more candidates and longer ballots. This makes it extremely difficult for voters to thoroughly consider the issues or ask questions of each and every candidate.
20. In a democracy, it is important to make informed decisions. Ward elections, by facilitating face-to-face interaction between voters and candidates, help voters become better-informed.
21. In the at-large system, every councillor will be competing against every other councillor. That makes it more difficult for incumbent councillors to build mutual trust and camaraderie.
22. Federal, provincial, and regional elections are all based on the ward system.
23. In a city of roughly 110,000 people, it simply makes sense to have city politicians take responsibility for neighbourhood problems through a ward system.
24. The trend in Ontario, in Canada, and across North America is towards adopting ward systems.
25. Your councillor likely lives, drives, walks, and shops in your neighborhood. This gives councillors a better understanding of neighbourhood issues and allows them to be proactive in dealing with neighbourhood problems.
26. At-large systems only tend to exist very small homogeneous communities. Guelph does not fit this criteria.
27. Under the at-large system, there is a greater possibility of having a homogeneous group of people representing a heterogeneous city.
28. Newmarket is one of only three medium sized municipalities in Ontario that has an at-large system. The City is currently in the process of adopting a ward system after citizens voted to dump the at-large system in a 2000 referendum.
29. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

There you go don't have to take my word for it that ward voting is best in serving the people. The initiative for change to the general vote comes from politicians who know that it secures and guarantees their political futures. Their private rationale is for a "self-serving" election system but their publicly stated rationale always falls far short of a full load. Why? Because a return to the general vote cannot be justified on any grounds by any thinking person. There simply is no public benefit of the general vote...but there are a number of deficits which have been cited in various posts on this site.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

City Hall is scrambling
into Big Brother
"Thought Control" Mode


From: Bill Longworth
Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2008 4:29 PM
To: Percy Luther, City Hall
Subject: Price for attached Advertising sign in Legends Centre

Please provide a price for a 2 ft x 3 ft advertising sign in the Legend's Centre identical in price and conditions to the Colin Carrie sign mounted there. The sign would have the message attached.

Bill Longworth,


Subject: Price for attached Advertising sign in Legends Centre
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2008 13:26:22 -0500
From: staff name

Thank you for your interest in advertising at the Legends Centre. Your request to purchase a 2’ x 3’ sign at the Legends Centre has been declined as the proposed messaging does not meet the criteria outlined in the City Sponsorship, Advertising & Donations Policy. Specifically, your proposed sign is not “consistent with the vision, policies and goals of the City of Oshawa” and “The City reserves the right to reject any or all unsolicited sponsorships, advertising and donations offered to the City and to reject any and all proposals”.

Staff name removed




...But controlling the message you receive is nothing new for city council...remember they asked you a plebiscite question about voting reform and then refused to tell you what the question meant, why it was asked, or what its impact on the city would be....REMEMBER?

To: Mayor and Council--RE: Price for attached Advertising sign in Legends Centre‏
From: Bill Longworth
Sent: November 12, 2008 2:57:46 PM

To the Mayor and Council,
To writer of correspondence removed

Please forward a copy of the city's Sponsorship, Advertising & Donations Policy along with the date it was enacted along with any revision dates.

In previous communications on Oct. 3, 2008, you suggested that Colin Carrie's sign in the Legend's Centre adhered to the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards without any reference to the existence of any controlling city policy and thus implied advertising was acceptable if it applied to that standard. My sign, though politicians do not like its content, does conform with that standard.

In my return correspondence to you I stated that, and I quote from the letter, "I am also interested to know whether advertising in public buildings is subject to any policies developed by the city and approved by council. If there are no such policies, I would judge this to be a severe shortcoming in civic political and administrative leadership." I didn't hear from you and thus assumed, and still do, that there was no such city policy.

In my Oct. 2 response to Percy Luther to a letter I received from him that same day, I questioned advertising standards in the city in which I stated, and I quote, "If there are no advertising guidelines, this demonstates a serious deficiency in staff and political leadership in Oshawa." Again, I was not alerted to any policy guiding advertising in city facilities. Again, I assumed, and still do, that there was no city policy.

Despite two queries from me about city advertising standards, this is the first indication that there "may" be a policy. The title of this document though suggests that it applies to the city sponsoring, advertising, and donating, rather than the public advertising in city facilities.

In a public building purchased, operated, and managed with city taxpayer dollars, if the city is going to allow any political advertising, then it cannot discriminate against political signage simply because city politicians do not like its content. That is like refusing political signs from a political party because city politicians and/or staff do not support the political party philosophy, and thus will shield taxpayer's from it, but do accept advertising from political parties favoured by city politicians and staff, and will confront the public with it. In a public building you cannot refuse my sign and accept a political sign from the area MP because his office/philosophy, as you suggest by accepting his advertising, is "consistent with the vision, policies and goals of the City of Oshawa.”

I await reconsideration of my request to advertise in the Legend's Centre and I await receipt of the city's Sponsorship, Advertising & Donations Policy.

Bill Longworth,

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

OSHAWA--the "Waning Backwater of Democracy:" The "Poster Child"
for "Old Politics"

I am struck this historic day when full democratic justice comes to American when they elect their first African-American president.

This has not come easily. Freedom from slavery with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in the 1860’s, the right to sit in the front of the bus as tested by Rosa Parks in 1955, the universal right to vote which is still being fought on some fronts, The Civil Rights Act introduced by John F. Kennedy in 1963 which allowed for African-American’s Right to Vote and the achievement of high office by US Secretary of State Codoleeza Rice, and Colin Powell former Secretary of State and Chief of Defense staff. With universal black suffrage, black politicians flourished at all levels in Congress, the House of Representatives, as Mayors, etc. All these individuals won their success on the backs of those who had fought and died for democracy and the right to vote.

Things are still not perfect, according to complaints received by CNN about voter and registration problems, and long lines that test the patience of voters, but they are improving. Democracy is improving.

This is in severe contrast with what is happening in Oshawa. Our city politicians have implemented the general vote system purportedly on the basis of the confusing plebiscite question on the last ballot…a question that council asked but one they refused to inform the people about. According to the Mayor, city hall had no responsibility to inform voters about their question. He said this was up to interested citizens to fundraise and inform citizens about the question city politicians had asked. What they Mayor suggested was contrary to Ontario Municipal Elections Law but nevertheless it was the Mayor’s spin on whose responsibility it was to insure an informed electorate.

So while American elections are getting more democratic and both Canadians and Americans are fighting abroad right now to bring democracy and representative government to Iraq and Afghanistan, our political system in Oshawa is becoming less democratic, less inclusive, less accountable, less representative, less responsive and less productive with the general vote which only serves politicians by guaranteeing their re-election until their death or retirement. This will give us aging, tiring and less energetic political leadership in Oshawa.

We will have a system not used in any large city in the country. If the system was a good one, wouldn’t it be used widely in the country.

The system will be more costly to the Oshawa taxpayer as the huge constituencies of all city politicians will be twice the size of those of our Federal and Provincial Government Members. The size of their constituencies of 160,000 people will give rise to demands for larger office space (which has already happened with $14 million “reported” changes to Rundle Tower of city hall with an additional $12 million reported reconstruction of the demolished city hall wings and council chamber), demands for bigger salaries in light of the bigger constituencies, and demands for bigger political office staffs to handle the increased workload politician's will claim.

Over time, all of the politicians will come from a few of the richer areas of the city leaving most areas unrepresented and forgotten and the huge general vote ballots containing upwards of 100 names will make informed voting impossible. Name recognition will be the only determinant of election so politicians will backbite, bitch, bicker, and grandstand to steal the press as well as spend exorbitant amounts of your scarce tax money in sending flyers with their names heavily displayed to all residents of the city….they will campaign to promote their names at your expense.

Wake up Oshawa…don’t let them use you like this!

We fought and died for democracy and are still doing so in foreign lands today…but city politicians are reducing this most cherished democratic right…the right of a meaningful vote to determine our political destiny in Oshawa!

We are told that elections are won and lost by the questions people are asking as they enter the voting booth. The question will be obvious when they are confronted by the huge general vote ballot and most will be confronted by a task they don’t understand, names they don’t know, and an impossible task of selecting those to serve them best. At that point…many voters will be resentful about those that brought about this system. Our job is to make sure that people know this critical information.

So who is responsible for the general vote? Who are the politicians who have voted to serve their own interests rather than the interests of the community? Who are the politicians that must be defeated?

The answer! Mayor Gray and Councillior’s Pidwerbecki, Kolodzie, Parkes, Henry, Sholdra, and Marimpietri. Make a list—these self serving city politicians must be defeated for robbing you of your guaranteed community representation on city council and putting their own electoral interests above your interests and those of your community.


Having now just finished watching President Elect Obama's victory speech, I am inspired to write this addition to the story above that I wrote earlier today.

We have entered a new era...with new lessons for those who would lead. It is clear that people now expect honesty and integrity from their politicians. It is a new age of people power...yes we can!

People know and expect that power is IN the people--not the politicians! It is FOR the people--not for the politicians. Politicians are to SERVE the PEOPLE--NOT THEMSELVES!

With the support of Oshawa voters, we expect to be able to mobilize this message to remove all politicians from city council who voted for an election system not used in any large city in the country...simply to serve themselves!

Barack Obama's election ushers in a new political era with generous skepticism toward "old politics" and "old politicians". With your help we can rid city council of this cancer and bring in a new age. Yes we can! Yes we will!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Our new ad

Oshawa politicians have allowed the Colin Carrie political sign to be remounted in the Legend's Centre. Our correspondence re this issue has been posted on this site. Following this unprecedented policy by city council to allow the posting of political signs on public buildings which is undoubtedly unique in the country, I am asking city council to post our ad under the same conditions. The precedent has now been set and there can be no excuse not to post our sign under the same conditions and in the same kind of prominent position. We shall keep you posted!

You can increase the size of our ad to a readable size by double-clicking it.

Might we also suggest you print this sign off and give it to your friends and neighbours or give them the link to this posting. Oshawa voters have to know the impact of the new election system on the city, on our taxes, and on our political leadership. Oshawa voters have to understand why politicians imposed a system not used in the country. It is an American system that requires the use of political parties to make it work. Municipal political parties are against Municipal Election Law in Ontario.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Latest on Cullen Gardens Fiasco

Council is considering a staff report at their upcoming meeting to consider awarding a sales listing to a local realtor.

Their efforts at national advertising in the past at a cost of over $6000 produced one offer to buy for $30,000...not much for the city's $234,000 expensive and ludicrous purchase based on an "insider" estimate of value of over $600,000.

Obviously the dearth of prospective buyers indicate the real value of the collection to underscore the naivety of council's judgement. Councillors who voted for this wastage of taxpayer money and those supporting this extravagance in wastage do not in my judgement exercise wise enough judgement to warrant them with trusteeship of our hard earned tax dollars.

You can search this blog on the left sidebar using the keywords "cullen gardens" to read our complete list of stories about this fiasco.

You will find many additional links in the articles including news articles of the sales attempts to date.

Monday, October 6, 2008

...on Political Signs in City Buildings

Why Don't they just "COME CLEAN"
... with the facts?


Subject: RE: To The Mayor and Council RE: Colin Carrie Sign
Date: Fri, 3 Oct 2008 17:02:25 -0400


Cc: Political and Media Mail List deleted

Mr. Longworth

The City’s facility advertising is in compliance with the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. Our advertising agreement with Colin Carrie has been in place since March 28, 2008. Unfortunately during the term of the contract, the sign was not removed when the federal election was called. We have since removed the sign and thank you for bringing this item to our attention.

Tracy Adams


RE: To The Mayor and Council RE: Colin Carrie Sign

From: Bill Longworth (
Sent:October 6, 2008 11:18:55 AM

To: Tracy Adams (; (
Cc: Political and Media Mail List Deleted

Tracy Adams
Mayor and Council c/o city clerk

Your response does not at all address the issue of political or religious advertising on civic buildings which by convention is not done anywhere to my knowledge. The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards speaks to the truth, accuracy, and fairness of advertising and is quite general in addressing itself to print and media advertising and does not at all address any special institutional requirements. For example, it does not address the posting of signs in Parliamentary windows yet one MP who posted a "political" sign was ordered to remove it since "advertising" is not allowed in Parliamentary buildings. The Code defines the basic requirements of advertising. Carrie's sign in the Legend's Centre was accurate, fair, and truthful...but it was not appropriate for posting in a civic building.

Oshawa's decision to allow political advertising is akin to a church building posting advertising for sexual services. The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards does not prohibit advertising for sexual services and such advertising is found in many publications which speaks to the "class" of the publication and the readership it wants to attract. It is just not done in churches because it is not in good taste in those institutions and does not reflect the values of the organization. Similarly, I would think it a severe disgrace, for example, if advertising for condoms were posted in the Legend's Centre, despite the fact it is permissable by the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards and encouraged by public health policy. Judgement always has to be exercised and there is a time and place for everything.

Your response does not in addition address the question of who approved this advertising. I have asked whether this was a staff decision, whether it was approved by council, or indeed whether it was on the independent direction of a politician. I am also interested to know whether advertising in public buildings is subject to any policies developed by the city and approved by council. If there are no such policies, I would judge this to be a severe shortcoming in civic political and administrative leadership.

This is a serious matter and I am requesting full disclosure on this issue to me. In addition, I am requesting notification to me that political advertising will no longer be allowed in city buildings.

Bill Longworth,


Friday, October 3, 2008

Correspondence related to
Oshawa Public Buildings
being used for
Partisan Political Purposes

Issue Described in Sept. 30 Item Below

Subject: Colin Carrie Sign
Date: Thu, 2 Oct 2008 11:49:18 -0400


Mr. Longworth.

I am responding to your email of September 30, 2008 concerning a sign at the Legends Centre referencing the Constituency Office of Colin Carrie. This is to advise that the sign was permitted at the facility under an advertising agreement between Colin Carrie and the City of Oshawa. In accordance with the agreement, the City has removed the sign for the duration of the federal election campaign in order that all candidates are treated in a fair and impartial manner.

If you have any further questions please contact me.

Percy Luther

Manager, Records Information Systems
City of Oshawa

RE: Colin Carrie Sign
To: Percy Luther and The Mayor and Council
From: Bill Longworth (
Sent:October 2, 2008 4:56:42 PM
To:; Percy Luther (

Cc: (; mshouldra (; npidwerbecki (; (; jneal (; tdmarimpietri (; rlutczyk (; (; jhenry (; (; (; (;;;; Sandra Kranc (; (;; Durham OCentral News Joe (; news rogers 1st Local News Producer (; news Rogers TV Supervising Producer (; (; (; "news@oshawaexpress" M " ; " " ; " " ; " " ; " " ; " " ; " the Star Letters to editor " ; " " ;;"

Mr. Luther...It is rather unusual that political or religious advertising should be allowed on public property since these are both topics of public disagreement. This advertising is quite different than regular advertising such as for fitness centers, insurance companies and agencies, or Campbell's Soup. There has to be a standard. Would advertising for strip clubs or for sexual or escort services be allowed as a simple advertising contract, for example, or is there some standard and guidelines? If there are no advertising guidelines, this demonstates a serious deficiency in staff and political leadership in Oshawa.

As this instance of political advertising is a first for Oshawa public buildings, I have asked who made the decision and have asked that this information be publicly communicated. Political advertising in our public buildings implies funding support but as I suggested in my previous message, this would never indicate the Federal Party or the MP involved. This political advertising in Municipal Buildings is undoubtedly a "first" for any municipality in Canada and so the public has the right to know how and why the decision was made. I have asked whether it was a decision made by a politician, a resolution of council, or a staff decision. If a staff decision, I ask whether the decision was bounced off any politician. I do not believe any competent staff would see it as a simple advertising contract as you suggest without alarm bells going off and wonder whether a FOI request has to be filed to get to the bottom of this issue.

I ask also the date on which the sign was mounted at the Legends Centre be provided to me.

In your email to me, you indicate that the sign was removed in accordance with the advertising contract and so I ask if such removal is referenced in the advertising contract, why was this condition of the contract not carried out immediately when the Federal Election was announced.

The fact that the sign has now been removed indicates that it should not have been placed there during the Federal Election and I still insist not at all, election or not.

I also wonder whether this advertising cost will be included on the election costs reported by the Conservative Candidate to the Election Expenses Commission at the conclusion of the election as it did appear on the Legends Centre wall for a significant portion of the Federal Election period.

Bill Longworth,


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oshawa Using City Buildings
for Partisan Political Purposes

To The Mayor and Council,
c/o Oshawa City Clerk

Local Media

Local Federal Candidates

I am distressed, concerned, and aghast that Oshawa taxpayer funded public facilities should be used for blatant politicking on behalf of any Federal Political Candidate or Party.

The Legends Centre, funded by the Oshawa taxpayer, has a large metal political sign supporting Conservative Candidate, Colin Carrie, prominently and permanently affixed to the wall just inside the main entrance on the wall opposite the public library.

Anyone seeing this sign might reasonably believe Carrie, or the Conservative Federal Government, had a role in funding this facility for the Oshawa taxpayer. Indeed we all know that this facility was built at considerable expense solely by the Oshawa taxpayer, the highest taxed residents in the entire GTA. Indeed, even if the Federal Government was involved, the Government of Canada would be listed…not the party or the riding member.

In any case, a significant proportion of Oshawa taxpayers do not support Carrie or his party and so it is radically unfair to use their taxpayer funded facilities to support candidates and parties that they oppose. By displaying Carrie’s sign, the City of Oshawa is publicly sanctioning him as our MP in Ottawa which is at odds with the viewpoint of many Oshawa taxpayers.

Displaying a political sign, whether during a federal election or not makes a political statement that would not be made in any other public building in the country. Once again, Oshawa is living up to its motto, “Prepare to be amazed!”

I request the details of how the decision was made to allow this partisan politicking on Oshawa Public Property. I am particularly interested in knowing whether this was a resolution of council, a decision of staff, or a unilateral decision of a politician like the mayor who was once President of the Oshawa Federal Progressive Conservative Association.

I believe also that the individual(s) responsible should be publicly identified and disciplined for this gross lack of judgment, probably the only example of such lack of judgment in the entire country.

I wonder, as well, whether the expense of this advertising and the cost of producing the metal plaque is being identified as an election expense on the part of the Conservative Candidate. I believe also that the offer for displaying Candidates signs should be made to all candidates if displaying political signs is now part of Oshawa public policy.

Bill Longworth,
September 30, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Is Oshawa A War Zone?

City Hall---Blow it up!

North Oshawa Arena---Blow it up!

Civic Auditorium---Blow it up!

Harmon Park Arena---Blow it up!

Children’s Arena---Blow it up!

The historic and architecturally significant Rundle House---Blow it Up! It doesn’t matter that it was featured on the city’s brochure, “Historical Walking Tours.”

We have political leadership in Oshawa that has a “Johnny-one-note” philosophy, “Blow it up!”

This council and their bureaucratic advisors are blind to any alternative except search and destroy. "Blow it up!"

There’s so much destruction of public facilities in Oshawa, it’s like we’re in a war zone! It seems Oshawa City Council is blowing up everything in sight and compounding debt upon debt in this most heavily taxed part of the GTA.

It seems we have more destruction of public buildings in Oshawa than you’d find in Afghanistan. We are in all likelihood approaching re-construction debts equivalent to theirs. And still the politicians continue to spend like drunken sailors. They spend millions to destroy our facilities rather than amortizing these same amounts into their future operating and maintenance costs.

And this crew of incompetents has protected themselves from public outrage being expressed through the ballot box by introducing the general vote to protect their political futures.

Let’s look at the reasons they’ve given for their decisions.

City Hall

The Spin

We’re told that the roof leaks, we need a customer service center, and that the building is not handicapped accessible.

The Truth

Politicians want more palatial office space for themselves and senior bureaucrats, more palatial council chambers, and a plaque listing their names for posterity on the project.

They claim ongoing maintenance costs while negating these costs in every building including brand new buildings.

These maintenance costs are insignificant compared to the rapidly escalating $14.5 million plus interest on the new construction.

The leaking roof (if this is true) and the accessibility issue are simple maintenance items.

While peeking in the customer service area while in city hall the other day, I didn’t see phones ringing off the hook but did see a lot of idle chatter in the minimally staffed department. When was the last time you phoned city hall? This is a glorified answering service which will result in calls being directed to departmental experts without any staff reductions in those sites.

As for the leaking roof, a Toronto Raptor game at the Air Canada Centre last winter had to be periodically interrupted to wipe up water from roof leakage.

News reports say Buckingham Palace also has leaky roofs, peeling paint, and electrical and asbestos problems. Now, I wonder whether these problems are being repaired…or will did the powers that be follow Oshawa’s model and demolish and rebuild.

Even Parliament Hill is too costly for the taxpayers to maintain and should be "blown up". Let's put Oshawa City Council in charge of making this decision for Canadians.

The Arenas

The Civic, Children’s Arena, Harman Park Arena are all under study for demolition. North Oshawa Arena has already been demolished at a cost in excess of $1,000,000.

The Spin

We’re told that we have a surplus of ice space in Oshawa and that the maintenance costs of the “old” buildings does not justify their existence.

The Truth

An internet search shows the 51 City of Toronto arenas average 42.6 years of age with five close to 60 years old, and there's not been a word about destroying any of these!

The Civic (1964), Harmon Park Arena (1970’s), Children’s Arena (1956), North Oshawa Arena (1960’s) are all “young” when compared with Toronto’s where they recently built their first arena in 30 years.

I was in Children’s Arena, Harmon Park Arena, and The Civic recently and noted their spotless and well maintained conditions.

These rinks are irreplaceable “neighbourhood” resources providing accessible recreation opportunities in these older areas for children less able to travel to out-of-area facilities. Political decisions centralizing arenas to the newer and richer areas (except for Donovan which is being preserved) are once again depriving children from South Oshawa and the densely populated Nonquon area the same opportunities as being provided to the newer and richer neighbourhoods.

For many years, vast areas of Oshawa were neglected under the General Vote Council and with the return of the general vote, politicians are now once again working to deprive vast areas of the city of community recreational facilities…in the very places they are needed most. Under the General Vote these areas will have no council representative to speak up on their behalf to insure that all areas of the city are serviced.

The most important point about arena facilities is that they should be strategically placed and equally accessible to residents of all parts of the city.

We are also the fastest growing part of the GTA and if we presently have surplus ice, this may not be the case in short order as the city rapidly expands.

And once again, raising ongoing maintenance costs for the older areas is a spurious argument since ongoing maintenance and opportunity costs accrue even to the newest facilities like GM centre (which generates losses of millions of dollars per year when interest expenses on its $45 million loan are topped up by the half million $ yearly operating losses).

Show me politicians anywhere in the country, if not the universe, who would level and rebuild their complete inventory of ice arenas in one fell swoop in a 5 or 6 year period and I will show you a bunch of fools unfit to govern.

If you are disturbed by Oshawa’s demolition of our arena facilities, you can sign the petition to save Oshawa Arenas.

Rundle House

At a time when the world celebrates it’s history and heritage, it is abhorrent that we lose this treasure. Compare Oshawa’s main street with Port Perry, Port Hope, Unionville, Cobourg, and a myriad of others that treasure and enhance their image by preserving their architecture. In Oshawa, we "blow them up" in attempts to replicate our embarrassing South Simcoe city entrance in other parts of the city.

I have been told on good authority by a sitting member of the city council appointed Oshawa Historical Society that city council could have easily saved this building by designating it a "heritage site" but that they didn't have the political will to do so. They bowed to the wishes of the hospital board rather than the interests of the city of Oshawa.

A number of alternative sites had been identified for the cancer hospice by interested parties and I have in my possession a letter*** from Victor Fiume, President of the Durham Region Homebuilder's Association which in a meeting with the hospital board offered to renovate the Rundle House suitable for the hospital use with "little or no cost" to the Hospital Foundation. Hospital Board members indicated they had no interest in saving Rundle House and thus the DRHBA funded an alternative project, a $400,000 renovation and major expansion of Hearth Place. (link to letter will be included once I arrange the letter to be scanned and hosted on the internet)

A photo video of all of these “bomb sites” is being prepared for posterity and will be appended to this story upon its completion.

We need reminders of the mentality of this council as we approach the next election when hopefully most of the bums will be turfed out of office.

Friday, March 21, 2008

First You Say You Do...And Then You Don't...And Then You Say You Do...And Then You Don't...So Whatta Ya Gonna Do?

Once again, Oshawa City Council is demonstrating its grossly misguided, rudderless, and waffling leadership in playing fast and loose with your tax dollars.

That commercial slogan, “You’re in good hands with Allstate,” certainly cannot be applied to our City Council here in Oshawa.

Their self serving moves to wipe out your local neighbourhood political representation and bring us city wide elections for all city politicians, a move only designed to facilitate their own political careers while grossly reducing political accountability, attests to that.

At the March 3, 2008 City Council Meeting, Councillor Mary Anne Sholdra told me as much when she said with the "General Vote", she’d now have a much easier time getting re-elected. Perhaps this is why she voted against every single question designed to provide citizen information about the change and supported every single question to bring about the less democratic general vote.

A less accountable General Vote Council that cannot be defeated at the polls can do anything to you and perhaps this is why this City Council has implemented so many controversial, alarming and costly decisions. An unaccountable politician can bulldoze like a dictator, be damned public opinion or the public good.

Besides the Cullen Miniatures purchase, the UOIT student housing issue, the $12 Million redevelopment of City Hall apparently to provide more palatial office space and more presidential council chambers for city politicians, this post describes another example of the irresponsible actions of an unaccountable City Council which has continued to run up debt despite already being the highest taxed region in the GTA.

At an in-camera meeting on January 24, 2007, Oshawa City Council voted to spend $500,000 to hire a PR firm to promote Federal Government Assistance for the development of our waterfront and marina.

In a time when Mayor John Gray was promoting and supporting a 9% property tax increase and also promoting cutting back of services as well as fee increases for others such as the use of our taxpayer funded recreational facilities to reduce the ability of families to fund their child’s participation in activities like hockey, swimming and soccer, all of which would help decrease the major epidemic of child inactivity and obesity, this half million dollar expenditure is a serious misplacement of priorities.

It is all the more ludicrous when the most efficient promotion of Federal assistance to our waterfront should simply result from the mayor picking up the phone to chat with our three area Government Member Federal MP’s.

Surely as past President of the Oshawa Federal Progressive Conservative Association, you’d think he would get a friendly ear from our Conservative Members including Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty who holds the Federal purse strings, Minister of International Cooperation, Bev Oda, who also holds a seat at cabinet where all important decisions are made, and backbencher Colin Carrie who should be well-positioned to lobby in Oshawa’s interest with his fellow influential Conservative Oshawa area MP’s.

Even Minister Flaherty ridiculed this expenditure stating it was a total waste of public money and he could hear the “flushing” sound of your tax dollars all the way to his office in Ottawa. He stated it would have been far more prudent and more cost-effective for the mayor to pick up the telephone to speak to him and the other Oshawa area MP’s.

Finance Minister Flaherty probably and deservedly felt that the Mayor’s failure to utilize him and the other local Federal government members undermined public confidence in their service to the Oshawa community. End-running our influential Federal Members will do us little good and will probably leave them sitting on their hands when the question of Oshawa’s waterfront comes up. No one would have ever considered this "end run" when Ed Broadbent was our member!

When Oshawa Council came “halfway” to its senses on January 28, 2007 (Page 46), it “tabled” Phase 2 of the PR effort costing $385,325 approving only Phase 1 PR funding of $134,675--still a ludicrous expenditure when one realizes that the Federal Government had hired David Crombie, probably Canada’s greatest advocate for the preservation of waterfronts and the development of eco-friendly waterfront nature trails and bike paths to investigate and report on the matter.

Crombie has submitted his report which we are assured will be relased to the public. Undoubtedly though, Crombie would have supported his waterfront vision for Oshawa, the only residential community on Lake Ontario without a recreational marina.

Compounding the problem, however, City Council advocates of the full half million dollar funding, realizing some opponents of the spending (Councillors Marimpietri, Neal, and Parkes) were absent during the March 3, 2008 city council meeting, slipped in a motion by Councillor Pidwerbecki seconded by Councillor Nicholson to re-introduce re-opening the question and it passed on votes of Councillors Cullen, Henry, Kolodzie, Nicholson, Pidwerbecki, Sholdra and Mayor Gray. Councillor Lutczyk was the only councillor present with the sense to oppose re-opening the question.

Like Finance Minister Flaherty, can you hear the sounds of flushing of your hard earned tax dollars down the toilet? At an average house assessment of about $3000, this expenditure consumes the residential tax of you and about 160 of your neighbours.

Now let me go out and count the houses in my neighbourhood to see if my neighbours and I can cover this expenditure with our house taxes! I don't think we can!

I smell some rot somewhere in this!

Be prepared for more of this Oshawa. The heavy handed and ham fisted council you are now seeing is only a start to worst days ahead under the general vote when guaranteed re-election will make politicians far less accountable to your wishes.

And you, Oshawa, by your inaction in regards to the loss of ward voting, are letting the politicians do this to you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What Oshawa City Council
Didn't Want You To Hear!

Here is a presentation I was scheduled to make to city council at their March 3, 2008 meeting…but a surprise motion by Councillor Kolodzie seconded by Councillor Nicholson and supported by all in attendance except for Councillors Lucyk and Mariempietri…Councillors Cullen, Neal, and Parkes were absent. The motion, to accept my request to speak for information only and thus denying me the right to speak, is surprising since it was obviously organized and planned prior to the city council meeting, this despite the fact that the law says all city business is to be done in public at the council meeting. I know this strategy to once again deny public information was planned ahead of time because Councillor Nicholson told me of the strategy during the break after which I was to present my delegation.

So Here’s the presentation city politicians didn’t want you to hear.

Bill Longworth Presentation Scheduled for City Council re F&A Agenda Item FA08-36, Monday, March 3, 2008

Mayor and Council

Conflict of interest is the most serious misdemeanor of elected citizens

There are suggestions and allegations of a conflict of interest in respect of the city purchase of the Cullen Garden Miniatures.

I’m here tonight to ask you to propose a resolution of council to launch an inquiry under section 274 (1) of the Ontario Municipal Act to look into this matter….and I would ask that you have a recorded vote on this issue.

Now I’m not going to mention the names of politicians involved tonight…but you all know what I’m referring to

The public have put you in a position of public trust…and you have an obligation to the public to insure that we have an honest and transparent city council that acts with integrity

You have a responsibility to Oshawa citizens and to the politician involved to look into this serious matter of allegations of conflict of interest

Sweeping these allegations under the rug by doing nothing reflects poorly on every member of council and raises serious questions about your service in the interests of Oshawa taxpayers.

The finance and admin committee has recommended that you not take action in this issue…chiefly at the urging of the involved politician who was the only one to speak for inaction at the committee when it met on Feb. 25…which in my estimation is itself a conflict of interest.

I believe inaction in this matter is irresponsible and in fact damaging to Oshawa City Council since this purchase was one of the more incredulous actions out of a number of controversial actions taken by this city council…which has seemed to have been heavy handed and ham fisted at times.

You have nothing more important than the public trust in all of you’re actions and so I’m asking you to launch a judicial inquiry of any potential conflict of interest in the Cullen Gardens Miniatures purchase by a resolution of this council under Section 274(1) of the Municipal Act.

Such an action is required to

1) Assure citizens that politicians are indeed acting in the best interests of the citizens,

2) Clear any politician’s reputations that have been besmirched by allegations of conflict of interest

3) Assure citizens that we have an honest and uncompromised city government that acts with integrity in the best interests of citizens, and

4) Assure citizens that the council is self-policing and does not require external public supervision to insure honesty and integrity.
If you fail to act, it is then up to citizens themselves to initiate and fund action under the conflict of interest act which is a travesty of the public trust placed in you to supervise the honesty and integrity of your own behavior.

It seems grossly unfair that individual citizens should have to use their own time and effort and funds to insure honest government

So failure to act as I’m requesting under Section 274(1) of the Municipal Act reflects negatively on every member of council in raising questions of public trust in the minds of every citizen…and questions of what else is being hidden from the public….like information about the general vote plebiscite when the mayor said city hall had no responsibility to communicate plebiscite information to the public.

So council, Pass a resolution of council to launch a judicial inquiry under Section 274(1) of the Municipal Act in respect of the Cullen Gardens Miniatures purchase and lets put any questions of conflict of interest to rest…and provide a full motion of confidence to the named member if that is appropriate…and the full sanctions of the law if that is justified

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Protecting the Integrity
of Oshawa City Council

To the Mayor and Council

There has been much public concern, controversy and ridicule over the city purchase of the Cullen Gardens Miniatures Collection and their recent dismal failure at trying to unload the collection.

Because of the questions of potential conflicts of interest, the reputations of some politicians have been besmirched, sullied, and compromised.

The Law is extremely clear about the actions politicians must take when they foresee a potential conflict of interest stating clearly that they must excuse themselves from all discussion, voting, and comment on the issue in question.

I think it fair to all involved that an investigation be carried out to see if any of the allegations of conflict of interest are justified, and if not, to take official city action such as moving a vote of confidence in the individuals involved to restore their integrity and reputation, but if proven, to insure the wrongdoing reflects the full extent of the law.

Political Conflicts of Interest are extremely serious and we cannot allow such actions to undermine our system of government.

Section 274(1) of the Ontario Municipal Act states that the city can launch an investigation by a judge of the Superior Court of Justice by a resolution of city council.

Such an Investigation by a judge shall:

(a) Investigate any supposed breach of trust or other misconduct of a member of council, an employee of the municipality or a person having a contract with the municipality in relation to the duties or obligations of that person to the municipality;

(b) Inquire into any matter connected with the good government of the municipality; or

(c) Inquire into the conduct of any part of the public business of the municipality, including business conducted by a commission appointed by the council or elected by the electors.
This action can be investigated or prosecuted under either the Ontario Municipal Act or the Ontario Conflict of Interest Act. The Ontario Conflict of Interest Act says that this act shall prevail in the event of conflict between the acts but in fact no conflict exists so either Act can be used.

Action is preferable under the Ontario Municipal Act since this act allows for action to proceed following a resolution of council and all funding and defence costs comes from the city whereas complaint and presumably costs are the responsibility of private citizens under the Conflict of Interest Act.

To avoid impugning the entire council, I cannot impress the need strongly enough for council to initiate an independent investigation under the Municipal Act to:

1) Assure citizens that politicians are indeed acting in the best interests of Oshawa citizens and taxpayers, and

2) Clear any politician’s reputations that have been besmirched by this purchase, and

3) Assure citizens that we have an honest and uncompromised city government that acts with integrity, and

4) Assure citizens that the council is indeed self policing and does not require external public oversight to insure honesty and integrity.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Inadequate Accountability and Transparency Committee response to Longworth's Seven Deadly Sins Questions

VOTES Chair, Bill Longworth, made a presentation to the Accountability and Transparency Committee on January 17, 2008. As a result the committee made recommendations accessible here. While I supported Recommendations #3 (Agree to Post politician's expense and renumeration records, #5 (Agree to notify delegations of time and date of their presentations to councils and committees), and #6 (publish construction costs and funding details of GM Centre and dispensation details of funds raised from OPUC sale), I did not support the committee failure to accept my requests in #1 (auditor general to investigate city plebiscite strategy), #2(request for links to all staff reports and citizen correspondence on the council agenda where the items are officially dealt with), #4 (that city council severely limit in-camera meetings), and #7 (that auditor general investigate potential ethical and legal questions behind the purchase of the Cullen Miniatures).

I therefore sent the following letter to Oshawa City Council c/o Oshawa City Clerk as well as the Local and Regional Media.

To the Mayor and Council,
c/o Oshawa City Clerk:

I am requesting to address the full council re the Accountability and Transparency Committee recommendations in respect of my recent presentations to them which were considered at the meeting of February 7, 2008

I am satisfied with committee recommendations that addressed my requests:

1) That city politician’s complete and detailed expenses, salaries, honorariums, and allowances for sitting on both City and Regional Councils and Citizen Committees be posted on the city website, and

2) That city clerk’s office give formal notification to delegations of the date and time when they are scheduled to address either city council or committees of council, and

3) That a full public report be prepared regarding the $45 million funding details of GM Centre and of the dispensation of the $30 million that council received as a result of monetizing a portion of the ownership of the OPUC
I would reserve the right to present these items to the full council in the event that any or all of the committee recommendations do not meet approval of City Council.

I am not satisfied with committee recommendations in respect of my following requests and wish to address city council on these items:

1) That Oshawa's Auditor General investigate Oshawa's information campaign and strategy leading up to the plebiscite process in respect of the 18 questions I asked him to review.

A letter stating that the city complied with the the Ontario Municipal Elections Act is insufficient since the law specifically gives city council unlimited spending authority regarding ballot questions which implies a responsibility and expectation to do so while at the same time specifically constrains any 3rd party citizen campaigns in regards to ballot questions.

No law defines every possible potential contingency and no legislator would have ever foreseen that an Ontario City Council would ask their voters a question and then refuse to give them information about it as Oshawa politicians have done. That is the reason why courts interpret the "intent" of the law.

Democracy depends upon an informed public and the Canadian Supreme Court states that information regarding a vote is a basic right in Canadian Society. Yet the Mayor publicly stated that the city had no responsibility to inform citizens about the question and thus the city failed to do so.

The failure to inform looks like part of the city strategy along with the convoluted question in order to get a preconceived answer. This is not democracy. It is manipulation of the people.

2) In the interests of transparency, that Oshawa City Council implement a policy to provide appropriate links to Committee Reports and Citizen Correspondence directly on the agenda and minutes of City Council Meetings where official decisions are made in respect of the reports and correspondence.

The committee has only recommended putting an explanatory note on the agendas. This is not good enough. Interested citizens would still have to leave the agenda to search through a completely unrelated and unlinked file to seek the information.

Links to the staff reports and citizen correspondence directly on the agenda where the decision is being made would simplify citizen’s ability to following pertinent information about the issues and decisions made by Oshawa City Council.

Transparency is putting things together so make them easier to follow and understand rather rather hiding them remote from the city agenda. Politicians are provided this information in their meeting packages…why is it not provided for citizens?

3) That City Council cease the practice of having closed meetings scheduled prior to every city council meeting in the spirit of Provincial Law that severely limits the content of such meetings to personnel and property matters stating that all of the business of council is to be carried on in public and the committee has only recommended that my request be received for information rather than action.

4) That the auditor general be directed to investigate all details leading up to the purchase of the Cullen Gardens Miniatures including any and all ethical questions and potential conflicts of interest and report publicly on his findings.

The committee recommendation that my request regarding this most controversial decision of Oshawa City Council be received for information rather than action is drastically insufficient.

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

Friday, February 8, 2008

Mr. Premier...We Need
Your Voice On This Issue!

Mr. Premier:

I have written you before about this important issue with little response and no action.

I am today writing you again to request that you make some public comment about your attitude towards large municipalities implementing the general vote for their city councils which they are able to do unilaterally according to "freedoms" they have been given in Bill 130 without this undemocratic decision being able to be appealed to any external body.

The extra rights accorded to municipalities can be used irresponsibly by some self-serving municipalities as has been done in Oshawa and this is a move that could sweep across the Province. This has serious consequences for people right across the Province.

Just as you stood up publicly to denounce The Toronto District School Board's approval of a Black-focussed Africentric school suggesting that this approach is not the foundation for a caring, cohesive society, but stating that you will not introduce legislation to prohibit these moves unless a trend develops across the province, I am asking you to make the same public pronouncements in regards to large cities, specifically Oshawa, implementing the general vote for municipal elections.

A Toronto Star editorial questions, If blacks can have publicly funded Africentric schools, why shouldn't Jews be able to send their children to publicly funded Israelicentric schools – or Muslims to Arabicentric schools, or Sikhs to Punjabicentric schools? The question can be similarly asked, If Oshawa can implement the general vote to protect city politicians from serious electoral challenge, why should it not be extended to many other jurisdictions throughout the Province?.

Mr. Premier, just as the fragmentation of school systems needed your public comment, this municipal governance issue needs your public comment.

We know with certainty that you do not support the fragmentation of schools along ethnic or faith based lines and your public pronouncements will undoubtedly have major impact on stemming the publicly funded growth of these throughout Ontario. With respect, Mr. Premier, we equally have to know whether you support the movement toward the use of the general vote in Ontario Municipalities with its resulting reduction in political accountability and the loss of local community representation on city councils.

We ask that you write the Oshawa Mayor and Council and the local press to express your support or lack thereof for this move. Without your public pronouncements, public confidence in the actions of Oshawa City Council will continue to be questionned.

More can be read about this serious issue at

Editor's Comment---This public letter has been sent to the Premier, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Oshawa MPP's, Oshawa Mayor and Council, Local and Regional Press.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Longworth Asks Council to Account for Seven “Deadly Sins”

Bill Longworth made a Presentation to Oshawa City Council Accountability and Transparency Committee on January 17, 2008 and asked for the following Auditor General Investigations and Reports along with some policy changes by Oshawa City Council to make the process more accountable and transparent.

Bill 130 gave all Ontario Municipal Governments a “free hand” in determining their governance systems not anticipating that any large cities would implement the undemocratic, unaccountable and unworkable “general vote” that Oshawa City Council has voted to implement. Oshawa will now become the largest city in the free world to use the general vote without municipal political parties which are prohibited in Ontario.

By the very definition of the general vote, the council will be less accountable because it excludes any serious challenges by non-incumbents, takes away community representation to ensure that no politician is accountable to represent the interests of your community, and ensures the re-election of incumbents till their death or resignation which in itself reduces accountability since they will not be able to be defeated if they do things unpopular with the people.

It is now up to the people to press council for changes to make their actions more transparent, accountable and easy to follow and thus I have asked for the following changes. In the coming posts, we will expand each of these areas as time permits.

I am here today to request 7 things---otherwise known as….”The Seven Deadly Sins

That the Auditor General conduct investigations to answer the 18 questions I posed to the transparency and accountability committee in my correspondence to the Mayor and Council on December 3, 2007 including a rationale of why the question was asked when the general vote is not used in any city the size of Oshawa in Canada or the free world without being paired with municipal political parties which are at present prohibited by Ontario Municipal Elections Law, a rationale for the multiple revisions of the plebiscite question and the degree of “negotiation” of the plebiscite wording “In-Camera”, the adequacy of City Council’s efforts to promote public discourse and discussion on this important issue and to make sure that the public understood the question and its ramifications and the Mayor’s assertions that City Council had no responsibility to communicate these details to the public insisting it was private citizen’s responsibility to do so despite the fact that 3rd party campaigning is prohibited by the Ontario Municipal Elections Act.

That in the interests of transparency, links to all citizen letters sent to the Mayor and Council be included on the agenda’s and minutes of city council where the official decisions on the issue take place so that interested citizens do not have to search through committee agendas to find the items relating to the city agenda and archives.

Right now, links to some correspondence appear on council agendas and minutes while some appears only on committee agendas and minutes.

City Council should follow policies that make it easier for citizens to follow issues rather than more difficult by hiding the item remote from the place where official council votes are taken.

The citizen correspondence and the specific action taken by council on the issue should appear in one place…the city council agenda which is then republished as the minutes showing distinct council action taken on the specific item of correspondence….by hiding citizen input from the scrutinizing eyes of the interested public, you are neither demonstrating accountability nor transparency.

Many items for discussion and for votes appear only as agenda item numbers making it extremely difficult for ordinary interested citizens to follow and so a system should be devised to refer to issues by name rather than number.

That links to full, detailed and complete accounting records of council members expenses including all receipts and invoices, itemized expense allowances, entertainment expenses, travel expenses, automobile allowances, advertising budgets, office expenses, blackberry charges, complete listing of all compensations and honorariums including those amounts paid to politicians to chair/vice chair council committees, honorariums for sitting on citizen boards and committees like art gallery, senior citizen centers, CLOCA, total amounts of tax free monies received, etc., be published for each member of city council on the city web site.

That all councillor expenses be subject to an audit.

That an “oversight” committee be established to review and approve all councilor expenses with the power to deny unusual and extraordinary claims.

It is not transparent at all to publish reports on politicians accounts by council/minute items like 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 of the Finance and Admin Committee Report to Nov. 5 City Council Meeting.

Such postings as requested above have been suggested by the City of Toronto Auditor General and are now being posted in detail by the City of Toronto. Similar suggestions have been made by Toronto Star City Hall beat reporters in order to cut wastage from city budgets.

If politicians are unwilling to release their expense records, are they trying to hide excesses from the taxpaying public.

Publicly posted expense records like these will ensure politicians spend taxpayer's money as carefully as their own.

That City Council discontinue the practice of preceding every City Council Meeting with “In Camera” Council Meetings. Provincial Law clearly limits the content of closed meetings and such issues would not arise prior to every council meeting. All council business must be conducted in public and in such a way that citizens can follow what is being discussed and what decisions are being taken.

That Formal notice should be given to delegations when they are scheduled to speak to council or committees. Politicians get such notice…surely it is not too much to ask that the same courtesy be extended to those who have expressed an interest in presenting to committee. (I missed this committee last month because I was not notified I was on the agenda…didn’t hear until phoned by a politician after supper that night). I have at times received notice but request that it always be done as a matter of policy rather than haphazardly.

That the city publicly release all construction costs and funding details of the GM Centre beyond operating losses to include interest costs/dividend losses of “monetizing” city ownership of Oshawa PUC Networks Inc.

That the auditor general investigate all details leading up to the purchase of the Cullen Garden Miniatures including any and all ethical questions and potential conflicts of interest and report publicly on his findings including the city plans for the disposition of the properties and the revenues received for their disposition.

So what did the committee do with these requests? They tabled them to come up again at the next committee meeting at which I will again be present. I have asked them to make recommendations to council on each of the items individually so that the whole package of requests cannot be turned down because they do not like one suggestion such as publicly posting detailed expense records. As taxpayers, we do pay the bills…and it is important we know what we are getting for our tax dollars.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Recent Letters to Mayor and Council

Letters sent to Oshawa City Council in period Dec. 18, 2007 to Jan. 10, 2008 and appearing on January 28, 2008 Oshawa City Council Agenda

Oshawa Speaks Is Everywhere!

Oshawa Speaks had a hit today (Feb. 1, 2008) from the Swedish Tax Administration in Stockholm, Sweden. I noted it to be a google search for "taxpayer + communication + strategy" and was intrigued to do a little investigation about the hit.

While our target is Oshawa taxpayers, we do get hits from all over the world spreading Oshawa’s fame that the politicians are so keen to promote…so we are being very helpful to them in spreading the word.

A google search on most anything to do with Oshawa will turn up a preponderance of Oshawa Speaks stories and videos that are cropping up everywhere on the web.

This particular hit was obviously from someone in the Swedish Tax Administration office doing detailed research on behalf of the Swedish Tax Department on outward communication strategies. His/her research had to be extensive because we were not listed until the 64th page (640th story) of google links until the search words turned up our site as:
VOTES--Vote To Eliminate Self-Serving Politicians
New "outreach" communication strategy---NEW LINKS! ..... As reported in an earlier post, Oshawa spent a reported $30000 of taxpayer money to enter the 2007 ... - Liknande sidor
This link led to the story about our facebook “Oshawa Community Outreach Forums” which now number approximately 50 with some (not all) appearing as links under the pull down menu under the title of FORUMS on our site. While these sites have not taken off as yet because we have done no promotion on them, we have "reserved them" and they will be promoted and utilized as time goes on.

The interesting point about this Swedish researcher's search was that he/she came across 640 entries of how governments attempt to enhance communications with their citizens before they came across the first example, Oshawa’s, that took deliberate and strategic action to avoid communicating or informing its citizens about an extremely important issue.

Why is Oshawa's local government so radically different from all other governments in the free world? All others want to communicate to citizens--Oshawa's wants to hide important information from the people!

As stated by Mayor Gray, City Council had no responsibility to communicate the plebiscite info and thus did not do so. He said this was the responsibility of community groups even though the Ontario Municipal Elections Act clearly prohibits such 3rd party campaigning. The law gives full and unencumbered spending freedom to municipalities to inform its citizens.

You’d think that when Oshawa politicians were asking a question of its citizens, that they’d be anxious to communicate as much information as possible even promoting citizen debate and discussion…but not in Oshawa, where the politicians worded a question in a confusing and backwards manner, used technical terms not understood by the people, and attempted as much as they could to catch voters “cold” in the voting booth to be confronted by a difficult and confusing question designed to produce a result the politicians wanted.

In some third world totalitarian countries run by despots, fascists and dictators, this kind of "secrecy" typifies the run-of-the mill vote if there is one. In Canada we call these tactics vote fixing—and it’s unquestionably contrary to the spirit of democracy.

Our Supreme Court says that voter information is a basic right of Canadians. What would they say about Oshawa’s City Council that denied the people information, manipulated the question to fool unwary voters, and designed a strategy to give the politicians a pre-conceived answer?

Was this democracy? Absolutely Not!


Thursday, January 31, 2008

A good question!

This Letter to the Editor used with the writer's permission poses a great question...Why not elect all Durham Region's politicians or all of Ontario's politicians or all our Federal politicians by general vote? It does make as much sense as electing all Oshawa City Council by general vote.

Ward versus at large referendum an ignorant decision: reader

Mon Dec 10, 2007

To the editor:

It was heartening to see, on one of the back pages of your paper, that Bill Longworth has not given up the campaign for having our councillors elected by ward instead of at large.

In my opinion having a referendum on the subject of councillors elected at large was one of the most ignorant decisions made by most of the sitting members of Oshawa council.

I use the word ignorant advisedly.

Using the same logic begs the question of, "Why do we not also elect councillors for the Durham Region at large?" Shouldn't Regional councillors be making decisions in the best interests of the Region at Large, rather than taking account of the best interests of their respective cities?

Extending the logic farther, why elect members for ridings Provincially, or Federally? Ignorant is hardly the correct word, it's not strong enough!

Since there might be too many names, we could just vote for a particular political party and let the party name the legislators.

Wisely, having political parties name some Ontario legislators was shot down, not that voters were satisfied with the current system, just that it's better than the one proposed.

Ed Goertzen (Name used with permission)

Editor's Note:
We have proposed that Oshawa City Council be disbanded as it performs only minor functions which could be easily handled by the Region. Thus Oshawa taxpayers would save perhaps 30% of their tax by disbanding a whole superfluous level of government. This was done in Metropolitan Toronto when the 6 Boroughs or Cities were combined into one by the Mike Harris Government.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We Want to Publicize Oshawa Council's Irresponsibility and Undemocratic Actions As Broadly As Possible

Editor's Note---We are undertaking many actions beyond the publication of posts on this blog. This letter sent to the parties indicated is an example of some of our actions which we have not published earlier to avoid "burying" stories in the blog archives before they have had sufficient time to resonaate with our regular readers. As always, we have many stories written and ready to go which are sometimes displaced by higher priority stories that arise.

The Institute on Governance,
Public Policy Think Tank,
Ottawa, Ontario

Hon. J. Gerretsen,
Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Hon. D. McGuinty,
Premier of Ontario

Mayor and Council,
c/o Oshawa City Clerk

Christine Elliot, MPP

J. Ouellette, MPP

Good afternoon….The city of Oshawa of population approximately 160,000 has recently passed a bylaw to bring the “at large” or the “general vote” to the city for the election of its city council.

This will make the city the largest in Canada and undoubtedly the "free world" to use the general vote without the “formal” use of municipal political parties which are at present prohibited by the Ontario Municipal Elections Act.

This irresponsible, undemocratic, and self-serving action of Oshawa City Council cannot at present be appealed for review by any outside independent and objective body.

The general vote in a city the size of Oshawa is completely unworkable without political parties as it excludes the possibility of informed voters which the Supreme Court has said is a necessity in a democracy and a basic right of Canadians.

The resulting city council will be less accountable, less inclusive, less representative, and less democratic and will give all city politicians constituencies about twice the size of those of our Federal and Provincial Members which is untenable for a local government that is supposed to be closest to the people.

I am writing your organization today to request that it might provide independent review, comment, and critique of this matter which may help to apply influence and pressure to the powers that be to retain a sensible electoral system for Oshawa or to encourage legislative change to allow for civic political parties to make the general vote workable if the Province is going to allow Oshawa’s General Vote Bylaw to stand.

More can be read about this issue at the site

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

December 18, 2007

Friday, January 18, 2008

So the Mayor Wants Me to Eat His Words


Mayor John Gray
City of Oshawa
emailed to:
January 17, 2007

Hello John:

Because of your protestations at the Accountability and Transparency Committee Meeting this morning about the accuracy of the film clip on www.oshawaspeaks, I reviewed the clip and can find no inaccuracies about my comments that you publicly insisted that the City had no responsibility to inform and educate the public about the plebiscite question to insure that they understood the question and its ramifications.

If council was unwilling to inform the public about the plebiscite question, I can't understand why it was asked. Not insuring the public understood the question, I have difficulty comprehending why you and six other members of council insist on upholding its results as "democratic" saying, "The people have spoken!"

I find council's action in this whole issue extremely undemocratic as the basic requirement in a democracy is an informed voter. How can it be democratic when council took concrete and deliberate action to deny information to the voter.

While I fully understand, in retrospect, that you may not like your ill-founded comments being publicized on the video that is at present approaching 1500 viewers, no one put these words into your mouth and so you have to take full responsibility for them.

Your words certainly help explain why the citizens were not adequately informed and why public discussion and debate were not promoted. Your words also help to explain why council repeatedly voted to deny public information. Like you, the majority felt it was not Council's responsibility to insure that the public was aware of and understood the question council itself was asking. Obviously, like you, they didn't think it was important to inform the public to insure that the vote reflected a valid measure of public sentiment on the issue.

I do not believe, however, that council failed to adequately inform the public because they believed it was not their responsibility...but that they contrived to deliberately keep the public in the dark to catch them "cold" for the first time in the voting booth to confront a difficult and convoluted question worded in a way to solicit a specific response by unaware voters.

Council's lack of interest in insuring the public understood the question, along with the convoluted way it was worded, and the fact that the question did not arise from any concern expressed by the public, all work to prove beyond a doubt that council manipulated the public to get a result they favoured...democracy be damned!

Surely as a long-time politician who should be very familiar with the Ontario Municipal Elections Act, you, Mayor Gray, knew that your public statements about the interested public itself being responsible to organize and run information campaigns regarding YOUR question was against the law and that the Act gives cities themselves unfettered spending ability to inform the public about questions they are being asked on the ballot.

Because Municipal Elections Law gives cities that unfettered and uncontrolled spending ability to inform the public about ballot questions, but does not give the same right to the public, surely implies to any reasonable person that the city itself had a responsibility to adequately inform the public.

Mayor Gray---I should also express my personal displeasure at your public comment to me at committee this morning that, "I knew of the plebiscite but didn't get off my ass to do anything about it until it was too late".

While I don't appreciate your choice of words as Chairman of the committee, as it isn't the way that I communicate, I also want to correct your perceptions of the action (or as you say---inaction) that I took.

Just weeks before the election, I found out "by accident" that the plebiscite question was to be asked. Not believing this from my source, records in the clerk's office will show that I communicated with that office to confirm the accuracy of my information. Upon confirmation from the clerk, I wrote to the Mayor and Council asking that an information brochure be sent to all homes in Oshawa. This letter was never acknowledged nor did city hall ever take any action on my request.

I am extremely careful about the accuracy of everything I write on and would appreciate you identifying specific factual inaccuracies that you find in the video documenting your comments on this issue at the April 30, 2007 council meeting. As far as I can see, the video itself reflects with 100% accuracy what you said. I do not have the ability to edit the video to put words in your mouth!

I can assure you that I will correct any inaccuracies in the explanatory notes inserted in the video clip but will not change content just because you do not agree with it or like it but at this moment stand behind everything that is said and implied in the video.

Monday, January 7, 2008

LivCom Awards---Access to Information Request

As reported in an earlier post, Oshawa spent a reported $30,000 of taxpayer money to enter the 2007 Liveable Communities Contest held from Nov. 22-26 in London, England.

I am pleased to have raised this as an issue at my city council presentation on Nov. 26 and in stories on this blog and am happy to see that the Oshawa Express has also jumped aboard the wastage on this issue. I wonder why Oshawa This Week has not seen fit to see this contest for what it absolute waste of taxpayer's money!

I dispute the fact that they could fit everything they did in regards to this contest for the allocated $30,000 and thus filed an Access to Information Request to the city clerk on Tuesday, January 8. I have attached a 6 page breakdown of requested costs to the city's Freedom of Information Form and the city is compelled to respond with the "truthful" figures within 30 days according to Provincial Law.

Keeping our burgeoning tax increases in check in the face of escalating “apparent” budget shortfalls gave rise to calls for service cutbacks, increased fees for the use of city recreational facilities which potentially would have excluded many youngsters from healthy physical activity thus putting them on the street to "idle" away their time in an age when there is growing national concern about increasing child obesity, increased fees for animal adoptions which may require the euthanasia of greater numbers of animals, huge increases to administrative "fines" for such things as bylaw officers, animal control officers, etc., it seems hardly sensible to spend one cent on a "meaningless" awards program which was the brainchild of some cloistered and distant entrepreneurial spirit.

At the end of the day because of the popularity of the recreational programs and an overwhelming attendance of interested program providers and volunteers at the council meeting, and despite the obviously politically inspired giant staff report at the link above, increased recreational fees were “deep-sixed” FOR NOW, but the fee increases potentially resulting in more animal euthanasia and increased administrative “fines” for bylaw infractions all passed because opposition to these measures was not as strongly organized and represented.

While the council once again cries poor to justify massive tax increases, they could get their budgets and their burgeoning debt more in order by cutting out wasteful frills such as monies spent on the LivCom Awards. The monies spent on this ludicrous contest could well go to such worthwhile programs as keeping the price of animal adoptions down so that more healthy animals could go to good homes rather than being euthanized.

As we believe communication should start at home, it seems doubly outrageous to spend money on communicating the fine features of Oshawa to the world when city council repeatedly voted to deny Oshawa citizens information about the recent plebiscite question. While it was not at all important to ask the question, having asked it, they made an issue where none existed and had a responsibility to fully inform people about it. Surprisingly, though, the Mayor stated it was not the city's responsibility to do so.

The city entry to the LivCom contest surely is a bizarre, harebrained, daffy, incredible, and unbelievable misplacement of priorities and tax dollars for a city that is already the highest assessed municipality in the GTA. This is just another example of how the City of Oshawa's superfluous and extravagant spending "balloons" in relation to their ability to "squeeze" extra taxes from their already "bleeding" ratepayers.

It is well known that men are from mars...and women are from venus...but it appears that our "outer-space" politicians...both men and women who supported this ludicrous LivCom wastage must be from "far out" Uranus.