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.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Eat Yer Hart Out All You Mayers

Deer Canadian Mayers:

Eat yer hart out Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, Brandon, Winnipeg, Moncton, St. John, Yellowknife, Inuvik, Halifax, Barrie, Gravenhurst, Guelph, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Kingston, Peterborough, St. Catherines, Sarnia, Thunder Bay, Stratford, Sudbury, Timmins, Windsor, Waterloo, Flin Flon, Charlottetown, Chicoutimi, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Regina, Saskatoon, Whitehorse and my goodness, little South Algonquin, my favorite place, the location of my cottage. All yous guys still have da ward system cause yous guys not near progressive as our guys.

We soon gonna get somethem you not got…a general vote for de electen of our local council. We gonna have somethem that is rarer than spare change at Oshawa tax time. But then we are bigger dan many of yous guys and so it make sense that our council smarter too.

For yous guys bigger dan are 160,000, our smart guy councillor tell peeple we need general vote cause we is gettin two big for ward vote.

We so progressive, guess we de only guys to see the light. Good thing we got dem council guys lookin after us. We jus let dese guys go do what they think bess for us.

We got Tweedle dee and Tweedle dumb. We even got Tweedle dumber lookin after us. Tweedle dee, he just throw out motion and Tweedle dumb and Tweedle dumber jump up and dance, “We support that!” Sometime they jump up so fast dat their little pointy hats fall off. Along with Councillor Joe, we call dem de gang a four.

Councillor Joe--he even a mind reader. He know which way he gonna vote even before he hear da motion.… He say, “I’m never gonna support motion from dat guy!” Bet you other guys wish you had guy this smart on your council! He know what he not support before he here it.

We even got mayer who vote for electen sistem he say not bess for city. He and the majeruty of council even vote not to tell peeple bout de change.

Us guys in Oshawa, we glad to have set forward thunking leaders…imagine us in Oshawa treaden demon-cratically where no one else dare to go. I guess we set pattern for all yous other guy in Canada to fellow our leed.

Oh! I know dat dere is one guy, Longworth in town…a real disturber who wants to keep our electen sistem dat all yous guys in Canada use and maybe he so busy debunking and debating our grate Oshawa leeders that maybe he don’t see da light. Maybe he should start using his energy to defen our smart guy on city council.

So eat your hart out Canada, and hope someday that yous get de smart guy wid the smart idea like we got.

If you want dese guys, I know they be free after next election and maybe come to help ya den.

Me thinks i gonna send dese stuff to all de Mayers and Councils in Canada that member of Federation of Canadian Municipalities and of Association of Municipalities of Ontario since are anal council belong to dese grups and so we gotta let em no of our grate guys leaden us hear in Oshawa.

Yous can reed lotter more on dis at de web at

“Pride” from Oshawa