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