Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why no upgrades to south Oshawa parks?
---It's a function of the

Jul 22, 2009 - 01:18 PM

To the editor:

Re: Two Oshawa parks to get millions in upgrades, July 19.

Upon reading Friday's article regarding provincial funding for park renovations in the City of Oshawa, I was slightly confused.

Why, when there are so many children who would benefit so thoroughly from a new park in the south of Oshawa, are millions of dollars being spent on upgrading parks in well-off areas of the city?

I would like to give Mayor John Gray and council members the benefit of the doubt given that I am not familiar with their politics.

Therefore, I will say that this must simply be an oversight.

For surely, had the city realized the socio-economic benefits of choosing a park in such a location, they would have outweighed the city's need for a tourism boost.

Once again, it just leaves me wondering, why?

Bonnita Herriott


Oshawa Speak's Editor's Comment:

Everyone in South Oshawa must know that the city has plans to demolish The Civic and Harmon Park Arenas and potentially Children's Arena replacing these south end and central arenas with the new facilities in Oshawa's north end. They have already demolished North Oshawa Arena depriving those children in the most densely populated part of Oshawa from their arena to match their planned deprivation to children in South Oshawa. This is to be expected under the General Vote since Council members expect lower voter turnouts in the older and often poorer sections of Oshawa and thus feel no need to service these areas. They put all of their investments in the richer and higher voter turnout areas neglecting the needs of children most in need.

Without ward representatives to fight for the rights of taxpayers in the South end, they will get shortchanged every time.

No city council member lived south of King Street during Oshawa's 7 term experiment with the General Vote prior to 1985 while 8 out of 15 council members lived in the old Ward Six North of Rossland while 3 out of 15 members lived in one polling subdivision of about 100 houses at the East end of Regent Drive.

Only the well-to-do areas get served under the general vote since that's where all politicians come from under that system. That's why the general vote is not used in any large city in Canada without the use of municipal political parties which are banned in Ontario.

A city is often defined by its deprived areas which is still often Oshawa's general reputation which we have yet to completely shed from the past.

The General Vote is widely used in the USA where every municipal jurisdiction is organized around Democratic and Republican Party Slates and Platforms which determine voter choices.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Oshawa's New City Center
Can't City Council Do Anything Right?

City Council irresponsibly destroyed these---

To give us this $17 million
Aluminum "Beer Can"
as the focal point of our City Square
surrounded by existing architectural treasures

Prepare to be amazed
as Oshawa becomes Canada's laughing stock!

if we aren't already...what with
a) Cullen Gardens Miniature purchase
b) Only large city in Canada to use the General Vote without political municipal political parties which are outlawed in Ontario
c) The gall to hold a plebiscite and keep the question secret from voters to avoid public debate and understanding of the issue
d) The highest property taxation in the GTA
e) Attempts to bar minors from purchasing spray paint and magic markers in a mistaken view that this will limit graffiti
f) Refusal to return Provincial Ombudsman documents and widespread distribution of these contrary to conditions by which the city was given the documents
g) Housing discrimination against College and University students
h) Discussions to demolish all existing older arenas except Donovan and replace them with new facilities in the North end thus depriving South end children from easily accessible arenas
i) A mayor who has publicly chastised councillors for refusing to implement 9% tax increases
j) Giant fee increases for the use of taxpayer owned recreational facilties that will insure the facilities are under utilized
k) A giant run up of public debt with the continual explanation that it will not impact on the tax rate (I'd like to know where the money comes from if not from taxpayers!)
l) A Mayor who claims the city is well positioned to be a leading growth center in Canada despite problems in the auto industry, record city unemployment, and record city debt
m) Discussions to sell public park space at give-away prices to developers
n) Rationale for destruction of public buildings is that they need repair or are energy inefficient---if all governing bodies used the same rationale, they would destroy the Parliament Buildings, the White House, Buckingham Palace and every other public building in the world. You would also destroy your house every time it needed a new roof!
o) City Council allowed destruction of the historic Rundle House which they featured on their Historic Walking Tours Brochure
p) Wastage of staff time and tax resources on such publications as Restaurants of the Downtown and the many other publications distributed widely simply to put out political messages at taxpayer expense
q) The Mayor and a staff delegation going to England for a week for the Sustainable Communities Contest to learn that Oshawa was the third best place of our size in the world in which to live---brag about that to your friends
r) The numbers of taxpayer paid political ads at Remembrance Day, Canada Day, Easter, Christmas, Labour Day, Valentines, etc.
s) The destruction of city council chambers and "A" wing without firm prices and designs for the replacement...also hiding giant expenses behind two city hall projects...the refurbishment of Rundle Tower ($10Mill) and the reconstruction of Council Chambers and "A" wing (presently $17Mill)....the only purpose of this giant expenditure was to provide larger and more palatial office space for the politicians!
t) A Mayor who calls some of his fellow council members "Stooges"
u) A council that is becoming increasingly dysfunctional and unproductive as it moves to the general vote where every incumbent will be opponents of every other council member
v) Oshawa's new downtown arena set to lose another $300,000 to be billed to the taxpayer
w) A Mayor arguing citizens must pay $1.50 per withdrawal for "the convenience" of having ABM's placed in public places...he believes everything should be a "profit center" for the damned the public interest
x) The city's use of an accounting system that is designed to hide the true costs of all projects since no master accounting ledger is used to track costs for any project and costs for individual projects are hidden across a myriad of ledger sheets with inadequate descriptors to obfuscate costs.
y) The city's wastage of countless tax dollars and staff time in preparing useless flyers, brochures, press releases, etc. and entering meaningless contests like the "Sustainable Communities" contest where every entrant is a winner
z) We could cite further examples of ineptitude ad nauseum

How will the "beer can" fit with these?

Click on following visual of buildings surrounding
"THE BEER CAN" for a larger view!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Taxes in Oshawa are too high

Reprinted from Letters to Editor, Oshawa This Week, July 2

To the editor:

When are the people of Oshawa going to stand up against the council and fight the taxes in Oshawa?

I live in a 1100 sq. ft. home in north Oshawa and my taxes are $4,062 per year.

This is outrageous.

I tried to sell my home last year and every comment on why I couldn't sell was the amount of my taxes.

My taxes are soon going to be more than my mortgage payment.

Sandy Matthews


Editor's Comment---Perhaps one of the reasons why city council introduced the General Vote which guarantees their re-election is to protect their jobs even in the face the huge public debts they've generated and their generally incompetent management of city business.

City doesn't have track record to manage harbour

Reprinted from July 2, 2009 Oshawa This Week
Guest Columnist Adam Mercer

Few people in the City of Oshawa would deny that the harbour should be well-managed by an agency with the money and clout to do a good job for the people footing the bill; the taxpayers of Oshawa.

In a recent opinion column, Councillor Brian Nicholson essentially posed the question, "Why will the federal government not honour the recommendations of David Crombie and let the City of Oshawa manage the harbour or appoint a body to do so?"

Seriously? Does council as a whole not understand this? Staying informed about events in the city over the last year or two should provide the answer to that question with little difficulty, but in case anyone has forgotten ...

The City of Oshawa has a habit of making business decisions that don't make much sense to an outside observer. The Cullen Miniatures are still out there being stored at the expense of the City of Oshawa. There was never a plan worked out as to what to do with these things once the city owned them. If they cannot plan something like a $250,000 investment, why should they be handed millions in federal cash to do whatever they want?

Taxpayers are also on the hook for something between $14 and $17 million for the cost of rebuilding City Hall. Oh, and there are all the other building projects that have happened in the city that were such a great idea we have had to remortgage the only asset the City has that makes money, our local PUC.

If that were not enough to discourage anyone from allowing the City to take over the management of the harbour, the recent discord among members of council itself might be the straw that broke the camel's back. Between accusations made regarding hidden agendas, letters being hidden from public view, the now infamous "stooges" comment and the massive mishandling of the Ombudsman's report on some of the activities of council, it is hard not to see why there are questions about Council's ability to function on any major question. (Editor's Comment---Don't forget that Council actually voted to refuse voters information about the rationale, impact and ramifications of the change to the General Vote---a system not used in any large city in the country. If the general vote was better, don't you think it would be used widely?)

That's especially valid when it concerns an issue as economically and environmentally sensitive as the harbour.

From the Federal Government's perspective, it is looking to hire the caretaker of an important public asset in the Oshawa Harbour. Our council is confused because it is not even on the short list despite making poor business decisions, mortgaging the City's assets to spend more than it has and it seems incapable of unifying long enough for a photo-op.

If we have to look for positive and important accomplishments, there is always the massive PR effort to bring Kiss to Oshawa.

If you were hiring for an important position in your own company and someone dropped off a resume with highlights like that, would you even interview them?