Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

You say Poe-tay-toe, I say Poe-taa-toe

Posted by auroracitizen on May 30, 2012

A Reader asks… I have a question that’s been bothering me for some time. I grew up in Aurora and have lived here for 38 years.

When I was a kid (and even all the way into my late 20′s), everyone I knew (including my entire extended family) pronounced Machell Park — MAY-chull. However, now that I have kids and they are in school at Aurora Heights PS, I am hearing a lot of the other parents pronouncing it MAH-chull.

I know Aurora was originally called Machell’s Corners, but would love to know which pronunciation is correct.

Posted in Community Corner, For Fun, Guest Post | 4 Comments »

Councillor Throws Wet Blanket Over the Barn

Posted by auroracitizen on May 29, 2012

A Reader writes … I read, with delight, in the Banner that Council moved us a step closer to welcoming a major corporation to Aurora.  I would like to offer a warm welcome to Bulk Barn Foods Limited.

This company will add 400 new jobs to Aurora.  It also puts much needed cash into the Town’s hands by purchasing 25 acres of land directly from the Town and by paying commercial property taxes for land that was not generating any revenue as long as the Town owned it and sat on it.

Deputy Mayor Abel is quoted as saying “with all the jobs they bring, I am looking forward with great optimism that we will see several other corporations follow their lead.”  The Town’s Planning Director said the move is “significant”.  This development meets a standard for employment lands, established by the Province, of 50 jobs per hectare.

However, on the flip side, Councillor Gaertner once again shows her complete ignorance in terms of understanding business by making statements such as “Frankly, I didn’t think it was the best use of these lands” – “We are trying to bring in many well-paying jobs”.

This is a corporate head office that supports over 190 retail outlets.  Anyone with any business acumen at all knows that it takes lawyers, accountants, payroll management, professional sales people and marketing professionals, just to name a few positions, in order to successfully run a corporation like Bulk Barn.  They will employ over 300 people in the offices alone.  A quick review of Bulk Barn’s website indicates they are currently looking to hire an Executive Assistant to the CFO, an Accountant, and a Payroll Administrator, among other positions.

Councillor Gaertner, I have news for you – these are professional well-paid positions.   Additionally there will be over 100 positions in the distribution centre.

This is a win, win, win for our Town and the last thing we need is a bitter, out of touch Councillor throwing a wet blanket on it.

Posted in Community Input, Guest Post, Leadership, Local Business, Politics, Town Council | 23 Comments »

Farmers in it up to their ears

Posted by auroracitizen on May 13, 2012

This week saw the genesis of a most bewildering and ill-conceived concept, a Code of Conduct for the Aurora Farmers’ Market.

We in Aurora cannot forget a similarly titled document that was introduced by the former mayor, as part of her “Gold Standard” of democracy and governance. It applied to members of Council and came replete with an Integrity Commissioner.

That gentleman did not last long in his position as he was fired without ceremony when his first decision did not agree with the former’s opinion.

The Aurora Farmers’ Market was created by a municipal By-law passed on April 8, 2003. A copy is attached below for those who wish to read the entire document.

In the By-Law the Town appointed a Market Clerk who effectively administered the market. Lease agreements originally were between the Town on the one hand and the Lessee on the other for operation by the Lessee of a market stall.

At some point the location of the market moved from Temperance Street to its present location in the Town Park.

The Farmers’ Market seems to have acquired a Constitution, exactly when is a matter of some speculation. There was a rumour that former Councillor Granger had drafted one. We don’t know that the copy of the document attached below was his work.

The jam lady, in her capacity as Chair of the Executive Committee of the Aurora Farmers’ Market, has produced a risible bunch of words that purport to be a Code of Conduct for Vendors of the market. Attached below is the only copy we were able to find, and it is with thanks and hopefully the permission of Evelyn Buck.

We will refrain from commenting, other than to say that these words seem to simply demonstrate someone’s heightened sense of ego run berserk.

We would love to have your comments on this latest test of our town’s sanity.

AFM Enabling By-Law 135

AFM Constitution 136

AFM Code of Conduct 137

Posted in Code of Ethics, Community, Community Corner, Community Input, Guest Post, Leadership, Local Business, Politics | 29 Comments »

Is She Really Serious?

Posted by auroracitizen on May 9, 2012

A reader writes … Once again I am baffled by Ms. Gaertner (I refuse to call her Councillor because of the manner in which she treated Mayor Dawe when he first took office – I am sure we all remember it took her a few weeks to stop calling him Mr. Dawe  - and quite frankly I do not believe she deserves that seat she sits in).

Case in point, last night’s council meeting. Now I think  most will agree that they watch those meetings solely for the comedic behaviour that Gaertner, Ballard and Gallo provide but I specifically think  Gaertner  takes the top prize of “class clown” (for many reasons actually).

However, I am not clear on the job descriptions, or the manner in which our councillors get paid so I am looking for someone to provide me clarification, and others opinions on the following point.

Last night there was a discussion regarding a meeting for council that some thought should be open to the public and some thought it should not be. Councillor Gaertner provided her input as to why she thought it should be open to the public but then stated if it were to be a closed session she would NOT be attending (good god this woman is ridiculous)!

Can someone please tell me why if she in employed by the town, to represent our community and its best interests, that she is “allowed” to not attend a work session?  Do the taxpayers not pay her salary?

I know I am not well versed in how our councillors are compensated, but if I told my boss that I was not going to attend a work meeting because I was being a pissy little brat and wasn’t getting my way, I would have my walking papers immediately!!!!  How does she, and where does she get the nerve to not participate in something that is part of her job???

Confusing…… but I am not surprised… Can someone please help me understand this?

Posted in Community Input, Guest Post, Integrity, Leadership, Special Meetings, Town Council | 7 Comments »

Local Blogs Provide Opportunity To Share Thoughts and Ideas With Our Neighbours

Posted by auroracitizen on May 1, 2012

Aurora Citizen and Our Town and its Business are two active and entertaining blog sites. They can also be very educational and affect the way we feel and think about things.

Over the past couple of days conversations that have started with an invitation to join the local lawn bowling club on Aurora Citizen and a discussion about a tree removal By-Law on Our Town and its Business have taken off into areas not remotely related. We have visited full-contact lawn bowling (Australian Rules) and its equivalent in crocheting, pet burial grounds both local and in Uxbridge, the game of golf all the way back to the venerable St. Andrews and the nasty Scots weather that can suddenly appear without warning on “a municipal course on a moor in the west where, about four in the afternoon, a thick mist rose out of the ground.”

It is wonderful to have these opportunities, to read about what our neighbours say and to have a chance to express our own feelings, anonymously if we choose.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We should take a moment to say thank you for this.

It has given to us, and guaranteed, freedom of expression. We have seen over the past 18 months how valuable this is.

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Guest Post, Media | 1 Comment »

Are our communications capabilities really improving?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 9, 2012

It is with a certain amount of regret that I read that Aurora Citizen is connecting through both Facebook and Twitter – this will allow you to “receive and comment on the platform of your choice.”

What has been becoming increasingly clear to me is that it is the content that is important, not the manner in which it is transmitted or received.

When man’s ability to communicate with his fellows was restricted to visual gestures or grunts, this communication required physical immediacy. Over tens of thousands of years these grunts became what we can today identify as primitive words, and pictures were used to embellish these. Hieroglyphs evolved, a form of pictorial writing, symbols of some complexity as in ancient China and Egypt several thousand years ago. There followed the creation of letters in one of the several existing alphabets and writing progressed from clay tablets to papyrus, animal skins and to paper, always by hand and always by only a few, those known as scribes. Smoke signals were still useful in communicating messages over a distance, much faster than a relay or runners either on foot or on horseback, but these latter could provide details of events, thus news.

Books began their existence as a rarity, produced laboriously by monks in gloomy rooms with, at times, inks of splendid colour when illustration and emphasis were required. But these were time consuming, costly and only for the church or the very wealthiest of titled individuals, Lords or Counts. In time a revolution occurred that was the most significant in man’s communications history – the printing press. This instrument would see the written word literally flood the world, starting with books and then with newspapers and magazines, so that even the poorest could get their hands on something written, often by someone on the other side of the world.

Man’s capacity for technology and ingenuity resulted in a crescendo of discoveries that would speed and enhance the ability to transmit information. The telegraph, the telephone, underseas cables, wireless, short-wave signals and television revolutionized man’s ability to communicate, and also to make war. During the 20th century the technology of communication and indeed of the ability to access and transmit knowledge grew exponentially and devices for these purposes became more sophisticated and cheaper so that today they are in common usage globally.

When I first started communicating internationally I would call the operator at CN-CP Telecommunications at day’s end, and dictate messages that would be cabled overnight around the world. Then came the telex machine that permitted one to write a message onto a paper tape, like a ticker-tape. When the message was completed it was carefully rolled up, with the edge feeding into the gearing, then dial the country and city codes and then the actual telex number and when connected you fed the tape through the machine which transmitted the hieroglyphs to their destination.

The fax machine was the next technological advance and today we appear to have the ultimate in email.

But what concerns me is that the “evolution” of social networking is to a very great extent simply the ability to transmit junk and waste people’s time, especially that of young teenagers, whose lives are already filled with games until they come out their pores. Our bright teenaged granddaughter disdains Twitter as something rather silly; her actual words were considerably stronger.

Our “serious” media have become polluted with a lot of this “instant news” that is taken as factual simply because it might have appeared on one or another of the social networks, possibly as a wild speculation or a gross exaggeration. There no longer exists the need for two or three independent and verifiable sources for a story to be accepted as gospel. The major news television networks and respected newspapers are guilty of running with a rumour, turning it into fact, to be the first with “breaking news.”

I realize full well that there are useful and responsible roles for this latest technology, and no doubt there will be those who, reading this, will condemn some of my opinions. I expect that. If you didn’t I would be disappointed. But I hope that you have the ability to admit that not all that pours forth from this “brave new world” is necessarily good and that there is great room for improvement.

Somewhere, someone sits down with a fountain pen and a piece of fine cream-coloured paper and begins to compose and write a love-letter. Twitter does not seem like the right way to express that person’s feelings.

Posted in Community Input, Guest Post | 7 Comments »

Sesto Continues to Seek Answers

Posted by auroracitizen on April 26, 2011

April 23, 2011

To: The Auroran & the Aurora Citizen (www.auroracitizen.ca)

Re: Conflict of Interest and Phyllis Morris v. Johnson et al.

Furthermore to my letter earlier this month, entitled “Please help me understand how litigation against three Aurora citizens was approved”, I would like to add the following information in regards to the defamation action of Phyllis Morris v. Johnson et al.

I reference the Ontario Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. (R.S.0. 1990, Chapter M.50) found at http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90m50_e.htm .

The Act helps control the actions of our elected officials who hold the public trust. Its main purpose is to prevent them from benefiting financially from a decision in which they were involved in the process. The Act generally states that if there is a matter that comes before Council that would touch on a member of Council’s direct or indirect pecuniary (of or related to money) interest then it is the duty of that member not to participate in the decision-making process for that matter and to declare this conflict of interest.

I would draw your attention to the following sections taken from the above online reference:

Duty of Member

When present at meeting at which matter considered

5.  (1)  Where a member, either on his or her own behalf or while acting for, by, with or through another, has any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any matter and is present at a meeting of the council or local board at which the matter is the subject of consideration, the member,

(a) shall, prior to any consideration of the matter at the meeting, disclose the interest and the general nature thereof;

(b) shall not take part in the discussion of, or vote on any question in respect of the matter; and

(c) shall not attempt in any way whether before, during or after the meeting to influence the voting on any such question. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 5 (1).

Where member to leave closed meeting

(2)  Where the meeting referred to in subsection (1) is not open to the public, in addition to complying with the requirements of that subsection, the member shall forthwith leave the meeting or the part of the meeting during which the matter is under consideration. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 5 (2).

Record of Disclosure

Disclosure to be recorded in minutes

6.  (1)  Every declaration of interest and the general nature thereof made under section 5 shall, where the meeting is open to the public, be recorded in the minutes of the meeting by the clerk of the municipality or secretary of the committee or local board, as the case may be. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 6 (1).

Idem

(2)  Every declaration of interest made under section 5, but not the general nature of that interest, shall, where the meeting is not open to the public, be recorded in the minutes of the next meeting that is open to the public. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 6 (2).

As referenced by the minutes of the Aurora Town Council meeting of September 14, 2010, then Mayor Morris participated in the closed session portion of the meeting that subsequently resulted in the motion “THAT the Town Solicitor be directed to retain external legal counsel and to take any and all actions to bring resolution to this matter”. She participated in the closed meeting but did not vote on this motion as she left once coming out of closed portion of the evening. It is this motion that eventually led to the litigation against Johnson et al.

The first agenda item of a Council Meeting is the “Declarations of Pecuniary Interest”. For the September 14 meeting Councillor Collins-Mrakas had a declaration on another matter but there were no other declarations in the minutes.

I will allow the reader to formulate their own perspective, but from one side it could be interpreted that ex-Mayor Morris may have violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. She may have done so by not declaring a conflict of interest and through her subsequent participation in the closed session meeting concerning the Town’s direction that lead to the litigation against Johnson et al. In this litigation she would be the sole beneficiary and not the Town. She could be seen as having a pecuniary interest and that she failed to declare a conflict of interest.

As taken from George Rust-D’Eye’s Executive Summary: “The retainer letter signed by the Mayor and the Town on October 6, 2010 leads to the conclusion that both are jointly and severally liable for paying the legal expenses incurred for the defamation action.”

Even if for argument’s sake Ms. Morris sought $0 damages, the fact that the Town was liable for expenses in her legal matters could possibly still show pecuniary interest as there could be either a reduced or no out of pocket expense for her in proceeding with this private action. It is noted that although this action started with the plaintiff as Mayor Phyllis Morris it was later changed to a plaintiff of Phyllis Morris to express that it was a personal matter and not one for the Town of Aurora. Also please note that the Town as per its March 29, 2011 council meeting minutes passed the motion to “pay the legal accounts of Aird & Berlis LLP for the services up to and including December 15, 2010 and for additional outside counsel, Paterson MacDougall for services rendered up until December 21, 2010.”

I note from Mr. Rust-D’Eye’s Executive Summary: “at the same time, Phyllis Morris appeared to have a pecuniary interest in the matter under consideration by the Council, in view of the fact that the debate involved a proposal that the Town provide or pay for legal services for her defamation action against third parties, at that time without any undertaking on her part to repay the Town, whether she was successful or not – the Town appeared to assume the entire financial risk, with the Mayor standing to obtain a personal benefit from success in the proceedings”.

For some it may be thought that her participation in the closed session meeting and the failure to declare a conflict of interest was perhaps committed through any oversight or by reason of an error in judgement. But for others they may ask whether this would be the mistake of a politician with numerous years of experience. As taken from her own website (www.phyllismorris.net) Phyllis Morris had 6 years as a Councillor, 3 years as Deputy Mayor and 4 years as the Mayor with this incident occurring at the end of her mayoral term. Sampling a review of council meeting minutes in recent years, councillors and the mayor for a variety of reasons express a conflict of interest at the start of the meeting. Ms. Morris had in the past (Town of Aurora, Council Meeting Minutes No. 08-22, Tuesday August 12, 2008) declared a conflict on a particular matter. But with this incident at the September 14th meeting she did not declare a conflict of interest nor did she do so at any subsequent meeting in regards to her attendance to the closed session meeting that started the action against Johnson et al.

I allow the reader to interpret the information to their own accord and I stand open to correction on any of the information that I have presented.

Paul Sesto

(289) 221-1450

Posted in Code of Ethics, Community Corner, Community Input, Guest Post, Legal, Politics | 1 Comment »

Please help me understand how litigation against three Aurora citizens was approved.

Posted by auroracitizen on April 13, 2011

Re: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Payment of Legal Expenses of Phyllis Morris and the defamation action of Phyllis Morris v.Johnson et al.

An Open Letter to the Aurora Town Council and the Citizens of Aurora.

I am writing this as an open letter to the current Aurora Town Council and to the citizens of Aurora as I believe others may have similar questions and concerns in relation to the defamation action of Phyllis Morris v. Johnson et al. I stand open to being corrected if anyone has any new information to be shared and I look to others for answers and clarification as I don’t believe that the current information in the public domain is sufficient to explain how this action was authorized by the Town of Aurora. It is only by sharing the following questions and subsequent answers (and any questions that other Aurora citizens may contribute) that we may all learn and come to understand how this action proceeded to its present state. A considerable amount of Aurora tax money is now authorized for payment of external legal fees for this case but more importantly to me three private citizens of Aurora are still involved as defendants in this action which may take years to resolve and which may jeopardize the financial futures of their families.

I realize that there are those that support Ms. Morris’ argument and reasoning for her defamation suit as equally there are those that support Richard Johnson, Elizabeth Bishenden and Bill Hogg (Johnson et al) and I respect their difference in opinions. I was from the start and still remain in support of Johnson et al but it is not my intention here to argue the legal aspects of their case as this is now in the hands of our judicial system and the lawyers. It is my intention to learn and better understand how this action was authorized by the Town and to understand how it was deemed to follow the proper legislative and administrative procedures.

I recognize that Mayor Dawe and some of the current councillors that ran on a platform that included stopping the Town’s involvement in the lawsuit. I commend them for following through on this promise once they were sworn into office. I also commend those councillors and mayoral candidates that also supported stopping the Town’s involvement but who were not successful in the recent election. I can appreciate that Mayor Dawe and the current Town Council has had to responsibly deal with the matters opened by the previous council and administration and were faced with the difficult decision to authorize the payment of external legal fees to December 14, 2010. I further recognize that there may still be some legal privacy issues in answering some of my questions but that does not prohibit me from asking these important questions and seeking these answers even if they may still be forthcoming in the future when this case is resolved.

In the following, I will reference the letter by George Rust-D’Eye of WeirFoulds LLP entitled EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Payment of Legal Expenses of Phyllis Morris (to be known as the “Executive Summary”). This letter was made public on March 30, 2011 as a Media Advisory by the Town of Aurora. It was authorized for release by order of the Aurora Town Council at its March 29, 2011 meeting and it can be found on the Town website at the webpage http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/aurora/index.aspx?CategoryID=27&lang=en-CA under 2011 Media Releases (March 30, 2011).

It was after reading George Rust-D’Eye’s Executive Summary that I was compelled to ask the contained questions and to seek the assistance from others to help me and the citizens of Aurora better understand how Phyllis Morris v. Johnson et al was initiated by the Town of Aurora. It is the Executive Summary that makes me question past information and/or lack of information to the public in this matter.

I am numbering my questions so that anyone responding to this letter can do so accordingly by the question number.

1. Who has the legal authority at the Town to proceed on the Town’s behalf with a lawsuit?

2. What are or in fact are there any legislative steps that must be complied with by the Town Council in order to initiate a lawsuit? What is the involvement and authority of the Mayor and the Town’s administrative staff, be it the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), the Town Solicitor or any other Town staff in initiating a lawsuit?

3. I recognize that this matter started with the Council directive from the Closed Session of the Town Council Meeting of September 14, 2010. From that point onwards what were the steps and who further authorized that this matter was to be handled directly as a lawsuit?

As stated in Question 3, this matter started with the Council directive from the Closed Session of the Town Council Meeting of September 14, 2010 (Please see 2nd attachment). The entry for this motion is as follows:

Council recessed into Closed Session at 11:33pm

Mayor Morris left the meeting at 1:10 am.

Council reconvened into Open Session at 1:11 am with Deputy Mayor McRoberts in the Chair.

Moved by Councillor MacEachern Seconded by Councillor Gaertner

THAT the Council rise and report from the Closed Session to confirm the direction from Closed Session regarding the potential defamation; and THAT the Town Solicitor be directed to retain external legal counsel and to take any and all actions to bring resolution to this matter.

CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

The September 14th Council meeting initially had Mayor Morris and all eight Councillors in attendance. In the minutes it is noted that Councillor Collins-Mrakas left the meeting at 10:16 pm and Councillor Buck left the meeting at 11:01 pm. The Closed session would then have included Mayor Morris (who subsequently left at 1:10am just before reporting out and before the vote) and Councillors Gaertner, Gallo, Granger, MacEachern, McRoberts and Wilson. There is no indication in the minutes as to if any Town staff may have been involved in the closed session but since it involved litigation I would assume that the Town’s CAO and the Town Solicitor would be present, though I stand corrected if they were not present and/or if others were present.

From the Executive Summary (after the September 14th Council Meeting and after the Town retained Aird & Berlis LLP (“AB”) as its external legal counsel): “Then-Mayor Morris requested the Town to pay for the litigation, following the receipt of a legal opinion from AB in which it was advised that the comments were made against the Mayor, as well as the Town Solicitor and the Integrity Commissioner, in their capacity as elected officials or employees of the Town.”

4. Given the answers to the above questions 1, 2 & 3 and the statement “Then-Mayor requested the Town to pay for the litigation”, were the steps taken by the Town in accordance to the accepted procedures and in such a way that Mayor Morris could not be seen as having a conflict of interest as she had direct involvement in the case being that she would be the plaintiff, that the Town would be financing this action and that she would be the sole beneficiary of any awarded damages?

5. As I see no further reference to this action in any other subsequent Council Meeting in the above statement “who” is the Town? Was this a Town staff member with authority to authorize payment for the litigation?

6. Again, who at the Town had the authority to proceed with litigation? If it was the Mayor was it not a conflict of interest for the Mayor to request the Town to proceed? If it was the Mayor, should not another person (be it elected or Town staff) have taken the lead to this action?

7. Was there a reason why this matter was not taken back to Council be it in a closed session to authorize such litigation and the accompanying expenditures?

From the Executive Summary: “The retainer letter signed by the Mayor and the Town on October 6, 2010 leads to the conclusion that both are jointly and severally liable for paying the legal expenses incurred for the defamation action.”

8. Thus the Town and Ms. Morris were equally and separately responsible for the full amount. The Town has now authorized payment of legal fees to December 14, 2010. Should the Town not be demanding that Ms. Morris reimburse the Town now for at least ½ of the Town external legal fees instead of as recommended in the Executive Summary “that the Town give notice to Phyllis Morris of the intent by the Town to look to her for indemnity in respect of legal services paid for by the Town out of any damages or cost recovered by her in the proceedings”? The only way that the Town will be reimbursed will be if Ms. Morris is successful and the 3 Aurora citizens are not and this does not guarantee any funds to the Town as there is no signed agreement for this option.

9. Would the Mayor have proceeded or initiated such action given that she would have to pay ½ the current legal expense?

(This is now a hypothetical question and does not require an answer).

From the Executive Summary: “it appears that, at the time of the meeting of the Town Council on September 14 and 15, 2010, it was accepted by all concerned that the abuse being heaped on the Mayor and other municipal officials by third parties, was seen as an attack on the reputation of the Town itself, affecting the reputation and perceived integrity of Council and staff, and that there was an agreed-upon strategy to vindicate the Town’s name and reputation, which was seen at least as much the target as was the Mayor herself;”

10. Are we to understand that the “agreed-upon strategy” that Mr. Rust-D’Eye writes of was simply the wording in the Council Meeting Minutes of September 14, 2010 “THAT the Town Solicitor be directed to retain external legal counsel and to take any and all actions to bring resolution to this matter”? And that it was this directive that gave authorization to an open-ended mandate and a blank cheque to external counsel without further advice, consultation or authority from Council. (A separate rhetorical question but if there was not an election and a change of Council to stop payment to AB how high would the lawyer’s bill have gone?)

11. If it was an “agreed-upon strategy” then why if I recall correctly were some councillors apparently surprised when the news of the litigation came forth?

12. Were these instructions sufficient to proceed with the defamation suit? (Thus my earlier questions on legislative procedure).

13. Did the Town Solicitor or whoever instructed the external legal counsel of Aird & Berlis have the authority to proceed with litigation without further approval from Town Council?

14. Was the motion from the September 14th meeting so broadly worded that it could be ambiguous enough so that legal proceedings could commence without further authorization or approval from Council?

15. Did council discuss litigation as part of their closed session meeting? Was it understood that litigation was the only option that external legal counsel should pursue? (I realize that this may never be known as it was a closed session). If so, then they knew it could proceed to the current situation along with the financial burden to the Town. If not, then did someone at the Town over-step their authority (thus my earlier questions as to procedure in authorizing litigation)?

Please help me understand how we arrived at the current state of affairs.

It is my opinion that the council directive was far too vague and could be viewed as irresponsible as it did not provide specific direction and limitations and any need for the external legal counsel once engaged to seek further direction and authorization from council. Given the particular care that councillors take in wording their motions and given the fact that this was done at the end of term with councillors having a minimum of 4 years of experience (excluding Councillor Gallo) in their seats as opposed to being inexperienced councillors at the beginning of term it is surprising that this motion as worded was ever approved. It makes me wonder whether there is any part of this incident and/or subsequent actions that could be deemed in any way to violate the Municipal Act and/or the Town’s business and legislative procedures and if so who are we to hold accountable for their actions.

I note that Councillor Bob McRoberts disavowed his approval of the September 14th motion at the September 29, 2010 Council meeting and stated on October 14, 2010 on Rogers TV First Local News, “The arguments presented by town staff and council members didn’t match my understanding of the Municipal Act. I do not agree with the rationale provided. I do not agree that the matter is a matter for Council”.

I have to ask – what would have happened to the Town of Aurora if this past Council were to have directed other external contractors “to take any and all actions” for litigation against land developers in Aurora or for the repair to all roads or to improving Aurora’s water and sewage systems or to providing recreation facilities?

I believe that there is still much to be disclosed to the citizens of Aurora so that we can all understand how Phyllis Morris v. Johnson et al was authorized by the Town of Aurora. I should think that the answers would be simple and straight forward.

Sincerely,

Paul Sesto

Posted in Community Input, Conflict of Interest, Election 2010, Freedom of Information, Guest Post, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Town Council | 30 Comments »

Guest Post: Is Technology Stifling Our Children?

Posted by auroracitizen on February 28, 2011

In honour of Family Day and in recognition of our responsibility to our children, let me turn your focus 180 degrees from Aurora’s political circus to a more serious topic.

Last month we got a thank-you note from our 15 year-old granddaughter on behalf of her brother and herself, expressing appreciation for the Christmas gifts they had received. This young lady is extremely bright, gifted and a really nice kid, for a teenager.

What was particularly striking about her note, and the envelope in which it arrived, was the fact that it was printed in her hand, and not very well at that.

On the next occasion that one of us spoke to her mother, my wife asked a simple question: “Does Mary (name changed) know how to write?”

The answer curled my wife’s ear. “You don’t have to know how to write anymore! Nowadays everyone has a laptop or a Blackberry – writing is history.” This from our elder daughter who had started her university career with a journalism career in mind.

Our younger daughter, who is an elementary school teacher in a town north of here, came down on her sister’s side. “We don’t bother with mechanics any more, rather teaching children to be well-rounded, something their parents no longer do.”

Kicking into the conversation a couple of days later was our son-in-law, above daughter’s husband, a swing elementary school teacher. Everyone that he came into contact with in his school not only wrote, but did so beautifully. It seemed to be a competitive thing and reflected a certain degree of pride in the accomplishment. Possibly because of a different mind-set in some cultures.

Into the mail this past Friday were a couple of books on cursive writing and a kit on calligraphy. We might get a blast for meddling. I really hope not.

Today’s young generation is swamped with technology, a lot of it very positive. But social networking on the Internet strikes me as an extremely dangerous alternative to getting out and playing with kids in your neighbourhood, seeing and talking face to face with real people.

Posted in Discussion Topic, Guest Post, Leadership, Uncategorized | 22 Comments »

Local Student Research Reports on Research

Posted by auroracitizen on January 13, 2011

I am a regular blog-reader, as well as a college student. As some of you might recall, back in late November, the Aurora Citizen owners were kind enough to post a link to a survey for my research class report, and many of the blog-participants were good enough to respond. Now, I’m back to share the results.

There were 55 unique respondents to the survey. As explained on the blog back in November, the “Local Citizen” in the survey actually refers to this blog. Below are the survey questions and the results. Personally, I found the results rather interesting — and my mark on the report was 100%.

Thank you again to the blog-owners and those who participated in the survey.

-A Local Student

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1.  Have you ever posted on the “Local Citizen” blog?

14% responded “Yes, once or twice.”
46% responded “Yes, a few times.”
35% responded “Yes, too many times to count.”
5% responded “No.”

2.  Have you heard about the lawsuit filed against the owners of the “Local Citizen” blog?

75% responded “Yes, from local news outlets.”
8% responded “Yes, saw it on the blog.”
14% responded “Yes, someone told me about it.”
3% responded “No, this is the first I’ve heard.”

3.  Have you ever hesitated to post a blog comment due to the threat of legal action?

85% responded “Yes, I am careful what I post due to the recent lawsuit or threats of lawsuits.”
9% responded “Yes, I think about the risks, but post my opinions regardless.”
6% responded “No, I never hesitate to post what I think.”
0% responded “Other.”

4.  Have you ever posted a blog comment and feared legal action because of it?

24% responded “Yes, I have posted and then worried about legal action.”
24% responded “Yes, it’s occurred to me, but I don’t worry about it.”
47% responded “No, I don’t post risky statements.”
5% responded “Other”.

5.  Are you confident in your understanding of the law in Canada regarding libel and defamation?

51% responded “ I am intimidated at the idea that my postings may leave me vulnerable to a lawsuit.”
8% responded “ I can freely express my opinions with no risk of legal actions.”
38% responded “ I understand what constitutes fair comment and what constitutes libel.”
3% responded “ Other”

Posted in Community Corner, Guest Post | 3 Comments »

 
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