Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Mystery Ad Sparks More Toronto Star Coverage

Posted by auroracitizen on August 27, 2009

Mystery ad blasts town council

Anonymous `coalition for a better Aurora’ urges residents to turf mayor and five councillors

Aug 27, 2009 04:30 AM — Gail Swainson – Staff Reporter

A nasty spat within Aurora council that sparked the firing of the town’s integrity commissioner has taken a curious turn: a bluntly worded ad in a local newspaper calls on residents to turf Mayor Phyllis Morris and five of the eight sitting councillors in the 2010 municipal election.

“In our opinion, individually and jointly, the group has made a mockery of the concept of public service,” says the large display ad that ran in Tuesday’s Auroran, which follows a months-long feud between Morris and outspoken councillor Evelyn Buck.

Five councillors, Wendy Gaertner, John Gallo, Stephen Granger, Evelina MacEachern and Al Wilson – all considered staunch supporters of Morris – are said to be tagging “meekly behind” Morris.

The ad calls on potential candidates willing to run against them to step up to the plate in next fall’s election.

Sponsored by an anonymous “coalition for a better Aurora,” the ad castigates Morris for allegedly “trampling and denigrating almost to the point of blasphemy” her campaign promises, and claims that she has a “manic ego.”

It accuses the councillors of demoralizing the town’s staff and forcing several senior civil servants from office, and alleges they “engaged in legal and other entanglements detrimental to the best interests of the town.”

Gaertner called the ad disappointing. “I believe I went into this for the right reason: to do what is right for the residents of Aurora,” she said.

Morris is out of town on vacation and, along with the other named councillors, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Buck and fellow councillors Alison Collins-Mrakas and Bob McRoberts are not named in the ad, which lists no contact number, email address or website, but promises to be the first in a continuing series.

“I think it’s a terrible reflection on our town affairs,” said Buck. “For the sake of the community, I feel bad that it’s come to this, but it’s a sign of people’s opinion.”

Buck denied having anything to do with the ad.

She pointed out she has already had ample opportunity to express her controversial views in a public blog.

She and Gaertner both hinted they had some idea who might be at the root of the ad campaign, but refused to say.

An ongoing war of words between Buck and the six councillors came to a head earlier this month when the town’s integrity commissioner was fired after just two months on the job, over his handling of complaints by councillors about Buck’s blog, titled “Our Town and its Business.”

David Nitkin, president of EthicScan Canada, was dumped the day after he ruled that the councillors’ formal complaint against Buck – for slagging city staff on the blog – didn’t have enough information to go forward.

Nitkin said pointedly that he thought the whole affair “raised concerns of political interference.”

The sordid infighting on council is the talk of the town, with each side accusing the other of abuse of process and playing fast and loose with the facts.

Just days after Nitkin’s abrupt departure, town clerk Lucille King, who went to work for the town last November, announced she was retiring after 30 years of municipal service, sparking another round of finger-pointing and blame-laying.

Last year, rookie councillor Grace Marsh quit, telling a local newspaper in a letter that she’d been subjected to “anger, threats and insults” by a deeply divided council.

Her resignation was followed by a heated debate and a 5-3 vote to appoint a replacement rather than conduct a by-election.

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5 Responses to “Mystery Ad Sparks More Toronto Star Coverage”

  1. Anonymous said

    I'd take Hazel over Phyllis any day of the week. Lets put that to a vote.

  2. Tired of the Tiresome Interloper said

    Where does one file for Freedom From The Mississauga Muse?

  3. The Mississauga Muse said

    As always, kudos to The Aurora Citizen.

    Just want to share a comment that I just left at the Toronto Star. If you get the chance, read Christopher Hume's article, "Afghan vote turnout puts us to shame".

    Here's my comment.

    Riddle. What does the Town of Aurora have in common with the City of Mississauga? (cut-paste from Torstar)

    Christopher Hume writes, "As brilliant as McCallion and her fellow council veterans may be". Question for Mr. Hume. What research did you do on McCallion and her fellow councillors’ brand of governance prior to proclaiming them “brilliant”? If the Toronto Star filed Freedom of Information, it would confirm that a good part of their "brilliant" governance is the degree to which they put the comfort, convenience and rights of City employees over the interests of citizens and especially Youth. Be that their annual cutting of services (while guaranteeing increased employee salaries with each new contract) to McCallion and her eleven Councillors rubber-stamping important reports, policies, by-laws that Staff set before them –often without any understanding/caring of implications. True democracy demands an informed citizenry. Unfortunately, Municipal Incumbents’ longevity is primarily ensured by the degree to which Traditional Media have become little more than a funnel for city hall spin.

    Signed,
    The (I file Freedom of Information) Mississauga Muse

  4. Evelyn Buck said

    I do not claim to know who placed the Ad in The Auroran.

    I know lots of people who might have.

    It's a sad reflection on the Town's Affairs.

    Aurora deserves better.

  5. White Knight said

    My comment to Ms. Gaertner is that since she participated in the large ad in the Auroran that broadcast the complaint against Councillor Buck, which was supposed to be subject to confidentiality, she has no leg to stand on to pass comment when citizens post large ads to communicate their disgust with the GOS.

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