Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

The Facts are the Facts

Posted by auroracitizen on October 15, 2009

Openness and transparency is a bold claim when running for election. It resonates with citizens and we trust our leaders will do the right thing. Tell the truth.

However, all too often we are disappointed as one politician after another steps closer and closer to the line we would all rightly call “a lie” if it wasn’t in politics. In politics they have a special name for it — it’s called spin.

Here in Aurora, Mayor Phyllis Morris has shown herself to be accomplished at the art of spin. Her latest effort is the recent release of legal expenditures that clearly do not reflect those released by the Town in July. These new numbers only having been released after a Freedom of Information request, which the town solicitor confirmed as correct.

Why was a Freedom of Information request even required? I guess someone didn’t believe the numbers released through Council initially. Guess they were correct

A couple interesting spins as noted in the full article in The Banner;

  • “No members of Council had seen the numbers in question until their recent publication.” Are we the only ones surprised that an explosive document like this was released by staff without informing her worship first. Who was on duty when these were released that didn’t see the potential for political repercussions? Heads will roll if it is true. Lesser sins have resulted in great consequences.
  • “She isn’t certain why there was a discrepancy between the new figures and those previously attributed to 2007.” Huh? Isn’t that her job?
  • “Other costs included on the list relate to the price of protecting staff’s reputations, Mrs. Morris added. “That might explain some of the extra costs.” she said.” Might? The basis for the question in the first place was how much money had been spent on this type of issue. You would expect the Mayor to be aware of what she was spending on personal issues of this nature since they were specifically directed be spent by Council. After all it’s only ‘our’ money.

Mt MacDermid summed up the issue quite nicely when he said “I think it’s regrettable when a council cannot get along and solve its differences without going the legal route. At that point, I think that they’ve forgotten who it is that they’re really there to represent.”

“There is no spin here,” Mr. Wilson said. “You can try all you like to spin things, but the facts are the facts.” Well said Councillor Wilson. So how about explaining ‘the facts’ so we all understand them. One must wonder why a Council that claims openness and transparency would release numbers that conflict with numbers released through official channels?

We raised questions in our blog post back in July when the initial numbers were disclosed. Just 3 months later, the appearance of distortion and manipulation is troubling. One again this Council is being challenged on their numbers.

We can’t speak for everyone — but aren’t you just a little insulted that Mayor Morris and Council thinks we are that stupid?

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8 Responses to “The Facts are the Facts”

  1. Ask Aurora? said

    Toronto Star column on Mississauga’s council minutes ‘re-write’ and conflict of interest brouhaha:

    James: Can McCallion’s Mississauga handle the truth?

    By Royson James
    City Columnist

    Published On Tue Oct 27 2009

    Will Mississauga be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century? We begin to find out Wednesday when its council votes on whether to go ahead with a judicial inquiry into conflict of interest questions involving the city’s legendary mayor and her developer son.

    A staff report estimates the inquiry will cost between $2 million and $2.5 million and last some 40 days. And costs could increase, if councillors add more issues for the judge to probe.

    For example, how did the council minutes come to record that Mayor Hazel McCallion had declared a conflict of interest at one of the meetings when her son’s project came before council? The city clerk has been forced to admit to an embarrassing dilemma: video evidence showed neither McCallion nor any other councillor declared a conflict of interest that day. And the clerk couldn’t say how or why the error was inserted.

    In reporting to council, the city clerk answered the unasked question, just in case you were thinking it. She said the recording clerk would not have been influenced by a member of council to insert the change.

    Somehow, that doesn’t settle it. The Phantom Minutes is clearly an issue council should include in the inquiry’s terms of reference.

    Of course, the whole affair is enough to make some councillors gag, one surmises. So it would not be a shock if one or two pro-inquiry councillors get cold feet and abort the judicial review before it starts. The September vote seeking the review passed 6-4, with one councillor missing.

    Though McCallion is reportedly mourning the recent death of her son-in-law, the inquiry item is still before council.

    “Business as usual,” Councillor Carolyn Parrish said Monday, anticipating Wednesday’s vote.

    Just getting to the inquiry stage will be an accomplishment in a big small town that’s effectively ruled by one strong woman, now 88.

    When the Star wrote about the issue, the response was, in some cases, vile. Mississauga residents took it personally that their beloved mayor was being taken to task. Leave us alone, they were saying. We trust our Hazel. If she met with her developer son and his real estate buddies, she was doing it in the best interest of the city and if she didn’t declare a conflict of interest when the issue came before council, she might have been preoccupied with city business.

    Councillor Nando Iannicca proposed the motion seeking the inquiry. Parrish seconded the motion. McCallion backers on council said the inquiry is politically motivated, a witch hunt.

    So, have they been inundated with protests from constituents angry they’re attempting to besmirch the mayor’s record?

    “It’s been so quiet … we are pinching ourselves,” Parrish said Monday. “I received five emails from the usual suspects who go off whenever I hiccup.”

    When I told her I received 15 emails of protest, Parrish, infamous for her anti-George W. Bush rant while a federal politician, was unimpressed.

    “Listen, when I called the Americans a bad name, I got 5,000 in 24 hours. I got 1,500 when I stomped on the George Bush doll.”

    You’ve got to get calls and emails into the thousands “before you get my attention,” she said.

    But the cost, Carolyn, the cost? At what price good government?

    Mississauga is spending $40 million to beautify its city centre square, she said. “If we can spend $40 million to make the square pretty, we can spend $2 million to get to the truth.”

    Ah, the elusive truth. Finding it is often messy. Ask Toronto. Ask Vaughan. Ask Mississauga?

  2. someone who loves this town more than politics said

    The more I read about the skyrocketing legal fees, the more the following rings true:

    “If you think experts are expensive, wait until you see what amateurs cost you!”

    Amateurs such as Morris, Granger, Gallo & Wilson have cost this town dearly!

  3. Broderick Epps said

    Something just doesn’t add up here and I don’t mean the numbers.
    Ms. Morris the noted micromanager, did not review the release of information into the public domain? Information that could prove embarrasing to her? Is she turning over a new leaf and allowing staff to do their job. Seems hard to believe. This is so unlike Ms. Morris.Bottom line, being the master at spin….. I don’t believe her!

  4. Council Cop said

    Al Wilson’s big area of concern initially was getting the budget numbers straight. Now he is defending Council for getting its 2008 legal fees quoted to the media wrong to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars ! I’m not sure what happens at the Town Hall after well intentioned people are elected but politics in our little town seems to have a way of making strange bedfellows and twisting reality.

    Councillor Wilson also stated that he wanted to move on to conducting the town’s business by getting past the concerted and all consuming attack on Councillor Buck (my words, not his) and then he allows the G6 to proceeded to leave the unsupported allegations against Councillor Buck up on the Town’s website, through the Mayor’s latest manipulation of procedural rules. Council’s actions continue to be erratic, unproductive and nothing short of disgraceful but the G6 continues to insist that “all is well”.

    From where I sit, Al is just an example of someone that meant well but unfortunately got himself caught up in a terrible quagmire created by the Mayor and Councillor MacEachern. It’s too bad, for all concerned.

  5. Anonymous said

    Al Wilson is one of the greatest disappointments of this council. I expected more from a person who did his homework before making presentations to previous councils.He has done nothing since getting elected other than making dumb statements trying to protect his lost mayor.I will not vote for him again.
    Granger was expected to fail so he has lived up to his expectations as has McEachren. Gallo is a lost soul who after
    the last election where he LOST actually called Councillor Buck and asked her to step down so he could be on council What a disgrace! Then his friend the mayor gave him his wish and forced him onto council. Another disgrace but what do you expect>

  6. Anonymous said

    I actually had just recently commented on this particular fact. And if this item is not mentioned on this particular account how much more is not mentioned either? Just food for thought!

  7. Not Surprised said

    The Mayor contends that the recent legal figures released include salaries and budgets. Am I missing something? It appears that the numbers provided are all attributed to law firms and what the costs represented ie. legal opinions, OMB hearings, etc. Where does it say anything about salaries and budgets? Or are we to believe that we have some input into the salaries and budgets of these very large, very pretigious Toronto law firms.

    Why would Morris make such a stupid statement?

    I am really beginning to pick up on what everyone is saying about spin!

  8. Anonymous for a reason said

    The pressure must be kept up. It is still a long way to the election and people have short memories. Phyllis and her crew are banking on that. I’m sure they’ll be more issues on the horizon, but this term must be viewed as a whole. Electioneering is in full swing. Ample opportunities to ask Mrs. Morris the uncomfortable questions when you see her around town.
    She heads the other way when she sees me as she has spun her spin too many times, and I ain’t buying it.

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