Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

An Unbiased Opinion: The Globe and Mail

Posted by auroracitizen on October 18, 2009

Special to The Globe and Mail

Aurora: Toronto’s most dysfunctional suburb

Ivor Tossell: From Saturday’s Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Oct. 16, 2009

An 80-year-old councillor with a robust set of lungs, Evelyn Buck has become the mayor's implacable foe.

 

An 80-year-old councillor with a robust set of lungs, Evelyn Buck has become the mayor’s implacable foe. THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The town’s mayor tried to bring decorum to her city and wound up facing rancour, resignations, and an irrepressible granny blogger

Perched on Yonge Street, about 40 kilometres north of Toronto, Aurora is perhaps best known for being home to the Stronach family, who rule over the auto-parts company Magna and whose daughter, Belinda, once represented the riding in Ottawa.

On first blush, this town of 50,000 seems decorous, right down to its gingerbready GO station. Locals have a habit of badging each other with labels like “20-year resident” or “50-year resident.” Adults sing along to Jerusalem at a concert in a local park, sometimes led by the mayor herself. In a nod to its Asian residents, the city has allowed them to remove numbers they deem unlucky from their addresses.

But behind this courtly setting is a political vortex of loathing and retribution, a sterling example of urban politics at their most dysfunctional: An integrity commissioner fired. Accusations of slander, conspiracy and harassment. Angry, anonymous ads popping up in the local newspaper. At the heart of this conflict is an 80-year-old politician, who one leading counterpart suggested should be checked for Mad Cow disease after she took to a combative form of blogging.

What on earth happened in Aurora?

The first thing to know about Aurora is that it’s not Vaughan.

Unlike that sprawling, scandal-plagued city – its image tarnished by questions over expenditures and conflicts of interest – everything in Aurora is smaller, prettier and more personal.

An election in 2006 brought changes to the clubby old ways. In a tight three-way race, Ms. Morris – then a town councillor – upset the incumbent, Tim Jones, who’d held the job for 12 years. A long-time backer of MP Stronach, Mr. Jones also had the endorsement of her auto magnate father, Frank.

Mayor Morris – Phyllis to most everyone – had made a name for herself during the campaign as an environmentalist. With a sing-song, Shropshire accent that vibrates with nervous energy, she took power with promises of decorum. “Many of us don’t see it as a blood-sport,” she says, “We see it as a public service.”

From the outside, at least, things seemed to be going well. The New York Times sent a writer up to report on Ms. Morris’s quest to legalize backyard laundry lines. (To this day, people keep sending clothes-pegs to her office.) She also brought in a code of conduct in 2007 that required councillors to “accurately and adequately communicate the attitudes and decisions of council, even if they disagree with the majority of council” and forbade them to publically disparage town staff.

Rancour ensued, the council splitting into pro- and anti-mayor groups with the mayor’s side holding a majority.

“The level of hostility and animosity has been present from the very first day,” says Alison Collins-Mrakas, one of the new councillors at odds with the mayor.

Closed-door council meetings were marked with “cursing and screaming” says Grace Marsh, another rookie councillor who found herself on the wrong side of the majority.

Some councillors also didn’t seem interested in staff advice they didn’t agree with. In one instance, they overruled the advice of their chief planner during a road-paving project, and spent tens of thousands of dollars improving the driveways of well-organized ratepayers. The town was upgrading the street from suburban to city standards, lowering the levels of the road and making for awkward access to driveways.

Bureaucrats would find their judgment being questioned in public council meetings. Ms. Marsh – herself a former town employee of 10 years – says she saw city staff being berated at closed-door meetings. Council members – though not the mayor herself – were “calling people stupid, [saying], ‘You’re an idiot, you don’t know how to do your job.’ I had staff members calling me in tears,” she says.

Since the council took office, all but two of the town’s top tier of public servants have retired, left for other municipalities or were terminated.

Ms. Morris denies the charges of discord. She says the staff turnover is on par with previous administrations.

“You can’t keep everyone forever, but you can make it [look] ugly if you want to.”

In June, 2008, Ms. Marsh resigned in disgust, and rather than have the town pay for another by-election, Ms. Morris led council to appoint a runner-up from the last election – who became a loyal ally. The decision divided council even further.

“I often feel that it’s difficult to have any constructive or rational debate,” says Ms. Collins-Mrakas, an academic by trade. “If you take a position, it’s all very personal.”

But it was the new council’s lone elder voice who really roiled the water.

Sitting on her back porch in one of Aurora’s twisty, low-slung 1950s suburbs, cradling her silver-tipped cane between her legs, Ms. Buck lets out a hoot. At 80, she’s been in politics longer than many constituents have been alive, even having been mayor herself in the mid-seventies.

“Politicians, by their nature, are congenial people. They want to be liked,” muses Ms. Buck in her thick Scottish accent, shaking her head. “This council is an aberration.”

First elected in 1967, she’s known for having encyclopedic knowledge of the town and the lungs to vent it. She’s known for being ornery, having once whacked a fellow councillor, a newspaper proprietor, over the head with a rolled-up copy of his own publication. (All was soon forgiven, though Phyllis Morris was appalled.) And more recently, she’s famous for bringing city hall into a legal morass.

From the get-go, a member of the mayor’s faction expressed dislike of Ms. Buck – her polarizing style and her cantankerous approach. One was an e-mail from a mayor’s ally sent to the council that advocated that Ms. Buck be checked for Mad Cow disease. In another email, the same councillor called Ms. Buck a “jack ass” – followed by eleven exclamation marks.

In the meantime, Ms. Buck felt she was being shut out of discussions, constantly interrupted, her motions largely ignored.

“I said,” she recalls, “if they won’t give me a role, I’ll create a new role for myself.”

So, in the spring of 2007, she started a blog.

Entitled “Our Town and Its Business,” with a picture of a smiling Ms. Buck in the margin, it was at first more opaque than incendiary, full of writing that alludes slyly to incidents and avoids naming names. (Still, she hadn’t gotten six months in before calling her own nephew “abysmally bloody ignorant.”) One of Ms. Buck’s postings in November, 2007, which attacked council for the road upgrades, especially raised hackles.

“Do I take exception to mine and my neighbours’ tax money being spent that way? Damn right, I do,” she wrote. “Had I voted for that, I would have been in breach of trust to the people who elected me. Malfeasance is the term used in the Oath of Office.”

Ms. Buck also used the old media, filling countless column-inches of local newspapers with critical commentary. (Among her many topics: How much money was the town spending on outside lawyers?) “It was always my primary role anyway to keep people informed of what the issues were and what my position was,” she says. “I don’t believe in being shy or backward about telling people what I think. A lot of people like you to tell them what they think.”

It was enough to drive the majority on the council to distraction. And it put Ms. Buck’s candour at odds with the mayor’s desire for civility.

“What is difficult is if council has made a decision, and it’s time to move on then. The vote is over. You move on,” says the mayor.

Over the past summer, a nasty dispute erupted about how some remarks a citizen made before council were recorded in the meeting minutes. This led Ms. Buck to muse online about how the minutes could be “doctored.”

Having instituted a code of conduct and hired an integrity commissioner – respected ethicist David Nitkin – Ms. Morris handed him the first and last case he’d see: a formal complaint against Ms. Buck, broadly accusing her of maligning staff in public.

Exactly what that case was remains a mystery; the full complaint has never been released, nor has exactly what Ms. Buck is said to have said. A posting on the town website accused Ms. Buck of breaching the code of conduct in several places, including “unfounded and completely unmerited public criticism of staff” on her blog. A legal opinion was attached, though exactly which blog posts were thought to be troublesome, and why, were never specified.

Mr. Nitkin was not impressed by the complaint. He declined to be interviewed for this story, citing contractual obligations, but in a report he sent back to council, he slammed the complaint as “inappropriate in that the way in which it was crafted, politicized and communicated may be, and may be seen to be, wholly political.”

The next day, the mayor’s faction of council met in camera and voted to dismiss him. The remaining three councillors, sensing trouble from the e-mails flying around, stayed away. Within days, a senior bureaucrat in charge of keeping the town in line with provincial laws – who had joined the town six months earlier – abruptly retired.

“It’s unfortunate that Aurora would find itself – with all the good that’s going on in this town – even remotely being questioned for the simple fact that we’re trying to raise the bar of decorum and accountability,” says Ms. Morris.

The dismissal of Mr. Nitkin exacerbated the tension, bringing unfavourable media attention.

An anonymous blog, called Aurora Citizen, has become a hotbed of anger. Widely suspected to be run by a former councillor, perhaps with political ambitions of his or her own, its posts attract dozens of heated, nameless comments. Ms. Morris also finds herself facing a series of increasingly hostile ads that an anonymous group, calling itself the Aurora Coalition, has been printing in a local newspaper owned by a former councillor. One of them presented a statement of the town’s legal fees, tallying up hundreds of thousands spent on legal opinions, many relating to the code of conduct and Ms. Buck’s blog.

Ms. Buck has announced her intention to sue the mayor and most of council for libel, stemming from the affair. (Ms. Marsh is helping her set up a fund, and says she’s already accumulated thousands of dollars in donations.) Still, she will likely face a new integrity commissioner, and a new attempt to censure her.

Elections, which once brought hope for change to the city, are coming in 2010. Will the mayor run again?

“I hope to retain that commitment without having that light taken away. I have to believe that it’s the right thing to do. I have to believe it. I do believe it. As long as I have that commitment burning in me, I’ll continue to put myself up for office.”

Ms. Buck also sounded determined. “Oh yeah,” she said. “Unless I’m dead.”

Special to The Globe and Mail

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26 Responses to “An Unbiased Opinion: The Globe and Mail”

  1. Nigel Kean said

    I agree with Grace Marsh when it comes to using the reserves rather than a small tax increase just to make the council look good, especially during the two years running up to the election. The reserves are meant for emergencies and not to get re-elected.
    Watch carefully this year and see how much of the reserves are used up again for the wrong reasons.

  2. Sharing Spin said

    Hello Grace Marsh,

    Thank You for your reply. The comments that you responded to, however, were not mine. The first couple of paragraphs were mine, as a precis to the “copy-and-paste” job of comments found on the Globe and Mail site. Please re-read my post.

    With Kind Regards…

  3. Grace Marsh said

    Dear Sharing Spin:

    Just a couple of comments regarding yours.

    Evelyn’s response regarding the budget increase issue is completely accurate. The increase in question was being strongly recommended by the Director of Finance. It made no fiscal sense, to him or I, to ignore the reserves in an effort to keep the budget increase artificially low. It’s short sighted financial planning. You must allow for the future maintenance of any all infrastructure currently existing or planned.

    In terms of my full-time employment. I cleared my candidacy (prior to filing) with both my employer’s corporate attorney and an independant local attorney. My employer has very few client’s in Aurora, however whenever any item came before Council that effected either a current client or even a future prospect, I declared a pecuniary interest and left the table. It was very infrequent. My resignation had nothing to do with my full-time employment.

    And finally – Magna was not in 2006, nor currently, a client of my employer and yes they did contribute to my campaign. I wrote to over 100 local companies, they were one of the few that responded. It is very difficult for a new candidate to raise funds for a municipal campaign. There is no tax receipt and no municipal rebate program to encourage local business involvement. One can only tap into their friends for so much. My campaign was primarily self funded.

    Grace Marsh

  4. Anonymous for a reason said

    To anonymous 6:01 – read “They’re Running Scared’s” post again. That poster is quoting a comment from the G & M, it isn’t their comment!
    The point I think they are trying to make is that the RMA (Resident Morris Apologists as noted several times elsewhere in this blog) are no longer commenting on this blog, but have commented on the G & M piece. I just figured They’re Running Scared is bringing the information to this blog for comment or info.
    It is obvious that Mayor Morris’ supporters are no longer trying to post their spin on this blog. Probably because they have nothing substantial to contribute – like accomplishments or elections promises or civil behaviour.
    If a Mayor Morris supporter could put forth an election promise that has been kept, rather than deflecting and trying to squash this blog, then maybe there could be some dialogue as Elizabeth, the guest moderator, is trying to promote.
    Welcome to the dialogue 6:01. Not sure if we’ve seen you here before.

  5. Anonymous said

    TO; They’re running scared.
    You must have your head in the sand if you actually believe what you have written or else you are the mayor or McEachren.
    You are a fool with poor information.
    Allison, to me is one of only three on this council who actually have a single thread of intelligence on this council. At least she is trying to get at the facts and with Bob McRoberts they are trying hard to keep sane on this far fetched excuse for a council.
    Give your head a shake, look in the mirror and ask yourself where you are?

  6. They're Runnin' Scared said

    An RMA slinging mud at EB and ACM on the G&M site:

    10/22/2009 12:07:11 PM

    The self-proclaimed role of this Councillor is to oppose the majority, at all times. In so doing, she believes she fulfills her elected duties. Councillor Alison Collins-Mrakas has embraced a similar role, notably, at a more subtle level. Viewing the October 13, 2009 Council meeting, on the Rogers website, illustrates Ms. Collin-Mrakas’ copycat voting practice when voting to approve the minutes of a previous meeting, “a picture paints a 1,000 words”.

    Ms. Buck’s self-proclaimed role flies in the face of working in the betterment of the community and explains why 6 years on Council and she has not introduced a new initiative.

    Of note, Ms. Buck began the last election as a Mayoral Candidate seeking the Office of the Mayor. She launched her official mayoral campaign against then registered Mayoral Candidates Tim Jones and Nigel Kean. Subsequent to her ads and articles of “Vote Buck for Mayor” she withdrew her name as a Mayoral Candidate and sought a seat as a Councillor.

    How much of her “campaign” against the Mayor is triggered by her desire to be Mayor?

    Has this individual filed and meet the reporting requirements of the Elections Act?

  7. White Knight said

    To Sher St. Kitts:
    Quote:”… driven by self-serving egos…” well you and your pal Morris have the monopoly on those!

  8. Anonymous said

    Perhaps the Aurora Coalition can do a Freedom of Information request for Mrs. St. Kitts “expenses” from the fund. The Aurora Coalition seemed to be quite successful with the legal fee FOI.

  9. Broderick Epps said

    Another day another attempt by Snowball’s own music promoter and Mayor Morris shill, to spin all is well in Aurora. News flash Sher….it isn’t so.
    As for yourself it is easy to see you are marketing yourself for a run at Aurora Council.
    Its infuriating to read Ms St Kitt’s take on staff turnover. The almost complete turnover in Senior Town Staff can be directly attributed to the person who trumpets her “ten years” HR Experience in her resume posted on the Town’s Website. Since my path crosses with many who continue to do business with the town, its amazing to hear about the sheer contempt staff have for Ms. Morris. She or her shill St Kitts can spin all they want but the fact remains the majority of staff HATE MORRIS! Ever since she was a Councillor she has had a toxic relationship with staff. Nothing has changed. As for Sher , Richard Johnston eloquently put it best.
    “You state that it is your feeling that “In the end the facts & truth will prevail”. On that note I would like to clarify one specific point for the benefit of all, given the level of transparency that both you and the town appear to aspire to. How much has your husband’s band been paid by funds directly resulting from your relationship with the Mayor or the Town ? Given that you are now the Mayor’s most vocal supporter as well as your role in organising town sponsored events, a rough estimate would be much appreciated, including of course the funds paid to your family stemming from the Canada Day Parade celebrations, the Farmers Market and any other town function your husbands’ band has been compensated for.”
    I like others will await her spin, though like most bs artists she knows not to go there.

  10. A. Nonny Mous said

    “I believe that Councillor Buck requested such an accounting but I’m not sure it was ever provided.”

    All she got from her request was baloney from St-Kitts. Somewhere in the Auroran I remember reading St Kitts say that all the figures were provided or approved by the town or something along those lines. Yet again, why are the CITIZENS whose tax dollars pay for it, not told?

    Why cant St Kitts understand that all that Evelyn wanted was the accounting. If she wasn’t up to no good, why couldn’t she ‘prove’ it. ?

  11. Richard Johnson said

    To Sher St. Kitts:

    I too was once a big booster of Mayor Morris but have since become greatly disillusioned by her actions as a direct result of my close understanding of how she and her inner circle operates. I campaigned through the rain for her in the past election in the hope that real change would come to Aurora Council. My hopes were clearly and soundly dashed. From my perspective there are no justifiable excuses for how any number of issues have been handled. The proof is indeed in the pudding, as they say.

    The comments on this website, in the Toronto Sun, The Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, the CBC, Rogers Cable, The Banner and The Auroran, let alone my first hand and well documented experience in working closely with the Mayor over a five year period are hardly unsubstantiated, as you claim.

    By way of example, I can tell you that not only did the power supply issue take Mayor Morris “over the top” in the 2006 municipal election, but the same issue serves as a prime example how Phyllis has so badly mismanaged any number of her election promises after becoming elected. I’m not alone in that view as you know.

    You state that it is your feeling that “In the end the facts & truth will prevail”. On that note I would like to clarify one specific point for the benefit of all, given the level of transparency that both you and the town appear to aspire to. How much has your husband’s band been paid by funds directly resulting from your relationship with the Mayor or the Town ? Given that you are now the Mayor’s most vocal supporter as well as your role in organising town sponsored events, a rough estimate would be much appreciated, including of course the funds paid to your family stemming from the Canada Day Parade celebrations, the Farmers Market and any other town function your husbands’ band has been compensated for. I believe that Councillor Buck requested such an accounting but I’m not sure it was ever provided.

    The questions being asked of the Mayor and Council are both fair and reasonable and one can only hope that some logical and justifiable answers will be forthcoming before the next election. That said, I for one have enough well established information to make my decision with regards to who I plan to support or not support as the case may be.

  12. Anonymous said

    Another long winded spin by St Kitts. It really is amazing that she can put a postive spin on something that she knows very little about other than what is fed to her, by her sidekick morris.

    There is nothing positive about the number of key staff that have left Aurora. Her excuse, duh, a new mayor can create an exit of staff. Is she kidding or is the dye affecting her logic. When Tim Jones took over from John West, not one staff member left. The same when West took over from the previous mayor. So, why now. How about the micro management by morris and her idea that she has the only opinion and if you disagree you are gone. That is the truth.

    As far as morris doing everything she promised. Not a hope in hell is this statement true. morris promised the world and has NOT DONE ONE THING THAT SHE PROMISED. She promised a smooth running council. NOT. She promised an open and transparent council.NOT.There have been more closed door meetings with this council than any other.There is still the fact that there has not been a proper accounting of the money for the July 1st parade and the dream team.

    When is the proper accounting of the money spent and raised going to be made public???

    morris used to say that Tim Jones showed favourites when it came to awards and appointments.NOT

    Why did morris appoint John Gallo to council? Why did she give her election manager, Whitehurst, a plum paid job at the Church Street School? Why did she give her number one supporter,Sue Walmer, the citizen of the year?

    Oh yes, then she promised to help the folks in the hydro line area, NOT. She got their votes and then left them out to dry.

    The list of what she promised was long but the list of what she accomplished is very short. Absolutely nothing.

  13. walt said

    like an unruly pet or a troublesome four year old, the snowball resident, i think, likes any attention paid to her, negative or positive.

    she’s a sideshow. the dysfunction at council should be centre stage.

  14. someone who loves this town more than politics said

    I agree with Anne.

    Talk about someone taking more than her Sher!

  15. Young Canadian Woman said

    To Sher St Kitts:

    I am a young Canadian woman. I live in Aurora. I am offended by your comment “Phyllis Morris is a wonderful role model for young Canadian women…”

    I was encouraged to watch my first council meeting recently and was disgusted with our mayor. I was taught that a leader and a role model should be professional, courteous and in control at all times. I thought our mayor was not supposed to take sides, but rather moderate, remain calm and show class and dignity at all times.

    As a woman I was uncomfortable watching our mayor. I am uncomfortable with Sher St Kitts comments, encouraging this kind of behaviour. What I see is Sher St Kitts promoting herself and the mayor.

    Please stop using the word “WOMAN” as an all inclusive term, because its embarrassing as a woman to be grouped together with likes of the strident self promoting type that you and the mayor appear to be. You are not the role model for leaders I am looking for — you are exactly the opposite.

    I have no political agenda. I want to vote for the right person….not just a woman.

  16. Anne said

    I am so tired of hearing from and about that “lady in the back”. She seems to think she is a local celebrity, and celebrities want any kind of publicity – good or bad. Any buzz around her will help her cause, and the last thing we need is another brainless Morris follower on council.

  17. Positive 2010 said

    Yes ,now we just need an audit as to where the Farmers Market monies went and how much was doled out to “A new business venture ”
    Jazz Festival .

  18. Anonymous said

    The following comment was posted in response to the Globe article (of particular note is the assertion that, “Mayor Morris has kept every one of her campaign promises”:

    10/19/2009 2:50:32 PM

    Bravo Aurora!
    The truth is Aurora is experiencing a Renaissance. Growing to over 50,000 during the past twelve year period has brought about demographic changes which require attention.

    Aurora is a young multicultural town. Much of the supposed ‘dysfunction’ is actually created by anonymous, pseudo-named persons who belong to some esoteric ‘Anonymous Coalition’ in the Town. Why remain anonymous? What does that bring to mind? Draw your own conclusions in deciding who might be behind this and why.

    New leadership is usually followed by some staff changes. Coming in after someone has been in office for 12 years would present the same challenges to any new leadership and its staff.

    Mayor Morris has kept every one of her campaign promises – a fact not enjoyed by those who would be ‘mayor’! Hence the barrage of sour grapes in hopes to cause sufficient dissent and disruption to topple her.

    Bravo to the elected Mayor Phyllis Morris and the majority of Town’s councillors. I pray these brave souls continue to embrace, enhance and nuture plans which serve the new demographics of Aurora.

    Facts & Proof – Check http://www.e-aurora/farmersmarket – look at the newsletters; also http://www.aurorajazzfest.com a first in Aurora; plus Revival of Canada Day Parade for 2008 & 2009 – all events assisted by this Mayor and majority of her council. There is much more factual evidence of their ‘actual’ achievements.

    The majority on Council represents the majority in Aurora – that is Democracy.

    The unsubstantiated comments & articles driven by self-serving egos only cast negative aspersions upon the mudslingers themselves. In the end the facts & truth will prevail.

    As a Canadian woman, I’m proud to see yet another great Canadian female take the lead! Phyllis Morris is a wonderful role model for young Canadian women to seek office & help guide our young nation. Women like her show how we can provide effective leadership, get things done and still care for the needs of all.

    Sher St. Kitts

  19. More Big Media said

    Is this a talking point in town?

    From United Press International:

    http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2009/10/16/City-bows-to-Asian-numeric-superstition/UPI-27691255697464/

  20. evelyn.buck@rogers.com said

    Just to keep the record absolutely accurate.

    In 2008, the Chief Financial Officer of the Town,(no longer) John Gutteridge recommended for budget purposes, a contribution to reserve accounts in accordance with sound fiscal management. It was a minimal amount.

    His advice was being set aside. Councillor Marsh, on the basis of her own expertise, argued strongly and persuasively in support of the treasurer’s advice.

    Grace’s argument won and the amount was left in the budget.

    Subsequently,and obviously after some discussion took place away from the table, the decision was reversed, the treasurer’s advice was once again dismissed and the amount was removed from the budget.

    Without doubt to fit an arbitrary figure considered to be politically palatable to the electorate, while at the same time introducing a whole new program at the Church Street School Heritage Centre and other little baubles like $100ks to restore the Petch House without anybody noticing the increased burden on their tax bill.

  21. Anonymous said

    The story in the Globe and Mail shows how far this council has sank, even below Vaughan.
    I cannot belive the mayor’s statement that the staff turn over was the same as other councils. This is a lie, that must be dealt with. During the previous 6 years of council we had two senior staff leave the employment of Aurora.In the past three years there have been at least 9 senior staff leave as well as many other middle level staff.
    Never before has a councillor resigned. Never before has the town had to hire a Integrity Commissioner let alone fire him less than two months later.
    When was the last time a councillor sued another councillor?
    How many dollars have been wasted by this council due to the hiring of outside lawyers?
    This mayor says she is raising the standards of council.I don’t think so!
    When national papers get a town as great in Aurora in their sights it means that there is a problem.
    Unfortunately the mayor believes that she is always correct. She says that the sudden increase in legal fees is due to salaries. Does she really know what she is doing? NO,NO,NO.
    She has destroyed Aurora’s name and reputation.

  22. Tim the Enchanter said

    Eek!
    More bad mainstream press.
    It was all fluff of course, like 99% of everything to do with this council but knowing Aurora, someone will take umbrage to the “suburb” reference, reality notwithstanding.

    However, I did find the comments from “share info” a little odd.
    Since it’s obvious that he/she is local I chose to respond on this forum.

    Firstly, he/she comments that Councillor Collins-Mrakas declared a conflict due to her corporate connections – isn’t that proper procedure?
    Wouldn’t the problem be in NOT declaring a conflict?
    Are you actually complaining that CM is doing the RIGHT thing?
    WTF!

    The second comment on Grace Marsh was beyond stupid.
    Five minutes of searching back issues of the Auroran confirms that the tax increase discussion took place in Feb 2008 as part of the annual budget stalling and dithering. Then-Councillor Marsh proposed tax increases to cover current and future capital shortages as identified by town staff. Not everyone agreed on her stance, but the really crappy TV movie-of-the-week plot line dreamt up by “share info” is a real stretch.
    Ms. Marsh resigned her council seat at the end of April 2008 – that would be more than “a couple of weeks” later.
    Oops!
    So much for that supposed “link” between raising taxes and leaving council.
    Nice try though!

    Hey “share info”. Next time you want to shill for your council friends could you at least try to get a few facts straight or find someone smarter to churn out your crap?

    Why must we endure these insults to our intelligence?
    It’s like they don’t want us to vote.
    Sickening.

  23. Positive 2010 said

    They can spin all they want
    Mayor Morris promotes hate and that does not belong in our community .
    I will campaign against her and the gang .

  24. someone who loves this town more than politics said

    The mayor mentions herself 6 times in this statement:

    “I hope to retain that commitment without having that light taken away. I have to believe that it’s the right thing to do. I have to believe it. I do believe it. As long as I have that commitment burning in me, I’ll continue to put myself up for office.”

    Notice how she fails to mention the citizens or the the town once.

    Wholly political.

  25. Sharing Spin said

    While the Resident Morris Apologist(s) seem to have abandoned this blog (tired of fighting a losing battle or just following the advice of a “media coach”?), they are trying to “share info” with those less local, and therefore less-informed.

    So, how do you defend the MorMac faction? Well, you attack, of course – old habits do die hard, after all. So a couple of online comments to the Globe article attempts to blunt the criticism but attacking Cllr Collins-Mrakas and Grace Marsh. Typical and predictable…
    share info

    Here are the comments:

    10/18/2009 11:49:27 AM
    Great job highlighting the Magna connection, just a little added information to complete your circle. Councillor Allison Collins-Mrakas as a new resident to Aurora ran for election in 2006. Reviewing her political donations will show only one donation received and that donation came from Belinda Stronach.
    Approximately one year into Ms. Collins-Mrakas’ term of office she began to declare a conflict of interest on any matters before Council that relate to Magna “due to a family member that works for Magna”.
    1 0 Report Abuse

    share info

    10/18/2009 1:07:34 PM
    Councillor Grace Marsh – no shrinking violet and was known for raising her voice on several occasions.

    Perhaps Ms Marsh resigned her post as a Councillor because of her real or perceived conflict of interest.

    As a Councillor, voting for property tax spending and tax increases and as the Executive Director for a company that “fights” property tax assessments one can only imagine the inner struggles she experienced.

    A glance at what her employer does:

    “Once the Property Tax Assessment Review Service is complete, the relationship does not end. Through our on-going relationship with you, we will serve as a professional resource when questions arise and provide your company with the assurance that you are paying no more
    than your fair share of property taxes – year after year.”

    “Meet with municipal officials, as required. Ensure Completion of adjustment. Ensure tax savings process. Summary of savings.”

    Ms. Marsh’s company was hired by Aurora property owners, including one of the largest manufacturers in Aurora. Tie that together with the fact Ms. Marsh tried to convince Council to increase taxes from 6 to 8 % just before she resigned her post as a Councillor leaves one wondering. For this company increased property taxes would be good for business.

    Put best by a resident in a letter to the editor when the story that Ms. Marsh tried to convince Council to increase taxes by another 2% broke, “it’s like putting the fox in charge of the chickens”. Ms. Marsh resigned a couple weeks later.

    http://www.dmainc.ca/home. For confirmation of Ms. Marsh’s full-time employer see http://www.rotaryaurora.com/members.

  26. Countdown to Nov 2010 said

    Sad, but true.

    Mayor Morris says:

    “I hope to retain that commitment without having that light taken away. I have to believe that it’s the right thing to do. I have to believe it. I do believe it. As long as I have that commitment burning in me, I’ll continue to put myself up for office.”

    It isn’t commitment burning in her. It is sheer delusional self-righteousness. Her ego is astounding. The destruction she leaves in her wake, and she still thinks she has been “called” for some powerful purpose. People like her just don’t get it. Which is quite surprising, because that is the exact thing she used to say about Tim Jones!

    Whoever tipped the G & M for this piece – good on ya!

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