Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Role of New Aurora Spokesperson Unclear

Posted by evelynb on January 16, 2010

It’s odd for a sitting Councillor to learn of dramatic new initiatives in town communications from the media.

This week the Chief Administrative Officer, acting as spokesperson for the town (the Mayor) announced the town’s intention to add a spokesperson to the administration to improve communications. Speech-writing and perhaps engaging with Facebook will be part of the job.

Council last met on December 8th. The budget will not be ratified before January 26th.

Already we are off and running. So fast off the mark, no time has been allowed for discussion at the Council table.

Everyone who reads this blog knows, because I say so, I do not present as competent in computers.

But Facebook, for God’s Sake. Facebook !!!! Can anybody at the town hall possibly not understand what Facebook is about.

We are to pay for someone. with a Masters Degree in Communication , at a cost of $100Ks annually, to engage Facebook !!!!!

Oh My God!!!

Facebook is the domain of the Rampant and Reckless, Totally Irreverent and Sacrilegious Youth.

I keep tabs on my grandchildren on Facebook.

The Town has a Corporate Communication Division. The Mayor monopolised it from the start as her personal public relations flack. Along with Notice Board in the Aurabanana which costs probably $75Ks a year. And various and extravagant resources expended in the ongoing effort to vanquish dissent and destroy her enemies.

Despite all that, there’s still an apparent lack of confidence that the community fully appreciates the myriad of marvelous Mormac accomplishments of the administration.

So now we are to have a Masters Degree in Communication on hand to polish that which may be tarnished, in time for the next election.

Speeches will be professionally prepared for the Gala opening of Church Street School Heritage and Cultural Centre, the pitch of the first ball at the new diamond in the summer and all other possible occasions.

We may even have articulate speeches from the Throne at the opening of every council meeting.

If Buckingham Palace has a Spokesperson, why not Mayor Morris’ Town Hall in Aurora? May we not aspire?

The Press Secretary/Spokesperson may possibly hold press conferences with the Town Hall Press Gallery There may occasionally be scripted appearances by her Worship.

All on the taxpayers’ dime.

Remember the admonitions of righteous Professor Robert McDiarmid of York University, an invited guest of Her Worship to read scripture to Council on the evils of incumbent advantage over challengers and how corporate contributions need to be rigorously controlled in election campaigns.

Little did the naive but well-meaning Professor know how many municipal corporate contributions can be used for a campaign without a single red cent showing up in the candidate’s mandated Statement of Expenses.

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20 Responses to “Role of New Aurora Spokesperson Unclear”

  1. Anna said

    Evelyn, you said: ‘Add $30,000 for benefits and twenty thousand for equipment and you have a better picture of the new expenditure.’ – what kind of 30K benefits are these? Re-occurring annually? That seems a lot. Anna [Living in Aurora Blogger]

    • evelyn buck said

      Anna
      The figure is off the top of my head. It’s either 30% of salary or $30Ks. In some instances of course that 30% of salary is $30Ks.

      Benefits include, vacations, health plans, dental plans pensions, time off for sickness and various other family events life insurance policies and long term disability benefits.They are standard ifor people in the public service. Municipal benefit packages are recognised as generous.

      The GTA is highly competitive. We are a small municipality in competition with others three or four times our size, Until now our staff complement has been small and it functioned like a family with everyone taking a pride in providing the best service. and most efficient service. That always results in economy.

      There is no doubt in my mind however that other public sectors grow and become more powerful and wrest more money from the sytsem, that;s the reason why resources for people in need have dried up. There has been no money for housing from any level of government for fifteen years.
      A resident recently sent me a list of the salaries paid to Hospital Administrators;/Presidents. South Lake Healt centre President in 2008 had a salary of $450Ks and expenses of $25oKs.

      Before regional government people used to be aware of what policeman and firefighters were paid. Well, firefighters were volunteers and weren’t paid. The situation is vastly different now. The Regional Police department is an army but that’s where the resemblance ends. The Police budget at the region is more than all the rest of the services.

      The competituon is between police and firefighetres as to who deserves to be the best paid. At this point the police are ahead.

    • evelyn buck said

      This tiny print is driving me crazy. The first sentnce should read. 30% or $30Ks. The municipalities contribution to O.M.E.R.S pension plan is also included in the benefit package. I understand the plan is so generous that an employee is better off to retire and take the pension than continue working until normal retirement.

  2. Anna said

    Why don’t we just set up a protest on FACEBOOK, lol, and show how ‘TOTAL WASTE OF TIME’ that place is, since it feels like we cannot fight Ms. Morris at all. And I thought that living in Aurora was nice, the more I hear that stuff, seems like more and more my tax money is going to waste.

    Anna [Living in Aurora Blogger]

    • evelyn buck said

      No Anna

      Aurora is a great place to live. But property owners have to think of themselves as shareholders of the corporation. The election is your opportunity to pick stewards who can be trusted to use the muniicipality’s resources wisely.

      That’s not what happened in the last round.

    • Richard Johnson said

      I agree with Councillor Buck; Aurora is a great place to live but I also think that most people on this site know the importance of holding our local government accountable. We may disagree on what needs to be fixed and how, but at least we care enough to weigh in.

      I disagree with Councillor Buck in her claim that the last election did not somehow reflect the will of the people. It did, but clearly the type of change we were promised is not what was delivered, so we should just live and learn. As has been said before… fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and shame on me.

      I’m encouraged by the fact that there are now two declared candidates for Mayor, however I only hope that we don’t end up splitting the vote for change that is very likely going to play such a large role in the upcoming election.

    • Anonymous also said

      Richard, unless you are referring to a previous post, Councillor Buck did not say in this post that the election did not refelct the will of the people (well at least the will of those who voted). What she was implying (I think) was that the people who WERE elected are not “stewards who can be trusted to use the minicpality’s resources wisely”.

  3. White Knight said

    Further to my comment about David Tsubouchi:
    He is a lawyer by profession but I doubt very much whether he has ANY background at all in ethics…. well he is a lawyer after all; enough said! Is he also getting a piece of the legal fees pie for council and the town????

  4. White Knight said

    David Tsubouchi as in the former provincial conservative cabinet minister? Who made that decision?
    As for the communications fiasco, I loathe credentialling, which does nothing but shut out those excellent people who do not have letters after their name but who do a great job. What a shame for the lady you speak of Councillor Buck.
    Here we go yet again with wasteful spending!
    What on earth is behind all this crap?

    • evelyn buck said

      What is the strategy, you ask? Well, it’s not subtle. The Mormac twins did everything possible to “cleanse’ the administration of people who knew their function and the level of their authority. The re-organsiation, as it has evolved, is finishing the job by displacing people.

      Kristen Yemm does have a University Degree but her proven pereformance in this job and previous. Her skills are undeniable. Her only failing is in her understanding that the function of a corporate communication division is not a propaganda machine for the politician at the top.

      When the former CAO was escorted from the Town Hall by the now retired Town Clerk, others had already been replaced, It remained to be seen how the administration would function with new Directors in place. Now we are seeing it.

    • Richard Johnson said

      All Her Worship and the GOS have to do is change any given job descripotion just enough to squeeze out who ever they want. I trust that is not very subtle or ethical in anyone’s books. Welcome to the new and improved Aurora.

      I have to ask if we are “A Character Community” or “A Community of Characters” ? Take your pick.

  5. Richard Johnson said

    I have a few questions that spring to mind:

    Do other towns our size have such a well compensated communications officer to perform the same function ?

    How does this new possition compare with the job already being done ?

    It also strikes me that if we as a town (assuming that Council accurately reflects the town’s desires) determine that we do in fact need this new position to be filled in order to support the Mayor’s efforts, then maybe we could pay the new hire just a bit less money and we might just have some kind of token money left over to support some social services – such as the Aurora Food Pantry. It’s just a thought.

  6. evelyn buck said

    The position came out of the re-organisation study approved in the 2009 budget It was immediately processed when the new CAO joined the town.

    The communications division had been strained as demands grew without enough hands to handle it. We talked about “streaming” council meetings. We had everything but the staff to do it. But requests were refused.

    Kristen Yemm has operated the division for seven years, reporting to Bob Panizza, former Town Clerk.

    Last term,when Council approved my motion to “Celebrate Aurora” Kristen immediately volunteered and took over the organisation. .All the staff who helped worked during their lunch hours.I provided lunch as did Ron Wallace who was also a member of the committee.

    It was a joy to work with. The enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment she brought to the project could not have been better.

    Her co-operative relationship with other departments was excellent.

    Kristen has all the credentials and experience needed and to operate the division since it’s inception.

    The re-organisation study recommended a manager for the division with a masters degree in Communications

    Kristen does not have a Master’s’ degree in communication.All she has is the proven competence to build a division and operate it.

    Salary for the new management position is listed at $75 to $95,000. Add $30,000 for benefits and twenty thousand for equipment and you have a better picture of the new expenditure.

    The new position will report to the Chief Administrative Officer.

    There’s also the matter of Department Business Plans being lumped in with budget discussions without receiving separate consideration and approval

    In the last months,it has been my impression Council has been effectively neutered..

    • Some Guy said

      A few questions Councillor…

      The job ad for the Communnications Manager position quoted on the Municipal World Web site speaks of a “university degree” as a requirement for the position. There’s no mention of a Master’s degree. Does Kristen have a university degree? If so, is she eligible to apply for the post?

      Further, do you have any knowledge of whether Kristen has applied for the position of Manager?

      Next, you speak of the “enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment” that Kristen brought to the project which you were involved in, yet in a previous post on your blog, you spoke of the Communications department, which Kristen heads, and claim that the Mayor “monopolised it from the start as her personal public relations flack.” What role did the existing management of the Communications Department play in such monopolization?

      Finally, in the past, you’ve questioned Council’s willingness to appoint individuals without having such positions posted for open competition to allow all citizens to submit applications. Do you think this position should have been handed to someone within the existing structure at Town Hall, or placed in an open competition for all citizens to apply for the job?

  7. Knowledgeable in Aurora said

    This is outrageous. 11 months before an election, the sitting incumbents (the GOS anyway) are going to have access to a staff person to write every word they say in public. At taxpayers expense! I can’t for a minute believe they don’t see how nuts that is.

    Add that to the fact that Tuesday’s agenda shows they are going to appoint a new integrity commissioner, Mr. David Tsubouchi, so they can continue to slam Evelyn, and its pretty clear that nothing for the good of this Town is going to get done for the next year, unless the GOS are sure it will give them an edge in the election.

    What a ridiculous waste of precious Town resourses. I think I want my money back.

    • Integrity Citizen said

      How does a citizen file a formal complaint against certain Councilors and The Mayor .
      I am very very interested if this is possible .

    • someone who loves this town more than Anonymous said

      I am also interested in filing a complaint and wish to know more about the process.

      I love the handle “Integrity Citizen” I believe all Aurorans need to take up this title and make it stick.

  8. White Knight said

    Who dreamed up such a position and who authorised the 100K to pay for this nonsense? Was it in the budget and who in their right mind allowed it? It better hadn’t be coming out of my tax dollars… Heavens, I would write speeches for half the salary and one doesn’t need a masters in communications to write a decent speech. However, it does help if you know how to use the language, unlike some members of council I won’t name.

    • Brickbat Returns said

      I will its Granger .

    • evelyn buck said

      Council has authorised it. The Chief Administrative Officer recommednded it. It’s not the only new manager position. I think there are four.
      And if Im not mistaken the cost for “new hires” is $341Ks and I don’t think that includes benefits.

      This tiny print is ruining my eyes, Mr. Moderator.

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