Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Is Mayor Phyllis Morris Preparing For Next Election?

Posted by auroracitizen on March 28, 2010

Council Watch #8 – by Richard Johnson

It looks like a past reporter for Metroland Press’ Alliston Herald  has been hired as Aurora’s new communications contact. Apparently a press release has been issued by the town announcing that Jason Ballantyne has replaced the lady that appears to have been effectively squeezed out of her job despite getting glowing job reviews (when they did them) over the past eight years. As a point of note, job reviews could not be done for those years when so many senior staff had been fired or left the town in such a short period of time.

The current communications officer being cast aside to play a new role at the town as a result of the job requirements being changed from under her, is the same lady who came back from holidays to find her office belongings moved to one of the councillors work stations (which was incidently renovated a few years ago and has rarely ever been used). One could argue that this could potentially be an effective dismissal case here.

The Mayor now has strengthened her ties to Metroland Press (the publisher of The Banner) thorough the hiring of her new speech writer, not to mention her potential strengthening of her relationship with the Conservatives thorough the hiring of our new Integrity Commissioner. The mayor also apparently has the benefit of two executive assistants when there was once one, so it now looks like all her ducks are in a row just before the next election.


45 Responses to “Is Mayor Phyllis Morris Preparing For Next Election?”

  1. Fred said

    I was at the Home Show today and noticed the Mayor was busy holding court at the Town of Aurora booth. Great electioneering opportunity on the town’s dime. She really does take the biscuit.

    Roger Clowater on the other hand was busy in his booth asking people what they thought was the most important issues facing the town and noting them on a scoreboard. Funny how “council accountability” seemed to have run out of space on his scoreboard. He was looking very serious and determined.

    No sign of Nigel. I think I’ll head to Timmies and see if I can cadge a coffee off of him.

  2. Anonymous indeed said

    There is a big two-page spread in Thursday’s banner touting all the construction in town. Me thinks it is electioneering on the taxpayer’s dime.

    • someone who loves this town more than Anonymous said

      I saw that too and said the same.

    • Anonymous for a Reason said

      It certainly is, but who has the whatsits to call Mayor Morris on it?
      Councillor Buck has a note about this on her blog.
      I’m hoping we see a viable mayoral candidate come forward soon so the discussion can begin.
      Hey, Nigel, what do you think of the ad?

    • Thanks will be Given come October said

      Don’t ask Nigel to take a position on something, he’s waiting to see which way the wind is blowing closer to October.

  3. Thanks will be Given come October said

    Councillor Buck has prepared an interesting list of Staff departees on her blog.

    When Phyllis starts bragging about her accomplishments going into this falls election, we should take turns asking her about these people and why they left.

    Of course if you happened to run into one of them around town, you could ask them the truth.

  4. evelyn buck said

    Tuesday was the statutory meeting required to be held in consideration of a ward system.

    There were visitors in the Council Chamber. No-one indicated a desire to speak to the question .I made it clear this was their opportunities.

    I have never heard a Councillor argue about whether on not a street should be named for them.That would be too gauche My grandchldren think it’s neat having a laneway named after t Grannie. Being a politician does not allow a person to get too big for their boots.People have ways of bringing you down to size.

    What is your part of the tow? Maybe there will be a candidate from there. You don’t need a ward system to have representation from your part of town. All you need is a neighbour willing to serve and make the effort to get elected. … yourself perhaps.

    When I came to Aurora, the population was 7,000. There were six Councillors. A Reeve a deputy Reeve and a Mayor. The Reeve and Deputy Reeve represented the Town at County Council.

    In 1971 when the Region was created, municipalities were given authority to reduce the number of Councillors. I suggested we should. There were delegations with petitions against the idea.

    It was a much smaller town then than it is now. But people clearly preferred to have nine Councillors. Did they know more or less than we do now. I wonder?

    We had elections every twelve months. Nomination meetings were at Wells Street School. The auditorium was packed and people spilled out and down the steps and listened to the speeches in the street.

    On the night of the election, they came out then as well to watch the vote come in from the various polls. It was late November.It was often late in the evening when the tally was complete.

    Whatever happened at a Council meeting was thoroughly discussed by the old codgers in Ray’s(Moon HGarden) Cafe the next day.

    A ton of water has passed under the bridge since then.. Now we have the Aurora Citizen and we can all participate in the chat of the day.

    Without even getting up from our chair. Is that not great?

    To-morrow is going to be beautiful. Have a great week-end neighbour.

  5. evelyn buck said

    Streets are named after veterans and pioneer. I’m not sure if there are any names that haven’t already been used.

    there are streets and squares named after living politicians in cities all over.

    John West did not name the parkway after himself. The Council of the day made that decisoon. As they had the authority to do.

    People who know John and held him in the highest respect felt. the honour was well deserved. They were devastated by the humiliation he was subjected to that shameful episode. We were all degraded by it. It is is not old news. It is not forgotten.Everyo

    Furthermore while you you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and you can’t make a municipal street out of a parking lot either.That was tipid.

    • evelyn buck said

      Tipid is not a word. It’s a typo. It is meant to read “stupid”

      And to illustrate, next time you drive that way,notice the Senior’s Centre Sign out on the boulevard of John West Parkway, reading 5 Municipal Drive.

      Talk about advertising our stupidity.

    • Robert the Bruce said

      The naming of streets, squares, parks, etc after political types have always been used as some sort of reward to those that have served the comunity. I have no problem naming the streets after someone who is no longer with us as a memorial to their service. The problem – as we saw with John West – was he retired, gets a street named after him, he unretires and get a magical boost to his campaign every time something is published by the Town. I think that exposure did more for him than his “Go West” pencils he would leave in mailboxes.

      To be fair, this is not an Aurora only problem – Mel Lastman Square comes to mind. But have a look at the list of town street names and park names and count how many living persons have their names on them.

      How long before we see a Tim Jones Lane? Or Morris Way?

      There are alot of street names left to be used – how does Toronto name their streets? We don’t need a Granger Gate or Buck Blvd.


    • anonymous said

      I think that you have done a good job on this council. You have kept them honest.
      Your comments on John West and the infamous street is an amazing example of why councillors should NEVER name streets after themselves or their buddies on council. Can you imagine with this council if morris,gaertner,wilson,mceachren and even granger name d a street after each other.
      That is exactly what you,Pedderson,West,Timpson and Olcoski did. And you think that is OK. There are actually over 50 names on the Cenataph without streets named after them.

      Let's honour those who gave the ultimate sacrafice instead of those of you who got paid to sit on council.

    • Anonymous said

      “Or Morris Way?”

      Definitely a dead-end street.

    • evelyn buck said

      There are actually several categories of names listed for street names. One is for the names on the Cenotaph. The second i for veterans of wars.

      They are not the same. The names on the Cenotaph are not veterans. They did not enjoy that status.

      I think a poppy is added to the street names of the fallen.

      I would be surprised if there are still fifty names from the Cenotaph,not represented as street names. But I will check.

      Councillors do not name streets after themselves. It was a long time before my name was chosen. I was not in office at the time.

      If I’m not mistaken, a policy has been adopted not to name streets after Councillors.

      It’s only when developers ask the town to provide names, they receive a list to choose from.names from the Cenotaph and veterans names are provided.

      What happens I wonder, if a veteran who is also a Councillor whould be submitted ?

      Is there an up to date list of veterans? How would anyone know that. Many veterans do not choose to join the Canadian legion.

      Their memories are too terrible.They seek not to be reminded. They carry them to the grave with them.

      How many people identify street names with former politicians. How many Murrays are there? How many Johnstones.

      Harry Squibb had an uncommon name. Harry was the caretaker of the town hall on Yonge Stree for many years. He took care of the Council Chamber as if it was his own sitting room. Harry’s name was on a street before mine and I had been the Mayory, dseputy Mayor, Reeve and Councillor.

      If a street already bears a similar name,it can’t be duplicated. My name didn’t go on for years because I would only agree if it was was my name.

      There was already a street in Keswick named Evelyn. So that meant no street could be named for me. Evelyn Buck Lane was named when I was not in office. Did that mean.I had no right to run for office. I know Robert the Bruce thinks so. But since I have been elected, despite the odds, I would have to suggest Robert’s view does not represent a consensus.

      I know the story behind the naming of John West Parkway. I heard it when i told John he must have been crazy to let them do it while he was in office.I was not on Council when the decision was made. I dd not think it was politically astute.

      But I was wrong.

      John was honoured and in many people’s mind, justifiably so. He competed for public office several times after and was successfully elected . One would have to assume the community at large had accepted the naming of John West Parkway by that fact alone.

      If Robert the Bruce had lived here then, he might have voted against him on the basis of a street being named after him and for no other reason. Or he might have considered the alternative.

      John won the office of Mayor in repeated competitions. People did have choices. He held it repeatedly on the basis of his performance in office. He continued to be elected until he opted for retirement.

      From my perspective,I don’t understand why the issue of naming streets after people who have contributed to the community by serving on a Council is an issue.. For some people, it’s just another stick to beat me with.

      An anonymous person claiming to be a resident of Evelyn Buck Lane has already stated the residents are embarrassed by living on a street with my name. the fact they bought their homes on a street bearing my name doesn’t seem to be a factorin their logic.

      It’s not what they say about you after you’re dead that hurts. It’s what they say about you while you are still alive to hear it.

      Being scrupulously honest, despite the conventional wisdom,is not what every voter wants to hear from a politician.

      The only reason I can think anybody would care about a street name is if they decided to enter a campaign against a candidate with a street named after him ? As was the case I believe? He must have thought that was the only reason he didn’t win.

    • Tim the Enchanter said

      “People who know John and held him in the highest respect felt. the honour was well deserved. They were devastated by the humiliation he was subjected to that shameful episode. We were all degraded by it. It is is not old news. It is not forgotten”

      There’s truth in this statement Councillor Buck.


      What’s so difficult to grasp about this concept?
      Surely even Aurora council is capable of amending the policy so this doesn’t happen again.

  6. Walt said

    I’d like to report that Ms. Morris was at the Egg Hunt, did not have an entourage, was handing out chocolates on her own, and wished me a Happy Easter, which I also did to her in turn. My more base instincts were held back, I’m happy to report.

    She seemed to have a pretty low-key presence and demeanor at the event.

    The egg hunt, by the way, seemed to be more successful this year than in years past – far better both organized and executed. The Girl Guides are to be commended for their efforts.

    • Anonymous said

      I would love to leave my name but know I will be a target of the Mayor and some of the Gang.

      The reason that Neighbourhood Network has been sent back to staff twice is in fact


      This was stated by a council member with two witnesses present.

      It cannot be denied or defended unless the two who heard it are called liars and I can say on my life they are not.

      Come Oct.25/2010
      hate needs to be sent packing out of our leadership.

      2010 there will be change and I do see the vision for a brighter and positive Aurora.

  7. Anonymous Just Because said

    Did you watch the council meeting this evening? Electioneering in full force. Expect to see the St. Kitts and the Environmentalist in grand form from here on in with Phyliss and the Evilone close in tow. Hold steady the course people!

    • anonymous said

      It really was a sad meeting last night. 3 of the GOS missing-Wilson,Gaertner and non elected Gallo.
      Then of course there was the mayor’s loyal followers St Kitts and Walmer trying to impress themselves as to how smart they are. Of course the mayor egged them on even though she did not know where or when the Easter Egg Hunt was.
      Very small audience at the Town hall. David Heard was there, as was Nigel Kean. Then of course there was Mr phyliss and the blonde with the hair.

    • David Heard said

      Just a statement from the horses mouth.

      I have a great interest and love for this Town and hope positive people with ideas come forward for the election.

      I am not in election mode and attend to educate myself and have plans for the fall.

      I do intend to support those who see Aurora moving forward with a vision.

      Right now that vision (I believe) is cloudy.

    • Something Fishy in Aurora.... said

      Hopefully Rogers fixes the link they have on the video on demand for last nights meeting. It is only streaming a few seconds at the current time

    • evelyn buck said

      Did you not see the video featuring the environmental partnership between a golf course and South Lake Simmco Conservation authority and . That was Highland gate Golf Course in Aurora, Fish and ducks.clean water and a fast moving stream with a neat little bridge instead of a battered old culvert. Sun shining. Homes nearby and golfers on the green And the Mayor rhapsodising about how wonderfulto have such a wonderful environment in Aurora. I could hardly contain my excitement.

    • Walt said

      If she shows up at the egg hunt, I’m tempted to give her the same treatment she gave Christopher Watts, and see what happens. What’s sauce for goose, y’know.

    • Something Fishy in Aurora.... said

      Looks like they have fixed the streaming video link.

    • Something Fishy in Aurora.... said

      Spoke too soon, they have removed the March 30th link.

    • Something Fishy in Aurora.... said

      ” That was Highland gate Golf Course in Aurora, Fish and ducks.clean water and a fast moving stream with a neat little bridge instead of a battered old culvert. Sun shining. Homes nearby and golfers on the green And the Mayor rhapsodising about how wonderfulto have such a wonderful environment in Aurora. I could hardly contain my excitement.”

      I guess it all depends on where the golf course is built and who’s friends it impacts…. Too Funny.

  8. walt said

    Not necessarily on topic, but obviously Ms. Morris doesn’t believe in “management by walking around.”

    The front entrance, as of this morning, by which we lowly citizens enter on the south side still has a notice in the vestibule informing us all that 2009 was apparently the “Year of Business.”

    She must scoot in via that employee-only entrance to the west to avoid having to face us plebians, or other unwashed masses.

    But seriously – it is the small details of governance that matter. If organizations can’t get the small details of things right – such as Christopher Watts has alluded to in his posts about the woeful municipal website, or this piddly little thing I mention – how are people to expect them to get the big things right?

    Oh, wait, she’s not a micro-manager. Right.

  9. Broderick Epps said

    Ms. Morris’s appearance at the ARC for the electronics disposal as highlighted by Christopher Watts smacks of blatant electioneering. Expect to see much more of Phyllis at any public event,
    plastic smile and all, anywhere there is an opportunity to get her name out there. She did this last election showing up everywhere reminding anyone who would listen that she was Deputy Mayor. Not surprisingly she declared her intention as late as possible then. A scenario that she will surely follow again. Simple game. Get your name and face out in public and then declare your candidatcy. Hopefully all will see through her modus operendi.

  10. Ann-nonny-mouse said

    It appears that Jason’s most recent job was as Communications Director for the Canadian Automobile Association, south-central Ontario branch. Clearly, the mayor is shoring up her ties for the CAA as well.

    Also, do you know for a fact that the lady who was previously manager of communications has “effectively been squeezed out of her job?” Are you aware whether (a) she applied for the position or (b) she may have been offered it, but chose not to accept?

    Please, enlighten us….

    • Richard Johnson said

      She applied and was granted one interview when she came back from stress leave. She was not invited back to the second round of interviews. This does not explain the glowing job reviews (when they were held) over the previous eight years, other than the fact that she did not have the university degree that was only recently added to the list of job requirements eight years into the job. The town apparently changed the position in order to include speech writing for the mayor and presumably other requirements. You may not feel that this move is intended to meet the Mayor’s personal needs but I’m not so sure, knowing her as well as I do. People tend to act in character.

    • Anonymous said

      Is this for the job of the woman who was “banished”?:

  11. KB said

    She’s been in election moder for months. This nonesense of not declaring until the last minute is just another example of her controlling personality.
    Don’t let your guard down folks; the spin doctor is set to go

    • fed up said

      she is wasting her time and money. We will chew her up and spit her out at the debates–if she shows up for any,that is.

  12. annoyomous said

    Before the last election I believe that Phylis and Nigel were both apart of the address change of the Town Hall. I believe that the main reason for the change was because it gave John an unfair advantage. So I ask is having your own personal speech writer at the Town Hall not an unfair advantage for our Dear Sweet Phylis. After all who is going to go in and stop Phylis from using that person and maybe there also lies the main reason for that employee finding her belongs in the Councillors room. Time will tell!

    • Robert the Bruce said

      Not really the same thing. The logic behind the John West Way thing was that any Town piece of mail would come to a resident or newspaper ad would have the name of an activly campaigning member of council on it. That was an unfair advantage. How does a speech writer help her? Most people in this town wouldn’t know the difference.

      By the way, I agree with the John West Way name change. It’s too bad the process did not go further. There should not be a street or park or any town property with the name of a living person on it.


    • Tim the Enchanter said


      Amazingly, you’re the only other person in town who gets the street-naming thing. I just assumed that everyone knew that you NEVER name streets after living people because sometimes you just never know.
      So John West served the community for many years, good on him, but you get a gold watch for that sort of thing – not a street sign.
      But oh well, what the hell. The change only cost about $25,000 – a mere pittance when it comes to this money-wasting council.

    • resident at large said

      Does the same principle apply to “Evelyn Buck Lane?”

    • Richard Johnson said

      As far as I’m concerned we should not allow politicians to name anything after themselves or even after politicians that are still alive. If anyone is worthy of a street or park being named after them then we should let future generations make that call.

      I agree with Nigel on his point that we should name streets and parks after individuals that have served in the armed forces or who have contributed to our community in other worthy ways. The last thing we need more of is self glorifying and self serving politicians given that we clearly have enough of that already.

    • White Knight said

      Bravo, Mr. Johnson! I have been reading this blog for a while now and I am incredibly curious to know why you were a great supporter of the mayor in the last election (weren’t you even her campaign manager who rounded up the canvassers at Zavida’s (old location on Bayview))? Now I hear nothing but disdain for HRH in your posts. Are you just fickle by nature or do you have substantive reasons?

    • Tim the Enchanter said

      Obviously RtB and I are on the same page here whereas Councillor Buck apparently isn’t. Naming streets after exotic cat breeds or the largest cities on the Volga is one thing; it’s just a matter of taste. However, naming streets after living people, especially serving pols is asking for trouble. Argue all you want about whether Mr. West deserves such an honour, I would agree that he does at the appropriate time, but the fact is the change was warranted given that Mr. West “un-retired”.
      Unfortunately we got stuck with a $25000 bill.
      RtB is right; if our council wasn’t so busy dislocating their elbows slapping themselves on the back these kind of mistakes wouldn’t happen.

    • Richard Johnson said

      To White Knight, April 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      I don’t think I’m fickle but feel free to call me whatever you want. I like to think of myself as attempting to be as well informed as possible, principled and motivated to call a spade a spade as I see it. I don’t feel that changing my political alliances based on changing circumstances is the easiest path to take but I’m not prepared to set aside my principles or those of others, in an effort to uphold appearances. As far as I’m concerned, when you break the trust all bets are off and the fact that I played such a large role in getting the Mayor elected compels me more than ever to ensure that people know what has transpired since her election.

      In 2006 I actually believed that we would get the governement that was promised which is not in itself a bad thing even if I turned out to be mistaken. The standards she set were high but clearly the Mayor has not met those standards. It appears in hind sight that it is easier for Ken Whitehurst and others to write the speeches than it is for Phyllis to live by the promises made and I couldn’t have know that in 2006.

      I’m sure that you don’t want to hear the whole story White Knight, but there are valid reasons for the positions I’ve taken which I have tried to explain a few times before.

      I have to admit that I am tainted and somewhat jaded by my experience at Aurora Council over the past six years but all I can hope for at this stage is that all sides of the story are shared before the good people of Aurora vote on October 25th. To a certain extent I guess that hope springs eternal, so all we can do is try, try and try again.

  13. Junius said

    Given that Mr. Garbe has as much independence as, well I guess an analogy is not needed, as he doesn’t have any, and given Ms. Morris’ penchant for micro-managing, I think it is safe to assume she knows exactly what is in the agreement.

    And, she is probably stating the truth when she says she hasn’t read it – BUT, that does not mean that she does not know what is in it. Ms. Morris is extremely good at stating the “technical” truth. You just need to parse her statements a little more closely.

    And, as for the question in the title, well, I would answer: “Does a bear s… in the woods?”

  14. Anonymous said

    Phyllis is in full-on election mode and the pandering Era-Banner is giving her lots of inches in the press:–town-close-to-deal-with-new-integrity-czar

    Does anyone actually believe that she hasn’t read the agreement document? Yeah, pull the other one.

    • evelyn buck said

      Aurora had a hundred year anniversary in 1963. Before she was a Town, she was a village called Machell’s Corners. Machell was a person who lived an the vicinity.

      How about that?

      Not until there was mail service was there a need for street names. Then the village postmaster had the task. Streets grew house by house.

      People weren’t much into dreaming up fancy names.Roads were built from logs they cut down. That’s where the word corduroy comes from

      Alignments were not straight. They didn’t have machines to flatten hills and re-direct water courses. They were not huge sturdy people . They were refugees from poverty and deprivation .

      They had to wrest everything from the land.

      There doesn’t have to be an in-depth study of history to realise roads were named by association. Just make a note of the street names as you drive by.They tell the old town’s history.

      Centre Street,the oldest, was the Centre.

      Machell Street is still there on the other side of Yonge.

      Church Street had a church before a school or no doubt it would have been school street.

      There is nothing odd about streets being named after people with an association.

      Just where anyone would get the idea they should be named after dead people is a mystery to me. If Mosely built the Street, it would be mosely Street.

      The deputy-clerk was responsible for giving names to subdivision developers names. When she was asked.

      Sometimes they came up with names themselves but they had to be approved by the town.

      My name was proposed for a street. One of the new residents didn’t want it because she said it would be too easily changed to something else.So the new residents petitioned against it. How’s that for a slap in the face.

      I told town staff if they were going to put my name forward, it should not be the surname. That’s my husband’s name.If it was going to happen it should be my full name.

      I also said any street named after me should be a big broad avenue.It was only fitting. Well that never happened.

      It matted little. As can be seen by the two previous comments belittling the practice.

      The thing about creating a street where there was none, just to remove John Wets’s name from town hall stationery, was not about the fact he was and is still alive.

      It was about how much money it was worth in an election campaign to have your name on a street.

      John Wets was successful in many elections before there was a street named for him.

      There were no principles involved.

      It wasn’t about choosing a name.

      It was about taking away an honour which had been bestowed fourteen years previously..

      It’s one thing not to choose to honour a person. It is something completely different to remove an honour already bestowed.

      Maybe it has to happen to you to understand how that feels.

      John was a sitting member of council when Nigel Kean and Phyllis Morris moved and seconded that resolution.

      There were no ethics involved. There was no humanity either.

    • anonymous said

      Old news. No street should be named after a living politician, especially with the Town Hall on it.
      It would be a much greater honour if politicians would name a street after a veteran, a volunteer or even a pioneer of the Town.
      Politians get paid to do what they do, whereas veterans whose names are on the cenataph paid with their lives. How selfish are those politicians?????

    • White Knight said

      I just finished reading this week’s Auroran and noted that a total of 15 people turned out to hear the pros and cons of a ward system.
      I wonder if there would be greater interest if the question was about scaling down the number of council seats in this little town that is ridiculously top heavy with them at the moment.
      At least then there would only be 4 or 5 (including the mayor) to argue over whether a street should be named after them!
      Personally, I would just like any system that would guarantee that even one councillor, just one, would take an interest in my part of town. It is largely ignored under present conditions.

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