Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Mayor Phyllis Morris Struggles with Basic Math

Posted by auroracitizen on August 15, 2010

Poor Mayor Phyllis Morris.  She really does struggle with math doesn’t she? Guess it isn’t one of her strengths. Her inability to do basic math seems to be an on-going problem. 

After the recent Council meeting (the July 13th fiasco) let’s just say, fractions are not her forte.  To be fair, many people struggle with fractions – the fact that those people tend to be nine years old is beside the point.

During the July 13th meeting, while attempting to ram through the Integrity Commissioner’s report – oh, we’re sorry – “deliberate” the IC report, Council lost quorum. This requires that the meeting must be adjourned – or at least recessed until such time as quorum can be re-established. 

Let’s explain quorum — quorum means a majority of Council must be present in order for the meeting to proceed. This isn’t a small thing — it’s required according to the Municipal Act for any activity of a Council to be considered legal.  As Aurora’s Council is composed of 9 members, quorum is 5 members out of 9. Even a first time Councillor knows that, let alone someone with the years of experience Phyllis has.

At the July 13th meeting, Councillor Gallo was not present leaving eight members of Council.  Councillor Buck had left just prior to the tabling of the IC report and Councillors McRoberts and Mrakas, having previously declared their objection to the item being on a public agenda, left the Chamber.  This left 5 members of council still present.  So far so good. 

Then, at 11:25pm, Councillor MacEachern also left the Chamber.  That left just 4 members at the table.  4 out of 9 does not equal a majority.  Quorum was lost. 

And yet, watch the tape, Mayor Morris just kept blabbering on, speaking to the item on the floor, either oblivious to or unconcerned with the clear loss of quorum.  Yes the loss of quorum was temporary – only minutes really.  But that’s beside the point.  Quorum is basic.  Everyone knows you must have enough people at the meeting in order for it to continue. Once quorum is lost, the meeting is over. It’s the law. 

Except where Phyllis is concerned. Once again, adherence to rules and procedures go out the window when Morris is in the Chair. 

This is not the first time that Phyllis’ lack of math skills have caused problems.  Last May, while “chairing” a council meeting – and sorry for the air quotes folks, we just can’t in all good conscience describe Phyllis’ actions as chairing per se, though she does occupy the chair, but we digress – the Mayor allowed a motion to waive procedure to be put to a vote and declared the vote to be carried. 

Unfortunately, the vote did not in fact carry.  According to our Byzantine like procedural by-law a 2/3 majority is required in order for the vote to waive procedure to carry. There were 8 members of Council present. The vote was 5 for and 3 against.  5 out of 8 is not 2/3 – at least in most math books – and yet Phyllis said it was.

So what does this mean? Should the public really care if quorum is lost? Should the public really care if a vote is counted as passed when it really hasn’t?

Well we say YES!

Fair and democratic processes depend on clear and public set of rules that everyone abides by. After 4 years of Morris though, it’s clear, that the rule book has either been tossed aside — or she just doesn’t know them. In either case, it means she is unqualified for a position of trust.

When Morris points to her experience as one of the key reason she should be re-elected — let’s not forget just how well she knows procedure. She may have been class valedictorian in law enforcement  at Seneca in 1995 — but it looks like she must have failed basic math and leadership. Possibly those courses weren’t offered as part of the curriculum.

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35 Responses to “Mayor Phyllis Morris Struggles with Basic Math”

  1. Guy Poppe said

    To Anonymous and Anonymous;

    You may want to read Bourinot’s Rules of Order, which are the accepted rules of legislative procedures in Canada, including parliament.

    If you look at Ms. Buck’s blog, she references the pertinence of these rules.

  2. Confused said

    Just a question…when a Councillor declares a conflict, they cannot participate in conversation, debate or voting. So when Councillor MacEachern declared conflict on the basis that she filed the complaint, did that mean that Quorum was broken? So if Mrakas, Buck, McRoberts, Gallo and MacEachern were not able to participate, there was no quorum. When Wilson refused to participate, that left 3. How did the motion carry to defer the matters to this next meeting? I just don’t get it. They shouldn’t have been able to deal with them at all.

    • Guy Poppe said

      You may wish to read s. 7 of the Municipal Conflicts of Interest Act. It answers your question.

    • Anonymous said

      Your correct!

    • Knowledgeable in Aurora said

      You are not “confused” – you are correct. The rules don’t apply when they don’t suit Phyllis. It’s that straight forward.

    • timidobserver said

      Guy Poppe said… “You may wish to read s. 7 of the Municipal Conflicts of Interest Act. It answers your question.”

      Thank you Guy Poppe for posting this reference, i was surprised to learn that as little as 2 members can constitute a quorum in that situation. I would never have found the info otherwise.

    • A Timid Observer said

      Guy Poppe said…
      ” You may wish to read s. 7 of the Municipal Conflicts of Interest Act. It answers your question.”

      Thank you Guy Poppe for this reference, i was surprised to learn that in that situation quorum is maintained as long as the number of members is not ‘less than two”! I would never have found the info otherwise.

    • Tim the Enchanter said

      From the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act

      Quorum deemed constituted

      7. (1) Where the number of members who, by reason of the provisions of this Act, are disabled from participating in a meeting is such that at that meeting the remaining members are not of sufficient number to constitute a quorum, then, despite any other general or special Act, the remaining number of members shall be deemed to constitute a quorum, provided such number is not less than two. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 7 (1).

      It’s all interpretation I suppose but I read that this rule applies if quorum is lost due to the number of members declaring a conflict. (first sentence)
      Gallo was absent.
      Buck left.
      Collins-Mrakas and McRoberts didn’t want to play.
      My understanding was that only MacEachern declared a conflict therefore Conflict of Interest did not cause lack of quorum.
      If all five had declared conflict – then section 7 would apply.
      That’s the way I read it anyway.

    • Anonymous said

      That is exactly my interpretation of it, Tim. Let’s see what Guy says to that – he’s always telling us he wants debate.

    • A Timid Observer said

      At first I agreed but it wasnt clear so I reworded s7 then imagined the following scenarios;

      Is the # of members declaring conflict high enough so that the remaining members at that meeting dont constitute quorum?
       
      1 conflict, 1 absent = normal quorum
      5 conflict = quorum maintained by this act s7
      Easy, but consider;
      4 conflict, 1 absent
      Or
      1 conflict, 4 absent.

      I think you could argue in the last 2 cases that s7 means: after you subtract members in conflict, if “the REMAINING members are not of sufficient number to constitute a quorum” they shall be “deemed to constitute a quorum” anyhow.

      I don’t see how s7 eliminates that interpretation.  Anyone?

    • Anonymous said

      If it doesn’t matter how many are at the table, why have a section dealing with quorum?! No, I believe quorum was lost on that occasion, and the mayor blundered on because she was so determined to ‘get’ Buck with the IC report.

    • Tim the Enchanter said

      I would agree Anonymous – Section 7 has to refer to a full slate of councillors otherwise it wouldn’t work.
      As Timid says – in a 1 conflict/4 absent scenario it would depend on WHEN the conflict was declared.
      Example – if MacEachern declared conflict FIRST – there was still quorum -and THEN the other 4 leave how could Section 7 apply?
      It all serves to demonstrate the clear need for the next council to have an independant clerk/referee well-versed in the Municipal Act/Rules of Order to sit at the table and make the procedural calls.
      If there’s going to be catfights and hairpulling at least it should be done fair and square.

  3. Guy Poppe said

    To the AuroraCitizen

    I believe your comments about lost quorum are wrong. The absence of “one minute” of a councilor does not destroy quorum.

    If the number of councilors present is below the number to constitute quorum, the head of council is to bring up the issue upon noticing, or any councilor can raise it as a point of order.

    If a vote is taken without requisite numbers, it can be challenged.

    None of that happened in the instances to which you refer.

    • The Circus Is In Town said

      Didn’t Evelina MacEachern declare a conflict and push away from the council table before leaving the chamber? She had filed the (new/resurrected) Code of Conduct complaint against Cllr Buck, and so recused herself from the debate. That was my understanding of the proceedings.

    • anonymous said

      With all due respect, once a quorum at the table is lost (regardless of the time frame) all business ceases.For the Mayor to continue on in her rambling manner is inexcusable. In most Municipalities, once a quorum is lost the meeting is considered adjourned regardless of the timeframe (yes even a minute). Essentially once MacEachern left the the table the meeting was over.I’m not sure what Mr. Poppe is trying to say, other than it seems he is twisting the argument to suit his agenda.

    • Anonymous said

      Having sat on a whole host of committees and boards, I beg to differ with Mr. Poppe. As soon as quorum is lost, the meeting is generally adjourned and no further business, discussion or decisions take place. I see no reason why Aurora council should be any different.

    • Richard Johnson said

      The town’s lawyer obviously reads this blog, therefore it would be helpful if he would clear up the issue with regards to the potential loss of quorum.

      I would also like to know if and how staff can step in when they see procedures being manipulated or broken.

  4. walt said

    Interestingly, Phyllistine’s parking spot that used to read “MAYOR” now reads “RESERVED”. The CAO’s spot still reads “CAO” though.

    I’m so glad Phyllistine’s decided to come down amongst us commoners, even if only with reservations.

    • Spot Should Read: TBA said

      There shouldn’t be any reserved parking places. It’s not a private company and it’s Town-owned land. They’re no better than the rest of us, so no special treatment.

    • fed up said

      What about the reserved parking spot for the principal at the local high school?–public land but she/he still gets the best spot

  5. Anonymous said

    Oh yes really popped off- your the person who referred to the Mayor as “having diarrhoea of words and constipation of thought”.

    First, get spell check. Second, do a little research before you jump into an issue.

    Third, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    You didn’t need to chance your handle.

    What’s your excuse for you incognito? Buck’s relative?

    • really popped off said

      To: Anonymous August 16 3:14 pm

      What word can’t you spell?

      What’s your excuse?

    • Hello! said

      I have seen this hate on for Buck comments before.There was a song on the radio once that tells us who this person is. EVIL WOMEN. Bout time you started coming out from Anonymous and tell us who you really are because you most certainly can’t hide with this style of writing. You can’t hide in the council chamber either. You have a very unpleasant Ora about you and you display it well in your comment here. Come out come out who ever you are! You have been tagged and you can’t hide anymore!

    • Anonymous said

      I believe Anonymous may be referring to “diarrhoea”. In fact this is the correct English spelling of the word, the “oe” being a diphthong. The North American spelling of the word omits the diphthong, making it “diarrhea.” Personally I prefer the English and I guess the writer has his spellcheck set at “English UK” and not English US or Candaian. In my opinion – but then I am biased because I am English – the writer’s version is the the most original and correct. Other than that I saw no spelling queries in the statement. I would be grateful if anyone esle could point out any.

  6. Thanks Will Be Given Come October said

    She’s preparing us for election day when even though she will receive less votes than at least one if not all of the other candidates, she will try to declare that her votes are different and her reign should therefore continue.

  7. really popped off said

    To: Guy Poppe

    Why do you consistently use snide questions as your means of communicating?

    Surely you could find something intelligent to share with us, some snippet of positive fact.

    • Another Anonymous said

      To Really Popped Off:
      With all due respect….you are assuming that Guy Poppe is intelligent, and has facts to share.
      Read his past comments. You give the man too much credit.
      Ignore the little man.

  8. anonymous said

    I am wondering if Aurora wouldn’t have been better served the past four years if it had been a baboon wearing the chain of office?

  9. Guy Poppe said

    Why don’t you do some research into the issue? You will find the answer

    Of course,that’s not your strength.

    • fed up said

      What kind of comment is this? I watched the meeting with the 5/3 vote which is clearly not 66% and her lordship just kept on going and going and going. She even stated before the vote that a 2/3 vote was required and when the final count was in and it was not 2/3, she ignored the math. Get me from this town or get me a new mayor.

    • Broderick Epps said

      Like usual Mr Poppe is full of S***. In the May 20, 2008 Auroran in the article about the byelection: “Mayor Morris supported the appointment and pointed out that Gallo had faced the electorate in 2006 and it was up to council to decide.
      When the vote was called the motion to appoint the ninth finisher in the election was adopted on a 5-3 vote with Councillors Buck, Collins-Mrakas and McRoberts in opposition”
      Hell bent to maintain a solid voting bloc (ie 2/3 of council) she disregarded the advice of staff and allowed the appointment of Gallo despite the lack of 2/3. Sort of like executive priveledge. When the winds of decision require 2/3 she is quick to point this out.
      Ms. Morris is not dumb, but rather a very devious coniving politician the type we should all be afraid of.

    • fed up said

      Broderick Epps says

      Ms. Morris is not dumb, but rather a very devious coniving politician the type we should all be afraid of.

      I say:

      “the type we should get rid of”

    • Another Vote for Change said

      Mr Poppe,

      What exactly is YOUR strength?

      Are you a wanna be moderator?

      I believe that Phyllis is looking for support, and I believe you would be a wonderful addition to her team!

      You are helping the opponents gather votes every time you comment. Maybe it’s time to start a blog of your own?

    • Anonymous said

      FYI: He’s already on her team! He has been for years.

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