Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Questions for the Candidates

Posted by auroracitizen on September 16, 2010

A number of weeks ago we asked for your input on questions for the candidates. We have compiled them and presented them below as an email to each candidate.

Dear candidates, the following questions have been raised by readers of the Aurora Citizen. They would be interested in your responses. If you chose to respond, simply visit the following link and leave your response(s) as a comment.

All Candidates

  1. Why are you running for mayor/council?
  2. How do you see the role of senior staff (department heads) in operating the town vs. that of council? Do we get sound management in place of political posturing?
  3. Given the current economic climate, what is your stance with regards to town staff hiring and the accompanying impacts on the town’s budget? Do you support the 20% increase in staffing we have witnessed in the first three years of the current council term as well as the most recent accompanying tax increases?
  4. Given the apparent increase of freedom of information requests being demanded by the town in order to answer even the most simple and reasonable questions and the increase in closed-door (“in-camera”) meetings, do you feel that these policies reflect an open and transparent government and what would your stance be on how the town should conduct its affairs from a transparency and accountability perspective?
  5. In a contentious debate among council members involving a matter of policy (or principle), how would you approach the matter to find a consensus that satisfies the majority and is in the best interests of the town? Are the two possible?
  6. What is your position on the Code of Conduct and the existing use and cost? What will you position be with regards to spending upwards of $100,000 per year towards an integrity commissioner and the accompanying legal fees in order for Council to police itself. Do you feel that elected officials should be able to speak their mind without the fear of persecution from the Mayor?
  7. How will you “Listen” to the community?
  8. What are your views on the role of Town Council in support of Aurora Food pantry and Habitat for Humanity here in Aurora?
  9. What are your views on the role of Town Council in support of Affordable Housing?

Candidates Seeking Re-election:

  1. What was council’s biggest accomplishment this term?
  2. What is the most important issue facing Aurora, and what they plan on doing about it. What did you do about it this past term?

Candidate comments will be posted as submitted. The following candidates answers can be seen by clicking on their names — you will be taken to their personal pages:

Mayor

Geoff Dawe

Councillor

John Abel

Evelyn Buck

Brian Duff

Milton Hart

Darryl  Moore

Paul Pirri

Michael Thompson

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60 Responses to “Questions for the Candidates”

  1. John Abel said

    1. Why are you running for mayor/council?

    I have grown frustrated with the current reputation, behavior and decisions made by the current town council. Now semi retire, I’ve been encouraged by friends, family and neighbours who believe I can help bring back integrity, collaboration and clear-headed decision-making. I’m willing to work full time and make a commitment to the people of Aurora to solve issues
 without bringing a personal agenda to the job.

    2. How do you see the role of senior staff (department heads) in operating the town vs. that of council? Do we get sound management in place of political posturing?


    Senior staff have been hired because they have the experience, knowledge and skills required to run all areas of daily operations of the town. Council’s role is to ensure the people of Aurora have a voice and provide oversight to ensure that the best interests of the people of Aurora are being met, through policy and leadership. Council should not be spending time overseeing the day-to-day operations or the decisions of these highly capable people. 
Senior staff are accountable to the council, and the council is accountable to the people who have elected them.

    3. Given the current economic climate, what is your stance with regards to town staff hiring and the accompanying impacts on the town’s budget? Do you support the 20% increase in staffing we have witnessed in the first three years of the current council term as well as the most recent accompanying tax increases?


    Aurora is a growing community as we can all see from the new homes established over the last 10 years. With that will come an increased demand for services. But is the 20% reasonable and has the town also looked at way to be more efficient in how services are staffed and provided in order to try and contain costs. Can the people of Aurora say that they’ve got their money’s worth? I don’t think so. Without knowing the details of where the 20% increase occurred, I couldn’t possibly say that I support. I am however hoping that new leadership and the injection of new ideas will create an opportunity to review the use of our tax dollars, challenge the efficiency and encourage continuous improvement of services, both from a cost and value to the people of Aurora.



    4. Given the apparent increase of freedom of information requests being demanded by the town in order to answer even the most simple and reasonable questions and the increase in closed-door (“in-camera”) meetings, do you feel that these policies reflect an open and transparent government and what would your stance be on how the town should conduct its affairs from a transparency and accountability perspective?


    In all corporations, boards of directors conduct in-camera sessions for a few valid reasons and primarily to protect against unreasonable invasion of individuals privacy. Used properly and no more often than absolutely necessary, the closed session of a Board is necessary and useful. 
Consistent with the principle of open government, a municipality should try to make public as much information as possible about the general nature of the matter considered without disclosing the personal information of the individual in question. 

However all decisions must be made in a public forum to ensure transparency and accountability.

    5. 
In a contentious debate among council members involving a matter of policy (or principle), how would you approach the matter to find a consensus that satisfies the majority and is in the best interests of the town? Are the two possible?


    Actively listening to expose all information, facts, and perspectives and get all that data out on the table is imperative. Often people stay grounded in their own perspective and are not genuinely listening to understand nor are they communicating to expose facts or convey knowledge that they may have that the other don’t . I believe that if all the facts are shared, it will become much clearer to all members of council, as to the right and necessary course of action. And it is not the Council that needs to be satisfied, it the best interest of the town of Aurora that need to be served. It’s the Councils mandate to reach the best decision – not for individual members to ‘win’, prove a point or get their way. Egos should not come into play.

    6. What is your position on the Code of Conduct and the existing use and cost? What will you position be with regards to spending upwards of $100,000 per year towards an integrity commissioner and the accompanying legal fees in order for Council to police itself. Do you feel that elected officials should be able to speak their mind without the fear of persecution from the Mayor?

    Most large, successful organizations and businesses have a code of conduct and find it promotes high standards of practice and a benchmark for members to use for self-evaluation. But Members of council take an oath when they take office and for 9 council members we do not need to spend tens of thousands on dollars for a code of conduct. And you absolutely don’t need to pay an Integrity Commissioner to police that. $100,000 will not be required with the new council, if we elect members with integrity. And member should be able to speak their minds without the fear of retribution from their colleagues.

    7. How will you “Listen” to the community?

    The key is to participate in the community – get out there, identify yourself and talk to people. Go to them, don’t wait for them to come to you. Email, and websites are get ways to connect, and I applaud other candidate for making the best use of technology available. I’m willing to take the time to listen and understand your concerns, I’ll be accessible and available, so I would ask you to invite me to meet to discuss. I prefer face to face interactions and am committed to work full time on getting to know all aspects of the community.

    8. What are your views on the role of Town Council in support of Affordable Housing?

    To keep Aurora vibrant and caring we need housing options for seniors, youth and first time home buyers. The town should work to ensure there is affordable housing available – which is an important aspect of any community.


  2. A for Anonymous said

    If you go to John Gallo’s website, he has a “blog” where he answers questions. Hmmmmmmm why not answer these John? Why is does this gang of six, with the exception of Noseeum, whom we haven’t heard from in a while, continue to ignore this blog?

  3. annoyomous said

    Thank-you to the candidates that have taken this opportunity to answer the questions on this post. It shows that they are open to blogs and to taking every opportunity to make it known where they stand on things.It also tells me they are interested in this town. There are six members of the current council who continue to ignore this blog. I have no doubt that they read it though. The fact they continue not to respond here, where Aurora citizens do communicate compounds the ignorance that they display at council meetings. It is a shame and at the same time a good thing that they keep themselves in a very closed world. I hope they enjoy there time there in the near future, because I for one am hoping that this is the last we will see of the GOS for a long time. Good luck to the Newbys, good luck to Evelyn and good-bye to the GOS! LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE! They know what they want!

  4. Give Me Some of That Aura said

    I’m sure liking what I’m reading in Geoffrey Dawe’s responses. I really think he’s the right person for the job.

  5. Brian Duff said

    All of my answers have been posted on my website under Duff’s Blog the address is http://duff4council.weebly.com.

    Thanks
    Brian

  6. Christopher Watts said

    I attended last night’s council meeting. At least from 8:30PM to 9:30PM. That was all I could stomach.

    I was surprised to find the chambers audience seating empty. Not a single new candidate for council was present for the meeting.

    Now I am completely aware that given the date that council is a lame duck, anyone is with the exception of Wendy Gaertner, but how is it that candidates feel they can seek a seat without getting involved, or at least observe the town’s business at these meetings?

    I guess I expect a lot more from all the candidates that are running.

    • Anonymous said

      My apologies for not making it last night. I will however be attending tonight’s meeting. I completely agree with you,most of us should be there for tonight’s meeting

      Brian

    • Richard Johnson said

      I’ve always wondered that. Good question. Maybe they watch on Roger’s Cable, but you would think that if you were running for Council you would make yourself known at Council as well maybe make an effort to learn how things work behind the scenes (becasue we all know that lots goes on behind the scenes).

    • Last nights meeting was actually a GC meeting, not council, and yes I missed it. I have been to a GC meeting, and a official plan steering committee meeting this month. Both times I stayed right to the bitter end so that I could ask questions afterwards.

      Please also keep in mind that these meetings are not normal for an election period, and as well as campaigning, some of us have other jobs which need to attend. If I am elected I will be scaling back my full time work so that I can take on the new role. I have been to many of these meetings in the past and so have “observe[d] the town’s business at these meetings” often.

    • Oh yes, and I was at the last planning meeting this month too.

  7. Q9. What are your views on the role of Town Council in support of Affordable Housing?

    There is a definite need for affordable housing in Aurora. It is incumbent upon us to identify ways in which we can meet this need and ensure that it is a component of any long term plan to help manage the future growth of Aurora.

  8. Q8. What are your views on the role of Town Council in support of Aurora Food pantry and Habitat for Humanity here in Aurora?

    I support the work of the Aurora Food pantry and would advocate for them at council. While some may argue that this falls under the jurisdiction of other levels of government I believe that it is council’s responsibility to ensure that the basic needs of all residents are met. If not, then we, as councillors, should be willing to advocate on behalf of them with the appropriate level of government to have this need met.
    I respect the work that Habitat for Humanity does and would not only support their efforts but willingly donate my own time to help In the construction of a home.

  9. Q7. How will you “Listen” to the community?

    I will always seek the input of the community and various stakeholders on key issues that will impact our lives. I will hold regular “round table” meetings to hear the concerns and issues from the residents. I will encourage them to give me a call or send me an email to discuss what’s troubling them and I will always follow up with anyone who contacts me.

  10. Q5. In a contentious debate among council members involving a matter of policy (or principle), how would you approach the matter to find a consensus that satisfies the majority and is in the best interests of the town? Are the two possible?

    Debate is healthy. We should always strive towards a solution that satisfies both the majority of residents and is in the town’s best interests. The key to finding consensus is strong communication. Communicating the issues to the residents of Aurora, key stakeholders and to the other councillors around the table. Engaging the community for their input and by encouraging open and frank discussion. Through these efforts we can identify and resolve any stumbling blocks to the discussion and continue working towards a resolution that is both in the best interest and amenable to the majority. However, there will be times that opposition to a solution is rooted deep in a person’s beliefs and it is not possible to convince them that it is the right thing to do. As long as we have communicated to all involved, done our due diligence and made every effort to find a suitable resolution we have fulfilled our responsibility. Council must then trust in the democratic process and support the final decision.

  11. Q4. Given the apparent increase of freedom of information requests being demanded by the town in order to answer even the most simple and reasonable questions and the increase in closed-door (“in-camera”) meetings, do you feel that these policies reflect and open and transparent government and what would your stance be on how the town should conduct its affairs from a transparency and accountability perspective?

    This speaks to leadership, governance and being an elected representative of the people. I would always advocate for an open and transparent council where each of us acknowledges that we are accountable to the public for our actions. I believe in “principles before personalities” and will always lead by example.

  12. Q3. Given the current economic climate, what is your stance with regards to town staff hiring and the accompanying impacts on the town’s budget? Do you support the 20% increase in staffing we have witnessed in the first three years of the current council term as well as the most recent accompanying tax increases?

    I am not privy to all the rationale behind the increase in staffing so it is hard to say how much of it was justified. From what I have read some of the positions are questionable and the costs associated with staff changeover are troubling. All of which has left a negative impression with me but I would need to see more background information before taking a stance.

    As for our taxes I do believe we need to take a stronger position against tax increases. With the expected growth of our population over the next 5 years the demand on our infrastructure will affect our service levels and put a strain on our tax dollars. Through re-examination of our expenditures, prudent spending, reduced waste and better managed economic development we can siphon off some of that pressure and develop a balanced budget. If a tax increase is warranted, I would explore keeping it in line with certain economic indicators like the Consumer Price Index.

  13. Q2. How do you see the role of senior staff (department heads) in operating the town vs. that of council? Do we get sound management in place of political posturing

    As a member of the Library Board we are always mindful of the fact that we are a governing board not a managing board. It is not our duty to run the library, but to ensure that it’s properly run. Council is much the same. They are to provide; leadership, governance and direction to ensure that the town is properly run. They don’t micromanage the day-to-day business of the town. It is the senior staff who are hired, to take advantage of their expertise, to properly manage the town. Both council and staff communicate and work together for the betterment of the community. It is only when these lines become blurred do you see issues arising.

  14. Q1. Why are you running for mayor/council?

    I know it’s a cliché but I want to be part of the solution. Members of council have an opportunity to influence the future of Aurora. But to many, and to me, our council is fractured. It is in a state of internal strife which is eroding the public’s confidence and impacting council’s ability to meet our needs and priorities. We need councillors who can put principles before personalities and focus on putting the best interest of Aurora before all else.
    If elected, I would bring a thoughtful and reasoned voice to discussions at council, something I think necessary to face the challenges ahead. I would be mindful that I am there to represent the citizens of Aurora and to voice their opinions and thoughts around the table. We all share a vision for Aurora and I would like to be involved in making that vision a reality.

  15. evelyn.buck said

    Question No.5
    Debate by definition means contending arguments.It should be vigorous and mentally stimulating.Councillors should listen, respect and take from each others ideas.

    Compromise is not required. Consensus is not necessarily a better outcome than a majority vote.

    When the vote is cast the issue is decided. It’s the system whereby we govern ourselves.There is no better

    • evelyn.buck said

      Question 6
      Aurora’s Code of Conduct was adopted for no other reason than to silence criticism and to penalise anyone who might be so bold.

      Spending public money to destroy the reputation of an elected representative is in my view, unconscionable, malicious, shameful and a flagrant abuse of public resources.

      It has never happened in Aurora’s history. It doesn’t happen anywhere else.

      I hope a new election will put an end to it and restore civility our town’s reputation.

    • evelyn.buck said

      Question Non.7
      I find being on-line is very helpful to respond to people’s concerns. I hear from people wherever they are.
      I am frank free and open with my views. I do not expect people to always agree but they often do. And they say so.
      I am often the conduit between residents and staff. I never leave an e-mail or a call- waiting without a response.

    • evelyn.buck said

      Question No, 8
      I believe the cost of shelter is the reason why so many people have to depend on food banks. I think it is a disgrace that food banks are necessary in this day and age.
      I have told Habitat for Humanity if the come to Council with a proposal for rental accommodation, they will have my full support.
      At the beginning of tha last term,On my resolution, Council offered a parcel of land to the region to build affordable housing.

      They refused it.

      We have many small parcels of land which would be suitable for small projects. Which could be made available for housing.

      I worry about children spending entire lives in inadequate housing and being aware of the family’s dependence on free food to survive.

      Our society will not benefit from the situation.

    • evelyn.buck said

      Question No. 1 for incumbents.
      The completion of St Maximillian Kolbe High School on Wellington Street.

      I think the public school board should request the Separate Board to provide tours to public school parents. Let them see what’s possible for their children in a modern school.

      I think St Max will prove to be a turning point for all students in Aurora.

      I congratulate Council for their part in making it happen.

      A new ball diamond and the artificial turf field have improved opportunities for young people to achieve excellence.

      Seniors’ programs continue to grow and make a difference in people’s lives. I’m proud of that.

    • evelyn.buck said

      Number 2 for Incumbents.
      There are many important issues facing the new Council.

      I think encouraging and supporting small businesses and residential development in the centre core is the key to creating economic vitality in the heart of our town.
      I think working together towards a common purpose is essential fora successful term of Council.

      The measure of success is how we have contributed to people’s lives.

      I think many people in our community are hurting and Council must look for ways to ease things.

      That means respecting business as an equal partner, working together, recognising their problems, looking for ways to make things easier instead of standing in their way at every turn

    • Broderick epps said

      My question to the candidates is aimed at one particular councillor…Al Wilson
      “Mr Wilson. Last election you campaigned on the platforms of cutting taxes and fighting crime. How successful were you on both counts?”

    • Anonymous said

      “I congratulate Council for their part in making it happen.”

      I know you’ve championed that school, Cllr Buck, but it appeared that others – seemingly working against it – would rather that it didn’t happen.

  16. evelyn.buck said

    Answer to Question No.1

    I’m running for Council because I decided not to run for Mayor. The job is physical and I’m not fooling myself.

    The town needs to project youthful vigor, energy and ability and in it’s Number One Citizen.

    As far as Council goes;

    I’m as good as the best and better than the rest.

    • evelyn.buck said

      Answer to No. 4
      Staff have the responsibilty to provide answers to questions from elected representative.
      Councillors have the responsibility to provide answers to citizen’s inquiries .

      Only inquiries which require time for research should be subject to freedom of information requests.

      Modern Technology should make it easier for citizens to do their own research.

      I support the ongoing improvements to the system to make town information as close as one’s finger tips.

      In camera meetings should be restricted to those issues permitted under the Municipal Act.

      Political vendettas should neither be tolerated by Council nor accommodated by closed door meetings.

  17. OK, folks, I have taken the time to provide a detailed response to your questions. I did not necessarily think all the questions were fair as some had contentious and unsubstantiated premises. None the less, I tried to address them all as fairly as possible pointing out the parts of the questions which I felt were leading or “loaded”. As a Councillor I would have to deal with similar biases in questions put to me before council, so I am hoping that you see my way of dealing with these questions as an indicator of how I would deal with “contentious debate among council members”.

    As always I am open to fair criticism, and if you can put forward a good argument against what I have said ,I will listen intently and could even be swayed.

    The answers are posted on my site, but as with everything on my site, there is an open creative commons license which will allow you to repost anything you want in part or in full.

    Please give me your comments, however be aware that anything which is less than polite I will not respond to, and anything which may require more investigation on my part may take a while before I can reply.

    Kind Regards,
    Darryl Moore

    • Anonymous said

      Hmmmm, I’m not liking this candidate’s tone. Shape of things to come? Might have been best for him not to wade in on this blog.

    • Richard Johnson said

      Thanks Darryl:

      I’ve posted a comment on your website in response to your answers.

      RJ

  18. Anonymous said

    “Of course additional staff means higher taxes.”

    Not necessarily. Cost savings in other areas, or a general increase in the tax base could offset additional staff costs without having to raise tax rates.

    You say you didn’t vote for the budget — given your grasp of economics it’s probably for the best if you abstain from voting on them all together.

    • Richard Johnson said

      To Anonymous, September 19, 2010 at 8:02 pm

      Bigger government results in increased costs, regardless of where the money comes from. Increasing costs while trying to balance the budget seems to me to be working at cross purposes which is why the question was asked in the first place.

      What should be cut in order to balance our budget ? Staff or the cultural center, trails, log cabin renovations, integrity commissioner costs, legal bills, ads bought to attack fellow councillors ? It’s your call. You may feel that staff levels and increased taxes are not related in any way or you may feel they are justified and that’s your right.

      I’m interested to hear people’s views on this topic, but I can’t get my head around the idea that spending on increased staffing has nothing to do with balancing the town’s budget.

      From my persective it would be enlightening to map the size of our government, our taxes and our town’s population growth over the last few terms, keeping in mind that fiscal austerity is likely going to be required more than ever in the coming years.

    • evelyn.buck said

      Have you noticed a decrease in taxes with increased revenue?
      I thought not.
      I certainly will not refrain from voting on budgets.
      The people who sent me to Council expect me to exercise my judgement. God knows they have never known me to do anything else.

      I expressed my opposition to tax increases by voting against the budget.
      I have no apology to make for my grasp of the concept of municipal revenues and expenditures.

    • Anonymous said

      As far as grasps of economics are concerned, or lack thereof, it is Gaertner who takes the cake followed closely behind by the Lone Granger.

    • someone who loves this town's food more than politics said

      The Lone Granger follows closely behind anyone he can, I guess he can’t take a stand on anything.

      As for a councilor that may be on par with Gaertner you can’t leave out bobble-head Wilson. Numbers, dates, times, names, pretty much anything makes his head spin.

      Let’s make sure all three take the cake as they pile through the revolving door when they are all turfed come Oct 25th.

    • Richard Johnson said

      Check out Darryl Moore’s website (he is running for Council). He answered the questions posed of him by the Aurora Citizen and in doing so he provided salary numbers.

      The town pays an additional $4 million annual in order to accommodate the growth of staff over this term. Tax income has increased by approximately the same.

    • Big Bad Bobble Head said

      “The Lone Granger follows closely behind anyone he can”

      Does that include following young girls, knife in hand, who are trying to make a few honest cents selling ice cream ?

  19. Guy Poppe said

    Still waiting for Mr. Johnson to respond to my question to name two(yeah, just two, and not twenty or more as he or Buck claims) senior staff that left because of current council.

    I know you don’t like the question nor the answers, but the public would like to know.

    Another slip of the censor’s knife is anticipated.

    • Anonymous said

      Guy, I’m still waiting for your response to the alternative interpretation of Cllr Buck’s reply to Augustinius. You know, the possible explanation that was completely contrary to your attempt to mischaracterize her words. She subsequently refuted your contention – no surprise there.

      Just to refresh your memory:

      “Anonymous said

      September 16, 2010 at 11:02 pm
      Well, as we have experienced, you seem to have no problem responding – it’s just using the Reply function that you’ve yet to master.

      Regardless, what about the other suggested interpretation of Cllr Buck’s statement? You seem to have neglected to address that in your reply.

      Whenever you’re ready, Guy…”

      Perhaps you could take a moment before you next try to feebly discredit Richard Johnson or to besmirch Evelyn Buck. Just *answer* a question, for a change. I know it must be a thankless task being Phyllis’ shill, but just think of all the free time you’ll have on your hands after Oct. 25th. Until then, you’re left ploughing a lonely furrow.

    • Richard Johnson said

      Sorry for the delayed response Guy, but at least you didn’t have to wait as long as I have had to typically wait in order to get answers from the town.

      I really do find it surprising that further clarification is required on this point unless of course we are going to get into a debate over semantics.

      A list of 20 people that have left senior and mid-level management positions at the town was provided via this website last April and while I’m sure that the reasons for leaving were varied, I am equally sure that people don’t tend to leave in droves if they love their working environment.

      Given that all but one senior staff member has left the town this term I have been trying to find out from the town since last April if the senior and mid level staff turnover we have witnessed is typical, however no response has yet been provided that deals specifically with senior and mid-level management.

      We know that the communications officer was not at all pleased with how she was treated. We also know that three councillors will not run specifically as a result of how they and others have been treated (one felt compelled to quit council early on). We know that one councillor is suing her fellow councillors and we know that the town has posted allegations against her on the town’s website, even after the initial complaint was dismissed by the first Integrity Commissioner shortly before he himself was relieved of his duties. The fact that the former Integrity Commissioner felt compelled to resort to issuing a cease and desist order against the Mayor also can’t help the Mayor’s case when she tries to tell people that things have never been better. The former CAO, John Rogers may also have views regarding the town’s new work environment that are worth considering.

      I’m sure that you may argue that Councillors are not technically employed by the town therefore you have somehow won your point, but given that they are paid by the town and work on its behalf I think we may be splitting hairs on that point. I would encourage you to ask Alison, Bob, Grace of Evelyn how they feel they have been treated and what they hear from staff about the town’s work environment (assuming of course they are allowed to tell the truth if it does not fit the party line).

      I’ve heard from the spouses of two employees who both expressed in a roundabout way (including eye rolling) that working for the town has its challenges that do not necessarily sound to be typical of a healthy work environment from my perspective. Stress leave and childish antics have been alluded to, but I also appreciate that speaking up has its risks and we need to be sensitive to that fact therefore I am not going to name names.

      We all know that every work environment has its challenges however I’m not so sure that the Town Hall can’t do better under new management. I’m certainly holding out hope.

  20. Anonymous said

    Anyone with a basic grasp of logic can see most of these questions are loaded in that they stem from an initial premise that may or may not be true.

    For example: “Do you support the 20% increase in staffing we have witnessed in the first three years of the current council term as well as the most recent accompanying tax increases?”

    The question is loaded in that it’s posed from the position an increase in staff is a bad thing because it lead to an increase in taxes.

    You can’t correlate an increase in tax rates with an increase in staff. There could be a thousand and one other reasons for tax increases.

    A more neutral approach would be, “What do you think of current staff levels at the Town of Aurora?”

    “What is your opinion on current tax rates in Aurora?”

    Then there’s this: “Given the apparent increase of freedom of information requests being demanded by the town in order to answer even the most simple and reasonable questions….”

    “Apparent?” “Simple and reasonable questions?” According to who? What may seem simple and reasonable to one person may be anything but to another person. These are qualitative statements, again showing an inherent bias in the questions.

    How about “Can you explain your position on transparent government? What would that look like to you?”

    Don’t be surprised if most of the sitting candidates don’t post responses here — it’s obvious they won’t be given a fair shake.

    I think it would be more illuminating if the owner/moderator(s) of this site just came out and told residents who they’re supporting instead of trying to maintain this charade of objectivity.

    • No charade of objectivity here. We think to most readers it’s pretty clear we think that the current Council have been a huge disappointment – and we place the largest part of the blame on Phyllis Morris and her aide Evelina MacEachern.

      And no, we also don’t expect them to respond. Why would they start — they won’t even respond to FOI’s. They are afraid to face their critics. Instead they send Guy Poppe to do that job.

      But we do know they read every word. We have the lawyers letters to prove it.

      However, we also accept your criticism about the bias of the questions. They are worded exactly as presented by the readers who answered the original request for questions.

      If you would be kind enough to reframe the questions, we would be pleased to re-issue them with a comment on why they were re-issued.

      We’ll watch for your rsponse so we can quickly forward the reworded questions.

    • evelyn.buck said

      Of course additional staff means higher taxes.
      I have not voted for any budget passed by this council.
      One of the first new jobs was for an
      environmental engineer.
      When I asked what would be accomplished
      I was told,
      “environmental initiatives would be identified”
      I am still seeking specifics several years later.
      The position cost $100ks a year including benefits.
      In 2009 we approved creation of an arms length board to operate the Church Street School Heritage and Culture Centre. The budget provided was $280ks. for part of the year.
      They had a surplus at years end. We provided another $350Ks in the second year.We continued to grant $50ks to the Historical Society. Yet no curator is available to organise and operate our museum. It’s stored in boxes in the basement.We have spent millions and have less than we had before.

      Maintenance for the building is provided by the town at $135Ks a year.

      As yet we have heard of no revenue.

      Early in the term, an additional administrative assistant was added to the Mayor’s office.There had been one for Mayor and Council previously. Now there’s the Mayor’s executive assistant and an administrative assistant.
      We spent at the outset $60ks to re-furvish the Councillors room. We don’t even have that now it was always so little used.
      We had a person operating the corporate communication system with one other.Extra help was needed to cover the increased demand for services.An exyra person was requested, we gave them half a person.
      Last year, we added a manager.

      We paid all that money,$200ks, to lawyers John Mascarin and George Rust D’Eye. I’m not the one to ask what benefit was derived from that expenditure.
      All the court and OMB procedures costs in a failed attempt to obtain a result it was obvious from the beginning legislation would not permit.
      Legal fees to defend against an OMB appeal by the Separate School Board in a matter of excess fees for development charges. Which we lost.
      $15ks grant to support the July 1st Parade heretofore supported by fundraising; silent auctions and the like
      .
      $211Ks for a traffic calming plan in the North east quadrant, because according to the Mayor, “the people are special”

      $60ks to a handful of residents on Knowles Crescent after spending a million dollars on road re-consruction that added thousands to the value of their homes.

      $60Ks of money set aside for a trail link squandered on a half-assed consultant study which accomplished absolutely nothing.
      A whopping great increase in water rates
      through a transfer of water use from tax supported services

      I could go on but I think I’ve made my point.

      Little consideration has been shown in the tax rate, for seniors trying to hang on to the only asset they have. After a lifetime of work and sacrifice to provide opportunities they themselves did not enjoy.

      Or for people who have lost their livelihood through no fault of their own and are struggling to survive.

    • Anonymous said

      I don’t necessarily place the largest part of the blame on those two. I place ALL the blame on ALL of the GOS. Don’t forget that the other 4 councillors have been totally complicit and have followed along after Mor and Mac willingly. I don’t let any of them off the hook.

    • It works both ways said

      Evelyn,

      You list the legal fees that have been incurred for OMB challenges. What will the legal fees be for the GOS’s defence against your law suit? Is that not a wast of tax dollars? Thanks!

      Hmmmmmmm?

    • Anonymous said

      It Works Both Ways, isn’t there a difference between picking a fight and defending yourself in one?

      Hmmmmmmm?

    • It Works Both Ways said

      To Anonymous @ September 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      I suppose there is a difference…. however Ms Buck picked the fight that is going to cost the Town to defend the GOS

    • Anonymous said

      It Works Both Ways, are you truly unaware of the chronology of events, or are you just choosing to ignore it?

    • Richard Johnson said

      To Anonymous: September 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

      OK, stop the bus !

      This is the first time that I have ever heard that larger government costs less. I would appreciate a better understanding of how that works. If we assume that a person responsible for getting people to pay for dog licences has to pay for their desk costs where does the money come from other than the tax payer ? Maybe the fine point is that you put more weight on user fees verses taxes in which case we can increase user fees and lower taxes and we all benefit, right ? *Unless of course you have to pay the user fees regardless… this does get tricky.

      Here is a question for you: Please explain how a 20% increase in staff may or may not be connected to increased taxes given the percentage of staffing costs in the town’s budget and the source of the town’s revenues.

      The very interesting thing about your revised question is that it contains no facts that point to what is actually happening at the town, which I suspect may be by design on your part. Does the general public know that staffing levels have increased by 20% over the past four years ? Probably not. But I bet they know their taxes keep going up. Of course I guess that could be just another one of the Mayor’s “coincidences”.

      Rather than cry foul because you don’t like the question posed why not answer the question by stating that larger government can actually save the tax payer money, if that’s your view, and leave it at that.

      I never said that the services we pay for are bad. I appreciate all of the services the town offers but I am not so sure I can afford them to go up in cost every year, year in and year out. I’m trying to ascertain if the public feels that the increased staff levels and accompanying costs are justified under the current economic climate and do people feel that increased staffing is consistent with the promises we will no doubt hear about the desire for council to balance the budget. In most cases you can’t suck and blow at the same time, unless of course you are a certain type of politician in Aurora.

      I won’t go on too long here on this final point, but by way of example, I do think that asking the town if “the current rate of senior staff turn over is typical of previous councils” is a rather simple question and it is similar to other questions that I know have been asked this term in the form of an FOI. You may assume that example is complicated, but again we have to disagree.

      I also know from experience that Freedom of Information (FOI) requests appear to be on the rise, however I don’t have the time, money or patience required in order to file yet another FOI in order to get a response from the town with regards to the detailed history of FOI requests that will very likely support my conclusions at the end of the day anyway, therefore I had to qualify my question.

      In politics one has to take a stance and what you determine to be unfair bias may in fact just be the facts telling you something you don’t want to see. I don’t blame you for being frustrated if you are a Morris and GOS supporter. It doesn’t look good, but that does not mean that twisting logic is any less transparent.

    • Richard Johnson said

      To Anonymous, September 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

      The facts seem to suggest that you are mistaken.

      Here is your quote:

      “Anyone with a basic grasp of logic can see most of these questions are loaded in that they stem from an initial premise that may or may not be true.

      For example: “Do you support the 20% increase in staffing we have witnessed in the first three years of the current council term as well as the most recent accompanying tax increases?”

      The question is loaded in that it’s posed from the position an increase in staff is a bad thing because it lead to an increase in taxes.

      You can’t correlate an increase in tax rates with an increase in staff. There could be a thousand and one other reasons for tax increases.”

      Here are the facts:

      2006:
      160 staff
      Tax Income: $21,805,317
      Salaries: $14,008,438

      2009:
      181 staff
      Tax Income: $26,488,312
      Salaries: $18,173,501

      Conclusion: When staff numbers go up, both salary costs and taxes go up in tandem.

      I look forward to your 1,001 possible explanations.

  21. Guy Poppe said

    Talk about self-serving and loaded questions.

    • For a fistful of dollars said

      You certainly are.

    • Thanks Will Be Given Come October said

      Candidates

      1.Why are you running for mayor/council?

      Guy, THIS is a loaded question?

      Typical.

    • anonymous said

      Guy, are you talking about the questions or the current council? 🙂

    • Anonymous said

      Self-serving Guy? Hardly. As a citizen of Aurora, I want to know the answer to all of these questions.

      I am voting for no incumbents with the exeception of one, and you might guess who that is. And from what I have seen so far, there is not much else to choose from.

    • Eloquently Stated said

      what would you rather see Guy ?

      What do you think the weather will be like next year

      How do we attract more volunteers like St Kitts

      Can you explain the recent overwhelming success of the Promenade Study and all its wonderful spin off effects on the community (two part question)

      what are your thoughts on retaining more legal firms and high priced laywers based on the excellent professional services rendererd and value added to the town over the last four years

    • anonymous said

      To Anonymous 6:43

      I too am only voting for one incumbent, but be careful if you don’t vote for any of the “new” councillor candidates – the old gang may just get back in.

  22. evelyn.buck said

    Are candidates for re-election expected to answer only two questions?

    Or are the two questions in addition to all the rest?

    Can the questions be answered one at a time?

    Will answers be published at the same time so that nobody can crib from anyone else’s answers?

    • All candidates are invited to answer the first group. Only the candidates for re-election would be able to answer the second group of 2.

      As for when they will be published — good question.

      Candidates were invited to input directly as a comment. Then voters can see when they have answered and answers that are similar to previous posts will be obvious because of the time & date stamp on all comments.

      Alternatively, they can send an email to the moderator to have it input as part of their personal page.

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