Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Who Should Be on the Negotiating Committee?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 2, 2012

Here is an interesting scenario posed by one of our readers. What are your thoughts?


It is my understanding that by April 10, next Council meeting, two Councillors will have been selected to represent the Town on the Ad Hoc Negotiating Committee. They, together with two nominees from the Centre, plus a facilitator selected by agreement of the two parties, will form the Committee.

Councillors Ballard, Gaertner and Gallo seem to have eliminated themselves from consideration as a consequence of their position regarding the relationship between the Town and the Centre. Councillors Abel and Pirri might likewise have eliminated themselves as a result of the motion they placed before Council February 28 to terminate the existing agreement. Councillor Buck, who would make an admirable representative of the Town on this committee, might have also eliminated herself because of her open and vocal opposition to the entire concept of an agreement to manage and operate the Centre. Assuming that Mayor Dawe is ineligible because of his office, this leaves, by default, Councillors Humfryes and Thompson to represent the Town on the committee.

We are not necessarily getting the best or most knowledgeable people; we have simply gone through and eliminated those whose stated positions tend to render them in a kind of conflict of interest situation. And we don’t need any more conflicts of interest in Aurora. Heaven forbid!

So my question is, how is this all going to play out and will the Town be getting the best possible representation on this vitally important committee?


A further question that arises is since when does a facilitator actually vote? We have never heard of a facilitator voting in a discussion — their role is to remain impartial and “facilitate” a discussion. If they are expected to vote — then how can they remain impartial? Also, how will they be chosen?

This situation gets more convoluted and poorly thought through as the days unfold.

45 Responses to “Who Should Be on the Negotiating Committee?”

  1. Anonymous said

    Well, I see that keeping it respectful and discussing the merits lasted just about a day before deteriorating into sniping at anyone who disagrees with the ACC. Actually I had hoped they could manage for a wee bit longer. Paul Pirri is judged to be too young and there are cracks at what is viewed as an older crowd. No one mentions the Mar Report or adds to the totality of information. I can only point out sadly that Evelyn and Paul were both elected to represent Aurora. None of the board members of the ACC were elected. They were appointed without any merit or qualifications to the job. The head guy probably was chosen for his relationship with NDP’ Jack Layton. You see, we could have slammed individual board members and did not. Who has the culture here?

    • Anonymous said

      How is identifying someone as the late Jack Layton’s brother ‘slamming’ him exactly?! To many, that is to his credit.

    • Tim the Enchanter said

      Good points.

      Surprised that the “culture agreement” and the subsequent Mar report have not been posted here but I did manage to dig them out.
      They are certainly worth a glance.
      The Mar report certainly offers an easy-to-follow synopsis of what the original agreement should have looked like.
      It also makes clear the point that the Town essentially holds all the cards as far as any agreement is concerned.
      If the proposal is indeed that staff will draw up a new agreement for council’s approval then the Mar report will make that job much easier.

      Basically this is a tenancy agreement between the Town and a private business – a private business that it just so happens the Town has invested in.
      It would seem that some common contractual mechanisms intended to protect an investment were not included.
      Happily – as far as I can see at least – according to Mar’s remarks there are no insurmountable hurdles that prevent council from fulfilling its responsibilty to the taxpayers.

      Shame that we have yet another mess left by the last council that has to be cleaned up before we can all move on.

    • Anonymous said

      I believe the comment is a subtle suggestion that readers should compare and contrast the two men for themselves while noting that not-too-flattering versions could have been presented during the past few nasty days – and were not. Let’s leave it and hope not to have to re-visit the bulk of this malarkey.

  2. Let's Move Forward said

    I think Sandra Humphries should sit with this committee. She will be instrumental in making sure that the Aurora Collection from the Historical Society will be included in the new agreement and dealt with properly. I think she has good moderate negotiating skills, and will advance the process as necessary to get this agreement passed in a timely manner. I also think our mayor would be beneficial to this group, to keep a clear lead on what best befits the town. He has already brought to the table the two main issues that council was not happy with. Councils inclusion on ACC board is a huge step forward for Aurora taxpayers. I have confidence that all involved will do their utmost now to improve the contract witht the ACC. We owe it to Council and ourselves that voted for them to let them try, rather than crap all over the efforts made to date.
    I want to hear more about solutions rather than the already known existing problems.

    • Anonymous said

      Frightfully sorry, but no sale. Councillors Humphreyes and Thompson participated in the abrupt about face that took Aurora from a strong position that required the ACC to come to the table to the current situation in which they can stall indefinitely. It is still a group with secret meetings, lack of accountability and bullying tactics which drains Aurora’s treasury and refuses to even consider our Museum. That building does not belong to them and you cannot make them into a different entity by using platitudes.
      Sorry, no sale.

    • Anonymous said

      I agree with you, Let’s Move Forward. It’s heartening to see a positive, moderate attitude towards the issue.

      (My only quibble is the use of the ACC acronym. As a longtime Auroran, that belongs to the Aurora Community Centre.)

    • Anonymous said

      “… in which they can stall indefinitely.”

      The only party stalling now is the Town, due to the pouty petulance of Paul Pirri (how’s that for alliteration).

    • Anonymous said

      Ah, but Councillor Pirri and Councillor Abel were stalled repeatedly by the ACC. Stop trying to shift the emphasis and fudge the history. They tried and got nowhere. Just as Mayor Dawe tried for more than a year. So, you can take your alliteration and….

    • Let's Move Forward said

      I can only deal with facts:

      1. Prior council approved the original agreements in 2009.
      2. Current council approved the 2012 budget to go ahead with funding.
      3. Town Solicitor found contract lacking.
      4. Councillors Abel and Pirri moved to exercise termination clause, which caused a massive stink partially created and enhanced by Councillor Ballard. Council then voted without termination clause to proceed.
      5. Council voted to approve terms of reference on Mar 27. 6-2
      The centre has been running for 2 years. They have submitted accounting to our CAO as required. They participated in a requested audit. As presented to the March 27 meeting, the Board wants to see better clarification on financial reporting, what their fundraising expectations are, and come together for a mutually acceptable process for core funding. They are trying very diligently to rectify the issues. They have already agreed to Mayor Dawes request for Counci on their board. If anyone has anything valid to say to this matter, please contact your mayor and councillors to let your voice be heard.Make your stand. I am proud and pleased with Councillor Abel being able to move forward after it was his motion that was defeated. I am also delighted that Councillor Gallo chose to support going forward And I am especially proud of our Mayor, who has shown grace and leadership under pressure when being insulted by councillors who should show a little more respect for office than they have. OOH, that should get me into trouble!

    • Anonymous said

      Too much of the emphasis has been put on the “history” of the issue (hands up everyone who wants to read yet another potted history courtesy of the Octogenarian Oracle). Let’s deal with the here and now – not the past politics or the present bruised feelings of a callow councillor.

      You could make the argument that all the negative rhetoric would be understandable prior to the 28 Feb. & 27 March council meetings, but not now. A course has been set, so let’s see it play out. If it founders, all you angry villagers can re-light your torches and again take up your pitchforks, pikes, and cudgels.

      Keep on keepin’ on, Mayor Dawe!

    • Anonymous said

      “… pleased with Councillor Abel being able to move forward after it was his motion that was defeated.”

      Yeah, I was glad to see that, too. He genuinely seemed open-minded and encouraged about the progress made after the February 28th meeting. I’m sure many felt that if there was an axe to grind over the failure of the termination to be triggered, it would have been by John Abel.

      Instead, it was Paul (Pity Party) Pirri who stuck out his bottom lip, and initiated obstructionist tactics to scupper that progress. For someone who was in such a hellfire hurry to ‘fix’ things, he suddenly hit the brakes and made it about him and his metaphorical bloodied nose. So, now he’s stalling and trying to sabotage the progress he was unable to provide.

    • Anonymous said

      3.29 PM Always resort to a personal attack to try and belittle or mock an opponent. Sure beats dealing with the facts when you select one or two individuals and side-track the issue. Characteristics that we have come to know, not love, about ACC supporters. Never, ever allow yourself to mention the specifics of the Mar Report or that there is no way Aurora can continue to fund the ACC. What is it about ‘ unsustainable’ that you cannot grasp?

    • Anonymous said

      Interesting all these comments to move on from the past. The ACC has no past and it is hard to present them as a re-newed board. And the urging to include as past things the very recent acrimonious meeting arranged by Ballard And the ACC. The ACC gets a walk and your pounce on one councillor, exactly as you pounced on 2 last time. Same tactics of division, threats and bullying. You cannot take the highground only when it is convenient. But,I forget, this is an organization without minutes that uses town resources, both financial and real estate, to prop up their programs and shows no sign of being prepared to try and support themselves in their lifestyle. And here for a brief moment, I wasted time presenting the situation which you chose to ignore. My bad..

  3. Anonymous said

    More smoke and mirrors. Mayor Dawe has not mentioned the Museum and the ACC makes only a passing reference to ‘ artifacts ‘. That is a very large already paid-for elephant to be ignoring. How are they going to get around the fact that the Province provided funding for a MUSEUM ? That money was spent with other funds raised by the Town. The situation becomes increasingly bizarre.

  4. Anonymous said

    My money is on the Mayor selecting Jon Abel and Chris Ballard to negotiate for the Town. Ballard once sat on the board and Abel has seen how they conduct their affairs. They should both refuse the offer and show the whole process as the farce it has become.

  5. Anonymous said

    The ACC should not even think about easing Mr. Garbe into the facilitator position. He has attended secret meetings with the Mayor and been aware as this entire situation developed. Cannot be seen as impartial. Actually, if we found an honest person willing to take on the task, he/she would probably reject the idea of having a vote. That is sheer nonsense as is the whole procedure. There is no need for negotiations at all. Mr. Mar simply draws up an agreement with everything that Aurora requires. The ACC can sign it or not – their call. Then they can sue or go on strike – again their call. Should take about a month to six weeks. Has everyone taken leave of their senses?

    • Resident said

      I think Allison Collins-Mrakas should be the facilitator.

    • Anonymous said

      At one time, she may have been a good candidate for that position. However, she has publicly pitched her tent in the Anti-Centre camp.

  6. evelynb said

    There is still another complication.The two councillors chosen to be on the negotiating team ,are not to be the same two who are proposed to be on the new board. Council has allocated up to $20.000. to pay the “facilitator”.
    In response to one of the question, the grant of $356,000 has been approved in the 2012 budget. They are still to receive the money each quarter automatically,after the physical act of submitting a financial statement to the town treasurer.

    • Puzzled said

      I didn’t want to go there just yet, but if the majority of Councillors have self-eliminated themselves for one reason or another, and if as the poster suggests there are only two viable ones left, by logic that results in the selection of two with “problems.”

      For my money I would want Councillors Abel and Pirri to serve on the Centre Board. You could not get two better representatives for the town, its taxpayers and their money. The only reason they were “self-eliminated” was because they had the wherewithal to move to terminate what is universally recognized as an agreement written and executed by incompetents.

      Is the “facilitator” just another way of saying “consultant?” Is this cost of $20,000 a lump-sum or to be payable on an hourly basis? What if the hours exceed the lump-sum?

      The concept of a voting facilitator is so ludicrous as to be the equivalent of malfeasance. What nincompoop came up with this suggestion? Was it an elected official, staff or Centre member?

      The taxpayers continue to get ripped off by their government. But this happens all the time, doesn’t it?

    • Anonymous said

      Why should Council pay the facilitator? If there has to be one, which shouldn’t be necessary, the cost should be at least split. The ACC has money in the bank. Who thought up all this garbage?

    • Taxpayer said

      Yes, but the “money in the bank” originally came from the Town, from all of us.

      So the suggestion to split the money is simply that we use each hand to pay $10,000.

  7. Anonymous said

    No one should be on the negotiating team. There should be no negotiating team. There should be no negotiations. Has Mayor Dawe drunk from the Waters of Lethe? He holds all the cards and was elected on a platform of financial accountability. Get on with the damn job and stop wasting time, money and whatever good will remains.

    • Anonymous said

      “…and was elected on a platform of financial accountability”

      Truth be told, he was elected on a platform of being the Anti-Morris. It was a case of anyone but her.

    • Anonymous said

      Thankfully, saner heads are prevailing. Yes, saner, constructive, positive heads are getting on with the job of creating a new agreement.

    • Anonymous said

      Dawe went after wasteful spending. He did not get into the fight with Mormac but kept to his message of responsibility and accountability. The tapes are still available so please do not try and minimize that election and re-write history. Now he has to deal with the current situation, much of it his own doing. Those who voted for him have not vanished in a puff of smoke. There is a small, rapidly becoming smaller, window of opportunity in which he could perhaps still correct the situation.

    • Anonymous said

      “Those who voted for him have not vanished in a puff of smoke.”

      Oh, I know. In fact, you can find many of them attending events and programs at the Cultural Centre.

    • Anonymous said

      5:23 PM They are welcome to attend events and programs, as one can all over town, and they pay as they go. The problem lies with our financing this operation and their lack of accountability and, sometimes, really stupid waste of money -our money, our building. But you knew that, didn’t you? What’s a few hundred thousand dollars to a group too lazy to keep minutes or hold open meetings? With free rent, no maintenance? Every quarter of every year and they want this forever. Just get them off my tax bill. There are outfits like the food bank that really need support and are willing to do the work themselves, rather than hire it out on our bill.
      If each person attending an event was asked if they wanted to add a percentage on top of that to their taxes, you might hear a very different story. ” They should be able to make it pay for itself.”

    • Anonymous said

      Dear 5:23 PM
      They enjoy the programs and events that Aurora has paid for and the ACC takes credit for publicly. Our funding, our building and they are Patrons of the Arts. Nice work if you can get it; better still if you get it free.

    • Anonymous said

      I see repeated references to “our” in regards to the building and to the funding. Not an inclusive “our” that applies to everyone in town (which truly is the case), but some kind of delineation of possession that entails an exclusivity – an ‘us versus them’ mentality.

      I’m pleased that this tribal, small-minded approach is shared only by a minority, and, thankfully, not by the mayor and the majority of council.

    • Anonymous said

      So, 8:36, what you’re saying is, that the people who voted for Geoff Dawe and attend the Cultural Centre are somehow exempt from municipal taxation? You can’t be saying that because that’s just stupid talk, right?

    • Anonymous said

      Aurora residents would attend a circus if it came to town. That doesn’t mean they would want to cede the field to it or be responsible for the care and maintenance of the operation.

    • Resident said

      I’m all for this – these people are complete jokers – they’ve made a mockery of our council and are leeching from the treasury.

  8. Anonymous said

    This is seriously frightening stuff. Aurora cannot send 2 as-yet-unnamed Councillors off to negotiate ‘ multi-year core funding’ with that board. They do not have the authority to do so, either for the current Council or those who will follow. The gravy train must be brought to a halt immediately. There was NEVER an intention to fund these people forever. They must make it on their own steam. We cannot afford them. What part of ‘unsustainable’ is it they they do not understand? Did they even read the Mar Report?

    • jd said

      I am also in favourof nudging this squawking, “ravenous for public money” group off the edge of the nest. It’s about time they flew on their own and figured out what “self-sustaining means. I don’t wish tocontribute one more penny (or soon-to-be nickel) into this thing.
      Why are we taxpayers always the ones left holding the bill?

    • Tim the Enchanter said


      We need a very serious look at what’s happeninh here.
      The word “negotiation” is getting thrown around entirely too much.
      The implication seems to be that this is similar to the Town negotiating a new agreement with the municipal employees a situation of two entities that need to co-exist and thus are bound by necessity to work out an agreement between themselves.

      The ACC is not anything like that.
      The concept of necessity exists only as one’s own personal belief in what the ACC does or offers.
      This is strictly discretionary spending by the Town – money that could be spent any number of ways.

      However the ACC’s supporters appear – to me at least – to give the impression that the ACC is THE cultural services provider
      and as such any decisons regarding “cultural services contracts” must be approved by them.

      I also agree that before any agreement is enetered in to that council should first establish if the citizens of Aurora actually want this money spent.

      And no – because 25,000 eligible voters don’t happen to crash a council meeting – that is not tacit approval of the ACC.
      And no- councilor “testimonials” about positive feedback of the ACC is not proof either.

      Sorry – $500,000 in spending can’t happen without a proper tendered bid process, assuming of course that council votes to spend $500,000 on “cultural services”.

      I stand to be corrected but why do I get the feeling that never happened in this case?

      Perhaps it would be helpful if a text of the existing agreement could be posted? (unless I’ve missed it somewhere)

    • Saving face said

      In today’s Globe and Mail under MILITARY the article is headed: “Feds scramble to save face over fighter jets” and then the next line: “Scathing A-G report singles out National Defence bureaucrats in government’s mismanagement of multibillion-dollar F-35 project”

      A particularly biting comment: “One key player who was noticeably quiet was Defence Minister Peter McKay, despite the fact he’s been the senior Conservative politician in charge of the military since August, 2007.” Is this responsible accountable?

      My point? It’s not only municipal politicians who screw up. Since they are closer to us as neighbours, we should be better able to get them to listen when we tell them how to spend our money, and if they have to, they must account to us for that expenditure and that it was made in the best interests of our community as a whole. So get with it, Council – we don’t have an A-G to sniff out your mistakes.

  9. Anonymous said

    How can Mayor Dawe be eligible? He has met in secret with the ACC for more than a year, misled his Council about the ACC. originally tried to avoid having Mr. Mar go over the current faulty agreement and wasted yet another month with 5 more useless meetings with the ACC. He cannot be seen as other than their Man. If he represented Aurora, this would all have screeched to a halt with the termination clause and have been re-written and put in place by now.

    • Anonymous said

      “If he represented Aurora,…”

      By “Aurora,” don’t you actually mean, “my views”?

  10. Anonymous said

    “Councillor Buck, who would make an admirable representative of the Town on this committee, might have also eliminated herself because of her open and vocal opposition to the entire concept of an agreement to manage and operate the Centre.”

    You contradicted your own recommendation of an “admirable representative”. You were just kidding, right? Tell me you were just kidding.

    • Resident said

      I think Buck would make an amazing Rep – I hope she’s put on the committee – it keep everybody honest!

    • Taxpayer said

      If it were up to me I would give Evelyn Buck both places on the committee representing the town based on her years of experience, her desire to see that taxpayers’ dollars are wisely spent, and because it would be very interesting to see her face the Centre’s nominees and the facilitator, all three of whom she could probably blow away with a flick of her fingers.

      Great stuff, of which legends are made.

  11. Anonymous said

    I don’t assume that Mayor Dawe is ineligible.

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