Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Archive for the ‘Community Input’ Category

How Do You Want To Receive Your Updates

Posted by auroracitizen on April 6, 2012

In keeping with our observations about the lack of communication capabilities at the Town of Aurora, we have evaluated our own. Therefore we are connecting this blog through both Twitter and Facebook, so you can receive and comment on the platform of your choice.

It may take a bit to get all the bugsworked out — so bear with us and let us know how we are doing or what we can do better.

We have set a up a Twitter page https://twitter.com/#!/Aurora_Citizen or @Aurora_Citizen Please note the underscore between the words. Someone had already set up a Twitter page @AuroraCitizen. If they would like to have it linked to the blog, please send us an email at AuroraCitizenInfo@gmail.com to discuss switching this over.

We have also set up a Facebook Fan at Facebook.com/AuroraCitizen

Happy Easter to you and your loved ones.

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Posted in Community Input, Growth | Leave a Comment »

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?

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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?

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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.

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Conflict of Interest, Integrity, Leadership, Town Committees, Town Council | 45 Comments »

Are You a Writer Looking For a Forum?

Posted by auroracitizen on March 30, 2012

It has been some time since we published at the AURORA CITIZEN — but maybe it’s time to get back online.

We were surprised to discover that the site is still averaging 40 – 50 visits each day in spite of the fact that there hasn’t been a new post since Nov 8, 2011. We’d like to think that’s because people in Aurora are looking for an outlet to discuss issues of importance in their community and feel that this blog is a good platform for that discussion.

We will be inviting all Councillors to participate, but we also wanted to extend a general invitation to any stakeholder who might like to contribute.

Do you have a favourite topic that you feel passionate about? Would you like to contribute to the discussion? Please send us an email info@auroracitizen.ca if you would be interested in becoming a contributor to this blog.

We are open to all points of view that contribute to a respectful discussion about the happenings here in Aurora.

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input | 6 Comments »

Blogger Tracks Our Story

Posted by auroracitizen on October 24, 2011

Christopher di Armani likes to share his opinions online.

He recently offered his thoughts on the lawsuit here in Aurora. You might find his comments interesting.

One that seemed to  particularly summarized his position was;

She was a public official about whom the public has every right to comment.  Discussing how competently or incompetently she does her job is precisely the sort of thing that Freedom of Speech is for.  Public officials have no right NOT to be talked about.

We agree. As long as the comments are focused on performance of the duties that they were elected to execute, citizens have every right to comment. The good, the bad — and for some — the ugly.

You can read his entire post here.

http://christopherdiarmani.com/3938/freedom-of-speech/aurora-mayor-phyllis-morris-finally-drops-6-milliion-lawsuit-bloggers/

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Leadership, Legal, Media, Politics | 1 Comment »

Morris Launches New Website

Posted by auroracitizen on October 19, 2011

For those wondering what the statement to be released by Phyllis Morris will have to say — check out here.

Is a re-entry into politics in the wind?

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Politics | 10 Comments »

Get Into The Spirits In Aurora

Posted by auroracitizen on May 9, 2011

On Sunday May 29 at 7 pm David Heard will be hosting an incredible and historic episode about our great little Town.

The Aurora Spirit Walk will take you on a journey into Auroras past and share some creepy tales. Then everyone will head to the Filly and Firkin for food, drink and a live presentation and some essence of a silent movie (musically).

There you will watch the world premiere of a special episode of the highly popular TV Show “Rescue Mediums”. An episode that was filmed at the Firkin Pub in Aurora will be enjoyed for the first time by the good folks of Aurora about a month before the rest of the world.

Now that is history….. and the episode has historical significance.

Tickets are $20.00 (advance sales) and 100% goes to The Heart and Stroke and Crohns and Colitis Foundation.

You can purchase tickets from the Filly and Firkin Aurora or call 905 717 6647 for delivery arrangements.

Aurora has great spirit ….you will feel it on May 29.

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input | 1 Comment »

AuroraCitizen Continues Growth — Hits 7500 Comments

Posted by auroracitizen on April 26, 2011

On Sept 9, 2010, we celebrated our 300th posting on the Aurora Citizen. At that time we have surpassed 4,700 comments and believed our total visits to be around 250,000.

To commemorate this milestone we published the following post

This is officially our 300th post. We have also surpassed 4,700 comments.

We’ve had in excess of 150,000 visits since moving to the new WordPress platform in October 2009, which together with the almost 100,000 visits on the original site, means we have had almost 250,000 visitors since we started in August 2008.

We’ve been threatened twice by the town lawyers, yet here we are, still offering citizens of this great town the opportunity to provide commentary on what is happening in their community.

Councillor MacEachern asked for more balanced commentary, so we offered both her and Mayor Morris the opportunity to contribute. So far nothing — at least nothing that they have added their name to 🙂

We’ve been blitzed by supporters from both sides of issues and have used our best judgement to encourage dialogue versus diatribe.

We have numerous people regularly writing articles for the blog — some like Richard Johnson publish under their own names, others, desiring anonymity, offer their opinions for debate under the Aurora Citizen banner.

We also have a number of volunteers share the role of moderator duties to ensure that the comments — while somewhat direct and pointed — do not degenerate into diatribe, allegations and foul language.

This forum has become a platform for communicating with fellow Aurora Citizens. It has far surpassed expectations. We are glad to be part of the discussion and look forward to contributing long into the future.

We thought it appropriate to celebrate another milestone.

On April 26 at 3:22 pm, on the post Majority vs. Minority, the Aurora Citizen surpassed 7,500 comments on the website, which reflects a diverse and vocal group of readers. We thank you for your participation.

We have also published 430 posts — received from a variety of sources — and we have welcomed 400,000 visitors since Oct 2009, which together with over 100,000 visitors on the original platform tops out at over 500,000 visitors since we launched in August 2008.

Who would have thought.

Additionally, the former Mayor has sued us, together with a number of named citizens and unnamed commentors.

As a result of this lawsuit, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has intervened on behalf of all participants in online forums to protect their anonymity.

The new Council has declared they do not feel that the AuroraCitizen is a threat to the town of Aurora and has discontinued its support of the lawsuit. Further, the Town is amending their procedures to prevent future politicians from attacking citizens without transparency of their actions.

We thank you all for your unwavering support.

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input | 4 Comments »

Sesto Continues to Seek Answers

Posted by auroracitizen on April 26, 2011

April 23, 2011

To: The Auroran & the Aurora Citizen (www.auroracitizen.ca)

Re: Conflict of Interest and Phyllis Morris v. Johnson et al.

Furthermore to my letter earlier this month, entitled “Please help me understand how litigation against three Aurora citizens was approved”, I would like to add the following information in regards to the defamation action of Phyllis Morris v. Johnson et al.

I reference the Ontario Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. (R.S.0. 1990, Chapter M.50) found at http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90m50_e.htm .

The Act helps control the actions of our elected officials who hold the public trust. Its main purpose is to prevent them from benefiting financially from a decision in which they were involved in the process. The Act generally states that if there is a matter that comes before Council that would touch on a member of Council’s direct or indirect pecuniary (of or related to money) interest then it is the duty of that member not to participate in the decision-making process for that matter and to declare this conflict of interest.

I would draw your attention to the following sections taken from the above online reference:

Duty of Member

When present at meeting at which matter considered

5.  (1)  Where a member, either on his or her own behalf or while acting for, by, with or through another, has any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any matter and is present at a meeting of the council or local board at which the matter is the subject of consideration, the member,

(a) shall, prior to any consideration of the matter at the meeting, disclose the interest and the general nature thereof;

(b) shall not take part in the discussion of, or vote on any question in respect of the matter; and

(c) shall not attempt in any way whether before, during or after the meeting to influence the voting on any such question. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 5 (1).

Where member to leave closed meeting

(2)  Where the meeting referred to in subsection (1) is not open to the public, in addition to complying with the requirements of that subsection, the member shall forthwith leave the meeting or the part of the meeting during which the matter is under consideration. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 5 (2).

Record of Disclosure

Disclosure to be recorded in minutes

6.  (1)  Every declaration of interest and the general nature thereof made under section 5 shall, where the meeting is open to the public, be recorded in the minutes of the meeting by the clerk of the municipality or secretary of the committee or local board, as the case may be. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 6 (1).

Idem

(2)  Every declaration of interest made under section 5, but not the general nature of that interest, shall, where the meeting is not open to the public, be recorded in the minutes of the next meeting that is open to the public. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 6 (2).

As referenced by the minutes of the Aurora Town Council meeting of September 14, 2010, then Mayor Morris participated in the closed session portion of the meeting that subsequently resulted in the motion “THAT the Town Solicitor be directed to retain external legal counsel and to take any and all actions to bring resolution to this matter”. She participated in the closed meeting but did not vote on this motion as she left once coming out of closed portion of the evening. It is this motion that eventually led to the litigation against Johnson et al.

The first agenda item of a Council Meeting is the “Declarations of Pecuniary Interest”. For the September 14 meeting Councillor Collins-Mrakas had a declaration on another matter but there were no other declarations in the minutes.

I will allow the reader to formulate their own perspective, but from one side it could be interpreted that ex-Mayor Morris may have violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. She may have done so by not declaring a conflict of interest and through her subsequent participation in the closed session meeting concerning the Town’s direction that lead to the litigation against Johnson et al. In this litigation she would be the sole beneficiary and not the Town. She could be seen as having a pecuniary interest and that she failed to declare a conflict of interest.

As taken from George Rust-D’Eye’s Executive Summary: “The retainer letter signed by the Mayor and the Town on October 6, 2010 leads to the conclusion that both are jointly and severally liable for paying the legal expenses incurred for the defamation action.”

Even if for argument’s sake Ms. Morris sought $0 damages, the fact that the Town was liable for expenses in her legal matters could possibly still show pecuniary interest as there could be either a reduced or no out of pocket expense for her in proceeding with this private action. It is noted that although this action started with the plaintiff as Mayor Phyllis Morris it was later changed to a plaintiff of Phyllis Morris to express that it was a personal matter and not one for the Town of Aurora. Also please note that the Town as per its March 29, 2011 council meeting minutes passed the motion to “pay the legal accounts of Aird & Berlis LLP for the services up to and including December 15, 2010 and for additional outside counsel, Paterson MacDougall for services rendered up until December 21, 2010.”

I note from Mr. Rust-D’Eye’s Executive Summary: “at the same time, Phyllis Morris appeared to have a pecuniary interest in the matter under consideration by the Council, in view of the fact that the debate involved a proposal that the Town provide or pay for legal services for her defamation action against third parties, at that time without any undertaking on her part to repay the Town, whether she was successful or not – the Town appeared to assume the entire financial risk, with the Mayor standing to obtain a personal benefit from success in the proceedings”.

For some it may be thought that her participation in the closed session meeting and the failure to declare a conflict of interest was perhaps committed through any oversight or by reason of an error in judgement. But for others they may ask whether this would be the mistake of a politician with numerous years of experience. As taken from her own website (www.phyllismorris.net) Phyllis Morris had 6 years as a Councillor, 3 years as Deputy Mayor and 4 years as the Mayor with this incident occurring at the end of her mayoral term. Sampling a review of council meeting minutes in recent years, councillors and the mayor for a variety of reasons express a conflict of interest at the start of the meeting. Ms. Morris had in the past (Town of Aurora, Council Meeting Minutes No. 08-22, Tuesday August 12, 2008) declared a conflict on a particular matter. But with this incident at the September 14th meeting she did not declare a conflict of interest nor did she do so at any subsequent meeting in regards to her attendance to the closed session meeting that started the action against Johnson et al.

I allow the reader to interpret the information to their own accord and I stand open to correction on any of the information that I have presented.

Paul Sesto

(289) 221-1450

Posted in Code of Ethics, Community Corner, Community Input, Guest Post, Legal, Politics | 1 Comment »

Yvonne Mackie: Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party Candidate, Newmarket – Aurora

Posted by auroracitizen on April 21, 2011

We have established this post to allow readers to ask Yvonne questions directly — it will be up to Yvonne whether to take the opportunity to respond.

Her website is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Alliance_Environment_Voters_Party_of_Canada

Moderators will review the questions to ensure they are really questions and not simply an attempt to promote another candidate/party in the guise of a question. Anonymous comments will face a higher standard 🙂

Posted in Community Input, Politics | 5 Comments »

Dorian Baxter: Progressive Canadian Party Candidate, Newmarket – Aurora

Posted by auroracitizen on April 21, 2011

We have established this post to allow readers to ask Dorian questions directly — it will be up to Dorian whether to take the opportunity to respond.

His website is: http://www.dorianbaxter.ca/dorian3

Moderators will review the questions to ensure they are really questions and not simply an attempt to promote another candidate/party in the guise of a question. Anonymous comments will face a higher standard 🙂

Posted in Community Input, Politics | 4 Comments »