Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Guest Opinion: Will Nigel Kean Put Community Ahead of Personal Ambition?

Posted by auroracitizen on August 22, 2010

Nigel Kean is the reason we have had the worst municipal government in Aurora’s history.

Phyllis Morris was the ‘winner’ of the 2006 mayoralty race — with less than 50% of votes — due to the candidacy of Nigel Kean and the vote splitting that ultimately defeated Tim Jones.

Nigel Kean was an adequate member of Council, but certainly not an outstanding one.

Now, again, in 2010, Nigel Kean is setting up to play the role of spoiler between incumbent Phyllis Morris and front-runner Geoff Dawe.

Nigel, if you had any sense of public duty, both to yourself and to Aurora and its citizens, you would withdraw from the mayoralty contest and run for Council instead. There is still lots of time, until September 10.

You will never make mayor, but you could turn out to be a great member of Council.

It takes a big person to accept one’s limitations. It takes an even bigger person to temper one’s personal ambitions in the best interest of the greater good of the community.

Please do the right thing; end your mayoralty bid and lead a new and rejuvenated group of people seeking council membership, as senior councillor. Lead the way to a general house cleaning and a new beginning.

You would earn the grateful thanks of your community. 

Augustinius

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Election 2010, Guest Post, Leadership | 35 Comments »

Role of the Moderator

Posted by auroracitizen on July 29, 2010

We received a comment from Anonymous for a Reason in the post When Is It Campaigning — and When Isn’t It? on 7/28/10 that commented “I’d welcome some guest moderation from Elizabeth Bishendon again, but I guess now that she has thrown her hat in Geoffrey Dawe’s camp she is off-limits for the duration of the election campaign. Who else would be a good guest moderator?”

It might be beneficial to remind readers that the role of the moderator is simply to review comments to ensure they are not spam and don’t contain foul language or unproven allegations.

Since the blog was started we have received over 4200 comments and probably less than 20 comments have been rejected in that time. Those either because of language or allegations that were unproven. We even publish those that start “While I’ll be surprised if this even gets posted, here’s my two cents…..” 🙂

We have never censored comments based on opinions. If you review some of the comments you should see that to be true. We have even specifically invited Phyllis to respond directly to the comments verses have the town lawyer send threatening letters.

The real direction of the blog is driven by the posts and the resulting comments.

We would encourage anyone to submit a post for publication — something a number of folks have done by sending an email to the moderator email address or even as a comment with instructions that it should be as a post. We then simply copy and paste the email unchanged as a post and you can determine whether to have it under your name or a pseudonym.

An example was the recent post about the ban on tanning which was originally suggested by Robert The Bruce as a comment 7/26/10 on the post More of the Same From Mayor Morris and Sher St. Kitts or Why No Evening or Weekends Trains for GO Transit. You can also see the number of community posts by clicking on the categories “Guest Post” or Community Input” in the right hand column.

So, for example, Fred if you would send along a post about the industrial plants with a little bit of information — we would be pleased to publish. Or any other topic for that matter.

Also if you have any additional ideas for questions for the candidates — send those along and we will prepare a list and pass them along.

This is intended to be community driven. Please take advantage of the opportunity.

Posted in Community Input, Guest Post | 31 Comments »

Guest Post: Further Info on $500,000 Trail Addition Requested

Posted by auroracitizen on June 19, 2010

I do a lot of hiking on a weekly basis in town & in Newmarket and thoroughly enjoy Sheppard’s Bush and the Nokiidaa Trail north of Green Lane in Newmarket.

I just read the article at yorkregion.com, Trail link project set to start this winter ( http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/835366–trail-link-project-set-to-start-this-winter )

At the General Committee meeting Aurora Council  approved going ahead with linking the Nokiidaa trail in Aurora to Newmarket section, but would still need final approval. I have followed bits & pieces of this topic from various sources but don’t have the whole picture. I do see that this does not include the “other planned enhancements, such as turtle ponds and snake hibernacula” and the project is going to cost $500,000 (1/2 million) and that’s without the already spent consultant’s fees, etc.

Fair enough, you don’t get anything for free and I’m all for trails since I am a user, but I on these trails, weekday evenings, mornings and weekend mornings and I don’t see heavy use. You pass by a few hikers, runners, a couple of families sometimes.

Yes, trails are great, but here’s the kicker $500,000 and its less than ½ kilometer of trail. Less than 500 metres ( 283 metres of trail and 185 metres of board walk – so it’s an average of $1,000 per metre.

There’s already a great boardwalk already there on St. John’s Sideroad, why is another boardwalk needed at that cost? I hope they plan on putting parking in somewhere there because I have always seen that area to hike as a problem since you have to park down on Industrial Drive at the dog park or further south at the Leisure complex.

Anyone have a quick summary as to what they are getting at $1,000/metre?

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Environment, Guest Post, Recreation | 5 Comments »

OPINION: Preston Manning says you can’t legislate integrity

Posted by auroracitizen on April 28, 2010

You can legislate ethics, but there’s no substitute for integrity

Preston Manning

Globe and Mail – Tuesday, Apr. 27, 2010

Canadians’ confidence in politicians, already at a low ebb, has declined even further in recent weeks as a result of several well-publicized “ethical lapses” by prominent people of all political stripes.

In Nova Scotia, the governing New Democrats have been fined for election financing abuses and elected members from various parties have been implicated in an expense account scandal. In British Columbia, a third consecutive Liberal solicitor-general – the elected official responsible for law enforcement – has been obliged to resign from cabinet over alleged improprieties. And, of course, in Ottawa, there are the ongoing investigations into the activities of former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer and former cabinet minister Helena Guergis.

How do we ensure ethical behaviour by people in positions of public trust and restore confidence in our political system?

In recent years, the tendency has been to address this challenge by adopting formal ethics codes, appointing ethics commissioners and passing legislation to more strictly regulate campaign financing, lobbying and post-government employment. While these efforts are well intended, it is surely even more important for constituency associations, nominating committees, political parties and voters to pay much more attention to the character and ethics of prospective officeholders before they are ever given public responsibilities in the first place.

The importance of having people of integrity in the right places at the right time can be illustrated by an example rooted in the early days of Alberta’s oil boom.

When oil was discovered at Leduc, Alta., in 1947, there was a very real danger that the provincial government of the day and its political wing, the Alberta Social Credit League, might be corrupted by the sudden influx of “oil money” and the intense jockeying for drilling rights. This was precisely what had happened to governments and governing parties in several American states, such as Texas, when oil was first discovered there. Even at the national level, the administration of U.S. president Warren Harding had been seriously discredited by a scandal involving oil money and drilling rights (the so-called Teapot Dome affair).

Conscious of this danger, Alberta’s premier (my father, Ernest Manning) sought to inoculate his administration by regularly communicating a short but pointed message to his elected members and senior officials: “Those of us who make and administer the laws must keep the laws, or we lose our moral authority to govern.” Several officials of the attorney-general’s department were specifically tasked with watching for any hint of deviation from this rule.

But enunciating ethical principles and establishing watchdog mechanisms are still no substitute for personal integrity on the part of those in key positions of authority and responsibility. As the oil prospectors, many of them from American oil-producing states, streamed into Edmonton, most had only two questions: Where is Leduc? And who do we pay?

Fortunately for Alberta, two individuals with integrity, one a civil servant and the other a political organizer, happened to be in the right place at the right time to give the right answers.

The civil servant was Hubert Somerville, an official in the Department of Mines and Minerals with responsibilities for petroleum at the time of the Leduc discovery. The political organizer was Orvis Kennedy, president of the Alberta Social Credit League, whose responsibilities included political fundraising.

Both, when asked “Who do we pay?” had the same answer. “If you ever offer me or any of my people a payment such as you are suggesting, I will guarantee you one thing: Neither you nor your company will ever get drilling rights in the province of Alberta.”

Of course, this answer was quite acceptable to the oil men. They simply wanted to know the rules, and if one of the rules was no special payments to civil servants, politicians or political parties, so much the better – it lowered their costs of doing business.

As for Somerville and Kennedy, both men could have profited handsomely from an “arrangement” with their oil-patch suitors, but neither chose to do so. The ultimate cost to Alberta would have been in the millions, plus all the grief and turmoil that political corruption invariably brings in its wake.

Somerville, whose starting salary with the Alberta government was $700 a year, later rose to become deputy minister of the department and eventually retired with a modest public service pension. Kennedy, whose salary as a political organizer was even lower than Somerville’s, eventually retired with no pension at all. So what was it that made them give the answer they did? In both cases, it was their personal character and integrity, derived in Somerville’s case from his professionalism as a civil servant, and in Kennedy’s case from his religious convictions, reinforced by their commitment to the first principle of the rule of law – that those who make and administer the laws must keep the laws.

Codes of ethics, ethics commissioners, regulations and accountability legislation may have their place in endeavouring to raise the ethical tone of governments and politicians. But if the aim is corruption-free politics and government, there is still no substitute for character, personal integrity and adherence to that first principle.

Preston Manning is president and CEO of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy.

Posted in Code of Ethics, Guest Post, Integrity, Leadership, Media | 2 Comments »

Sisman Shoes & The T. Sisman Shoe Co. Ltd.

Posted by auroracitizen on April 5, 2010

Hello!

I’m looking for any Sisman memorabilia that Auroran’s may have, to add to my collection. Old ads, paperwork, shoes, boxes, info, stories, etc. I’m happy to pick up in the area. Please email me – I’m especially interested in stories from people who worked for Sisman’s.

I know that not everyone in Aurora is online, so I’ve placed an ad in the paper too.

Thanks!

Heather Sisman

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Guest Post | 20 Comments »

Guest Post: LED Streetlights on Murray Drive

Posted by auroracitizen on March 30, 2010

A reader writes:

I recently read that the town is looking for feedback on the pilot project of LED streetlights.  The lights are currently are on Murray Drive.

Please have a look, make a comment and do provide feedback to the Town even if it is to tell them to NOT do anything more until their time (this Mayor and Council) has run out!

Sadly there will be more stuff, so let us not leave anything to this current team to decide for us.

Thanks

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Guest Post, Traffic/Parking | 8 Comments »

Guest Post: Fairy Tales By Phyllis Morris

Posted by auroracitizen on March 26, 2010

The following comments are taken verbatim from Phyllis Morris’s acceptance speech almost four years ago. She suggests contacting her about these issues. I’d suggest anywhere but at Shoppers Drug Mart but I digress. If you do see her out of her fortress sometime ask her about these promises, especially the ones about belief in a diversity of point of view, looking after our finances and transparency and accountability. 

Perhaps you’ve heard the joke about the little girl who asks: “Mother? Do all Fairy Tales begin with ‘Once Upon A Time’?” Her mother replies. “No darling, there’s another series of Fairy Tales that begin: ‘IF ELECTED I promise’.”

 

Well this promise is not a fairy tale – I will work with Council and Town Staff to make our municipal government more open, more transparent, more accountable and more inclusive.

 

I believe an effective team requires players with a diversity of strengths and points of view.

 

While I will not micro-manage The Town’s administration, council members, including myself, must be kept fully informed, so that little problems don’t become big ones.

 

Together We can foster an open and accountable government, where leadership is impartial and allows ideas to be discussed, where teamwork is valued

 

To that end, together we must insist on greater representation on York Region Council,

 

Have we looked after our finances, balancing taxes against public expectations of services?

 

My door is open. You have my phone number – please feel free to stop me in the street, call me, or e-mail me.

Not sure if the fairy tale should be called Phyllis in Wonderland or Six Bad Wolves.

 

Thanks Will Be Given Come October 

Posted in Community Input, Election 2010, Guest Post, Integrity, Leadership, Town Council | 79 Comments »

Guest Opinion: Aurora Is Worse Off Today Than When Phyllis Morris Became Mayor?

Posted by auroracitizen on March 7, 2010

Some might say Phyllis Morris and Evelina MacEachern are liars and hypocrites. Apparently obsessed with their manic egos, they have held Aurora’s Council hostage to their deranged approach to government. The vaunted Transparency and/or Accountability that were promised in their respective campaigns for office in the 2006 Municipal Elections were a complete fraud.

They co-opted four of the stupidest possible councillors to act as their surrogates in following along blindly the path laid out for them.

It appears that Morris and MacEachern embarked upon a mission to destroy the very Transparency and Accountability that marked their election campaigns. Instead we have a repugnant Code of Conduct for Council and an unnecessary Integrity Commissioner.

When the Code of Conduct faltered, the Integrity Commissioner reported on the charges laid by six members of Council against Evelyn Buck, to the effect that they had no merit and were politically motivated. His reward was his unceremonious firing.

The town recently entered into a contract with a new Integrity Commissioner, a former politician now practicing law. It is doubtful that this replacement has anywhere near the academic and professional qualifications of our first Integrity Commissioner. And up to $60,000 is allocated for this activity. Time and events will tell.

Seemingly, Morris is personally responsible for the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars, many completely wasted, in hiring a substantially larger bureaucratic staff, renaming and restructuring senior executive staff titles, positions and responsibilities. Has this streamlined our local government? No. On the contrary it has created a larger body of personnel whose sole task appears to be to do her bidding.

It is likely that all of these changes have led to staff concerns; many reports comment about the fear of staff for their jobs. It is inconceivable that the town’s employees are at a higher level of morale than they were when the Morris-MacEachern juggernaut first rolled into town. If staff morale is negatively affected it follows that the level and efficiency of their work will suffer significantly, and consequently impact upon Aurora’s residents.

Our town doles out hundreds of thousands of dollars of public purse dollars to various non-elected Committees; The Historical Society, the Arboretum, the July 1st Parade, the Farmers’ Market. These groups do what they wish with the town’s ‘generosity.’ They spend the money with no accountability to anyone. This is not the way to run a government whose promised objective was Transparency and Accountability. If a public company operated this way it would be subject to the scrutiny of the OSC in Ontario, to the SEC in the U.S., and possible prosecution by each.

Many residents feel that vast amounts of taxpayer dollars have been spent stupidly, whether in financing losing and futile OMB appeals or in needless internal investigations supported by a claque of lawyers whose sole interest is running up their legal fees. Many residents are of the opinion that these parasites care not for what is right or in the best interests of the town. And the bills are approaching $750,000, if not more.

Why do we set aside money every year to buy recreational land when it already exists? Instead we are selling off much of Aurora’s public lands, adding the proceeds to the millions of dollars already in the town’s “savings” account.

We will be cash rich and land poor and the land that we will eventually have to purchase will be twice or more as expensive as that of four or five years ago when we already had a huge cash balance in the bank.

It is felt by many that a request should to be sent to the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to conduct a forensic audit of the books of the Town of Aurora in order to identify those areas where public money has been gratuitously squandered with no possible benefit to the town and its residents.

A similar audit should probably also be undertaken to determine just how political decision-making in Aurora occurs. Are decisions made by members of Council or by hired lawyers?

To Morris and MacEachern a Code of Conduct appears to be a license to abuse.

AUGUSTINIUS

Posted in Code of Ethics, Community Input, Guest Post, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Staff Turnover, Town Council | 4 Comments »

Leadership By The Numbers

Posted by auroracitizen on February 4, 2010

Council Watch #4 – by Richard Johnson

Mayor Morris is paid $50,000 (plus) to attend Regional Council so let’s take a look at her attendance record:

  • Regional Council:  attended 7 out of 11 meetings (64%)
  • Finance and planning:  attended 3 out of 4 meetings (75 %)
  • Planning and Economic development:  5 meetings out of 9 (55%)  keeping in mind that 2009 was the year of Economic Development !

Out a possible 24 meetings, Phyllis attended only 15 or 62%…

In the case of the Hydro Task Force that met on a weekly to bi-weekly basis for approximately 18 months I would venture a guess that Phyllis attended under 10% of the meetings and even the special meeting that was called largely to benefit her understanding of the issues as well as to better understand her take on the situation, she showed up an hour late to an hour and a half meeting and proceeded to demonstrate an extremely poor grasp of not only the history of the issue but the identified need as well as the viable alternatives.

Then we note that in the past three years only a single motion was put forward by the Mayor at Aurora Council while Councillor MacEachern put forward 50 motions and got but one of them passed with the support of her voting block.

Numbers do have a way of painting a picture.

Posted in Council Watch-Richard Johnson, Guest Post, Leadership, Special Meetings | 20 Comments »

Guest Post: Haitian Relief

Posted by auroracitizen on January 30, 2010

I wanted to bring attention to Auroran, Shane Eickmann, and his deployment about 1 week ago to Haiti to assist in relief efforts.
 
Some of you may know Shane as he worked in the Aquatics  section at the Leisure Complex for many years. Shane recently graduated from Niagara College as a Paramedic and in now working in that capacity in the Niagara Region. He is also a Rapid Response Team member for a Canadian based organization called Global Medic.  Global Medic provides emergency relief to those affected by natural disasters and complex emergencies. In Shane’s words, “we empower the emergency response capacity of organizations and communities in the developing world by providing technological equipment and training.”
 
Global Medic strives to deliver the maximum amount of aid with the minimum operating cost. They seek to increase the independence of communities in the developing world, while ultimately improving the efficiency of international disaster relief.
 
Shane went on to say, “currently we have a team of 6 in Haiti that have been there since January 12th.  The team has focused on restoring access to clean drinking water through the provision of water purification units, as well as restoring medical infrastructure through the use of a 22ft X 42ft inflatable field hospital. RRT members will train local aid groups on the installation, operation and maintenance of all gear so that it may be operational as long as needed.   The team that has been there for the past 2 weeks is now coming out and another 6 team members will be going in to the disaster area.”
 
For updates on what the team has done in Haiti please visit the website and click on the Haiti mission: www.globalmedic.ca 
 
As we reflect on the crisis in Haiti, let us be thankful for our safe environment and let us be especially thankful that the Shane Eickmann’s of the world step up to help out.
 
Geoffrey Dawe
Aurora

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Guest Post | 6 Comments »