Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category


Posted by auroracitizen on May 12, 2013

The final outcome of the Phyllis Morris SLAPP Lawsuit — which Councillor Ballard, Gaertner and Gallo still seem to be trying to pretend didn’t actually happen.

Here is the letter that was sent by the Town to follow up the published apology in the newspaper.

Town Apology Letter

Here is a link to the newspaper ad; Apology ad_7_7

Posted in Election 2010, Leadership, Legal, Politics | 6 Comments »

Morris Conflict of Interest Case Continues

Posted by auroracitizen on November 3, 2012

Here is an update on Phyllis Morris’s Legacy as Mayor of Aurora.

Last Friday November 2, 1012, at a few minutes before 11:00 am, the door to Court Room 301 at the Newmarket Courthouse was opened by the Bailiff and those who would attend do so and stake out their seats. The room is far more intimate than the one used for the first day of hearings and Phyllis Morris — together with her die-hard supporters — elects the right hand side where there are more chairs. Among her group were her spouse, her daughter, Catherine Marshall, Guy Poppe, an unidentified woman, and lo and behold sitting Councillors Gaertner and Ballard.

With Gaertner, her appearance is to be expected. She has been an unwavering supporter and blindly followed Morris in all things done.

But what is striking is that Ballard would waste a whole day sitting at the feet of a failed politician and unequivocally declaring his support. After his steadfast refusal to declare his support at the last election — which probably served him well — he has now consistently declared his support for Morris and her failed leadership.

Jill Copeland, lawyer for George Hervey, raised the first order of business. She holds up a document and describes it as the decision handed down on October 22, 2012, by Master Thomas Hawkins, arising from a claim for costs filed by the remaining two defendants in the original defamation suit. Ms. Copeland points out the important conclusion reached by Master Hawkins, namely that the defamation action was in fact SLAPP litigation, whose sole purpose was to intimidate and silence certain critics of the former mayor and in which she was the sole beneficiary of the $6,000,000 sought. She felt it was relevant to this matter as well.

Steven O’Melia, representing Morris, objected quite strongly about allowing this document to be entered as evidence.

Judge Gilmore sided with Ms. Copeland.

The day then began with Mr. O’Melia continuing with his drudging litany of misbehavior by Mr. Hervey.

Mr O’melia quoted extensively from Mr. Hervey’s sworn testimony and from letters to the Editor of the Auroran written by Mr. Hervey. He found it somewhat confusing that Mr. Hervey used the date of March 30, 2011, when the Rust-D’Eye Executive Summary was released by the town, as the date that Mr. Hervey knew for a fact that there had been breaches of a pecuniary nature and hence a conflict — while at the same time disagreeing with other parts of the same document, particularly those that opined that the entire operation of the town was breaking down due to poor staff morale.

In other words he didn’t argue that Morris was not in a conflict — but that the case should not be heard because private citizen Hervey was too late in bringing the matter forward to the courts. In legal circles, this is trying to avoid a judges ruling on the basis of a legal loophole — versus arguing the matter on the basis of whether she was actually in a conflict. An interesting strategy.

After lunch,  Mr. O’Melia continued with his arguments — although now, Mr Poppe is replaced by another long time supporter of Ms Morris — former Councillor Stephen Granger. O’Melia concluded at 3:00 pm. A total of 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Ms. Copeland took the floor and told the judge that she had 13 points that she wished to make. These were all by way of specific reply to arguments put forward by Mr. O’Melia and were in now a summation statement. Ms. Copeland’s presentation was completed with a certain amount of controlled emotion; it reinvigorated the Courtroom  and it certainly held the Judge’s undivided attention.

The matter concluded at 3:30 PM, the Judge thanked Counsel and said she would get at the case as soon as she could, although she had a substantial backlog.

This could be several months.

Posted in Code of Ethics, Conflict of Interest, Integrity, Leadership, Legal | 33 Comments »

Judge Rules Morris Tried to Silence Her Critics–Ordered to pay $21,000 in Costs for SLAPP Litigation

Posted by auroracitizen on October 22, 2012

Oct 22, 2012 — 2 years after former Aurora Mayor Phyllis Morris sued 3 citizens for defamation — Judge Hawkins issued a judgement against the former Mayor finding that her action was indeed SLAPP litigation (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation).

With this judgement Hawkins also delivered a precedent setting ruling concerning SLAPP litigation by awarding the defendants special enhanced costs as a result of the SLAPP finding.

Judge Hawkins stated Mayor Morris wanted to hit quickly and hard in order to silence her critics sooner rather than later in the weeks leading up to the October 25, 2010 municipal election.

He ruled that in practical terms, the resolution from the town had authorized Morris to commence an action with the town paying her legal fees.

The full decision can be read online. Hawkins decision SLAPP

So we know what Morris is responsible for — but it also begs the question, what responsibility is shared by Councillors MacEachern, Gallo, Gaertner, Granger and Wilson? They voted in favour of this legal action in 2010. They sat in the closed-door meeting where this plot was hatched. They voted in public to fund this lawsuit against private citizens for daring to disagree with their leadership decisions.

Furthermore,  Councillor Ballard joined the team  this term when he — together with Councillors Gallo and Gaertner — voted against Council’s decision to discontinue funding in early 2011. A clear demonstration that even after the public ran Morris out of office with only 20% of the vote — these Councillors still supported her actions.

And where does former Councillor and failed Mayoral candidate Nigel Kean fit in this mess? Well — days after his 3rd failed attempt to become Mayor, during which he campaigned vigorously against Phyllis Morris, he sent an email to Phyllis Morris and Evelina MacEachern providing them with evidence in this matter, stating that he had kept an email from Aug 2008 as he “felt that some day I would need it. The day is now.”

Do these politicians get off scott-free? Do they not share equally in this ruling? Are they without accountability?

Could their collective support for Phyllis Morris be any clearer? Is anyone unclear that they and Morris are cut from the same cloth? Building themselves up by trying to tear others down.

Politics certainly does make strange bedfellows.

At a time when Canadians are increasingly concerned about the impact of bullying behaviours, here in Aurora we have  a judge finding against a politician for using public funds to try to bully citizens into silence — and awarding enhanced costs because of this reprehensible behaviour.

A politician who has consistently been supported in her actions by a wider group of like-minded politicians.

This is a very disturbing situation. Are these the role models we want in our community? We deserve better from all our leaders. Let’s not forget these actions if they ask for our votes again in 2014.

And thank goodness for the people who were prepared to stand up and fight for the rights of all citizens to exercise our right to free speech. It surely cost them  — but we should all be grateful for their steadfast commitment to stand for what is right.

Posted in Code of Ethics, Council Watch-Richard Johnson, Integrity, Leadership, Legal | 61 Comments »

Gaertner Owes Apology to Bulk Barn and Aurorans

Posted by auroracitizen on June 2, 2012

Councillor Gaertner has embarrassed herself — and defamed Aurora’s reputation — with her recent comments about the inadequacy of Bulk Barn as a corporate citizen here in Aurora.

Her desire to wait for something better is also probably the reason she has had such poor success in her quest for a youth centre here in Aurora — her single issue that she has wrapped herself in since she ran all those years ago. Still nothing she can point to as done. Still just a pipe dream.

Gaertner has made a political career standing back and criticizing what others are trying to do — rather than actually working with others to get something accomplished.

Would another organization have brought more job to Aurora? Maybe. But Bulk Bran would be welcome in almost any community — except Geartnerville.

BTW, possibly one of their supporters could point out the names of the companies and number of jobs she and her cronies from the last four-year term got to re-locate in Aurora? None come to mind.

Below is the Era Banners Editorial comments on this issue. Seems like more than ourselves see the folly in her thinking.

Waiting for ‘better’ option makes no sense

ISSUE: Aurora Councillor Wendy Gaertner not impressed with Bulk Barn’s 400-job announcement.

There’s a lot of truth in the old saying, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

As Aurora council approved the site plan for a new corporate head office and distribution centre for Bulk Barn, most councillors applauded the notion of  400 new office and distribution jobs coming to town. But the sentiment wasn’t unanimous.

In fact, Councillor Wendy Gaertner wasn’t impressed at all. “Frankly, I didn’t think it was the best use for these lands,” she said. “We are trying to bring in many well-paying jobs to this community. I would have liked something more like State Farm that brought with it 800 high-paying jobs with benefits.”

It’s great to aim high, but downplaying the impact of the Bulk Barn relocation is ridiculous, especially considering the deal meets the provincial business land mandate of 50 jobs created per hectare of land sold.

“I am glad this fits in with the mandate, but I still don’t think it’s the best use of space,” she said. “If we look at GTA land value, for the most part, it keeps going up, so I would have rather waited.”

That amounts to a pie-in-the-sky attitude in this day and age. There’s not a person out there who wouldn’t rather have 800 jobs come to town, instead of 400, but there comes a point where waiting for a better deal that might never come is a bad idea. Aurora and area was hit particularly hard when the manufacturing sector dumped jobs in the late 2000s.

The 2009 closure of Magna’s Exterion plants in Aurora and Newmarket alone put 850 people on the unemployment line. That means we’ve already been waiting three years to replace those jobs. That’s long enough.

We know 400 doesn’t equal 800, but people want to work and jobs are jobs, right now. Food bank use continues to rise and queues for subsidized housing grow every day. The Bulk Barn jobs won’t end the need for subsidized housing and they might not even make any difference at the food bank, but they provide hope, which is desperately needed.

BOTTOM LINE: Bulk Barn’s relocation guarantees 400 new jobs during time of need.

Posted in Community Input, Leadership, Local Business, Politics, Town Council | 12 Comments »

Councillor Throws Wet Blanket Over the Barn

Posted by auroracitizen on May 29, 2012

A Reader writes … I read, with delight, in the Banner that Council moved us a step closer to welcoming a major corporation to Aurora.  I would like to offer a warm welcome to Bulk Barn Foods Limited.

This company will add 400 new jobs to Aurora.  It also puts much needed cash into the Town’s hands by purchasing 25 acres of land directly from the Town and by paying commercial property taxes for land that was not generating any revenue as long as the Town owned it and sat on it.

Deputy Mayor Abel is quoted as saying “with all the jobs they bring, I am looking forward with great optimism that we will see several other corporations follow their lead.”  The Town’s Planning Director said the move is “significant”.  This development meets a standard for employment lands, established by the Province, of 50 jobs per hectare.

However, on the flip side, Councillor Gaertner once again shows her complete ignorance in terms of understanding business by making statements such as “Frankly, I didn’t think it was the best use of these lands” – “We are trying to bring in many well-paying jobs”.

This is a corporate head office that supports over 190 retail outlets.  Anyone with any business acumen at all knows that it takes lawyers, accountants, payroll management, professional sales people and marketing professionals, just to name a few positions, in order to successfully run a corporation like Bulk Barn.  They will employ over 300 people in the offices alone.  A quick review of Bulk Barn’s website indicates they are currently looking to hire an Executive Assistant to the CFO, an Accountant, and a Payroll Administrator, among other positions.

Councillor Gaertner, I have news for you – these are professional well-paid positions.   Additionally there will be over 100 positions in the distribution centre.

This is a win, win, win for our Town and the last thing we need is a bitter, out of touch Councillor throwing a wet blanket on it.

Posted in Community Input, Guest Post, Leadership, Local Business, Politics, Town Council | 23 Comments »

Farmers in it up to their ears

Posted by auroracitizen on May 13, 2012

This week saw the genesis of a most bewildering and ill-conceived concept, a Code of Conduct for the Aurora Farmers’ Market.

We in Aurora cannot forget a similarly titled document that was introduced by the former mayor, as part of her “Gold Standard” of democracy and governance. It applied to members of Council and came replete with an Integrity Commissioner.

That gentleman did not last long in his position as he was fired without ceremony when his first decision did not agree with the former’s opinion.

The Aurora Farmers’ Market was created by a municipal By-law passed on April 8, 2003. A copy is attached below for those who wish to read the entire document.

In the By-Law the Town appointed a Market Clerk who effectively administered the market. Lease agreements originally were between the Town on the one hand and the Lessee on the other for operation by the Lessee of a market stall.

At some point the location of the market moved from Temperance Street to its present location in the Town Park.

The Farmers’ Market seems to have acquired a Constitution, exactly when is a matter of some speculation. There was a rumour that former Councillor Granger had drafted one. We don’t know that the copy of the document attached below was his work.

The jam lady, in her capacity as Chair of the Executive Committee of the Aurora Farmers’ Market, has produced a risible bunch of words that purport to be a Code of Conduct for Vendors of the market. Attached below is the only copy we were able to find, and it is with thanks and hopefully the permission of Evelyn Buck.

We will refrain from commenting, other than to say that these words seem to simply demonstrate someone’s heightened sense of ego run berserk.

We would love to have your comments on this latest test of our town’s sanity.

AFM Enabling By-Law 135

AFM Constitution 136

AFM Code of Conduct 137

Posted in Code of Ethics, Community, Community Corner, Community Input, Guest Post, Leadership, Local Business, Politics | 29 Comments »

Is She Really Serious?

Posted by auroracitizen on May 9, 2012

A reader writes … Once again I am baffled by Ms. Gaertner (I refuse to call her Councillor because of the manner in which she treated Mayor Dawe when he first took office – I am sure we all remember it took her a few weeks to stop calling him Mr. Dawe  – and quite frankly I do not believe she deserves that seat she sits in).

Case in point, last night’s council meeting. Now I think  most will agree that they watch those meetings solely for the comedic behaviour that Gaertner, Ballard and Gallo provide but I specifically think  Gaertner  takes the top prize of “class clown” (for many reasons actually).

However, I am not clear on the job descriptions, or the manner in which our councillors get paid so I am looking for someone to provide me clarification, and others opinions on the following point.

Last night there was a discussion regarding a meeting for council that some thought should be open to the public and some thought it should not be. Councillor Gaertner provided her input as to why she thought it should be open to the public but then stated if it were to be a closed session she would NOT be attending (good god this woman is ridiculous)!

Can someone please tell me why if she in employed by the town, to represent our community and its best interests, that she is “allowed” to not attend a work session?  Do the taxpayers not pay her salary?

I know I am not well versed in how our councillors are compensated, but if I told my boss that I was not going to attend a work meeting because I was being a pissy little brat and wasn’t getting my way, I would have my walking papers immediately!!!!  How does she, and where does she get the nerve to not participate in something that is part of her job???

Confusing…… but I am not surprised… Can someone please help me understand this?

Posted in Community Input, Guest Post, Integrity, Leadership, Special Meetings, Town Council | 7 Comments »

When Will We Get A Cultural Centre Update?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 27, 2012

At a Special Council meeting on April 5, 2012, Section 5.1, among others, of the Terms of Reference, was amended to replace two members of Council with two members of Town staff, plus one alternate.

The apparent reason for this amendment is that insofar as the Negotiating Working Group will be meeting in secret, members of Council could not participate. A secret, or closed session that involves elected representatives is only permitted under the Municipal Act in very limited circumstances; the Negotiating Working Group does not qualify.

The above having been said, we are now almost three weeks after the above referenced Special Council meeting. Has there been any public announcement from the Town advising which two members of staff, plus one alternate, have been named to the Group?

Is the composition of the Group just as secret as its deliberations? This does not appear to be typical of our democracy at work.

The Group is only dealing with approximately $500,000 per year of taxpayer money. Is this not a large enough sum to warrant some limited public disclosure?

Has anyone heard any updates?

Posted in Community Corner, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Politics, Town Council | 24 Comments »

The Dirty Side of Politics

Posted by auroracitizen on April 21, 2012

Aurora saw the dirty side of Aurora politics poke its head out of its hole again recently. We had hoped that brand of politics had been run out-of-town last election — but alas it continues.

Recently Mayor Dawe made an intemperate remark during a confrontation initiated by Councillor Ballard. Councillor Ballard was making veiled allegations that Mayor Dawe had strong-armed the Aurora Cultural Centre into concessions that Councillor Ballard disagreed with — and Mayor Dawe responded “I have also stopped beating my wife”. Details can be seen in the April 17 issue of The Auroran – page 6.

No doubt — the comment was inappropriate and Mayor Dawe should apologize.

However, what was of equal concern was the additional fall-out of this remark.

In the April 12 issue of The Banner, a Letter to the Editor was published from Evelina MacEachern, former Councillor and recently defeated candidate and vocal supporter of defeated Mayor Phyllis Morris. It was published as an open letter to Mayor Dawe. In the letter, Ms MacEachern takes the Mayor to task for his comments. Was it genuine concern or political opportunism?

It is indeed a strange day when Ms MacEachern can take the high ground regarding language when knowledgeable Council watchers know she drop F-bombs in town hall on a regular basis during her terms as a Councillor. Her language and bullying behaviour was one of the contributing factors to the resignation by former Councillor Grace Marsh and is potentially part of the matters before the courts in the Councillor Buck abuse of power lawsuit against 6 members of last Council.

Knowledgeable Council watchers also know she was the real brains behind much of the political manoeuvring by defeated Mayor Phyllis Morris last term.

So it came as no surprise that her letter was followed up with an email blast — also on April 12 — by defeated Mayor Phyllis Morris which applauded Ms MacEachern for her letter and then tried to align herself with the yellow brick house and the white ribbon campaign. You can see it on Councillors Buck’s blog. Again, was it genuine concern or political opportunism?

Between these 2 people, they caused more pain and suffering by staff and people in our community than possibly any 2 politicians in the history of Aurora. Yet here they are trying to take the moral high ground on this issue.

Then to further demonstrate how dirty politics is in this town, former Councillor, Nigel Kean and also recently defeated mayoralty candidate jumped on their band wagon in the April 17 Auroran adding his own commentary. Surely if these 3 people are all commenting  — it must be genuine concern — not political opportunism?

You may remember the last time these 3 people worked together on anything. It was immediately after the election — where both Morris and Kean were handed stunning defeats — they joined together in Morris’s doomed 6 million dollar lawsuit against 3 Aurora families for comments made anonymously on this blog.

Ballard, MacEachern, Morris and Kean. What a team, selflessly giving to the Town of Aurora with no thought for themselves. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Genuine concern about an inappropriate comment by Mayor Dawe — we think not. If that was really the case, would not a simple email or phone call to express their disappointment have served the ultimate goal of informing Mayor Dawe. Others surely took that option.

No. Instead they choose to try to embarrass and humiliate Mayor Dawe publically. Their standard method of operation.

Political opportunism — you bet!

Jumping on a comment to try to take advantage for political gain and revenge? You simply need to look at the history of the people involved and how they have worked together in the past to accomplish their goals to form your opinion.

We are pretty clear what the intent is. We also believe that while folks in Aurora may have been fooled in 2006 — they weren’t fooled in 2010. And they aren’t fooled now.

Should Mayor Dawe apologize. Absolutely. But he should do it because it is the right thing to do — not because some political opportunists trying to resurrected their failed careers say so. They have no moral basis or credibility to make the case.

Posted in Code of Ethics, Community, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership | 9 Comments »

Jazz Festival Back In The News Again

Posted by auroracitizen on April 13, 2012

It seem Councillors Ballard, Gallo and Gaertner never miss an opportunity to create controversy. They have tried to create a controversy where none should exist.

Council recently declined to wave the user fees for the Town Park — in keeping with the policies that apply to other user groups who use the park.

Seems pretty clear. In fact, it should never have come to Council in the first place. Remember, Council sets policy and then expect staff to execute accordingly. Why wasn’t staff simply allowed to do their job without the controversy?

More on point, why did the jazz festival come before Council in the first place. It’s simple — they expect to be treated differently. Which make sense — since the previous Council provided them with privileges no other group received. And clearly they have vocal support this term who feel they should get special treatment again.

However, not so fast. This Council rightly decided to treat everyone equally. Good for them. That’s leadership, transparency and integrity. What we voted them in to deliver.

But then Ballard and crew started their whining because their friends didn’t get to continue on the gravy train and get access to our tax dollars. And instead of dealing with the policy issues — then have tried to hide behind their cries of the balance of Council being “anti-culture”.

Well boo hoo. You didn’t get what you wanted — so again you start twisting the facts and trying to change the discussion.

First it the Aurora Cultural Centre being an attack on culture versus what it really was — a demand for accountability for our dollars. Now it’s the jazz festival.

This is a privately run organization that claimed to generate $100,000 in revenue. Yet they feel they are entitled to have you and I dip into our pockets and pay part of their expenses even if we would prefer to have that money used for something else. If the event is that successful — fantastic. Run it responsibly and pay your way like every other user group in town. But keep your hands out of our pockets.

And to Councillors who voted to give them the funds — start looking after our money — and stop giving it away to special interest that you deem as worthy. It’s not your money. It’s our money and we want to have a say on how you spend it.

Wonder when Councillor Ballard, Gallo and Gaertner will figure out that there was a reason their mentors were voted out. Auroran’s want transparency around how and where our tax dollars are being spent and no more special privileges for friends. The jazz festival situation has again brought out the underside of Aurora politics.

Posted in Budget, Community Corner, Leadership, Recreation | 17 Comments »