Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Common Sense Returns

Posted by auroracitizen on April 5, 2012

Tonight Council revisited the decisions made in the Aurora Cultural Centre debate and brought some long overdue common sense to the table.

Tonight Council amended their earlier motion to remove politicians from the discussion and now staff will work with the Cultural Centre towards a new agreement — which will then be brought forward to Council for discussion and a decision.

This removes much of the politics from the debate and staff can now look to the Mar report for direction.

Kudos to Councillor Pirri for bringing this motion forward and to most of Council for supporting this motion. Only Councillor Gallo was not in attendance. Of interest was the silliness perpetuated by Councillor Gaertner. See next post for details.

Now let’s look forward to some productive staff-led discussion and a new agreement in place for the start of 2013.

Posted in Community Corner, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Politics, Special Meetings, Town Council | 2 Comments »

Update: Have You Heard the News?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 5, 2012

There is a special meeting tonight (April 5) at 6PM. Because it is a special meeting, it doesn’t require  notice. We have checked the Town website and currently there is nothing indicating a meeting is taking place. Of note, the announcements were updated this morning with a notice of service disruption. But nothing yet about a special meeting.

We found out through Councillor Buck’s blog post “Further Thoughts“. Pity we didn’t find out through the Town.

Councillor Buck indicated that the problems many readers/watchers anticipated are coming true. It will be interesting to see how Council works their way through the mess that has been created.

If you have time, drop by and see the proceedings.

———————————–

Updated @ 11:41 am

The agenda is up, but still nothing on the home page. So if you don’t know there is a meeting — so we guess you will never know until it’s over and published.

According to the  agenda, the focus is to seek Council direction on “Council membership of the ad hoc negotiating working group and the provisions of the Terms of Reference relating thereto” which smells like a reconsideration.

Hopefully when they reconsider they will come up with a plan that makes sense and is not subject to the criticism we have heard thus far about inappropriate closed door and confidential meetings.

There is still time to get this situation back on track. Let’s hope it gets done tonight.

Posted in Community Corner, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Politics, Special Meetings, Town Council | 5 Comments »

Have You Heard The News?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 5, 2012

There is a special meeting tonight (April 5) at 6PM. Because it is a special meeting, it doesn’t require  notice. We have checked the Town website and currently there is nothing indicating a meeting is taking place. Of note, the announcements were updated this morning with a notice of service disruption. But nothing yet about a special meeting.

We found out through Councillor Buck’s blog post “Further Thoughts“. Pity we didn’t find out through the Town.

Councillor Buck indicated that the problems many readers/watchers anticipated are coming true. It will be interesting to see how Council works their way through the mess that has been created.

If you have time, drop by and see the proceedings.

———————————–

Updated @ 11:41 am

The agenda is up, but still nothing on the home page. So if you don’t know there is a meeting — so we guess you will never know until it’s over and published.

According to the  agenda, the focus is to seek Council direction on “Council membership of the ad hoc negotiating working group and the provisions of the Terms of Reference relating thereto” which smells like a reconsideration.

Hopefully when they reconsider they will come up with a plan that makes sense and is not subject to the criticism we have heard thus far about inappropriate closed door and confidential meetings.

There is still time to get this situation back on track. Let’s hope it gets done tonight.

Posted in Community Corner, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership, Legal, Politics, Town Council | 1 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?

————————————————

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.

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

Aurora Cultural Centre

Posted by auroracitizen on March 30, 2012

The discussions surrounding the Aurora Cultural Centre (ACC) have been ongoing since Jan 2011, but recently heated up when Councillors Abel and Pirri tabled a motion to terminate the existing agreement with the intention to get a new agreement in place before the start of the 2013 budget year.

This raised considerable debate between fellow Councillors, members of the ACC Board and members of the public. This resulted in a raucous meeting Feb 28, when a large number of ACC supporters arrived at Town Hall in defence of the Centre.

A number of articles have been published in the Era Banner covering these activities.

http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/1306140–cultural-centre-contract-vote-tonight

http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/1307550–update-cultural-centre-compromise

http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/1321906–town-cultural-centre-close-to-agreement

The Auroran has also provided coverage in their latest 2 editions.

There was even a Rogers TV program on the topic; http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=70&sid=4011&gid=92671

Last Tuesday night (March 27), the second significant meeting took place and again Councillors were unable to find common ground.

The full tape of the discussion can be seen on the Rogers TV website starting at 2:39:30

In fact, Councillor Gaertner even left the meeting — refusing to vote on the matter — and Councillor Ballard offered some less than flattering comments towards the Mayor, which Mayor Dawe refused to respond to. This interchange can be seen as part of the Council meeting taping  at 3:53:00 of the tape.

Overall the situation is a mess and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of. Accusations of inappropriate closed door meetings, bullying, non-compliance with the Municipal Act.

Bottom line; Leadership is lacking — Collaboration is lacking — and Aurora taxpayers are still not seeing accountability and transparency on this issue — and we can only “hope” that a new agreement will be in place for the 2013 budget year.

Posted in Geoff Dawe, Leadership, Town Council | 15 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 »

Auroran Letter Writer Has Some Facts Wrong

Posted by auroracitizen on November 8, 2011

This week, Alex Vander Veen wrote a letter to The Auroran (pg 4) supporting former Mayor Phyllis Morris. That’s his right and we support his right to state his opinion.

However, like many of her supporters, he has some of his facts wrong.

The truth is, Phyllis Morris did not sue anonymous bloggers. They were anonymous — so she didn’t know who they were. Result — the anonymous bloggers never spent 1 thin dime on this lawsuit.

What really happened was that Phyllis Morris sued 3 local families who were required to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend their names and the right for citizens of Auroran to freely criticize their local politicians.

In the end, the courts found no fault in anything they had done and she abandoned her lawsuit.

You may agree that anonymous bloggers should be held accountable for their words.

You may even agree with using your tax dollars to initiate a lawsuit.

But do not for one minute think this lawsuit was about suing anonymous bloggers.

The truth is that the 3 families Phyllis Morris sued were not anonymous bloggers. But they were the target of her attack.

So if you want to defend Phyllis Morris — at least have the courtesy to get the facts straight and admit what she really did.

Phyllis Morris used our tax dollars to launch a lawsuit for her own personal financial benefit and she sued 3 families who had nothing to do with the blog comments she was complaining about.

To carry Mr Vander Veen’s analogy further about schoolyard bullies — this sounds more like a bully who was afraid to fight their own fight — instead they got a gang together to intimidate and bully 3 smaller people — just because they happened to be standing in the schoolyard when snowballs were thrown.

Who’s really the coward?

Posted in Integrity, Legal, Media | 35 Comments »

Aurora Spirit Walk Returns

Posted by auroracitizen on October 24, 2011

The Aurora Spirit Walk 2011 is underway. New stories and a new route are highlighted.

Did you know Jack the Ripper may have walked Aurora in the 19th century.The Ripper was never found and a suspect had connections here.

No kidding….The tour times are

  • Friday October 28 at 7 and 9pm.
  • Saturday October 29 at 7 and 9 pm.
  • Sunday October 30 at 7 and 9pm.

Tickets are available by calling 905-717-6647

Posted in Community Corner, For Fun, Recreation | 6 Comments »

Legal Precedent Being Established

Posted by auroracitizen on October 24, 2011

Michael Geist is the Internet Law Columnist for the Toronto Star, and we have referred to his writings here before.

His qualifications to comment are impressive. He is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law. He has a Bachelor of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Master of Laws degrees from Cambridge University in the UK and Columbia Law School in New York, and a Doctorate in Law from Columbia.

He recently commented on the Supreme Court decision around the case on internet linking http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1074612–supreme-court-stands-up-for-the-internet

The are many differences between the Alberta case that went to the Supreme Court and the recent lawsuit here in Aurora, but his final comment was very insightful

Given the connection between freedom of expression and the Internet, the Supreme Court has signaled that it will look with great skepticism at laws that could have a chilling effect on the ability for Canadians to fully participate online.

The decision on the Norwich motion — which by abandoning her appeal signals that Morris has accepted the wisdom of the courts — is equally important in defending Canadians’ ability to participate fully online.

Going forward, when similar lawsuits come before the courts, Phyllis Morris will be referenced as the leading case in this area. She made legal history.

When posting online, a witch hunt is not allowed. As a first step, a real case of defamation must be established before the courts will even consider a request for names to be released. Where the online posts concern political commentary, the court will be even more diligent in ensuring that the plaintiff makes out a real case of defamation.

In the Aurora case, no proof of defamation was made out. It is not simply enough to allege defamation as Morris did — the words themselves must be clear, and capable of a defamatory meaning. The Court held that she never did this — and Ms. Morris has now accepted their ruling.

This lack of proof that there was ever something defamatory said about her, even under a generous reading, was the significant factor on her motion being dismissed.

In fact, even where Ms. Morris could have submitted an affidavit to further explain why she thought the statements she viewed as hurting her reputation were defamatory, she did not do so.

Furthermore, while at least three motions were before the court at various points in the lawsuit, at no time did Phyllis Morris herself actually place any evidence before the court. Not once.

By not submitting an affidavit herself, Mrs. Morris neatly avoided having to answer any questions herself.

Instead, she argued her case in the press, mentioning claims about physical threats.

When push came to shove, Ms. Morris preferred to try her case outside of the Courts.

Now, she has no case to be tried. None whatsoever.

Posted in Legal, Media, Politics | 1 Comment »

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 »