Political Analyst and Observer, Bill Longworth's, Weekly "Eye on City Hall" Columns, as published in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada's Oshawa Central Newspaper

Monday, December 27, 2010

Council Resolutions for the New Year...Do they have any?

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
reprinted from Oshawa Central Newspaper

Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
December 27, 2010

When Mayor John Henry got elected on October 25, 2010, just about two months ago, stealing a line from Barack Obama, he brazenly promised us 100 days of action.

So far we’ve had 60 days of inaction and so the Mayor better get on his high horse and whip up some action to avoid disappointing Oshawa voters. He’s only got 40 days left of those 100 days and so far not a damn thing has happened!

Shortly after the election, Henry stated, “This city is poised for greatness and I’m excited to get started.” For a guy anxious to get started, he sure is slow off the mark.

He said Council was going to start to work on a vision statement once the term of council got underway. With those sixty days already gone, we haven’t heard anything more about the city vision statement. So far city council seems leaderless and rudderless. Hopefully there is more to Henry’s leadership than a few glibly uttered quickly forgotten words.

In Toronto, the new Mayor Rob Ford, whether you like him or not, has gone about business like a bull in a china shop.

In the first few days of his mandate, he announced expense account cuts for city councillors, announced a cancellation of the vehicle registration tax saving Toronto taxpayers $60M, announced initiatives to declare the TTC an essential service to prohibit employee strikes, filled all of the committee chairs with his chosen appointees, scrapped Metrolinks “Transit City” plans for street level light rail transit lines in favour of subways and elevated transit lines...and all of this was done within days of assuming office.

In Oshawa, committee chairs/vice chairs were decided at a private meeting convened by Nancy Diamond in return for block voting for Roger Anderson as Regional Chair as speculated in one of my recent Central columns.

In the only bit of Council business in these first 60 days, city council on a motion by Nancy Diamond voted to receive and file Mayor John Henry’s only initiative so far, that was to assign city wide councillors to ward responsibilities...a deft sleight of hand by Henry who voted to remove ward councillors with his consistent support for the general vote and the election of city-wide councillors.

It’s amazing that council utterly rejected Henry’s first and only initiative in these first 60 days, when he had promised to move the earth and the sky during his first 100 days in office.

So much for empty words....hopefully we’ll get some action soon or Oshawa is in for a very long and fruitless four year council term.

Henry did not really present a platform in the election campaign but did give some vague statements about respect for voters, transparency, spending restraint, and keeping a firm hold on taxation.

He has yet to present any real vision for the direction he wants to take this city. Guess he’s just going to have the city drift along with the wind.

In terms of respect for taxpayers, there have been many reports of him failing to reply to telephone calls, emails and text messages sent to him....all things he seemed quite diligent about prior to his election as Mayor. Maybe now that he has reached the pinnacle of his political career, he feels he can disregard communication with the voters.

In terms of holding the line on taxation, John Henry was vocal in attacking fellow Regional Councillors who didn’t support 8% increases in water and sewer rates.

With this flagrant disregard for the principles he espoused leading up to his election, I shudder to think about city tax increases resulting from the city budget council will approve in February.

Henry has made so little impact as Mayor of Oshawa that Durham Region Chair, Roger Anderson, in a recent Freudian slip mistakenly referred to Councillor Nancy Diamond as Mayor Diamond, perhaps in a not so subtle reference to Mayor John Henry’s weak leadership.

Perhaps by way of a not so subtle editorial comment, some enterprising entrepreneur has started selling T shirts emblazoned “Shwatarded.”

And hell, I was hoping the election of our new council would start to change the reputation of this city!

May I wish all my readers a wonderful Christmas Season and a Healthy and Prosperous 2011.

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

Monday, December 20, 2010

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people"---Oh yeah!

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
reprinted from Oshawa Central Newspaper

Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
December 20, 2010

Everyone in the free world treasures the thought in Abraham Lincoln’s eloquent Gettysburg Address, “That Government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall (should) not perish from the earth,"

In looking out at our current world, though, it is easy to believe that Lincoln’s thought would have been more accurate had he deleted the descriptor “for the people” from his speech.

With the memories of police action in Toronto during the recent G20 summit in which police brutality was widely evident, with as yet, no serious discipline being meted out to those responsible, I came to think about two wildly competing ideas about our system of government and the contrasts with what we see all too often.

We have a government by the people for the people as those words would have us believe....but often upon the assumption of power, the high ideals of that famous statement often run off the rails.

Honesty is lost, deception is rife, and personal ambition and entitlements become the order of the day.

Too some extent we are seeing this in Oshawa with the promises by some politicians being discarded so early in this council term.

We are all familiar with the statement that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely which was first written in 1887 by Lord Acton who opposed Pope Pius IX’s 1870 promulgation of the doctrine of papal infallibility ultimately causing a split in the church.

Acton wrote, "I cannot accept your idea that we should judge Pope and King different from ordinary men with a presumption that they can do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority.

With some exceptions, the truth of those words seem to apply increasingly to the governing classes in this modern world.

In order to enjoy the perks of power, which in this modern age seems in every way to rob from the poor to give to the rich, and to some degree is creating a police state not so different from those we’ve been taught to despise.

Wikipedia describes a police state as one in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism and social control, and there is usually little or no distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive.

The inhabitants of a police state experience restrictions on their mobility, and on their freedom to express or communicate political or other views, which are subject to police monitoring or enforcement.

Political control may be exerted by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional state.

As for the totalitarianism mentioned as a characteristic of a police state, how is that much different from the one man show being carved out by the current prime minister when even most of his cabinet ministers have to seek out permission of the PMO to utter a few words to the press.

And the definition given implies social control over mobility of people and political expression. Were these not witnessed by the corralling of citizens and the subsequent police thuggery over many of those corralled during the recent G20 summit? And weren’t all ”security” actions ultimately under the direction of the PMO?

The police state implies the use of Secret police, a police agency which operates in secrecy to protect the power and authority of a political regime or state.

Secret police forces are associated with authoritarian regimes, as they are, by definition, used to support the political power of an individual government or regime rather than upholding the common rule of law.

A police state???? Didn’t we have secret laws about arrests within 5 metres of the G20 perimeter fence and arrests for failing to produce personal identification to the police upon demand? And weren’t these police “secret” in that their faces were covered by eerie one way masks and many with their names and police numbers removed from their uniforms so they couldn’t be identified and thus could get away with illegal assaults in the name of ensuring the level of control demanded by the authorities? A police state indeed!

Instead of transparently enforcing the rule of law and being subject to public scrutiny as ordinary police agencies do, secret police organizations are specifically intended to operate beyond and above the law in order to suppress political dissent through clandestine acts of terror and intimidation . This sure sounds like many of the G20 policing actions to me.

Striking fear in the minds of its citizens is common to all authoritarian regimes. It has been ever thus and since time began, citizens have always had to work to keep authorities in check.

Citizen rebellion seems to be a growing trend in the free world and even in dictatorial regimes, citizen safety has been often discarded in favour of fighting for freedom.

Those in power in many quarters of the world use their public positions as much for their own benefits as well as for the benefits of the governed.

Even in these tough economic times with high number of job terminations, the tough times never seem to affect those in the public service. With 8-10% unemployment in the Province, the Provincial Government has recently announced a heavy hand to stamp out public servant’s golf and health club memberships and undocumented travel expenses.

Being at the top of the Provincial food chain, the Provincial Government is putting a clamp on public servant’s excesses but I’m wondering if they are now going to limit their own giant excesses at the public trough.

Entitlements are rampant at every level...The Regional “Entry by Invitation Only” Inaugural Meeting at which food fancies were undoubtedly served to the invitees at taxpayer expense is a classic example. Hell, food and refreshments are even served to Oshawa City Councillors at the 8 pm Council pee break while those footing the bill are left in the council chambers awaiting the return of the blessed.

At the Federal Level, even the Prime Ministership seems an entitlement to Stephen Harper. Why else would he proroque parliament when his party was about to lose a non-confidence vote? This action was against all democractic traditions of our parliamentary system.

Without proroguing parliament that first time, he wouldn’t have been able to do it the second time a year later so that his parliamentary responsibilities would not interfere with his enjoyment of the Olympics, which cost taxpayers $90,000 for return air flights alone, every time Harper decided to fly to Vancouver to see a hockey game.

If this is government of the people by the people and for the people, how come it is the office holders who enjoy themselves with all of the expensive perks and entitlements of office that we, the common citizen, are paying for at an average of $1.3M yearly for every MP and Senator, about $500M in total. Government for the people...for sure!

But hey....this travesty just doesn’t happen here. It happens everywhere no matter what the form of government. Rulers everywhere stash all the jewels of governing.

Look at the British Government that has served its people by tripling university tuitions to £9000 ($14250 Canadian) to keep all of the ordinary slobs from good education and good jobs thus retaining these for the snobbish monied class. After all, the class systems in Britain do have to be maintained to keep everyone in their place, as the Lords and Ladies do require “working people” to serve their every need.

No wonder this service of giant tuition fee increases for the people rustled up protests and riots among the working classes who see the actions of the politicians as keeping the “rude classes” in their place.

And then, just to rub salt in the wounds, Tuxedo Clad Prince Charles and his bejewelled, but less than prim and proper wife, the former Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles, but now Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay and Countess of Chester took through the mobs in the streets in their Chauffered Vintage Rolls Royce to attend a Royal Variety Show at the Royal Palladium, a show no doubt paid for by ordinary taxpayers who no doubt were barred from attending the show.

Maybe Charles and Camilla drove through the jeering mobs just wanting to get a sympathetic idea of the plight of ordinary people. But hell, these ordinary people screaming “off with their heads” were so upset with the way the government “for the people” served them, Charles and Camilla were lucky to get out of there alive. They wouldn’t have in earlier ages. The vintage car though had windows smashed, doors kicked in and got splattered with paint bombs.

Probably for the first time in their lives, these privileged “royals” were reduced to fearful everybodies fearing for their futures just as most common folk do every day.

This ruffling of the Royal feathers reduced these haughty, contemptuous, and pretentious “royals,” used to burning through the common folk taxes to fund their every activity, from their pompous, aloof, and imperilous waves and smiles, through the bullet proof windows of their vintage Rolls, to the level of real people with real concerns confronting real people every day of their existence.

Yes there are risks associated with governing and we’re seeing this throughout Europe and America with its Tea Movement, and even in places like China where people’s voices are screaming, “We want a government to serve us.”

Perhaps that was the reason we had a record change in local government here in Oshawa...and City Council better pay attention!

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

Monday, December 13, 2010

Signs of the devolution of democracy and freedom surround us

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
reprinted from Oshawa Central Newspaper

Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
December 13, 2010

There are many attacks on our democracy and freedoms, these cherished rights won by countless struggles, countless persecutions, countless wars, and countless deaths going back over the centuries.

Democracy and freedom are devolving on many fronts at home at the very time our soldiers are fighting and dying, as they’ve done on many fronts, to bring these human rights to people as they’re doing in Afghanistan today.

All citizens have a responsibility to work to preserve our freedoms….to monitor the actions of governments at all levels….and to speak out when they feel the rights of Canadians are being compromised. Losses of freedom can come imperceptibly slowly causing disastrous results….and once lost, are hard to be regained. Just ask the East Germans and citizens of the other Eastern European Countries.

This was brought close to home once again by a group of Oshawa Citizens, led by Bill Steele, who wanted to watch the initiation meeting of Durham Regional Council last Wednesday.

The meeting was in the Regional Council Chambers, a public meeting in a publicly owned hall in which the public is ordinarily entitled to attend.

Steele and the other citizens were interested to watch the vote for Regional Chair, the most powerful regional position, which is appointed, rather than elected. They were also interested in viewing the votes for leadership of the various regional committees whose important role it is to perform the preliminary review, and hold hearings, and discussions in order to recommend action to Regional Council.

The Oshawa assemblage wanted to witness their elected representatives’ votes for Regional Chair since this is the same group that strongly and verbally supported John Mutton for Chair. They had also supported most elected Regional Politicians from Oshawa in anticipation of their support for Mutton.

They were gravelly disappointed as all Oshawa votes went to Anderson. He was even nominated by Oshawa Mayor, John Henry, for the job.

Henry had not previously disclosed his vote but probably felt compelled to vote Anderson for fear of alienating the powerful Nancy Diamond alliance who had met privately a few weeks ago divvying up Council Committee Chairmanships in return for their Anderson votes. There will probably be the same payoffs at the Regional Level for the Anderson supporters.

All of the foregoing just demonstrates the power of the backrooms despite all of the elected politicians campaigned on a promise of transparency and accountability. It’s amazing how politician’s personal ambitions interfere with promises they make to people during elections.

Steele, and the other Oshawa supporters, were denied entry to the “public” meeting. It is unclear at the time of writing whether there were “Standing Regional Policies” denying access to inaugural meetings, or whether special orders were given for this day because of the extraordinary interest generated by the “contested” run at the Regional Chair position by “outsider,” John Mutton, who ran an ambitious campaign to oust Roger Anderson. Anderson has served in the powerful position ever since being defeated as a Regional Councillor 13 years ago.

While visitors were barred from this Regional Meeting, they are entitled, subject to available space, to view Canada’s Federal Parliament from the public gallery.

Access to special meetings like the “Speech from the Throne, that signifies the opening of every new Parliamentary Session is denied even to Members of Parliament who must cluster in the small alcove just inside the Senate Doors, since by British tradition, the House of Lords is only accessible to the Nobility...or in Canada, those “nobles” so anointed as Senators. Maybe this inaugural Regional Meeting had that significance---and thus common folk were denied entry!

All citizens have a responsibility to work to preserve our freedoms….to monitor the actions of governments at all levels….and to speak out when they feel the rights of Canadians are being compromised. Losses of freedom can come imperceptibly slowly causing disastrous results….and once lost, are hard to be regained….and so we commend Bill Steele for his leadership on this.

News reports of the last week indicate several threats to other aspects of our freedoms and democracy which depend so much on access to information provided by investigative reporting of a free and independent press.

Recently, we had the wikileaks releases. None of the releases indicated any “top secret” information like weaponry or other strategic technology in development, or any military deployment or strategy secrets, or details on the existence of any spy networks, or any secret economic strategies potentially to be implemented to retain American worldwide economic dominance, etc. They did seem to release a lot of “name calling” much as you’d find around the office water cooler. While there were some embarrassments, there were no earth shattering revelations.

The inventory of documents were provided weeks in advance of their wikileaks.com release to The New York Times, Britain's Guardian, Der Spiegel in Germany, El Pais in Spain and France's Le Monde all of which participated in simultaneous publication of some of the more enlightening details of the “so called” secret communications.

Governments claim to operate with transparency and accountability and one of the main functions of newspapers is investigative reporting to insure this, and they are guaranteed “Freedom of the Press” to report fact and opinion to do just that. In this internet age, the journalistic freedom of fair comment and opinion has been extended by the courts to bloggers and other forms of online reporting.

Much of what has so far been released by wikileaks is far less damaging to governments than we find in major newspapers, magazines, or on television newscasts any day.

The media functions, in part, to ensure an informed public to allow us to retain our freedoms and control and keep the actions of government in check. Otherwise politicians and governments could run wild. Everywhere the press is muzzled, freedoms are lost.

And yet, wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, founder and spokesman for wikileaks, whose personal philosophy is in opposition to secrecy-based, authoritarian conspiracy governments, obviously, like you and I, and many in the conventional press, supports more openness and transparency of governments worldwide….he believes in freedom of the press, no censorship, and investigative reporting---not at all radical ideas.

The powerful, though, have now had him imprisoned without bail on trumped up charges for his apparent consensual sex in Sweden, the land of free love. Such is the price for his release of documents embarrassing to the American Government.

This co-operation of governments is striking in that governments oftentimes fail to co-operate on the return of suspected criminals for quite serious charges. I guess there are extra pressures to co-operate with governments that have been embarrassed.

Around the world, political prisoners are imprisoned for speaking out against authoritarian regimes.

Assange’s release of the documents is not near as radical as calls for his assassination like Republican Rep. Peter King of New York who stated that Assange should be charged and terminated under the Espionage Act, Sarah Palin who called him an anti-American operative with blood on his hands, and past Republican Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee who called for him to be tried for treason and executed, and former Top Aide to Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan, who called for his assassination on a CBC political talk show in which he said, President Obama should take out a contract on Assange.

One outraged Canadian citizen flew off an email to Flanagan objecting to his remarks at which Flanagan’s immediate email response was, “Better be careful. We know where you live”.

Maybe this kind of communication is acceptable from a Prime Minister who prorogues Parliament when he is in danger of losing control or when Parliament would endanger his enjoyment of the Olympics. But I figure Parliament is a place that serves us and represents Canada’s values, neither of which were shown by these actions by Harper or Flanagan.

In term of citizen’s freedoms, the US has even threatened government job loss to those who read the wikileaks documents.

All of these government actions threaten our freedoms and our democracy and we all have to be diligent in protecting our hard won rights at every turn. Societies have suffered where their rights have been compromised.

A most serious challenge to our rights was confirmed this past week by Ontario Ombudsman, Andre Marin, who released his report entitled “Caught in the Act” regarding policing violence during the G20 summit. Marin exposed what he called “the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian History” and which he further defined as “likely unconstitutional.”

While the Premier hardlined initially on the police actions, after the media reporters wrote what most of us knew from the outset, the Premier belatedly admitted that the G20 law he invoked was not likely in keeping with the balance of public safety and freedom of expression that he would want to strike. Let’s hope not, as the policing thuggery and the high profile world wide television coverage gave Canada a black eye that will take a long time to erase. And Canada is not alone in the "free world" in actions of police brutality.

And then we got the largely incorrect election backroom musings by the Oshawa Newspapers about their election choices which would best serve their city advertising revenues. While their backroom musings were hugely wrong in terms of politicians actually chosen by the people, they did, in all likelihood, tilt the balance towards those elected. Their role in the election was undemocratic and wrong---their unbalanced and biased reporting worked to influence public opinion rather than doing polling to report on public opinion which is the approach of all professional news organizations.

Newspapers which take this approach miss the important historic role of journalism by being simply propagandists for the politicians. Such reporting is a danger to democracy which depends upon an accurately and fairly informed public.

But hey, there’s still a twinkling of democracy here in Oshawa. Council in its first meeting turned down John Henry’s idea of assigning politicians to wards in something Henry defined as a “Community of Interest,” an action contrary to every principle of democracy we know, the right of voters to choose their own representatives. Hopefully Henry’s idea is now trashed and confined to the dumpster where it belonged.

And hopefully Mayor John Henry has brighter ideas to advance for the governing of Oshawa in the future.

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

Monday, December 6, 2010

You broke the election system….now fix it right!

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
December 6, 2010

On Monday, December 6, at the first council meeting of the new term, city council will be considering John Henry’s idea to introduce a concept he calls “community of interest” to assign councillors to look after constituency concerns of the various city neighbourhoods.

This is an attempt to distribute the constituency workload among the various councillors and to make sure that every neighborhood has a voice at the council table.

In other words, Henry’s idea is to institute a plan to re-introduce the ward representation that he voted to eliminate.

This is a rather asinine suggestion not at all keeping with democratic principles of representative government whose basic principle is that voters determine their own representatives.

The idea of assigned representatives suggests a movement away from democracy and a move toward a system where the autocratic elite divide the spoils among themselves…they divvy up the political landscape in backroom deals and decide who is going to represent the people. This is wrong and the complete antithesis of everything we know about democracy. It is more like the warlords divvying up the spoils in Afghanistan, much of Asia and the Middle East, and many parts of Africa and South America.

We have not seen this kind of feudal governing in the free world since the bishops, on behalf of the people, wrested absolute power from the British Kings close to one thousand years ago with the signing of the Magna Carta.

The real question if John Henry wants to re-introduce the semblance of ward representation is why he voted to eliminate it in the first place? Does he only now realize that he made an error? Or was his vote, as a “still wet behind the ears” “green political pup” highly influenced by the Council power brokers like Gray, Pidwerbecki, and Kolodzie that he wanted to please? Did he not understand the issue? If he did, did he not have the honesty and integrity to vote for what he knew to be right?

He should have been paying more attention to my presentations to council where I identified all of the short comings that have since materialized. He was so disinterested in what I had to say, or indeed under pressure from the power brokers on council, that he voted every time to deny me opportunity to provide him and council additional information.

John Henry and his council bosses didn’t want to expose my damaging information to the public any more than they had to for fear of it upsetting the self-serving plans they had to introduce the system not used in any large city in the country.

And what is more, the city newspapers, probably also under the influence of city politicians, in fear of jeopardizing their handsome city hall advertising contracts, were irresponsible in not taking up the communication and information mantle abolished by city hall. The Oshawa Times, in contrast, a Thompson Newspaper Chain Daily, unfortunately shuttered due to a labour dispute in 1994, featured my battles for ward elections on their front page almost every day for four years.

In supporting the move to the general vote, Pidwerbecki suggested that ward voting meant that politicians were only interested in their own wards to the exclusion of all others. His other assertion was that Oshawa was “just too large for ward voting,” an abject insult to the intelligence of Oshawa voters.

The idea of parochial politicians is a red herring that has been floated about by the opponents of ward voting, mostly the CAW and CAW retirees, even prior to 1985 when I brought ward politics to the city with the work of my “Ward System Now” political action group. At that time, Cliff Pilkey, former city councillor, MPP, city resident, and president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, took out giant ads in the newspapers denouncing ward voting.

As former manager of NDP Leader, Ed Broadbent’s Oshawa Constituency Office, Pidwerbecki is now the chief city council spokesman for the Labour Movement and thus took a leading role, in strategizing Oshawa’s return to the General Vote.

The auto workers union and the union movement has traditionally been against ward voting since it divides their city wide union membership reducing CAW and CAW retirees influence in the running of this city.

If Pidwerbecki was right about parochialism of councillors, the general vote didn’t improve the problem. Rather, it gave the city a more unequal concentration of political power.

The recent elections produced 3 reps in each of wards 3 and 4, 2 reps in ward 6 (both in the same political polling subdivision), one rep each in wards 1, 5, and 7, and none in ward 2…too bad ward 2 and the other underserviced wards, you don’t have many votes representing your interests at the council table…but congratulations 3 and 4, according to Pidwerbecki, with your combined majority vote, you’ll have parochial politicians looking after your every whim, and each of you has as much power now as the combined power of more than half the city (4 out of 7 city wards).

For Henry to assign ward responsibility to councillors, because of the unequal representation elected, he will have to assign responsibility to some that is outside their residential communities. Of course, no matter how wards are assigned, you can never dismiss the fact that all politicians will be more in tune with the needs of their home communities and more interested in delivering service there.

A major problem with the assignment of wards is that politicians will not be accountable to the residents of the wards assigned. Politicians are only held accountable by the vote and are not held accountable to voters of any single community in a city wide vote. Even when ward responsibilities are assigned, politicians will still demonstrate more interest and expertise in their home communities, perhaps giving second class lip service to the assigned communities they are less interested in.

The bottom line is that, because of low voter turnout, the plebiscite result was not binding on council.

Nevertheless, council members argued that the vote had to be honoured as the “will of the people.”

Council failed to consider its very flawed plebiscite process that denied voters the opportunity to understand and debate the issue. They did not provide any documentation to households explaining the meaning of the question, what it would mean to voting and council representation in the city, or why the question was asked.

Worst of all, they schemed to catch voters “cold” in the voting booth with a question they didn’t understand, had never heard or considered, and worded in a difficult and convoluted way compelling voters to vote “NO” to retain a system they were happy with since no public concern had ever been publicly raised about ward voting.

In short, politicians asked an unnecessary question, and then rigged the question and the process to trick the people into voting for the system preferred by the politicians.

The question of an accurate measure of the “will of the people” is highly suspect. It is clear though, that if council wanted an accurate measure of that “will,” they would have insured an informed electorate. Because they failed to inform the people, they showed they didn’t care!

With council’s arguments to implement general elections as the expressed “will of the people,” it would now be extremely unethical for them to introduce John Henry’s assigned ward responsibilities as that is inconsistent with the reasons they forwarded for implementing the general vote.

Are they now going to reject what they adamantly called the “will of the people?”

Council must complete the present term under the election system they signed up for and they must honor any increased workload that results in representing the entire city. They argued before that citizens wanted to vote for all and be represented by all at council. It is too late to change the rules of the game.

John Henry’s ludicrous "community of interest" idea should be abandoned and council should mount a giant communication program to fully inform the people during this term. Following the information campaign, they should conduct an online poll, supplemented by mail in ballots for those who prefer, to get a true measure of the voting system the people want with a promise to introduce that system for the 2014 election.

The election system has to be fixed this term…and any attempts by John Henry or Council to postpone fixing the system with Henry’s plan which is rife with faulty logic and an affront to democracy will not serve this city well.

Henry’s system will only perpetuate the problems we’ve seen with Oshawa’s system of voting not used in any large city in the country.

Any attempt to assign political responsibility to communities misses the vital democratic components of choice of representation and political accountability to the represented group.

Don’t put off the problem…fix it now…and fix it right!

POSTSCRIPT---Thank goodness. Common sense prevailed and city council voted, on a motion from former Mayor Nancy Diamond, to receive and file the staff report seeking direction on Mayor John Henry's "Communities of Interest" Idea. This effectively puts an end to the idea. It is significant that Council did not support Henry's first leadership initiative as Mayor. Wonder what this forebodes in the future for Henry's leadership.

Hopefully a condensed form of this column sent to all council members on the morning of the vote and the full version of the column available to them by the time of the vote had some influence in their decision.

Now we just have to get council on board to organizing an information campaign and an online vote to get citizen approval for returning to ward voting for 2014.

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

Monday, November 29, 2010

Santa Claus has come to town…Made a List and is Checking it Twice!

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
November 29, 2010

You better watch out. You better not cry. Better not pout. I'm telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.

And Santa did just that last Saturday night accompanied by hundreds of volunteer citizens in the parade all of whom thrilled the thousands of children and their voter parents who watched the parade.

All was joyous with the bands, the lighted floats, the colourful costumes, and the many excited children and happy faces both participating in the parade and watching it.

While I didn’t see any tears, I did hear some complaints from many quarters that no city politicians outside of Mayor Elect John Henry were in the parade. Henry walked with Colin Carrie and Jerry Ouellette as part of the Local Conservative Entourage.

This is the first time in living memory that the parade has not been swarmed by city politicians. “A very sad and alarming concern for the well-being of Oshawa,” stated one citizen. Had this parade been just before the election, you can bet your booty that we’d have every one of the 70 candidates on the ballot participating in the parade.

According to one citizen, the entire new council should have been walking behind the Official Town Crier who could have announced their presence. As it was, the Town Crier walked alone in the parade with nothing to Cry About, except the disappointing lack of presence of those expected to be in the parade…but he certainly didn’t want to rain any tears on Santa’s joyous arrival in town.

But to be fair to all of our city politicians, every good little boy and girl knows that they have to be asleep for Santa’s arrival with his bag full of goodies, so maybe all of our politicians were asleep dreaming about the good fortune of their close to $1/2M windfall for Regional Councillors over their four year council term.

While Mayor Elect Henry has been silent on the many important issues facing this city, he has made one policy pronouncement.

He wants to run the city like a business and thus has stated that politicians should be on rotating “on call” shifts for the weekends, perhaps the first step in making city politics a 9-5 job.

So perhaps Henry’s pronouncement about weekend political work being scheduled “on-call” was the reason no other city politicians were in the parade. It was a Saturday Night and they weren’t scheduled to work. And besides, maybe Henry only scheduled himself in for this very auspicious Saturday night event.

It is interesting, despite Henry’s pronouncement about scheduled weekend work, that no politician besides Henry showed up at this very visible event so there must have been some planning, discussion or organization to this political truancy.

Anyway, Politicians, with the Mayor’s blessing and encouragement, can now consider themselves part of the city hourly work force. And maybe politicians boycotting the parade were “working to rule” since it didn’t pay “time and a half” for work on a Saturday night.

With all the important policy decisions waiting in the wings for clues as to incoming mayor John Henry’s leadership---his Regional Chair vote, the public health damaging incinerator being built on our doorstep, our high taxes, the expanded 407 highway terminating at Simcoe, the student housing issue, lakefront development challenged by the ethanol plant, the railway spur line and increased industrialization of our harbour area, downtown renewal, getting city debt under control, etc. John Henry’s first policy pronouncement was rotating weekend shifts for city politicians….amazing…but then a guy does have to set his priorities. .

It speaks volumes that the first priority of mayor was introducing reduced workload benefits to politicians rather than policy focuses for better city government and a better Oshawa future---not policy direction for the city but more “time-off” entitlements for politicians…and I thought we’d had enough of this.

Besides, with rotating weekend workloads, politicians can carve out schedules that meet their other commitments like pursuing educational studies (Amy England)…hopefully not at taxpayer expense, running a business (John Henry), driving a Toronto Transit Commission Bus (Mike Nicholson), working on the Hospital Foundation (Tito Dante Marimpietri), or selling Real Estate (Roger Bouma).

England, at $100,000 per year will be making twice as much as those professors instructing her on how to have more success with a degree.

Anyway, Santa’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. He’s gonna find out who's naughty and nice!

And Santa is quite displeased that the newly elected politicians didn’t attend as visible “thanks” for the votes they garnered. As one citizen, a former city employee commented, “Participation in the parade was always seen as a team building exercise---city staff, city residents who participated in the parade, and the politicians and city merchants, businesses and volunteer organizations, etc., the many facets of this city that work together to mount the parade.”

Santa is also disturbed that those politicians on the public dole for many years, who weren’t returned didn’t show up as a vote of thanks to the citizens for the lucrative employment they’ve enjoyed over their terms on council.

Long time councillors, like Brian Nicholson, enjoyed a virtual lifetime career garnering close to $2M in earnings in his 20 years of employment. He might also have been there, along with all of the other defeated and retiring politicians to thank the taxpayer for their windfall severance allowance in all likelihood exceeding $100,000 for many of those not returning.

With Ontario’s largest council turnover reaching a lofty 64% of the past council, the retiring allowances to city politicians may cost city taxpayers in excess of $1M.

I have requested these retiring allowances for all defeated and retiring politicians but have been told by city hall that I will either have to file and pay for a freedom of information disclosure or wait for the figures to be released in February.

Politicians like April Cullen, dealt taxpayers a double whammy. She not only gets her windfall retiring allowance, she retired with her taxpayer funded MBA which qualified her for a job as an instructor at Durham College…quite a step up from the clerical work she did prior to election to city council, probably based on the well-known “Cullen” name in these parts although she is no relation to the well-known family.

Election, of course, even in these days would be a breeze if your name was Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, or Albert Einstein, even if your intellect bore no resemblance to these historic figures. The name George W. Bush would probably even get you elected to city council. It’s a political asset to have a name that is already “branded”….just like Campbell’s Soup. We all know that some of our less astute voters believe that Barack Obama is our head of government.

Santa Claus is coming to town. He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake!

As one City Voter said, “All I want for Christmas...Is our newly elected mayor and regional councilors to follow through on their election promises.”

Virtually all politicians campaigned for increased city hall transparency, openness, accountability, and getting a grip on escalating taxes, and for voters to have a larger voice in decision making. Mayor Elect Henry, in his campaign literature, phrased it as restoring respect for taxpayers and accountability at City Hall.

Santa will know if politicians are being bad or good in honouring their election pledges. Private meetings to organize block voting for retaining John Anderson as Regional Chair and organizing private meetings to trade off Regional Chair votes in return for support for Committee Chairs will just not cut it with Santa….so be good for goodness sakes. Santa is keeping a list and has noted some serious slipups already.

In a recent news article in the local press, Henry was quoted as stating, "Taking office on Dec. 6 will mark a new era of accountability and transparency in which “the blame stops here.”

We’ll see! We still do not know his positions on any of the important issues facing this city….but we do know that he supports putting his fellow city council members on a businesslike rotating “on call” weekend work schedule.

Santa will be watching and will simply leave a bag of coal four years hence to those elected who do not measure up to the “good” standard Santa expects from all the world’s little boys and girls.

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mayor Elect Henry Gets Euchred Even Before the Game Begins

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
November 22, 2010

The Municipal Elections are behind us. We have elected a new City Council and a new Mayor to lead us into the next four years, but it appears that Mayor Elect John Henry may have been euchred---a political eunuch, neutered even before the council term begins.

We had a rather dysfunctional city council over the last term and voters elected a team of new faces that would hopefully produce a respectful and productive council that would lead us into the future. But there are early signs this council is already running off the rails.

It had already been speculated that Mayor Elect John Henry was probably not a strong or knowledgeable enough leader to keep the reins on council….this seems now to have been demonstrated.

I learned in over 29 years of management work experience, that assigned leadership is not worth a damn….that leadership is something you earn every minute of your leadership role, and concrete signs now appear that Henry is not up to the task.

It has been speculated that Regional Councillor Elect, Nancy Diamond, would be waiting in the wings to dispose of Henry following the next election to once again resume the mayoralty of this city.

But Diamond is not wasting any time in assuming the reins of power.

The political intrigue and war over control of council has not taken long to surface.

I have learned from a reliable source that, shortly after election results were announced, Nancy Diamond invited all of the newly elected Regional Councillors to her house for a meeting.

Not invited were Mayor Elect John Henry, and the rest of MP Colin Carrie’s Oshawa City Council “Conservative” Caucus, John Neal and Tito Dante Marimpietri. Nor were any local councillors invited. I have not established whether Nester Pidwerbecki was invited.

MP Colin Carrie’s active election support for Henry, Neal, and Marimpietri was a rather risky business. It is unusual for Federal or Provincial Members to take such an active role in local city politics. We do know that PM Harper is a leader that wants tight control of everything and perhaps Carrie was working at developing a formal Conservative Dynasty in this city to create a puppet city government controlled by Ottawa power brokers. Part of the motivation may have been to see that the Federal/City Waterfront Agreement with increasing industrialization on the East Wharf goes ahead without any hitches.

Now Colin Carrie’s “chosen three” seem to be being shut out of key council influence, policy, and committee chairmanships.

In a recent Press report, Diamond stated that getting back on council was like getting back an “Oshawa Team” sweater. She said that council will be strong enough that if someone decides to dance to their own tune, the rest will respect the mayor. “It’s about creating teams that can work together to bring about positive change,” she said.

Despite her assertion, it appears she has many new council members now wearing “Team Diamond”---not “Team Oshawa” or “Team Henry” jerseys.

Diamond’s actions to consolidate power and influence may already have rendered John Henry a “lame duck” mayor prior to his assumption of leadership. The other members of Carrie’s Conservative Club on council may also have been equally rendered “out of the loop.”

Anyway, Carrie’s involvement with his personally supported candidates which have been excluded from the Nancy Diamond meeting, has set up two opposing council facets….the three-vote “Henry Team” and the “Nancy Diamond Team” whose size and power is a question mark at this time, but seems to include herself, John Aker, Amy England and Bob Chapman.

The allegiances of Nester Pidwerbecki, Roger Bouma, Bruce Wood, and Mike Nicholson are unknown at this time but no doubt will become illuminated in the first weeks of the new council as will the solidarity of the “Diamond Team.”

It is obvious, however, that Diamond has already moved to consolidate power and steer the agenda of city council, and this would leave Henry as a toothless leader.

The first signs of the new alliances and who is in control will be when committee chairs are determined shortly after the Dec. 1st inaugural meeting of council. It would be a sign that Diamond is in charge if Neal and Marimpietri are blocked from Council Committee Chairmanships. Conversely, it will be a sign that Henry is retaining control if one or both of Neal and Marimpietri secure committee chairmanships.

There is indication that some decisions were made at the Diamond meeting.

I have heard on good authority that agreement was made apparently for Diamond, Aker, England, and Chapman to block vote for Roger Anderson to be returned as Regional Chair despite the fact that John Mutton has been campaigning hard for the position and certainly has the support of the verbal activists in Oshawa. There was also Region wide support for electing the chair by public vote rather than being appointed by Regional Council members.

It is entirely conceivable that some of the councillors at the meeting were promised both local and/or regional committee chairmanships in return for their support for Anderson. After all, these councillors must serve their own interests as they pretend to serve ours, mustn’t they?

Some Committee Chairmanships were apparently decided at the Diamond meeting. It was agreed that Nancy Diamond would be Deputy Mayor and that Amy England would be Assistant Chair of an as yet unknown Committee.

I am trying to establish more details of committeeships agreed upon.

Undoubtedly, Roger Anderson will swing support behind some Oshawa Regional Councillors for Regional Chairmanships as payoffs for their Anderson votes.

Ontario Municipal Law prohibits such private meetings from conducting public business and all indications point to the Diamond Meeting as illegal at worst or unethical at best. Certainly conducting public business with only a selected number of invitees from all those elected is grossly unethical.

All public business with a few exceptions for economic and personnel matters must be conducted in public.

If Diamond’s meeting was only a social gathering, all members of council, without exception, would have been invited. The exclusions of the “Carrie Team” indicate the development of two factions on council and the conduct of some business in the absence of the excluded members seems to indicate a lack of openness and transparency which all seemed to support leading up to the election.

This secret and private meeting sponsored by Nancy Diamond is dynamite, and shows her early determination to wrest control of the council agenda from Mayor Elect Henry, undermine his success, and her return to the Mayoralty in four years.

Politics is a “blood sport.” You have to be tough to survive in the “cut-throat world” of politics, and often operate with the ethics of Attila the Hun or the Godfather.

Nancy Diamond’s easy smile and engaging manner may disarm you….but make no mistake, she is one smart, tough and strategic cookie and has the vulnerable Mayor Elect puppy in her lethal sites. She is holding all the cards in this game and will Euchre Henry and his three-man Colin Carrie Caucus every time.

As the saying goes, we have a city government elected by the people for the people…oh yeah!

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Election of the Returning Council Members Can’t be Just a Co-incidence

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
November 15, 2010

In looking over the results of the recent election, I note that only four members of the last inept city council survived while seven members are no longer on council.

All this change is good and a key objective of my mayoral campaign. As the public memory is short, part of my campaign strategy was to incessantly focus public attention on the missteps, mistakes, and misdeeds of the John Gray led city council to foster the public mood for change.

I also had to focus public attention on the misrepresentations of council veteran Louise Parkes whom I saw as a disaster for Oshawa should she get elected. Her campaign platform calling for “Fair Taxation” seemed to grossly misrepresent her personal spending habits while on council, a fact that I exposed at every opportunity.

I ran for the position of mayor as that is the only office where any attention is paid to what the candidates have to say and is the one office which guarantees most face time with the media…a necessity if you have an important message that you want to get out.

Getting my message out resulting in a huge turnover on council was much more important to me than any ambitions I had for the Mayoralty.

Since the election, I have had some opportunity to analyze and reflect on the results and one of my observations has become quite telling because it has distinct and important consequences for the city.

I had always insisted that Mayor Elect John Henry had access to the Colin Carrie Sign list as his signs got erected very quickly once he declared his Mayoral Candidacy.

Securing sign locations is a time consuming activity and was something that could not be done prior to Henry’s declaration as a mayor candidate without the secret getting out of the bag.

Also his sign campaign was far stronger in the east side of the city (Carrie’s riding) rather than on the west side of the city which is in Jim Flaherty’s Federal Riding.

Henry also likely had access to Colin Carrie’s election machine which has developed over three successful elections since 2004. There is no other explanation of his “running away” with the election. He certainly did not perform as a “superstar” councillor, being rather unremarkable at the best of times.

Colin Carrie has been in regular and frequent public disputes with outgoing Mayor John Gray and thus would have sufficient desire to see him replaced.

This would provide Carrie motivation to seek out and “appoint” a candidate to succeed Gray. Thus Carrie is likely at the very beginning to have convinced Henry to seek the Mayoralty offering help from his Federal Campaign Team as the bait.

Running for Mayor without Carrie’s help and intervention would have been unlikely since the general consensus by council observers was that Henry’s run for Mayor was premature. Even one of Henry’s friends indicated this to me at the first Mayoral Debate.

In the CAW retirees Mayor Debate, for example, John Henry, in answer to the question on how he’d attract industry and jobs to the city, stated that we have a deepwater port, a major highway, a main rail line, an airport, a skilled work force---we can built anything and ship it anywhere in the world. He failed to see that we’ve had these attributes for the last 50 years and still experienced a net loss of industrial jobs.

Not recognizing that the city has the highest industrial/commercial tax rates in the GTA making us uncompetitive even with Whitby, Ajax, and Pickering and that downward adjustment of these rates was imperative to attract industrial investment and jobs to this city, you’d think would be basic information and insight necessary to lead this city.

It is unlikely Henry would have sought the Mayor’s chair on his own volition without intervention from Carrie. His $100,000 salary as a Regional Councillor would have made profits from his small office products retailing business seem redundant and been a major loss to him.

A vital question then, is what Carrie might have offered Henry in the way of lucrative Federal Appointments to replace his $100,000 Regional salary had his quest for the Mayor position been unsuccessful.

So now you’re probably beginning to think that my suggestion of Carrie’s meddling in city politics is slightly delusional, schizophrenic or mad.

So how else would you explain that three of the four returnees to city council were also the three city councillors invited by Carrie to Ottawa, in May, 2009, to meet with the Government Leaders over the harbour, and even at the time get an introduction to the Prime Minister. You will recall that Henry, Neal, and Marimpietri were criticized by John Gray as “stooges” at the time.

Funny that all three were elected when we had such a major turnover on council.

Is this just co-coincidence, or is the hand of Carrie, and his election machinery, behind the re-election of all three.

Pidwerbecki, the fourth returning council member is, of course, popular within the NDP community as manager of former MP, Ed Broadbent’s, Oshawa Office.

Interestingly, Henry, Neal, and Marimpietri do not sit on Carrie’s Riding Executive, although Local politicians typically try to conceal their political leanings and associations in any case.

Doug Hawkins, a candidate for Regional and City Councillor, sits on Jim Flaherty’s Riding Executive. He finished well out of the race, placing 15 out of 26 Regional Council Candidates, and didn’t appear to get any significant or “official” help from the Flaherty election machine.

There are consequences to the re-election of Henry, Neal, and Marimpietri.

These are three of the six votes needed to insure that there are no glitches in the Federal/City Waterfront Agreement that support the continuing industrialization of the East Wharf, the construction of the Ethanol Plant, and the building of a rail spur to the waterfront industrialization zone.

Of course, this increasing industrialization makes the waterfront less attractive for condo and commercial development, such as fine dining establishments, as the pollutants, dispersants, dirt and grime and odours will discourage top developers with their financing from coming to Oshawa to develop our prime lakefront resource.

I guess my dream of a world class waterfront will not come to fruition and the marina will not be as impressive as I’d envisioned.

The Shwa will have increased industrialization guaranteed at our waterfront while other places like Toronto, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and even Buffalo, have been busy reducing lakefront industrialization and working at transforming their lakefronts into people places.

Maybe the next thing we’ll see at our waterfront, along with the ethanol plant and the railway spur line, will be giant cranes and a cargo container storage facility leveling some of our treed areas on the east port as the present bulk cargo facilities at our harbour get replaced by cargo container handling facilities in general worldwide use today.

Too bad….but the Oshawa people….and Colin Carrie have spoken.

Late footnote---I've just been informed that Colin Carrie was at Henry's election headquarters the whole night as returns were coming in and even attended Henry's victory celebration party on election night looking over him like a mother hen, I'm told---even accompanied Henry to the private feast at Sopprafino's following. Interesting that Sopprafino's is owned by Tito Dante Marimpietri's wife's family! I wonder whether Marimpietri and Neal also attended this feast---and which other elected politicians attended which may give an indication that Carrie's hand extended far greater than we have so far surmised.

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

Monday, November 8, 2010

Oh Henry! Welcome to your first call to the world of leadership

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
November 8, 2010

Despite the fact that you have no “real world” leadership experience, Mr. Mayor Elect, the people picked you off the shelf due to your slick sign campaign based on MP Colin Carrie’s sign list, and we’ve been looking for the clues of your vision for this city to figure out what you stand for.

It’s difficult! We can’t recall any real leadership you gave on the term of council you’re just finishing. Certainly you didn’t stand out as a dominant member of that dysfunctional council.

We do recall a major error, though. You voted for the General Vote that the people have strongly criticized in this recent election and wonder now what you’re going to do about it.

Perhaps you’ll follow my plan to have a giant communication program about the ward vs. general vote question followed by an online poll and a mail in ballot for those who aren’t online to get informed public opinion with the promise of implementing what the people want for the next election.

I know the people will want to return to ward elections, the system every large city in the country uses if they don’t have municipal political parties which municipal law discourages in Ontario.

And Mayor Elect Henry, the people will be watching you on this issue!

Perhaps you didn’t know enough about municipal election systems when you voted for the general vote. You didn’t know the devastating dysfunctional and non-productive effects it had, and that’s why it’s not used in any large city in the country…or perhaps you were bullied into your vote by the council powers of Pidwerbecki, Gray, Nicholson, and Kolodzie.

It’s easy to see that being the “new guy on the block,” you were pretty easy to push around. As our new mayor, hopefully you will not be as easy to push around and hopefully you will insist on knowing a little more about those things that win your vote.

The people are depending on you and will be watching.

We do know that you supported all of the missteps of this past council. The 13% tax rate over the term, the MBA funding which passed your eyes without a whisper, the needless city hall demolition and rebuilding which wasted at least $20M of our money that you didn’t contest, the $46,000 Mayor’s birthday party that didn’t wake you up until it was too late….and now you’ve sold yourself as the savior of responsible spending….good luck!

The people are depending on you and will be watching.

You sold yourself to the public like that popular Oh Henry chocolate bar that you distributed at the mayor forums. Buyers typically don’t bother to look beyond the packaging, to inspect the ingredients to see whether they are healthy. Perhaps, voters have not yet looked any more carefully at the reasons for their votes for you…but that is about to change.

Every one of your utterances and every one of your hesitancies are now being placed under the microscope and the people are watching.

In reading your brochures, and listening to your presentations at the Mayoral Debates, you are still a “pig in a poke” for me, and perhaps for your voters. In listening to your debate presentations or reading your brochures, I haven’t found anything of significance yet that would tell me and your voters of your vision for Oshawa.

Your website, www.votejohnhenry.ca and your brochures never really told me about any specific ideas and plans you had for the city. For those who want to check your votejohnhenry.ca website to review what they’ll be getting for their vote, unfortunately all traces of what you said you stood for has now been erased.

You've ensured that voters won't get a chance to compare what you promised with what you deliver!

I still have one of your brochures which claims a realistic plan to ease Oshawa’s tax burden without describing your plan except for adoption of zero-based budgeting, which is a meaningless term for you as a policy setter.

Any policy plan has to focus on the end result, not the process to get there. The end result is a policy function of council which will in turn have a process impact on the bureaucrats.

The process impact we want is to cut out the city hall fat, waste, and inefficiencies. The “Tea Party Rebellion” has arrived! The means by which we achieve the end results don't matter.

If, as a result of the .9% tax increase this year, a game playing plan is to make up this year’s shortfall with compensating increases in February….Watch out, the public is watching! The public is sick and tired of games!

Council’s role is to approve the budget and not make it up starting from scratch as implied by your description of the zero-based process as having every budget item justified from the ground up.

Are you as mayor, going to get into discussions “from the ground up,” for example, about justifications for postage cost allocations? I think not. This may work in your home and in your little 2 man business operation where purchasers order from catalogues, but doesn’t work for a large organization.

Can you imagine the GM CEO and Board of Directors wanting to cut costs, and implementing your zero-based system and micromanaging the cuts across the system? Would the CEO have the time, the interest, the departmental operational information and details to micromanage or would the CEO and the Board simply set the policy and let those in charge carry it out? This is what the bureaucratic officials and department heads are for.

So Mr. Mayor forget the micro managing crap and your zero-based budgeting crap and get down to business.

Cut the spending allocations by 3% across the board as I suggested in my campaign to provide a 3% city tax cut for all residents and then work on getting the Regional Politicians to do the same thing to bring taxpayers a 3% cut in our Regional taxes. This is real leadership.

And while you're at it, don't forget to reduce our industrial/commercial tax rates to at least make them competitive with Whitby, Ajax, and Pickering. Otherwise, we'll lose all of the spin-off industry from UOIT to our neighboring municipalities.

Forget the smoke and mirrors crap and work on job #1 of cutting taxes. That will be popular across the Region.

As a policy setter, you understand that all the bureaucrats want increased budgets every year, but simply cut the crap. Insist on a 3% spending cut at both the city level and the regional level to cut out the fat, the waste and the efficiencies at both levels.

It’s doable if you focus on the end result and forget about all of the meaningless “smoke and mirrors” words like zero based budgeting which offers no change to our escalating taxes.

This will be your test, Mr. Mayor, and the people will be watching. If you let the people down, Nancy Diamond and I will be watching in the wings.

Forget the crap. As a matter of policy, you and council should simply dictate all department budgets be cut back 3% as I suggested during the campaign to insure tax relief to the people.

Might I also suggest you, and the voters of course, look at my vision permanently available at www.wepromise.ca. This may give you some ideas to start implementing direction in your leadership of this city.

Another critical problem you will have to deal with is the potential transfer of many of the 170,000 airplane landings and takeoffs to the Oshawa airport once Buttonville Airport closes. The Buttonville sale closed last Wednesday to make way for commercial and residential development, and as one of the busiest airports in the country, all its business will have to transfer elsewhere.

City Staff have been working on this issue for a year, Mr. Mayor. Why didn’t you or one of the other incumbents bring this up as an issue? So Mr. Mayor, get busy placating the Glens’ Residents over the increased noisy flights over their neighborhood.

And while you’re appeasing the Glen’s residents, Mr. Mayor, we do have a noise bylaw in town that restricts the takeoff and landings at the airport between 10:30 pm and 6:30 am but which exempts police, medical, and industrial emergencies and Oshawa based returning aircraft from this noise bylaw.

Those surrounding the airport would note that the extremely noisy police helicopter appears to do training circuits over the north end most every night after midnight interrupting the sleep of many north end residents. Part of the city enforcement of this noise bylaw should require the filing of the reason for these very frequent late night police helicopter flights on a public website listing the distinct law enforcement requirement of these late night sleep disturbing flights.

You have your work cut out for you, Mr. Mayor, and the people are watching!

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Election Post Mortem...without any regrets or tears

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
November 1, 2010

The election is over and the people have spoken. I am happy with many aspects of the results and have concerns about other aspects of it.

I ran as mayor, obviously because I believed there were many shortcomings in council actions and in the direction it was taking this city. Had I been satisfied with council, I wouldn’t have run.

In many ways, I feel my campaign set the agenda and tone for the election and in many ways determined its outcomes. Some candidates adapted some of the ideas I had proposed, and no doubt others will be adopted in the future and I will be communicating some of these ideas directly to those elected.

The Mayor’s race is the only one voters are vitally interested in as they realize it is the Mayor who sets the agenda, tone, and direction for Council. Therefore the Mayor’s Platform is important. The ideas of those running for other positions gets lost in the shuffle. Because the Mayor alone gets elected on his platform, council members have a moral responsibility to support the Mayor’s platform in implementing the will of the people. My race for Mayor therefore, gave my ideas the light of day.

My key reason for running was to try to defeat those members of city council who irresponsibly voted to give the city the unwieldy “General Vote” election system not used in any large city in the country. The resulting 70 name ballot made it impossible to know the candidates. This lets incumbents hide in the weeds and get elected on name recognition only rather than service to the community.

Of the seven council members supporting the implementation of the General Vote, only Pidwerbecki, Marimpietri, and Henry survived this election with John Gray, Louise Parkes, and Maryanne Sholdra being defeated and Joe Kolodzie resigning. I also wanted to defeat April Cullen for getting her MBA at taxpayer expense and Brian Nicholson for his general dishonesty, bullying, lack of integrity, and lying about his academic credentials. So success in this objective was achieved.

A classic example of the General Vote’s shortcoming is Maryanne Sholdra’s near win in the election. She was widely recognized as a wasted council seat missing many meetings, often arriving late and leaving early, and absenting herself regularly during meetings. She didn’t seem to understand the issues and her participation was limited to asking questions and making remarks that had already been raised. Despite this, she just narrowly got defeated and in the process beat out Mark Paton and UOIT Business Professor Will Thurber, both of whom have MBA’s that might have brought a business sense to the council table. Interestingly, voters missed on 2 additional MBA candidates in Kevin Brady and Doug Hawkins who would have brought intelligence and business sense and knowledge to the council table.

In our democratic system, “the public is always right” even though they don’t always “get it right.” Sometimes a candidate’s name is more important than their platform. This is especially true with the General Vote where there are so many candidates. Coming first on the ballot like Aker, for example, or having "politically great" names like England or John Henry is a distinct advantage. The poor guy with the handle Esrick H. Quintyn didn’t have a chance even if he was as good as Jesus Christ.

The General Vote system was highly criticized by voters and hopefully the new city council will implement a midterm information program for citizens and then provide an online voting system, supplemented with a mail-in ballot, to canvas citizen’s desires for a return to Ward Voting for the next (2014) election.

The announcement of such a program, along with the implementation of residential and industrial/commercial tax cuts to make Oshawa competitive with Whitby, Ajax, and Pickering in attracting new investment in this community will be an early test of the responsiveness of John Henry’s administration to the wishes of the people. Without these, he will go the way of the Dodo bird following the next election as Nancy Diamond is now sitting in the wings waiting for the opportunity to resume the Mayorship should Henry flounder.

Some have questioned whether John Henry has the strength of personality and intellect to lead this council. Over his four years on council, he has not shown any real leadership, vision, direction, or insight into Oshawa problems. Indeed in this election, he has not defined any real platform except to put all of the best ideas of council candidates on the table to select a new course for Oshawa. I don’t think real leadership is seeing which way the wind blows. He did have a great sign campaign though and was fortunate in having access to Colin Carrie’s Sign List.

In terms of insight into Oshawa problems, John Henry’s answer to attracting industry at the CAW retirees Mayor Debate was: “We have a deepwater port. We’re on the main rail line across the country. We’re on a major highway. We have an airport. We have a skilled workforce. We can build anything and ship it anywhere in the world!”

What Henry failed to see is that we’ve had all these attributes for the last half century and still have a net outflow of industrial jobs. He failed to know that the city has the highest industrial/commercial tax rate in the GTA that scares away industrial investment like a cornered skunk. We are not competitive with Whitby, Ajax, and Pickering where investors would save from $206,000 to $226,000 annually by locating a $25M plant there. It’s amazing that our incoming mayor did not know these basic facts about this crucial problem.

I do commend John Henry, however, on his apparent honesty, integrity, and sincerity and, for Oshawa’s future, do wish him well and pray that he’s up to the job.

From all reports, if we can believe the election materials of successful candidates, we have a number of fiscal hawks elected in Nancy Diamond, Bruce Wood, Roger Bouma, Bob Chapman, and John Aker so we may very well see tax cuts in our future.

Despite what some voters have told me, I had the strongest and most far-reaching and visionary platform of any candidate for any position, and a city lawyer said my platform was “head and shoulders” above all candidates, some have criticized me for running a negative campaign.

I did expose city council’s missteps, mistakes, and misdeeds and over the campaign became aware of the tremendous liberties Louise Parkes was taking with the truth. Her motto “Fair Taxes” did not seem at all consistent with her practice on council in wallowing in the public trough for her own entitlements---the highest expensing councillor, arguing for a bigger office budget to cover her travel expenses, a 54% salary/expense spending increase in the first 3 years of her present term and exorbitant cell phone bill $23 less than the total of 8 of her fellow council members...and felt a responsibility to expose these inconsistencies to the public. I could not stand by and watch her blatant lies fuelled by her personal ambitions.

Many election observers, me included, have roundly criticized two of the newspapers in town for printing their choices for election. These endorsements were simply personal choices not based on any survey or opinion polls and were no better than your judgement or mine. Readers do expect the comments of the press to be somewhat objective and accurate but no rationale for the decisions were made. That leaves open the charge that the papers were trying to influence the results to protect their city advertising revenues.

Oshawa Express correctly chose John Henry as Mayor, but were wrong on 3 of their 7 Regional Councillor Choices and wrong on 2 of their 3 Local Councillor Positions. Only 6 of their 11 choices were right for a poor 55% accuracy reading.

Oshawa This Week was wrong on their choice of Mayor, wrong on 3 of their 7 Regional Councillor Choices and wrong on 2 of 3 of their Local Councillor Choices. Only 5 of their 11 choices were right for a pathetic 45% accuracy rating in predicting the results.

I believe it was unprofessional for these papers to publish this information when it is not based on any scientific and objective polling. After all, it is the people who elect the council, not the press. Hopefully the accuracy of both papers in their general reporting is higher than this.

Clearly neither newspaper had its hand on the pulse of the people. It is unclear how much these affected the election results but certainly it is irresponsible journalism.

All-in-all, the hard work and $4800 I spend on this election produced a good show in a race with a $100,279.20 spending limit. And with this effort and expenditure, I believe I helped to shape Oshawa’s future.

Despite the election result, I’m calling it a “WIN!” I accomplished much of what I set out to do---a win in anybody’s book!

I’ll call my $4800 election expense an investment of a responsible and concerned citizen in Oshawa’s future.

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dirty Tricks, Ethics, and Controversy on the Campaign Trail

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
October 25, 2010

Heard a good one the other day! Three teens were distributing John Gray literature to one of my campaign volunteer’s home off Central Park Blvd. The astute volunteer, thinking it unusual to have teen boys volunteering for a campaign, asked if the boys were getting paid. At first one of the young guys said, “Yes,” and then after a momentary pause, “Well not really! The Mayor has offered to donate to our church group trip to the Dominican Republic in return for our help in his campaign.”

This is an unusual way for Mayor John Gray to compensate these students as donations to a church youth travel group cannot be counted as a campaign expenditure on the official expense forms that have to be filed after the election and so the donation must come from another source.

There are two sources possible---a donation from the Mayor’s personal funds which, while admirable, wouldn’t make sense in paying a legitimate campaign expense which could, and would, be paid from his campaign donor funds.

The only other source of funds are city “Partnership Grants” which are available for assisting in the funding of worthwhile non-profit community projects. I’m suspecting that these are the taxpayer-funded donations the Mayor has offered.

This would be an unethical use of taxpayer money to help fund the Mayor’s campaign, but it is the only logical explanation for him not paying the students directly for their labour.

I shall be on this like a hawk to expose this dishonesty if a city grant is provided, or already has been provided, to help fund this church group trip, in return for campaign labour.

Such funding of campaign labour would also be a contravention of Provincial Legislation controlling the spending, reporting, and accounting of campaign expenditures as this labour would not be charged to the campaign.

Such un-reporting of campaign costs allows politicians to exceed campaign spending limits set by the Province and has been the subject of court challenges following elections.

As a demonstration of her campaign tactics, Louise Parkes has planted a women heckler in the audience in each of the last two Mayor Forums to shout out about negative campaigning when I mentioned her 54% salary/expense spending increases in the first three years of her current term, her exorbitant cell phone bills that have been just $23 less than the totals of 8 of her fellow councillors, and her call for bigger office expense budgets to cover her travel expenses.

At the most recent Mayor Forum, Parkes had her heckler sit directly in front of the microphone to discourage me from exposing her dishonesty. Guess she didn’t want the audience to know about her exorbitant spending habits at taxpayer expense! It didn’t work---cause I think voters have a right to know!

Parkes’ excessive feeding at the public trough is so inconsistent with the message of restraint and “Fair Taxation” indicated on her signs and in her debate presentations that it amounts to a lie.

For one, I believe that politicians should be honest and shouldn’t be able to get away with saying anything they want to mislead the public.

Another trick used by politicians is to plant “clappers” at political forums to clap thunderously at the most innane comments of their favoured candidates.

The unschooled in political campaigns do not realize the theatre involved in campaigns to demonstrate unsubstantiated support for their favoured candidates.

Nor do they realize that the local city newspapers, which are not titans of reporting integrity, base their important choices on retaining their share of the city advertising dollar which provides significant regular “lifeblood” revenues for the newspapers. This determines which stories they are going to print and which individuals will get exposure in their rags.

One newspaper gets over $20,000 monthly in city advertising and so their coverage is friendly to the politicians. I remember its reporter walking out of the room one time when I got up to make a presentation about retaining ward elections to a city committee. Obviously, the Mayor had made it clear that the city advertising budgets dictated that my comments were not to get exposure in their newspaper.

One little 8 or 10 page newspaper, The Snap Newspaper, struggling to increase its minimal city ad revenue, recently had 3 or 4 pictures of John Gray and a couple of pictures of Louise Parkes, John Henry, and Nester Pidwerbecki. This paper is aggressively biased in its political coverage and is working hard to get a larger share of the city advertising budget.

As mentioned earlier, all campaign costs have to be officially accounted for. The Nicholson Brothers, both running for election for different offices, have many signs throughout the city promoting the Nicholson name without any reference to first name or position being sought. This raises an interesting question as to which campaign, Brian’s or brother Mike’s campaign, should the signs be charged against, or both. Or in fact, if the signs are not clear whose they are, are they in fact legal. I did send an email to the city clerk who is in charge of city elections asking this question. She has not responded yet.

Another mystery that has now been partially solved is “The Mystery of the Disappearing Signs.” There has always been sign damage and some shrinkage, but this has been a huge problem this campaign.

There have been some sightings of candidate campaign workers stealing signs and even of some photos of those in the act which has been reported to police. Recently, a Miller Paving Truck and a rental van were seen removing signs on Wilson. Although unconfirmed at present, it seems that the Region has contracted with some to roam regional city roads removing signs. I don’t know whether they are objective or selective in their choice of signs to remove. Apparently the removed signs are trucked to some as yet unknown location in Ajax.

As I write this, I have just returned from a storage facility behind the arts resource center at city hall after retrieving perhaps $500 worth of my signs that have been removed by city work crews. While I have the signs back, a real problem is the lost exposure time of the signs and the time to replant them with volunteer labour.

In all ways, incumbent politicians follow practices to promote themselves at public expense and pass bylaws to limit exposure of non-incumbents names to the voting public. Thus they pass bylaws limiting signs and then hire contractors to remove them.

Oshawa City Council incumbents use your tax money to pay for advertising, attendance at public events, and spend thousands of dollars in publishing and distributing unneeded, unread, and frivolous printed materials like “Inside Oshawa” which are really expensive glossy carriers for politician’s mug shots and messages and city propaganda they want to get out.

You’d think politicians would want to get out really important information to voters such as why the last plebiscite question was asked, what it meant, what difference it would make to voters, etc. Instead, they refused to communicate this information to prepare voters for the plebiscite question instead wanting to rig the system to favour the result they wanted...the result that favoured the re-election of incumbents. This is democracy---Oshawa style!

It angers me every time I see politician’s buying ads with our tax money to wish us Happy New Year, Merry Xmas, or to thank veterans on Remembrance Day. All are worthy endeavours...but not with our tax money!

These messages are nothing more than a shill where the ad is simply promoting the politician without any sincerity toward the cause being recognized.

One of the dirtiest tactics is unidentified telephone calls in the middle of the night. I received one of these at 4:42 am on October 21 only to be awoken by silence on the other end of the line. I also received a complaint that one gentleman was upset with my campaign because he said he received one of these after-midnight calls from someone who said they were calling on behalf of my campaign. I don’t know how many of these calls have gone out and how many votes I might have lost as a result of the angry recipients...but my campaign has done absolutely no telephone canvassing even at reasonable hours.

By the time you read this, you have probably cast your votes using the most ridiculous system in Canada with the huge ballot and the list of 70 candidates or so for the various offices. It may be Tuesday before you know the election results but hopefully all city councillors are punished for bringing you this impossible ballot, for bringing you the highest residential tax rate in the GTA, and for saddling you with a city debt that has escalated from $10M to $100M in 8 short years.

The campaign has been long for me from January 4th and so today (Monday, Oct. 25th) is a welcome end to all of the energy sapping campaigning.

We’ll all look forward now to what future the election has brought Oshawa, and this analysis will be the subject of my column next week.

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

Monday, October 18, 2010

Congratulations Oshawa....You have the Nuttiest Election System in the Country

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
October 18, 2010

Our city motto is “Prepare to be amazed” and so why not have the nuttiest election system in the country.

We already have the highest tax levels in the GTA, and perhaps the country, the highest Industrial Commercial tax rates in the GTA, and perhaps the country, to scare away good jobs and industrial investment in the city, so why not have this nuttiest election system too.

Our politicians have been writing the training manual on “How Not to Run a City” so why should our election system be the one everyone else uses. That would not be befitting of the city motto, “Prepare to be amazed.”

Mayor candidates Louise Parkes, John Henry, and John Gray have all demonstrated to the public that they are worthy candidates to carry on the ineptness that has characterized city hall.

All three voted to provide you with the General Vote system that has given you the giant impossible ballot with the 70 candidates that has made it impossible for you to be an informed voter.

The city has to live up to the motto, “Prepare to be Amazed” even though Canada’s Supreme Court has said, and even elementary students in democratic nations would know, that an informed public is a basic requirement for democracy to work.

So Parkes’, Henry’s and Gray’s support for this giant, unworkable, and undemocratic ballot does qualify them live up to the “Prepare to be amazed” motto. After all, how could they be Mayor of this city if their actions and their votes to support such a stupid election system did not measure up to the city motto? A vote in support of the general vote showed that their level of incompetence could carry on the many inane actions of this council.

Other incumbents who are running in this election who voted for this general vote with the giant 70 name ballot simply to enhance their own electoral chances were Nester Pidwerbecki, Maryanne Sholdra, and Tito Dante Marimpietri….so certainly they lived up to the city motto, “Prepare to be Amazed” by being more concerned about implementing a “self-serving” electoral system rather than one that serves this city and its voters.

Certainly if the system they voted for was best, it would be used widely across the country rather than only in Oshawa….but then in all ways, we have to live up to the motto, “Prepare to be Amazed!” For their self-serving votes to support implementation of the general vote, they should be defeated.

One of the key components of heading up this council is to show that you have the required level of incompetence to amaze and both Henry and Parkes are showing remarkably well in this regard.

At a recent Mayor’s Forum at the CAW Retirees Hall, a question was asked about how the various mayoral candidates would attract industry and good jobs to this city. Of course, this would be an expected question from the Canadian Auto Workers and their retired brothers and sisters in the hall.

Parkes answered that she would strike up a mayor’s council…a brilliant answer in showing the proper level of incompetence to amaze all those present. With that, she certainly showed that she was in the incompetence park with the present mayor and therefore in the ballpark to become mayor.

Parkes’ answer showed four things….1) She had no idea on how to attract industry and jobs, 2) Being devoid of any ideas of her own, she would ask business leaders how to do her job, and 3) Despite being on council for 12 years, she had no idea that Oshawa’s industrial commercial tax rates were the highest in the GTA and scared away any industry from locating here even if the land was free, and 4) That the basic requirement to attracting industry and jobs to Oshawa is a reduction in our Industrial/Commercial tax rates to make us competitive with our neighbours.

Despite her inane answer, her “plants” in the audience cheered at her call for the Mayor’s Council which must have impressed them. Interestingly at the most recent Mayor’s Forum, she had a plant who screamed out “Stop the Negative Campaigning!” when I mentioned Parkes’ 54% increase in her salary/expense spending in the first three years of her current term with the results not yet in for 2010. I responded, “I may not have your vote madam….but I do believe voter’s do deserve the truth!” This response did seem to receive universal applause, all except the shouter, of course, who probably wilted back into the woodwork a little embarrassed at her outburst and determined not to be “used” again by the Parkes Campaign.

Anyway, any 12 year veteran of council should know that an investor wanting to build a $25M plant would save over $200,000 annually by building a mile down the street in Whitby. Why would an industrialist invest here?

Louise Parkes’ answer to the question was so ludicrous; she must be putting us on. She must have been downplaying her intellect to show the level of incompetence she thought was required to step into John Gray’s shoes.

Not to be outdone, John Henry worked hard to be in the incompetence game.

In his answer to the question on how to attract good jobs and industry here, Henry gave us an analysis worthy of an average grade 8 geography student. As if no one in the room knew, Henry informed us that we had a deep water port, an airport, a major highway, and we were on the main rail line across the country. We also have a skilled work force….”We can build anything and ship it anywhere in the world.” He said. Now don’t you think this is an unbelievable insight into the question? Again, Henry’s “plants” cheered enthusiastically at his astute wisdom.

Henry failed to recognize that Oshawa has had these attributes for the last 50 years and yet we have been steadily losing industrial jobs here. I suppose Henry’s answer demonstrates that nothing has to be done---that Its just a matter of time before industry flocks to our city to take advantage of all of the attributes he mentioned---so if he’s elected mayor, he’ll just sit back and wait for all the magic to happen.

He calls himself a businessman with his little office equipment business…but any business person worth his salt knows that business is about dollars, and yet he didn’t think of reducing the industrial/commercial tax rate to make Oshawa competitive with our immediate neighbours.

John Gray has published his email address as bojogray@primus.ca and it strikes me that bojo might be an apt descriptor for our mayor. With Parkes’ and Henry’s responses to the question of attracting industry to the city, both have indicated that they too are bojos.

At the same meeting, I pointed out that we couldn’t attract any industrial investment and good jobs into this city until our industrial/commercial tax rate became competitive with our neighbours. I did point out that a $25M plant in Oshawa would be taxed at $1.3M annually and just over $200,000 less in Whitby, Ajax, and Pickering….and $875,000 less annually in Markham. Even free land would not attract industry here since costs for the building and the land can be paid off…but the land tax goes on forever. In business, money is everything and no business would locate here when they could save $1M every 5 years by locating one mile down the street in Whitby.

I pointed out that our high industrial tax rates here will lose us all of the jobs, assessments, and investment in this community of the many spin-off industries to locate in the vicinity to use the research facilities, like the giant wind tunnel, at our university. To keep these jobs here where they belong, I pledged to bring our industrial/commercial tax rates for new businesses to competitive levels with our neighbours.

Unfortunately, my idea is just plain common sense and common sense just does not amaze----and thus is not a bojo idea that may compete with the stupid answers by Parkes and Henry. Their stupidity in answering this “jobs” question certainly meets the “Prepare to be amazed” test.

If either wins this election, we will be in for four more years of inept leadership without a vision or plan for the future of this city.

If you want to see a real vision, check out my platform on the site www.wepromise.ca, and also see the candidates I’ve endorsed on my site as worthy of your vote in bringing sensible and business-type leadership to this city to get our economic house in order.

Wish I was like Louise Parkes and John Henry and I could amaze you at the stupidity of my every comment.

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/