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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hey! What are we getting for our tax money?

“Eye on City Hall”

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

Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
January 10, 2011

City taxpayers gambled on a new council, and so far it looks like we’ve elected duds. Even though we haven’t seen any leadership come from Mayor John Henry, we haven’t seen any initiatives come from any of the other council members either. It appears as if everyone so far is just sitting back waiting for something to happen. It's follow the leader without a leader!

Hell, we haven’t even had any disagreements or arguments or putdowns on council yet to lead to a little excitement. At least with the last council, we could expect frequent dissention at every meeting to provide for a little newsworthy comment.

So far, our Regional Councillors have each earned about $20,000 of our tax money and it is appropriate that taxpayers now have some kind of accounting of what we’ve gotten for this expenditure.

In the first ten weeks of this new council, the situation has to be classified as a zero-sum game----total political salaries and expenses = $176,925 (approximate), taxpayer’s benefit = 0. In zero sum parlance, this means that city politicians have so far in the 10 weeks of this new term cost city taxpayers approximately $176,925 and have not yet received a penny of value for these tax dollar expenditures.

Oh, Mayor John Henry has received his new Equinox, paid for out of his personal money as we’ve been told, and if this is so, he is to be congratulated. That is, of course, unless he simply pays for the car out of his weekly $100 minimum car allowance that he will arrange to at least give him the perk enjoyed by his fellow council members. Perhaps as mayor, he will have this car allowance ballooned to some higher level commensurate with his increased responsibility.

His Equinox, though, is a neat sleight of hand. He gets to business expense 30% annual depreciation on the car, write off any car loan interest, receives a 100% credit for the HST, receives a tax writeoff of 100% of all auto expenses, and an inflated tax free weekly gas allowance to pay for the car. Neat! He gets to play a hero looking after our tax dollars with the same net benefit to him----a free car!

He, along with his fellow council members will undoubtedly get their tanks topped up free at the city gas pumps that service all city vehicles. This would, of course, be in addition to the auto allowance that is supposed to fuel their vehicles. It would be an eye opener to see an accounting of all those who are able to use this fuel depot.

Saying as how Henry bought his own Equinox (yeah?), I guess he is entitled to decorate it however he wishes. I have heard a report that he has had a red maple leaf plaque with a blue “O” (for Oshawa) emblazoned on the red leaf. On a quick glance, I’m told that the crest looks surprisingly like the Federal Conservative Logo which is a blue “C” on a red leaf.

If this “crest story” is true, and I’d love to hear confirmation from someone who has seen the car, it does make sense for Henry to give credit to the Federal Conservatives and to the efforts of Oshawa Federal Conservative MP, Colin Carrie, whose campaign team, sign locations, and election machinery got John Henry elected.

Colin Carrie’s unprecedented level of meddling in Oshawa Municipal Elections was extremely unusual as politicians at one level do not typically meddle in the affairs of another level of government.

Carrie’s meddling in city politics is not a new revelation and has been reported in past “Eye on City Hall” columns.

But we are now learning amazing revelations that John Henry’s campaign manager, Mark Sheriff, has been appointed the Mayor’s Executive Assistant. Nothing surprising in that...except that Sherriff has just resigned as president of Colin Carrie’s Conservative Riding Association to take on Henry's Exec. Asst. job.

We now have all of the powers of the Oshawa Conservative Party installed in the Mayor’s Office willing and eager to have their chains yanked by Ottawa.

I had speculated in a past column that John Henry was personally recruited to run as a Mayoral Candidate by Colin Carrie and of Carrie’s strong connection with the Henry Campaign by his attendance at Henry’s side on election night as votes were being counted and his attendance at Henry’s private victory celebration at Downtown’s Thirsty Monk Restaurant following the victory. Now we know that the Henry Campaign was completely orchestrated by the Carrie election machinery and that Carrie was intimately involved right from the beginning. Carrie is Henry.....and Henry is Carrie...our Federal MP and our Mayor are one and the same. Dangerous!

With such an intimate connection between Carrie and Henry, there is sure to be no Federal/City disputes....that whatever Ottawa wants for Oshawa, it gets. Henry will endorse anything the Feds want for Oshawa, for example, the Federal / City Harbour Agreement to guarantee more industrial development at our lakefront. It doesn’t matter what the people want. It’s all part of a plan by Carrie to have Ottawa dictate city politics and policy for us.

None of this Conservative takeover is co-incidental but a well-organized plan. We know also that Carrie had a role in the election of Tito Dante Marimpietri and John Neal. A worthwhile question remains, which others of our new council members got the support of Carrie’s election machinery?....and why?

As a side note, I have it on good authority that the Woodstock Council had a significant turnover and that all members of that Council are now Federal Conservative Party Members.

Perhaps it is not too stretching to theorize, that Stephen Harper is making attempts to extend his electoral control across the country right down to the municipal level. After all, that would be consistent with his practise of exercising iron fisted control over Cabinet Members and his Conservative Caucus.

Perhaps Carrie’s meddling in Oshawa Affairs, and the apparent meddling in Woodstock’s Municipal Election, foretells a Harper Conservative Agenda to grab a tiller on all political affairs across the country. That would be dangerous for democracy, dissent, and an alternative voice. That could lead to G20 type policing fiascos across the country. It’s only in dictatorships where one guy pulls all the power.

In America, political organization by the Republican and Democratic Parties extends right down to the precinct (neighourhood level) and all political candidates for all offices at all levels run on the Republican or Democratic (or Independent) ticket with voters being largely identified at the neighbourhood level as registered Democrats or Republicans.

Is the Federal Conservative Party participation in Oshawa’s Municipal Election, orchestrated by Colin Carrie, part of Harper’s Grand scheme for the nation...to Americanize Canada politically and grab unfettered control by organizing Conservative Control right down to the city and neighbourhood level with local political offices being held by candidates chosen by the national party? With his strong arm control he’d be the “President” (or dictator) of our country.

We already know that Harper would like to Americanize our nation by cutting out Canada Pensions (which has recently been floated as a trial balloon), cutting out transfer payments for health care and higher education, and reducing the power of the Federal Government vis-a-vis the Provinces. As President, with neighbourhood control, he might have far greater control in reaching these objectives.

I have regularly reported politics as a game of pay-offs and deal-making for votes and of course personal ambition is never far from the surface.

The chattering classes in Oshawa have upped their volume in questioning John Henry’s honesty, transparency, and integrity in honouring his election pledges, particularly in respecting city voters which was a major campaign pledge.

They were particularly disappointed in Henry for nominating and voting for Roger Anderson as Regional Chair as Anderson was the chief proponent of the garbage incinerator being built on the city borders.

I have heard from an inside and reliable source that discussions will take place shortly to “re-balance” representation on Regional Council by the various member municipalities. This is a “given” as growing populations in Ajax, Pickering, and Whitby are under-represented relative to the slower growing Oshawa. Despite the imbalance, city representatives in the past have successfully resisted and staved off any reduction in Oshawa Regional Representation.

I have now been told by insiders that John Henry agreed to a “secret” deal to not oppose any reduction to Oshawa Regional Council representation as a trade-off for the overwhelming support he received for his prestigious $6000-$7000 seat on the Durham Police Commission. We’ll have to keep an eye on how this plays out.

Personal ambition in politics often trumps the public good. Stay tuned!

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

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