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

Monday, February 28, 2011

The budget’s set! It time again...
to start burning all that taxpayer cash!

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and Unfiltered Opinion
Reprinted from Oshawa Central Newspaper

Bill Longworth, City Hall Columnist
February 28, 2011

As expected, the wily bureaucrats have again outfoxed, outsmarted, and out-manoeuvred city politicians during this annual tax setting charade and come up with another tax increase.

While it’s not the .7% size of increase that’s important, it is the continual tax escalation by politicians, the majority of whom promised tax cuts or freezes during the recent election campaign. The politicians by voting for the increase have sent a clear message to bureaucrats that nothing has changed....Its tax and spend business as usual!

Politicians have told city officials in no uncertain terms that there’s no need to make changes. There’s no need to run a more frugal ship or to look for city hall operational or administrative efficiencies. The city hall spending spree goes full steam ahead. The incremental tax increases will continue to generate fat and waste within the system.

And politicians are being smug and self satisfied about their job overseeing the budget.

Theo Moudakis, Toronto Star

Amy England is patting council on the back for reducing city politician’s expense budgets by $800 each saving a total of $8000 of taxpayer’s dollars out of a budget in excess of $115,000,000, a small gesture, she agrees, but important because council is asking other groups to do with less and so council members should try to work with less as well.

This all makes sense except when we note that Amy also says focussing on reducing politician’s much less transparent Regional Expense budget totalling $280,000 over the term is insignificant compared to some much bigger Regional items to alleviate taxes.

Funny perspective I’d say, suggesting that an over $1/4M expense is not worthwhile focussing on for potential cost savings while taking bows for saving $8000 of taxpayer money.

In patting council’s back over this year’s smaller tax hike, Roger Bouma says, “It’s a great start and we’ll do even better next year!” Roger should know that the tax cuts should start now and not next year....unless we elected a bunch of procrastinators. And besides, taxpayer's current taxes are their immediate concern! And they know that future taxes will balloon on top of tax increases this year! They know the floodgates have to be closed!

Interestingly, one bit of cost saving to make this year’s budget possible was to postpone non-essential hirings to September.

I’d have thought that any council interested in controlling costs would have prohibited non-essential hirings completely. Hiring non-essential staff is pure fat and gravy personified isn’t it? And so city officials and politicians have implemented a directive to postpone hiring extra fat and gravy at city hall until September and then they’ll get back to their regular policy of hiring non-essentials I suppose.

Mayor John Henry wanted to bring a business sense to the operation of city hall. How many businesses are you aware of that hire non-essential staff?

I can see it now---a giant ad in the Financial Post---Oshawa City Hall now hiring highly paid non-essential workers with great lifetime health, pension, job-security, and retirement benefits. Guaranteed annual salary increases. As a non-essential "surplus" worker, you’ll have little work, and certainly no important work to do. Apply today! Send us your address and Mayor John Henry will come out in a Mackie's Moving Van to interview you.

While this year’s .7% tax increase may sound minimal to some readers, I want to remind all that last year’s .9% tax increase produced a $1M surplus in just two accounts that have been publicized with a $650,000 budget surplus to be rolled over to this year and also the $350,000 unbudgeted windfall paid out to defeated and retiring politicians.

And these surpluses are just the tip of the iceberg.

They don’t account for any of the additional needless and wasteful spending, operational inefficiencies and duplications, and a myriad of mismanagement excesses including unnecessary consultant’s reports that produce reports supporting bureaucratic decisions that have already been made.

But these wasteful excesses are borne from an organization that has learned that they can dip further and further into taxpayer pockets for as much cash as they can spend with little regard for costs.

And of course, the .7% increase politicians are boasting about will produce a .7% increase in all of the fat and waste over last year’s surpluses.

This year’s .7% tax increase will boost that $1M surplus of fat generated last year by an additional $805,000 this year for a total fat and waste of $1.8M generated in these two years alone....and of course this is a pattern that repeats each year with incremental tax increases resulting in huge excesses that balloon up city hall excesses, salaries, perks, and privileges. And this "fat" estimate doesn't even include fat to be generated by taxes on new construction.

No business could be sustainable with incremental increases in spending every year. It takes spending limits to force efficiency, productivity, and improvement on any system.

Of course the low increase boasted about this year is a huge lie as some city taxes have simply been shifted from residential taxpayers to those same taxpayers who will now pay greater tax to park downtown or have their elderly parents or grandparents pay a 1200% fee increase in senior’s basic fitness membership for using the city recreational facilities. These are increased taxes pure and simple. And as the saying goes, a rose by any other name is still a rose! And this rose stinks!

These user fee taxes may very well result in lost revenue as fewer users refuse or can ill-afford to pay the increased fees. I, for one, refuse to go downtown because of the parking costs. Why would I when free parking abounds at the Oshawa Centre or any of the other shopping plazas around. There is absolutely no incentive to go downtown and, of course, this results in downtown decay and shuttered businesses. Elimination of downtown parking fees, not increases, is necessary as a first step in making the downtown user friendly

Oshawa has continued tax increases despite the promises of virtually all politicians elected to bring tax cuts or freezes.

Real leadership would have followed Rob Ford’s Toronto example.

Like him or not, he is proving true to his word in cutting out the Toronto Gravy Train.

Ford has not only come in with a zero percent residential tax increase, he has also slashed other taxes like the $60 Toronto vehicle registration tax and stopped utilities like the TTC from raising ticket prices when their budget was cut.

In the case of the TTC, to fund $25M of budget projected shortfall, he directed transit officials to come up with $8M of fat and waste within their budget and for Toronto city hall to come up with $16M of fat and waste within their budget to cover the projected TTC shortfalls. These savings of fat, waste, and inefficiency were easily found.

Ford’s system requires public bureaucrats to squeeze the system for cost savings, operational efficiencies, wiser spending and more care for public money, and he is putting systems and cost restraints in place to insure just that.

As Toronto's Budget Chief stated, “We’re in a hole next year and everybody knows it...and Rule Number One when you’re in a hole is stop digging.” This is a message Oshawa politicians have not learned.

As Toronto City Budget Committee Vice Chair Doug Ford, and brother to mayor Rob stated recently, “There is not a lean and efficient department in Toronto City Hall!” The same is true here in Oshawa. When there are no constraints on spending over the years, those with spending authority have a field day.

With Toronto City Council’s approval of their tax freeze budget, city departments will have to find those efficiencies in order to survive, and their mindset will become much more businesslike as they prioritize in spending on needs and not simply on wants.

Oshawa City Council, on the other hand, have demonstrated by their weak leadership on this budget issue that the Oshawa City Hall gravy train continues and spending motors full steam ahead.

It’s unfortunate for Oshawa city taxpayers that little is being done to increase the efficiencies of program delivery and administration at city hall.

After all John Henry promised to bring a business-like approach to city hall.

And yet Henry’s City Council has announced that they are providing over $8M more of taxpayer money for city bureaucrats to spend next year.

Obviously, Mayor John Henry is no Rob Ford!

So get to it boys! Time to start burning all that extra cash! There’s a bit more where that came from!

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, February 21, 2011

It’s Tax Time Again....
Get Ready For Your Annual Tax Hit!

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and Unfiltered Opinion
Reprinted from Oshawa Central Newspaper

Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
February 21, 2011

Doesn’t matter that Oshawa is the highest taxed place in the GTA.

Doesn’t matter that we had a tax revolt in the city just prior to the last election and so voters turfed 64% of the past council out of office.

Doesn’t matter that virtually all those elected were calling for tax cuts, tax freezes, or holds on tax increases.

So hold your hats! Looks like we’re gonna be hit with another tax shot that’s gonna blow your wallet to smithereens.

It’s the season of political doublespeak and city staff and council members are priming you for a 1.4% tax increase on the proposed 2011 city budget.

During the election campaign, John Henry pledged financial accountability to taxpayers. He promised to go over the budget with a fine tooth comb with a process he called zero based budgeting whereby all line items would be generated from the ground up. “We’d start with zero dollars and build up the budget line by line justifying every expenditure along the way,” he said. With that promise we’d be expecting a change in the process, wouldn’t we?

Any change in the process though would have had to result from direction from council. But there was no motion! There was no discussion! There was no intent on Henry’s part to change the budget process! All of that gobbledygook about a new budget process was just there to fool the people and win votes. It was all a big lie! The only grand scheme Henry announced were two night time public meetings as opposed to daytime public meetings. Henry’s election promises to impose a new system were quickly forgotten upon his election....and by this he has broken the public trust in the biggest issue facing voters in the recent election.

The night time budget meetings were poorly attended by the public with only one person attending the first of the two meetings. Interested ratepayers know that even forensic accountants among the public would not be any more successful in wading through all of the ill defined budget lines than the politicians in comprehending the bureaucrat’s spending wish lists, BS, and ill defined budget lines so cleverly crafted so as to hide any disclosure they want from prying eyes and questioning minds.

Guess that’s why only one member of the public attended the first meeting...voters know it’s only a charade...and they don’t want to be used!

In any case, I pointed out during the election campaign that political oversight of the budget with the system Henry proposed would be an impossible task as bureaucrats have all of the detailed knowledge about the operations of city hall and hold all the trump cards in the budget battles. In the classic contest between bureaucrats and politicians, bureaucrats always win.

It’s like child’s play for bureaucrats to play pussy cat with weak politicians hiding all of their wish lists in mountains of numbers which are often rounded up in multiples of $5000 or $10,000 to provide plenty of space to hide the fat.

The budget hides so much excess fat to cover a myriad of unbudgeted items like huge consultant’s fees to supplement the handsomely paid but apparently inept city staff, and the almost $1/2M combined city/regional retiring allowances for defeated Oshawa politicians. Despite all of these unbudgeted costs, last year's .9% tax increase still generated a $650,000 surplus.

Excuses are always given for budget increases and this year it is expiring labour contracts and increased worker health insurance premiums, etc., but this is not new. There are always attempts at justifying requested budget and thus tax increases.

Bureaucrats have suggested some very politically unpalatable tax increases to replace lost tax revenue should politicians want to reduce the proposed residential tax hikes. They’ve suggested, for example, that reducing the proposed budget to only a 1% residential tax increase could be accomplished by: 1) Increased fees for downtown metered parking, 2) Introducing a $5 youth user fee for outdoor sports fields, and 3) Increasing senior’s basic annual membership charge for city recreational facilities from $5 to $122.37 yearly. They don't get it that these increased fees would greatly reduce participation.

No where do city officials suggest re-prioritizing budgeted items to cut city spending or indeed looking for increased efficiencies to make up the shortfall.

When you give the city staff the responsibility for coming up with the budget without giving them guidelines or direction, you are not likely to get anything different from past practices....and certainly not a hold or cut in taxes....that would only come as a result of demands from strong politicians.

Had I been elected as mayor, I would have led council to direct the city manager to present a budget reflecting a 3% tax cut for city property owners without any service cuts. And we would have sent back the budget as many times as necessary until the bureaucrats got it right.

Such a system would have caused city officials to look for increased efficiencies, set priorities, and gain some appreciation for administering the city without the benefit of a budget that balloons as much as necessary to include anything they damn well please. Such a system would even work to change the mental set of administers so they would have to start living within a fixed income budget like the rest of us.

Such a focus on limited finances would also focus the entire city staff to exercise more care in their expenditures. If the bosses don’t give a damn about wasteful spending, why should the front line workers.

As an example of not giving a damn about public expenses, some city workmen were doing some sidewalk and curb repair work on my street last summer and abandoned the barricades and sidewalk metal forms on the boulevard and finally picked them up close to two months after the work was completed when a neighbour called city works on a number of occasions, finally getting action when he threatened to take the stuff to the dump. Another example of lack of care are the snow plow operators beating the hell out of the curbs so as to create summer make-work projects.

The wastage of the make-work practices of many city hall workers reminds me of the old union “featherbedding” tactics of duplicating and then trashing work in unionized newspaper offices for work that had not been done in-house.

According to the Ontario Public Sector Salary Disclosure List, the city had 71 employees making more than $100,000 in 2009, with salaries ranging from just over $250,000 for the city manager and an additional four earning over $150,000 annually. This is significantly more than the vast majority of these individuals would earn in the private sector....and yet with all these handsomely paid workers, city hall still requires vast sums to be spent on consultant’s reports.

We need a new kind of business thinking whereby officials must figure out how to do more with less....the same as in the private sector.

Without focussing employee attention on waste, fat, improved productivity, and improved efficiency, you perpetuate the idea that these are not important...that city hall with politician’s blessing can simply go to the people for more and more cash every year.

The only way to focus attention on the bottom line and controlled spending is to determine the upper limits of spending at the beginning of the budget process and have city staff work to deliver more with less.

After all, this is the approach that must be taken by every private sector business if it expects to survive in this competitive world.

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, February 14, 2011

Pay up....After all UOIT is your University

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and Unfiltered Opinion
Reprinted from Oshawa Central Newspaper

Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
February 14, 2011

Hey Oshawa taxpayer....how much of your hard earned cash will you volunteer to donate this year to the development of UOIT in Oshawa?

Whether you want to donate to the university is immaterial. The city donates part of your residential taxes to subsidize the operations of UOIT every day....and will do so every day into the forseeable future.

Now I am not badmouthing UOIT. We are indeed fortunate to have the university here in Oshawa to provide opportunity and convenience for our city students to attend university close to home.

Our local students, though, over the long haul have to pay more to UOIT than out-of-area students and that is not fair.

While all Canadian and Landed Immigrant students pay the same tuitions once they enrol in UOIT, city taxpayers continually subsidize the university operations through grants, subsidies, tax revenue losses, tax deferrals, and lost development charges...and that is not fair.

City taxpayers subsidize the university operations and still end up paying the same tuitions as out of town students. City taxpayers have subsidized the university operation to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, and there is no recognition of these investments when our local students enter UOIT...Just not fair!

Why should the families of Oshawa students pay more to UOIT than non-local students? In Oshawa, you keep paying and paying and paying, and come tuition time, you’ll pay again!

City taxpayers provided outright grants ($8M towards a $11.6M campus recreational complex, an additional $2.5M towards the downtown campus), Tax deferrals worth $2M and foregoing development charges on Dundurn student housing.....and these are only costs arising from a cursory few minutes of research.

In addition, city taxpayers have also lost tax revenue for all the downtown buildings owned, leased, or used by the university which amount to additional millions. Again, shortfalls will be made up by city taxpayers.

And now, the city has announced public meetings for Feb 28, 7:15 pm, in the Council Chambers to provide more largesse to the university to ease its student housing problems.

At that time, the city will consider amendments to the city official plan to: a) allow the city to provide financial incentives from your tax dollar for the development of student housing, and b) make some specific student housing lands exempt from development charges.....both changes that will cost taxpayers additional millions.

All of these taxpayer costs are subsidizing the operation of the university and subsidizing the costs of student attendance at our university by out-of-town students. We are paying more so out-of-town students can pay less. Just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever!

In June of 2008, Councillor Tito Dante Marimpietri proposed that local students should pay less for attending UOIT in recognition of the fact that they’d already invested heavily in the university, an idea he’d borrowed from his days attending University in Montreal where he discovered students who had lived in Quebec for 11 months or more were eligible for discounted tuitions. Marimpietri’s motion was lost (Report SIC-08-37) in a council vote on Sept. 22, 2008

While Marimpietri’s idea is a sound one, it was unfortunately not thought through sufficiently to sell it to council or to make it equal to each family’s specific contributions, which is now easily doable with computer technology.

In 2008 when Council turned down Marimpietri’s idea, an estimated $15M of city tax money had been gifted to UOIT in one form or another. The total is much larger now and continues to escalate.

I’d suggest that all these taxpayer costs that are surplus to actually running the city are excess taxation and are huge windfall benefits to the university and should be considered “prepaid credits” towards future university tuitions for city residents.

After all, they are monies given to the university that would otherwise be raised by student tuitions. And as long as city officials are willing donors of our taxes, the university will continue, like some street corner begger, to reach out and take whatever we’ll give.

According to census data, there are 54920 dwellings in the city. If we considered the minimum $15M tax largesse extended to the university in the first 2 or 3 years, this would work out on average to approximately $275 donation per household.

This figure, of course, does not include all of the lost tax revenues for university occupied buildings downtown that will have to be made up by taxpayers, all of the lost development charges, and all of the tax deferrals for student accommodation.

UOIT president of the day, Ron Bordessa, questioned how such an inititative could be funded saying it was clear the city wouldn't be subsidizing the discounts. He stated that the university offering tuition discounts to city students would make it impossible for the university to offer the same level of service.

It all comes down to point of view. Rather than suggesting lost revenues, Dr. Bordessa instead should have been suggesting prepaid tuitions. After all, it doesn’t make sense that city taxpayers continue to invest in the university without some return on their investment.

All of these prepaid tuition credits could be computerized in the city tax department when residential tax bills were being printed and would be proportional to assessed property values and the total values of all forms of city university subsidies.

City residents applying to UOIT would simply apply to the city tax department for a tuition credit certificate that had built up for their residence over the years and this certificate would be presented to UOIT admissions for a direct deduction from tuitions owing.

Withdrawn credits would be deducted from totals and could be rebuilt in subsequent years.

This micromanaging of tuition credit accounts is entirely practicable with computerization and is, in fact, being done in some places. In Delta, BC, for example, in the interests of transparency, tax bills list details of various amounts making up the tax bill. Delta taxpayers approved an arena renovation based on estimates of their annual cost printed on their personalized voter registration card and this cost continues, along with other components of the tax bill, to be printed on annual tax statements.

Such a tracking system would be easy for the city to set up. If the Air Miles program can keep an updated total of your frequent small purchases worldwide, the city could certainly develop a program based on your tax account number, your assessments, and the total monies of all forms advanced to fund the university and its operations.

These prepaid UOIT tuitions would accumulate on both owned and rented properties with renters applying annually to the city for tuition credits similar to the Ontario Property Tax Credits based on bedrooms or living space with any credits awarded to tenants being deducted from the total credits assigned to the property.

Those who did not attend UOIT would lose the credit although it could be passed on to direct relatives: sons/daughters, grandchildren, nieces/nephews very similar to a RESP. The credits could also be passed on to social agencies for assignment to worthy students who could not otherwise afford to attend university.

Your tax dollars are subsidizing UOIT and it’s time you got some credit for your investment. After all, fair is fair...wouldn’t you say?

I’d suggest all readers of this column flood city hall politicians with this demand and get all of your friends to do the same.

The university should recognize the basic truths that we all live with...there are no free lunches...a truism the university practises every day of its existence with students.

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, February 7, 2011

City Council Finally Gets Down to Work

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and Unfiltered Opinion
Reprinted from Oshawa Central Newspaper

Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
February 7, 2011

Well Council has taken its most significant decision since taking office over three months ago. It’s about time they got down to work!

Council may be a bit slow getting off the mark and down to work as it is a little tough carrying on business when the leader is gallivanting out of town in a Mackie’s moving van meeting Mayors of Southern Ontario’s many cities, towns, and bergs.

In its first significant decision, City Council appointed Doug Sanders as City Councillor to fill the vacant council position.

Sanders was nominated by Bob Chapman and seconded by Nancy Diamond and won support from Pidwerbecki, Diamond, England, Henry, Bouma, and Chapman.

In seconding Sanders, Diamond demonstrated that her powerful and scheming hand was behind Sander’s appointment. In her brilliance, she does have a way of being in charge but removing herself from centre stage when it suits her purpose. In this case, she publicly displayed that she was only a compliant accessory after the fact, disguising her strategic role as its prime mover and solidifying a political ally in Chapman, and, of course being able to step back and reject responsibility should any criticism arise now or in the future regarding the appointment. Sanders, of course, will now become part of the Diamond team.

From the outset, I think Council’s choice was a reasoned one. Sanders did run for local council and finished a few hundred votes behind Mary Anne Sholdra just missing the last elected position. And appointment of Sanders can be easily justified to impartial observers.

Mary Anne Sholdra, the only other nominated candidate had her name put forward by Aker and Wood and supported by Neal and Marimpietri. Sholdra’s nomination, like Sander's, can be justified to rational observers based on her vote count. Her rejection by council can also be strongly justified.

Roger Bouma nominated Mark Paton but did not have, and could not find, a seconder. Either Bouma was left out on a limb by his fellow councillors, was not in the loop when these things were decided, or does not understand how these things work. In any case, Paton was cherry-picked by Bouma, and was one of many reasonable choices, but was less clearly justifiable to the voting public.

Perhaps Bouma nominated Paton without a seconder to highlight the backroom manoeverings that had gone on.

Publicly, a few names seemed to dominate the public speculation of who was to be appointed with Will Thurber and Dr. Gary Gales dominating the list. Interestingly, neither of these individuals were considered for appointment as they didn’t get nominated as per the rules. Other names put forth were publicized by the individuals themselves through social media but none of these "outsiders" received any traction at all.

Despite Sholdra’s higher vote than Sanders, her past performance indicated she didn’t deserve to be appointed to the position. As a member of the last city council, she was heavily criticized for missing meetings, arriving late, leaving early, and absenting herself frequently during meetings.

Interestingly, in her personal presentation in support of her nomination, she pledged to correct these problems promising regular and punctual meeting attendance.

It’s amazing that any citizen seeking the public trust to look after the city business would find it necessary to promise good meeting attendance. That would seem to be a “given” for those who sought appointment.

For that reason, despite her electoral results, Sholdra had proven that she was not up to the job and should have retired from politics prior to the last election. For that reason, Doug Sanders was a good and reasonable council "first" choice.

Council’s recognition that the public doesn’t always get it right was a gutsy decision taken in the city’s best interest.

The public doesn’t always get it right is a given, especially on Oshawa’s massive general vote ballot containing the names of 70 candidates which severely undermines democracy in making it impossible to know the candidates.

In the last local city councillor race, for example, there were two candidates with MBA’s overlooked by the public; Will Thurber, a business professor at UOIT, Trent, and York, and Mark Paton. Instead the public elected, TTC bus driver, Mike Nicholson and narrowly missed electing Mary Anne Sholdra whose presence on council was a severe embarrassment because of her sheer incompetence, inability to understand issues, and her ability to keep alert and attentive at meetings.

The public also missed two MBA holders in the Regional Council race in Kevin Brady and Doug Hawkins, both of whom would have brought good business sense to city council. Both finished far out of the money. Instead the public elected a college student who stated that she was enrolling in university courses and narrowly missed electing Brian Nicholson who lied about having a university degree and has had no significant or successful work experience in the private sector.

While I do support the appointment of Doug Sanders, there are a number of observations I would make about this important bit of city business.

The first is, despite the controversy of the nomination process, the few people in Council Chambers to witness this bit of “democracy” in action leads to the question as to whether city residents really give a damn about what their council does. Certainly a huge dose of apathy was apparent in voter turnout.

Perhaps the poor attendance by the highly critical chattering classes was a symbolic boycotting of the legitimacy of the event.

While I support appointment to fill the position, I am critical of the very democratically limiting process city council followed.

In democratic elections, citizens are able to declare themselves candidates in the race, but the city council process didn’t allow this. Council members acted as gatekeepers deciding privately among themselves who could be considered.

This was the purpose of the nomination process requiring two councillors to put candidate’s names up for consideration and also the purpose of keeping the list of interested citizens confidential so that public campaigns could not be mounted to generate support for various individuals. This might have put additional public pressure on politicians to select specific popular candidates as well as sparking second guessing of the result by the public.

Historically, Oshawa has been a very parochial place where most in authority were related to each other with nepotism and cronyism dominating the city landscape. The council screening process for approved candidates echoes this past.

There have also been extremely serious city council communication oversights in the appointment process.

To my knowledge, there were no official communications calling for nominations, informing people of the appointment process, or indeed even announcing the date of the appointment meeting. All communication has been left to the responsibility of the public press without city hall vetting or oversight.

Because there was no formal application process to be considered for appointment, no complete lists of those requesting appointment could be compiled----so the public will never know which “gems” advanced their names for consideration.

This was the same serious oversight, of course, of a previous council that put the convoluted general vote plebiscite question on the ballot and forgot to inform the people about the meaning of the question and its consequences.

One amazing shortcoming of the entire appointment process was that no formal vetting process was completed prior to the new councillor being named. Only after the fact was the new councillor required to sign a declaration of qualification. It doesn`t make sense to sign a letter of eligibility after you`ve won the job.

Once bitten, twice burned would seem to have been a city lesson well learned---but not in Oshawa where we’ve now had two elections in a row where ineligible candidates have been elected.

The only way this vetting process could have occurred prior to appointment with the Council process adopted would have been to hold an illegal in-camera meeting to screen the candidates to insure eligibility prior to the Council meeting where the decision already made was going to be confirmed.

The 34 minute Council Meeting making the appointment was so efficient that it probably was just a formal replication of those illegal in-camera meetings---a charade to formalize a decision already made.

The appointment process was in the best interests of this city but I continue to question the wisdom of considered candidates being chosen in a closed and private way that smells of cronyism.

But hey, this is Oshawa and we have huge tolerance for a city council that hits us disrespectfully time and time again.

In Egypt today, the people are striking back! They`ve had enough....and obviously we haven`t----yet!

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