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

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Preposterous Mr. Gray

“Eye on City Hall”
A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
April 26, 2010

Absurd, crazy, daft , foolish, harebrained, idiotic, dopey, loony, nutty, half-baked, off-the-wall, batty, unglued, bonkers, and wacky are not usually words used to describe your mayor, the chief executive of your city. But Mayor John Gray’s asinine actions that have recently become public have once again earned our “leader” these apt descriptors.

You’d think that nothing could beat using our tax moneys to fund MBA’s for his ”chosen” or using our scarce tax monies to fund his own birthday party to the tune of $45,000, but this week we discover that he has used our property tax monies to the tune of $916 to pay Provincial Offences parking tickets and dog bylaw offences for private individuals.

While $916 is not a huge amount, there are important principles involved. Is there anything that the Mayor will not fund with our property taxes?

We just wonder how much more creative Mayor John Gray can get in the inappropriate use of our tax monies and wonder whether we are just discovering the tip of the iceberg in his reckless and unethical squandering of taxpayer resources.

As for these fines, a letter released by the City Director of Finance Services in response to details requested by the Finance and Administration Meeting of March 25, 2010, states: 1) that a media member attending the Oct. 7, 2009 KISS Concert was advised by a representative of the city to park in a handicapped parking space and was subsequently fined. The Mayor’s office paid the $316 fine to the Provincial Offences Office and was subsequently reimbursed by the media member’s employer in April 2010, and 2) The remaining $600 is comprised of tickets issued on Aug 12, 2009, by Animal Services staff to an individual for “allowing an animal to run at large (3 tickets @ $125 each) and for failure to register an animal ($110). These fines were increased to $600 due to late fees and were paid directly by the Mayor’s office to the Provincial Offences Office.

There are giant questions arising from these fines: 1) Was it the mayor who counseled the press to park in the handicapped parking zone and, if so, what does that say about the mayor’s attitude toward accessibility by the handicapped? 2) Is it legal for the mayor to use tax funds to pay fines issued to private individuals? 3) What is Oshawa’s Auditor General’s comment on this use of property tax funds? 4) How widespread is the mayor’s indiscriminate use of our tax dollars? 5) Why was the city reimbursed for the parking infraction in April 2010 only after the expenditure was discovered at the March 2010 meeting? 6) What is the mayor’s comment justifying the use of tax monies to pay personal fines?

In light of this squandering of tax resources, and to really put icing on the cake, the various mayoral candidates were asked by a local paper to comment on the major issues facing the city. All responded, “High Taxes!”

John Gray, the guy who paid these personal parking and dog infraction fines out of your tax dollars, and led a council wasteful in so many ways of our tax dollars, agrees that high taxes are a big issue. He said the city’s high tax rate results from its aggressive program of capital improvements. He didn’t mention them, but he might have mentioned the consistent million dollar losses of the GM Centre, the unneeded demolition of city arenas, and the needless demolition and rebuilding of a large part of city hall. He mentioned the low tax increase this election year but failed to mention the record high increases in previous years to give us the highest tax levels in the GTA. You can bet your bottom dollar that Gray expects to recoup tax revenues lost this election year with record high increases immediately following the Oct. 25, 2010 municipal election. You will recall that he pressed for a 9% increase immediately following the last election!

John Gray’s record is not one that favours lower taxes.

Two other candidates, Louise Parkes and Cathy Clarke are also city politicians who have consistently voted for the slash and burn and rebuild philosophy that has run our city debt levels to record highs. Both, like Mayor John Gray, are now calling for restraint this election year, no doubt to go back to the “drunken sailor” days of spending after the next election that they exhibited while on council.

A vote for those on council, past or present, is an invitation for them to persist with the wasteful and extravagant ways of the past that runs up our city debt, wastes your tax money, and digs a hand ever deeper into your pockets to feed politician’s sense of entitlement. If you’re pleased with the direction city politicians have been taking this city, vote for them!

If you feel the city needs new direction, you should consider a clean sweep of council. Those who have sat on city council and contributed to putting this city in the fiscal and high-tax and management mess that it finds itself should disqualify them from getting your vote.

As your new Mayor of Oshawa, I promise to give this city the real visionary leadership it needs starting with annual tax cuts until Oshawa reaches the average tax rates of the GTA. I believe 5 to 6 years of 3% annual tax cuts would do the trick at the same time as providing a slow enough cutback to city hall for adjustments to take place to cut out the fat, and cut out the waste and needless expenditures at the same time as protecting our levels of service.

Tax cuts, of course, are not the only aspect of my new leadership of Oshawa. I have visionary plans for the downtown and lakefront that you might read at www.wepromise.ca.

Come the New Year, Oshawa voters will literally throw out the old and usher in the new…we’ll throw out the tired and uninspired leadership of the past and usher in a new vision and a new beginning for our city.

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, April 19, 2010

Does Supporting the Troops require supporting the mission?

“Eye on City Hall”
A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
April 19, 2010

If you criticize government policy to engage in the Afghani war, rabid supporters of Canada’s war efforts claim you are not supporting our brave men and women engaged in this dangerous effort. Independent observers without the government blinders know there is a “barn door” of difference between the two and can clearly separate the two issues. Most everyone now is beginning to accept the notion that we can support our soldiers while at the same time being dead set against them being engaged in the conflict far from home.

This same type of argument is often being floated out there by city politicians who undoubtedly feel that Oshawa voters are not smart enough to distinguish such differences between the two issues….Supporting the troops and supporting the mission in Afghanistan.

Both Mayor John Gray and Councillor Brian Nicholson regularly cite any criticism of city politicians and/or their decisions as negativism….”destructive to the city,” they say. Such nonsense!

Oshawa voters can clearly see the difference and in fact recognize that most criticism directed at city council is an attempt to make the city better. Any politician that respects their constituents would know this. Attempts at slandering opponents with the term “negativism” is simply an attempt to “shush” opponents thus limiting public input and debate.”

In fact, the only thing that motivates candidates to stand for election is dissatisfaction with city politicians and a desire to do better.

Mayor John Gray, in his annual “State of the City” on Feb. 18, 2010, reminded those assembled that negativity about the city hurts residents and businesses and called for an end to "old attitudes" about Oshawa.

In that address, he stated “domino effect” planning by the city encouraged UOIT to expand into the downtown taking over all available space to house the move of 1000 students to the downtown core.

While the mayor applauds this move, I feel it is disastrous for the any renewal of the city core. The overloading of students in the downtown will further discourage Oshawa’s adult population from patronizing higher end stores and restaurants. These will disappear to be replaced by fast food and beer joints, and dance halls, all of which will attract “hell-raising” youth from afar.

I guess Mayor John Gray would attack me for being negative about these developments. I don’t know why when a better Oshawa is important to me in my role as a long-time housing stakeholder.

My investment in the city will go south if our downtown or city further deteriorates.

Recent attempts to clean up the downtown will be wasted if undesirable elements are attracted there to mingle with our student population.

Newspaper accounts already document the havoc raised by student tenants in some residential neighbourhoods surrounding the university and this will now be duplicated downtown. Negative thinking? No! Realistic? Yes!

Gray trumpeted city investment in the GM Centre as being the keystone of downtown renewal and guaranteed that it was a money earning proposition. We learn now that the 2009 operating loss was $1 million taxpayer dollars not to mention the additional debt servicing charge on the $45 million dollar facility. Taxpayer costs to subsidize these losses will continue to cost homeowners dearly.

The huge losses spawn rumors that the city will sell the facility after the election. Selling will produce staggering taxpayer losses. Investors would only buy this money siphon for a song! Is this thinking negative? No! Realistic? Yes!

In last years “state of the City” address, the mayor said Oshawa was well on its way to shaking off its old image of a city in decline, and was now a great place to buy a home or start a business. He rhymed off a long list of recent achievements including a rejuvenated downtown, a new management company overseeing the General Motors Centre, the new Conant Complex which opened in south Oshawa last summer, energy-saving renovations currently underway at City Hall and the release of the Crombie report and its recommendations for Oshawa's waterfront.

Note that all of the mayor’s comments were wrong. The downtown is not rejuvenated and as explained above will slide ever downward, the new management center overseeing the General Motors Centre is experiencing record losses, the money wasting and unneeded demolition and the “Beer Can” rebuilding of Council Chambers and “A” wing required only maintenance and not demolition and the energy refit will never pay for itself in a million years.

If the mayor and civic administration had their way worldwide, I guess they’d demolish and rebuild Parliament Hill, Buckingham Palace, The Louvre, 24 Sussex and every other public building in the world as no building that’s been standing for a few years is up to date in energy efficiency. Negative thinking? No! Realistic? Yes!

Gray also dived into the contentious issue of property taxes, saying reports that Oshawa's taxes are the highest in the GTA, are simply untrue. He compared property tax increases in Oshawa with our Durham neighbours. Note he chose his words carefully referring to property tax INCREASES and not the taxes we actually pay.

The fact is that a $350,000 house on any of Oshawa’s boundaries would currently save $1200 annually in taxes if it were moved to the other side of the street into Clarington, Scugog, or Whitby. Just moving your house to the neighbouring municipality would save you enough cash to fund a yearly Caribbean Cruise.

A $350,000 Oshawa house pays more taxes than 23 out of 25 GTA municipalities would pay on a $450,000 house and more than 16 out of 25 GTA municipalities would pay on $550,000 dollar house and more than 3 out of 25 municipalities would pay on a $750,000 house. Amazing! In fact, a $350,000 Oshawa house pays the same taxes as a $880,000 Toronto house. Are we negative to point this out? Hell no! Do taxpayers need to know this stuff? Hell yes! Sky high taxation signals gross fiscal mismanagement in Oshawa.

Gray may spout low tax increases to us this year but doesn’t he have a responsibility to say why we’re paying only .9% more this election year when he was admonishing council for wanting less than the 9% he said we needed only two years ago? I think so!

Maybe Mayor John Gray should explain that a major reason Oshawa has the lowest priced housing in the GTA is because of our excessive taxation which makes housing less desirable and depresses real estate prices thus robbing Oshawa homeowners of tens of thousands of home equity every year.

In his Feb 2008 address, Gray emphasized that the City of Oshawa is one of the most affordable places in which to live, do business and is gaining that reputation not just in Durham but in Canada and the world.

He quoted an international public policy survey on housing affordability that surveyed 227 cities in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA which listed Oshawa 49th of the cities surveyed and first in the GTA. Doesn’t he know this is an index of the desirability of a city as low prices are equated with low demand and low desirability? More proof that we need a new council to “fix” Oshawa!

In his Feb 2007 address, Gray acknowledged the city has suffered from image problems in the past, but stressed that is changing through downtown improvements like the General Motors Centre, community resources like UOIT and positive publicity like the 2008 Memorial Cup bid and recent Stephen Colbert challenge.

Looking ahead, the mayor promised to deliver on three major downtown projects that will further revitalize Oshawa's image: a marquis hotel, a name-brand grocery store and re-location of a new corporate headquarters downtown.

So let’s look at these promises as a function of John Gray’s leadership. Oshawa Image problems? Still here but worse with widespread national press as a result of tax funded MBA’s, $46,000 tax funded Stephen Colbert Day, UOIT student housing problems, Cullen Gardens Miniatures, money losing GM Centre, sky-high taxes, unneeded demolition and rebuilding of city hall, Arena demolitions, etc. As for the Memorial Cup…didn’t happen! The Marquis hotel…didn’t happen! Name-brand grocery store…didn’t happen! New corporate headquarters…didn’t happen. We need more than words and promises. We need action!

The mayor concluded, "We can achieve great things and never allow a pejorative thought to get in the way of our ability to progress." Are we being negative in looking backwards at the mayor’s own words and promises…all of which have been unfulfilled? I don’t think so.

But I do think by looking back we get a sense that we do need a change of political leadership in Oshawa…and quick!

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, April 12, 2010

City Councillor claims things are rotten at Oshawa City Hall

“Eye on City Hall”
A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
April 12, 2010

When Mayor John Gray was criticized for spending in excess of $40,000 of hard earned taxpayer monies to fund his personal birthday party, also dubbed the Stephen Colbert Day, he justified the expenditure by insisting that the value to the city of the publicity gained by the expenditure was incalculable.

I wonder whether he feels the same way about the widespread national attention given to his use of $46,000 of taxpayer funds for MBA’s for Councillor April Cullen and his Executive Assistant, James Anderson. For this, he and the city got widespread publicity bordering on the incredulous and laughable from editorialists right across the country and downright anger from those at home having to pick up the tab.

In an earlier column, I explained that I was kept up to date with John Gray’s funding of these MBA’s in a commuter newspaper in Vancouver where I was volunteering at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

And this week, we find that groups of ratepayers have to sue the city to have them uphold the city bylaws restricting housing around the university as residential rather than as student rental housing which the residents claim is destroying their neighbourhood through ongoing problems with noise, parking, parties, garbage, and vandalism.

All this, the residents claim, is threatening the safety and well being of homeowners in the area. The resident’s lawsuit is about reclaiming their neighbourhood through the enforcement of bylaws already on the city books.

Once again, this story was picked up by the Toronto Star and has hit the national media and was read by hundreds of thousands of Toronto Commuters on Monday April 5 as the front page headline of the freely distributed Metro Newspaper screamed, “Rowdy renters…Oshawa families suing city in bid to reclaim neighbourhood.” No doubt, similar headlines featured the same story in commuter newspapers distributed in all of Canada’s largest cities.

Residents near the university refer to their neighbourhood as ”The Streets of Broken Dreams,” and cite broken glass, beer bottles and condoms strewn around, front lawns torn up by cars, eggs thrown at houses and garbage piled up.

In one case, students retaliated against an older couple who complained about rowdy behaviour by placing pieces of glass in their backyard to cut their dog’s feet.

Oshawa is getting so much negative publicity that it seems as if the negative publicity value of their actions is a major determinant of what they do.

And now we learn that part of Mayor Gray’s renewal plan for the downtown is to do everything possible to facilitate movement of some of the university faculties downtown so that those disruptive problems experienced in the university neighbourhoods will also be experienced downtown.

I guess Mayor John Gray’s idea of renewal is flooding the downtown with students to discourage the adult population with their superior buying power to go there to support higher end restaurants and stores. This will surely prove to be another disastrous step by Gray’s inept administration.

Just as the city hall is complicit in creating this future downtown problem, they were complicit in creating the residential housing problems around the university.

Short-sighted thinking along with city planner’s approval of housing renovations to install up to seven and eight bedrooms in some houses to allow for student rental housing was a shirking of municipal responsibility to uphold the areas as residential in the first place.

Any politicians on the ball would have been calling for student residential housing from the initial stages and setting aside land tracts zoned as such from the very beginning. And now we are seeing the same short sightedness with student housing in the downtown.

Earlier, Oshawa made the National News in the Toronto Star, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and Macleans Magazine, when city hall bylaw officers with police and locksmiths in tow raided student housing around these same university neighbourhoods inspecting panty drawers of absent students to search for leasing documents.

This action hit the student newspapers of many of Canada’s universities informing many prospective Ontario students and their parents of Oshawa’s Neanderthal civic administration and, of course, discouraging their attendance and limiting the growth of our university here.

The proof is in the pudding! Oshawa city council has learned plenty of ways to get free national press. There was no need for Mayor Gray to personally spend the $45,000 on his birthday party to get that press that he called incalculably valuable.

And yet the city continues to spend countless numbers of our tax dollars to publish carriers for politician’s mug shots which are distributed at great cost to all front doors in Oshawa. Most of these end up unwanted and unread in the recycling bin. But where was the attempt to communicate when we really needed it---an explanation of the plebiscite question on our city council voting system which robbed our various Oshawa communities of their guaranteed representation on City Council.

With all of its press exposure, Oshawa is becoming one of the best known communities in this country. You can hardly pick up a newspaper anywhere without some reference to Oshawa. Unfortunately, most of the information is bad and a function of the political leadership of this city.

All of the national press has translated into making Oshawa a less desirable place to live, if housing demand indicated by housing sales figures released by the Toronto Real Estate Board is any indication. The first quarter sales figures for Single detached housing show an average Oshawa single family house price of $255,808 for the 194 sales that occurred in Oshawa for the lowest housing value over the entire GTA.

Late breaking news as I write this column is that Councillor Louise Parkes has announced her candidacy for Mayor of Oshawa in the upcoming October 25th, 2010 election.

In a Toronto Star article of April 7, 2010, Parkes stated that, “Leadership is a huge issue…Things are falling apart because of leadership style and a ‘systems failure’ at city hall…things are rotten,” she says, “and I aim to fix it.”

Parkes is right. Things are rotten at city hall and she is part of the problem…not part of the solution.

She was key cheerleader for the city’s purchase of the Cullen Gardens Miniatures and key critic of council’s decision not to proceed at great expense with the project.

She was asleep at the switch when she voted against providing citizen information about the ward/general vote plebiscite question and subsequently voted to rob communities of their guaranteed representation on city council; asleep at the switch while Mayor John Gray was approving the MBA funding; asleep at the switch while council was approving the costly and unnecessary demolition and reconstruction of council chambers and city hall “A” wing; asleep at the switch while the Mayor was funding his $40,000 birthday party; asleep at the switch while Council approved demolition of North Oshawa Arena, the Civic, and potentially Children’s Arena and Harmon Park Arena.

Indeed something is rotten at city hall. Louise Parkes was the councilor who pushed for bigger councilor office expense budgets and travel allowances…and pushed for failed Glyn Laverick to take over the Regent Theatre. After voting for high tax increases for Oshawa for years, she is now a convert for lower taxes. Yes…we need more of Louise Parkes at City Hall. Yeah! Right!

With Parkes now in the race, maybe Councillor John Henry will be encouraged to get into the race. Anti-council sentiment is at such a feverish pitch that I want to knock off as many sitting councillors as possible to give the people of Oshawa a new beginning in the governance of this city.

Because I am confident of becoming your new Oshawa Mayor, I want as many new council faces as possible. Oshawa needs a clean sweep of council!

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, April 5, 2010

Talk about roping yourself to a sinking ship!

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
April 5, 2010

Despite voter’s rage about the audacity of Mayor John Gray’s wasting taxpayer money on funding $23,000 MBA’s for his executive assistant, contract employee, James Anderson, and Councillor April Cullen, Councillor Brian Nicholson is still defending the Mayor’s outrageous and irresponsible action.

By doing so, Nicholson continues to expose the sense of entitlement he feels for himself and members of Oshawa City Council. He feels, as the Mayor does, that our tax monies can be spent any damn well way they please. Our tax monies can be used to service the needs and wishes of the politicians and not the city and its people.

In fact, despite the “Accountability and Transparency Bylaw” signed by all members of city council, Nicholson recently proposed a motion stating that such funding in future should be “hidden” in politician’s office budgets so that the tuition funding could continue but that the secrecy of the office budgets would hide such funding from the public. So much for his “respect” for the responsible and transparent use of our city taxes!

Last Tuesday, March 30, 2010, Nicholson published a 1600 word article on his Facebook Page justifying the MBA expenditures and supporting John Gray’s right to spend taxpayer money in this way. He also supported Councillor April Cullen’s and Executive Assistant, James Anderson’s, application for having taxpayers pay their MBA tuitions in the first place.

Nicholson writes his commentary for his “fans” on his facebook page and if someone disputes what he says, it is not long before the critic is cut off from Nicholson’s page so as to not undermine the inaccuracies that Nicholson spins on the page. I, for one, got cut off the page because I disputed Nicholson’s assertion that Oshawa was one of the lowest taxed places in the GTA despite the fact that we all know that we are absolutely the highest taxed place in the GTA and one of the highest taxed places in all of Canada. Nicholson regularly “snows” his readers in untruths, misinformation, and “spins” that disguise the real facts from his readers.

He seems to be tied at the hip to both John Gray and April Cullen as he has regularly attacked critics and opponents of John Gray and has continually stood up in support of April Cullen over the MBA issue as the only member of council to publicly do so. It seems as if all are members of a little three person fan club.

In his statement, Nicholson states, “This MBA controversy has been rife with irresponsible comments. Charges of illegality, conspiracy, corruption, intimidation, theft, and conflict of interest have been made with wild abandon.” Nicholson didn’t mention the most appropriate charge of “gross stupidity” and “irresponsibility” that is being made in press editorials right across the country!

“It is unacceptable,” Nicholson goes on, “when these charges are made by those who may not be aware of the workings of government, but when they are made by candidates for public office, by presidents of local ratepayers associations, and by members of Council, they are not only unacceptable but are deplorable and must be addressed.”

Once again, I guess, Nicholson thinks criticism is unwarranted by those getting centrally involved because, I assume, he feels that they should know “the workings of government,” and thus implies that every government uses, or should use, valuable tax dollars to serve politicians first.

If this is the case, perhaps Nicholson should be very critical of April Cullen and James Anderson for not enrolling in Harvard so that they could screw taxpayers out of close to $150,000 for tuitions. Even top ranked Queen’s and Western would set back the taxpayer close to $70,000 but neither April or James would get a high enough score on the GMAT for these “good” schools. Instead, they enrolled in “bottom feeding” Cape Breton University.

Maybe both Nicholson and Gray support publicly funded tuitions so that they could work on their BA’s at the public’s expense. Who knows? If we keep electing these guys, they may end up with a basic degree sometime.

In one Facebook posting, April Cullen claimed of “saving the taxpayer” about $6000 due to costs she picked up herself...like a summer in Cape Breton Island that she funded herself. She also justified taxpayers paying for her MBA because it cost each of us just pennies per week over her four year term. One amount she said she personally picked up, her summer program in Cape Breton, looks surprisingly like the $1808 she billed Durham Region for Travel. Doesn’t her sense of entitlement blaze through with her statement that she saved the city money on her MBA?

She makes no claim of personal benefit for her MBA, or thanks to the taxpayers, only asserting her many sacrifices and hours she put in on the degree….as if the sorry Oshawa taxpayer would give a damn about that. She does assert that she earned her $116,551 salary, though, because she had her long distanced taxpayer expensed blackberry with her. Thank you April!

In a recent meeting of the Finance and Administration Committee, Bruce Wood, President of the “Oshawa Ratepayer’s Association” made claims that: 1. The Mayor knowingly abused the city Corporate Training and Reimbursement Policy, 2. The Mayor circumvented the policy, and 3. Staff was intimidated into signing the applications due to political pressure and for fear of their jobs.

Nicholson bounced each of these suggestions off the City’s Auditor General who responded he came across no evidence to support any of Wood’s claims.

In his responses, the Auditor General was between a rock and a hard place….pleasing his political masters or giving his truthful opinion about the legitimacy of the MBA funding and process. No senior government employee of any government ever publicly contradicts or admonishes politicians no matter how “wrong-headed” they are. You can bet though that the more professional and dedicated staff were writhing in their beds at night and clenching their teeth at work during the day so as not to say what they really felt about the issue.

Oshawa’s Auditor General is paid about $160,000 annually and is on a renewable term contract. He was appointed by the politicians, acts on the politician’s directions, and his contract will not be renewed by the present bunch if he does not support the actions of the Mayor and Council at every turn. I have not once read a city Auditor General’s report that was at all critical of city operations, departments, staff, or the politicians. He keeps walking that “narrow track” at every turn to protect his future employment.

For a really effective Auditor General, he should be appointed on a ten year non-renewable term and be free to investigate any area of the city operations at his whim including calling sworn testimony and subpoenaing witnesses and making public reports through the press. This would give the office teeth similar to that enjoyed by Sheila Fraser, Canada’s Auditor General.

Right now, Oshawa’s Auditor General, as the job is defined, is a “pussycat” purring at the politician’s lap.

The Auditor General, though, did make one suggestion, that the policy should be tightened up so as to remove any ambiguities. This is simply a political statement that suggests that the policy gives room for the Mayor to make an interpretation of the rules.

I don’t know how much more defining the policy can be. There is a specific form for the purpose that quotes a maximum of $2000 per year or $5000 in any 5 year period. That’s clear to me! It also says that any application exceeding these amounts should also be approved by the city manager. That’s also clear to me! What’s the confusion?

In any case, no matter what the policy, common sense dictates that MBA’s should not be funded for politicians or political appointees. And it is good judgement we expect from our politicians in handling our affairs, isn’t it?

As a conclusion to his letter, Nicholson demanded a public apology from all critics of the MBA funding. I think that apology would be due from every single Oshawa resident except for Mayor John Gray, Councillors Brian Nicholson and April Cullen, and the Mayor’s executive assistant, James Anderson.

They are undoubtedly the only four in this city of 160,000 who agree with the funding, and the rest of us will undoubtedly express our disagreement with our votes come election day, Oct. 25, 2010.

Click here to read Brian Nicholson’s complete absurd statement supporting both the MBA funding and Mayor John Gray's "right" to make the decision to fund these tuitions out of your tax money.

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