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/

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