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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Heard on the campaign trail

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
September 27, 2010

It is quite revealing out on the campaign trail these days. The biggest message you get immediately is the profound anger of voters at the antics of city hall.

Almost 100% of voters you meet at their doors bring up Oshawa’s high taxes and many can back up this concern by quoting facts and figures of friends and relatives tax costs in other municipalities.

One “property owner” I chatted with last Thursday, has been to city hall many times to get property rezoned and has been frustrated many times by, as he says, the insignificant peons sitting behind the desks at city hall who are frustrating and stalling progress in this city at every turn.

Invariably people point to the ineffective leadership of Mayor John Gray and want to turf him out of office.

Many residents are so sick and tired of this city council that they want to kick out the whole bunch and put new faces in every council seat.

Incumbency, they’re saying, is like a noose around their political necks. Council have fallen into every political pothole possible and have invented others to fall into if they weren’t just there naturally. People are fed up!

Voters are mentioning high taxes, the MBA’s, Cullen Miniatures foolishness, lifetime political health benefits, wasteful spending on city hall demolition and renewal, and the change to the General Vote which is producing an impossible ballot for voters to make sensible choices.

They place the blame on every incumbent council member for their role in helping city council fall into every mistake, mis-step, and mess-up possible and it falls head first drowning in every pothole it creates.

Over the last few days, I have heard the following comments:
• Hey Bill...you’re like the Rob Ford of Oshawa with your promise of tax cuts and shaking up city hall---We need it and I like it!...a lawyer...9/22/10

• Bill---saw you on the Roger’s TV mayoral debates and was really impressed. Love the way you went after the dishonesty of some of the politicians exposing them for what they are. Thanks for letting us know that Louise Parkes took a 54% salary and expense spending increase in the first 3 years of this term. I thought her press calling for 5% political salary rollbacks and her signs that say “Fair Taxes” showed she agreed with spending restraint. With her huge salary increases in this time of restraint, I know that her signs and calls for salary rollbacks are deceptive. Now with these deceptive tactics, I don’t think I trust anything she says. Boy...did she ever have us fooled!

• With the high Oshawa taxes, my wife and I want to sell and pull out of Oshawa.....heard numerous times

• The high Oshawa taxes are making it impossible for me to sell my house without taking a huge loss.

• My high Oshawa taxes are like having a second mortgage on my house---a Columbus resident who pays taxes of $12,000 yearly

• That was really stupid spending on the demolition and rebuilding of parts of city hall and I like your “Good Government Plan” that will seek public approval for these big projects and increases in politician’s salaries and benefits...A Glen’s Resident...9/22/10

• Politicians have introduced the General Vote to try to insure their election based on name recognition. Up here in Columbus, the name recognition of incumbents will lose them votes.

• Mr. Longworth---after explaining your plan to cut taxes by 3% annually, I believe you and trust you to carry out this promise. I might have been a little sceptical before I met you and heard your explanation. I now know it is completely sensible and doable after listening to you....a Glen’s resident, 9/22/10

• Mr. Longworth---thanks for stopping to chat....I’m impressed! ---a Glen’s Resident....9/22/10

• We have to throw out the whole bunch....heard numerous times

• I moved from Whitby and am really surprised at my taxes here which are much higher than I paid in Whitby---think I made a mistake!...a Glen’s Resident, 9/22/10

• Mr. Longworth----your sign---“Stop the Madness,” says it all!

• Mr. Longworth---I like your message! Can I have a sign and some of your literature to distribute in my community?

• Mr. Longworth---got your literature today. Can you come over to chat with me so I can put my questions to you face to face? My neighbours and I are mad as hell about taxes and there are a lot of votes for you here!

• How did we get this ridiculous General Vote and who is responsible?

• If Parkes gets elected as Mayor, the city will be in trouble and I’m making plans to ditch the city if that happens. Gray looks good compared to what Parkes would do!

• I see in the paper that Parkes spent $23 less on her cellphone bills than the total of 8 of her fellow councillors. Why is she calling for spending restraint when she hasn’t seemed to be exercising it herself?

• Why does Parkes have “Fair Taxes” on her signs when she seems to have the highest expenses on council?

• I know a lot of people who wouldn't vote for Louise Parkes if she was running against the devil --- a facebook comment

• When is Henry going to start saying something about his plans for this city if he becomes Mayor? By the way, thanks for telling me he was the councillor responsible for bringing lifetime health benefits for retired councillors to this city.

• Stop the press…just received as I’m writing this---I’m fed up! Council needs focussed and responsible leadership. You’ve got my vote! Please put your sign on my lawn…Doug J.
This campaigning really puts you in touch with the people of Oshawa and tells me I’m on the right track and the same track since being nominated on January 4, the first day for nominations. And, I’m not one to do a turn-around at election time!

I’m the only mayoral candidate calling for tax cuts and this is the key issue with ratepayers. They know that my tax cuts will cut out about $3.5 million annually from city hall’s approximate $115 residential tax revenue and feel, as I do, that this is a slow enough cutback to allow city hall to cut out the fat, waste, and inefficiencies, without any service cuts, and foster a mindset of restraint in every bureaucrat’s mind.

You too, can jump on the exploding “Longworth” bandwagon!

This is an important election to put Oshawa on the right track and I encourage every voter to become as informed as possible about the Mayor Platforms particularly, as it will be the Mayor who is most influential in setting the city policy framework for the next four years.

There has never been a time in the last decades that we’ve needed change more....and there has never been a time in the last decades that we need voters to be informed and get out and vote on October 25.

And now for one more benefit of this campaign….I’ve lost 15 pounds! Anyone want to help? This is better than weightwatchers.

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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