Wednesday, December 23, 2009


It has truly been a learning experience for me writing this blog. For the best part I have enjoyed your comments and ideas, although I don't always agree with them. I want to thank each of you for participating.

I have my family arriving for the Christmas holiday and my focus over the next few days will be on my family. I do wish each of you a Merry Christmas and the enjoyment of friends and family during this holiday season.

We will catch up after Christmas. Have a great one!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Premiere Premier

Mandryk's SP column today poses the question of premier of the decade - Calvert or Wall. I think it is a little early in Wall's career to make that judgment, unless the criterion is simply electability.

I personally feel that Wall is a better ambassador for Saskatchewan than was Calvert. In that respect Wall reminds me of Romanow. He gives the province more credibility outside the provincial boundaries and inspires provincial pride. However, Wall's ability to govern has not yet been fully tested.

On the other hand, Calvert has a track record that leaves me feeling he wasn't good or bad. A plodder.

Your thoughts?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stop the train before the wreck

We mandate that all children must be educated. I do not understand why schools spend the money they spend on marketing a mandated service. If you are Catholic you are legislated to pay your taxes to the Catholic school division and may send your children to a Catholic school. If you are non-Catholic you must pay your taxes to the public school division and they must accept all students. It is, or was, a simple concept.

In an age when dollars are short all way round, why do school divisions compete for students? Education is about one generation preparing a future generation to sustain society. Yet we have school divisions competing for students and using our tax dollars for that purpose. And then they ask for more money for education. Although it may appear that the money spent is a small fraction of the over all budget (SP 12/19/09) what else could the public system spend $215,000.00 dollars on or the Catholic system $87,000.00?

We now have created the options of public schools, Catholic schools, francophone schools, associate schools, private schools and home schools. Each want what the other has and exhibit an entitlement to tax dollars to finance their wants.

All the public-at-large wants is an educated community. Who is engineering this train and where is it going? Put education back on track!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ain't nobody happy . . .

In Mandryk's SP column today he said its usually a sign of a good decision when nobody is happy. I'm happy. I think the government made a lucid decision . The benefit of development did not out weigh the cost at this point in time. The inane comments on this issue was the response from opposition who chastised the government for wasting several months and spending money on the process to arrive at a non-decision and the Chamber of Commerce who claims government didn't base its decision on good economics.

If we get to the point were we are freezing to death in the dark, the opponents to the decision can then shout their "I told you so" words of wisdom.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Green Acres

Today's rental situation in Saskatoon reminds me of the late 1970s. At that time our rent almost doubled in a short period of time and absolutely nothing else was available in our price range. It is why we bit the bullet and bought a house, although we struggled coming up with a down payment and cut every luxury out of our monthly budget in order to make the mortgage payment. Ironically today our monthly property tax payment exceeds our initial mortgage payment.

For years the province and cities used the lure of cheap housing and land costs to attract business to our locale. The high cost of living in neighouring provinces brought ex pats back home. We are what we wanted to be.

Social housing will address the issues of the marginalized. My heart goes to young middle and lower middle class families who are caught in the abyss. In today's SP one such person commented on looking for residence outside of the city. I think they will find that anything within reasonable driving distance to the city will not be much of a bargain.

Perhaps rural Saskatchewan will now use the lure the province and cities previously used - cheaper housing and land costs. In today's technological world many people can work out of their home. It might be nice to see some growth outside of the two major cities.

The grass might not just look greener, it may be greener on green acres.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Political Virtuosos

Thank God the provincial auditor can't be fired. It would seem that no matter who is governing simple math concepts elude the governing body. Put the liabilities on the debt side and the revenue on the credit side. If government owns the Crown and takes revenue from the Crown, it stands to reason that it also own the debt of the corporation. How many times does the auditor have to repeat himself before the message sinks in? The simple definition of revenue is money coming in, not saved money. The rule of thumb for we mere mortals, when we use our savings to pay unexpected expenses we do not include that money as revenue on our tax returns. How hard is this to grasp?

I wish all of the MLAs would sit down with the auditor, design a realistic budget process without pointing fingers as to who created or inherited whatever and give us a true picture of our provincial economic situation. Thereafter every government should be required to follow the process.

I shutter to think what we would discover if the auditor did a report on the city's books. The current process of audited statements never comments on the financial practice of city management. Do we rob Peter to pay Paul?

Ah, what the hell . . let's just keep fiddling . . .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Apples, oranges, no lemons

It might seem a little too close to home for me to comment on, but the graduation rates published by the Ministry of Learning (SP Dec. 12/09), comparing the Public/Catholic schools, left, wrongfully, the impression that Catholic schools trumped Public Schools in terms of academic success. It left a sour taste.

The Saskatoon Public School system has comprehensive schools that offer practical/trade courses which often appeal to the less academically inclined student and which the Catholic system does not offer.

The Saskatoon Public system has programming and child are facilities to assist the return of teen parents to complete their secondary education. In many instances the teen parent cannot take a full class loan each year and has to extend the time frame for matriculation.

The Saskatoon Public system has a substantial number of immigrant students learning English as they work through the curriculum. As well, it has a growing number of aboriginal students that spend part of the school year on reserve and then in an urban school and are in greater need of school time and resources just to keep up.

The Saskatoon Public system has programming to accommodate every kind of student - and this may be the only criticism I have of the system in terms of student services. The smorg may be too large for the system to operate effectively.

And public systems can turn no one away unlike other schools and/or divisions. There is no "one size fits all" program. By its very nature it cannot be homogeneous as might be a private or Catholic school. It cannot cater to the majority. It will however, with support from families and communities, return to society a well-rounded future generation.

This is not an anti-Catholic bash. The Catholic system does a good job and I applaud their work. I simply think the Ministry is at times comparing apples to oranges. There are no lemons.

This little piggy . . .

I enjoy the Farmer's Market. I don't mind paying the extra for local product. What I do mind is the unrealistic people associated with the market. One group would be the vendors who want the space at their convenience and little cost. The others being the purchasers who want their own version of Granville Island or The Forks, both of which are public markets, not farmer's markets. And both these markets have the necessary population density to thrive.

After public consultation, the city spent considerable money renovating the building, creating the public square and negotiating an agreement with the Farmer's Market. The deal was to have the place open five days a week and viable. If vendors of the market think its a tough slug to do that then they should speak to small business downtown who struggle year round and work 10 to 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week. Small business pays ever escalating property tax, increasing light/water rates, provides its own sidewalk clearing and pays for a business license in order to operate. Most can't afford many employees so work the long hours on their own or with family. Most of these same small business people live in the city and pay tax on their homes as well. On the other hand, most of the people at the market do not live in the city and pay city taxes.

About a month ago I received a notice of a market being held at The Refinery on Wednesdays. I haven't been there - hate the parking issues around Broadway. However, over the summer I did try the growing number of produce markets available in mall parking lots.

The city should level the playing field and every market vendor should pay a fee for their stall regardless of where they set up. Market vendors should learn from small business. And my tax dollars should not be used to subsidize cottage businesses.

I will will now await the squeal!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fear of the unknown

I'm a little torn on whether or not Saskatchewan should get the nod for an isotope producing nuclear research reactor. It seems a natural progression since we introduced cobalt 60 for cancer treatment and have the Syncroton. I like the idea of being a science city. My hesitation is my conditioned fear of all things nuclear.

I not sure if my uncertainty stems from a fear that our decisions makers are wearing rose-colored glasses or that we'll all take on a rosy glow.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Deep thoughts or shallow minds

Former Chief Meechance is going to jail for eight months for thwarting the democratic process by buying votes for hard, cold cash according to the SP report. I think the process needs that protection and the message needs to be sent to politicians and/or candidates that we expect honesty from them.

At the same time I have to toy with the idea that politicians/parties "mislead" the electorate all the time in order to get our votes. We seem to be bought with our own money in every election. I guess the difference is that they use our money to by our vote whereas Meechance used his own.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mathematically Challenged?

I'm late posting this morning as it took me a while to come out of shock after reading the Star Phoenix article on Council's record capital spending. We have six councillors that have committed to no tax increase beyond the rate of inflation, that being the majority vote. We have the provincial government freezing spending and examining its priorities and commitments. We have a capital budget that suggests a 10 to 12 percent tax increase. Somehow none of this adds up.

Councillor Paulsen states she expects the provincial government to keep their promise and she is not going to stockpile money to give the province an opportunity to find a way out. I expect this means council spends, creates debt and if the government doesn't cough up then it is the fault of the government, not council, and thus council is entitled to jack up property tax. This rationale is so old and lame. Its as smart as the provincial government establishing a budget based on commodity revenues.

The items in this budget that will find favour with the public have the least financial impact. Adding $425,000 to repair of back lanes, although a pittance, is a start. Extra money for front street repair would have been appreciated as well. Doubling the community garden development fund to a whopping sum of $3,000 seems the best investment. For $3,000 you enable the community to enhance and maintain city owned property. Its a steal. The city can't even cut weeds on the boulevards for that amount of money.

As for $5o,ooo for rebranding Gordie Howe Bowl, if you have to spend money to find ways to convince people how to use a facility maybe you don't need the expanded facility. Although I support a community pool for Mayfair maybe things are going over the top and you don't need lane pools, spray toys, waterslides, etc. Lets keep in mind that after the capital expenditure comes the operating and maintenance cots of these facilities.

I for one would invest in buying each councillor an abacus.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Tiger by the tail . .

I think Tiger Woods is one of those rare athletics - the best in his sport to date. If you are a golfer it is a pleasure to watch him play. I am very interested in every aspect of his game.

I am not remotely interested in his matrimonial harmony, or lack thereof. I care not how many dalliances he is alleged to have had, their names or amounts paid for silence - if in fact any of this is true. If a public figure's personal/family life does not impede his/her ability to do their work, or they do not use their family as props for personal advancement, then it should not be up for public consumption.

Put the Tiger back on the tee.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I see the train a comin'

Who can we believe? I have heard for decades that the baby boomers are the wealthiest generation that ever was or will be. Yet during Jack Layton's recent visit to the NDP homeland he states that we have a demographic train coming and we don't have the tools in place to deal with it. Thus we, the general taxpayer, should invest 700 million into the Canada Pension Plan.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but unlike Old Age Security pension that every Canadian receives, Canada Pension is the plan that employers and employees contribute to and your pension receipt is based on your contribution. I might understand if he wanted to bump up OAS for poorer seniors, but the demographic train coming is hauling, for the best part, affluent passengers.

I think I could be convinced that many of today's senior women need additional assistance, since many would not have worked outside of the home and be eligible for CPP, but CPP is not the correct funding source to fix this problem.

Jack needs to check the destination of the train before booking a ticket.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Not the perfect Xmas gift

I agree with the law that people should not be allowed to profit from their crimes. When parolee Colin Thatcher decided to write his denial, my first thoughts were who cares. Another book to collect dust on the shelf of the unread. Then Sask Justice decided to become its promoter. This book is getting prime time media attention, not because of its literary value or content, but because of the action of Sask Justice.

I can't believe that outside of Moose Jaw, or Saskatchewan, that anyone would be interested in this book. After publishing costs, how much profit would there be? Would any thinking person actually pay a dime to read the ramblings of Thatcher? I hoped not. However I expect the book sales will now increase as a result of the actions of Sask Justice. Perhaps we should have waited to see if there was any profit to pursue before chasing after it.

Real authors would kill for this kind of attention to their publications. Hmmm . . .maybe . . .

As books are hot commodities during the Xmas season, treat your friends and families kindly and bypass this one.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Big Brothers

I have this growing uneasiness about government intervention on lifestyle choices, yet I don't necessarily disagree with it.

Banning the use of cell phones while driving is one. I think it is dangerous for a driver to call or text while driving and puts others at risk. The dangerous part is distraction from concentration necessary to vehicle operation, so allowing for hands free use of cell phones defeats the purpose.

Banning smoking in a private vehicle with kids in the car is the right thing to do. One would think every person would know that and not do it. Apparently not, so government will legislate it.

Restriction on tobacco sales sort of falls into line with alcohol. You have to be of a certain age to purchase booze and then only from the government operated store, with few exceptions. At a time when debate is ongoing as to whether or not private liquor sales should be allowed, we take another legal substance and put more restriction on it. If it is a given that both alcohol and tobacco are unhealthy lifestyle choices, why not just ban sales of these products.

Increasing our conduct, when deemed by government to be bad for us, is being legislated. It seems if we as individuals are judged by government or lobby groups to be making poor choices, then big brother will take away our right to choose.

Given that obesity is a growing health concern across the province/country, perhaps government will save us from ourselves and legislate diets.

I am left in a quandary. I don't disapprove of legislation that protects people, particularly youth, but I am getting an uneasy feeling about the intrusion of government.

I already have three great brothers and don't really want government to join my family tree.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The pot and the kettle

"There is only one taxpayer." Who do you think said this? Canadian Taxpayers Association? A business group? A right wing fanatic? Wrong! It was NDP deputy leader Deb Higgins. I wish she had understood that that when her party was in government and down loaded everything onto municipal governments and property tax payers. As dear ole granny liked to say, this is like the pot calling the kettle black.

Although the Gantefoer was way off the mark on the potash revenue and guilty of over optimism on potash sales, so were legions of others who held on to potash stock. Old Premier Wall is now damned if he does and damned if he doesn't on this budget. When he puts a hold on spending until this mess is reviewed and the budget renewed he is charged with breach of promise. If he continues with the spending and we are in a deficit, he is charged with mismanagement. I think the apt expression here is 'hoisted on one's own petard.'

For those of us in the peanut gallery it is simply hypocrisy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Mendel Chair Art Knight should have his name on a ballot in an election. He's a natural. His response to the Mayor's question on who approached whom "The gallery came to the realization that this wasn't going to work at the current location." was the ultimate finesse in political debate. When you have two councillors sitting on your board, a council that has been reluctant from day one to finance an expansion and publicly saying it wants a public arts centre on River Landing, it is only surprising that it took so long to come to the realization.

Initially I had heard that the federal/provincial governments were going to fund the whole thing and the concern would be operating costs. At the time of the federal/provincial announcement it stated each senior level was going to put in $13 million, less than half of the original $55 million. At that time the Mayor said the balance would be fund raised - he forgot to mention the fundraising would be the mil rate. After committing $13 million for a new building, I was surprised the province left another $4 million on the table - that being the money for an expansion that was not to be.

In the end, the city is putting in about $20 million bucks. To date, there is no private development to support the public component. We have six councillors that have committed to no mil rate increase beyond rate of inflation. Where is that money tree?

On the horizon is the MVA, which is totally funded by the city and province for operating costs, salivating at the thought of moving into the old Mendel site - and it will be looking for capital funding to renovate the existing building and increased operating costs.

And to come full circle, Mr. Knight may know the names of his chess pieces, but he obviously does not know how the game is played. Checkmate!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Seven Deadly Sins

I'm not a sports fan, but I did get caught up in Sunday's Grey Cup. I always root for underdogs - but stood by my team when we became the hot dogs, then top dogs and eventually, lost dogs. For me, a Rider win was tied to provincial pride (that deadly sin.) I was lusting (another deadly sin) for the win. When the Riders were ahead by two touchdowns I was greedy (another deadly sin) for more points. I was feeling anger (deadly sin) in the last minute or two when we were down to the nitty gritty. And I did feel envy (deadly sin) of the winning team. But there was no guilt for the sins of sloth or gluttony. Our team worked hard, played a great game and I am back to the sin of pride.

This game experience did leave me thinking of the times when life takes a sudden and unexpected twist and you ask yourself those "what if", "if only" and shoulda, coulda and woulda questions. In a mere few seconds you can be sent down the path of the unknown. It is great when you discover that the unknown path you are on is taking you to a place you were meant to be and you quit asking the reflective questions and start asking perspective questions.

Its time for me to going back to my sinning ways - I'm still in reflective mode!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Injustice of Justice

Robert Pickton, notorious pig farmer and killer/mutilator of dozens of women, has been granted an appeal of his conviction to the Supreme Court. When first charged he did not get the ordinary legal aid lawyer. He got representation by high priced criminal attorneys - funded by our tax dollar. An appeal to the Supreme Court is not for the faint of wallet - but then again since when have taxpayers been considered thrifty.

On the other hand, daily we read of increasing numbers of citizens lining up at food banks, more homeless, single parents raising kids on marginal budgets, funding shortages for health care, education and the list goes on. . . and budget deficits.

When I shake my head its in the hope that something will kick loose and I will understand the rationale for this process.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New meaning to "carry on"

Remember the good old days when you flew with an airline and you were served a meal? Part of the fun included trying to guess what you were eating. I don't know whether it was economic circumstances, or threat from a health authority, that ended that service. Now you carry on your own food.

Airlines used to have magazines for your reading pleasure. Now you carry on your own magazines.

A friend told me recently, before boarding her flight, she used the toilet facilities at our airport. She was a little dismayed to discover there was no soap, towels or hand sanitizer available in the washroom. I guess the new carry on is your favorite virus - or face mask.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Link to Link

It annoys me that politicians think we are all stupid and believe everything they say. Lingenfelter suggests he played no role in the termination of NDP CEO Deb McDonald. Its hard for me to believe that a provincial party leader would have no say in what the provincial executive is doing or who is being hired/fired. Then again, he knew nothing about the activities of an over zealous volunteer selling questionable memberships during the leadership campaign.

Lets count the sins of the NDP loyalist Deb. Firstly she is the ex-wife of Link's BFF, backroom boy Reg Gross. She was provincial secretary/CEO of the party during Link's membership fiasco, when the investigation was ordered and the decision made to keep the roughly $10,000.00 paid by his campaign fund for the memberships. She was chief of staff to Lorne Calvert . . .

Sad to think this experienced woman may have lost her job for doing her job.

Even sadder is the unspoken understanding that none of the old party stalwarts will stand up and call foul - no doubt justifying non-action as being 'for the good for the party.' They'll close a blind eye and conveniently forget that any organization is only as good as the people that belong to it.

Links "I know nutting . ." replies remind of the imbecile Sargent Klaus from the old TV sitcom Hogan's Heroes. This was a spoof about an allied POW camp run by an incompetent who looked away and knew "nutting" to avoid any repercussions from his commandant regarding the activities of the POWs.

Get a lawyer Deb!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The 22.5% solution

A 22.5% jump in water rates now rewards water conservation. It has nothing to do with the fact that earlier this fall city management said revenues were down because of low water consumption. And they forget to mention that coupled with the water rate is sewer and ever-increasing infrastructure charges. If 4.8 is coming in 2010 that leaves 17.7 to phase in during 2011 and 2012. I'm betting the majority of the 17.7% comes in 2011 - they won't want a huge increase in 2012, it being an election year. We voters need time to forget this prior to the next civic election.

The good news for me is that the $18.98 I pay monthly for infrastructure charges is a bargain given the number of times they dig up my street every year to repair my aged water/sewer lines.

I have one question. Is there a credit given to those homes that are advised to run their water for 10 minutes every morning before drinking it due to possible lead contamination from the old pipes?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pay it now or pay it later

The only one who will make money off the class action school fee issue is Tony Merchant - and it will be your money filling his pocket. The class action suits he is looking at will net very little to those signing on - in fact what they will pay in increased taxes for this will exceed what they may recover.

Although I believe schools have increasingly exceeded what school fees were intended for, without them these same parents will be complaining that the school isn't meeting expectations for students. At the elementary level student fees generally covered costs for out-of-school excursions, classroom parties (ie Christmas, year end), Kleenex, etc. They were not intended to cover costs related to curriculum.

At the high school level many of the fees relate to elective classes. In grade 12, when the fee is highest, some of its goes to grad activities. All of these activities can be done away with, but when they go then you will hear the howl - or alternatively taxes will go up, either locally or provincially, to cover these costs.

What next? Should tax payers have to pay for student's school supplies?

If I sign on for reimbursement of 26 years of student fees, will I be required to prove I paid them or do I just add my name to the list and hope for cash settlement on the belief it will cost me nothing?

You would think that the $30 million plus federal tax dollars Merchant earned off the residential school claims would be enough to retire on. It must be true that you can't be too rich or beautiful.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Did they lie?

City administration is telling council that any delays in the development of River Landing "will have a significant and potentially permanent impact on the mill rate." Anyone surprised?

During the election campaign six councillors committed not to increase the mill rate beyond the rate of inflation. The test of truth is on the horizon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dark Days

Up front I state that I do not support government investment in private business. I see the role of government being to the door to the private sector and protecting the public from the unsavory element that sometimes leeches on to good private developers.

In the case of Big Sky hog producers, the government is the majority shareholder. I appreciate that it was the previous government that created the scenario and the current government inherited the problem. However, as a major shareholder the government should have been more diligent in protecting the public interest in this corporation. When the commodity market showed a decline in pork sales and profit margins diminished, government should have watched with caution our public investment and stepped in if necessary.

Farmers have been raised on permit books and marketing boards. Now we have farmers at the brink of bankruptcy because they believed that delivering grain to a corporation that is majority government owned was a safe contract and there was no indication that the corporation was in trouble. Worse yet would be watching others sell their product at a higher price to the same corporation and getting paid after the corporation went into receivership.

I know if this was a private corporation that every creditor would be sucking wind. But is the line blurred because the major shareholder is government?

The Land of the Living Skies is cloaked with nimbus clouds.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Something stinks!

I read in the paper about the child with spina bifida being tossed out of Brunskill School over a funding issue. In the end the principal took the hit. I was stunned to learn that a principal had that kind of power - things must have changed a lot over the last few years. Decisions as to whether students are permanently removed from schools is usually approved through central administration. Funding and staffing to schools is allocated by central office. If a student moves from one division to another, then it is up to administration to deal with the other division, not the parent. And if this is only a funding issue, why was the able-bodied sibling allowed to stay? What a tragic experience for this family.

Students are eligible for attendance at publicly funded schools until the age of 22 and divisions are given funding for that student for the full school year. I am reminded that a few years ago a friend, whose son is physically disabled, turned 22 in early February. She was told that she had to remove him from school by the end of that month because he had hit the magic age of 22. She was devastated and didn't know what she could do for him given the short time line. I told her to ask the administration whether they would be reimbursing the government a pro rata share of the funding they received and enquire as to whether all able-bodied students were also being removed mid-semester due to the coming of age. The short story is he was allowed to stay until the end of the school year. Sadly, she told me, a few of his fellow students had already been removed earlier in the year for this reason.

Unless the new funding formula has dramatically changed operating budgets, divisions get funding for each student enrolled as of September 30. If they drop out or move on or after October 1 the division still keeps the funding. It would be a waste of tax dollars to enroll any student for a semester if in fact they we not going to be allowed to complete their courses.

If the measure of a society is how we treat our most vulnerable, this would be the saddest comment we can make about ourselves. Cash for kids.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A bird in hand

A part of me wants council to tell Lobsinger to blow it out his bag but my rational side says if he actually has the money in the bank, do the deal. The idea of two more years of 'public consultation' and political posturing is repellent. If this council liked his initial plan and he now is prepared to proceed I can't see a reason to say no. I just hope there are no huge tax concessions as part of the deal.

There many bushes left on River Landing from which to flush out new birds.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jolly Green Giant

Will the jolly giant occupying the Mayor's Chair turn green? If so, what algorithm will be applied to cover the blue box program cost. We have six councillors committed to no tax increases beyond the rate of inflation - the majority vote. During the election campaign we heard the cost was frightful. Will the money come from layoffs at the landfill? Will Sarcan and Cosmo survive? What about the young entrepreneurs who started the blue box program a few years back? Will this be a contracted out service? Will we pay for each bag of garbage disposed to the landfill?

I suspect if the His Worship turns green it won't be a environmental green, but the kind that would call for medical assistance.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Go with the flow (or up the creek?)

I have debated the big box issue with myself for so long I feel schizophrenic.

In some instances the city had no say in big box development because the land was zoned for such use. The Galaxy Theatres was one such example. In other instances the city created the zoning to allow for it - Preston Crossing, Stonegate, Blairmore. I admit to being opposed to big box malls believing they would shut down small business and destroy the entrepreneurial spirit. Nor did I want to be enslaved to Walmart.

On reflection this process started decades ago. With few exceptions, small corner grocery stores, butcher shops and bakeries gave way to supermarkets - one stop shopping for today's busy families. Small video shops could not compete with Blockbuster. Local hardware store suffered the peril of battling Home Depots. We all wanted convenience and better prices offered through economy of scale.

Small shops lost out to departments stores. Now department stores are altering the stock offered. Aside from the Christmas season, gone are toy departments. Off you go to Toys-R-Us or Walmart for selection. General hardware items or small necessaries like an inexpensive plastic waste basket, dish drain, step stool or similar products are no longer readily available at Sears or the Bay. I think you get the picture.

We satisfy ourselves with a quaint morning at a farmer's market or craft festival and lament a way of life lost. I expect our grandparents feel the same way and satisfy themselves with a visit to the WDM. The times they are a changing.

I throw in the towel - albeit a 'second' from Walmart.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A step behind or a step ahead?

So the province says we are headed for a recession. Historically governments have tended to try and spend our way out of a recession. Over this last year Saskatoon seemed recession-proof - we bucked the global trend. Apparently not. So I ponder whether Saskatoon is a step behind the rest of the world or whether we were so visionary that we were spending our way out of a recession before we were in one.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Remember

I take this day to remember all those who served and gave great sacrifice so that we all may enjoy the freedoms we have today. Thank you to them and their families for this gift and the life we have today.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Want to get rich quick?

Be a consultant for the city. The old Gathercole and AL Cole sites have been the most studied properties in Saskatoon. It has gone on for decades. I couldn't even hazard a guess at the cost of previous studies or the money lost by developers on failed proposals.

A plan was developed, after public consultation, for a mix of public/private development. Initially the public contribution was to be about $35 million. Close to $80 million has already been spent and another $55 to 60 million contemplated for more public use development. And still no private development to help foot the bill. And it seems we're going to consult again.

In the event councillors didn't hear the message during the election - the public is concerned about the money you are spending and the debt you are creating. They are concerned that you can't bring a project in on budget or stick to a plan.

If you truly want public input hold a referendum vote. It will be cheaper than another consultant. You actually might create something that the majority will agree upon.

Where is council?

Neault and Heidt say - put it back on the market. Sorry boys. Last time you only had one taker and he just lost a bundle of money. I just can't see a flurry of activity on another go round. I fear you will simply taint the property as being a developer's nightmare.

Penner says - test the market - no rush to develop - grass it. Already done. We need something to pay for watering the grass we've already planted.

Hill's position - no rush - consult again. Been there, done that. Word of advice - wear a saddle when straddling the fence.

Lorje says - she's open to more public space but it won't attract people. Then why be open to it? Check other cities, hire another consultant. Been there, done that. Up, down, blue, brown.

Clark's - wants a successful public gathering space - quandary is competing interest between generating tax base and doing something good for citizens. Generating tax revenue would be doing something good for citizens.

Wyant - check with developers and reconsider existing zoning and development guidelines. What a novel idea. Actually find out why developers struggle with this piece of property. Tip of the hat to Wyant.

Dubois, Paulsen, Atch, Pringle - from all reports seem to be into more consultation.

Looney Tunes

"Increasing parking rates is one of the tools to increase parking stall availability rates" states parking services manager Miles Jarvin. I suspect he's right.

Why would I pay $2.00 to park at a meter when it hits -40 when I can park underground in the Midtown Plaza and pay the same $2.00. And if I am delayed getting back to my car at a city meter I will likely get a $10.00 parking ticket. If I am delayed getting back to my warm car at the Midtown Plaza parkingI pay an additional $1.00 per half hour. Better yet, if I avoid downtown I can go to a mall and pay nothing.

Definitely the bus increases seem to be a better deal. But if we all ride the bus downtown and avoid the parking meters how will transit make the shortfall? Not so long ago transit said by investing money in new depots (U of S, Market Mall etc.), offering the Upass for students and developing express lanes would increase ridership and make public transit viable - the economy of scale. What happened?

Riding a bike downtown, particularly in winter as snow clearing isn't a strong suit for the city, is a venture only for the brave at heart.

Lastly, quit comparing Saskatoon to the mega cities of a million plus population. Why can Regina offer parking at a $1.00/hr?

Parking meters are not the only depositories for loonies. . . city hall has a fair collection.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Big Boo Boo

The recent poll on the provincial government was not surprising but intriguing. What was most noticeable was Cam Cooper's comment the the NDP have not yet benefited from a "Lingenfelter lift." Generally speaking euphoria follows immediately after a leadership change. I'm not sure whether the poll is reflective of Premier Wall's leadership or Mr. Lingenfelter lack thereof or whether the public likes Wall's new style politics vs. Lingenfelter same old, same old - throw a little mud and hope something sticks.

Interestingly I was in Alberta and had dinner last weekend with some long-term friends who have been died-in-the-wool ex-pat socialists. To keep any of our evenings from being disastrous we generally avoid discussing politics. I was taken aback when one friend said there was one one reason Saskatchewan was doing so well as of late. I bit . . that would be because . . .? Simple response - Brad Wall. He even acknowledged he could vote for Wall. I nearly fell off the chair - and it was not a liquor related incident.

Lingenfelter said he never viewed his return to Saskatchewan politics as a sprint, but rather as a steady climb to the 2011 election. I'm skeptical that his "tortoise and hare" race is going to end the fabled way.

In the end the NDP leadership boo boo looks like it might be an election night boo hoo.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Toss Trost

I understand Planned Parenthood is an organization that educates on contraception and reproductive responsibility, health and privacy issues, provides counselling on an unplanned pregnancy and options for women in dealing with their circumstance. I will not get into the no win ProLife/ProChoice debate. This is an international agency dealing with a serious issue.

MP Trost has not put forward a plan on how to support women during gestation, or after birth, or for the child born in these circumstances. It seems to be the theme "bring them into the world and let them fend for themselves." I don't see him bringing in a plan to provide day care services to allow teen moms to get back to school so they might, in future, support themselves and their child. If, in the event of post-natal depression or hopelessness, children are neglected, abused or abandoned he'll no doubt lead the charge to have the mother charged and jailed - but not supported.

He states in the Petition: "the IPPF does not support physician's freedom to practice according to their conscience and/or religious beliefs regarding abortion referral." I might agree that a physician should not be forced to perform an optional procedure against conscience, but not a referral to another physician. And it is shameful that MP Trost thinks he should impose this holier than thou position on developing nations.

Planned Parenthood may not receive Mr. Trost's support, and Mr. Trost will not receive my support. I am ashamed of my MP and I pray that the majority of members of parliament will toss his petition and that Saskatoon-Humboldt voters will toss him.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Grandstanding or governing

If politicians want to know what creates voter apathy they simply need to look at the antics in the legislature when the NDP MLA's went on a short "strike." We have have serious issues in the province and the city regarding health care, energy etc. that require the collective input from both sides of the government. When you get up and leave the venue its hard to believe that you really want to problem solve. I would hope there are avenues to use when dealing with conduct of a minister or speaker other than shirking your responsibilities to constituents. We deserve better.

If you are looking for a political grandstanding do it after your job in the legislature is done. It may simply be a problem of not being able to teach old dogs new tricks and that we need some new dogs. I think all those who left should be docked pay.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I have a copy of the letter acclaimed Ward 4 Public School Trustee Dan Danielson distributed during the election that, in essence, panned incumbent Myles Heidt for not getting the Board cheap land in Hampton Village. He states that the reason Hampton Village does not have a school is due to the increased cost of land over the last three years which according to him is all due to Heidt. Bunk!

Don't we all wish we could buy property at prices prior to the boom. If the school board wanted the land it could have exercised its option three years ago at the old price. It didn't. Three years ago the school division still had declining school enrollment and the possibility of school closures was more in the forefront. What is the role of a school trustee if not to do forward planning? If it now becomes the role of a councillor to plan and budget for schools, why do we need trustees?

In his letter he states: "Our councillor has refused to support our requests." Who's the "our"? Is he speaking for the Board?

It is well known in local political circles that there is "bad blood" between these two and I think it shameful that Danielson would use his position with the Board for his personal vendetta. Thank the provincial government for taking access to the tax base away from boards who seem to deal with "wants" rather than "needs."

If not the land, the letter itself is priceless.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Snakes and Ladders

It wasn't much of a surprise to hear the Lake Placid crashed. While Saskatoon seemed immune from a global recession the rest of the world was exercising financial caution. And simply relisting the property won't solve the problem. Eventually, and I suspect sooner rather than later, the city will find no one willing to bid on the land. Its the problem with crown jewels - few can afford them.

Parking is essential to the success of the whole development - and even more expensive to construct on the riverbank. When well-skilled developers can't make a go of it, it is time to ask "why?" My best guess would be the zoning and stringent DCDs. Perhaps the city should be talking to its partners in the MVA.

It is time to ride the snake down to square one.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Just hype?

"I never had an opponent." On October 27, 2009 Darren Hill sent out a letter saying his opponent was running a smear campaign on him based on his "family life." He stated that many of his lawn signs had been defaced and that he received threatening calls as a result of his lifestyle. He seems to believe that his opponent, that he claims is supported by both Trost and Vellacott were behind it. He suggests they should google these two MPs and verify their positions on GLBT. He stated they have an army of finances and volunteers behind my opponent he needs help to fight this. And lastly he states "I am asking for you to stand up and show them that when it comes to our city - they do not have the control here! WE DO!"

I don't don't know who the collective "we" is.

The letter was then circulated by Peter Garden of Turning the Tide Bookstore, who was the political activist who organized the protest march during Bush's visit to Saskatoon.

Interesting enough, about a week prior to the election, someone was stating in the north end of the ward that Carol Reynolds was gay in an attempt to solicit the christian vote. And her signs were destroyed or went missing as well.

Interesting enough, the press are usually quick to hop on a "hate" issue during a campaign. Nothing seems to have been reported to the police or news.

Interesting enough, Ward 1 is, in my opinion, one of the enlightened wards in the city as evidenced by their election of Lenore in 2000, and Darren in 2006 and have not let sexual preference issues turn their vote.

Offensive is stating that two MPs elected by some of the same voters that he is courting should surrender "control" (whatever that means) to him and his supporters.

This whole thing is bizarre. And while defending an act of intolerance against one party these same people exhibit intolerance of others and their beliefs.

And finally Mr. Hill did have an opponent and I think the hype was his.

Perhaps Ward 1 has safe water issues too.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What's new?

Lots of good news. We have an old council but a new direction. Six incumbents promised not to increase taxes beyond the rate of inflation. We will hold Hill, Neault, Heidt, Wyant, Penner and Dubois to that promise! I guess the follow up question should have been "What about infrastructure levies?"

The party machines did not succeed, but should be brought out of the closet anyway. A good day for independents.

There are lessons to be learned from this election. Mr. Hill's arrogant comment ". . . I never had an opponent" "It was a lot of hype" makes me question his tactics and comments about his opponent during the campaign if he believed that to be true. What a classy guy. Lesson for Carol Reynolds - Queensbury Rules do not apply when your in a street fight.

Pat Lorje seems to have gotten the message. "This is a wake-up call" "The fact that so many votes were cast against the major - especially in this time of economic buoyancy - says people don't want (council) to do the same old things the same old way." Do we hear the beginnings of the 2012 mayoralty campaign?

Apparently Atch did not receive the same wake-up call. He said "The people of Saskatoon believe we are going in the right direction, that the city is doing fine the way it is."

Nor did Gord Wyant's alarm go off:"There's a lot of people in the city comfortable with the direction of city council." Gord, remember your promise - no tax increase beyond the rate of inflation.

Bad news. I lost $20.00.

The task ahead, hold them to their promises.

Congratulations to the successors and special thanks for those who tried. Your efforts are appreciated.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Please get out to vote and encourage others to do so.

Thank you to each and every candidate for offering to serve the public.

We'll being doing a recap tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Future - To be or not to be

This election period has brought to attention the fact that, unlike federal or provincial governments, civic government has no real opposition or opposition critics. I intend to use this site for that purpose. I hope you will join me and share your thoughts as the upcoming term unfolds.

The Crystal Ball

We are on the eve of election day and I am curious as to how you think this election will end. So I would like to hear both your predilections and predictions. If the Atch prevails will he take to the office in the next term the concerns expressed by taxpayers regarding city debt? Or will it be same old, same old. If not him, will incumbents being returned come out of dreamland and take election feedback before raising their hands to support mega spending? Your thoughts please.

Holy Bejezus

I was almost speechless when I read about the City finances in today's SP. A 275% increase in debt over three years! On the horizon is a 300 million dollar bridge, 30+ million more for a destination centre on River Landing, the continuance of the 25th Street project ($ unknown), moving the bus barns ($ unknown), 3rd Avenue rejuvenation ($ unknown), the library 50 million, police station 100+ million, transit mall 7 million and only the incumbents know what else is pending. Add to that the ever-increasing infrastructure charges that come on utility bills. Operating costs will increase to maintain these facilities and, unlike debt that can be paid off, operating costs are eternal and growing.

Meanwhile we will in all likelihood get a per bag charge on garbage, core areas will remain concerned about lead leeching into drinking water, streets and boulevards will continue to decay and day-to-day services will take a backseat to mega projects.

The fact that five incumbents refused to answer the question on future tax increases was in fact an answer. Three of the incumbents are already seated and at least two look good for re-election. Add to that the one challenger in Ward 4 (Sean Shaw), who also refused to answer, means, if he is elected, the majority vote for increases is established.

Recently I had a councillor say to me that Standard & Poors gave the city a good credit rating. Yeah, but Standard & Poors also gave Lehman Bros a good rating before its collapse.

As much I enjoy some of the development I think its time to start pacing the spending. We are going to be taxed out of this city. Further spending on River Landing should be suspended until such time as there is tax revenue from the site to pay for whatever else might be wanted. Instead of 55 million for a new art gallery go back to the one million dollar development plan we already paid for and do the expansion at less than half the cost.

While I'm ranting as much as I appreciate city employees, especially firefighters, an 18% contract increase is not acceptable during a recession.

And I hate acclamations because I can't vent my opposition to what is happening with a vote.

Monday, October 26, 2009

If I had a nickel . .

for every time I heard Children are our most important/best resource, Children are our future, A well-educated youth is essential for our society, or Do it for the kids I could live my fantasy life in a penthouse in Upper East Side Manhattan, including limo service, box seats at the theatre, opera, lazy days at the Met and MOMA, dinner at Elaines, martinis at the Algonquin . . and still have spare change.

Today the SP beat me on comments regarding the lack of interest in the school board candidates. 35,000+ students in this city can be affected by the people sitting at the board tables making decisions on policy and programs. They negotiate employee contracts. They decide on school closures, repairs and new construction. Board members still have the responsibility of appropriately spending three to four hundred million dollars. Previously these board members could simply increase the mill rate for what might be considered necessary spending. This term some hard decisions may have to be made as they attempt to live within a budget. Those decisions could be critical to the education delivered to thousands of students.

Last week on the John Gormley Show municipal candidates were invited to call in and share - except for school board candidates. The insert in Saturday's Star Phoenix did not include school board candidates - they were relegated to Monday's paper. Sadly many voters have come to rely on the SP insert to review all candidates prior to election and keep the insert for study prior to election day. Some of the same voters may only take the papers on weekends. And not everyone owns a computer to access the city's website.

No one seems much interested to whom we entrust our children for their care. Pretty sad that this valuable resource is treated so lackadaisically.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How does she know?

I'm leaning toward Mayor Atch on the issue of voters lists. With all due respect to City Clerk Mann how would she know whether or not we have voter fraud? You present yourself at a polling station, give a name and address, sign the book, receive a ballot and off you go to the voting booth. No ID is required. Is there an examination and cross check of each poll book? What is to stop political zealots from roaming ward to ward using bogus names and addresses and casting ballots.

I think this is a fair concern in light of recent events when candidates were responding to questionable campaign actions and laid responsibility on "over zealous" volunteers. The sale of memberships during Mr. Lingenfelter's NDP leadership campaign and the attachment of tax-funded business cards to Mr. Hill's solicitation letters are examples of volunteer enthusiasm.

I still believe the great majority of electors conduct themselves with honesty and integrity. But our processes are worth protecting against a minority who may not.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Reading into the matter . .

I am a library user and supporter. I believe library services are essential to an educated society. But I am still unconvinced that building or expanding an edifice is the best way to offer library service to the using public. Branch libraries are great - easy access for communities. Ordering books online is great and being able to pick them up at a local branch encourages library use. How about partnering with school libraries for pick up of library materials? If storage of materials is an issue then find warehouse space for excess materials that can be delivered to pick up venues. I really don't think people are going to come from the four corners of the city to a downtown building where parking and access is an issue. The goal of a library is to bring literature to the masses.

I agree that the main library needs a face lift. It may need upgrades in terms of its mechanical and electrical, etc. The focus however should be service. If I want a Chapters or McNally Robinson type of environment I'll go there and pay the price.

While I'm on this topic users of our library should be the citizens of Saskatoon who pay for it. If surrounding communities wish access to our libraries they should kick in and share the cost. I invite them do so so. If not, then those residents of surrounding communities should pay a fee for their library card giving them access to our tax funded library.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is it too late to ask?

I wish I had thought to send out a questionnaire to all candidates. I would have asked the following questions and for the reasons stated.

1. Do you reside in the ward which you seek to represent? If you have to drive over the same craters (euphemistically call pot holes) that I do perhaps you will be more inclined to get them fixed. And if you are drinking the same water I am, maybe you'll want to ensure that its safe. Or that parks are available for neighbourhood kids so your babes have a place to play.

2. How would you vote on charging for garbage? This item is not dead. It has been put into a coma until after the election. I already pay substantial taxes for garbage collection. I don't want people hoarding garbage in their backyards because they can't or don't want to pay. And I don't want the resulting problems of rodents that would come with it. Nor do I want to pay for 'garbage police' to try and track down who dumped their garbage wherever.

3. How would you vote on increasing the city's debt? The reason is obvious. I would allow for a list of exemptions - needs vs. wants.

4. Would you sign an undated letter of resignation that could be dated and submitted to council if you break your election promises? I would accept no two-stepping on this answer. Yes or No.

It ain't broke

I am a great supporter of the riverbank development done by the MVA. I love the trails, swales and conservation sites. The trails provide use and enjoyment for all citizens and, coupled with the conservation sites, enhance learning opportunities for students. And I like the current location of the MVA. It is in the heart of the city. Over the last 25+ years all the money expended on development of the trails/sites has been money well invested in the community.

To move the administration offices to the old Mendel site would drain money away from the ongoing development of the riverbank trails, which is the paramount mandate of the MVA, or demand excessive new tax dollars. I know they want education related centres - but Mother Nature herself is the best educator. When you start expanding administrative space you start looking for ways to fill it. When you fill it you need more money to operate and maintain it.

The MVA should keep doing what they are doing - develop and enhance the trails and use of the riverbank.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Signed Off

When I first read about new age "virtual campaigns" I was hyped. My first happy thought was not having to view the landscape pollution during campaigns where every corner, boulevard and lamppost is littered with signage. I thought voters would be able to communicate with candidates and become engaged in the process. I was hopeful that it meant voters, with easy access to candidates, would make their decisions based on candidates' positions on issues. Then I discovered online lawn signs. It still disturbs me to think that we might elect people based on how much signage they can post, both off and online. The upside to the virtual campaign is that I am not forced to see the online signage.

(Oct. 20/09) Brian Storey of Pelican Signs said: "Election signs aren't the most interesting in the business because you don't use a lot of creativity." Nor do most candidates.

What does that say about us, the voting public?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mad as Hell

A couple of days ago I read that Lenore Swystun was trying to broaden the public's perception of her (SP Oct. 15/09). I'm not sure why as Lenore has a good reputation for fighting for causes she believes in. I didn't always agree with her causes or her tactics, but I respected her commitment to her beliefs.

She accomplished her goal. My perception of her has been broadened and, at the same time, my respect was diminished when she said: "What we have today is an empty parking lot, a building that's been knocked down and a park that was started when I was on council." (SP Oct. 20/09) In reality what we have today is a beautiful theatre, outstanding linkage between Friendship and Victoria Parks, a Farmer's Market/Square, Ideas Inc., kiosks, space for a eco live/work village, to name but a few amenities and we are rid of the unsightly AL Cole property and its environmental contaminants. The planning for this did not occur when she served on council. Her GIG proposal was an election issue in 2003. The GIG war has been fought and lost. Get over it. The existing River Landing, and its cost, belong to this Mayor.

What should be questioned is what are candidates willing to spend to see their dreams/legacies come true. The growing debt is a concern. Escalating taxes are a concern. When is enough enough? And when are we the taxpayers going to say: "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore."

Notice to Site Visitors

This blog was created as a forum for political discourse, to watch and comment on issues in Saskatoon and the performance of elected officials. Easy armchair politics. Any comments posted that reflect on a candidates private life, or their families, will be removed from the site.

I respectfully request your compliance and thank you in advance for your cooperation,.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Time Out...

Time out.
My computer crashed and I have been unable to access the blog for the past 24 hours.
While I'm thrilled to see the debate and discussion of civic politics that has been started in the comments sections, I'm disappointed at the ugly turn this has taken. Some of the personal attacks from anonymous commenters on civic candidates have crossed the line.
So I'm suspending comments here until I'm re-connected and figure out how protect the level of discourse. Your mistress is taking the day off. I hope to be back in action tomorrow.

Pay Up John

A while back council passed a bylaw regarding sidewalk snow clearing - and then said it wouldn't be enforced. I thought this odd. It appears that Bylaw No. 8491 The Campaign Disclosure and Spending Limits Bylaw is another that is on the books but not enforced. It was last reported that Mayoralty candidate John Melenchuk did not file the appropriate paper work after the election in 2006. If the maximum fine was to be applied Mr. Melenchuk could be under obligation to the city for up to 4.5 million dollars, give or take, before this election even started. This has better money making potential then the red-light cameras!

Hmm . . wish they would take the same attitude with enforcement of parking tickets

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Slow learners

You would think politicians would learn from the mistakes of their own ilk. It was the attempted cover up of Watergate that destroyed "Tricky Dicky" Nixon. It was the shading of the truth regarding his relationship with Lewinski, along with the "I didn't inhale" comment, that called into question Clinton's integrity.

Incumbent Bev Dubois says she was at the USSU forum, when in fact she wasn't in attendance. She then tries to squirm out of her "gotcha" situation by saying she meant to say that her daughters were there on her behalf. An exercise in kindness would call this response stretching the truth.

Say nothing at all, or speak the truth. Time after time politicians try this and get caught. It does make you wonder though how many times it worked. Voters may be slow burners when it comes to slow learners but when they are fired up these same politicians usually go up in smoke.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Just plain nuts

During campaigns candidates sometimes make inane statements or accusations, and sadly some of the electorate actually believe them. These candidates are the scary people. They will say or do anything to obtain and/or maintain power; and those who lust for power should never have it. At every level of government elected representatives must look first to the whole community which they govern, and secondly be an advocate for the needs of their constituency/ward.

For Ward 1 candidate Sean Shaw to state at a forum that incumbent Myles Heidt hasn't spent enough in his ward tells me Mr. Shaw is either willfully uninformed or deluded. Over the last couple of terms hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on the west side of the river, much of which would benefit Ward 4 residents. Two high schools, an Olympic-sized pool and community centre, big box shopping development, the Pleasant Hill project, and the list goes and I get sicker thinking of the growing debt. Not enough money being spent?

Globally others were suffering the pains of a recession while Saskatoon seemed under a bubble and immune from the recession. We enjoyed city and job growth. And we suffered growing pains. There was a rental housing shortage. The city has invested substantial money to assist and encourage the development of low income housing. Opinions differ as to which level of government is actually responsible for development of this housing. I digress.

I assume Mr. Shaw is NDP because only they would see prosperity as a negative. The old cliche "laugh or you'll cry" can't apply here. This is too sad to laugh about. It is not absurd. It is simply just plain nuts!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Recycling socialism

Why is it in this province that every proposed or existing program must be imposed on every citizen. I recycle - by choice. Cans etc. to Sarcan, papers to Cosmo etc. I have a compost container. I recycle willingly. I do not need legislation or bylaws to dictate that which I do willingly without cost to me. I do think citizens should be encouraged to recycle. Offer incentives. People take their cans, bottles etc. to Sarcan because they get their deposit back. Offer subscribers to the blue box program a discount on their property tax equivalent to their cost or alternatively a share of the city's savings regarding the landfill and you will see that business flourish. Quit using plastics. We don't have a plant to recycle plastic in this province. We ship all our plastics to Alberta on semi-trailers spewing carbon and contributing to pollution.

This province has started to see a growth in young entrepreneurs. I recall a couple of young people, concerned about recycling, started a business a few years back. They have done well as evidenced by the growing number of blue boxes on curbs. We are a university city. I hope they will expand their program to include recycling furniture and household items to students in need.

I give thumbs up to the young entrepreneurs and thumbs down to the city. The best incentive is enthusiasm.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bulldozers move dirt

A friend sent me a copy of a letter Ward 1 incumbent Darren Hill was circulating that stated his challenger Carol Reynolds was a bulldozer. I would scale that down to a bobcat. In listening to her speak I would guess the little bobcat can excavate to the root of problems and move dirt and garbage to the side. This is a interesting race - bulldozer vs. bull. . . .

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We have so much to be grateful for. Our freedom of speech, our right to choose our governments without fear of harm for doing so, and our right to seek public office and be part of the democratic process. For these privileges we should show our thankfulness for those rights and for those individuals who have stepped forward to offer themselves for public service. Please vote on October 28.

There is only one correct answer

I chanced upon the Saskatoon Teachers Association questionnaire for school board candidates. And I quote: "How do you see yourself working to ensure adequate publicly funded education in Saskatoon?" I'm not sure whether this means adequate education that is publicly funded or adequate public funding for education. Without access to the tax base and the ability to increase the mill rate on a whim, the answer is: I'll wave my magic wand.

Before I die . . .

. . will civic government please make a decision on the downtown transit mall. Over the decades more businesses have been destroyed, excessive time and money has been spent trying to design the perfect project and the costs keep climbing. The issue, and it always has been, is public safety and security. Beethoven's music did not keep the thugs at bay, although hopefully some may have developed an appreciation for the classics.

Build the transit mall adjacent to the police station, throw in a donut shop and everybody's happy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Maddness of the Mendel - Saskatoon Economics 101

The Mendel Maddening Crowd first approached council asking for about 12 million for an expansion. They asked the city for a share and hoped for city assistance in getting cost shared funding from other levels of government. It would be topped up with fundraising. It was a tough slug luring six people out of the sports arena and into Bohemia. Over time the costs escalated with the insanity. In the beginning some councillors argued that expansion of the gallery would increase the operating costs - although the Mendel operated on a shoestring budget thanks to a large contingent of volunteers. And the Mendel had the conservatory - the poor man's winter get-a-way.

Now we are up to 55 million, if we're lucky and this mega project can be held on budget. The feds and province are giving 26 million, leaving the city with a 29 million dollar tab. We have no indication of what the horrendous operating costs will be and since River Landing appears not to be generating new tax revenue in the near future I assume we are into "up the mill rate." The conservatory will not move with the Mendel. Oh yeah, I forgot there won't be a Mendel and maybe not a conservatory either.

Obviously there will have to be admission fees and, like CUC and TCUP, only those who can afford the fee will get beyond the lobby.

The cost of moving the MVA into the Medel site is a story for another day.

As for Ottawa demanding new rather than expanded - bull. The bureaucrat probably doesn't know where Saskatoon is located.

The absurdity of this tale - be careful of what you ask for 'cause you might get more. Who woulda thunk!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bikes, trikes and automobiles

It's hard to argue against the physical benefits and environmental positions taken by cyclists, although the counterpoint to the environmental position of 20 cars lined up behind a cyclist doing 10 kph and spewing carbon has merit. I would agree that all new development should provide for separate bikes lanes, but revamping the core areas is problematic. However, if all vehicles are going to share the same road, then all vehicles and drivers should meet the same standard. Licence all vehicles regardless of number of wheels or means of propulsion. Ensure all vehicles have headlights, tail lights and turning signals. Cyclists should require a licence to operate their vehicle. No vehicles should be allowed on pedestrian walkways/crosswalks or to sideswipe people without penalty. And remember - David and Goliath is a myth. The reality is: semi-trailers trump trucks, trucks trump cars, cars trump bikes, and bikes trump pedestrians. You can't win a fight against a 1,000+/- kg opponent. Drive/pedal/walk safely.

Racing down Hill

. . on a very slippery slope. I don't have a problem with people making a mistake if they accept responsibility for it. It is just plain wrong to use goods provided and paid for with tax dollars for personal gain. When Ward 1 incumbent Darren Hill attached his City Hall business card to his political fund-raising solicitation letter and fobbed responsibility onto a 'over zealous volunteer' it simply highlighted his character and judgment, or lack thereof. Oh well, the 'Over zealous volunteer' excuse got Dwain Lingenfelter elected as fearless leader of the NDP.

Myles has put on a few miles . . .

. . . but seems to still have a lot of tread left. Ward 5 Incumbent Myles Heidt, along with his Ward 3 amigo, has managed to spend more money west of the South Saskatchewan over the last six years than has been spent over the last 60. With that kind of traction its hard to believe that even the NDP party machine could put him in the ditch.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who's up to bat

Over this last term Ward 3 incumbent Maurice (aka Moe) Neault produced/directed his own episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent by taking his Louisville Slugger to the transit mall in his ward to protect his constituents from some little thugs. I am curious as to whether or not his constituents will be going to bat for him on October 28.

This is not a recommended practice for law abiding citizens and mere mortals.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I am not a Luddite

Mayor Atch states he is not a technological Luddite because he had the first privately owned satellite dish in the province. Being able to use a phone to order a dish, or a remote control to operate it, does not make you a virtual player. He said he hasn't jumped head-first into new technologies on the campaign trail because he's waiting for them to evolve. Come on Atch, lead the way!

Creepy Treehouse

Creepy Treehouse is apparently the name given those those older than mayoralty candidate Swystun who attempt to use website social networking sites to campaign. About incumbent Atchison she said "He's 20th century, we're 21st century" and "He's about the past. We're about the future." I don't know what this means in terms of chronological age, but someone should share this with Larry King, who looks like he could have been Methuselah's roommate, and yet he tweets and blogs. And I strongly suspect no bartender is asking Lenore for her ID. Put this one up my elm.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Zircons, Lorje, Grover and more

$ - I am starting to wonder whether our Crown Jewel River Landing is in fact a zircon. When it started the initial investment of roughly 35 million was necessary to clear and clean the site and put the infrastructure in place. In planning for a mix of private/public development the proposal was that tax generated from private development would pay for and maintain the public component. The 35 million ballooned into 90+ million.

I'm an old girl and you could have knocked my nylons off when I heard left wing incumbent councillor Pat Lorje stating we shouldn't "skimp" on River Landing. What's another 7 million? Perhaps Ms. Lorje should quit driving the bus and move to the back!

$ - Next up, Jack Grover. So Jack didn't like his purchaser. After inking the deal, presumably for fair market value, he decided his nemesis should pay more - and the city did. $14,000.00 more. My burning question is: How many more properties does Jack Own?

$ - If you live in a core area of the city and are concerned about mercury content in potable water it is recommended that you run your water in the morning for 10 minutes before drinking it. With an expected rate increase on the horizon, should core area residents get a break for the lost water on the morning water run? Aside from the health concerns, is there a conservation issue here? What's the ever-increasing utility infrastructure levy (hidden tax) being spent on? So many questions, so few answers.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Meet your Mistress

Welcome to my blog. Pull up an armchair, kick back and let your fingers do the talking.

What you should know about your mistress . . .

My name is Elaine and I have a problem. I am a political junkie. I spend years craving and anticipating my fix - an election. My rush of choice is civic politics. I support the concept of consuming that which produced closest to home.

I can get hopped up on provincial and federal issues as well, although the feds are wearing thin - too much of a good thing possibly.

My experience in the political playing field started with pounding the pavement for a candidate, then the odd foray into the backroom, fifteen years on the frontline as a candidate and alas, at the request of the voters, retirement. Suffice it to say "been there, done that."

But once you've tasted the political drug, the desire for more lingers. So now my fix comes from writing and commentary. With Saskatoon's upcoming civic election, this will be a forum to spout opinions and trade ideas.

Initially I thought this civic election had the juice of a withered lemon. I pointed my fickle finger at the ward system.

The idea that the voting public could not choose a slate from a lengthy list of candidates every three years seemed spurious. Interestingly enough these same voters can manage to cruise 50 to 100+ TV channels nightly to select their viewing pleasure, yet every three years they were deemed not to be capable of cruising a list of similar size to select their civic government. Did we vote for this?

With 3 of 10 wards for council, and 4 of 10 wards for public school board, decided by acclamation many people are feeling they've lost their right to vote. The acclamations, coupled with a public perception that the Mayor's race is a done deal, have fed public apathy to a point that even those who care speak of not wasting their time "X"ing a ballot. So now the game gets interesting.

After listening to the panic stricken ramblings of some incumbents I am wavering on this year's outcome. Hmmm . . . maybe this lemon does have some juice.

  • fanatics and one-issue voters will always make the effort to support their candidate (and this supposes that none of our incumbents qualify for this vote)
  • the NDP are masters at get-out-the-vote (and this supposes that fanatics and one-issue candidates are separate entities)
  • since school boards have lost the right to tax, ratepayers are less concerned about who fills these chairs
  • no burning issue
  • too many acclamations
  • a public that just doesn't give a damn
  • the Mayor's race is already over (or is it?)
Anyone taking bets for the 28th?

Tip to at-large candidates: don't waste your time in Wards 7 and 9 - there will be no line up at the polls here this election.

Best Election Belly Laugh to Date: Find a fitting name (SP Sept. 30) by Dorothy Johnstone for her River Landing moniker "The Atch Hole." Sorry Mr. Mayor but I think this one is going to stick.

Preview of things to come
Famous and infamous candidate/councilor quirks and quips
Honourable and dishonourable campaigning
Bring the party machines out of the backroom
Ward by ward issues and antics
Are school boards still necessary?
The virtual campaign - linking the generations
Stupid Voter Syndrome