Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dip, but no chip

In the good old days double-dipping used to mean extra chocolate on your ice cream cone or the rude person who dipped the same chip for a second time. Now its definition is simply greed.

So far we've heard about the nurses. politicians etc. but we've heard nothing about the masters of the art of double-dipping. The teachers. Not only do they get a retirement gratuity for announcing their early intention to retire but they come back and work on contract, receive salary, pension payment and benefits. Good gig. Meanwhile we have young graduates who are waiting tables or doing other menial tasks to help support themselves while they try to get on the sub list and hope it will eventually lead to full time teaching employment - or leave the province.

As for Lingenfelter's dilemma, I was surprised he was only receiving $36,000.00 annually. Perhaps he's sharing his pension benefits as a result of past matrimonial property settlements. If he is donating to charities it would behoove him to state the recipients of his largess and whether or not he receives and uses tax receipts for income tax purposes.

This is a circumstance that Brad Wall is not going to have a goodly while.

Man, its hard to resist that dip!

Monday, March 29, 2010

(Wo)Man's Best Friend

I am delighte dwith the report that recommends opening up downtown parks to leashed pets. I wished they would include all parks. Perhaps they could post the ski runs as off limits rather than the whole park. As for the additional costs I would suggest they simply increase licensing fees by a buck to pay for the receptacles, signage, etc. and provide the doggy do bag dispensers of facilitate pick up of feces. And strongly enforce the bylaw that fines pet owners for not cleaning up after their pets - a great cash cow I would think.

Lastly, thanks to Councillor Hill for his support for this change.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Monkey see, monkey do

There was nothing unexpected in the provincial budget. Those most affected were the sinners and the saints. Since most of this top secret document was shared prior to budget day, the ballyhoo on the specifics is pretty much done. However, there is a general observation that is noteworthy.

The Provincial Government found itself in financial dilemma due to overstating commodity revenues, namely potash. Commodities are risky gambles. Borrowing from savings for operational needs is also a risky gamble yet the provincial government is, in essence, using money that is not generated from current revenue sources to fund the budget.

Our city, and other Saskatchewan cities, have been forewarning of large tax increases as a result of the Provincial Government being unable to increase revenue sharing to municipalities this year. The cities have known this for some considerable length of time yet continued to spend without a proviso that the spending was contingent on provincial funding.

Now, like the Provincial Government, our city is considering a budget that relies on the unforeseen, that being that provincial revenue sharing will increase next year. Given the current situation, that is a risky gamble. According to the Mayor use of land sales revenue is being contemplated stating that land sales are expected to remain strong. Again, a gamble. We should be asking the "what if" questions.

Lastly, we have six councillors who six months ago, during the civic election campaign, promised not to increase taxes if re-elected. These councillors knew, or should have known, what the what was coming down the pike. We'll wait to see if they keep their promise or simply point fingers away from themselves.

I guess we wait and see what monkey business comes our way in the civic budget.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Say a little prayer

I've been reading the smattering of letters to the SP Letters to the Editor chastising the Mayor for attending the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast because it is a Christian event. If the Mayor refuses this event should he also refuse to attend the annual Holocaust Memorial at the synagogue? Or a First Nations activity that starts with a ceremony that has a spiritual connotation? Or any event that reflects any religious belief, recognition or celebration of any single group?

The Mayor's Prayer Breakfast is simply a collection of citizens that gather to praise and pray for their politicians to make good and honest decisions. Some would say they need all the help they can get. Others may think this prayer falls on deaf ears.

I pray that we will quit preying on Christians because they are a majority

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another day older and deeper in debt

Financial advisers will tell you there is good debt and bad debt. In essence good debt would be a mortgage to buy a home if you can afford it. Bad debt would be running up your credit cards on frivolous spending. The problem with debt is, whether it be good times or bad, it must be paid. So I am concerned about the prospect of the city enlarging on its debt capacity up to $400 million dollars (SP Mar. 23/10).

The city comptroller says there is a pretty solid revenue stream to service the debt, being gas tax, utility rates and assessment growth.

Last year after an extremely wet summer city administration reported low revenue from water sales and wanted an increase. Then when we received the last water/sewer increase it was supposedly a way to have people conserve on water. Now we see it is going to service debt.

Whenever a new area is introduced the city needs more money to develop it. I thought that infrastructure money for new development came from the sale of land from the previous development. I also thought that an expanded tax base meant more tax payers to share the load for services. However, it is the revenue stream for debt.

And recently the provincial government had to stay its contribution to the municipalities as a result of its budget woes. In reality the only solid revenue stream is property tax.

I am back to my mantra of wants and needs. We may need a new bridge and this debt may be a good debt. I'm not sure at these times of uncertainty that capital spending on wants, being public facilities, and the ensuing operating costs, is good debt. Perhaps this spending should be put on hold for now.

I like the idea of a proactive council. I appreciate vision. I also appreciate the consequences of excessive debt. I also appreciate common sense. We need balance - and it is a difficult act.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Deja vu

I didn't believe Obama was going to be able to pull off his health care bill. But then again it was a close race when Saskatchewan held its vote on medicare way back when. Interestingly not one Republican voted for it even though the polling indicated the majority of the American public supported some form of health care. I would guess its because the Saskatchewan people actually had a say in the decision rather than leaving it in hands of the elected.

I wonder of the recent American Supreme Court ruling that over turned the decision to limit corporate donations to political entities had anything bearing on how the Republican representatives voted?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Over the Hill . . . and down

I think it is time for Councillor Hill to make up his mind what he wants to be when he grows up. Four and a half months ago he fought a contentious election campaign against Carol Reynolds to represent Ward 1 in civic government. Now he is seeking the nomination to be the Liberal candidate for Saskatoon Humboldt (SP Mar. 19/10).

My first reaction was the cost to the local tax payer for a by-election in the unlikely event he won a federal election. He put an end to that by saying he was not required to give up one position in order to hold another. While that might be true, it doesn't mean he can adequately do either job at the same time. How can you respond to the concerns of your Ward 1 constituents when you are in Ottawa when parliament is sitting? I know he wouldn't misuse a federal constituency office by doing council work through that venue. How do you attend committee and council meetings when your in Ottawa? Would we have to pay for a big screen for a simulcast attendance? What is more annoying is double dipping he proposes to do. I personally don't think his services are worth a quarter of a million dollars.

I look for integrity in a candidate. During the civic campaign Mr. Hill was one of the six incumbents that stated if re-elected he would not increase taxes. That vote is around the corner. And I will be watching to see if his billboard advertising is included in the civic campaign disclosure statement due at the end of May.

As I live in Saskatoon Humboldt constituency I can only hope the Greens come up with a good candidate. Better yet add "none of the above" to the ballot and save taxpayers a bundle of money.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A bird in hand . . .

I sincerely hope that City Council gives serious consideration to the revival of the Lake Placid deal given Karim Nasser's offer to put his money into the project (SP Mr. 18/10). I didn't necessary do cartwheels over the plan itself, but it is great to see someone step forward who does support it and is willing to put their money where their mouth is as opposed to putting our tax dollars up for grabs.

I think it is becoming apparent, after several requests for proposals, that not many developers can come to the table and play. A new request will probably not create any better proposal then in past. If council liked the Lake Placid plan and the money is now in place, then go for it. No need to re-invent the wheel.

I sincerely think there are not many birds left in the bush. Its our money or Nasser's money. I vote Nasser and thank him for his support in this much needed development. Now we just wait for the chirping.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Robbing Peter to pay Paul?

I'm weighing in support for subsidizing chiropractic services. $12.25 a pop seems relatively cheap when compared to payment for other services that would be utilized if those in need cannot afford a chiropractor without the subsidy. The relief from pain and suffering should not be discounted but it seems that the almighty dollar is the issue.

Many years ago, after a car accident, I suffered back pain and migraines for a couple of years. At the government's expense I was referred and funded for specialists, physiotherapy and prescription medication. I lost months of work time. On the advice of a friend, and I was at the end of my rope, I saw a chiropractor. Within a couple of months of treatment all was well. I was lucky that I could afford the treatment as it was not then covered.

If the rationale for cancellation of chiropractic subsidies is that other health services are not covered, and the Minister mentions optometrists and massage therapists, then he should consider looking at funding them as well. I would think that good eye care is as important as any other aspect of our physical being.

So one more time folks - if you have to hold the line on spending during budget recovery put some of the mega projects on hold.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Did you hear what I heard?

Apparently city council has heard part of the message from the public regarding snow clearing - spend more money. More money is being allocated to the service of clearing, but today's SP report was silent with respect to snow removal. Does this means snow will be pushed to the side of the street and you can drive down it but you can't park?

In the residential areas, after a major snow fall or if your ruts get to about 10 cm you can call for a plow - which will arrive within 2 to 4 weeks. Mother Nature may be offering a faster service.

It is my impression that the root of the problem is in the administration of the service. The suggestion of pushing snow unto the sidewalks clearly says that the department has not heard the message of either the public or council. What I think the public was saying is they want a set plan for timely snow clearing and removal. To make the suggestion of pushing snow onto sidewalks tells me the administration did not take seriously council's sidewalk clearing bylaw. Then again, council did not take this bylaw seriously as after they passed it, it was relatively clear that they would not enforce it. Thus the snow angels came to be.

I will be curious next winter to see if the new neighbourhoods that will have a private contractor servicing their areas fare better than those of us in existing areas with city servicing.

Let the race begin. We have in running the city services, private contractors and Mother Nature. Place your bets.

Monday, March 15, 2010


So far it appears that we are averaging one and a third murders a month in this city. Attempted robberies are getting second day service I'm told by an anonymous source.

On the bright side the traffic squad is busy filling the coffers.

Mea culpa

My apologies to all those who commented last week and did not see their remarks posted. You may have noticed that I have an individual that periodically posts libelous and defamatory remarks, primarily targeted towards me. While I sought legal counsel and a remedy to this problem I put all comments in hide mode - and then promptly forgot to return the comments to show. Your comments are now posted. Again, my apologies.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The price of a pig roast

The gamesmanship of provincial politics is pricey. At a time in our history when Saskatchewan was coming to the forefront, nationally and internationally, as a place to be and come to we let our reputation be scandalized for the sake of a few political points. Heppner's poster was tasteless and the voters of her constituency will judge her accordingly come the next election. But to spread this issue throughout the nation and the US tarnishes us all.

Years back, under other leadership, we were referred to as the Mississippi of the North as a result of negative issues surrounding First Nations. We all were portrayed as rednecks and bumpkins. We had the alleged Martensville sex scandal that showed us in a bad light. Now this. Why? To score a few points and grab a few votes.

The whole episode is shameful, and the only pigs we should be roasting are the politicians.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Burning issue?

With all the burning issues to be dealt with in the legisature was it necessary to use up time on a salacious poster put out by MLA Heppner (SP Mar. 11/10). Was is tasteless? Yes. But the whole purpose of this exercise was simply to embarass the goivernment.

Use the time in the legislature to deal with issues of importance to the public. We have a budget coming that needs attention. If you can do that take your bat and ball and go home.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The jury is still out

. . and I'll wait until budget day before rendering a verdict, but to date things are not looking good for the current provincial government.

I think it is encumbent upon every government to look at all spending in all areas and to look for efficiencies. Some of the examination may be unpleasant and unpopular. After examination it may come to light that it is time to let some things go or to find a more cost effective method to offer the service.

Having said this, if the government decides cancel certain health or education services with a proven benefit to those utilizing them, while at the same time funding mega capital projects, I think they will find the public thinks its time to let them go.

I hope for both the public and Premier Wall's sake, that human services trump bricks and mortar. Otherwise Link will be getting outfitted for a premier's wardrobe.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lost in the maze

On one hand the provincial government states health and education are going to have to toe the line on spending during budget recovery period. On the other hand conversation is obviously happening for a new stadium in Regina and the possibility for an event centre for Gordie Howe bowl. Premier Wall states that although the federal government is going through its own austerity measures, as are we, they still must invest in Saskatchewan infrastructure (SP Mar. 8/10). If that's the case, then Saskatchewan should invest in itself - speed up the Children's hospital and highway replacement. And with an aging population we have a shortage of nursing/care homes that need to be invested in.

It would appear that the government is contemplating using casino revenues to help fund the operations of a new stadium. This is an irritant for me. I have been advised that a Regina art gallery gets some annual operational dollars from the government - the Mendel does not. The Centre of the Arts gets some operational assistance from the government - TCUP does not. CUC is operated with local dollars - no provincial money. I am further advised that casino dollars funded the arts. Recently our symphony lost half its grant. What's going on here?

I know that some of this spending is one-time capital money and the other is operational dollars. But after you spend the capital dollars then you need operational money in perpetuity. If we find it difficult to find the operational money for necessary services why are we contemplating building more facilities that will drain the operational pool?

I know this writing sounds erratic, but it reflects the messages being sent by our leaders. Or perhaps the message is . . .

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Modern Gladiators

I love the the quirkiness of Saskatchewan people - most of the time. I don't know if we are suffering an Olympic hangover or whether the recent balmy weather has turned the locals balmy.

We have all three levels of government sending messages of budget woes. The public is anxious about changes to the status quo. Then comes the million dollar study on $430 million (plus or minus) stadium and euphoria reigns. Not to be outdone the Independent First Nations of Saskatchewan (IFNS) throws their mega plan into the mix (SP Mar. 4/10). I don't know the relationship between the IFNS and the FSIN or why Regina would want two Vegas style casinos but I do know the difference between wants and needs. I'm not sure how many others in this province do.

Centuries back the Romans built the coliseum to entertain and control the masses. Favorite spectator sports were the gladiators and the Christians/lions. Fortunately we don't have any lions and the Christians have moved south of the border to run the Republican Party. We are left with the gladiators. I'm betting on the IFNS.

There is a difference between quirky and crazy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trade in, trade off

My husband told me he was going to divorce me and sign up for the Vogla Girls mail order bride service (SP Mar. 3/10) for my comments today.

I agree with Councillor Heidt on his suggestion of licensing bikes. For whatever reason cyclists believe the traffic laws do not apply to them. Both roadways and sidewalks are theirs for the taking. We license every other vehicle using the roads - why not them. No other vehicles get to use the sideways at their convenience. Other vehicles get ticketed for breach of traffic laws. Inconsiderate cyclists dart in and out of road traffic and jump to pedestrian walkways when convenient.

This isn't an issue of bikes lanes, bike mounts on buses or the positive effects of cycling. All of those are valid. The issue is bad cycling that needs to be monitored and dealt with. Maybe it should go one step further and make cyclists pass a drivers test before they hit the roadways.

As for the comment that this is a tax grab, the same could be said of licensing cars and motorcycles.

Now I'm going to go find myself a good divorce lawyer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I am not a deadbeat...

I paid my bill but still no internet access.I hope Shaw gives me a discount for the down time.Will be back online on Thursday.