Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is it voter obstacles or apathy?

In today's SP (Apr. 28/11) there is an opinion piece by Marjaleena Repo opining the view that low voter turnout could be attributed to changes in the voting process, that being that you must have identity documentation and proof of residence in order to vote.

Another flag she raised was reducing the writ period from a historic high of 55 days to a minimum of 36 days. She theorizes that a longer campaign period would allow the public to be better engaged in a meaningful way. From comments that I hear, many people are tired of the campaign before it starts and the litter that comes with it. I would hope that voters follow the actions of government and its opposition during the previous term served and are not simply reliant on election buzz to make a decision.

I do think it is encumbent upon voters to prove their identity, citizenship and residence prior to being given the privilege of voting. There have been too many allegations, at all levels of elections, of ballot box stuffing, voting out of area or ineligible voters casting a ballot - including candidate/leadership selection events.

Although she does flag some legitimate circumstances that have created ire with some voters, those circumstances leave me with the impression that it is poorly trained DROs and election preparation people making bad judgment calls rather than the system as a whole being flawed. Perhaps its time that we consider voter identification cards with addresses.

It boils down to with rights and privileges come responsibilities.

And as much as I wish every voter in the country cared enough to exercise their franchise, I think it is just wishful thinking on my part.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

If it sounds to good to be true . . .

I watched a television interview with Jack Layton last night. I was amazed at some of the promises Jack was making, but more amazed that the interviewer didn't ask him how he could do what he promised to do.

I would like to know how he is going to impose low fixed interest rates on credit cards. Has the international business community, e.g. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, agreed to this proposal? How will it effect the Bank of Canada's rates? Is he encouraging debt?

His response to her question on his earlier vague position on the constitutional issues regarding Quebec was brushed off with a response that he would deal with that after they've fixed everything else. Maybe the press isn't taking him seriously enough.

Its all so sad because people believe what they want to believe without questioning the folly of the speaker.

Why do we have low voter turnout? Because the public has been lied to so many times before by politicians that they have lost faith in governments at all levels. What's the point of voting if the folks you are voting for and the positions they state are untrue?

I do think we need electoral reform and one of changes should include recall. You break your promise and you're out. Perhaps politicians would be a more careful on their promises if there was a consequence to them personally. Then perhaps then voters would see the value in voting.

Personally, I'll vote for the politician who will promise me an end to the telephone solicitations and demon dialer ads. Legislate that telephone service providers have to provide customers with block number that prevents these jerks from their incessant calling. It particularly annoys now that they somehow have access to my unpublished cell phone number which costs me extra dollars as they chew up time and fill my voicemail. And I, as a consumer, have no recourse short of having no telephone at all.

Please give me a promise you can keep. Restore the faith.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The gods and the voters must be crazy

Well, what started out to be the most boring of elections has now become quite interesting. I would bet that when Ignatieff began dreaming of a coalition government he dreamt as himself as leader of that government. Will he still want a coalition government if Jack is the P.M.?

If the recent polling numbers hold, what will our federal government look like? I doubt very much that the Bloc will want to join forces with the NDP - they have become the new rival. To do so would only abet the NDP in the next election. If the Liberals join forces with the NDP they will effectively kill themselves off as the Liberals are already viewed as being synonymous with the NDP.

Who can Harper join with to hold on to his job? Not the NDP or Liberals. That only leaves the Bloc. Will the Bloc see Harper as less threatening than Layton and thus prop him up until they recover from their anticipated losses? How would that coalition play in Western Canada?

The job of P.M. takes young healthy men and turns them gray prematurely. Clearly Jack could not last long in that job given his personal health. So who becomes the next leader of the NDP? Who becomes the next leader of the Liberals? Does Bob Rae now regret his defection to the Liberals? Or is he the perfect choice having had one foot in each camp? Will vote rich Ontario remember the one term it was governed by Bob Rae's NDP government and rally at the last minute in support of the Tories or Liberals? So many questions, so few answers.

The ultimate irony, if the polls hold, will be the new "have" province of Saskatchewan, the birthplace of the NDP, being governed by a small c conservative government dealing with a NDP led federal government. Who woulda thunk?

We are the wonderful, unpredictable, crazy Canucks eh!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A party of two

I am starting to think that Michael Ignatieff smuggled the two party system into Canada upon his return from the US.

Our parliamentary system was founded on two parties - the Whigs and the Tories. Over time, no doubt due to voter disenchantment with those two parties and coupled with our regional differences, we evolved to a collection of federal parties. Since then we have been governed, with few exceptions, by a party that failed to accumulate +50% of the national vote. A two party system solves that problem.

The Conservatives over the decades fractured itself primarily as a result of the West feeling disenfranchised from the Eastern wing of the PCs. Over the last decade these factions have seen the wisdom of amalgamating into today's Conservative party, which has held minority government status for several years, which has in turn forced several unwanted federal elections. Thus Harper's mantra asking for majority status.

The same is true in our province. Until the Liberals and Conservatives joined forces to become the Sask Party, the NDP ruled - and generally without garnering 50% of the vote. Realistically we are now to the point of voting one of two ways in Saskatchewan as the fringe candidates do not take enough vote to make much of a difference in the outcome.

The Liberals lost the West decades back due to resource issues. Remember the old bumper sticker "let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark"? The Liberals have never recovered in the Western provinces. They relied on Quebec to keep them in power. Since the formation of the Bloc they have struggled to maintain government status via the Quebec vote. The NDP formed in the West and have made gains in the East but not enough to form government.

When this election started I truly thought the Liberals would drain the NDP vote rather than the other way around. When this election is over these two parties are going to have to seriously look at a merge if they hope to block the Conservatives from holding a minority or majority governments in the years to come. A governing coalition of the Liberals and NDP after the election will simply take us back to the polls in a short time.

The Bloc has done a good job of convincing me that Quebec is separate and part from the rest of the country. But for the rest of us, I personally would like to see a two party that actually has the support of the majority of Canadians to govern.

So what will the new party be called?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Planned Parliament - without Trost

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was pissed at Trost for his initiatives to have funding cut to Planned Parenthood. I wrote the guy off as a bozo and believed that the seasoned politicians would not want to re-open the abortion debate. No politician want issue specific elections or to be seen catering to special interest groups.

I had the sense through conversations with others that no one was terribly interested in this election. Thanks to Trost 50% of the population may now perk up. And make no mistake that the issue on continued funding for Planned Parenthood is about abortion.

To be clear, although I might never have personally considered an abortion, it is not up to me to make that decision for other women. In short that makes me Pro-Choice. I respect the opinions of the Pro-Life group and their right to attempt convince women who are considering abortion not to take that action. But I cannot support a male dominated Parliament imposing their will on women and a women's right to choose, regardless of the circumstances that created the pregnancy.

Legal abortion in Canada does not mean you simply walk into a clinic off the street and demand the service. There is a process were women are counselled and offered options before deciding. Nor is abortion used as a means of birth control. Believe women when they say that swallowing a pill is far easier that surgical procedures. Further, if you take away a woman's individual right to decide on abortion, you do not prevent abortion. You simply move abortions back into unsanitary and unsafe back rooms for the less affluent and those with money will avail themselves of the service in another jurisdiction.

In soliciting the support of Pro-life, Trost made this statement (SP Apr. 21/11) about Planned Parenthood: "Now, you should know, they're still trying to get their snout back in the public trough."

I suggest that it is Trost that is trying to get his snout back in the trough.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cougars and other predators

Over the last couple of weeks I have been irked by the reports of Denise Harvey, the woman from Florida who is hiding out in Canada to avoid the American judicial system. In today's Letters to the Editor a writer rants on that she should be given refuge status and not returned to the USA because in his opinion the actions she was convicted of and the sentence meted out is draconian. Part of me feels that because the victim was male it seems to be a lesser crime. And from earlier reports in the newspaper this sexual assault was not her only shortcoming.

In Canada we protect our youth from many actions believing they are too young to understand the consequence of their actions. Yet we judge another state/country for their laws protecting their youth. I don't know the evidence presented that warranted her conviction and the sentence meted out. But her appeals should be to the higher courts of that country not to the Canadian justice system. She is not under threat of death and thus Canada should not be aiding and abetting American felons.

This same writer states that while our justice system sits idly American bounty hunters may illegally enter our country to abduct her back to the US. There seems to be no concern that she entered and resides in this country illegally. How did she get into the country?

On the other hand residents in this country that are classified as illegal immigrants are deported. It doesn't matter that they may have been here for decades, raised a family, worked and paid taxes and conducted themselves as law abiding citizens. Why do we deport them? Because they broke our laws. The only thing that saves an illegal immigrant from deportation is the threat of death if they are returned. Personally I will take hard-working immigrants before convicted felons.

Are we sending a message to the global community that we are a safe haven for felons fleeing a country whose laws we don't agree with? Are we insinuating that sexual assault is not taken seriously in Canada?

We will spend gobs of money and create some ill will with our neighbours with this stance. And if this women breaks our laws we will howl that she was given protection here. And if the US refuses our extradition requests in the future we will howl again at the unfairness of it all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A sham or a shame?

Why have legislation if you're not going to enforce it? I was appalled when I read (SP Apr 19/11) that no person has ever been prosecuted for violations under HIPA. With increasing frequency doctors, or their agents, have ignored this law without so much as a slap on the wrist. Should we conclude that HIPA laws are simply a sham to lull the public into complacency?

I applaud Privacy Commissioner Dickson for finally taking action on this issue. I suspect a couple of stiff fines levied against a doctor, or his/her estate, will go a long way in preventing the flagrant disregard of this law in future. If its the disposal company who dumped the files rather than shredding them, go after the corporation.

This does however remind me of the report last year of the hospital employee who violated her employment confidentiality agreement when she accessed her one-night-stand's medical records and discussed it with others. In that case, after the hospital fired her, the arbitrator not only gave her back her job, but several years of back pay. Shake your head on that one.

What hope do we, the patients, have when dealing with our confidential matters and the medical community? Shamefully I submit the answer is none.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A bad example

Several years back former Conservative leader Kim Campbell made the infamous comment that politicians should not discuss complicated issues during an election writ period - and she got hammered. I'm starting to wonder if she was right.

Today's SP (Apr 19/11) reports Ignatieff stating that Saskatchewan's "13 stooges" failed to stand up for Saskatchewan during the BHP takeover bid for PCS. I didn't think this issue was that complicated, but apparently it is to the Liberal leader.

When the takeover issue started it was clearly the issue of the provincial government. When the federal government interferes in provincial matters, the provincial politicians get a little testy. The resources of a province are the domain of the provincial government. This issue first had to be decided at the provincial level. When the Wall government said no the the takeover it then asked the federal government to support its decision and the feds did in fact support the provincial government - which included the support of the 13 Tory MPs.

Perhaps Mr. Ignatieff has spent to many years in a country governed as a republic and truly doesn't understand our parliamentary system or jurisdictional rights.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bye-bye paying tenant, hello taxpayer

Thanks to PCS for the donation of $27 million for the STARS program (SP Apr, 15/11). Given how isolated some of our communities are I think STARS is necessary and lives will be saved because of it.

However, I hope PCS saved a few donor dollars for the revitalization of Kinsmen Park. Based on what I read in yesterday's paper (Apr. 14/11) $5 million isn't going to cut.

Earlier council stated that after the move to the new gallery the Mendel site would be renovated for a paying tenant. The architect hired starts this project with the view that "Definitely it (the Mendel) needs to have a public element to it. It is part of the public realm. There has to be a good connection between the Mendel and the park."

Has this architect been told by council that he only has $5million to play with on this project? Or that council has already made a decision on the future use for the Mendel site? Or did council make a different decision regarding the Mendel and we just haven't been told of it yet?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A tribute to Brian

Yesterday I created a post that was intended to point out that one candidate should not complain about another candidate for doing what he himself has done in past. Regretfully, I used dated terminology that obviously caused great pain to the parent of a lesbian daughter. For that I am truly sorry. I understand the anger of the first commenter, Anon 9:40. I suspect the reaction is bred from a sense of helplessness in being unable to protect the one you love and care about from callous and insensitive comments.

I did grow up in the 1960s as a Catholic in small town Saskatchewan. My oldest brother Brian is gay. There is no way to describe to you what life was like for a gay teenager in small town Saskatchewan attending a Catholic school in that era. The doctrine of the faith we were raised in considered homosexuality as a sin. There was no way for him to turn to parents who were raised with this belief. Going to teachers or a religious leader was not an option. They were nuns and priests who taught the doctrine. It was a time before medicare so seeing a family doctor was also not an option for a teen of a low income family, although I'm not sure it would have helped way back in those so called dark ages. So the secret was kept.

When Brian finished high school he immediately left our home. He went to Europe for a while and upon return to Canada decided to locate in the USA where he could more readily hide out from the wrath of the majority. He attended university and became a teacher.

He took a first teaching job in small town Alberta. The local matrons soon began throwing their daughters at the town's new young eligible bachelor teacher. Before the year was up he realized he would have to leave before they discovered his "secret" and possibly tarred and feathered him before running him out of town. He also knew that too often people confused homosexuals with pedophiles. Please remember in this era there were no laws or human right tribunals to appeal to. It was a society that shunned and persecuted gays. People then did think it was a choice. Everyone was wrong about that and thus many good people paid a heavy price for the ignorance of that era.

Again he moved on, this time to a large urban US centre were he would find a community that accepted him. He went back to university and found a new profession and sought anonymity from the wider community. It took him a long while before he started fighting back, lobbying for his rights as a human being. He endured much emotional pain when "friends" turned on him when they learned of this "secret." He hated living a lie. He just desperately wanted to be accepted for who he was and what he could contribute to society. He wanted out of his closet. Once he came out of the closet he took on the task of educating all of us, particularly me. Now we could have open conversation about feelings and opinions and yes, we sometimes even joked about it.

Brian and I were close in age and as teens growing up together shared a bond. I knew he was gay when we were in school and sometimes felt angry with him for being gay. I just wanted him to be like everyone else. My girlfriends thought he was a "hunk" and always wanted me to hook them up with him. During that phase, along with him, I listened to the "fag" jokes and cringed and said nothing. Anything could be endured to keep the "secret" both of us knowing full well if it came out his life and future could be jeopardized. And I admit, at the time, I was embarrassed both for and by him. I was conflicted between my love for him and the teachings of the time. And I was a coward. I regret I was not a better sister to him back then.

Over the decades I did much to discourage him from telling our parents. Brian desperately want them to know who he really was and about his life. The brothers and sisters now knew, but my parents were aged and I feared that they would reject him and it would cause him excruciating emotional pain. But he was determined. While my father was in a nursing home and nearing the end of his life Brian went to visit him and shared the "secret." That day my father gave Brian his greatest and final gift. After Brian shared information about his life my dear dad asked him one simple question: "Are you happy?" When Brian responded with yes, dad replied with: "Then its all good. I only wanted that you would be happy." I hope my father knew how happy he made his son that day.

So many memories are bouncing in my head right now. I recall when my sons reached their early teens. I started hearing the "fag" word being used and it both angered and saddened me. I knew the time had come to share the secret. I was terrified one of them would use the "f" word during Brian's planned visit. It was bad enough that Brian should be hurt by strangers, but it couldn't be inflicted upon him by family. I sat my sons down and started telling them what a good man their uncle was and how much he cared for them, attempting to build up his image before I disclosed his "secret." To my amazement one of them interjected with "Mom, we know Uncle Brian is gay if that's what you getting at." I was shocked that they knew the "secret." My sons liked their Uncle Bri and thought he was a "cool dude" and they really enjoyed his company. He was the fun uncle who didn't lecture, but encouraged their ideas and goals. He listened and didn't judge. And they didn't put a tag on him, they just liked him. They looked forward to his visits then and do to this day.

I said earlier that he did a lot to educate me over the decades. On one visit we got to discussing whether or not gay couples should be allowed to adopt. At that time I took the position that children needed balanced gender roles that might not be achieved in a gay family. He listened and then asked me that should something happen to my husband and myself and I had one of two choices for the guardianship of our sons, the first choice being a heterosexual home prone to fighting and dissent and rancour, and the other choice being a gay family that would provide nurturing and encouragement in a loving environment, which would I choose. As I said, he was a good teacher and I a good student.

The good thing about discussing gay issues with my brother is that he didn't over react with anger because of what I said, but he always used the opportunity to turn my thinking around.

I could write for hours on this and share with you with joys and pain I shared with my brother over the years. But I will simply say he is a good son to his mother, a good brother to his siblings and a good uncle to his nieces and nephews. In short he is simply a good man and a far better one that those who cannot see him beyond his sexuality.

Today, when people make negative comments to me about gays I react one of two ways, depending on the time, place and my mood. Sometimes I will give them a cold fisheye look, a sorry shake of the head and let them know of my disgust. Or I stare them directly in the eye and state that my brother is gay and I don't appreciate the comment - which generally has them sputtering with weak retractions. I wish I could handle these situations more like Brian does.

I think over the decades the public reaction to gays, lesbians and transgendered citizens has changed because of people like my brother, who promote education and understanding of gay issues rather than responding with anger. He looks beyond the words and into the heart.

Much has changed over the course of one generation, and much yet needs to be changed. Anon 9:40 I hope your daughter's life is better as the years go by and that her family will represent a generation that has been unshackled from prejudice and bias.

If you read this Brian I just want to say I love you. I am proud to call you my brother and friend. Thank you for always being there for me, for your understanding, patience and contribution to family and community.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Back to none of the above

I tuned in to part of the Leaders' Debate last night and was pleasantly surprised at the modicum of behaviour by the leaders. It actually was conducted as a real debate rather than the brawls of past. Having said that, there was nothing of real substance that would swing a vote one way or another.

On the home front, candidate Darren Hill is gearing up his campaign in his usual manner. Rather than speaking on the Liberal platform and/or issues he is attempting to divert the focus to his main opponent's forgetfulness.

Clearly the issue of incumbent mail outs that were in the system prior to the writ being dropped has already been dealt with by Elections Canada. Trost's error in not pulling the $6.00 ad from a rural weekly newspaper has caused Hill to state: "The fact remains that there is no room for our elected officials to 'forget' how they're spending Canadians money. He's not taking this election campaign seriously, because he doesn't care." (SP Apr 13/11)

This is truly a situation of the pot calling the kettle black. Anyone remember Hill's billboard ads on his 'made for Ward 1' recycling program? Those he claimed were not election expenses as he was doing it as a elected councillor and not for re-election purposes. Odd how you would need billboards on main thoroughfares to advertise a program not sanctioned by the city and run it during a campaign and then say is wasn'y for re-election purposes.

In the last days of the election you should expect that Hill will play his gay card - that being that his opponent's' are attacking his lifestyle choice. Its tired and old but does get some sympathy vote. In realty, voters don't really care about a candidate's sexual orientation. They don't even want to know about it.

I hope voters will look at the past performances of these candidates. In this constituency both Trost and Hill have track records - which brings us back to voting for the best of the worst.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Moot points on municipal matters

The good news on the election spending limits council is proposing (SP Apr 12/11) is that we will not be mandated to foot the bill. Those who feel the benefits of this council can ante up and see if they can help return the big spenders to the executive chairs.

It was interesting to read that Council used modest population numbers to establish the threshold for spending. I would have thought they stuck to the "fastest growing city" numbers. Based on $165,000.00 for the mayor's chair they projected the city population to be 220,000.00. Better yet, it is deemed that it only cost $.75 per citizen to win.

On the issue of donors, it is true that as long as you keep a reporting limit on the donated amount, people will donate one dollar shy of that amount. I'm supporting the idea that all donated money should be reported, large and small. It is too easy for a supporter to have their kids, or an employer, their employees, donating to a candidate when in realty it is the same person coughing up the cash.

On the "What's left out" section of the article I was taken aback by idea floated that self-funded campaigns should be banned as critics believe that this would give wealthy candidates an advantage. How about the idea that a self-funded campaign means that you are beholding to no one.

Last but not least, how about a ban on the use of tax-funded Blackberries, computers, fax machines, business cards and every other item given to elected councillors and not available to other candidates.

This whole bylaw is a joke as no one monitors the spending anyway and the rules get made up along the way. The only time a candidate would be required to account for spending under this bylaw is if a citizen lodges a complaint and then the examination would be held by a person appointed by the council in question.

This whole thing can be chalked up to "appearances can be deceiving."

Monday, April 11, 2011

"What fresh hell is this?"

When I read in Saturday's SP (Apr 9/11) about the lighting on the traffic bridge I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry.

When it first came to light that the bridge lighting came in at twice the amount budgeted, Paulsen was the only councillor to question administrative over-spending without the approval of Council. She was quickly blown off by then city manager Phil Richards with the explanation that as he had money in the River Landing budget he didn't need council's approval for the expenditure and the matter died. And then later Council voted to replenish the RL coffers when they were empty.

Part of me feels sorry for Council as the initial lighting project was approved based on the information provided that the bridge still had a good 20 years left. I hated the choice of lighting because I felt it made the bridge look like a cathouse and so my first reaction was to be happy that they would be gone. But as I read on and came to understand that now Council is considering doing the same thing with the new bridge and more yet - viewing bays, electrical and water outlets for staging of events and other such sundries - my sympathy died. River Landing was already equipped for all of these needs.

The $30 million fix on the bridge is escalating . Recently the Mayor lamented that the higher levels of government did not allocate funding the the traffic bridge and the cost would be borne by the local tax base. The city finance manager fore-shadowed that the extra spending on the police station could put the city's credit rating at risk. Council has already started amortizing these projects for a longer period of time which will incur more interest on debt but reduce required annual payments.

Our roads are in disrepair and infrastructure is decaying. One neighbourhood is considering fund-raising in order to fix their road so a kids' soap-box derby can be held. Auto repair shops and tire sales are booming this year as taxpayers fix their vehicles from road damage. Sidewalks and medians are crumbling.

Left on the books for consideration is the public library, a new water treatment plant, bus barns and a depot, and the cry for affordable housing in the city. Hundreds of millions of dollars yet to be spent.

Are we all so caught up in the boom that we are blind to the fact that eventually the piper must be paid?

Much like after the Devine Government era, a council of the future will have to cut services and spending on needs and necessities while we pay these debts. It is for that Council that I will save my sympathies.

Friday, April 8, 2011

I need to know

Although we are in the midst of a federal election, I am getting the sense from the media and those that I speak with that, in Saskatchewan, more people are interested in the provincial election to be held in November than the pending federal gig..

I glean from those conversations that the two prime provincial election issues are rent control and potash royalties.

I would appreciate your thoughts on these issues, particularly on rent control.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

If it ain't broke don't fix it

I respond to the article in today's SP (April 7/11) on the city's Land Bank lot draw. Saskatoon may be the only, or one of a few cities, that has a Land Bank. I believe the purpose of the Land Bank was to allow the city to control the growth and development of the city and to aide in keeping land prices reasonable to its citizens.

Working from recollection, the city, using tax dollars, would access a parcel of land, service it and then put lots up for sale. The lots were priced based on land acquisition cost, servicing costs, administrative costs, etc. and then increased by 10%. Monies recovered from the sale of lots were then used for the next development with the small profit margin allocated for social and affordable housing projects. The lots were sold on a draw system, which included allowing citizens to participate and buy their own lot along side both small and large builders. Seems like a good system that allowed for everyone to participate.

For a very long time the major builders/developers have opposed this system. They want first dibs on tax-funded developments. They didn't want any lots going to Joe Public, and they wanted rows of choice lots allocated to them. And there is nothing that prohibits them from jacking up the price of these lots purchased from the city on re-sell to a prospective customer.

The one good argument large builders have is the cost of construction when they are building a row of houses side-by-side. Sending in the backhoe to dig six basements in a row is cheaper than sending the backhoe to several sites spread out. Call it assembly line construction.

But how does the small builder grow his company if he can't obtain the lots to build on? Major builders access and develop their own land as well as lots purchased from the city. Small builders cannot afford to do that.

There has always been the threat that large builders would take their business elsewhere if changes to the Land Bank system are not made. Strange to think that any large business would want to leave a city touted to be the fastest growing in the country with a thriving economy.

Perhaps all lot purchasers should be required to build on these lots within a certain time frame and that the lots cannot be re-sold for substantiallya higher cost to a future homeowner.

Saskatoon is a city built on small business. It has been the backbone of this community since its conception. I hope Councillors will remember that before casting their votes.

Or will they only remember those builders who wrote $249.00 campaign donation cheques.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just when you think you've seen it all . .

I didn't think there was anything that the city could propose that would surprise me anymore. Council has kicked around the idea of flat tax, presumably over and above assessed tax, user fees for garbage collection, recycling fees added to utility bills (then its not considered tax), increasing infrastructure levies, a guaranteed annual tax increase to raise $7.5 million for the police station, extended amortization for capital projects - the list goes on but I think you get the gist.

But today in the SP (Apr 6/11) when city management writes a taxpayer and says that if you want your potholes fixed by July you can do it yourself and at your own expense, I was both surprised and shocked. I had difficulty believing that the city would allow anyone, qualified or not, to tamper with city streets, that they cannot assure repairs would be done by mid summer and that over and above taxes, you can pay for your own street repairs. The idea that a neighbourhood would have to consider fundraising for street repairs is beyond comprehension.

I have held off calling councillors or writing the city about the condition of my streets thinking that as soon as it was possible they would have crews out doing repairs. I cannot access my home without driving over washboard conditions. I travel about five kms coming down the road to my street in the hope that I won't do serious damage to my vehicle. I personally know of four people that have blown tires and/or bent rims after hitting a pothole. Drivers are weaving in and out of lanes on major arterial roads trying to avoid damage to their cars. For whatever reason the roads seem to be worse this year than in past.

I can hardly wait until the next election.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It isn't graffiti . .

but the handwriting is on the wall.

On the speculated cost of the new police station, the city has opted for a 30 year repayment plan. Extended time means extra interest paid. The most telling comment was given by corporate services manager Marlys Bilanski when she stated that the extra spending "will put pressure on our credit rating." A reduced credit rating means increased interest rates.

Chief Weighill has learned the art of political flim flam well. His comments that a growing city combined with higher construction cost caused the $41 million increase. He forgot to mention the addition of a 130,000 square feet.

New councillor Donauer has learned quickly how to wield the rubber stamp and serve up platitudes. Hmmm. Sticker stock?

And Gramdpa Glen put a calm over the whole project by saying he doesn't believe the construction cost will be that much.

And then the questions was called based on a hope and a prayer.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why 'none of the above'?

I have always taken the position that people who didn't make the effort to go out and vote didn't have the right to express concern on the actions of any government or elected official.

Increasingly voter apathy is a concern for governments. I thought people didn't vote simply because they were to lazy to go to the polls. I am reconsidering this thought.

As to be expected, during a writ period everyone has an opinion. In this federal election I find myself, and in conversation with others that I am not alone, of being in a position of not having any candidate that I want to support with my vote. Some say hold your nose and vote for the party rather than the individual candidate. But I don't much like any of the party leaders either. And voting for the best of the worst is a poor way to pick your representatives.

I think we should have a opportunity to vote for "none of the above." Then if the majority of the voters mark that option, the parties should find new candidates and give it another go.

I know this is an outlandish thought, but it is bred from frustration and angst.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lizzy May took an axe and gave the guys forty whacks

I hope that Elizabeth May is keeping the issue of the leaders' debate going solely for the reasons of free publicity and fundraising. What a great opportunity for a political leader to garner money and vote for her party at no cost to the Green's national campaign.

I personally don't understand why she would want to share a stage with a bunch of guys who are screaming and shouting to an audience who can't hear a word of what any of them are saying. Having said that, I do think she should be included as the leader of a party that is fielding candidates across the country. And I can understand why Layton and Ignaiteff wouldn't want her as she drains from their pool of voters. As for Harper, he should be happy because it keeps the focus on her attendance at the debate rather than his past performance as Prime Minister.

The bigger question is who among us wants to tune in to this debate and listen to the rabble?