Thursday, May 31, 2012

Is he from another planet?

If City Manager Murray Totland doesen't believe the national survey (SP May 31/12) regarding Saskatoon residents' response to roadway conditions in this city, then he is stone-cold deaf!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gas up and go

That's quite the little tin can the city police have for a rescue unit (SP May  30/12.)  But who do they intend to rescue?  I thought it was intended to be an assault vehicle for SWAT. 

I tend to agree with David Eby when he states that police  across the country are putting spending priorities on equipment and technology to solve policing problems when the vast majority of the policing issues stem from poverty and mental illness.

I'm torn on this issue because I believe police should have all necessary equipment to do their jobs and protect their own lives as well as ours while doing their duty.  But there is a limit on expenditures and I'm not sure that this money couldn't have been better spent toward that endeavour.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Green lights for red lights

Who would have thought that prostitution would ever become a home-based business?

When the issue of home-based businesses first arose it was to license those who provided services in their homes - hair, nails, sewing, accounting, legal - and one of the arguments was that these types of business allowed people to stay at home with their families while still actively engaging in their professions.  They were limited to the number of people they could service in a day. 

It was also to make them pay licensing fees and taxes that commercial enterprises paid for providing the same services.

If hookers cannot provide services in their homes, then is  it truly a home-based business?

This may be like the "I'm a little bit pregnant" scenario. You either are or you aren't.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Shuffled or shafted?

Wow, you could have blown me away when I read Rob Norris was shuffled out of Cabinet. 

There was a lot of time, energy and money spent on getting Norris re-elected last November.  A lot of big hitters worked his campaign and I imagine they are not overly happy about his loss of a cabinet position. 

Or perhaps it was more about keeping Prebble out of the legislature than getting Norris in.

Premier Wall said the changes were not based on merit or performance.  But if good performance does not merit maintaining a position, what does?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Welcome to the big city!

For those who longed for Saskatoon to hit big city status, I think your wish has come true.  The drug peddlers have us on their radar screens, handguns are surfacing, although knives are still the weapon of choice, the number of homeless are growing, housing is out of range of citizens, gangs are staking territory, family violence is at an all time high - ain't life grand.

I know all of this existed when we were Sleepy Hollow, but not to this degree.  The police station is going to fill up well before we hit the 400,000 population mark.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cut the loss

What the hell was the city thinking when it agreed to buy 18 housing units from a developer at roughly $200,000 a pop? Even with the city offering grants to cover down payments, how will low income citizens get a mortgage for the balance?

The city intentions of developing affordable housing should be applauded.  However, its role should have been as a facilitator to organizations that actually know how to do it and do it well.  Instead taxpayers will now subsidize down payments and forfeit tax revenue from these properties as a result of this action.

The best laid plans . . .

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Born yesterday?

Nothing annoys me more than political snow jobs.  For MLA Don Morgan to suggest that adding three more constituencies to the roster. at a total cost of $675,000.00, will not cost taxpayers any more money is inane.  His reasoning is they intend to cut spending on existing travel and communications budgets to offset these new costs.

If MLAs have this much fat to trim, they should do so and put the money towards public needs.  And if the rationale is better representation of constituents, then why cut communication allowances.

Why can't they simply say Saskatchewan's population is growing and  we believe this will benefit Saskatchewan residents in the long term.  End of story.  Move on.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Potholes, sinkholes, washboards . . .

In today's SP (May 16/12) the businesses groups in the airport area are complaining about the poor condition of the roads.  I invite them into my neighbourhood if they want to experience broken down roads.

The article also notes how little money is budgeted for road repair and rehabilitation.  According to city administration the city needs $18.5 million a year to maintain current conditions.  How much for improved conditions?  This year the city is spending $9.5, so I guess my area is out of the running for repair.  But it's an election year and the tax increase was a concern.

It begs the question "How did we get to this sorry state?"  The answer is spending priorities.  It makes the decision to take the $1.5 million out of the roadway repair reserve to fund the first year operating costs of the new art gallery even more shameful.

Next year, after the election, expect to have a "special levy" added to your tax bill for roadway purposes.  And then ask yourself what the rest of your taxes pay for.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pictures and such

Who knew the film industry was so strong?  Or is it?  In today's SP (May 15/12) there is finally an description between what was and what is.  I rather like the new formula. 

I hadn't realized that under the old plan producers actually depended upon and budgeted for tax dollars to fund their projects. Under the new plan they get tax payable forgiven, but no cash in hand.  I actually think that a pretty good helping hand.

It is apparent that the film industry is up in arms, but I'm not sure the public is.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

A few things to be thankful for

Some things never change.  Instead of starting at the top and working down, the School Boards are starting at the bottom.  But cutting Kindergarten will incense parents who will call their MLAs.  Cutting central office staff will not create a blip on the radar.

I would agree that if students numbers of rising, funding should increase accordingly.  But Schools Boards should be setting the priorities for spending and the last cut should be at the classroom levels.

I am thankful they do not have the ability to tax property.  I am also thankful I did not have to hear "let's do it for the kids."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

They deserve it!

Thankfully the city as provided some interim tax relief for seniors at the poverty level (SP May 10/12..)  Given the shortage of affordable housing for low-income seniors, being able to defer some property taxes means they can remain in their homes and will be able to provide themselves the other necessities of life.  But I hope part of this plan does not include an 18% interest rate which attaches to late payment of taxes.  Although interest has to be charged I would it expect it to be the same rate the City pays to its lenders.

I've heard  the argument against this program, that being that an individual or couple is occupying an affordable home too large for their needs at a time when young families are searching for affordable homes.  But our seniors have spent their lives paying for their homes and it is their comfort zone.  It keeps them vibrant and active.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bridging the future

Recent reports state that the City will spend about a $1 million take down a section of Traffic Bridge on the Nutana side in order to open up the MVA trail and roadways.  As I live in this area, I am pleased to have the road opened.  And the $1 million would have to be spent eventually to deal with the de-construction of the bridge.

But at the same time we are told that there is no funding source to proceed with the re-construction of the Traffic Bridge, although the decision was made to re-build it.

Then about a week ago the Mayor was reported to have said that a new North commuter bridge would be built by 2016.  But no funding source was identified.  And it would seem that this is in addition to a North Bridge that will be built in conjunction with the province's plan for a perimeter highway around Saskatoon.

We already know that re-build of the Traffic Bridge will fun about $30 million if we re-use the existing piers.

What will a new North commuter bridge cost when you have to add on the cost on pier construction?

Better yet, when the new South Bridge opens and traffic is diverted away from the Circle Drive bridge, will a new North commuter bridge be necessary?

Or is this just election year politics?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Today's daily double

Its a good news, bad news day.

With NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's position on Western resources, and the support he received from the provincial NDP, I would expect this means the party has now moved its home base to Quebec.  This is the good news.

The bad news was the collapse of the sewer pipe and the ensuing fire, which in all likelihood means we will all receive an increase on the infrastructure levy that is added to our utility bill.  And I expect their will be some third party insurance claims against the city that will have to be footed by taxpayers.

 I think its about time for a review of that infrastructure reserve and how its being spent.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Due respect

The provincial government is asking the public to weigh in on changes to the Labour Laws (SP May 3/12.)  I'm stepping on the scale to state that I don't think employers should have to collect dues for  unions.  The unions should collect their own money.

Secondly, I don't think students working part-time jobs should have to pay dues.  They get absolutely no benefit from the union as they never have enough tenure or work hours to qualify for support.  These kids are simply fodder for organized labour. 

Having said that, I do think unions have value in protecting the rights and working conditions of their membership.  I suspect they would receive a lot more public support if they became more reasonable  their demands and job actions - and less political.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Progress or regress?

Saving the historic Third Avenue United Church presents a sticky situation (SP May 2/12.) 

The public purse cannot contribute to religious organization.   The United Church presbytery does not want heritage designation on it, which would entitle it to heritage grants, because heritage designation  would also impede the value and sale of the building down the road should the need arise.  Understandably, their fiduciary duty is the the churchs' congregants, not the city.

Although it has been used by performing artists for concerts, arts groups have little or no money to step in and save the day. 

The province could jump in and declare it a heritage building, but it won't because politics and religion don't mix.

The heritage groups will impale themselves on the spires trying to save it, but unless a benefactor steps in this struggling congregation will eventually close the church,  and the building will be lost to a developer who will want to replace with a apartments or condos.

What a shame.