Can we call the Prime Minister a liar yet?

harperlieAnd if we do, is it true, and if it is true why don’t we demand he resign in disgrace?

This is a question that has befuddled us at the BR and simply by asking it we have obviously upset the Conservatives that read these pages. But I would ask them – just how long are you going to tolerate a Leader of the Party that you support telling big porkies at almost every stop on this campaign trail.

The problem in pointing out to the unwashed that we would like to convert to the position of not supporting Mr Harper this time around is that they would say, “What’s a lie and don’t they all do it?” As if the idea that a truthful politician is impossible to find and lies are part of the package.

We do not subscribe to that notion simply because truthfullness demonstrates a bunch of virtues: integrity, character, trustworthiness and believability. A person that asks for your support and demonstrates none of the above is no worse than a criminal who offends against common decency and public morals. If we cannot have a moral and just Society with people willing to live up to ideals we are no worse than regimes led by gangsters and crooks.

But back to the idea of isolating Stephen Harper as a liar. We have had many instances of lying from this man, especially during the recent, and ongoing, revelations about the discretions of Senator Duffy. The instances we have seen in the news lately are too many to list but basically PMSH is on record as having at least three statements, in the House of Commons, as different scenarios of the same basic fact. Logic defies facts, if only statement is true then the others must have been lies. It is a Parliamentary offence against convention, and probably House rules, to tell mislead the House. PMSH is a repeat offender howcum he hasn’t been called on it by the House?

It may be just us polite Candians that refuse to face facts – Stephen Harper is a liar and as such fails the moral test to be Prime Minister. We just hope that enough Canadians recognise this situation and punish him for it at the Polls.

Let’s see who has the stones to say something?

countycouncilNext time a bunch of local Pols start to spew mantras about local jobs and economic development and “buy local” call them out and expose them for the hypocrites that they are.

This post appeared on Facebook, (attribution reserved), it sums up my feelngs completely.

“This just isn’t right. On July 15th, Northumberland County Council, along with Prosper Northumberland, celebrated the launch of “Buy Local Northumberland” and signed pledges to personally spend $25 more per month for Northumberland goods and services rather than spending that money outside the area. One of the goals of the campaign is to engage 5,000 other people in the county and encourage them to do the same. If successful, this would put $1.5 million dollars more into the community than is currently being spent each year.

On June 10th, just five short weeks earlier, the same County Council (through its Purchasing Coordinator) informed the Cobourg Police Service (CPS) that they had not been the successful bidder in the RFP for Northumberland Countywide Fire Dispatch Communication. The contract was awarded to Peterborough Fire Services for a so-far undisclosed amount. Dispatch services for six agencies within Northumberland County are ultimately impacted as their dispatch was provided by CPS. Adding further insult to injury, it forced the Cobourg Police Service to make the unavoidable decision to outsource it’s own dispatch to… Owen Sound Police.

So, in their infinite wisdom, the County Council decision to not “Buy Local”, has sent the $725K that CPS had budgeted for communications (dispatch) this year outside the County. The actual amount is probably significantly higher as $725K was the CPS budgeted expense and doesn’t take into account that CPS was probably (hopefully) making money by providing dispatch services to the six County agencies that they served.

Not only has that become a direct loss of revenue in the community with jobs exported outside of Northumberland, the fact that those people employed by CPS to provide dispatch service will no longer have salaries to redistribute in the community (in the form of groceries, entertainment, charitable donations, etc.) will probably negate any effort by the rest of us to “Buy Local Northumberland”. ?#?WalkTheTalk?

So let’s look at a couple of points in this post and amplify them: Adding further insult to injury, it forced the Cobourg Police Service to make the unavoidable decision to outsource it’s own dispatch to… Owen Sound Police. This statement may or may not be true as did we really get a costing on Cobourg just dispatching for Cobourg, in other word with the loss of other contracts just how many jobs were impacted and what would the base budget be?

The main theme of the post was that County Council had one hand voted and pursued, with great fanfare, a programme that pushed a hefty “buy-local” policy and on the other just put the boots to local jobs which with the spinoff effect would cost us much more money than just the loss of jobs.

The sad part about this for us at the BR is that so far not one Councillor has the ‘cajones’ to question the Cobourg County Councillor – Mayor Brocanier about his vote to put the boots to the communications at the Police Station. We are not holding our breath on this one.

Yet another pie in the sky

Trailer-park-proposal1000

Monday 10th of August sees yet another consultant come before Council with another dream. This report cost $24,925 (50% funded by the Province) but looking at the Cobourg Tourism Investment Study report here it would seem that a couple of acres of prime Lakefront property should be worth many millions so the whole exercise is costing us big bucks.

But delving into the report we find that the conclusions reached are based on the fact that most Tourists would be attracted by a Lakefront facility. The consultants conclusions about the types of facilities that would attract tourists are listed in the screenshot below.

conclusions

Realising that the consultant was paid to dream, this one is pretty fanciful especially when you are not the developer with deep pockets needed to build a forty room boutique (read ‘twee’) with a restaurant that overlooks the Lake.

Naturally many questions are raised by this report. But the biggest one has never been answered – What to do with the Trailer Park (TP)? Of course the trailer evokes strong emotions but it is indisputable that a camp site is needed and demanded by market forces. If, as it has been pointed out that the TP generated gross revenue of $229,557 in 2014. The forecast for 2015 is a “profit” of $85,511. Not an unsubstantial sum of money. How much tax revenue would be generated by a boutique hotel? But before the question of what to do with it comes up ask ourselves why are we asking the question? The TP is a long established Cobourg facility, constantly upgrading itself and is well used by a diverse number of users. The rates are not cheap but it is a prime spot.

But if the site is to be redeveloped how is it to be done? What will it morph into and how much profit will the Town realise if it does redevelop? Almost everybody in this discussion has an idea of what they would like to see but do they have the deep pockets to acquire this site and then build. At the moment we have a requirement in the Official Plan for a downtown hotel – we have yet to see it, we have two failed condominium projects in the downtown and a third that is struggling to find buyers willing to buy off the plan to get to the magical 75% mark needed to get financing. So it is possible to say that developers have little faith in downtown development based on the prevailing market forces that are reflecting such a weak demand.

But why should Council even consider such an idea – convert the trailer park to a boutique hotel, based on such minimal interest from developers. Or does Council, or the Mayor’s office have a pet project tucked away just ready to go. Even so the question for us is simple; why did we spend just under twenty-five thousand dollars to produce a report that could have been done in-house for the wages we pay the Tourism department anyway?

Are we a Bellwether Riding

grenier-NPS-July25On July 16th Eric Grenier – the man who is morphing into the premier voting analyst (by refining calculations and aggregating all of the polls he can find) published on his website threehundredeight.com the data on the left.

As a result a couple of local pundits have been speculating about the impact of the Conservative demise and the Liberal and especially the NDP’s uptick and asking is this Riding going to be a bellwether Riding?.

But is the Riding really a bellwether (origins of the word according to World Wide Words – “The shepherd used a wether (a castrated ram) as the leader of the flock, whom the rest would follow. To be sure to know exactly where he was, a bell was hung around his neck. So: bellwether. By the fifteenth century, it was being applied to people, as a contemptuous term for a leader whom only sheep would follow, especially one who possessed a loud mouth but little judgement.” Interesting! But times have changed and now we know the word to be “In more modern times — within the past century or so — it has moved sense to refer to things, rather than people, that lead or indicate a trend, such as the way we are likely to vote in an election.” 

Look at the figures and make up your own mind: the last four elections are telling the highest number of votes received by the Liberals was in 2004 when Paul Macklin won the election 22,989 with only 57,688 votes cast. The next election – 2006 – Paul M. received almost the same number of votes 22,566 but lost to the newcomer Conservative (Reformer) Rick Norlock who received 25,833, but the vote cast was higher 62,679. In that year’s election the NDP received half of the amount of votes earned by the Liberals 11,334.

The next election, two years later had the same result Norlock winning with 27,614 but Macklin losing heavily, only getting 16,209. The votes cast were 56,687. The NDP once again had half the amount earned by the Liberals 8,230.

The last election saw the same results, Norlock with 32,853 leading both the Liberals and the NDP, with twice as many votes than their combined vote, Liberals (Kim Rudd) 12,822 and the NDP with 12,626. This time more voters at the booth 61,034

So what do the Liberals or the NDP have to do to capture this Riding? Firstly they have to reduce the newly nominated Conservative candidate’s result by half and that would make a three-way race. Secondly either the NDP or the Liberals have to become the leader and overtake each other. Now can we see that kind of scenario?

It is possible Adam Moulton is not Rick Norlock and we think that there are indications that he has failed to capture the hearts of the traditional NPS demographic – old white folks. So drop a few votes, 5,000, after all the local candidate is only worth about 5% of the votes available, no matter how good that candidate is. Secondly look for some of Mr Norlock’s voters to flee to the NDP because they cannot bring themselves to vote for a Liberal. Thirdly look for Mr Harper’s popularity to plummet and thus drive down the Conservative vote.

The big question here is: will the drop in the Conservative vote and the consequent surge to one of the others be enough to propel a Conservative loss? It is hard to believe that even if Mr Moulton only gets half of Mr Norlocks vote 16.000, and if the Liberals pull their usual display of displeasure (not voting to show their disdain of the Liberal Leader and his policies) will the movement be captured by Russ Christianson? After all under that scenario he only needs about 8,000 more votes to win.

Just another summer week

summerThe kids are home, the vacation is planned and the living is easy so what is there to get worked up about.

Well apart from the inconsiderate dog owners who insist on bring the noisiest dogs of the day to the dogpark at 5.30am – not much, but stuff has occupied local discussion.

Cobourg has aggressive panhandlers – The local police service issued a warning to the population advising them not to give money and report any such occurrence to them. Our question is, and has been asked by others – Why does the Police Service not have foot patrols in the Downtown to advise the dirty smelly man, and others, to stop their annoying and sometimes intimidating and illegal behaviour. We have been promised foot patrols as part of the much vaunted ‘community policing’ initiative, where are they. It seems by issuing this news release all the Police have done is drawn attention to their own deficiencies.

Port Hope has really stepped on a bees nest – Not content to let sleeping dogs lie the PH Council has decided to update its bylaws, a regular process since amalgamation, and the firearms control bylaw is being looked at. One wonders why, but reading between the lines and looking at this facebook page it seems that, once again, a personal element has been injected into policy. Whether that is true remains to be seen but what we do know is that 126 people were counted at the Council meeting. Three things are guaranteed to rile the Ward 2 natives – talk about taxes, the thought of garbage pickup and any limits on the ability to hunt or fish. We will continue to follow this topoic with interest. But again, as with other topics on the agenda of the PH Council – who asked for this discussion and why. Obviously a lot of background stories in that new Council!

Now that the Art Gallery of Northumberland has extracted 50 Gs from Council what next? When the Chair of the AGN was asked to sum up year two and year three according to the newly completed strategic plan he replied, “I can’t we are only looking at year one for now, we don’t succeed there may not be a year two.” An amazing statement. When members of Council were questioned as to why they did not ask the obvious question – “What about years two and three?” the consensus answer was “We are only looking at year one and the survival.” Well folks how about that survival? What is strange to us at the BR is that the usual rigor of fiscal oversight has not been applied by the self styled taxfighters (Where are you Mr Pagnuelo?) in this issue. Quick to blast the Park supporters for their lack of a business plan and even faster to attack the Town’s plan to build a necessary Public Works Yard, where is the withering criticism for an organisation that is budgeting for a deficit next year after receiving 50K this year. As one member of Council said to me when I asked him to comment on the statement that “We are really funding an exhibition” he said “A worthy exhibition!” Strange happenings all around.

Veterans will get their names on a street after all. Council can do things right most of the time. This time it was Cobourg Council’s turn for accolades. For the next three years any new street will be named from a list of WW1 Veterans who died in that war. Congratulations to all concerned.

skippyLocal electioneering has started – Skippy is coming to Town. The son of a prominent local businessman, Adam Moulton, who is the nominated candidate for the Conservative party of Canada, who has had his signs up on King Street for a month will officially open that office tomorrow – July 27th. And, the opening will be presided over by the ‘Weasel aka Skippy’ himself – Pierre Poilievre – the Pol who has never had a real job and revels in the distortion of the facts. At least he will have be wearing his CPC Tshirt at the proper occasion. Wonder how much money he is bringing to Cobourg tomorrow?

Is Cobourg too small to be significant?

art-gallery-northumberlandWhat brought this muse up is the news that Cobourg Council is having a special meeting this afternoon (Monday 20th July) at 2pm to discuss whether to bail out, once again, the Art Gallery of Northumberland.

Cobourg has always had pretensions of glory, in the 1840s it was thinking it should have been the Province’s Capital. In the 1860s the failure of the Cobourg Peterborough Railway led to a major decline in wealth in the Town and the stagnation of Victoria Hall.

In recent decades we have seen manyadventurous entrepreneurs attempt to base businesses on an overprojected customer base. We routinely see big box carpetbaggers stating that the consumer base for Northumberland County is over ninety thousand. Such a fallacy should be destroyed as soon as it is mentioned! Anyway the question before Council today should be “What kind of Art Gallery is needed by the Town?” (calling it a Northumberland organisation sounds until you realise that only Cobourg and Port Hope fund it). Because when Council answers that question then the level of support needed can be decided upon.

To help Council in their deliberations the main document will be the Executive Summary read it here what they want today is an immediate grant of $50,000 which will be used to hire a new person to run the Gallery fulltime. Obviously the thinking is that cannot generate income unless they have a professional running the joint. We think that is correct – relying on erratic volunteers will only work for so long.

But the question still remains is a Gallery of this size and age – fifty years and a substantial permanent collection sustainable in a Town of this size? With the recent uproar from “taxfighters” about the proposed Municipal support of the a Cultural Centre what will they say about another fifty thou’ on top of the twenty thou’ they got a couple of months ago. Putting this into context there should only be so much “cultural money” to go around – after all that was the argument for refusing to buy the Pipe Band new uniforms. How much is that money and where will it go?

This is not the kind of discussion that any Municipal Council should be dragged into it is too ideological for them. You either subsidise the Arts or you let the marketplace decide. Once you are into the Arts game, as Cobourg has been for years, then Councils have to decide who gets what and how much. Surely this a great argument for the establishment of a “Community Chest” whose Governors would decide who gets what and how much. In this age of outsourcing this is a great example of the need to outsource  the funding of the culture of this Town. Using the Holdco money establish the “community chest” and then Council will have no more of these Solomon like decisions to make.

But another question still remains – Does Cobourg have delusions of grandeur or are we a Municipality of dreamers and builders?

The Devil is in the details

porthope_logoIt is always the little things that produce the most problems. Just take what happened on Tuesday in Port Hope Council chambers. A report came from the Rural Redesign Working Group a couple of weeks ago that suggested many things, none of which was the idea of a representational change to the make-up for the Council of the combined Wards. The Executive Director of Port Hope then produced a report about this report and added a suggestion that the representation on the Council be changed, despite the fact that this was not suggested by the RRWG.

Thank goodness for independent thought

wac2The first entry about this subject was the illustration of the attempt to restrain the newly established Waterfront Advisory Committee, look two posts below.

Since then we have been advised that the crippling mandate was revised and a unanimously approved motion will be taken to Council on Monday night. Look left and you will see that the members of the Committee have decided to run the show when it is needed – ….. the last change shown.

Congratulations to the Waterfront Advisory Committee for spotting the problem and quickly remedying it.

Letter to the Editor

I sent -or tried to send- the following to Northumberland News in response to Todd McEwan’s ‘Report Card’ feature grading our local elected representatives. Naturally I focused on Port Hope. The e-mails I sent to Northumberland News bounced back, and finding a direct route to sending NN a letter-to-the-editor is like recovering your Apple ID -all but impossible. So, BurdReport it is:

The Staff is still in control

The backstory to the recent brouhahhah over the Marina expansion was the desire by some members of the public and at least one councillor to tame, what they saw as, the overzealous and ambitious staff of Cobourg, specifically the Director of Public Works and to some extent the CAO.

The Marina project, as we all know, until it hit the Council machine last week, was revved up and ready to go to spend $3.5million on more facilities at the harbour. The resulting outrage from some of the public was inevitable but when all of the groups using the harbour failed to support the plan the obstinate Staff should have seen the light, but didn’t, and the Council had to put the boots to the plan.

A very current item from our guest – Dan Christie

 

pic_12822608807854-300x236As I write I’m rolling a caramel-flavoured marijuana ‘candy’ around in my mouth. Last night, just before lights out, I smoked a little more that half a joint.
If our ‘outraged’ federal Health Minister, Rona Ambrose had her way, my activities regarding the dreaded hemp would be confined to ingesting the stuff through my lungs -which would be fine with me -despite having never touched a cigarette in my life. But friends insist I try the cookie/candy/brownie route. And so I shall.

Let’s start again

TheParkOutside1200With the news that the Park Theatre as previously proposed is dead we are now in the position to start over. The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario Cobourg Branch (ACO) has decided not to support the project because the Engineering Report has indicated that the cost to rebuild would be significantly higher than first thought.

The actual price of the rebuild will not be released because it could impact the resale value to the seller (Pope’s words paraphrased). It is now obvious that the site is only valued for the land. It is now incumbent on the Town to re-offer and the price would be only for the price of the land – something far less than the $369K that was bandied around as the most recent real offer.

A new way of doing the same-old!

First of all apologies to the faithful readers who appear here everyday looking for pithy comment and sage wisdom [cut out the puffery – ed] the publisher has been very busy the past two weeks in his ‘retirement job’ – “jeez I may as well have not stopped for all the time it is taking to do a part time job”. But thanks to Dave Glover on 89.7 FM radio the BurdReport has been heard.

click to hearThis week he did something different and in order to broaden his approach Dave has started to record his hours for posterity. So armed with the MP3 the topics not covered in print this week are on audio.

Click on the image to hear the show.

A Grand Idea

TheParkOutside1200This could be the way it will be! Last year local cinephile Ken Prue produced this image of the future, the way he saw it. A renovated Park Theatre – a cultural centre that would anchor the East end of King St. In this report on the “CobourgNews” website Ken was speaking as a member of the group that wanted to renovate the site. Many reasons are given and everyone of them is valid today.

Stay tuned

Just a quick note to follow up on the odor of nepotism and cronyism that pervades Port Hope Council. The BR finally received answers to the questions posed to Councillor Polutnik. Of course he didn’t answer them the big cheese did. In a classic display of weasel words Ms Bernardi produced the following email.

click to enlarge

Mr Polutnik did not reply but the Staff did

For all Port Hopers – please draw your own conclusions: a bit of history, I asked Mr Polutnik some specific questions, as he is the Chair of the Economic Development Committee about the recent changes in the EconDev and Tourism depts.. The questions are contained in the email and are below the ED’s reply to me.