Month: May 2018

weekend jottings

Why does facebook waste its time:

Opened up FB to check on all the usual ‘stuff’ ad a video of Duggie came up. Labelled a political ad by facebook I clicked on ‘why this ad’ and saw this pic – snipped it for your education. Hmm facebook definitely has its algorithms wrong if they think I have been looking ad the PC’s stuff and even more wrong if they think I would want to see it.

 


 

A surge for the NDP:

Sunday poll results are in and the third party  is now the ‘nearly first’ party. Hmm will it last, or collapse as the fear mongers, dredging up the spectre of Bob Rae (the person that only old people remember) try to scare the voters into the arms of Rob Ford!

 


 

Walmart to dump self checkout tills  After the hoo-hah about Walmart using self-checkouts it seems that the great experiment is over – in the USA at least. Maybe Canada will follow suit. We certainly hope so. The “Guardian” newspaper published this great story about the problems with the tills and customers – Nation of shoplifters. 

Alternative Voices Needed

We live in a white bread world here in the hills and valleys of Upper Canada, safely distant from the colourful and diverse city up the road. Here we still cling to the old school values of staunch British resolve, and we expect our neighbours to be the same.

Nowhere is this more evident than in our local media, especially when those sources are taken over by huge corporations. It’s all apple pie and motherhood around here, nothing remotely new or controversial to be found anywhere. Cobourg’s taxpayers association might be newly formed, but their right wing approach to taxation is certainly nothing new. Instead it’s just a slight adaptation because most of them seem to be Toronto escapees bent on preventing citified diversity from creeping into their upscale suburban paradise. They want gold plated services from the Town as long as they are the beneficiaries, otherwise they want taxes trimmed to provide only the basics of services for everyone else.

The CTA cause is mostly showcased in the Cobourg Blog, that online news source that covers so many municipal matters around town so thoroughly. John Draper seems most impressed with these people who seem to worship at the feet of Business, a common oddity among many these days. When did this happen, this notion that Business and business people are our modern super heroes? That they alone have all the answers?

This is why I am personally thrilled to see my old co-conspirator, Ben Burd, back at his computer speaking out. As a former Town Councillor, President of the Northumberland Labour Council, and a founder of the Help Centre and Northumberland Legal Centre, his viewpoints are considerably different than the usual same-old traditional sentiments that we mostly see around here. 

We need him and others like him very badly. We need to hear our alternative voices loud and clear if we ever hope to see new solutions that work for all of us, not just the affluent elites who think it’s their job to run everything. 

More light needed on this one!

In a swift move the Art Gallery of Northumberland (AGN) will be getting $160K from the Town of Cobourg. This stunnning move by Council has had less than a week of public notice and was not debated at the Committee of the Whole, last week. 

It is no secret that the AGN has been in turmoil for the last few years. Last year the President appeared before Council begging for more money to stabilise the institution and said the money would fund the next year. Well obviously that move didn’t work, even after a highly successful and acclaimed WW1 exhibition. So now the Council has decided to give the AGN another $50K and toss in an additional $65K for good measure. One good question is – “where is this money coming from?” Cllr Seguin has answered this – see below, but as she explains The Town’s operating budget is only hit for $30K. The rest comes from Council’s ‘play-money’ – the HoldCo fund; and free rent in Vic Hall.

Another good question would be to whom are we giving the money? The present Board is in a state of flux and may not be up to full complement. The Northumberland connection is severely hurt after the AGN severed its ties with “The Gallery” in Port Hope and now the AGN is what appears to be a Cobourg organisation! How can it call itself the AGN if outreach to the County is severely limited?

But of more concern to the BR and we suppose the CTA too, is the haste in which this matter is being dealt with by the Cobourg Council. Surely the memo, from the Community Services Councillor, was ready last week and could have been discussed informally at the CoW meeting. The Memo was signed by the AGN President on May 9th four days before the CoW and could have been placed on the Agenda as an addition. Then the public would have had ample notice of this “hail mary giveaway”. But by receiving the memo in the first part of a regular meeting and then voting on it in the middle part of the meeting the scantest of public notice has been given to those interested in such a large handout.

These questions were sent to Cllr. Seguin, and she rapidly answered (within seven hours on a holiday weekend):

1. Why is this memo being introduced and signed at the same meeting, this is very little, if no, public notice. The MoU was signed by the President of the AGN four days before the CoW where it could have have been discussed in public?

The MOU was written by Dean Hustwick, Director of Culture and Recreation with input from the AGN. It was approved at our May 9 board meeting and signed by AGN President, Mary Donaldson. The town received it the next day so I do not know why there was a delay in presenting it at the May 14 COW meeting. We asked for the MOU to be included in the Council agenda for May 22 in order for it to be approved by Council in time for it to be presented at the Annual General Meeting of the Art Gallery scheduled for May 29 at 5pm in the Art Gallery. I do apologise for the limited time for public engagement.

2. Where is the $165K coming from and is it in the budget?

The funding was approved in the Town of Cobourg 2018 budget. The art gallery is a key part of our cultural assets
and we asked for it to be included in the budget. The breakdown from the budget is as follows:
Grant 		$160,000  (operational and $45,000 rent)
Recovery
From Holdco	-$85,000
Subtotal	$75,000
Less Art
Gallery Rent	-$45,000
Cost to Town	$30,000

3. Who will evaluate the progress of the AGN in meeting its goals, necessary for quarterly funding?

Council will be provided quarterly reports from the AGN on specific dates as outlined in the MOU. By November 30, 2018 the
 AGN must provide a draft business plan to the Town showing that it has met its goals for 2018 funding and to build
 a business case for 2019 funding.

So now we have answers to some of the questions but the issue still remains – why little or no public notice? After all the CTA would probably have questioned this amount of money!

A sad admission of political cowardice!

A clear admission of political cowardice. Just got around to watching some of the proceedings of Cobourg Council on Youtube watch here. At the 41 minute mark Paul Pagnuello of the Cobourg Taxpayers’ Association appeared as a delegation. He spoke about the need to pay a functioning Council a proper rate, “at the moment Councillors are working for less than minimum wage!”

However at the end of the presentaions, and with the first question, Cllr Rowden blurted out the feelings of most of the Cllrs present; but from a different angle. “I would not want to knock on doors with is proposal, if we approved this.” So there you have it – political cowardice and absolute pandering to the basest emotions of the perceived voter.

To his credit Mr. Pagnuello defended his argument and one he will make to the voters by countering that if you want to attract more diversity on Council then you have to pay them. He also pointed out that the annual cost of doing this would be an additional yearly cost of $15.58 for each household.

In the voting part of the meeting, 1 hour 11 minute point, members of Council spoke. Debra McCarthy, after revealing that she is not running would make the case at the door that her work as a Councillor is worth a raise, “it is not charity it is doing your best and giving the time to do the job”. Cllr Darling also spoke, “I am having a tough time with this”. He made a motion not to eliminate the 1/3 tax deduction, “because if this goes through the raise will be a deduction”. Cllr Seguin again wimped out and said “I am not happy, but will support the motion”. This was after her remarks that basically supported the raise movement had been made. Another motion was made as an amendment – to look at the CTA proposal if the 1/3 deduction is removed. This amendment was defeated.

The Deputy Mayor punted off the discussion, “my whole intent is to make the next Council deal with this”.

Hmmm stay tuned on this one!

The end of week 1 and a fifteen minute jaunt around the Internet

Two All Candidates’ Meetings (ACM) and one breakfast schmooze, missed by Lou Rinaldi, and do we have any indicators yet? The CBC PollTracker is here and changes daily as Eric Grenier updates it on a constant basis. So what do the pundits say this morning? Do not write off the NDP that’s what. We know we have been through this before – watch an aggressive NDP jump forward only to stumble at the finish line. But is it too early to say that Andrea Horwath has momentum? Eric Grenier seems to think so read it here. The Toronto Star thinks there is an “Anybody but Ford” movement percolating. This article also gives a good synopsis and bios of the Leaders, an interesting read. The folks at the Election Prediction Project are unsure of the results – 45 Ridings too close to call. For the ‘wonks’ among us take a look at this page from StrategyCorp (poll page here) and its Poll Tracker Page, this sheet updates every five minutes and lists all the Polls taken in the Province.

Whizzing around the the interweb thingy we can keep up with the local campaign without even leaving the computer. In a facebook share we found this clip – the NDP candidate answering a question about health-care, but the unintended consequence was the attitude and behaviour of the incumbent – Lou Rinaldi. With the other candidates paying attention to the statement Lou appeared to listen for about twenty seconds then boredom took over. We entitled the clip It only took 20 seconds to induce Lou’s boredom.

Locally speaking we will have the three Major Party Campaign rooms open today. The Cons and Libs opened up in Cobourg earlier this week and the NDP’s opening is today at 1pm. Track on down to King St West and see the Candidate.

“We have some more things to talk about”

In a previous post we pointed out that the agenda for Monday’s CoW meeting was a bit thin, well it’s not now. Additions to the Agenda are coming: 

  • A presentation, from the CAO Town of Cobourg presenting the 2015-2018 Annual Strategic Plan Update,
  • A memo from the Treasurer/Director of Corporate Services, regarding the Victoria Hall Clock Tower Clock Mechanism replacement,
  • A memo from the Treasurer/Director of Corporate Services, regarding the 2018 Roof Replacement Projects at the Henley Arcade and Building 7 – Public Works/Parks Facility,
  • A memo from the Emergency Planner, regarding a Memorandum of Understanding with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit for Use of the Cobourg Community Centre as an Emergency Mass Health Protection Clinic,
  • And a memo from the Secretary, Cobourg Heritage Advisory Committee regarding a Heritage Permit Application, 202 Church Street, Cobourg (submitted by Keith Colterman on behalf of Anne Marie Cummings) (HP-2018-010) regarding restoration and reconstruction of a front porch.

The first presentation (the presentation about the Strategic Plan) will be the kickoff to the reelection campaign for all of the undeclared incumbents. After all who of them cannot help but boast that they have completed most of the plan they wrote three years ago. Accomplishments – that’s what is needed by these folks.

 

Another Candidate declares: Randy Curtis, a longtime Cobourg local has declared. Randy also tried to get on last year when the Town advertised for people to fill the vacancy. Suzanne Seguin was the successful appointee that time. Good luck to Randy this time. More details will appear on the candidates’ page when they become available.

The first sign of the campaign

The sign of a good and well run campaign is usually a plethora of signs. Being first with the signs was always the hallmark of a great campaign manager and the man that ran the past NDP campaigns was a master at it. Murray Weppler knew the best locations and his house list was as long as his arm. Consequently the first day of his campaigns was a sea of orange.

Unfortunately local Councils in their wisdom to control ‘visual pollution’ and create a neutral tone for any campaign have restricted the timing and placing of signs in campaigns. No more large signs on visible public property and definitely no signs on boulevards and streets. But as we see in this pic there will always be ‘rogue’ signs. At a cost of at least $5.00 per sign we cannot imagine why such resources are wasted in this way.

Entering Cobourg from the 401 yesterday evening this sign was the first sign encountered. Pity it is illegal and we shall see how long it lasts in that spot!

Two days later

copyright Toronto Star

OK we did watch a bit of the debate, enough to see the trend that has been established by the pundits. Ford was wooden, Wynne was battered and defensive and Horwath was moderate and poised.

The exit polls confirmed this with the results showing that Horwath was the winner, but will it count? Immediately the media pointed out that the format was not good – just because it was not traditional doesn’t make it bad!

Nope the story two days later was that the Fordies had paid actors to gin up the crowd. But it wasn’t the Fordies but the local candidate who had organised that effort. Again Ford spun dross into gold, “Why would we do that everywhere I go we get standing room only!”

So where are we now? Horvath up, Ford stays where he was and Wynne still in third! Hope this isn’t the way for the next twenty-nine days.

The view from seat number eight

“Mr Chair (in  a CoW meeting one addresses the Chair not the person in it), a short agenda tonight but due to the law of inverse proportion – the length of the agenda is inversely proportional to the length of the meeting, it’s going to be a long night.”

Two presentations one to a successful sports team and one from a successful local media guru. Seven motions and the usual puff announcements from each Councillor. Of the seven motions three should be worthy of debate as they are new to the public and may be controversial.

The first up is the Ad-Hoc committee on Council remuneration read it here . We wrote about it a few days ago in a post called “all that work just to maintain the status quo” . Somewhat cynical the post the post was critical of the way the committee did not get to the issue and took the easy way out and recommended that Council stay in the middle of the pay chart. The question here is: will the Councillors actually say something about the report or will they just vote to get it off the table. We know that at least one Councillor thinks the job should be full time and paid accordingly, but now that she is not running again will Councillor McCarthy tell the truth? After all there is an election coming and who wants to be tagged with voting for a hefty raise or asking for a job?

The second report is a report from the Cobourg Police Services Board called: ” Memorandum of Understanding-Business Services Unit-Non-Taxation Proceeds” Yep and the rest of the report is just as hard to read and understand check it out for yourself here. For an organisation that wants to be understood as one that communicates well this report is tough reading due to the way it is written e.g “The risk of continuity of extraordinary proceeds coupled with the preference to insulate the community from acute fluctuations in the municipal tax base results in both streams of funding (taxation and non-taxation) remaining synchronised, though independent, for their distinct purposes.” really means “we are in a risky venture and want to keep the profits separate or else taxpayers may take a hit!”

That’s the reason for this MoU. The CPSB is making a killing at the moment with its Business Unit and it may collapse at any time if the Feds or the RCMP change their operations. So a means to keep the money away from the budgeteers at City Hall has to be devised.

The third report is the memo from the Planning and Sustainability Advisory Committee that asks for a report from the CAO on how to obtain the resources to do the jobs they should have done in past years. This report “Memo – Planning Secretary RE Sustainability Resources” points out that in their efforts to direct the way to a Sustainable Cobourg the Town has to follow through on previous efforts, the Committee quotes:

Past and Present Impacts
•  Despite taking many significant actions over the past decade, the Town has also missed
opportunities to complete plans, deliver and communicate. Examples include:
•  Cobourg’s 2010 Climate Action Plan — a draft plan was prepared and accepted by Council, registered with theFederation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) as a ‘draft plan’; and activities implemented. Yet, the plan was never registered as a ‘final plan’ and was not well communicated nor were additional actions/ongoing needs considered in an updated plan.
•  Cobourg’s Corporate Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan — was prepared by Public Works in 2014. The Plan called for the town to produce an annual Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emission Template for operations. To date, we’ve not been able to find a single report published for Cobourg.
•  Community Energy Planning — Cobourg has been a leader in community energy. Many past examples exist, perhaps starting with LED traffic lights a couple of decades ago; and more recently, renewable energy implementation at our waste water treatment plant, public, commercial and residential buildings. However, recently, we were unable to respond to suggestions (by a community partner) that Cobourg participate in a national community energy planning and scorecard pilot project being implemented by Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST-Canada).
To date, Cobourg has not completed — or even started — Municipal Energy Planning, a value added activity supported by both federal and provincial governments.

On to the Coordinators’ reports and then the meeting should be over, notwithstanding additions to the Agenda.

 

Five days in

Five days into the 2018 Cobourg Municipal election we have two candidates: Adam Bureau – running to be a Councillor, and Jaine Klassen Jeninga – who wants to a re-elected School Board Trustee.

This information comes from the Town of Cobourg’s website – congratulations for being so prompt let’s hope the updates are immediate. Check the page out here.

First Impressions:

Adam Bureau needs no introduction to Cobourgers. If you don’t know him look for a big guy who stands on the street, outside his store, a lot of the day. He is a successful business person who has operated a ‘buy and sell store’ for ten years. In Cobourg’s downtown ten years is a lifetime – congratulations Adam. Announcing his intentions on Monday at 11am in front of a reported crowd of thirty people, he told them why he wants to be on Council. It seems that any advertising and publicity is not really needed as his Patron Mr Bill Patchett and Bill’s fundraiser – Ed Zylnik, will do it all for him. Looks like a rebel establishment candidate to me. It will be neat to find out what he really thinks about the issues.

Jaine Klassen Jeninga is seeking her third term? and her ‘weebly’ page is here. She lives in Alnwick/Haldimand and is active in musical affairs in Port Hope at St John’s Church.