Ben Burd

A promised – the Candidates’ responses to a simple question

It was a simple question – “Why do you want be on council?”

This question will be asked of all the candidates many times, almost at every door! But getting an answer and a one sentence one at that was tough.

All of the eleven candidates were asked, by an email – TWICE, seven responded and a big shoutout to those folks. We do not know why the other four candidates did not respond, but we can guess. Arrogance of being a candidate and wanting to drive their own bus, being too busy, (for many unstated reasons) and of course maybe not wanting to respond, after all some of these folks were picky about whose all candidates’ meetings they would appear at. But to those non-responders I would say no publicity is bad publicity, and we promise to spell your names right!

But let us say, we at the BR are evaluating our original thoughts about some of the candidates, all of whom promised in their opening statements to be responsive to voters, perhaps they just meant the voters they like and who they choose to respond to!

Well enough of the pointed remarks let’s get on to the responses. To see who responded and what they had to say click here.

The Campaigns so far

With a full month of campaigning for the nominated candidates in the Cobourg Municipal election what has been seen so far from this observation seat?

Not much to date!  Signs from three candidates, a few slick websites and most of the candidates have FaceBook pages. So we can assume that most of the necessary organisational work has been done underground by most of the candidates during the last month. But obviously one candidate was ahead of the game.

Going by activity Adam Bureau appears to be off to a quick start, he had a flashing first day – posing with a couple of supporters as they placed signs on lawns and inside downtown stores. Johnny Percolides has a sign in a downtown store but absent elsewhere and Miriam Mutton has a few scattered on front lawns. A double sign was spotted on a strategic corner – Ontario/Elgin. But impact was muted – the sign could be bigger – spend the money Randy – it will pay off. Congratulations to those who have made a start the others have ground to make up.

So what’s next for the voters and candidates? Hopefully now that leaflets have arrived, websites up and facebook pages ready the candidates actually do the work – hit the road. It will be interesting to see  if parallel campaigns emerge. Social media is only as good as the activity generated. Posts have to be interesting and shared. That means a network of cyber-friends has to be created. That campaign will be measured in the number of “shares”. Here’s a hint for all the candidates if you want to be followed but not friends with everybody turn on the “Follow” button in your settings. Click here to find out how to do it.

The BurdReport has a campaign page set up – look for it in the top menubar – “CobourgElection2018”. We have asked all the Candidates two simple questions: “Why do you want to be on Council?” and “If elected what original idea do you have that you would like to have fellow Councillors adopt?” The answers, if received will be published in the next post. Some candidates have responded but the majority have not as yet but the deadline is tomorrow.

Of course as well as trying to get the name out front there will be opportunities for the public to see them, in at least two venues announced so far, to perform at All Candidates’ Meetings (ACM). One ACM is a closed, register for a seat affair maximum 125 people, so should be called for what it is a “restricted performance” or as one local media person calls it “Speed Campaigning”. Put on by the local Chamber of Commerce for its members but some seats will be left over for people who register online. Do it here. The other is being put on by the Northumberland Affordable Housing Committee, on September 27th at the Salvation Army Hall on Ballantine St. At least these meetings will help define the campaign issues, none of which has really caught the public’s interest yet.

Onward and upward!

The candidates have appeared!

We are going to have an election in Cobourg. Two people want to be Deputy Mayor and nine people vying for three councillor spots . A smaller list than the historical past, but a list for you to choose from. In the absence of a Mayor’s race turnout maybe lower and interest will definitely be off. So back to basics for the candidates – getting the name out there and meeting voters.

Up until the last day of nomination there was only one candidate for DM – Suzanne Seguin, then a registered candidate for Council switched and filed for DM too. Randy Curtis was the fellow. So will it be a race or a walkover? I think it is a race – two basic unknowns for the job. Suzanne has been on Council for less than half a term and Randy has never been on Council but has followed the issues very closely and one of the declared candidates to watch Council in action on Mondays. Suzanne has been in Town for a few years but Randy has the hometown advantage, with deep family roots. So it looks like ‘campaigning 101’ for both of them.

In the race for the five councillor spots it appears to us at the BR that there is only one person who looks like a shoo-in – Brian Darling, who topped the polls last time will do it again. Aaron Burchat, another incumbent councillor has to overcome the problem that he has of public recognition. Only a councillor for two years he has failed to make his mark due to his anonymity whilst being on Council. Miriam Mutton definitely has name recognition, and a history of good public service but will the controversy of her boulevard garden surface again in the negative? Some comments have already been seen on facebook to this effect.

Some of the others have public recognition – Adam Bureau for one, he is a familiar sight to all who travel King St regularly, as he streetwatches and talks to passers-by outside his store. Nicole Beatty achieved some notice as the Chair of Cobourg 150, Emily Chorley has impressed by speaking before Council in a well organised and sensible way about a few issues. Johnny Percolides has made his opinion known on “Cobourg News” about the the marina expansion and Travis Hoover has made a name for himself by being Lou Rinaldi’s assistant and public face, as well as working on local Legion affairs. Karl Vom Dorf fits the bill of ‘mystery candidate’ to me.

Good luck to all of them and if they want a tip from an old campaigner – the one who bangs on the most doors and plants the most signs will advance. I know door-knocking is derided by some in this day of social media, but the voters in this Town may not be on all of the friends lists and be willing to share posts. But I guarantee that five minutes on a doorstep will make an impression and when the voter casts the ballot in order to fill five boxes the doorknocker will be remembered!

Where are the candidates?

Ok we know we are going to have an election in Cobourg. Six people wanting a space on a five member Council. Brian Darling finally stopped dithering and made up his mind to have another four years. Aaron Burchat was a given to be on the ballot,and so was Randy Curtis and Johnny Percolides. These last two are unknowns as they have made no or few public statements. And as to why they want to be  on Council has yet to be made public. We all know where Miriam Mutton stands as she has an extensive public history.

Having watched and participated in many elections over the past forty years in Cobourg, I can tell you the issues hardly ever change. Every election cycle we have the same major complaints – “Council doesn’t listen!” and “Everything is decided behind closed doors with secret meetings.” This year is no different.

The Harbour is a quadrennial issue. Years ago it was the coal piles and public ownership. Then it became what kind of development was wanted, now  it is what do we do with what we have and how to accommodate all of the interest groups. It never ends but the response by candidates is the same – “I will be transparent, I will listen, I will make decisions in the best interests of you”. But the public criticism still persists.

But having seen Councils in action I can honestly say very few Councillors or Mayors have impressed me with action and vision. We have been stuck with Mayors who just go along – press the flesh and then implement Staff decisions. As to the Councillors we have been stuck with ‘go-alongs’ who defer to the Mayor’s needs. Very few have struck me as being independent, and if they did they were soon isolated or co-opted. Miriam Mutton was an example of this. A very diligent councillor who appeared to irritate both colleagues and Staff with her rigourous qustions of policy and direction. Obviously she came to the conclusion that the only way to get her ideas across was to be Mayor, she failed and took an electorally imposed sabbatical. She is now back because  she either has ideas to be  implemented or she just missed the thrill of being a decisionmaker.

But back to the question, “where are the candidates?” The centrepiece of the election – the Mayor’s race is a shoo-in for the only candidate so far. But why doesn’t anybody have the burning ambition to be Mayor? Doesn’t anybody have any ideas to lead the Town? Sad. Historically the number of people wanting to be a councillor is in the double digits, why not this year?

The big question, with only four and half business days before nominations close is why we haven’t seen a slate from the Cobourg Taxpayers Association (CTA)? This voluble and persistent ginger group is absent so far. Perhaps it is a strategic decision to be late filers so that opponents cannot get on the ballot to knock them off.

So to all the “Progressives” in the Town put your name on the ballot now to stop regressive “taxfighters” getting a place on the board.

Just bear with us for a few moments

A personal note from  the Publisher of the BurdReport:

You may think that I’m being an alarmist but the events of the last few days have been very worrying and disturbing. I refer to the activities of the United States and its  institutions. Specifically the way the enabling Congress has manipulated the rules of procedure to Mr Trump’s advantage and consolidate the power of the Presidency.

With the “manipulated” resignation of Supreme Court Justice Kennedy the President has shifted the power to make decisions to the Conservative side. This Court does not need any more shifting it has done enough damage with its recent decisions about Union Rights, and the Immigration ban.

As you know I have been in Europe for a few days, yesterday was our first full day in Berlin and the first exhibit we visited was the “Topography of Terror”. This exhibit is situated beside a piece of the Berlin Wall and is  a series of panels containing photographs, and quotes from the year 1933. This was the year that Hitler came to power and the panels tell, in a chronology, the way he did.

Realising that any mention of Hitler, on the Internet, invokes “Godwin’s Law” and automatically loses the argument but in this case the comparisons, in my opinion, between the events of 1933 and what is going on in the USA are so stark it has to be mentioned. I was so moved by the images and quotes that i had to share it. If the reader thinks this post is over the top so be it!

Read the text in the pics, think about the way politics is moving in the States and reflect. I do not expect the readers to agree with the BR, but at least the point of view must be considered.

Many a true word spoken in Jest

This phrase has been around a long time and the origin is clouded in mystery but is usually attributed to Chaucer. “The first author to express this thought in English was probably Geoffrey Chaucer. He included it in The Cook’s Tale, 1390″. Wikipedia history here.

This arcane phrase came to mind last night as the world, via Youtube, witnessed a throwaway comment from the current Mayor of Cobourg; Gil Brocanier. This thin-skinned and vain person, one who cannot miss an opportunity to put it to the people he doesn’t like, dismissed a delegation in a disparaging manner. Perhaps he thought he was joking, at least his sycophantic Council thought so as they joined in a small round of laughter. But those of us who have watched this social-climbing adherent to all things superior, it was just a demonstration of condescension toward a person that had the temerity to challenge a Council action.

But business as usual at the Brocanier Council.

The “joke” came at the end of a delegation where, Brocanier, grinding his teeth gave the obligatory thank-you to the delegation. The delegation responded by thanking the Mayor and Council for asking so many questions, “…….Normally when I am here nobody wants to ask any questions.” Brocanier responded with the throwaway line – “It’s not that we don’t want to ask questions, Ben, we don’t want to listen to you!” To see this on video click here

A disgusting response from the head of Council to a person who is exercising  a democratic right. But not to be unexpected after all this is the Mayor who is trying to restrict appearances by delegations at a future Council meeting.

A truly Jekyll and Hyde moment

Will the real Forrest Rowden stand up! At the Council meeting of June 11th Councillor Rowden (of Cobourg) obviously had a flashback and travelled back in time to his illustrious (????) career as Mayor of Hamilton Township. In his questions to a delegation, who appeared to question a servicing agreement between Cobourg and Hamilton Township He pugnaciously engaged in questions with the delegation seriously defending Hamilton Twps’ interests. Surely this Councillor in his peculiar inaction to defend Cobourg’s interests has demonstrated just where his interests lie. Truly this guy’s “buy before date” has expired. To prove the point he spoke at length about the time he was on a Hamilton Twp’s visit to Woodstock. He spoke glowingly about the tax-sharing agreements that that Municipality had secured with its neighbours when it supplied cross-border services, and then refused to even consider such an arrangement in the servicing agreement in question – confusing.

Weekend Jottings

Had an interesting email exchange this week with the guardians of the public agenda:

On Tuesday evening the Publisher of the BR emailed the Municipal Clerk a request to be placed on the agenda for the June11th Regular Council meeting. Using the somewhat unfriendly application form , unfriendly in that on order to attach the form to an email the form needed to be filled out, printed, scanned and then attached to the email. Perhaps a “mailto” button could be put on the form to eliminate this? The bylaw, on the Town’s website dated 2016, asked that an outline of the presentation be submitted by Friday of the week. He received a confirmation email on the next day timed at 9.13 am. At 11.18 of the same day another email came from the Municipal Clerk:

Thanks for your Delegation request. In regards to your request the Mayor is asking that all delegates follow the Procedural By-law 079-2018 and you should provide myself the Municipal Clerk with an outline and a hard copy of your delegation to be included on the agenda of what you plan on presenting at the June 11th Regular Council Meeting, to provide Council and the Public within information. Please submit a hard copy to myself by Friday at 1:00 P.M in order to be included as a delegation for Monday June 11th, 2018. 

Well, that started an investigation with the procedure, what the Publisher discovered was that the bylaw on the website was an old one – 079-2016 had been replaced by 079-2017, and 079-2018 didn’t exist; but the website had not been updated. This bylaw was not written very well and confusing at first glance. Needless to say the requirement for the supply of a hard copy of the remarks is not in the bylaw – just an outline required. This is because some Councillors, as well as the Mayor wanted to know what was going to be said before it was delivered from the podium. It was explained to me that “councillors want to be ready to ask questions”. An ironic suggestion considering that some delegations never get asked questions as it is the ultimate political insult that can be applied by a sitting Council to a Delegation they either don’t like or don’t want to see. On reflection, it seems that the Mayor is bound and bent on trying to control public access to Council. We’ll see if it succeeds – just how many people will be upset by these attempts to restrict. Oh by the way the Publisher did not submit hard copy of his presentation – just an outline as prescribed in the bylaw.

Well aren’t we glad that is over – the election that is!

We at the BR would like to point out that Ontario is not “FordNation”. This disgusting way of labelling a Province into a Tribe is a silly way of classifying people. However we do note that although Mr Ford did win the majority of seats with only 40% of the total vote one can honestly say that he does not enjoy majority support. Let’s hope that he resists the normal Conservative way of ruling – only for his supporters and neglecting the opinions of the others. This attitude is summed by the phrase – “We won you didn’t – Go Away”. Any bets on how long Mr Ford pulls the usual political trick – “We have examined the books the the Liberals left us and they are in bad shape. We cannot fulfill the promises!” Gee there goes our “Buck a Beer” promise – the only one (promise) that made sense to us. 

There will be an interesting delegation to Council on Monday

The Publisher of the BR – Ben Burd will be speaking as a delegation about something he feels strongly about, and wrote about in a post (read here) last week. The outline of his remarks are here, on the agenda, but tune in to see what he really thinks he will be speaking to those points.

A few more candidates for October:

Four people had picked up nomination forms by the end of last week, one of them has said he has filed but the official list doesn’t show this yet. Johnny Percolides – Bio from CobourgNews – “A local real estate broker who has called Cobourg home for 10 years. Past experience in owning and operating a business, revenue and expense accountability and the ability to communicate with the public in three languages are some of my assets.  I am against any expansion of the Marina first and foremost because the local residents have repeatedly said they don’t want it.  It’s time for Municipal government to listen to their constituents and remember that they are voted in to represent them.  I believe the harbour and waterfront will be enjoyed by the majority today and for the future as opposed to the minority if the Marina were to be expanded.  I will be asking for your support on Election day to be your voice in Council who will listen and vote for what the clear majority wants.” We don’t understand the delay in filing with the other three – one of whom is a high profile person who used to be on Council, but surely more news soon. Other people have officially filed but they want to be School Board trustees:

  • Roger Brideau for the School Board – French Public
  • David Bernier for the English Catholic Separate Board
  • Anthony Caruso for the English Public School Board

One high point and a Verrry low point

The Waterfront saga rolls on. Council, rolled the dice on Monday evening, and lost. They had gambled that by cancelling the open meeting to be held at 1pm, where the merits of the Waterfront Report would be discussed by members of the public and wrapping it into a Committee of the Whole meeting they could control the process. Obviously they didn’t but set into motion a huge rubber stamp the next time it is debated. The meeting listened to twelve delegates and asked questions of the Consultants and the Direct of P&R. The result was a motion of deferral and a subsequent motion, from the Mayor “Restrict future delegations on the Waterfront Study to different presenters who had new information only that must be submitted for approval prior to delegation status approval” Hmm now the censors are coming into the act!


High Point of the meeting

The report was over 500 pages and most councillors agreed that they had not had sufficient time to understand all that it contained and also that the public would not have had enough time so a final vote on adopting the report was deferred to the Council meeting on July 3 instead of on June 11. It should be noted that those who complained about not getting the information had, or should have had, identical information if they read the documents from the Parks & Rec committee proceedings of May 16 (these documents had been posted on the internet at that time).


Low point

At the end of the meeting Mayor Brocanier put forward a motion that would “Restrict future delegations on the Waterfront Study to different presenters who had new information only that must be submitted for approval prior to delegation status approval”.  His idea is that he doesn’t want people presenting the same old information.  His motion passed. As said before the only comment to be applied to this motion is one of contempt for such a motion. Surely Council should be able to stand a few more people telling them how they feel! On a video review the notice of motion that the Mayor made was legal in a CoW but if he wants his name attached to it in a regular meeting he cannot – Roberts Rules state that the Chair of a meeting cannot make a motion. He must step out of the Chair to make a motion – let’s see if he does!