Category: Cobourg politics

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with the procedure, what the Publisher discovered was that the bylaw on the website was an old one – 079-2016 had been replaced by 079-2017, and 079-2018 didn’t exist; but the website had not been updated.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!

Weekend Jottings

The last week of the campaign – five days to go:

Will the NDP surge translate to seats? The consensus is NO. The Libs have conceded to the others but with a caveat – elect some of us and we will help to stop a majority government, they don’t answer the question of what will happen if they have to prop up Dug Ford. Watching this campaign has been like watching a re-run of the Trump campaign except this is an expected victory slipping away as opposed to a Trumpian surprise. Dug Ford winning will be no surprise but will still be greeted by the majority of voters as the dreaded apocolypse. Unfortunately we will discover that an effective opposition is powerless and we should look forward to four years of austerity, when we don’t need it and the extension of income equality.

A crowded afternoon:

Monday 4th June will see a crowded Council agenda. Originally it was planned to have a public meeting to receive/discuss the Waterfront Study /Master Plan. But the scheduled start of 1pm has been pushed back to the regular Council time of 4pm. The mind boggles as to the reasoning for this – thinking about it in the edit we have a theory on this – read  on. The BS answer given was to allow the public time to get off work and get to the meeting. Now the consultant’s presentation and public meeting will take up much of Council’s time. Look for a marathon session on Monday afternoon. Just means that any business on the agenda will get short shrift, after all the Council will want to get home on time. But back to that Waterfront meeting. The consultants will not be brief, after all they have a plethora of power-point slides to read back to the audience, and then the delegations will start. It now becomes apparent as to why the special meeting was wrapped into the Council meeting. A special meeting would have had an open invitation to the people who wanted to speak, a Council meeting means that people who want to say something have to register to speak – what a sneaky way to cut down the participation. Sorta makes a farce out of the Strat Plan #1 objective – transparency and open dialogue with the Citizenry!

King Donald the First:

Watching the events in the USA for the past couple of years have made our heads spin. With the powers of the Presidency being unassailable, especially by the clones and puppets in Congress, it is obvious to anybody watching that we don’t have a President in the White House but a Monarch with very little restraint from the Legislatures. With the latest move by the President’s lawyers issuing a leaked letter, which was from the Lawyers to the Mueller Investigation (and obviously leaked by the lawyers), in which claims that executive privilege exempts him from being questioned or answering to a subpoena, this effectively makes him untouchable and therefore the First Monarch of the United States of America. George Washington and the Rebels will be turning over in their graves. The New York Times analysis of the letter can be read here, read it – this letter will not be going away soon.

Congratulations to Jorge DeSousa – whoever you are?

To This
Click on image to enlarge

From This

Finally the biggest eyesore on King St is being renovated. On Monday evening 4th June the CoW will be asked to approve a planning application for 20 King St West – read it here.

This building has been massacred over the ages and left to rot by its present owner. In the 60s the building was used by Cobourg’s first woman lawyer – Daisy McCullogh and she ripped out the original store window and fixed it with 60s ‘modernism’ never a good fit and that became obvious as soon as the Heritage Movement came to Town. Then it became a Radio Shack, then a series of restaurants. Now it is unused and vacant.

Enter stage left and a Mr Jorge DeSousa. He has authorised Andrew Smith Design to renovate the front and replace the windows. Congratulations to Mr DeSousa for showing faith in downtown and doing this. A very good investment, as downtown real estate is dirt cheap and the potential to add a fine storefront – we don’t know what is going to go in but we would guess another restaurant (the double bifold doors would be a clue), and dwellings up top is there.

Just goes to show that one of the ways to get people to invest in downtown is to push the fact that downtown property prices are dirt cheap compared to other places.

Now for a bit of history

A friendly agreement or a colossal giveaway?

WCP2 – Normar Rd

In the 80s a series of discussions took place between the Town of Cobourg and the Municipality of Hamilton Township. The subject was amalgamation of the two entities. Needless to say it never happened, for a variety of reasons. One of the results of the failure to agree was the policy from both Cobourg and Hamilton Twp not to extend municipal services across the border. Call it spiteful, mean or just retribution it has stood for over thirty years.

Now, very soon, an agreement will be made between the municipalities to break that policy. In Cobourg sharp eyed observers will have sniffed something about this a couple of months ago when an agenda item, for a closed session, was noticed and also when an application was made by the Pentecostal Camp to extend water services. 

Now in a news story in CobourgNow an online publication; read it here, it was revealed that an agreement has been reached. WHY haven’t we in Cobourg been notified of this. WHY is it that we have overturned longstanding policy in secret. WHY cannot Cobourg citizens be trusted with this discussion in the open. WHEN are we going to be told about this.

Why is this so important to Cobourgers? Another bit of history – the farm field between Workman Road South and the Pentecostal Camp has been for sale for many, many years. Now there is a SOLD sign on it. Was this land purchased using inside information about the water/sewer extension? Because if it was then the cost of extending the water/sewage lines just became more valuable and Cobourg should cash in but will they? In Hamilton Township this is being touted as a no cost item as the developer will pay all the costs. But the cost to Cobourg is more than services. After all just how many houses will be built on this land? And remember the taxes will flow to Hamilton Township.

In 1985, after the election of a new Council the first order of business was to deal with the atrocious situation that residents in the Brook Rd and Coverdale subdivisions were faced with – overloaded septic systems. That cost millions to fix. It is not inconceivable to imagine that with rural building standards the same thing couldn’t happen again in the new planned areas.

But will taxpayers in Cobourg ever get to discuss this giveaway and impediment to further amalgamation, if wanted. Cobourg, unless it charges a premium for the water/sewage, will never gain from this deal – why are we doing it? Why are we using precious sewer capacity to service outsiders. Is Hamilton Township going to pay a fee for this capacity? How will Cobourg profit from this?

The bottom line is that Hamilton Twp is laughing all the way to the Bank and Cobourg, given the lack of public information to date is looking like a benevolent Uncle being taken to the cleaners by Slick Willy.

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!

Let’s try this again!

For nearly a year now I have been asked “Are you still writing?” and I answer “No but still thinking!” These next few months are a political junkie’s nirvana – two elections and a lot of issues to discuss.

So This page will be doing just that. The online edition will also try to be informative about the emergence of local news – there is a box of links to all of the local endeavours to supply the news; take a look at the links on the left and explore them. The menu bar on top leads to consolidated pages where the posts about the menu topic are organised – use them.

If you, the reader like this and want to be informed as soon as a post is published sign up for the email notification service, it’s in the sidebar on the left.