Friday, December 31, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
S0 the new council members are attending a boot camp of sorts this week, learning the ways of city hall in preparation for taking office on December 1.
Citizen Ellie fervently hopes they're all learning how to say "NO" and working hard at the exercises required to stiffen the backbone. Rideau-Rockcliffe Councillor-elect, Peter Clark, was excused from these sessions. The former mayor of Cumberland and regional chair had plenty of practice running a tight fiscal ship in his previous incarnations.
The ability to say "No" along with a stiff backbone are prerequisites in dealing with the myriad of special interest groups which come out of the woodwork during the budget process, demanding property taxpayers fork over more and more of their hard-earned money to support these special interest groups' pet projects -- projects for which these special interest groups appear to be unwilling to go out and fundraise. After all, it's easier to pick the taxpayers' pockets than to do the necessary work required by a fundraising campaign. The failed concert hall is a case in point. It should also be remembered that some of these "special interest groups" are nothing more than a front for the protection of CUPE jobs and should be treated as such.
Citizen Ellie has always believed that if a group or organization wants something, they should finance it themselves through their own organized fundraising efforts. Start a foundation, obtain a registered charity number, promote the project, convince people to pledge funds -- if the public thinks it's worthwhile, they'll support it. Look at the success of The Ottawa Hospital Foundation's "20 in 20" campaign -- $20 million raised in 20 months for the cancer centre at the General Campus. Look at the Cornerstone Foundation's project to provide housing for 42 disadvantaged women, 20 of whom will be senior women. Construction is underway now on the Booth Street building. The public has demonstrated their support for these endeavors by opening their collective pocketbooks. The public didn't feel the same way about the proposed concert hall. And the public probably wouldn't feel the same way about many of the special interest projects they've been forced to support with their tax dollars.
The newbies joining council's ranks on December 1 should remember they were not elected because of their good looks. They won their wards because Ottawans were fed up to the eyeballs with tax-hiking lefties who thought it was their job to blab on about tanning parlors, signs in farmers' fields, cow statue on roof of a shop selling cheese and other dairy products, transfats in restaurant food etc. etc. Ottawans were fed up to the eyeballs with councillors who worked hard to demonize developers; councillors who worked hard establishing roadblocks to progress; councillors who wanted to be "nannys", interfering in and controlling every aspect of citizens' lives; and councillors who didn't recognize the importance of economic development and job creation.
Economic development and job creation should be at the top of the new council's list of priorities -- especially since unemployment figures in Ottawa are catching up with the national average. New industry, providing good-paying jobs, must be brought into the city -- to offset the job losses which will come as the public sector (federal, provincial and municipal) downsizes.
"No new money" should be the watchword and zero-based budgetting must become the norm. The Ottawa Taxpayer Advocacy Group (OTAG) is once again calling for a financial summit and is demanding the city's auditor-general take a long, hard look at salaries and benefits paid to the city's non-union/management staff. Citizen Ellie is always shocked when the "sunshine list" is published in the spring of each year. Too many are earning above six figures. She was reminded of that again this week when the discharge of the sewer manager was announced. The person who couldn't figure out how to keep raw sewage from flowing into the Ottawa River was being paid in excess of $100,000. What's up with that ?
The auditor-general ought to have a look at the city's use of consultants. We're paying big bucks to city staff so why should we require consultants unless there are exceptional circumstances ? If consultants are being brought in because city staff can't or won't do the job, then maybe city staff should be eliminated. We'd at least save on the gold-plated benefit/pension packages.
The auditor-general also ought to take a look at staffing at the cop shop ? Are well-paid sworn officers performing work which could just as easily be performed by civilian employees at a lower rate, freeing up sworn officers to get out on the streets where they should be -- a solid review of staffing would provide answers.
What do Ottawa ratepayers want ? They want a council which will slash the bureaucracy, collect the garbage, ensure the streets are plowed in the winter and the sidewalks are safe for pedestrians, get traffic moving, and promote economic development -- in other words, a council which will look after the meat and potatoes issues as set out in the Ontario Municipal Act -- and forget the esoteric !
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
There's shock and dismay rampant today among Toronto's chardonnay socialists, self-appointed elites and other members of the city's chattering classes. En masse, they're reaching for the Valium, maybe even the Prozac, if something stronger is required.
The cause of all this anguish ? A new poll on Monday, August 23 (yesterday) indicated that Councillor Rob Ford is ahead in the mayoralty race by 10 points over his closest rival, George Smitherman.
The two couldn't be more different. Professional politician Smitherman, formerly of the Dalton McGuinty cabinet (Minister of Health, among other things) is smooth, urbane, well-educated, well-spoken, a sharp dresser. Everything one could want in the mayor of Canada's largest city. Everything one could want if one was a chardonnay socialist, a self-appointed elite, a member of the chattering classes or an editorial writer/columnist with the Toronto Star.
Mr. Ford, on the other hand, isn't an attractive-looking man. In fact, he's stocky and somewhat porcine in appearance. Not a sharp dresser. Frequently puts his foot in his mouth. In fact, he's a bit of a bumpkin, but a bumpkin who has pulled himself up by his bootstraps, built his own business and has become extremely sucessful at it. He's a man who, while rough around the edges, knows what it means to meet a payroll. As a councillor, he didn't treat taxpayers' money as though it was his own personal inheritance. While Mr. Smitherman is the darling of the downtown set, Mr. Ford's power lies in the suburbs -- he speaks for families who are paying more and more in taxes and getting less and less in return. And there are more of them.........
According to this latest poll, Torontonians are willing to forgive and forget about the Florida episode in Mr. Ford's past which resulted in a DUI charge. They don't seem to care about how he might present himself on the larger world stage. They don't seem to object to him speaking his mind -- as he did the other day when he said Toronto didn't need any more immigrants. And they're definitely not being swayed by the daily anti-Ford slant in the Star's mayoralty campaign coverage.
So what's going on ? The Toronto mayoralty race, plus the way Canadians are responding to other recent events indicates a sea change in thought and attitude is coming, if not already here.
Canadians are not opening their wallets to contribute to Pakistan's flood relief. According to recent polls, the majority of Canadians believe the latest bunch of Tamil queue-jumpers should be immediately sent back to from whence they came. This is not the generous, big-hearted Canada of yesteryear. This is the new Canada, where taxpayers are tired of being played for fools by politicians at all levels. This is the new Canada where citizens find themselves being impoverished by punitive levels of taxation, only to see their hard-earned dollars squandered through government waste and useless programs which don't benefit them and which frequently don't work. And finally, they've had enough !
There's a feeling that George Smitherman's difficulties in the Toronto mayoralty race stem from the fact he served in Dalton "The Deceiver" McGuinty's cabinet. McGuinty is not exactly Mr. Popularity in the province right now -- people hate the HST and the "eco fee" fiasco speaks for itself. If a provincial election was held tomorrow, McGuinty would have a hard time -- the most recent poll shows his party neck and neck with the PCs, but worse, it shows Ontarians are starting to like PC leader Tim Hudak -- finding him more "trustworthy" and " less likely to have a hidden agenda" than McGuinty.
What does this mean in Ottawa where we too have a mayoralty race which includes a former McGuinty cabinet minister in the person of Jim Watson. Could Watson "wear" McGuinty's shortcomings ?
Some things are happening in this town which indicate penny-pinching is on the rise. People are apparently spending less money at the Ex. Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa has only raised a third of what's required to meet the demands for back-to-school supplies from "needy" Ottawa families. Wallets are not being opened and it will be interesting to see how the United Way campaign fares this year when folks are scrambling to pay increased hydo fees , the HST, higher bus fares etc. while facing the prospect of wage freezes and possible job loss if a federal or provincial employee.
The attack on Mr. Ford's candidacy in the Toronto mayoral race by the chardonnay socialists, self-appointed elitists, chattering classes and their propaganda arm, The Toronto Star, is reminiscent of what happened here four years ago when Larry O'Brien entered the mayoral race. But in Ottawa, it didn't stop with whispers and media attacks. Mayor Larry was sandbagged with trumped -up criminal charges and subjected to that farce of an influence-peddling trial which resulted in his walking away free and clear.
Citizen Ellie is betting that Ottawans, like Torontonians, might prefer their less-than-smooth, self-made, up-by-the-bootstraps sucessful businessman who may be a bit of a bumpkin but who also knows what it is to meet a payroll and has been bloodied in his first term as mayor -- rather than a very smooth professional politician who is now trotting out the very borough idea which he pooh-poohed in his last incarnation as mayor. Whispers ! Whispers ! Citizen Ellie keeps hearing these rumors that the mayor's chair isn't really the seat he wants -- he's only come back to position himself for the Liberal nomination in some Ottawa riding in the next federal election. Parliament Hill beckons.......
The little toe-rag young offender who broke into and vandalized Citizen Ellie's Cottage at Lac McFee, Quebec, last November, making off with her collection of NASCAR flags (among other things), has been arrested and charged by the MRC des Collines Police. Now waiting to hear when and if there will be an appearance before a judge so Citizen Ellie can make a victim impact statement. Meanwhile kudos to Ontario Court Justice Jack Nadelle who last week upheld the minimum mandatory sentence for armed robbery when sentencing a perpetrator who had two dozen charges related to a string of late-night armed grocery store robberies. Judge Nadelle wasn't buying the excuse that the accused was an otherwise exemplary citizen who had been brainwashed by an older man whom he met while the two were students at Algonquin College. Judge Nadelle also wasn't buying the argument that the mandatory miniumum sentence (in this case eight years with some time off for time already served in jail) constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
New posts usually on Sundays.Citizen Ellie will be on hiatus for the next couple of weeks enjoying some R & R until September 12. But with the magic of new wireless technology and a new laptop she may feel moved to send some thoughts out over the ether.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Spent last weekend at NASCAR races at Watkins Glen, New York. Citizen Ellie is a big fan of motor racing, tracing her fandom back to the 1950s when short-track stock car events were featured every Wednesday night at Lansdowne Park during the summer months.
It was heartening to see Canadian boys do so well at the Glen this year -- Jacques Villeneuve and Ron Fellows placed in the top 10 in Saturday's Nationwide race, with A. J. Fitzpatrick placing 11th. In the prestigious Sprint Cup race on Sunday, Ron Fellows unfortunately blew his engine, but Patrick Carpentier placed in the top 25. The upcoming NASCAR weekend in Montreal should be a doozy -- unfortunately Citizen Ellie will not be attending this year. Prince Edward Island beckons.
But we digress. We camp in the infield at Watkins Glen -- have been doing it for 14 years now. Same campsite every year -- and we've made some very good American friends -- people who've been camping along side us for the same number of years.
There was something missing at our campsite this year. Our NASCAR and driver flags. Most everyone who camps in the infield has a flagpole and they run up more than one flag -- their favorite driver/s, NASCAR event flags etc. Citizen Ellie didn't have any flags this year. Her NASCAR event and drivers' flags were stolen by the piece of human garbage who broke into her Lac McFee, Quebec cottage last November. He and his companion also had a good time smashing the glass door on Citizen Ellie's kitchen range and discharging the fire extinguishers inside the cottage. And somebody's mom got a brand new boxed set of Henkel knives for Christmas.
This little creep wasn't the smartest. He and his companion helped themselves to some adult beverages and left the glasses they'd used on our dining table. Guess they figured we'd be so busy cleaning up the mess they left behind that we'd just toss the glasses in the sink and wash them. No way ! When Number One son visted the property later in the month and discovered the break-in, he carefully bagged the glasses in Ziplock as he waited for the MRC des Collines police. The CSI series on TV has been a great educator in regard to how one should preserve evidence, and we have a personal philosophy that no crime should go unreported.
In due course, the MRC police reported back to Citizen Ellie. Lo and behold, fingerprints on one of the glasses belonged to someone already "in the system". So Citizen Ellie now knows the identity of this 17-year-old threat to society. She also knows he lives in Lochaber, just north of Thurso. What she doesn't know is when or even if this individual will be brought to justice. Citizen Ellie wants to give a victim impact statement at the trial. She would like to tell the judge about how this incident caused her so much grief and upset that she no longer felt safe at the property which she had enjoyed for 32 years so she subsequently sold it and left Quebec.
Citizen Ellie would also like to know what happened to her NASCAR flags. There wouldn't be much cash value if the perp tried to sell them. But there was a huge amount of sentimental value attached to them and Citizen Ellie probably shouldn't have left them stored in her cottage but she never thought someone would be so low as to steal them. A TV set or VCR -- yeah, you expect they'll be lifted if you have a break -in. That's why all the other stuff in the cottage was permanently engraved with the identifyer "Stolen from Racegirl 3".
There were 12 in all, collected over a number of years -- representing NASCAR events at Watkins Glen and Daytona, Dodge Motor Sports, and drivers Robby Gordon, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Kyle Petty and Michael Waltrip. Citizen Ellie would fly different ones on the flagpole at her cottage during the summer months.
Citizen Ellie is not as forgiving as the Ottawa woman whose Greenboro home was one of four broken into and destroyed by teenaged vandals in April. A good day's work by this pair of turds. Their spree included cruelty to animals (roasting one family's pet gecko in a microwave, covering another family's small dog in paint), defecation, smashing furniture and appliances, slashing upholstery and mattresses and throwing paint all over walls and posessions. The crown wants jail sentences of up to two years for the one who was before the courts last week. His lawyer thinks he should get away with the usual knuckle-rapping, probation, 150 hours of community service and the extreme punishment of having to write an essay about the value of property. That should make for great reading. This poor kid (note sarcasm here) has already spent 118 days in jail. Not long enough in Citizen Ellie's opinion -- especially since he's been "in the system" since he was 13. His previous record includes breaking into a school, wearing a disguise with intent, assault and posession of a weapon.
There are young evildoers among us, no doubt about it. But we're not allowed to know who they. They're protected by the cloak of anonymity provided by that wonderful piece of legislation, the 2002 Youth Criminal Justice Act, better known as the Young Offenders' Act.
Bet you didn't know that under the terms of this act, police are discouraged from laying charges against young offenders. If they can avoid it, they are to keep those under 18 from acquiring a police record.
This piece of legislation also prohibits media outlets in Canada from publishing the names of young offenders. This is crap. Maybe the name shouldn't be published if its a first offense. But if it's the second or third ........ in Citizen Ellie's opinion, the public has the right to know.
Citizen Ellie wonders if the publication ban extends to personal blogs such as The Pitchfork ?
It doesn't extend to media outlets in the USA so what's to stop Citizen Ellie from submitting a story about her stolen NASCAR flags, naming the perpetrator and providing other information about him, to a U-S publication such as NASCAR Scene which is widely read by NASCAR fans in Canada and the U-S. If she doesn't get justice through the courts, she may have to take this step.
We now have zero tolerance for young drunk drivers in many Canadian provinces. Citizen Ellie thinks there should be zero tolerance for young criminals too. Too many of them are getting away with too much and receiving far too little in the way of punishment.
New posts usually on Sundays
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Yikes! How much more can Ottawa property-owners take ?
We learned this week that there's a cost overrun on refurbishing the Fairmount Avenue cop shop -- small change -- only $450,000.
Big dollars, however, will be involved when the pension plan which covers all municipal employees in Ontario increases mandatory contributions next year. The increases in contributions msde by both employees and employers are required to offset a shortfall of $1.5 in the primary plan run by the Ontario Municipal Employees' Retirement Services, known as OMERS. This shortfall is expected to grow to nearly $5 billion over the next four years. How could this happen ? Have municipal employers (including Ottawa city council) been asleep at the switch ?
The Municipal Employer Pension Centre of Ontario estimates all OMERS employers together would pay $51 annually for a 1% increase. The Ottawa Police Service alone is expecting to pay between $1 and $2 million more in pension contributions next year.
So before Ottawa's new council has had a chance to settle into their seats at city hall, they're faced with a situation which definitely will impact on the 2011 city budget. Puts mayoral candidate Jim Watson's goal of holding property tax increases to no more than a 2.5 % increase in jeopardy.
This can't go on. The next four years are going to be tough ones for the city. For all intents and purposes, the province is bankrupt and the feds have told their senior officials that there's no new money. If there's a federal election and Steven Harper is re-elected with a majority (even a slim one) watch out. Cuts will come -- maybe not as drastic as those imposed by governments in the UK and Europe -- but cutbacks and layoffs in the federal service don't bode well for Ottawa's municipal tax base, not to mention cutbacks and layoffs of provincial employees working in this area, and hospital staff as everyone tries to balance budgets and do more with less.
Citizen Ellie lives in a city ward that's number 2 in terms of being home to the city's older residents. She's starting to hear people who are coming up for retirement talk about how they're planning to move as Ottawa is becoming too expensive. She hears pensioners talk about how tough it is to make ends meet and while they'd like to stay in the homes they've lived in all their lives, it's time to go somewhere else where the cost of living (namely property taxes and municipal service charges) is cheaper. And that doesn't mean downsizing from a house to a condo in the city. It means crossing the river to Gatineau, or heading to small town Ontario.
Meanwhile the union representing city employees is paying for expensive prime time television ads touting how valuable their members' work is --a thinly-veiled tactic designed to scare voters into thinking all those services will disappear if they elect a cost-conscious mayor and council. It would be interesting to know just how many on the city's payroll (including police and fire departments) actually live within the city limits and pay city taxes; how many live in less expensive locations such as Gatineau, Embrun, Rockland, Smith's Falls, Carleton Place etc.; and how this affects attitudes of those who spend our municipal tax dollars.
There's a growing resentment among private sector workers who pay for public sector salaries, benefits and pension plans through their taxes. Private sector workers resent the fact that their public sector counterparts have, so far, escaped all the pain of the recession. Prime Minister Harper recognizes this as does Ontario's Finance Minister Dwight Duncan when they freeze their employees' wages for two years. They know that the louder public servants and their unions whine, cry and wallow in self-pity, the greater the anger among private sector workers. There's no sympathy out there for public sector workers and their unions.
That resentment is filtering down to the municipal level. And it will have an impact on the October 25 election despite all those TV ads sponsored by CUPE.
Monday, July 19, 2010
..........about throwing her hat into the political ring ! Citizen Ellie could be your candidate for councillor in Ward 13, Rideau-Rockcliffe in the upcoming municipal election in Ottawa.
Interested in joining Citizen Ellie's campaign team ? Volunteers for canvassing/telephone tree etc. are needed. Send Citizen Ellie your thoughts via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send a common-sense, tax-sensitive, consensus-building team player to city hall on October 25.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Back in the days when Citizen Ellie worked in the media, a picture was always worth a thousand words. Still true today.
A friend recently sent me one of those a "thousand word" pictures via e-mail. Thanks, Brad. Pitchfork readers may have received the same picture from someone they know.
As you scroll down the e-mail it becomes apparent that pigeons are the stars in this picture. Hundreds of them. They are gathered at what appears to be the foot of a statue -- or the base of a plinth if you're one of those "correct use of language" types. The caption ? "Audience anxiously awaits the unveiling of a statue of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty."
Doesn't this just say it all ! Citizen Ellie bets there are many people in this province who would dearly love to do what the pigeons in that photo have in mind for the McGuinty statue. Especially now that we've had 10 days to feel the effect of the HST on our pocketbooks and are just now catching on to the fact that we're also being hit with new "eco fees" which in Citizen Ellie's view are another form of taxation regardless of what they call it or how the Dalton Gang tries to whitewash it.
When we get our next hydro bill we'll all be howling in pain. The HST came into effect while the province was experiencing the worst heat wave in recent memory, increasing the use of air conditioners and fans. And the worst isn't over. Long-range predictions indicate we're in for a much hotter summer than we've had in previous years and unless folks are prepared to sweat it out, those air conditioners and fans will be working overtime. Let's pray for a milder winter . Maybe we can save a little on heating costs.
Perhaps this is a good time to look at what our beloved premier has done to this province in the seven years he's held office. Remember -- this was a man who ran his initial campaign on the promise that there would be no tax increases during his reign.
He'd hardly warmed the premier's seat in the legislature than he implemented what he called a "health care premium". A tax by another name -- $900.00 per year for singles and as much as $1500.00 per year for couples with or without families.
Then he increased license fees -- another form of taxation. If you own a boat or a car, if you fish or hunt, you're paying more.
Hydro charges were increased by 10% on April 1 and on May 1, the tax on liquor and wine went up by 10%
And then there are all those "eco fees" -- on electronics, tires, paint, laundry detergent, window cleaners, cleaning solvents, aerosol cans, prescription drugs -- the list is endless -- and according to a story in today's paper, even his own cabinet ministers are unable to answer questions on exactly where this windfall of cash is going, especially since us ordinary folk are still using the blue box to dispose of our empty laundry detergent bottles etc. and our black box for paper and cardboard and we're paying a through our property taxes for the blue, black and green box programs.
Sooner or later we're all going to be forced into the SMART meter program which looks like a good thing in that there will be different charges for hydro consumed at different times of the day. We will be required to pay rent for these meters. You will pay less, for example, if you turn on your dishwasher or do your laundry in non-peak periods -- i.e. late at night, in the wee hours of the morning. But we Ontarians are not stupid. In order to save a few bucks, we'll all be doing our laundry and turning on our dishwashers late and night and in the wee hours of the morning. Soon those non-peak periods will become peak periods and predictably, if the Dalton gang are still in power, the charge for consumption during those hours will be steeply increased.
And what benefits have we Ontarians received in the seven years the Dalton gang has been in power ?
There was the e-Health scandal --$2 billion wasted or paid out to friends and relatives of the principals with Dalton giving the CEO of this financial boondoggle a $300.000 severance package. Not a bad payoff for someone who'd only been in the job for seven months. Citizen Ellie bets the laid-off Nortel workers in Ottawa wish they were so lucky !
There have been countless scandals involving Ontario Lottery and Gaming.
Instead of finding a company in Canada or even in North America to manufacture the windmills for hydro generation, Dalton awards the $7 billion contract to a company in Korea. Were there no Ontarians who could have done this work ?
Emergency rooms in Port Collburne and Fort Erie hospitals were closed on the grounds there was no money yet a Toronto hospital got $3 million -- right at the time when a by-election had been called due to George Smitherman resigning from cabinet to seek the Toronto mayor's chair.
And now we have this outfit -- Stewardship Ontario -- a government regulated body which is responsible for the "eco fee" program. It's supposed to operate at arms length from the provincial government -- but wasn't e-Health Ontario opperating at arms length from the Ontario Government and don't we know how that turned out ?
While we're being bled white, MPPs voted themselves a 14% pay increase.
Citizen Ellie could go on and on. But it's sufficient to say that the Dalton gang has taken Ontario from being one of the most prosperous "have" provinces in the country to one of the poor "have not" provinces in just seven years. Thanks to the Dalton gang, Ontario now has a deficit of $27 billion and we have another 18 months before we can send this bunch back to the political wilderness. Just think, Dalton has another 18 months to feast on the Ontario taxpayers' carcass. Our bones will be picked pretty clean by the time October 2011 rolls around.
Don't forget, folks, Mayoral candidate Jim Watson was a member of the Dalton gang. Sitting on the front benches, no less. Watson's got to wear some of this !
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Mayor Larry's decision to throw his hat into the ring has heated up the municipal election scene in Ottawa. That is a good thing. It will bring out the vote.
This could be the year of big changes at City Hall. Four council seats are vacant -- with the retirements of Councillors Legendre, Feltmate and Hunter; and Councillor Alex Cullen giving up his Bay Ward fiefdom to seek the mayor's chair. At least two other councillors -- Doucet and Leadman -- are in trouble and vulnerable.
Possibly seven (including the mayor's) new faces around the council table ! Unheard of in the living memory of most people in this city !
In Citizen Ellie's ward, four men hope to replace Councillor Legendre. Looking at the city's elections web pages, it would appear that a lot of people see a council seat in their future. That is not a good thing in those wards where an incumbent is seeking re-election. A plethora of candidates in such situations virtually guarantees re-election of the incumbent. That is not a good thing. There's a lot of deadwood among the incumbents, many of whom fall into the "councillor for life" category and need to be put out to pasture.
Citizen Ellie has developed a series of 10 questions that she's asking the councillor candidates in her ward. She will also be soliciting answers to these questions from the mayoral candidates. You can use these questions -- even if you plan to vote for an incumbent. Most candidates have e-mail. You can get their e-mail addresses by accessing the city's web site (Ottawa.ca). Citizen Ellie suggests using e-mail to submit the questions. If you don't get an answer from a candidate, then that individual isn't deserving of your vote.
Here are the questions. Feel free to add to the list.
1) What is the candidate's position vis-a-vis reducing the city's bureaucracy and keeping property taxes to a minimum? Would the candidate favor a "no new money" approach to the city's budget -- similar to the approach taken towards spending at the federal level by the current federal government ?
2) Does the candidate support the proposal to build a transit tunnel beneath the downtown core ? Or does the candidate want to go back to the drawing board again on the transit issue ?
3) What is the candidate's position on the revitalization of Lanssdowne Park ? Does the candidate favor moving forward or would the candidate support reconsideration by the new council ?
4) Does the candidate favor privatizationof those services better left to the private sector ? OC Transpo is a good example -- would the candidate support privatization of this operation which currently cannot meet its operating costs without a taxpayer subsidy ?
5) Does the candidate recognize that the city's major employer, the federal government, is shrinking and will continue to shrink ? Is the candidate prepared to support a major move on economic development which would attract businesses to the city, creating jobs to replace those which will be lost as the federal government continues to downsize ? Does the candidate see economic development as a top priority in order to maintain the city's financial stability ?
6) Would the candidate support term limits ( two four-year terms) for councillors and mayor or is the candidate a "councillor for life" advocate ?
7) Is the candidate a forward-thinker with the ability to see beyond ward boundaries and support what is good for the city as a whole ?
8) Is the candidate affiliated with a community association or special interest group ?
9) What life experience has the candidate had which would make him/her a good councillor ? Why should you vote for that candidate ?
10) Is the candidate action-oriented and prepared to respond to constituents' queries/complaints in a timely manner ?
In Citizen Ellie's view, an informed electorate makes good choices. So inform yourself.
Voter turnout in municipal elections has been abysmally low in recent years. That's why the deadwood get re-elected, year after year, ad nauseam. These are the people whose decisions have a direct impact on your pocketbook and on the quality of life in this city. It's not enough any more to leave voting to the next guy. It's not enough to say you don't understand the issues or can't be bothered b ecause you're too busy.
People get the government they deserve. We deserve better in the nation's capital.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Yes, it's true. There are none so blind as those who cannot see -- as goes the old saying.
Maybe you're one of those who is blind ? Maybe you're an enabler ? Maybe you're a big part of the problem. Bet you didn't think of that the last time you forked over spare change to a panhandler.
Fact is, most of these panhandlers are crack cocaine addicts (tweakers) and your loonie is helping them towards their next "fix". Ottawa's got a big problem with crack cocaine and other street drugs and you're not helping matters any. When you give these people money, you make the situation worse.
Perhaps Citizen Ellie should be grateful to you. Your loonie likely has spared her from having her car broken into, with the thief stealing her sunglasses or something else which might be sold for a buck or two or traded for a "tab".
Many Ottawans believe that panhandlers are homeless and need money for food.
Please ! Rid yourself of this notion. More free meals are handed out in this town than there are eaters.
Why is the food bank seeing greater demand from suburban areas such as Barrhaven and Orleans ? Could it be because crack cocaine has now found its way into the suburbs and addicts are making choices about feeding their families or feeding their habit ?
A couple of years ago, not too long after he was elected, Mayor Larry got into hot water with the city's bleeding heart lefties and chardonnay socialists for suggesting Ottawans should "stop feeding the pigeons" when asked how he was planning to handle the growing panhandler problem in the By Ward Market and Rideau Centre areas. Apparently referring to panhandlers as "pigeons" wasn't politically correct in the minds of those who make a living from the poverty industry and the other self-appointed apologists for the so-called "weak and downtrodden" .
Last week, Ottawa's Police Chief Vern White addressed the issue when he appeared before a senior citizens' group. While he didn't mention "pigeons" in his talk, he didn't mince words about the city's growing drug problem and how those who dole out spare change to panhandlers are contributing to it. Stop giving them money, he said !
Chief White produced some eye-openers. There isn't a high school in this city that doesn't have its student drug dealers. There isn't a 15-year-old kid in this city who doesn't know where to get drugs at his/her school. Some kids as young as 10 are coming to school with prescription medications pinched from the parents' medicine chest -- which they sell to classmates. You'll be able to read plenty about this crisis in our midst in a major series by reporter Chris Cobb in The Citizen this coming week. If that doesn't open your eyes, Citizen Ellie doesn't know what will !
Crack cocaine and oxycontin are the scourge of our times. Perhaps you've noticed large signs in your local pharmacist's window advising that oxycontin and other narcotics are not kept in the store any more. Those with prescriptions for these meds must call in advance and the pharmacist will order the necessary amount from the secret pharmacy supply house. Why is this happening ? It's because there's been a rash of pharmacy hold-ups by tweakers looking for drugs. Hopefully the signs will discourage this activity and prevent something worse from happening to store staff and innocent shoppers during the course of these robberies.
So, folks ! Take off the blinders. You can be the solution instead of the problem. Keep your spare change in your pocket or purse. Don't feel sorry for them. They don't want your money for food. They want it for drugs ! Don't feed the pigeons.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Reconsider ! Postpone ! Delay ! These are the words which immediately jump to mind when contemplating the decision-making process currently in favor in the council chamber at Ottawa's city hall.
So Councillor (and mayor wannabe) Alex Cullen did not disappoint when he took a look at the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG)'s magnificent plan for Lansdowne Park and loundly proclaimed that any decision on moving forward with the plan should be left to the new council which will be elected on October 25.
We can only hope that he, along with several other councillors who also exhibit a reluctance to make the hard decisions, are put out to pasture by weary taxpayers who've had a bellyful of tax, spend and nothing to show for it.
Citizen Ellie likes the OSEG plan. She also likes Plan E which is one of the five plans for the parkland adjacent to the canal which were released earlier. All of these plans can be viewed on the city's web site and Citizen Ellie suggests that before you make up your mind, take a good look at what's on offer so you'll be in a position to make an informed decision.
Citizen Ellie is also sick and tired of efforts made by certain community groups, aided and abetted by their elected representatives, to "demonize" the principals of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group in the hope that this demonization will turn the citizenry against Lansdowne development.
On the contrary. While public-private partnerships are hated by unions and their left-leaning supporters, most thinking people see such partnerships as a reasonable way of getting things accomplished at a time when public funds are stretched to the limit. It's time everyone realized that the property tax base is not cash cow which can be milked incessantly. When homeowners' property tax payments exceed their mortgage payments, something is drastically wrong with the system.
Citizen Ellie believes it's time to get on with it at Lansdowne. OSEG's design for rehabilitation of the stadium/Civic Centre along with retail and residential components is good for the city and will turn the current wasteland into a showpiece. OSEG has met all the city's requirements, and for someone who wants to be mayor to suggest at this late date, after OSEG has spent a ton of money on architect's fees etc., that decisions be delayed until a new council is in place is a slap in the face to Roger Greenberg, Jeff Hunt et al, and tantamount to asking for another lawsuit. It's no wonder Ottawans shake their heads and snicker when talk turns to municipal affairs.
Shall We Dance ?
Try as hard as he might, Councillor (and mayor wannabe) Alex Cullen can't get his chief opponent (some say shoo-in) for the mayor's chair, Jim Watson, to engage in debate.
Earlier this week Councillor Cullen had a campaign ad in the local newspapers setting out some of the things he would do if elected mayor and he's miffed that Jim Watson hasn't done the same.
One of these items is giving Citizen Ellie and her property taxpaying friends heartburn.
Due to the province uploading some of the costly services it downloaded on municipal ratepayers a decade ago, the city will have approximately $23 million in revenues which it doesn't have to send to Toronto.
One might reasonably expect that this $23 million could come back to the ratepayers in the form of a rebate cheque or perhaps a reduction in next year's taxes. Not if you elect Councillor Cullen as mayor. He has plans for that $23 million and it does not include benefitting Joe and Jane Ratepayer.
He wants to use this money for the homeless. This begs the question: why is homelessness still an issue, given the amount of money governments at all levels collect in the form of taxes, given the much-vaunted social safety net we all pay for, and given the generous donations made to charitable organizations set up to help the less fortunate ? Citizen Ellie is tired of being "guilted" about homelessness by politicos, social agencies and professional do-gooders. How about you ?
But back to Cullen vs. Watson. Jim Watson is a very skilled, wiley politician and he ain't going to engage himself in a pissing contest any time soon
Ottawa Voters' Coalition Event
Citizen Ellie will be MC-ing a "Candidate Focus Session" being presented by the Ottawa Voters' Coalition (OVC) on Saturday, June 12 from 10.30 a.m. to 12 noon at the Royal Oak (800 Hunt Club Road at Uplands Drive).
Ottawa SUN columnist Walter Robinson will open the event, outlining what voters will expect of candidates in the upcoming municipal election on October 25. He will also review the Ottawa Voters' Coalition founding principles which include revamping the governance structure at city hall and establishing term limits for mayor and councillors.
This is a "by reservation only" event -- you can get your name on the list by contacting OVC at: www.ovc.name/candidatefocus.html