Sunday, May 30, 2010

Random Thoughts During an Unseasonal Heatwave........

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:

New posts usually on Sunday

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fighting Crime in Ottawa......

A New Edinburgh resident whom we'll refer to as "Citizen Mark" normally stores his bicycle in an area beneath the rear deck of his home. This area is usually secured with a padlock as Citizen Mark's property backs on to one of New Edinburgh's "lanes" -- used by himself and his neighbors to access their garages or other parking for their cars.
Unfortunately for Citizen Mark, the padlock was not in place on the day his bicycle was stolen.
But luck was with Citizen Mark. A couple of days later, he saw an individual riding his stolen bicycle on his street, in front of his house. Imagine the nerve! Talk about criminal returning to scene of the crime !
Citizen Mark, a man of action, immediately jumped into his car and commenced following the stolen bicycle. The first stop -- parking lot of a coffee house on Springfield Road near the Beechwood corner -- where Citizen Mark watched as the guy who'd stolen his bike tried the door handles on about 20 vehicles. Finding none left unlocked, and no easy access to helping himself to stealables, the bicycle thief took off, with Citizen Mark following in his car.
Next stop -- the Union Mission downtown. The thief parked the bicycle outside and went in. Citizen Mark used his cellphone to call Ottawa Police, reporting that he'd not only found his stolen bicycle, but the thief as well.
You'd think that Citizen Mark would be happy he got his bicycle back. He is, but he's also angry that the thief received little more than the proverbial slap on the wrist -- go and steal no more -- after claiming he'd "found" the bicycle.
Turns out that the thief was a tweaker -- one of those crackheads who needs to feed his habit on an almost hourly basis and steals other people's property in order to obtain the wherewithall to do it. In Citizen Mark's view, property crimes are not treated seriously by either the police or the courts and if this continues, it will lead to other types of criminal activity, namely vigilante justice meted out by ordinarily peaceful, law-abiding citizens who are tired of being ripped off.
If you are familiar with the By Ward Market, you're familiar with tweakers. They're the ones with the glassy eyes who hang around at the Pay-n Park kiosks menacing old ladies such as Citizen Ellie who just want to park their cars and buy veggies from the market's vendors without being harassed or threatened. They're the ones who lurk in the stairwells of the city's parking garage demanding "spare change". They're the ones who are quickly turning the By Ward Market area into a "NO GO" zone.
Tweakers are also the ones who break into your home or your car looking for change or anything of value which can be sold on the streets or given in exchange for drugs.
Nowadays we have to turn out homes into fortresses -- motion-sensor security lights, expensive alarm systems, burglar bars on basement windows, stockade-type fences around our yards, gates padlocked from the inside, solid oak entry doors with stainless steel hardware, peepholes in the solid oak entry doors (including the door from garage into house) so we can see who might be trying to get in. We have alarm systems in our cars, not to mention locking wheel nuts and gas caps plus steering wheel and pedal "clubs".
Citizen Ellie knows of what she speaks. She's been the victim of property crime on seven occasions since purchasing her Val-des Monts cottage 30 years ago. In the past two years, she has experienced two break-ins. Last November's, with the attendant vandalism (discharging fire extinguishers inside the place) was the straw that broke the camel's back. Call the MRC des Collines cops ? Might as well forget it -- they can never find the place without a family member leading them to it (strangely the criminals don't seem to have this problem) and they never seem to catch the perpetrators. The solution ? Cottage now sold.
In Citizen Ellie's view, the next logical step in home security is the installation of wrought iron entry/exit door enclosures. If you've seen any news clips on TV from east L.A. or other major U-S citizes, you 've seen these. Citizen Ellie's sister who lives in Cottonwood, Arizona, purchased hers at the local Home Depot. They haven't started to carry them yet at big box home improvement stores in the Ottawa area, but they can be obtained here -- look in the yellow pages under Home Security.
The police budget in Ottawa is huge. The force always seems to be expanding and demanding the latest in technological crime-fighting tools. Chief Vern White now has his own LAV (light armoured vehicle) at a substantial cost to the taxpayers. Despite all the property tax dollars being consumed by policing, ratepayers can't help but feel they're on their own when it comes to protecting their property and their persons from light-fingered tweakers and home invaders.
When Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City, he made it a priority to change the city's image and set about doing this by ordering the city's various law enforcement agencies to start cracking down on even the smallest offence. People who normally avoided paying for their subway tokens by leaping over the barriers suddenly found themselves being arrested. Obnoxious and threatening beggars were carted off to the slammer. Sleeping in cardboard boxes on 45th. Street was no longer tolerated. Curfews were enforced. Lo and behold a majority of those picked up were found to have criminal records, had jumped bail or were wanted for other offenses. Of course there was the usual hue and cry from the ACLU and other bleeding hearts, but Mayor Rudy persisted and even though he's no longer the mayor, New York City is still a great safe place to visit.
With the municipal election looming in October, it would be interesting to hear what the mayoral and council candidates have to say about cleaning up the city of Ottawa -- please don't pretend that its' reputation as "the big easy" for tweakers, panhandlers and vagrants doesn't exist.
PS: this is a warning to watch your purses and wallets when shopping in area supermarkets. Citizen Ellie knows of three older women who recently had their wallets stolen out of their purses while shopping at the local grocery store. The thieves' modus operandi will be familiar to anyone who has travelled in Europe. One of the thieves distracts the shopper by asking for assistance in finding something or helping to get something down from a high shelf while the other -- sometimes a child -- lifts the wallet from the unsuspecting victim's purse. In Spain, the woman offers a flower or sprig of rosemary to distract the unsuspecting tourist while the child steals the wallet. In Europe, they will come to your front door and use a pretext to get into your house -- emergency need to use the phone, for example -- and if your purse is nearby, your wallet will be taken while you are distracted. Coming soon to Ottawa, perhaps ?
New posts usually on Sundays