Thursday, January 24, 2013

Citizen Ellie Has Returned !

      Yes, I'm back after a sabbatical of just over a year.  I've been travelling, training a new canine companion, giving up some volunteer activities, learning a completely new computer operating system   and advancing my education at Carleton University.   I've also made the decision to broaden the scope of this blog -- yes, I will still comment on municipal politics, but there are other matters/happenings in today's world which also deserve comment.
      Where have my travels taken me ?  Most notably, to some of the Balkan states -- Helsinki in Finland,  Tallin in Estonia and St. Petersburg in Russia, along with Amsterdam, Berlin and Stockholm last August.
      I wonder if other westerners share the same  picture in their minds of the former east bloc countries similar to the one I had prior to my travels.  I did not expect the streets of St. Petersburg to be jam-packed with expensive cars.  Nor a Lada in sight.  Cadillac dealership right downtown.  Everyone seemed to be driving BMW's, Mercedes, Audi's and Jags.  Same in Helsinki and Tallin.  Well-dressed, stylish women, men in well-tailored business suits, fancy shops, a gorgeous outdoor market in Helsinki where fresh fruits,vegetables, furs, hand-crafted jewelry and other items were on display in abundance.
      One cannot do justice to St. Petersburg in a couple of days so I am heading back to that part of the world in July.  This next journey will also take me to Poland and Latvia.

                                             Tax Dollars At Work

      Don't know about you but city council's decision to give more money to the Great Canadian Theatre Company because the cost of construction of its new theatre has gone way over budget is grinding my gears today.
       Whose fault is it that construction costs on this project went out of control ?  Surely not the taxpayers.  The city had committed $1.5 million to the project --which is the 25% of capital costs of arts and cultural infrastructure for which the city usually pays.  Somewhere along the line, costs soared and the initial $1.5 million ended up covering only 11% of said construction costs.  So we -- the taxpayers -- are coughing up another $250,000 to help an organization which doesn't appear to take cost control seriously.
      This isn't the first "extra" funding this outfit has received from the city.  Back in 2010, when the city gave the GCTC an additional $175,000, they said they wouldn't be back for more.
      Seems to me that council should appoint a qualified person to do some oversight on this project because whoever is looking after it now apparently could use some help.  And us taxpayers could use some relief !
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