Mayor focuses on what she wants to do during her first term.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 4th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Mayor’s State of the city address last week before the Chamber of Commerce was a first for Marianne Meed Ward. She will get to do this three more times before she has to go before the electorate who will decide if she has heard what the city wants and has made measurable strides in getting there.

She spoke at length last Wednesday, she did not get a standing ovation and there were a few issues – climate change and the private tree bylaw – that got a clap or two from a tree hugger or a “this is a hill to die on “ environmentalist.

She was a little off her pace on a very few occasions – but at the end of the session when people were getting their coats and preparing to step out into some very cold weather there were a number, a rather significant number of people who were lined up to say a few words to the new Mayor and hang around to have pictures taken.

The Gazette has published State of the City address for the past eight years they aren’t the kind of thing that people dig out of the archives. We publish them for the record.

The Meed Ward address had a lot of information that has to be teased out and looked at in a larger context. The Gazette will be doing a series of articles in the next few weeks drilling down into what she had to say and suggesting as well as we can what we might expect from our Mayor.

Receiving line touching male

Mayor Meed Ward chatting with one of the people who attended her State of the City address.We have been watching Meed Ward for more than ten years; we sat in on several of her early campaign meetings when she first ran for the ward 2 seat in 2010.The issue that will overshadow all the others is the Region’s decision to return the Official Plan. Here is what Meed Ward had to say on that:

“As a result, I am bringing forward a motion to re-examine the policies of the Official Plan that was adopted, though not officially approved, in April of 2018, and review matters of height and density. Halton Region has also recently identified areas of non-conformity, so this motion seeks to gain the time to address those issues.

“Once the Region identified areas of non-conformity, that stopped the clock on approving the new Official Plan and opened the plan up for any other matters of discussion. This allows our new City Council the time to define what areas we want to study, undertake that work, consult with the community, and send back a comprehensive plan. We expect that plan to truly reflect the needs, best interests and vision of the community and its elected Council.

“The motion will also provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications and the existing Official Plan is still in full legal force and effect. Multiple analyses by staff in assessing development applications, downtown in particular, have made it clear we do not need to over-intensify in order to meet our obligations under the Province’s Places To Grow legislation.

“Further, we will immediately discontinue use of the “Grow Bold” term and related branding to ensure we are absolutely clear on our direction.”

There are some critically important phrases:

this motion seeks to gain the time to address those issues.

Red jacket at city hall

She is focused on putting her mark on city hall.

stopped the clock on approving the new Official Plan and opened the plan up for any other matters of discussion.

The motion will also provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications and the existing Official Plan is still in full legal force and effect.

Meed Ward knows exactly where she wants to go and has a council with five new members that has yet to find its footing – they will follow her lead – it is what they based their individual election platforms on.

Mary Lou Tanner

Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner.

The really strong differences of opinion between the Mayor and the Deputy city manager are so wide and have been that way for a long time – one of them has to go – not much guesswork on who will be clearing out a desk before the end of the year.

The Planning department is going to have to come into line very soon with the thinking that is taking place at council.

Roman Martiuk, failed to advise council that there was going to be a $9 million budget surplus in 2011 – that cost him his job.

Martiuk used to tell council he was there to “serve the will of council”. Interim city manager Tim Commisso is going to have to determine just what the will of council is and then ensure that the departments fall into line.

Director of Finance Joan Ford does a great job of providing the data ad her department does a good job of collecting the taxes as well. It's the spending side that is causing the long term financial stress. Ms Ford doesn't do the spending.

Director of Finance Joan Ford

There are several departments that have been doing a fine job for some time: Finance, Capital Works and Information Technology are worthy of bonuses. Planning is a mess; Transportation is so far behind in several of its critical reports that are holding up a number of other initiatives.

The world of municipal administration has to be in tune with the political changes that take place in a community. There are some at city hall who appear to have tin ears and don’t understand the change that took place last October when the ballots were cast or they don’t care and will continue to do what they have been doing since those ballots were marked.

Meed Ward has made it abundantly clear – the times have changed – get with the plan.

There are some very smart and dedicated people in the Planning department. For about a dozen their career paths have been inhibited by the organizational mess and the leadership failure within the department; the place isn’t the planning mecca it could be.

Commisso aloneLet’s look at this again in a year and see if there have been any real changes.

Right about now one can ask: Where is the Work Force Plan that Tim Commisso will have to put before city council at some point in the near future. What we learn tends to come out of the Mayor’s office.

Salt with Pepper are the views, opinions and reflections of the Gazette Publisher

 

Return to the Front page

Mayor Meed Ward will address the Chamber of Commerce and give a State of the City report.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 16th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When a significant change in government takes place the new leader has a very short period of time to get a firm grip on the levers of power and put their stamp in the direction they want to take.

Burlington has a tradition of the Mayor giving an address to the business elite at a Chamber of Commerce event in January of each year. They are usually well attended.

State of the city 2019

The Mayor will be speaking to the business community which in the past has not always been the sector from which Meed Ward draws her support. Growth is the rallying cry from the Chamber of Commerce set. Growth for sure Mayor Meed Ward will say and add that the growth has to be responsible and responsive and not serve the interests of just on part of the population.

It will be interesting to see what tack Mayor Meed Ward takes as she addresses the Chamber crowd at the end of the month. She will not be speaking to the converted.

She will be listened to very closely.

During the past eight years the Gazette has published seven of the State of the City addresses given by former Mayor Rick Goldring who was politely heard. They are all on line.

The standing ovations were usually given to someone else who was recognized.

One can assume that Mayor Meed Ward has at least a first draft of what she wants to say to the business/commercial community.

The members of the Chamber of Commerce will be listening raptly to what Meed Ward has to say. Her supporters think they know what she is all about. They have some surprises coming their way. The Gazette is beginning to learn more about the process Mayor Meed Ward used to staff her office; some hearts were broken along the way.

The business community looks at things quite a bit differently. Meed Ward is going to have to convince them that she understands their language and can communicate with them effectively and meet their needs as well.

Meed ward election night 1

Marianne Meed Ward: The reward for ten years of serving and campaigning – an election victory.

Meed Ward refers to her 22 years as a journalist whenever she is outlining the road she has travelled. It is more correct to say that she has spent 22 years in media which is not the same thing as what journalists do.

We will all learn more about how she will actually operate and how she will handle the issues that land on her desk.

This will be her biggest selling job ever since she had that Chain of Office placed around her neck.

Salt with Pepper is the musing, opinions and reflections of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

Return to the Front page

Are residents seeing a change in the way city staff are relating to residents? Some think so.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 7th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Change in an organization isn’t always immediately evident. The Gazette is getting feedback from its readers on the changes people, who in the past have been very critical of the way they get treated at city hall, are now telling us that Staff are reaching out to them.

“I don’t seem to have to chase people to get information” said one resident. Another mentioned that she was approached by staff in the Clerks office and asked to take part in a committee. “I didn’t know the staffer but she seemed to know who I was” said the resident.

Word is that a committee is being formed to look at the appointments made to the various advisory committees and how they should operate.

Councillor TAylor works at listening to home owners who don't like the city's historical recognition policies.

Former city Councillor John Taylor works at listening to home owners who don’t like the city’s historical recognition policies.

There are a number of people who don’t have much time for the Advisory committee process used in Burlington.

“They tend to be controlled by the council member who sits in on the meeting and serves as liaison to council” was the way one resident described them.

When Gazette staff used to sit in on the meetings it was evident to us that the member of Council had far more influence than the citizen members.

There are those in Burlington who would like to see city staff less involved in the selection of people who serve on committees.

What we appear to be seeing at city hall is a small, subtle change. One needs to do everything possible to encourage that direction they appear to be going in.

Jim YoungJim Young has been very vocal about what he calls a “useless” approach to the creation of Advisory committees and how they get put to work. He has some pretty unflattering experiences with the way the Seniors Advisory committee that he sat on was close to man-handled by Councillors Craven and Sharman.

Craven has moved into the retirement phase of his municipal council career – Sharman is still there but, from what we can see so far – his is a much muted voice.

Leopards apparently can change their spots.

Progress? One can only hope.

Salt with Pepper reflects the opinions, observations and musings of the publisher of the Gazette, an on-line newspaper that is in its 8th year of as a news source in Burlington and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page

Speak wisely, act wisely and that wisdom will trickle down to the people you are there to serve.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 28th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Stu Parr, who is not a relative nor a friend – we’ve never met; made a very cogent point in a comment he posted on the Gazette.

He was responding to another reader over the direction he thought the current municipal council might take and said:

“However, if they do see the “light of day” it will probably be a Facebook posting followed by several twitter and Instagram feeds.

“Governance by social media seems to be the rule of the day. One often wonders the depth of what lies beneath.”

Parr is a little too close to the truth for comfort. The photo op is being replaced by heavy use of social media.

Twitter logoOur hope here at the Gazette is that we will get more than a picture, more than 140, or 280 Twitter characters if they went for the upgrade.

We would like to see comments with some depth and ideas that were part of the promise when the city all but cleaned out the 2014-2018 city council.

The voter turnout was disappointing, the mandate this council has is not as deep as it could have been. Did people not care? Did they not know what the issues were ?

Given the scope of what the issues were that turnout should have been in excess of 55% – something Burlington has never done in the past.

facebook-logoPhoto ops, Facebook mentions, tweets and Instagram’s are not going to educate people. There is a guy to the south of us who uses tweets like oxygen to keep himself alive – and look where that has gotten them.

The previous city council felt that if the kept making puff-ball statements (remember when we were the best mid-sized city in the country) over time they would be seen as true – until the facts – or a ballot box told them otherwise.

Speak wisely, act wisely and that wisdom will trickle down to the people you are there to serve.

Return to the Front page

We are bereft of good solid political leadership.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 17th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For those who follow things political the game the province played last Friday will be familiar.

When it is bad news – governments wait until late on Friday and issue a media release.

The only thing missing from this sleazy act on the part of the Ford government was they didn’t wait for a long weekend. The classic hide the bad news play is issuing a press release on the Friday of a long weekend.
There is a lack of moral honesty with this government.

Doug Ford finger pointing

Doug Ford: Do you have the feeling he is about to sell you a used car?

The release of legislation that would permit development in parts of the Green Belt; the announcement of a close family friend who is patently not qualified for the job, as the next Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police and then learning that someone changed the qualifications and experience to apply for the job were changed..

The Premier wants to choose just who will be part of his personal security detail – and then asking that a modified van be purchased and outfitted for the Premier who is not exactly a small man – he does have a certain girth to him – hide the cost in one of the Provincial Police Budgets..

It is beginning to look so underhanded. There are some local convenience stores where we had to tell our children to count the change they are given when they make a purchase.

This province once had leaders that were nationally recognized statesman.

John Robarts - one of the best Premiers the province ever had: knew how to balance a budget.

John Robarts – one of the best Premiers the province ever had. He was not just a politician but a statesman as well.

Bill Davis had problems learning how to balance a budget; never really did learn.

Bill Davis provided solid reliable government. Hard to recall any scandal on his watch.

Think John Robarts, Bill Davis and George Drew. These were honourable men who led the province so well that we prospered.

Doug Ford seems to be channeling Michael Hepburn; yes he was a Liberal. No one political party owns the right to mislead the public – they are all complicit.

We deserve better. However we have only ourselves to blame.

Kathleen Wynne deserved to lose. She had lost the respect and confidence of the electors. The Liberals should have looked for a new leader 18 months before the election and revamped their platform. They were spending money like drunken sailors.

The province wasn’t ready for another New Democratic government and the public just didn’t have a strong enough belief that Andrea Horwath could form a government and lead the province.

We are bereft of good solid political leadership.

Vic clapping in Ford face

Is the Premier being well served by the Cabinet he has chosen? Minister of Finance Vic F xxx

Doug Ford had the opportunity to grow away from a troubled, suspect youth; he appears to be letting the worst of those personality traits rule his thinking.

We are all going to pay a high price for the decisions we made last June. We all thought this kind of thing was happening just south of us. It’s happening here.

Public pressure did force the Premier to delay the swearing in of a new Police Commissioner – the Ford government does have the capacity to react.

The public just has to keep the pressure up – heck we might even manage to make a good Premier out of the man.

Pepper - Gazette shirt - no smileSalt with Pepper reflects the opinions, observations and musings of the publisher of the Gazette, an on-line newspaper that is in its 8th year of as a news source in Burlington and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page

What kind of a city manager does Burlington need now?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 12th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The chatter amongst those who are worth a second look by Burlington’s city council as they search for a new city manager is revealing.

Several, who would not agree to talk if we named them, wonder if the civic administration can be revived. Total bedlam was the word one possible candidate who assured his colleagues that he would not be applying.

Ridge and Chris Murray - city managers

James Ridge with former Hamilton city manager Chris Murray. Both men moved on; one of his own accord, the other was asked to leave.

Both Hamilton and Burlington are looking for new city managers. Few, if any, possible candidates will apply for both.

What does Burlington need and does what the city needs exist was the question we put to the seven people we talked to.

It doesn’t need someone who has an agenda and knows exactly what the city needs said one.

It does need someone who has already made their mark as a city manager and is ready to take on a task that requires s basically a complete re-build.

Ideally you want someone who can spot talent within the organization and grow it said another who added that it has to be “Someone who can listen and then nurture the talent or know where to look for the talent that will be needed to replace some of the key people that need to move on.”

The answer a candidate should be able to give to the question: What do you want to achieve while you are with us is: Find my replacement.

Holding hands

These seven people will decide who the next city manager should be. If they get it right a lot of the current city hall screw ups can be brought to an end.

Burlington has a new council and they are going to need help in refining the political aspirations each of them brought to the public office they now hold.

They need administrative leadership that can begin the healing of the wounds mid-level staff are working through. Parts of the organization is almost like a zoo totally out of control.

A command and control style will not work.

The new city manager has to have the confidence of the elected members – and if that confidence doesn’t exist – they should walk.

There are some organizational changes that should at least be considered. Move the Economic Development Corporation into the Planning department. Economic development is currently in the hands of a group of Hamilton lawyers.

Strategic Plan Workbook

Traditionally Strategic Plans have been for a period of four years.

strat-plan-logo-25-years

The Strategic Plan grew to a 25 year plan. There wasn’t much in the way of a vigorous public debate on whether or not this was a good idea.

Does the Strategic Plan that was foisted on the city by the consulting firm the city hired and the aspirations former city manager James Ridge had still make sense?  Traditionally a Strategic Plan is the agenda for a specific council and were four year documents.  Ridge grew that four years to 25 and then attached the Grow Bold concept to it.

Does this council now send the document to the recycle file ?  This council is going to be far too busy to get wrapped up in the long process of re-writing a Strategic Plan.  There are much bigger fish to fry.

The new city manager should have more than just some depth of understanding of how Queen’s Park works – he (or she) needs to be able to counsel and advise the Mayor on how to get the province to work for the city and not be at the mercy of a Premier that tends to act abruptly and really doesn’t know what a conflict of interest is and where he can legitimately exert his authority. The man just cannot be trusted.

Pandoras box

Opening a Pandora’s Box is a process that generates many complicated problems as the result of unwise interference in something.

These are perilous times for the municipal world. It is clear to many who watch the sector that there is going to be more in the way of consolidation. Former Mayor Rick Goldring certainly opened a Pandora ’s Box when he suggested Burlington should annex parts of Waterdown.

In one of his statements former city manager James Ridge spoke of Burlington’s “enviable” reputation as a great city. One can only gulp when reading that statement and looking at the serious problems surrounding the 2100 Brant development that is fraught with serious issues that smack of a total disregard for the public engagement process.

The Mayor has yet to say who will serve as the interim city manager. One would have thought that the Deputy City Manager would almost automatically assume that role. Any suggestions as to why that hasn’t happened?

Mayor Meed Ward was wise to ask her council to think about they think the city should be looking for and what they, individually, want to see put in place to carry out the mandate they have.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

Return to the Front page

City hall staff: There is the possibility that some of the really good ones will be gone. It will be our loss.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 7th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It has been a tumultuous week for the city – and for the staff at city hall.

city hall with flag poles

If there is a morale meter at city hall it isn’t giving a very high rating these days.

The City manager left the building on Tuesday, no word yet on who the interim city manager is going to be.

There is a Deputy city manager in place so things won’t spin out of control.

There are people in the city delighted with the dismissal of the city manager; they have hopes that there will be a few more dismissals in the not too distant future.

While all this takes place there’s serious damage being done to the mid-level people who do all the grunt work.

Burlington has a number of superb staffers, I could name more than 100 people, that I have worked with, talked to that are sincere, professional and very good at their jobs. They are career civil servants who work hard to manage hard issues.

One has to wonder how many are polishing their resumes and looking around for a better place to work. There are a lot of benefits to working in the municipal sector; the money is good, the benefits terrific and the pension grand.

And those things matter but that isn’t why the really good people get up every morning, go out the door and take on the tasks they have to deal with.

Burlington has some real issues that are complex and won’t yield to a simple answer.

The really good men and woman are well aware of the problems and they are more than capable of finding solutions. With a few exceptions they have not been well led. They do deserve better.

They will sign out at city hall this afternoon, head home to their families and wonder just where things at city hall are going to be six months from now.

There is the possibility that some of the really good ones will be gone; some into the private sector others with a different municipality. It will be our loss.

Pepper - Gazette shirt - no smileSalt with Pepper is an opinion column reflecting the observations and musings of the publisher of the Gazette, an on-line newspaper that is in its 8th year as a news source in Burlington and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page

Now Meed Ward has a target on her back. Really?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 4th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A reader wrote:

Okay, here we go.

Now Meed Ward has a target on her back.

She didn’t give the elected Councillors a chance to speak?

My guess is that they begged her for more time so that they hone their skills as speakers.

But hey- that wouldn’t give newspapers a chance to shoot down a really wonderful new mayor who should be lauded for her intelligence, empathy and generosity of spirit.

How about giving her a break!!

Mayor Meed Ward does not want any breaks.  She would be offended if you offered her any.

I didn’t hear the Justice who swore them in suggest we give them a break. I heard just the opposite. Justice Quinn said to the audience and to the new council.  These people are going to hold you account.   He didn’t say ‘Hold them accountable but give them a couple of weeks to get the feel of the job.’

In a couple of week this council will be going through the budget – and if I heard the Mayor correctly she wants to keep the tax increase well below the 4% we have seen for the past seven years.

These people have known from the get go that they have a big job in front of them. They all worked hard to get elected – they wanted the job.

No breaks. Burlington citizens did that in 2014 and look at what that council did for you?

What this writer has forgotten is that a democracy has the elected and the electors – and both have to do their work if a democracy is going to work.

The 2010 Council learned they could get away with a lot and several of them trampled all over delegators.

Your job dear reader is to hold their feet to the flames. No breaks.

Imagine if you did give them a break? That would perhaps encourage some of them to ask for “a little more time” and before you know it they are getting away with it.

You throw them in the deep end – they will learn to swim very quickly.

Council without mayor

Council members getting ready to read their Declarations of Office. The Gazette didn’t hear them asking for a break.

Return to the Front page

The old order changes ....

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 3rd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The old order changeth.

This evening a new city council will be sworn in: five of the seven member council will not be returning – two retired and three were defeated.

Burlington City Council Group

Just two left standing

We can’t find anyone who remembers seeing anything like this in Burlington’s history.

The Mayor was defeated, replaced by ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.

Councillors Dennison and Lancaster were also defeated.

Councillors Craven and Taylor retired.

Two issues dominated the election: the approving of an Official Plan that did not have wide public support and the demand for a change in the way city council engaged the public – failed to effectively respect people who delegated at city council is a better way to put it – and the lack of acceptable public engagement.

The distance between council and staff and the public made itself painfully evident in the remarks made at the final meeting of the current city council when Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner commented on the outgoing council and its working relationship with Staff.

City Manager James Ridge was absent.

Tanner spoke of the excellent, professional way that Staff and Council were able to work together. Saying a strong positive relationship existed doesn’t mean it did.

Plains Road; an old suburban highway transitions into a vibrant urban main street.

Plains Road; an old suburban highway transitions into a vibrant urban main street.

The contribution made by Councillors Craven and Taylor deserve comment: Plains Road is a different place today than it was when Rick Craven was first elected. And the developments taking place in the community are an improvement over what was in place when he got there.

Craven didn’t have the best of relationships with sectors of his ward; the Beachway people wish he had never been elected. A number of people don’t think he understood the mix that was needed along Plans Road.
He could never come to terms with Marianne Meed Ward who ran against him in ward 1 – he prevailed and Meed Ward moved into ward 2.

There is the suggestion that Rick Craven just could not live with the idea that he would have to work with Meed Ward on her terms. Some have suggested that is a large part of why he chose not to run for another term. Had he run he would have taken more than 50% of the votes.

The piece that he wrote and made public about Meed Ward was regrettable.

Councillor Craven may have felt his McMAster jacket would ward off some negative comment. Don't think it did - every member of Council had their ears bent by the 125 people who showed up at the Mainway Arena SAturday afternoon.

Councillor Craven may have felt his McMaster jacket would ward off some negative comment.

There will be more tall buildings but nothing any higher than the Drewlo Development that lost its building permit for a period of time when the played fast and loose with the development that had been approved.
Developers found they could work with Rick Craven. Did he compromise himself in doing so. One would be very hard pressed to point to anything that was just plain wrong in the ward.

Craven was tireless in his efforts to make sure that Aldershot was not forgotten. He has superb relationships with Staff.

He was the best chair of a Standing Committee this city has seen in some time. Yes, he was abrupt even dismissive at times but he kept the agenda going.

Publicly there was nothing touchy feely about Tick Craven. All business.

Privately he could be a funny.

More candidate than Craven could manage? Sandra Pupatello on a trip through town looking for local support for her Liberal leadership bid. Craven was prepared to let the party romance him.

More candidate than Craven could manage? Sandra Pupatello on a trip through town looking for local support for her Liberal leadership bid. Craven was prepared to let the party romance him.

He once told this reporter as we sat outside the Council Chamber at Conservation Halton that he had thought about running for Mayor.

He took a serious look at running for the provincial seat as a Liberal. Sandra Pupatello was a little too much for his taste.

Craven was usually able to take the long view and see the bigger picture – where he fell short was in explaining that bigger picture to people.

Craven is now, officially, a senior citizen. He isn’t going to sit at home and read old city council agendas. He will be a valued observer and hopefully he will tune in with comments from time to time.

There has been word that he will join one of the development organizations in the province.

dfrt

Taylor was always a careful listener

John Taylor, the Dean of City Council, found that the job was getting harder and harder to do. Keeping up was proving difficult and he had the strength to realize that it was time to move on. For John Taylor the moving on is not going to be as smooth.

He will miss the people at city hall; his job as a Councillor was his life.

He was one of the true liberal voices on council and always went more than the last mile to solve a problem for a constituent.

He was probably working the telephones in the forenoon while his assistant packed up his papers for him.

Taylor wants to stay involved, has his eye on a specific appointment that he will get.

Waterfront hotel Taylor

If the public was in the room – so was John Taylor – listening carefully.

He has a huge store of knowledge, he was there when the big decisions were made.

He could be cranky at times but for the most part he was genial, available and he cared.

He worked for the rural people in the North West side of the city. The provincial plans for a highway that would run through Kilbride and Lowville was not going to happen while John was the ward 3 council member.

He was the rural voice on council. His constituents loved him; community meetings in his ward were more like family get togethers.

The three members of council that were defeated at the ballot box had failed to connect with the public. Rick Goldring just didn’t hear what the vocal groups had to say. He will never be forgiven for selling that part of the waterfront between Market and St. Paul Street.

Dennison - second house

The house on the right was built when Jack Dennison to an appeal to a Committee of Adjustment decision to the Ontario Municipal Board and won.

Blair Lancaster should perhaps not have run; health issues were making it difficult for her to do the job.

Jack Dennison was able to stay in office because the number of voters on the ballot allowed him to split the vote. This time there was just the one candidate running against him and she did very well.

The house that Dennison built on the severed piece of the Lakeshore Road is up for sale; the house next door with the historical designation has been rented.

In his closing remarks Dennison said: “See you around”. Wonder where he will live?

Return to the Front page

Can the residents of this city make a Mayor out of Marianne Meed Ward or will she become a one term wonder?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 22, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In December of 2014, the city council that was first elected in 2010 sat behind a table on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre waiting to be sworn in. his was the first time the swearing in ceremony took place at that venue.

Trumpeters from the Burlington Teen Tour Band were in the gallery to the left of the stage; the sound of blaring trumpets heralded the event.

While the council being sworn on December 2014 was a repeat of what residents elected in 2010 there was still some electricity in the air.

As each member of Council was announced, after they had been sworn in, the applause for Marianne Meed Ward was just that much louder, lasted just that much longer than the applause for anyone else on that stage. If two people had stood up and shouted “bravo” and clapped loudly I swear she would have gotten a standing ovation.

Meed ward election night 1

Mayor Elect Marianne Med Ward at the Polish Hall on election night

Mayor Goldring may not have recognized what was going on but the 2018 election campaign had begun.
On Monday, December 3rd, Meed Ward will be recognized as Mayor and the trumpets will blare. The Meed Ward supporters will see this as the beginning of a new dawn.

It is far too early to tell if Marianne Meed Ward is going to grow into a great Mayor. There are still a lot of people out there that do not wish her well.

She is going to have to work with five people who have never served on anything that has had input into city policy considerations. Angelo Beneventigna is familiar with a lot of the people at city hall and has more in the way of understanding as to how the city works than most of the others.

What Beneventigna has to figure out and realize is that he wasn’t elected to be a “friend” of those who handle the day to affairs of the city but to assure that they are always accountable to council and to the wider public they serve.

Meed Ward will be something of a den mother for the first 18 months.

Paul Sharman, a man that Rick Goldring once said was the best strategic thinker he has ever met, will be sitting on the same stage.

Councillor Shar,man with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions. Both are strong contributors to Council and Committee meetings

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during the 2011 Strategy Planning sessions.

Sharman will be the odd man out on this council. He brings a reputation for abrasiveness and a tendency to be abrupt with people. He is more comfortable getting his own way.

When he became BFF (Best Friends Forever) with Councillor Craven there was little hope of there being much in the way of collaboration. Sharman consistently referred to Meed Ward’s “ideology” which wasn’t one he shared. He was more comfortable with his own. The Gazette began to refer to Sharman as “Mr. Data”; he always wanted more data. Over time we realized that the request for more data meant that Sharman didn’t have to make a decision.

Goldring saw Sharman as the best strategic thinker he had ever met – We won’t test the veracity of that statement. However, Paul Sharman does come at what he does from a strategic perspective.

tr

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

In 2010, to the surprise of many and shock to others, he fist nominated himself for Mayor. When Rick Goldring filed nomination papers for the office of Mayor, Sharman muffled his ambitions, withdrew the nomination for Mayor and nomination himself for the ward 5 council seat that Goldring was vacating.

Meed Ward needs Paul Sharman to get through the first 18 months. He is the only person on the new Council that can get a budget passed. He might even manage to somehow produce a budget with a 0% increase. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars in city reserve accounts; – Sharman knows those accounts better than any of the newbies..

Could he find a way to loosen up some of that money?

The option the LaSalle PArk MArina Association hopes is chosen through the Environmental Assessment due MArch 2013.

Funds to pay for the break water barrier were found – all the city had to do was raid the Hydro Reserve fund.

If the outgoing council could find a way to use $4 million plus that was in the Hydro Reserve find for the breakwater facility at the LaSalle Park Marina – Paul Sharman can find a way to wiggle some funds out of other reserve accounts.  This of course will drive the Director of Finance bananas – that department likes nice thick reserves earning solid interest for the city.

Many people are watching how Meed Ward handles herself in the first 18 months. The people she took political power from are quite willing to see her fall on her face.

The pressure will be immense, which will be nothing new to Meed Ward. The current council has bullied and harassed this woman for the past eight years. Some of the behaviour bordered on the kind of thing you report to authorities that can take corrective action and ensure that there is due process.

Her council colleagues were not the only level that harassed Meed Ward; the failures in the Clerk’s department are legion.

Meed Ward tried hard to establish a good working relationship with Mary Lou Tanner when she was first appointed as the Director of Planning. Her efforts didn’t take.

In the months ahead, expect Councillor Sharman to go into his “smarmy” mode and do his best to charm the newcomers. He has reached out to all of them.

He will sit and wait patiently and should Meed Ward not be up to the job she has taken on – Paul Sharman will try to convince the city that he can do the job – for he was the best strategic thinker Rick Goldring had ever met.

Red jacket at city hall

The mandate is thin – the hope runs very deep.

Meed Ward’s mandate is thin. However, she has the goodwill and high hopes of many of the people who want to see the core values that are Burlington be recognized, kept and built upon.

Too early to tell if the battle lines for the 2022 election are drawn.

For her fans, and her supporters – stop lauding and convincing yourselves she can walk on water.  What Marianne Meed Ward needs is to be held accountable day in and day out.

In 2014 she asked people to trust her – they did and she changed the way the city operates.

She will need that trust going forward.

Related news stories:

The day city council beat up Marianne Meed Ward

Return to the Front page

Bridging the gaps between those who won and those who lost during the election is job #1 for Mayor Elect Meed Ward.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 19th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With Thanksgiving and Halloween behind us the next holiday Season has to be Christmas.

How do you know it is here? Check out the mall parking lots. Or look for the community Christmas trees that are going up.

Aldershot tree 2

It looks as if Aldershot was the first community to erect a ward level Christmas tree.

Aldershot appears to be the first ward in the city to put up a tree. Mayor Elect is doing the right thing early in the game – getting out with people in Aldershot, wrapping her arms around the shoulders of the ward election winner and the second place candidate – the job now is to pull the community together and show them how people can work collaboratively and cooperate.

MMW with Kelvin and Judy W

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward with Kelvin Galbraith, elected to represent ward 1 and Judy Worsley who placed second. Hopefully Worsley will stay in with the Aldershot BIA.

Some questions that come to mind?
The new council will be sworn in on Monday December 3rd at 6:30 pm at the Performing Arts Centre. When the event took place in 2014 there was a motivational speaker – Ron Foxcroft did the honours then.

Does the Mayor Elect have any say in who that speaker should be? And if she does who should Marianne Meed Ward choose to address the audience? Who is there out that that has the kind of public profile needed to attract attention and who has a message that will represent what Meed Ward wants her council to stand for and someone who will resonant with the audience.

Ken Greenberg was in Burlington a couple of years ago with a strong message on how municipal governments can build community. He is one the better recognized planners in the country – speaks around the world.

If Jane Jacobs were alive she would have been a natural.

The decisions Meed Ward makes in this first hundred days are vital to both bridge the gaps that exist between those who won and those who lost and at the same time send a message – this is who we are and this is what we want to do.

Deliver that message with strength, humility and a tablespoon of kindness.

Outgoing Mayor Rick Goldring made it clear that if called upon for advice he would be available; Meed Ward would be wise to lunch with him several times during at least her first year in office.

Sometime in the near future she will announce who will staff her office.  The person she chooses as Chief of Staff, assuming she retains that position, will be interesting.

Meed Ward set out a part of her agenda when she used a point of privilege at the final meeting of the current municipal government to make it clear that personal attacks were no longer going to be tolerated.

She said:

Meed ward election night 1

It started at the Polish Hall on election night: where it goes – only time will tell. There were a lot of high hopes in that hall.

Meed Ward said “it was very unfortunate that a member made comments that were a personal attack. .

“We have seen enough of that.

“We saw it during the election

“We see it around this table

“It is a new day

“This stops here

“It stops tonight

“The new council will have respect for each other.

“Respect for the people and respect for staff”

Meed Ward has let the city know some of what she stands for; she has been applauded for not letting this slide by.

Related news story:

A strong statement was made: This stops now.

Return to the Front page

It was a council that was mean spirited and divisive right up to the end. Jack Dennison showed that he never did understand what elections are all about.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 16th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was the last meeting of a city council first elected eight years ago.

It took place in make-shift space while a refurbished council chamber was being completed next door. Seen as a “lame duck” municipal government with a mandate that had mere weeks left, it was still fractional, and unable to work as a cohesive whole.

Council meetings traditionally end with members of Council speaking to concerns in their wards. In this instance they all chose to speak of their achievements during the eight years they served the public.

The Strategic Plans, which up until this council was first elected, were traditionally the plan that a Council was set for the four year term.

In 2011 city council decided to create a 25 year Strategic Plan that they expected other councils to follow. New city councils are not obliged to stick to that Plan created in 2011.

The Official Plan got sent off to the Region where it has to be approved to ensure that the city’s OP fits with the Regional OP. The problem with that is most of the newly elected council didn’t buy into the OP that was passed against the objections of the vast majority of the 30 + people who delegated before city council earlier in the year. That story isn’t over yet.

City manager James Ridge was absent; the city staff position, delivered by Deputy City Manager Mary Lou Tanner, was that council and staff had worked very well together.

If one were to define the issues that motivated many of those who elected a new municipal government, the disrespect many people felt the council had for the people who were delegating and the degree to which council relied on Staff reports that. Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and now Mayor Elect consistently pushed staff for answers. The other members of Council, for the most part, accepted the reports. Mayor Goldring did get better at asking questions during his second term.

It was clear to anyone watching the web cast that John Taylor is going to miss being a city Councillor. It had become the focus of his life – he is literally counting the days until he has to give up his parking spot and turn in his security pass – they will probably let him keep the one he has. Expect him to be on the phone on December 3rd, trying to resolve an issue for someone.  He said that being a city councillor was the :“Best job I ever had.”

Councillor Lancaster told her colleagues that the event she will remember most is the occasion when she repelled down the side of a 26 story tower.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison wasn’t quite ready to give up his job or accept the fact that he lost his election.

He had the temerity to say that: “A portion of my traditional support was taken away by the vote Marianne Team and my opponent with non-factual information with the result that the enjoyable honour I have had of serving my constituents and the city is over. I guess I am not too young to retire. See you around.”

It was a stunning, totally ungracious comment made at the last sitting of the current council at city hall.

The Dennison comments were followed by a few words from Councillor Lancaster who said the event she remembers most fondly was the day she repelled down the side of a 26 story building. Not sure where the value to the public was in that event.

Mayor Goldring closed out the comments by talking about what he felt had been achieved during the eight years he was the Chief Magistrate.

Mayor elect Meed Ward began to respond to the Dennison comment when the Mayor pointed out that comments were not debatable. Meed Ward replied that she wanted to make a”point of privilege” which the Mayor didn’t fully understand and turned to the Clerk for direction.

Meed Ward said she could help the Clerk and read out the section of the Procedural by law that states when the integrity, character or reputation of a member is made a “point of privilege” allows the member to draw attention to the remarks and the member has the right to respond.

She then proceeded to make the point that was really what the election was all about.

Meed Ward said “it was very unfortunate that a member made comments that were a personal attack. .

“We have seen enough of that.

“We saw it during the election

“We see it around this table

“It is a new day

“This stops here

“It stops tonight

“The new council will have respect for each other.

“Respect for the people and respect for staff”

It was a blunt direct statement from a woman who had to put up with at times disgraceful behavior on the part of every member of council.

No more.

Return to the Front page

Elections matter - the provincial election took $1750 out of the pockets of those earning a minimum wage.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 6th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For the 60% of the people in Burlington who didn’t vote – a message. Elections matter!

For the 60% that didn’t vote in the provincial election – a message. Elections matter!

What difference would it have made to me some will ask?

For those people who have to work at the minimum wage level here is how it matters.

ont-minimum-wage

The Liberal government that was in office (By the way they deserved to lose) had a program that increased that minimum wage to $14 an hour last January and had planned on an increase to $15 an hour this January.

The government you elected four months ago cancelled that program.

Assume that the person being paid the minimum wage was working 35 hours a week and assume that they worked for 50 weeks in the year they would have received $1750 more in 2019.

That’s not an in-substantial amount for people who earn a minimum wage.

When Doug Ford was running for Premier of the province he didn’t tell anyone he planned on scaling back that planned increase. We suspect that very few minimum wage people thought anything about it.

The point is – who governs us as a society matters.

Parents might want to mention that to the children that are still living at home because they can’t afford to rent a place they can afford. For many of them they will never be able to buy a home.

Things were different for their grandparents – they probably voted.

The drive in the United States today will be to get people out to vote in what is going to be one of the most important elections to take place in the United States in decades.

What does that mean for Canada, Ontario or Burlington? We won’t know until the election results are in. If nothing changes – you can be assured of one thing – none of it will be good for us.

Elections matter!

How we got to this point as a society is troubling – the answer to that question is you just didn’t give a damn.

Pepper - Gazette shirt - no smileSalt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the publisher of the Gazette, an on-line newspaper that is in its 8th year of as a news source in Burlington and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page

What will the Mayor Elect have on her desk when she assumes office on December 3rd?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 5th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The bigger picture.

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward has been meeting with the newly elected Council members to hear what they would like to achieve in the next four years and at the same time organizing her own agenda and figuring out what has to be done and when.

She will have to decide who is going to work with her when she becomes Mayor, she has that figured out; then she has to get the council ready to tackle the budget and help her colleagues make city council work.

Those are the local issues.

She has to then think through what she wants to have in the way of a relationship with the provincial government that she doesn’t share a political philosophy with nor does she have the same political temperament.

Click to view report

Getting some changes in the Places to Grow program and a strong relationship with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and reaching out to other municipal Mayors are just the beginning.

A much bigger issue is: Will there be a Burlington come 2022 when this council will return to the electors for a second mandate? Burlington was incorporated as a village in 1872, and erected into a town in 1915 and became a city in 1974.

When current Mayor Rick Goldring met with the Ministry during the municipal election, along with several other Mayors wanting to begin a discussion about Places to Grow, Goldring went rogue and mentioned to the Minister that he had his eye on Waterdown and wanted to talk about an annexation.

Goldring didn’t inform Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger what he had in mind.

Eisenberger, who did get himself re-elected, was pretty direct when he said he thought the idea was a flyer crafted on the back of a napkin.

doug-ford-1The province has changed the make-up of several Regional governments. In that announcement Doug Ford said:

“For too long (Toronto) city council has failed to act on the key issues facing Toronto. Less Councillors will mean a more efficient government, and more action on key issues like transit, housing and infrastructure,” Ford said in his statement released earlier.

“I promised to reduce the size and cost of government, and end the culture of waste and mismanagement. More politicians are not the answer. These changes will dramatically improve the decision making process, and help restore accountability and trust in local governments.”

“The Better Local Government Act introduces a number of changes, such as:

“Changes to the Municipal Elections Act to have elections for regional chairs in York, Peek, Niagara, and Muskoka Regions are reversed back to the system they were prior to 2016: when they were appointed by sitting councillors. Regional elections in Halton, Durham and Waterloo remain.”

It had become clear to those who followed these things that there is more in the way of change coming for municipal governments – look what Ford did to Toronto.

Map Region HaltonLooking at municipal government from a Halton perspective one could wonder what might be in the works for Halton; will the province use a shotgun approach that could blow apart local government as we know it today?

The Region of Halton was created in January of 1974, prior to that it was Halton County, one of the oldest in the province was created in 1816.

Creating the Region of Halton was controversial at the time. Local politicians at the time had to fight to keep Burlington out of Hamilton.

Dis-membering Halton and adding Oakville and Burlington to Hamilton and adding Milton and Halton Hills to Peel would fit in with the kind of thinking we are seeing coming out of Queen’s Park these days.

Dundas foreverWhen Dundas was rolled into Hamilton the locals came up with a defence strategy that didn’t work but there are still these small signs placed in some local windows with T- shorts bearing the words on sale in stores on Kings Street.

What would Burlington do?

Burlington has always been a bedroom community for Hamilton; Oakville has been the place for the moneyed set who didn’t want to live in Forest Hill or Rosedale.

City Hall - high frontal viewWhat would any of these changes mean to the average Burlingtonian – we would still be called Burlington but the shots would no longer be called from a city hall on Brant Street. Would there even be a city hall on Brant Street?

Something to think about. The Mayor elect has a lot more than local issues on the desk she will sit behind on the 8th floor of city hall.

Return to the Front page

New elected members of city council have to figure our how to do their jobs - steep learning curve

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 1st, 2108

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The first thing the members of the city council you elected a week ago are going to have to do is show the public that things are going to be different.

That the respect for each other will be there – and when it isn’t there they will make sure that those who are out of line are brought into line immediately.

If the new council is truly new – citizens will be watching for this.

Without that civility and respect for each other the city is looking at four years of chaos.

Sharman Paul

Paul Sharman – the only council member who held his council seat.

The holdover from the council that is on the way out is Paul Sharman. Many found the man to be difficult to work with and at times seemed menacing to people who were delegating before council.

The Gazette has learned from a number of sources that Sharman is now reaching out in an effort to create bridges to the new members of Council. That is a good sign.

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward is going to need some of the skills Sharman has always had in matters of finance and organization. The problem is going to be the radically different ideological differences between the two.

Some will say that ideology should not be the issue – when that is precisely what the election last Monday was all about.

With a voter turnout of less than 40% – this new council is going to have to be transparent in a way that this city has never seen. They are certainly up to it and if the election promises were real – this is the kind of municipal world all of the newbies want to work in.

It is not going to be easy.

Hand salute

The victory salute. Marianne Meed Ward recognizing the public that elected her at a Polish Hall event.

What the Gazette is watching for is the first few steps that Meed Ward takes as Mayor. If she can be seen as moving forward on several issues within the first 30 days and pulling the whole city together there is a chance that she can actually pull this off.

Meed Ward has time working for her. She get sworn in on December 3rd and begins budget deliberations on the 10th. She then has 12 days to make announcements, take positions before they all head off for the Christmas Holidays.

She has quite a bit of political capital but it doesn’t come from a very broad base. 60% of the population didn’t vote and while Meed Ward had a very convincing win over Rick Goldring and Mike Wallace it isn’t all that wide in terms of the population.

The Gazette’s early thinking on which of the three, Meed Ward, Goldring or Wallace would best serve the interests of those that were vocal – one can only guess what the complacent 60% had in mind – was that Meed Ward was the best hope the city had.

Her thumping the incumbent the way she did suggests that those who were focused and engaged felt she was the person to go with.

Thus we watch closely and carefully how Marianne Meed Ward re-directs the city she chose to live in 18 years ago.

In an exclusive interview with Meed Ward before the ballot were cast she told the Gazette her role models were Hazel McCallion and Bernie Saunders.

If she can focus on the best of both of them and convince her Council to follow her – it just might work.
It is the best hope we have.

Meed Ward is now meeting with the newly elected members of council to get to know them, hear what they hope to achieve during the next four years and answer the questions they have.

One newbie got a call from a constituent about a road problem; he thought about passing it along to the retiring member of council but decided it was his job to do even though he had yet to be sworn in.

He puts out a call to Meed Ward – what do I do? Problem solved.

One of the comments Meed Ward made before she was elected was that if she was elected she wanted to find a way to teach new council members how to deal with staff at city hall.

Who they are, what they do and perhaps how they can best be approached?

The public has now adjusted to the fact that there are going to be changes. People who once had influence at city hall are realizing that the phone calls they used to be able to make to a member of council or the Mayor will not be the same.

Angelo blue sports shirt

Angelo Bentivegna has delegated to city council and knows most of the staff members – he now has to decide what his approach to serving the public is going to be and can he reach the people who were die-hard supporters of the Council member he replaced.

Five of the members of council have no experience dealing with public issues. They each face a steep learning curve; some will do well quite quickly, some will struggle and some may fail and find themselves wondering if they made a poor career choice.

At this point each of the five new members are figuring out how they want to communicate with the people that elected them. Those that voted – and realize that 60% of the people eligible to vote didn’t do so, are, we think, are expecting these new council members to be communicating with them the day after they were elected.

Given the heavy use they all made of Facebook and Twitter and, assuming they kept the names of the people they communicated with, one would think they could have something up in the way of a communications vehicle and a strategy.

Shawna Stolte, who took ward four from a long long term incumbent, found that she really liked talking to people on their doorstep. You can’t cover the 20,000 plus people she now represents walking door to door.

Another newbie thought he would be able to see people in the office of the health club he operates – shades of the Jack Dennison approach; used to be that when you wanted to see Dennison you had to hoof it over to his health club.

Some are suggesting that we need to give these five new members of council time to adjust – the problem with that approach is the issues the public have don’t wait.

Most of these people ran on a campaign that included better engagement. The proof as they say is in the pudding.

How are they doing so far?

Pepper - Gazette shirt - no smileSalt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the publisher of the Gazette, an on-line newspaper that is in its 8th year of as a news source in Burlington and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page

She is the best hope we have - but that doesn't mean she can walk on water. Meed Ward now has to demonstrate that she is the leader the city needs.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 30th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The first thing the members of the city council you elected a week ago are going to have to do is show the public that things are going to be different.

Meed ward election night 1

Mayor Elect Meed Ward thanking the crowd at the Polish Hall.

That the respect for each other will be there – and when it isn’t there they will make sure that those who are out of line are brought into line immediately.

If the new council is truly new – citizens will be watching for this.

Without that civility and respect for each other the city is looking at four years of chaos.

The holdover from the council that is on the way out is Paul Sharman. Many found the man to be difficult to work with and at times seemed menacing to people who were delegating before council.

The Gazette has learned from a number of sources that Sharman is now reaching out in an effort to create bridges to the new members of Council. That is a good sign.

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward is going to need some of the skills Sharman has always had in matters of finance and organization. The problem is going to be the radically different ideological differences between the two.

Meed Ward election night 4

Gives a whole new meaning to Standing Room only.

Some will say that ideology should not be the issue – when that is precisely what the election last Monday was all about.

With a voter turnout of less than 40% – this new council is going to have to be transparent in a way that this city has never seen. They are certainly up to it and if the election promises were real – this is the kind of municipal world all of the newbies want to work in.

It is not going to be easy.

What the Gazette is watching for is the first few steps that Meed Ward takes as Mayor. If she can be seen as moving forward on several issues within the first 30 days and pulling the whole city together there is a chance that she can actually pull this off.

Meed Ward has time working for her. She get sworn in on December 3rd and begins budget deliberations on the 10th. She then has 12 days to make announcements, take positions before they all head off for the Christmas Holidays.

She has quite a bit of political capital but it doesn’t come from a very broad base. 60% of the population didn’t vote and while Meed Ward had a very convincing win over Rick Goldring and Mike Wallace it isn’t all that wide in terms of the population.

The Gazette’s early thinking on which of the three, Meed Ward, Goldring or Wallace would best serve the interests of those that were vocal – one can only guess what the complacent 60% had in mind – was that

Meed Ward was the best hope the city had.

MMW Mike and Goldring 2

Rick Goldring, Marianne Meed Ward and Mike Wallace debating on TVO’s Agenda

Her thumping the incumbent the way she did suggests that those who were focused and engaged felt she was the person to go with.

Thus we watch closely and carefully how Marianne Meed Ward re-directs the city she chose to live.
In an exclusive interview with Meed Ward before the ballot were cast she told the Gazette her role models were Hazel Mccallion and Bernie Saunders.

If she can focus on the best of both of them and convince her Council to follow her – it just might work.

It is the best hope we have.

Pepper - Gazette shirt - no smileSalt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of Pepper Parr, publisher of the Gazette.

Return to the Front page

It is long, complicated and very disturbing for those who understand why we have due process and the rule of law.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 5 and the last of a series

When we left you last – there were two banning notices from city hall.

Neither had even a hint of due process. We live in a society whose foundation is built on the rule of law.

We live in a city where the City Manager, who served in the Canadian Armed Forces, which he left with the rank of Captain after 12 years of service, and is presumed to understand something about the administration of laws, rules and regulations, nevertheless issued a Trespass Notice with no due process.

When the second banning notice was delivered November 20, 2017 there was mention of an email I had sent the then Director of Planning. That email was the pretence the city manager used to issue a second ban that was for an indeterminate length of time.

We searched our email files and found the email.

Tanner email Oct 30

 

 

 

The wording of that email is quite small – It said; “I have had developers tell me that you are using the time off to prepare you witch costume and broom for Tuesday night. Any comment – for attribution?  The spelling error was mine.

I personally didn’t think the email was offensive but Ms Tanner did. I wrote an apology that was sincere. In my world, when a sincere apology is given, adults accept the apology and move on.

The apology wasn’t acknowledged.

When the second banning was issued I retained legal counsel who wrote the city in June of 2018.

This time the city said we should perhaps talk.

August was a period of time when my counsel was away for the month. That got us into September. James Ridge was out of the country for a period of time. Some possible meeting dates were shared.
At this point there is no date for a meeting.

James Ridge did advise us that “We will not be providing the investigation report in advance of the meeting, and are assessing whether it can be redacted in a way that sufficiently protects the identities of the women involved.”

He added: “You should also be aware that while the decision to lift the ban, or defend it in court, is ultimately mine, I would want to brief Council on my decision in camera, and that would occur no earlier than November.”

James Ridge is going back to Council for approval – which suggest to me that he got permission to ban me from city council in the first place.

Our demand of the city was for a copy of the Protocol that was issued to staff as to how they were to handle me and a copy of the Investigation the city had done about the complaints they received. Are those complaints as flimsy as the complaint Ms Tanner had – an email that was sent in jest the day before Halloween.

I felt I was entitled to be made aware of those first complaints. It may not have been necessary to know who made the complaints. For some reason city hall seemed to feel that complaints about behavior can be made in a vacuum; were the people who made the complaints sworn?

The city has a protocol for handling behavior complaints between staff that involves contractors working for and with the city. As a journalist I was neither an employee nor a contractor so the very detailed process didn’t apply.

A more professional approach would have been to call me in and say there were complaints and while I am not an employee or contractor the city was going to apply the staff protocol to me as well.

However, if the objective was to shut me out of city hall and prevent me from talking to staff in an attempt to shut the Gazette down, so far it hasn’t worked but at least we now understand the motive.
It look as if there is a resolution to all this out there somewhere.

My concern isn’t being allowed to walk back into city hall. I don’t have much of an appetite to spend time in the place. I do miss my conversations with the security guard.

The decisions the city manager made totally trashed what I had in the way of working relationships with more than 45 staff members that I admired respected and enjoyed working with.

Another very troubling part of the notice the city manager served on me was his saying I could not meet or talk to elected members of council in their city hall offices or at public events.

Ridge wrote: “When attending City sponsored events such as public meetings, open houses, social events located at places other than City Hall or Sims Square, you are to refrain from interacting with city staff, its representatives or Councillors.”

That one stunned me – hard to believe that people elected to public office would let the man that reports directly to them decide who they can see and who they cannot see. Perhaps this is what city council wanted; did all of them, even Marianne Meed Ward and John Taylor go along with tthis?. For some that was perhaps welcome, they could avoid talking to media with the excuse that ‘James Ridge said I can’t’.

The decision made by James Ridge was one that he put before the members of council in a Closed Session.

We have no idea what the members of city council had to say at the closed meeting; we don’t know who asked questions; we don’t know if the decision to authorize the city manager to issue the Trespass Notice that keeps me out of city hall was unanimous.

Did anyone ask if there was the required due process? The city Solicitor was in the room, she is a Member of the Law Society and has a license to practice law in the province; she knows what due process is. She also knows what the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is and she would, if she were being as professional as she is supposed to be, know that those rights were really trashed.

My issue and overriding concern is: How do I repair the damage that has been done?. I believe that at some point in the not too distant future I will be permitted to return to city hall and to talk to staff with all the conditions James Ridge put in place removed.

My objective from the very beginning has been to get this matter before some level of the judiciary where there is due process, procedure and rules of evidence.

That stuff is expensive.

What I have taken from this experience is the need the current city manager has to control. His default position is to issue edicts that cannot be supported in law.

Requiring media to put their requests to talk to staff before his office allows James Ridge to control what kind of information journalists have access to – that isn’t the way a democracy works.

Unfortunately for me and the citizens of the city, at least a majority of the elected members of council agreed with the city manager.

Media serve a role in a democratic society. As the publisher of the Gazette I certainly didn’t always get it right, I may have been a little too aggressive – but I was transparent and accountable. And everything is on the record, in the archives and searchable.

There are consequences to the decisions the current city council and the city manager have made.

Rule of law graphicThe next step is apparently going to again be done in a Closed Session by a Council that will have no authority, no mandate and very little credibility.

My objective is to get this matter before some level of the judiciary where the rule of law, due process, evidence that can be tested and the people making the decision are concerned about what is right.

I’ll get there somehow.

Part 1 of a series

Part 2 of a series

Part 3 of the series.

Part 4 of a series

Rivers on a Free Press

Return to the Front page

Your job as voters is to hold them to account, demand transparency and expect a seat at the table – and then show up.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In the next few weeks they will be meeting with people in accounting and giving them the data they need to get their names on the payroll so that half of their annual remuneration of $100,000, give or take a bit, flows into their bank accounts.

They will tell the printing department how they want their names to appear on their business cards.

The IT people will assign them email addresses and cell phones and iPads.

They will get used to parking their cars in the parking lot right outside city hall

Life as they’ve known it will take a whole new meaning. The anxious voters they were chasing just a few days ago with now address them as “Councillor”

Our Mayor Elect will begin to think how she can deploy these younger, eager people who are setting out to do the people’s will.

Few of the five newbies, Kevin Galbraith for ward 1, Lisa Kearns for ward 2, Rory Nisan for ward 3, Shawna Stolte for ward 4 and Angelo Bentivegna for ward 6.

Will Bentivegna show up with his traditional gift of a selection of his biscotti?

Paul Sharman is suddenly the Dean of Council, the only person other than the Mayor, who fully understands the budget these seven people are going to pass before the end of January.

In his first year as a city Councillor Sharman, in 2011, pushed through a 0% budget increase. He could redeem himself, indeed reinvent himself if he could pull that off again and nurture the new five on the intricacies of a municipal budget..

There probably isn’t one of the newbies who could stand up and rhyme off the names of all the Directors and give you twenty words on the approach they take to the departments they operate.

They will learn and the public will be forgiving for at least six months.

The focus, as it should be, will be on the Mayor Elect. She is going to have t determine who she will take on as staff for her eighth floor office. Will some of the people who worked with her day to day in the campaign be part of that team: Lyn Crosby is a possible.

Now that she is in office the public needs to understand that you can’t just trust her to do what she said she would do.  Politics doesn’t work that way.

You couldn’t live with one-term Can Jackson – so you elected Rick Goldring. He looked good, he was a decent sort and so you elected him and trusted him to do right by you.

How did that work out?

Your job as voters is to hold them to account, demand transparency and expect a seat at the table – and then show up.

Hopefully a lesson has been learned.

They all mean well – help them deliver on what they meant when they asked for your vote. They need both your support and your willingness to ask them the hard questions as they set out to do a really hard job.

Kearns direct smile

Councillor Elect Lisa Kearns

Rory - glancing

Councillor Elect Rory Nisan

Shawna listening to Dennison

Councillor Elect Shawna Stolte

Angelo B - squint - red post H&S

Councillor Elect Angelo Bentivegna

They are all in the middle of an incredible euphoria. Let them enjoy it. Then be there for them. The past eight years should have taught us all something.

Kelvin Galbraith headshot_Super_Portrait

Councillor Elect Kevin Galbraith

Return to the Front page

He was the first performer to take to the Performing Arts Centre stage in 2011 - Royal Wood returns.

eventsblue 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 23rd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The man who opened the Performing Arts Centre in 2011 will be back on the stage on the 18th of November.

Royal Wood signing CD's after the first commercial event at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. They loved him.

Royal Wood signing CD’s after the first commercial event at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. They loved him.

Royal Wood was the first performer to go before a paying audience at the Performing Arts Centre
He released his latest EP “Love Will Linger:, a fresh collection of songs from the vaults of his recent album “Ever After The Farewell”.

“While making my last album, I was left with a handful of songs that meant a great deal to me, but didn’t fit the overall sound of the album,” says Royal. “They were songs of love and loss, taken deep from within my heart and soul. Written during the days of losing my father to Alzheimer’s and falling in love with my now wife – it’s a collection of songs I wanted the world to hear.”

That contrast of love and loss dominated the entire creative process of the making of the music .Recorded in London with Jamie Scott (Niall Horan / Calum Scott), the aim was to capture the rawest possible sound, with most of the songs being recorded the day they were written.

Royal wood

Royal Wood

To heighten the emotion, the music was recorded on the Beatles EMI console that made Abbey Road possible. “This EP contains poignant songs like ‘Photograph’, a song that examines the treasure my family now finds in the old photographs of my father. As well, songs like “Make Your Mind Up” tell the story of the exuberance and uncertainty of newfound love and lust.”

Tickets can be ordered at the Performing Arts Centre Box office.

Return to the Front page

On Monday the voters get to decide who should be leading the city. It should not be Rick Goldring.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

‘The Gazette was able to interview mayoralty candidates Marianne Meed Ward and Mike Wallace. We taped the interview.

We did not interview Greg Woodruff but did talk to him at some length on the telephone and did a piece on the role he has played in this election.

Goldring at Inspire April 2015

Mayor Goldring explaining intensification to the public.

We asked Mayor Goldring for an interview during the election campaign and did not hear back from his campaign manager.

During his first term of office we reported on the Mayor at length. Search the web site, the Mayor was covered at length and at the time he said we were doing a fine job. He made a 60 second statement on the role we had played during his first term Click to hear what he had to say.

We did interview the Mayor prior to his election to a second term as Mayor. The interview took place in the office of Rick Burgess a Goldring advisor, confidante and a former candidate for Mayor himself.

At the time we expected the Mayor to talk about what he had achieved in his first term and what he wanted to get done in his second term. We came away from that interview empty handed.

Mayor Rick Goldring

Mayor Rick Goldring addressing a group of realtors.

We were disappointed – at the time the Mayor didn’t have anyone running against him – it looked like he was going to be acclaimed.

It was evident to any observer that city council was not working as a cohesive body – not much sense of a council that had a clear vision and direction the residents could point to. Goldring however was popular. People liked him – he was seen as a decent man doing a decent job.

The hope for a private tree bylaw was just that – a hope. Goldring did manage to get a pilot tree bylaw approved for the Roseland community; that will not begin until the Spring of next year.

The New Street Road diet was a mistake that the Mayor should have seen coming. He didn’t.

The Mayor inherited the Pier problem.  The project was stalled and looked like it would be in court for a decade.  Before it got to the Court Room there was an opportunity to resolve the problem and save something in the order of $2 million.

We actually built the pier twice. First time it was built a crane toppled over ad revealed problems with the steel being used - it was all taken out. They ordered new steel and built it again. Now all the parties squabble over who is going to pay for the mistakes.

We actually built the pier twice. First time it was built a crane toppled over and revealed problems with the steel that was being used – it was all taken out; new steel was purchased and a new contractor built it again.

City Council, in a Closed session, turned down a revised proposal from the contractor and looked for a new contractor that tore out much of what had been constructed and completed the project at double the original cost.

The sale of lake shore land between Market and St. Paul streets was close to criminal. The city got less than a quarter of a million dollars for land that is now out of the public domain and will never be available to the public. There was never a solid reason for selling the land. A staff report said selling was an option; the report also said leasing the land was an option and doing nothing was also an option.

Market-Lakeshore-foot-of-St-Paul-looking-west3-1024x6821

It is land that is now in private hands.

During the fund raising initiatives after the August 2014 flood I was covering a photo op with the Mayor. At the time he said that he had “finally figured it out – photo ops were the way to communicate with the public”. I shuddered – why in heavens name would a politician every say something like that.

In his first election as Mayor Rick Goldring published several solid policy papers. One was for something in the way of an incubator that would foster, nurture and grow small entrepreneurial start-ups.

The initiative was handed off to the Economic Development Corporation that created what is now Tech Place – a solid success.

As the Mayor moved from year to year he headed up a city council that couldn’t produce a budget that was much below a 4% increase every year. Numbers like that are what any housewife could tell you are not sustainable.

When the provincial government told the city it would have to come up with $60 million from the taxpayers to pay for a portion of the cost of building the transformed Joseph Brant Hospital the city created a special tax levy to raise those funds.

An architects rendering of the new entrance to the Joseph Brant Hospital whch will now face the lake. The entrance will be off LAkeshore Road with the new parking lot just to the west of the hospital.

The tax payers were willing – happy to pay for part of the transformation of their hospital. When all the the money was raised that had a right to expect the special tax levy to end. It didn’t.

The citizens of the city gladly paid the tax – their hospital was important to them. When the $60 million was raised the public had a right to believe that the special tax levy would come to an end. The city just kept on collecting the tax and used the money for infrastructure work.

Intensification then became an issue. While the city had known from at least 2006 that significant growth would have to take place; the Mayor fumbled that ball. It wasn’t until development applications began to pour into city hall and a 23 story building was approved that the public became alarmed.

Lisa delegation

Lisa Kearns delegating at city council on the Official Plan – she was one of 30 delegations.

There were more than 30 delegations made to city hall to stop the approval of a new Official city plan until the public had an opportunity to approve the plan. The plan did have to be approved by the Region but they weren’t going to do anything with it until after the election.

Many wanted the Official Plan to be made an election issues. The city listened but did not hear what the citizens had to say. Grow Bold was now very real; the city’s Planning department produced a document show where some 30 17 floor developments could be located.

The Mayor said those buildings would not be built for years – that build out was some time off. The residents were saying that those 30 buildings were going to change to character of the city that they cared about.

When the election for a new city council began to Mayor stunned many people with his personal attacks against Councillor Marianne Meed Ward who was running against Goldring to be the next Mayor.
The decency that Rick Goldring was known for began to disappear.

Maps of quarry cells and houses

The Mayor wasn’t able to let the environmentalist he used to be be public and support the Tayandaga residents who wanted something different done with the proposed quarry expansion.

People living on West Haven Road in the Tayandaga community learned that a shale quarry site was going to be developed 50 metres from their homes and that thousands of trees were going to be cut down. The quarry operators had a license issued to them in 1972, which in the mind of the Mayor gave them the right to do what they wanted to do.

The community raised funds and lobbied hard and finally got some traction – public opinion began to shift in their favour. The Mayor, a committed environmentalist lost the opportunity to lead.

During his second term the Gazette sent a note to the Mayor asking for a comment – we didn’t get a response. At the end of a council meeting I asked the Mayor when he would be able to get back to me. He said he wasn’t going to be getting back to me because I was “biased and unfair”.

There isn’t a politician on the face of this earth who hasn’t at some point said media was biased an unfair. It is a comment we expect.

Save the Planet - Goldring + organizer

During the election that returned Goldring as Mayor he found himself not able to speak on a public matter on city property. As Mayor he had a right to speak to citizens in Civic Square – he had difficulty defining just what his role as Mayor was.

What a wise politician does is look for a way to meet with the reporters or editors and talk through the differences. Media doesn’t wake up one morning and say: How can whack the Mayor today. We observe and report on what we see.

Do we get it right all the time? We don’t. But when we get it wrong we apologize publicly in print. When city council makes mistakes the Mayor calls them “learning opportunities”.

We read the Mayor’s platform and we listened to hundreds of people and report as well as we can.

For reasons that we don’t fully understand Rick Goldring lost his way during his second term.

He found himself trying to lead a council that had members who were not going to be led. Two in particular were as about as disruptive and rude as a member of council could be.

The Mayor described one of them as “one of the best strategists he had ever worked with”.

The other member of council announced his retirement and then wrote a piece in which he tried to scorch Meed Ward.

It was all just so uncivil, so unnecessary. It is all a matter of public record.

On Monday the voters get to decide who should be leading the city. It should not be Rick Goldring.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

Return to the Front page