Maddie Di Muccio

Newmarket Councillor - Ward Six

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Statement on Vicious Attack Ads

Posted on October 25, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Team Kelly Broome-Plumley: deep pockets and community ties: former Aurora Mayor Tim Jones, failed ward 6 candidate and weathly business owner Brian Johns, wealthy franchise owner and Belinda's Place women's shelter foundation Jim Alexander, and Aurora resident and Magna employee Steve Hinder (who also supports mayor Tony Van Bynen's campaign).  




As the municipal election campaign in Newmarket draws to a close, I would like to address a vicious, anonymous and libelous ad that went out to approximately 8000 homes about me and my husband, John Blommesteyn, a candidate running in the ward beside me, ward 7.

None of these allegations are true.

An anonymous Twitter account that goes by the name of @NmktTownHall releases tweets every 3 hours smearing the reputations of my husband and I and is followed by individuals who sit on our opponents’ campaigns (Kelly Broome-Plumley and Christina Bisanz). The Mayor himself, Tony Van Bynen, actually engages with this anon account despite the fact that it offers nothing but smears.

Please do not confuse @NmktTownHall with @NwktTownHall. The latter is a brilliant blog that has been around for years which discusses issues and political records; the former is a mere anonymous Twitter account that tweets smears about two individuals running for office with libel and outright lies.

@NmktTownHall claims they are responsible for sending out libelous, US-style attack ads via Canada Post to thousands of homes last week; something that doesn’t come cheap. It was done by individual(s) with very deep pockets and with a single purpose in mind: to make sure Kelly Broome-Plumley replaces me as the ward 6 candidate.

Canada Post cannot find any record of this order and in addition believes the material would have violated their policies. They are in the process of determining whether authorities may be asked to get involved and investigate.

Canada Post is also investigating why large swaths of neighborhoods in ward 6 did not receive my annual yearly update a month ago: https://www.scribd.com/doc/243568866/Ward-6-Newsletter-2014-Maddie-Di-Muccio" target="_blank">https://www.scribd.com/doc/243568866/Ward-6-Newsletter-2014-Maddie-Di-Muccio


And just last week, my husband was alerted that an employee of the Ministry of Transportation drivers license renewal office was actually accessing customer’s personal information to determine what ward they lived in and using that information to distribute the hate literature created by @NmktTownHall.

The Ministry of Commercial Services is investigating and we are told taking this breach very seriously.

My husband and I, in front of our children, have been accosted in the street while campaigning due to this literature. It has divided our community so much that my youngest son asked me if we could “leave Newmarket.”

Who’s running Newmarket, folks?

The group behind the anonymous smear campaign are individuals who don’t want me to get back into the ward 6 seat; they want my opponent Kelly Broome-Plumley to.

I have campaigned for 4 years exposing the scandalous records of this council and now we have possible violations with certain individuals working within both the provincial and federal government in our small community.

Take it back.

I have never stopped campaigning for truth and justice and I never will.

When those who have abused their power for too long find that their deeds are closing in on them, they pull out all stops to hold on to that power.

Those who have integrity are those who expose the lack of it. Having me back on council with an ally, ward 7 candidate John Blommesteyn, would be very, very dangerous for Tony Van Bynen and his cabal of thugs who have been running this town for decades.

And that’s why it’s so important to get out and vote for integrity on Monday, October 27th.

Do it for our future.



Take back your Community: why it's important to vote on October 27th

Posted on October 22, 2014 at 11:55 AM

There’s a lot to lose in this election for some people.

In Newmarket, it’s the political family dynasties - and their cronies - that have managed your municipal taxes for generations. If they are pushed out of government, their reign ends.

And that terrifies them.

It terrifies them so much that in the last days of the election, when they see their opponents gaining momentum, they resort to desperation by using Canada Post to mail out appaulling attack ads like this:

 

We know this is a well thought out, spare-no-expense, organized attempt to discredit the integrity of myself and ward 7 candidate John Blommesteyn and our family. This is the low ball levels that some opponents will go to in order to fight the principles we believe in, campaign on, and advocate on your behalf. These principles include:

  • Accountability: Four years ago, I promised voters that I would be their watchdog on council. I took that promise seriously. It’s why you elected me.

  • Transparency: we can’t run government without it. Millions of your tax dollars have been spent in closed door meetings to which you have received no benefit but others have. Unless we pressure our local government to change that, this outrageous direction will continue.

  • Taxes: Newmarket had a record of 0% tax increases until Mayor Van Bynen and his loyal crew got elected 8 years ago. Since then, it has exploded to the 2nd highest tax rate in York Region - and with less core municipal services than municipalities like Richmond Hill or Aurora. Is this fair?

  • Development: Newmarket council doesn’t want you to know that in 20 years, our population densities will be on par with some of the largest North American cities in the world. I voted against that plan.

    13 years ago, my husband John Blommesteyn and I moved to this wonderful community to start a family. We volunteer, we raise money for charity, we advocate for a better community and for a just government.



    That’s why we’re running for office.

    That’s why we stick our neck on the line for you.

    Our citizens can’t have a group of nameless faces behind politicians who put out disgraceful, libelous attacks.

    This is an attack on our community.

    It should inspire you to vote for integrity on October 27th.

    Tell your family. Tell your friends. Take a few minutes of your day to take advantage of the power you have.

    Don’t reward disgraceful tactics like this by our opponents.

    You can change government and make it better.

    Re-elect Maddie Di Muccio for ward 6 councillor and John Blommesteyn for ward 7 councillor.

    Because Newmarket deserves better.


Dear Kelly: Where Have You Been?

Posted on October 19, 2014 at 11:50 AM


Ward 6 candidate Kelly Broome-Plumley is seeking a seat on Newmarket council. She believes the ward has been unrepresented and communication has been lacking.


This doesn't surprise me because prior to this campaign, Kelly Broome-Plumley wasn't involved in municipal politics. She simply wasn't engaged, so she probably didn't notice what was going on.

In fact, despite the Town of Newmarket spending hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars a year in advertising and employing their own communication department, most taxpayers are unaware of ongoings.


It wasn't until two members of the community (one who is currently running for regional councillor and one who ran in 2010 for ward 6) made public that they were approached by the Old Boys Club in order to, ironically, prevent my communication to ward 6 taxpayers, by running against me in this election, that Kelly's name popped up: http://nwkttownhall.blogspot.ca/2014/10/newmarkets-manchurian-candidate.html

And I thought I'd post a sample of how hellbent the Old Boys are by making sure my annual newsletters updating ward 6 residents like this recent one: https://www.scribd.com/doc/243568866/Ward-6-Newsletter-2014-Maddie-Di-Muccio are not met without outrageous challenge:

 





Let me tell you about some of the people who did notice my work in ward 6, in all of Newmarket, in Ontario, and the rest of Canada, on behalf of taxpayers:


1) Yearly updates on my work in council on your behalf delivered to your homes: http://maddiedimuccio.webs.com/apps/blog/show/11526927-ward-six-newsletter-year-one and http://maddiedimuccio.webs.com/apps/blog/show/23410261-2012-end-of-year-newsletter and https://www.scribd.com/doc/243568866/Ward-6-Newsletter-2014-Maddie-Di-Muccio


2) Going door-to door with my own Town of Newmarket Budget Survey Questions: http://maddiedimuccio.webs.com/apps/blog/show/21112804-budget-2013-it-s-politics-and-increases-as-usual


3) Regular meetings: one-on-one, hosted in ward 6 homes and organized by ratepayers.


4) The National Post: Within a few weeks of being on the job, syndicated columnist Michael Taube had this to say about me standing up for taxpayers against exorbitant pay increases: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/02/23/michael-taube-quiet-suburban-library-a-strange-place-for-a-free-speech-battle/


5) The Toronto Star: shortly after that, due to my weekly blogging on Newmarket issues, reporter John Goddard wrote about my commitment to Newmarket taxpayers: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2011/03/17/rookie_councillor_insists_on_her_right_to_blog.html


6) The Toronto Sun: after following my exploits on Newmarket Council via my twitter and my blog, I was asked to join the Sun's team of columnists commenting on Newmarket, York Region and other political issues with a bi-weekly column: http://www.torontosun.com/author/maddie-dimuccio


7) The Manning Institute for Democracy: in 2013 I was invited to participate on a panel alongside federal MPs and Ministers Michelle Rempel and Candace Bergin, and MP Joan Crockatt to give insight as to how to increase the number of women elected to public office. My comments on the panel were widely reported in the national media and included my work on Newmarket council: http://www.hilltimes.com/news/politics/2013/03/08/bergen-crockatt-rempel-say-political-parties-don%E2%80%99t-need-quotas-for-female/33970


8 The organizers of" Municipalooza": I was invited to speak to a group of prospective municipal candidates at the Muncipalooza convention held in Ajax.


9) The Ombudsman of Ontario: On the day following Newmarket Council's decision to censure me, Andre Marin, the Ombudsman of Ontario, invited me to speak publicly on the appalling lack of transparency on Newmarket (and Ontario-wide) municipal councils: http://www.ombudsman.on.ca/Resources/Reports/2012-2013-OMLET-Annual-Report.aspx?lang=en-CA#


10) The Newmarket Era: The Era named me Newsmaker of the Year in 2013: http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4298724-newsmaker-2013-newmarket-s-di-muccio-had-several-run-ins-with-council/


11) TVO Agenda, The Toronto Star, CP24, CBC, Global, Newstalk1010, Talk AM640, Sun TV: I have been a regular contributor for all these media outlets on a variety of Newmarket and York Regional issues: http://tvo.org/guest/195226/maddie-di-muccio


12) The Human Rights Commission of Ontario: Along with York Region Police Chief Eric Joliffe and former Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall, I have been invited as the keynote speaker to share my work in successfully advocating for the Town of Newmarket to become partners with the Canadian Coalition Of Municipalities Against Racism And Discrimination later this month.


It’s truly unfortunate that Kelly Broome-Plumley didn't notice my communications and my commitment to ward 6 while the rest of the GTA, Ontario and even across Canada has been noticing. In fact, when I’m at the doors, almost all ward 6 residents know me by those efforts.


Perhaps Kelly Broome-Plumley feels that she can get more attention as your ward 6 councillor by writing about how terrific council currently functions, what with the ongoing in-camera meetings, the mayor's refusal to take questions, and the enormous tax increases, topping us off as the second highest taxed municipality in York Region.


I’d be interested in hearing how she plans on accomplishing this. From what I can see, the last tweet she posted was about partying at the Magna Hoe Down with Newmarket councillor Jane Twinney more than a month ago.


 

 



 

Newmarket: demand transparency. It's your money

Posted on October 10, 2014 at 12:50 AM



I sent the above email to Town of Newmarket CAO Bob Shelton. I'll keep you posted.


The facade behind the men who lead Newmarket

Posted on October 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM

 



“I represent a positive, professional and passionate voice for Newmarket. Please support me…” – Regional Councillor John Taylor, who is seeking re-election, Twitter

“(I believe) in leading by example and positivity.” – Mayor Tony Van Bynen, seeking re-election for a third term.

You’ll notice in the above quotes the word “positive”; a term often used by council.

I’m not running for the Regional Councillor or Mayors’ position. I’m running for re-election to support taxpayers in ward 6, who, for years, have been led by these two men responsible for shutting down any attempt in a challenge to their policies. If you’re not an ally of the mayor or regional councillor’s tax- and-spend-behind-closed-doors agenda, you’re viewed as an outsider. You will be ostracized and painted as a negative person who can’t “get along.”

You will be the subject of a vicious smear campaign by an Old Boys Club that is destroying this town we love.

Today’s politics didn’t get its reputation through elected officials behaving statesman-like. The appalling behaviour of behind the scenes political on goings that continue to be exposed creates apathy and division amongst our community.

Ask former Newmarket councillor Diane Springstein, a strong woman who worked with Mayor Van Bynen and once used the term ”blackmail” to describe council.

Ask well respected former town of Newmarket Director of Engineering, who left his job this term in disgust. He’s the same man who contacted me to explain that the mayor’s administration sent out a communication piece less than 6 weeks of me being in office ordering all staff “not to meet with the ward 6 councillor alone if she requests (informational) meetings because she may record what we’re saying.”

Which brings me to the above quotes regarding our leaders, both of whom are running their useful ally, ward 6 candidate Kelly Broome-Plumley, who, besides adorning homes with overbearing signs and glossy literature, doesn’t speak much on issues, and who herself is running a campaign on “positivity.”

Newmarket Council members want you to know that they are a transparent group, and that being united together in promoting positive leadership while rooting out negative politics is important. This is so that they can make decisions on over $100 million (and growing) of your taxes without interruption.

These folks have great difficulty understanding that a challenge to their policies are not a blight on the great community of Newmarket, it’s a blight on their records.

A year ago, I was forwarded several emails that came directly from Regional Councillor John Taylor to a ward 6 resident. She shared these emails with me because she was deeply concerned about the lack of integrity of the individual who sent them. She explained that for years, the regional councillor “sends out (negative) propaganda regularly” about myself and my family to a group of hundreds of Newmarket taxpayers, including staff and council, and encourages recipients to pass them on – as long as they make sure they remove his name as the sender. I can only describe the content of these emails as appalling (I’ve posted one here). All of them have three things in common: they started at the beginning of my term, they focus exclusively on me, and they end with “Please keep this confidential” Or “Do not forward.”




In one email, dated just a few weeks after my being elected to office, Taylor gives his recipients the heads up that together with the CAO, he and Mayor Tony Van Bynen orchestrated a public meeting in council chambers in an attempt to humiliate me for not voting in favour of a CUPE wage increase for library workers. (See media here:
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2011/03/17/rookie_councillor_insists_on_her_right_to_blog.html)


He encourages his contacts to skip out on the portion of the council meeting that deals with legitimate town issues and instead come to the part where my lawyer is scheduled to make a deputation defending my rights. At the time, my lawyer requested to speak so that he could challenge council’s orders to delete my blogs. (There was absolutely no talk of “litigation”, as Taylor wrongly implies in his email).





Taylor actually attempts to convince readers in his email that “find(ing) fault with…Council” is a “fiasco harming the reputation of Newmarket” and that taxpayers’ “attendance will send a message that the people of Newmarket care deeply and do not want to see our town descend into infighting.”

Let that sink in for a moment. Can you imagine a democracy where the politicians you hire to represent you believe that finding fault with their record will harm the reputation of a town, or city or country? That they are above reproach?

The Regional Councillor then ends his message by reminding recipients to pass it along to others but making sure his name isn't tied to it.

For 4 years, together with mayor Tony Van Bynen, Regional Councillor John Taylor has been promoting himself and the rest of council as positive do-gooders by hiding under an umbrella of charity work.

The real John Taylor is a vicious, mean spirited individual who has actively engaged in the smearing of our family by working behind the scenes in his duplicitous agenda of character assignation through his regular communiques, like the one I posted above. The use of integrity commissioners and orchestrating the embarrassing dramas on council is just part of how these thugs operate in their agenda to keep information from you, the taxpayer.

By ruthlessly attacking the integrity of the one who exposes their records.

That’s not positive politics. That’s destructive politics. That’s behaviour that borders on sociopathic and that divides communities and hurts families.

Don’t take my word for it. Ask Andre Marin, the provincially appointed Ombudsman, whose office personally invited me to speak publically last year on my experiences in Newmarket council regarding their appalling lack of transparency and leadership.

And don’t rely on the local newspaper, who rakes in hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars in town advertising, on top of being regularly treated to lunch by the mayor (also with your tax dollars, I should add).

These two community leaders are so desperate to make sure that anyone who “finds fault with council” (in the regional councillor’s own words) are shut down and are voted out of office so much that they’re willing to do anything, including funding campaigns for their puppet candidates, like Kelly Broome-Plumley, who had the mayor as a star guest at her campaign launch and is endorsed by regional councillor John Taylor; and who is so unqualified, she’s been ordered not to speak on the recent scandals that have been uncovered concerning these two men.

I loathe backroom politics. And I loathe blogging about it even more. But unless we expose those who are tasked with leading our community’s future, we risk dividing our neighborhoods.

It hurts to have my name dragged into the mud by this group of men.

It hurts to be labelled as an individual who doesn’t care for taxpayers – especially because my record proves beyond a doubt that I care so much, I’m willing to put my neck out for you.

It hurts to have to defend myself as a good citizen, and be forced to explain that I have done many good things for the people in Newmarket.

Before I got involved in politics, I dedicated my time to volunteer work. I spent every day for 3 years reading to school children as a teachers’ assistant. I wiped away many tears, tied many shoelaces, and gave out many hugs.

I worked as a palliative care volunteer, holding the hands of and comforting those who faced imminent death.

And just last week, I was contacted by the guidance department at Sir William Mulock to help put together a program I proposed last year in helping high risk teenagers.

I don't need to advertise those things. I help my community because I care for it's people with humility.

 

When you love people, you love your community.


And when you love your community, you want people with integrity to lead it.


I don't want to divide my community. I want to lead it.



Setting the record straight on "leaked memos"

Posted on October 2, 2014 at 9:05 PM

There's a lot to lose for many of us as Newmarket municipal candidates get closer to E-day.

For myself personally, it's been an incredible four years of determination in successfully accomplishing what I set out to do.

I ran because I care about people. When you care about people, you care about the community they live in. You care about the taxes they pay, the services they recieve, and the quality of life they are entitled to. We in government can only accomplish these things under one condition: and that's trust and accountability.

 I have illustrated, in my job, time and time again, that my first pledge is to you, the taxpayers who pay my salary.

I was saddened to see comments from Mayor Tony Van Bynen and town of Newmarket CAO Bob Shelton today in the local Era paper. They had attacked the integrity - once again - of my family by suggesting we were somehow lacking in it.

This type of negative politicking from the mayor isn't surprising, especially so close to an election, where this man, who has raised taxes every year he's served office, spent millions your money in closed door meetings, and believes he is not accountable to the public has never had to deal with such scrutiny.

It's not surprising that the Era, who is treated regularily to lunch by Mayor Van Bynen courtesy of your tax dollars according to office expenses, is behaving more like the mayor's communication people than actually reporting the facts.

For many years, I have been approached by staff  - some of them senior executives - about the lack of transparency of the mayor's administration. I am loathe to engage in discussing backroom and dirty politics. But the amount of vitriol, accusations, insults and allegations is destructive to Newmarket and it needs to be exposed. As a mother of three children and being targeted so unfairly by this Old Boys Network, taxpayers have a right to know what goes on behind closed doors.

In the meantime however, I thought it essential to compare my integrity with that of mayor Tony Van Bynen's administration regarding the "leaked Glenway memo" and provide the real facts (for the record, I was never contacted by the paper though they felt it was necessary to comment on me regardless.)

Mayor Van Bynen commented in the paper today that leaking the entire contents of the memo (something they were planning on doing in a few days anyways) might "prejudice and taint any negotiations (to buy land) we may consider in the future." He went on to implicate a "serious breach" occured by tying ward 7 candidate John Blommesteyn's name to it because he posted the memo on his website.

But here's the reality: on September 22nd, after several email back and forths, I shared my thoughts with CAO Bob Shelton on the "confidential" Glenway memo and agreed with him that only parts of it should be made public and recommended he do so. Councillor Chris Emanuel however, motioned (successfully) that the entire memo should be released to the public.

I've attached a copy of my email here because it's so important to provide truth and facts to the public. With Tony Van Bynen, we've seen negative politics under an umbrella of secrecy and falsehoods.

That's not good governance.

That's unaccountable governance.

 

 

 

Another Big Win for Transparency on Newmarket Council

Posted on September 30, 2014 at 2:05 PM



 

In this term alone, we’ve seen a council under Mayor Tony Van Bynen’s leadership hide how they spend your taxes from the public by citing “in-camera” (closed door) provisions – provisions that have been continuously proven wrong and abused by this man in order to avoid scrutiny.

Last summer, for example, council attempted to keep an outrageous $2.8 million bail out for a private soccer league hidden from you. When I challenged their motive, they were forced to make it public.

I exposed that.

And yesterday, after having received a “confidential memo” from staff regarding Glenway lands, council was forced once again to make that information public.

I exposed that too.

FACT: there’s millions of your dollars that have been spent in closed door meetings – some of which includes hundreds of thousands spent in ward 6 and that residents received no benefit from that still remains confidential. You will never know about this spending unless we hold this mayor and his council friends to account.

Mayor Tony Van Bynen is absolutely desperate to hold on to his reign of 8 years of over-taxation by lining up his allies. That’s why he attended ward 6 candidate Kelly Broom-Plumley’s launch. He needs seat warmers that have little to say on real issues in order to push forward the following agenda:

 

  • Fund his pet projects such as the Old Town Hall and getting into the broadband business – a project that will cost you millions of dollars in taxes while families and seniors continue to do with less recreation; or as streets become busy and dangerous;


 

 

  • Plow through an agenda of aggressive development that will put Newmarket’s population density on par with North America’s largest cities;


 

 

  • Enforce his tradition of spending in closed doors meetings so he can continue to avoid public scrutiny.


 

In 2010, I ran on an agenda of holding this government to account. That takes strength, leadership and fortitude. I have a record which illustrates that accomplishment.

When you hire a litigator to sue somebody, you’ll hire the toughest one money can buy.

When you want a guard dog, you’ll get a German Sheppard, not a Shih Tzu.

So when you hire a politician, do you want hire the one who promises to get along with everybody? Or do you hire the individual who fights for your rights?

I’m a fighter. On October 27th, help me continue to fight for you.


 

 



What an election sign says about you

Posted on September 26, 2014 at 3:15 PM

 

A friend wishing me luck in the upcoming Newmarket Ward 6 election sent me the following:

 

 

 

"May you always say the right thing. May they see you mean what you say and say what you mean. And may the voters see your honesty and integrity."

 

 

 

It was especially meaningful because most people understand that in government, honesty and integrity are qualities that are few and far between; and individuals who stand up by fighting for these values are almost always those who are targeted ruthlessly by those who don't.

 

 

 

Tomorrow, Saturday September 27th, candidate election signs will be going up throughout the town of Newmarket on homeowners' properties. When you put a candidate's sign on your lawn, you're telling people what values you stand for in the government you want representing you.

 

 

 

When you put up the above sign, here's what you're standing up for:


 

  • Putting Taxpayers First. For 4 consecutive years, I've tabled motions to cut our extraordinarily high operating expenses so we can use some of that money for infrastructure such as parks, water pads and sports rinks. In 2011, staff cut $100,000 because of my motion. There's much more to do.

  • Getting things done. In this term, I've successfully implemented the following: cutting operational expenses, recording our votes, live streaming and archiving all meetings, posting council expenses, directing staff to report on and make changes on residential streets (ie: parking, signs, street lights, etc), implementing an additional GO Train via a request to the provincial government, putting off an unwanted construction project by residents on Tom Taylor Crescent, and building a sidewalk off of Yonge and Savage streets for trail users (to be constructed end of this fall).

  • Integrity. When a fellow councillor was convicted of a criminal offense, council turned a blind eye, and one member actually called him a "hero" while telling a representative from MADD in council chambers who shared her experience of losing her sister to "move on." I called on council to address the public's demand for accountability. They refused.

  • Accountability. Millions of your tax dollars have been spent and multiple decisions have been made in-camera (out of the public eye) for reasons that even a closed door meeting investigator called out of order in a 2012 report.  And in 2013, council was about to spend $3 million of your money on an unacceptable bail-out for a poorly managed sports club under the motion of "Ward 1 Property Aquisition Matter." I challenged that and as a result, council was forced to make that spending public. When the community learned of this spending, they were outraged. 

  • Transparency: In 2013, after being made aware of Newmarket council's penchant for secret meetings and hiring "integrity commissioners" as an abuse of political process to "punish" me, I was contacted by the office of the Ontario Ombudsman and invited to speak publically (via online) about my experiences in elected office and the appaling lack of oversight in many councils across Ontario. Through education, strong social and traditional media, and public support, Bill 8, a bill that will appoint the Ontario Ombudsman as having authority on council oversight, will become a reality in Ontario municipalities very soon.

  • Strong Leadership: in 2013, I was personally invited to speak on women in politics at the prestigious Manning Institute's annual national conference on the subject of 'Women in Politics.' In a room full of reporters and hopeful candidates, I shared my experiences of how being strong, confident and determined in office can change the course of politics and produce positive results. 

  • Inspiration. It happens when there's engagement. I've dedicated the past four years making efforts to engage the public about their municipal government. Every year, a big chunk of your tax bill gets higher. It's important to know why. And it's important to inspire others how to change that by getting involved.

When you place a sign on your front lawn that says "Re-elect Maddie Di Muccio", you're making a statement that you matter.

 


Please contact me if you would like to spread that message by requesting one.

 


Wish List vs. Reality

Posted on September 12, 2014 at 12:05 AM




You’re likely reading about it everywhere. As candidates and incumbents are gearing up for campaigns to vie for the thousands of seats up for grabs on municipal councils across Ontario, they’re promising you the world.

Everything from water parks, arts and sports centres, hockey rinks, and even a circus complete with hot air balloon rides. A vote for the right person will get you something in exchange, apparently – even if a petition needs to be started.

Forget that these wonderful things cost money (yours, to be specific) and that pushing these items through actually require support from other members of council and a capital budget supporting it: the naivety and/or spin I’m seeing in some campaigns is mind boggling.

The reality is that as our operational budgets across Ontario increase in size, so do your taxes – which leaves very little room for capital expenditures.

And of the little room leftover, I believe we can all agree that essential infrastructure, such as roads, safe drinking water, storm water maintenance, excellent recreation, and senior services need to take precedence.

It’s not sexy, and it doesn’t look as appealing on campaign literature, but it’s a truth that taxpayers need to know.

In Newmarket, our operational budget actually exceeds the amount of revenue we bring in. That leaves little space for capital expenditures, despite the grants and money received from other governments and developers. When council oversees an annual budget, we collectively decide what projects money should be allocated to.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't enjoy water parks, services for seniors, or excellent recreational infrastructure. It just means that until we have a serious conversation about allocating our budget to the things we want to see by changing the philosophy of spending, these things don't have a place in our future.

In this term, Newmarket council took part in an exercise during the budget process called a “Wish List.”

The “Wish List” was exactly that: a list of infrastructure items all ward councillors wanted to see in their own wards. Some of these items included splash pads, hockey rinks, and other assorted wonderful things we would all love to see in our neighborhoods.

For his role, Mayor Tony Van Bynen wanted to allocate a few thousand to each ward so that every councillor could use that infrastructure money on what their constituents wished.

Alas – none of these “wishes” saw the light of day. They were doomed even before they were created.

That’s because during a budget exercise, optics are important. Making it look as though water parks, hockey rinks, and basketball courts take priority over other projects that benefit a few is all about politics and not people.

If you’re wondering, as a taxpayer, why your ward doesn’t have these wonderful things, here’s why:

In this term alone, council spent millions taking from our reserves to fund cost over-runs on an Old Town Hall, bailing out a poorly managed private sports league, fighting a development battle that they knew was doomed from the beginning, funding driveway extensions for a select group of homeowners upset with a new sidewalk, putting in a state-of-the-art dog park after a capital budget was passed to fulfill a councillor's campaign promise, and so many others – because there was no room from the capital budget.

On the other hand, money for projects allocated from the capital budget (will) include: a preposterous multi-million dollar “broadband” infrastructure that might create a handful of jobs, pumping money into certain Main Street businesses (some of whom donate to the mayor’s campaign – this is all publicly accessible information); and re-building a new Town Hall that, after over 4 years, is still in the works.

When you see the number figure, in the high millions, you realize how so many of those capital dollars could have gone into the wonderful things we all want to see: beautiful parks, neighborhoods with sports pads, ice rinks, splash pads, etc.

For the record, during the budget process, most council members (including myself) brought forward their very own “Wish List” for their constituents.

None of these items were implemented in any ward.

And for the record, every single council member turned down my $1 million+ recommendations on simple operational budget saving measures in order to see that wish list - including their own - come to fruition.

The next time you’re at the ballot, ask yourself which candidate is serious about making things happen.

Talk is cheap, especially during an election.

Actions – through our records on the other hand, speak very loud.


Broadband, Mr. Mayor? How about taking care of taxpayer infrastructure needs first?

Posted on September 9, 2014 at 11:35 AM




The last two months of Newmarket council has been an interesting experience. I say this because as incumbents head into elections, certain campaign promises have been inexplicably plowed through despite passing our 2014 capital budget a year ago.

One of these was a dog park promised by Regional Councillor John Taylor and ward 3 councillor Jane Twinney. (See here: http://maddiedimuccio.webs.com/apps/blog/show/42530768-how-your-tax-reserves-are-going-to-the-dogs)

And last night, after distributing campaign literature on “bringing broadband to Newmarket” to create a handful of jobs (a strategy based entirely on a theory), the mayor and his dutiful council allies attempted to convince the public that directing staff to request an RFP (Request for Proposal) was something that simply couldn’t wait 7 weeks from now.

After a term of spending your taxes on questionable projects that truly benefit a few – and as we struggle with gridlock and increased population – this council has now decided that millions should be allocated to becoming your next Internet Service Provider, using your taxes to fund an initiative installing broadband cable in a pilot project along Main St, Davis Drive East, and Leslie Street.

Forget that none of the major providers such as Rogers and Bell have expressed interest (including so-called partner Southlake Hospital, who states the “gigabite community isn’t a specific driver for the hospital”;): the mayor believes he knows best.

He wants to use your taxes to fund a risky, expensive initiative so that he can bring in a handful of jobs to Newmarket because a report commissioned by an American company, who promotes broadband and uses examples of success in places such as Kansas City, Singapore, Amsterdam and London, says it might be a good idea.

The report, titled Initial Stakeholder Meeting and Gigabit Corridor Economic Impact Statement can be read here: http://newmarket.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/cache/2/e53mjnazi0seo0px5vgrx2rf/1674609092014095501106.PDF

When council discussed this report last week, the mayor cut off my questions while allowing other councillors to speak in praise of the project. I’m not certain some of these members actually read the report. For example, Councillor Kerwin claimed it was a robust report that contained over 60 pages (it’s actually 30). The councillor, who doesn't own a website, insisted it would be "irresponsible" for us not to invest in this project.  

For his part, Councillor Vegh claimed it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime (the report states it could be millions).

Others, such as Regional Councillor John Taylor and Councillor Chris Emanuel, attempted to impress they were experts in the field of economic partnerships with the private sector, insisting this project was collaboration of expert advice from “hundreds of businesses.”

The reality is the “evaluation team” consisted of 20 stakeholders (it wasn’t clear who they were), a “Community Collaboration Ecosystem Team” (not certain who they were either), one technology firm, and the hospital (who have stated this agenda is not an initiative that interests them). In all, just over “50 stakeholders” were involved in this project – some whom sit on the Newmarket Economic Advisory Committee and who contribute to Mayor Tony Van Bynen’s campaign.

If you take the time to read the report, you’ll see that in fact, some stakeholders provided feedback that I attempted to convey in council. Who would pay for such a project? What about the costs to infrastructure? There may be a necessity to borrow money from the bank for this initiative.

The report also goes on to say that it can only provide “general cost guidelines for the project; and that pricing is high level. “ In addition, “decision-makers (need to) take into account the large number of economic variables…that will influence the final economic output from any infrastructure investment.”

Yet council members were quick to defend the project, believing that despite the authors of the report recommending the idea start with a RFI (Request for Information), council instead decided a RFP (Request for Proposal - which usually signifies an intention) was a better idea.

The idea that council is contemplating spending a million or more on a gamble that might create a handful of jobs in Newmarket without public consultation; or fully understanding the scope of the project - with so many questions left unanswered - is staggering.

If Mayor Van Bynen and council believe this project is beneficial they need to take it to the 50,000+ voters – not a handful of stakeholders.

Let the October 27th election be a referendum on his job creation strategy.

We are at the end of a term. Laying a foundation for the next term is simply undemocratic.

Mr. Mayor, focus on our existing infrastructure. Develop our parks, our roads; invest in smart development.

The best economic plan is to lower business taxes and allow the free market to decide on what’s crucial.

For those of you watching the ward 6 race, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I was pleased to see ward 6 candidate and mayor ally Kelly Broome Plumley attending her first council meeting as we discussed the broadband project. Like many of the councillors beside me however, I noticed she giggled when I asked questions about how taxes would be allocated to the project.

And even as those questions went unanswered, voters: take note. There’s nothing funny about wasting your money.



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