|Posted on April 13, 2014 at 3:35 PM|
To clear the record on Darryl Wolk who is running for Regional Councillor for the Town of Newmarket:
Today I have been copied on various messages including twitter conversations and I need to lay the record straight.
Darryl Wolk did not play any significant role in my 2010 election campaign.
Darryl Wolk did not knock on doors. He did not raise money. He did not donate. He was not involved in any get out the vote initiatives. He did show up at my victory party to partake in the food and alcohol being served but that is not what I would consider a significant role in my campaign.
I do not know what Darryl Wolk's involvement was in Mayor Van Bynen's, Regional Councillor Taylor's, or Councillor Twinney's 2010 election campaign.
I have friends who were in the inner circle of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's campaign and these individuals do not recall Darryl Wolk volunteering at door knocking, soliciting donations, or other campaign related activities. In fact, one of these people was quite offended to see Darryl Wolk commenting on Rob Ford in the media as if he was an insider. From what I am told, Darryl Wolk was definitely not an insider on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's campaign.
I think it is important for the people of Newmarket to have all the facts concerning a potential candidate before voting. I hope that Darryl Wolk will re-focus his campaign on the issues and will resist the temptation to name drop on others who successfully won hard fought municipal races.
|Posted on March 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM|
Section 224 of the Municipal Act, 2001:
“224. It is the role of council
a.to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality
b.to develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality
c.to determine which services the municipality provides
d.to ensure that administrative policies, practices and procedures and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council
(d.1) to ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality, including the activities of the senior management of the municipality
e.to maintain the financial integrity of the municipality and
f.to carry out the duties of council under this or any other act.”
Mayor Tony Van Bynen and company were on the ball in last night's Council meeting. As predicted, Council shot down my motion last week to make details of an unprecedented $2.8 million loan to the Newmarket Soccer Club public. In last night's council meeting, the mayor, assisted by his ally regional councilor John Taylor while the rest of council squirmed uncomfortably, attempted once again to convince taxpayers this secret deal was great news while refusing to make details known.
Of course, a simple solution would be to make records public, but that wouldn't fit the agenda.
Having no opportunity to discuss publically the details of the loan last week when I presented my motion, last night, I used the "New Business" portion legislated on council agendas to ask staff questions that haven't been answered since last summer.
I wasn't terribly surprised to learn that staff still didn't have those answers. They were saved by Mayor Van Bynen, who, true to his reputation on transparency, cut me off mid question because he felt questions should be asked internally, away from public scrutiny.
And besides, Councillor Kerwin needed to speak about his own "new business."
We know the following:
1) The Newmarket Soccer Club was not facing bankruptcy, as was led to believe by certain council members;
2) The previous mortgage holder offered to renew the NSC's loan but the town of Newmarket's offer was more competitive.
3) Mayor Tony Van Bynen and Regional Councillor John Taylor led the public to believe the NSC loan would be "short-term" (3 years) but supported on "extending it to a total of 5 years should they change their minds.
4) A member of the public filed an FOI request asking for the reports on the Newmarket Soccer loan. This was inexplicably refused.
All of these details (and more) were made behind closed doors. As a member of council, I had no input and no say into the contract. Presumably, neither did my colleagues - but inexplicably, this little detail doesn't seem to matter to them.
I wasn't able to ask my questions in the Mayor's Chambers, but here they are:
1) What is the total amount, loans, unpaid fees, and mortgages owned by the NSC to the taxpayers of the Town of Newmarket?
2) Why did staff put in an "option" for two additional years into the NSC mortgage when both Mayor Van Bynen and Regional Councillor John Taylor led the public to believe this was to be a "short-term" deal? (12-36 months).
3) The Director promised us that we would have a report on the Newmarket Soccer Club mortgage every quarter. He promised this last December; we are now in March.
4) The December report stated the town would be more involved with the sale of the Woodbine lands if the sale was not completed within 6 months. The six month period is now up. When will we hear about the director's plans?
5) The director's report also suggested the discussion of the sale of Woodbine lands would be in-camera. Can I ask what provision this would qualify for an in-camera meeting?
6) Since last summer, I've asked the CAO on a number of occasions about unpaid field fees for 2013 (approx. $190,000) from the NSC but have never received a reply. Here are my questions:
-What is the proper protocol for user groups with regards to paying for fields? (I learned yesterday that user groups must pay upfront; this protocol wasn't followed by staff);
-Why was the protocol not followed? Who on staff authorized this?
-Council was told about the non payment last summer but staff continued to provide fields without payment beyond that date. Who authorized this?
-How much in total did the town not end up collecting in 2013?
-When the town collects this money in 2014, will these funds be allocated to reserves? And if so, which reserves? Legal or Asset Replacement?
-Is the town charging interest on this money as we do taxpayers?
-Do we have any security such as a lien against one of their properties to secure this particular payment?
I'll be emailing these questions to staff and ask for all reports regarding the Newmarket Soccer Club loan to be placed on our council agenda for discussion going forward.
By the way...councilor Kerwin's "new business" that the mayor was urgent to get to? Thanking staff.
Watch last night's discussion here: http://newmarket.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=122&doctype=AGENDA
|Posted on March 25, 2014 at 1:35 PM|
When I ran for ward 6 councilor in 2010, one of the main issues I campaigned on was transparent government. I believed the growing apathy amongst the public was the result of a government that mainly operated behind a cloak of secrecy, old boys clubs, and favours to friends.
I still believe that today. But what's changed is that in keeping my commitment to those who placed their faith in me as a representative, I've delivered open government to Newmarket taxpayers.
Amidst great challenges from all 8 colleagues on council, who fought me, in the beginning, tooth and nail by voting down my Transparency and Accountability Motion (live-streaming all meetings and recording all votes), I credit the public and the media for putting the spotlight on all eight members of Newmarket Council.
Every single one of these members had to be publically shamed in order to support my motion to live-stream and record their meetings and votes.
Last night was a momentous evening for Newmarket taxpayers. Going forward:
1) ALL public meetings (Committee, Site Plans, Workshops, etc) will be live-streamed and archived for all taxpayers to view.
2) ALL votes will be recorded and archived, with an easy search engine, so stakeholders can finally see how their elected official stands on issues.
Newmarket stands as one of the first municipalities in York Region to deliver live-streamed, archived meetings and recorded archived votes. This is a terrific win for taxpayers and a huge achievement for the town.
I want to highlight my thanks to staff for working diligently on this project and ensuring it was delivered smoothly. I'm proud of their efforts and I know this project meant a lot to them.
And it goes without saying that I want to thank the public: it's because of your energy, persistence, and determination that push your government to make positive changes.
Thank you for joining me in that battle.
We did it.
|Posted on March 25, 2014 at 10:40 AM|
Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen is a fan of Open Letters to our citizens, so I thought it was high time I write one of my own.
A few months ago, His Worship penned an open letter about his hurt feelings at being labeled a "misogynist" when, after years of frustration in going through staff, integrity commissioners, human resources, and the mayor himself - about the sexism I was experiencing in my job, to no avail - I called him that after leaving a council meeting.
While I regret using the word "misogynist" (in retrospect sexist would have been fitting) I'd like to set the record straight about this man's record on gender issues.
In 2010, I hosted an event in support of Newmarket Ward 6's 'Belinda's Place', a shelter for abused women. The event was truly significant: (now Premier) Kathleen Wynne, and Jean Augustine, the first female Member of Parliament of African descent to be elected to Parliament, were keynote speakers. My event was non partisan and included women of all political stripes; it was called 'Empowering Women' and it was meant to encourage and inspire other females to enter political work.
It was a phenomenal success.
I invited the mayor to welcome our guests (it was an election year; Van Bynen wouldn't miss an opportunity to make him look good around women, complete with photo ops). Like most of the females present, I assumed Mayor Van Bynen supported the initiative of women in politics.
But Van Bynen quickly changed his tune when I carved my way into becoming a successful politician. In one incident, Van Bynen called on an integrity commissioner to "investigate" my use of the word misogyny, but making certain that incidences of sexism were not investigated. He ended up using his outrageous tactic as a means to take my pay away in order to "punish" me like some tin-pot dictator. I can only say that his true colours were flaming bright in yesterday's council meeting.
Last night council benefitted listening to an inspiring deputation from my Inclusivity Committee colleague Ken Sisler about the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Mr. Sisler's speech was wonderful and he dedicated some time focusing on some of the challenges women face in politics.
It was an excellent segueway into a discussion from council. Members of the public should watch the video where I shared my feelings. I called on all women to feel inspired, to remember that the opportunities in politics are abundant despite the challenges, and spoke on some of my own experiences.
But Mayor Van Bynen wanted none of it. He reminded Mr. Sisler his "time was up" as Mr. Sisler highlighted the incredible achievements of Shirley Chisolm, the first African-American woman to be elected in the United States House of Representatives in 1968.
Van Bynen was clearly uncomfortable with the topic of discussion and after less than a minute of my comments cut me off mid sentence. Of course, like most strong, confident women do, I reminded him that it was important to allow me to speak on such issues as women in politics and that it was impolite to rudely interrupt, whereupon he then mumbled something about only "allowing me five minutes."
Mr. Ken Sisler to address the Committee regarding the Proclamation of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. (Proclamation adopted at Council Meeting of March 3, 2014)
|Posted on February 23, 2014 at 1:25 PM|
On Right to Work, Tim Hudak wasn't simply "trying out" a white paper policy before deciding it wasn't in Ontario's best interest. As the other parties, the unions and the media punditry have pointed out, Hudak jettisoned an important plank in his election platform when he realized he couldn't sell it.
But just because the salesperson wasn't effective, it doesn't mean that the policy was flawed.
Many PC supporters that I speak with are disappointed in his sudden u-turn. The Ontario economy doesn't get back on track without new private sector job creation and that means we need to attract new employers to Ontario. I am opposed to a complete capitulation of the Party platform to union pressure.
Intuitively, Ontarians understand why unions are willing to invest millions in third party advertizing during elections. The "union-friendly" Liberal/ NDP coalition at Queen's Park has been very lucrative for the union elites. (To be clear, I am not opposed to union-advertising during an election, based on the principle of freedom of speech).
However, Ontarians are also sympathetic to the inherent fairness behind the Rand Formula. After all, why shouldn't everyone who benefits from collective bargaining share in the costs associated?
Why not modify the proposed Right To Work policy to differentiate the costs associated with collective bargaining from those associated with political and social advocacy? The Ontario PC 's Right to Work policy should revise the Rand Formula to the actual costs associated with collective bargaining. All other initiatives supported by the union - such as recruiting, political advocacy, and so on - should be financed solely through voluntary contributions of the union members.
I am not anti-union. I believe that there are real benefits to collective bargaining that have improved the lives of thousands of Ontarians, including improving the safety and standard of living for workers. Let those who benefit from these workplace issues directly contribute financially by having deductions from their paycheques. This is something that a PC government should be able to support.
But as the white paper illustrates, some union elites have expanded their "mandate" to include things like recruitment, political campaigning, social protests and so on. Although these might be worthy issues supported by the members, they are not workplace related matters. Therefore, the union should only finance these initiatives from its members and not require an employer to deduct from the worker's pay for them.
And to fully protect a person's right to associate with the union, if the worker chooses not to pay for these non-workplace related union dues then we must ensure that there is legal protection for the worker against retribution from either the employer or the union.
|Posted on February 17, 2014 at 1:15 PM|
Since I received the news that Tim Hudak intervened with the party's nomination committee to nix my bid to become a candidate for the PC's in Newmarket-Aurora, people have been asking about my future with the Ontario PC's.
All week long, I have been making one point clear: please don't confuse criticism with disloyalty. I don't want to belong to a party that requires me to be a shill or a sycophant. Even still, I recognize that belonging to a party requires that everyone work together to make our province better, our communities stronger, and our lives more prosperous.
And perhaps that is why I have been most vocal about my disappointment in PC Party Leader, Tim Hudak.
He doesn't want to work together.
The PC Party of Ontario used be a big blue tent where conservative minded people found a place to share ideas and promote our values. At one time, it represented rural interests, conservationists, reformers, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives. libertarians, red tories and blue tories, and so on. All of these groups contributed to what was once the Big Blue Machine that held power in this province for an impressive 42 years.
At some point, PC Party Leader Tim Hudak became convinced he didn't need this coalition of conservatives to help him. He gave lip service to grass roots support but he stopped listening to what the rank and file members were telling him. Despite having a massive lead in the polls when the campaign began, he singlehandedly lost the 2011 election with sheer arrogance.
After the disastrous 2011 campaign, pollsters and analysts were quick to determine that on a large scale, especially within the 416 and 905 regions, people who should have voted PC decided to stay home on election night instead.
And I can certainly empathize with that feeling. Ontarians were not inspired with the type of campaign that Hudak ran. Voter apathy amongst conservative-minded people gave the Ontario Liberals a reprieve.
True conservatives don't act rashly. They measure the costs and weigh the consequences. And the cost of Tim Hudak's leadership has been exorbitantly high for the Ontario PC Party. Not only did he lose in 2011 what most deemed a sure-thing election, but consider the costs of the subsequent retirements of Peter Shurman and Frank Klees and the demotion of Randy Hillier, all feeling retribution after speaking out against their leader.
Klees has never spoke openly about his discussions with Hudak, but Shurman and Hillier both made credible cases that call in to question whether Hudak can be trusted to keep his word. Their stories remind me of when I had bumped into Hudak at Queen's Park last year, he offered to find me a riding to run in (in front of witnesses who are willing to confirm my account) and then he blocked my nomination bid when the opportunity finally arose.
I am not disloyal when I speak out about Tim Hudak's shortcomings as leader. In the face of criticism I am receiving from people who I consider to be my friends, I think it is a true sign of loyalty to have the courage to stand up for the values and principles of the party even though its leader has lost his way.
I rest easily knowing that Tim Hudak would not have blocked my candidacy if he was certain that I would have lost the nomination election. In fact the opposite is true. He was forced to block me because otherwise I would have succeeded and I would have eventually become the MPP for Newmarket-Aurora and a member of his caucus. He took the only course of action he could to prevent that from happening.
So what does a loyal member of the PC Party do in light of being rejected by the Party's Leader?
I stay and I fight for what I believe is right.
I will continue to use my influence to make sure that everyone, including Doug Ford, be allowed to contest for their riding's PC nomination. May the best person win as chosen by the members of the riding association and not by the Party headquarter elites.
I will advocate for grassroots members who feel that their party is excluding them unfairly.
I will speak out against hypocrisy.
And I will fight for better leadership. Because that's what Ontario deserves.
|Posted on February 3, 2014 at 6:10 PM|
If you are like me, you are both proud and concerned about Ontario's public health care system.
I am proud that there is a health care available to anyone who needs it, regardless of ability to pay. Rich, poor, young, old, healthy or sick: everyone has access.
I am concerned because the quality of public health and the affordability of our present system is at risk. We can't do anything about the generational shift that will see baby boomers aging and requiring geriatric care. Just the sheer numbers of people approaching the "seniors" demographic is going to put pressure on public health.
But there is another demographic that is equally worrisome. Our youth aren't as healthy in comparison to previous generations. Doctors are alarmed at the rate of childhood obesity which has lead to diseases not previously seen among young people -- cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Today at council I proposed a motion that I hoped would have some small impact on addressing the childhood obesity epidemic.
As a community that shares close ties with our hospital, I would like Newmarket to be bold in its direction.
My plan called for staff to find $160,000 within our $100 million budget each year (over 10 years) and re-allocate that money towards subsidizing the fees we charge to Newmarket Hockey Association, the Newmarket Soccer Club, the Newmarket Baseball Association, and the Newmarket Softball Club - among others - for renting our fields, diamonds and ice rinks.
This $160,000 re-allocation of money is actually small potatoes when considering the 10,000+ children who participate in minor sports in Newmarket. It is especially small when considering the lifetime health costs related to treating just one child with cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
After all, preventative measures are always cheaper for the taxpayers than dealing with the costs associated with treating these diseases in children.
Multiple council members used up their speaking time to assert that what I was proposing would be impossible to accomplish. There was no way, in their opinion, that this re-allocation of money within our existing budget could happen. Instead they felt that this would heavily impact taxpayers.
I think my plan is possible, especially when we re-prioritize other current expenses, such as the $30,000 budgeted for coffee, or the $50,000 that are budgeted for car allowances for council members, or the $80,000 associated with other expenses related to council members. Repurpose those funds in year one and we are 1/10th of the way we need to be to achieve our goal - and rather painlessly too.
When I submitted my nomination papers to run as a PC Candidate representing Newmarket-Aurora, health care was one of the issues that was top of mind. We need to find solutions to avoid skyrocketing costs of care.
Not one council member backed my idea.
Instead, they kicked the can down the road to March 2015 when staff will report on recreational fees.
I don't want anyone to be fooled that this 2015 report will be as bold as my plan - if there even any plans. There just isn't the political will at council for being bold.
|Posted on January 20, 2014 at 11:10 AM|
Thank you to everyone who responded to my on-line voter survey that I posted last Tuesday.
I received 54 responses to the survey and 25 comments. Respondent 53 and 54 answered each question identically and from the same IP address. It is possible that this is a the same person responding or it could be two people within the same household responding identically. I only mention this in order to keep the data relevant to those who are reviewing it. Where there is a close vote between one option or another, I will comment on how Respondent(s) 53 and 54 voted).
Of the remaining 52 respondents, no other respondent has connected to the survey via the same IP address.
Here is a summary of the responses:
Question 1 - Are you a Newmarket resident over the age of 18 and eligible to vote in the 2014 Municipal Election?
90.74% answered Yes
9.26% answered No
Question 2 - Did you vote in the 2010 Municipal Election?
90.74% answered Yes
9.26% answered No
Question 3 - If you did not vote, select a reason from the list below that best describes why you did not vote.
21 responses - 31 skipped this question
4.78% - Not at home on election day
80.95% - Not applicable
14.29% - Other (2 of the 3 respondents who checked Other said it was because they don't reside in Newmarket)
Question 4 - Given a choice , how would you like to cast your ballot in the 2014 Newmarket Municipal Election?
48.30% answered Traditional paper ballot at a polling station
1.85% answered Voting via a lap top computer or tablet at a polling station
51.85% answered Voting over the Internet from my home/workplace (Note, respondent(s) 53/54 selected Voting over the Internet).
Question 5 - If on-line voting requires voters to preregister to obtain a PIN number, would it still be more convenient than traditional ballot voting?
59.26% answered Yes
35.19% answered No
5.56% answered Don't know
Question 6 - Are you concerned that the proposed on-line voting methods would require that private and confidential information about you is going to be provided to a company that is owned and operated from another country?
57.41% answered Yes
38.89% answered No
3.70% answered Don't Know
Question 7 - Denial of service issues blocked many from voting during the federal NDP leadership race, Would the potential of this happening during the next Newmarket Municipal election concern you?
55.56% answered Yes
35.19% answered No
9.26% answered Don't know
Question 8 - Are you concerned that on-line voting could lead to a greater number of threats, intimidations, vote buying or other illegal activity relating to elections?
51.85% answered Yes
48.15% answered No (Note, respondent(s) 53/ 54 answered No)
Question 9 - Are there any questions you would like to be addressed at the next Committee of the whole meeting when on-line voting is to be discussed?
25 responses and 29 skipped
Briefly, most respondents seemed to share concerns about security, privacy, and ensuring that every legitimate vote is counted.
Once again, thank you to everyone who completed this survey.
|Posted on January 14, 2014 at 2:05 PM|
Next Monday, at 1:30pm in council chambers, Newmarket Council will debate the merits of on-line voting for the 2014 municipal election.
The proposal is to stop using paper ballots (traditional voting) and set up lap top computers or tablets for electronic voting at all the polling stations on election day.
Voters will also have the option of preregistering for a PIN number to login and vote remotely, from home or workplace.
The attached survey is meant to understand your opinions of this change and give residents a chance to ask questions, through me, on this very important issue.
Please click on the link to take a brief survey regarding on-line voting:
|Posted on January 7, 2014 at 9:15 AM|
This morning council received an email from the manager of operations indicating there will be NO curbside collection scheduled for today due to inclement weather. The pick-up for garbage and recycling will resume tomorrow, Wednesday January 8th.
Please note that I have asked for staff to provide me a copy of the town's contract with our curbside contractor, Green For Life, in order to review it.
If you have any questions please call the Town of Newmarket Customer Service at 905-895-5193 or Green for Life at 1-866-421-5625.
Again, I appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience.