Lost in the rush to indict the drivers of Guelph Transit on the whole overtime fracas, is their side of the story. This open letter from the drivers of Guelph Transit has been making the rounds online, including Cam Guthrie's blog and Ian Findlay's blog. I mentioned it on the last edition of "The Guelph Hour" on Beyond the Ballot Box, and I wanted to post it here too. The picutre it paints suggests that the maybe there's bigger operational problems with the city's mass transit service.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Thursday, November 28, 2013
As the budget process heads into the home stretch, it seems that the city has found some extra change in the couch cushions, at least enough to knock down the expected tax burden by about one per cent. As it stands now, the tax increase for 2014 is expected to be 2.37 per cent as opposed to the previously reported 3.36 per cent.
The cut comes courtesy of new figures from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) and the County of Wellington, and despite the fact that the total operating budget is now $400,000 more than the initial estimate released on November 5th. That's good news for city hall deficit hawks, and good news for the average tax payer, but will all parties be satisfied with an increase that's still more than a full point more than the cost of inflation?
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The latest money-related controversy shaking City Hall involves overtime. Actually, make that excessive overtime. The city's new internal auditor, Loretta Alonzo, told city council last night that overtime costs could clock in at $5 million by the end of 2013. That's a lot of overtime, you may joke. That's a scandal, deficit hawks may say lividly. That $5 million figure is across all city services, but the focus of much of the discussion is around the one service that takes up one-fifth - or $1 million - of that cost, Guelph Transit. According to the city, there's a 25 per cent rate of daily absenteeism among transit employees, with some employees taking as many as 50 sick days per year. If the average number of days worked a year, accounting for weekends and two weeks vacation, is 250, that means that some employees are off sick one-fifth of the year.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
As Toronto City Hall went into meltdown earlier this week, many looked to a higher power to do something about the pending situation with Rob Ford and his stubborn refusal to step down, and that higher power was the Ontario Legislature led by Premier Kathleen Wynne. This is where politics get even more political though because when you have a left-leaning politician threatening to sanction a right-leaning politician, no matter how justified, fur is going to fly.
Of course, I think Wynne is far too shrewd to put herself in a position to set a precedent like having a Premier turf a duly-elected and sitting Mayor of Toronto, but that didn't stop Ford's allies from playing defense. Still, twice this week, I've heard both Cllr. Doug Ford and the Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington use the phrase "unelected premier," when talking about Wynne. It's a phrase I hadn't heard in a while, but it does two things, suggest that Wynne has no power, and if she does, then she has no authority to use it. I had thought we were past this because it's both silly and incorrect, but here we go again, confusing process for democracy.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Today marks 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy while on a campaign swing through Dallas, TX. Like with a lot of tragedies, the weather that day presaged anything but doom. On a bright and sunny Texas afternoon, Kennedy and his lovely wife were driven down Elm Street, through Dealey Plaza, with the top down on the Presidential limo when three shots rang out, the third one fatally wounding the young President. To merely say it was a day that changed everything sounds like something of an understatement. Franklin Roosevelt called the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1941 - a day that would live in infamy, but November 22, 1963 would truly be a day that would live in infamy.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
This coming Monday, four ridings go to the polls to find a replacement for their recently departed Members of Parliament. From Montral's Bourassa and Toronto-Centre to Brandon-Souris and Provencher in Manitoba, voters will determine if it's time for change, or if they will stay the course and stick with the party that's represented them thus far. The NDP is looking to make gains in Quebec and Ontario, while the Conservatives hope that the senate scandal will not affect their chances in Manitoba. But what are the polls saying? Forum Research might have the answer.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
The legal action around the 2011 robocall scandal is another reminder that real-life legal proceedings are nothing like Law & Order; one hour and you're done! The bad guys are in jail, and it's on to the next case. The comparatively glacial pace of real-life legal matters as compared to their fictional TV counterparts in understandable - We want justice, and we want it now! - but the wheels of jurisprudence grind slowly and deliberately. Every once and a while though, news breaks and we get somewhat closer to a resolution.
In the news this week were the details of a partially lifted publication ban on the case thus far against Michael Sona, director of communications for the Guelph campaign of Marty Burke during the 2011 election. Sona is charged with wilfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent a voter from casting a ballot, and the court placed a publication ban on the case this past August. After petitioning by various media sources, including PostMedia and the CBC, the ban was partially lifted in September, but the full ban coming off this past Wednesday. As for Sona himself, court proceedings have been held over till June at which point it will be decided whether or not Sona will be taken to trial, but the new papers suggest that he maybe somewhat less than the innocent pawn he's been selling himself as since he was thrown under the bus by the party he so loyally served last year.