The following is a letter I sent to the editor of the Dunnville Chronicle. My letter appeared in the Dunnville Chronicle today.
COUNCIL SHOULD FOLLOW ITS OWN POLICY
Posted 2 hours ago
TO THE EDITOR:
This is to the editor of the Chronicle: I have to correct you on the procedure to appear before council; You stated this in last weeks ourview called "Who's Listening"; Council also rejected a request from Grand Erie Energy Quest to make a presentation at council. "They were within their rights to deny the appearance since it wasn't on the agenda. But blocking information gathering sessions hardly promotes better communication."
This was Janet Fraser's third attempt (Grand Erie Energy Quest) to be put on the agenda! Janet had previously written to the Clerk and requested to appear as a delegation and was denied both times. Mayor Trainer brought this up at council on August 5th, 2008 and once a again council voted 5-2 to "deny" Janet her right to appear before council.
So someone should explain to Janet Fraser why she was turned down again? She was asking to be put on the agenda! If I have misunderstood this procedure please point it out to me so "I" can get it right!
I would like to clarify the procedure for appearing as a delegation before Council of the Committee meetings. County Staff and Council know this procedure as they wrote it, yet the facts don't seem to come out straight.
This is the Official Procedure as written verbatim by Haldimand County.
19.2.1 Any person desiring to present information verbally at a Council in Committee Meeting shall give notice to the Clerk by twelve o'clock (12:00 p. m.) noon at least six (6) days prior to the Committee Meeting. In order to be include on the "Agenda."
19.2.2 A written brief outlining the subject matter of the presentation shall be provided to the Clerk at the time of the request to appear and will form part of the official record of the proceedings.
19.2.3 Delegations shall be permitted to speak not more than ten (10) minutes in total per person, per group, per per organization.
19.2.7 No person shall be permitted to appear as a delegation to address Council relating to any litigation matters with respect to the County.
Ed note: We stand corrected
Article ID# 1167480 http://www.dunnvillechronicle.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1167480
Friday, August 22, 2008
The following is a letter I sent to the editor of the Dunnville Chronicle. My letter appeared in the Dunnville Chronicle today.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Aug. 21 meeting open to the public
Posted By KAREN BEST CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER
Posted 6 hours ago
Two representatives of the Canadian government will explain how land is added to reserves at a public information meeting next week.
Federal community liaison Doug Forbes will accompany Linda MacWilliams who is an Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) employee. She is the regional manager of lands and additions to reserves.
At the Aug. 21 public meeting, she will make a presentation on the additions to reserves policy, said a ministry spokesperson.
"This information session is part of an ongoing effort across the country to address questions of local officials with regard to the additions to reserve policies," said Patricia Valladao. This session was provided at the request of Haldimand County council, she added.
It is not designed to be an opportunity to discuss negotiations with Six Nations and the province, she noted. Coun. Buck Sloat said council members were aware that the presentation will be for information only. "It's important that we hear it," he told The Chronicle.
The public and the media will know how the process works, he added.
During the meeting, only council members can ask questions. The session begins at 9:30 a. m. in the council chambers in the Cayuga county building.
When the county hears it has no say in transfers, Sloat anticipated that council members will send a strong message to INAC minister Chuck Strahl and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
After the session, Sloat will ask people to write letters requesting a change in the policy. In his opinion, any time land is taken away from a municipality or a boundary is altered, the municipality should have veto rights. This is an amendment he wants to see, he added.
While opposed to loss of municipal property, Sloat said he supported people selling land to whomever they choose. But that should not erode the municipal tax base and the new owner should pay property taxes, he added.
He also noted that smoke shops on Highway 6 show planning is non-existent in Six Nations. If the county's land base erodes further, this will become worse, said Sloat at this week's council meeting.
"We have to protect land in Haldimand County for all persons and businesses," said Coun. Craig Grice adding he was not against Six Nations people.
Council decided to invite Haldimand Norfolk MP Diane Finley and Haldimand Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett to the session.
At this week's council meeting, members unanimously endorsed Sloat's motion to refuse to accept erosion of the municipal tax base or loss of planning and regulatory controls due to purchase, transfer or negotiated conversion of land to First Nations reserves.
Article ID# 1157765
Kudo's to Karen Best!
The following is an update on Janet Fraser's request to speak to Haldimand County Council. Karen you hit the nail on the head once again!
I have only one comment to make, residents like Janet Fraser are what makes Haldimand County a great place to live! Hard working, caring, passionate individuals. Keep up the Good Work Janet!
Council refuses to hear delegation
Posted By KAREN BEST CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER
Posted 6 hours ago
Janet Fraser cannot remain silent and will step forward to ensure Haldimand County residents have the information they need on energy generation options.
If anything, her resolve was strengthened after Haldimand County council rejected her request to make a presentation in opposition to a nuclear power. Two earlier requests were turned down.
At their Aug. 5 committee meeting, five council members voted to deny Fraser a chance to speak to them. Coun. Lorne Boyko and Mayor Marie Trainer voted against the refusal.
A member of the Grand Erie Energy Quest (GEEQ), Fraser said the group will host an energy symposium tentatively scheduled for early November. It was in the works long before council's decision last week.
"We felt we have to do what our council is not doing," said Fraser who lives in Cayuga. "The most important thing is for Haldimand County residents to be informed."
The symposium will be an opportunity for public discussion on energy options including nuclear power, coal fired generation and renewable sources.
Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett was invited to meet with the group and agreed to facilitate the symposium which will be similar to one he presented last year. Energy organizations will register through his office and a committee will decide who will speak at the meeting. He said the forum will be neutral and objective.
Because energy generation and production is of interest to people in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties, he said the symposium will probably take place in Jarvis. It's important to get people from both counties in the room, he said. His legislative assistant, Rob Willett, will manage the event.
Even though the Grand Erie Energy Quest was organizing their own public meeting, members fully expected that Fraser would be allowed to speak to council. Shocked and disappointed at the news, she learned a week ago that council decided her presentation was not necessary at this time.
"I find it hard to believe a council would refuse to hear a citizen's input on something so important for this area," she said this week. "It's just mindboggling...I feel we have no representation or voice."
She pointed out that Norfolk County council allowed delegations and that Hamilton council listened to a few speakers who wanted Hamilton declared a nuclear-free zone.
In June, Coun. Lorne Boyko raised the issue of delegations on items not included in the agenda. At a council meeting that month, council agreed to hear developer Jamie McMaster's presentation on Six Nations acquisition of land and the impact on the municipality's tax base. The issue was not part of the agenda. Similarly a nuclear power plant application has not been on the agenda but council did pay for part of an economic impact study of a plant and received the findings at a meeting.
In the past, non-agenda related delegations have been allowed. In 2004, George Roik of Dunnville spoke to council about a forensic audit of county finances.
As a result of Boyko's insistence, Fraser's request was scheduled for discussion at the Aug. 5 meeting.
During discussions that day, Coun. Tony Dalimonte said he regretted that council allowed McMaster's delegation and said that council should have had copies of his presentation prior to it being made.
Dalimonte, who is chair of the planning committee, said the county would hold a public meeting as required by Ontario law if a planning application for a plant came forward. He also thought council had previously agreed to holding one or more meetings in different county locations if a nuclear plant was proposed. While not in favour of hearing Fraser's delegation, he did say letters to the clerk would be okay.
Coun. Don Ricker also supported holding two open houses on such a large issue as a nuclear power plant. In January, the Dunnville autodrome public meeting drew a large audience and provided an opportunity for input, he added.
Coun. Buck Sloat noted that public meetings are part of the environmental assessment process.
"We encourage people not do special presentations," said planning and economic development general manager Craig Manley. "The county will have large meetings when required."
Last year at a few public meetings, Bruce Power president Duncan Hawthorne spoke about the benefits of having over $3 billion invested in a nuclear plant in the Nanticoke industrial park. Economic impacts would include 1,200 jobs, over $2 million in property taxes and at least $180 million injected into the local economy, he stated.
Before a plant can even be considered, three years would be spent on $20 million environmental assessment.
No project is underway in Haldimand County, according to Steve Cannon, media relations manager for Bruce Power.
Even so, a plant in the municipality has not been entirely ruled out.
"There's always an interest in Nanticoke," he said. "People have expressed an interest in forward looking and planning in the community... As long as that interest remains, it will always be an area of interest (for Bruce Power)."
If an environmental assessment is launched in Haldimand County, full public consultation and input gathering will be part of the process, noted Cannon.
Other projects are presently on the books for Bruce Power. Feasibility studies are underway in Saskatchewan and Alberta and as are environmental assessments on reactor refurbishment and new reactor construction at the BruceAand Bpowergeneratingstations in Tiverton, Ontario. On the shores of Lake Huron, the plants are located between Kincardine and Port Elgin.
Article ID# 1157760
The following is related to the issues of residents not having their voices heard. Although Bob Liddycoat is not an "unheard voice", he is the editor of the Dunnville Chronicle and his words are wise;
Posted 3 hours ago
Rage and rant against the world again Ain't nobody listening to you
Scream and shout into the wind in vain
-John Kay, Steppenwolf
It seems the unique problems facing Haldimand County are having equally unique effects on both citizens and government officials here.
The results are by no means scientific, but recent comments, letters and conversations
indicate there is a growing frustration here brought on by the feeling that no on is listening to us.
Ironically, council's frustration with being left unheard at the provincial and federal levels of government seems to have moved them toward similar treatment of its constituents.
It seems the ongoing land disputes and related recovery plan barriers have left members of council feeling isolated and operating in a fish bowl.
The ability to make many important decisions have been taken out of their hands and there is no progress in getting results from those who do have that power to move ahead.
This may form a stronger bond among councillors, which is often a good thing, creating a precursor to accomplishment, but it may bring about an unwanted results by isolating them from everyone else.
More irony appeared last week when council approved a nearly $100,000 expenditure on hiring a communications manager. While the goal was described as an effort to improve communications, the move left many citizens angry and wondering how such an expenditure can be justified among such a small tax base.
And while a few letters to the editor appeared in protest of the move, many others expressed the feeling their protests would only fall on deaf ears and therefore, they would make none.
Council also rejected a request from Grand Erie Energy Quest to make a presentation at council. They were within their rights to deny the appearance since it wasn't on the agenda. But blocking information gathering sessions hardly promotes better communication.
So, while council feels their hands are tied on many issues due to a lack of response from governments higher up, the citizens of Haldimand are feeling an equal rage in having their voices unheard.
There are several local websites dedicated to public frustration with the perception of isolation emanating from all levels of government but most importantly from the municipal level.
While councillors are in the unenviable position of dealing with constituents on a daily basis, something not felt at higher levels of representation, they are also the ones who should have the best understanding of how the voters feel.
If they cannot express understanding and a willingness to listen, surely they can understand the impact this would have on people who are trying to be heard.
And, keep in mind, those who take the time to express themselves are the ones who really care. They are the ones who want to be involved in the public process and without them, stagnation and mediocrity will prevail in any community.
The first step in solving the concerns of both groups is to recognize it's happening and to make conscious, positive steps in resolving them.
In the case of council, this is certainly in their best interest and it is almost certain that any feelings of disregard they have conveyed to the public are accidental, brought about by their own inability to be heard.
They would be well advised to remove any barriers to public input and to demonstrate a renewed willingness to listen.
Together, citizens and council, can then provide a united front, well informed, and cohesive in tackling the issues that currently seem insurmountable.
Article ID# 1157748
Kudo's to you Bob Liddycoat! Through you our "Voices" have been "Heard".
Monday, August 11, 2008
I attended tonight's Council Of the Whole Meeting, for those of you that are not familiar with the agenda, this is the "formal meeting" where all the bylaws are passed by Haldimand County Council.
I have not attended a Council meeting in some time and I am appalled at what I heard a member of council say "publicly".
Before I get to what was said, I want to state that in my opinion the "image" of Haldimand County is in direct relation to the "attitude" of our members of council. I for one believe that our "elected officials" should be "respectful" of each other and the residents of this county.
Council was discussing the issue of the Braund House in Dunnville (the old library) when Councillor Bartlett stood up to have his say he started out by saying "I Can't Suck and Blow at the Same Time". Now I want to tell you that I am still thinking to myself, he couldn't have said that, BUT HE DID! I really don't know what his comment was after that because I think I was somewhat in shock of what had come out of his mouth.
A few members of council thought this was very "amusing" as their laughter was quite hardy.
Mayor Trainer should have stepped in at that point and let Councillor Bartlett know that his behaviour was indeed "inappropriate and disgusting"!
I would certainly be interested in exactly what Councillor Bartlett meant by his statement. "I Can't Suck and Blow at the Same Time".
I wonder was there some kind of "inside joke" between council members?
Regardless some may think that I am tied a bit tight, but this kind of behaviour in my opinion is not going to get Haldimand County anywhere.
I truly believe that Councillor Bartlett owes the residents of Haldimand County that were in attendance at tonight's meeting an apology for his lack of respect and his disgusting comment.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
In May of this year I wrote a blog about Janet Fraser a resident from Cayuga. This was in response to the lack of communications between a resident and Council. Janet had requested to speak to council in regards to the nuclear issue in Haldimand County. This issue had been on several agendas and money had actually changed hands in regards to a report that was done for council. To read the whole article you can click onto this link; http://haldimandsunheardvoice.blogspot.com/2008/05/haldimand-here-is-another-unheard-voice.html
On Tuesday August 5th at the same council meeting that Council decided to hire a "Communications Manager" Council decided in a vote of 5-2 that Janet Fraser does not have the right to speak to Council.
This is in regards to Janet’s concerns over the direction that she feels Haldimand Council is taking in regards to Nuclear Power in Haldimand County.
For those that are not familiar with Janet’s story, this was the third request that Janet had made to appear as a delegation to Council. Janet was asking for a very simple thing…..Her Voice to be Heard…..I would like to say that I am actually shocked that Janet was denied. I had thought that once this was on an agenda that council would vote in favour and Janet would have her "10 minutes" to have her say.
Now in light of the fact that this vote took place at the very same council meeting that council voted 5-2 in favour of hiring a "Communications Manager", would you not think that there is a definite problem here with our "Elected Officials"?
Did Council even give Janet a chance to "Communicate" with them in an open forum?
So where do you think the problem is? Was Janet denied her right to speak because Haldimand County does not currently have a Communications Manager?
I personally believe that Janet was denied her right to speak simply because 5 members of council are not the "least bit interested in what she has to say". If Janet was to speak as a delegation the press would also pick up on this and Council wouldn't like that either.
Until we have council members that respect the residents that pay their salaries, nothing will change in Haldimand County. I just hope that people like Janet Fraser do not give up!
Friday, August 8, 2008
As I was quietly playing a game of solitaire on my computer my husband called out to me that he found the perfect job for me! It seems that Haldimand County is going to be advertising a new position in a few weeks. Haldimand will be looking for a "Communications Manager". This position pays extremely well.....$86,000.00 a year salary....plus....$8,600.00 a year for travel and professional development and a cell phone! Total cost to the taxpayer for this new position $94,600.00 a year...not bad! Oh and this individual will also receive $5,000.00 for office furniture.
Karen Best of the Chronicle wrote a story regarding this and it is on the front page of this weeks Chronicle. (I will provide the link at the bottom) The editor of the Chronicle also wrote "Miscommunication" that appears on page 4. This is also a must read. Here are a few of his comments on this issue; The hiring of a specialized communication officer in the County of Haldimand is one giant step in the "wrong direction"! (I couldn't have said it better myself!) In a municipality like Haldimand with a population of just over 45,000, this is completely out of line! (Again I couldn't have said it better myself!) Haldimand has to look to the future. By paying a generous wage within a fairly small tax base, council is setting the bar very high for future employees and setting itself up for much higher operating costs in the future. Another interesting article in the Chronicle this week..."Native land claims dispute "clouds" county's future". "Council members react to economic impacts". Now the way I see it is that our Council is creating an "economic impact" for it's residents by once again "hiring" another person that is not needed in a county our size.
This is a new position as currently we do not have anyone in any such position, or do we? Well I can think of just a few. Our "7" "Elected Officials". But it seems that they are not "communicating" with their constituents.
Huge Kudos to Councillor Boyko and Grice as they voted against this proposal!
When I was writing this something came to me, A Manager has to "Manage" someone, so in saying that there will more than likely be yet another new position coming open in Haldimand County, an "Assistant" to the new "Manager".
So what exactly is this new position? What is this new managers job description? Well according to the Council "endorsed" job description, the communications manager will manage "media relations" and release "emergency information". This new manager will also "inform" the public about "county programs", services, and emergency issues in order to encourage "participation" in "Municipal government"! This new manager will also develop county "Polices" and procedures including "media relations protocol", "advertising policies" and will "train" people how to talk to the media and provide communication advice to council members and staff!
This is an outrage and I would hope that I am not the only one that feels this way! This position is nothing more than an "overlap" of high paying positions that already exist in Haldimand County!
I did a bit of research and checked the websites for Norfolk County and the County of Brant and neither of them have a "Communications Manager". So I have a suggestion for Haldimand County, why not call someone in one of these counties and ask them for a few suggestions!
In my opinion this current council in "Haldimand County" is "not" being fiscally responsible to it's ratepayers, and I believe that a few of these members of council should start worrying now about their positions in 2010! It is time for a big change, I hope that it will not be too late come 2010!
Here is the link to the article by Karen Best, it is a must read! http://www.dunnvillechronicle.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1147882
Here is the article by the editor called "Miscommunication", it is also a must read!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Well it seems that Premier Dalton McGuinty finally stuck to one of his promises!
The Heath Tax is here to stay!
One of the interesting comments was the fact that the money collected under the Health Tax doesn't necessarily go to the Health Care System. I don't know about you but maybe it is high time that the Provincial Government bring down legislation that protects how and where "our" hard earned dollars are collected and directed!
After all the Provincial Government were the ones that legislated to the Municipalities how and where the dollars they collect from our property taxes go, this is called "reserves".
It is high time that the Provincial Government do as they tell others to do and be "Accountable". But that is another promise that McGuinty has forgotten about!
Review of Ontario health tax a ‘sham'
The Canadian Press
August 5, 2008 at 5:23 PM EDT
TORONTO — A forced review of Ontario's controversial health tax is little more than a "sham" because the province has no intention of scrapping it, critics charged Tuesday as public hearings abruptly ended after only a few short hours of testimony.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has already made it clear he won't kill or phase out the tax, which critics say is overburdening municipalities and taxpayers. That means recommendations from the legislative committee that's reviewing it will be ignored, opposition parties said.
"The problem is that Dalton McGuinty already has his hands over his ears," said Progressive Conservative Tim Hudak, who dismissed the entire exercise as a "sham" once the hearings were over.
"He has no intention of giving working families in Ontario or seniors a break."
Mr. McGuinty came under heavy fire from his political rivals early in his first term in 2004 when he brought in the so-called health "premium," defending it as a necessary evil aimed at tackling a $5.6-billion deficit inherited by the previous Conservative government.
The Premier has only added insult to injury by effectively ending the committee's work before it began, dashing any faint hope that the tax might be scrapped, Mr. Hudak said.
The Liberals must find a way to finance public services without punishing lower and average income families with a regressive tax, which can cost each eligible taxpayer as much as $900 a year, said NDP critic Peter Tabuns.
"If the government was interested in changing things, they could change things," he said.
"They're very clear: they've made a decision. They're going to continue with that decision and they're going through the motions with these hearings."
Mr. McGuinty admitted in December that the tax review was only going ahead because it was required by law. He's repeatedly dismissed calls to repeal the health premium, arguing that the billions in revenue would buttress Ontario's health-care system against the stresses of an aging population.
But the health tax is also hurting municipalities and workers who are already facing tough economic times, the committee heard.
London, Ont., Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best said the city is paying more than $800,000 a year to cover the health tax for some of its employees — a rising cost that's being absorbed by taxpayers who are already shelling out for their own health premiums.
"Whatever the details, there have been clearly unintended consequences to local property taxpayers," she told the committee.
"We are asking you this morning that you recommend a legislated remedy — that the province adopt legislation to clearly state that the Ontario Health Premium is an employee responsibility and not the responsibility of employers."
The government should give the tax another name, since it's under no obligation to spend any of the money on health care, said Kevin Gaudet, Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
"There is no doubt that this tax would have been eliminated had it been named differently — perhaps the Bureaucrat Salary Enhancement Tax," Mr. Gaudet said.
Others, such as Mary Lou Ambrogio of the Forest City Institute, a think tank based in London, Ont., expressed frustration that any recommendations the committee makes will fall on deaf ears.
"Dalton McGuinty has already explicitly stated that regardless of the outcome of this review, the tax will not be eliminated," Ms. Ambrogio said.
"Unfortunately, this may be one promise he intends to keep."