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Scripturient: Illegal or Just Inappropriate Meetings?

Collingwood’s three standing committees consist solely of three members of council, each.* These committees of three each hold regular, published monthly meetings, hear public delegations, address public issues, post an agenda, receive staff reports, vote on issues, have recorded minutes, have staff to record them, and make recommendations back to council. In other words they are treated identically to […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Chinese Wisdom

As I promised in an earlier post, here are some of the epithets and sayings found in some of the Four Books of the Chinese canon. I think these are particularly relevant to politics, especially local politics. Hence my commentary after several of them.* Wikipedia gives us an overview of Confucius’ political philosophy in the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Signs – of the Apocalypse?

Councillor Cam Ecclestone made a comment at council earlier this month that he had been contacted by several residents concerned about the new sign on the Rexall Drug store on Huron Street, its size and colours. Coun. Doherty chimed in about it with similar comments. Aside from the question why anyone would contact a member of […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Not-My-Fault Dance

There’s a story in this weekend’s Collingwood Connection about the PUC board meeting this week. The board confirmed that council’s dumping unexpected costs on the utility will mean an unplanned increase in the cost of your water this year. One of our council representatives tried to dance around it as if he wasn’t among the causes of that increase. This hurtful rate increase […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Rethinking Parking

Parking in Collingwood – especially downtown – has been a contentious issue since at least the mid-1980s. Numerous studies have been done advocating a variety of answers, none of them entirely satisfactory to everyone. The factions of free versus paid parking have been warring as long as I can recall. No council has managed to […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: May’s Breads and Pasta: 1

So far this month, I’ve made two loaves and one batch of pasta. But the month is barely started, so I have lots of time to make more. The breads so far were nothing spectacular – acceptable, reasonably tasty, but hardly exciting. I’ve made better. The pasta on the other hand, is getting quite good and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Someone’s Paying Attention

I was glad to see the Connection is attending and reporting on some of the council standing committee meetings. The media need to be there to shine a light on what seems to the rest of the town as a secretive, unaccountable process. At least the Connection is paying attention. The story that came out of […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Turning Positives into Negatives

Once upon a time, when George Cerny was the publisher, the Enterprise-Bulletin newspaper was an avid and active local promoter: the indefatigable cheerleader for the town; for its events, activities, clubs and organizations. It was the proud voice of Collingwood. No so, today. The paper seems to have lost that community passion. Today it comes across as bitter, ideologically-driven, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Bad Designs

I’m not a graphic designer. I was not formally educated in that art. However, over the years, my jobs in editing and writing for books, newspapers, magazines and publishers have required me to learn the rudiments of layout, typography and design. I am the first to admit my design talent is merely adequate. Despite that, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Not Getting It

In a recent opinion piece in the Enterprise Bulletin titled “Swayze overused by council?” EB reporter/editor Paul Brian comments, I think the overuse of Swayze is outlandish and it is not congruent with the tough financial situation of the town.* Like much of the EB’s increasingly vague reporting since former editor Ian Adams left, the paper’s current […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Me, Myself and I Redux

At Collingwood Council meetings, you will always hear someone say “Moved by myself…” when presenting a motion at the table.* Argh! Where did these people go to school? Clearly our education system has failed us if people were raised to say that. And this is in the public record, too. To me it’s like nails on […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: We Need a Different Integrity Commissioner

Monday night’s council meeting again underscored why the town needs someone new in the role of integrity commissioner. Lawyer Robert Swayze presented his report about a complaint filed against councillor Deb Doherty and it was accepted by council in a recorded 6-2 vote*. But his report shared the same flaws his previous report about former Deputy […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Cold Camembert, Collingwood Style

Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth made comments last week about how awful it is to eat normal airplane food as an excuse why she billed more sumptuous meals to her taxpayer-funded expense account. Her arrogance only made Canadians agonize more over how we should abolish or reform the patronage cesspit of our appointed Senate. Her words also sparked a wave of […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Gated Communities

I’m not a big fan of gated communities, but even if I don’t personally want to live in one myself, I understand the reason for them, and sympathize with homeowners in those zones. Apartments are basically gated towers that restrict access to residents or keyholders and no one complains that they isolate the residents. Few people […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Abdicating Responsibility

Collingwood Council has, in its short time in office, abdicated much of its responsibility to the business of government and to the people of this town. Council has sloughed off the duties they were elected to shoulder with remarkable alacrity. Some of that responsibility landed on staff, who assumed control of the budget process and drive […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Closed for Business, Hostile to Seniors

Closed: that’s the message Collingwood Council sent to business during its recent budget discussions. We’re making it more expensive to run a business here, and by the way, we’re hostile to seniors and low-wage earners, too. Under the tissue-thin pretense of keeping taxes low (which they aren’t, really), council approved a staff initiative to remove the costs […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Email and Confidentiality

A story in this week’s Connection titled “Private talk with CAO leads to Collingwood integrity commissioner complaint” sparked the following comment. No, this is not about what strikes me as the unethical and secretive behaviour of the councillor in question and his defending that behaviour in the media as if the town’s Code of Conduct did not […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Why Elvis Matters to Collingwood

There are some things that are pointless to argue, it seems. Creationism with a fundamentalist. Anti-vaccination with a New Age wingnut. Reason and logic with local bloggers. The value of the Elvis Festival to Collingwood with a closed-minded resident. I recently heard complaints about the cost of the 2014 festival: $74,000. More than double what […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Councils and Their CAO

A good relationship between a municipal council and their town’s CAO is crucial to smooth, effective and efficient governance. The CAO is the liaison between council and staff, responsible for directing staff to implement council’s direction and overseeing internal personnel issues. If the relationship is rocky, then governance and Council’s interactions with staff – and therefore the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Collingwood council’s committee system is broken

Last term, council approved a recommendation from the CAO to dump its traditional structure of council and public committees, to an internal system of standing committees filled only with politicians. The structure is used in several other – mostly larger – communities. It sounded intriguing, bold and exciting, so council said yes, let’s try it. […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The tail wags the dog again

In January, the CAO coupled a ‘sky-is-falling’ presentation about the town’s debt with a proposed 5.11 percent tax increase. * Councillor Kevin Lloyd made a motion to have staff bring back two options for council to consider: a one and two percent increase to the general tax levy, with comments on how these would affect […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: What’s Wrong with Municipal Bonusing?

Until the early 1970s, municipalities in Ontario were involved in a free-for-all competition to attract business and industry. They offered tax breaks, free land, free infrastructure, utilities or services, housing — whatever it took to get a plant or office to open within their boundaries. A lot of small Ontario communities were able to attract […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Whitewash

In early January, Council was presented with a report by outside consultants on the state of the shared service agreement between Collus/Powerstream and the town. The report, however, was rejected by council as flawed – wisely, it turns out – and the following motion was made (emphasis added) that night: THAT the motion be deferred for […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Open for Business, But Not For Your Input

Did you happen to read the town ad on the inside page in the Enterprise Bulletin this weekend? February 6, top of page D7? I’m betting you didn’t because no one I’ve spoken to seems to have read it. And since you can’t find the ad on the EB’s website, you won’t have read it online, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Hypocrisy Starts

It didn’t long for the hypocrisy to start at council. Monday night, council approved a five-year contract for an unsolicited proposal from the town’s only (monopoly) taxi service without going to an open bid process. Yes that’s right: this council approved a sole-source contract in its first two months of this term. No tender. No RFP. […]