Thursday, March 23, 2006

Absinthe and Wine

A lesson:

Conversation simulators are computer programs which give the appearance of conversing with a user in natural language. Such programs are effective because they exploit the fact that human beings tend to read much more meaning into what is said than is actually there; we are fooled into reading structure into chaos, and we interpret non-sequitur as valid conversation.
Depending on the breadline you're in, successful completion of a PHD does not necessarily command unconditional respect. Our daily chronicle of idiocy informs Londoners that Liberal MPP Deb Matthews has completed and successfully defended her thesis in sociology.
London will begin shrinking in less than 30 years if it doesn't lure more immigrants, hang onto young workers and attract other Canadians.

So concludes the city's latest Ph.D-holding demographer, Deb Matthews, the Liberal MPP for London-North-Centre, whose just-completed thesis gazes into the city's future.

[..]"We need to work toward a more balanced distribution of immigrants," Matthews said. "We have to promote London as a destination for immigrants . . . and create a more welcoming environment."
As Deb gazes into the crystal ball of diversity and tolerance, the rest of us might want to consider the impending crash that is the inevitable result of social spending untempered by adverse future consequences, divorced from personal responsibility as it necessarily must be. Exactly noone is responsible but we all must pay.

London isn't crumbling because we lack immigrants. It's crumbling because the redistribution scheme is particularly badly managed in this city. "Surpluses" at budget time are used to fund special pet projects of council while shortfalls are blamed on the province. There is no good reason for people to stay here, let alone immigrate or move here, unless of course, there are taxpayer funded incentives in place that "benefit" you, because you "belong" to a "group" currently granted special status by the ruling authorities. There is "free" health care besides, although the lineups are getting longer. But at least it's fair, so long as your entitlement continues to roll in. But what happens when the wealthy are no more and the poor are forced to fund themselves?

Let us ask the mayor, who is soon to receive a pay increase, meaning her annual spoils will amount to $96,137 annually, in addition to free meals and her travel allowance.

Anne Marie politely disregards the data in favour of her own agenda:
Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco said the city tracks population growth and demographics.

"I'm not sure I looked 30 years down the road. I know when we continue to track population growth, we knew there was a time that it peaks and you have to look at what you want to be after that," she said.

"We're still in growth mode," she said. "We can't stand still . . . There is much we can become as a city."

DeCicco said immigration is vital to help London reach its potential. She recently announced a "welcoming cultural diversity plan" with the London Economic Development Corp., to make London more attractive to immigrants.
5 year plans are highly favoured here in London. The indifference of the populace will ensure the five year plans will carry on for at least thirty years and Anne Marie won't be around to deal with the mess.

We don't need to read Deb Matthew's thesis to understand why prospective and current residents alike would want to move beyond London's borders. If a region has nothing to offer but high property taxes, pothole-ridden streets, crappy employment opportunities and rising crime rates, a prudent person would do best to look elsewhere, unless they are looking for a job at city hall.

"Cultural diversity" plans do not alter the reality of basic economics. And publically subsidized amusement centres will do nothing to attract doctors to London.

Yet more reasons to forget about London. The chronicles of mismangement and waste continue:

Hockey comes first in London, but ironically, an abandoned bid by council to host 2009 world junior hockey championship will likely result in worse roads. As Fred Tranquilli reminds us, "There's no sense having good roads if you have nowhere to go."
Unable to find a skating partner, London has abandoned its bid to hold the 2009 world junior hockey championship.

The city also says smaller markets have effectively been shut out of the bidding process now dominated by cities with National Hockey League teams.

"Our first priority for the bid was to try and find a partner city and we contacted as many as we could, but, for a variety of reasons, they were not able to participate," said Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco.

[..] London had hoped to put together a bid guaranteeing Hockey Canada a $10-million profit with expenses of about $6 million.

That's the amount John Winston, executive director of Tourism London, said would be needed to win the bid, based on the $9 million Vancouver earned last year.

But, Winston said, the guarantee proved too risky for a partner city that could only offer games involving second-tier teams.

In a letter to Hockey Canada, Winston asked for a review of the bid process.

Winston said he's convinced London could have met the profit target, but "our optimism wasn't shared by the (other) cities.

"The financial risk was perceived to be too onerous," Winston wrote.

That's because the city providing the secondary venue would have had to charge more than $50 a ticket (a 10-game package for $500), about the same as the host city where the top teams play.

"It is clear that the risk has outgained the benefit in this instance," Winston wrote. "Based on this experience, it has become our view that as long as the existing business model exists and NHL cities are allowed to bid, we are resigned to the fact that the majority of second-tier Junior A markets are no longer viable candidates as hosting communities."

[..] London had approached Mississauga, Kitchener, Hamilton, Guelph and Sarnia about partnerships.

"It's a shame, because the real (junior hockey) fans are being replaced by the suits," said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.

Sarnia would have had to guarantee $1.5 million and generate $2 million in revenue from games.

"It's no longer about the hockey, it's about money," Bradley said. "When we have roads to fix and other basic things we need to take care of . . . I'm not going to gamble with taxpayers' money."
Not all memories are equal. Not all buildings qualify for heritage status. It all just depends on the flavour of the day.
A London councillor vows to fight a recommendation to largely demolish a popular community centre and rebuild it -- minus its indoor tennis courts -- at twice the cost.

It's the latest twist in the saga of the North London Optimist Community Centre, which began with a promise of a $2.3-million facelift and ended in December when a pre-renovation inspection found weaknesses in the building's roof.

The building, owned by the city and North London Optimist Club, has been closed since then. The roof renovations were pegged at $750,000.

Today, city council's community and protective services committee will be asked to approve a demolition and renovation of the main building, a gym renovation and a demolition of the tennis wing.

All told, those moves would cost as much as $4.5 million, double the original plan to repair and upgrade the centre.

[..] "We're not here to tear down, we're here to build -- that's the way your city grows," said Ward 3 Coun. Bernie MacDonald, who opposes the proposal.

"It was less to keep the tennis courts and now it's twice as much to get rid of them. Someone's got their wires crossed. . . . This isn't what we voted on," he said yesterday.

[..] "We don't need more outdoor courts. We use those indoor ones continuously year-round," said Barry Fay, president of the Huff 'N' Puff group.

"We have private indoor courts, but these ones are for the general population . . . those who like the game but don't want to commit to big money."

Many people can't afford to pay club prices for indoor tennis and others -- including many seniors -- can't play outside in the summer heat.

[..] MacDonald said he thinks administrators have recommended the building core be demolished and rebuilt because of legal liability fears.

"Repair the roof -- fine. But don't go into this major construction. It's upsetting when council made a decision and now they're shifting the pace," he said.

A staff report to the committee says the indoor courts will unusable [sic] if the rest of the ceiling is lowered to get rid of the building's second floor.

MacDonald recommends doing the upgrade in stages: First, pay for the facelift and roof upgrade with this year's budget, a total of $2.4 million already budgeted; then, find the money to upgrade the tennis area while keeping the indoor courts.
More bylaws and restrictions result in more revenue for the city which explains how council will "find the money".

Student housing is as undesired as body rub parlour patrons. Shut them down.
City hall is targeting landlords and tenants in a two-pronged crackdown against student housing problems in north London.

The Ontario Municipal Board last week reinforced a temporary bylaw preventing landlords from developing houses with more than five bedrooms, and a proposed bylaw to be discussed at city hall today would make it easier to punish drivers who park on front yards in student areas.

"This is very exciting news," said Ward 1 Coun. Judy Bryant, who's been fighting for the measures, part of the mayor's task force on student housing, for months alongside Ward 3 Coun. Bernie MacDonald and Ward 2 Coun. Joni Baechler.

"This is a really, really good result for smart planning in the city," Bryant said yesterday.

[..] Crowded houses are especially troublesome downtown and in areas near the University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe College, where house parties can cause noise and vandalism problems.

"It's destroying established neighbourhoods," said Bryant, adding the city receives 300 to 500 complaints a year from the Fanshawe area.

Today, meanwhile, council's community and protective services committee will discuss a proposed bylaw targeting unauthorized parking.

The bylaw would allow for instant fines of $125 for vehicles parked on front yards and $30 for illegal street parking.

[..] The bylaw would also streamline enforcement, because fines could be issued by officers already out enforcing garbage violations. "It will greatly improve customer service in our community." Bryant said.

1 Comment:

Phronk said...

Who is this Noone guy I keep hearing about? They seem to be responsible for a lot of problems. And two posts ago, Noone demonstrated that he is easily surprised.

P.S. "No one."