Thursday, April 27, 2006

Impoverish London

Leaders of a citizens' group that pushed through London's 14-ward map are focused on backing a single candidate in each ward who would ban pesticides and limit sprawl.

Leaders of Imagine London sat down last week with representatives of like-minded groups to plan, ward-by-ward, how to elect candidates who share their vision.

The London Free Press, April 19, 2006
According to the London Free Press, mayor Anne Marie DeCicco and some members of city council are trying to pre-empt a perceived vulnerability on the subject of pesticides bans with a proposed law of their own before the upcoming November election, in response to Imagine London making it the centerpiece of their latest public incarnation as a municipal power-broker. The perception of vulnerability is a result of the activist group's recent political success with one willingly credulous unelected OMB member and the surfeit of unpaid advertising that sympathetic Free Press reporters have since provided to them. DeCicco and council's political vulnerability is real, but they fail to understand, however, that it does not hinge on the ambitions of a vocal but small activist group — no matter that group's accomplishments in undemocratic political arenas. But onward ho!

Londoners will again get a chance to discuss a ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides May 29 at Centennial Hall. City council's environment and transportation committee approved the meeting date last night, along with a proposed bylaw that includes elements of those approved in Toronto and Peterborough, which allows exemptions for golf courses and farming.
An exemption for golf courses, which spray far more pesticides over more time and a greater area than any homeowner, begs the question of council: are pesticides harmful or not? Arbitary dispensation of the question based not on people but economic interests betrays the political motivations behind the ban — which is as much as can be expected from ban proponents who must resort to substituting emotion and hearsay for objective facts in their defense:
Coun. David Winninger and others gave impassioned arguments supporting a ban. Winninger said the reason there's no scientific proof pesticides pose a health threat is because they may be tested only on animals.

[…] "We don't have all the answers, that's quite clear," Winninger said. "But that hasn't stopped other municipalities from passing bold legislation. If we really care about the people of London and our children and grandchildren, then every one of us ought to be voting against this bylaw." [London Free Press, July 26, 2005, cited here]
Get back to us when you have something substantial to say on the subject of very real and concrete restraints on other people's property and livelihoods.
To those who value the imposition of obligations on others, something that has not yet been done will always remain something to be done. … For the, there will always be another absence of tyranny to incur their outrage — there will always remain something else to be done.
Imagine London is now a celebrated group of disaffected social activists that describe themselves as a "coalition of civic, neighborhood, labor, environmental, and student leaders." As wideranging a collection of special interests such as this will not be satisfied with a pesticide ban, no matter how comprehensive. Having re-dissembled its public objectives once already, it will continue to do so after each success. But it has served at the very least as a bellwether — to distinguish between those who appropriate property rights and those who respect property rights. More from the London Free Press:
A lobbyist for the lawn-care industry announced yesterday a new website and an ad blitz urging voters to get involved or lose control of the city to a "small activist group."

"The battle over (pesticides) is, in reality, a fight over who will control city council and thereby the City of London," said John Matsui.

[…] Matsui said he launched the website ( with the support and funding of a few "like-minded" people, including the lawn-care industry.
Free Press reporter Joe Belanger, who has before arrogated a great deal of editorial license with language to describe positions against pesticide bans, inserts the words "lobbyist" and "industry" to invite the reader to participate in the sophisticated and disabused cognoscenti's debasement of such artless economic activities — abandoning in the pretense the notion that anyone should have a legitimate interest in protecting their legal livelihood. And in any case one could not say, although discouraged already from thinking about it, that the lobbyists' efforts have been successful. So while the terms are technically correct, Belanger has yet to describe ban proponents with the same "lobbyist" crudity. Although an appetite for contempt dissuades one from recognizing it, Matsui is quite correct, and a link to his website now appears on the London Fog.
The site focuses mainly on the issue of pesticides and property rights.

Curiously, that message was echoed last night by Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen, chairperson of council's environment and transportation committee, who opposes a pesticide ban. Van Meerbergen angered committee members when he snidely welcomed Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco to a debate on pesticides.

"Thank you for attending your third committee meeting in two years to lead us toward the trampling of homeowners' property rights," Van Meerbergen said.

Coun. Bill Armstrong quickly demanded an apology, but Van Meerbergen refused.

DeCicco supports a ban and has said she will attend committee meetings to ensure the issue is dealt with. "I would hope you would respect me not only as the mayor, but as a member of the community on this or any other issue," DeCicco said.
As neither has DeCicco ever merited respect, although she may continue to hope — and with a third term approaching uncontested, her vapid conceits will likely continue to succour her through the cursory execution of her office. On rhetorical and moral grounds, Van Meerbergen scored two against none, but on the all-important scoreboard of London's decline DeCicco will probably carry the game.
Matsui said the website's focus on pesticides "will evolve" to include other issues as the election nears.

"What we are doing is highlighting the issues for people, how members of council voted. It's about hypocrisy," he said. "And we're telling people, 'Smarten up, London, or this may not be the London you want.' "

Matsui's announcement clearly refers to the London Coalition Against Pesticides and Imagine London, which was successful in having a new 14-ward electoral map drawn for the November civic election.

"This small activist group and a faction they control on city council have already had the electoral map of London redrawn to their political advantage," Matsui said.

The move was dismissed by Imagine London spokesperson Stephen Turner, a Ward 6 candidate. Turner said the fact Imagine London and the coalition share some of the same membership is "coincidental."
Coincidental? As coincidental as, say, the websites of Imagine London and the London Coalition Against Pesticides having once been hosted on the same domain?

Update, April 28: From the London Free Press:
A campaign launched this week to fight a proposed ban on pesticides is swamping London city hall with hundreds of letters, faxes and phone calls. "It's just unbelievable, I never expected this," said Henry Valkenburg, president of Great Lakes Lawn Care.

Valkenburg's company and several others launched a media advertising campaign Tuesday. They've also contacted customers urging them to sign and send form letters to city councillors. The lawn-care industry's message is simple: London homeowners won't be able to use weed and feed on their lawns if city council passes a bylaw banning cosmetic use of pesticides.

The environment and transportation committee discussed a possible pesticide bylaw Monday. A public meeting will be held May 29 at Centennial Hall before the issue goes to council.

[…] Staff at city hall say they received more than 300 faxes, 100 phone calls and an unknown number of e-mails within 24 hours of the campaign's launch, with more arriving late yesterday. Valkenburg said he has at least another 500 letters and other companies have yet to submit thousands more.


Honey Pot said...

Pauliewollie is going to pay for dissing the mayor. More to that girl than meets the eye.

MapMaster said...

Paul Van Meerbergen will be just fine. As his being the only candidate to unseat an incumbent in the last election demonstrates, he knows what he's doing.

Anonymous said...

Somebody, anybody please run against Anne Marie. I'm not even sure I care what there politics are, I would vote for anyone who is not an incumbent (except Van Meerbergen - He's in my riding so I'll vote for him again).
I'm tired of London's taxes and the attitude of City Hall in general, it may be time to leave the city I grew up in and loved until I bought a home and started paying attention to city hall, now I'm simply disgusted with what goes on.

Honey Pot said...

Don't let the gate hit you in the ass on the way out Annoy.

Though I would like to see Anne marie be a wee bit more assertive, she is ok. Not like there is anyone here in London that could beat her. No matter who they put up against her here in London, they won't stand a chance.

Pietr said...

Well, Anonymous, that's you sorted out, right?
If you ever meet this life-form face to face, kick its arse for me will you?
Down the street and back to the gutter.
Reminds me of my time living in hostels in King's Cross in 1984; I'd go down to the all night cafe for a cup of tea, and there would be some drunk, foul-mouthed and foul-smelling 'female' vagrant behaving identically.

MapMaster said...

I'm afraid that Honey Pot is probably right that no one will beat DeCicco in an election, but she will be powerless if Londoners elect enough good councillors (something they have for the most part failed to do as yet). I envy you that you at least live in the same ward as Van Meerbergen, however it sounds like there may be an excellent candidate running in my ward this election as well. In the fall, we hope to profile candidates and offer our endorsements. If you hear of anyone with sound respect for Londoners, please let us know.

bonnie abzug said...

Mapmaster, I'm sure you won't be shocked to read me admit that my political preferences lie somewhere to the left of yours on most things. Well, probably on all things. You may be surprised to read me admit that I'm glad that Paul VanCheeseburger is seated at the horseshoe. Though I think that he's a bit of a caricature, he's consistent in the point of view he conveys, and his point of view is shared - in some part large or small - by a significant number of my fellow Londoners. For the same reasons as for Councillor VonBeergarden above, I'm glad that Ms. Baechler is seated at the horseshoe.

We probably disagree on one other thing as well. While I suspect that you would be quite satisfied with a Council made up entirely of VanMeerbergen clones, I would be mortified by a Council of Baechler clones. I just don't think that either scenario would be representative of the political preferences of Londoners. In politics, as in the pond I'm trying to get going, balance is the key.

MapMaster said...

No, Bonnie, I am not surprised by your revelations. While your candour is admirable, of course I cannot agree entirely with the sentiments, as would come as no more surprise to you — but I'll grant some points. The escalation of rhetoric and politicking in recent power struggles in London — and I refer largely to the pesticide ban, Imagine London, and the budget — does serve a valuable purpose in galvanizing opinion in an otherwise placid city and highlighting distinctions between opposing political viewpoints or agendas. People find places to stand on the local political spectrum, which in itself is a positive thing. As do the presence of people like Van Meerbergen and Baechler — providing there are these unfortunate struggles going on. For while galvanizing public opinion is an appropriate means in a democratic society, it is not an end — we are galvanizing over a rather greater precipice than usual in London, and the side and the numbers it commands is all too important.

In a political structure like ours in which local government has been invested with arbitrary powers and increasingly fewer but still arbitrary limits to its powers, a few Londoners of contrary preferences are a good thing on council to prevent it from being complacent in the exercise, however benign, of those powers. So I can abide a few Baechlers. But I'd certainly rather have a majority of Van Meerbergen clones! But actually my most preferred outcome would be a council of absolutely equal number of Baechler and Van Meerbergen clones so that council would never do anything at all! I wonder… you and I may not agree on politics — well, given the chance we probably would find common ground on some issues — I wonder what would happen if you and I were the only councillors in town. We could let Honey Pot be the hansard.

bonnie abzug said...

Surely a recipe for disaster. I wouldn't sit in any event, knowing that your sole purpose was to let the entire enterprise wither on the vine. What would be the point?

As for Honey Wagon - don't get me started. She and I go way back. Though when she's behaving herself, and she normally does, she is entertaining.

Honey Pot said...

Bonnie, that is a sweet thing to say. I know most times you would like to wrap me up in tinfoil and kick my ass from one side of town to the other. That is ok though, I feel that way about you sometimes.

This is going to be so much fun to watch. All kinds of interesting crap will come out with the election looming. This might be the event to wake boring London. I love a good fight.

Honey Pot said...

I was just thinking.If Imagination London were smart, they would start posting informational flyers in all the Ontario Early Year centers, and other places where mom's, caregivers and children gather.

It will be mother bears protecting their cubs that will seal the fate of the pesticide ban. Nothing quite as ferocious as a mother bear.

Honey Pot said...

...hmmmmm, interesting. In the free press this morning there is an article stating that the use of pesticides causes smaller penis size in animals. Maybe that is where they got that saying,"hung like a hamster."

Anonymous said...

is hOney pOt hte same as Karen Laidlaw?

Honey Pot said...

Nope, Karen is pretty little thing, and a puff of wind would blow her away. I am tall and stocky, and look like I should be pulling a wagon benind me.

Anonymous said...

hTanks ms Pot.
Karen sound lkie the kinf of girl I would like to meet!
Is she yuong too?

Anonymous said...

I was watching City council last night and was interested to note that the councillers reconize that this has become a debate on property rights, each counciler has recieved a large volume of e-mail and faxes. Londoners are finally getting galvinized, we are concerned that our propert rights are being trampled. Finally the lobbiests arn't getting there way.
Just needed to say good for you London, if you don't like what's going on at City Hall tell them.