Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Public Safety

Supporters of the new law concerning "street racing" in Ontario are invited to have a look at this latest statement from Police Chief Julian Fantino:

It's been almost a month since the new law kicked in, and Fantino said today that he can't believe so many drivers – about 1,060 so far – have been caught speeding more than 50 kilometres an hour over the limit.

Drivers exceeding that threshold face harsh penalties, including a minimum fine of $2,000 and a weeklong licence suspension.

Police also seize their vehicles.

Fantino says he now regrets not setting the speeding threshold at 30 kilometres an hour over the limit.
I find it hard to believe that Fantino can't believe that more speed traps yield more fine revenue. Why stop at 30 kilometres over the limit? Zero tolerance is the only way to ensure public safety. You have a right to retain your vehicle so long as you strictly obey state laws.

See also the usurping Mayor of Mitchieville's observations.

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Crossroad Blues (For A Sinkhole)

I got the crossroads blues this morning, I believe I'm sinkin down...


Robert Johnson

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Halloween Comes to London Ontario


Downtown London is without power after a water main burst early this morning causing a pool-sized sink hole at a major intersection in the downtown core. London's aging infrastructure hasn't been a priority here, as city council prefer to spend taxpayer money on facades, rather than substance.

On the bright side, it's going to cost a lot of money to repair the damage, so maybe the city can resolve two issues in one go by transforming the hole into an underground Performing Arts Centre. Frank Le Fou would be the ideal performer for the grand opening ceremonies.


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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The complicated calculus of special interest management

An outside facilitator will soon be paid an unspecified amount from this year's budget to decide the fate of Thames Pool. Leaving aside for the moment the legitimacy of using forcefully collected revenues to pay for recreations not necessarily enjoyed or desired by the majority of people paying the bill, taxpayers in London can only question why they are paying city staff to hire outside facilitators to do their job.

No one disputes the aging Thames Pool needs to be upgraded and improved.

But some residents bristled at earlier plans, which would have reduced the 50-metre pool to 25 metres and eliminated a deeper diving section.

Those plans, say city staff, were rushed through because work had to begin this year if London was to get $1.8 million from Queen's Park, more than half the projected $3.3-million cost.

But with an Ontario election approaching and residents upset, London West MPP Chris Bentley, a Liberal cabinet minister, announced in late August his government would provide the money with no strings attached.

Now city staff want to hire a facilitator to hold at least four meetings, some of them open to all and others to seek input from interest groups such as adults who swim laps to prepare for competition.

[..] The old plans would have replaced a free wading pool with a fee-based splash pad and add a one-metre-deep pool with a sloped entrance to make it more accessible for children and people in wheelchairs.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

We Don't Believe

Here's a sample of the latest CDR from Austrian electro-denialcore stalwarts KSF (Kohlenstoff Sauerstoff Freundschaft). These guys were denying anthropogenic global warming long before anybody else even believed in it, and this is scary, hardcore, closed-minded stuff, so it's interesting to see them reform as part of that new wave of terrible global warming denial music.


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John Edwards preaches what he doesn't practice

John Edwards, presidential hopeful and colossal bore, tears a page from the Communist Manifesto:

Edwards, a former Democratic senator from North Carolina, says the federal government should underwrite universal pre-kindergarten, create matching savings accounts for low-income people, mandate a minimum wage of $9.50 and provide a million new Section 8 housing vouchers for the poor. He also pledged to start a government-funded public higher education program called "College for Everyone."

"It is central to what I want to do as president to do something about economic inequality. I do not believe it is okay for the United States of America to have 37 million people living in poverty," he said in a meeting with Monitor reporters and editors this week. "And I think we need, desperately need, a president who will say that to America and call on Americans to show their character."

At every stop, Edwards said, he tells voters he'll ask them to sacrifice. Asked to describe what he means, he described his plan for increases in capital gains taxes, saying taxes on "wealth income" should be in line with those on work income.

"I think if we want to fund the things that I think are important to share in prosperity, then people who have done well in this country, including me, have more of a responsibility to give back," he said. Later, he added: "There are no free meals."
Free haircuts for the poor are coming soon to a guilt-ridden America. True to character, Edwards will continue to collect exorbitant fees for his sacrificial practices.

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The Return Of The Curse Of Global Warming's Ghost

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

"I'm saying, don't fix it, period. Because in Canada things are rarely as broke before we fix them as they are afterwards."

George Jonas submits a response to the week-long challenge posed by the National Post to its writers.

"Once you needed money to see a doctor. Today you don't. What you need is time. Patience. Pull. Or enough money to go to the United States.

"In the 1950s, not enough people had diplomas. Today not enough people can spell 'diplomas' who have them.

"In the old days we had no Charter. Now we do. What we no longer have is rights and freedoms.

"Today we have commissions of social engineering, called 'human rights commissions.' They're to guard us against human rights, such as free speech. Or imprudent speech, like saying Merry Christmas in mixed company.

"Old Mr. Eaton would be in for a surprise today if he wanted to forbid smoking in his department store. Or permit it. The decision would no longer be his. He could put that in his pipe and smoke it.

"Thirty years after prime minister Trudeau declared that the state had no business in the bedrooms of the nation, we must tell the state about our love lives to register a hunting rifle. A nation of explorers and couriers de bois evolved into a bleating flock of SIN-branded and photo-ID'd sheep.

"Being unfair to women ought to have been easy to remedy: we could have started being fair to them. Instead, we tried fixing the problem by being unfair to men. Enchanted with 'equality,' we decided to treat vice and virtue equally, at least in the case of spouses, and brought in no-fault divorce.

"We embraced reverse discrimination as self-righteously as we once embraced discrimination. The best thing I can say for the result is that it improved the looks of our governors-general, if not necessarily their reading skills.

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Rainy Day, Dream Away

The crowds get smaller every year. The honks from passing cars were intermittent, to put it nicely. But for those who were into listening to Department of Defence statistics in the rain, it was an educational and empowering time.

Yesterday in Victoria Park, London's peace movement gathered. Here in London, long as I remember, it is traditional for rain to fall on Days of Action designated by the Canadian Peace Alliance. Approximately 350,000 Londoners did not care to attend. That left about 150 of us to gather under the spitting clouds for a message of peace. Despite the red flag and the rain that nobody knew how to stop, it wasn't all five year plans and new deals wrapped in golden chains. Just a little bit.

The speakers included local sound poet Penn Kemp, who performed "A Poem for Peace" and "Turn Your Back On Bush".

Then, NDP MP Irene Mathyssen reminded us of the fact that the First World War was then known as the war to end all wars, and that our current problems are a result of forgetting that we already decided that we already fought the last war ever, ever. As the rain intensified from drizzle to medium drizzle, London lawyer Ed Corrigan read from an Excel spreadsheet, and Megan Walker brought the depth.

Especially interesting were a couple of AWOL soldiers from the US, who gave short talks about their experiences. One had bailed out of training and into Canada when he discovered that the artillery job he'd signed up for earlier this year had turned into infantry assignment. The other fellow left, if I recall, because he couldn't bring himself to go back to combat. These stories reminded me of a Toronto-based deserter acquaintance named Phil. Phil had served in Iraq, and was counting the small number of days until his discharge. At the last minute his service was extended, so he came to Toronto.

The complaints of two of the three were the same: they signed up for one thing, but were forced into something else. One would conclude that more recruitment would help to improve those conditions and make it easier to put individuals into their desired roles, or no role. Yet at the same time, recruiters are to be removed from schools. Also present was a high school student who got school administrators -- known for their mindless obedience to the spread of American imperialism -- to back down from exercising their judgment in the face of unwanted publicity raised by his group, "SNARL". I'm too lazy to link right now, but he spoke of his recent counter-demonstration against military recruiters in his school.

The stories of the deserters and the push to get rid of recruiters do not add up well together.

One highlight of the show was a surprise appearance by George Bush, the President of the United States, who directed the puppet strings of a burka-clad Stephen Harper. The Evil One's cruel demands were met with the most slavish obedience. Bush then revealed himself to be social science professor David Heap in a mask. Having dropped those awful puppet strings of displacement, Heap then picked up a real set and began to lead the crowd in chants. It was a bittersweet irony for those lacking hooks on the backs of their wrists.

No confirmation or disconfirmation yet of whether that actually was Stephen Harper under there. I suppose it would have been a bit whorish to take that thing off in public.

So ended the show, and the rain, for a while.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

10/27: Saturday of Action

If it's the Saturday before Halloween, it must be protest time! And, sure enough, the Canadian Peace Alliance is back from Egypt. They're bringing with them a message of peace in our time, and they want everyone to learn about that perspective and the perspectives of their new friends.

On Saturday at 1 PM in Victoria Park, the Peace Alliance will demand that Canadian troops be pulled out of Afghanistan.

Don't believe what you read in the corporate newspaper or see on right wing TV news about these events, because they always leave out the most educational parts! To get the feeling and reach out for understanding, you really have to come on out, look, and listen. I did, last year, and I learned a lot about the different perspectives that are out there on the rights of man and the importance of listening to all the voices, even the silent ones.

Come on out and watch them have their say.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blame it on Global Warming

While the fires continue to burn up thousands of homes and livelihoods in California, the disaster is already being used by some to promote their political agendas. HT: Drudge:

Officials said Tuesday the winds and high temperatures are expected to continue. But when the fires do stop, lawmakers likely will debate the cause of the fire.

“One reason why we have the fires in California is global warming,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Tuesday, stressing the need to pass the Democrats’ comprehensive energy package.
Does global warming cause arson too?

Let's consult some wealthy celebrities for a potential answer to California's woes. HT: The Former Mayor of Mitchieville:
Comedian George Carlin and actress Jamie Lee Curtis this week both suggested that the devastating wildfires raging in Southern California should not come as a surprise to a population that ravages the environment.

Offering his provocative opinion on The View Wednesday morning, Carlin paraphrased an old comedy rant of his, and characterized the fires as cosmic payback from a planet stretched to its breaking point.

"People are selfish," he said. "These people with the fires and the floods and everything, they overbuild and they put nature to the test, and they get what's coming to them, that's what I say."

[..]"People think nature is outside of them. They don't take into [themselves] the idea that nature is a part of them." Pointing to his chest, he said, "Nature is in here, and if you're in tune with it, like the Indians – the balance of life, the harmony of nature – if you understand that, you don't overbuild, you don't do all this moron stuff."
cp: Dust My Broom

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Cost-Effective Outbreak Champions!

We don't like to brag, but some announcements just leave one with few other satisfying options.

The London Fog is among the stratospherically efficient winners of the 2006 Cost-effective Outbreak Detection in Networks Award.

For readers who are new to blogs, that of course means that the London Fog is one of the top 100 blogs for unit cost case and PA objective function. With a PA score of 0.5764, no other blog can match us for the solution of length k = 64.

If we knew how we did it, somehow it would kill the magic.

Nice try, Autonomous Source! Ha ha, Mitchieville! Maybe a little less dust might have helped, Darcey! Kate, perhaps you are just trying too hard. Ian, try some different bait. But, seriously, thanks to everyone, and good luck next year!

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The Importance Of Public Schooling

I can take the propaganda aspect of this suggested English assignment from the BC curriculum, because that kind of angle would be brought out by most "Crucible"-teachers anyways. (HT 5'OF)

What gets me is the great big dripping slathering of Dumb, glazed with Eau de Never Read A Book and garnished with sentence fragments julienne. Your English skills will be harmed by the next paragraph of Educationist Pidgin, and you're not being babysat by these people for days on end.

“Read the play (The Crucible) and discuss how a lack of reason is allowed to exist. Not knowing the truth is what prevents reason from prevailing. People think there really were witches when there were not. What other fears do people have today that prevents them from acting in a reasonable manner? Tell the students about Maher Arar. What kind of hysteria allowed Canada to send an innocent man to Syria to be tortured?”
I like to read books do you like to too?

Just to kill another brain cell or two, reread this beautiful language:

discuss how a lack of reason is allowed to exist. Not knowing the truth is what prevents reason from prevailing.

Remember, stay in school.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Municipal taxes are rigged

The National Post reports that council chambers in Toronto yesterday were jammed with supporters of two new taxes passed after months of doubt and political wrangling. That's right… supporters of new taxes.

If that seems counter-intuitive, if not altogether fantastic, it's not: city governments hire or otherwise subsidize a substantial minority who have an altogether more substantial interest in organizing themselves in support of raising revenues than the majority from whom the revenues are raised in organizing themselves against taxes. Go to a London city council meeting — even on their bad days, at least 9/10ths of the audience is composed of people or groups who have something to gain from municipal spending. In fact, councillors are genuinely surprised to see anyone else. In Toronto, labour, arts and community groups formed dozens of associations to support the proposed new taxes that were easily, with a uniform mutual interest, organized into a forceful coalition with plenty of advertising and media resources.

It's an entirely rational outcome of an Ontario Municipal Act that defines no practical limits on what cities can spend. The impact of tax policy to taxpayers is felt more in increments, providing a less immediate and much reduced incentive to agitate than for taxspenders. More importantly, taxspenders form a much more cohesive constituency to which politicians can appeal than the broad, diverse and inchoate mass of interests represented in the community of taxpayers as a whole, providing an incentive for politicians to cater to. Finally, the lack of a party system in municipal governments — as well as the failure, at least in London, to report publicly how politicians act and vote — makes it extraordinarily difficult for the electorate to make wholesale changes to their councils, for which they receive only one opportunity in four years in any case. Suggestions?

Incidentally, the new vehicle registration and land transfer taxes in Toronto were passed. The additional revenues mean Toronto taxpayers are only looking at a 10% to 12% property tax increase next year.

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Inventing the Truth One Carbon Footprint at a Time

Here's hoping Al Gore's internet invention will counterbalance the fabricated glory he has received in 2007.

"I believe our children and grandchildren will look back at the year 2007 and ask one of two questions," said Gore, who shared the prize with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for raising awareness of global warming.

"Either they will ask about us -- What were they doing? What were they thinking about and how could they let that catastrophe happen? Didn't they listen to the scientists? Didn't they see the glaciers and polar caps melting? Didn't they see the fires?

"Or will they ask another question. I want them to look back at 2007 and ask: 'How did they find the moral courage to rise up and solve the problem everyone said was impossible to solve?"'

Speaking at a conference on climate change, Gore renewed a proposal for world leaders to hold crisis meetings every three months to work quickly to find solutions to slow global warming.

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Nanny Logic from the UK

Professor Julian Le Grand, chairman of Health England, wants the British government to legislate good health into being.

He proposed the introduction of a smoking permit, which smokers would be required to show each time they bought tobacco. It is then their choice to go smoke free and not buy a permit.

Companies with more than 500 staff would have an "exercise hour". Employees would have to deliberately choose not to join in. The proposals are the opposite of the Government's approach which requires people to opt in to healthy lifestyles. Instead it would be up to them to make the unhealthy choice.

In his speech to the Royal Statistical Society last night the professor, a former aide to Tony Blair said: "It is not like banning something, it's a softer form of paternalism."
Of course, it is currently up to smokers and fatties to continue or discontinue their unhealthy habits. There is no one forcing them to opt in or opt out of one sort of lifestyle over another. But Big Nanny doesn't believe people can be trusted to run their own affairs without government interference and subsequent governmental profit, thus the idea of smoking permits and exercise hours. Will exercise hour replace lunch hour?

cp: The Broom

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Marc Emery Documentary on CBC

Tonight, at 10 PM, CBC Newsworld will feature a documentary about Greatest Londoner short-lister and friend of the Fog, Marc Emery.

Marc's un-Canadian methods may, ironically, get him removed to an un-Canadian correctional facility. Although I usually find myself disagreeing with his evaluation of... well, virtually every issue apart from his main one, Marc is a good man, with emphases on both words. This is a guy who has built business after business, employed many scores of people, and used the businesses as platforms to fight counterproductive laws and run far out projects. Two small examples: City parking meters were driving Christmas shoppers away from downtown London, so City Lights hired a guy to dress in a Santa suit and take rolls of quarters around, looking for expired meters to top up and driving parking enforcement mad; when the garbage union went on strike, they rented trucks and picked up garbage in the neighbourhood, explaining that there was no need for unionized garbagemen. Of course an entrepreneur looks for publicity and influence, but the relentlessly libertarian, individualist nature of these projects makes them a cut above bringing Hall and Oates to the JLC or donating to the Party.

Entrepreneurship and activism for sensible causes are two things Canada needs more of; it will be a sad waste if he is taken.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

If London won't go to Crestwood…

…won't Crestwood come to London?

Not only has the village not increased its property tax in 39 years, it has cut the rate every year, to a current low of 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Crestwood, Illinois also rebates half or more of the property tax collected from residents, charges $1 for business licences and no impact fees to developers, and all the while provides police and services that include:
garbage removal, sidewalk replacement, street maintenance, water maintenance, sewer repairs, park maintenance and grass cutting, water meter reading and billing, ambulance service, engineering, bus service anywhere in the village for $1.10 a ride, a senior citizen center, youth services.
Crestwood's secrets? Nothing astonishing, as it happens… read the rest here.
Asked if other mayors might get some ideas by studying how Crestwood is run, Stranczek demurred. "I don't give advice to other mayors; they can swim on their own."

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Al Gore's Travelin' Global Warming Show

"stop this is rude, hes trying to save us all from harming the place where we live, hes trying to save us from dying of pollution and overflowing icecaps. you just dont care about our world.. dont you."

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The new South Park is worth seeing.

Full video at link.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

The Chaos

"The Chaos represents a virtuoso feat of composition, a mammoth catalogue of about 800 of the most notorious irregularities of traditional English orthography, skilfully versified (if with a few awkward lines) into couplets with alternating feminine and masculine rhymes."
Don't slough it off, read it through.

HT Colby Cosh.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Musical taxes

According to the London Free Press, Mayor Anne-Marie DeCicco-Best was "surprised" that no mention was made in Tuesday's throne speech of the cities' agenda to transfer federal tax revenues to their own spending reserves. As an officer of an institution under provincial jurisdiction, perhaps she was not equipped to interpret this part of the speech:

"Our Government believes that the constitutional jurisdiction of each order of government should be respected."
But on the other hand, that part of the speech is also an almost complete lie, so DeCicco-Best could be forgiven for her disappointment. And as a long-time Liberal knows, a promise of a little hand-out here and there never hurt anyone. If anyone should wonder why a city that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade on discretionary and unnecessary capital projects and is contemplating spending tens of millions more on a performing arts center should need even more revenue, well that's not a subject on the cities' agenda. And if anyone should wonder how paying taxes into one government's pocket just to be put into another government's pocket benefits the taxpayer in any way, well that's just not any politician's agenda… for fairly obvious reasons.

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Having your cake and eating it too

One of the few natives arrested in Caledonia is now claiming Canadian laws do not apply to him because he is a member of a "sovereign nation" that follows its own rules. So, if I rob a few people on a reserve and beat up a few residents, it's okay because I don't recognize the authority of the Haudenosaunee.

Irwin Gibson, 38, who faces robbery and assault charges in an attack on two television cameramen, is the only person so far to file a formal constitutional challenge.

[..] "The authority of the court to exercise jurisdiction over any Haudenosaunee person or Haudenosaunee land is currently being challenged with the governments of Ontario and Canada," he stated.

"I want to be clear," he told the justice of the peace, "nothing that I may say or do . . . should be taken to mean I'm submitting to the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts.

He was charged with assaulting police and mischief in the Stirling Woods raid.

He also faces separate counts of robbery and assault in an attack on two television cameramen at the Canada Tire parking lot in Caledonia on June 9, 2006.
cp: The Broom

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An opportunity in hand is worth two in council

News that Chatham-Kent Energy has opened bidding on city-owned London Hydro with a $245 million offer through a public letter to Mayor Anne-Marie DeCicco-Best (PDF) will touch off concerns in some quarters over the loss of local public ownership or control of an essential utility — Controller Gina Barber unsuccessfully urged Board of Control to reject even considering a sale. But when control of the utility by a public that is generally disinterested in its operations except to quietly receive service without intrusion or undue notice is limited to the election once every four years of a council that in any case directs itself and city staff to act almost strictly as a disinterested stakeholder to an independent London Hydro executive, neither control nor ownership suggests itself as any inherent benefit to the public. The hands-off approach of council and staff to the utility minimizes politicization of its operations, which should be considered a plus for service provision except by the most hard-core of municipal-level nationalists. Would Londoners notice a difference in service or value from another publicly-owned utility, or a privately-owned one for that matter? Not likely, and no suggestions to the contrary are really ever made except for appealing to worn emotional clichés about public ownership. The value to the public, however, of public ownership is usually always only symbolic, and in the case of a utility on whose operations the public has no influence or impact except as a customer, it is strictly so. And when the representation of the symbol is London's council, it's a decidedly weak symbol to begin with.

The prime consideration for council should be whether taxpayers receive an appropriate compensation for the sale of London Hydro's assets — estimated in 2005 at $246 million. That sum, or higher, would retire a significant amount of the liabilities city hall has incurred over the past decade, but the pitfall for Londoners is that some or most of the proceeds from a sale would be used for the same kind of projects that condemned Londoners to those liabilities in the first place — performing arts center, anyone?

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The peasants are fighting amongst themselves

Watch a boorish Texas reporter as she buttonholes a 70-year-old in a parking lot. She stalks, detains, and harasses the poor guy, after he performed the public service of shooting two burglars over the span of a couple weeks when he suffered his 44th and 45th break-ins.

Update: The television station has been embarrassing itself trying frantically to get this clip off the net, because the next question after one watches it is likely to be "Who advertises with KDFW, and why am I doing business with them?"

Thanks to reader mariposa for telling us that the original Youtube post was pulled. Here's LiveLeak.

The security at the Fox station where the (now suspended) reporter works is doubtless armed with Nerf bats.

HT Captain.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

If a tree falls in London and no one is around to issue a permit, does it receive a fine?

London's planning committee unanimously recommended a new tree conservation bylaw to council on Monday that will, among other sundry items, increase fees for obtaining permits to cut trees on designated Environmental Protection Areas and fines for contraventions of or non-compliance with the bylaw's provisions. The bylaw will also remove exemptions for cutting "dead and/or damaged trees" without a permit and make council's decisions on appeal "final," removing the right of private parties to make further appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. The recommendation makes committee member Coun. Joni Baechler "happy," which really is all the reason we need the bylaw.

Controller Gord Hume, another committee member, democratically categorizes private property owners into minority and majority classes, the first owning woodlots of four acres or greater affected by the bylaw, and the second whose consent is axiomatic if not automatic as well: "This bylaw doesn't affect the average homeowner in, say, Old North." Nice… and broadly as true if council acts on another committee recommendation for a "bylaw expansion possibility" to allow the city to "map and protect" lots as small as half an acre as well.

A giant step for tree protection, but not enough for some committee members including Baechler and Coun. Judy Bryant who would like to restrict removal of all other trees in London including even ordinary backyard trees, recommending to council that it request staff to "prepare a report on the steps needed for a bylaw that would govern trees cut by a homeowner," although staff had already examined the idea in preparing the current proposed bylaw and concluded that the city was not "in a position" to enact it. In fact, an excellent summary of the political pros and cons of such a move is already provided in the staff report (PDF) that the planning committee reviewed and passed on Monday, so what will another staff report accomplish? As Bryant notes, similar bylaws in other Ontario cities have withstood "the test of time," meaning legal challenges and the consent of homeowners, so that either council wants to do it or not. As with other properties covered by the proposed bylaw, homeowners would have to apply for a permit to cut down a tree, suffer inspection by a city officer, and pay a permit fee that stands now at $50 and that may or may not recoup the program's administration and implementation costs according to other cities' experiences. In any event, the idea puts short work to the concept of "owner" in the term "property owner." A couple in Vancouver I know have waited months for a second inspection of a diseased tree on their property after a first and very cursory inspection failed to detect the disease, leading them to consider clandestine sabotage of their own tree instead!

Apart from Baechler's and Bryant's happiness, why are proposed and hoped-for tree conservation bylaws necessary? The staff report cites the support of city initiatives including "increased property values and assessment" and, bizarrely, "reduced crime." Even if these communal benefits could be quantified — which they cannot — why should it be supposed that London residents do not already realize and manage these benefits for themselves and on their own? As city staff already note in their excellent and comprehensive Summary of Opposing Views, "residents do not often cut down trees without a good reason and overall they plant more trees than they cut." Staff also notes, properly, that such a bylaw would be "'insulting', implying that [residents] need to be educated on the benefits of trees, and that they can’t manage their own landscaping decisions or determine when a tree needs to be removed for legitimate reasons of safety or disease," and that it may prove to homeowners to be a disincentive to planting a tree, "in case they should need to remove it later. And for the timid at heart, former agricultural properties developed for residential and commercial uses are promptly planted with more trees than had existed before in their bucolic pre-urbanized states.

But the primary rationale of existing and contemplated policies is council's endorsement in 2005 of a strategy to reach a 30% forest cover in the city, an arbitrary target designed to protect the faux political pride of the Forest City's guardians but that fails to define to the public what constitutes forest cover or how it is measured. According to the city's measures, forest cover in London is now only 7.8 per cent, well behind other cities' claims! But by any ordinary standard, London is awash in trees, as homeowners raking up the leaves this fall know very well. Politicians like Baechler and Bryant endorse heavy-handed and aimless regulations as necessary because the city can exercise them. If it takes a broad interpretation of a mandate given by a minority of electoral votes and the city's authority to "provide any service or thing that the municipality considers necessary or desirable for the public," well then that's what they've got. Best of luck to the rest of us who, by legislative default, aren't provided with these powers for ourselves.

On the subject, reader Paul Merrifield sends us this email:

Dear London Fog,

If you have ever been up in one of London’s tall buildings and had a look at our forest city, lack of trees does not come to mind. Apparently a well-intentioned group of activists in London has convinced its citizens and the media that we have a shortage of trees. I know it’s hard to believe, but as well-intentioned and kind as these people are, they add to our culture of fear. Getting funding from governments and private interests is impossible these days without declaring a crisis. Brace yourselves for the real crisis when we get an ice storm with all of these additional trees that have been planted. All of a sudden then we have WAY TOO MANY TREES! London Hydro spends millions clearing trees from electrical lines every week of the year and has an entire department devoted to doing so. A shortage you say?

The group says that with sprawl we are losing our “forest cover”. What does one lose when one converts an empty field into homes, lawns, gardens and trees? Every new home that is built MUST have a tree put in front of it on the boulevard. It’s a bylaw. And if this isn’t silly enough, we won the prestigious Arboriculture Award For Urban Forestry last year and came in first the year before at the Communities In Bloom competition.

What about the little children who are told of the dangers and crisis concerning our city trees? Anxiety-laced impressionable children are not a foundation for a productive future.

Now I’m afraid,
Paul Merrifield

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Now this is a Creative City!

Community and Protective Services Committee last night received a study from city staff suggesting it would cost taxpayers $15 million over 5 years, including $5 million from local taxpayers, to set up safe drug injection sites "to fix a growing drug problem in London's core," according to the London Free Press. Coun. David Winninger contends that the tax dollars will be "extremely well spent" to reduce the number of needles found downtown. If masking the appearance of a "growing drug problem" is the fix, then hiring a few extra street cleaners downtown should be a much cheaper solution. But who requests these studies?

Aside from littered needles, what suggestion is there anywhere that safe injection sites provide any sort of fix to the problem of drug use? If drug users cannot provide a safe site on their own, it is because their kind of drug use is inherently unsafe, clean needles or otherwise, both to themselves and others. What possible benefit is there to the public in concentrating drug users to licensed ghettoes of loutishness, dissolution, dependence and misery, then?

If there is any benefit to safe injection sites, it is a political one for acclimatizing the public to the results of fashionably progressive welfare-state programs that promote the disregard of the consequences of choices for oneself and others. If the city should proceed with the idea, however, the downtown is at least already a safe site for hoodlums, vagrants and pan-handlers, so that the accumulation of additional unintended consequences should prove only a minor concern.

Update, October 17: Safe drug injection sites are not being "actively considered," according to Ross Fair, London's Community Services Manager. They're just being inactively considered instead, one must suppose, in the form of a council-commissioned study and a public meeting on Nov. 26. It's good to see city staff and politicians so hard at work for no active purpose.

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Gimme an "R" Gimme an "E" Gimme a …

Sarah-Jean Krahn, a Master's student in the humanities in Hamilton, defends the relevance of Queer Theory from Robert Fulford's "pot-shot" in the National Post:

Ultimately, queer theory offers strategies of deconstruction to challenge the way dominant discourses stratify society, to identify and break down the binary oppositions implicit in dominant modes of thought, which have implications for challenging the inner workings of a heterosexist, sexist social system.

The critical voices emerging from studies in the humanities are most concerned with relevance: relevance to humanity and to society; to promote self-criticism and self-reflection; to question, to challenge, to imagine. At the crux of any project in the humanities is the question of the relationship between knowledge and power. Mr. Fulford's column is an example of attempted censorship of an entire discipline; questions arise as to who owns knowledge and who should decide which knowledge is important.
At the expense of $319-million-a-year in Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grants, there's a whole pile of relevancies "to question, to challenge, to imagine" … except, apparently, the relevance to taxpayers of the humanities' pursuit of relevance. But what do we know anyway? We're not being paid to question, challenge or imagine, so there's no need for us to imagine as keenly that Krahn might be defending her scholarship and grant opportunities as she imagines that criticism is an "attempted censorship of an entire discipline."

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Get out your guidance sheet

I predict that awarding Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize will lead to an increase in nauseous verbal emissions.

In other news, The Fraser Institute has released a report that confirms what Canadians with any knowledge of the health care system in Canada already know: the wait times aren't getting any shorter.

cp: Dust My Broom

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Monday, October 15, 2007

How to save the planet and get rich

Sure, you can make fun of government programs, but there's actually an alternate world of political economics that doesn't have to make any sense at all except in passing…

…passing, that is, through the votes they're meant to buy.

[Link via]

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Why we need a Creative Cities office

Public Art, defined as "art that is purchased by experts who are not spending their own personal money." The money of course comes from the taxpayers, who are not allowed to spend this money themselves because (1) they probably wouldn't buy art, and (2) if they did, there is no way they would buy the crashed-spaceship style of art that the experts usually select for them.

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Never mind the broken promises…

…look out for four more years of broken windows.

Andrew Coyne excerpts from a September Canadian Press report:

"Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory is taking an old-fashioned, ideological approach to spurring Ontario's economic growth by promising to cut taxes, Premier Dalton Mc-Guinty said Saturday ... McGuinty trumpeted his own pledge of $1.15-billion over the next year in direct grants to corporations that promise to create jobs ? 'You can't just do as Mr. Tory is proposing, which is old-fashioned, kind of a Conservative ideological approach to helping the economy, which is to simply cut taxes and sit on your hands,' he said. 'You can't just cut taxes and hope every-thing's going to work itself out. You've got to bring some money to the table.' "
During socialism's early twentiety-century heyday in America, venture capitalism was accused by labour and progressives of intervening in tax policy to lower taxes for its own economic benefit. In today's Ontario, tax policy is protected through an ecumenical compromise between labour, progressives and large manufacturers to venture handouts from tax revenues for guaranteed financial and political returns instead of economic opportunities.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Waking up to climate change

I almost thought it was a dream, nightmare actually, but there it was, live on CBC radio. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize ... Al Gore and the IPCC. They did follow up with a little proviso that the British Courts have stipulated that students cannot view An Inconvenient Truth without guidance owing to the number of scientific flaws contained in the flick.

So the real Inconvenient Truth is that Al Gore, that mainstay of eco-whackism has scored again. How much more needless pollution, both verbal and literal, will his jet-setting cause now?

Please tell me that I dreamt it all.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

And The Winner is ....


Need I say more?

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's election night, do you know where your kids are?

Just as I thought… they're running for office again.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"The interest and duty of a wise people…"

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
— George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796
On the eve of Ontario's general election, one can at least look forward soon to a return of honest signs and billboards advertising things that people can actually use. Otherwise, one is inclined to remember Andrew Coyne's recent observation that there are no "politics on Earth that is shallower, more boorish, less worthy of the attention of serious people than Canadian politics," for which he cites the provincial election as "the most tedious non-event in living memory."
The Liberals can hardly dare to issue a platform, having broken every promise in the last. The Tories, principled sorts, have declined to offer much of any. Ontarians can have little clue what impact the election of either party would make in their lives, or what difference it would make which one they choose.
Ontarians have apparently decided to stick with the devil they know, and damn the consequences. But if the general election is occasioning such thundering disregard, the simultaneous referendum on the proposed mixed-member proportional (MMP) system is drawing barely a breath.

A good thing in itself, since MMP proposes to fix a problem that doesn't exist with a solution that makes a real problem worse. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to suggest what problem it is actually supposed to solve, but it certainly isn't the problem of a "shallow, boorish and unworthy" politics. At best, Gods of the Copybook Headings can give its proponents the benefit of the doubt:
At the heart of every major objection to our current simple plurality, or First Past the Post, system is its inherent unfairness in over representing the one party that wins control of the House and the under-representation of all others … This cri de coeur of unfairness presupposes a standard of fairness; that parties should have as much influence in the legislature as the democratic will allows. Never is it questioned as to why the standard of fairness should be on how parties are represented.
In fact, it is the over-representation of parties in the political arena in the first place that has made politics so "stupid." As parties have concentrated the debates and decisions of parliament under strict partisan lines governed by central party administrations, the interests of constituency blocs — what are commonly called "special interests" — have been cultivated to support and reinforce the parties' commands over legislative dealings in a quid pro quo that distances citizens from the process. The concern of special interests in a democracy, it should go without saying, is not for democracy itself but for political objectives that are unquestionably better served in an arena in which policies can be bid up by centralized parties whose concern is for power. Such an arena is not only the enemy of cautious and rational deliberation, it inevitably turns out to be the enemy of freedom — like everything else, it is up for brokering and dealing to political advantage.

In other words, as the Interim puts it in a recent editorial, "What is really needed is not MMP reform, but 'MPP reform.'" Electoral reform refers not to the problem of how we are governed but to the outcomes of elections, and it is instructive to note who generally supports the idea. MMP, a fantastically contrived appliance to run on top of the most elementary of processes, would graft the distribution of political parties on to the distribution of representatives to create a bicameral legislature in one house, sitting both popular representatives as well as partisan appointees without a constituency except the parties to whom they owe appointment. Parties, it should be added, who are among the authors of the discontent that is supposed to have motivated in the first place these proposals for electoral reform that entrench their supremacy in the electoral process.

At the very least, as Colby Cosh wrote in 2004, "[i]t is wise to require that every MP should command the certifiable support of some specific geographical community," and even if the geographic community doesn't choose to exercise its discretion in the matter of choosing a representative or a party, it serves as a potential check upon them at least where lists of party appointees cannot. It may be decided by a majority of the public that they are represented best by parties instead, and it cannot be denied that party affiliation is a very useful indicator of a representative's inclinations… but they are far better indicators to parties of who they shall reward, who will compose the government's institutions, and an incentive to increase those institutions to spread their influence. If we choose to disregard this, and embrace instead the conceit that parties embody a general democratic will, then we at least can be said to have obtained the government that we deserve.

Gods of the Copybook Headings' "Address to the Electors of Ontario is a valuable and highly recommended primer on the general history of party influence on politics in British-descended forms of government, including an elegant and incisive quote from the great parliamentarian and philosopher Edmund Burke on the role and function of democratic representatives. The essay concludes fittingly:
For generations now we have elected flatterers of every party and nominal belief. This October the electorate of this province have an opportunity to check, though not reverse, the complete degeneration of our elected representatives into flatterers and to allow for better men and women, and better ideas, to some day come forth.
See also, from the London Fog: Proportional representation — recommended by 4 out of 5 activists! and The penalties of proportional representation.

And we might also be wise to resurrect for Americans their former custom of a reverential reading of Washington's Farewell Address:
They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community, and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

… [T]he common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it."

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Monday, October 8, 2007

A city that plans is a planned city

Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Fielding last week released Council's Strategic Plan for 2007-2010 and, much like the upcoming provincial election, citizens will be forgiven for having not the faintest idea how it could possibly impact their lives.

It will, however, make politicians feel good about politics — which has become the chief function of our modern post-political democracy anyway. As long as the sordid negotiations of policy are left to the business of those who have something to gain from them, most of the rest of us are content that politics should be something that doesn't really intrude upon us — except through anecdotes or hearsay for those occasions when a vague feeling of obligation compels us. Sentiments, like tinsel, are the perfect gloss for these and any occasions, as the professionals have concluded. They're certainly more pragmatic than, say, making council's minutes available to the public in less than a week after they've already met.

In 26 colour glossy pages and professionally-designed layout surrounded by dozens of bright, cheerful photographs, the occasional bits of illustrative text form nothing but a catalogue of buzzwords that no self-respecting politician would ever fail to invoke. The two-page glossary, for example, includes definitions for the terms "Heritage," "Vision," "Values," "Performance," "Results," and "Alignment." It's all very comforting and tranquillizing, of course, as it's meant to be… but without any other particular meaning or purpose it can't really be read as anything else than a prescription (or shrugging apology) to keep doing things just the same way they've been done.

In other words, a Job Well Done by all on council and in administration! Now if we could just get down the alignment in the "Alignment" graphic…

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Celebrating 40 years of one less commie

Che Guevara, the dead shining darling of insurgents across the globe, is arguably even more effective dead than alive. As I gaze upon the many Che t-shirts gracing our streets, I wonder if the cult that is Che would have ended in boredom should he have reached the rip old age of 79. Then again, Fidel Castro is nearly 83.

Fidel Castro insists Ernesto "Che" Guevara could never have been taken prisoner 40 years ago if his gun hadn't malfunctioned. But the retired Bolivian general who led the mission to capture him says the Argentine revolutionary was hardly a heroic figure in his final moments.

The man that Gen. Gary Prado remembers — sad, sick, hungry, dressed in rags and alone in the jungle — simply dropped his gun and surrendered, saying, "Don't shoot, I'm Che."

[..] "Why did they think that by killing him, he would cease to exist as a fighter?" Castro asked in 1997, when Guevara's remains were finally laid to rest in Cuba amid thundering cannons. "Today he is in every place, wherever there is a just cause to defend."
cp: Dust My Broom

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sure, haven't you seen the hospital food?

An August SES Research/Sun Media poll suggests that 51 per cent of Ontarians think that "little has changed" within the province's health-care system and 18 per cent think that services are worse, despite a 30 per cent increase in public funding since 2003 and the introduction of health premium taxes.

Promises by the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives for yet further increases in funding then seem to be aimed at both voters under 30 and over 59 years of age, who were most likely to respond that the health care system had improved. The article identifies these constituencies as the least and most likely respectively to use the health care system, but possibly an altogether more important factor is that neither age group is in its prime earning years and contributing as much of their income into taxes as the 30-59 cohort, which also happened to respond more frequently that the province's health system is the same or has become worse.

While the response of younger voters is most likely from experience to be random or immaterial, older respondents have an undeniable invested interest in supporting escalating health-care expenditures for which, at the same time, they have a declining stake in making the payments.

This is the price of socializing health care in a democracy — we're aggregated into opinion and funding blocs in which both opinion and funding have no demonstrable meaning to or consequence on the actual health care an individual might receive.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

To Serve Man

The classic 1962 Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man" is -- somehow -- available on Youtube!

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Embrace Your Inner Toys 'R' Us Tantrum

I'm glad I didn't take Basil up on his life-destroying protest-watching drinking game, the one he calls "NOW".

I count at least five NOWs in this photograph from a recent "anti-poverty" march in Toronto.

How about "never"? That sounds better. "Never". Now go to your rooms.

You protesters are all grounded as of NOW, until you can explain away the doublethink involved in calling police "fascists", while simultaneously demanding the very same police be used to take away my stuff for your benefit.

HT and image credit

Crossposted to the Mitchieville-Canadian community

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Reefer Madness, Stephen Harper Style

Pay for it yourself is one of the tenets of my philosophy, and so I am not a supporter of free drugs for addicts at "safe-injection" sites paid for with taxpayer loot. But neither do I appreciate the Federal Conservative government's plan to spend $64 million over the next two years to treat and enforce "unspecified" drug crimes.

Two-thirds of that money will go to prevention and treatment programs and the rest will be used to beef up enforcement, including the introduction of new mandatory minimum sentences for an unspecified slate of drug crimes.

The Conservatives say they will create an awareness campaign targeted at young people and their parents, fund new treatment services and launch a national youth intervention program to divert young drug users into assessment and treatment programs instead of detention.

On the enforcement side, they plan to direct resources at identifying and closing down grow-ops, pay for more enforcement measures at the border and ramp up the RCMP's Proceeds of Crime Program.
Quite simply put, it's none of the government's business whether a peace (law?) abiding individual consumes transfats, smokes some weed, smokes a pack of cigarettes in a night or drinks some wine, so long as they are minding their own business at their own expense. But of course, the government is in the business of minding your business for you, and accordingly, it's ultimately not up to you how your time and money is spent. Your earnings are the proceeds of tomorrow's enforcement crew.

Lorne Gunter points to other flaws in the Tory proposal:
There is every indication that the Tories' plan will lead to an obsession with arresting individual users, and rely too heavily on persuading addicts to kick their habit. In other words, it will focus on winning the war on drugs by attacking the demand side. Reduce the number of users, the theory goes, and the drug kingpins, smugglers and pushers will have no one to sell to. The drug trade will become unprofitable and they will quit it.

Such an approach is destined to fail.

[..] While U.S. drug enforcement efforts initially concentrated on large-scale producers and dealers, police forces soon found it easier to generate impressive arrest statistics by rounding up casual users and individual addicts, which has done little to curb demand or quell violence.
cp: The Broom

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The spoiled child

Despite the city's three per cent target increase for department budgets, the nine-member London Public Library Board — which includes councillors Nancy Branscombe, David Winninger and Gina Barber — unanimously agreed this week to submit a request to Board of Control for a 6.4 per cent hike instead. As readers might recall, council last year acceded to the Library's request for a 4.6 per cent increase, submitting to the Library's threats to close branches or reduce operating hours after the Library had already approved expenditures contained in the unapproved over-target portion of its budget. The threats, if not yet the pre-emptive spending strikes, are repeated in this year's budget request. It should also be noted that council also approved earlier this summer setting aside $25,000 in reserve to cover any potential human resource budget shortfalls that the Library might experience in this budget year.

We'll have more to say about the details of the Library's budget request once we've digested the 53-page document (PDF), but in the meantime certain facts we reported last year bear repeating. In addition to last year's 4.6 per cent increase, the city's funding of the Library increased 14 per cent between 2003 and 2006, averaging an annual 4.8 per cent increase, and the Library is forecasting still yet another increase in 2009 above the city's three per cent target. And according to the city's own Financial Report Card 2006, the city spent $52 per resident on libraries in 2005, well above the $44 median of other Ontario municipalities as compiled from the BMA Municipal Study 2006. At the same time, the Library's holdings of 3.08 per capita are significantly lower than the average of 3.30 according to OMBI data (Service Growth 2007 PDF).

Although most Londoners would probably be satisfied with the Library system's service, much of their relatively substantial investment is hidden in taxes, for which they appear to be receiving a relatively poor return.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

You'll eat it and you'll like it!

Deputy mayor Tom Gosnell is proposing a modest compromise to a diagnosis in search of a problem. To say nothing of the municipal government's effectiveness in providing solutions, the problem here fits the standard criteria of most problems that politicians feel the urge to address: specifically, that few people even perceive the problem except through hearsay, which politicians are ready to provide, and almost no one has any direct experience of it.

Even so, on the scale of problems that politicians feel must commandeer their attention, the lack of a performing arts centre in town should rank extraordinarily low to unmentionable. A willingness to even entertain the prospect of spending at least $55-million plus land and operating costs on the city's facade of monuments puts the lie once and for good to council's and administration's already absurd claim that the city suffers a revenue "gap" with the province and national government.

In fact, city hall is swimming with revenue — as we've noted before, most of the city's spending is entirely discretionary, including its under-reported jurisdictional controls over what it calls "regulated programs." Unfortunately for Londoners, repayment on the approximately $370-million debt incurred by previous massive capital projects is not discretionary. It should go without saying that few Londoners will enjoy benefits from this project commensurate with their tax investments, but proponents of the performing arts centre obviously feel it is time to satisfy another particular constituency in the manner with which it has already satisfied others. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies and photo-ops are, of course, added bonuses.

Postscript: The London Free Press has another on-line poll canvassing opinion on the performing arts centre, this one sidling coyly up to the question of who has to pay for it. Last week's question — "In your view, does London need a new performing-arts centre?" — was spiked in its second day by someone or some ones interested in the appearance of the results to reverse a 70% "No" response trend and produce a 64% "Yes" response instead, which the Free Press reported anyway in a subsequent article as evidence of public opinion. We'll be tracking the response to this poll as well.

Update, October 5: This poll stayed straight from beginning to end, as far as the results on-line polls can be said to be straight, producing the much more typical number of votes as well as a much more likely response if the insinuation behind the question is read correctly. Will the Free Press report this as news too?

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Welcome to Boot Camp Kids!

Some of my most unpleasant memories are from the years I spent in the public education system. A quiet and fairly unassuming child, I was into books and resented forced social interaction and the mandatory drill exercises I was subject to a few times a week in gym class. When I wasn't bored, I was in a continual state of nervousness. At least I didn't have to take anti-bullying classes in addition to being bullied.

My introduction to pys-ed was from a short, balding, colour-blind black belt who clearly took pleasure in terrorizing children. His perceived disadvantage was spread throughout the school system he participated in, until he was charged with burning down his own home more than once and subsequently dismissed after conviction. The "game" we played was called Stop and Go and could just as easily been a military training exercise for soldiers in training. Children lined up against the wall to begin. Soon after, a series of commands were shouted by the teacher dressed in dress pants and a white shirt, which I later learned was his usual attire. Go, and so we ran, until we were told to Stop. Children who failed to exhibit the appropriate response were often instructed to do a series of push-ups.

Things didn't get much better after that. In addition to the regular torments of having to participate in sports I had no interest in, there was the dreaded gymnastics unit. I was positively terrified of the balance beam and the vaulting horse, preferring the dangers of tag instead. I remained in the system until I was legally allowed to escape into books and a paying job, later proving I hadn't learned a thing by enrolling and graduating with a honours degree in philosophy.

The Ontario of today is even more totalitarian than the one of my youth. Kids have been awarded the mandatory "incentive" of staying in school until they are 18, and Dalton McGuinty is now promising to make the education experience even more unpleasant and unrewarding should he be re-elected. I don't have children, but I sympathize with parents who cannot afford to educate their children at home or send them to a school of their choosing. CTV reports:

Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty says he will make students healthier if re-elected by banning trans fats from school cafeterias.

McGuinty said the Liberals have helped curb childhood obesity since coming into power in 2003 by banning junk food in schools and requiring 20 minutes of daily exercise.

Campaigning in Toronto, the Liberal leader said he will build on that strategy by ensuring all school menus conform to the Canada Food Guide.

The Liberals also plan to expand high school intramural sports.

McGuinty says if he is re-elected on Oct. 10, he will introduce the Ontario Fitness Challenge to improve the fitness and co-ordination of children in Grades 1 to 6.
cp: The Broom

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Operation seize

Ontario's draconian new speeding laws are now in effect and London police were out in full force to secure cars and money from the dissident population. Motorists caught exceeding the speed limit by 50 kilometers or more will now be classified as speed racers. Violator's cars will be impounded, their licenses suspended and they could be fined up to $10,000. What better way to fund the crumbling system than by imposing tougher laws on the wreckers of society?

At least eight drivers in the London region were nabbed -- licences yanked for a week, cars impounded and drivers ticketed a minimum $2,000 fine for exceeding the speed limit by 50 kilometres an hour or more.

But there's more -- they'll have to pay $400 in tow and storage fees to get cars back.

[..] Across Ontario, OPP impounded 30 vehicles and issued seven-day licence suspensions in the first 24 hours under the new regulations.

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In today's "D'yuh think?" section of the Free Press…

Londoners told it would cost $55 million to build a performing arts centre should expect to pay more, say those who run centres in Edmonton, Mississauga and Brampton.

Continue reading here … not that it will give the slightest pause to the Creative Cities Putsch.

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Belated admission

Why are the Liberals promising this now? They've been planning poverty for four years now…

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Cause someone gotta contribute to that OPSEU Pension, It might as well be You!

Looking for a job that is well paying and gives you an undeserved sense of accomplishment? Well, the City of London and OPSEU are looking for you!

You are invited to the Public Service
Policy Career Day

October 26, 2007
London Convention Centre
Ballroom 4 (2nd floor)
300 York Street, London, Ontario
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

by October 15, 2007

Instead of using the term Bureaucrat, the City uses the less patronizing term of Policy Professional to describe working for the government. This was likely done to trick a potential candidate into thinking that their job will actually be making a difference in the community.

With more municipal waste looming on the horizon with both a Performing Arts Centre and new City Hall, the future looks bright for the bureaucratic 'sector' of London's economy. Too bad it all has to be supported by the taxpayer.

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If a singer sings a song outside a performing arts center does anyone hear?

Frank le Fou has been dreaming the dream shared by so many of London's artistic community, and has put his wish to song.


Performing Arts Center mp3

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Monday, October 1, 2007

A penny for their thoughts?

Last week's recommendations to council by the Board of Control included Item 7 (PDF):

That the Civic Administration BE REQUESTED to prepare a report for consideration in the 2008 Budget deliberations on possible improvements to the Council Chambers and Committee Rooms at City Hall.
Council chambers are in fact inhospitable to spectators, if not to councillors, but it's not poor sight-lines or acoustics that keep public attendance at council meetings down to a handful or two — "it being noted that at the public hearing associated with this matter there were no members of the public in attendance to speak to these matters" is not an uncommon record. The general disinterest of the public in live performances by council should also be read as a disinterest in spending their taxes to accommodate it — any money spent on council chambers is money spent on councillors' vanity. Taxes would be far better spent on updating the city's website to update council and committee minutes in a timely manner and available in a more accessible and convenient document format. But if they do go ahead with the inevitably over-priced upgrade — which they will — let's hope at least that they keep around the thousand-dollar "ergonomic and adjustable" chairs…

Postscript: Should we be surprised that the public doesn't bother to watch councillors hem and haw comprehensively over agenda items like this?

The "Council of Canadians" may be a witty epigram, but there can't be too many Canadians in its council if it has to resort to blind-siding them through a handful of politicians and their bylaws.

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