23 September 2009

Profiling Works. Live with it - So that others can.

An article by Jonathon Narvey of the National Post about the terrorists among us. This is why profiling should be conducted of all passengers travelling through airports. When was the last time an elderly Caucasian woman was carrying a bomb in order to destroy an airplane? Let's get real. Young, predominantly male, extremist Muslims, normally adherents of Wahhabism is the 90% solution. It is politically incorrect, but until the Muslim community with our support figures out a way to curb this affliction, those in that demographic should be subjected to extensive scrutiny when travelling.

Jonathon Narvey: The terrorists amongst us
Posted: September 23, 2009, 4:00 PM by NP Editor

What’s the terror alert level at, right now, anyway? This month, we’ve seen the following headlines about foiled Al Queda-inspired terror plots:

‘Toronto 18′ member pleads guilty
New York imam held in al Qaeda bomb plot probe
Life for liquid bomb airline plotters

But the real threat in our midst? Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism.

On that note, one puffed-up Canadian writer recently described the fundamentalist movement that chills so many hyperbolic pundits above the 49th parallel:

Reply from the Mayor

Well, I was absolutely honoured that our Mayor took time out from his busy schedule of driving this city into financial oblivion to tweet me:
FreeTorontoNow RT from @ mayormiller um, so private sector consultants and auditors mess up, the city catches them, and its our fault? Get a grip.
The issue is that the mayor LIED to this city's taxpayers about the level of the liability to al-CUPE, and in fact, I am not the only one highlighting this:

Miller's big fib

National Post

Re: $200M Is More Than An 'Error,' Kelly McParland, Sept. 22.

While there is a certain charm to your reporter stating that Mayor David Miller misled Toronto citizens over the sick day liability, the truth of the matter is that he lied.

We deserve a grovelling apology and a resignation; I doubt either will be forthcoming.

Nicholas Brooks, Toronto

I second the motion from Mr. Brooks and submit that if the Mayor had any backbone he would resign now. This is yet another chapter in the book on how broken the Toronto Municipal government is. Royson James at the star had a recent article on it. City Council needs to be purged as it is killing this city.

Shades of the CHRC - Thought Police

Shades of the CHRC - Thought Police

Lorne Gunter: Keep the state out of our bed and breakfasts - Full Comment

Posted using ShareThis

Lorne Gunter: Keep the state out of our bed and breakfasts
Posted: September 23, 2009, 8:30 AM by Chris Selley

One morning last March, a guest at Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang's small Bounty House hotel near Liverpool, England, came down to breakfast wearing a hijab. This surprised the Vogelenzangs, since the woman, who was receiving treatment at a nearby hospital, had been with them several days and had not before worn the traditional headscarf of Muslim women.

A debate ensued among the trio during which the guest allegedly insisted Jesus was just a minor prophet, to which Mr. Vogelenzang is alleged to have responded that Mohammad was a warlord. The guest's complaint to police also claims Mrs. Vogelenzang described the hijab as a form of bondage.

Police questioned the Vogelenzangs in April and again in July. Following this second visit, they charged the couple with using "threatening, abusive or insulting words" which were "religiously aggravated."

22 September 2009

$200m is more than an 'error' - Miller is the error

I believe that the mayor needs to go back to school to learn the difference between 450 million and 250 million. At this point the mayor should also resign from office for a magnitude of this lie. I wonder how much the union paid off Osama bin Miller to stay 'mum' on this difference. Where is Miller going to get the money? Here's the solution: He resigns right now. The entire contract that was negotiated becomes null and void and all city employees go onto a disability insurance plan. Kill the complete sick-day program. Do it now.

From today's National Post.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

$200m is more than an 'error'

Kelly McParland, National Post

http://a123.g.akamai.net/f/123/12465/1d/www.nationalpost.com/0909_miller.jpg Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Even in the daffy world of municipal politics, where satire is difficult because it seldom lives up to the reality, there is the occasional event that makes you rub your eyes and wonder if you're seeing straight.

Such is the news that the sum Toronto owes its workers for sick days they don't need is $450-million, not the $250-million originally believed.

You will recall the issue of sick days. It was the central area of dispute in the strike that dragged on for five weeks this summer, producing mounds of uncollected garbage and neighbourhoods full of cranky Torontonians upset at closed pools and shuttered daycares.

Public opinion sided heavily against the strikers, especially after people learned that the city's unionized workers get 18 sick days a year and can save up the unused ones until they retire, collecting a fat payoff. Mayor David Miller insisted the city could no longer afford such generosity, repeatedly citing the heavy cost in justifying the city's refusal to cave to the strikers.

Eventually the city did cave, letting the workers keep their sick leave (or get bought out), but eliminating it for new hires.

Now it turns out the sum is far higher than Mr. Miller admitted, even though he knew the real figure well before the strike.

The 2008 audited consolidated financial statements for the city reveals the higher figure, adding: "This error was discovered in advance of labour negotiations and staff were using the most current information during bargaining and the reporting of results."

But as the Post's Peter Kuitenbrouwer, who dug up the figures, notes: They didn't tell city council or reveal it during the strike, and Mr. Miller kept using the $250-million figure even though he knew the total was $450-million.

The city's chief financial officer blamed the discrepancy on a software error. A spokesman for David Miller says the Mayor kept mum on the gap because "the city didn't want to focus on just one aspect of the audited financial statements."

"The decision was made not to release financial results on a piecemeal basis," spokesman Stuart Green told the Toronto Star.

A software error? Worth $200-million? If that's an error, pal, what's a meltdown? Rogers bought SkyDome for about a fifth of that glitch.

It's $10-million more than Toronto got in stimulus money from Ottawa, for help on 500 infrastructure projects.

Nice error.

The justification from the Mayor's office is even more ludicrous: You're in the middle of a citywide strike; people are up in arms over the sick-leave benefit; the Mayor knows the cost of the benefit is $450-million but keeps pretending it's $250-million, and this is to avoid giving out figures piecemeal?

Well, the $250-million was the only figure dangled, so that's already piecemeal, isn't it?

How is $450-million piecemeal but $250-million isn't?

The Mayor, it is pretty clear, misled the people of Toronto, and it's hard not to conclude he did it deliberately.

"The Mayor made it the most high-profile issue of the strike. The city in the end wound up capitulating on it," says Councillor John Parker, who is a member of the city's audit committee.

"Now we find out that he wasn't coming clean with the magnitude of that liability. He was sitting with that knowledge all the way through," Mr. Parker says.

"There is one heck of a lot of spinning going on in this buildng and you're left wondering if you can believe anything that you're told. It begins to erode the confidence that people can have in their government."

Why would Mr. Miller pull such a stunt? Good question. Perhaps he was anxious about permanently alienating his friends in organized labour. They already considered him a turncoat for opposing their demands.

Turning up the heat might have produced a permanent rupture, costing Mr. Miller the campaign support he relies on to get elected.

Maybe he knew the real figure would reduce his ability to compromise in the end. Torontonians are plenty upset that Mr. Miller gave in on the $250-million. If they'd known the real figure, the strike might still be on.

In any event, it suggests a degree of dishonesty in the Mayor that puts him in a new light.

This is clearly not a man people in Toronto can trust to tell the truth.

Good intentions are one thing. Basic honesty is another.

21 September 2009

Tory waste-water policy will punish taxpayers: cities

From the National Post.

So, let's see. These same municipalities, like Toronto, are willing to spend money placating al-CUPE terrorists by paying them salaries and benefits way out of whack with what the normal rate in the private sector is, yet they don't have enough of our money (as that's where it comes from - you and me!) to actually provide clean drinking water. But, his blondeness, the soon to be unemployed David Miller, doesn't want to allow people in the city to have bottled water, because the water here is SOOOOO good. Have a look at the picture below Dave, the water ain't so great. If you hadn't buckled to your al-CUPE brethren, we might be able to drink the water. Unfortunately, I think you've been drinking too much of the Kool-Aid...

Tory waste-water policy will punish taxpayers: cities

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tory waste-water policy will punish taxpayers: cities

Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service

http://a123.g.akamai.net/f/123/12465/1d/www.nationalpost.com/0920-wastewater.jpg Tyler Anderson/National Post

OTTAWA -- The Harper government's plan to clean up waste-water infrastructure could have a "destructive impact" on cities, leading to major property tax hikes and service cuts that could jeopardize Canada's economic recovery, this country's municipalities are warning.

In a scathing letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, obtained by Canwest News Service, the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities wrote that he was "deeply concerned" about the lack of funding for proposed federal standards on water pollution that are expected this fall. The cities estimate they would need $12-billion over the next 20 years to meet the new regulations.

"In the absence of a sustainable national funding plan, paying for these regulations will fall on the backs of property-tax payers," wrote Basil Stewart, mayor of Summerside, P.E.I., in the letter, sent Friday. "This is off-loading, pure and simple."

Internal documents released last year by Environment Canada said that pollution from waste-water systems in communities across the country were putting human and environmental health at risk. The federal department estimated the municipalities would need at least $10-billion to $20-billion in investments over the next two decades to clean up the facilities with a long-term funding plan to reduce pollution.

Municipalities have maintained this only represents a fraction of an estimated $123-billion required to bring all infrastructure, including roads, public transit and waste-management facilities, up to acceptable levels. Mr. Stewart suggested that part of this shortfall is a direct result of choices made by previous governments to balance their books.

"It is reminiscent of the 1990s, when federal, provincial and territorial governments pushed deficits off of their balance sheets and into local streets, fuelling growth in the $123-billion municipal infrastructure deficit," he wrote. "Without a national funding plan, the new standards will add at least 10 per cent to that figure with the stroke of a pen."

Several ministers in the Harper government, including Environment Minister Jim Prentice, have touted its existing infrastructure funding, including the Building Canada Fund, to respond to the needs of municipalities. But Mr. Stewart said there is simply not enough money left to cover waste-water planning, since much of the funding has already gone toward a wide range of projects.

"The fund has neither the focus, nor the money to underwrite a multi-billion dollar overhaul of the nation's waste water facilities," said the letter.

The municipalities have also noted recent studies by research groups such as the Conference Board of Canada, as well as the Federal Competition Policy Review Panel, which warned that the rising infrastructure deficit is damaging Canada's productivity and quality of life.

"Canadians have seen the destructive impact of off-loading where they live and work -- they don't want to go back," wrote Mr. Stewart. "As we emerge from the global recession, and confront a new wave of federal deficits, they want to hear that the federal government will not rely on off-loading to pay for national waste-water standards or other national objectives."

Mr. Stewart said the solution is to develop a national plan that requires all levels of government to share the costs of upgrades to waste-water infrastructure.

"Canadians understand that off-loading is no way to protect our environment, build our communities, or strengthen our economy," he wrote. "We have been there and it does not work. Let's not go back."

Mayors and city officials said they were also concerned about being forced to raise property taxes since they are not tied to income and can penalize lower-income households versus wealthier Canadians.

Charles Pender, the mayor of Corner Brook, N.L., said his own town of about 20,000 people could be forced to increase taxes by as much as 30% and cut other services if it does not get new funding to cover between $50-million to $65-million in construction costs.

He's also concerned the federal government will impose fines or penalties for the communities that are not able to meet the standards.

"You can't bankrupt communities, big or small, across the country in order to satisfy regulations that the federal government is imposing upon us, without providing at the same time the funding by which we could actually meet the regulations," Mr. Pender said. "It just doesn't make any sense."

On Vancouver Island, municipalities have estimated they need to spend more than $1.2-billion to make upgrades required to meet new federal regulations, which would result in a property-tax hike between $200 to $700 per household even with a fund-sharing arrangement requiring each level of government to contribute one-third of the costs. Without any cost sharing, the municipalities estimate the tax bill could rise by more than $2,000.

"It is an onerous way to fund these types of initiatives," said Judy Brownoff, a councillor for the municipality of Saanich, B.C. "It could [take away] any opportunity for communities to provide other capital improvements for years to come."

Transportation Minister John Baird has said his focus is on getting billions of dollars worth of federal stimulus money out the door for infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy. Government officials have said they are prepared to look at other requests for funding at the end of the existing round of spending.

09 September 2009

An interesting post on How to Fix City Hall...

Comment: David Miller has broken city hall, here's how to fix it
Posted: August 28, 2009, 4:26 PM by Rob Roberts

Comment by John Mraz

In last week?s New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg detailed California?s ungovernability. It seems the Golden State is bogged down by an unwieldy constitution and a paralyzed legislature. Special interest groups run amok, free to manipulate the legislative agenda to their own ends. Aghast at the state of their state, a coalition of unlikely allies ? from left to right, from green to greedy ? have banded together to end the impasse. Apparently inspired by Thomas Jefferson, they seek to ?nullify [their] government and institute a new one? by referenda. Simply, they want to start from scratch.

The dysfunction of California sounds eerily familiar. Toronto?s city council similarly fails to deliver, mired in a poisonous, broken political environment. Say what you might about Mel Lastman, on his watch -- for better or worse -- things did get done. Importantly, there was much less partisan alienation and thuggery. These days, Mayor David Miller is reported to not even publicly acknowledge some councillors at city hall. By comparison, socialista Olivia Chow once worked for right-of-centre Lastman as the City?s Child and Youth Advocate.

As a citizen, I have absolutely no idea what Miller?s actual plan for my town is. I?ve heard him articulate a vision of cleaning up city hall and building a green, prosperous gem on an airport-free lake, but I?ve never seen him act on the rhetoric. He and his gang bounce from bike lanes to plastic bag taxes to car registration taxes to strike negotiations in a single week. What I have discerned is a decrease in the quality and quantity of services, and a significant draw on my wallet.

So why the increased costs and diminished results? Most city hall veterans and pundits point to three principal crises.

First and foremost, city council is too large, and quietly polarized along unofficial party lines. Loose coalitions of councillors lacking any cohesive vision for the city play a daily game of attack, maraud and suppress. Deals are made behind closed doors and votes exchanged to the benefit of councillors? local interests. A functioning council must either enforce absolute partisan neutrality (impossible), or institute a functional party system like Montreal or Vancouver. And 22 councillors (about half the current total) should be more than enough, thank you very much.

Secondly, the city lacks senior, experienced, non-partisan civil servants who know how to complete a project. In 2008, Toronto Life reported the loss of many of Toronto?s most effective senior managers, going so far as to call our city corporation ?the McDonald?s of municipal governance.? It seems that the city?s best mandarins found current working conditions impossible, so entry-level applicants now rule the roost. Such grey owls are not likely to return until the explosive political environment is defused.

Thirdly, Toronto needs a mayor who is capable of building consensus in council to ensure efficient provision of services. David Miller has proven he cannot. He has, however, demonstrated a real ability to suck new money out of other governmental coffers ? while he raises and invents taxes every year. As long as council remains systemically broken, and the bureaucracy diminished, few qualified mayoral candidates will rise to the occasion and take this city on their back.

Perhaps we should take a page out of the Californian experience. Maybe, by petition and referendum, we should force the dissolution of our current city government and create a new system from scratch. The advantages of incumbency our current councillors enjoy would be neutralized. The civil service could be revitalized. Special interest groups -- from some unscrupulous unions to a host of preferred vendors -- would be forced to compete in open tenders for the right to serve our city. Nepotism and corruption might be curtailed.

Toronto has little time to lose. By referendum or not, we need a new mayor and a new municipal government, before the current cabal bankrupts us all.

? John Mraz is an international political consultant.

03 September 2009

DEMAND ACTION: Fire UN Officials Refusing to Teach the Holocaust in Gaza | Simon Wiesenthal Center

DEMAND ACTION: Fire UN Officials Refusing to Teach the Holocaust in Gaza | Simon Wiesenthal Center

Text of a petition letter to UN Secretary General.

Dear Secretary General Ban:

When senior UN officials in Gaza sound like spokesmen for Hamas … when they deny that the Nazi Holocaust "is a human rights issue"… when they empower those who call the Shoah "a lie"… it's time for action.

As you have noted, the Holocaust - the most profound example of man’s inhumanity to man in history - is universally accepted as the heart and soul of any human rights agenda. But even as the world gathered in Poland to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II, in which fifty million human beings lost their lives, officials of the UN’s Relief Works Agency in Gaza were unilaterally deciding to eradicate any references to WWII’s Nazi Holocaust. Karen Abu Zayd, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, sounded very much like a Hamas official when she said at a press conference, “I can refute allegations that the UN school curriculum includes anything about the Holocaust … we focus on human rights in curriculum … and the murder of six million Jews and five million other undesirables…is not a human rights issue.” And John Ging, UNRWA’s Gaza Director of Operations, mocked UN policy when he declared, “There is no intention to integrate materials and topics [on the Holocaust] that are inconsistent with the desire of Palestinian society.”

I join the Simon Wiesenthal Center in urging you to fire Abu Zayd and Ging and move to implement the UN's Holocaust curriculum in all UNRWA schools. The role of UNRWA must be to help set the stage for peace and reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis, not as agents for the agenda of terrorist groups. I am also urging my government to suspend funding for UNRWA in Gaza untill this situation is rectified.