Saturday, 22 December 2007

The Two Faces of My City Councilor

My City Councilor is posing as the champion of the Library that he, with the help of our Mayor and a few others on Council, has systematically sought to dismantle. He's counting on the public's memory being short. It is. When the Library is dead and gone he'll be remembered as the scrappy dude who tried to save it, not the guy who was pounding the nails in the Libary's coffin all along. Read the article:

Ordered cuts force tough library choices

Dave Hall
Windsor Star
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Facing a demand from city council to cut almost $800,000 from its 2008 budget without closing branches or clawing back hours, Windsor's library board contiunues to wrestle with unpalatable options, said the chairman of the board.
And because about $6 million of the library's $8.8-million budget is tied up in wages and benefits for its 170 employees, the board is actually trying to slash more than 25 per cent from the remaining $2.8 million.
"It's already bone on bone," said board chairman and Coun. Alan Halberstadt, following a meeting Friday. "If we do not cut hours and close branches, we may have to decide what kind of branches we want.
"Do we want fully serviced libraries or do we want to turn them into rest stations where people can read free newspapers, socialize and come in out of the extreme weather?" said Halberstadt.
Closing four unspecified branches and eliminating Sunday hours except at the central branch would achieve the desired savings but council has demanded they be found without reducing services.
Reducing spending on materials would lengthen the wait for books that is already six months long for some titles. Such cuts would further erode the library's usage figures, which fall below the median for cities of Windsor's size across Ontario.
None of the suggestions raised Friday are binding, since the four-person board doesn't have enough members to legally make decisions and won't return to its full seven-member strength until January at the earliest.
Doug McNeil, president of CUPE Local 2067.1, which represents almost 90 workers, said "the board is in a very tough position and I think we'll ultimately have to look at Sunday closings.
"Perhaps not a complete year-round cutback but a limited schedule of Sunday hours might be workable," said McNeil.
The contract between the library board and the local expires Dec. 31 and discussions on a new agreement are expected to begin in February.
"I don't know how you negotiate salary reductions," said Halberstadt. "And there's not a lot of room to reduce staff if you keep the same number of branches open so we're really in an almost impossible position."
According to provisions in the Library Act, council has the right to determine how much funding to provide but it's up to the board to decide how and where it's spent. As a result, the board could force a showdown with council if it decides that closures and reduced hours are the only answer to the budget crunch.
"These are clearly unreasonable demands at the same time as you want the same level of services to be maintained," said Halberstadt.
© The Windsor Star 2007

Really Alan? More unreasonable than when you were on the budget committee demanding a $750,000 cut to the Library's budget at the same time as demanding a new branch be opened in your Ward? What's changed?


Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Keep the property taxes low - by tearing the heart out of the city

What has our City Council got against the children and the less fortunate in our city? They are cutting $800,000 dollars out of the budget for the public Library, foolishly suggesting that service won't be affected. Horse crap. There's books in that there Library that explain economics, if any of our City Councilors had Library cards. (Word is the two councilors on the Library Board had no record of holding library cards until they were issued with their orientation packages.) But secondly, City Council is considering cutting out crossing guards. Well and good if mommy or daddy drives precious the two kilometres from home to school, not so good if the child has to walk. Not so good to the soon to be unemployed crossing guards. Not so good to the families about to lose a second income - the difference between paying for a school trip for some, of avoiding a trip to the food bank for others. Again - the marginalized pay the price while the wealthy enjoy stable property taxes and complain that the city is going to hell in a handbasket.

By the way - when was the last time anyone heard our Mayor or any of the Councilors stand up and say anything in defense of the poor, the marginalized, the lowly?

Monday, 3 December 2007

Three in one

My Ward Councilor has been in office for well over a decade. He's part of the problem, or the solution, depending on where you stand. He is also a major muck-raker, sort of a self-declared official opposition. It brings progress to a dead stop, since the only thing he can do is to argue against everything. And to justify it all, he writes a column about, well, himself in the local magrag. When he doesn't write about himself, he criticizes others without the burden of research or proof. The only editorialist assigned to the City Hall beat is his best friend - they have an annual retreat in the backwoods of Northern Ontario, after which the columnist routinely endorses his best friend and declares a conflict at the same time. It might not be brokeback, but it needs fixing. My councilor is the government, the opposition, and the fifth estate. And he just keeps getting elected. The guy actually votes in favour of something on Monday night, blogs against it on Tuesday, and takes his fellow councillors to task on Wednesday, deposits a paycheque on Thursday, publishes on a Friday and squats on 26 different committees in his spare time from either side of the same fence.

Not bad work if you can get it.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

It's a wonderful life - local remake

The local rag reports that the CEO of my Credit Union he has played the top 100 golf courses in the world. Once upon a time in a simpler, albeit fictional time, George Bailey never left his little town. Our Credit Union boss never comes home, apparently. It truly is a Wonderful Life, for some.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Drivers License for High School Students

Hansard - Ontario Legislature Wednesday August 30, 2006

The Chair: Our next presentation will come to us by teleconference. Mr. Jeremy Tyrrell, the former chair of the Assumption school council and PTA member. Mr. Tyrrell, can you hear us?

Mr. Tyrrell: Thank you. My name is Jeremy Tyrrell. I'm the former chair of the Assumption school council parent committee. I state that I've been part of PTA and parent council for 20 years. It's actually only 19, but I still have a bit of experience to share.
Our youngest starts high school in about a week. We've got three children, all of whom have done well in our school system.

All three of our kids have been very active in sports, in school government, in experiential learning.

I would like to express my support of the bill as stated in the preamble, in that I think it addresses the issue of experiential learning. It shows a respect for school happenings, a little bit more than just inside the school building. For the most part, I think the bill works towards a good cause.

The part of the bill that I'm particularly pleased with is making it a penalty for employers to employ anybody who should be in school, basically. As a restaurateur for many years, I always made it my own personal point to make sure that if the kids were supposed to be in school, they weren't working for me at that time.

Mr. Tyrrell: I'd like to get right to the point of the bill which I don't agree with, and that is the driver's licence. I'm sure you must be hearing from others about that. When a child drops out of school, they're automatically marginalized from their own society. In my years on a parent council, I think that was the one thing we always tried to focus on -- not just on the kids who were doing very well and not just on the kids who were involved, but on the students who are really not speaking up. You can't hear them, their parents aren't there to speak for them and they risk being marginalized. When a child drops out of school, they're automatically marginalized from their own society. By denying them the right to get a driver's licence, or by suspending their driver's licence pending their return to school, we further marginalize them, I think.
I'm calling this, for my use, the pudding clause. If you remember the Pink Floyd song The Wall, "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?" We look at school as the meat and the driver's licence as the pudding.
Now, I'd like to look at it a little differently than that. I'm not one of these people who doesn't believe in consequences -- I do -- but have you considered, has it come up, that perhaps the driver's licence could be part of the school experience? What I'm suggesting is that what if there were a credit for getting a driver's licence? What if there were classes available in the school that would study driving, make safer drivers out of these students and they could in turn get a credit out of that? Obviously that's not going to be of much interest to those who are university or college-bound, but for those kids who aren't planning on that and are looking to get a general diploma, this could count as a credit towards it and would, in the same way as your bill does, include it as part of the overall experience of learning happening outside of the schoolroom and that there's more to it than just the three Rs.
That's basically what I have to say. I'm sure you've heard from others about the driver's licence issue, and I'd be happy to entertain questions if you have any.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We should have an opportunity for each party to ask you at least one question, beginning with Ms. Wynne from the Liberals.
Ms. Wynne: Mr. Tyrrell, can you hear me?
Mr. Tyrrell: Yes, I can. Thank you.
Ms. Wynne: I just want to be clear about what you're suggesting. You're suggesting that you make a driver's licence course a credit, so that by definition, students would be in school if they're 16, 17. You're not opposed to the idea of keeping kids in school until they're 18. You're suggesting that the driver's licence become part of the Ontario curriculum.
Mr. Tyrrell: I think that would be a workable solution. I don't mean it to be sort of a trick to keep kids in school, but by definition they'd have to be 16 to take the course. It would be a reward for staying in school and something they could work towards.
I use my own nephew as an example. He dropped out of school just a couple of credits short and then still went out and got his driver's licence. I think he had something to offer; he just couldn't find it there. It might have worked for him if it were a credit.
Ms. Wynne: So you're supportive of the other parts of this initiative, which are to offer those alternative programs. You think that's fine, and you'd like to see this as part of the Ontario curriculum.
Mr. Tyrrell: I think it's a wonderful idea. It's taking great strides forward.
Ms. Wynne: Thank you.
The Chair: Mr. Miller from the Progressive Conservative caucus.
Mr. Miller: Thank you very much for your presentation. Your idea about drivers' licences is interesting. Certainly in my area of Parry Sound-Muskoka, a driver's licence is pretty much a necessity in a rural northern area. That's an interesting idea.
You're the first person I've heard come before the committee who supports penalties for employers. I'm just wondering why you support that, especially when you don't agree with the punitive measures in terms of the driver's licence. You say that would further marginalize dropouts. Why wouldn't penalizing someone who drops out but gets a job, probably out of necessity -- I'd like to hear why you support penalizing dropouts by penalizing the employers who might provide them with some income.
Mr. Tyrrell: To clear it up, there should probably be a way if the student could prove to the necessary authorities that he had to do it, perhaps for financial or family reasons. There are a lot of reasons kids drop out beyond the fact that they're just bored, and we have to take that into account. But there are also kids who see that the opportunity to work and make some money is more enticing than attending school. Those are the ones who I think the bill targets, and that's who I meant by saying I support that sort of penalty. So there could be a system in place.
Mr. Miller: If I understand you correctly, there should be an exemption for those other cases, the hardship cases or cases where --
Mr. Tyrrell: Absolutely.
The Chair: Thank you. Mr. Marchese from the NDP caucus.
Mr. Marchese: Jeremy, I just have a couple of comments that you might want to respond to. I think the whole focus of this bill is wrong. I would have expected the Conservative government to have done it but not the Liberals, so it puzzles me.
Fining employers I believe is a mistaken thing; to say we've got to put the onus on the employer who might be hiring somebody who left of his or her own free will to find employment.
Fining a parent $1,000 instead of the old $200 is another wrong focus because it says the parent is at fault rather than something wrong with the student.
And third, the whole idea of creating an equivalent learning option that will require a whole bureaucracy to supervise the people who are doing the course, who is monitoring them, who they're accountable to, who's actually doing it, is a costly affair.
I think a whole lot of students who leave have a lot of social, psychological and learning problems.
The Chair: Okay, Mr. Tyrrell, we need you to respond to that.
Mr. Marchese: This bill won't reach them. That's why forcing kids to stay in school is wrong. What do you think?
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Marchese. Mr. Tyrrell, you have a brief moment to respond.
Mr. Tyrrell: Sure. If it were phrased in the form of a question, I would say that the bill serves to encompass the entire community as part of it. I believe there should be consequences. You just can't say, "You've got to stay in school until 18," and then somebody drops out and there are no consequences.
Secondly, to clarify the fine to the parents, it's only until they're 16, not between 16 and 18.
Getting employers involved -- I think we need to have the entire community show a vested interest in having those kids get their high school diplomas and stay until they're 18.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Tyrrell. That concludes the time we have, and thank you very much for calling in to us today.
Mr. Tyrrell: My pleasure.

In support of the Separate School System in Ontario

Modern Catholic education does not deny the existence of science, although Public education in Essex County clearly denies the existence of God, according to Trustee Julia Burgess. This is why many followers of monotheistic religions choose Separate schools for the education and formation of our children. I am, however, concerned that the leadership of an "open-minded" and inclusive school system regards Christianity with hostility and contempt. Whatever our differing viewpoints on the Provincial funding model, I pray that the Trustee will reconsider her ideological abhorrence of faith based learning, which goes far beyond the folklore and ethnic tradition that Burgess disdainfully and inaccurately identifies with the Catholicism.

Jeremy Tyrrell, Windsor Ontario

In response to the letter from Trustee Julia Burgess, published in the Windsor Star:

Secular school system best for everyone
LetterPublished: Saturday, September 08, 2007
As a school board trustee, my colleagues and I allocate taxpayers' hard earned monies to implement sound educational policies. Our goal is to allot resources where there is data and evidence of its worth in providing continuous improvement in student achievement. I therefore find it ludicrous for John Tory to suggest that public funding should be extended to faith-based schools that foster the teaching of creationism with any credibility outside of folklore and ethnic tradition. The Ontario science curriculum supports the teaching of evolution as the overwhelming global scientific community agrees it is fact. This is mirrored by the equally large majority of Ontarians of all faiths and beliefs who accept the data and evidence as proof of it. If Mr. Tory -- or any other politician - wants to address the "fairness" issue of the UN citing Canada, and Ontario in particular, to be in violation of publicly funding religious education of one denomination (RC) to the exclusion of all others, perhaps he should have looked at the other acceptable solution the UN gave -- and the one that a recent poll says Ontarians most support -- one secular publicly funded education system in both official languages where all kids from all neighbourhoods live, learn and play together without any specific religious indoctrination.
Course content in social sciences, world religion and history will present explanations that society has offered through the ages concerning our genesis as a species. Our parents and families do a fine job of teaching our kids whether they believe it was the Great Raven, the Big Bang or a heavenly creator who eventually put the first human genes together. Mr. Tory's solution will only seclude the like-minded and deny valuable resources to the open minded.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Windsor Utilities Raises Water Rates - Windsor, Ontario

Let me be sure I understand the concept. We are supposed to protest higher prices by buying more, according to the Mayor of Monmouth who suggests that simultaneously and needlessly flushing our toilets will really send a strong message to the WUC. It will. We’re stupid.

From the Windsor Star:
Windsor residents fuming over a 60 per cent water and sewer rate increase are being encouraged to protest the fee hike by flushing their toilets in solidarity.
The quirky idea hit the blogosphere Tuesday night when Peter Angermann, a local businessman and Walkerville homeowner, came up with what quickly became a "flush to vote" campaign.
On his blog, titled The Mayor of Monmouth, Angermann suggested people who are "mad as heck" about the new Windsor Utilities Commission rates, which came into effect Wednesday, flush their toilet three times during a specific time period in an attempt to overwhelm the city's sewer system.

Just how much is clean water and a functioning sanitary system worth anyway?

Jeremy Tyrrell, Windsor