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.