To: Council Members TSBP


From:  Craig Gammie

Subject:  My Comments re Various Agenda Items 29 March 2011 Council

 Procedural By-law – Meetings: (page 66 of 29 March council agenda – originally from 14 March COW minutes)

 While COW meetings are often extended beyond the scheduled finish time, the list of unfinished business continues to grow.  Council meetings routinely finish early.  I agree that there may be some efficiency opportunities here.

 But in considering changes please be careful not to shut out the public.

 As I understand section 21.1 of the procedural manual, a notice of motion can be made at a council meeting,  the motion can be on the agenda of a COW meeting for discussion one week later, and a COW recommendation can be adopted by council resolution another week after that.

 As I understand section A15.2 (delegations), with contemplated revisions, any person wishing to be heard by council at a COW meeting must submit a written request to the clerk by noon on the Wednesday preceding the COW meeting and at the same time also submit a written version of the presentation (the procedural bylaw actually currently says a general summary of the information to be presented).

 As an example, the way I read it, notice can be made in a council meeting on the evening of March 29, the motion can be put on the April 5 COW agenda for discussion, and any member of the public who wishes to address the COW on the issue as a delegation must submit a request to appear and submit their presentation by noon on the 30th of March.  In addition, the way I read it, the COW can discuss the motion on the 5th, and make a recommendation, and that recommendation can be adopted by resolution in the council meeting of April 12th.

 Given that timing, it is virtually impossible for someone who actually attends the March 29th council meeting to be a delegation on the issue on April 5th.

 And given that draft council meeting minutes will only be made public on April 1st, the timing is impossible for anyone who did not attend the March 29th council meeting.

 This effectively shuts the public out of the discussion on some major issues.

 What I would suggest is that there be at least two weeks between the time a motion is made public and the time that a copy of the presentation, along with a request to appear at the committee of the whole meeting where the item is introduced for discussion, is required to be submitted.  Four weeks would be better.

 This would allow the public to participate more meaningfully.

 I find section A21.1 a bit unclear.  If what I am suggesting is already in section A21.1, then my suggestion is simply to clarify section 21.1.

 Schedule “B” (page 65 of March 29 council agenda package– originally from From 14 March COW minutes)

 I am concerned with the proposal to eliminate schedule “B”.   With the proposal, council would still get miscellaneous correspondence.  But residents would not.  Residents use schedule “B” to keep informed of what other residents are saying and recommending to council.   Residents also use schedule “B” to let other residents know what they are saying to council.

 Residents also use schedule “B” to monitor proceedings of council committees.

 Eliminating Schedule ”B” would shut residents out of the process even more that they already are.  I would recommend keeping schedule “B” the way it is.   There is no problem with schedule “B” that I can see.

 TSBP Strategic Plan   (SeeTSBP Agenda Package 29 March 2011 Council pages 78, 79 – originally From 22 March COW minutes, and TSBP Agenda Package 29 March 2011 Council page 84– originally From 25 March Special COW on budget)

 I am a big supporter of strategic planning for TSBP.  My only concern about the process is that too many are talking as if a strategic plan and an economic development plan are the same thing.  The strategic plan should be just that – development of a strategy to best meet the legitimate goals of the people acting as a corporate body.  It may have an economic development plan in the strategic plan or it may have an economic development plan for part of the town or it may have no economic development plan at all.  If we were to go the route of developing an economic development plan and wrongly calling it a strategic plan, it will have little credibility and could do some serious damage.

 The suggestion of getting a strategy development professional to lead the exercise is in my view a good one.

 Blog

 It’s clear that the public is footing the bill on this issue, yet we have no information with which to assess whether that’s justified.  Any chance council could be a little more forthcoming?

 Sauble Sewers Committee/ Striking Committee   (see TSBP Agenda Package 29 March 2011 Council page 149 – originally From Sauble Sewer Striking Committee Minutes 15 March 2011)

 I am very much in support of the COW recommendation that got the steering committee started, and I agree with the committee purpose of addressing the Genivar water and sewer report, as presented in the January 18th COW minutes as COW-044-2011 as:

 “Recommendaton:       THAT an ad hoc Committee be established including members of Council and members of  the public to address the Genivar water and sewer report:…. “

 Since then the goal seems to have changed to one of determining if there is any credible evidence of a problem.  I agree with that modification/ addition.  But there is also currently some discussion of “determining if there is scientific evidence of a need for sewers at Sauble”.   This newest tack concerns me.

 Scientists can gather data, compare the results to standards, and draw conclusions about conformance to standards.  I would even stretch that a bit to say that scientists could draw conclusions on whether there is a problem or a potential problem at Sauble.

 But no scientist can provide scientific evidence of a need for communal sewers at Sauble.  Because once a problem is defined, and root cause is known, the decision of what to do about it, if anything, is not an exercise in science, but rather is an exercise in rational decision making.  That decision making may rely partly on science, but it is not science.

 We know that when we say “evidence that there is a need for sewers” we really mean “evidence of a problem”.   But others who are not close to the situation may not know, and if we ask a scientist for evidence of a need for sewers, it will be up to fortune whether or not we get a rational decision process and a rational decision or recommendation.

 If we want to know if there’s a problem, we should indeed ask a scientist.

 And while some scientists may be competent in the Environmental Assessment decision process, being a scientist is not sufficient to qualify as competent in the Environmental Assessment decision process.

 If there is a problem and we want to know if and if so how we should solve the problem, we should ask for advice not from a scientist but rather from someone competent in the Environmental Assessment decision process.

 Craig Gammie

The Craig Gammie Commentary


Using Taxpayers Money To Assist Commercial Enterprises Is Illegal

 On March 25th I attended a TSBP budget meeting.  I found out that a small group of TSBP council members and staff had recently met behind closed doors with the Sauble and Wiarton Chambers of Commerce, and had come to an agreement to increase the chambers’ grant requests to $120,000 ($60,000 per chamber) for each of 2011 and 2012.  This is in addition to the $20,000 already donated to the chambers in February 2011. (They got $40,000 total in 2010). 

 The group later decided to propose, to council, that MOU’s (Memoranda of Understanding) with the chambers, instead of grants, be used, so the town could just give the chambers a bunch of money for “events” and the chambers could use the money as they see fit.

 The number of council members in the “group” was deliberately kept below the council quorum of five, so that the legal requirement for an open meeting could be avoided.   Even councillors who were not part of the “group” were not allowed to attend (because that would have made a quorum and required that the meeting be open).

 That this discussion was going on behind closed doors, shielded from public scrutiny, is a big concern.

 But the bigger concern is the size of the giveaway.

 In the March 25th budget meeting the $120,000 MOU was discussed. Council agreed to do only the 2011 MOU at this point.   Except for a tiny bit of resistance from the two ward 3 councillors, the notion of collecting an extra $120,000 in taxes and giving it to the chambers was fully supported.  (Councillor Kirkland was absent).  Marilyn Bowman suggested a $60,000 giveaway to the Wiarton Chamber and $40,000 to the Sauble chamber, for a total of $100,000 excluding the $20,000 already given away.   Janice Jackson suggested $60,000 for Wiarton and $30,000 for the Sauble Chamber.

 After discussion, a proposal to give each chamber $60,000 carried, pending overall budget approval, on a show of hands that looked to me to be 6 in favour and 2 (Jackson/Bowman) opposed.

 I have taken the position that this kind of grant is not in the public interest, is unlawful, is unethical, and is economically unsound.   My March 24 letter to council (attached as March 24 letter to council re Sammy Jones Grant Request.doc) gives my supporting argument.  What really irks me is how council bends over backwards for the business community and rarely even considers the impacts of “their generosity” on the taxpayers.

 Quite frankly, what I really think is that taking $120,000 plus $20,000 from taxpayers and giving it to the chambers of commerce for mostly private gain is nothing short of unlawful.  (I used a different word in place of “unlawful” in my first draft of this letter – my legal advisor replaced it with “unlawful”).  I can see maybe somewhere between ten and twenty thousand to run a few modest legitimate community events, but anything above that is unlawful.  And except for those legitimate events, providing assistance as in-kind services is also unlawful.  And providing assistance by waiving bylaws is also unlawful.

 My position is that while it is quite proper for the town to tax us to pay for legitimate municipal services, it is not proper to tax us to assist commercial operations.

 And it’s very disappointing to me that while our ward 3 councillors do not support quite as much “unlawful assistance” as the rest do, they still support much “unlawful assistance”.

 The extra $120,000 taxation adds about 1.5 % to the municipal part of your property tax bill.

 If you share my concerns, please consider sending council members a note of disapproval.

 It could be as simple as:  “no giveaways to the chambers of commerce”.

 Or feel free to copy any or all from my March 24th letter attached.

 You can e-mail council at:

 “Mayor and Council” sbpen@bmts.com or just sbpen@bmts.com

 There will be a public meeting to hear comments about the budget.  It will be mid or late April, date to be determined.

 If you do write to council, please be aware that not all councillors welcome input from the public.   I have been repeatedly chastized by at least one councillor for attending “open” meetings and for writing letters.  The attached response from one councillor (attached as A councillor response to Mar24 CGammie letter.doc ) to my March 24th letter is the mildest of the reprimands.

 Best regards,  

Craig Gammie

A little Ditty bout…..


24 March 2011

 Mayor and Council

 This is a request for $130,000 from the town of South Bruce Peninsula, and also in-kind assistance and waiver of bylaws.

 I want to set up a small car dealership at Sauble Beach and I need the money.  Half would be to advertize all over south western Ontario so that I can draw in customers.  The other half would be to run carnivals in my parking lot, open to the public.

 I also request a waiver of the noise bylaw on weekends from June 1 to September 8th, and awaiver of the fireworks by-law every Saturday evening for the same period.

 The economic benefit to the area will be huge.  I will create three jobs and bring a lot of money into the area economy.

 Customers that come to buy a car will also spend money on other things in the area.

 This will also help to diversify the economy.

 Finally the carnivals in my parking lot will be great community events.

 And the tax base would be expanded so there would be an increase in property tax paid to the town, and thus a reduction in taxes for everyone else.

 I will be in Wiarton next week and I will drop in so you could just hand me the cheque when I am there.

 If your protocol requires that you grant only half of what is requested, please make my request for $260,000.

 Thanks very much,

 Samuel (Sammy) P. Jones

The letter above is not a real request.  It was presented for illustration only.  If you as council members really got this letter, I would hope that you would decline the request.

 And that would be the right thing to do.  Because the request is for council to take $130,000 from the taxpayers and give it to Mr. Jones and his customers, with no benefit of any value to the taxpayers as a whole.

 You should refuse the grant on four grounds:

 1.         Not in public interest,

2.         Not legal,

3.         Not ethical,

4.         Economically unsound.

 1.         Not in public interest

 There would be lots of private benefits.  Mr. Jones would make a bunch of money, and customers would get new cars.  And even the free carnival is a private benefit, even though it is open to the public.  It is a private benefit because the public does not need it and a significant portion of the public would not pay for it if the choice were theirs to make.

 The extra property tax revenue is a public benefit, but for the analysis I am going to assume that the extra town service costs more or less cancel out the extra taxes.

 The net public benefit equation is as follows:

 Private benefits are significant.

 Public costs:

  • increased taxes across TSBP = $130,000
  • increased services for dealership = x
  • value of Loss of Enjoyment of Property and commons due to bylaw waiver = LOEP [significant cost but hard to put monetary value on it]

 Public benefits:

  • increased property tax revenue = x

 Net pubic benefit = public benefit less public cost

                                    = $0 minus $130,000 minus LOEP

                                    = Negative ($130,000 plus LOEP)

 So for example if value of LOEP is assumed to be zero the net public benefit is still negative $130,000, and if LOEP is valued at $30,000 then the net public benefit is minus $130,000 minus $30,000 = negative $160,000.  That’s a public detriment of $160,000!!

 2.         Not legal

 This grant would, in my view, be a clear violation of section 106 of the municipal Act, which prohibits, with certain exceptions, indirect or direct assistance to commercial enterprises.  This proposal would not qualify under any of the exceptions.

 3.         Not ethical

 Sammy Jones and his customers are entitled to enter an arrangement that is of mutual benefit.  But Sammy Jones and his customers are not entitled to assistance from taxpayers.  Arbitrarily taking from everyone and granting to a few only provides unearned, unwarranted enrichment of the few by unfairly impoverishing the rest.   To me this is unethical.

 4.         Economically unsound

 There are very few economists who believe that government should or can create private sector jobs. And those who do usually suggest that the means of creating private sector jobs is through a combination of fiscal and monetary policy, the latter of which is reserved for the Federal government.  Fairly mainstream thinking is that when  governments claim to create jobs, in most cases they are merely shifting jobs and wealth around, and are thus creating and destroying jobs at the same time, with little or no net job creation.

 The grants might appear to create wealth and jobs, but in my view would be really just shifting jobs and wealth around.  Giving the grants is therefore economically unsound.

 Don Dewees, an Economist and Economics Professor at University of Toronto, expressed this well in a session of Steve Paiken’s Agenda (TVO). You can hear Don on this topic at:

 http://www.tvo.org/cfmx/tvoorg/theagenda/index.cfm?page_id=7&bpn=779864&ts=2010-10-01%2005:00:00.0 (starting at approximately minute 35)

 The two chambers of commerce in the TSBP have requested some $150,000 in grants to assist their members’ businesses, including the $20,000 already paid prior to budget approval. This is exclusive of in-kind assistance and exclusive of the value of LOEP, which I value at another $43,600.

Request number Description request amount $ in -kind and waiver CG guess value
2 SBruce ChamberWiarton Willie guides 10000 10000
3 Sauble Beach chamber request free use of community centre 2011 winterfest   1800
18 Sauble chamber reserve for 2012 use of community centre winterfest   1800
25 sauble chamber 24 weeks 40000  
26 south bruce and sauble chambers events coord 60,000  
27 south bruce and sauble chambers  goes with item 25   20000
28 south bruce chamber – wiarton willie 20,000 10000
total   130,000 43,600
       
  already paid – to chambers – paid february 20,000  
total with already paid   150,000 43,600
  total cash, inkind, waiver 193,600  

 This grant should be denied for the same four reasons that the “Sammy Jones” grant request should be denied.

 1.         Not in public interest,

2.         Not legal,

3.         Not ethical,

4.         Economically unsound.

 1.         Not in public interest

 There would be lots of private benefits.  Businesses that cater to tourists would make more money.   And their customers would benefit from subsidized products and services.    Concerts are a private benefit because the public does not need them and a significant portion of the public would not pay for them if the choice were theirs to make.

 Some part, a small part, of the events could be considered legitimate community building events, and therefore in the public interest and a public benefit.   But this small part could in my view be done by staff.  But just to be conservative, I have assumed that staff are not available, and I have allowed for $20,000 of public benefit, accounted for as savings to the town as a result of not having to hire extra help to run true community events.  There may be some modest extra property tax revenue as a result of the grant, and this will be a public benefit, but as with the Sammy Jones request, I have assumed that extra services costs more or less cancel out the extra property tax revenues.  Similarly I have assumed that increased parking revenues as a result of the grant are more or less cancelled by the extra costs of beach and park maintenance.

 The net public benefit equation is as follows:

 Private benefits are significant.

 Public costs:

  • increased property taxes across TSBP = $150,000
  • increased services for businesses = x
  • increased beach maintenance = y
  • value of loss of enjoyment of property and commons due to bylaw waiver = LOEP [significant cost but hard to put monetary value on it]

 Public benefits:

  • increased property tax revenue = x
  • increased parking revenues = y

 Net pubic benefit = public benefit less public cost

= $20,000 minus $150,000 minus x plus x minus y plus y minus LOEP

                        = Negative ($130,000 plus LOEP)

 So for example if value of LOEP is assumed to be zero the net public benefit is still negative $130,000, and if LOEP is valued at $30,000 then the net public benefit is -$130,000 minus $30,000 = negative $160,000.  That’s a public detriment of $160,000, $10,000 more detrimental than Sammy Jones’ request!!

 2.         Not legal

 This grant would, in my view, be a clear violation of section 106 of the municipal Act, which prohibits, with certain exceptions, indirect or direct assistance to a commercial enterprise.  The assistance would be considered indirect as it would not be given directly to individual enterprises.  The grants would not, in my view, qualify under any of the exceptions.

 3.         Not ethical

 All businesses and their customers are entitled to enter arrangements that are of mutual benefit.  But the chambers and their members are not entitled to this type of assistance from taxpayers.  Arbitrarily taking from everyone and granting to a few only provides unearned, unwarranted enrichment of the few by unfairly impoverishing the rest.   To me this is unethical.

 4.         Economically unsound

 There are very few economists who believe that government should or can create private sector jobs.  And those who do usually suggest that the means of creating private sector jobs is through a combination of fiscal and monetary policy, the latter of which is reserved for the Federal government.  Fairly mainstream thinking is that when  governments claim to create jobs, in most cases they are merely shifting jobs and wealth around, and are thus creating and destroying jobs at the same time , with little or no net job creation.  (See also the Agenda link above).

 The grants might appear to create wealth and jobs, but in my view are really just shifting jobs and wealth around.  Giving the grants would therefore be economically unsound.

 On the grounds:

 Significant public detriment,

  1. Not lawful
  2. Not ethical,
  3. Economically unsound,

 I recommend that the grants, including in-kind and bylaws waivers, be denied, except for up to $20,000 to run true community events if staff are not available.

  (The Economic Development levy in my view should be reduced drastically on similar grounds.  I will talk to this in a separate letter.)

 Craig Gammie

Council considers posting recordings of meetings


Council considers posting recordings of meetings

By THE SUN TIMES

Posted 4 days ago
   

South Bruce Peninsula councillors will discuss posting audio recordings of town council and council committee meetings on the town’s website.

The motion was put forward Tuesday by Coun. Jim Turner shortly after council voted to ban members of the public from recording such meetings pending a review of the town’s procedural bylaw.

“I wanted to see that (personal recordings) banned, but I’m still in favour of an open and transparent council,” Turner said.

Open and transparent provided nothing we say ever will come back to haunt us!!!

Council’s resolution banning people from recording meetings cites a “breach of security” at the March 7 committee of the whole meeting, when a recording device was left running during an in camera session. The issue, however, was on the agenda for that meeting well before that occurred.

How can it be that elected people entrusted by the voters to represent them, can ban  recording what is being said?? Sounds like our comrades at city hall are nervous about something!!! HMMMMMMMMMMM!

Craig Gammie has said he inadvertently left a recording device on during the closed session, when the public is excluded from the council chamber. He said he informed council of what he called “an accident” as soon as the doors were unlocked.

South Bruce Peninsula council has twice turned down proposals to webcast its meetings — at a Dec. 15 meeting because of the $26,900 cost of streaming meetings for five years that came in response to a town solicitation for bids to do the work and in February, when John Schnurr on behalf of Western International Publications — best known for its Bruce on the Bruce blog — offered to pay the town $2,500 a year for five years for the exclusive right to, copyright of, “and all production artistic control” of the content it would record and stream of council meetings.

I guess free is too expensive and money in is a sin!!

There was no guarantee what would be broadcast would be 100% accurate,” Close said Tuesday of that offer. “We would have had to surrender all broadcast and editing rights” and council was not prepared to do that.

This is pretty lame!

A video stream is a stream that is live and direct. There is no opportunity to edit. Unlike recordings that can be edited any time any where.

With an audio recording that you will get from the town I will assume, could be edited or deleted in error  by anyone inside the organization whereas an independent operator paying for the rights to produce and record would always be under scrutiny.

We should blindly trust a group that wants to restrict our right to record for security reasons?? Give me a break! We trusted them with the medical center and that turned out real well for somebody!!

Nice try Jimmy!!

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Bruce

That’s Enough!


I have been posting for about 16 months now.

I have made points that has fallen on deaf ears for the majority. The Medical Center tells the tale!

It appears that the majority up here don’t give a shit. So why should I!

I cannot think at this point why I should continue this Blog. It is pointless! I accomplish nothing!

We lost the airport sale, we have hired people to drive the bus who are not qualified, and we reward people for incompetence. We fix it by changing the elected people who blame it on the last Council. Gwen Gilbert was the best thing this town has had and she has been slandered and terminated! Anna the Banana gone, a woman who displayed passion for what she believed in, she was condemned.  Betty the Beauty believed in what she was doing, no side deals straight up, she is gone. This town deserves what ever it gets because they are more interested in the bullshit at Tim’s than the facts.

That is enough now! The old boys win! Things will not change here! Time to move on!!!!

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Bruce

This is a must see!!!!


http://willowpond.ca/archives/651

I want to thank Randy and Scott for giving me an opportunity to tell the story of my mom and dad’s fight to gain the freedom to celebrate freedom.

For the past ten years, I have been organizing the annual Liberty Summer Seminar on my parents’ property in the municipality of Clarington.

The Liberty Summer Seminar is an event that brings young people together to discuss and celebrate Canada’s history and tradition of liberty. It is a two-day, outdoor event with seven speakers, a barbecue, and a concert featuring Toronto’s Lindy Vopnfjord. It has a summer camp feel, which is why some of us refer to it as “LibertyStock.”

This past year, after our ten-year anniversary, my mom and dad were charged with running a commercial conference centre on land zoned Agricultural. The event is a non-profit event, hosted by the Institute for Liberal Studies, a registered charity. My mom and dad faced a possible fine of up to $25,000 each, for letting me, their son, host an event that promotes Canada’s founding values of civil, political and economic freedoms — the values that motivated my parents to escape to Canada from Communist Poland in 1984.

The legal fees, and the frightening prospect of not only being fined $50,000, but the possibility of having to cancel the Liberty Summer Seminar after celebrating the ten-year anniversary, was devastating.

But we got lucky.

In December, the Canadian Constitution Foundation chose to represent us to defend our right to host this Seminar. Their lawyers argued that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects our right to host an event like this under Freedom of Peaceful Assembly.

The Municipality’s lawyers agreed with the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s arguments just a few weeks ago, dropping the charges against my mom and dad, and clearing the way for the 11th annual Liberty Summer Seminar (which is in the planning stages right now, and will be hosted over the July 23, 24 weekend).

Our municipality announced just a few weeks ago that they were going to drop the charges against my parents. Their lawyers agreed with the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s arguments. But my parents should never have been charged in the first place. For nine months, my family lived under a cloud of uncertainty about what we are and are not permitted to do on our own property.

Entrenching property rights protection in the Charter would have acted as a bulwark against an overzealous bylaw department. If we had entrenched property rights, my parents would likely have never had to deal with the expense, anxiety, and heart-ache associated with being fined for hosting an event on their own property to celebrate freedom.

We’ve since discovered that our story is not unusual or uncommon in Ontario. Property owners all across Ontario, especially farmers and homeowners in rural Ontario, are facing crippling fines and excessive regulations with no compensation for the lost use and enjoyment of their property.

Entrenched property rights will help ensure that you and I, ordinary Canadians, at least have some kind of a defense against large and more powerful governments.

That’s why we’re excited about this attempt to amend the Charter, and why we support the effort wholeheartedly.

Bruce