Wednesday, February 28, 2007
33 responses may not seem like much but:
a. I didn't try real hard;
b. it's definitely more than "2 or 3".
One benefit of this exercise is that I now have some really neat Petition software ready to go, should it ever be required. Necessity truly is the mother of invention - along with some judicious Google searching.
"Windsor administrators were told by council Monday to find ways to shave the proposed seven per cent tax hike to an increase that's closer to the rate of inflation."That's the problem with letting administration set the budget in the first place.
"The council now will break out into operating committees, there's zero-based budgeting that needs to be done on five of the committees or six of the committees that administration has already reviewed," Mayor Eddie Francis said. "By the end of the budget process all the departments that were identified for the zero-based budget will have zero-based budget.This part really puzzled me. Five or maybe six committees, (hopefully operating in public, but don't hold your breath) will now do zero-based budgeting on parts of the budget that administration has already reviewed? What do we call this "Modified, Modified Zero-Based Budgeting"?
No matter how you spin it, this was not the process that was used over the last two years. The Mayor and administration have been "driving" this budget from day one. Take a few minutes to go back and read the Mayor's Inaugural Address and you can see some of the budget "drivers" that were being prepared.
To come together, and commit the significant funds required, to the development and implementation of a comprehensive marketing strategy that will showcase Windsor to investors and decision-makers around the globe.I wonder what kind of budget former Mayor Millson is working with?
Successful marketing requires critical mass – you can’t do it with small budgets. It requires a consistent message – you need to repeat the same thing time and time again.
So we need to bring groups together. We need to bring our entire region together. And develop a bold, exciting, and modern marketing campaign that tells the world about what a great place this is to live, work, visit, and invest.
We need to do this right, through an organized, deliberate campaign. It will be expensive, but by marketing ourselves properly, we can – and we will – achieve results.
It is my hope that during our strategic sessions in the coming weeks, that Council will provide a new framework for how we communicate with our residents.The only thing missing from this section is the $259,000 planned for an improved "corporate communications" office.
This could include publishing an annual report that will help people measure us based on our performance. It would help you hold us accountable.
Until then, my plan is to start an e-newsletter, from the Mayor to the people of Windsor.
It is the fireside chat of the twenty-first century.
And it will provide you with a direct update from me, on the progress we are making and the key issues facing our city.
Annual report? I can't remember which Councillor it was who asked a question last Monday - what ever happened to the monthly departmental reports that were supposed to be delivered to Council, and by extension, the public? If the Mayor is really looking for the fireside chat of the twenty-first century - email it's not. Try this on for size. You want to communicate with youth? Speak to the people in Planning, they've got the right idea.
3. Police Services
For the first time in nearly forty years, a comprehensive efficiency and effectiveness review of our police service was recently completed, under the leadership of Chief Glen Stannard, his executive team, and the police services board.I don't think many would debate wanting a well equipped Police force ready to meet the challenges of our city, but this seems to be presented as a fait accompli. As with many other things, where was all the talk of these grand visions during the election?
The result will be an unprecedented change and modernization of the Windsor police service.
This modernization will include:
• A comprehensive reorganization of the police service, including the creation of a Major Crime Squad and other new units to effectively meet the challenges presented by crime trends and technological advances;
• An investment in new tools and technologies that will allow us to fight crime using the most modern means available;
• Twenty more uniformed police officers on the beat;
• And there will be two patrol cars watching over the streets of each of our municipal wards, twenty-four hours a day.
Asking for a budget with target + 1% will get you exactly that - target + 1%. Any contemplated budget below that amount will trigger the automatic warnings of "severe reductions in service"
Virtually every business in this city is having to learn how to do more with less, facing increased taxes, costs and new hurdles around every corner. Why should the City Administration be any different.
Same old, same old.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Tax hike likely, mayor says (subscribers only)An interesting quote from the Mayor in the article:
Maintaining existing services without increase 'very improbable'
Anne Jarvis, Windsor Star
Published: Monday, February 26, 2007
Facing rising costs and falling revenue, the city will need an extra $27 million -- seven per cent more -- from taxpayers this year to pay for existing operations and some additional staff and improved services, according to a report on the 2007 budget to be discussed by council tonight.
"Maintaining existing services without raising taxes would be "very, very improbable," said Mayor Eddie Francis, and council is not likely to want to reduce services significantly, he said."When the Administration creates the budget, this is exactly what you get. Wasn't this what the Modified Zero Based Budget was supposed to correct? It was lauded as Councillors taking control of the budget process.
Modified Zero Based Budgeting
In 2004, City Council approved a phased implementation to a modified zero based budgeting approach that provides a significantly greater review of how tax dollars are spent. In modified zero based budgeting, every dollar must be justified as opposed to the traditional method of only explaining new programs and the amounts requested in excess of the previous period's funding. In addition to saving money and improving services, it can increase restraint in developing budgets, reduce any sense of “entitlement” to budget increases to cover costs, and can make budget discussions more meaningful. The 2006 budget development is the second year of the 3-year phase-in period with 11 additional departments and agencies being added to the 4 that started the new process in 2005
I guess we'll never know if any "sense of entitlement" existed or restraint was lacking in the 9 City Departments that never faced this process. They are:
* Huron LodgeSome mighty big budgets in that list. And they say it doesn't snow much in Windsor!
* Licensing & Enforcement
* Parks Recreation
* Hospitality & Corporate Facility Planning
* Public Works Operations
* Social Support Services
* Housing & Children’s Services
* Windsor Police Services
Councillor Halberstadt has two good posts on this subject:
High Cost of Propaganda
Utility Rates Piling Up
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Blogger linked to bridge firmNice little bit of pushback. This is what qualifies as "news" in Windsor these day? The problem with articles like this and Councillor Brister's strange comments at Council last week, is that they tend to engender the exact opposite response than what was intended.
Blogger linked to bridge firm
Dave Battagello, Windsor Star
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2007
A Windsor Internet blogger who promotes himself as a city council watchdog and concerned resident in the border truck traffic debate has worked with the Ambassador Bridge on a lawsuit filed against the city, according a document obtained by The Star.
An affidavit filed with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) by the Paroian law firm includes billing information that indicates Ed Arditti was involved with e-mail exchanges and conference calls with the bridge company's lawyers and executives, including owner Matty Moroun.
In a related note, I wonder how that report on the
If anyone is ever interested in blogging and needs some help in getting started, feel free to drop me a line - email@example.com . It's easy and free.
The old adage used to be "never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel". That's one dynamic that's certainly changing in the Internet enabled, Web 2.0 universe of today.
Update: you can read Ed Arditti's reply to the Windsor Star article here.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Year 1 - 2005 - Implemented
Year 2 - 2006 - Implemented
Year 3 - 2007 - Council re-elected, no longer required.
If Modified Zero Based Budgeting was as wildly successful as we were told during the first two years, why are we not completing the third year?
The new buzzwords are "cost drivers", "Community Strategic Plan Initiatives", "service enhancements" ...
Starting at zero used to make so much sense. Now we're on to New Windsor Math - 2 % Target PLUS 1 % Capital Levy PLUS any service enhancements from the Community Strategic Plan.
Same old, same old.
Windsor Budget Recipe
Take last years budget.
Add 7%, cover ears as taxpayers scream.
Lock councillors in room. Stir pot vigorously. Reduce service enhancements to suit.
Pop Councillors out of session when done, declaring "tough decisions were made and we held the line at 3.25%"
Note: serve before next quarterly Unemployment Rate announced to avoid spoiling
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Open and transparent
Across Ontario there is a fatigue with governments at all levels. People, who are interested in being involved in the decisions that shape their communities, get frustrated when they are stonewalled by the very organizations created to work on their behalf. Ontario needs strong, enforceable laws that make it not only easy, but in many cases possible, for citizens to participate in the process. The Transparency in Public Matters Act goes a long way towards making that a reality. But without the support of concerned and involved citizens, the Private Member’s Bill may die.
I've posted this once before, but thought it worthwhile to post again for any doubters out there who truly believe that people aren't interested in their governments, regardless of level (H/T to See McIntyre Info for the link) :
Restoring Citizen Trust – The Heart of Accountability – establishing a political culture that reconnects with politicians and the public.(pdf)One method of facilitating the above that has been adopted by both National and Provincial levels of government, but hasn't really filtered down to the Municipal level as yet is RSS - Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Site Syndication). Pull versus push technology. A user can decide which feeds to subscribe to and how often those feeds are checked. No need for massive email databases or lists, simply post the item on your RSS-enabled website and let the people pull what they wish. RSS also allows for
Existing accountability mechanisms in Canada are out of date. For one thing, they assume that public involvement is limited to election times. But numerous studies show that citizens are “no longer content to go to the polls every four years or so and then give government a free hand” (Savoie, page 9). Part of having more trust is having more say.
Improved accountability won’t happen without improved transparency. It goes well beyond simply posting more information on government Web sites and publishing more reports. Transparency means the public has easily accessible, understandable and meaningful information that makes clear what is being achieved for society with public funds and where the gaps are. It also involves governments giving the public a role in determining what constitutes meaningful information and facilitating its use of that information to influence the policy process.
A good example of that is my previous post regarding the appointment of Anthony Toldo Sr. as a Member of the Order of Canada. My RSS client pulled the Press Release from the Government of Canada News Feed at 1:30 pm yesterday afternoon. I read it at around 6:00 pm and blogged about it, when I had a chance, at 8:30pm. Eighteen people visited that particular blog between the time I posted it and midnight last night. From the Governor General, to me, to other people. Not bad.
BTW, if you get a chance, visit the Governor General's blog or check out her Citizen's Voices Forum.
As one final comment for this post, a City report that took almost 15 months to produce in the format requested is not exactly a shining example to be chest thumping about.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Congratulations to Anthony Toldo on his appointment today as a Member of the Order of Canada in the category of Industry / Commerce / Business.
Truly well deserved recognition for a Windsor icon.
Roseann Danese's Windsor Star blog - Council Notebook - has all the details for those who missed Monday's meeting.
Update: Windsor City Blog blogger Ed Arditti weighs in on the issue with his own post.
Update 2: Councillor Alan Halberstadt blogged about this issue in October of last year, during the election. The reason we are looking at the amount of time spent in-camera by council is the result of a resolution of Council spearheaded by Alan. Passed in November of 2005, it directed the City Administration to produce a quarterly report of the time spent in camera versus the time spent in public. It took until October of 2006 to produce the first report, covering January to September 2006 instead of per quarter, as directed by council. Last nights report, over 1 year later represents the first production of a quarterly report requested in November of 2005.
From the minutes of the November 28th Council Meeting:
That the City Clerk BE REQUESTED to provide quarterly reports on time spent by Council at both in-camera and open meetings; and
That the titles of proposed in-camera agenda items BE LISTED on the Consolidated Order of Business for approval in open session, the week prior to their intended consideration in closed session; and
That the Procedure By-law BE AMENDED to provide for phone and e-mail polls of Council members. Should the ability to poll be allowed, that polling be restricted to emergency issues requiring Council direction where time does not permit holding a special meeting of Council and/or a quorum of Council cannot physically convene to consider the matter.
Councillor Lewenza was absent from the meeting when the vote was taken on this matter.
BASIS Report Number: 11692 ACA/7358 ACO2005 8
Monday, February 19, 2007
In terms of open government and accountability this will be an issue that I will continue to follow.
I can't say I'm surprised to see the Auditor General to be the largest result when you combine "All of the Above" and the actual "Auditor General" question. With ongoing questions regarding such things as the Canderel Leases or the Spitfires lease, I think many people would have a greater comfort level knowing that an Auditor General would have the authority to examine such documents. I was surprised to see that the Lobbyist Registrar was not chosen at all. I think that will be one item that I will follow up on for future blog posts. In my own personal opinion, this position ranks second to the Auditor General in terms of open government.
Her latest on Kyoto is a good read - Kyoto Is A Dead Duck and Should Be
In one of those "it's a small world" things, her fellow speaker is Glen Murray. Various promos for the event have highlighted Mr. Murray's current employment at Navigator and as Chair of the National Roundtable on the Evironment and Economy.
What many people may not know, or may have forgotten about is Mr. Murray's connections to the Federal Liberal Party. Former Mayor Murray was the serving Mayor of Winnipeg when he was recruited as a star candidate by Paul Martin to run in the 2004 elections. Murray lost the election to Conservative Candidate Steven Fletcher, Canada's first quadriplegic MP.
As with many things political, good deeds generally don't go unrewarded. In March of 2005 Paul Martin appointed Murray as Chair of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.
To bring things full circle, we have the passage of Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez's Private Members Bill C-288 - An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol (Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act).
One interesting section of the bill would require the government to create a plan within 60 days of the bill's Senate passage. The report is to be submitted to Parliament and.... The National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.
REPORTIt really is a small world.
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy
10. (1) Within 60 days after the Minister publishes a Climate Change Plan under subsection 5(3), or within 30 days after the Minister publishes a statement under subsection 9(2), the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy established by section 3 of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy Act shall perform the following with respect to the Plan or statement:(a) undertake research and gather information and analyses on the Plan or statement in the context of sustainable development; and
(b) advise the Minister on issues that are within its purpose, as set out in section 4 of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy Act, including the following, to the extent that they are within that purpose:(i) the likelihood that each of the proposed measures or regulations will achieve the emission reductions projected in the Plan or statement,
(ii) the likelihood that the proposed measures or regulations will enable Canada to meet its obligations under Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Kyoto Protocol, and
(iii) any other matters that the Round Table considers relevant.
I'll have more on the "Moving Forward" event later on including some background info and a list of buzzwords to keep an eye out for during the evening while all the "thought provoking" and "inspiring" is going on.
* Bonus points if you can identify the former President and CEO of the Prime Minister's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy
Friday, February 16, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I plan on leaving up the poll until this Sunday, when it will have been up for one week. The pic below represents the results as of 11:00 am this morning. Ya - it's an internet poll, so we can all take the results with a large grain of salt, but I think it's still worthwhile to get a glimpse of what some are thinking.
(click on image for full-size)
Although the debate regarding the accuracy level of Wikipedia rages on, the fact remains, that it's often one of the first destinations someone looks at when searching online.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I don't visit as often as I should. Andrew posts greats shots from around the city. He focuses on buildings and architecture, with a few ships and other odds and sods thrown in. I'm quite the klutz myself when it comes to taking pics, so it's always nice to appreciate someone else's professional work.
Here are couple of good posts about the "Peace Beacon" (complete with pictures, of course)
History Uncovered - 30 October, 2006
Peace Beacon - 01 February, 2007
When city councillors chose the above priority in their planning session Monday night, they didn’t get off to a good start.
Coun. Percy Hatfield tried. He informed the city’s chief administrative officer John Skorobohacz that he wouldn’t be participating in the meeting if it was closed to the public. He was assured it was an open session, so when Hatfield didn’t see a certain newspaper reporter there, he chastised her later about not showing up.I caught part of the Windsor City Council meeting on Cogeco and heard Percy ask a question related to this. Unfortunately, I was on the phone at the time so didn't catch everything. I believe that the answer was that the Press Release was in the package in the reporter's box at City Hall.
But Skorobohacz hadn’t bothered with the small issue of SENDING OUT A PRESS RELEASE so the media would know to go.
Not too transparent.
We'll call this one a draw. Apparently the attempt was made, whether or not it was successful is another story.
Percy's action demonstrates that there are Councillors listening who are willing to go the extra mile, regardless of competing pressures. They should be applauded, encouraged and supported whenever they act in this manner. Slowly but surely the door is being wedged open and the window unstuck. Once complete, they will never be shuttered again.
Openness is a culture, the same as secrecy. Culture change for any organization is never easy but often necessary. It's heartening to see we've taken the first steps - baby steps mind you, but steps just the same.
Monday, February 12, 2007
City could hire watchdogsIn yesterdays post, I referred to Item 2 on this weeks Council Agenda. The title is
Thu, February 8, 2007
A new provincial law allows municipalities to appoint officials to make them accountable.
By JONATHAN SHER, SUN MEDIA
London council has been given new powers to combat secrecy, waste and unseemly conduct at city hall, but the question remains -- will it use its new authority?
He likes that the new law requires council to make a record of its proceedings behind doors.
"That's the key," he said.
The Ontario government has given municipalities some time (how much is unclear) to decide whether to hire an investigator or let complaints of closed-door meetings go to the provincial ombudsman.
But the legislation does provide a green light to hire:
- An integrity commissioner to enforce ethical matters, including a code of conduct for council.
- An ombudsman to probe complaints against city staff.
- An auditor general to investigate the use of city funds.
- A lobbyist registrar to help the public track who is lobbying whom.
" Council Orientation with Richard Tindal ". In the "Discussion" we see that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is providing a training session to council on the amendments to the Municipal Act. In addition, the Mayor is preparing a report on the Code of Conduct, Ombudsman and Integrity Commissioner aspects. That's why I put up the poll in the right hand sidebar.
I think it's worthwhile if we have a discussion on these various new positions and what they can do for the citizens of Windsor. One, for example, will have the power to investigate in-camera meetings of Council and whether or not the topics they are discussing are appropriate for closed door meetings. From a citizens perspective, the decision not to have an Ombudsman could mean significant delays in receiving a decision, as all complaints would then be forwarded to the Ontario Ombudsman. Will it be possible to merge some of the positions - a combined Integrity Commissioner/Ombudsman? What are the various pros and cons of each position?
If we leave this discussion to Council and the Editorial pages of the Windsor Star, then we will get what we deserve.
PS. email your friends, family and co-workers the address of the blog so that they can vote in the poll.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Just wondering. I want to make sure I get my suitcase packed before it gets dark.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Media CityTo be honest, I haven't had much feedback, other than the typical anonymous nasty emails, since starting this blog. I was happy to see that Jordan recognized the balance I was trying to maintain, while also sad that my focus seems to be centred on the "faults and foibles". After looking through some of my last months or so posts, I guess I would have to agree.
Windsor Municpal Shadow. He is exactly what he says he is. While not as prolific as Scnurr or Arditti, Paul Synnott unloads on the faults and foibles of council without snark or sarcasm, which is a dangerous balance to maintain.
I've got one side of the balance down, now I have to ensure that I have a little more in the "praise where praise is due" category. I have never intended this blog to be entirely negative or pointed but rather a discussion of various issues. I guess sometimes it's easier to zoom in on the negatives and miss the positives.
Note to self.
BTW, make sure you check out Jordan's blogpost for a review of the rest of Windsor's political related blogs.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
"If you are interested in democracy online - including politics online, new media, e-governance, e-government, online advocacy and activism, citizen e-participation and related topics, then join us.Steven was just recently appointed an Ashoka Fellow in the field of Civic Engagement.
Each week, well known e-democracy expert and speaker Steven Clift posts/forwards, with occasional analysis, carefully selected messages. Posts include news, article, and report web links, event and conference announcements, calls for papers, and often uncover important "primary source" online resources, projects, and initiatives of significance."
EPRI ONLINE RADIO SHOW/PODCAST on “Web 2.0 for Politicians”
Learn about what Web 2.0 (the new generation of the internet) can do for you!
The Hot Air Balloon Show live on February 12th and 14th from 1.30-3pm (+1GMT) or by podcast afterwards.
Wed 14th Feb: Secrets of success? New media in political campaigning
Hear about the latest (new media) trends in political campaigning in the US and Europe.
* Alan Rosenblatt: Director, Internet Advocacy Center and famous blogger (aka Dr. DigiPol),
* Chris Casey: Director of Online Campaigns, NGP Software,
* Jimmy Orr: Director of E-Communications for US Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, (TBC) * Loïc Le Meur: European MD, Six Apart and one of France’s most influential bloggers.
Note: Places for the live show are limited, so please register. To participate contact: Benedikte BUHL firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +32 2 644 3777 Fax: +32 2 644 3775
Gord Henderson had a rather biting column in the Windsor Star recently regarding the Interim Control By-Law for Sandwich. Councillors Marra, Halberstadt and Dilkens were taken to the woodshed for "siding" with the bridge.
Marra and Dilkens are basically reliant on either the Windsor Star or any one of the other media outlets if they wish to respond in any fashion.
Halberstadt, on the other hand, has his website complete with blog and videos. Blind Mouse Musings (Part One), Blind Mouse Musings (Part Two) and Blind Mouse Musings (Part Three) are Alan's response to Henderson's column. While Alan's blog may not have the same readership as the Star, it affords him an avenue to instantly respond to any issue without having to go through local media.
Other blogs such as this one, Ed Arditti's Windsor City Blog or Chris Schnurr's Sound Off often link to the site and comment on what Alan has posted or some related item. The local blog aggregator WE Speak helps further expose Alan's blogs to internet readers. Websites like the Canadian Blog Aggregator and YouTube reproduce content on a provincial, national and international level. Even the Windsor Star's Muncipal Affairs reporter (and blogger) featured Alan's website in a recent blog post.
All of this offers residents a greater chance to participate in local politics whether it's through traditional means such as phone calls or letters or through emails, blog comments or blog posts.
One interesting thing to follow for the future will be whether Alan faces pressure from his fellow councillors to cease his blogging or will some Councillors recognize the potential of this new medium and join him. Many politicians make a great show of listening and communicating with their residents during elections, how many continue after the vote has been counted?
* In the interests of full disclosure, I designed Alan's website and maintain it, on a volunteer basis.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I can't speak to Councillors Marra and Dilkens but Councillor Halberstadt's platform, unlike the Mayor's, is front and centre for all to see.
A Grand Vision of Small Solutions
I've re-read it three times now and can't seem to find the commitment
• Urge the new Council to take a more conciliatory approach with the senior levels of government to find a solution to our border issues.Mayor Francis has pretty much shattered point number one. Monday night's interim control bylaw destroyed point two. Point three probably represents the most important action required to change the dynamic on this council and how business in this city is conducted.
• End the reliance on expensive lawyers and consultants on the border file.
• Ask for an external Municipal Act expert to orient the new Council on methods to be open and transparent.
To people who follow city issues it seems to be a continuing strange situation when Windsor Star columnists and reporters are privy to City actions before even it's elected council members.
There have been a number of Councillors calling for a specific meeting on border issues with the new Council. We're now heading into February and somehow Council hasn't been able to meet to formulate a strategy for moving forward. How curious. If you want to proclaim that everyone should be onside with the team, shouldn't the team actually meet to determine what is either on or offside? I know, I know, I shouldn't worry about the trivial details.
Henderson's spends three quarters of his article throwing around terms like pandering, naive, stupidity and negligence relating to the three dissenting Councillors. Funny thing is those four terms match the number of fingers (and thumb - but that's one for a different post) not pointing at Councillors Marra, Halberstadt and Dilkens.
The voters of Windsor did not elect a team. Each ward elected their individual Councillors and the City as a whole elected a Mayor. If the Mayor has a game plan that he wishes Councillors to get on board with then it is incumbent on him to share that plan. Lord knows, he didn't share any of it with the voters of Windsor during this last election.