All I’m askin’ is for a little D.y.s.f.u.n.c.t.i.o.n.

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There is no shortage of interest in the town of Aurora from major media outlets.

The Globe & Mail ran an article titled "Aurora: Toronto’s most dysfunctional suburb"
(http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/aurora-torontos-most-dysfunctional-suburb/article1327376/  )

They couldn't have got it more right.  the Globe's article joins :

The Toronto Star – now 3 times ( http://www.thestar.com/article/687132#Comments ,
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/679784, http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/680349 )
and The Toronto Sun, ( http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2009/08/11/10421676-sun.html)

Anyone see a pattern?

It is getting harder for our mayor and her gang to hide their motives and disparaging acts.
When the National Post puts Mayor Phyllis Morris on " Ones to Watch" list for 2007 they weren't kidding, now we know why.

You wanted accountability Mrs mayor, well here it comes!

A local talk show on Robbers CableTV called "The Focal Point" held an interesting show on  October 14th "Are York Region councils working?

the 1hr show is now available for viewing online here:
http://www.rogerstv.com/option.asp?lid=237&rid=70&mid=52&gid=59219#96_108_3514

There is no shortage of discussion completely free of spin.  It is fantastic and entirely healthy.

After watching this I have a new found respect for Don Cousins, ex mayor of Markham.
Robert MacDonald, a York university professor was very well spoken and seemed very in touch with the specifics of the mess that Aurora council has dug itself into.

Because not everyone will take the time to watch the show I decided to extract some of the key points and break them down by topic. I have also injected my opinions.

On communication and working together

Chris Emanuel – starting off the show

"You can have a council with dissent but not necessarily dysfunction"

Agreed, unfortunately Aurora council in facist style would rather squash dissent then have to deal with it.

Chris Emanuel – 51:00

"If you want to engage residents in this new climate with new media there are new ways to engage them now.  I personally have a website,  a facebook page, a blog, and towns are spending a lot on their websites because we need to get the message out because too often people are being misled"

This connects with several other discussions on the Aurora Citizen blog regarding the failing by our mayor and the majority of council in embracing new media and communication tools.  By failing in this respect they fail to fulfil the role of representation.

Robert MacDonald – 54:00

"Representatives role is to enunciate the needs, to help them organize, give them political voice.  Politicians have a skill, the skill of how to do politics.  how to reach consensus between people of disrepute. How to go out and find people who have needs and represent them.
that idea has to be recaptured.  that is why turnout is so low, because there is no connection. In speaking about websites I was hard pressed to find anyone with any website.  No evidence of any meetings, no evidence of any news, of any activity on the councilors behalf.  You could repeat this through most of the municipalities in the area. It is the exception of a councilor that is trying to do that, to fulfill a role of representation."

It is no surprise that the councilor with the most experience is the one that has embraced these new communication tools and uses them to serve the electorate.  The rest of the councilors, mayor included, should be ashamed and should give great pause in their consideration of seeking re-election without first learning from councilor Bucks success.

Don Cousins – 56:43

"Communications are essential, you have to be listening to the public.  Council has an obligation and responsibility to make sure that meetings are public, that people are notified, that the website is clear."

Is the town of Aurora website clear? I think one of my previous posts addresses this.
In respect to the code of conduct complaint that remains on the website it only serves as a reminder to citizens as to how the Mayor and the Group Of Six are petty, that they don't wish to resolve conflict but instead want to bully and slander.

On transparency

Don Cousins – 12:43

"I think so many of them (mayors) are starting off from scratch never having run anything! let alone a council.  They make mistakes, some of them are huge and shouldn't be allowed and the law is going to get them.  Others make for a bad working relationship with their councils and their staff and their community"

Morris has no experience, she has made several huge mistakes over her term and the result is now on show for the nation.
She makes Mayor Quimby on the Simpsons look like a Nobel Prize winner.

"The word transparency is a term people like to use.  It has to do with are you building relationships? do you have trust? do you show respect for each other? are you doing the basic things of good character?

Morris campaigned flaunting the term "transparency"  she has proven that she doesn't know the meaning of the word.  Morris has torn down several relationships, the exiting of town staff is the largest indicator.  The public has lost trust as well

"one of the key attributes in good character is respect.  respect by the mayor for the council, and respect by the council for the mayor"

Respect has to be earned, that has failed.  Aurora deserves better.

On emotion and personal grudges

Robert MacDonald

"If people end up in the minority as is with Aurora council where one person is in the minority all the time that naturally is not healthy.  That locks in a personality difference"

Hitting the nail on the head.  By creating an us vs. them environment with block voting and closed door meetings, Morris has effectively open the door on bullying and intimidation.  You attack those that are at a disadvantage to defend themselves and then you spin, spin, spin.

Don Cousins – 20:45

"there's a breakdown where people really don't like each other and they're not able to overcome that.  The emotion is so strong, so "virile" within them that they're not able to agree with the other person.  That's dysfunction"

That's the group of six: Morris, MacHeckron, Grager, Gartner, Gallo & Wilson

On the need for an external entity (integrity commissioner) to enforce common sense

Don Cousins – 41:00

"Can you legislate common sense?  I don't think you can.  There are certain guidelines you can have but if you come along and have everything defined, delineated, organized are they really going to have a sense of hey I want to do the right thing for the right reasons?"

Exactly.  All of these items (code of conduct, integrity commissioner) are not required, they have been carefully orchestrated in a "wholly political" fashion to punish those on council that are in minority position and speak out.  

caller Nigel (Keane?) posed an open question to George Rust-D'ye on the Integrity Commissioner issue.  George returned a very bland blanket statement void of any useful input.

Robert MacDermid interjected – 8:23

"I think we need political openness rather than an integrity commissioner.  Often relationships between representatives and integrity commissioners go on in secret.  The investigation goes on in secret, often the report is in secret.  What is actually found often doesn't come out.  That puts a real onus on this relationship.  Why not make everything public?

Exactly!  Isn't this exactly what councilor Buck's position is?  She has paid a large price to uphold it and good on her.

Chris Emanuel – 10:10

"The ultimate accountability comes down to that elector.
What you wouldn't want is having a position with the integrity commissioner being used as a political tool, as a way to smear an opponent"

That fear has been realized here in Aurora.  This is bullying, intimidation and when preying on fear should be considered borderline terrorism.

Chris Emanuel – 26:15

"The mayor has a role ensuring that people aren't being berated, people are professional.
I think a mayor that works proactively with their council should be able to nip some of those problems in the butt."

Our mayor has failed grossly in this respect.  Her ineptitude, lack of experience, egotism and lack of personal character have sunk this town to new lows.  We need a mayor that we can be proud of.  One that is less concerned with their image, one that does not extend a limp handshake and a plastic smile.  We need a mayor with integrity.

On public recourse

Host – 36:00

"Where the media also become vigilantes when it comes to trying to force accountability. Is this because again people feel that municipally there is a big void, that there isn't the responsibility and accountability that will hold people to a level of performance.
Where do the public go to get the accountability, do they push, is there a call to action?

Robert MacDonald – 36:54

"how about something revolutionary, forget all the legislation and just have a representatives act and in there it lays out what a representative should do.  Why don't we require our representatives to have weekly meetings where the constituents can come and meet them? Why don't we require them to divulge all their background connections?

Both of these are solid ideas, they negate the need for a code of conduct, integrity commissioner, and seek to get at the roots of transparency and accountability.  Obviously ideals that our mayor and the group of six do not have any interest in upholding.

Robert MacDonald

"When upset with the councilors or the quality of representation they do have a right to make a noise and hopefully get organized"

Absolutely!  Multiple blogs are surfacing in our town, a coalition of residents has been formed.
Everything is not alright at town hall and our mayor is not competent to resolve the issues she was elected to deal with.

Host – 44:55

"talking about some of the efforts that are ongoing in the local media and in particular local residents that are opening that window and saying I'm mad as you know what and I'm not going to take it anymore only to find out that there is no recourse.  They can continue to make noise up to the next election, but what is the recourse and what do people do if they have to or want to intervene?

Don Cousins – 47:29

The public has very little recourse to deal with a council once they are elected.  They're off doing their thing and then they'll come back near the end of their term seeking re-election.  The public is looking for a way to communicate more succesfully with their members
and we've somehow missed it.  Better things would come of of government if we listened better"

Watch a council meeting, the mayor has no interest in listening to opinions that do not fall inline with her own.
Yes the mayor and the group of six will begin campaigning soon, but they are the ones who have missed it.  They have closed their own door in communicating with their electorate. 

host – in closing

"the Municipal act is a blunt tool and the only ones that can sharpen it are you the voters"

Agreed! citizens will hold this council accountable come the next election to ensure that another 4 years of the same does not completely destroy what is left of our town.

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