Friday, March 16, 2012

Durham gets dirty in fight over top position

This is an article that needs sharing!!!!!

Durham gets dirty in fight over top position

March 16, 2012 00:03:00

Kate Allen
Staff Reporter

In a 2010 referendum, the good people of Durham voted overwhelming to directly elect their regional chair, rather than appoint the powerful position.

The story sounds straightforward, if not downright dull. Durham — the GTA region whose biggest city Jann Arden blew off as “the middle of nowhere” last Sunday — chose democracy, and now the process of change is chugging along.

Woo hoo.

But a faction of politicians from Durham’s north want to kill the proposal, and the fight is fracturing the region along its very own Mason-Dixon Line.

Four of the urban, densely-populated municipalities in the south — Ajax, Pickering, Oshawa, and Clarington — support electing the regional chair. Ajax mayor Steve Parish has been the movement’s biggest advocate.

“It’s simply about democracy,” he says. “What those people who oppose direct election are doing is trying to change the channel, and put up what I say are bogus arguments to justify defying the will of the people.”

Politicians from Durham’s three rural, northern townships — Brock, Uxbridge, and Scugog — have said they won’t vote to carry out the referendum’s non-binding results. They believe it will weaken their communities’ voice.

“It’s unanimous. We’re against it,” says Brock mayor Terry Clayton.

And some paint the issue as a thinly disguised blood feud. In 1997, Parish ran against rival Roger Anderson to be mayor of Ajax, and won in a landslide.

A month later, Anderson was chosen as regional chair — essentially the mayor of mayors — and holds the job still.

“I think it’s been sour grapes ever since,” says Uxbridge regional councillor Jack Ballinger. Uxbridge mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor has publicly described the direct-election issue as a “grudge” between Parish and Anderson.

Parish calls those claims ridiculous, and accuses those against direct-election of playing politics.

“It’s strictly a power play. There are certain councillors who feel that if the decision of who is regional chair is made by the people, and not them, they will lose power and influence.”

Durham has a “two-tier” government, as do many other Ontario regions. In a two-tier system, citizens of each municipality vote to elect a local council. Members of those councils — usually the mayor plus at least one other local councillor — then sit on a regional council, which attends to regionwide issues like transportation and police.

Some regions directly elect the chair of their regional council — Halton, Waterloo — and some don’t. In Peel, York, Niagara and Durham, the elected representatives on regional council vote for anyone who puts themselves forward for the position. (York has also considered moving to direct election.)

The job is profitable as well as powerful. Anderson, as Durham’s regional chair, collected a salary of $185,038 last year, while Parish earned $78,052 as mayor plus $48,984 for his seat on regional council, slightly less than most of Durham’s other mayors. Anderson did not return interview requests Friday.

Though the 2010 referendum results were clear — almost 80 per cent of Durham voters supported direct election — whether the change will eventually happen is not.

Switching to direct election will require a “triple majority.” A majority of regional council must vote in support of it, which will happen April 4, after a public forum. If it passes, a majority of all eight local councils must vote for it. Of the councils that do pass it, they must represent the majority of Durham’s constituents.

Durham’s three northern communities, which represent six seats of 20 on regional council, have already indicated they will not vote for direct election either on April 4 or if the matter comes back to local councils, though they will need help from a municipality in the south to kill it.

“I feel that with the changes, we would be swallowed up,” says Uxbridge’s Ballinger. His community, like Scugog and Brock, is sparsely populated. Any politician running for regional chair would naturally campaign on promises that benefit the vote-rich south, he believes.

“I know it sounds like the best, most democratic way to go about things, but when you think of the makeup of the region of Durham, it’s really not good news for the north,” agrees Bobbie Drew, regional councillor and deputy mayor of Scugog. Durham region covers four separate federal ridings, she points out. The idea of electing one person to represent all of it seems “a little bit ridiculous.”

Ajax, Pickering, Clarington, and Oshawa are likely to vote for the change, with Parish leading the charge. Parish recently apologized after the city of Ajax set up a website promoting direct election of the regional chair,, without making mention of Ajax’s involvement in the site or informing council first.

He is sorry for the perceived lack of transparency, but not the message. “We took it upon ourselves to do it as a public service,” he says.

Parish will not rule out the possibility of running for chair himself. “I haven’t made any plans for 2014,” he said. Anderson, the current chair, has not said whether he will run.

Whitby may be the kingmaker. Mayor Pat Perkins says she feels obligated to uphold the referendum results and will vote accordingly, but doesn’t believe it’s the right move.

“We owe the public a much better opportunity to be engaged and involved in a whole process, rather than just asking them one very curt question,” she says.

She believes some other councillors from Whitby, however, won’t vote in favour of the change.

“I wish this had been done in a much less contentious manner.”

My Comments:

I am glad the Pat Perkins feels obligated to uphold the Referendum as she included in her 2010 campaign to support the Direct election of Regional Chair as did Don Mitchell and Lorne Coe.

I will be sending to each member of Whitby Council the same question if they want to uphold the vast majority of voters and support the Direct Election of the Regional Chair or go against the Majority?

81.37 per cent of Whitby Voters were in favor ready the link the below to see how you municipality voted.

If she believes some other councillors from Whitby won't vote in favour of the change, can she name them? I think this would be fair as then public also has a chance to question them after all those that voted for the Direct election are among the vast majority that voted them in?

As for the curt question? The curt question seems pretty clear to me!
Are you in favour of the Council of the Regional Municipality of Durham passing the necessary resolutions and by-laws to change the method of selecting its Chair from the appointment by the members of Regional Council to the election by general vote of all electors in the Region?

Proposed by-law:


This has been in the makings for years and its time to put this baby to bed. Contact your Regional Councillors / Local Councillors and remind them that your voice was heard and recorded by the clear question on the election ballot in 2010 by the vast Majority and need this upheld and made into a by-law!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why the secrecy?

It appears that Whitby Mayor Pat Perkins and entourage (including possibly Roger Anderson) have been attending a real estate convention in lovely Cannes France during the past week. All expenses paid by us taxpayers. The biggest question in everyone’s minds is: why all the secrecy? Is it because certain people knew that this mystery trip would cause us all to pause? Not to mention that we need to be careful during the current economic climate (in spite of which we already got hit with yet another household tax increase)! The only real consistencies that Mayor Perkins has demonstrated during the 5 years that she has occupied the town’s politicalleadership seat is raising our property taxes every single year and her pro-development stance. Mayor Perkins campaigned on the promise of “transparency”. How does sneaking off to France demonstrate transparency? Mayor Perkins appears to thumb her nose at taxpayers in other matters as well. For example, she continues on a quest to create a performing arts centre and also a completely unnecessary new municipal town hall, both of which taxpayers have objected to time and time again. We already have a town hall and additional office space is available within our implausibly empty downtown fire hall. We presently cannot sustain a performing arts centre. Unbelievably, under Mayor Perkins leadership, $94K of federal infrastructure funding was diverted toward a study of this performing arts centre which the masses clearly don’t want (at least in this day and age). This unnecessary expense on the consultant study came back listing the same concerns that taxpayers have been raising. Among other issues…that primarily there are future ongoing costs of such endeavours that will inevitably fall back on the taxpayer. But that’s not stopping Mayor Perkins…she seems to believe that it’s perfectly okay to keep raising our taxes every single year and so if she envisions creating something that will become a burden to the taxpayer, this doesn’t worry her.

More examples of wasted taxpayer’s hard earned dollars and demonstrating what appears to be a total lack of concern for the masses she pledged to serve.

Concerned Citizen Kane