Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you


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“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.” — Actress Marlene Dietrich

As a wordsmith, there is particular appreciation for thought-provoking quotes — be they humorous, timeless, or utterly mangled in their reasoning.
No one fit the latter category better than ballplayer Yogi Berra, who observed: “I didn’t really say everything I said.”
It’s been a tradition in this corner to greet the incoming year by surveying the past 365 days to savor the wit and wisdom of our elected representatives.
This time around is satisfying in that we get to recall the best of the best on the final day of 2011, a year which yielded a bumper crop of memorable moments.
As noted in this corner one year ago, when media scribes document a response or comment for posterity, they must be prepared for the inevitable charge of being taken out of context.
Or, as one anonymous wag noted: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.” 
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Health Care and Ontario’s Deficit: The Shocking, Secret Truth About Who and What’s to Blame – Paul McKeever


Paul McKeever

Editor’s note: Paul McKeever is the leader of the Freedom Party of Ontario and coincidently was the Freedom Party candidate in Elgin-Middlesex-London in the 2011 provincial election.He forwarded this letter to City Scope and it is printed here in its entirety.

December 22, 2011

Sunmedia’s Queen’s Park columnist, Christina Blizzard, today wrote about Ontario’s health care system and the deficit. It concludes:

Liberals have socked us with the two biggest tax hikes in the history of the province — the health care levy and the HST. And now they’re crying poor? They created this mess. We’re just paying their bills.
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We’re being taken for a ride, courtesy city hall


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Can you ever have enough pick-up trucks? Forget gas-guzzlers, city hall is making a name for itself as a vehicle-guzzler.

In total, the city operates a fleet of 104 vehicles, including more than two dozen pick-ups, and that fact nearly had Ald. Gord Campbell blowing a gasket during capital budget talks at Monday’s council meeting.

“Obviously we all see (city) pickup trucks. I always see one guy in them . . . but we have crew cabs running around the city that never seem to have anybody in them except the driver.”

What jump-started the vehicle debate was the revelation city administration wants to replace eight vehicles at a cost next year of $425,000.

“Do we really need these vehicles?” questioned Ald. Dave Warden.

He’s not alone in pondering the number of vehicles really needed.Reader Jamie Weisler, who knows a thing or two about cars and trucks, fired the following observations our way.

“I am at a loss as to figure out why we need to replace these vehicles so often,” noted Jamie.

“If we have vehicles that have rusted out, then it would appear that someone in the maintenance department was not doing their job! Would it not make sense to protect our investment in these vehicles by undercoating them?”

Seems a fair enough question.

He continues: “As for the cost of repair, why would the city not shop around for the most cost-effective repair shop in town? I know that there are a number of quality repair facilities in St Thomas that would be more than happy to perform the repairs on these vehicles.”

These are work vehicles, Jaimie points out.

“Lets suck it up and make do. Unless there is a serious safety issue, I see absolutely no reason not to keep a five- or 10-year old vehicle in the fleet. The taxpayers of St Thomas can’t afford brand new vehicles for themselves, so why should we buy new vehicles for our very well-paid employees?”

Where there is be no cause for debate is dealing with the condition of the van used to transport Valleyview Home staff and residents.

If it doesn’t meet Ministry of Transportation standards, then it is a matter of safety and the van in question should top the priority list.

As for some of the high-end pick-ups tooling around the city, now we’re going down an entirely different road.

Some of the vehicles put on hold Monday include a 16-foot utility trailer, two golf carts and a couple more pick-ups.

This coming year, the city needs to do less tire kicking and spend more time crafting a budget-conscious vehicle purchase/replacement policy.

WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN

Still with the capital budget, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The real fun begins in the new year when the spotlight will shine on a new police headquarters .

It’s an issue that will deeply divide council and, in particular, force one alderman to undertake some serious soul searching.

A word of advice to the individual in question. Don’t forget who supported you in the October vote.

All involved should keep this in mind: Maintaining the status quo is not an option.

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE … THE WINTER FESTIVAL SEASON 

A tip of the City Scope eggnog to MP Joe Preston and wife, Geri, for sending out greeting cards this year that actually wish the recipient a Merry Christmas.

It’s a sad commentary on the times when such an action is to be applauded.

I’m sorry, but I’ve reached the limit with politically correct cards (including the horrid electronic versions) from groups and organizations wishing me: A Happy Festive Season; All The Best This Holiday Season; Hope You Enjoy the Winter Festival Season; Merry Xmas; and the warm and fuzzy, Season’s Greetings.

Enough already!

If you’re doing this to avoid offending anyone, it’s not working in this corner.

It’s perfectly acceptable to wish me Merry Christmas.

There, I’ve said it.

I’m with you, Joe.

A CHRISTMAS WISH FOR YOU

And, on that note, as this is the last get together before tomorrow’s celebration of Christmas, we put forth the following gift suggestions for you to distribute as you see fit.

To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.

And, to all faithful City Scope readers, especially those with birthdays at this hectic time of year, when their special day too often is lost in the hustle and bustle of the season — may this Christmas bring you peace, health and happiness.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I think the time has come that maybe we should be asking staff to tell us why we need $11 million worth of rolling stock.”

Ald. Gord Campbell during Monday’s capital budget deliberations, much of which focussed on the city’s fleet of 104 vehicles.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

A fundamental change blowing in the budget wind?


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Budget deliberations are a critical indicator of the direction city council will follow in the coming fiscal year and the sometimes quirky priorities of our municipal representatives.
After a warm-up session Thursday, council will get down to brass tacks on Monday as they tackle Part 1 of the 2012 capital budget.
Members are being asked to approved expenditures of just over $8 million, of which $2 million will be sourced through the 2012 property tax levy, the same as 2011.
In total, the requests for capital in 2012 total $22.4 million, requiring property tax supported funding of $9.5 million.
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Thoughts on the potential for economic development between St. Thomas and First Nations of Ontario


The following was forwarded to City Scope by St. Thomas resident Bev Walpole and illustrates the “outside-of-the-box” thinking so sorely lacking today. It’s a case of addressing a large-scale national issue with a made-in-St.Thomas solution.Please take a few moments to read Bev’s paper and feel free to comment. This is certainly far removed from the initiatives currently being floated by local politicians and business development groups . . .

From 1978-1985 I was a public health inspector working for the federal department then known as Health and Welfare Canada, Medical Services Branch. My duties included advising Inuit and First Nations communities about sanitation and environmental issues. My work took me throughout the Northwest Territories, part of what is now Nunavut, Northern Saskatchewan and the province of Manitoba. During those years I encountered problems in those communities such as inadequate housing, inadequate and improper disposal of sewage, unsafe water supplies and the myriad of social issues endured by the citizens of those communities.

Throughout those years, I did my best to advocate for more and better housing, clean, safe water supplies and safe disposal of sewage and household wastes. I approached my own department as well as the Department of Indian affairs on behalf of the communities. I encouraged the leaders of the community to work towards improvement of conditions on their reserves and villages. The response from the community leaders was to ask where the money would come from to improve their situation. The Federal government departments for whom I worked and to whom I advocated on behalf of the communities responded with excuses such as “there is no money; resources are limited; and they’ll only wreck it anyway.” It was frustrating to visit these isolated communities, each time reporting on conditions and submitting recommendations for improvement and realizing that probably nothing would be done to make the situation better. I recall mentioning to a friend that if the temperature was to increase in the northern communities, disease would spread like wildfire because of the improper disposal of human waste, and the consumption of untreated or improperly treated water supplies.
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Somebody missed the bus with this press release


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A press release from the Chamber of Commerce created an instant stir on the Times-Journal Facebook page after it was posted late Thursday afternoon.
The advisory, from the pen of Chamber CEO Bob Hammersley, “No New Year’s Bus Service?” suggested “there will likely be no free New Year’s Eve bus service in St. Thomas this year.”
A service underwritten by MADD Canada’s St. Thomas-Elgin Chapter for the past four years.
Was this confirmed with Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman or staff at city hall, or was Hammersley jumping to conclusions?
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Hospital CEO pay to soar as boards use big banks to justify excess


The following is a media release from Service Employees International Union (SEIU). It’s a situation residents of St. Thomas/Elgin can relate to with the case of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital CEO Paul Collins’ retire/rehire in June 2010 in a classic example of double dipping. While his salary is stable this year, watch for the nature of salary increases over the remainder of his five-year contract.

TORONTO, Dec. 9, 2011 /CNW/ – Hospital CEO pay will only continue to soar in the wake of a report that uses the salaries of big-bank CEOs and millionaire insurance executives as a benchmark, according to a union representing more than 50,000 healthcare workers in Ontario.

“Hospital CEOs are out of touch and should be held accountable to the public, not to Bay Street,” said Sharleen Stewart, head of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

SEIU called on Ontario to follow the example of other provinces by stepping in to directly set compensation for executives at publicly-funded hospitals, starting with a salary cap. The union representing hospital workers urged the province to conduct a truly-independent review – with input from frontline staff – that looks at excessive layers of management in the health system.

“Public hospitals were built to provide people with necessary medical care, not for executives to use as personal piggy banks.”
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