Notes on a community in transition.

Wither thou goest I may or may not follow.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Slow Return to Blogging

Now that summer is about to fall off the calendar I found it very difficult to sit and write while the sun was up or the warm nights urged me outdoors, but now that the cool weather is back the internal realms of cyber consciousness appear to be resurfacing.
Still, I am busy preparing Volume Two of Legends of the Morgeti, and you know what they say about giving a job to a busy person if you want to get it done. It's all about flow.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Shame

The Board resigned one night;
the next day the Church shut down
the youth night-shelter,
home of Change Now in
Norfolk United.

They fired the staff
without explanation,
giving birth
to a bestiary of rumours
about what sins or crimes
the staff may or may not
have committed
to warrant their fate,
serpentine speculations that made
their way through the downtown core

as the post-mortem proceeded to
the process which led
to the youth-in-crisis operation
reopening soon under the auspices
of all the proper authorities
and with the involvement of the kids.

The old staff have been told
they need not apply,
a position taken
without stated cause,
without public disclosure of
their presumed failings
or faults,
without mercy or justice
and without a protest
by the co-opted teens whose
cause the workers once defended
against all comers.

And still no one
will say what sin or crime
the old staff committed or omitted:
it's as if they have been condemned
by conspiracy, banished by a cabal
by those who prefer the sounds
of their mutual self-congratulations
to the cadences of grace.

And the lesson of the day
for congregated Guelph
is how to sacrifice
scapegoats
to institutional expediency
while doing good.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Change Now dumped by Board

For several years I have watched the face of the youth centre/hostel in the basement of the Norfolk United Church grow into one of the most impressive pieces of Christian theology as action as I have seen. In fact, I was becoming so impressed with the Church's role in the community via events like the Wellington Water Watchers launch and Maude Barlow's water talk, that I was becoming convinced that some genuine Living Water experience was bubbling up from the foundations of the Church.
That all changed Friday morning when Change Now was shut down by the Church's Board of Directors accompanied by police, who put youth workers out of work, street kids back on the street, and the city and the county scrambling to find ways of dealing with the consequences of the Church's abandonment of Christian activism.
Back to 'comfortable pew' theology and the do-nothing non-activism of reactionary institutionalism for Norfolk United.
I say shame on the Board of Directors, shame on Norfolk United, and more power to the street kids who found a safe haven there for the last several years, and who have quickly organized themselves into a peaceful protest movement that has garnered bad press for Norfolk and good press for them.

I know I for one will never set foot in that church again and urge the people in the Wellington Water watchers, the Green Party and all the other social activists who use the Church to abandon Norfolk United to the fat cat comfort and banal theology the Board of Directors so obviously yearn for...

Of course, being thrown out of the Church may prove to be one of the best things to happen to the street kids, if only because it gives them a chance to see how to organize themselves, stand up for their rights, and it gives them a chance to see that they have support in a lot of places they might not have otherwise realized.

The Spirit of God left the churches long ago, and that's why most of them are empty.
May the Spirit go with the street kids, who live lives where truth needs no veneer of respectability. May the Board of Directors choke on their communion.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Guelph Arts Stragetic Planning Meeting

To Members of the Guelph cultural community

You may have heard that the City of Guelph is currently involved in a strategic planning process. From what I have heard, and some minor involvement I have had, I think the vision is quite far-reaching. At this stage, a draft strategic plan framework has just been released for public comment. It's important that the arts community offer its input on the new vision, theme areas and goals associated with each theme. The City is also interested in your ideas for actions in support of the individual goals.

Although you are free to comment on the whole document, as part of the arts community you will be particularly interested in Theme area three: Arts, Culture, Heritage and Education. Within the next few days, you will find the plan at the following website address www.guelph.ca/strategicplan, along with a feedback form that you can submit.

Also, as you will see in the attached ad (it has already appeared in the Tribune), there are two public meetings coming up:

May 23 Co-operator's Hall, River Run Centre
May 24 Victoria Road Recreation Centre

Both are from 7 to 9:30 p.m. You can register in advance in one of three ways:
- on line at the address noted above
- by phoning 519-822-1260 x 2965
- at 6:30 p.m. before the start of either of the two meetings

Please take advantage of this opportunity to continue making positive change in our great City. And please pass the word onto anyone else in the arts community that you think might be interested.

Cheers

Sally Wismer
Executive Director
Guelph Arts Council
Suite 404, 147 Wyndham Street North
Guelph, Ontario N1H 4E9
Phone: (519) 836-3280
Fax: (519) 766-9212
Email: gac@sentex.net
Web: www.guelphartscouncil.org
www.guelpharts.ca/guelphartscouncil

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Honouring Police Dead

A movement is afoot to create a monument or memorial park to honour Guelph's police dead
In Legends of the Morgeti, I detail the deaths of the only two Guelph police officers killed in the line of duty. For a mob town, in which there were a lot of murders you would have thought that one of the two policemen killed would have died fighting organizing crime. Unfortunately both were killed by drunk drivers. In May 1922, Constable Wm. Holloway was hit by a car driven by a man coming home from a party in Fergus, after the driver swerved to avoid hitting another constable flagging down cars at 1:30 in the morning. Holloway was 30 years old, born in the Ukraine and had survived both the Japanese-Russian War and the Great War.
The second constable killed was Eric MacAuley 38, who was dragged to death on April 5 1964, when he was off-duty downtown. He noticed a fellow officer trying to pull over a car that then escaped down Douglas Street. MacAuley, who was with his 5 year-old daughter at the time, set off on foot after the driver and managed to get his arm in the window in an attempt to turn the keys off and stop the car. The driver sideswiped MacAuley against another car and dragged him down the road before he realized what he'd done.
There is something doubly tragic about people dying because of panicked drunk drivers.
A friend of MacAuley's widow is behind the attempt to honour the two officers.
I say honour them.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Proposal to Save the Commons and Our Water

This idea originally grew out of research that I did on the 1928 battle to save the commons of Epping Forest(part of the City of London England).

Rights of the Commons: Intro:
Ancient custom and biblical practice ensured everyone's right to free access to the community well as a matter of course. The waters of our contemporary wetlands represent our commonwealth. A commons is by definition Crown Land chartered by the crown to a Lord of a manor, in which local commoners maintained their rights to wood and food and access. The commons is so foundational to British common-law that the House of Commons was created to represent the relationships between the crown and the people.

In fact, in a legal battle fought over Epping Forest near London England in the 1920's, the lord of the local manor attempted to enclose the forest-commons, so that he could develop the property.

The commoners fought the attempt to deny them their rights of access to the Forest. In the court's decision, the judge ruled that no commons could be enclosed without the consent of the Ministry of Agriculture.

That common-law precedent led me to realize that the best security for the water and the lands of Ontario's Rivers lay in creating a Wild Harvest, hence this proposal.

Wild Harvest

A Community Economic Development Project

Executive Summary
An abundance of wild foods grow in our conservation areas,
in our municipal wild parks, agreement forests and on private properties: everything from high profit items like morels, chanterelles and bolete mushrooms,
to fiddle heads, wild leeks and scores of wild plants useful for teas
and medicines, plus fruits, berries and nuts, all crops.

Using The City of Guelph and its environs as the pilot project,
the idea would be to 1) assess the designated lands for their bounty,
2) develop a sustainable agricultural plan that
a) involves a low impact harvest methodology and that
b) includes environmental safeguards so that surrounding lands
are left as wild as possible.
An educational component would be essential,
not only for the workers but for the general public.

Stakeholders
The City of Guelph
Wellington County
The Grand River Conservation Authority
The Arboretum
The University of Guelph
The Ministry of Agriculture
The Ministry of Natural Resources
The Ministry of Correctional Services
The Ministry of Culture
Human Resources Canada
Ontario Works
St.Ignatieff's College
Private Landowners
Community Volunteers
Ducks Unlimited
Cycling & Trail Clubs etc

Some of the Crops
Mushrooms: morels, chanterelles, boletes, puffballs etc.
Edible plants: wild leeks, fiddleheads, wild ginger, watercress, mint, etc.
Wild domestic plants: thyme, oregano, asparagus etc
Fruits:raspberries, blackberries, haws, apples
Nuts: chestnuts, walnuts, hickories etc.
Animals: fish, ducks, partridges, pheasant, frogs, deer etc.
Firewood: maple, oak, beech etc.


Thesis Student Field Coordinators

The actual onsite work would be under the direct supervision
of Masters and Phd students whose proposals for projects in agricultural,
social science, food science, food and hotel management etc,
were accepted by both the University and the Project Facilitator.

The Workforce
The workforce itself would consist of a project facilitator under the authority of a Board of Advisers, a general manager, a site coordinator, various governmental and municipal liaison personnel, Ontario Works recipients, Employment Insurance recipients, University doctoral students and community volunteers. Also, nearby private enterprises engaged in similar harvests, could be involved to their profit in localized supervisory roles.

The produce would be sold in local farmers' markets with the profits being turned back into the project's operating expenses, as well as into a share for participating private landowners,(relative to the crop value of their lands.)

Organizational and Workforce Structure
Advisory Board Representatives:
City of Guelph, Conservation Authority, Correctional Services, Human Resources Canada, University of Guelph, Arboretum, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Correctional Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Culture, St. Ignatieff College, Community Reps

Project Facilitator:
Office Manager, Site Coordinator, Conservation Authority Liaison, Correctional Services Liaison, Human Resources Canada Liaison, Agriculture Liaison, Natural Resources Liaison , Culture Liaison, Guelph Liaison, Arboretum Liaison, Volunteer Coordinator

Thesis Student Field Coordinators:
Ontario Works Beneficiaries, Employment Insurance Beneficiaries, Correctional Services Sentencees, Volunteers

Wetland's Cleanup
A second major component of the project would be wetlands cleanup.
It is in that area that the Ministry of Correctional Services would play a role,
in that some of the cleanup work crew could be comprised of those convicted of crimes related to illegal dumping, pit party bottle smashing and the like.

Local farm dumps, which abound around the area's wetlands could also be cleaned up.
It is even conceivable that rather than hauling all that metal and glass away,
community artists could be engaged to create onsite "sculptures" and mosaics
with help of Ontario Works and EI "employees" and community volunteers.
Any valuable items, whether antique or reusable could be sold to
help offset cleanup costs, with input from the local landowners.

More serious forms of industrial pollution could also be brought
under control in order to ensure the health of the harvest.
The benefits to fish, waterfowl and wild animal habitat would be enormous.

Mapping
In every instance, an extensive mapping and local site analysis of
hazards and benefits would prove of immense value to both
the project and the local community.

PathWorks
Catwalks, bridges, natural trail fencing, stone works,
buttressing, blazing, maintaining, all path projects
will be designed for minimalist yet practical impacts.

Security
As per Jane Jacobs beliefs in pedestrians and public spaces as the fulcrum of social and personal security in neighbourhoods, the walkways and trails around the growing areas need to be public whenever pragmatic. But for wild life preservation purposes
the simplest method of access and preservation would be to have web-cameras on every cleanup, harvest or art or work site, so that the public can monitor the progress of the project from afar.

It may in some cases be necessary to limit actual access to sites
to those who live in any given municipality. ie the commoners.

Guelph
The city's pilot project should evolve into
an ongoing public window for the entire Grand River Valley system.
In essence, Guelph would become the archives and museum for the project.

At the same time, each community along the river,
has its own commoner base, its own people to serve, its own local access list,
which include rights to purchase, rights to know how the money is being spent,
how much money is being made, rights maintained through a stakeholders council.

Stakeholder's Council
Ultimately, the stakeholders' councils should be watershed-wide,
since a commonwealth is founded first on water,then on the food it harvests.

But since the Grand River Valley communities are the ultimate stakeholders in the survival of the natural foundations of our wealth, the local councils should have limited but real local option processes, all of which can be negotiated by the stakeholders throughout this process.

Food Sales
Wild harvest foods are in fact a key to the development of the Canadian Food movement, a movement which has taken hold of a great many Canadian chefs, restaurants and food academics.

Some of the wild foods of themselves aren't market valuable (ie fruits like haws and elderberries and wild apples) but, through value-adding and processing can make wonderful jams etc.

Sugar maples can be tapped and even birch sap could be developed into syrups and vinegars.

Other plants like cattail have a wide array of uses, either as edibles, or as basket materials.

In each and every case however, care must be taken to ensure that a sustainable approach is being applied, so that wildlife habitats are not unduly destablized.

The Costs
As this proposal is a preliminary budget
dependent on the input of an array of government agencies,
the municipality, the Conservation Authority, the University and others
can only be roughly attempted be at this time.

Seed Project

Preliminary Weekly/Annual Budget

Operational Staff

Project Facilitator $ 500.00 x 52 weeks = $ 26,000.00
Office Manager $ 500.00 x 52 weeks = $ 26,000.00
Site Coordinator $ 500.00 x 52 weeks = $ 26,000.00
$ 78,000.00 = $ 78,000.00
Operating Expenses
Office Expenses $ 500.00 x 52 weeks = $ 26,000.00
Transportation $ 500.00 x 52 weeks = $ 26,000.00
Public Relations $ 500.00 x 52 weeks = $ 26,000.00
Field Costs $ 500.00 x 52 weeks = $ 26,000.00
Land 'Survey' $ 500.00 x 52 weeks = $ 26,000.00
Subtotal $130,000.00 = $130,000.00
Total $208,000.00

Concerns
Clearly there are some within the environmental movement who strongly believe that humans should have as little impact on wild plants and animals as possible, and while that is a cautionary position that must be kept in mind, the simple fact of the matter is that Guelph is about to be incorporated into the superhighway grid in a few years and massive development is about to obliterate Guelph's historical position as agricultural capitol of Ontario.

Guelph has already lost its role as the advocate of sustainable living for family farms and rural communities and is on the fast track to becoming unwholistic food central. 70% of the food we buy in grocery stores is already genetically modified.

The wild harvest is the last stand of unadulaterated food left in the province.
No less importantly, if we protect the wild harvest by actually harvesting it
using sustainable practices, we protect the public's access to public water.

Water Rights
In this age when privateers (government sponsored pirates) are
pillaging public institutions and community chests,
Crown Land water rights are being removed from citizens
and sold to the highest bidders, in violation of the spirit
of ancient and biblical water rights.

It is my belief that by creating sustainable agricultural practices
throughout Canada's wetlands, in the form of a wild harvest,
Canadian water will remain part of our common heritage.

Community economic development projects like Wild Harvest
can serve as defenders of our constitutional and spiritual origins.

After the Seed Project
Once the project has been established in the Guelph area,
the model should be extended throughout the Grand River system;
and then throughout Ontario's conservation authority wetlands.
The movement could then spread beyond the province to the rest of Canada.

Wild Harvest as a Documentary
Because of the nature of the project, a filmed, or digitally recorded
documentary of the process: it's strengths, weaknesses, discoveries, failures
and other aspects useful to the larger Grand Valley project and therefor
to other communities in still later projects, should also be undertaken.

Its value as an educational tool, an analytical aid, and a promotional vehicle
cannot be undervalued. The public relations benefits to Guelph and to
the surrounding townships, to the Conservation Authority and to other governmental participants would be felt long after the seed project had matured.

Once an initial agreement-in-principle has been reached with the City and
the Conservation Authority the documentary should begin.

Monday, April 30, 2007

More from the Water Watchers

URGENT: MAY 3rd DEADLINE
Comment on Proposed Water Transfer Legislation in Ontario
Cut and Paste the last paragraph below from the Wellington Water Watchers site into the Governments 'comment' box.

The Ontario Provincial Government has proposed a law to control water transfers out of the 3 watersheds in Ontario. There is an exemption for bottled water in containers less than 20 litres. Please use the sample comment below to state your objection at the Ontario Environmental Registry web site.

I am opposed to the section of Bill 198 that deals with exemptions to water transfers out of the originating watershed, Section 34.3 (3).1. This section exempts transfers of containers having a volume of 20 litres or less. However, I see no difference between a truck loaded with 1,000 bottles of 500 ml each (500 litres) and a tanker carrying 500 litres in one container leaving the watershed. Please close this loophole that permits water bottlers to drain our watersheds.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Salsateria Club and the Woes of Downtown

Back in January or so Rudolpho decided he wanted to expand the Salsateria from its little retail/wholesale operation on Cork and move it into the old Aquarius Cafe space, which sits on the second floor above My Friends Kitchen, in a building that has access from both Carden and Wyndam streets.
Possessing one of the largest kitchens in downtown Guelph, the Aquarius space has been empty for awhile now, and the fact that the building has new owners made the idea of signing a lease for the space a lot more attractive than it would have been if the Salsateria had to sign with the old landlord, one of the most notorious and least-liked property owners in Guelph.
Rudolpho and his business partner Mike had all the city departments in to look at the space before they signed the lease and the city signed off on all the approvals. The lease was signed and about $90,000 in renovations were poured into the space. The idea was to create an actual club in Guelph, one that was built around a solid dining room and a well connected live music scene. As most downtowners know, Rebel Foods, the company that owns the Salsateria, has a long and central role in both music and food in this city.
About 27 days into the 30 day period set aside for objecting to the issuing of a liquor license, Bill Hulet, Stan Kovacs and Bruce Matheson each filed an objection.
Their concern was rooted in the out of control downtown night scene in Guelph. With the permit tagged with three objections, an official hearing was forced into motion, and so was a grass roots counter offensive from the city's musical community. In the meantime someone in the city realized that a bylaw was on the books that made it impossible for the city to grant a liquor license to a second floor establishment, specifically one that didn't already have a ground floor license.
Enter the Salsateria's lawyers to protest the city's duplicity.
The Downtown Board of Management has yet to officially speak on the matter but I have it on good report that most of the members think the club will be good for the downtown.
Apparently the three objectors, Hulet, Kovacs and Matheson have removed their objections, not doubt based on the realization that the club is something quite distinct in nature from the dance hall nonsense that is making the city the place of near-riotous activities night after night.
The city however is stuck in a potential lawsuit, since the lease was only signed after the the city departments had all given their approval to the project. Bob Bell the anti-license point man on council was button-holed at last weekend's eco-fest and couldn't believe how quickly the pro-Salsateria supporters were mustering, so I suspect he too has begun looking for a win-win situation.
Of far more concern to me than a club like the Salsateria, are the dance clubs, which should be moved up the university and out of the downtown, like the campus police deal with the violence and the petty crime. The Salsateria, as a genuine nightclub is precisely the kind of club we need downtown.
The other thing the city needs to do is to clean up the disgraceful crack cocaine activities that operate with impunity in the downtown, in some cases not much more than a hundred yards from city hall. The police know who the crack dealers are, and they know who is behind the crack dealers. We have crack being sold on Alice Street across from the Catholic Church and school. Clearly organized crime is behind the scene, and yet just as clearly, it cannot be Guelph's old Morgeti gangsters, since their place in the local Italian community would be utterly threatened if they were behind such activities near businesses and schools and churches. Which tells me that some other organized crime group is operating crack houses in Morgeti turf to spite the Calabrians.
Move the dance clubs up to the university, clean out the downtown crack businesses, and let clubs like Rudolpho's flourish.

Battle Against Water Privateers escalating

When the Wellington Water Watchers set itself in motion about three weeks back organizers were hoping to get 151 people to challenge Nestle's application to remove 3.5 million litres of water a day from the aquifer used by the city of Guelph and Puslinch. As predicted on this blog at the time, this issue would galvanize the environmental movement. The deadline for submitting an objection to the water-taking permit has been extended to May 11 and the form can be accessed via the Water Watchers website
Curiously, there is wellingtonwaterwatchers.com website that appears to be set up by the spring water industry.
Elizabeth May spoke forcefully on the issue in Guelph last weekend and on Wednesday May 2 Maude Barlow will be in Guelph discussing the issue. She'll also be discussing the Security and Progress Act which is little more than a corporate pillage-the-commons agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico (which is little more than a narco-State run by organized crime and a corrupt military.)

Hillside Ticket Price Up

Hillside tickets prices are going up again this year, and the festivals alleged commitment to include 70% Guelph musical content continues to dwindle. Early bird ticket sales begin on Tuesday May 1st.

Ticket Prices 2007 (all prices are inclusive of GST)
Early Bird Weekend $75.00
Regular Weekend $95.00
Early Bird Friday Evening $40.00
Regular Friday Evening $45.00
Early Bird Saturday $55.00
Regular Saturday $60.00
Early Bird Saturday Evening $40.00
Regular Saturday Evening $45.00
Early Bird Sunday $55.00
Regular Sunday $60.00
Early Bird Sunday Evening $40.00
Regular Sunday Evening $45.00

It will also be curious to see if the festival creates a massive plastic water bottle waste stream like it did last year via it's relationship with water privateers Nestle's.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Liz Sandals Stuff and Nonsese

According to this article in the Guelph Tribune Liberal MPP Liz Sandals wants environmental activists to become back-off-of-its, and to believe her when she says that the rights of commoners to the water held in the Public Trust aren't worth the commons they're written on if the scientists say so(I'm paraphrasing.) But that ain't so, and thousands of years of common law say the water belongs to the commons, not to the scientists to give it away.
Her scientists remind me of the court prophets in the bible who would tell a monarch whatever the monarch wanted to hear, while the real prophets were out in the wilderness railing against those who were damming the flow of the river of justice.

The Provincial liberals have no credibility whatsoever. And they will betray the people of this province if we let them. This is a fight for the shape of the future and she had better get out of the way if she won't lend a hand, because this time, the times really are a changing. We have no more time for flak catchers like our local MPP.


Babylon Liz,
get your sandals on,
'cause you're just babblin'
to the rabblin'
who got no patience
for your all your
sycophantic rantlin'.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Gay Lea Applies for 10 year Permit

Ward 2 posted
Thursday, April 19th, 2007...1:48 pm
Gay Lea applies for Permit to take Water
Many of you have been following with great interest the application by Nestle to renew their Permit to take Water (PTTW) from the Guelph aquifer.
On April 17th Gay Lea submitted an application for a PTTW renewal.

The company describes itself on their website this way.

For almost 50 years, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd. has provided a vital link between Ontario dairy farmers and consumers located across Canada. Gay Lea Foods is Ontario's largest dairy co-operative owned and operated by milk producers. The Co-operative's producer members represent approximately 1,250 DFO milk licences or roughly 26% of the dairy farms in Ontario. Established in 1958 to process and market milk related food products for the Co-operative's members, today Gay Lea Foods processes approximately 15% of Ontario's milk and enjoys a respected position as a major contributor to the success of Ontario's and Canada's dairy industry.


The major difference between this permit and the Nestles permit is that the water does not leave the watershed and thus returns to the ground water cycle. Even the water that went into the cows that made the milk goes back into the watershed.
The ten year plan disturbs me a little.

If both Gaylea and Nestle get their permits a full 10% of Guelph's daily usuage would be equalled by those two permits alone.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Green Grow the Guelph Greens-o

I went to the local Green Party's Annual General Meeting at the Norfolk St. United Church because I had a pressing question: I'd been listening to CBC radio and they'd done a story on the recent arms dealer convention in Ottawa (undoubtedly because we now have our very own Minister of Arms Dealers) and the CBC interviewed a man who was producing lead-free environmentally-friendly bullets and I wanted to know if the Greens would endorse the use of such bullets in a third world military coup or revolution. It turns out they think war is BAD ! Apparently arms dealers will not be allowed to wear It's Not Easy Being Green buttons or other party paraphernalia.

According to a survey I did with some interloping NDP'ers, the Greens have the prettiest women, I didn't bother for objectivity by asking the women who had the best looking men. That's blogging for ya.

If any local Greens were upset about the Dion-May deal I didn't hear a whisper about it. A friendlier bunch of people you couldn't ask to meet. (well yes, you could ask, and you might even meet them, but the were a friendly bunch anyway.) A good time was had by all. More than 100 people turned up for the AGM, and the party's 1000th member had signed up earlier in the day so they now know that the green movement is not only growing to the point that shysters have begun shilling everything even vaguely green, but that the party itself is growing.

The referendum over proportional representation in Ontario to be held next October is a vote they want everyone to support in the name of democratic renewal.

It's the second time I was in the Norfolk United Church in the last week. Last time was for the Wellington Water Watchers campaign to stop Nestle from taking 3.5 million liters a day from the local aquifer. A spokesman for the campaign found a room full of support. It looks like the campaign is spreading all over the province. The 'unprecedented numbers' the organizers were hoping for will easily exceed 150 + 1...

On another Green front entirely, my son sent this to me in an email and I linked it to an article.

Chimp Actor Cheeta Is Going To Outlast All Of Us

Happy belated Birthday to Cheeta, the chimpanzee from such esteemed works as the original Doctor Doolittle, Tarzan's New York Adventures and Tarzan Finds A Son!. The great ape and fine actor turned 75 on Tuesday, April 10th, continuing his reign as the world's oldest living chimp. The monkey played Tarzan's best friend and sidekick Cheeta in five Tarzan films between 1932 and 1942. He currently lives at the Creative Habitats and Enrichment for Endangered and Threatened Apes (C.H.E.E.T.A.--see what they did there?) where he paints and signs head shots.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

An Open Letter to Frank Valeriote (Slightly revised)

As you are probably aware, my book Legends of the Morgeti takes note of the fact that the Valeriotes have their own legends, and something of a myth about themselves. (I use the word myth as a mystical story not as a synonym for something false.) Undoubtedly you know the story well. Your ancient ancestor Valerius, a Roman Senator, was a kind of Moses who led the Morgeti out of the ruins of their Grecian captivity in Sicily and back to their old homeland in Calabria in 300 AD. The 2nd set of 'legends' involves your grandfather Michaelangelo who led them out of the poverty of San Giorgio to Canada in the early 20th century.

And for the record, none of my research in old or new newspapers has produced a single story in which a Valeriote has appeared as having committed a crime, at least not in Canada, and even then, there is only one story of a San Giorgiosi Valeriote involved with the 'ndrangheta and that was back in the 1970's. So I won't hold him against you. The only Valeriote I've met is Puss and I liked him.

Originally when you won the nomination I thought you couldn't hold the centre left, but John Williams, who ran against you appears to think highly of you, as does a woman I respect in the Green Party. I spoke again to John tonight and learned that you left your lucrative criminal law practice fifteen years ago against the advice of your peers because you couldn't take having to tell anymore lies, so I'm beginning to develop the feeling that if you have a sense of calling, you might well be the one to lead the Morgeti in Guelph and Ontario and throughout Canada out of the 'ndrangheta, and to help redeem alot of Italian-Canadians trapped in organized crime. Needless to say I have a proposal on how you might do that.

I also think you can redeem the Liberal party in the process. I'm not one of those who think the Liberals are the only party with links to organized crime, the Conservatives have all kinds of right wing gangsters as friends, just like Giuliano Andreotti did, whose Christian Democrats ruled Italy for decades with policies that were only a few degrees closer to the centre than Mussolini's had been, and whose links to crime groups were extensive.

Right wing Eastern European mafiyas are conservative. And of course labour racketeering gangsters have poisoned the NDP well more than once.

You can ignore me of course, I'm just one vote, but here's my suggestion on how to become the third pillar of the Valeriote legend, it's a proposal which you may have seen since it is the last appendix in my book.

CRIME FAMILY LAW

Under contemporary rights and freedoms the police must adhere to strict 'rules of evidence', and rightly so, which means that the police are incapable of stopping gangster capitalists. Equally, Royal Commissions which are created to investigate narrowly defined aspects of criminal activity like the construction industry et al, may shed light into a field of crime but they do little else than cause the darkness to retreat elsewhere, while creating problems for ongoing police investigations. I tend to agree with St. Paul that, "There is no salvation in law." The law cannot save society from the sins of its members, least of all from gangsters. All the law can do is to define right and wrong and create penalties for doing wrong.

A third way is required, one that makes use of generations of police work to support evidential trails that will allow communities to redeem families from criminal societies. My book traces the history of organized crime in Guelph via specific clans because I want to make the case that we need to create a legal definition of a Criminal Family. The designation would enable us to use the more pro-active tools of Family and Civil law, and combine them with the power of the Criminal Court. Public accessibility to court-administered Crime Family databases could be secured in Public and University Libraries, Archives and Museums and be available in hard copy and online. That way consumers would have the ability to know where there money is going to, and citizens could understand the ay their communities have been run.

A Criminal Family designation would combine generations of investigations and convictions with the sweeping power of Royal Commissions to shed light on crime activities in not just Guelph or Canada, but in a system that could extend to Italy itself.

Italy has been begging for action from Canada lawmakers, because gangsters so easily hijack our rights and freedoms, and have turned us into a conduit for the global drug trade. We need a way out of the 'revolutionary/gangster' revenge cycle in which drugs are sold to buy guns to fight battles so that political issues can be addressed in places where democracy has little traction, like Afghanistan. Those vendetta cycles not only lead to the corruption of the global democracy movement but they ensure the vitality of gangster capitalism.

A Crime Family designation would allow communities to seize the assets of such families and put the seized properties and monies into two trusts. One trust would be designed to ensure the survival of future generations of the families as they attempt to redeem themselves from their pasts. The other trust would be used to restore the integrity of local economies while preventing opportunities for other criminal groups to step into vacuums left by dismantled crime families. Some of that second Trust's money must also go into drug rehab programs, both for users, and for the farmers in various parts of the world who make their hard-scrabble livings growing coca for cocaine, opium for heroin/morphine, marijuana etc. If you go to www.Libera.it, you can see some of the extraordinary things they are doing in Italy in this regard. (For any non-Italian speakers who want to go there click on the English flag and you will get the site in translation.)

Appeals processes would be available to ensure that innocent households of any given family can defend their innocence. A moratorium on prosecution, based on the confessions of any elder of any given Crime Family would also be made available. It is not condemnation but redemption we're after here, grace not law. Of course there are always the unrepentant who will not only choose to always live by the sword but to die by it, and for them we cannot pretend that grace or law will have much effect.

In recent years Italy has been redeeming itself from its criminal societies by the use of peniti - penitents who, for one reason or another, confess to the various crimes of their clans. Those confessions tend to be made on the basis of personal survival, but just as often, there is an undercurrent of genuine confession involved, rooted as it so often is in the horrific consequences of vendetta, the shedding of the blood of the innocent and guilty alike, often family members.

A Criminal Family designation is not designed to crush crime families; it is designed to free them, not without consequences, but responsibly, whenever possible.



So that's my challenge, but I only have one vote. So you don't have much to lose.

PS
To the voters of the centre-left I say that if Frank doesn't take up this challenge, then don't vote Liberal, not because his refusal means he's a gangster (which he's not) but because we don't need a developer 'friendly' pretending to be green. I can think of a number of reasons why Frank wouldn't take this challenge. And I won't hold it against him if he doesn't. I just won't vote for him, and again urge you not to do so either.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Frank Valeriote Wins Liberal Nomination

The Liberal Party in Guelph has opted for a millionaire businessman with a record for charity work. A friend of many of Guelph's largest land developers, he is clearly from the right side of the Liberal camp, which will leave him and Brent Barr splitting the city's right-wing vote, with each man holding their hard-core-partisans. Barr will take the majority of small-government libertarians and Valeriote will take the money votes, with neither being able to take anything from the centre left.
The centre left race will be fought between NDP Star candidate Thomas King and Green Party environment critic Mike Nagy. Valeriote has no constituency beyond those who supported him tonight multiplied by a few thousand old school Catholics who will vote for him because he is the only Catholic in the race; his considerable family connections will also likely rally around him. (His grandfather was the first Valeriote to come to Guelph from San Giorgio Morgeto, Calabria, and between Frank's several great-uncles he is probably related to every Sangiorgiosi in Guelph. That won't win him the election however.)
Every environmentalist and social activist in the Liberal party is probably already packing their bags. In the privacy of the polling booth Valeriote probably won't even get the votes of those Liberals he ran against tonight.
The centre left liberals will not remain partisan because they will do what Dion did today with Elizabeth May, put the environment before the party. There isn't a chance in hell of Valeriote passing himself off as a friend of the environment, certainly not with Nagy in a debate.
If the Greens can take away progressives from the Conservative Party (who know that their party's commitment to the environment is as shallow as Valeriote's) Nagy will again benefit.
In the end, with Barr and Valeriote splitting the right wing vote, King may take the seat, with the Greens picking up vote share, and the Liberals and Conservatives losing it.
This was not a strategic move by the Liberal Party, it was a party takeover by the Sangiorgiosi in order to erase the embarrassment they went through during the November municipal election when voters tossed out favourite sons Rocco Furfaro and Ray Ferraro. They must have signed themselves up as party members in the hundreds.
Marva Wisdom was the only candidate who could have taken votes from Nagy and King and Barr. Valeriote will backfire on the Party. Dion won't get any help from Guelph in forming a government. But neither will Harper get help from Barr.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fire Video

This video of the fire was apparently shot around 3:00 Am. While the views aren't the clearest, what is clear is that the fire entered the Gummer around 3:00.
I was told that it was phoned in at 1:10 AM. The department would have been on the site almost immediately thereafter.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Gummer irony

Something I find ironic about the Gummer fire is that if it was a new building faced in stone the place would be a complete ruins. It's against the building code to build stone buildings in the old style, stone upon stone, despite the fact that there are stone structures all over the world still standing from centuries ago, and will still be standing centuries from now, long after modern buildings have fallen into ruins. Now all you can do is brick-tie a thin stone facade onto a wooden interior wall. The frame burns, the ties fall out and down comes the wall, just like the 1950's brick wall in behind Stelle, it has to be torn down. The Gummer is a testament to the stone mason's craft and art.

Safety in City Hall Construction

Is it just me, or does that the fact that there is a crew of masons working on restoring the old market facade for the new city hall, while the derrick inside the wall moves everything from cement boats full of wet concrete to scrap bins full of debris to pieces of pre-fab wall right over top of the workmen, not concern anyone
else ?
As far as I'm concerned it's a disaster waiting to happen.

Fire Update

The Guelph Mercury has a story on the conditions of all three buildings.
Renovations appear certain for all three.
The West End Bakery building had no occupied apartments and the bakery itself suffered only water and smoke damage.
The famous wooden elevator shaft has been destroyed, but the elevator itself, if it can be hauled out the basement intact may be gifted to the museum.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Liberals think King will quit if Marva gets Nod

According to Shoshana Berman of the local Liberal Party, workers for riding candidate nominee Marva Wisdom believe that recently appointed NDP candidate Thomas King is such a fan of Marva's that he will step down rather than get in Wisdom's way. Berman made the comments on the blog of Toronto Liberal Michelle Oliel. When pressed Shoshana claimed that Wisdom had the support of Guelph's social activists, as well as many conservatives. It is certainly true that a great many of Guelph's activists think highly of Wisdom. When told that Liberals believe that King will step out of the race if Wisdom wins the Liberal candidacy, Phil Alt, former NDP candidate burst out laughing, and said, "That's what they want you to think."
I guess we'll see on Friday morning if Wisdom wins Thursday night's contest whether King abdicates.

ADDENDUM APRIL 10

Saw Tom King at the Wellington Water Watchers event and he too laughed at the suggestion that he would step down. He did say he liked Wisdom

Fire Department being raked over coals -REVISED

While the fire department is being congratulated and thanked for their considerable efforts in saving the buildings, they do have their detractors.
It is beginning to appear that the fire department is coming under increasing heat in the street for the way it ALLEGEDLY allowed the fire to climb through the second floor ceiling above the Asylum store where it started, into the third floor, up onto the roof, and then in through two windows looking out of the Gummer building onto the roof of the Asylum building. Once inside the Gummer building the fire devoured the fourth floor and spread through the roof and into the brick building behind Stelle.
That brick building is unsalvageable.
The photo below shows the roof-line of the Asylum and the fourth floor of the Gummer six or seven hours later hours after the fire got into the building.

photo by Downtown Lynn

The stone walls between the Gummer and the Asylum building prevented the fire from entering the Gummer on the second and third floors. At the front of the building only the fourth floor of the Gummer was fire damaged, the lower floors however are severely water and smoke damaged.
People who were on Douglas and Wyndham streets AND OTHERS WHO WERE IN OR ON BUILDINGS on Thursday morning in the A.M. say they were surprised that the fire department wasn't more aggressive with their fire fighting, and that the firemen APPEARED TO THEM to be 'milling about' outside the building AND APPEARED TO BE operating on the assumption that they had put the fire out. The Gummer building wasn't effected at all at that point because of the stone walls, but nor - IT IS ALLEGED - was it soaked with water as a precaution. The department's highest ladder was in the shop for repairs, which may have complicated things.
An hour or so after having watched the fire above the Asylum and the firemen ALLEGEDLY 'milling about' on the street, the people I spoke to say they came back to the site to discover that the Gummer building was blazing.
It seems that a number of people have been discussing these facts for two days now and are profoundly unhappy with the fire department.
The actual sequence of events that led to the spread of the fire has yet to be detailed. Neither has the cause of the fire been made known.
I heard a lot of unkind things said about the department today, and that just makes this whole scenario that much more distressing. And yet, just because it is distressing to think about doesn't make it impossible. And the act of risking ones life in a job doesn't mean human error can't happen. The question is, did it.

Privateering the water

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Kudos

Kudos to the Guelph fire fighters who fought the Gummer fire and thought of both the past and the future, by avoiding water-blast damage to the stone work.

Douglas street has been closed to traffic but pedestrians can still use the other sidewalk, protected from potential wall-fall by fencing.

Kudos also to the Downtown Board, aka staff boss Audrey Jamal and her trusty sidekick Downtown Lynn and board president Cornerstone Mark who are going out of their way on a holiday weekend to help those businesses that were burnt-out but who need to get up and running ASAP. The downtown business community is getting some genuine leadership and those effected will probably be hanging shingles back up around downtown early next week.

Friday, April 6, 2007

History of the Buildings effected

Ward 2 posted this history of the three heritage buildings effected. The smallest needs steel girding to keep the stone facade from collapsing.

Mercury Reports 2nd Good Friday fire being fought.

At 3:36 the Guelph Mercury posted a news update to say that there was a new fire being fought by the department this time on Manitoba Street in the Ward.

ADDED

The second fire drew trucks and crew away from the down town fire.

According to the Fountain Pen
the second fire started in the basement and the fire chief does not regard it as suspicious. The photo has a burnt out bed in the foreground, and driving past the site a day later, the burnt out bed was still there, so smoking in bed may have been the cause of that fire.

Stories from the Gummer fire

One who was on site this morning says the fire may have started among the wigs on the second floor. Only the stone is still standing. The Gummer Block is otherwise destroyed. Clothing from And Venus Smiled was extracted from the shop with only water and smoke damage. The West End Bakery shop is smoke and ceiling and water ruined. Goldfinger's is gone. Barking Dog Studios are gone. So are the law offices. The apartment dwellers all escaped unharmed and were bussed away by the city to temporary accommodations. The first I heard of it was on Ward 2's blog.

Photographers have filled Flikr with images, many of which are being posted to Blog Guelph. The Guelph Mercury has a story on its cover.

2 nd fire downtown in a week

The Ward 2 website has posted pictures and a press release about a fire in the Gummer Building this morning at about 2 am. Over a million dollars in damage is being reported. Police are treating it as suspicious.
For information contact:
Chief Shawn Armstrong
Guelph Fire Department
(519) 824-3232fire@guelph.ca
www.guelph.ca

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Revenge of the Lawn

I can tell I'm getting older because I've stopped trying to hide how cranky some things make me. Lawns. Lawns are the most insidious weed patches in North America. They're surreal: reflections of minds so deep in denial about what is happening to this planet that the multi-billions of dollars and resources wasted on maintaining the appearance that everything is just-fine-thank-you-very-much, may just as well end up flushed down the toilet. Except of course, that that much flushing would have a negative impact on water supplies.(Though still less of an impact than lawn watering.)
This desperate need to keep up appearances while massive starvation and ecological collapse threatens humanity makes me despair that we will find the will to act before it is too late. This culture of denial will end-up shredded to pieces until even the deniers will finally be forced to wonder what happened to their lawns and how they dried up and got covered with dead things.
I almost wish it would happen just to watch the stupefication settle on their faces, only I can't bring myself to wish that much harm. But go ahead, keep your vanity on display, because when things fall apart your dead lawns will be how we'll know that those within can not be trusted near the food or water supplies, but should be fenced in with their toxic wastes.

ADDENDUM: COMMENT ON WARD 2 APRIL 8

Monday, April 2, 2007

Guelph's ticky tacky housing inventory

The builders of Guelph's ticky tacky housing sprawl don't want any brakes on their voyage to hell in a hand basket. They want to build their unsustainable subdivisions on the 1950's picket-fence Anywhere North American model, like some bacterial colony on an agar plate devouring everything in its wake until it dies in its own wastes. And they want to be allowed to do so because the market should be allowed to decide, only now they are using pretend environmental arguments to suggest that people will have to commute to Guelph to work because there won't be enough housing here.
A lot of small builders care deeply about the land and the water and the air, but I've never seen a single subdivision in Anywhere North America that was built by a large builder that came close to showing concern for anything but making as much money for as little work and little quality as possible.
Unless you build in Muskoka, where the Canadian Shield protects the land from being destroyed to suit some unimaginative landscape architect's prettification plans, here the land is bulldozed out of existence and reconstructed in tidy packages so that people afraid of catching life can live in the delusion of security.
What is this 'unseen hand' of the market that is so good at deciding what's good for us ? It's an unseen hand full of cash and speculative ambition, it's a hand that is seriously contaminated with organized crime money, it's a hand that feeds only certain mouths, it's a hand that passes the buck of hard decisions to the future.
In the end though, to someone like me, who insists that people need to understand that human beings are symbiotic life forms, with zillions of proto-bacteria in our cells breathing for us, metabolizing our food for us, the "unseen hand" is made up of the array of bacterial symbionts alive in every human cell. It is an array that is adept at transmitting and receiving myriad bits of energy-information, but in the end it has the understanding of a bacteria. Humanity derives mutual benefit from their existence in our cytoplasm, but human ingenuity in service to basic bacterial imperatives are what has brought us to the edge of the ecological Armageddon facing humanity.
And rest assured, bacterial symbionts will survive the disappearance of humanity, they are in every other life form on the planet.
The unseen hand of the market is mindless because it has the brain of a bacteria, it is unseen because we don't look for it in biology, in life, we look for it in economic abstractions.
The unseen hand of the market is simply bacterial life intent on eating and drinking and consuming every resource required by an organism like a human being, and when the species dies in our own wastes the free-range bacteria will take over, and other large multi-celled organisms will inherit the earth, ones that lack the ingenuity of humanity to hasten the turning of the earth into its own grave.
Controlled urban planning is no different than controlled eating or drinking, or controlled tempers, or controlled this, that or the other thing.
It is the nature of the control that is at issue: it can be extreme or it can be moderate. From my perspective, council is attempting to moderate the future, to facilitate a life that might survive. This council happens to consist of people who have thought long and hard about best practices for environmentally sustainable alternatives. To get lectures on sustainability from builders who have laid waste to the beauty of Ontario causes me to control my righteous indignation.
I'm something of a crank however, it's the Groucho Marxist in me, I think Anywhere North America is the most self-satisfied, arrogant empire the world has ever known, and much of what passes for life in it, is lifestyle, a style created by the corporate buck-passing manageriat parodied in Dilbert, full of stuff and nonsense our children will have to deal with. The sorting out of 'the stuff and the nonsense' however has started, the need and greed cycle is ending. It has to. Pride cometh before a Fall.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Gloria Kovach revisited

I found this post of Darren McEwen's while searching Gloria's story in the blog world and came across this

"And another thing...

She said she took an unpaid leave of absence from her nursing job to take on the FCM presidency, which has no salary.

Yet on her website bio (which has since been removed) it claimed Kovach left her nursing job when she became a city councillor (which was in 1991), citing privacy and conflict of interest concerns. She became the FCM President 14 years later in Decmember 2005!

Jack Layton is a former FCM President but never sought federal office or a federal nomination during his tenure at the top.

Winnipeg's Gord Steeves is now the FCM President. He's a former Liberal candidate. Note the emphasis on former ... as in 11 years ago."

ADDED TO APRIL 6
According to the FCM website she left off working in her private medical enterprise
when she became president of the FCM, which is where the 16 months leave come into it.

There was certainly some grumbling reported in town around the time that Gloria sought the nomination, to the effect that she was hedging her bets too much.
And that she should have stood down from the presidency of a non-partisan national federation while running for the candidacy of the local federal conservative party.
Maybe she needed the money (assuming the presidency is even a paid position) (she had just financed her successful municipal re-election bid before having to finance her candidacy campaign.) And she wasn't making money as a nurse anymore.
From my perspective there was no malice, unless there was malice in slagging Dion in an a moment of lost control when she lost both her dreams of a federal career and the the presidency of the FCM in as many days.
There were two months left in her mandate. Clearly the wisest thing to have done was to have resigned the post when she decided to try for the conservatives. It's even conceivable that she lost support among conservatives precisely because she was hedging her bets. She had won municipal re-election with a large plurality, she may have damaged her own win-ability factor with conservatives by not resigning, an action that made her look either small minded, arrogant, or not nearly as confident as she pretended to be, all of which might have made all the difference between the win accredited to Barr's organizational work and conservative hopes for winning the riding. She shot her own win-ability in the foot !
Then too there is the question of the progressive and conservative factions in the local tory population, Barr allegedly representing the conservative factions. I don't know enough about Kovach's conservative politics to know if she represents Harper's side of the party or the Blue Machine's side, but basically she ran against the Blue Machine and lost. From that perspective it seems to me that her attack on Dion is not unlike Harper's attacks on Dion, except that it was possibly less intentional, but no less reactionary in its own origins.
As for the FCM, what lesson have they fired across the bows of federal wannabes except 'not while you're our president you don't', 'the issues are more important than the enlargement of your fiefdom.'
If the FCM does something different if a liberal president does what Kovach did, then we can speak of hypocrisy but not before.


Jerry

The Ousting of Gloria Kovach

There is something odd about the way in which Guelph councilor, Gloria Kovach, the elected president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, was removed from the head of that association during a conference call that no one in the federation, including Kovach, can talk about because it was an 'in-camera' meeting.
She herself is blaming Liberal Leader Stephan Dion, because she says that staff of the Canada-wide organization received a phone call from Dion's office following a meeting she had had with Dion about pre-budget discussions. According to her, Dion voiced objections about her to the federation so they got rid of her. Dion's office says that no such objections existed and that they had nothing to do with her ousting.
Prior to the incident, Kovach had just run and lost a race for the candidacy of the local federal Conservative Party, following her decisive re-election as a councillor last fall.
Clearly something happened somewhere along the way. Animosity existed among the conservatives and liberal reactionaries in former mayor Kate Quarrie's camp and Kovach, an animosity that led to Kovach being unable to attend an important Federation meeting a year or so ago because council refused to reschedule a meeting, despite the fact that Kovach was president of the federation and Guelph ended up looking small and ridiculous.
Kovach says she can't imagine Stephen Harper flexing his muscles the way Dion did. I can't say I agree with her on that assessment since Harper is a known control freak, but the fact remains that something happened. And I trust for her sake, the truth will make its way out of the shadows sooner than later.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Jail Lands re-developement and brain cramps

As much as I would rather leave the land to return to the relative wildness of overgrowth and the whole veneer of civilization be kept from debasing one more site in the city, I think council is going a long way towards creating something of genuine interest with the province on the property. We don't need another manufacturing plant spewing out more planned-obsolescence for the landfill, we need jobs that will actually make the future a better place to live. Ontario's defiled landscape is beginning to give me brain cramps. In fact I'm so tired of brain cramps from looking at all the banalities that pass as free enterprise in this country, I'm so tired of imagining the boredom of the workers who have to drone-life themselves into those factories day after day, year after year that if this council can actually create something with vision and imagination then maybe I'll have one less brain cramp when I look for the beauty that used to be Ontario.

City Hall public Space Meeting

I went to the River Run to put my two sense three step into the mix of the what-do-we-want to have happen in the public space in front of the new city hall-to-be only to realize the only decisions that were left to we-the-people were really nothing more than do we want five jugglers, three flower shows, one car show, and six musical festivals there, or one ice rink, nine comic book sales and two speeches on Pollyanna. Presumably since all the decisions were made by the last council the point of this exercise was for the new council to open the process up the little they could.
The general consensus to my consensus-gathering pollsterism was that the modern-brutalism section of the new building was what we all wanted to get rid of.
Somehow modernism in architecture has felt out-of-date for several decades now. Being a worker in stone I'm quite confident the old limestones walls will continue to hold their own and then some against the concrete and glass box on stilts.
A little contemporary risk tasking architecture would have been nice, even if I didn't even like it, at least I could respect it for making the attempt. But then again, last council chose the design, and their sensibilities were entirely rooted in their developer-centric mentality a la the Malvina Reynolds song about 'little boxes on the hillside... all made out of ticky tacky."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Laura Bailey

Apparently City Councilor Laura Bailey has died.
It's undoubtedly a difficult time for her family.
She had cancer and was known to be dying, except by her coworkers, who, according to the Mercury had no idea how sick she was. From conversations I've had I knew she dying weeks ago, and people thought she wouldn't stay in office long. Maybe that's just20/20 hindsight vision. But I'm surprised that people were suprised.
She was appointed to office by a Judge after she drew the winning paper from a hat. when she and Katheen Farrelly allegedly tied during a recount of the last (automated) municipal election, (I say allegedly because the votes were never manually counted.)
For myself I would have preferred the votes be counted by human beings before the magic hat was broght out and the judge got involved, although I certainly understand why Bailey contested the results.

Undoubtedly, Bailey fought the election and the results despite the fact that she knew she was dying, because she needed to fight the inevitability of her situation.
It is ironic however that as part of Kate Quarrie's previous council, the end result of Bailey's heroic stand was a hampered council and wasted money. Not to mention costs occurring to Farrelly amounting to $10,000 and counting, because that lack of common sense revolution Mike Harris made appealing the magic hat a cost to the challenger. Great democrat that he wasn't.
Still, given the circumstances of the magic hat decision with its intimations of Norse trial- by-battle justice in which the gods decide the outcome by choosing the victor, perhaps the divine in this case was merciful. I know that if I was dying, a Quixotic tilting at the windmills would have appealed to me. Tender mercies...

Presumably the seat will go back to Farrelly, who was originally sworn in based on her one vote lead on election day. A new election would be nothing more than a further waste of time and money.
I hesitate to suggest it was spite on Bailey's part, because she may not have known of Mike Harris lack of common sense law changing either. The ballots should have been counted by hand.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Heritage Building Fundraisers

There are a number of exceptionally beautiful buildings in town in serious need of repairs. Most of them of course are in private hands, like the Apollo restaurant building. (The 1882 Petrie Building.) It has such a unique roof line design that it's even on the Province's heritage-building poster.
I've never talked to the owner about it, but he allegedly doesn't like people telling him it should be repaired. Possibly that's because it would probably cost a lot of money to fix it, and he doesn't have it. It is such an distinct architectural style that it seems almost criminal to see it decaying.
I'm not interested in heritage police swooping down on the Apollo, but I think the community has a vested interest in retaining the building. So what do we do ? Can we fund raise to help create the monies needed to at least preserve what's there, stablize the facade ?

The same with Acker's sign on Carden Street. It's one of those fifties-deco units that needs a good paint job if nothing else. I don't know whether Acker can afford to paint it or not, but it's a great sign.

Perhaps such a fundraiser project needs the Downtown Board of Trade's connections to happen, perhaps not. But we lost alot of buildings when the banks uglified the downtown a few decades ago with all their pseudo-modernist banalities. And again, this is not an attempt to trespass on property rights. If I had a job I'd put some money into helping people fix downtown buildings, especially heritage ones.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Blog Guelph photos

There are some exceptional photos of the city being posted on Blog Guelph. Sue Richard's interview with the Mercury's managing editor Phil Andrews about the papers plans to create a blog intended to make it a clearinghouse for ideas on Guelph's future is embedded with great shots.
Seems like it's going to be an interesting time in the cyberworlds and the real worlds of Guelph.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mobsters and Politics

As the author of a book on organized crime in Guelph, Legends of the Morgeti (see link list), I think it is important to point out that while traditional (Italian) organized crime has long been associated with the Liberal Party in Canada, Eastern European Crime is almost by definition right wing: these are gangster capitalists who made their fortunes scavenging through the guts of the dismembered Soviet Empire. Their natural allies in North America are not the Liberal Party but those on the right of the political spectrum who turned a blind eye to their crimes in favour of their anti-communist activities.

And because the notion of 'false politics" is embedded in the codes of the secret societies that form the core of traditional Italian crime groups, the fact that, historically, they used corrupt Liberals to assist them in their own schemes, should also not be misconstrued as tainting liberalism's principles of inclusiveness, or tainting the need of honest Italians who desired to be included in a society that Tory politicians had no desire to see them included into.

One of the most corrupt Italian Prime Ministers Giulio Andreotti, was a member of the right wing conservative Christian Democratic party that governed Italy for over forty years on an anti-communist platform heavily supported by mafioso.

So if your plans for voting are being motivated by a desire to punish corrupt Liberals, a vote for conservatives is of itself not a vote for a mob-free party.

The whole basis for Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal was drug for arms.

Gangster capitalism shares two things in common with corporate capitalism: they can't sign affidavits in court because "they have no conscience to bind them", and the pursuit of profit is the legally mandated object of all corporations, which means that a conscience-less pursuit of profit fits gangster capitalists to a "T".

Until corporate capitalism is dismantled by a free enterprise/consumer movement, the machinations of gangster capitalists will remain interwoven with any political party that promotes a corporate agenda.

Jerry

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Meighen Streak in Guelph

There has always been a mean streak in Guelph politics, best represented by the opera singer Edward Johnson and his son-in-law, Premier George Drew. Johnson was a self-professed admirer of Mussolini, and applauded the fascist's assassination of the head of the Italian Socialist Party, while George Drew was a reactionary conservative who the Canadian people never trusted with the Prime Ministership although Ontario's Orangemen kept in him power in Toronto for a few years. Mike Harris is part of that same Meighen Streak, which descends from some-time Prime Minister Arthur Meighen, an anti-labour politician who banned the reading of Plato and Darwin in the same stroke of the pen as he banned Karl Marx and Lenin.

MacKenzie King had been Meighen's nemesis throughout his career, dating back to their student days at the University of Toronto in the late 1890's. But whereas King had a instinct for reform and how far and how fast the Canadian people were willing to go on almost any issue, Meighen's instincts were pure reactionary and had as much to do with common sense as did Mike Harris' war on the poor. Meighen's respect for law and order is a case in point: he had the leaders of the Winnipeg General Strike arrested despite the fact that there weren't breaking any laws. He told his Minister of Labour to arrest them first and the government would pass a law afterwards to justify their actions, which they then did. Needless to say, Meighen was defeated in the next general election.

Guelph reactionaries have received the support of a majority of voters only once in a blue moon but they should never be under estimated: well-financed and well-placed within the community, the upstart Guelph Civic League nonetheless proved in the last municipal election that they could be beaten in a head-on confrontation. Since the several-times federal candidate for the conservatives, *the Alliance/Reform-a-tory* Brent Barr is being challenged by populist municipal politician and red tory, Gloria Kovach, it will be interesting to see if a reactionary conservative or a progressive conservative ends up as the conservative candidate.
** According to a 'comment' posted on Mar 18 Brent Barr was not from the Reform/Alliance side of the party. That's what I get for utterly ignoring everything about the local conservative party as a waste of time. See the comment for the post below.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Two Tier Voting, or how to hedge your Bets

Gloria Kovach, one of Guelph's strongest municipal councilors and president of the Association of Canadian Municipalities is planning on running to represent the Conservative Party in Guelph for the upcoming federal election. She is running against Brent Barr, an old Alliance/Reformer. See comment below.. I'm almost inclined to take out a membership in the Conservative Party for the sole purpose of supporting Ms. Kovach, not because I want the Conservatives to win the election (and certainly not because I support the Reform-a-tory politics of Stephen Harper), but because if they do win the seat, I want to have had a say in the person they elect.
I'm not sure it's something that can be done so close to an election or not, in the Conservative Party or in any of the other parties, but as a general principle, maybe it's something more Canadians should do, maybe we should all join all the political parties and vote for which ever of their candidates we like best, so that when there is an actual election, we might all feel slightly better whatever the results.
After all, Canadians are renowned for strategic voting, so what could be be more strategic than hedging all our bets by voting more than once in the only legal way open to us. "Vote early and vote often." may not be such bad advice.
And if it would sent Brent Barr back to the reactionary woodwork all the better.
Jerry

Electronic Pamphleteering

Being one who takes occasional satisfaction from posting a comment on a hydro pole I have recently taken to posting my views online and this is the most recent of my web logs. (Sorry but I have rather rapidly come to dislike 'blog' because I think it's an ugly word and I actually think its use is an impediment to people using web logs. I think the majority of web users are reluctant to investigate blogging because there is something almost scatalogical about the word, as if bloggers leave their droppings behind them in the shape of blogs and who really wants to go poking around other people's electronic dung heaps and typewrit verbal diarrhea. The word has no poetry, and therefor no soul. It kind of reminds me of people going blah blah blah, only online... blog blog blog. Web writing however seems so much more important to the future of civil society than the word blog allows so) that said,

this web log is intended to be a series of letters from Guelph, Ontario to anyone who cares to read them. It's focus is the city and its environs and events and people and concerns, but only through my eyes and the voices of anyone who bothers to comment on my posts or on the comments of others.

But since this particular post is designed to do no more than establish a point of entry, I'll leave it at that.

Jerry