Notes on a community in transition.

Wither thou goest I may or may not follow.

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Somehow modernism in architecture has felt out-of-date for several decades now.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.


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.

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.