Saturday was an interesting day politically here in Cornwall Ontario. As I stated at the bottom of my election banner on the left, I feel we have to change the culture of our city.
Yesterday three political events took place.
First was the Provincial Liberal leadership nomination which was essentially a clique love in. Former MPP Jim Brownell helped coronate one John Earle who to this day I’m not sure has ever had an actual professional position in life that didn’t involve patronage?
As potentially charming as it seems to have that much support from a close circle it’s also scary, and most likely doomed to failure in this riding. It’s essentially an extension of the politics of Queen’s Park where the Liberals after Dalton McGuinty resigned over scandals clung together and brought in a team that essentially was the same. Changing bobble heads never resolves the underlying issues; in the provincial case, why the Preme had to fall on his sword and in this riding’s case why it was the key riding that cost the Liberals a majority after Brownell bailed, rather than lose an election.
In municipal politics there was a meeting held at the lovely Chartwell Retirement residence. Organized by Council candidate Mark A MacDonald (the former Liberal MPP candidate) Mr. MacDonald had David Enns and Roy Perkins from the Community Action Group or CAG (which I’m a member of even they they don’t send invites to meetings or respond to emails). CAG wants zero tax increases hoping that the area’s growth will bring numbers into a proper alignment.
Mr. MacDonald stated he issued invites to all the candidates running for office at this time:
Mark A. MacDonald
Gary W. Samler
Gerald E. Samson
Mr. MacDonald, Brock Frost, Roland Besner, Geoff Stephenson and myself showed up. David Murphy, Davey Bedard, and Gary Samler sent regrets. None of the other candidates responded or showed up.
Now these people are wanting to be elected to public office. That office is to represent all. They were notified weeks in advance of the event. It was open to all candidates and surely the budget is one of the most critical issues facing Cornwall.
The information presented from CAG was important and useful. For example why has the City stopped participating in the BMA studies of communities across Ontario which rank areas and highlight numbers? Surely it can’t be the humble $1500 or so per year to participate? I have a hunch it’s because the information the city has to provide to the study shows how badly we’re doing. Again, instead for working together to improve the city; let’s stick our head in the ground and hope the issue goes away.
From the last info in 2011 it showed that Cornwall had the lowest Income of all 84 communities in the study, and by far; nearly 25% below the next on the list with household incomes of only $53K
Yet property taxes on a $100,000 home were nearly 50% higher than in South Stormont or South Glengarry, our neighbors.
Building permit per Capita in Cornwall was dead last as well. That surely isn’t something they tell you at the Team Cornwall yearly meeting.
Fire Costs rand 2nd highest in communities with 20,000 – 49,999 population.
Police services ranked highest in 2011 as well, and have only gone up since.
Transit service second highest.
Surely our high taxes clearly are not being spent effectively. In my opinion they’re being spent on legal issues and buying the support of those given jobs on the Sunshine list. And clearly, like our police chief, many that are on that Sunshine list are enjoying lower taxes living with our neighbors in other communities while sucking our coffers dry.
There are no band aids to fix this.
I’m working on a plan to present during the election that would give City Employees a bonus if they live in Cornwall. Why? Because we need those incomes in our city and we need those taxes coming into our coffers. The trick is coming up with a number that yields a benefit for both the city and those we want to stay in Cornwall.
For example would South Glengarry have an average household income in 2010 of $80,862 vs Cornwall’s $53, 068 if a big chunk of our Sunshine list lived in our city like our former CAO Paul Fitzpatrick, and current CAO Norm Levac?
There is something fundamentally wrong; not illegal, but wrong, about people living outside of Cornwall making big ticket decisions or being a cog in that process and not having to pay those fees?
The problem is that we have too many at the trough in Cornwall and not enough feeding it. There is a tax imbalance that’s been engineered and supported by those fattening up on it while pools get closed in Cornwall and our roads crumble.
Sadly the CAG is not confronting City Hall over these issues. Sadly some of the members of CAG itself are asking for funding from City Hall for projects that should be coming out of their own pockets thus making it harder to keep taxes at zero.
I think we can cut taxes and keep cutting as we dig through the layers of fat buried in the budget by people that don’t live in our city. But that will take political will. It will take a massive change in the culture of how we do things in Cornwall.
The question is will voters have that will come election time and will there be candidates for that will to be focused on.
So far we don’t have those candidates. Surely if a candidate doesn’t have the common sense to handle themselves professionally when it comes to debates and invites, they surely won’t be able to handle themselves around budget decisions, no?
Culture is more than art. It’s about how we do things in our community. Our standards, our integrity, our work ethic, and our common goals and dreams for our community.
That’s what we have to change if we honestly want Cornwall to grow and thrive.
Finally Saturday night I attended the Friends of Vets fundraiser. Anyone that has read CFN over the years knows that I’m always there for our fighting men and women. The group is focused on helping recent soldiers who are suffering the effects of the war in Afghanistan. There has been a rash of military suicides in particular that have been in the news of late.
The group had speakers from all three political parties and a psychologist before munching on spaghetti at the Air Force Wing.
The group was nicely attended, but almost no media showed up. I left after the speeches and the food had stared and was the only media in attendance.
I was shocked to see no representative from The Glens present, but maybe they were out of uniform or I missed them?
The irony is that the Wing itself is in danger of being forced out of their building as the Federal government has not given them a new lease (and that issue will probably drag on until after the next Federal election).
Again, it’s part of our culture. Do we protect and care for those who have sacrificed to protect and care for us?