- The antibiotics are beating back the infection in my right leg. A week ago the infection had encircled the leg and covered about 80% of the lower leg. Now the circle is broken and it is about 20% of the leg. Remarkably if the dog brushes up on it, a kid hits it, or if anything falls on it, it still falls on the painful part of the leg.
- A lot of you have asked what the doctors are doing about it. The don’t really know why it the infection keeps reoccuring. About 10 times now I have been declared cured and within days of having absolutely no trace of it for weeks, it comes back when I come off the antibiotics. Each time it comes back with more force, faster, and harsher and I get way sicker in the process. In all of the opinions I have gotten, the doctors keep telling me that this isn’t supposed to happen.
- I still feel like death. There is a feeling that the infection has done long term damage to my body, especially the last time. Mentally I feel better. The fever takes a weird mental toll on you in that it is exhausting to be either freezing and trying to get warm or burning up and trying to break the fever and stay hydrated. It’s all I was thinking of for several days. Despite staying in bed, I was exhausted and not sleeping. I was too tired to even read anything.
- I try not to get angry or frustrated over it but I had some choice words for a doctor who was reminding me that my core fitness needed improvement. Umm, i have been told to stay off my feet for 14 months now, I barely go out and of course my fitness is going to suck.
- I was going to take this week off my StarPhoenix column to recover as I had nothing left in the tank but I read a great Sports Illustrated column on this years NCAA football season and how he had predicted how Ohio State would be an offensive juggernaut. It made me think back to all of the predictions that made so much sense in the pre-season of any sport and how few played out that way. I had some fun predictions for 2016 provincially, municipally and for the Riders. Prediction columns are fun, where else can I talk about Eric Olauson and Bill Belichick in the same space?
- A lot of you know that I have a passion for word processors. With a new Acer E-11 Netbook for Christmas, I am trying out a few right now. I just installed Corel Office which is a slimmed down version of WordPerfect, Quattro Pro and whatever they use for presentations and I am trying a full blown version of WordPerfect X7. I’ll let you know how it goes.
- Speaking of word processors, with my beloved Windowns Live Writer being discontinued by Microsoft, there is a new open source version called Open Live Writer. Microsoft has allowed some of their code to be open source (this is a big deal) and it is being developed and upgraded by a team of developers. The biggest difference is that Open Live Writer is compatible once again with Blogger.
- I wish someone would tell Jeb Bush that it is time to pull the plug on his campaign. It’s over Jeb.
- The lack of star NDP candidates for the upcoming provincial election tells me that the NDP knows that it isn’t going to win. Two relative unknowns in Saskatoon Fairview and Saskatoon Meewasin also tell me the same thing. Cam Broten may be Premier in 2020 but it seems like the goal is 20 seats (and be a government in waiting in 2016).
- Speaking of Saskatoon Meewasin, has there ever been a MLA with a lower profile then Roger Parent. No website and he even uses a @gmail.com email address on his bilboard ads. I can’t even find him in Google News (you search for “Roger Parent” and “Saskatoon”, he isn’t there). He is like the Saskatchewan Liberal Party of the Saskatchewan Party caucus. I would say this about a New Democrat, Liberal, or Saskatchewan Party MLA but if you are going to do so little work in being a MLA, you don’t deserve to even win a nomination or be elected.
- I saw Darren Hill beaking of at Rona Ambrose about this one Twitter but I agree with Rona Ambrose and that is the Liberal Party should have a referendum on changing the way we vote. Moving from First Past the Post may be the right thing (although I disagree with it) but it is a big of enough change to our democracy that we should have a say in it.
- A couple of things about Brad Wall. More and more his government reminds me of the Grant Devine regime with it’s dependance on mega-projects to spur the economy. The stadium in Regina, the Children’s Hospital (which we don’t need nor do we have the population to support) and the carbon capture project. Huge projects that are costing a recently struggling economy a lot of money. I might be okay with this but I don’t see a plan from the Saskatchewan Party on how to deal with low commodity prices other than complaining ot the feds (like Grant Devine). Now with no budget on the horizon before the provincial election and a struggling economy, it gives me an uncomfortable feeling that things are worse than we are being told. Of course in the end, Brad Wall might not be here much longer and may have his focus on the federal Conservativ leadership race.
- I am suprised by the Cleveland Browns inability to acknowledge and get help for Jonny Manziel being an alcoholic and having a drinking problem. There is a difference between being a party goer and what Manziel is doing. I am also suprised by Manziel not being able to control his friends cell phone’s. You don’t think Tom Brady’s friends have cell phones? Yet you don’t see those kind of videos appearing of him. In fact with Tom Brady’s Facebook, he has done an amazing job of controlling what people see of him.
- This is one of the most damning things I have ever heard someone say of a coach. Despite that it is what destroyed Josh McDaniels, Bobby Petrino (multiple times) and how many other countless coaches. Football is a people business and while we talk of the genius of coaches like Belichick with x and o’s, it is their ability to manage and lead men that makes them so impressive. Not just players but assistant coaches, support staff, and even the guys who take care of the field and bring them all together. Chip thought it was X and O’s. He was wrong.
- When did Facebook rants become news? Ryan Meili ran twice for the leadership of the NDP, lost both times and would never run for his party again. When he runs provincially or federally under someone else’s leadership, I’ll take this more seriously but for now I don’t see this as big news. I agree that Broten is taking the party to the centre, it’s worked well for the NDP in the past under Romanow and Calvert but it has been a disasterous move for the party federally and provincially elsewhere other than Alberta. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Saskatoon City Council debates 1% art funding again because Eric Olauson didn’t like it the results the first time so here we are again. Reporting from the CBC.
Saskatoon city council is still trying to figure out what it’s going to do about public art. At Monday’s council meeting, councillor Eric Olauson tried to rescind a policy to earmark one per cent of the budget of significant capital projects for public art.
The rest of Saskatoon City Council decided to move ahead with this last year but Councilors Olauson and Donauer bring it up again.
Last year, council decided that for high profile civic capital projects of $5 million dollars or more, one per cent of the city’s contribution — up to half a million dollars — would be earmarked to include a work of art.
The public art reserve is one of the topics that dominated discussion around the council table during the annual city budget review on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
Councillor Randy Donauer also questions the policy.
"What we had brought to us at budget this year was a half a million dollar project to put art on sound walls and on fire halls that I don’t think is line with what public perception for funded art is."
He said if art is inside a fire hall, the public won’t see it. If art is on a sound wall it can be vulnerable to graffiti.
Actually, in Saskatoon and elsewhere, graffiti artists leave art walls alone. It is bare walls without walls that are vulnerable to being tagged. As for the art indoors, by that logic, all art should be taken outside of public buildings.
Donauer wants council to re-examine the policy and decide where and when public art should be built.
Council once took hours to debate the kind of material a fence should be made of in Sutherland. Can you imagine a debate on where and what kind of art should be built?
Meanwhile councillor Charlie Clark said he believes there is some confusion about how the policy is applied.
"Intuitively it’s not one that you would think ‘OK we want to spend a lot of money to add public art into.’ Although I have had a lot of people say those sound walls are pretty boring. And they end up being a scar on the landscape in a way because they’re just plain and divide neighbourhoods from each other."
He said there are innovative ways to make them more interesting while the walls are being constructed.
He gave an example to a privately owned wall along Warman Road intentionally covered by graffiti, which he said has become quite "beloved in the community."
Expect more of this as we get closer to the provincial election where Olauson is desperate to raise his profile and prove his conservative credentials.
You’ve just found the inaugural episode of The Jordon Cooper Podcast. Today I am chatting about the 9th Street on ramp, the ridiculousness of Saskatoon’s City Council’s reversal and the ugly precedent it set.
1. I have been asked many times lately if I am running for public office. The answer is never. Seriously, I am never running for office so stop asking. I don’t take politicians seriously and I find myself laughing at many of their first world politician problems. I could never do it. Well I could but it would in the same way The Onion covers the world news. Then again can you do a Ralph Klein and not drink? I don’t think you can and I don’t drink.
2. There will be a interesting races for Saskatoon City Council. If Randy Donauer and Eric Olauson win, that will create vacancies in Ward 5 and 8. If Charlie Clark runs for Mayor, that opens up Ward 6. At one time I thought because of the transit lockout that Ann Iwanchuk might be vulnerable but that has come and gone and no one cared so her seat is safe. Yes I hear rumours that this person is running or that person is running but during the last election I heard that I was a part of slate of candidates that Darren Hill was running. If there was a slate, I wasn’t on it.
2a. As for by-elections for Donauer’s seat (if he wins) whoever wins that would be kind of vulnerable because of a lack of time they would have to establish themselves. I think as Mairin Loewen and Ann Iwanchuk showed, it also means that your campaign machine is still ready to go. It could even be an advantage. Although I doubt anyone who has to run back to back campaigns would think of it as an advantage.
3. I was really uncomfortable seeing both Eric Olauson, Randy Donauer and Troy Davies bill the City of Saskatoon $700 each for the Mayor’s Cultural Gala. (the report is here) Not only did they charge their tickets but also for their dates. I know it’s not against the rules but since that is the case, something is wrong with the rules. That is taxpayers money for what is largely an evening out. It was also the eve of locking out the transit workers and causing a lot of hardship for a lot of people. The optics of it are horrible and in Olauson and Donauer’s case, it really damages thei credibility as a fiscal hawk when he is lined up at the taxpayers trough. Do as I say, not as I do.
3a. I was also uncomfortable glancing at the 2013 expenses and seeing Troy Davies submit a bill for a Synergy 8 event, a charity he helped found. It’s only $75 but it is an event his organization put together. I am not saying it is against the rules (apparently it isn’t), I am just shocked we allow that kind of thing. It is like council voted themselves a social fund and all them are using it.
4. Speaking of fundraisers, apparently your city councillor doesn’t really want to support your cause as they billed a lot of fundraisers big and small to the city. If they don’t want to go, why go and why charge the taxpayers for it? How can this not be against the rules? It looks like we are paying them to go to social events to be seen. This is called campaigning. Why is this allowed? Look at who wrote them.
5. I am also a bit disgusted with taxpayers paying for councillor domain names and hosting. I have long said that a system like darrenhill.saskatoon.ca or anniwanchuk.saskatoon.ca would work for councillor sites at a cost of nothing to the city. Not only do we pay (a lot) for domain hosting and registration but then those same domains are used as election tools which are essentially promoted by taxpayer money during their time in office. Again, not allowed in other many other cities but here we are, allowing it here. Of course some the expenses are high because I think that some are being taken advantage of. When I mean, some, that is us again.
6. Take a look at Darren Hill’s travel expenses for 2014. I love that he included a trip that did not cost taxpayers money. Next year I want him to submit a line in there for a Slurpee that someone bought for him. It actually makes some sense. He travels for SUMA and to avoid the perception he is flying on our money, he reminds us that he flew on someone else’s money. Still, I want to see a comped Slurpee in there.
7. Even weirder in the expenses is that all councillors have to submit a line by line expense report while the mayor submits a lump sum? Someone explain that to me. Yes the majority of his expenses go to pay Richard Brown. That is fine and I have no problems with that but why not be transparent with the rest of your expenses. If you don’t have anything to hide, then why not make it available. If you do have something to hide, why submit the expense. It’s really weird that we have one standard for councillors and one for the mayor. At executive committee, he was asked to provide a breakdown on his expenses, he said he would “consider it”. Transparency in action folks.
7a. It reminds me of the issue around the Mayor publishing his schedule. Other Mayors do it and it is both really interesting and really boring but it is done to show who is lobbying the mayor. After saying he would not do this because his day-timer was bought with his own money (and totally missing the point), he did it once leading up to the last election and hasn’t done it since.
7b. When I bring up transparency and accountability with councillors, they generally tell me that other councils are worse in some area. I agree. Look at Winnipeg. It may be worse in all areas. Yet what happened to aspiring to be the best at something or the most transparent? Seriously why wouldn’t the Mayor want his expenses broken down or his schedule published? Other politicians do it and somehow democracy survives.
8. So on one extreme is Toronto where mayoral campaigns debate every hour or so (I kept expecting Chow, Ford, and Tory to show up at the Rook and Raven one night to debate) to the Saskatoon example of one debate. I would love to see a middle ground (slanted heavily towards the Saskatoon model) of 3 to 5 debates on different issues. I’d watch a debate on the future of downtown, poverty issues on the westside, urban planning, and transportation/transit. I wonder if we can make that happen for this election. I’d also love to see a debate over a beverage and wings. Something casual where tough policy questions are asked and candidates are given time to answer. I may be the only one who is there. Well me and the city councillors because they can expense their meal, their parking, and their mileage….
9. If Randy Donauer loses his federal election, I can’t see it hurting a re-election bid in Ward 5. Darren Hill was destroyed when he ran federally and was re-elected handily in Ward 1. I am told by all candidates that a local campaign is worth about 3% in terms of winning votes. If you blow a close campaign, you blame yourself but at least you got close, you get blown out, chances are it’s the party leader or platform (or a really unpopular federal/provincial govt).
10. Everyone asks me about if Pat Lorje can win again in Ward 2 which is odd since I live in Ward 1 (no one is voting for her in my ward I know that!) Professor Dave McGrane called the leak thing “inside baseball” which means that it is really important to politicos and the media but not that important to voters. My take is that it will enrage those that won’t vote for her. I think the bigger danger for any long term incumbent is the population growth and change in the ward. If enough new people come in, then for all intents and purposes, you lose the advantages of incumbency.
11. Personally I think Lorje is vulnerable to a Karl Rove strategy of running against a candidates strengths which is a strong base in Montgomery and Caswell A campaign that was about the noise from South Circle Drive, failure to stop the wind turbine, the new apartments that Montgomery hated, the new location of the city yards, lack noise walls along tracks, 33rd Street widening, and crime in Caswell. Instead of trying to get voters to come out in King George, you try to keep her voters from voting. You saw it in Alberta. A lot of Progressive Conservative voters stayed home and that hurt them in close races. It’s a lot easier said that done but I’d expect a couple of candidates to run, especially one from the businesses on 20th Street.
12. I love the debate going on between Toronto Chief City Planner Jen Keesmat and Mayor John Tory. Two different visions of the Gardiner Expressway (Keesmat is right) but they are able to co-exist. This is what you get when you have a strong independent city planner. Saskatoon’s has always been part of the City Hall administration which as the city grows, it may be beneficial for more independence rather then the “one voice” strategy that now exists in City Hall.
13. I don’t get the lawsuit for the South Circle Drive delays against Stantec construction. It says that Stantec didn’t supervise the project closely enough and therefore it was delayed. Umm, then who from the city was supervising Stantec and are they responsible? Why wasn’t Stantec replaced (or penalized) when things started to go bad? Of course there are some other lawsuits that are happening with other developers. Do we not have the capacity in the city to even tender out and supervise the projects we need? I’d love to hear the other sides from this.
13a. When you don’t hire FTEs like councillors Olauson and Donauer hate, you have to hire outside companies like Stantec which not only cost much more money but also lack accountability. You aren’t saving money by cutting FTEs you are costing the city more.
14. The city has a problem with 15% vacancy rate downtown (that doesn’t include the old police station). Where is City Council on this. A strong downtown is important to all us but I haven’t heard anything from City Admin, Council, or even SREDA. Is there a plan being executed to help with it? Do they disagree that it is a problem? Is there even a plan to fix it?
15. I can’t get excited about the glut of hotels. A couple of years ago Tourism Saskatoon was saying that the lack of hotels was a major problem for the city. Now we have a glut which happens when you have a boom, developers from all over scramble to build, especially in areas like the airport business area. Then there is a glut and that will remain until our population grows again and there is a shortage. The good news? Our hotel rates will finally be closer to Calgary’s rather than Manhattans.
Okay, those are just some random thoughts I have been thinking. Let me know if you agree or disagree with them below.
I havenâ€™t done one of these in a long while but here are the highlights from todayâ€™s City Council meeting.
- Both Pat Lorje and Zach Jeffries brought up the missing reports on the city council website. Â Administration just kind of made up a reply and suggested they donâ€™t have enough space to host all of them. Â They are preparing a report on it and will present that to Council in April. Â So yeah, administration was passive aggressive on the issue.
- Now to be fair to administration, they scan stuff in the most inefficient way possible. Â It is basically JPGs of paper reports converted to PDFs. Â It means that the reports are often not searchable or indexed and are MASSIVE in size. Â I am assuming that administration doesnâ€™t have the space to host normal PDFs but it could be that they are handling these HULK sized PDFs. (â€œPDF Angry! Â PDF SMASH!â€). Â Either way, disk space as an excuse is a weak one.
There you go. Â Short and almost sweet. Â Councillors then retired upstairs where they had an executive meeting that was in-camera (closed door).
The photo below is from Andrea Hill. Â Twitterâ€™s ability to show photos has sucked in recent days so I thought I would post it here. (it took 20 minutes for Twitter to load this up)
Those are some sad, sad looking city councillors. Â Well Zach Jeffries looks angry but by in large, they look sad.
Given the fiasco involving route cancellations that greeted riders on the first day of a new school year, it’s difficult to take seriously the City of Saskatoon’s commitment to developing a bus rapid transit system, improve services to meet the demands of growth and lessen the urban carbon footprint.
City Hall seems to be pinning the blame in part on a shortage of qualified heavy duty mechanics in the market, as well as an inability to reach a contract with its transit employees, which is forcing it to advertise for mechanics at wage rates based on the expired 2012 contract.
A month after transit director Bob Howe apologized to commuters after cancelling seven routes because too many buses needed repairs for short-staffed mechanics to fix them all, and described the situation as an “anomaly,” frustrated university students and high schoolers on Tuesday saw the cancellation of direct routes to campus, downtown and many high schools.
In addition, no buses will be added to the busiest routes at peak travel times, and transit officials advise commuters to avoid peak morning and evening trips if possible. It’s those who are trying to get to work or school on time, and return home afterward, who are creating the “peaks,” and it’s transit’s job to accommodate their needs, not the other way around.
The cancellations and delays in the implementation of new routes were announced on Friday, before the Labour Day long weekend. Transit users, who have had to cope in recent years with frequent changes to routes and services, can’t be blamed for questioning why the city cannot seem to get its act together on managing the service properly.
“We have been in an environment of labour uncertainty for the last number of months which has proven to be challenging,” noted the city’s news release on Friday.
Yet, what isn’t clear is what role Saskatoon’s policy of buying second-hand buses that other cities don’t want is playing in creating the demand for more mechanics and a repair backlog that had rendered the transit service unable to field a full complement of buses for its routes.
Mr. Howe says transit has sent as many buses as possible to be repaired by private companies. Given that the problem has been obvious for at least a month, when the previous route cancellations occurred, when did the city began to contract out the work?
Surely, transit officials should have known long before Friday that they lacked enough buses and told the public, instead of waiting until the last possible moment to disclose the fact. This is far from acceptable customer service and effective issues management.
Mr. Howe said in July that transit was upgrading its aging fleet and expects to get five new buses this fall. It’s now obvious that the decrepitude of his 158-bus fleet has reached a point where even more replacements are needed soon, making council’s decision to use for the new commuter bridge the funding slated for bus replacements seem unwise.
When it comes to transit, Saskatoon talks a better game than it delivers.
Excellent editorial but I have one bone to pick with it. I am not even sure City Hall talks a good game about transit. Â If anything the message that I have heard from City Council at budget time is that transit is a burden on the city as they transfer more costs onto riders.
I have written about our aging fleet before but it is worth repeating. Â Some of our busses are so old that people travel to Saskatoon just to ride of them like rolling museum pieces. Â They shouldnâ€™t be repaired by Saskatoon Transit but the Western Development Museum. Â Instead of replacing them, Saskatoon City Council is building a bridge for cars.
It is to be expected. Â With the retirement of Myles Heidt and the defeat of Bev Dubois, there are no councillors who are strong on public transit. Â Unlike Calgary and Edmonton who both feature mayors who use and advocate for public transit, I am unaware of any councillors who actually use it. Â Maybe that explains some of the problems that we have.
The other problem is the Saskatchewan government contributes nothing to the bottom line of our transit in cities. Â Whereas Manitoba pays for almost half of Winnipegâ€™s transit costs (and injects capital for BRT), we get nothing except some money for Access Transit. Â Arguably that money is spent on STC which is still needed but it means that Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and Regina are some of the few cities that are left trying to provide funding for transit with no help. Â While I agree that council has handled this poorly (again), a big part of the blame lands with governments going back to the Blakeney era that ignored public transit in the cities.
The StarPhoenix asks some hard questions about the new City of Saskatoon governance model that seems to more about the lifestyle of the councillors than it is about being good for the city.
When city council holds its next meeting a week from today, it will be the first such meeting in nearly two months after city hall adopted a new governance model that has cut council meetings in half to once a month.
Only a couple of voices on council expressed skepticism over the new system, while most heralded the change as making council’s activities more accessible.
However, there’s reason for Saskatoon residents to doubt whether the new system will improve how the city is run and increase people’s access to decisions and those who make them.
The StarPhoenix examined governance formats in seven other western Canadian cities and found little similarity to Saskatoon’s new model.
Few other municipalities hold council meetings just once a month and, of those that do, appearances can be deceiving.
Regina, for example, generally holds council meetings once a month, but held 23 meetings in 2013 and has held 10 so far this year.
Will Saskatoon’s new approach be flexible and allow for special meetings to be called to address urgent issues?
None of the other councils studied held all the major committee meetings on a single day of the week the way Saskatoon city hall plans to on Mondays (or Tuesdays after a long weekend).
Supporters say the new system will allow people greater access to committee meetings, which will now be held in council chambers and broadcast on the city’s website.
Why hold all the committees on the same day, though? That would seem to limit accessibility – particularly for those who happen to be busy on Mondays.
Is the real motivation access for residents, or convenience for councillors and administrators?
City officials cited Regina, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton as the inspiration for the new system, but Saskatoon’s new approach bears little resemblance to the latter two Alberta cities. Both Edmonton and Calgary hold multiple council meetings each month, making one wonder if Saskatoon is really making an effective transition to becoming a big city.
I agree with questions that The StarPhoenix is asking. Â From the start I have said that this is about the convenience of City Councillors who want to streamline their work load, make themselves less accountable, and make it far harder for the lowly public to participate or communicate with their elected officials. Â Saskatoon City Council took this new arrangement so seriously that they actually drew names from a hat to fulfill one of the committee memberships. Â You canâ€™t do that and tell anyone that you take governance seriously.
Iâ€™ll give The StarPhoenix the last word.
No one can credibly argue these changes came about due to public pressure or through extensive consultation with voters.
It’s now up to the new model’s supporters to communicate how and why the new system is working and to be candid and admit when it’s failing the citizens who are paying for it.
Otherwise, Saskatoon residents will quite correctly feel they’ve been bamboozled and watched democracy get eroded by those who should be defending it.
The price and focus of community support officers is putting the whole program in jeopardy.
â€œ$450,000 (a year) is a lot of money,â€ Ward 9 Councillor Tiffany Paulsen said at the administration and finance committee Monday. â€œI donâ€™t see how council can measure if this program is working.â€
At the end of July funding for the Community Support Officers (CSO) program expires. The cityâ€™s administration presented a report recommending city council expand the program for another three years into the end of 2017 for $1.35 million.
However, questions about what the CSOs patrol, how much its work overlaps with police officers, and the funding plan have put the future of the program on the bubble.
After reviewing the reports Ward 8 councillor Eric Olauson said he didnâ€™t see the value of this program.
â€œI have a tough time supporting this because I think police here have to change their focus. This was a good idea at the time but I think its run its course,â€ Olauson said.
Councillor Zach Jeffries echoed his colleagues concern noting that five CSOs have written only 15 bylaw infraction tickets over 18 months. He said if they wrote more tickets, council could better measure the success of the CSOs.
â€œThe number of tickets is very small â€¦ people say they want to see more tickets written,â€ Jeffries said, adding it would give council a measurement to determine the programâ€™s success.
â€œI would personally appreciate seeing something more measureable and in my mind itâ€™s something to focus on.â€
Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill said he supports the CSOs, and although he sees how the police officers and the CSOs overlap, he sees the police acting more as a protection measure for the CSOs.
â€œWeâ€™re always concerned about their safety so on occasion we will send a patrol car just to make sure there isnâ€™t going to be any violence,â€ Weighill said. â€œWeâ€™re supportive of the program we think thereâ€™s a space for them to do the work they do.â€
For the programâ€™s initial 18 months, the city resolved that funding for the CSOs would come from parking meter revenues because the patrolling areas (Downtown, Broadway, Riversdale) were metered. However, Riversdale Business Improvement District (BID) executive director Randy Pshebylo said he wants that money to go back into streetscaping.
â€œThe BID board has been very clear that theyâ€™d support a pilot program and that would then extend to an alternative source of funding and that the existing funding revert back to the streetscape reserve,â€ he said.
Well letâ€™s get the obvious one out there. Â Eric Olauson doesnâ€™t see the value in any program that doesnâ€™t involve his ward getting sound walls. Â That is his M.O. Â
Secondly a year ago the same councillors were praising the work of the CSOs and talking about how awesome they were. Â What happened?
The Partnershipâ€™s CEO, Terry Scaddon retired and he was one of the biggest champions for the program. Â Without him there, councillors are feeling far more free to criticize the program.
The program was designed from the start to pressure the province in giving money to help with social issues in Saskatoon. Â We had the Safer Streets Commission and the hope was that the province would help fund some of the solutions to social programs that we have in the cities. Â It wasnâ€™t a real need, crime in downtown Saskatoon was quite low but there was a perception out there. Â Unfortunately we overlooked the fact that the Wall government is very comfortable with the status quo on social issues and that the Treasury Board doesnâ€™t include a single member from Saskatoon. Â To make a long story short, we never got the funding and the program is going to die.
Finally, I canâ€™t leave Coun. Jeffries comment alone. Â Could it be that the reason that there was not a lot of tickets written is that there was not a lot of need in the first place? Â Also, encouraging law enforcement to write tickets is a really bad political direction to be giving them. Â The intention of the CSOs was to be helping people access needed services, not writing tickets. Â Countless cities across North America have cracked down on panhandlers and the homeless and it doesnâ€™t work. Â Criminalizing behaviour that is driven by extreme poverty is the worst form of public policy. Â Zach should know better than that, regardless of which ways the winds are blowing in his suburban ward.
Over the last couple of weeks I have seen three minor accidents along the northbound lane on Idylwyld South. Â All three have been minor and have “exchanged paint” to use the old NASCAR phrase. Â They have been caused by someone trying to brake or avoid a massive pothole around a manhole cover which had been created but not repaired by a City of Saskatoon crew.
Today while caught in traffic along there, Wendy and I watched a man who was going no faster than 20 kph hit the pothole, blow his tire and bend his rim on a pothole that had been there for weeks.
Whenever I talk to any of you about potholes, I get told, “report it on the website”. Â When a pothole in on one of the major thoroughfares in this city, driven by police, fire, city crews and even you as councillors, one should not have to report a pothole to the city, it should be fixed like it would be in any other city in Canada. Â Especially when the pothole was created as part of a sewer upgrade*.
I have heard many stories this summer of Saskatoonians travelling to other cities and hearing apologies for the state of their roads while those same people are going, “this is so much better than the roads we have have in Saskatoon”. Â Some of the ways people have described our roads are “war torn”, “goat trails,” and most of all “unsafe”.
They are unsafe to our tires, our rims, and our suspensions. Â They are also unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. Â It’s embarrassing that you as a group has allowed our streets to get to this point.
It’s not like you don’t know this would happen. Â The 2012 Roads Reports and reports before that ask for more money and tell you each year that unless we have more money, this is going to happen. Â You kept telling people how you heard about their concerns regarding roads on the doorsteps. Â Instead you gave a small increase and congratulated yourselves on the back despite knowing it wasn’t enough. Â Road repair costs rise about 15% each year but Council decides to give about .5% of an increase each year leading to a very big and unsafe gap in services. Â You hope to have enough money budgeted to bring hold the status quo by 2020. Â By that time there may not be any roads left and the yearly amount needed to fix our roads will be much, much higher. Â
Maybe city crews can’t find the potholes because street cleaning in this city takes months. Â On Friday I was in City Park and they were finally cleaning it. Â It was July 12! Â Two months citizens of City Park have had to deal with gravel strewn and dirty streets because again, the City of Saskatoon won’t pay for the equipment needed to clean our streets. Â We have such a short summer, you would think this would be a priority but it isn’t. Â An email from another ward councillor today showed that much of that ward hadn’t been cleaned yet so don’t feel back City Park. Â The quality of street sweeping is poor to say the least. Â Talking to councillors in others wards I hear the same thing. Â Locally I heard the sweepers but to be honest, our roads are marginally cleaner.
Sure we have the lowest taxes of any city our size in Canada but at the end of the day there is a reason for that, no city can maintain it’s infrastructure at the current rate of funding. Â We may as well have Prosperity Saskatoon but we have roads that failing and a bridge that is a laughing stock of the country. Â Instead of fixing what we have, all you can talk about is how we need to build more stuff (that needs to be maintained) so we can grow to a city of 1 million people.
While we are talking about growing to a city of a million people; here is a little bit of information you might find useful, Â cities can’t grow themselves. Â It’s the national and provincial economies that decide that. Â It took Calgary 45 years to grow from 250,000 to a million people yet for some reason, we need to start building today. Â Hence the $30 million extra for addition lanes on the north commuter bridge that your own city administration recommended against. Â Then again, who am I to question policy made out of a campaign promise?
Our provincial economy is far different than Alberta’s oil based economy. Â The amount of head office oversight that a potash mine takes compared to thousands of oil wells all over the province is miniscule. Â We may be overjoyed by BHP Billiton moving it’s Canadian head office to Saskatoon but look at the result, a couple of stories of downtown office space. Â It’s not a reflection of Saskatoon, it’s a reflection of the economy of the province we live in.
Combine that with a city council that just can’t get that quality of life matter in a city and you have a place where companies won’t be able to attract talent to and if they can, they won’t be able to keep it. Â Most of the cities that are growing in Canada have higher taxes because a) growth costs b) you need to have great public amenities to have a city that top talent wants to live in. Â
Eventually we are going to have to make a decision as a city. Â If we keep on this path with crumbling roads and infrastructure many will just choose to leave. Â For those that are left, we are going to have to borrow heavily to pay for the stuff that should have been paid for al along just like Toronto has had to do. Â You can’t run old buses, garbage trucks, and city vehicles forever. Â Eventually something is going to have to give and then you have to start paying for bills of broken equipment, water pipes, and roads. Â When those bills come due, it’s over whelming.
Council needs to stop playing politics and start doing their fiduciary responsibility for the citizens of Saskatoon and start taking proper care of our infrastructure and city. Â If they don’t, the only good news is that they won’t need to spend so much time worrying about it because we will find another group of public servants that will.
* I shouldn’t be that surprised by a city crew not repairing a pothole. Â I had to personally intervene several years ago while a city run backhoe hit a car and was about to drive off. Â The utility cut took a couple of years to get fixed. Â I also listened to Saskatoon Light & Power crews lie about a pole failure while I was working downtown where they went home for the weekend and left a power pole in a hole without any supports. Â The weather warmed up and it fell over. Â We aren’t hiring the best and the brightest.
The race for Saskatoon City Council race is well underway with fundraisers, door knocking and quips on Twitter breaking out all over the place. Dave Hutton does have the definite candidates list on City Hall Notebook but I decided to create a page myself to keep track of the campaigns). I have my biases and will disclose them. Later on this summer I will offer up some endorsements in Ward 1 (where I live), Ward 2 (which I have long had a special affinity for) and perhaps Ward 6 (where I will work) once I have had a chance to talk to candidates and had a chance to review campaign platforms (umm, some platforms would be helpful).
This year I am going to do something different in that I am going to give up the blog (and access to my Twitter feed) for any candidate that wants to use it to reach out on. Iâ€™ll create an account for them, give access to them, and let them talk about whatever issues they want. If you are interested, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The lowdown: Darren Hill will be running for his third term as Ward 1 city councillor. He will be challenged on the right by Carol Reynolds who ran against hill in the last election and long time candidate and Ward 7 Public School trustee Robin Bellamey (who lives in Ward 8). While Reynolds and Bellamey both say that represent the right, Hill is a fiscal conservative as well which means there isnâ€™t a lot of room to run in a ward that probably is is more comfortable with the centre. I am going to predict a Hill victory again.
The lowdown: Long time councillor Pat Lorje is running again in Ward 1 and her opponent is Marcel Petite. Petite is the executive director of the Core Neighborhood Youth Co-op and outside of a closed Facebook page, he hasnâ€™t said a lot online. I expect Lorje to win by a large margin.
The lowdown: Mike San Miguel has been running hard in this ward since narrowly losing to Iwanchuk in the by-election. Of course on the flip side, Ann Iwanchuk won by around 15% and itâ€™s really hard to defeat an incumbent yet at the same time Iwanchuk in a by-election with a low voter turnout. I have a lot of respect for both candidates which mean in the end Ward 3 wins. It should be a great race.
The lowdown: Shaw ran hard against Myles Heidt three years ago and narrowly lost to him. Shaw is an environmental geochemist, head of the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee and local activist while his opponent Davies is the spokesperson for MD Ambulance and involved in Synergy 8. This will be another really close race.
The lowdown: I am not sure why anyone would run against Donauer in Ward 5. He won in the by-election to replace Gordon Wyant, votes to the right of most issues, and does an excellent job of communicating with his constituents in a riding that traditionally votes Conservative/Saskatchewan Party. James Ford is a progressive and according to his website will be releasing his platform based on the feedback he gets from constituents.
The lowdown: This isnâ€™t expected to be a close race. Clark, a popular two term incumbent is a centre/left candidate is a part of the city where centre/left is how they vote. He is probably one of the more astute thinkers on council which means that when he makes a statement or decision, itâ€™s defensible (even if you donâ€™t agree with it). My prediction is that Clark wins big.
The lowdown: Loewen beat Bzowey to win the ward after Bob Pringle stepped down. Like Ward 3, this will be a rematch between a popular incumbent and challenger. While Bzowey has been spending a lot of money in and around the ward with name recognition, Loewen is very popular in the ward and has a motivated campaign team. My feeling is that with both the advantage of incumbency and a good ground game, she will win again.
- Incumbent: None
- Challengers: Ainsley Robertson, Dave Wilton, Eric Olauson, Karen Rooney, Kevin Waugh
The lowdown: Glen Penner grew tired of winning all of those elections and has retired. Ainsley Robertson who ran in the Ward 5 by-election before narrowly losing to Randy Donauer and Eric Olauson who ran in Ward 3 before withdrawing are both running in their home of Ward 8. Karen Rooney, registered nurse is also running in the ward.
- Incumbent: Tiffany Paulsen
The lowdown: The question isnâ€™t if Paulsen will win (she will), its if she will win by acclamation (again).
The lowdown: Dubois is another long term councillor being challenged for the second time by Mark Horseman. Horseman is a data analyst at the University of Saskatchewan and long time Conservative Party activist. I keep hearing rumours of other jumping into the race so itâ€™s too soon to start thinking about what will happen.