Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Executive Committee Reviews 2013 Budget

Well, today was the day that Regina City Council was looking for your input Regina!! Where were you? The Executive Committee held a special meeting tonight, to review the 2013 proposed City Budget. But...where was everyone? Is it that everyone is just that happy with taking the 4.45% (+0.45% RRI) tax increase, or is it more to the fact that the City did a piss-poor job on getting the word out to the general public about this special meeting? Or is it more to do with taxpayer apathy, in that they are so pissed off at City Council for not listening to them when they voted, or when they signed the petition, or when they voiced their immense displeasure with so many things that City Council does wrong in Regina, that they figured there was no sense in addressing a bunch of people who already have their minds made up and will only pretend to listen to you, and then insult you after you address them?

What ever the reason is, I don't blame you. It's sad, truly, truly sad, that the City Council goes to hold this special budget meeting at a very unusual time, that not even the traditional media knew when the meeting was being held (well, at least Prairie Dog thought it was 11:45, and I don't blame them because that's when these meetings USUALLY are, and virtually no one can attend those meetings in the middle of the day - deliberate?). They did a horrible job at getting the word out about when this meeting was, and sadly, it showed in the attendance tonight. The only way I knew about it was because I am a die-hard watcher of the City site, and I know where to look. There was no big post about it on their website, no special announcements on TV, nothing. You'd think they would want as much public input as possible....or not. Ignore the statement that Mayor Fougere made to the media tonight about "we were expecting this meeting to have a lot of public input on the process", because really, if that were the case, they would have made better efforts of informing the general public about it. Of course he has to make a big deal of it now, to make it look like the process is "so transparent" and "it's not our fault you didn't come to complain". They ignore the fact that most taxpayers are pissed off and upset and afraid to address Council. They ignore the fact that they actually CAN deliberate in this meeting about their concerns that they allegedly heard on the doorsteps during the election. As elected officials, they do have a duty to listen to their constituents, and rather than waiting for people to call them to complain, perhaps they could be proactive and ask their constituents what they would like to see addressed.

In the end, there is another meeting to discuss/review the 2013 City of Regina budget, where they are proposing a 4.45% property tax hike, plus the 0.45% RRI tax hite, plus the 9% Water rate hike, plus the Recycling fee beginning in July, plus whatever other fees they will introduce because of the RRI. This will be held on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 from what they said tonight, presumably at 5:30PM. I encourage you all to get to that meeting and make your voices heard! Don't worry if you think they won't listen, at least get your voices heard. The more they hear from you, the more they may eventually take you seriously and actually act in a finacially responsible way. There is no reason they have to go to you, the taxpayer, for this tax hike. They DO HAVE OPTIONS, including taking from the reserve, increasing debt, or....and this is a pretty unusual idea....cutting expenses. I suggested to them tonight, with not a single question from them, to go back to the Regina Police, RROC, Regina Library, REAL, and their own departments, and ask each of them to reduce their proposed budgets by even 1%. I highly doubt anyone will do this, but hey, stranger things have happened!

In closing, please, if you haven't already, check out the "Save Our Stadium" page on this website for full details on the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group's Day of Awareness, which will be held Monday, January 28, 2013 from 4-5pm in front of City Hall. This is a demonstration about far more than just the Stadium, to show to the citizens of Regina, and City Council, that there are far more pressing issues that desperately need to be addressed in Regina, well before any luxury item like the new stadium. PLEASE do share this with as many people as you can. We already have some great folks signed up both on our Facebook event page, and outside of it, with some prominent names for those who know Regina's political landscape well.

Have a grrrrrrrrreat Regina Day everyone!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Executive Committee - What Can I Say?

Well, today was one hell of a day. Busy, busy, busy for me as always. Believe it or not, I've spent more time reading in the last week than I have probably most of my life, and sadly, it wasn't a juicy novel, it was a 200 page report that had to do with the Stadium. You bet folks, aren't you jealous? I've been asked, but Chad, why do you spend so much time devoted to this? You didn't get elected and you're not getting paid to do it. My answer always is, because, you know what, I made a solemn promise to those that I spoke to over the course of the election, and while I may not have garnered much support in the popularity contest that is the number of votes, I have garnered for more support simply for being an active person bringing issues like this to the light of folks that generally may not be interested in it. And, I get to speak for those that cannot, like this great couple, aged 89 and 91, that had their daughter email me yesterday thanking me for standing up for them. It's things like that, that make me remember just why I ran in the election in the first place. And, yes, I may not be in the Mayor's seat, and making Six Figures, but so what? Do I NEED to receive a paycheque from the taxpayers to do the work that I very much enjoy doing? Do I NEED a fat paycheque, car allowance, and travel budget to represent the people that spoke out so strongly during the election? NO. I do this because it is my passion, and when I make a promise to folks, that promise doesn't go out the window simply because I didn't win a popularity contest that I had NO CHANCE of winning anyways. (I mean, really, I was David VS Goliath in this campaign, and had NO MONEY versus the MILLIONS that were available to other candidates)

So, today, I continued that good fight for you great citizens of Regina, and made sure that our City Council and Executive Committee (same folks) are being held accountable for their actions. I spoke, very frankly, about the issues that I KNOW they all heard on the doorsteps during the elction. I spoke about the options that they have yet to review from the provincial study. I spoke about how they did a HORRENDOUS job with the City Square Plaza and until they can prove that they have learned from that fuck up (pardon my language), why should ANYONE trust them with a project nearly 50x the size of budget?????? In the end, it was me banging my head against a brick wall, as I certainly expected. But, I can't say I didn't try if I don't show up and present, now can I? There are those trolls (anonymous online folks who can't actually face me with their true identity) out there that think I do this for the attention. All I have to say to them is.....seriously!?!?!? Why the hell would ANYONE put their neck on the line like I have for the last almost year, just for the attention? I know there are those out there who want their 15 minutes of fame, but I am pretty sure there are far better, and less stressful, ways to do just that. If it gets me attention, fine. If it brings attention to issues that otherwise wouldn't get attention, then AWESOME, because THAT right there is the reason I do this. A year ago, how many of you would have even thought about "looking forward" to City Council meetings? Ahhhh!!

So, for now I will leave you with this parting thought. I will post more this weekend I'm sure, but please, please if you do ANYTHING over the next week, re-read the following and let it sink in and research it PLEASE. The more I can inform taxpayers about the TRUTH and not the deliberate LIES that City Council is telling the taxpayers, the better. Again, I provide EVIDENCE of my statements, they do not. You decide who's the one telling the real truth here.

Today, Exec Committee continued to do the same old song and dance and asked "what would the cost be for a renovation to the current stadium?" And the same, dried up answer was "$150 Million, and that would be 100% City Funded, because the province won't fund a renovation."

Just for clarification purposes, the renovation to Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field is nowhere near the $100-150M that the City of Regina continually LIES TO YOU about. Take me at my word, or don't. Call up Mayor Fougere, call up Glen Davies, call up Brent Sjoberg, call up Brad Wall. Ask ANY of them to provide you with DOCUMENTATION that shows the magical $100-150M renovation price tag. And, then ask them to provide you with DOCUMENTATION that states the province would not be willing to provide any funding for a renovation. The reality is, folks, they have NOTHING to give you, and why? Because the reality is, if you review the provincial study (http://www.cicorp.sk.ca/publications/cic_corporate/2010/other_reports), there are FOUR OPTIONS. The City of Regina has only, very haphazardly and in very poor faith, chosen to look at two of them, both involving building brand new. They will use the excuse that the province said in that study that they wouldn't entertain a renovation, but the REALITY is that a major renovation was PREFERRED OVER an open air stadium. Why? Because there is little to no incremental economic benefit from the open-air stadium over a major reno. What would the costs be for a minor and/or a major reno? 2010 figures $1-6 Million for "minor" renovation, and $109 Million for MAJOR renovation. (We're talking like the 1970's major renovation when they added the massive structure we now see there) AND in 2008, even Mayor Pat Fiacco himself said that he would rather pursue a renovation, "because I don't think there's an appetite for a new stadium here." Turns out, it's only $5.8M to upgrade washrooms, seating and other items. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/story/2008/04/09/fiacco-stadium.html


Friday, 4 January 2013

Meeting with Fougere: Is the RRI a done deal? Certainly not!!

Happy New Year Regina!!

For those that have been following my activity over the past while, you'll know that I met with Mayor Fougere in December, and had a relatively positive meeting with him. We had discussed some issues, and we had agreed to disagree on some, and agreed to pursue others further. I had requested a follow up meeting a couple weeks ago, but the Mayor's assistant mentioned it might be easier just to attend one of the Open Door Friday sessions, that continued on from Mayor Fiacco's days. (Note that aside from Mayor Fougere's willingness to discuss things, not much really has changed in that seat) The unfortunate part is, chances are, you are sitting there asking yourself....what the heck are Open Door Fridays?? Well, it's your opportunity to come to the Mayor's office, with no appointment, and discuss whatever you wish with him. He personally would prefer it was full of compliments and cookies, but rest assured, you are more than welcome to complain about anything you want, or compliment anything you want. In fact, I encourage each and every one of you to make that your New Year's Resolution. Why? It seems that, unless he hears about issues directly from the public, everything is happy and rosy in Regina and the sun shines every day, and we have endless amounts of money to spend on any project that City Council deems "necessary". The City of Regina has a great chance to promote this Open Door Friday initiative, through their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but unfortunately, they choose not to...for now. Perhaps after this blog post, that might change.

So, what was the purpose of my meeting today? Well, it was a housekeeping kind of meeting, and the first 15 minutes went superb! We talked, he seemed to listen, and we had a mutual respect going, keeping things rather informal. But then.....I brought up....the dreaded Regina Revitalization Initiative. And....well, let's just say, a very sensitive issue with Mayor Fougere is insinuating, even in the most remote way possible, that he is or has been in a conflict of interest situation with the RRI and/or other major construction projects in the City (and province). I took the liberty to record our conversation, and have uploaded the RRI portion of our conversation to YouTube for your listening pleasure. Now, before anyone jumps up and asks "But isn't it illegal to do that???", I can assure you, I've consulted with legal counsel, and it is very much legal as long as the discussion has one consenting party, and the use of the recording isn't something that the other party wouldn't reasonably expect it to be used for. Since they Mayor is an elected official, and our conversation had to do with non-confidential items, there is nothing illegal about me doing this. That said, I probably won't ever get a meeting with him again, but I made it perfectly clear to him today that there really is no point to future meetings, until he is willing to actually consult with the public on the RRI Project.

Here is the video/audio file: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4UGM7BsdFI&feature=youtu.be

For those that don't want to listen to the full fifteen minute conversation, and I assure you, you really should, I'll give you a cole's notes edition here. Basically, I brought up the question that so many people had asked me along the election trail, and continue to ask to this very day, how can the President of the Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA) possibly NOT be in a Conflict of Interest position when he is lobbying government organizations (City of Regina inclusive) in an effort to represent the Construction industry. Here is the job description of the President, and if the link ever disappears, let me know, I've downloaded it for future legal purposes. You tell me what you think. To me, this statement says it all, "The primary role of the President is to lead the advocacy and lobbying efforts of the association with local and provincial governments.", but there is far more in the job description itself. Mayor Fougere's explanation as to why he left the SCA is that he couldn't do two jobs at once, and it had nothing to do with a conflict. In fact, his statement is that the only "lobbying" the SCA does is to ensure that issues like WCB are considered from the construction association viewpoint.

With record construction activity in the City and Province, it is difficult for me to believe that the Saskatchewan Construction Association's involvement in lobbying the different levels of government had nothing to do with that increase in activity. For those that are wondering, what exactly does the SCA lobby the government for, here is a great brochure for your reference (also downloaded). Note the statement about "pressing for greater investment in infrastructure". I don't know about you, but this sounds like far more than HR issues. Factor in the fact that the City itself is taking on a historical "generational opportunity" project like the $1 BILLION RRI, and the (seemingly needless upgrade - we already meet all current and future standards) Waste Water Treatment Plant Upgrade to the tune of $200-240M, and you can see why I'm a bit concerned that we may have a very serious matter on our hands in this City. Not just in the Mayor's seat either. Why is a Conflict of Interest so important to consider? Well, I'll get into more details on a future post, but long story short, if those individuals are deemed to be in a COI situation, each vote that they made in that situation is deemed void. If you have enough of those, then the meetings don't meet quorum (Google for definition), and thus, those RRI decisions could be null and void. Effectively, the RRI could be "killed" if there was never enough valid votes to support the RRI in the beginning. Let alone the fact that those found to be in COI situations also lose their position, a la Rob Ford of Toronto.

So, in the end, I left the meeting with Mayor Fougere very aware that I will be going very public with this, and more, to put as many roadblocks in front of the RRI (and other major needless projects) as possible. And, to think....all I asked of him today was simply to delay the legally binding document signings later this month, by only a few months, in order to provide time for public input. Pity.

Have a GREAT Regina Day everyone!!