Wednesday, 10 September 2014
What does the Sask Party and the City of Regina have in common? Aside from identical political views, they both favour developers heavily! So much so, in fact, that apparently the provincial government would rather side with a developer over tenants in a much needed, and much anticipated, social housing development in Hawkstone. See the story here: http://www.leaderpost.com/business/Mandryk+Government+favours+developer+over+tenants/10189940/story.html
What is most disheartening about this story is the statement by Donna Harpauer, the current Social Services Minister. She is either out of touch with reality, or not very well versed when it comes to interviewing with the media. She is quoted with saying "you're assuming there are desperate homeless people". This statement is just mind blowing. Even if you don't live in Saskatchewan, you're probably well aware of the housing crisis, and moreso the AFFORDABLE housing crisis. She had the gaul to claim that because her waiting lists have gone down, it can't be that bad. Thankfully, there are organizations like Carmichael Outreach that deal with people in these situations daily, and they set the record straight. The sad fact of the matter is, if the waiting lists have actually gone down, it's most likely because of people getting frustrated and not even bothering putting their name on it.
Then you have the City of Regina. Amazingly, the CBC has been doing an amazing job at uncovering a couple of stories recently, most notably the flawed recycling program. Apparently, Emterra, the multi-national corporate giant that came in and stamped on Crown Shred in a very unfair RFP process, hasn't been doing what they've been contracted to do. Glass has been going straight to the dump, and NOT being recycled as per their contract, and as they are being PAID to do. The story is here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/city-of-regina-hasn-t-been-recycling-glass-food-containers-1.2761004 . What's even more disheartening is the fact that the City of Regina claims they weren't aware that Emterra wasn't doing this, after falsely claiming there were contracts in place. Thank GOD the CBC dug deeper on this story, because they pushed and pushed until the real truth came out. And, then, as if the City wasn't digging themselves deep enough, they put out a Press Release claiming that CBC's story was false. CBC followed up on this, and in fact, confirmed that the facts they presented were true.
What is the end result of all this? Well, it means that the Governments need to start enforcing their contracts better, and start being held truly accountable for things they are falling very short on. Will the Province take Deveraux to court? Of course not, becaue they wouldn't dare "stomp" on them while they're down. But, apparently it's okay to "stomp" on taxpayers because they don't matter? And, will the City of Regina take Emterra to court for not abiding by their contract? Of course not. They wouldn't dare threaten the relationship they've developed with a Chinese company, or dare expose the fact that they've known all along that Emterra wasn't actually doing their job, and they turned a blind eye until the media started digging around.
Oh, and now the City of Regina is claiming that they need to raise taxes ANOTHER 5% just to fix residential roads. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/city-of-regina-looking-at-another-5-tax-hike-for-residential-roads-1.2761742 It's just too bad we don't have any other way to pay for those kinds of projects. Oh, wait, that is EXACTLY what they are supposed to be using their DEBT for. Not building unnecessary projects, like Mosaic 2.0 and the WWTP. Oh well, by the time the next election rolls around, who knows where we'll be and if it'll be too late to turn back the hands of time.
Friday, 18 July 2014
The only question is: Will this begin a full-blown audit and/or investigation into the goings on at City Hall? The $300M Pension Deficit was supposed to be fixed by December 2012, at least according to then-Mayoral-hopeful Michael Fougere during the 2012 Municipal Election. The City has been operating the Pension Plan illegally for over 3 years now, and it appears the Government of Saskatchewan isn't going to let that happen for much longer. It would appear that they, too, believed the lies that Mayor Fougere told the public during the election.
There are many questions that arise from this, the least of which is: How can we trust the City Manager, or any of the Senior Management team at the City of Regina, to manage the multi-million dollar stadium project when they failed miserably at fixing this issue? How can we trust them not to bankrupt our City? How can we trust them when they are failing their own employees who entrusted them to manage their retirement funds properly?
Most importantly: How did we get into this deficit? Mayor Fougere (or former Mayor Fiacco) would lead you to believe it is because of the market woes. Yet, we are alone in this kind of massive problem. In fact, as per the article, "such a situation of non-compliance is “unprecedented” in Saskatchewan." How is that possible? Well, according to some on the inside, there was a massive "retirement" package offered to about 400 City Employees in 2007 at the Turvey Centre. What lead to this is something that needs to be investigated, but rumour has it that this was one of the ways to "silence" the critics of Fiacco at the time, while allowing Fiacco to pad the Administration with the "yes men" that wouldn't question anything he does.
Since then, Fiacco's managed to get his dear Harbour Landing and Global Transportation Hub developed, which has conveniently lead to the development of Harbour Landing West (Devonia Park) in the coming months, where Fiacco and several business partners own(ed) land.
If this isn't enough reason to get an audit going, I don't know what would be. If the Wall Government feels it's appropriate to investigate the land transactions happening in the RM of Sherwood, where Reeve Eberle owns land, this should be raising red flags all over. The only problem is, not enough people are calling and demanding action be taken.
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
#1 - 2013 ANNUAL REPORT RESULTS
Last night, the Regina City Council accepted a report on the 2013 Operating Fund results. In it, there were two glaring displays of gross incompetence on the part of our City's former Chief Financial Officer, current Stadium Lead, and Suspected Instigator of the recent failed Mental Health Warrant against myself, Mr. Brent Sjoberg.
The first being the fact that we have a General Utility Reserve of over $85 MILLION which is set to remain very high over the next five years, even after the repayment of $45M for the GTH utility extension (which is it's own topic for another day), and the much debated P3 WWTP expansion. Add to the fact that a portion of our utility bills currently go to the general coffers, and there is absolutely no justification for the fact we pay 50-75% more than most other cities on Western Canada.
Secondly, because we have such massive reserves, there is absolutely no justification for the record Property Tax rate hike this year, or the past several years. A responsible Municipal Government would tap into these reserves or add to the debt before ever going back to the taxpayers for more money.
#2 - FORMER MAYOR AND COMPANY GET TAX EXEMPTIONS
Last evening, Regina City Council voted on giving tax breaks to landowners that were recently annexed into our City. It should be noted that included in these landowners are our Former Mayor, his immediate and extended family, his business associates and Corporate Developers such as DREAM (Formerly Dundee), and Harvard Developments (Along with Forster Projects owned by an employee of Harvard, Blair Forster). - It should also be noted that the planned projects by Forster Projects appear to be a driving force behind the entire Regina Bypass, but again, that's another topic for another day.
As Founder of the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group, I am all about FAIR AND EQUITABLE TREATMENT of ALL Regina Taxpayers. It is evident that this was not respected by the City of Regina last evening, and while it is truly unfortunate, it is also, sadly, not surprising. When you have a fascist regime focused on capitalizing on taxpayer money, they will do anything they can that the general public simply doesn't understand or appreciate the gravity of.
I am here to tell you, which no other outlet will tell you, your tax dollars are being abused and assaulted by a ruling elite that think your tax dollars are their personal bank account. They seem to be so arrogant that, while they could easily afford the extra tax costs of being annexed into the City, they requested to have these extra taxes exempted. This is pure greed, and nothing less. Add to that the fact that it is suspected that many of these landowners were the ones crying to BE annexed last year, and it becomes evident that they want their cake and eat it to. On your dime. (It is not evident as to exactly which landowners requested to be annexed, as the City deems this to be "confidential information")
Then, add to the fact that Former Mayor Pat Fiacco was key in orchestrating the development of lands that were never intended to be developed for a variety of reasons, that conveniently lead right to his lands and those of close relatives, business partners and others, and you can see why I have been harping so much on Mr. Fiacco and his illegal activities as Mayor and beyond. In Ontario, there is a Mayor in the courts for fraud over a $1,700 bill for his kid's wedding. Here in Regina, we have a former mayor that stands to gain millions off the backs of hardworking taxpayers, and the media, the Regina Police Service and others deliberately ignore it, in the hopes that no one will catch on.
We live in a pretty disgusting environment where this kind of activity can go on underneath our very noses, and yet, the media plays dumb and wants taxpayers to do their work for them and bring them the stories.
Friday, 16 May 2014
After a devastating fire last month, a good friend, Ryley Balon, lost virtually everything to fire, smoke and water damage. As if that weren't bad enough, he was already struggling to make ends meet living in our less-than-ideal Social Services system, and battling daily between having to pay for food or rent. I won't get into all the details here, but suffice it to say, our Social Services system is severely broken in that it is not possible for anyone to pay basic rent in today's inflated market, even with the "rental supplement" that the Government of Saskatchewan provides. Ryley has had to struggle each month just to figure out if he should take money out of his (very limited) food allowance to pay for the rental shortfall, or find other ways to pay for that rental difference. This is something that no one should ever have to deal with, no matter what their situation in life.
Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group refuse to stand idly by while we witness such injustices happening in our own backyard. As such, we are proud to announce our FIRST EVER STEAK NIGHT FUNDRAISER to help out those in need of a hand up in our society. We firmly believe in helping those that are simply not able to help themselves due to the many shortfalls of our government programs. This will be the first of many such fundraisers, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to those impacted by these tragic situations. We have also been blessed to have been provided with $25 Gift Cards and 20% off future dining Gift Cards as door prizes, and will also be holding a silent auction. All proceeds from this particular fundraiser will be provided directly to Ryley in order to allow him to get back on his feet, providing much needed clothing, furniture, food and more. This is one of many ways that we plan on giving back to our community with absolutely no expectation of anything more than a "thank you" by those that we can help out. If the event does very well, perhaps Ryley can finally stop having to decide between food and rent - month after month.
Please email for payment details.
We will also have door prizes and a Silent Auction on site. If you cannot attend , but still want to help out, please consider buying two tickets and donating them for others that may not otherwise be able to attend. If you are looking for an evening out, and cannot afford this, please send us your contact information, and we will add you to the list of potential donated ticket recipients.
Wednesday, 30 April 2014
I truly do feel for the families of the victims, but I feel even more for those that are tossed around in our system because our fucking government has nothing better to do with their time (and our money) than to pad their own fucking pocket books and those of their developer-friendly cohorts.
Monday, 28 April 2014
Two weeks ago Tuesday, I sent the following email to every member of the Regina City Council, Senior City Administration, the Ministry of Government Relations, my local MLA, the Premier, CUPE, the Media, and some amazing supporters and past acquaintances of myself and the efforts of those behind the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group. To date, not a single member has replied to this enquiry, even though they have assured the general public that they take every concern very seriously and want to make every effort to ensure that our crumbling infrastructure is taken care of long before the wants and desires of the few elite members of our great communities. (AKA The #yqrmafia)
The only thing that these individuals seem to care about is finding ways to exploit the needs of many in order to further their own distorted view of "capitalism" (which is actually Fascism). It is very easy to simply state that we have a massive infrastructure deficit. But it is far more difficult (for them anyways) to put (our) money where (their) respective mouths are and pony up when push comes to shove. As the saying goes, ACTIONS speak far louder than WORDS.
We must all ask ourselves - what do our City Council, City Administration, and Provincial leaders believe are more important to our province and our communities? Pet projects such as "Pat's Patio" ($14-24 MILLION City Square Plaza project developed on the backs of hard working taxpayers, effectively destroying any sense of community that the Regina Downtown may have had, also destroying the traffic flow and parking situation in Downtown Regina), "Mosaic 2.0" ($278M+ completely unnecessary, duplicate stadium project - awarded to PCL Construction, major contributors to Mayor Fougere's mayoral bid, and Premier Wall's Saskatchewan Party), and "P3" projects such as the WWTP upgrades ($230M+ - the "P3" however seems to stand more for Public (dollars) for Private Profit). Or desperately needed expenditures, like true infrastructure upgrades, fixing our crumbling roads, addressing the exhorbitant pension deficits and fiscally-responsible management of our municipal and provincial debt load, to name but a few.
Good afternoon members of City Council and Senior City Administration,
Thank you once again for taking the time to reconsider the projects that are currently proposed under the Local Improvement Program. As a very concerned taxpayer, and a representative of the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group, it brings me great pleasure to provide recommendations of viable alternatives to address our crumbling infrastructure deficit, which by your own accounts, is in the area of $2 BILLION. While I appreciate you each might have your own opinion on HOW we got to the point we are now or who is responsible for funding it, the fact of the matter is we are here. And, as such, we need to work together AS A CITY to find ways to address this ever-growing problem.
As I've made very clear in my delegations on this matter, the Local Improvement Act, 1993, is entirely optional in how it is implemented or applied, as well as what portion you choose to fund for each project that is deemed necessary under this program. While I disagree with your interpretation of what projects should be included under the Local Improvement Act, I agree that we have roads, sidewalks and other core infrastructure that are in desperate need of attention. Some of these needed repairs, by your own internal documents, are three to four decades past their useful life. To me, this is completely unacceptable, and to simply defer this to Administration to "come back with a report" is irresponsible and reprehensible. You owe it to the citizens of Regina to address the crumbling roads now. Not tomorrow, not next month, next year or 10 years from now. We will have to agree to disagree on what caused us to get into this situation, but the fact of the matter is you must ACT NOW.
To avoid a City-wide Tax Revolt, like the Business Tax Revolt of 1988, which is what you are sure to have on your hands soon enough, I would highly recommend going ahead with ALL PROJECTS that were recommended to you in the 2014 Local Improvement Program list, and also any others that were scheduled to be completed within the past 20 years that were postponed/stopped due to successful petition drives by residents. As I have stated, and your administration should be well aware of, the primary funding for these projects is intended to be through debt financing, as per the Act. Thus, there should be zero impact to the Operating Budget for 2014 or prior years.
We all recognize it "costs money" to fix these situations, but so does building a $278M stadium, a $25M City Square Plaza, a questionably-needed, privately-run $250M WWTP facility, or any other capital project that you have on your wish list. It is high time you demonstrate to taxpayers that you understand the difference between NEEDS and WANTS. We all WANT to have a flashy BMW or a fancy house, but we don't NEED them. We all NEED to have roof over our heads, especially in the dead of winter in Saskatchewan. We all WANT to have a car for our primary mode of transportation. But we NEED to have some form of primary transportation, such as a meaningful and useful Transit system.
I implore you, as a representative of many taxpayers who are too afraid to even speak to you, let alone come public with acknowledging they support me, in fear of being publicly reprimanded by the likes of some on Council and those that operate the ridiculous Twitter parody accounts. Do what you know is RIGHT. Don't do it because you're afraid of not being re-elected in 2016, do it because you know this is what taxpayers want. For you to plead ignorance to the wants and desires of Taxpayers is not acceptable any longer. If you spent the time doing your public research, like I have, and speaking directly to those impacted by these situations, and not just those who you choose to speak to, then perhaps you would be fully aware that the majority of taxpayers DO NOT want to pay extra money for these desperately needed road and sidewalk repairs. They DO WANT the work to still get done, however. I know you might run the risk of getting sued by those that have had to pay for the 65 projects since 2000, but so be it. If that is your fear, might I suggest finding a way to refund those taxpayers proactively, preventing the need for good-hearted citizens to take the time and money to pursue you legally.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter, and I trust that at least one of you will take the time to respond to genuine Taxpayer concerns - regardless of your personal viewpoints on myself as a person.
Chad A. Novak, CMA
Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
NOT-SO-BOLD PREDICTION: When the City of Regina comes back in a year ("well before the 2015 budget period") and recommends changes to how they can "fix" the way they apply the Local Improvement Program, my money is on that they will recommend completely scrapping the necessary repair of sidewalks, so that local roads can be fixed without the added costs to taxpayers. This recommendation is obvious, when you listen to the horribly scripted words that our Mayor and Council spoke last night at the Off-Broadway musical held inside Henry Baker Hall, called Regina City Council Meeting.
Some of the ideas talked about last night are pretty scary. They spoke of "grading" the streets as a temporary measure, simply "capping" concrete sidewalks which are in desperate need of repair with asphalt, and finding a better solution to the ridculously inflated - loan sharkesque - interest rates that the City imposes on Taxpayers if they choose to finance said construction.
This is completely unacceptable, and utterly ridiculous that our Senior City Administration thinks that there truly are no other viable alternatives to fixing our horribly outdated, crumbling streets and sidewalks, which they continue to bitch about day-in, day-out to other levels of government. It's no one else's fault but their own (The City's) that the state of our streets and sidewalks has fallen into such disrepair as they have, to the tune of $2 BILLION, according to City claims. The Feds aren't the ones who chose to budget horribly for decades, fail to plan for a proper road renewal program, or opt to build a disgustingly over-budget City Square Plaza, or a completely unnecessary copycat stadium (Mosaic 2.0).
MAYOR FOUGERE: "[The review] is going to generate some ideas on some program changes ... or whether we even have a Local Improvement Program at all,"
What do you say?
Sunday, 6 April 2014
Congratulations to the Regina Leader-Post for being the second "mainstream" media outlet to cover this story. Will they use the same excuse that Rawlco used, though, as to why they hadn't covered it previously?
Good morning Regina!!!!
After a week of unbelievable revelations of (alleged) gross misconduct on the part of several "elite" individuals within our great City, an anonymous tip came in today that stands to put all of that to shame.
The apparent reason for the Court Action stems back to the original Servicing Agreements regarding the construction of Harbour Landing. Upon review of the Court Documents, the issues go back to 2009 and the file has been before the courts since July 27, 2012. It should be noted that Dundee Realty Corporation is the largest land developer in all of Regina, and most certainly is a well known presence in the Canadian Development landscape. It should also be noted that Dundee and the City of Regina have had a pretty close relationship regarding land development in Regina. Well - at least they used to. This Court challenge could certainly cause some serious shifts of power within the development industry in Regina.
It is no secret to anyone in the development industry that there is bad blood between many local companies and that of Dundee - the "big boys" - coming in and taking over the Regina development landscape. In my role at Crawford Homes, I was witness to just how big a player Dundee is in Regina, and I assure you, this is no frivolous lawsuit that Dundee has launched - which is what the City's lawyer, Ms. Christine Clifford, alleges in part of her defense against Dundee. This seems to be a popular stance for her, as this was her stance in both recent Court of Queens Bench actions that were filed against the City by myself over two pretty major issues: - The 2012 Municipal Election (alleged) rigging, and the Regina Revitalization Initiative project being subject to an independent review pending the outcome of the current CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION regarding the project.
We, at the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group, want to thank you for your continued support, and we welcome any inquiries from the Media to expand on this breaking story.
Thursday, 3 April 2014
It has become glaringly obvious that the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District has forgotten what they even exist for. Judith Veresuk, Executive Director, and Leasa Gibbons, Marketing Director, seem to think it's their own personal playground and they can play monopoly with people's hard earned money. What they don't seem to understand is that, the BID is supposed to be finding ways to - I know this might be tough to believe - IMPROVE THE DISTRICT!!!
And, believe it or not - and this is directly from a "Parking Supervisor" (senior ticketer) - there are many in the downtown core who are provided permits from the City to park free all day, who abuse these priveledges a LOT. This is known by the front line staff, but the executives (whose friends are the ones abusing the system of permits) don't care - obviously.
It's high time that the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District either remember why they exist in the first place (to represent ALL Regina downtown businesses - not just a certain family), or they be decommissioned. It is utterly ridiculous that the City was allowed to blow $10-20 MILLION of our tax dollars on the downtown traffic nightmare that is called the Plaza, which has contributed heavily to our downtown parking nightmare, not to mention cost a long time business, the Novia Cafe, their livelihood.
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Today, the Regina City Council (Executive Committee) once again voted to break a provincial law and delegate their authority to Mr. Brent Sjoberg, CMA. The mayor doesn't seem to think breaking the law is a big deal, but I know I certainly do!
And then, they considered a report from consultants IBI Group, based out of Ontario, which suggested some pretty common sense ways to fix the downtown, which the former City Council royally screwed up. One recommendation is an off-street parking facility, which is something I recommended way back in February 2012 before I officially launched my Mayoral Campaign. And, it didn't cost me a dime to suggest that. (The consultant's report cost you taxpayers $300,000)
Here is the video I promised you. Monday, I kicked off the March Against Corruption week right here in Regina. There is so much that is happening this week, it is hard to keep up. From the Regina Police Service being outed for breaching privacy for their friends at the Regina Dolphin Club (vis a vis the City of Regina), to City Hall voting on giving more of your tax dollars away to organizations that just don't need it, to City Hall voting on authorizing ANOTHER $100M debt for the Stadium project.
I'll try to keep updating the site with as much as I can, but it's tough with so much going on!
Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Thursday, 20 March 2014
The Regina rumour mill is abuzz that former Mayoral Candidate David Robert Loblaw has joined forces with former Mayor Pasquale Fiacco in a new proposed Retail/Condo development, that will have an open house TONIGHT.
Details are sketchy, but it appears that Loblaw and Fiacco have partnered up in a new condo/retail development. If this is true, this is huge news - the question is will the mainstream media pick up on this potential story or just ignore it?
For those that may not recall, David Robert Loblaw mysteriously dropped out of the mayoral race in 2012. His public excuse was "to focus on business". But his real reason? To focus on making new business relationship with one of the most corrupt in Regina? The rumour has it that this development is being proposed by one of Fiacco's business partners. It's all slowly making sense! Oh, and for the record, Loblaw's chocolate company has also been given "preferential" treatment at City and Chamber sponsored events. This is a little known FACT.
You can read all about the development below, thanks to Mr. Loblaw's incessant tweeting - shameless self-promotion - about the open house. Don't just buy into the excuse that he's simply a disinterested onlooker. The true story will all come out in due course.
@ChocolatesbyBC: LeaderPost story on tonight's Open House for new condo/retail development on 13th Ave in Cathedral: http://t.co/g2CeG1TD1l #YQR #YQRcc
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
What are you doing on Monday, March 31, 2014? We here, at the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group, are looking to join in on the global movement to March Against Corruption - Exact time and itinerary to be announced by March 28. We would be honoured if you would join us in this march. We are doing this in an effort to get money out of politics, which we see far too often throughout Canada, North America and the World. Our focus, however, is going to be right here in our own backyard, at the City of Regina. As many have recognized over the past several years, and is no secret to those "in the know", our currently elected municipal officials have let their opinions be swayed far too often by the private interests of the construction and development industry, and this must stop!
This issue became glaringly obvious as a serious concern when the City announced, not surprisingly, that their "preferred" partner for the Stadium Project was PCL Construction. The same company that was apparently behind the horribly-over-budget, and horribly-overdue City Square Plaza project. The same project that actually had a report created to advise City Hall of their numerous mistakes, and how best to learn from this project and avoid these same mistakes in the future. It is quite apparent that the City has not learned from this report, and is setting taxpayers on a course for destruction by allowing this very same company/conglomerate to tackle a $278M project, even though they failed miserably at managing a measly $6M project.
It is high time to get money out of politics, and we are very pleased to have developed a truly viable alternative, which is based on some existing and proposed legislation from around the world. We will talk about this, and much more, at the March, and look forward to bringing attention to this very serious matter that affects each and every one of you in Regina and beyond.
As well, we will be calling upon the Province of Saskatchewan to enact legislation that prevents the manipulation of elected municipal officials for any private interest. It's time to get the money OUT of politics, one small step at a time. Will you march with us?
Monday, 17 March 2014
UPDATE: The "official" word given to Global Regina (after we broke the news to them) is that Mr. Hulshoff is "retiring", and that the Mayor had known about this for weeks. However, evidence would suggest otherwise - and it should be noted that this was the same excuse provided for Ms. Swidnicki leaving the City of Regina until pressed further by the media. I am very confident that this story will continue to develop over the coming days and weeks.
Well, another day and another resignation. This one is probably the biggest of them all to date. Herman Hulshoff, the Mayor's Chief of Staffs, who replaced Mark Rathwell as the Mayor's Executive Assistant when Fiacco stepped down, is no longer with the Mayor's office.
Also, important to note, the City of Regina is apparently looking to amend the Regina Revitalization Initiative Borrowing Bylaw from January 27, 2014.
This is the very same bylaw which Mr. Brent Sjoberg misrepresented the truth about on January 27, 2014, in order to apparently influence the votes that evening. Our group placed a call into Service Regina, and after about 30 minutes on hold, they confirmed they know nothing about this. A call was also made to Brent Sjoberg's office, which was forwarded through to the City Manager's office, Mr. Glen Davies, and his assistant, Cathy, confirmed that she knows nothing about this.
Saturday, 15 March 2014
The winning bidder for the Stadium Build is none other than one of the MAJOR FUNDERS of the Mayoral Campaign of Mr. Michael Fougere during the 2012 Municipal Election. Is there any reason to believe this was going to be any different?? Was the RFP process truly fair and transparent, or was it as flawed as the one for the Recycling program?
As the founder of the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group, I am VERY PROUD to share with you the video of my delegation to the Regina Executive Committee yesterday regarding the Regina Revitalization Initiative. You will note that NOT ONE MEDIA OUTLET has dared to broadcast a single second of my speech yet. Why? What was so wrong with what I said? Scared to bite the hand that feeds them? Who knows, who cares.
PCL Construction contributed quite heavily to the Mayoral Campaign of Mr. Michael Fougere, and others. They were also very active in the "Vote for Continued Growth" campaign that supported only one very obvious contender. This was "outside" of the budget that Mr. Fougere has to publicly disclose, and who knows how much was spent by PCL?
Friday, 14 March 2014
Good morning Mr. Mayor and members of the Executive Leadership Team:
Considering the respectful requests for information earlier this week were deliberately ignored by your staff, I am hoping you could provide a response this AM regarding how transparent you feel this process has been to date. Considering that there were direct questions regarding a very simple aspect of this project - that should most certainly not be treated as "confidential information" - I am curious to know why your Team decided it was best to wait until the last minute, as has been your past practice - contrary to your public statements of being the most open and transparent level of goveernment.
As I am sure you can appreciate, there are many questions that remain unanswered regarding this project, along with a CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION (RPS File #RM14010518) into the actions of Mr. Brent Sjoberg on January 27, 2014 and the attached COURT ACTION that you were served notice of on March 12, 2014.
Could you please advise why you felt it best to keep this information secret from the public until the last minute? For such a historically massive project, which is going to raise our City debt level to record amounts, one would reasonably expect their elected officials to be open and up front about the entire process.
We look forward to your prompt reply regarding this matter. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Chad A. Novak, CMA
Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group
Thursday, 13 March 2014
It seems as though this "most transparent" level of government isn't as transparent as they claim - or at least not to the individual taxpayers.
But wait? What's this? The RRI project is currently under review for a CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION? And there's a COURT ACTION looking to cease all activity on it and any other Major Capital Project over $50M subject to the completion of the CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION and a FORENSIC AUDIT? Say it ain't so!
And, as I've told the City of Regina this week on a number of occasions, we here at the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group are always five steps ahead of the "learned" executive team at the hallowed City Hall.
HAVE A GREAT REGINA DAY EVERYONE!!!
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Good morning Regina!!
What began as a major blow to taxpayers has developed into a complete and utter gong show at City Hall. With the recent letters being sent out to residents around Regina informing them that they must pay upwards of $10,000 simply to fix their streets and sidewalks, compounded on top of the 2014 Budget being passed with an increase of 5.88% to your Property Taxes, and another 8% on your Water Bill, it has become apparent that the City of Regina means business when it comes to finding ways to pay for the needed infrastructure upgrades that have been years - if not decades - in the making.
Citizens in the Whitmore Park area already successfully petitioned the City in 2010 to avoid this ridiculous payment arrangement, and are now being told that the costs are 76% higher than the 2010 figures because of estimates the City received from homebuilders "like Dundee Developments". I'm not sure why they are getting figures from Dundee, as they are most certainly NOT in the business of developing sidewalks. I've spoken with residents in the area, and they have spoken with private companies that do this work as part of their daily business, and they have confirmed that the price tag should be around $250/metre, to MAXIMUM $300/metre, whereas the City is telling residents the cost is $413.58/metre. Someone is obviously padding the numbers to make a nice little profit off of the backs of average taxpayers. To be perfectly clear, the residents of the area most certainly do want the work to be done; they just do not agree with the fact that they should be having to pay extra for this work, which I completely agree with, and any responsible Civic Government would have budgeted for. It should be noted that according to City documents, the last major reconstruction was in the 1960's. If I were mayor, there is no way that any of this work would be charged back to those taxpayers, as there should be an anticipated infrastructure renewal program in place at least every 35-40 years.
The Mayor is, of course, standing his ground, and being as arrogant as expected, by stating that this is simply "standard procedure" and now apparently is trying to lay blame on the Provincial Government (based on the John Gormley conversation of Tuesday), because it's a provincial Act. (I'll explain more on this in a future Blog Post - because it's so out to lunch it deserves it's own post - for now, just be assured this funding arrangement is indeed an optional program that Saskatoon has opted out of - as the City has ultimate authority on how these kind of projects are funded)
So, considering the City is seemingly so hard-up for revenue to help pay for necessary infrastructure upgrades, why is it that the same City Administration and City Council that deemed it so essential to gouge individual taxpayers are okay with subsidizing profitable businesses (like the Roughriders and Airport Authority) - simply because "that's the way it's been done for years"? Yesterday, at the Finance and Administration Committee, I delegated my concerns about this double standard. Of course, most of my concerns went unanswered, and of course, no questions were asked of me, because they are just too afraid to answer the hard questions that are being asked of them. Thankfully, more and more taxpayers are stepping up their efforts to demand answers, and it's showing in the continued censorship by the City of Regina. From banning people on their Social Media channels to Councillors completely ignoring their citizens calls and pointing them to City Hall to answer questions that should be the Councillor's concerns, to City Administration and the Mayor not returning phone calls and avoiding meetings with the public, it is obvious that the City is running scared. Should they be? Hell no. Taking a page from the book of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (all personal issues aside, he is most certainly attainable and reachable as a Mayor - our Mayor could learn a lot from him), the Mayor and Administration should be readily accessible and ready to answer even the most pointed of questions thrown at them.
I brought the concerns of Property Tax Exemptions up to City Council back in December 2013, and a few other times before this. The response is complete and utter ignorance. Rather than answer the tough questions, City Council ignores and approves blindly. Again, I will bring these concerns to City Council on March 24, 2014. Will they listen? Chances are they will not - without a public outcry. Thankfully, the City is pissing many people off, so much so that they are gaining me more and more support to put more public pressure on the City and the Province to demand Accountability and Transparency from their elected officials. If they thought the Budget Meeting was a tough one, they're going to be in for a rude awakening at the next few meetings!
Finally today, please - if you haven't already - sign the online petition to demand a Public Inquiry and Audit into the Municipal Affairs in municipalities throughout Saskatchewan. This, too, I've pushed out to the media, but of course, since I'm an "attention-seeking-media-whore", they won't publish it. Ahh well, I guess I'll pay other organizations to advertise in the next few weeks. Their loss, the taxpayers gain.
To City of Regina | Municipal Government: the citizens of your city have questions and are demanding answers. Recent fiscal decisions on behalf of the municipal government are appalling and unacceptable. I grew up in Regina and completed my first degree at the University of Regina. While I used to plan on moving back to Saskatchewan and making a home for myself there as an adult, the direction that the city has gone in (as guided by the municipal government) has greatly diminished the desirability (and feasibility) of doing so.
Fed up with the lack of respect this current administration shows to the People of Regina and in particular “those who are paying their taxes," my mother, a resident of Regina for the past 30+ years, wrote the following letter to the Mayor.
"Everyday my husband and I turn on the early morning news and are never disappointed to hear that something else is happening in the City of Regina that makes us want to pack up our house and move out West (and believe me, that is what we intend to do!).
What could be troubling us so much, you may ask? Well let’s list a few “highlights” from 2013 to present:
1. City approves going ahead with a new football stadium. What is this going to cost the taxpayers? Well let’s see: Regina city council is going ahead with a $100-million loan to help build a new football stadium for the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders. Councilors have given formal approval to borrowing the money and repaying it over the next 31 and a half years with an interest rate of 3.99 per cent. The rate will remain in effect over the life of the loan, with the city making semi-annual payments of just over $2.8 million.
Don’t get me started on why the citizens of Regina should NOT need to bear the burden of this astronomical loan when only a fraction of the Residents of Regina actually have any use for the stadium. The majority of the costs for this ridiculous project should NOT be on the burden of the Regina citizens. But this has been argued over and over and you have blinders on when it comes to this pet project of yours and Pat Fiaco’s so we won’t even waste any more time on this, other than to say that for the record the people of Regina were NOT behind this.
2. The City of Regina wants to boost property taxes by 7 % this year — the biggest hike in more than 30 years. Of course we all know that after some debate ( and likely a LOT of noise from the public), it has been decided to only increase taxes by 5.9% - how wonderful! So now we not only are paying the highest property taxes than any city in North America, we are having a steep increase (the highest in 30 years!) – all this within one year of you becoming Mayor. Congratulations!
3. Residents have to pay out of their own pockets to have sidewalks repaired- to the tune of $8,000 - $12,000 each! Really?? Since when does road and sidewalk repair not fall under a resident’s property taxes? In what universe do residents get invoiced for sidewalk repairs? I know – only one - in the City of Regina! How you can stand in front of the people of Regina with a straight face and actually stand behind such an outright abuse of the public’s interests is mind-boggling. What’s that you say? “We can petition it”? Really? When has that ever made a difference? The public speaking out against something (reminds me of the heated debates over the stadium - or see #4 below to see how effective the “public’s petitions” are).
4. The residents of Gardiner Park petition against a re-zoning of property on University Park Drive. They “petition” and attend public forums and 98% speak out against a 220-unit rental complex being permitted to be built on this site. City Council and the Mayor approve the re-zoning. Apparently it doesn’t matter that 98% of the residents in the area spoke out against this project. They attended every public forum and planning commission meeting to oppose this. But there’s another example of how the Mayor and City Council listen to the tax-paying residents of the City of Regina. They don’t!
5. The City of Regina is preparing to approve $2.55 million worth of property tax exemptions. Oh and the best part, one of the many organizations requesting exemption is none other than the Saskatchewan Roughriders! Really?? The one organization that makes the most money of any in the entire Province is getting an exemption from paying their share of property taxes? So let’s all build a stadium none of us can afford and then let’s let the Riders not have to pay their fair share of the property taxes in order to keep this city running! Sounds ludicrous to anyone who has an ounce of common sense. And the Regina Airport Authority? Really? Again, another major corporation who should not need to be exempt from paying their fair share of property taxes. And the RCMP ? Really? Why are they exempt from paying taxes? Move them to Saskatoon and let that city bear the burden of keeping them in town free of charge!
With more and more homes being built and new developments being created which bring in more revenues via astronomical property taxes, why on earth would the rest of the residents of this city have to have their taxes increased by 7%? Where on earth is our money going? Maybe you should stop approving exemptions to major organizations who can well afford to pay their fair share of taxes and stop wasting taxpayers’ dollars on astronomical loans for stadiums we don’t want or need. Start using your common sense and God-given brains. You were elected as Mayor – start working for the citizens and not the major corporations and building developers. They apparently aren’t paying the taxes (because they’re exempt!) – WE ARE!
Lori F, Tax-paying resident of the City of Regina (for the time being)