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)