Another Term for Egli

Let’s face it. There appears to be little chance Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli is going to be ousted tomorrow,
There are four other white men trying to take his job: Warren Arshinoff, James Dean, Luigi Mangone and Peter Anthony Weber.
Just can’t see it happening.
Aside from Weber, who seemed only intent on rudely interrupting and constantly speaking over Egli – the other three have something solid to offer. But this isn’t their time. At one point, Weber interrupted Egli asking, “Are you nuts?” How eloquent.
At another point, when Weber interrupted Egli, the incumbent asked if he could continue. Weber said no. Not classy, not vote-worthy.

Of the challengers, Arshinoff was the strongest. Loved his homage to Nepean, a green t-shirt with the Nepean bell, but if this was his job interview, he might not have made it through the front door. He has some solid ideas which deserve consideration.

I’ve admired Dean for some time. He’s committed to serving his community, but yet – he still does’t come across as a solid challenger. But who knew our Nepean schooling history was exactly the same, St. Gregory’s, Frank Ryan, then Merivale High School!

Mangone showed some promise, but he will have to stay involved in the community if he wants to represent the ward one day.

I was surprised to hear Egli boast about moving a motion to lower the amount of snowfall needed for when city snow plows go out.
That’s smoke and mirrors. It was his report which initially proposed lowering the standards. There was a loud hue and cry when the report was released – and Egli had to backtrack.

A bit shocked Elgi is getting heat for not spending all of his office budget. All taxpayers across the city should be thanking him for respecting our money. And he has a right to be proud of his efforts.

Still, Egli has been a solid player on council this term and deserves to be re-elected.

Can Qaqish, City Hall’s Selfie King, Keep his Seat?

There’s a fascinating race going on in Gloucester-South Nepean, where the poor performance of incumbent Michael Qaqish has brought out several strong candidates who’d like to oust him after his disappointing first term.

For the record, I ran against Qaqish in the 2014 election. He won, I lost. So I wouldn’t be surprised if one sees this just as a case of sour grapes. That’s your right of course. We’re all entitled to our opinions. This blog is my opinion.

Qaqish is one of several yes-men for Mayor Jim Watson.
But that’s not the most egregious thing about him.

He’s treated our money as if it’s his own, instead of treating our tax dollars with respect. Much has been said about him spending more than $90,000 on vanity ads, including his humungous photo posted on bus shelters. His explanation? He’s new to the ward and needed people to know who he was.

Give your head a shake. It’s not our job to help him become better-known.
Called out on the outrageous spending during a Rogers all-candidate debate, Qaqish had the gall to again defend the expenditure.
Described by many tweeters as the selfie king of city hall, his campaign was given a real shake-up with the entry of former CTV anchor Carol Anne Meehan.

Meehan is living the life many of us are out in the ‘burbs, raising a family, traveling our increasingly clogged local roads where transit isn’t great and bike lanes don’t meet up.
She worries about her taxes, and more importantly, she’ll worry about yours.

Aside from Qaqish and Meehan there are three other candidates in the race. Irene Mei appears to be a thoughtful and sincere candidate, but don’t think this is her time. Zaff Ansari was solid in the debate, but like so many other newbies, speaks out of both sides of his mouth in terms of worrying abut high taxes and adding services. Harpreet Singh was impressive in the debates as well.
With five candidates running, there’s a real concern the incumbent comes up the middle to win in a vote split.
For my money, Meehan is not just the best situated to beat Qaqish, she’s also the best candidate

Take Tierney for the Win

It’s a two-way race in Beacon Hill-Cyrville ward where real estate agent Michael Schurter was a surprise last-minute candidate.

Incumbent councillor Tim Tierney was just getting ready to pop the champagne in celebration of being uncontested when On the City, From the Burbs phoned him to break the news of an unexpected candidate. What actually followed after that conversation between Tierney and I is now under an OPP investigation. There are unproven allegations that Tierney reached out to Schurter and offered to make a donation to the Ottawa Food Bank if Schurter didn’t go ahead with his registration. Tierney has said he did nothing wrong. Unfortunately for voters, the OPP investigation has cast a huge shadow over this particular raced.

During a media scrum following his registration as a candidate, Schurter said he was running because no one should be acclaimed, saying that’s not democratic. Well, I admire anyone who puts themselves forward, but as I pointed out to Schurter – if that was his sole reason – that’s really not providing an alternative.

“At the end of the day, I think he’s a good councillor,” Schurter said during the scrum. Well, if Schurter is happy with Tierney’s representation, pretty hard to buy into some of the allegations he’s making now about Tierney’s leadership.

Another concern? Schurter replied to a CBC survey calling for a “negative percentage” tax increase, but wants to see the Ottawa Police Board budget increase more than 2%. Apparently that’s the new math. As an aside, this sort of budget talk is pretty common from new candidates, vowing to reduce taxes but do more for city residents at the same time.

It’s certainly not clear how well Schurter knows this ward, one he doesn’t live in. I don’t believe you neccessarily have to live in the ward you run in. Neither Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder or Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans live in their wards, but I’ll bet no one knows their wards better.

But there’s just something out of sorts with Schurter saying he plans to move into the ward. Just a little too convenient.

It’s hard to understand why Tierney was so intent on being acclaimed. And depending on the outcome of the OPP investigation, it could be his downfall. But innocent until proven guilty.

Tierney has made some unfortunate office purchases on the public’s dime. Let’s hope he’s learned from those mistakes. He’s worked hard on the Ottawa Library file, seems to keep his residents happy and works hard on their behalf.

There really only is one choice in Beacon Hill-Cyrbville and that’s Tierney.

Rideeau-Rockcliffe

In Rideau-Rockcliffe, incumbent Tobi Nussbaum is being challenged by candidate Peter Heyck. Heyck seems like a nice, sincere man who cares about his community. But even he doesn’t seem to believe he has a chance of winning.

Heyck didn’t seem to have any issues with Nussbaum, and didn’t have a strong developed platform. At a Rogers debate, Heyck urged people to vote – then – as if an afterthought, remembered to say he’d like their vote. It certainly was one of the most cordial of debates. While clearly new, wouldn’t be a bad thing at all if Heyck makes a return run.

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Moffatt for the Win

The first time I interviewed Scott Moffatt was more than 12 years ago when he had decided to take on incumbent Coun. Glenn Brooks. Sure, he was new and he didn’t have all of his facts at hand. At that point, I’d been covering city hall off and on for more than 20 years. And though he was new, he still stands out in my memory as the strongest and most impressive newcomer I’ve interviewed.
He didn’t win, but came back four years later and earned the job of Rideau-Goulbourn councillor.

What’s to like about Moffatt? He doesn’t pander to nonsense – and he won’t tell his residents something that isn’t true just to make them happy or get elected. That on its own is pretty remarkable. I’ve seen him in action, at committee and city council meetings – and speaking at public meetings in his own ward. He’s a straight-shooter, even when his residents resisted the message. But he’s always there getting the best deal for the community he lives in.

Our politics are different, of course, he’s very much on the right. I’m there on occasion, depending on the issue!

And I’ve only seen him nervous once around the media – me specifically. It was at his first inaugural city council meeting – and Mayor Jim Watson’s first Tim Horton’s cookie and coffee celebration. Moffatt introduced me to his proud mother – who couldn’t help but confide in me the cookies were stale!

It’s a rarity to see Moffatt’s mug turn up on social media from being at any of the many social gatherings you’ll see other councillors at – his interests are in the ward.

His only challenger is Dave Brown, who used to work for Moffatt until he decided he’d try to take his boss’s job. That doesn’t sit quite right with me.

But the truth is, while Brown worked with Moffatt, he seems to have written his own playbook to woo the voters of Rideau-Goulbourn. And as is often the case with newcomers, he’s more than happy to promise to do with less. And he acted like he’d been the first to discover that a 2% tax increase every years adds up to more than 2% over four years.

“Where’s all that money going?” Brown demanded to know.

And he also demanded staff cuts continue so the city could provide more services. Just who is going to provide those services if said cuts continue? You want an ice rink without a zamboni driver?
Brown also went on a bit of a rant about the growing pile of garbage at Trail Rd., but didn’t seem to mention the rurals who receive the green bin program but have been resistant to it. To his credit, Brown did rightly point out this council has moved at a snail’s pace in dealing with its garbage crisis. He was bang on with that one. But it was just one.

If you live in Rideau-Goulbourn, Scott Moffatt has earned your vote.

Don’t Agree With Mayor Watson, You’re Blocked!

Should Mayor Jim Watson be able to block Ottawa residents on Twitter – given that his own taxpayer-paid staff sometime operate the account?
It’s an interesting question. And it’s the same one I asked on this blog back in August. And until I started asking questions this summer, the mayor’s Twitter icon was on his city of Ottawa website. How much more proof do you need? Wonder if I can get my personal Twitter handle on that website?

This week, Watson was served with a lawsuit by three local citizens who’ve all been blocked by Watson. They’re suing him, arguing he’s violating their charter rights. And while there are just three names on the suit, the trio is part of what seems to be pretty big group, judging by the number of people complaining about it on Twitter.

Having covered Watson since our days at Carleton University in the early 80s, this just never used to be his style. But sadly, it seems Watson is increasingly digging in his heels on many issues for no good reason, refusing to consider anything other than the line he’s decided to stand on. And this stance is clearly just ridiculous, even for a mayor who now seems to care more about being perceived as being right, rather than actually doing the right thing.

Back in the summer, city clerk Rick O’Connor told On the City, From the Burbs that city staff were reviewing the city’s standards around politicians and their Twitter accounts. And he says they’ll be coming up with a policy guiding municipal politicians’ activity on Twitter. The last time I checked in with him, there was no new update. At the time, he said he didn’t know Watson sometimes used city staff to update his Twitter account.

Given a recent ruling from the United States that American President Donald Trump shouldn’t be blocking people, the issue has got a little bit more attention.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, a federal judge in New York City, said in her ruling that Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing certain Americans from viewing his tweets on @realDonaldTrump.
The social media platform, Buchwald said, is a “designated public forum” from which Trump cannot exclude individual plaintiffs. She rejected an argument by the Justice Department that the president had a right to block Twitter followers because of his “associational freedoms.”
And the mayor’s penchant for blocking people who tweet him too frequently or simply oppose his positions – has some Ottawa residents crying foul. He uses the site to update the public on council proceedings, on his whereabouts – and views of interest to the citizens of Ottawa.

It was Ottawa resident Philippe Denault,just one of those who was blocked by Watson, who prompted me to write the blog.
Denault is part of SOS Vanier, which fought the move by the Salvation Army to set up a new shop.
He said he was never nasty with his tweets, just part of a movement concerned about what some say is a mega-shelter headed to Vanier.
And he doesn’t believe that Watson – who is supposed to be representing the entire city – should block any of the residents who pay his salary.
“On top of that, the mayor uses his account for official purposes and, without any other reason than being criticized by people (who sometimes only retweeted or used his twitter handle), he blocks citizens from reading his statements.
“I feel that, in city politics, there is too much personal stuff going on that is mixed up with official duties,” he wrote to On the City, From the Burbs.

Watson has also blocked Matt Muirhead. Muirhead is now running for councillor in Kanata against Watson buddy David Gourlay.
“As a longstanding advocate for my community, it concerns me when a powerful politician, (as with Mr. Watson), cannot accept challenging criticism, nor debate, in a public forum like Twitter. Blocking me is also equivalent to blocking the community of Kanata North, where I have been president of two community associations, representing the voice of the community, and having spoken truth to power for many years.
“If the mayor chooses to speak on Twitter, or anywhere else, people should be allowed access to speak up on legitimate issues of concern. Canada is a society that prides itself on free speech, and government leaders should remain accountable and accessible. Cherry-picking support for council candidates on Twitter, or re-tweeting only words of effusive support, are not the ideal of a democratically elected official. Mr. Watson blocking me (or anyone), from communication, who air thoughtful concerns about the mayor’s decision-making, or other concerns, is troubling.
A government leader stifling debate and criticism (including me, as a candidate for city council) befit an entirely different society altogether—not ours,” Muirhead said.

Look, I don’t think Watson or anyone else should put up with abusive language.
But a difference of opinion, why is Watson now so thin-skinned?

I blocked someone today, an annoying guy who appears to just want to tell me what a bad person I am. But I don’t represent him – and he doesn’t help pay for my salary.

It’s only fair to allow someone, even a politician, to block whomever they wish on Twitter if they feel that they’re being threatened or harrased. But elected politicians represent all of their constituents, not only those who voted for them, and it’s just wrong for a politician to prevent their detractors from speaking out. And even worse, to silence the very people you represent and pay for your right to be there.

And the Endorsement in College Ward Goes To….

Some endorsements are easier to write than others.
This one isn’t easy. And it’s not because I’m unsure of my pick. I am.

In College ward, there are three knowledgeable candidates running, one of them is incumbent Rick Chiarelli. His opponents would have you believe College ward residents are unhappy with the level of communication or lack thereof from Chiarelli. If that’s true, they’ll let him know at the ballot box.

Unfortunately for Emilie Coyle, she became a bit obsessed with that thought. I don’t see that as a substantial platform.
I want to hear what candidates are going to offer, not to simply bitch about their opponents. And as an aside, when I watch an all-candidates’ debate, can only believe how someone behaves at a candidates’ debate will reveal itself on the council floor. And Coyle was rude, feeling the need to interrupt and diss Chiarelli rather than offer up her own qualities.

I wouldn’t endorse a candidate based strictly on their behaviour in a debate but for me, the real choice in College ward is between Kennery and Chiarelli. I like them both.

I’ve been covering Chiarelli for years, and first met Kennery when he was working for Mayor Jim Watson.
He’d recently moved into the ward, planned to run and reached out to me. At that time, he didn’t have a platform and couldn’t or wouldn’t say where he saw Chiarelli failing – or how he would or could be better than Chiarelli. That’s not a criticism, those were early days.

Watson has recently called for voters to elect candidates who get along. Don’t need to read between the lines to understand our good mayor simply doesn’t like people opposing him. Chiarelli isn’t a trouble maker. Like many others on council, he gets along with most of his colleagues most of the time. The fact that he’s the funniest guy on council certainly isn’t a reason to vote for him, but he is damn funny!

And sadly, while I think Kennery could make a good councillor one day, he hasn’t proven – to me at least – that he’s got a platform strong enough to oust Chiarelli. And I fear he’ll side with the mayor more often than not, even if that sometimes means he has to suck up some of his own beliefs. It’s happened to countless other good councillors over the years.

If you want a strong effective council – and a representative who’s there to really represent you with his years of experience, for me – there’s just one choice and that’s Rick Chiarelli.

Calling all Kanata North Voters

For political observers, it’s a fascinating race of five in Kanata North where incumbent Marianne Wilkinson is stepping aside.
And in her exit, she’s endorsed candidate Jenna Sudds. Certainly, if I’d devoted as much time as Wilkinson has to her community, I’d want to leave my constituents in good hands as well, with someone I could trust.

At a televised Rogers debate, only four of the candidates made an appearance: David Gourlay, Matt Muirhead, Lorne Neufeldt and Sudds.

While not as well known as the others, Neufeldt revealed himself to be a solid candidate with a great sense of humour. And he was thoughtful with his ideas on public transit.
“You don’t want me on the road, you don’t want a blind man driving,” he said.

While Sudds is Wikinson’s pick, Mayor Jim Watson favour’s Gourlay.
While he comes with some credentials, being Watson’s pick sends off some very loud alarm bells for me. Gourlay is married to Danielle McGee, who works in Watson’s office. As an aside, it was also disappointing to see him announce his candidacy before Wikinson officially announced her retirement. Not classy.
Frankly, while Gourlay presents okay – just don’t expect him to take Watson on for any issue of importance,

Sudds is a community volunteer, though she doesn’t live in the ward. Both Muirhead and Gourlay have tried to make some hay with that, personally don’t see it as a huge issue. You might feel differently. Of more concern, it was disconcerting to see how quickly Sudds dismissed Muirhead’s idea to cut councillors’ office expenses. It’s a good idea and worth some consideration. Being open to areas of cost-saving should be front and centre.

While Sudds is Wilkinson’s pick, Gourlay is Watson’s man – I’m a huge fan of Matt Muirhead – have been for years.

And if you care abut Kanata North and want someone to be a strong representative for your community, who knows the community and someone who will treat your tax dollars with respect, Muirhead is your man.
He waited patiently in the wings when Wikinson said the 2010 election would be her last. Then she denied saying that, backtracked and admitted she had – but would still be running. Muirhead was already working on his campaign and took her on. He came in a solid second.

Since that time, he’s continued to devote his time in the community – and clearly cares about the ward he lives in. From where I write, Muirhead is the candidate deserving of your support.

Mayor Watson Calls on Electorate to Toss his Detractors at the Polls

“When I see candidates who are always angry and wanting to “fight” on every issue I say look for a more positive and collaborative person – one who will work well with neighbours and colleagues. That’s how our level of government works best and obtains positive results!”

The above is a tweet made by Mayor Jim Watson over the weekend, and frankly, it’s driving me crazy and I just can’t let it go – for so many reasons.

Positive results? Let me decipher for you. That’s code for approving what Watson wants. If councillors are fighting the mayor from time to time, it’s because they’re frustrated with Watson trying to force decisions on them instead of having an open and honest debate. This nonsense from a mayor who said it would be totally inappropriate to encourage women candidates over others. That doing so was just not the role of the city.

Fascinating stuff. So now it’s okay for our city’s mayor to use falsehoods, essentially urging residents to turf out people who disagree with him? At the top of his hit list is College Coun. Rick Chiarelli. Watson has not made a secret of his feelings for Chiarelli. He despises him and doesn’t pretend otherwise.

When the city unveiled its last budget, Chiarelli left his seat to talk to reporters. Chiarelli told reporters the spending plan was a “fake budget.” It was a great line, reporters ate it up and used it. Chiarelli certainly wasn’t the only councillor concerned about the budget numbers – just the funniest. And you could almost watch Watson’s blood boil. He was just incensed.

“I’d encourage members of council to read the budget before they criticize it,” said Watson at the time. I know that Councillor Chiarelli missed the presentation…because he was doing a press conference up in the press area.” Well, I have no idea if Chiarelli had read the budget, but I do know he’d read enough to be concerned there was a bit of smoke and mirrors being used with some of the numbers.

At the end of a news conference following the budget, in an exchange between myself and Watson, I questioned why the mayor let Chiarelli get to him so much, why he hated him so much. “And I don’t understand why you like him,” Watson lashed back.

If the likes of Chiarelli, Gloucester-Southgate Diane Deans or Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney don’t always fall in line with Watson’s vision, isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that we why elect our councillors and our mayor – to study the issues and debate them? Honestly, it’s Watson who creates the dissension by doing his best to shut out his dissenters. Would you seriously vote for a candidate who vowed to follow Watson’s lead? Who promised to be collaborative, even if it meant hurting the interest of his or her ward? If that’s what you’re looking for, why bother?

If you’ve taken the time to watch a council meeting, you likely have seen Watson scold a councillor for asking too many detailed questions, directing them to attend at the committee level. Ridiculous. Watson admits he’s a control freak, but this is supposed to be a democracy. The meetings are so controlled, there are meetings where a stream of ceremonial events takes longer than the actual council meeting.

It surely can’t just be a coincidence that Chiarelli received several emails recently in quick succession from people he hasn’t had any contact with telling him they weren’t going to be voting because he wasn’t collaborative. I’ve joined the dots for you here!

At the same referenced budget meeting, Watson got personal, saying Chiarelli didn’t do any work.
So who’s not being collaborative?

And Never the Twain Shall Meet

I liked this following e-mail so much I asked the sender if I could share it on my blog.
He agreed.
Mr. Gray, who asked I not use his first name but only his first initial, was referencing one of my previous blogs where I endorse Jeff Leiper in Kitchissippi and also suggest he’s mayoral material.

Not only is the note well-written, thoughtful and thought-provoking – it sadly reveals the divisions that still exist in this city so many years after amalgamation.
As a Barrhavenite myself, Mr. Gray could well be right. I can’t speak for the entire Barrhaven community, but believe – yes – most of us here in Barrhaven do expect our roads to be cleared before downtown bike lanes.

Here’s the note.

Hi Sue

Been following your blog to see your picks.

Jeff Leiper is my councillor and I agree he is a easy pick for re-election.

Unfortunately he will never be mayor because he will not take money from developers even through the backdoor like some councillors are doing. His fundraising form asks if you are a developer or work for a developer. Without that cash you could never run a campaign big enough to win. To bad but that is the reality.

Secondly he is a biker and in this city he would have a better chance if he was a Hells Angels member. I don’t own a bicycle and drive a car but I want to give people who want to bike the ability to do it safely and that makes me a lefty in many peoples eyes.

The first major snowstorm every year people lose their mind if the bike lanes on Laurier are plowed before their street in Barhaven. Those people will never vote for Mr. Leiper.

Then Mr. Leiper buses it out to Barrhaven to go to one of Ms. Harder’s townhalls. It was the talk of Westboro because we hoped than Jan Harder may come to one of Jeff’s ward meetings. As chair of the planning committee it would be nice if Ms. Harder could hear directly from people of this ward about the effects of uncontrolled development and infill. It was not to be.

I hope the next council can bridge the gap between the core wards and the ones outside the Greenbelt. There are a lot of common problems but I believe the mayor cultivates the animosity between the two because the numbers work for them.

I really hope that Carol Anne wins because I see her as someone who can bring the two sides together, she is a great communicator, a free thinker and has a city-wide appeal.

The facts are that this city is facing greater and greater challenges and we need the best and brightest working for us and not just settle for the guy who already has the job.

One other thing. Since I retired I have been able to follow city hall more. One of the things that blow me away is the people that work on the community associations. I am amazed at the time that they put in and the knowledge that they have. Many probably know more about the ward then their councillor and they do it all for free.

Best Wishes
T. Gray

Deans for the Win, with Apologies to Orleans

It’s a busy field of five candidates in Gloucester-Southgate where incumbent Diane Deans is running again to continue to represent her ward. Seems to be a unified theme here among her challengers that it’s time for a change. That may be true, but only the voters can determine that – for the candidates challenging her – it’s not much of a platform.
Yes, Deans has been on city council for a good chunk of time, but she continues to be one of the hardest working politicians on council. She’s also a real leader, building alliances on council to push her residents’ agenda forward. And she has a vision for the city, not just her ward. That’s hard to argue with.

At the Rogers all-candidates debate, three of her four challengers were there to make their case. And honestly, all-candidates debates aren’t an easy thing, (More honesty, as a columnist, with some really strong opinions – I was terrified at my first debate – and knew I hadn’t come across well at the end of it. That suspicion was confirmed when a resident came up to me after the debate, told me my resting face looked angry and I should smile more!)

But enough about me and back to Gloucester-Southgate.
At the Rogers all-candidates debate, challengers Alek Golijanin, Sam Soucy and Robert Swaita were actually pretty impressive. Save for the number of times the phrase “I couldn’t agree more with you” was uttered, they appeared to have some very thoughtful comments on the ward. But as much as the incumbent has many advantages, it’s far too easy for challengers to make promises that – in truth – they simply can never deliver on. You simply can’t with any legitimacy, promise to keep taxes down and yet promise the world.

Do they know their limitations? Don’t think so. Go to council. Spend some time there.

If you want change, you’ve got some alternatives. If I was voting in Gloucester-Southgate, I’d make a quick mark for Deans – a hard-working candidate who has been fighting for her ward and this city for years.

MY APOLOGIES TO ORLEANS: It’s a bit shocking to see the number of candidates running in Orleans, the ward left without an incumbent with the surprise exit of incumbent Bob Monette. He’s been a solid rep for the ward – and a great city rep as well. More on Monette in future blogs. But here’s the truth. I simply can’t evaluate all of the candidates running to replace Monette – and I would never, ever endorse someone unless I was 100% confident of that endorsement. You’re on your own, with my apologies,