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"Ever wonder if City Council is as contentious and chaotic as it is sometimes portrayed? Here you can get a progressive perspective on some of the issues from someone who spent four years in the trenches. Totally unbiased, though! Feel free to comment but keep it respectful, just like they do at council."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Super Tuesday coming up

It was nearly 11 p.m. when I returned home from the Strategic Planning and Policy Meeting. After sitting through seven hours of it, I wasn’t about to write a blog about it, although I did post a number of observations on Twitter.

I did want to remind any of my readers about the Council meeting tomorrow night, however. It promises to be an interesting meeting with lots of concerned residents in the public gallery. Be sure to get there early if you want a seat.

You’ll enjoy hearing the El Sistema Aeolian Orchestra as part of the opening ceremonies. Thereafter, it’s anyone’s guess.

Someone will likely make a motion to move some popular items to the top of the agenda. Included will be the resolution on the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union that is being negotiated behind closed doors. The Finance and Administration Committee (FAC) recommended: 

That the Federal and Provincial Governments BE ADVISED that The Corporation of the City of London wishes to “opt out” of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union (CETA) so it can determine whether or not to support the Agreement in future, based upon an assessment of how the Agreement would affect this municipality; it being noted that the Finance and Administrative Services Committee received a report dated April 16, 2012, from the Director of Intergovernmental and Community Liaison, with respect to this matter. 

Look for Councillor Paul VanMeerbergen to speak against the resolution. He is the business development manager for Lamko Tool and Mold Inc where Labour Minister Lisa Raitt made a pitch for support for the agreement late last week. Apparently too many municipalities are beginning to have qualms about the effect that the deal could have on their ability to use procurement policy to stimulate the local economy.

Another item that is likely to be dealt with before the dinner break is the 12 storey 165 unit condo complex on Reservoir Hill overlooking Springbank Park. VanMeerbergen features in this one, too. It’s his ward and, instead of representing the community on this issue, he has decided to lobby council on behalf of the developer, Ayreswood, another developer who sees helping out candidates financially in elections as a civic responsibility. In 2010, the donations went to Dale Henderson (representing the adjacent ward 9), Matt Brown in Ward 8, Joe Swan, in ward 3, Bud Polhill in Ward 1 and the Mayor. VanMeerbergen’s constituents are not pleased. Although they voted in favour of the developer’s site plan at previous meetings, look for Matt Brown and Dale Henderson as possible swing votes.

After the dinner break, the issue of fluoridation of the drinking water is likely to take centre stage. There has been significant lobbying and discussion around this issue, although it is doubtful that council will vote to eliminate fluoride from the water. The Civic Works Committee recommended a vote of confidence in fluoridation and a continuation of the practice. Look for good arguments from Councillor Joni Baechler against the recommendation, which puts her in the same camp as Councillor Stephen Orser, an unusual alliance. Ditto for Denise Brown and possibly Dale Henderson.

Those are the really big draws. Additionally there will be the issues of curbing the behaviour of citizens in the public gallery (we’re a rowdy lot, it seems, prone to throwing fruit and vegetables whenever we have access to them). Also of interest will be practices regarding dealing with the ash borer (Paul VanMeerbergen’s ward again).

Finally, Councillors Swan and White have teamed up to present an emergent motion. It seems that they are not happy about the new governance model with so many committees and meetings. 

Although they got a key piece of information wrong (there were never only two standing committees), their overall complaint warrants consideration. It’s hard to schedule so many meetings at different times and still manage to get a quorum. And, as Parkinson's law noted, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,” resulting in meetings running to seven hours or more.

Tonight, for example.

So it's a full agenda. If you get there really early, you can also catch a meeting of the Investment and Economic Prosperity Committee meeting at 3 p.m. and a meeting of the Planning and Environment Committee at 4 p.m.

I'll look forward to seeing you there. Just behave yourselves in the public gallery!


Anonymous said...

Guess I am very politically naive Gina as it looks like you think council will vote to keep F in. I find that sick and fascinating at the same time. There are no toxicology/safety studies on the toxic waste, hydrofluorosilicic acid that is used to fluroidate our water and the councillors will vote to keep on contaminating our drinking water? What about the Safe Drinking Water Act efffective 2013? Are they not concerned? Certainly the legal advice given in the CWC meeting last Monday was grossly indequate. We have suggested to some councillors that they get a second opinon for their own protection as many people have certainly studied that act deeply.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope they don't except us to sit up straight, shoulders back, chin up with no passing of notes, gum chewing, gutteral throat noises, stomping or shuffling of feet. Is the dress code optional? May we wear a hat? Some people have thin skulls and they need to wear a hat to keep their brains warm.

Barry Wells said...

Dr. Hardy Limeback (U of T, Faculty of Dentistry), Canada's leading authority on preventive dentistry and water fluoridation, vigorously opposes the use of fluoride in our public drinking water.

Barry Wells said...

FACT: Dr. Hardy Limeback, the head of preventive dentistry at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Dentistry and Canada's leading authority on preventive dentistry and water fluoridation, is vigorously opposed to water fluoridation.

FACT: Dr. Graham Pollett, the Middlesex-London Medical Officer of Health, supports water fluoridation but is not an expert in the field of water fluoridation nor preventive dentistry.

* 50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation (with many scientific references cited at the bottom of the article): http://www.fluoridealert.org/50-reasons.htm

If the majority of London city council can't see the light on this issue, at the very least Londoners deserve a ballot question since it's been 45 years since the last one in 1966 ~ when the majority of Londoners alive today were either not of voting age or not born yet.

I appreciate the fact that a ballot question pursuant to the Fluoridation Act is complicated by the fact that St. Thomas is also serviced by the Lake Erie pipeline.

Rockinon said...

Unlike the early years of fluoridation, more than half a century ago, we now have fluoride in almost all toothpastes. It is available in mouthwash and one can have fluoride treatments when visiting the dentist. There is no longer an argument to be made for putting fluoride in soup, and forcing parents to buy bottled water so as not to let fluoride slip into their baby's formula --- keeping baby formula fluoride free is a recommendation of the health care folk who also argue to have it added to all our drinking water at the source. Fluoridating water is an antiquated approach to dental health. It is no longer necessary. It is a waste of money.

Barry Wells said...

As stated by Dr. Peter Mansfield, a physician from the UK and advisory board member of the recent government review of fluoridation (McDonagh et al 2000):

"No physician in his right senses would prescribe for a person he has never met, whose medical history he does not know, a substance which is intended to create bodily change, with the advice: 'Take as much as you like, but you will take it for the rest of your life because some children suffer from tooth decay. ' It is a preposterous notion."