The Municipal Machiavelli is online

I’ve spent much of the past few days putting online my book in which I assess and rewrite Niccolo Machiavelli’s famous (or infamous) work, The Prince, in a WordPress format. I wrote this book earlier this year, but was unable to find a publisher (I got distracted from my search). Maybe having it online will help. The new site is here: The Municipal Machiavelli The book slightly tops 69,000 words, … (more–>)

Explaining Council Expenses

Tip of the hat to Ian Adams for clearing up any misrepresentation of council’s expenses and clarifying some information, in his most recent blog post. The total council expense allotment is well under budget this year. It usually is; we are very cautious in how we use our rather limited allotment. However, Scoop doesn’t explain a couple of things about how the allotment affects us individually. We … (more–>)

A Council Christmas Carol – part 1

STAVE ONE. It was one of those long winter days. I was back in town late, that Thursday, well after dark, driving down the main street watching the heavy snow cover the road and sidewalks. I’d been out of town almost the whole day, entombed in various meetings. Too much time spent driving to and fro, too much coffee, junk food, and not enough exercise. I was tired, hungry, cranky … (more–>)

Gambling and the local economy part 2

Seventy three dollars. It’s not a large amount if you’re middle class, certainly not if you’re Conrad Black. But for others it can be significant. If you’re on minimum wage, it’s a full day’s wage, before taxes. If you’re a senior on a fixed income, it’s a week’s groceries. It’s also the average amount a typical gambler spends at one time in a gaming facility in Ontario, according to the … (more–>)

Conspiracies, Secret Meetings and Backroom Deals

As the year comes to a close, I think it’s about time I ‘fessed up about the conspiracies, secret meetings, backroom deals, hidden commissions and other underhanded dealings council has had this term. There haven’t been any. Sorry about that. I know how many people have built little, angry sand castles out of the notion we have been secretly plotting in backrooms and handing out commission cheques … (more–>)

The Known Unknowns

“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know,” said United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld in a now-famous statement. “There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.” Monday night, Council was treated to a “known unknown” when … (more–>)

Mayors Under Siege: Why Laws Must Change

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is planning to appeal the recent judicial decision that ousted him from office for failing to obey one of the basic rules of municipal governance. In fact, during the hearing, he admitted never having read the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, one of the key pieces of legislation that govern municipal politicians, even once during his decade on council. Superior Court Justice Charles … (more–>)

Do We Need a CAO to Run Town Hall?

One of the comments in a rather lengthy letter presented to council recently was about hiring a CAO. The author demanded a “panel of qualified citizens appointed by an independent body* to oversee the recruitment, participate in interviews and the transparent selection process to fill the vacant position of Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Collingwood.” Aside from being wildly out of context in a letter ostensibly about … (more–>)

Gambling: money and statistics

No, I’m not going to write about the morality of gambling.* I’ll save that for another post. This is about money. And numbers. I attended the OLG four-community presentation in Wasaga Beach, Tuesday, and it got me thinking about what gambling means to the economy, what it means to the government, what effect it might have on things like growth and recession. It also made me wonder how … (more–>)

Why does anyone need PR?

Flavius Aetius. Only a handful of scholars know who he was. You can look him up on Google, but 1,500-plus years later, not many people will find him memorable, nor will they care. On the other hand, I’ll bet everyone reading this post knows who Attila the Hun was. Or at least you recognize the name, even if you aren’t really familiar with his history. It’s either … (more–>)

Conducting a survey about a casino

Last night, Collingwood Council debated a motion about a possible casino in Collingwood, made by Counc. Joe Gardhouse that read, WHEREAS the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (“OLG”) has requested individual Municipalities to respond to their RFP not later than November 16, 2012; AND WHEREAS Collingwood has been identified as a potential host site for their Gaming facilities expansion within the C-7 zone; AND WHEREAS the … (more–>)

Should we sell naming rights to public property?

I was recently forwarded a link to a blog post about selling naming rights for public buildings to corporations. The author writes, Last week, I wrote about “the halo effect” on events, buildings, and properties that have had multiple names, all of which have been commercial. The other area we often advise on is the sponsorship naming rights of iconic buildings “owned” by the community or named … (more–>)

Taking words out of context

Council, along with the media, the auditor general, the CBC, our MP and MPP,and a few others, were recently sent a letter complaining about council’s decision to build new, year-round recreational facilities without raising taxes. Fair enough. Everyone has the right to write letters. We’re open to public criticism, even after the issue has been decided, contracts signed, and council (and most of the town) has moved on. You can … (more–>)

The Erosion of Civil Debate

I’ve been dismayed by the tone of the recent debate over the town’s proposed and new recreational facilities. Not by the debate itself – I love the engagement and interaction, even arguing because it’s intellectually stimulating – but rather by what has become an increasingly strident, angry, confrontational and personal tone in many of the comments council has received, or which have been directed towards council. … (more–>)

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