Twittergate – The email……..

I thought I’d give it the weekend. Being as it’s Easter and our Mayor probably has better things to do than think about Twitter. But it seems others have been approved over the weekend but alas still not me. So I sent the following email to the Mayor this morning. If and when I get a response I will post it.

Mayor Cooper,

I tried to follow you on your Mayoralty Twitter account on Thursday 17th March and got a notice that my request was “pending”, the name that I use for Twitter is Viewfromanobody. As of 7am this morning my approval is still pending. On further investigation I have been told that you only approve certain people to follow you on Twitter. I have the following questions I hope that you would be kind enough to answer for me in regards to this matter:

1. What are the credentials required to be allowed to follow you on this Twitter account?
2. Being that on this Twitter account you are stating very clearly that you are tweeting in the capacity as the “Mayor of the Town of Collingwood”. Myself being a resident, a tax payer and in fact voted for you in the last election. Why would I be blocked from following you on Twitter?
3. Are you aware that you are the only elected official that I could find on Twitter in Ontario. That is tweeting in your elected capacity that blocks people from your Twitter account?
4. Do you use your town hall computer, town supplied smart phone or other electronic devise supplied to you by the residents of Collingwood to tweet on this blocked Twitter account?
5. Can myself and all residents of Collingwood get a commitment from you, that you will either open this account to all members of the public, or stop tweeting in the capacity as Mayor of Collingwood?

A timely response to this matter would be very much appreciated.

Sincerely Yours

A. Nobody

Sandra’s Twitter Account – I was beaten to the punch

I’m not fast enough!!! This very subject commented on by triguy2008 below on my last post, was the premise of my next post about Sandra Coopers Twitter account. From what I can see our Mayor is actually the only politician I could find in Ontario that had a Twitter account that you had to get permission to follow. I will email our mayor and find out why she blocks residents of Collingwood from what I believe is her public Twitter account. I will post that email and her response as soon as I get it.

This is a great topic Nobody. It highlights the gap between the Mayor’s apparent desire to have openness and transparency in our Town and her poor decision making that actually works against such a goal being realized. It also highlights a drastic different in leadership and forward thinking with respect to utilizing technology to connect and engage citizens.

There are countless examples of Mayors across this Country and in the US that have leveraged Twitter to reach out to their citizens for input, to share information and ideas and to help during difficult times. Look no further than Calgary Mayor Neheed Neshi or former Newark New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker (now a US Senator).

The reality is that politicians and people of every persuasion are using Twitter to connect and engage in ways never before possible. It is a huge opportunity to build community awareness and sadly that opportunity is either not recognized by our Mayor or is recognized and she simply doesn’t care. I’m not sure which option is worse. Perhaps Mayor Cooper recognizes another potential benefit of Twitter which is increased accountability to the taxpayers. Ignoring an opportunity for increased accountability is nothing new for this Mayor and it might be the main reason she shrouds her account in secrecy from those outside her inner circle.

From a technical standpoint (for non-Twitter users), the settings that requires followers to be approved is not a default option and must be selected deliberately. Again, it is a deliberate act in order to restrict access!

Nobody, while I appreciate the comparisons made to some very colourful politicians (past and present, popular and unpopular), it doesn’t hit the grassroots enough to really drive home the point. It took me a few minutes but I did a search for Mayors here in Simcoe County and then took a look at the other 90 towns in Ontario. The average population for Ontario towns is 20,780 (according to the 2011 census numbers). Collingwood’s population is listed at 19,241. While doing my search, I looked at Towns with a population of between 15,000 and 25,000 to see how their local politicians utilize Twitter.

The results are very interesting. I was shocked by how few Mayors take advantage of Twitter (less than 20%). The vast majority do not have an account. Having said that, of the Mayors that DO have Twitter account, exactly ZERO have blocked access to anyone. None of the Mayoral accounts require approval for their citizens (or anyone else for that matter) to follow them on Twitter. Beyond that there was not a single other Councillor, Deputy Mayor or other local politician that was found with a Twitter account that blocked access. Heck, even Councillor Chadwick doesn’t block the ability to follow him on Twitter (comment maybe, but at least you can watch from the sidelines. Once again Mayor Cooper is a trail-blazers for all the wrong reasons.

Mayor Cooper needs to decide whether or not she is going to be all-in on Twitter or shut down the account all together. You can’t sit on the fence for this one, have it both ways, or hide behind the Twitter account settings. The Mayor needs to make the right decision and open up her Twitter feed to the lowly citizens of Collingwood!

For those of you that are curious, here are the Mayors with Twitter accounts in Simcoe County and in Ontario towns with similar populations to Collingwood and their current number of followers:

Barb Baguley
Mayor Town of Innisfil
@BarbBaguley (704 followers)

Mike MacEachern
Mayor of New Tecumseth
@MikeMacEachern (211 followers)

Gord McKay
Mayor of Midland
@GAMCEL (204 followers)

Ray Millar
Mayor of Tiny Township
@millar4mayor (214 followers)

Doug White
Mayor of Bradford West Gwillimbury
@dougwhite19 (333 followers)

Gil Brocanier
Mayor of Cobourg
@gilbrocanier (166 followers)

Nelson Santos
Mayor of Kingsville
@NSantos007 (985 followers)

Dave Augustyn
Mayor of Pelham
@mayordavepelham (984 followers)

John Lessif
Mayor of Tillsonburg
@JohnLessif (13 followers)

Graydon Smith
Mayor of Bracebridge
@GraydonTheMayor (1,176 followers)

Virginia Hackson
Mayor of East Gwillimbury
@VirginiaHackson (215 followers)

Nobody is good enough for Vladimir Putin but not Sandra Cooper.

Let me start this post by saying I am not a big Twitter user. I mostly use it to get a little more exposure to this blog. I have never really seen the point in it and I am way too long winded and wordy to get my point across in 140 letters. I was having a good laugh the other day with a buddy of mine because he was telling me some of the moronic stuff our mayor “Tweets” on Twitter.
So I said “That’s pretty funny I must follow her”. He said “Not so fast Nobody she has to approve you first”. Myself being rather naïve on these things was not aware that that is an option, I thought all you had to do was click “Follow” and that was it. I still didn’t believe that a Mayor in small town Ontario would not want the general populace to have full and open access to her pearls of wisdom. So I went back to my computer, opened up my Twitter account found our Mayor, clicked follow and got this:

Cooper on Twitter

That little box in the right hand corner means my request is pending. I will not be holding my breath on an approval any time soon. If you notice this Twitter account is not “Sandra Cooper, mother, wife, expert in calligraphic writing, collector of chamber pots”. In other words her own private Twitter account. It says Sandra Cooper – “Mayor of the Town of Collingwood” so she is running this account in that capacity. I am a resident of the Town of Collingwood and I actually voted for her, so how come I can’t get full and open access to our Mayors social media ramblings. (Can you ask her that please Scoop?)

You all must know by now, I love this kind of stuff. So I thought to myself “I wonder who else is on Twitter that blocks people from following them”. Let’s start with a couple of easy ones:
Steven Harper - If you believe the MSM he is the most secretive politician in our land. He runs a tight ship in terms of controlling the message that is put out to the great unwashed populace. Nothing is left to chance. Well it turns out I have been following him for over a year now.
Rob Ford - If ever there was someone who should control the message. He the great purveyor of “Foot in Mouth Disease” – Following him for 15 months.

Let’s make this a bit harder.

Vladimir Putin - Ex KGB controller. Villain of the west du la jour. Invader of Georgia, Crimea and about to send his armies marching across Eastern Europe. He must block a nobody like me. Nope just started following him 15 minutes ago.

Fidel Castro - Lider de la Revolucion du Cuba. Former President and Head of the Communist Party of Cuba. Cigar aficionado. Say it ain’t so Nobody??? – Yep following him as we speak.

This now gets hilarious:

Kim Jong-un - Yes that Kim Jong un!!! The one that fries anyone that criticizes his hair or his politics with a flamethrower. And divorces his wives by feeding them to a pack of hungry dogs. I’m his latest follower. (This one might be a fake as its tweets are in Spanish).

So there you have it; our Mayor controls her message tighter than the Prime Minister of Canada, Toronto’s hapless Mayor, the president of The Federation of Russia, ex-president of Cuba and lunatic child heir of the Democratic Republic of North Korea.

I have some Easter weekend homework for those of you that are on Twitter. Try and follow Sandra and comment below whether she allows you into her inner sanctum or not. (Don’t worry you can always un-follow her afterwards).

Berman on Nepotism:

I plucked the following from the Enough is Enough Facebook page:

Its part of a larger conversation which I found rather interesting:

Enough is Enough – Elect Steve Berman for Collingwood Town Council, I’ve been here for about 15 years, and you are spot on. There is a large part of our population, that are born and raised in Collingwood. They have a huge amount of pride for this town, both it’s past and it’s future.

There is a small portion of that population, that many refer to as the “old boys club”. This group feels that because of those reasons, the town is their “possession”. They are entitled to do what they want. Profit however they can. They know what’s best for Collingwood.

We know this to be wrong, but if you look at the municipal staff, the Collus staff, and most of the various committees and organizations in town, as well as current and past councils, you will see them full of people from that “club”

They are too (pick a word) naive, egotistical, entitled, ignorant….to see what they have done to this town, and to both the debt and legacy they are leaving.

Nothing is going to change, until enough of the residents of Collingwood, through their actions (voting, speaking out, etc), put a stop to it. Hopefully before too much more damage has been done.

As this election proceeds I will be doing a series of posts picking up various candidates guarded and unguarded comments from the main stream media and social media on a range of relevant subjects.

(Now I just have to go and find something Chadwick has said lately that is relevant).

S**t or get off the pot!!

I find it a bit disturbing at the lack of people stepping up to run for Collingwood Town Council, Deputy Mayor or Mayor of Collingwood.

We are now three and half months into the election campaign and we only have one person stepping up for Mayor. No one stepping up for Deputy Mayor. And only five out of seven declaring for council. The message that this sends is that everyone is happy with the status quo and that this present administration has done a great job. We all know that that is not the case.
All of you out there that are non-incumbents, who are contemplating making a run for a position, should realize that the longer you leave this, the less time you are giving the electorate a chance to get to know you and why they should vote for you. Although that being said, there is still one non-incumbent, that has declared, that I still know as little about now as I did the first week he declared. Not sure how that person thinks he can get elected on that basis, 90% of getting elected into a local government is name recognition.

I don’t for the life of me understand why candidates, both incumbents and non, leave declaring until half way through the election cycle. Actually I must correct myself on that, it is mostly politics and a little bit of getting your house in order to run, but then again its not like the date of the election is a surprise. We all know that the municipal election after this one will be somewhere around the third week in October 2018. I would be thinking about that election now if I intended to run and getting my personal and financial house in order with lots of time in front of me. Take our Mayor for instance. If I were a competent self assured incumbent Mayor, who believed that I had done a pretty decent job over the past three and a half years. I would be lining up on the first day that I could to put my name forward. I would not wait and see what anyone else is doing. I would not wait and see what happens with an OPP investigation that apparently has no merit. I would send a clear message that I have enjoyed being this towns Mayor, that I am ready and willing to continue the good work that I started in my first mandate. But we all know that that is not the case. The same goes for all the councillors that were sitting around that table last night that have not made there intentions clear. So recap if you haven’t declared yet, pick your poison. You are already playing political games or you are ill prepared to be running for elected office.
I like the fact that Joe Gardhouse declared for Mayor early and first. I also like that he has stood up to be counted with a platform and is open to any questions and scrutiny that people like myself can throw at him. I want to be clear on this, I did not like the fact that Joe quit his council position in 2005. But I must confess he is going up in my estimation every week he is the lone Mayoralty candidate. Especially when you go to the towns website and keep seeing his name as the lone name under the Mayors heading. It makes you start to get used to the idea. I don’t think that this was a political move by Joe, because he is the least political person, (behind Berman). That is involved in the local political scene. But I do think this has ended being a damn good political move by him.
I also like the fact that Deb Doherty stood up after declaring and thrust herself into the quagmire of the Admiral Collingwood Place debacle. She was accused by Mr. Assaff of playing political games in the “silly season”. Sorry Mr. Assaff you have had your way with this current council for three and a half years. What this should tell you is with people like Steve Berman and Deb Doherty on council that is about to radically change. But it needs more of you. I’ve heard the rumours as I am sure many of you have. Every week I hear that so an so is going to run for Deputy Mayor, or such and such is running for council.
The time has come ladies and gentleman. As my cockney grandfather William H Barrett from the East End of London used to say “Oi you!! Shit or get off the pot my son”.

VFAN is now 100,000 views old!!!


I never would have believed this blog would reach this milestone when I started it 14 months ago (Thanks again Scoop). VFAN just rolled through 100k views.
Thanks to everyone that has read my nonsense, commented on my nonsense and followed my nonsense.

Remember though, this blog isn’t just about my nonsense. Its about your nonsense as well. Please keep on reading, commenting, sending it and maybe we can make a difference.

Again a very big THANK YOU from the staff at VFAN. (Me)

Stu asked, Chris Carrier answered:

The following was asked and answered this weekend, regarding provincial funding:

Stu on April 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm said:

Nice job Nobody! Great points
From a funding standpoint, was there anything special happening in that period of time? ie Infrastructure funding by the Feds vis a vis through the provincial government?
Thinking global recession..

Chris Carrier Submitted on 2014/04/13 at 11:40 am | In reply to Stu.

Stu there were a number of programs going on during that period especially funds becoming available through infrastructure investment as part of an economic stimulus from both the Feds and Prov. The downtown project was a stimulus investment. The Town already had about 2 million dollars worth of work to do along the downtown corridor to just fix up/repair/replace some of the existing infrastructure. Council pursued a complete re-do after initial investment about 30 years ago to do the downtown as the costs for the 2 million were the same to our community, do a limited project or to do an expanded project (which we chose) and the added costs were borne by an investment from the Feds, Prov and BIA and should last another 30 years.
First Street was the now gone Connecting Link program which funds 90% of eligible components but works out to just under 60% usually. We also chose to do some of the needed sewer work so as not to tear up the road 2-3 years later.
The 10 million for Poplar Side Road and 27/28 Side Road were the result of concerted efforts of a number of staff and politicians. Collingwood (I was contacted by Minister Canfield) to ask that we (the Town) would act as quarterback for the funds the Ministry was willing to put in. The timing I believe was funds in the Ministry budget (their fiscal year end is March 31st) that would have been rolled over to a project somewhere else or one that the then Minister believed had a good local economic development “bang for the buck”.
The highway 26 realignment which is not on the list was removed from the provincial budget before I came into office but concerted efforts by many, Jim Wilson, Ken Ferguson, Cal Patterson, Ellen Anderson, myself and our staff helped to bring that project back on track as funding was announced during the 2007-2010 time frame.
The fire truck fund that is referenced was an unconditional grant from 2008 from the province and the 1.2 million in affordable housing was Gail Michalenko, Dawn Meyers and Mark Redmond and others who had been working on affordable housing for small urban for some time.
Both Norm Sandberg and Kathy Jeffery were key to helping with funding and understanding some of the funding appplication nuances through their work with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Federation of Canadian Municipliaties.
Both Catherine Durrant and Kim Wingrove were key to bringing in dollars (not shown on the list) from OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) and the Ministry of Economic Development. The networks both had in the provincial government were instrumental with small funding projects and specific industry focused projects.
Long answer to your question but I hope it is helpful. If you would like to have a coffee in the future to discuss any particular issues please do not hesitate to contact me at