Where’s the hidden agenda talk now?

As many of you know I am a political junky, I can’t get enough news on politics. Whether it be municipal, provincial, federal, American or even British. I have watched with a growing sense of horror as Canada’s electorate seems to be considering giving the keys to 24 Sussex Drive to “Smiling” Tom Mulcair and his inexperienced, dope smoking, union organizing, in some cases twenty something, socialist hoards. I have nightmares most nights, about a federal cabinet that includes the squawking Peggy Nash.

I nearly choked on my morning Tetley the other day when “Smiling Tom” said that when he forms a new federal government he would not be running deficits and would balance the budget. I did notice that his hands were behind his back, so his fingers were probably tightly crossed, I also noticed that his nose grew around an inch while he made that statement with a straight face. Pinocchio would have been very proud of “Smiling Tom”. The truth is as Margaret Thatcher once said “The problem with socialists is they will always run out of other people’s money to spend”. The money we are talking about will be the same money Windbag and McGuilty have been spending since they took power in Queens Park, our kids, grand kids and probably great grand-kids money.

At some point in the near future, the above statement, about balanced budgets, will very quickly be forgotten as soon as Tom gets to look at the books and realizes what “a mess Harper has left him to clean up”. We have all heard this song and dance before and the 10 or 20 billion dollar deficits per year, will be nothing to do with national all-day kindergarten (free babysitting), or gutting our natural resource industry to save us from imaginary man-made climate change and thereby choking off Canada’s revenue source, or any of the other social engineering projects that a federal NDP government will thrust upon us. It will be Harper’s fault for cooking the books for years to come (remember Mike Harris).

I also noticed that “Smiling Tom” when asked the other week about raising taxes, he said very carefully that he would not be raising “personal” income taxes. And a gullible media were too busy gloating about all the nuances at the Duffy non-scandal trial to ask what I was screaming at my TV “What about carbon taxes and sales taxes???”. For some reason, probably because the mainstream media of this country despises Steven Harper and the movers and shakers have decided that regime change in Ottawa is now the order of the day. The preferred choice was Justin, but seeing as he has turned out to be what most of us that were paying attention already knew, a vacuous dolt with continuous “Foot in mouth disease”, the next best option seems to be “Smiling Tom”.

If you don’t believe me, think back to every election that Steven Harper has won, we always heard about the imaginary “Harper’s hidden agenda” the talking heads of the media were always talking about it. Apparently he was going to ban abortion, throw gays in jail, chain woman to the kitchen sink where they belong and open up gulags in Nunavik to throw all his political opponents in. None of which ever came to pass. I would wager that the “hidden agenda” talk probably cost the Cons at least another majority or even two in previous elections. The place I am going with this is, why is there no talk about the real hidden agenda of the socialists whom are leading quite handily in the opinion polls right now? If I may be so bold I will answer that question for you, the media and the press are biased, if they weren’t they would be asking “Smiling Tom” a few questions about the $2.7 million 68 of his MP’s swindled the Canadian tax payers out of. Or how he plans to balance the budget without raising taxes or cutting services? Or national carbon taxes that will put a final nail in the coffin of our already faltering oil and gas industry. Or what is his position on gas and oil pipelines? It’s too bad “Smiling Tom” will never show his face in Collingwood, because I believe Simcoe County will be one of the very few bastions to stay tory blue and he will never waste his time campaigning here. Because I would love to ask him a few of these questions that our national fawning media will never ask.

To insure prompt service……..

Are any of you getting sick and tired of the current tipping situation in restaurants?

TIPS stands for “To insure prompt service”. These days waiters and waitresses will sometimes provide absolutely abysmal service in a restaurant and then look down their nose at you, if you have the temerity to only leave a 10% tip.
I was reading about a situation in New Jersey last week where a group of 8 people went to a restaurant and it took over an hour for their meal to arrive. When they paid the bill they did not leave a tip and wrote in the section where it says gratuity “LOL – an hour for food”. As is the norm these days the offended waitress took no ownership for the crap service her and her employer gave and posted the offending receipt online, blurring the person’s name. This went viral and the local mayor even weighed in and berated the offending restaurant patrons. A tip in a restaurant should not be a human right, it is and should continue to be at the discretion of the person being served. So if we as patrons at an eating establishment get poor service, it should be quite acceptable not to tip.
This situation is quite unique to North America. Most places around the world seem to be immune from this phenomenon. When dining out at restaurants overseas, a tip does not seem to be expected and very well received when given. I can not in all honesty say that restaurant service is any worse in those jurisdiction’s than it is here in North America.
One of the reasons tipping seems to have got so out of hand, is wait staff now have to pay tax on an extra 10% of their salary whether they received that amount of tips or not, so that is probably the reason for all the moaning. It seems that this happened because in the past there was a lot of tax fraud in the restaurant industry, with wait staff not declaring their tips as part of their salary, so the RevCan clamped down. Now it is the problem of the long suffering restaurant patron to pick up the slack in this service industry.
I have no problem tipping well if I receive a meal that is well prepared in a timely manner from a friendly waitperson who is attentive but not bothersome and happy not grumpy. But I am damned if I should feel obliged to tip a minimum of 15% however the food is thrown in front of me. Another thing that I find quite annoying is when I am served by an owner of an eating establishment and they expect a tip as well, tipping has now got completely out of hand and needs a complete makeover.
I have an idea that would make the whole going out to restaurants a much more pleasant experience. Restaurants should start paying wait staff and restaurant employees a more appropriate wage of say $15 – $20 per hour instead of minimum wage, then increase the prices in restaurants to cover this increase and get tipping back to what it was originally meant to be “To insure prompt service”.

The Nothing “Scandal”

Do any of you remember Seinfeld, the TV sitcom about nothing? That’s what this Duffy “scandal” reminds me of, a scandal about nothing. I don’t really give a damn whether Harper knew about the $90,000.00 cheque or not, and he more than likely did know about it. In fact I would have gladly chipped in some of that $90,000.00 to shut Duffy’s smirking fat pie-hole up. But the media and the Harper/Con haters are having a field day with this thing, breathlessly reporting on every minor detail coming out of this trial.

During this election campaign I have not heard the name Mac Herb mentioned. He was a former liberal senator who will be on trial for swindling the long suffering taxpayers of Canada out of over $230,000 in illegal expense claims. He was actually supposed to be in the same court that Duffy is in right now, but he was conveniently granted a continuance until December when this current election will be long forgotten. The media seems to conveniently forget his name when talking about “Conservative” senate expense scandals. Another thing that the media might want to do if it were fair and balanced, is ask the question who is paying for Duffy’s $1 million defence in this case? He couldn’t afford to pay back the $90,000 that he swindled us out of, so how is he paying $800 per hour for his top notch legal team? Now that is a question worth asking but I have never heard anyone mention it
In the scheme of political scandals this Duffy situation pales in comparison to AdScam, but it seems the media are trying to give it as much credence as that multi-million dollar scandal and as far as I remember, during the 2006 federal election campaign, didn’t get anywhere near the same coverage and bad press as this “scandal” seems to be getting. Another scandal that has been buried by the media is a little closer to home and involves the federal NDP. 68 (NDP) members of parliament, inappropriately used parliamentary resources for certain employment, telecommunication and travel expenses, to the tune of $2.7 million. They were ordered by a parliamentary committee and the speaker of the house of commons to pay this money back but they continue to refuse to do so. Now that’s a scandal, but good luck getting the CBC or CTV to report about it, or ask “Smiling Tom” any questions about it. Maybe in a similar manner that they continue to grill Steven Harper about who knew what, where and when in the Duffy case.

But then again Steven Harper is not as warm and cuddly as the media’s choices for the next prime minister “Hair Apparent Justin” or “Smiling Tom”. In fact the media seems to despise Harper, the body and facial language of the reporters make it quite obvious when they report anything about him. The fact that the current PM has done an adequate job running the country through some fairly difficult times seems to get lost in all the rhetoric that gets put out in the daily news cycle. I don’t particularly like Harper, he is probably the kid at school I would have taken great pleasure in bundling him in his gym locker and locking the door. But I am one of those strange voters that can vote for politicians without actually liking them.

All this nonsense is doing is driving the undecided voters into the smarmy opportunistic arms of “Smiling Tom”, who strangely enough is no longer “Angry Tom” since this current election campaign has started. I just checked the latest polls and the NDP are moving towards majority territory. God help us all. I have lived through some of the worst NDP/Socialist regimes in this world the Glen Clarke NDP government in BC sent me scurrying out of that province to Ontario. The Jim Callaghan Labour government sent me scurrying out of the UK to Australia. Then the Bob Hawke Labor government sent me scurrying out of Australia to Canada. The problem I have now is I don’t have any more scurrying left in me, although a “Windbag” provincial government with a “Smiling Tom” federal government might send me packing to a grass hut and beach down south somewhere.

I don’t expect the media to ignore this Duffy situation, but it is not up to the media to decide that this country needs a regime change and then be selective on what it reports about in an election campaign. Fortunately this Duffy trial will be over in a week or so, just in time for the voters in Canada to really start paying attention to this federal election, hopefully at that point we can start to hear about the real issues that matter to this country, not faux political scandals.

Don’t panic I’m still alive

I have had a few people contact me to see if I am OK. One person thought I might have been sued (I haven’t). Another thought I had been abducted by aliens (I was but they returned me unharmed and decided to look for a better human specimen).
The fact is I have also had some personal stuff that I am dealing with and I am out of town a good chunk of the week and very busy with my business.

I have to “feel” it to write about it and I haven’t “felt” it lately.

I will return better than ever folks so just hang tight. The fact that people have asked and seem to care makes me want to come back and continue, so stay tuned.

Developer John Di Poce – A series of unfortunate events.

If any of you have driven passed Georgian College Collingwood campus on Raglan St. and wondered why it is called the “John Di Poce” campus, the reason is he donated the land that the college sits on to the town.

There was a lot of chatter a month or so ago from certain parties including an editorial in the EB and a cloying interview with Mr. Assaff by the infernal Penny Skelton on Rogers TV. About how fortunate we are as a town to have Steve Assaff gracing us with his ugly box like developments. Collingwood had another developer who was prepared to put his money where his mouth was, his name was John Di Poce. He owned (still owns)a good chunk of land out in the south east end of town, surrounding the Georgian College. At present he is in negotiations with the hospital with the view of donating some of that land for a badly needed new hospital. The comparisons between Mr. Di Poce and Mr. Assaff are quite startling, Mr. Assaff wanted to buy Block 9 from the town. A scrubby sliver of land between his BMO/Rexall property and his recently acquired Block 11 on the corner of Huron and Heritage Way in front of the the waterfront. This is to facilitate the extra parking that he needs to build his 3 story monstrosity on the corner of Heritage and Huron St (block 11) and rather than offer something worthwhile as a swap, he offered the town some swampland behind the courthouse that he apparently owns. Council quite rightly said “thanks but no thanks”.

Everything I write below is now on public record so I think it’s time for this story to be brought to light. It might give you a fairly reasonable insight into the way things have worked for many years in our town. It should also give you an idea on why few people other than Steve Assaff and to a lesser extent Larry Dunn, want to touch development around our town with a ten foot pole.

As I said above John Di Poce owns a fair amount of land on the south east end of town. He had draft site plan approval for a 320 unit sub division (Eden Oaks) on that land. The approval of which was one of the last decisions the Chris Carrier council made and passed prior to the 2010 municipal election. The then Deputy Mayor Sandra Cooper whom most of you know is Paul Bonwick’s sister and Ian Chadwick, an employee of Paul Bonwick’s Compenso company, were both opposed to that development.

Another interesting dynamic was that John Di Poce owned some land up in the Duntroon area (not sure if he still owns it). Around 2007 -2008 Paul Bonwick entered into a lease agreement, to lease that land from John Di Poce and started (or continued) with a quarry operation on that land. Rick Lloyd was the onsite manager running the operation. By 2010 this business arrangement had soured because Paul Bonwick had missed a substantial amount of the agreed upon lease payments to John Di Poce. This situation ended up in litigation, and apparently there was much unpleasant legal wrangling, most of which I cannot write about here. When the writing started to show very clearly on the wall that Paul Bonwick might personally have to cough up a fairly large chunk of cake, he very ineptly transferred the ownership of his house into his wife’s name. A transaction Mr. Di Poce had the courts reverse in short order. The actual amount owing to Mr. Di Poce was somewhere in the region of $1.3M and he eventually settled for around a third of that amount.

It has been suggested to me by numerous parties that because of the messy legal situation described above, a May 2011 decision by the previous town council, in which Rick Lloyd was deputy mayor, to revoke the Eden Oaks subdivision draft site plan approval, which had been passed and approved by the Carrier council. Was payback for the messy quarry legal fight. I have no opinion on this and will let you make up your own minds. Think about this though, to this date it is the only subdivision of this scale, to have its draft plan approval rescinded because of “density targets not being reached”. If you notice the land in question is still undeveloped and sits fallow to this day. The long term effect of all this was to drive a community minded developer with deep pockets away from Collingwood and deny our town the development fees and property taxes that this land could have generated. Apparently, John Di Poce is again starting to dip his toes back into the local development scene. Probably because a few of the people on that previous council were sent packing in the last municipal election.

Steve Assaff could take a couple of pages out of John Di Poce’s playbook, its not always about how much money you can make. Sometimes it’s about making our community a better place to live.

Elvis Presley Enterprises bullies local film company into submission…………..

One of the things that really pisses me off, about the Collingwood Elvis Festival, is the money in licencing fees that we send down to Elvis Presley Enterprises every year. No matter whether the festival makes money or not.
I received a copy of a press release from Tracey Johnston this evening. Tracy is a film producer with Mountain Goat Film Company Inc. Apparently this is a local film production company based in Town of Blue Mountain and owned by a guy named Tom Strnad. The company has done various documentary type films for CBC, The Movie Network and Super Channel, so they are obviously no slouches. I had no idea that a company like this existed in our area. They had applied for and were granted full access to behind the scenes of the Collingwood Elvis Festival, to shoot scenes for a film that they are making called King for a Day. A documentary film about the Collingwood Elvis Festival. They had spent months already in production doing interviews with local and provincial politicians. But they received notice just hours before the festival started, from the Town of Collingwood’s communications officer Jennett Mays telling them that Elvis Presley Enterprises had put the Kybosh on any behind the scenes filming. There was no reason given in the press release, as to why EPE would behave in such a strong armed manner, but you can bet that the reason is probably because they are not getting any “ving” from MGFC Inc. So are not interested in allowing such a venture. Never mind the fact that a local company had a chance to promote and highlight CEF. Make no mistake this is all about the money.

I didn’t have any idea a film company of this type existed so close to home. You would think that if Elvis Presley Enterprises were interested in getting a local view point on this event, that they would seize on the opportunity this film brings to the table to promote this tacky festival to the world. I would hazard a guess that the Town of Collingwood, in its efforts to continually kowtow to this overbearing, bullying, multi-national company, Elvis Presley Enterprises, never raised a word in protest about this situation, even though our tax payer money gets shoveled endlessly at this event every year. I can guarantee the licencing fees owing are continually paid on time every time, because we would very quickly be hearing from a $1,000 per hour American legal firm. But EPE doesn’t care about that as long as the goose keeps laying the golden egg.

I have been yelling from the rooftops for 3 years now, that it is now long past time that our town cut its ties with this festival and Elvis Presley Enterprises. Make this thing pay for itself and start charging the organizers of this event the real costs for town resources, which continue to enable this event to proceed and in turn continue to ship thousands of dollars down to the head offices of EPE.

The press release can be found in the attachment below:

PressRelease-CollingwoodElvisFestivalBansLocalFilmmakers

Adult Commentary about the Collingwood Elvis Festival from VFAN

I first posted a version of the following in September of 2013. This is my final shot across the bow at this tacky festival and its organisers, who continually seem to think that the general populace of our town want to keep throwing tax payer money at this thing. A majority of us don’t. The rest of you that do, let’s take a final look at the CEF and see it for what it really is below:

I always judge the importance of something or someone, in popular culture, by whether it has its own entry and Wikipedia page. The Collingwood Elvis Festival does not. It has a one line entry in the actual Collingwood, Ontario page but that is the only place you will find it. So this festival, that is apparently so important to this towns identity, it’s such a draw, it brings so much worldwide attention to our towns tourist industry, doesn’t even warrant its own Wikipedia page. In fact take a look at this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_impersonators

That is the Wikipedia entry on Elvis Impersonators. Did you see it? Did you see a few lines about the “The really important Elvis festival held in Collingwood every July”? No neither did I. Because in the world scheme of all things Elvis, Collingwood isn’t even on the radar.
How much money did we send off to Elvis Presley Enterprise’s after last years festival? Seriously I’m asking, if someone knows let me know. I do know that again the festival lost a staggering $75,000 which our lemming like town council approved unanimously to cover again back in February. Can you imagine the outcry if our town held a festival sponsored by Molson Coors, who ended making a hansom profit from the event but our town decided to cover a financial loss on the thing because it was unsustainable? This is only allowed to proliferate because of murky accounting practices and a complete absence any kind of financial accountability.

Elvis Presley Enterprises is the money making corporation that now handles everything Elvis, it has an eye popping net worth of over $300M. It makes more money now than when Elvis was alive. Nothing Elvis in the world gets done without handing a piece of the action to this company. Here’s a thought, being as our town has been shamelessly promoting this United States icon of popular culture every July for the past 20 or so years, how about EPE kicking some money back into the kitty to keep this CEF viable? Never going to happen because that revenue stream is a one way street.

The thing I’ve always wondered is WHY? Why do we celebrate Elvis Presley in Collingwood once a year? Was this a favorite vacation destination of the King back in the sixties relaxing with his entourage down at the Georgian Manor Resort? Did he have a friend or family member from this area? Did he write a song about this towns ship building heritage? Or maybe Elvis released a movie from the area called “Viva Georgian Bay”, that I never heard about? The answer to all these questions is a resounding “NO”. In fact when the king was alive I bet he couldn’t have picked Collingwood, Ontario, or even Canada, from a map of the world. So again WHY? There are so many other things that are relevant to our local history, culture, geography that we could celebrate in a festival; and yet we celebrate someone who in the end was grossly overweight through hedonistic self-indulgence and was so addicted to prescription and other drugs, he didn’t know what day it was. Not much of a roll model. Thinking about it, I will answer the WHY for you myself. This started as a talent contest in 1994, during the early nineties recession. Collingwood was still reeling from the shipyards closure 8 years previously and the development of Blue Mountain into a four season mega resort, was still 10 years away. The town needed something to boost the local economy and this seemed to fit the bill. It was promoted and grew in leaps and bounds, year after year, until it morphed into what we see today. But that was then, this is now. We have plenty of things to draw people to our town, it has become a summer and winter playground for the large population bases south of us, we don’t need it anymore.
Have your festival by all means. I will put up with the road closures and the whole of downtown becoming a parking no go zone. I will delay doing my banking, lawyering, accounting, Loblaws-ing. I will accept becoming a second class citizen in my local eating and drinking establishments, because for this one weekend they are suddenly packed with side burn toting grey hairs and hoop skirted blue rinses. I will even put up with the droning (mostly) amateurish Elvis music ear worming its way into my sub consciousness for 3 days. But stop picking my pockets to pay for it all, make it pay for itself, or better still make Elvis Presley Enterprises pick up the tab.