Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Arena ElToroPooPoo

There is no question that the Mayor of Edmonton is a master of the art of manipulation. And he has taken his latest round to the Edmonton media, who have come out with various titles like "Public tired of Edmonton arena discussions" and "Six weeks left to strike arena deal".

Well Steve, you are right. The public is tired of hearing about the handout of 700 million dollars of taxpayer money given to a billionaire who in all practical terms is not putting a cent of his money (other than perhaps some land deals that some people are calling shady) into this project... and where it's been projected that the same billionaire could potentially pocket a good 400 to 600 million dollars in profits over the term of the deal.

And I have to ask, why is it that we only have 6 weeks left to nail this, otherwise it will never be done? Would it have anything to do with the fact that the majority of Edmonton taxpayers do not like this deal, and you are afraid that a new council to be elected in 2013 will not approve of the theft of taxpayer money?

I mean after all, the Oilers are certainly not going anywhere, they can still play at the current Rexall place until a proper deal can be reached... so why the rush?

I think you will find most people are passionate about keeping the Oilers here. But we are not passionate about having public dollars going to a private company into the pocket of one of the (supposed) richest men in Canada.

In my humble opinion, if you try and force this through, you and the others on City Council will be committing political suicide. Remember when you said that no tax money would be going towards this? And what about your council partner Kim, who stated that a pleb would be needed? It would seem that both of you are liars.

Citizens will hope for a pleb to be called, and in the past you have proven with the City Center Airport that you will do everything in your power to make sure that the people will not be heard. This will naturally place a damper on having a citizen driven pleb successful... and I can envision you rubbing your biased hands together with glee because that is exactly what you want.

But that will not stop a newly elected Council from putting a halt to this. Which of course will result in lawsuits flying all over the place. And I think that might just be a really good idea, because then the truth will come out, and taxpayers will see all of the dirty deeds done. And I'm betting there is a lot of "dirt" to dig up.

Of course, you do have the opportunity for Council to actually call for that pleb, and to make it a part of the election coming up, which will minimize the costs to taxpayers. You are totally aware that a pleb called for by Council will not be legally binding, where as one called for by the citizens would be.

But then.... that would mean you would need to do the right thing. Something we know you probably won't do because you have already proven your word means nothing. Add in how people are comparing Katz to Pocklington, with the former now smelling worse than the latter...

Ah.. you don't care. And the people see that. We are not as blind as you want us to be.

Doing it for the Kids

A short time back, I had the privilege of attending a luncheon hosted by the Edmonton Public School Foundation which I discovered from the @EPSFoundation twitter feed.

When my daughter was in elementary school, I was able to do many of the 'parent things' like being a teachers helper in classes, being involved in school field trips, etc.I was passionate about participating in these things since I could not remember my parents having that type of involvement. Of course, things were different 50 years ago... but one of the things I do remember was the excitement of kindergarten.

As I grew older, started a family, watched my daughter grow up (she's 25 now) I had always presumed that kindergarten was one of those inalienable rights to prepare children for school... however somewhere along the road I fell asleep as a parent and a human being and did not notice that "right to a better beginning" had been lost.

There is no question in my mind that the children are our future. They are born innocent, free of hate and biases, zero understanding of race or color issues. And those early years of life are THE time when the basic building blocks for their futures happen. We as a society, should be doing everything possible to give the children the best chances we can. Sadly, this is not happening.

The Edmonton Public School system has seen the need, and set up a Foundation to promote the sanity of early education. They cover all of the costs of the Foundations work, performed tirelessly by two major players, Sandra Woitas and Alva Shewchuk. Please... take a few moments and visit the Foundations website, the information is extensive, but some of it has not been updated because of internal objectives within the EPSB... they are trying to get all of their websites into a "standard", and the IT department hasn't been able to update the events information. Sandra has kindly passed on some new info as follows:

Upcoming info sessions at Lauderdale School, 10610 - 129 Ave.

Call the Foundation to book your free lunch for Friday January 18th, Tuesday January 29th, Thursday February 14th (be a foundation sweetheart is easy on this day) or Wednesday February 27th.

As well, there is a Ready to Shine 3 Fashion Show at Kingsway Mall on Thursday April 25th. Sandra has also advised me that their main fund raiser will be held on Thursday May 30th, at Harry Ainlay School, located at 4350 - 111 street. And a "yet to be announced" Ready to Frame event, featuring high school student art for sale.

If the love of kids doesn't get your butt in gear, then perhaps you should consider the following. I was shocked when I found out this fact during our luncheon... When you look at the "rich kids versus the poor kids"... a study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley has determined that by the age of THREE YEARS OLD, there is a 32 million word gap exposure. Yes... 32 MILLION words.

Do yourselves a favor... check out the work of the Foundation, where 100% of the funds raised go towards providing a better education for the kids. And thank the EPSB for having the decency to cover 100% of the costs of the Foundation.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Miss Communications

Twitter has been, shall we say... quite active in Edmonton over the past few days. Two of the recent major events causing the locals to uproar was the tragic massacre of little children and adults in Newtown, and the tweeting of a check stop location.

I'm not sure you can even come close to relating these two items on a scale of 1 to anything. I for one can not even BEGIN to fathom the pain of all of the people affected. My heart goes out to those who have been.

With that said, this post is about the challenges people face in expressing anything within the world of 140 characters. They say communication comprises about 7 percent of the spoken words, with the balance coming from facial expressions, body language gestures and the tone and voice inflections. Bottom line being, when you get into something as complex as these two issue have been, you have about a seven percent chance of your text words being received in the manner you meant them to be. ... All within 140 characters.

Common sense would dictate then, that if you see something that irks you, you would take a moment to ask the other person what they meant. And I get it, really... I do. When you deal with emotional issues of any kind, the mouth speaks (or in this case the fingers type) much faster than the brain thinks. And in dealing with complex issues, you generally are involved in a "thread" of chatter. People must also remember that the number of followers differs between "you and me and them" (this can dictate the speed of ones feed) and the people I follow are going to be different than the people you follow, which increases the challenge of being involved in that thread. Anyway...

When the Newtown news hit twitter, it went viral. Horror... shock... and speechless to start with. Information came pouring in, the urge to "speak" was huge. The question was "what to say" to make some form of valid contribution. Not wanting to jump to any conclusions or onto any bandwagons, I simply stated "Killing kids.. sigh. #Newtown". Time went on, more information came in, and I added in a few simple statements representing the shock and horror to a few friends, and sent out "Dear #USA. Ya know... it's time for some serious gun legislation. #uspoli" and a few comments on my disgust for the reporters who were in such a hurry to scoop interview time with the kids involved. On a side note, any who did this should be fired.

After watching more and more information, I then stated "God Bless America... how's that working for you? #Newton". (yes, I know, I misspelled the hash tag.. sigh) The statement was meant to be challenge to the concept of what the USA is (in theory) supposed to represent to the world. How great we are, how much we value freedoms, etc etc... Perhaps what could be more known as the "American Arrogance Factor". Let me first state, I love the USA and the people. I have MANY dear friends that live there and I have visited the country many times... as recent as this summer. My USA buddies have been the first people to acknowledge this, many openly admitting they have issues that need fixing. (I kind of think we as a world, all have things needing fixing, I just wanted to point out the 'statement' was not a slap in the face to the USA, but as a wake up call for their values.)

A short time later I was accused of religion bashing and told to "grow up" by an individual with whom I've had many extremely positive discussions with, and despite political differences, one that I had a lot of respect for. ... I admit, that comment pissed me off because it had, in my mind, nothing to do with religion in any way shape or form. We had a few more tweets, with my blood boiling, and I knew I was not in any emotional state where I could handle any more of the horror, and I left twitter for the rest of the day.

The following day, the Newtown incident stream was down to a more manageable level, but along came tweets about a check stop that had been broadcast. Before I delve into this issue, a tweet came along from @Social_Moi with a reference to my "god bless" comment that I found to be fitting. Note, her comment was not in reply to what I said, but fit with the concept I was trying to address. I will include that now for your viewing pleasure... It appears to have originated from Handgun Control Inc, in Washington D.C.


Back to the check stop issue. Now I do admit, I have issues with the logic of the police service asking those locations not be told, yet in the next breath they contact media outlets on where they are doing radar locations. Seems even tweeting those is "approved". Do let me state that I detest people who drink and drive. My issue is not with their stupidity, but with the concept of tweeting to evade. Those who speed probably cause more accidents and (ugly word.. please over look it) damage... but we clearly see a lot of deaths that happen from drunk drivers. I tend to be of the mindset that I wish it were just the drunks that got killed instead however this seldom happens. And yes, I know it's not politically correct to wish death on anyone. So anyway...

The cops don't want people saying where the check stops are. I get it. I still don't think that the majority of the drunks have got the smarts to check twitter in the hopes of finding the locations.But maybe some do. Who knows. The twitter discussions on this reference the fact that a drunk can not become "un-drunk" but a speeder can slow down. And yes, the speeders... at least those who are aware of the locations, do indeed slow down so they don't get a ticket. And I'm guessing the moment they pass that radar trap they speed right back up again. So I kinda fail to see how this really helps matters.

My logic is, if you are going to deal with one then you should deal with both. Both cause problems. Bad problems. So why is one okay, and the other not. In closing, as for the "religious" slam... I don't think I have portrayed an image of 'prejudice' against anyone. I've always said that I don't care what color you are, what religion (if any) that you prefer, what your sexual preferences are, or anything along those lines. You are either a good person or a bad person, in simple terms. I will respect your right to your opinion. I may not agree with it. And unless it's an opinion that really stinks (according to base society standards) then I will not continue to communicate. If you block me or I block you over something, then it is what it is.

Just don't judge me based on a few pieces of miss-communication.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Misleading Advertising

A few days back, I purchased a bag of Nestle Halloween Mini's... The bag shows a picture of the 3 bars it contains (Crunch, Butter Finger and Baby Ruth) and stated it had 90 bars in it. I picked it up, because I like to treat my daughter (who is almost 25, but of course still MY baby...) and share surprises.

Later on, the bag was opened, contents dumped, and the sorting for sharing commenced. During that process, 2 bars were found that were NOT enclosed in any wrappers, nor were there any empty wrappers. Now, considering we are in the middle of some pretty intense food issues with the E.coli thing... I naturally was concerned about the quality control.

As the process of sorting continued, things were just not balancing out at all. A closer look showed yes, the bag did have exactly 90 bars (including the 2 unwrapped ones) but... but... it had 20 Crunch bars, 30 Baby Ruth bars and 40 Butter Finger bars.

Well crap. That's not what I bought... so I fired off a web complaint on the Nestle Canadian site, giving them all of the contact details, bar codes, etc... and mentioned the 2 issues I found. I figure if a company is going to advertise something (in this case product contents) then it should at least have what it implies it has. And of course, having 2 not in wrappers is a clear quality control health concern.

A few days later, I got an email response (incorrectly punctuated and all to boot) saying they couldn't guarantee equal distribution and they would report those numbers to quality control. But not one word on the exposed bars. So I emailed them back, advising their response was unacceptable, and that the packaging should be safe and accurate. Or else change the packaging to indicate there may not be an equal share of each bar. In addition, I also advised them that I should take this matter to the Canadian authorities and possibly to social media as well.

Again I get a canned, incorrectly formatted response back. And I am thinking that if you can't even cut and paste your apologies and excuses correctly, then your quality control in the plant probably sucks just as much... So I went to the Governments website, filed a false advertising complaint along with mentioning the unwrapped bars... and then emailed Nestle back again, expressing my concerns, advising of the filing of the report, and said that I was done in dealing with them.

Well... a few hours later, someone from Nestle calls me on the phone. "Blah blah this and that and yes, we totally missed replying to the exposed bars... we take our stuff seriously blah blah..."

A little too late... Sorry... I pointed out the failed email responses and inaccurate advertising, the bad punctuation and formatting, the consistency they demonstrated in cutting and pasting canned responses... And of course they apologized again.

I am the consumer. I am the one buying your products (for whatever company you are) and I am tired of being mislead. You may be the 1% and think you can just do whatever it is you want, and could care less. I however, am the 99%. And you need to be honest with what you are doing. And from a food consumption point, you damn well better be clean about what you do.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Arena Prediction

Next to the City Center Airport debate, the proposed downtown arena (also known as the Katz Personal Palace and Money Generating Machine) for Edmonton is a contentious issue.

When you look at the bottom line, this project will exceed $700 million when you include infrastructure and other costs. Let's forget about the latest Katz Group demands, and recognize the current deal that Council has in front of them will use pretty much 100% of taxpayer dollars.

Some people have crunched the numbers, and have suggested that Katz will rake in at least $20 million per year at a minimum, of profits over a 35 year "deal". So taxpayers put out 700 million dollars to a private company that does not put a cent in, and the same private company will end up collecting 700 million dollars in profits for their "troubles".

Edmonton City Council has clearly not been listening to the people of this city. And I suspect that come election time in 2013, many of them will be out of jobs because of it. But by then, the damage will have been done, a contract will have been signed, and any attempts to get out of it will be subject to a lawsuit by Katz. The same man that professes to love Edmonton, will not blink an eye in suing the people.

So what are our choices? There are no laws in place that allow us to recall council members and toss them out of office. The citizens can lead a drive for a plebiscite of some form, which must be started when Council votes on a bylaw to steal taxpayer money from the poor and give it to the rich. However experience has taught us that doing one of these things is expensive and very time consuming.

This borrowing bylaw will happen when the weather is the pits, making it next to impossible to "legally" tell Mayor Mandel and the other criminals on City Council where to stick it. Yes, I said criminals because, it is my belief that any elected official that allows their administration to create a deal that is so clearly biased, has not done their job. In any other industry or business, people like the City Manager and the CFO would be run out of town for even thinking they have done an appropriate job in the diligent management of taxpayers money.

But lets say, enough people get together and a plebiscite drive starts to turn out into a success. At this point, City Council does have the legal option of saying "Okay, we will call for our own plebiscite", under the guise of "look, we are listening to the people"... However according the the MGA (Municipal Government Act) a plebiscite called by council will supersede one called by citizens. And in the one called for by Council, the results, no matter how they turn out, can legally be rejected. Meaning they do NOT have to listen to what those results are.

So no matter how you cut it, this deal will go through. Katz will have his palace of money making gold, pay nothing for it, and taxpayers will get shafted. And it is my belief, this is nothing short of criminal theft of taxpayer dollars.

I think it's pretty clear that Mandel won't be running again. I've heard from many people that have suggested that he is grooming Iveson to take over his lead... and if so, one should perhaps question if the same groomed leadership is what you as a citizen would want. I certainly do not what that "type" of leadership ever again.

Where are the RCMP when you need them to do an investigation. Maybe even more so, do we even trust the RCMP anymore. In the mean time, the Alberta Government sits by and watches... waiting for an opportunity to stand in and add more taxpayer money for Katz to steal.

These are my beliefs... you are entitled to yours as well.

If you are looking for an example of what I think is a reasonably closer responsible deal, see my blog post prior to this one.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I want a pony

Katz... pronounced like "kate zzzz"... or.. is it really more like "cat zzz".

Lets face it, many people enjoy a nice warm kitty kat laying in your lap, purring away like mad. It gives one that very warm and fuzzy feeling. So warm and fuzzy, that one tends to overlook the downside of that same kitty kat, when it uses you as a launch pad to jump down, ignores you, goes off into a corner some place to take a nap...only to come out an make an appearance when the kitty kat wants food.

Repeat often. (sounds kinda familiar eh?)

When you look at the start of this apology letter "I was upset when certain conīŦdenial information was leaked and by comments that I thought were unfair and called my integrity into question." it is basically saying that I am really sad you found out I wanted to take even more of the taxpayers money, and I find it is unfair that you think that is a bad thing.

At that point, anything else in this so-called-apology isn't really worth the internet data it has been written on.

Yes, I am sure Mr. Katz loves the Oilers. I have serious doubts that he really loves Edmonton. But he has a chance to prove it, and really... it is quite simple. Just issue a statement, something like this:

"I want the Oilers to be proud and strong, and I want the fans to feel proud and strong. I have approached Edmonton City Council, and brought forth a new deal proposal that is truly a win-win for both taxpayers and us. The details of the new offer are as follows:

1) The Katz Group (KG) will put up front, using our money, the sum of $250 million dollars. The City will put in the remaining $200 million from revenues and ticket taxes.

2) KG and the City will share in revenues, with KG taking 60% and the City taking 40%.

3) KG will not be required to pay rent, but will pay full property taxes.

4) The City will own and maintain the facilities, collect all rents and taxes from any additional tenants, and will work together with both the KG and Northlands in concert and entertainment proposals and promotions.

5) No funds will be borrowed from the City.

6) No CRL will be needed.

7) No restrictions will be requested from Northlands. Any ticket taxes imposed for the new arena will also apply to Rexall, and those funds will be given to Northlands for improvements needed.

8) KG will share 50-50 with the City, on naming rights revenues.

Now THAT... is what you call a fair and "win-win"... Anything less than that will probably please some 20,000 odd fans that will hit the games on a regular basis, but it will certainly piss off some 600,000 residents. ... the vast majority of those who will be voting for a new City Council in 2013... just around the corner.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Snow is a 4 letter word

Today is Friday, September 28th... just after 7 am and I am sipping away at my morning coffee, pondering when the pears on the tree in the backyard will start falling in batches. Pears are a pretty awesome fruit, but it's not like you can pick them and freeze them for later. But if you have the right equipment, you could can them for later use.

And of course, that must all be done before the snow arrives. The question is... when will that happen?

But wait... maybe we need to define what "snow" is first. So here is my definition...

SNOW is... what many members of the Edmonton City Council pray for. They pray for it to come sooner rather than later, because they want the weather to be as miserable as possible. I mean, after all, they have been trying for years to snow you over with marketing propaganda over the proposed Downtown Arena.. er, I mean palace... built for the only person capable of saving Edmonton, King Katz.

It was almost a year ago when Mimi Williams (@willmimi on twitter) started supplying information on the trail of lies, deception, and broken promises by many of our elected officials, in a 3 part series. It was supposed to be 4 parts, but it just got overwhelming.

Edmonton is at a place now in this "process", where Katz wants to change the rules, and I think that if he thinks that it is okay for him to do that, then I think it should be okay for us to do the same. Considering the recent events, more so now than ever before... the people of Edmonton are speaking up quite loudly to Council, saying this deal sucks. And for taxpayers in Edmonton, and indeed the entire Province, this is very true.

Council needs to tell Katz that the public is not happy. They need to tell him that the current proposal is null and void, and Katz must come back to the table with something that works for taxpayers. So with that said, what would be a reasonable deal?

1) The City owns the building. All tenants in the building will pay rent and taxes to the City.

2) No CRL will exist, since it just robs taxpayers of that money. And that money has to be collected again from all residents to replace the missing funds that would have gone into revenues, so taxpayers are being double dipped.

3) Full profit sharing, based on the percentage of the project dollars invested. In the past I have suggested that Katz gets 10% more of the share. For example, if he puts in 30% of the costs, then he gets 40% of the revenues. ... ... albeit he is allowed to keep all of the revenues for Oilers games.

4) If a "ticket tax" must be collected on Rexall events (stupid equal competition clause) then those revenues must be given to NorthLands for facility improvements and NOT be directed towards general revenues or be applied to the City portion of the costs.

There should probably be many more points, but the bottom line is this deal must be good for the taxpayers FIRST, with the Katz Group as a "second". Unless of course, KG wants to fund the entire project in which case it would be his building, his revenue, his tenants, etc.

So where does the SNOW come into place? Well, many think Council has been carefully crafting this project so that when it does come time to vote on a bylaw to borrow the funds, the citizens of Edmonton will be in a nasty weather situation in order to inhibit as much as possible, a citizen created plebiscite.

And why do we know this? Well, in the past... Mayor Mandel has made it very clear that the citizens of this city are simply not allowed to speak out. Our voices do not count. Only the voice of King Katz is allowed.

And with that said... election 2013 is just around the corner, where everyone will most certainly have their opportunity to speak... loud... and clear.

Perhaps after the 2013 election, the RCMP can be called in to investigate the breach of trust of many of the current members of Council. Because for sure, if this current deal actually gets put through... well... you decide.

70,000th tweet of mine to post this. And I bet the people of this city have spoken many times more, to say this deal sucks. Did I mention? Election 2013 is just around the corner...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dear Daryl Katz

I recently read your "interview/statement" titled "All bets are off" on the Edmonton Journals website. And I have to say your whining is most impressive.

Rather than having the balls to come back to Edmonton and actually sit down in front of media and the citizens of this city, you continue to hide your face. You would rather give fuel to the slanted and biased commentary of the Journal's David Staples, in the hopes that we, the citizens of this city, will buy into your line of marketing.

Yet it would seem that more and more people all the time are having a bigger and bigger issue with your demands for corporate welfare.

As part of your marketing ploy (some say it's more of a scam) you try to touch us with your personal life by letting us know that your wife thinks you are crazy.

Katz said he chose to speak up about stalled negotiations because, “there’s a lot at stake and people in Edmonton need to understand the full picture.”
You say you want us to understand the full picture, yet you don't tell the full truth on the full picture, do you. Your choice is to continue to obfuscate the real facts. And to be honest, you are acting like a spoiled child having a temper tantrum by threatening to hold your breath until you die. And you know what? We don't care anymore.

You say that having taxpayers put in $350 million dollars is unfair and totally counter productive. You want more. As a matter of fact, you want taxpayers to pay every penny, and then graciously give you every cent of revenue. I suspect you might find that you and your wife are getting to be the only ones who think you should be placed on a pedestal... But since you want to take money, how about lets face off on this line...

Terming the CRL a “gold mine for the city,” Katz said it might produce more than $2 billion in revenue, and could be used as a source for the operating subsidy.
 Let's be perfectly clear here, the CRL is nothing more than a program that shifts taxes and education taxes, away from their intended debts. So if 45 million dollars in taxes went to services and education, then 45 million dollars more will have to be raised to replace those funds diverted by the CRL. And that is double dipping taxpayers. Not only the residents of Edmonton but indeed all taxpayers in Alberta will see increases, just so you can put money into your pocket. The money you take from our pocket. And guess what... chances are the province won't even approve this CRL because of all of the political outcrying that will happen. And they certainly don't want to cause a rift with taxpayers by gently sliding an extra $100 million to make up the current shortfall. Which we know will not be enough anyway, because these projects never ever come in on budget.

Oh yes, speaking of the CRL, lets remember this "loan" is only good for 20 years, regardless of what arrangements you make. The Alberta Government dictates this money must be recovered in full within 20 years. Then it is 100% due and payable.

The only difference between you and Peter Pocklington, is Peter sold out the players to make money. You sir, are selling out all taxpayers to make money. Including the poor and those on fixed incomes.

You may think you are Robin Hood... however many people believe you are nothing more than a robbing hoodlum.

Yes, you have a choice. Cancel this entire deal, and come back with one where you use YOUR money to build YOUR palace. And then you can proudly keep every penny it makes. Or... try to move the team. Good luck with getting the NHL to agree to that. Maybe better yet, why don't we the taxpayers, just pay you $200 million and buy the team. That way, WE get to keep all the profits. After all, WE ARE paying all of the costs anyway.

You have bitten the hand that feeds you. And to be blunt, we simply don't want you around anymore.

If you think taxpayers are furious now, just wait... Both civic and provincial politicians are getting ear fulls over this. And no one wants to have around politicians that do not work for the people.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I Call BS on the Chamber of Commerce

I get that the Chamber of Commerce has a job to do, part of which is to promote Edmonton and business related things in Edmonton... but when you do this in a sly underhanded way, it makes one ponder on exactly what kind of respect the organization deserves.

On Sept 6th, Andrea Sands from the Edmonton Journal "reported" on a story where the Chamber is warning of "massive setbacks" if the proposed downtown arena is not built.

Apparently the Chamber doesn't care about what the cost is to taxpayers. They don't care that their will have to be a tax increase to all citizens in the city, and all residents of the province, just so a billionaire (who according to the Alberta Venture magazine, apparently grossed 14 billion dollars in the last 2 years) can literally nail taxpayers with every cent used to build this palace.

The same billionaire that will collect every cent of revenue from concerts and events, and every penny of rent from every tenant that would occupy his personal palace.

The people are not stupid. The world economy is in a dump. Forcing taxpayers to pay for this, when all over North America the same things have been tried before only to end in disaster...

Who the hell do you think you are trying to fool us into believing that this will be different? Shame on you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hello Quebec

A political change hit the province of Quebec yesterday. To be honest, I have not followed the politics of that province, but I thought I would take a moment to pass on some personal thoughts. With all due respect of course.

Quebec appears to be a proud province, especially when it comes to culture related topics. One should never object to people being proud, in theory. The concern I have is the way the political system in Quebec has been pandered to (for lack of a better word) by Ottawa.

Canada is a large country, with a diverse population of all types. And all types must be respected.

The other provinces in Canada have given up a lot (especially Alberta when it comes to transfer payments) to support the rest of Canada, and both the Ontario and Quebec governments seem to think they can put their hand out, and keep on taking.

My impression for hearing various discussions from many people across Canada, is people are tired of giving, when the end result seems to end up slapping you in the face for what you have done.

The world economics is clearly dictating that in order to survive, people must work together, and be mindful of the others affected. Biting the hand that feeds you is no longer acceptable.

Food for thought.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Reporting by the Media

We look to the media to provide accuracy and honesty, hopefully with as much detail as possible. I am sure some stories told deserve way more time than given, but when you only have 10 or 15 minutes to deliver the day's high lights .. well, it is what it is, right?

With today's "plugged in world" (and do note kiddies, not everyone can afford to be plugged in or even wants to be plugged in), after we hear media stories we often jump on to the net to find out more. And what they say is true... not everything you read on the internet is factual or unbiased.

I happened to be taking a break from twitter today, came back in to discover a non-stop rant and rag over a story that CTV Edmonton did on a tweet by an Edmonton Police Service constable involved in a social media experiment (Linda Hoang article here).

To be honest, I am not sure what the real issue is here. Looking at the webcast of this story, there doesn't seem to be a willingness by the station to smear anyone... only an interest in letting you know what they are hearing.

Imagine if you were the News Director, and someone called in or sent a message of some form saying "Hey, did you guys see this? Isn't it a little weird for a cop to be showing something like that?". Maybe you look, maybe you don't. Maybe you start getting a few more calls, more posts, more emails, more tweets... so at some point you look. Its your job to do that.

I mean, there must have been some interest. The station spent the time to show the situation to several of those in the general public, and asked for a response. And people gave their opinions...

Whats the problem? Media have a responsibility to provide you with information. It's up to you to determine what, if anything, you want to do with that information.

For God's sake, don't beat the messenger!

Tonight in twitter (yes, it's Friday now, I'm still living Thursday) I tweeted about how people are so two faced. This does require more of an explanation, so here goes...

The ranting some people are doing on this topic is like... unreal. And THIS is such a trivial issue after all... Where were you, when important things that really mattered, needed to be talked about? Where was the huge outcry...

And no, I am not going to get into specifics about situations or people. Thousands of things pass by us each and every day in twitter. A fair number of those deal with injustices and really bad shit all over the world. ALL over the world. Quite a few of those also affect Canada or Alberta or Edmonton, and/or people we love and trust.

Things WAY more important than this story. So I ask again...

Where were you, when important things that really mattered, needed to be talked about? Where was the huge outcry...

Monday, July 16, 2012

More of the same...

As things draw closer for Edmonton City Council on the arena project, more things are becoming clearer.

The latest document provided by the City, I am presuming at the request of Kimmie, details "updated" information on the effects of the CRL zone proposed.

One thing people seem to have noticed about Kim, is she constantly saying how great of a job she does and all of the hard questions she asks. The other thing people seem to notice, is Kim seems to think that asking a person in Grade 3 "how much is one plus one?" ... is a tough question.

Putting that aside, and if you take a semi-close look at the document, it is all speculative Rah Rah at best. The majority of anything from this, is based on the promises that Katz and other developers are making about their future contributions.

But do you trust Katz? Not me... he came out swinging saying how he was going to do all of this and all of that... only to end up with little to none of what he implied as being factual. Just like he implied he was going to put $100 million of his money in, when in fact he is putting in taxpayers money... that he is borrowing from the City... and isn't really responsible to pay back. More on that in a bit..

Looking closer at the document you see "While the forecast has been updated to reflect the impact of this new development, it must be noted that development permits have not yet been secured nor are they guaranteed. The ADG Group has advised that their plans are contingent upon securing an anchor tenant for their proposed office tower, and that they will not proceed until such time as an anchor tenant is secured."

We are also hearing that it will take 10 years before any payback will be had, which means the entire value of the CRL will only have 10 more years to actually cover the costs. You see, CRL's are only for a maximum of 20 years, and any funds directed towards that must be paid immediately and in full... But what I love most about the CRL, is it magically holds levels of taxation paid for services (fire, police, infrastructure etc) to zero increases. I mean really... costs are certainly not going to increase for the next 20 years for these areas, because.. well.. they are magical... I think the tooth fairy even said so, so it must be true.

As for the "not paying it back" part, remember... the entire framework of this agreement terminates the second Katz sells the Oilers. This ride at tax payers expense, some say, is nothing more than taking the money and running. And in a normal world in a normal time with normal people, many would consider that to be criminal.

This is all about developers helping developers to make money. And clearly not one of them cares they are putting tens of thousands of seniors and fixed income and low income people at risk.

This is the type of City Council, and Administration people... that you really want to be in charge?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Whats the rush?

You would think people are dying because they don't have a hospital or medical center to get to.

You would think people are dying because the highway is too narrow and needs twinning.

So... what IS the rush to get the PROPOSED arena built in downtown? Well, the marketing folks are trying to get you to think "hey, if we wait, costs are going to skyrocket! We can't afford to wait!"

Meh.

Many people have said that the real reasons are... in no particular order...

1) The current lease at Northlands runs out then, so they have no place to play.

2) The current least at Northlands runs out and Katz HATES them with a passion, he will do ANYTHING to get away from them.

3) There will be an election in 2013 for City Council, and the deal has to be completed and signed before then, so that the next group of people coming in (and I strongly speculate a lot of the current people WILL be on their way out) will be bound by a contract signed with Katz... one with severe penalties for breaking it.

Personally, I think items 2 and 3 are the more logical choices.

Most humorous in all of this, will be watching multiple council members flaunt the huge numbers from their latest website survey... you know the one... where the choice you wanted to really make was missing from the options available... the one where the questions were slanted and biased towards a positive outcome.

Close to being totally opposite of any other survey done, no matter if it was just online polls by various people or groups... or completely unbiased professional services.

Meh... Ignorance is bliss, isn't it :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Open Letter to the Government of the Province of Alberta


An Open Letter to the Government of the Province of Alberta
Attention: Honourable Premier Allison Redford
Re: Taxpayer concerns

Over the past several months, I have been talking with and listening to many citizens all over Alberta, who have been asking questions and expressing concerns over the proposed Edmonton Downtown Arena District project. The funding plans for this project will have a large impact on both the residents of Edmonton and all taxpayers in Alberta, who feel strongly that their voices are not being heard by Edmonton City Council.

With global economic conditions in their current state, taxpayer funds should be directed towards those things required to keep society stable. Alberta residents are literally funding the vast majority of this development yet will receive no profits. All profits are being diverted to a billionaire with a reported net worth of an estimated $2.8 billion dollars.[i]

I urge the Government of Alberta to deny funds from the Community Revitalization Levy program that have been requested towards this project. The CRL is nothing more than a tax shift that future generations will be required to pick up. All over North America these types of projects have been pitched to taxpayers, and in the end they almost always fail. The New York Times reported on June 26th 2012 the following:[ii]

“Surprised local taxpayers from Stockton, Calif., to Scranton, Pa., are finding themselves obligated for parking garages, hockey arenas and other enterprises that can no longer pay their debts.”

There is no reason to believe that the City of Edmonton’s proposal will have some secret miracle attached to it that none of the others have had.

Recently, Councilor Kerry Diotte initiated an informal survey with respect to this issue, with the following results:

“We found that 68% of respondents want a new arena built in Edmonton. However, a significant number tell us they either want a new financial framework than the one currently proposed, or don't want a new arena built at all. The majority of respondents also indicated the City should not consider using provincial MSI money to fund the remaining $100 million.”

Additional Issues

The MGA (Municipal Government Act) states that 10% of the population is required for requesting a petition, but only eligible voters are allowed to sign that. According to the City of Edmonton website, the last civic election only showed a turnout of 33.4% of voters. Less than 200,000 people out of almost 600,000 eligible, suggesting people feel their voices do not count.

With the population exceeding 800,000 people, the petition would require more than 80,000 signatures. Since the trend is for people to not care, how can these numbers realistically ever be achieved? The rules need to be changed in order to show citizens that their voices actually do count.

I would suggest a different formula is needed. Using Edmonton as an example, maybe something like 25% of the last election turnout would be a more workable number. (Example: 25% of 200,000 voters require 50,000 eligible voters to sign the petition.) Again, these petitions are only to request that a vote be held on the matter. Also, petitions filed by residents should supersede those filed “after the fact” by Council.

Additionally, I understand the Province is looking to make some changes prior to the 2013 civic election in Edmonton, with respect to going to a 4 year term from a 3 year term. I see this as an opportunity for the Province to prove to the residents that they do listen.

If there ever was a time to change the Elections Act to include clauses that deal with ‘election promises’, this would be it. Those running for public office must clearly understand that the things they promise must be honored. There is zero tolerance in the defense of “Oh, I really didn’t understand the ….. before I said that”. If you do not understand something then you should not be talking about it and making promises.

Politicians must understand they have a huge responsibility in managing taxpayer dollars. When our basic service requirements for safe roads and infrastructures are being put on the backburner in order for taxpayer dollars to be diverted for the “nice to have” things, something is terribly wrong with the system. It may only be a dollar here and a dollar there but if you only have 100 dollars and there are 150 projects all taking one dollar from you…

There is a reason why the global world economy is in the state it is, we do not need to be adding to the problem. Everyone has to budget, and live within their means. We are not in a time where we can afford the luxuries.

As a final note, I have heard there will be discussions with the major cities, where one of the items is dealing with allowing cities the power of taxation. I strongly object to this, especially considering the current City Council in Edmonton. It is my belief they do not understand the impact their decisions will have on the future, and just expect taxpayers to keep handing money over. Allowing the imposition of even more taxes is just wrong.

Thank you for your understanding in these matters.


Gary McCallum

Cc: Provincial parties and Edmonton City Councilors

Fax to: Premiers Office 780-427-1349
            Alberta Liberals 780-427-3697 780-414-1125
            Alberta NDP 780-415-0701
            Wild Rose 780-638-3506

Email to: linda.sloan@edmonton.ca; kim.krushell@edmonton.ca; dave.loken@edmonton.ca; ed.gibbons@edmonton.ca; karen.leibovici@edmonton.ca; jane.batty@edmonton.ca; tony.caterina@edmonton.ca; ben.henderson@edmonton.ca; bryan.anderson@edmonton.ca; don.iveson@edmonton.ca; kerry.diotte@edmonton.ca; amarjeet.sohi@edmonton.ca; Stephen.Mandel@edmonton.ca



[i] www2.macleans.ca/2012/03/15/can-you-spare-100-million/
[ii]www.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/business/surprised-taxpayers-are-paying-for-bonds-they-did-not-vote-on.html

Bad words, bad!!

The Internet has come a long way since it was made "available" for general public consumption. Believe it or not, there was life and communications and a LOT of fun, long before the Internet.

Back in the BBS days (no... it doesn't mean 'bunch of bull".. it means Bulletin Board System) of dial up modems, many systems existed where you could dial in, and be a part of a live group of participants. BBS systems were expensive to maintain, because you needed a dedicated modem and phone line for each connection you wanted to make. Here in Edmonton, there were systems that had 16 or more lines, allowing for some pretty fun stuff to happen.

There were "tele-conferences", where you could enter a chat room... full of people and full of "action" commands. These commands would allow you to do simple one word actions, that would cause a full string of (often visually colorful) words to be presented to everyone, often directed with the names of the sender and (optional) intended receiver. A few examples might be "hug" or "smack", which could expand out to be words such as "Person A just gave a great big hug to Person B" or "Person A is looking to smack someone upside the head!". The text sent out was often colorized, making the atmosphere a lot more fun for the people participating.

Many "modules" existed as well, so people could do e-mail, subscribe to "lists" of information servers, even play assorted Dungeons and Dragons types of games. Take my word, the types of things you could do at the time was pretty impressive, IF the SYSOP (system operator) of the board could afford to purchase the modules.

And yes... just like the Internet of today... back then the "sexual" comments would be flying. Albeit most of the BBS systems were certainly "clean" in nature, the concept of meeting people for sex, existed back then just as much as it does today.

Most people would take the comments in stride, and often answer back with cute sayings... most people didn't take offense because all of the discussions were generally out in the open.Although I am sure some people did "hook up" (probably just as they do today), it wasn't the nature of the beast to JUST be sex. There was SO much more going on. Even to the point where people from all over the world would get together at various locations and camp outs, just to meet other people. Yes.. I said ALL over the world.

One of THE most common phrases back in the good old days was "Don't worry, I have a condom on my modem for safe modem sex". You had to be there to appreciate the fun times, and people understood back then that it wasn't a sexual comment... it was a way of saying "bring it on"... the fun.. not the sex.

Over time, as the BBS systems died out and the Internet took over... hardware routers were available that would stop assorted bad traffic from reaching your computer and the phrase changed in meaning... "having a condom on" would often mean that you have a router in place, to stop the bad traffic and viruses from infecting your system. It was never sexual back then, and the phrase is not sexual today.

Environments like "Twitter", with the limit of 140 characters, make describing these types of things much more difficult, and prissy people tend to get their noses in a snot to quickly, because they jump to conclusions.

Hurry up and slow down folks. Especially in twitter. Just because YOU took something in one manner does not mean that the person who said it, meant it in that manner.

As George Carlin was so quick to point out... they are only words.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Porn and Social Media

A while back, Twitter was having problems in dealing with porn spammers. They would create random accounts and then "mention" you in a tweet with some silly words and include a link for you to click on. This generally would take you to a porn site or at times, a site with malicious software running on it that would potentially affect your system with virus or other nasty things.

Folks put up with this for months, until Twitter finally figured out how to data mine the new account signups, and prevented them from performing their wares. .. And as typical as spammers are, they have found a new approach. They are now making accounts, with clear links to pornography as part of their profile, make some innocent tweets, and then "follow" you. .. A very subtle change in operations that appears to not fall within twitter's Terms of Use. It seems that twitter is concerned with the spam side, but other than not allowing nudity in avatars or background profile pictures, anything goes. .. At least Facebook has rules, albeit they get anally stupid in classifying breast feeding pictures as "adult" content.

Twitter has no configuration settings that define the control (or lack of) over adult content. You can't say yes or no. The only options given are to block or block and report spam.

Let me say, I am not a prude in any way, shape or form. I love sex. More so, I love the art of making love even more. Whatever two (or more) adults decide to do in private as consenting adults is up to them. Play with the candlestick in the library, use the rope in the kitchen... whatever turns your crank. I could literally care less. As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks. The key of course, always being "consenting adults". And if that includes watching or making porn... well, tell someone who cares.

The users of twitter have only one method to let the owners know when there are problems, and that is to mention it in the timeline (usually using #twitter or @twitter) and hope that enough people do the same. My choice is to define why, so the past week or two, as the new round of adult spammers has hit, I have done the "block and report" side, and then tweeted that more porn spammers have been blocked. Naturally, I never mention the accounts. But twitter knows...

Someone that I once had respect for, then got into a discussion with me saying that I was naive to think that kids can't access porn online. But this is not about being "naive" at all, it's about being directly marketed. If I choose to visit a porn site then that is doing so upon my own desire. To having someone spam me with follows, with the express and only intent to visit their porn site, is not my choice. Of course, I don't have to click on that link, but it is being directly marketed to me in words quite clear.

My concern on this, is for the kids that use twitter. Yes, it's all over the internet. It is crazy to think kids don't see it. But does that make it right, to have it handed to them out of the blue?

Most certainly times are different for parents. Education is the key. When it comes to things like drugs, we can be in there like dirty shirts and talk with them at early ages. They don't have the wisdom yet to understand it but we try. Yet when it comes to sex... many parents dread that birds and bees talk. Trying to determine when the 'right time' is to start those discussions, if they even ever happen... Discussions on having those discussions and what to say and how to say it (or ignore it) are the types that can cause riots.

I respect your right to agree or disagree on how to handle it, when to handle it, or even if to handle it...

What I can't respect is to be told that you have a right to your opinion, and at the same time I have to get off my high horse with a need to self psycho analyze my supposed issues.

I have to wonder what those issues would be. I have never objected to males being with males, or females being with females, or males being with females. It has never bothered me if your choice of jollies is to suck on toes, lick hairy arm pits, pee on your partner, bring out the whips and chains... They may not be my choice but as long as you are consenting adults.....

Kids are not adults. I happen to think that kids don't need the added pressures. I know I can't sweep them all up in my arms and protect them from the nastiness of the world. And honestly, I don't have the desire either.

Other social media sites seem to have rules related to adult content. Twitter appears to be one of those exceptions. I tweet about it, because I believe a responsible social media system should have rules of some kind. Not because I am off my rocker (in my opinion I am not), not because I happen to think sex is the greatest thing since sliced tea...

I do it because in my opinion... in my belief... it's the right thing to do.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dear John

Today you start a new fight over cancer.

I know you are protective of the details and I respect that.

You say you want good wishes and fingers crossed, and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt I have been doing that for a long time. And I will not stop.

Your passion for caring ... is simply outstanding.

We need more of you in this world.

I look forward to more coffee time, my friend. The world needs you to win this battle.

Man hugs to @lonesomebilydad.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Outlaw ROBO calls

If there is one thing made very clear during the Alberta Provincial Election in 2012, is that those robo calls suck. And that is perhaps way too polite of a way of saying it.

These calls can be information based, or survey based. And they are well worth it, cost wise, to the folks trying to mass market something. However my right to privacy and to not be harassed, far outweighs marketers rights to information at reduced costs.

When you get these types of calls, you have NO clue if they are who they say they are... And if they want answers to questions, you have no right to offer anything other than a selection of canned answers, usually tuned to give results the caller wants.

I want to know who I am talking to, I want to question what it is about.

And I do NOT want to be hung up on if I don't give an answer you don't like... such as "Are you going to vote for 'x' party?" and you say no, the phone gets slammed down. Excuse me but that is just freaking rude. And I am tired of it.

Change the laws...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

And more Marketing

Recently the City of Edmonton announced how PCL was contracted to do "stuff" for the proposed downtown arena, and with the Provincial election under way the blog posts are appearing all over.

Recently, Mack Male posted some interesting items under a title of More power and money to cities in Alberta? I don’t believe you! In his blog, he quotes the various parties positions on Provincial help for cities, and then suggests that what those parties said doesn't hold some form of "truth factor" with respect to the arena.

With all due respect to Mack... the parties stances on not supporting taxpayers funds going into a billionaires pocket, is 100% smack on.

Now... if Katz was actually putting the majority of the funds into this project from his own pocket, and wanted some assistance to make up the rest, then there would be a valid cause for discussion. However as time has gone on, the citizens of Edmonton have come to the conclusion that we have been hood winked by the process, what we were told Katz was going to be putting in has been whittled down to a few bucks here and there on an annual basis rather than up front, and the City will have to borrow the money for him to "pay back" instead. And then there is the issue of the City going into an "advertisement" agreement which for the most part almost totally negates any pennies Katz will be putting in.

In the mean time, the City is forging ahead with plans to attempt to use the magical abstraction of taking money from one hand and putting it into another hand and calling it "new" money. Or, as some say... its the "CRL" side. The mystical and magical projection of future taxes INCLUDING the educational portion of taxes, being used to pay for this.

And of course, no one in this supposed CRL zone will ever have the need for City services, like the rest of us pay taxes for. No need to cost out things like fire or police responses. There will be no fires or crime that will consume tax dollars, so we can divert all those new and 'adjusted' taxes into the arena. And we most certainty have all of the money in the world up our yin-yang for the rest of the citizens of the Province to add more money from the robbed educational component. Remember, if the City steals a million dollars of education tax per year (or whatever it works out to) the Province will just raise the rate that all taxpayers pay, to cover the loss.

Let us also not be blindsided by the City saying this will "only" be $450 million dollars. They promise there will be no cost over runs... (yeah, right... just like they promised there would be no dollars spent until all of the funding is in place... and I am guessing that at least $100 million has already been spent).

Since when has a politician ever told the truth? Clearly the City of Edmonton has not. And the provincial parties can see the writing on the wall. After all, they are politicians too and can smell the bullshit here because they are all too familiar with the smell.

So for those who take a political stance and say "no" to the arena funding... kudos. There is no valid reason in the world for taxpayers to be literally funding 100% of this arena project, and not get one penny of revenue from it. Remember folks, Katz can walk away from this at ANY time, by simply selling the team.

Like sports owners never sell teams, right?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Political Marketing Part 2

I didn't envision myself adding on to the previous post, however too many things are coming out, especially within the twitter side of social media, and I see people falling for the trap and not thinking.

In Edmonton, examples of past traps have been City Council coming out of the blue to do something that was never envisioned or discussed or talked about during an election campaign as in "I have this agenda". Because if we actually knew about that agenda chances are we never would have voted for that person. Mayor Mandel wanted to close the airport... many say for personal and business reasons for his developer buddies... but how do you do that?

Wait until you are elected, bring it up and push it through... is how. But use all kinds of reasons that make no sense, just as long as you follow the letter of the law. The logic of actually doing the right thing never applies after all, as long as you follow the law. And Mandel did. He held the required public hearings. The ones where he yawned, fiddled, paid no attention, got pissed when valid arguments were presented, tried to silence people, etc. And then ignored what was said and did what he wanted anyway.

The media fell for it, with probably the worst offender being the use of the Edmonton Journal "columnists" using their clout on front page of section 2... having opinions being presented that looked like news articles. Of course, the Journals comments were "but they have their picture shown so that identifies them as a columnist and not a reporter". Oh.. really? I wonder how many people actually knew that. I certainly did not. Due note, they continue this practice to this day, and don't have the balls to actually PUT the words "opinion column" in the paper. I wonder why... it seems so simple (and correct) to do...

And then the next election comes along and mysteriously out of the blue Edmonton suddenly needs a new arena, spouting that it's all just talk, don't worry, nothing will happen until all of the funds are in place and blah blah blah.Strange how that changed along the way huh?

And now in the provincial election there is this thing coming up about how some parties will do the "free vote" thing, and "but if everyone has a free vote then how can an agenda be sneaked in?" ..

"Yes Assembly, I vote FOR this legislation because the majority of my constituents have expressed their opinion on this matter to be this way".

On the surface, it is what it is right? But what about under the surface? How can you possibly KNOW what they are saying is indeed the truth? And if its one of those hotly contested issues then all they have to say is "it was close, but 55% of my constituents said to vote this way". And you have no proof nor could you ever hope to get proof.

In Edmonton's case, we have a council that voted to close a critical need airport for medivac purposes, and a spineless provincial government that never had the balls to step in and say "Hey wait a minute... you are not allowed to close the most critical runway on that airport that medivac requires". Consequently a baby from Grande Prairie died, most likely as a direct result of that runway not been available when needed. I suspect there is more but of course, we aren't allowed to know because of privacy.

And we may very well be stuck with literally a 100% tax payer funded arena complex, where a billionaire rakes in 100% of the profits.

I see no party standing up to say the "laws" need to be changed to serve the public interests. Perhaps that's because they want those laws to remain to protect their private interests. Especially when it comes to "free votes".

I know it hurts to open your eyes and think. Perhaps it's time to take a little pain, for your children's futures.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Political Marketing

I know this is a crazy thing to say, but I've been spending some serious time mentally analyzing a huge range of commercials on tv the past 6 months or so. Some have been pretty snappy on the surface, and honestly offer you something you might be interested in. Others are designed to attract your attention to cute or sexy or "omg how adorable was that". And some are just clearly outright deceptive in design.... but only if you take the time to think about it.

And this is what marketing people do. Do note, this blog post is NOT about bashing anyone in the marketing profession, they are hired to do a job. How they proceed is based on the client's wishes and the amount of money they wish to spend on the job.

I am sure everyone can relate to the Telus ads. All cute creatures, designed to entice the animal lovers and kids and look "oh so hip". Have you noticed, the majority of these ads will typically feature things in sets of three? Watch any of the design type shows, and you always here that "three" is the magic number for balance, eye catching, etc etc. So the question here is... do you want to be trapped into a 3 year contract (geez, that number just came up again), with a company who wrote that contract to be totally in their favor? Have you read the fine print? Do you have to sign the contract to get things installed... only to find out you are on "twisted pair" lines and you will never get the speeds promised? Did you read the part that they will do the best they can, but there are no promises? .. Oh, what about those free perks and equipment? *cough*.. free, because the cost plus profit are already built into the cost of that 3 year plan.  .. Oh... seriously.. you honestly thought they were free?

Another spiffy one is the Enmax commercial. You know.. why sign with anyone else? Why get a contract? After all, you can easily cancel with one months notice, right? And the dude... his horse... the outdoorsy feeling. The cute smile. God, you just HAVE to go for that, right? Well, if you don't sign a contract for a fixed rate, they clearly know prices are going to go nowhere but UP. So with no contract, in the end, you will probably pay a lot more and THEY aren't locked into that price. And the one months notice thing? Well, how many times have you moved, and remembered at the start of the month to give 30 days notice? And if your billing period isn't the start of the month? Or... you get the pleasure of getting out a week or two early from the old place, then what. Yep.. YOU are responsible for the entire bill for 30 days. Pretty cool huh? Even with other utilities, cable, etc... most will generally drop you with a couple of days notice without an issue. NOT SO here.

Ok ok.. politics... that's what drew you here in the first place.

History has proven we get promises up the ying-yang and then. You know.

So why in the world would you think this election will be any different? Oh sure, the people are more involved but that just means what "they" tell you will be much more guarded. In concept, we simply do not trust. And when it comes to the Wild Rose party, remember the issues. Who do you hear from? The candidates seem to be under a gag order. I've heard from many who were within their system and left, who all say the same thing. And generally not good things. We have religion and abortion and private health care and backing from what many say are the "big oil" folks. Oh yes, and the promise to send YOU money too! Free money, as it were. And to that point I can only say "remember what Klein did"... sold our storage and gas sites, and then allowed private enterprise to control them. Remember, ATCO would buy surplus natural gas in the summer, to give better rates in the winter. And does that happen anymore? Nope.

And the PC party, promising to be SO good to the people. Um... like you have been in the past?  Arg, I don't even want to go there, I'm not smart enough to co-relate all of those things.

THE bottom line here is this. Are you going to continue to be sucked in by these ads, keeping your head buried in the sand because its just TOO hard to think about your families future? Is it not time to actually *think* about the consequences?

For me, I would love to see a minority government. The main reason is that no matter what party you choose to deal with, they have either little experience or they have too many that you just can't trust. Clearly the PC folks have the experience but I believe they lack the trust factor. The Wild Rose have little experience and from the looks of things they have a very low trust factor as well. The Alberta Party is a wishful dream that will make little inroads.

That leaves the NDP with Mason and the Liberals with Sherman. Both struggling to stand up strong, both with experience.

To have either the PC's or the Wild Rose in a majority, would in my opinion, destroy Alberta. Politicians need to be taught a lesson... and a minority government would at least give all citizens the ability to be heard. We definitely have not been heard nor will be heard by a majority win.

Choose wisely, think with caution and wisdom...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Election 2012

In the next few months Alberta will be holding a provincial election, and I have been pondering what to do and who to vote for. For me, the option to not do anything at all,simply isn't viable. I need to be a part of the process, and I can say that I have never failed to vote.

I have learned not to trust, however. Or maybe I should say I have been forced to learn not to trust. Which pretty much sums up how politicians and the political process has evolved. It doesn't seem to make any difference if it's civic, or provincial, or federal.

I have also learned that every party at every level, has their political bullies. You know the ones, they lurk around corners, just waiting to pounce on you and make you feel useless and clueless. Or their favorite ploy, they lip off at you, and then never bother to respond back when you start asking some of those "good questions" or making comments about things that they refuse to discuss. But I get the feeling it's because they know you are right, and they are wrong, and they just can't honestly defend themselves or their parties stances on hot issues.

The following is my personal take on things, coming from the experiences I have received over the past few years, combined with discussions and news reports.

Our current ruling PC party... well, they have a new leader, who seems to have come out of the gate making promises of cleanups and reforms. Some of those have been started, some have been "modified" since the original statements, and some are pending. I see several of the current MLA's that are not going to be running again and you have to ask if they are jumping from a sinking ship. There has been some promises of reviewing what MLA's get when they leave... and for the average person they certainly get way more than anyone else ever will in life. And for the most part, very few of them actually deserve it. As a life long resident of Alberta, I am really very tired of these golden hand shakes and huge payouts. It has to stop, and it has to be retroactive. PC party coat tails have been too long, and if you want us as the general public to really believe in you then you need to clean things up. Taking your time to do that, is not acceptable.

Then we have the Wild Rose folks. Mega amounts of talking and making statements. Many of those have been of an arrogant nature to boot. I am not impressed with that, sorry. You folks talk up quite the storm, but from what I have heard from inside sources, your party is all about control. What makes me skeptical and curious at the same time, is the out right refusal to say where your leaders donations have been coming from. We do know you have major backing from the Oil industry... and that tells me you are going to be "beholding" to them, rather than serving the needs of the public.So many other things over time, have come up as well. The stance and internal flipping on health care is a huge concern. I do however, like the fact that you stood up for the City Center Airport remaining to serve the needs of the medical community, and should be enhanced to bring back our "gateway to the north". How the current government ever let the city close down the only practical runway for medivac services is beyond me... Of course, we all remember the baby that died as a result of that decision.

Next would be the Liberals. Quite the tough time in getting off the ground, and while you have tried you haven't really been effective. Of course, being up against a government that has refused to listen to the people in the past, has not been easy. And then along came Raj... maybe a little lippy at times, and apparently has done some things "for effect", rather than for honesty. I heard that those boxes of documents being hauled out of the car "for show", were really FOR show, and that the boxes were mostly empty with papers being taped so they hung outside for dramatic effect. I don't know how true that is, but... it does make me wonder about the credibility factor for sure.

And then, there is the NDP. Oh, if Grant were only alive... Anyway, they have been trying like the Libs have been, and of course have been running into the same problems. It is what it is, right? But, there is that "attitude" thing again. Ever since I started diving into politics several years ago, I have always stated to every party and every person... "I do not care what party you are with. If you have a good idea then I will willingly stand by your side and fight for it". Yet when I met Brian for the first time during the public protest event over at City Hall about the arena, and shook his hand... and then mentioned that (at the time) I was a member of the Alberta Party... What did you do? You looked down your nose at me and turned away. One never knows but maybe the old "tit for tat" thing will come at election time.

And finally, that leaves the Alberta Party. Above all, you folks have taught me that you are no different than any of the other parties out there. You scream about the "Big Listen" and imply that you actually listen. And I will say that indeed, you do. But only as long as it suits your internal Board of Directors directions. As much as I politely tried to bring the City Center Airport issues up, I was ignored. I have already posted on how I was told it would be discussed, so I won't bother bringing that up again. And I fully expect someone from the party to respond and say "it is a City issue"... Well, maybe the Airport is on City land, but the medical side of that service is under provincial control. You should have stood up to the plate, for the people, to make sure that service stayed until something *acceptable* was in place. You knew about the baby's death as well, and said nothing.That just isn't acceptable.

With all of this said, I will do full disclosure here. Yes, I bought membership in the Alberta Party. I paid my 10 bucks, and because of the PC race a while back, prices were dropped to 5 bucks, and now I have had a year added on. I could turn it in and say 'screw you', but that would be 10 bucks wasted. You could say 'screw you' and cancel it and send me my money back. Meh... like I really care. And yes, I did also buy a membership in the PC party during the 'race', because I wanted to have a SAY in the selection of the replacement for Eddie.

In closing, I will state at this point, I have no clue on the party or the person I will be voting for when the time comes. My desires are for a government that rules for the 99% and not the 1%. I would lean towards a party that promises to create recall legislation for both civic and provincial politicians, and makes the process of doing official complaints and/or referendum type rules easier. For example, the legislation now says you need a certain percentage of signatures, but includes all residents including children. Yet children are not allowed to sign a petition. Logic says this is just wrong. And I would lean towards a party that would severely cuff industry upside the head for things like price fixing. You know.. like gas... and power... all in the name of profits.

I AM the 99%. And I count.My numbers are growing, which could make your numbers shrink faster than you could ever dream. If you can't be open, and honest... then you need to leave. Sooner is better.