Friday, October 31, 2014

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

I think that Halloween came earlier this week for some of us.  Scary thought that three of our best were sent packing in Monday's election. Certainly no treat for many of us.. 

It's one thing to win an election by presenting a better platform and ideas. Another thing altogether when some win by way of a well-financed hit campaign that has gone on for years.


By this time next year, this will all have been forgotten - except by a few.  The promises of a bright future for Fort Erie will be tarnished by the reality that governing, even in a small town, is a difficult thing to do and those who are elected to the task must be responsive, knowledgeable and accountable.  The Four were held accountable for their every action; they were judged harshly by certain groups in the community; but they did not have the whereforall (™Rick Shular) to tell their side of the story. They did not have the money to put up a couple of billboards; they did not have the money to put out a slanderous flyer; they didn't have the money to file frivolous and vexatious lawsuits and they certainly didn't have the clout to turn the local press in their favour.  

So the victors can enjoy their victories and promise that they will "work together" to bring jobs and revenue to the town through aggressive development and help to business. Good for them. They certainly have the Chamber of Commerce on their side. We can only hope that they will keep their lofty promises.

Let's see what they do with their mandate. Let's see if they are able to keep the next tax increase at a record low. Let's see if they deliver a 0% water bill increase. Let's see if they care enough about the people to protect the shoreline. You see, they have a tough act to follow. The voters didn't realize the good points of this council because they were misinformed and influenced by a very well-orchestrated campaign against The Four. But this council achieved a lot and they were met with resistance from the mayor and his flunkies every step of the way.

Meanwhile, we can take comfort in the fact that one of The Four made it through and the new mayor will not tolerate the kind of behaviour that has marked many a council meeting.  We can also smile that Stephen Passero's dream of domination of the town has been derailed and his mentor, Doug Martin will finally go off the stage.  

The three who lost will be fine. At some point, they will feel relieved that others will now feel the heat from a demanding electorate who never seem satisfied. 

And, for the people of Fort Erie: let's hope that the new council lives up to its hype.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WHAT'S HAPPENING?

I can't understand why the number of hits to my blog has increased so dramatically of late.  Even after the election. Makes me wonder just who is out there reading The Strand Blog.  Perhaps it is trolls looking for evidence for another or to continue the lawsuit against me. Perhaps it is trolls looking to see what I'll say now that all but one of The Four lost their elections. Perhaps it is just people curious to see what "the other side" has to say.

I suppose I should be encouraged by this, but I'm not.  If all those hits represented people who agree with what I published, our guys would have won handily.  Even if only half agreed, they would still have won.

So, that leads me to conclude that my blog had zero influence on the election.  Hard to accept that, but I have no other explanation as to why so many visited my blog, yet the people I endorsed, save one, lost their elections.

Can someone explain this to me?  

As Shirley Grace says, "There's a book in all this somewhere."  I feel that there is a shoe still hovering over town, waiting to drop on our heads.  That is why some of us are going over all the videos, papers and minutia from the past few years and are trying to put together a narrative about this town without pity.  Certainly a nice activity for the long, cold months ahead.  You see, we can't let it go because the darkness in this town goes very, very deep and we have tried to shine a light on it. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ONE EGG ROLL AND WON TON SOUP LATER ...

I needed some comfort food after last night. Luckily, I live near our fine Chinese Restaurant in the Beach.  Now I feel better:

While others in town are whooping it up and slapping each other on their backs over the retaking of the Fort Erie Town Council, lots of us are shocked and saddened over the losses incurred by "our guys."

What is really sad that The Four never got much of a chance to show people that they were committed to bringing responsible, good government to Fort Erie. From Day One they were attacked. The campaign against them carried on non-stop for four years resulting in the outcome of yesterday. It is really sad when the local Chamber of Commerce hierarchy gets right into the battle against representatives elected by the people.  I would think they would be more concerned about business opportunities than revenge against election winners.  The same people who will now run our town put out the false narrative that The Four were anti-development and anti-business mainly because members of the council stood up to the egomaniac who runs the EDTC when he disrespected the taxpayers and council on several occasions.  His bad attitude is well-known but many are afraid of him. (Yeah, I know all about that. I was sued by him with taxpayer money.)  

So, the select group went after The Four and anyone who wanted to keep the Bay Beach Properties in the public's hands. And they really went after The Four. They received a great deal of help from the local newspapers, especially from James Culic of Niagara This Week who never let a chance to bash The Four pass him by.  He must be so proud of himself right now along with Kris DubĂ© whose close ties to Doug Martin made it impossible for him to be objective.  Other so-called journalists who promised to cover the full story of the conflict of interest lawsuit but got cold feet, probably because they might lose advertisers - the same people who were at the centre of the lawsuit in the first place.  It is all so incestuous that it makes one ill.  And to think, despite all this, this council was able to do a great many good things.  Lowest tax hike in a decade; replenishment of the reserve fund and lots of improvements to the infrastructure. But the people seldom heard about that in the biased press. No, all they heard about was the dissension, mostly caused by a weak mayor who was still smarting over his razor-thin victory over his challenger in 2010. Council meetings turned into sideshows replete with a bunch of high school bullies making loud, insulting remarks from the back of the room.  The mayor let them carry on.

Then there was the Red Ninja blog that took high school bullying to a whole new level. It even employed the camera talents of a local stalker who has a long history of such behaviour.  But, never mind that. He was useful to them as he enjoyed following people around, taking pictures.  Been doing it for years. Police have quite a file on him already.  He particularly likes to harass women.  

So, very honest and capable men were pilloried in their own town by some of their own neighbours. Because?  Because they were committed to keeping the Bay Beach Properties in the public's hands. 

And because they cared enough about their community to put their names in for election; were elected and then tried to do the job they were elected for. 

Sad day indeed.  Thank you to all four of the councillors and good luck to Don Lubberts. The next four years may be, for him, like the plot of Lord of the Flies, but we all know he'll do just fine.

PS. I will continue to call Kim Zanko and Marina Butler the Chamber Maids as that's where they both gor their start and their support.

NEW COUNCIL MAKE-UP IS A COSMIC JOKE. BUT WE'RE NOT LAUGHING





Councillor Paul Collard offered this to me to use because I'm pretty sure it will be needed over the next little while.  All but one of The Four will not be representing the people of Fort Erie next term.  They've been replaced by a newbie, a Barbie Doll and Lucrezia Borgia.

I would imagine that some members of the Chamber of Commerce are celebrating the win for their side. They managed to do a very thorough job of destroying the reputations of The Four Councillors, starting with Marina Butler's Compliance Audit of the man she has now beaten: John Hill.  Then there were the billboards attributed to Kim Zanko who is now Ward 3 Councillor-elect.  And who can forget the lawsuit filed by Tim Whitfield and funded with help from Marina Butler and some other members of the CofC.

Yeah, that's what some Chamber members think is good for the town, right?  Spend time and money to trash the duly-elected representatives of the people.  Such nice, responsible people. Put up signs; put out a slanderous flyer; fund a frivolous lawsuit; and then campaign on honesty and integrity. It seems to have worked if one believes in honest elections.

We have four years to observe how these new councillors will change Fort Erie for the better.  Pay close attention.  There will be a test on this. In four years.

In the meantime, I'm going to design a flyer and a billboard or two.



Monday, October 27, 2014

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN ORDER TO VOTE



RESULTS!








MAYOR - Wayne Redekop



REGIONAL COUNCILLOR - Annunziata






Ward 1 - George McDermott

Ward 2 - Rick Shular

Ward 3 - Kim Zanko

Ward 4 - Marina Butler

Ward 5 - Don Lubberts

Ward 6 - Chris Knutt

 









Sunday, October 26, 2014

1 DAY - THINK ABOUT IT

In late 2003, I wrote a series of articles about Fort Erie for the Downtowner, a magazine that is now called Niagara Life. At the time, I reported that Fort Erie was on the cusp of greatness, that the planets seemed to have aligned to give Fort Erie a bright future. 

One article centered around the great shoreline and the efforts to keep as much of it public and environmentally sound. Marcy's Woods had just been purchased by a developer and many people were worried that he would develop the property, thus putting important flora and fauna at risk. There was even a demonstration that went all the way to Queen's Park.  As it turns out, the developer kept his promise to keep the property in its pristine condition as planned by its namesake owner, Dr. William Marcy. The DiCienzo Family has turned Marcy's Woods into a model for careful stewardship of the land.

Attention was then turned to Crystal Beach where there was but a rather small portion of the beach that was still public. The owners of the Crystal Beach Tennis and Yacht Club not only retained the beach from the former amusement park, they placed huge boulders on the sand to deter anyone from even walking the shores. This caused a lot of upset in the community and it widened the divide between the locals and the summer residents. Two years earlier, the town had purchased the former Bay Beach Properties from the Rebstock Family which gave people new hope that there would be a great beach and parkland for the public's use.  Derelict buildings were torn down and the area cleaned up. A parking lot was placed on the south side of the properties as a temporary measure until funds could be gathered to complete a redesigned park.

So, that was where my article ended. It was on a hopeful note for the future of Fort Erie, especially its shoreline.  There were other articles too, all praising Fort Erie's uniqueness and diversity.  

What happened to that hope?

It seems to me that certain elected and non-elected officials of this town lost sight of what was best for the people and favoured the plans of a couple of developers who were only in it for the money and not to better the community. The village of Crystal Beach had already suffered through the development of the former amusement park lands into a gated community. After all, even the town planner didn't live in Fort Erie and the developers certainly didn't either.

Thus began the long road to where we are today.  The pandering to certain developers went into high gear when Doug Martin was elected mayor in 2006. The town became race track centric and everything else seemed to be forced into the background.  Developers bragged that they could get "anything they wanted" in Fort Erie. (A perfect example of this is the development at the end of Hibbard Street near Prospect Point Road where the well-known developer had an "oopsie" and failed to provide enough space for a proper driveway.) How did these things happen?  

One answer is Lack of Leadership. That's the simple one.  The other is far more complex and much darker.

The people elected four councillors in 2010 with the hopes that some of these problems would be addressed and corrected.  Doug Martin and some town staff did everything in their power to obstruct the effort to bring fairness back to town hall.

Fortunately Doug Martin will soon be gone, but he leaves a legacy of nastiness, unfairness and possible wrongdoing behind. He has also anointed his successor and a cadre of candidates that will continue his legacy.

Fort Erie could still have a bright future. Vote for the people who stood up for you - not against you.



Saturday, October 25, 2014

2 DAYS - SO LONG, MAYOR-BY-FIVE-VOTES

BULLETIN:

There is a mistake on the Voter Identification Notice that was sent to eligible voters by the town

It was the one with instruction: Please take this notice to the poll

The Inquiries Number is incorrect:  It states the telephone number as: 905-871-166     
(X2217. X2214, X2218)

Calls to that number receive the message: "the number is not in service.

The correct telephone number is 905-871-1600 
(X2217, X2214, X2218)




THE LAST HURRAH

Some of you may wonder why I go on and on about Doug Martin being a mayor-by-five-votes. "He was elected, regardless of the number of votes he won by," some say.  Yes, that is true. He was democratically elected in 2010 (despite a few missteps on election day.) Just like Bob Steckley, John Hill, Don Lubberts and Paul Collard were democratically elected the same day in 2010. Theirs, however, were clear-cut victories. In fact, John Hill was elected in a landslide over incumbent Tim Whitfield. Part of the reason for the voting results was the contentious Bay Beach Issue which Martin, Whitfield, Lockwood and candidates who lost were in favour of.

Since then, Martin has enjoyed little or no interference with how he is perceived by the press and the public. (OK, I've been pretty harsh on him, but I'm just a blogger.)

You certainly can't say that about The Four. Do you not ask yourself, "Why?" First, you'd think that a man who squeaked through an election that, as an incumbent, he should have skated through, would be self-aware enough to realize that the voters are not happy with the direction he has taken in running the town. But he didn't. 

Instead, the mayor-by-five-votes aligned himself with a faction of the Chamber of Commerce; a high rise developer; some town staff and a couple of councillors in a war of revenge against The Four who were elected to represent the people. 


  • Marina Butler, a campaign supporter of Martin's and member of the CofC, filed for a Compliance Audit of John Hill's campaign finances; Martha Lockwood, pro-condo councillor who was defeated by Don Lubberts requested an audit of Lubberts' campaign spending; and Larry Graber, who lost to Paul Collard, requested an audit on Collard. These audits cost the taxpayers in excess of $100,000. Only minor problems were discovered which were rectified quickly.
  • Martin voted, along with members of the EDTC Board to sue me on behalf of GM Jim Thibert for slander.  That cost the taxpayers in excess of $20,000. The court ruled against me, but I was not required to pay court costs due to my financial situation.
  • Members of the Chamber of Commerce, hiding behind a made-up organization, erected insulting billboards and sent out expensive fliers calling The Four "anti-development" when there was only one development (Bay Beach) that The Four had any doubts about, yet all votes regarding the project were passed by council. Only one person, Kim Zanko, former President of the Chamber of Commerce, came forward to accept responsibility for the expensive campaign against The Four.  She is now running again in Ward 3 where she was defeated by Bob Steckley in 2010.
  • A lawsuit, funded by many of Martin's campaign donors, including Marina Butler, was filed by defeated Ward 4 incumbent councillor Tim Whitfield against The Four for Conflict of Interest. Whitfield admitted under oath in cross examination that he had been persuaded to speak to attorney Dave Hurren, who also represents the EDTC, about filing the lawsuit. Martin allegedly provided confidential documents to Whitfield for the lawsuit.
  • A  lawsuit filed just eleven days before the election by the developer of the abandoned Bay Beach Project for $10 million was defended by Martin in the press. His final insult to The Four.
The past four years have been a nightmare for Fort Erie. This is true. However, one just needs to be observant to see the source of the problem: the mayor-by-five-votes.

Who had frequent temper tantrums at council and once tried to walk out until he was stopped by the clerk?

Who often tried to shut up councillors (especially Don Lubberts) who were asking questions?

Who talked openly about Fort Erie being "Closed for Business"?

Who allowed a banner insulting to the provincial leader to be placed over the door at town hall? 

Who, when asked by a fellow Regional Councillor about the Bay Beach situation, replied, "Mind your own f*#king business!"

Who often left Regional Council meetings early, along with fellow regional councillor John Teal?

Who has fostered and supported the current councillor from Ward 1 when the councillor has ruined just about everything he has been involved in and has done little or nothing for his own ward?

Thankfully, his reign of terror will soon end.  The mayor-by-five-votes has plotted and helped the dark forces at work in this town to destroy the reputations of four men who were elected by the people and who are decent, responsible people.  

Isn't it about time you gave the mayor-by-five-votes a proper send-off?  Do not vote for his puppets and cronies. Vote for those who stood up for the people who elected them.

Friday, October 24, 2014

3 DAYS - WELL, LOOKY HERE

Looks like the town received a grant to enhance the sand dunes at Bay Beach in 2008. Certainly would give one the idea that the town was on board with preserving the uplands. Here the town is working with The Friends of Crystal Beach, a community group formed when the amusement park closed and that was responsible for many updates, improvements and support for the village of Crystal Beach.

Later, when the Molinaros came into the picture, the FOCB fought to save the uplands from development.  For that the group lost its Bingo license for being "too political."  

Striving to save a public parkland area for the people is too political?  What about a lawsuit filed just eleven days before an election?

Sounds like someone made a promise to a developer and was unable to deliver on that promise.  That is why people like Lame Duck Mayor Martin are out there campaigning against The Four. 

The Molinaros sued a couple of women in 2010. One was the owner of a property next to a proposed development which, according to the owner, "enjoyed a prescriptive easement over the Plaintiff’s lands."  Follow the LINK to see the outcome. (Spoiler Alert: The Molinaros lost.)

In other words, there is no guarantee that Molinaro's most recent lawsuit will be heard, nor that it will be decided in favour of them.  They are attempting to control the outcome of this election with the timing of the lawsuit. 

HERE is where it all began. Notice that it was said that improvements to the Bay Beach Properties would cost in excess of $3 million. Based on what? Here is where $35,000. of taxpayer money went to send "invitations" to prospective developers. Just where is the money from that earlier grant?

I know this is old news to some, but this is where it all started. The people of Fort Erie, especially those in Crystal Beach were lied to from the get-go. It looks like a deal was already made; town staff just had to come up with some lies to sell it to easily swayed councillors. The mayor was already in on it, presumably.  And that is why they were so upset when The Four were elected.  And this is why they are working so hard to stop The Four from winning their elections.  It's all about the promise made to a high rise developer - not a promise to the people.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

4 DAYS - VOTE LIKE YOUR FUTURE DEPENDED ON IT - IT REALLY DOES

I admit: this blog is biased. Has been since Day 1.  However, it is not biased in order to feather my own nest or anyone else's. It was started and continues to reveal the other side of local politics: the way some people have used the trust of the people to work against the people's best interests.

A glaring example of this is the Bay Beach Project - or whatever it is called as the name has been changed a number of times. That development was forced on the people of Crystal Beach by town staff in an unholy alliance with a big developer from Burlington. A high rise developer wanting to place two twelve story condo towers on public beachfront property against the prevailing building height limits set in an award-winning neighbourhood plan. we thought that had all been decided, but the new mayor (Martin) along with a staff recommendation, pushed through a zoning change and a Memo of Understanding that seemed to be dictated to the town lawyer by the developer.

That got a lot of people angry. It wasn't supposed to be like that in Crystal Beach. The people had suffered through an earlier town decision to let a developer build a gated community on the site of the old amusement park lands.  So, when the Rebstock Family offered the Bay Beach Properties to the town at a good price, the town wisely took the opportunity, using gaming revenue for the purchase. Soon after, however, the town talked about selling off the northern side of the properties (parking lots) to fund a section of the Friendship Trail. Uh-uh, said a young man and he started a petition and was later elected to represent Ward 5 that encompasses Crystal Beach.  The sale of the Bay Beach Properties was taken off the table, permanently we thought, with the adoption of the Crystal Beach Neighbourhood Plan in 2005.

But, 2006 brought in a new mayor and it wasn't long before the town planner started a campaign to turn the bay area into a wall of condos stretching, in his own words "from Crystal Beach to Point Abino." The Bay Beach Properties was to be the start of Rino Mostacci's dream.  So the high rise developers, the Molinaros were brought in to put on a big show full of promises how they would transform the community with their towers. And, just on script, they scaled back to one tower, one of the oldest ploys in the book (which I'm going to write about all this.)

Four years later, the people showed their disdain for the project by eliminating the turncoat councillor who had replaced the young man in Ward 5; the bully councillor in Ward 4; and with a new councillor for Ward 6 while that councillor, Ann Marie Noyes, ran against the incumbent mayor.  In an election vote tabulation that would rival the presidential election in Florida in 2000, the incumbent mayor squeaked through with five votes.

And then the assault began on everyone who had anything to do with the change in the power structure on town council. I was sued successfully for slander as I simply could not afford to defend myself. Then the so-called Four Councillors were subjected to harassment, insults, lawsuits, compliance audits, complaints to the integrity commissioner and whatever else could be thrown at them merely because they won their seats by large margins and were not falling in line behind the mayor-by-five-votes. The people elected them for a reason: they wanted the town to listen to the people, not just well-heeled developers.  They were not anti-development as they were portrayed in the endless negative publicity; they were for smart development that fits in with the community and is welcomed by its neighbours.

Well, here we are, four years later and the situation has achieved critical mass.  Another election fraught with problems and vicious attacks, topped off with a Developer Drama, one which is rather common in the industry: a $10 Million Lawsuit against the town and the four councillors.


IT IS AN ATTACK ON THE TAXPAYERS OF FORT ERIE: EITHER YOU LET US BUILD WHAT WE WANT ON YOUR PUBLIC PROPERTY OR WE WILL PUNISH YOU.

SIMPLE AS THAT. THE DEVELOPER WANTS THE PEOPLE TO VOTE AGAINST THEIR OWN BEST INTERESTS AND VOTE OUT THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO STOOD UP FOR THEM.

ARE YOU GOING TO LET THEM DECIDE HOW YOUR TOWN IS RUN?

4 DAYS - VOTE LIKE YOUR FUTURE DEPENDED ON IT. IT DOES.

He was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial as part of a one month tour of duty. The National War memorial is located close to the Parliament Buildings where democracy is practiced on a daily basis. The tomb itself was built to honour those who fought and died to preserve that democracy. The man who stood on guard was fulfilling a tradition that the monument and its precious contents would not be left unattended. And so it was that a young man who came to fulfill a duty, was cut down while protecting that hallowed place.  He gave his life protecting freedom like the unknown heroes who are buried in the tomb. He gave his life to protect the democracy some take for granted.

In this election season, please honour the man and the others who stood up for your rights by voting in the Municipal Election and any election going forward.  It is your right and privilege but it is also your duty.

Do it in honour a young man who will not be able to vote this coming Monday. A young man who took a bullet guarding a monument to democracy.

Note: It looks as though Blogger (Google) may have instituted further security features. Some are reporting that they are being asked to copy a couple of words. I have no control over this.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

5 DAYS - DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK!

UPDATE:  The rumour is that Doug Martin has told at least one person that Bob Steckley quit his candidacy for regional councillor. Seems the mayor-by- five-votes is actively working to control the campaign, even spending time at the advance polls glad-handing and campaigning.  Just like what got Rob Ford kicked
out of three advance polls in Toronto.

Add that to his near gleeful account of the new lawsuit brought by the Molinaros.  You were supposed to represent the people, not the developers, Dougie, mayor-by-five-votes.



DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK
IN FORT ERIE?


Bob Steckley, Ward 3; 
John Hill, Ward 4; 
Don Lubberts, Ward 5;
Paul Collard, Ward 6
were democratically elected to represent the taxpayers.
For the past four years, they have been standing up for the people
of Fort Erie despite a well-planned attack on their integrity.

2010:
  • Previous council approved the twelve story condo on public beach lands which did not contain safeguards to protect the taxpayers from an escalating burden should the project be delayed. The property did not have an absolute title when it was purchased from the Rebstock Family in 2001. The developer was apparently able to dictate the conditions of the MOU to the town solicitor, Heather Salter.
  • Bob Steckley, John Hill, Don Lubberts and Paul Collard were not in favour of a high rise on public beachfront land. They were elected by large margins..
  • A local blogger (me) was sued by Jim Thibert and the EDTC using over $20,000. of taxpayer money.

2011:
  • Compliance Audits, costing the town in excess of $100,000. uncovered minimal mistakes. Marina Butler requested a complaince audit on John Hill. Martha Lockwood, who lost to Don Lubberts, requested an audit on his campaign; Larry Graber requested an audit of Paul Collard's campaign. The audit against Bob Steckley was dismissed.
  • Two large billboards were placed on Garrison Road that called the Four Councillors "liars." attributed to the "Citizens For a Better Fort Erie" whose spokesperson, Kim Zanko, is a candidate for Ward 3.
  • A group calling itself "Citizens of Fort Erie for a Positive Future" distributed a full colour flyer that attempted to paint The Four as deceitful and corrupt. Again, Kim Zanko took ownership of the flyer.


2012:

  • Town solicitor was dismissed. Confidential information in violation of the non-disclosure clause of her settlement accusing The Four of harassment was released.
  • Against advice of legal counsel, the mayor tried to get confidential settlement information released without a court order. Request defeated.
  • Mayor tells The Four councillors that he will never support another thing they bring forward.

2013:

  • Conflict of Interest lawsuit filed against The Four Councillors by former, defeated town councillor Tim Whitfield who admitted under oath that he has been approached by the mayor as well as a lawyer who also represents the EDTC to provide an affidavit for an action against The Four. Lawsuit paperwork leaked to press from town hall under code name "Project 4-2-0"
  • Mayor Doug Martin admitted under oath that there was no harassment of the town solicitor. He had provided Whitfield with documents from closed sessions regarding the settlement.
  • The lawsuit has been delayed  to prevent the resolution of the case before the municipal elections. To date approximately $40,000. has been spent by each councillor, of their own money, to defend himself.
  • The Bay Beach developer requested an open-ended extension for the project as the necessary 45 units had not been sold by the self-imposed date of December 31, 2013.
  • Council offered an eight month extension but that was defeated by votes from Martin, Shular, Passero, Hill, Lubberts and Collard. The author of the offer, Bob Steckley, was the only councillor to vote in the affirmative.
  • No other motion was offered by either Martin, Shular or Passero to extend the time for the Molinaros.
  • The Bay Beach developer chose to end the project on December 31, 2013, however he still retains right of first refusal for further development on the property. This could leave the door open for him to come back to the project if a new council invited him.

2014:

  • EDTC General Manager Jim Thibert filed a Conflict of Interest lawsuit against Councillor Don Lubberts over a piece of property belonging to the Fort Erie Race Track. He has yet to state publically how the lawsuit is funded. He seems to expect that the taxpayers will pay for it as they did for his action against the blogger.
  • Documents demanded by the court in the Conflict of Interest case against The Four revealed that the lawsuit was funded by the following:
  1. Jim and Bill Miller, owner of two companies and part ownership in a local golf club. (Donated to Martin's 2010 campaign)
  2. Artaj Singh, landlord for the Chamber of Commerce and the EDTC (Donated to Martin's campaign)
  3. Howard and Valerie Beattie, 2010 scrutineers for Doug Martin
  4. Kirk Zavitz - owner of Zavcor Trucking (Donated to Martin's campaign)
  5. Marina Butler, owner of Employment Professionals Canada, now a candidate in Ward 4.

The Four have been subjected to continuous assaults in order to force them from office. They have remained professional and diligent in their efforts to represent the people of Fort Erie to the best of their ability. They won their elections fairly; they have been subjected to unfairness since they were elected. It is time to stand up for those who stood up for us.




IN DESPERATION, A NEW LAWSUIT HAS

 BEEN FILED BY THE MOLINAROS

against the

Town of Fort Erie and Four Councillors


 THIS WAS TIMED TO SCARE THE VOTERS



The Molinaros voluntarily walked away 

from the project in January. Council was 

advised that they under no obligation to 

extend the timeline.




We support The Four:

      1. Bob Steckley ... Regional Council

      2. John Hill ... Ward 4

      3. Don Lubberts ... Ward 5

      4. Paul Collard ... Ward 6

Democracy is at stake in this election.

Vote with pride for those 

who stood up for you!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

6 DAYS - TRUTHFUL TUESDAY

Lots of negativity rolling around this election season. The myth of the 4 to 3 vote is just that.  Only 1% of all council votes were settled in this manner. 


Bob Steckley had to go to the media to dispel a rumour.
HE DID NOT BACK OUT OF THE ELECTION
Got it, mayor-by-five-votes?

COUNCIL’S SUCCESS STORY

How the Councillors Elected by the People Have Improved Our Quality of Life


Held the Line on Property Taxes
  • Lowest tax increase in 8 years (2.72%)
  • Reserve Replenishment Policy approved to reduce future tax hikes
  • Gave you a $0 water increase

Supported Smart Development - Subdivision Plans Approved
  • Marz Homes (179 homes and condo units in Crystal Beach)
  • Spears-Highpoint Secondary Plan (187 homes on Garrison Road)
  • Nigh Road Subdivision (10 estate residential dwellings)
  • Dominion Estates  (homes and townhouse units on Dominion Road)
  • Stevensville Neighbourhood Plan expedited
  • Industrial development charges reduced to encourage new projects
  • Continued support to EDTC to promote economic development and tourism
  • Put forth as part of an amendment to the Development Charge By-law, which waived development charges for new industries coming into Fort Erie.


Ensured Residents' Health and Safety

  • New fire hall built with gaming revenue
  • Hospital Advisory Board created
  • F.A.S.T. service improved for residents with disabilities
  • The first community to set up reserve funding for the new hospital



Improved Roads and Public Transportation
  • Thunder Bay Road resurfaced
  • Dominion Road resurfaced
  • Crescent Park pumping station upgraded
  • New Central Avenue Bridge scheduled for 2015 ($13 million from Region)
  • Crystal Beach sidewalks upgraded
  • Transit service expanded with new vehicles
  • Transit service for Stevensville, Black Creek, and Douglastown in progress

Improved Municipal Drains
  • Frenchman’s Creek, Beaver Creek, and Schooley drains rerouted and repaired
  • Appeals from residents resolved without a provincial hearing

Promoted Fort Erie
  • Downtown Ridgeway renovation completed with new Market Square
  • Optimist Park soccer field upgraded with lights and improved drainage
  • Ott Road baseball park enhanced with porta-potties
  • Connelly Park purchased in Thunder Bay area
  • Skating arena fees frozen

Encouraged Tourism
  • Increased funding to help save the Fort Erie Race Track ($150,000 more than previous Council’s commitment)
  • Canadian Motor Speedway unanimously approved at each stage
  • Point Abino Lighthouse renovated to preserve this national historic landmark ($400,000 federal grant secured)
  • Road allowance encroachments at Waverly Beach resolved
  • Communities-in-Bloom funding led to first prize in national competition

Improved Town Operations
  • Operational Review approved to reduce excessive costs (conducted by Western Management at half the budgeted amount)
  • 25 recommendations offered to improve efficiencies
  • $500,000 found for potential savings in risk management
  • Processed a staggering 700 Reports in the past four years.

All this was accomplished while Councillors Bob Steckley, John Hill, Don Lubberts and Paul Collard were under constant attack through compliance audits, accusatory billboards, flyers, newspaper articles, conflict of interest lawsuits, and finally a vexatious lawsuit from a developer who waited ten months until just before the election to file it. 




Monday, October 20, 2014

7 DAYS - TAKE A LETTER MARINA

Address it to our employees,
Say you won't be working here
If you vote for Ann Marie Noyes ♪♫♪

OK. It didn't really happen that way. Or did it?  Just days before the municipal election in 2010, Fort Erie Race Track employees received a letter from their union advising them that if they vote for Ann Marie Noyes for mayor; Bob Steckley in Ward 3; John Hill in Ward 4; Don Lubberts in Ward 5; and Paul Collard in Ward 6 they might lose their jobs. A similar letter was posted at town hall.  The timing was suspect; there was no time for a rebuttal from the candidates.  

Ann Marie almost won in 2010. Five votes separated her from incumbent mayor Doug Martin.  However, The Four Councillors won! 

And guess what? The Four voted in support of the racetrack. Every time. Well, except that one time when Don Lubberts did not like the last minute pressure put on council to cough up $500,000. to cover the lease on the race track.  He voted no but it passed anyway.  He was right as it turned out.  The race track did not need the emergency infusion of half a million dollars as requested.  The funding from the province came through.  The mayor said that the funding from the province came through two minutes before the deadline.  Do you really believe that? We didn't.  In fact, months later the money was still in the town coffers.  Then in September, the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium asked for the money for "operating expenses." What?  

Don further angered the two-hatted head of the FELRC and the EDTC, Jim Thibert when Lubberts suggested that if the town purchased a parcel of land from the owners of the Fort Erie Race Track, it could be considered "bonusing."  When Jim gets angry, he sues.  He sued Don Lubberts for Conflict of Interest.  It is still up in the air as to whether the taxpayers will pay for this lawsuit or not.

In my little nightmare scenario, the Marina I envision is one Marina Butler whose name is associated with many of the incidents regarding The Four.  As former Human Resources head of the race track, she has had quite a lot of power over the employees.  She was quoted in a attack flyer attributed to Kim Zanko who is running for election in Ward 3. 




That flyer intimated that The Four were anti-development  Of course, Marina is running in Ward 4 against John Hill who she once requested a Compliance Audit for after the 2010 election.  Compliance Audits were also requested by Martha Lockwood against Don Lubberts who beat her in Ward 5 and Larry Graber against Paul Collard who beat him in Ward 6. The compliance audits cost the taxpayers well over $100,000. and no serious violations were found, just minor infractions. 

Back to Marina:  turns out that she helped fund the Conflict of Interest lawsuit against the four councillors brought by defeated former councillor, Tim Whitfield.  Still following?  And now she's running against John Hill.

What a tangled web.  

Oh, and in case you may have forgotten, here is the flyer that was sent out in early 2011 by a group headed by Kim Zanko who is now running for council in Ward 3.



NICE ONE, EH?

Oh, did they mention a lawsuit?  That was after the Molinaro Project was passed. The councillors were not anti-development but why let a good slogan be ruined by the truth? Many developments have been approved, started and finished in the past four years and none were voted down by council. Just look at the words used in this hit piece.  This is just one example of the treatment The Four Councillors have received since they were elected - in spite of the letter.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

8 DAYS - A RESIDENT SAYS IT ALL


ALERT:  THERE IS A FALSE REPORT CIRCULATING

BOB STECKLEY HAS NOT WITHDRAWN HIS NAME 

HE IS RUNNING FOR REGIONAL COUNCILLOR

STECKLEY IS: IN IT TO WIN IT!





A Resident sent in the following comment yesterday.  It bears repeating just as it is.


Congratulations Fort Erie, you have finally made me ashamed to be a resident here. Why you ask? Not that 4 councillors are being sued; in fact how many people have that much dedication to stand up for their constituents even at the risk of getting sued. Actually I am disgusted by the low moral fibre of the handful of residents who are celebrating in these lawsuits, wishing people to lose the houses, etc. Last I checked, in Canada, people were innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But it is good to see that we have so many legal experts in Fort Erie. I just didn't realize law degrees could be obtained with a high school education. Interesting to see who are the ones that are so quick to pass judgement. By the way...do they not realize how often developers sue municipalities cause they didn't get what they wanted? Again with the calibre of legal expertise we have here, I'm surprised they failed to mention that.

On a positive note, it is great to see that so many FE businesses are doing so well that they can alienate over half of their potential customers by openly criticizing and wishing ill will on our local politicians and their supporters. I am just so happy that the jewellery, restaurant, flooring, electrical, and racing industries are doing so awesome here cause no one would be that stupid to destroy the business they own or work at. Then again, if they are doing so great, in a time that the 4 councillors have "destroyed fort erie", then what is all the bitching about? Oh I forgot, it is just easier to blame everyone else for your own shortcomings....



Any questions?

NOTICE:

Over the next few days leading up to the election, I will be offering a complete timeline of events as they unfolded starting with the build-up to the election in 2010, right up to today.
 It is a long, long story but it is important that voters fully understand why is was so important that The Four were elected and why there has been so much opposition to them by certain vested interests.  

BTW:  George McDermott is going to complain to Google because he does not like what I wrote about him and calls it a lie.  I received numerous reports that George was standing outside the Leisureplex on Thursday night informing people of the lawsuit filed against the town and the four councillors. In his latest e-mail to me, he states: "I have purposely chosen not to comment on this issue because I have yet to have the time to read the documents and should I be elected I want to come into the situation unfettered. The voters have the media to report to them on items like this , they do not need me to do it nor have I ."


Saturday, October 18, 2014

9 DAYS - HALLOWEEN COMES EARLY

Freddy Kreuger's got nothing on the behind the scene manipulators in this election.  The attempt to scare the hell out of voters in this year's municipal election is backfiring. Ward 3 Councillor Bob Steckley, Ward 4 Councillor John Hill; Ward 5 Councillor Don Lubberts and Ward 6 Councillor Paul Collard were elected in 2010 by healthy margins. The mayor, who is not seeking re-election, won his second term by a mere five votes.  There are people who are very worried that the three seeking re-election and Bob Steckley who is running for Regional Council will be elected as their support is as strong as it ever.

First: The Compliance Audits of 2010 were the first attempt to discredit the newly elected councillors.  Cost the taxpayers $110,000. Results: a few minor mistakes.

Second: the Conflict of Interest lawsuit against The Four, is a hit piece, designed to inflict maximum damage to the reputations of The Four who are seeking office in this election. It was started at the suggestion of the mayor-by-five-votes and filed by a former councillor who lost his election in a landslide. 

Third:  the latest lawsuit is full of hot air and hubris.  The timing is calculated to scare voters into thinking that The Four councillors are the cause of a $10 million lawsuit.  Truth is that anyone can file a lawsuit; anyone can withdraw a lawsuit after its purpose has been served; and anyone can have a lawsuit dismissed for lack of evidence.  The Molinaros have deep pockets. They can file a lawsuit any time they want, against anyone they want.  They also have to be able to prove in court that they are worthy of a settlement. 

Four: Stephen Passero, the favoured mayoral candidate of the old guard is losing ground as his misrepresentations and lack of real experience become known.  Who wants as their leader a man who has no business; has ruined just about every cause he has been involved in; is working full time at getting elected; and is favoured by the very people who  are really holding this town back.

Five:  this campaign has become a nightmare.  Instead of discussion about issues and remedies, it has been a prolonged attack on the integrity of four duly-elected representatives of the people.  

They're trying to make voters believe they made a huge mistake not voting for the old guard's candidates in 2010. They are trying to say that the voters in 2010 were stupid and easily swayed.  They are trying to say: trust us, we promise to play nice if you elect us. They are trying to make voters understand that they know what is best for the people, but their real goal is to continue to dine at the public trough.


They are trying to scare you to vote for "their" candidates. 

Do not allow yourself to be frightened into voting against your best interests.

Update: I received the following email from Ward 1 Candidate George McDermott:

Dear Sharon

  Once again you have decided to spread mistruths with my name attached .You claimed that I was handing out some sort of leaflet to do with the most recent law suit between the Molinaros the four councillors and the Town.This is just not true period. I was handing out my campaign leaflet truth be told and there was 400 or 500 witnesses to what I was handing out.I would like you to retract those comments publicly in your blog today.

George P McDermott

Editor's Note:  Perhaps you were handing out campaign information only, but you were observed informing people of the lawsuit along with Chris Knutt and Patty Jo Carver to further your own candidacy.  It was an unseemly display of the kind of politics that has been the norm in this town since 2010. Own it, George.  (I will correct the copy.)

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