Thursday, December 17, 2015

R.I.P. BULLET NEWS

Not at all surprised that the noisy, newsy, nosey Bullet News will soon disappear from the internet. On December 31, 2015, the noise will stop forever. The news and nosiness will also not be missed. The Bullet began five years ago amid great hope that a news source would finally provide real investigative reporting and the truth of what goes on in Niagara.

Alas, that was not to be. The Bullet became a disappointment fairly early on despite a talented editor, a refugee from big corporate media where the truth is buried under advertisers' dollars. I guess it's too much to expect that an independent news source would tackle the sacred cows and expose the corruption that is everywhere, including the Niagara area.

I was inspired many years ago by the story of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward who, with their editor's blessing, exposed the Watergate Scandal that eventually brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon. They were my heroes. I always hoped that some day I could expose corruption as they had done. Well. I tried. LOL.

Lately, I have been hoping to see the new movie, Spotlight which is the story of reporters who exposed the abuse and cover-up of sexual abuse of young boys by Catholic priests in Boston, Massachusetts. That story intrigues me as I know full well the power of the Church as a witness to a massive cover-up of a scandal in my own parish in Buffalo. I knew that I could not report what I knew because there was no local media source that would touch the story. Of course, the Church hierarchy closed ranks very quickly to conceal the scandal, but many knew. All these years later, it remains hidden, the "guilty parties" were reassigned and protected by the hierarchy. All is forgiven and forgotten, yet I remember and so do a very few others, This scandal was not about abuse of young boys, but it was a direct insult to the teachings of the Church. It is still frustrating to know that they got away with it.

I'm still angry that the local "connected ones" got away with subverting democracy in their plan to eliminate four duly-elected men from Fort Erie's Town Council. Too bad the local media, especially Bullet Media did not see fit to report the story fully. It is all there for all to see, yet no one had the guts to follow the money to its obvious conclusion.

No, I am not surprised that Bullet Media went under. Too bad it didn't have the balls to expose the corrupt underbelly of local politics.Guess they didn't want to upset their noisy advertisers.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

WHO SAW THIS COMING?

Well, hello all you people who voted against your own self-interest and put the Chamber of Commerce on Fort Erie Town Council.  You know, those people who helped put together character assassinations of four councillors who they disagreed with.

Now, they're in power/ Thanks Marina Butler (devotee of EDTC GM Jim Thibert;) Kimberly Zanko (Chief Cheerleader and Chamber Maid;) Chris Knutt (Who?;) George McDermott; and Stephen Passero (Channeling Eve Harrington.)  The only councillor who survived the putsch was Don Lubberts from Ward 5.

For your information,  you easily manipulated voters: 
the S.L.A.P.P. Lawsuit devised by Thibert and his allies has finally been resolved and the four accused unjustly councillors have been paid back for the thousands of dollars they had to pay out of their own pockets to defend themselves against these sore losers.

You low-information voters are also going to pay for your ignorance through higher property taxes and water rates.


ALREADY HIGH WATER RATES TO RISE BY 4.74% in 2016


Thank you, Fort Erie Council. Read about it HERE.

The additional infrastructure servicing the town is spending on the capital budget towards the Canadian Motor Speedway will also add to the bottom line for operating costs to the tune of about $254,000. Overall, the 2016 water and wastewater budget expenses are increasing by about $676,000 over the 2015 rates.




 EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm putting this in the form of questions: What could possibly go wrong when a company from the Mideast (Home of Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and ISIS) that is planning to build a large installation very close to the one international bridge connecting the US with Canada at one of its busiest crossings? A quick look at the various holding companies and banks involved with the Canadian Motor Speedway poses a lot of unanswered questions that the public doesn't get answers coming from its evasive and well-programmed PR department, run by a former "concerned citizen" who spoke at numerous meetings in favour of the project. Again, here's a question: how long has she been on the CMS payroll? (We will not be getting an answer to that question and others like: what bank is funding this project?)

So, the taxpayer is paying for the infrastructure improvements on the speedway; half a million to the high school theatre; another half million (or more) to the horse track; and lots more. All this on the promise of jobs. So, the Chamber of Commerce donated $10,000 to the school theatre when Fort Erie has a high unemployment rate and systematic poverty. No, the Chamber got their photo op with a large cheque for the theatre while people in Fort Erie have to visit food banks to feed their families.


We suspected that the priorities of the new council were all pro-business and not people friendly. We hoped that some would develop a true understanding of how to govern all the people instead of pandering to a select group, but that obviously did not happen.



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

CONGRATULATIONS, FRED BRACKEN

He did what I couldn't do: defend his reputation against a decree that limited his rights.

Charged with trespass and given a one year ban is by the Niagara Region which prevented Fred from attending Niagara Regional Council Meetings, he took it further; a judge ruled that the ban violated the Charter of Rights. Read about it HERE.

A few years ago, Richard Berry was banned from Fort Erie Council Meetings in the same type of intimidation ploy. If I remember correctly, some of the same people who are now at the regional level were involved.

But Fred Bracken showed them!

I don't always agree with Fred, but I believe he has a perfect right to express himself in public. I found it laughable that Debby Zimmerman felt "threatened" by his behaviour during a presentation he made at Regional Council. Yeah, right. The former Regional Chair and longtime player in the vicious local political blood sport was threatened? I don't believe that for a minute.

So, as those of us who are American celebrate Thanksgiving,, I would like to express my gratitude for people like Fred.  I've met many like him on both sides of the border and I always admire that they are willing to stand up for what they believe and they do not let local officials get too full of themselves.


Note to Fred: in your remark on another news site, you expressed your disdain for "progressives." You seem to have a far different understanding of the term than I do. I am a proud progressive. A progressive is the polar opposite to a "conservative" in political terms. I have never agreed with the conservative viewpoint and never will. Some people refer to Progressives as "liberals" in some places. I prefer to be called a progressive because I take the term literally, meaning I'm looking ahead, not behind or staying in place like the conservatives. (Actually, after studying Political Science, I discovered that I'm really a Democratic Socialist, but that's another conversation.)


SCOTT HERON SENTENCED TO FOUR MONTHS IN JAIL

The picture in the Review shows a beefed-up Heron on his way to court. Oh Boo-Hoo. He is so sorry for his "mistakes."  Yeah, right. He's sorry he got caught. He was so full of himself back when he and Bernie Polino were smuggling cheese and chicken wings from the States and making lots of money under the table. "Mistake?" My ass. I observed the goings-on and how these two skirted the law every chance they got when Bernie ran the snack bar in the sand at Bay Beach. I was famously told by Bernie, "I have friends in the NRP" when I pointed out a dangerous situation at his sand(wich) shop.

All these cops and former cops should be ashamed that they stole from the public by avoiding taxes and duty on their smuggled cheese. 

How can anyone be expected to respect the local police after this? The stories are still there and many of us know them all.. Right near me, a drug house operates with impunity; a dealer sits near Tim Hortion's, beard braided, announcing to the world that he is carrying and the police do nothing about it. They know. Yet they look the other way or they get their information from the local stalker and in return, they let him get away with all manner of mayhem.

There is a lot more house cleaning to be done at 23 Division. A lot more.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

'TIS THE SEASON

As I write this, The Four are waiting for cheques that will reimburse them for the money they paid out to defend themselves from a S.L.A.P.P. lawsuit put together by a group of people who vowed to destroy four duly-elected town councillors.

As I write this, only one, Don Lubberts, still remains in office. While The Four may be compensated for the tremendous financial strain that the lawsuit put on them, they will never be fully compensated for the destruction to their reputations. We can thank members of the Chamber of Commerce; the head of the EDTC and former elected officials for this. And the taxpayers, will ultimately pay for the revenge of a few people.

In the meantime, the EDTC General Manager continues to evade his day of reckoning with his now-friendly town council in place. It was a campaign that stretched out over four years when The Four were elected on the promise that the people would take the town back from the clique that has controlled it for years. A lot of good that did them. The attacks started almost immediately after the October 2010 election when The Four were elected: Bob Steckley retained the seat he won in 2006; John Hill handily defeated Tim Whitfield who would later be the respondent on the conflict of interest lawsuit; Don Lubberts, who defeated the truth-challenged Martha Lockwood; and Paul Collard who was voted to replace Ann Marie Noyes who ran for mayor. Funny thing about that mayoral election: amid some serious questions about the integrity of the handling of ballots, incumbent Doug Martin won by a mere five votes over Ann Marie. Expensive Compliance Audits were requested on several of the candidates, accomplishing nothing much and setting the tone for the future of The Four on council.

Then came the billboards; fliers; blogs; press attacks and whispering campaigns orchestrated by a cabal of disgruntled so-called "concerned citizens" who were, in reality, only concerned about their own interests and deals made behind the backs of the taxpayers.

Most of you already know the high-lights of this sad history; now the pieces of the not-so-secret plot are starting to fall into place. While the cabal can celebrate the successful conclusion of an all-out campaign to destroy its "enemies," its minions, having been cast aside after they were no longer useful, are slowly waking up to being used. Some of the major movers of this evil enterprise are feeling the heat from supporters who paid money and risked their reputations to fund the doomed lawsuit. Looks real good on them. Except they will never pay for what they did to The Four emotionally. 

I'm going to Copy & Paste a remark by Corruption Fighter regarding that appeared in a recent thread. I do believe that it sums it up fairly well. (BTW, I am not Corruption Fighter and I do not know who he or she is. I have a couple of guesses but I really don't want to know.)


Anyone read Mayor Red's State of the FE Union Address in the papers? 

What a load of crap designed to appease the dumbed down electorate that resides here. It's all roses and sunshine now when in reality this town needs a huge wake up call and an even bigger dose of Buckley's just to try and slow down the rot and neglect that has been allowed to grow locally for decades(usually for some insider's profit) and it aint gonna happen with 5 out 6 morally challenged at the horseshoe.

This leaves only 1 man on council with the moral fortitude to wave the unpopular banner of stark reality and he isn't even allowed on his own ward's Waterfront Committee (only in Fort Stupid could anyone even try to explain this away Kim). 

At least little Red mentioned, though it will unlikely happen, reigning in the waste at Jimmy's Arm's Length Accountable to No One Corporation but any $$$ saved here will disappear to the Not 4 Nascar illusion of easy prosperity, should we just give rich foreign investors a few more millions of our taxes.

A little hope for everyone in this throne speech, should you fall for it. Meanwhile just glance at your tax bills......

Sunday, November 8, 2015

THIS IS JUST CRAZY

The reason I have not posted much of late is that I'm trying to rid my thoughts and energies of the stench of local politics. Frankly, I'd had enough. Then I saw something on Facebook that inferred that I was a liar for including Doug Martin and other backers of the lawsuit against The Four in my rant against what seem to me is pure evil.

It also seems that certain people are trying to revise history to clean up some people's reputations. In what universe is it not evil to start a lawsuit against four duly-elected councillors because they opposed a development that basically gives away the last decent piece of beachfront property in Crystal Beach to a developer? And that was not the only reason they were sued. They were sued because they represented a power shift at town hall and that could not be tolerated by the mayor-by-five-votes and his supporters. I saw it at the court hearing. Former Mayor-By-Five-Votes admitted that the law suit respondent (Former-Beaten-in-a-Landslide-by-One-of-the-Four Tim Whitfield) was merely a "Straw Man" in the lawsuit. The other named supporters of the lawsuit represent a Who's Who of local political power brokers and their minions, one of whom went on to defeat one of The Four in the 2014 election.

All this is out there for those who care to look further. One of the local political gadflies even helped finance a slanderous billboard on the main drag in town. He also funded a blog that went after the four using confidential information collected from various "sources" at town hall.  Of course, they all deny this now that their people are back in power. Mission Accomplished. The regular folks out there in Fort Erie have lost again. Town Council is now almost entirely made up of Chamber of Commerce members. The mayor can only hope to corral these agenda-driven flunkies. Only one of The Four remains: Don Lubberts. (He's still facing another conflict of interest lawsuit that the litigious GM of the Fort Erie Racetrack Economic and Tourism Development Corporation filed against him. That, along with the lawsuit he filed against me will accomplish nothing, but that's how Thibert rolls.

And now the Big Announcement about a development at the Racetrack. (Love the pic of Dougie and Jimmie hugging Paladino) Where have we heard this before? Well, I found THIS. An earlier blog post by yours truly recalling the big story from 2008 where Nordic Games (the then owner of the racetrack) was planning a big development (alarmingly similar to the Paladino plan) at the racetrack site. The Ministry of Tourism gave the town (EDTC) $2 million to be used to enhance tourism. That went towards the potential "purchase" of the Fort Erie Race Track by the town (Thank You, Kim Traitor) The $300 million development project was shelved and the $2 million disappeared into the coffers of the holding company of the track.  

So, here we are again. Promises, promises. Clue: Paladino is looking for massive tax cuts and funding from all levels of government.

You might already know my prediction regarding the Speedway: I'll believe it when I see it. Now they're adding this multi-million resort at the horse track and we still have an antiquated international car bridge to serve both these "crowd pleasers."

The best line of all was said by Paladino himself:

“We’ll put our shovel in the ground the day after they put theirs in,” Paladino said. “That’s how important the CMS is to our project.” 

(Buffalo Business First)

Monday, October 26, 2015

WHAT'S NEXT?

Well, the Canadian elections are over and the Liberals have been swept into office. Except here in Fort Erie where incumbent Rob Nicholson remained as a lone Conservative MP in the area. Now he thinks that he has what it takes to be the next Conservative Party Leader. Good Luck with that. 

The election results may prove to be an indicator of Fort Erie's further decline, unless the Liberals take pity or they take into consideration the tremendous potential that has been wasted in town. Our former mayor-by-five-votes, Doug Martin is a big supporter of the Tories. It was Dougie's brand of politics that brought forth a S.L.A.P.P. lawsuit against four councillors, thus costing them, and ultimately the town insurance a lot of money. Dougie got his way though. He and his followers were able to run three of the four out of office and replace them with flunkies from the Chamber of Commerce. So, the people of Fort Erie, who are already used to getting short shrift, will probably get a big lot of nothing under the new regime. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I'm getting ready to start working for the US Elections coming up next year. At this point, the Republican cast of clowns has become almost fascinating - in a horrific way. I will be commenting on the American elections from time to time, but I'm going to leave Fort Erie to its own devices for a while.

I am just going to take satisfaction in the knowledge that the grand scheme of Doug Martin and his friends has been stopped, but not without a lot of collateral damage. Shame on them. They cared more for their own selfish interests than what was best for the people of Fort Erie. I hope that Karma pays them all back very soon and very decisively.

Monday, October 12, 2015

WHAT HAPPENS IN LAS VEGAS - DOESN"T ALWAYS STAY IN LAS VEGAS

At least it didn't when it involved Fort Erie's Ward 3 Councillor Kimberly Zanko. When someone named FE Taxpayer commented about a court case in Washington State involving Zim Zanko, I thought that it must be another person by the same name. Upon further information provided by a reader named Che, I was able to read the case and the judge's decision and it did involve our local councillor and another woman who worked for the same customs broker as Zanko. The two ladies were in Las Vegas helping set up a trade show hospitality suite. And trouble ensued.

The link to the case is HERE. If you care to read the whole thing, it's pretty much a case of a man gone wild at a trade show in Las Vegas who later lost his job and decided to play victim in a S.L.A.P.P. lawsuit. (Editor's Note: a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation which is, according to one definition is"is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit.") Now, I do know a thing or two (actually three) things about such lawsuits. I was sued for slander to shut me up and there are two conflict of interest lawsuits against former councillors and a sitting councillor that definitely fit the criteria for a S.L.A.P.P.)

It would seem that Zanko and her friend were upset and embarrassed by a dickwad from the Washington State affiliate of the company they worked for when he suggested that they use their female charms to sign up new clients. According to them, he was heavily intoxicated at the time and he may have been confused over the part the women played in the proceedings. He merely acted in the time-honoured way that many men behave at out-of-town conventions - like an asshole who never went to university and thus missed the frat parties and Homecoming celebrations where such behaviour was encouraged, nay welcomed. (See Animal House for reference.)

Later, back in his home office, he was falling way behind in his work and not producing well, so he was fired, according to management. He tried to throw Zanko and her friend under the bus by claiming they did "work the room" and he claimed to have overheard them discussing it. Oops. That brought the two ladies out and they were "upset" to say the least.

Really, girls. In this day and age, you are "upset" about a drunk's behaviour in Las Vegas? Cry me a river. Let me tell you something about sexual harassment as it was back in my day. Ever see Mad Men?  Back when I was first in the workforce, sexual harassment was the norm in many workplaces. Some turned it around and advanced, using their sexual skills to move up the corporate ladder (to private secretary) Others were fired or demoted if they did not co-operate with the usual all-male establishment. I once did a paper on exactly this when I took courses from Cornell. It took a lot of hard work and sacrifice and better legislation to enable women to get good-paying jobs that they did not have to trade sexual favours in order to receive. The guy in the lawsuit was grasping at straws to save his job and the "girls" (I call them that because they behaved like silly girls, IMHO) handled it all wrong. Sometimes, we need to have brass tits in this big bad world. A drunken a-hole is no match for a couple of gals with brains. 

Guess Zanko and friend left their brains at Customs when they came to Las Vegas. They showed a decided lack of creativity, especially in this age of wireless phones that take pictures and videos. That's my opinion. What do you think?

Note: Since I re-read the entire case, it would seem that Zanko and friend were trying to cover their asses by filing the suit against their former colleague. Since Zanko has a long history of being "window dressing" there may be a whole lot more to the story, but you'll never get the straight poop from either of the two women.

Monday, September 28, 2015

PAY ADMISSION TO BAY BEACH?

Frankly, I'm tired of talking about Bay Beach, but we must, mainly because of how the whole Bay Beach Properties Issue has been mishandled from the time it was purchased from the George Rebstock back in 2001.

Since that time, for some possibly (fill-in-the-blank) reason, the property has been treated as a step-child in the Fort Erie Family. We quickly learned that the property was "required to bring a return on the investment" of $2.05 million. So, early in 2002, someone at town hall decided to sell off the north parking lots to fund an extension of the Friendship Trail. Soon, there was opposition and, eventually the idea was dropped. But, we knew that was not the end and, almost as soon as Doug Martin was elected, the other shoe dropped and we entered the Molinaro Era which was bad, very bad.

So, here we are again; back to 2001 with another "study" to decide the future of the Bay Beach Properties. And, once again, they're talking about selling off the north sections (parking lots.) Thanks so much, we really needed to hear that again, a decade or so later. Meanwhile, the beach itself is drawing more and more people, mainly because it is free and the nearby Sherkston Shores is closed to day trippers.

We are hearing stories of parking problems; garbage on the beach and crowded conditions. The paid parking lots at the Beach are a mere $5.00 for the day, while non-enforced parking nightmares make local residents angry. Busloads show up on nice weekend days, depositing people from far away. They go to the free beach and spend the day until the bus returns. At the end of the day, there are piles of garbage bags that sometimes sit for days before they are removed. Just past Point Abino, Pleasant Beach has been overrun with beach-goers as well. 

Something has to be done. But what? Earlier, I had offered that there is a report that over 7,000 people were at Bay Beach on one day this summer. Even if half that number were non residents and were charged $1.00 admission, that would bring $3,500. on a good day. I also opined that the parking lots should charge as much as the hospitals charge at their lots. Years ago, there was a resident card available for the beaches of Fort Erie. Don't know what ever happened to that initiative. 

So, have at it. What do you think? Tonight the Study will be presented to council. Watch for the hook in the sandwich. As I said earlier: Back to 2001.

(I'm going to transfer the remarks about this issue from the previous thread.)



Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SCOTT HERON CONVICTED!


UPDATE:

Yes, he was convicted. Sentencing will be in November. Hope he has to spend some quality time behind bars with hard-core criminals. 

Scott Heron's defence lawyer tried to accuse Geoff Purdy of arson during cross-examination of the convicted smuggler's testimony against Scott Heron, a one-time fellow Niagara Regional Police officer.

"Former Niagara Regional Police officer Jeff Purdie 

denied any involvement in starting a fire that destroyed 

business he once owned in St. Catharines." 

Tony Ricciuoto

That was on Tuesday of the trial. On Wednesday, the Crown brought forth evidence that Heron made unauthorized CPIC checks on himself and others while he was an NRP officer.

Today, Bernie Polino, a fellow cheese smuggler who was championed by former Ward 5 Councillor Martha Lockwood to push aside a long-time operator of the Bay Beach snack bar, and who later allowed Martha and her partner to run a tee shirt shop in the building, will testify for the Crown, probably part of a plea deal when he was arrested for smuggling. Bernie got away with numerous health and safety violations when he operated the snack bar and Martha Lockwood should have been charged with conflict of interest for her involvement in Bernie's business while making crucial votes on the status of the Bay Beach Properties. And so the saga continues ...


I've been waiting for this. For five years actually. Ever since Bernie Polino told me that he doesn't have to worry about problems with the health department regarding his snack bar at Bay Beach because, "I have friends in the police department." Well, one of those "friends" is currently on trial for smuggling cheese and chicken wings across the border while using his status as a cop to make it through customs unchecked. His name is Scott Heron and some might recall he was in a fatal accident on the QEW where his friend Andy Passero was killed. In early reports there was mention that neither occupant of the truck was wearing a seat belt and that speed was a likely factor in the crash. The other driver is currently serving time for his role in the accident. So Heron's name was familiar to me and when I was told that he was Bernie's partner in the snack bar, it all made sense. I just knew there was something fishy, or shall I say cheesy going on.

The whole house of cards came down when another NRP poster boy was nabbed at the border for smuggling steroids. The feds in Buffalo got a hold of Geoff Purdie and he dropped a dime on his fellow smugglers Bernie, Scott and Sgt. Casey Langelaan. Since then, Bernie has pled and paid a fine; Casey has resigned from the NRP and paid a fine; Purdie served a year at Club Fed in the States and is now singing like a canary at the courthouse in Welland, part of his plea deal on smuggling charges. He is no longer an NRP officer.

Sometimes, there is justice for criminals. In this case, justice is being meted out to those who are supposed to catch criminals, not behave like them. Heron will probably be given a light sentence. I hope I'm wrong and the judge throws the book at him. But these guys are Teflon® coated because they are also protecting others, some in very high places. Scott has already tried to use his accident injuries as an excuse for his wayward ways. Just as a point of reference, Purdy made it to the Sunshine List before he was arrested. He was making around $120,000. per year. It is said that the cheese smugglers avoided close to $300,000. in taxes on the products they smuggled into Canada. Just let that settle in. This was a large scale operation and these guys are probably still working some angle to make money now that they're out of their Sunshine List salaries. 

For me, it was personal. I ran the snack bar across the street from Bernie's and we were constantly under threat by the health department, which never seemed to care that Bernie was operating his business in the sand using coolers, a garden hose and unsecured propane tanks. We knew that the health department was being sicced on us by Bernie and his "friends" but we could do nothing except watch as the very uncomfortable inspector looked and looked for anything to cite us with. She refused to go across the street to see Bernie's mess but found that a hole in the screen door was a violation. She came on the hottest day of the summer, when we were extremely busy and demanded that we throw out fresh food because our refrigerators were not cold enough. She had no right to do that; food was safe and fine but she was under orders to make us look bad. She later apologized saying that our kitchen was very, very clean. (That apology came after her third trip to inspect. We even purchased a new refrigerator to please her and she didn't even look at it.)

So, I am hoping that Scott Heron sweats a lot. I hope he faces financial ruin for what he's done because, what he's been formally charged with is nothing in comparison to what he's accused of in the complaints against him from long before his arrest.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

FACEBOOK SHOULD BE RENAMED TO HATEBOOK

I know that a lot of people don't have a profile on Facebook and that is perhaps, a good thing. What started out a a sharing website has evolved into an unrepentant hate site. It seems especially true here in Fort Erie. If one were to type in "Fort Erie" into the search bar in Facebook, a page called "Fort Erie Hi-Lites" will probably pop up. It is a so-called page that has devolved into a nasty opportunity for bullies to rule one small place on the internet. I sometimes visit because my name comes up from time to time by one of the chief bullies. He thrives on calling attention to my blog. That amuses me because he is potentially driving more traffic my way. One or two others agree with him, calling me an "idiot" etc., thus making me so upset that I shrug my shoulders and laugh at their idiocy. But they move on quickly and start fights with each other over nothing. Their are only a handful of them but they take over the page and soon, everyone else loses interest. Not much positive news and opinion dwells on the Hi-Lites page these days.

So, I move on, checking up, out of curiosity (damn, I shouldn't have done that!) on the teen mom I once wrote about here. Well, she has moved on and has hooked up with at least two or three guys since I last checked on her. Well, she's pregnant again and has already broken up with her baby daddy (not to be confused with her first baby daddy, long ago out of the picture.) Their break-up has been preserved on Facebook, along with numerous selfies and trash talk. Baby daddy thinks he's a gangster, "straight outta Compton, beatin' up those bitches and such." Such a wonderful future ahead for a member of the next generation, one that is coming from a generation who can barely function without an iPhone. Hell with school or getting an education; we'll just suck off the system and bring up our kids with multiple Uncle Daddies. I just can't understand that women today have such low expectations that they feel that having a baby out of wedlock is a good thing. Fine for rich women, but not a good thing for the not-so-rich. The taxpayers are on the hook to support this choice when there are so many other choices available to women: easily available birth control comes to mind.

I do have a favourite that I watch and listen to: Advice From My Mom. She's from Manitoba and she's profane, bitchy and very funny. Please be warned that the language she uses us definitely not for those who are easily offended and certainly not for children.

I just went to my Facebook page and saw pictures of my first and best childhood friend and her sister with their grandchildren. They now live in another state but Facebook has allowed me to see that they are wonderful still. It's so good to see them. This is what Facebook is very good for. I just wish that everyone understood and appreciated that.

To the haters and Facebook trolls: hate on; it will come back to you tenfold.

To others who want to enjoy Facebook: try to stay positive and don't let your curiosity allow you to visit pages trolled by losers.

Friday, September 4, 2015

END OF SUMMER PARADE

PARADE

Saturday, September 5, 2015

1:00 P.M.

Starts at Crystal Chandelier, goes up Ridgeway Road to Rebstock, turns left and over to Bay Beach and back through Queen's Circle to Victoria and down Ridgeway Road to the Crystal Chandelier.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME MORE?

Community Workshop #2 September 2, 2015 Bay Beach MASTER PLAN at Crystal Ridge Community Centre 

Please join us to review and discuss the Draft Master Plan for the Bay Beach property - site plan, design guidelines, environmental and ecological sustainability plan, operating/management strategy. 

The team will present the Draft Master Plan, followed by round table discussions with workshop participants. 

The presentations will occur at: 3:00 pm 5:00 pm 7:00 pm

You are invited to for the Bay Beach Master Plan For more information contact Signe Hansen Manager of Parks and Open Space Development Town of Fort Erie 905-871-1600 x 2506 shansen@town.forterie.on.ca 99 Ridge Rd S, Crystal Beach Please email baybeach@planpart.ca to register for one of the workshop sessions. 

Please join us to review and discuss the Draft Master Plan for the Bay Beach property - site plan, design guidelines, environmental and ecological sustainability plan, operating/management strategy. The team will present the Draft Master Plan, followed by round table discussions with workshop 

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

Back to the drawing board. Once again, we will hear about all the wish lists for the Bay Beach Properties. Then later ....


... we will hear that the town can't afford to do anything to improve the Bay Beach Properties and that it will be necessary to sell off the north parking lots in order to "make a return on the initial investment." Rinse; repeat.


 I've said just about everything that can be said about the Bay Beach Properties since 2002 when the north side of the property was to be sold off to fund a portion of the Friendship Trail. That's when the fight began to save the Bay Beach Properties and keep the entire parcel in the public's hands. Thirteen years later, we have come full circle. Back to selling off the north section of the Bay Beach Properties.

I guess they did get the message about the south (beach) side of the property after the failed (we can only hope) high rise condo tower disaster, but they just don't "get it" about the need for the parking lots as well as the beachside property if Crystal Beach is going to be able to attract tourist dollars. Better management of these assets needs to be undertaken; new revenue streams need to be found and the parking situation needs to be addressed in a positive, helpful way. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

SUMMER'S ALMOST OVER?

Boy, did that happen fast. Seems it just started. Time sure does fly when you're having fun. So, here is a partial list of what to look forward to as we close out another great Crystal Beach Summer:

1.) Saturday, September 5 - End of Summer Parade - 1:00 p.m.
Floats, fire engines, and a police escort winds its way through the Beach, offering a farewell to Summer 2015.

2.) Back to School. The problem is that the school is being torn down, so children will have to attend school in portable classrooms near Bertie Senior Elementary. Great work, DSBN School Board. Always thinking of what is best for the children LOL.

On another front, there should soon be a decision by Judge Sweeney about the costs awarded to The Four for the malicious lawsuit brought against them by a bunch of sore losers who did not like that they could control town council. Of course, the lawsuit achieved its purpose and now the Chamber of Commerce controls Fort Erie's Town Council. 

The Kinsmen Pool got off to a late start thanks to great work by the volunteers who now must sit back and let Stephen Passero take all the credit which he will use until he gets himself elected mayor like he got himself elected to Ward 2 with the help of his Chamber Maids who bucked precedent to call a by-election costing the taxpayers over $30,000. We will look back at this some time in the future as one of the final nails in the coffin for Fort Erie. Frankenstephen will continue to use and discard people as he rises to higher office. Rumour has it that he is even trading up on his current wife.

So sad that the Singing Siren is closing on August 30. Hard to run a business when the building and chattel are up for sale and you can't afford the high price to buy. Hope Heather finds another place but that is doubtful. The former pines would be a great spot on Erie Road, but it has been gutted by the owner, a company that convicted felon Gary Fraser is involved in; the same one that ruined two houses on Queen's Circle and eventually tore them down. 

So, as fall approaches, we will still have fond memories of Crystal Beach and the Summer of 2015.

NOTE TO THE PERSON(S) SENDING ME INFORMATION VIA MAIL:

I got it and I also have the same questions as posed in a couple of the sheets sent. How can the CEO of a large corporation not know when the CFO has embezzled a quarter of a million dollars? Missing money seems to be common when this person is involved. Should have vetted that CFO better. Another with an interesting resumé. Such blatant actions are common in this town and nobody says a word because they're too scared of being blackballed or sued. It's time for good people to open up and get rid of the bad apples.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

SO, WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING IN CRYSTAL BEACH?

The past few weeks have been extremely busy in Crystal Beach. Parking problems and a crowded beach are a sign that more and more people are discovering our little gem of a village by the lake.

On another note, home sales are surging and new builds are happening all over Crystal Beach. All positive news. Restaurants are busy and so are the shops and stores along Erie Road. At least those that are open.

And this is where we get to the negatives, namely Gary Fraser and his band of "investors."  If you see a building all boarded up, falling apart or unfinished, it probably belongs to one of the companies that Fraser, a convicted fraudster, is involved with. A lot of them are on Erie Road. One really bad eyesore is on Queen's Circle. Schooley Road house construction has been going on forever due to financial challenges by the builder, again associated with Gary Fraser. While the South Coast Marz Homes rush to completion, over a dozen already sold, the seven homes on Schooley, overpriced in the opinion of many, sit uncompleted and unsold  in the height of the selling season. No one is against this type of development; it basically fits in to the character of the area, but empty, boarded up buildings in the main business core do not inspire confidence in the business climate of Crystal Beach. And this is because the investors have probably spread themselves too thin and are too busy acquiring other properties. Could be part of a huge Ponzi Scheme which is what Fraser tried to pull off before he was convicted and served time before.

Meanwhile, The Beach thrives. Volleyball on the beach and an all-day band festival yesterday brought more people to the area. This evening, the free Toronto All-Star Band Concert at Waterfront Park; and the End of Summer Parade on September 5, all sponsored by The Friends of Crystal Beach are sure to bring enjoyment.

Waterfront Park was brought to you by a group of dedicated citizens who worked hard to bring the idea to fruition despite push-back on many levels. Perseverance does pay off when the cause is right.

That's why people flock to Crystal Beach: perseverance on the part of some local heroes who fought to keep the Bay Beach Properties in public hands for all to enjoy without having to sneak by a twelve story condo tower to reach the public beach.  And we still need those parking lots, not another building on Erie Road.

And we certainly don't need the likes of Gary Fraser in our midst. Either build it; renovate it; or sell it. Better yet: move out of town. Had enough of people plundering our little gem by the lake.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

DAY OF RECKONING IS NEAR?

Friday, August 7 is the day that the lawyers for The Four present to court their accounting of costs in order to secure financial justice for their clients. It is rumoured that explosive information in the documents could cause the main conspirators in the now dismissed case to have to reach deep into their pockets to pay back the costs racked up by Bob Steckley, John Hill, Don Lubberts and Paul Collard to defend themselves in an ill-conceived and badly managed lawsuit for conflict of interest. The lawsuit was brought forward by "strawman" Tim Whitfield (as admitted by his own lawyer in the proceedings) and his backers, a list that reads like the Who's Who of the Chamber of Commerce, as orchestrated by EDTC GM Jim Thibert (who will probably sue me again with taxpayer money for writing this.)

Oh well. Lawsuits can be brought against anyone. The problem is defending oneself from a lawsuit. Perhaps Karma will enter the picture if any one of The Four file a suit for malicious prosecution. I'd like to see that happen as a warning to others in other communities who think that they can override the will of the people as was done in Fort Erie. It worked,but it may by a Pyrrhic Victory for those who plotted the removal of four duly-elected representatives of the people. It may also prove rather embarrassing for Marina Butler whose actions were apparently undertaken solely to unseat John Hill so she could take his place on council - which she did. A great example she sets for those interested in running for public office. Same with Kim Zanko who also shows no embarrassment over the flier she took responsibility for which planted the seed of untrustworthiness in the minds of voters regarding The Four and those who fought to preserve the last good piece of public beachfront property in Crystal Beach from a high rise developer.

Which, of course, begs the question: why was it so very important to thwart The Four who were merely supporting the people who voted for them? I always say: follow the money. There has to be money involved in some way for all the pushback against The Four. Those who stood in opposition to The Four spent a lot of time and money to destroy the reputations of The Four. The opposition worked hard, calling in many favours, to complete Project 4-2-0. They succeeded except for one, Don Lubberts.

And then their malicious lawsuit was dismissed. And now they're going to pay. Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of people.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A PERFECT DAY


It all came together beautifully. The first Circle of Art event, held on Saturday, July 25, was a another great success for the Friends of Crystal Beach.

The setting for the art show was Queen's Circle on Derby Road in Crystal Beach. It was a triumphant return to the heart of the village, where it all began. For it was in the late 1800s that Crystal Beach became a meeting place for artists, educators, musicians and speakers as part of the Chautauqua Movement, named after the town in New York State where it began. Once again, artists, musicians, educators and people gathered in the shady, idyllic circle to enjoy art, food and conversation. It was a true example of what can be achieved by dedicated community volunteers.



Visitors were impressed by the recently refurbished gazebo that has been in Queen's Circle since the late 1990s.  Now painted a light silvery green, it blends in with the trees and plantings that adorn the lush circle. Shade trees protected the artists and their works from the summer sun and a breeze kept things cool and comfortable. The work on the gazebo was moved ahead at the request of the Friends of Crystal Beach, along with a generous donation to the project so that visitors and residents alike would enjoy the park even more this summer.

 Circle of Art creator and coordinator, Gayle Martineau worked tirelessly for months on the project. She got a lot of help from other Friends of Crystal members, especially Karen Davis-Matthews, who also took Second Place in the visitor poll. Paul Lewis took First and Stacey Thomas came in Third. Artists were very impressed by the treatment they received and the sales they made of their artwork. All have indicated they will be back next year on July 23, 2016 for the second Circle of Art exhibition. Local students were also represented and awarded ribbons for their efforts.

Bob Steckley provided food along with his fabled Crystal Beach Waffles and Suckers. Nothing better than sharing a blooming onion in the shade while visiting with friends and neighbours. Hot dogs and all the other great food he serves up were washed down with Crystal Beach Loganberry. Other soft drinks were offered by The Friends of Crystal Beach along with their popular tee shirts and special tote bags with the Circle of Art logo. Even palette-shaped homemade shortbread cookies made by Gayle and her friend Mel were available.

A great assortment of door prizes was raffled off, provided by a number of local businesses. Buskers offered ambient music and even visiting canines were provided drinking water, treats and clean-up bags.

As an observer and a volunteer for this event, I must say that this is what I have always envisioned for Crystal Beach and Queen's Circle. It has taken years for Crystal Beach to come back from the devastation of the closing of the amusement park. At least a dozen new people to the area introduced themselves and told why they chose to relocate to Crystal Beach. One couple said they had been trying for several years to find the right place to buy. The tortured Era of the Condo was never mentioned; people were just too happy at what they saw yesterday in Crystal Beach. Meanwhile, that morning was the annual Crystal Beach Drive/Terrace Lane garage Sale. Another long-standing tradition that draws people from all over.

There was another very important event going that day in Waverly Beach: the dedication of a plaque commemorating the Niagara Movement, the forerunner of the NAACP which is the leader in the civil rights movement in the United States. A representative of Barack Obama, President of the United States was on hand as well as a number of local and national dignitaries. As many know, Fort Erie was an important stop on the fabled Underground Railway for runaway slaves from the US in the years preceding the American Civil War in 1861. It was a natural setting for a meeting of civil rights advocates; it is now recognized as a birthplace for the movement.

To sum this all up, I have to recount a statement made by a visitor to the Friends of Crystal Beach tent:

"Thank you for all you do."

Amen to that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

WHEN IT ALL STARTED

In a recent opinion piece by Kris DubĂ©, the former editor of the Fort Erie Times, now working for the on-line Niagara Bullet, he talked about the "healing" taking place regarding Bay Beach as a result of the Bay Beach Study now being undertaken to plan the future of the publicly owned Bay Beach Properties. What the people will be treated to is a nice wish list that local residents helped create. Sure, the locals are happy: the early plans have all the factors that people have wanted since the property was bought in 2001. Too bad that there were two attempts to change the very nature of the property away from a public-friendly parkland and parking spaces to commercial/residential property. (It must be stated that the property, under the previous owners did contain residential units. However, those units were razed shortly after the property was purchased by the town.) 

In 2002, an attempt was made to sell off the north sections of the property that contained parking lots in order to fund a section of the Friendship Trail. That proposal was met with fierce opposition and it was eventually dropped as the Crystal Beach Neighbourhood Plan was being formulated. In 2005, council voted to accept the award-winning plan which stated that the whole property, save one tiny piece, be retained as public. A height limit of three stories for new builds was also included in the plan.

Well, a friend recently unearthed an interoffice memo from 2008 which contained the whole real agenda of the then town planner Rino Mostacci and the then town CAO Harry Schlange. 

WARNING: These two now hold similar posts at the Region after both bounced around in other communities, presumably waiting for the mess they helped create to settle down.

So, behold the beginning of the Molinaro Years:





Sunday, July 19, 2015

INTERESTING WEEK COMING UP

Well, first. Let's hope that the predicted thunderstorms don't land in Crystal Beach during the Waterfront Park Concert with The Remnants tonight (Sunday.)  The second in the concert series sponsored by The Friends of Crystal Beach will feature songs of the 60s and 70s. The popular events attract hundreds out for the free concerts. Bring a lawn chair and enjoy.

UPDATE: A few rain drops fell; the wind was wild; but quite a few music lovers were treated to a great evening from a stellar band, The Remnants. Even the mayor and his wife showed up. Next big date is August 9 when the Toronto All Star Big Band brings its sound back for the fifth year. 

SATURDAY: JULY 25 - CIRCLE OF ART at Queen's Circle in Crystal Beach. 10:00 am - 5:00 p.m. Check out what local artists are doing. Another event in our walkable community.

But first,

On Friday, July 24, lawyers for both sides in the now dismissed conflict of interest case will meet again in court to decide the costs of the case and who will pay them. Hint: Tim Whitfield may be on the hook for a great deal of the costs not covered by insurance since it was his name on the lawsuit against The Four. 

Just another reminder of the "community-minded citizens" who pledged their support for this lawsuit which has has succeeded in ruining the reputations of four innocent men who were trying to represent the people who voted them into office in 2010. Now they have been vindicated, but the damage was done. Which is why the lawsuit was brought forth in the first place. Let's hope the following keep their promise to support Tim Whitfield (A.K.A. Strawman):

Here is the list as copied from the official list supplied by the court:


1. Bridgeburg Holdings Limited
1625 Niagara Parkway
Fort Erie, Ontario L2A 5M4

Owner: James Miller

2.  Zavcor Trucking
3650 Eagle Street
P.O. Box 180
Stevensville, ON L0S 1S0

Owner: Kirk Zavitz

3.  1049506 Ontario Inc
2045 Niagara Parkway
Fort Erie, Ontario L2A 5M4

Owner: William Miller

4. Garrison Square Plaza Inc.
6150 Valley Way, Suite 104
Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 1Y3

Owner: Artaj Singh

5.  Howard Beattie, Valerie Beattie
649 Lakeshore Road
Fort Erie, Ontario L2A 1B8

6. Employment Professionals Canada
1220 Garrison Road
Fort Erie, Ontario L2A 1P1

Owner: Marina Butler


Marina Butler is the most interesting name on this list. She brought a compliance audit request against John Hill shortly after the 2010 election where he won over incumbent Tim Whitfield (there's that name again) in a landslide. A costly, taxpayer-funded exercise in revenge, the compliance audit netted nothing of any note in Hill's financial statement for election expenses. Then she allegedly went on the fund a nasty billboard and a slanderous flyer that was put in residents' mail boxes. Of course, only Kim Zanko (oh, another name we have become familiar with) accepted responsibility for the actions, citing a "group of concerned citizens" as the donors.

Flash forward to 2014 and looky here! Marina Butler runs against John Hill and beats him handily! What a surprise. Well played, Marina. Well played. You and your "concerned citizen" friends managed to disrupt the democratic process with a well-planned campaign to unseat four duly-elected councillors who demonstrated  that they were not going to fall into line behind the mayor-by-five-votes and the rogue EDTC head honcho. So, in your mind, Marina, and those of your "concerned citizens," all well-known and well-heeled, the town must be rid of these elected officials - one way or the other.

Project 4-2-0 was almost a complete success. It's all yours now, Marina and friends. You can do your worst - and it looks like you're right on track to drive property taxes into the ozone. Stand up for the regular folks of Fort Erie? Of course not. You and your "concerned citizens" will continue to stick together. You will take that to the bank (laughing all the way.)

Lest we forget that this is what "concerned citizens" with money are capable of doing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

WHEN JOHN OLIVER SPEAKS; PEOPLE SHOULD LISTEN


He's funny, but he's also telling the truth. He just delivers it in a funny way so that it doesn't hurt so much. This clip is about how sport teams hold towns hostage until the taxpayers cough up enough money to build a new stadium. As any Buffalo Bills fan can remember, there has been a long-standing struggle to keep the Bills in Buffalo amid numerous threats that the team owner, the late Ralph Wilson, dropped until he got what he wanted. Now, the new Bills owners are talking about a new waterfront stadium which brings many of us back over forty years ago when such a stadium idea was mired in corruption and politics.

It also brings to mind the Canadian Motor Speedway which has threatened to pull up stakes unless some level of government (the taxpayers) provides it with infrastructure and roads to the race track. Considering what other sports teams have been able to coerce local taxpayers to fund, the CMA is not far off the mark in its demands. 

Please pay close attention to the myth that such a new facility automatically breathes new economic life into a community. That is totally false. Here in Fort Erie we have heard that refrain sung many times by developers and entrepreneurs. It has been sung to a fare-thee-well by the people behind the CMA. In the John Oliver video, someone said that the towns would be better off if the millions invested in sports arenas was simply dropped from a plane on the populace. The people would benefit more from that than they would from a new stadium.

Think about it. And ask yourself this: why the delay in the building of the race track? Are the Middle Eastern owners waiting for cash-strapped Ontarians to make the first move and supply the massive infrastructure improvements before the Middle Eastern owners actually start to build? Were the millions in tax breaks not enough?






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