Monthly Archives: September 2013

Scorecard

Too often voters get caught up in a barrage of promises, hints of promises, platitudes and political speak . Trying to wade through what each candidate actually  says can be a task in itself.

To help voters out, the Stabnow Team has gone through various campaign websites, as well as on and offline media sources, set up a table of promises/issues and checked off each candidate’s stated  position. Implications, generalities and vagueness are not and will not be included as voters can not hold individual candidates accountable for them after the election is over.

Stabnow will continue to monitor on and offline sources and keep this table updated till October 21, 2013.

Mid-October we will print out candidate names for each category for those who have difficulty navigating the chart.

“Scorecard” will receive its own page (see “SCORECARD” in the “About” line above) and a brief announcement will be sent out each time an update occurs.

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It is time to concentrate on those candidates who are interested in representing all residents. Time to concentrate on those candidates who are actually interested in discussing the issues. Time to put those candidates who respect everyone, regardless of fame or anonymity, forward.

Enough of the candidates who seek out sympathy from the electorate to get votes. Enough of the candidates who skirt the issues. Enough of the candidates who favour private interest groups above citizens, are funded by private interest groups and have no serious intention of changing their spending course should they come into office. Enough of the whiners.

It is interesting to see what candidates are actually made of. One candidate’s property was vandalized. Supporters were furious. The candidate? Probably also furious, but she did not make it a campaign issue. She continued concentrating on the task ahead and that is representing the people of St. Albert and the issues that affect their lives.  That  is character strength.

What did local media do? Nothing.

But wait. It did address letters written in regards to another candidate. In fact, this second incident did headline the front page. Some considered it free advertising for the candidate.

RCMP filed the incident as non-threatening. But local media still saw fit to headline it. And the candidate? He saw it as a desperate opportunity to garner sympathy votes. And he continues to do so when one reads his on line verbiage.

Let us be realistic. Being in the public eye will bring out the negative in people. It will bring out the dissatisfaction the electorate feels towards someone attempting to lead this city. Whether one likes it or not, it goes with the job.

So dear citizens . . . . are you looking for strength in leadership or are you happy with a whiner?

If it is strength, then quit giving whiners free advertising. Start supporting the candidate who displays strength. Start exclusively using the candidate’s name you support where ever and whenever you can. Whiners have enough funds to keep your tears flowing should they happen to get into office. They don’t need to have their names flow from your lips.

Remember, even bad advertising is still advertising.

Fluff or Meat and Potatoes?

Day One of St. Albert’s municipal election campaign officially starts today. What will residents be presented with? Fluff to steer them away from the real issues at hand, or meat and potatoes that will feed them for the next four years?

Incumbents have their history in office to deal with. Platitudes that a new candidate “might” get away with will be difficult for incumbents to fall back on. They will be thoroughly scrutinized and will be answering to the voting public for their last three years in office.

New candidates will have their work cut out for them too. They will have to be up to date on their facts and figures. They will have to make sure that any public statements they make in any venue will not come back to haunt them. After all, it is called dirty politics for a reason. Those that have been in the public eye for several years will, like the incumbents, also be scrutinized for the worth of their words and their past history.

Both incumbents and new candidates alike can be thankful that it is only four weeks before a new council finds itself in office. If they were south of the border, they would have to be on their toes a lot longer.

And the public . . . . they will have to remember that the next four weeks will impact them for at least the next four years, if not longer. Let us hope that the typical apathy or complaints of election season are not as strong as voter turnout at the polls will be.

Here we go . . . . . .

36 Points That Don’t “Add” Up

Yes, it’s Election Season. Time to get out as much ammunition as possible to refute the obvious and hope that there are still gullible individuals out there who don’t take notice of the mail they receive from the City in June.

The Mayor’s preceding campaign platforms advocating that this taxation trend is not sustainable is past amusing when one reads how supportive he now is of the high taxes his terms in office have offered.

Take a look at the Mayor’s defensive list advocating this city’s high residential taxes.

1. He states that the lack of industry in St. Albert contributes to a “major quality of life factor” to residents. Does it Mr. Mayor? Is that why singles and young families relocate to other cities and towns so they can use their hard-earned dollars on strengthening the local economy instead of the local government’s coffers? Is that why seniors’ quality of life has diminished as they fight to sustain themselves in their homes on their fixed incomes while you continue to dip into their wallets?

2. Touting St. Albert’s public transit as providing value to this community is knee slapping. If seeing empty buses continually driving around St. Albert is proof of value then Mr. Mayor and certain members of his council are admitting to throwing money out of those ‘exhaust pipes’.

3 & 4. Reaching for the sky, are we? Aside from the 1.2 million dollar cost on the one kilometer of 40 trees on St. Albert Trail, one may want to look at the quality of pruning that is done. Ever notice all the new growth around the base of trees that the pruners just turn a blind eye to? Maybe the Mayor has not experienced his much touted waste management trucks doing free pruning. Now that’s a cost saver! Or the pruners themselves tearing mature limbs off trees with their vehicles. Oooops! Driving talent or part of the job description? And then there are the residents who end up planting trees on their front boulevards because the city just – wasn’t – getting – around – to – it.

5. Pothole maintenance? Obviously the mayor rides his bike too much to notice the road surface vehicles drive on. If it is not ‘dips’, it is a roller coaster ride for vehicles to manoeuver over. Impressive, yes? Definitely for the shocks, front end and suspension. By the way, who eventually pays for the wheel alignments?

6. “Outstanding amenities and services for arts” can also be found in neighbouring communities. Next.

7. Puhleeeze. Schools in neighbouring communities also have an excellent rating. Some even significantly better than St. Albert’s.

8. Not having the library information at hand that the Mayor has and seeing he has decided not to share the applicable link, Stabnow declines to comment on this point.

9. A sidewalk on both sides of St. Albert Trail? Other than the foot-walking public inhaling fumes while they contemplate the costs that this extravaganza offers, what is the purpose? Is this part of ICLEI’s “road diet” mandate to you Mr. Mayor? To get everyone out of their cars “to save the bees, to save the whales, to save those snails“?

10. St. Albert’s graffiti policy costs taxpayers money? Clarification would be most welcome on how this costs taxpayers when the City’s recommendation is that “All you have to do is record, report and remove.” while the owner of the property does all the work???

11. Without the city or the Mayor giving residents the transparency of the annual costs of servicing river crossings, this becomes an election ‘feel good’ comment.

12. Traffic fatalities – Again, an election statement that gives neither a comparison of previous years to present, nor any link to support the Mayor’s statement.

13. Hmmmm . . . .”some communities” seems to be the operative phrase. In other words there are surrounding communities that do offer, if not the same, at least similar programs for community safety. And are not parts of this list repetitive of point seven??

14. But. . . but the communities that DO subsidize a volunteer centre, victim’s services and a 50+ club still have lower taxes.

15. What communities is St. Albert being compared to? And how many of these communities actually have active and viable programs that do not add to the tax burden of residents? Or have them taxed to the extent St. Albert does?

16. Another repetition on traffic safety. This time it is point twelve.

17. Snow clearing? Oh yes. Most definitely an higher standard when one considers that the entrance of property owners’ driveways have to be shovelled to get vehicles out in the mornings and public sidewalks have to be cleared of the mountains of snow piled on to them by the City’s snow clearing crew. And what about saving those snow clearing expenses when the snow is already melting and pavement is clearly visible?

18. The claim to fame that “St. Albert’s green space per capita is one of the highest in Canada” seems to be in a fight with numerous other cities when one inserts the above phrase into a search engine. Who – is – telling – the – truth?

19. Countdown lights – Another repeated point on traffic. (See point 12)

20. Operative word is “some”.

21. Free parking? Where? At city hall? Residential areas? At businesses? Downtown? Does this cost us money? If not, why is it being included in this list? Or is this an hint of things to come? You know . . . . . more revenue.

22. Para-ramps – great concept. May St. Albert have that same respect in other areas for those who are physically challenged.

23. It seems that cities of similar size can boast an hospital and churches. Small communities obviously won’t have hospitals.

24. Handi-bus – again, the writer should compare this to communities of similar size.

25. & 26 were previously mentioned. The continued repetitiveness should seriously worry the voter as to the ability of the writer of the original article in a leadership position.

27. Crime rate. Statistics Canada does a great job of showing the decrease in various communities. Seems the majority of communities are becoming a lot safer. This is definitely something to keep in mind for future policing costs.

28. Chamber of Commerce – What does the Mayor mean by “thriving”? And in what context.

29. And residents should be proud to pay so that St. Albert can “boast” larger per capita basis ice program than other communities?

30. Railroad – What annual costs are incurred by taxpayers?

32. It would be nice if taxpayers knew what the savings and the cost would be if FCSS funds were reduced.

33. Free Wifi? A definite misnomer. Who is paying for “free”?

34. “Some communities” are probably quite happy not being burdened with the likes of Servus Place.

35. Oh, yes. We definitely agree that St. Albert’s waste system comes at a cost. That cost could most definitely be trimmed.

36. It seems that the “support” programs have increased during the Mayor’s reign. The question is “Why?”.  And why is local government involving itself in so many programs that were once independent of its involvement?

 

“Our View” on “Citizen Activism”

Today’s world has plenty of opportunity to research, read and express itself. Thankfully. With the growth of alternative media we no longer need to rely on standard government and corporate lapdog media to receive news and opinions. And that is a good thing.

Which brings us to a local media editorial on citizen activism.

Merriam Webster defines activism as “a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue”.

Let’s repeat that – “a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action”.

Erin Ridge residents did just that as they stood in front of council opposing the added traffic and building congestion that would affect the quality of life in their neighbourhood.

Even though their opposition ran into a brick wall, they still did what was their right to do. They did not, as the editorial suggested they do, slackly sit back and wait for an election. A ludicrous suggestion at best given the time line and issue that was at stake. This was a concern that needed addressing NOW, not on election day. That is what activism is about. Citizens actively taking a stance on issues that affect them.

Belittling the numbers who stood up to speak their concerns, belittling the numbers who supported those standing up to speak exhibits the extent of the editor’s understanding of how our political system works.

Is it worthwhile to continue reading editorials like this? Probably. It is one way of doing damage control of a media that has lost touch with its audience and reality. And by doing damage control, it sends out a message to support those who still appreciate and respect that citizens have a right to speak up and oversee those they hire, to do the job they should be doing.