Category Archives: General

Mayor’s Explanation Leaves More Questions

Via his blog, St. Albert’s mayor attempts to explain his double-dipping to his readers.

One reason presented is the challenge he faces serving as the CRB chair, as well as mayor of this city and “which hat [he should] wear in given situations.”  If it is such a challenge for him, would it not be prudent for him to relinquish one of these positions?  The hours he dedicates to the CRB are the hours that St. Albert loses to having an individual give his ‘all’ to this city.  Regardless if he can figure out which hat to wear, it does not excuse the double-dipping.

The Mayor also cites relying on a professional accountant for advice.  His personal taxes are his business.  But the city’s business are the people’s.  It would be surprising that a qualified PA would even think of advising anyone to double dip.  Is this a way of passing the buck?

And how confident are taxpayers suppose to feel that scribbling “notes to self” is taking care of the money St. Albertans have entrusted this person with?  Do the mayor’s lack of an ATM card or a debit card really have anything to do with him claiming the same expenses from the CRB and the City?  Definitely not.

The blog entry continues on with the number of events he has attended over the last seven years.  Attending community events is part of a mayoral job and have nothing to do with claiming the same expenses from the CRB and the City of St. Albert.

He also discusses his donations to various causes and charities.  That is all fine and good, but the fact is, these donations are tax deductable.  The Mayor does not seem to realize that his personal donations do not account for the dismal way taxpayers’ money has been abused.  Or did he expect that his double-dipping was a donation from the taxpayers?

Throughout this blog entry, the Mayor has attempted to garner the emotional side of his readers by citing various activities that are common duties when accepting the mayoral position stating that any other reports have been biased.  Grabbing emotion is a good political ploy.  But the fact is that the various reports in media have been quoting what the Mayor himself has publically said.  The signed expense reports he files with the City and the CRB also state that what he claims  as expenses are accurate.  How can these sources be biased?

They ar e not biased as can be seen when he once again openly admits that “of course, my record-keeping of mileage and expenses has been inadequate”

Speaking of the signed paperwork the Mayor submitted to the CRB and the City of St. Albert, he can not expect the tax paying public to take his own self-audit as credible.  Especially with the history of mismanagement he even admits to.  Hiding income and double-dipping are serious.  Multiple double-dibbing is even more serious and does not constitute a simple mistake.

With Mayor Crouse’s business and educational background, and as a politician for the last ten years, he, more than anyone else should know and understand double-dipping.  Although he has given each councillor a run down of their supposed errors, one thing remains certain – no other council member to date has been found doing the same.

And why has Mr. Draper done a turn-around from early September where he felt that it would not be prudent to involve city staff because of legalities.  Yet now he is willing to submit some poor tax consumer to looking through Crouse’s books and become a scapegoat for Crouse’s mistakes should this be taken further.  Or is there something in the city’s books that would make certain individuals uncomfortable  if an external audit were done?

An external audit would give more validity to taxpayers than having someone in the city’s admin department doing it.  Presently taxpayers only know of the  confirmed instances where the Mayor double-dipped.  If there was truly nothing more to hide, Mayor Crouse would have readily accepted an external audit.  As it is, there will always be questions as to his honesty and ability to work responsibly and honourably with taxpayers’ dollars.

A definite, obvious blemish on St. Albert’s politics – one that will continue to fester with each tax and budget season.

 

Crouse Supporters Miss the Point

Although loyal in their support for Nolan Crouse, Doug Musey’s October 11th and Gail Barrington-Moss’ October 15th letter to the Gazette both seem to have missed the crux of the real issue in regards to Nolan Crouse’s expenses.  And that issue is the oft repeated offense of bilking taxpayers in both St. Albert and the Capital Region.

Nolan Crouse’s apologies do not erase what occurred over a confirmed period of nineteen months. Saying he has paid back his “indiscretions” does not erase reality.  Mike Duffy lost out trying to “correct” his error by paying back.  Alison Redford lost out trying to “correct” her errors by reimbursing taxpayers.  Of course both pleaded their innocence in having bilked taxpayers. Only when an independent audit was done in the latter two cases did the real indepth picture emerge.

To date Nolan Crouse refuses to have an independent external audit done.  He has been fighting against the idea for months.  Why?  Could the answer possibly be found in his shoebox?

Barrington-Moss and Musey would both like St. Albertans’ focus to go back to the multi-million dollars the city collects to continue on with “important matters that need to be addressed”. (1)  Before that can happen though, taxpayers from St. Albert and the Capital Region deserve to have some semblance of trust in this politician as well as what he does with taxpayers’ dollars.   Closeted shoebox finances are not the calibre of accounting any municipality should be happy with.  It brings to question how well taxpayers’ dollars are being handled, especially with the 75 additional mistakes Crouse himself discovered in his now famous shoebox.

With an independent audit the “tiny oversight” (2) may, like in Duffy’s and Redford’s cases, present a bigger troubling picture.  On the other hand, such an audit could lessen the doubt of the mayor’s ability to overlook “the day-to-day business of a multi-million dollar city.” (3)

The question goes out to Mayor Crouse:  How serious are you in clearing your name and offering the transparency you campaigned on a year ago?

References:

(1) St. Albert Gazette, Your Views, Flogging a dead horse over expenses, October 15, 2014

(2), (3) St. Albert Gazette, Your Views, Mayor deserves benefit of the doubt, October 11, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Education

What a fine example our city politicians have given to the students of tomorrow. Is it pushing or bullying their agenda through that sets them apart from those who seek a viable solution for all concerned? Is responsibly studying the pros and cons of a problem an example of the imprint we want to leave on young, impressionable minds? It seems that with what has happened to Erin Ridge residents, students have been taught that it is okay to ‘bully’ one’s own agenda through regardless of the cost it leaves on others. Bully, grab and run because “I” want.

Throughout this sham, students will have learned that reasoning and logic is futile when confronting the illogical minds of adults who can not lead. That can be evidenced in the silence of three councillors, the illogical words of another and the incoherency of a mayor who does not follow the City’s “vision” and bylaws which state that green spaces are to be protected. And then this portion of the council has the audacity to say they want to institute other policies? For what purpose when they can not follow the policies they have already put in place.  A sad statement about individuals whose education was obviously wasted.

Include how some of these local politicians did their homework as a bad example to students. Not doing their research (Draper) results in poor grades. And how can we expect children to regularly attend government institutions when adults like Draper and Crouse, who are paid generous salaries by the taxpayer, do not attend public meetings.

Oh yes, the list continues. Rudely interrupting people while they speak in front of a group; twitter, shuffle papers, and refuse eye contact with those who make an effort of doing their homework as they present it to the ‘class’. Communication is a two way street. Sadly even Councillor Osborne, who ran his platform on this single item, lost his ability to do so.

Who did these four councillors and mayor listen to? Not the residents who did their homework and coherently presented their facts. Not Henri Lemire, the Francophone district’s superintendent who had previously stated “We know from experience our parents are quite accommodating.  If there’s a new school, they’ll make sure their kids attend regardless of where it is. Obviously we want a site that’s large enough.” [emphasis stabnow]  Not even the traffic study had an effect on these individuals. And not even the coherency of their colleagues MacKay and Hughes made a dent.

But they did listen to the one who did sloppy homework – city administrator, Patrick Draper. The one who gets paid an exorbitant salary to not even take the initiative to go back to the province and ask for a short extension while another site was studied. Excellent examples of sloughing off and still expect to pass the grade.

Rounding off this insult to education was left to Crouse at the third and final reading of amendments saying that his representation went “beyond taxpayers and voters” to include children. Of course that is at the cost of other children.

Is it any wonder that our society is such a mess?

 

Post Election Reflections

by Ted Durham

Now that we are past the election and are settling in with a new council, I want to congratulate them for being elected. It was a campaign that was interesting and opened some eyes up. It opened mine up as a candidate. You see, I learned that the election wasn’t about the issues, but about how a person is perceived. Many of the winning candidates didn’t talk about issues at all. They talked about vision and why we shouldn’t worry about the direction our city is headed.

Here is the reality I now see.

Read more on “Post Election Reflections“.

It’s Back!

Same concept.  New form.

Check out our new page:  “YOUR tax dollars

This page is dedicated to how present council spends YOUR tax dollars. Dates votes occurred are included. Comments are always welcome.

As always, guest authors are welcome to discuss any of the issues. Links will be added to the chart as discussions, editorials and/or articles permit.

Word document for the chart will be supplied on regular intervals.

Forgot Democracy

Democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life.

It is surprising with Premier Redford’s background that her government conveniently forgot about democracy as they tried to entrench Bill 28 into law.

When Mayor Crouse stated that this Bill “sends a strong message to municipalities to co-operate or else”(1), he should have included that this threat goes against everything that democracy in Canada stands for.

To subject voters to a bill that gives them no say in what happens to them, their city or their future is as undemocratic as it can get. The CRB is already undemocratic. It was never elected into being by voters. It has no obligations or accountability to the electorate and systematically shrinks individual property rights and liberties.

As for those mayors and reeves, who still respect the voice of the people who put them in office, they would be silenced with threats of heavy fines and/or incarceration. How democratic is that?

Albertans can be thankful that the provincial opposition parties spoke out as strongly as they did. Otherwise this province would be another step closer to a soviet style council system.

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(1) St. Albert Gazette, Province puts CRB law on hold, November 2, 2013

Money Talks

Dollar protests seems to speak louder than commonsense nowadays. Remember the following boycotts:

Twitter

Journal News Advertisers

Television Advertisers

Yellow Tail Wine

And then there are the numerous boycotts Starbucks faced over the years from political to their ethics in coffee bean purchases.

Observe any of the boycotts from the watermelon movement to see how effective they are and the results they achieve.

The well organized ones definitely make an impact.

So there is really no need to sit back and allow media or politicians to take over the course of the next four years while voters sit back and wait for the next election. Taxpayers can effect change. It can obviously done with class even though we are talking money. But that means tenacity, organization and real passion about the end goal.

If there is something bothersome about what the media presents (i.e. unbalance reporting), get the ball rolling by contacting others who think alike. And then contact advertisers en masse. Let them know that as long as they are supporting the views of a particular media by advertising with them, you will boycott them and seek out their competitor instead.

To stay profitable, corporations, small businesses and organizations rely on the consumer. When they realize that consumer actions will affect their bottom line, they will act accordingly. So will media when they realize that their bottom line is being affected.

Even though the non-taxpayer may have swayed the results of St. Albert’s outcome, it is the taxpayers who will carry the burden of those results for the next four years. Taxpayers still have a voice. A stronger voice than the non-taxpayer. Use it. Use it with wisdom. Use it with class. But use it.

If you don’t like your tax dollars beautifying businesses (When was the last time taxpayers contributed to beautify your home?), let businesses know that they will be boycotted. Sales or services bring in more than $2,500 dollars and most businesses will recognize that.

If an organization supports using your tax dollars and you don’t agree with it, voice it. With your wallet.

Businesses are more receptive to the consumer than government is. They can not afford to lose revenue. Governments, on the other hand, believe that the taxpayers’ trough will never empty.

As a taxpayer it is your voice. Your wallet. You choose.

Scorecard 5 – Final Update

All candidates’ websites, youtube viewings, as well as both local papers up to and including October 19, 2013 have been researched for updated information. Final results can be viewed on the SCORECARD page above.

If you find the information useful as a tool in aiding your decision, pass it on to someone on your addy list.

Vote educated.  Vote smart.

Class is . . . .

Mayoral Candidate Shelley Biermanski.

Her agenda – the people of St. Albert. Her interest – the people of St. Albert. Her goal as Mayor – improve life for all  the people of St. Albert.

She offers something residents have been missing – genuine concern to raise the standard of living for everyone  in St. Albert. And that can be brought about through the platform Ms. Biermanski campaigns on.

Fiscal responsibility, reasonable utility rates, reinstating the municipal planning commission, repealing DARP, government transparency, retaining an internal auditor, protecting taxpayers rights and freedom and building positive relationships with surrounding municipalities are commonsense approaches to strengthening life in this city.

Shelley Bermanski’s high standard of ethics, her competence, her openess and her approachability will serve her well as Mayor.