This Blog will discuss politics, government, corruption, police, S.I.U., courts, education, min. of attorney general, min. of labour, v.o.i.c.e. and other current and past events of interest to concerned citizens. In the "About me" section to the right and down I have included the names of persons whom I have tremendous respect for. Their influence on me however has been primarily environmental (and personal) and this is therefore a disclaimer that all words posted on this Blog/Website are mine and I alone am responsible for them. I say this with the greatest respect and affection to my friends.
Monday, September 30, 2013
Well this time it isn't a Waterloo Regional Police Services officer. This one worked for the Guelph Police Service. Last Friday's Waterloo Region Record carried this story "Disgraced officer to resign in 7 months". Constable Panylo according to his lawyer was a drug addict as in "Addiction got a hold of him.". The article mentioned that the officer stole and consumed a quantity of methadone that had been seized during a raid. Wow! My understanding has always been that methadone was a safer replacement for heroin. If this officer was on heroin then how did he last any length of time as a police officer? Or can methadone be substituted for other addictive drugs?
Regardless drug addiction is far worse than alcohol addiction and as far as most are concerned is 1000 times worse than somebody using marijuana recreationally. Clearly this officer was in big personal trouble and desperately needed to get sorted out. As far as the seven months of paid suspension his lawyer suggested that "He has a family to support. We can't just kick him out on the street.". Well I'd suggest that Constable Panylo is awfully lucky. The rest of us get turfed at will, without cause and if were lucky the monies oweing us through wages, overtime and summer holidays.
Friday, September 27, 2013
One of the definitions of corruption is "riddled with errors". Therefore calling an institution corrupt could refer to criminal matters such as "on the take", or taking bribes or in this case simply corrupt as in rotten or as in riddled with errors. It is beginning to become obvious that the brain trusts at the top of organizations aren't there because they are smarter than their colleagues or more knowledgeable. They are there because they have convinced their superiors that they are "company men or women". They will follow orders even immoral and possibly illegal ones if necessary. They are not rats, snitches or whistleblowers; no matter what. As these people ascend the corporate or government ladder they make sure that the people coming up below them share their organizational view. Their raises and promotions rely on blind loyalty and obedience. Upon this alter right and wrong loses its' importance. Keep in mind that despite so called progressive attitudes you can only sacrifice human beings rights and dignity by viewing them as less than human. How else do you rationalize an inmate strangling themself to the point of turning purple as merely "acting out"?
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Policy trumped "human decency" in Ashley Smith's treatment: guards' lawyer". Joanna Pauline tried to defend the management plan for Ashley Smith. This so called plan endorsed by both the warden and allegedly Correctional Services Canada basically said to ignore a strangling inmate until point of death (non breathing). Ms. Pauline under pressure from her warden and CSC claims she did not know that her memos critical of guards would lead to Ashley Smith's death. She also was accused of throwing guards under the bus by the Smith family lawyer, after Ashley's death. All in all it is a damning indictment of theoretical decision making at the top causing havoc and tragedy at ground level.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Deputy blames warden at Smith inquiry". The "deputy" is Joanna Pauline and the warden is Cindy Berry. Joanna Pauline claims that she sent memos to middle managers at the direction of the warden (Cindy Berry) advising that guards not go in and remove ligatures from Ashley Smith's neck. Allegedly this was because Ms. Smith wasn't in medical distress although with earlier testimony that her face was repeatedly turning purple; that seems very bizarre. Pauline also claims that she never gave direct orders to guards to stay out of Smith's cell unless she had stopped breathing. Boy talk about mincing words and stickhandling. Pauline also said that "...she believed the number of incidents in which guards used force on the inmate (ie. remove ligatures) were considered a "performance measure" for the prison's management.". Again Pauline blamed the warden Cindy Berry for changes in guards' reports for the purpose of not alarming national headquarters of the Correctional Services of Canada (CSC).
It seems clear to me the level of stupidity and negligence that led to this unecessary tragedy only increased the farther up the ladder of command. The people at the top were in fantasy land squeezed by their even dumber superiors who knew even less. Nobody at the top seemed willing to acknowledge the real problems at the bottom rung.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record has their own Editorial titled "Another view: Tougher discipline for bad teachers". The Record basically asks why it has taken this long for a proper disciplinary system and standards for Ontario's teachers to be in place. They also point out that the catalyst wasn't so much the long time disgrace of very bad teachers not being disciplined as it was the Toronto Star's coverage of the Ontario College of teachers "...decisions and practices in disciplinary matters.". Then the College hired retired judge Patrick Lesage to review their policies and procedures. More still needs to be done and as the Record says "Sexually dangerous teachers need to be prevented from teaching in the province. And ones found guilty of other forms of professional misconduct need to be more suitably and publicly disciplined as well.". Hallelujah! As I said earlier; decades overdue. Shame on the politicians, unions and the school boards who found it more convenient to look the other way and let students and parents suffer.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Deputy warden Nicki Smith was testifying at the Ashley Smith inquest that she had no recollection of orders for guards to stay out of Ashley Smith's cell as long as she was still breathing. Hunhh" That's a direct contradiction of numerous guards who have testified to date. Also where did this particular Deputy warden come from. The names I recall were a Joanna Pauline and a Cindy Berry as the senior folk on site.
Neverthelss today's Waterloo Region Record has the following story "Deputy warden tells inquest she left Ashley Smith to staff". The Smith family lawyer, Julian Roy was not impressed with the memory lapses "...noting the witness had said she couldn't remember something more than 80 times during her testimony.". Perhaps the forgetfulness was a convenience or perhaps this is precisely why these inquests should not wait five years before getting underway. She was able to recall that she was not alarmed that Ashley Smith was turning purple while the guards stood and watched. She also offerred the insight that more mental health training for staff and a mental health facility for inmates was a good idea.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record has this Opinion piece by Luisa D'Amato titled "trustees see the mouse, not the elephant in the room". If only that were the problem. I suggest that the separate Board trustees know perfectly well what the problem is. It's the very same problem with the public school board. Basically the tails are wagging the dog. Overpaid, stuffed shirts and pompous asses working in a sheltered workshop environment with their focus on self agrandizement, personal status and financial rewards are in control. This includes senior board staff and senior union management. What a fiasco they've made of our school system all the time spending more and more taxpayers dollars while defending their empires. Luisa appropriately gives them hell for ignoring plummeting math scores while beating up on a progressive trustee who made a minor mistake. Luisa is right; they are bullies and stupid ones at that. I used to think the separate board had some honour and some ethics. Turns out they aren't that different from the public board.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record has an Opinion piece by Luisa D'Amato titled ""Bad apples" at regional police have got to go". Oh my but there behaviour was nasty. We aren't talking about police brutality or corruption. We are talking about rude, nasty behaviour that is completely uncalled for. Luisa D'Amato describes the specifics in her article and they are pretty bad. They do not exemplify even the minimum behaviour we deserve from our police officers. These officers behaviour has been the subject of a number of Record articles and for good reason. Luisa feels that all these officers need to be dismissed. While she's probably right I would like to know if there are any redeeming facts or characteristics that would justify salvaging their careers which look pretty bleak at the moment.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record has the following story "Ontario government to crack down on teacher misconduct". The first example given is this: "Teachers convicted of sexual abuse or child pornography won't be allowed back in the classroom for at least five years under new legislation...". Wow that's quite a crackdown. Silly me for thinking that currently a teacher convicted of abuses against children would NEVER be back in the classroom. These Liberals certainly have strange ideas of discipline.
As I already knew the College of Teachers was one more joke of so called accountability. Sure they occasionally disciplined bad teachers mildly but they didn't publish their names or anything else to properly stigmatize their behaviour. Hence they went right back to teaching with a mild wrist slap. Both the Toronto Star and the Lesage Commission further publicized the joke of teacher discipline in Ontario.
Now the Liberal government are reacting with so called tough legislation. It will only be tough enough to eliminate a few bad apples but the Libs don't want real deterrence because the Teachers Union would swing teachers votes to the NDP. There was a time I believed in unions. The teachers Unions seem to have cured me of that.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The following is but one more example of government misconduct and corruption. Our Ontario provincial government have just settled a class action lawsuit with 3,700 plaintiffs for $35 Million dollars. Today's Waterloo Region Record carry the story "Settlement reached over alleged abuse at provincial institutions". There was another story a day or two ago which I have a link to. I couldn't seem to get a link to today's story.
The Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia operated for 133 years until finally shut down in 2009. The Plaintiffs alleged almost daily abuse and humiliation while they were residents of the institution. The suit covered those institutionalized between 1945 and 2009. Think of the decades of complaints that went unresponded to. Think of the province doing their own investigation and then doing nothing for the former residents until they had their asses hauled into court. Clearly morals and ethics are not to be found in governments. I assume they just hoped that the former residents, as marginalized individuals, would just go quietly to their graves and not cause trouble for the government. Why are the responsible parties over the last decades not facing criminal charges? What kind of a society have we become to allow governments to abuse citizens by the thousands and then buy their way out of trouble with taxpayers' money? Shame on all of us!
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
I received a tutorial yesterday in regards to the Municipal Conflict Of Interest Act (MCIA). My overall impression is that it is almost expected that during a municipal councillor's four year term that at some point a financial/pecuniary conflict of interest will occur. Essentially the councillor declares the conflict and avoids either debating or voting on the issue that he has a conflict with. End of story and no big deal.
However when you are dealing with for example a committee of council I believe that things become much murkier. An environmental committee of council may be in a confrontational mode with a local polluter. Examples abound such as Safety-Kleen in Breslau, Ontario; Northstar Aerospace in Cambridge, Ontario; Chemtura in Elmira, Ontario; Ciba-Geigy (Novartis) again in Cambridge. Here you have a committee (of council) essentially focused on cleaning up groundwater and or cleaning up the local polluter's site. All these industries mentioned have hired consultants and unsurprisingly their consultants have no problem minimizing problems and especially minimizing (financially) the solutions.
Now under these circumstances how would John Q. Public react to the news that a committee member charged with the responsibility of representing the public interest; also had a personal financial interest with the polluter? This personal financial interest could be as minor as a small contract for renovations to a building on site or as significant as assisting with an on-site cleanup of a contaminated area. Either way I see a potential conflict between the member's public interest and their private interest.
This particular conflict of interest relates to optics and perception. Once your environmental committee has tacitly approved (with the strong urging of the municipality) the principle of members having business dealings with the polluter that they are supposedly confronting, being O.K.; the door to abuse is wide open. What prevents an unscrupulous polluting industry from "rewarding" committee members less confrontational and more cooperative behaviour with lucrative contracts? Essentially nothing. In my opinion the committee should have absolutely prohibited any such financial dealings/contracts. In the future if a member wishes to do business with the polluting company fine; but step down from your position on the environmental committee.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Last Tuesday's Waterloo Region Record had a Letter to the Editor titled "Police should only shoot as a last resort". This is a very practical and common sense position . Particularily so when firing a gun within a urban area with homes, pedestrians and children nearby. The police officer involved fired several shots at the windshield of a car moving towards him. The car did not stop and most likely the bullets all richocheted widely. The writer of the letter to the Editor suggests that "...those investigating this incident to drive down Sheldon Ave. and look at the surrounding homes, with all the toys on the lawns, and just see how shots fired there were not only dangerous but just plain stupid over a shoplifting.". Sheldon Ave. is just south and east of the intersection of Weber and Ottawa St. in Kitchener, Ontario.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record has the following story "Lac-Magantic train cargo as flammable as gasoline, but not identified properly". So isn't that a surprise that government oversight is lacking while industry self-regulation is MIA (missing in action). Not. Investigaters are trying to determine the motive for the intentional misgrading of the oil. It could be a commercial reason or perhaps an operating one. Regardless the oil was graded properly for it's road transportation and then downgraded for rail transport. The oil in the train came from the Bakken Shale formation of North Dakota. One of the questions facing investigaters is whether the Class 111 tank cars were adequate for the crude oil in reality versus it's downgraded staus. To date investigaters are not stating if the downgraded oil may have contributed to the disaster. What is slowly becoming apparent as with other disasters is that rarely is it a failure of a single component that causes a human disaster. It's usually a perfect storm of errors and or emissions.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Again this is a repeat of a scandal involving local police that has previously made the news. The story was in yesterday's Waterloo Region Record and was titled "Officers mocked mentally ill, injured". The scandal isn't about police brutality or corruption; it's about stupidity, juvenile behaviour and just plain bad decision making in hiring these individuals to be cops in the first place. When I was a young man the criteria were male, tall, white and a public school education. High school was O.K. as long as you weren't too obvious about it. Just what exactly are the criteria nowadays? High school, a two year Police Foundations college course and good interviews possibly. If there are any phschological tests done then how these apes passed them is incomprehensible. To read about breech of trust, breech of confidentiality and really bad taste then read the link to the Record story.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Officer who smoked pot fights for job". The officer's lawyer is attacking police management for using a different standard in discipling Officer Borda compared to several other officers also involved in off duty marijuana use. Officer Borda's lawyer noted "...that Justice K.E. McGowan said during Borda's sentencing that she found it "extraordinary" to see someone charged with trafficking for providing just one joint- something she hadn't seen in thirty years.". Apparently Jeremy Borda was the only Officer charged criminally while the others are or have faced Police Act charges only.
This case involving six Cambridge officers has been in the media off and on over at least the last couple of years. Because of multiple news stories there could be the impression given that there have been more officers involved in marijuana use than there has been. While I find this behaviour offensive for police officers who are supposed to be paragons of virtue nevertheless it should be kept in perspective. Thank God these aren't cases of drug ripoffs, evidence disappearing while in custody, bribes, shootings, assaults or far more serious offences by police officers. I am torn as to the appropriate penalties and discipline.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carried this story "Wardens could hold the key in Ashley Smith case". Deputy Warden Joanna Pauline and Cindy Berry the acting Warden are expected to testify in the coming weeks. The acting Warden had been fired shortly after Smith's death because Correctional Services Canada claimed that her subordinates had misinterpreted or misunderstood her concerns and that she Cindy Berry had failed to clarify her position with them. Frankly to me that sounds like a ton of hooey and bureaucratese coming from CSC. Many have testified that the guards were most emphatically told to stay out of Ashley Smith's cell until she stopped breathing. They followed orders after repeated pressure and prompting and the result was one dead young inmate. There are also suggestions that senior management at the Grand Valley Institution were also on pins and needles and trying not to attract attention from head office CSC due to ongoing use of force reports in regards to removing ligatures from Ashley Smith's neck. What has become clearer over time is that the ridiculous behaviour of the guards was very much directly ordered from above. Exactly how far above we have yet to learn.
Monday, September 9, 2013
My first and most important question is this: Where did the bullets end up? Apparently they didn't hit the driver or three passengers and I'd be willing to bet they didn't pierce the windshield at all. With four people in the car the odds of hitting someone/anyone are pretty darn good if they did penetrate the windshield. That's but one issue. One driver, three passengers and the officer opens fire on the car. Secondly windshields literally are designed and built to resist stones, even rocks coming off of dump trucks etc. while moving at highway speeds . They are also on a steep angle to further lessen the chance of foreign objects hitting and penetrating them. Handgun bullets aren't designed for the job. So getting back to my original question where did they go? Most probably they went in all directions. I would suggest that this officer really wasn't acting in the public's best interest in an urban environment firing "multiple shots" at a fleeing car. Today's Waterloo Region Record has this as the lead story on the front page namely "Officer hurt after run-in with car". Oh and the final problem with this shooting scenario is this. Was the officer attempting to arrest a murderer, rapist or child abducter? Apparently not and in fact the police call was in relation to a shoplifting incident at a Zehr's market. What the bloody hell! Keep this up Waterloo Regional Police and eventually the province will take your boy toys away. This is not responsible use of a firearm by anybody, anywhere.
Friday, September 6, 2013
I remember years ago stating that I knew a toxicologist who seemed to feel that each and every toxic chemical had some socially redeeming value. Similarily I had been told a few years back that the Ontario Municipal Board had never met a gravel pit that they didn't like. Shortly after I heard of a breakthrough whereby a proposed gravel pit in Puslinch Township got turned down by the O.M.B.. Since that time we've had a proliferation of gravel pit applications here in Woolwich Township. The proposed Capitol Paving Pit in West Montrose near the Covered Bridge seems to be defunct. Whether another beside it just downriver will sprout up may still be up in the air. Woolwich Township's CHL (Cultural Heritage Landscape) designation seems to have been the last straw for the West Montrose proponent.
I've just attended four days of hearings with lots more scheduled starting back next Tuesday at 10 am. in Woolwich Council Chambers in Elmira. These are for yesterday's mentioned proposed Hunder Pit. I am in awe of the time and money being spent on lawyers and technical experts. So far we've had experts on Noise and Traffic examined as well as cross-examined. Not only are these experts extremely knowledgeable but I also get the feeling that they are true believers. When it comes to defending their positions/opinions or defending their clients aspirations for a new gravel pit; these folks are not shrinking violets. On a couple of occasions I've seen the cross-examining lawyer get quite peeved with a witness for the proponent appearing to stick handle around a pretty straight up yes or no question.
Engineers can be specific to the point of nit picking. They also sometimes seem quite convinced that there isn't a technical problem or challenge that cannot be overcome. The money involved in either promoting or defending one of these pits is quite onerous. My understanding is that the bias for decades has been to approve pits while gradually conditions to mitigate the worst of their effects upon neighbours have been increasing. While I certainly don't know the outcome yet I can say that despite the optimism of the Noise and Traffic experts; there are major difficulties for the proponent to overcome.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
The pit is referred to as the Hunder Pit and is located just outside the village of Conestogo across the Grand River from what is known as the Golf Course subdivision. The proposed pit is a former farm and while directly beside the Grand River on the west has residences to the north, east and west. After three days of hearings to date the predominant attitude I'm seeing is coming from the witnesses for the proponent of the gravel pit. That attitude is that whatever the empirical numbers are for various criteria, we the proponent can and will meet them. Noise criteria appear to simply require higher berms and or operational features such as staggered times for equipment operation. One large bone of contention seems to be an operational feature that requires staggered equipment use with a nearby but unrelated gravel pit (Jigs Hollow Pit). Apparently noise criteria can be met if the Hunder Pit doesn't run their crusher at the same time as the Jigs Hollow Pit runs theirs. This hearing has a long ways to go and is back up and running tomorrow morning in the Woolwich Council Chambers in Elmira at 10 am..
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record says that a Peel Regional Police Officer tasered an 80 year old woman as she was walking along a Mississauga, Ontario road at 3:30 am.yesterday. The title is "80 year old woman injured after struck with Taser by police". Meanwhile the on-line version of this story has added the word "alleged". Regardless the woman sufferred a fractured hip among other injuries. Apparently there were three officers involved and one can certainly understand their interest in an 80 year old walking alone at 3:30 am. in the morning. That is simply doing their duty and looking out for the safety of a vulnerable citizen. Where it goes off the rails is the fact that Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has publicly stated that one of the officers fired his Taser and the woman, hardly surprisingly, fell to the ground. As this occurred in Mississauga it is entirely possible that the officer thought he was dealing with very elderly Mayor Hazel McCallion and was thus in fear of his life. She has been known to reduce grown men to tears. The fact that there were three police officers dealing with one elderly woman is not the issue. She may have disrespected them thus making the use of a Taser pure humanitarianism versus giving her the Sammy Yatin treatment. Clearly our police in Ontario are more than ready for Tasers to be issued as standard equipment.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Well about the only good thing you can say about the Tasering of Sammy Yatin in Toronto is that after having been shot eight times; it's unlikely the tasering did him any additional harm. Of course the tasering did harm the image of Toronto police. If shooting a distraught teenager on an empty bus is bad form then how about tasering him while he lies dieing on the floor of the bus. It doesn't get a lot worse than that.
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this Editorial "Use stun guns responsibly". Good luck with that. I think I've finally figured out why British police aren't allowed to carry guns. The authorities long ago figured out that if they did they would misuse them and then the authorities would be in the position of pretend investigations and coverups. Simpler not to issue them in the first place.
I don't believe it's so much the lack of training the cops will get. The problem for me is the attitudes at the top. Cowboy cops should be systematically weeded out, not protected by their union or the police brass. Studies in the States have shown that there is a small percentage of cops who are the repeat bad apples. The same cops are getting complaints laid against them year after year but they aren't weeded out. This is a lot like our teachers here in Ontario who are protected by their unions and their schoolboards hence they never get weeded out and continue damaging children.
Does anyone think abusive cops won't be thrilled to receive Tasers? It's one more toy to experiment with on live human beings/guinea pigs. The good cops will pull them in difficult situations but use them sparingly. The bad cops will pull them quickly and use them even more quickly before the threat subsides.
Monday, September 2, 2013
Where to start. There is just so much bad that one can point out regarding our alleged civilian oversight of the Waterloo Regional Police. First of all the board is a joke. Granted they only meet once a month, but still a $10,800 annual honorarium. That's a pretty obvious indication as to exactly how much oversight, much less serious thought or effort are going to go into their work. Keep in mind these are NOT everyday, salt of the earth citizens doing this for the benefit of all. Hell no it's just patronage albeit on a much less grand scale than the senate. Kim Denouden got defeated at the last municipal election. This was just a bone that was thrown to her to keep her name (albeit rarely) in the limelight.
Last Thursday's Waterloo Region Record had an editorial titled "Police board owes the public more". News flash: they've always owed the public more and they've never delivered. One cop scandal after another and we get deafening silence. Massive expenditures on infastructure and we hear nothing. Now the province wants local forces to fork over more taxpayers dough to equip all the cops with Tasers. Oh good, now the bullies on the force can find new and innovative ways to assault citizens who stand up for their rights. I'd be willing to bet that there will be a lottery started to see which police force manages to kill their first citizen with a Taser. The Mounties of course can't play as they've already done it.
Maybe our police board is still reeling from the royal screwup they were involved in back in the Sid Brown days. The police were out of control with SWAT teams attacking the Henchmen motorcycle club, destroying their rental accomodations and then assaulting them when they were in custody. Our police board fired their new Chief (Brown) mostly because he was unpopular with all the senior officers who got bypassed for the job. Sid was scapegoated and boy did the taxpayers pay big time for the board's stupidity. Let's see now who was in charge of the region at that time? Same fellow? O.K. the Record are correct. We the public are owed transparency and accountability. It's not happened before and most probably won't as long as regional politicians are in charge.