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.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Current teaching methods may be behind falling math grades". When I first read the story I too was shocked by the example at the end of the story as to how two children calculated two different ways to get the same, correct answer. The principle of Stewart Avenue Public School stated "When I think back to how I was taught math, there's just no comparison". I'm in the same position as the Principal. In fact I set the numbers down on paper and did it the same way I've always done addition as I was taught in public school. Then I reread the example and the thinking process both children used. Holy Cow but if that isn't also the way I do math in my head. I can add it up properly on paper as taught but I can also use the little tricks these two children did in order to add numbers without pen and paper. Hmm! Is one method absolutely superior to the other or does the problem with math scores originate elsewhere? Could one go so far as to suggest that teaching methods are merely a red herring?
I downloaded an on-line story last week titled "Teacher pay should be tied to performance, ability: study". The report was written by Sachin Maharaj, a high school teacher in Toronto. It was published on the Canadian Council of Chief Executives website. It has some astoundingly blunt assessments of the current system such as " (teacher) excellence goes unrewarded, mediocrity goes unaddressed.". Further "The challenge for education policy is that the quality of teaching in our schools varies considerably". The Fraser Institute also weighed in with "The best performing 15 to 25 per cent of teachers are able to impart a year and a half's worth of material to students in one academic year, while the bottom 15 to 25 per cent are only able to impart half a year of material to similar students". Comment is also made that the teachers' unions have an unflinching affinity for the status quo which among other things rewards teachers by seniority and credentials. Last but not least is my own personal experience. I have seen with my own eyes absolutely top notch teachers being used to pick up the slack from weaker brothers or sisters who taught (poorly) the same kids from the year before. In this case the excellent teachers are being used to impart half of the previous year's curriculum via catchup as well as the whole current year's curriculum. Principals, teachers, school boards, unions and governments all know this. Most shrug their shoulders and look the other way. School Boards and Teachers' Unions especially are happy with the status quo.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Their behaviour was atrocious as far as being police officers. Atrocious as far as insensitive, judgemental and breeching the public's trust. It certainly wasn't criminal behaviour in the normal sense. They didn't assault citizens, abuse their authority or take bribes. All that being said their victims need to know that their superiors in the police force will not tolerate humiliating vulnerable people when they most need help from the police. The psychiatrist makes a compelling argument in today's Waterloo Region Record that they are basically good people who screwed up big time. Do they deserve discipline of some sort? Absolutely yes. Is it in anybody's best interests that the three officers be dismissed? My only comment is this. If they are given a second chance and disciplined presumably through demotions or salary reductions then their behaviour needs to be carefully supervised at least for a little while. They have apologized and if they are sincere then their future behaviour will reflect that. If they aren't sincere then they will get caught again and that will be that. Besides their personal apologies I think the individual citizen victims should also get formal apologies from the Waterloo Regional Police Service. The good news is that this behaviour has been stopped. Today's Record article is titled "Officers gave in to group think: expert".
Monday, January 27, 2014
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story: "Transit becoming election issue". Contrary to what most of our regional politicians are saying, the Light Rapid/Rail Transit can still be cancelled, albeit for a price. Councillor Jim Wideman is particularily obnoxious with his comment that by the time that a new council would have the opportunity to cancel the project, the costs would be close to what the region has budgeted to build the system. This is no more than an attempt to muddle the public's thinking. As bad as the allegedly already committed sum of $191 million is, it still pales in comparison to the total $818 million price tag being paid by three levels of government. Regional Chair Ken Seiling also is playing the wasted taxpayers money card. It almost gives you the feeling that these councillors feel entitled to spending/wasting our money as they see fit. This LRT might be a bargain at half the price. Or maybe not even then. The City of Waterloo had their financial scandal and swindle over a decade ago. This time instead of an outside financing company hoodwinking councillors perhaps it's our own councillors hoodwinking us. Most have jumped on the environmental, urban intensification bandwagon. Many would like a legacy project to attach their names to. I guess deep down most politicians know that they truly don't respect citizens and certainly not our messy system of government called democracy. I think these same politicians also clearly understand that very few politicians go to their graves being respected by even the people who voted for them, much less all the rest.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Today's Waterloo Region Record actually has two articles dealing with medical marijuana. The one is titled "NFL looks at medical marijuana to treat concussions, head injuries" and the other written by a recently retired police officer is titled "Do we really know if medical marijuana is safe?". The former police officer, Gary Askin advises us that the new rules can be found on the Health Canada website under marijuana for medical purposes regulations. While his article certainly isn't an example of the decades old "Reefer Madness" style of public information; it is however a little bit alarmist. Mr. Askin asks whether or not medical marijuana is safe and he eventually answers his own question by stating that Health Canada does not know that answer.
The article referring to the National Football League's search for help for players sufferring head injuries informs us that many NFL players are already using it for pain managaement. Also studies are underway as to whether marijuana can actually help heal head trauma. These articles have a personal interest for me as a close relative is still sufferring the effects of a stroke many years ago. If medical marijuana can help him then I believe his family and doctors have a responsibility to pursue this.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
As per yesterday's posting, it really seems as if the most vulnerable in our society are not even given the respect they deserve from our various governments. Could it be that children, mentally and or physically handicapped individuals are mostly unable to vent their anger at the ballot box and thus governments ignore them?
I am posting today from an on-line news item that I printed off late last fall. The title is "Questioning foster care "should not be allowed" says association head". The foster care in question is that in the province of Alberta and the questioning that should not be allowed follows an expose by the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald regarding the number of deaths in foster care in Alberta in 1999. The quote was from the head of the Alberta Foster Parent Association and was aimed directly at the media's "damning" investigation.
The investigation showed 145 children died in foster care in 1999 but the province only reported that 56 children had died. Both the head of the foster parent association and Alberta's Human Services Minister feel that the public do not have the right to know the facts. In a perfect society with equally perfect government supervision and oversight the publics' knowledge of the facts might be less necessary. However in our imperfect world and with numerous Childrens' Aid Societys across Canada coming under scrutiny for overzealous behaviour and or incompetence; such public knowledge and scrutiny are long overdue.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Is it government neglect of their supervisory role? Is it incompetence or downright corruption? Was the hiring of senior staff for these institutions done on the buddy basis versus merit ? How do so many of our government institutions for those most in need of society's help fail so often? Is it a perfect storm of all the above?
The Waterloo Region Record on December 27/13 carried this story "Rideau apology will be welcomed". Premier Kathleen Wynne apologized to the former residents of Huronia Regional centre on the floor of the legislature on December 9, 2013 after a landmark legal settlement was approved by the courts. This article deals with similar circumstances of abuse of the vulnerable residents that occurred at both Rideau Centre in Smiths Falls and the Southwestern Regional Centre in Chatham-Kent. A settlement has just been reached and again the family of former residents would like to receive an apology from the province for their part in the abuse of family members.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Another head-spinning turn on light rail transit". Jeff Outhit is informing his readers as to the extreme "flexibility" that regional politicians are capable of in advising the voters/citizens in regards to Light Rail Transit. Issues such as costs, tax increases, on time construction and the alleged superiority of trains over buses are all subject to the conditions of the day and the mood of the politicians when passing on information to the unwashed masses. During the last election it was quite amazing to see the number of regional councillors having second thoughts until they were safely past the election. Likely we will see more of the same cowardice this time out as well.
Monday, January 20, 2014
O.K. this isn't a new scandal/misbehaviour/criminal activity etc. It's been in the news before but the following headline in last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record sure doesn't help their image, namely: "Police officer to be fired". Again this is a case of a member being charged and disciplined via the Police Act. In fact Officer Markham was charged criminally with breach of trust. He pled guilty and was given a conditional discharge. "He also received a year of probation and 100 hours of community service work and no criminal record.".
Constable Markham shared a police report about an arrest and investigation with the common-law wife of the accused. "The arrested man had ties to organized crime, including the Hell's Angels, but there was no evidence to show that Markham was aware of those links.". The question for me is whether Constable Markham's behaviour was "insidious" as suggested by Pat Dietrich of the Waterloo Regional Police or was it simply a "mistake" as suggested by his lawyer. I'm passing on an opinion here regarding the firing of Constable Markham. A court of law has disciplined him for his behaviour but clearly the Regional Police don't think it's adequate.
Friday, January 17, 2014
The Waterloo Region Record published a story on January 9/14 titled " $4 M earmarked to upgrade Ontario teachers' math skills". As per my title above, yes I do believe that that is a huge drawback. If the teachers teaching English, French, History or Geography have university degrees in those subjects then they should be competent to teach at either the public (elementary) or high school level. If they took math and sciences through high school (and passed them) then I expect with a little training they could effectively teach those subjects At The Elementary Level Only. Asking a teacher with a History degree to teach Grade 12 or 13 math is pushing the envelope. They may well have been barely competent in those subjects four years earlier and now expecting them to teach effectively that which they clearly avoided in University is ridiculous and just about par for the course for a bureaucratic structure whose first two priorities are Teachers and Administrators.
In the Record article, Education Minister Liz Sandals indicates that "Everybody needs math.". That is correct. Her statement however that "...even though not all teachers have a degree in math, they can still learn how to become good math teachers."is both disingenuous as well as hokum. Firstly followup articles in the Record have clearly indicated that the vast majority of teachers are "artsies" not math or science people. Sandals knows this. Secondly as indicated earlier a teacher who is not competent in math sure as hell cannot be taught to be a good math teacher at a level anywhere near their weak level.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Regional Councillor Rob Deutschman has called for a longterm policing master plan involving significant public input. Tom Galloway suggests that "We do internal and external scans and involve a lot of stakeholder groups in the development of it.". My opinion of Mr. Galloway's comments are that they are horse manure.
This year's police budget is $140.9 million. Our police service are constantly in the newspaper for one personnel screwup after another. Some of these are personal weaknesses of officers, others are job related stress issues. Finally there are far too many involving cops who think they are cowboys in the old west and have to throw their weight around illegally. The long and short is that we the taxpayers are paying too much through the nose for policing which is getting a bad name. Real civilian oversight is long overdue and Mr. Galloway's suggesting a lot of involvement by stakeholders groups is suspect. The Waterloo Region Record's article is titled "Deutschman wants policing master plan".
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Similar to my favourite polluter in Elmira, Ontario; the Waterloo Region District School Board have a talent for regularily shooting themselves in the foot. Every time I feel that they are winning the taxpayer paid for public relations war to deceive those same taxpayers, they do something with horrible optics. Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "$1M boardroom renovation defended".
Now I'm the first to admit that they haven't wasted $1 million on pizzas or luxury vacations for trustees or senior staff. Well that is as far as I know they haven't. One thing I am confident of is if that ever occurred and they got caught I'm sure they would have a perfectly reasonable explanation for it. Afterall having spent taxpayers money on "branding" we should all know by now that they love children and children are their number one priority. Or at least we should believe that.
All that being said I have to admit that $1 million dollars on renovating a single room seems a tad excessive. Were tenders required? Were there competing bids? Do any senior staff or trustees have brothers-in-law in the business? Staff reporter Jeff Outhit has once again done the citizens and taxpayers of Waterloo Region a service. At a time of closing schools and changing bus times to allegedly save money; the timing if not the cost does seem inappropriate. I hope the Record continue to keep an eye on these good folks.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
January 9, 2014 the Waterloo Region Record published this article by Thomas Walkom titled "Conservatives drop economy to focus on politics". Mr. Walkom's thesis is that the Harper government are solely focused on cost cutting and austerity in order to appear as solid fiscal managers for the upcoming 2015 election. secondly by cutting the deficit they can also turn around and give tax cuts as an incentive for folks to vote Conservative in 2015. For those who watched the CBC's Fifth Estate last Friday night; it's pretty obvious which departmernts are their target. The CBC TV show was titled "The Silence of the Labs" and indicates the Conservatives all out war on science and on science based decision making.
The world economy is in dire straights and even the U.S. economy is sputtering again. The federal government are exacerbating Canada's unemployment problems with their fiscal cutbacks at exactly the worst time. In 2009 they did spend billions to help kick start the economy and it helped significantly. Quoting Thomas Walkom under the current world economic order "...fixating on deficits is madness".
Monday, January 13, 2014
FATCOD is an acronym. It means: "For Advanced Thievery above and beyond the Call Of Duty. FATCOD is applied to primarily governments although there are many other non governmental legal methods of stealing from citizens out there. Today's FATCOD is all about our red light cameras here in Waterloo Region. Serious studies have been done and the results are published in the Saturday January 11, 2014 Waterloo Region Record. The numbers are in and our politiicains are quite simply lying bastards. The title of the story is "Camera ahead-hit the brakes or hit the gas?".
The title alone conveys the poor decision making of drivers facing red light cameras. For the sake of possibly getting hit with a cheap ticket; drivers are putting themselves and other drivers at risk of totally unnecessary injuries. The results of these accident studies make it very clear that our regional politicians are cheerfully increasing our health risks simply so they can grab more of our cash. Total numbers of accidents have increased at intersections with red light cameras installed. The majority of the increase are rear-end collisions although there is also a significant increase in collisions as drivers rush to make their left turn in front of oncoming traffic; before the light turns red. These statistics are I believe prima facie evidence of why most politicians are unrepentant scumbags.
Friday, January 10, 2014
Things have been pretty tough for the Waterloo Regional Police Service the last few years. Allegations of police misconduct, misbehaviour and even criminal activity have tarnished them. Yesterday they had a victory, sort of. A Regional police office charged with sexual assault and suspended a year and a half ago has been found not guilty at trial. The newspaper story titled "Officer acquitted of sexual assault" seemed to focus on the alleged credibility of the accuser versus that of the defendant. Apparently the accuser waited for a month after the alleged rape before going to police and she also "communicated" frequently with the defendant during that time frame.
While it appears that there were no witnesses or physical evidence to back her story; nevertheless I wonder if there is supposed to be some sort of template by which rape victims are supposed to behave in order to bolster their in-court credibility. The benefit of the doubt should indeed go to the accused but was it necessary to publicly, in the newspaper, make allegations then against the alleged victim?
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Emails, texts link governor's aide to "punitive" traffic closures". This story resonates with me because I've seen locally here in Waterloo Region some incredible pettiness by politicians. Those more naive among us may think that this is merely one bad apple betraying the public trust. Too many so called public servants feel they have a legitimate right to payback once they are in office, for whatever perceived slights they have sufferred over the years. In this case the paper trail makes it appear pretty obvious that this jerk of a politician literally ordered the shutting down of two of three traffic lanes at a bridge simply to spite a political opponent and Mayor of a local community. If this can be proven to be true than he should be permanently banned from ever holding public office again. The supreme arrogance and brass to inconvenience thousands of commuters simply to take a shot at a political opponent is beyond contemptible.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys the following story "Officer loses appeal to save job". The appeal was at the Superior Court and was an unsucessful attempt to overturn his convictions for stealing two ounces of marijuana that an undercover officer posing as a distraught mother had turned over to him. My last posting on this case was only last December 23/13. While I view myself as a critic of police brutality, lack of accountability and police politicization I have been conflicted over this case. The officer has issues that need help but criminally entrapping him seems an odd way to go about that. Also I wonder where the police union stands on this especially as it was a "brother" officer who turned him in. If a teacher ever got caught turning in a fellow union colleague there would be hell to pay even if illegal activity was involved. I stand by my comments in my last posting namely asking if there is not a better, classier and more humane way for the Waterloo Regional Police Service to handle this particular officer and situation.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Boy oh boy, delivering the vote sure does have its' perks. As per the December 31/13 Waterloo Region Record article titled "School board managers escape wage freeze"; it sure looks as if the Education sector are treated with kid gloves. "The Liberal government implemented a two-year wage freeze in 2010 for non-union government managers, to ease a record deficit of $21 billion. Ontario school boards continued to award annual pay hikes averaging three per cent to many senior managers, according to an analysis by the Globe and mail newspaper.".
Further "The government has since passed new legislation that freezes non-union wages past 2012. The new law is clear that "senior executives at school boards should be covered by the wage freeze"". Apparently the loophole that school boards availed themselves of was the definition of "bargain collectively". While most of the unwashed masses would interpret that as unionized employees; the boards being much smarter and educated determined that superintendants could be considered a collective group. If you are noticing a small whiff of barnyard animal waste right now, you are not the only one. A spokesperson for the Education Minister did not respond to the question as to whether the government will seek to claw back earlier wage increases.
Monday, January 6, 2014
This week's Woolwich Observer has a Letter to the Editor written by Paul Marrow of Winterbourne. The title is "Politicians and bureaucrats should aim higher". Mr. Marrow points out two recent very disappointing public comments. The first was by a federal cabinet minister suggesting that he was not responsible for feeding his neighbour's hungry child. The second was by the head of Correctional Services of Canada advising the Ashley Smith inquest jury not to make recommendations that would be too expensive. The third that Mr. Marrow did not include would be the comment from the head of Canada Post suggesting that taking away home delivery would give seniors needed exercise.
All in all these are "callous and hurtful comments". These are comments by priveleged people in regards to those who are in more difficult circumstances. I agree with mr. Marrow's opinion that this is not the Canada that we were born in. This is a Canada that has been the victim of a coup by unaccountable bureaucrats and politicians.
Friday, January 3, 2014
The title of the article in the Waterloo Region Record is "Lawyer who says he was wrongly detained settles suit with police, gets $5,000". This article however was in the paper February 2012. I'm assuming I just simply missed it at the time. Nevertheless it clearly exemplifies the mindset that police have. What I would like to see is every citizen who is harassed by the police having the means to haul their butts into court. That is by far the best way to address abuses of authority that some officers otherwise appear unable to understand. The other way of course would be an independent, transparent and legitimate investigative body to handle citizen complaints regarding police behaviour and misbehaviour. The problem with that is of course just getting another tame body with no independence or authority on its' own.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
As if some of us had any doubts as to the amateurism, incompetence, flavour of the month educational fads and overall drivel promulgated by our "educrats" at the Waterloo Regional District School Board as well as others; we now have "discovery learning". According to Gwyn Morgan in today's Waterloo Region Record article titled "Why parents should worry about student math scores"; this latest educational fad is quite simply nonsense. Mr. Morgan states "If you suspect this destructive teaching fad was designed by math and science - phobic humanities graduates, your suspicions are well founded, considering that only a small proportion of teachers and administrators have significant post-secondary math and science training.".
The opposite of this mickey mouse 'discovery learning" is fact-based learning. For math and science training it is the only way. One other issue which is the elephant in the room is the competentcy of many teachers. Qualified and effective teachers must replace those whose qualifications are measured solely by their years of seniority. Teaching is far too important a career to be left in the hands of either unions or their in-bed together school administrations ie. boards.