...Now for the Rest of the Story
Welcome to Winners Circle News
No We Can't - by Ruffled

Welcome readers to the inaugural edition of "No We Can't", a column dedicated to exposing the facts and the truths about how city hall really operates and where your precious tax dollars are being used, misused, and abused.

This editorial has been created for you, the public. Like you, we are all hardworking, law-abiding taxpayers who expect accountability and demand a decent return for our hard earned tax dollars.  As your unofficial watchdog of city hall, it's  "Ruffled's" goal  to remind our hallowed politicians who put them in power and whose dollars they are spending, lest they forget!

Our community was promised openness and transparency at the last election and it looks like we are getting more secrecy and stonewalling. Everyday that passes it seems more and more like the lunatics are running the asylum, only they forget who is paying the tab. Ruffled will pull back the curtain of oz and give the public and inside look at the levers and wheels that supposedly keep city hall going.

It's Ruffled's aim with the "No We Can't" column to reveal every slip, blip, and trip that this current band of part-time politicians, called councilors, and Mayor makes. As we all know, this council has gone too far over the past two years with its out of control spending programs, multi-million dollar pet projects we can't afford, endless consulting reports, and anything else they think they can grab further into our pockets to finance. It's time for us to unite and collectively tell this gang, "We're mad as hell, and we aren't going to take this anymore".

In the spirit of fairness, Ruffled is launching the "No We Can't" column by reviewing the term-to-date performance of none other than the man behind the "Yes We Can" campaign, our very own Mayor, Brian McMullan. This will be a rather short straight forward piece which compares Mayor McMullan's "Yes We Can" promises with the "No We Can't" facts. Ruffled has extracted His Worship's pledges from his official website. In order, the highlights are

Yes We Can Promise #1:
"Strike a Prosperity Council that will serve to advise City Council on issues that impact all corners of our community ranging from industry to the arts."
No We Can't Facts:
It seems that the cough, cough Prosperity Council took almost a year or so to form and so far Ruffled is challenged to think of one concrete project they have delivered. Prosperity, as we taxpayers know, is created by the private sector, and Ruffled only sees businesses closing and hundreds of jobs leaking out of the city. To top it off, the city spent hundreds of thousands in staff and consulting time opposing the largest private sector project we have ever seen, the $80 + million Port Place.

Yes We Can Promise #2:
"Do away with automatic property tax hikes based on increased property assessments.
Implement an annual ‘Zero-Based Budget’ exercise – a line-by-line review of city service expenditures."
No We Can't Facts:
The city's property taxes are out of control, we're among the highest in the province. The 'Zero-Based Budget' exercise is a joke. It hasn't happened in the first two years, isn't happening this year, and probably won't ever!
Instead, our taxes are rising faster than inflation and more people, especially seniors on fixed incomes, are being forced out of their homes.

Yes We Can Promise #3:
"Meet with provincial and federal officials to make sure important issues for our community are part of the Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review and addressed by other levels of government."
No We Can't Facts:
Services Delivery Review? Sorry. How about almost a 10% wage increase for the union and a net increase in employees. Like zero-based budgets, sounded good to the voter though.

Yes We Can Promise #4:
"Create a barrier-free, one-window development application and approval process with the Region that does not pose a barrier for those who want to invest in our community."
No We Can't Facts:
Forget it. The only window city hall knows is at the Tim Horton's drive-thru.

Yes We Can Promise #5:
"Attract new development – including new multi-residential development – to our downtown and the various brownfield areas that scar our city landscape."
No We Can't Facts:
Sew some zippers on your pockets folks. Ruffled sees City Hall is going into the debt abyss with public sector projects like the performing arts centre, new pool, etc. And guess who is going to pay for it? You're right in part if you said the toothless fairy, because she had to sell her last two gold fillings to cover her latest property tax increase.

Yes We Can Promise #6:
"Build our current businesses and industry and open the door for the next generation of high quality jobs."
No We Can't Facts:
Do you hear the "sucking sound" as successful business person Ross Perot described it. That's the sound of companies and jobs being sucked out of the city into unemployment lines. Oh, please close the door for those high quality hamburger-flipping jobs, Ruffled says, "it's cold out there!"

Yes We Can Promise #7:
"Develop a city wide strategy to deal with the graffiti epidemic."
No We Can't Facts:
Let's fine already hard-pressed businesses if they don't clean up graffiti within five days. And the criminals who did this in the first place? Let's send them to the arts centre to improve their trade!

Yes We Can Promise #8:
"Use my experiences from City Council, Regional Council and the private sector as a guide to make these things happen. It is time for action – not just promises."
No We Can't Facts:
Ruffled wants to know if his public sector "experiences" drove the Mayor to alienate his peers at the Region by threatening to take over their land and demanding more name tags for high priced politicians.
As for his private sector record, maybe he's referring to his stint at the city's recycling centre? Is that where he learned how to recycle these tired campaign promises?

Well, there you have it. Your unofficial city hall watchdog, Ruffled, has tackled the Mayor. Next column, we move on to council. By then, the budget will be sealed, a code of conduct may get passed, and who knows, maybe we will restudy two-traffic again? Regardless what happens, Ruffled will be keeping his ear to the marble halls of city hall.

Comments from all members of the public are always welcome. That includes our esteemed politicians.