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What fun it has been this week to see Huntsville Doppler become a reality. We have a terrific team and we have all been delighted with the encouraging comments we have received and with the many thousands of people who have visited our site in the first week!
In some ways it has been a week of nostalgia. At one point, Liz Rice and I reminisced about our late friend Mike Greaves and how much he would have enjoyed seeing Doppler become a reality. Mikey used to write a column in the Huntsville Forester during the days Liz Rice was the Publisher there. He would call her ‘The little lady’ and was always on her case about one thing or another. He especially complained that she never paid him enough and that all his negotiations with her in that regard turned out in her favor! It was all tongue in cheek of course!
If Mike were here now, he would have insisted on writing a column for Huntsville Doppler and then bitched like hell and out loud, that we wouldn’t pay him! Neither Liz nor I would be free from his sometimes biting satire and off line, we would get hourly e-mails giving us advice, telling us what we were doing wrong and giving us the latest gossip. We both agreed that we will miss that, even though sometimes it could be a pain in the butt! But hey…that was our Mikey and we loved him.
DO WE CARE?
At the last meeting of Huntsville Council it became clear that our community is heading for a whopping tax increase next year, at the moment eight per cent. Much of this is because of discretionary spending by our current Council. Some of it in fairness, results from previous commitments such as the three million dollar unfunded liability left over from G-8 expenditures and extraordinary legal costs related to the ongoing Blackbird debacle. All the same, this Council has the ability to control spending and cut costs and so far, if they are doing it, they have done a lousy job of communicating that to the rest of us!
For sure, we will be told that there will be ways to cut down the projected increase next year by writing off losses and weakening our reserves. But those are not real cuts and do not do anything to strengthen our weak financial position. One way or another, the piper will have to be paid. There are a few members on Council who get this, but sadly, not enough.
I am beginning to wonder how many people really care about all of this. There has been surprisingly, little public reaction to Council spending or the spiraling projected tax increase. Perhaps some Councillors are getting the message that it’s OK with us if they continue to raid the public purse and the eventual consequences be damned. Or perhaps they think that accountability only comes every four years and they don’t have to worry about that for a while.
We need to hold our Mayor and Council accountable now! There has been precious little communication or visible leadership over the last nine months, certainly nowhere near the level promised in the last election campaign. If we really care, we should be asking for answers as well as solutions. If we just wait until the whistle blows, we will only have ourselves to blame.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Ironman, how successful it was, what a great boon it was to our local economy and how it showcased the great community of volunteers we have in Huntsville and Lake of Bays. All of that remains true.
However, I have recently heard something that if accurate, is disturbing. Huntsville agreed to back the Ironman financially for losses to an upset amount. I understand that number will be about $70,000, which, given the commitment, is fair enough. What I also understand however, is that there might have been grants that the Town could have applied for to save local taxpayers from footing the bill for a shortfall. I have heard that Council was told that the applications were turned down and I have also heard that they were never actually applied for in the first place. If the latter is in fact correct, given the current shape of the Town’s finances, that would be a shame. Perhaps someone could shed some light on this.
All politics is local, so the saying goes. And so I am looking forward to a discussion with Ken Black, a good friend and devoted Liberal, about issues in Parry Sound Muskoka as they relate to the Federal election campaign. Ken knows that I happen to think that Tony Clement has been a strong and effective advocate for our Riding and so I anticipate a vigorous response and a most interesting hour. The program, hosted by Mike Provan, will be aired on Cogeco at 7 PM on Monday September 21st. Be sure to tune in.
On the broader political spectrum, it is interesting to see that halfway through the campaign, the three main parties are still effectively neck and neck. I suspect that will change soon and all wishful thinking aside, it is still a crap shoot. Polling does appear to be showing however, that folks are becoming a little tired of the so called scandals and the meanness and sheer vindictiveness of the campaign. They appear ready to deal with the substantive issues and I suspect, the economy will be one of the major ones.
It was interesting, if a little sad this week to see Justin Trudeau attack small businesses, the backbone of the middle class. If I understand him correctly, he seems to think that rich people benefit too much from tax breaks afforded to small businesses, many of which would not survive without them. Small businesses are a huge part of our economy and employ a very large section of our work force. While owners of small businesses strive to be profitable, they are hardly part of the rich elite. Justin Trudeau portrays himself the champion of the middle class. There will be thousands of small business operators across Canada that will now take that with a huge grain of salt.
There was also a moment in the past week or so where Justin Trudeau apparently portrayed Premier Kathleen Wynne as a prudent steward of Ontario’s finances. Really? With a deficit higher than the Federal Government and all the other Provinces and Territories combined? Really? And what about the deficit he plans to deliver for the next several years if he becomes Prime Minister? Maybe there is a strong economic plan in here somewhere. I just don’t see it.
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