September 15, 2014
Yet another year without cigarettes. Eighteen years, wow.
It might seem tedious to keep harping on this year after year, but frankly I think giving up smoking after 35 years of slavery to the habit was the smartest and bravest thing I ever did. And I know for a dead certainty that I would not be here writing this today if I had continued smoking the way I did.
So I’ll keep celebrating my freedom, year after year!
September 11, 2014
It was a marvelous thing that on a late summer’s evening we could get almost 100 local residents to come out to a meeting on density, but that’s what we did last night at Astorino’s.
The always erudite and arcticulate presentations from academic Patrick Condon and industrial-scale developer Richard Wozny were fascinating in and of themselves, but they led on to a series of interesting and well-thought-out questions from the floor about all aspects of density and zoning decisions, the role of CAC’s, DCLs, and property tax, and the potential cost to the city taxpayers of inappropriate high-density towers.
We also had a fine gathering of muncipal candidates from COPE, Greens, and Cedar Party, along with at least one rep from One City. Some dove right into the debate, and all of them saw how these issues are still at play here in the city. We were also able to welcome Rachel Magnusson and Charles Campbell from the Citizens’ Assembly.
Candidates and officials from Vision Vancouver and the NPA were noticeably absent, which was probably more their loss than ours, to be honest. They would have heard some valuable ideas and felt the pulse of folks who are very likely voters come November.
September 11, 2014
Today, the innocent victims of September 11th, 2001 deserve to be remembered. And they will be, all over the place. Here I choose to remember the victims of September 11th, 1973, the date on which a US-financed and sponsored military coup overthrew the democratically elected government in Chile.
Salvador Allende and the 3-4,000 Chilean victims who died as a result of the US coup deserve to be remembered as much as any in the Twin Towers. Perhaps even more, because the US claims to support democracy and yet they encouraged and assisted the overthrow of democracy in Chile; and perhaps even more, because the US claims to support human rights and yet for decades they supported and assisted the suppression of human rights in Chile by the dictatorship of the fascist General Pinochet.
But how much of this will the American mainstream media choose to remember? Virtually none I bet. So it is up to individuals to make it clear that 3-4,000 Chilean dead are just as abhorrent as 3,000 American dead. And the hypocrisy of the United States is as bad as the terrorism of Al Qaeda — and a lot more powerful.
September 8, 2014
I first published this in June. Now that we have finally entered the election year months traditionally given over to politics in Vancouver, I thought it would be worth revisiting; and aksing whether any of our municipal parties will go along with all or at least some of these ideas:
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There are, it seems to me, two types of municipal policies: the public policies (bike lanes, more parks, housing, support for arts, etc) that form the basis of most civic election campaigns; and then there is the question of how the City is run, the policies of governance. I do have some definite ideas about public policy, but this article is about the second type — how this City is governed.ancouver
If I were Mayor with a majority on Council, there would be a lot of fundamental changes in governance policies, enough to ensure that we governed ourselves very differently, with much more transparency and far less politicization. The difference between my ideas and those of the current Vision Vancouver Council will, I think, be obvious.
- Public “real time” display of all City expenditures.
- Immediate elimination of all Non Disclosure Agreements for City business; if it involves public money, then everything must be public; you don’t want to be public, then don’t do business with the city.
- If you or your company or your family members have made municipal political contributions to a party within the previous four years, you cannot do business with the City(this would be a City rule, no need to amend the Charter).
- Return to line item budgeting with details enough for everyone to understand.
- Make Vancouver number 1 in North America with the openness, speed, and efficiency of our FOI system.
- Move Planning out of the empire of the City Manager and have it report directly to Council. This should stem the distasteful politicization of the Vancouver public service.
- All documents regarding city policies, planning, and development to be made public at least six weeks prior to Council. If new documents are created, then the meeting dates must be rescheduled in accord with this rule (no more showing up with 25 pages of amendments on the day of the vote).
- In camera sessions to be held exclusively for legal and personnel matters only.
There are probably others that should be included but, if just these eight proposals were adopted, our municipal government would be significantly more accountable and, I believe, far more efficient. These proposals do not include the meta-changes that need to be made with the Provincial Governments help — such as a ward system and strict campaign finance limits on donations and expenditures.
I wonder how many of the parties contesting this year’s election would agree to any of these eight ideas?
September 8, 2014
Our mock funeral for the demolition of the house on Napier Street went very well, with a good and animated crowd,
City-TV and Global even gave us coverage. Good fun with a worthy message.
Update: The Rev. Mullin’s Eulogy: https://t.co/TCD4m5h3dg