2006 Fowler Election Platform – Taxes

by

as originally posted on my Election Website

I believe that there is a very serious problem with the way that municipalities are expected to finance their operations. “While the federal government racks up huge surpluses, the cities fall deeper into debt. Is it any wonder we are falling further behind the rest of the world? This approach to governance no longer makes sense, if it ever did.”  1

“There has been a massive shift of responsibilities from national and provincial government to local governments without the fiscal tools being transferred at the same time.”  2

I firmly support any effort to convince the upper levels of government that there has to be a restructuring of the tax system which examines the entire “tax pie” and which guarantees that “city states” are given an equitable share in a way that replaces the regressive property tax system.

I think that most people really want value for their money. They read about huge federal surpluses, financial mismanagement, the Gomery inquiry, but those politicians are too aloof and unresponsive. So they lash out at local politicians.

According to the annual public accounts which shows what happened to all our tax money that the feds got their hands on in the past year, we paid $300,000 for a photo-op, “$1.1 million for a trip to Ireland; $1.8 million for a trade junket to Hong Kong; $125,000 just in cancellation charges for a planned trip to Moscow that never happened…”  3

How many citizens truly understand the nature of taxation in this country? Transfers between different levels of government are so convoluted, who can really know the truth about who is ripping off who?

“Following the money to and from the federal government can make any head spin.”  5

In “Flaherty admits division over pledge” (Toronto Globe & Mail; 2006/10/07), reporter Karen Howlett has these things to say:

  • The Canada-Ontario funding accord “dates to May of 2005 when then-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin agreed to give Ontario $5.7-billion over five years for a variety of programs, including postsecondary education, public transit and labour-market training. The agreement was later extended by one year and the funding increased to $6.8-billion.”

  • “Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised in writing earlier this year that his government would honour his predecessor’s commitment.”

  • “Mr. Sorbara…accused the federal government of ‘reneging’ on that pledge because the Harper government intends to provide the funding through five separate trust funds…earmarked for public transit, low-income housing, postsecondary education and aboriginals.”

  • “Mr. Sorbara said Ontario would receive about $1-billion less than expected under the trust arrangement.”
  • Freezing property taxes is easy. Political candidates willing to promise to limit tax increases to the rate of inflation are commonplace. It’s the consequence of doing so that’s the hard part. Be prepared for increased user fees, uncut city boulevards, continued crumbling infrastructure, more litter, cuts to essential services like public transit and walkway lighting…

    What else?

    Despite the massive borrowing for things like the new central library and the John Labatt Center, and the consequent negative pressure for funding essential services like public housing and public transit, things promise to only get worse. London’s net outstanding debt level is projected to rise to $395.5m by 2010. The cost of servicing that debt is in excess of $60m each and every year!

    What could we do with that $60m a year, if current members of Council hadn’t put us into this situation?

    What else?

    In addition to all of the money that’s going to pay interest on the debt, there’s this unsustainable urban sprawl shell game that we’re playing.

    Because of the restriction on the way that cities can generate revenue, and in an effort to avoid a huge taxpayer backlash because of massive increases to property taxes, London for many years has depended upon a continuously increasing assessment base. But revenues from assessment growth are a kind of “stealth taxation.” Again, it’s the “out of sight, out of mind” approach. What’s going to happen if we have an economic downturn and the assessment base gets devalued? The choice will be simple. A huge increase in property taxes, deep cuts to the public services that our most disadvantaged citizens depend so much upon, or a combination of both.

    Compounding that… “There’s a tendency for governments to want to build new stuff rather than maintain the old stuff because you don’t get to cut ribbons for filling a pothole… Our present system is design, build and forget…”  5

    I propose that we seriously look at the mandatory use of reserve funds for future capital projects. Money should be set aside to prepare for the future replacement costs of any new infrastructure which is being rolling out, right from the beginning.

    What else?

    I think that the full costs of welfare and child care and court security should be taken off the property tax and funded by provincial revenues. Local governments should continue to lobby the Ontario government to reassume the responsibility for them.

    What else?

    I support zero-based budgeting, where city programs have to justify their value.

    What else?

    I oppose any automatic wage increase for local politicians unless a policy is adopted which ties those kind of auomatic salary increases to social assistance rates.

    What else?

    I continue to propose a moratorium on any further road extensions or widenings at least until such time as we reach and can maintain 100 LTC trips per capita.

    What else?

    I regret that I haven’t had the time to research this yet, but I’m interested in the possibility of identifying for renters how much of their rent goes to the City via the landlord. There is a fairly widespread perception that renters don’t contribute to the cost of local government, simply because they don’t pay property taxes directly.

    Sources:

    1. “This is no way to run a city”; Christopher Hume; Toronto Star; 2006/09/25

    2. “Taxes raise hackles in 905”; Richard Brennan & Jessica Leeder; Toronto Star; 2006/10/03

    3. “Public accounts reveal the ugly story of where your cash goes when it goes south”; Greg Weston (greg.weston@tor.sunpub.com); Toronto Sun; 2006/10/03

    4. “Paying the tax man; Where does your money go?”; Alan Findlay; London Free Press; 2006/09/24

    5. “Cities struggling to keep up infrastructure”; Steven Chase; Toronto Globe & Mail; 2006/10/09

    Some of what I’ve had to say in the past

    Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2006 05:24:27 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: More provincial downloading, or just another broken promise?
    To: kdubinski@lfpress.com

    With respect to your article in today’s paper (“Health unit seeks more cash”; Kate Dubinski; London Free Press; 2006/09/25).

    > The McGuinty Liberals said it would fund 65 per cent of
    > mandatory programs in 2006, with municipalities picking
    > up the rest. That figure was supposed to shift to a 75-25
    > split by 2007.
    >
    > But in March, Health Minister George Smitherman
    > announced the province was capping its increase for
    > 2006 at five per cent,

    Can you be any more convoluted? If I understand this, the province is not cutting funding. It is, in fact, increasing funding by 5%. But that 5% increase is less than what was promised. Correct so far?

    With the 5% increase, what does that make the split? 65-35?

    > leaving the Middlesex-London Health Unit, which had
    > already passed its budget for the year, in the lurch.
    >
    > Taxpayers in Middlesex County and London may be
    > on the hook…

    How many times do we have to read stories about politicians who count their eggs before those eggs are hatched? What business did the health unit have depending upon nothing more substantive than a politician’s promise? Let’s hope that the London Free Press takes special pain to educate local ratepayers about whose fault this is. The pressure on Council to refrain from property tax increases is huge, whereas few citizens do more than complain in their local coffee shop about the taxes being taken and wasted by upper levels of government.

    > The health unit can add four new positions with the
    > provincial funding it’s receiving, but that’s not enough
    > to do everything the health unit wants to…

    What are the new positions (I’m told that food inspectors are needed)? What is the ‘everything else’ that the health unit wants to do?

    > After…hearing that city and county councils had
    > agreed to pay the health unit at 2004 levels — which
    > are higher than the amended formula — the board
    > passed the altered funding formula.
    >
    > If the government formula was maintained, the city
    > would put in $5.3 million

    What formula was passed? The 65-35 split that was never attained? The lesser split following the 5% increase? Or the 2004 level?

    > If…approve the money, the health unit will get
    > a little more than $6 million from London

    And that’s only the same as they got from us in 2004? What did they get in 2005? What did they get for 2006, or has that funding even been received yet?

    Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One.

    Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 21:08:04 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Municipal Revenue
    To: pmcleod@thelondoner.ca

    Phil,

    I’m very interested in anything to do with a restructuring of the tax system in order to end the reliance of municipalities on regressive property taxes, and to give cities a better share of the total tax pie. The new Toronto powers interests me for that reason, but it leaves other cities out in the cold. Any chance that you’ll be writing about this important issue during the campaign?

    Greg.

    Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 21:05:58 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Fwd: Hospitality Surcharge
    To: jsher@lfpress.com

    Jonathan,

    I’m very interested in anything to do with a restructuring of the tax system in order to end the reliance of municipalities on regressive property taxes, and to give cities a better share of the total tax pie. The new Toronto powers interests me for that reason, but it leaves other cities out in the cold. Any chance that your skeleton news room will be writing about this important issue during the campaign?

    Greg.

    Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 20:52:28 -0400 (EDT)
    From: Gregory Fowler
    Subject: Hospitality Surcharge
    To: David Winninger

    David,

    With respect to your recent Council comments about taxing visitors in order to raise extra municipal revenue.

    According to a 2006/06/13 Globe & Mail article (“MPPs give the city some tools to shape its future”; Jennifer Lewington & Jeff Gray), the new City of Toronto Act “permits the city to set a Toronto tax on theatre tickets, but not on hotel rooms, as a revenue-making option.”

    Based on that, my assumption is that London would need provincial legislation in order to tax visitors. If you have any information to the contrary, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

    Greg Fowler

    Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 20:52:28 -0400 (EDT)
    From: Gregory Fowler
    Subject: Hospitality Surcharge
    To: David Winninger

    David,

    With respect to your recent Council comments about taxing visitors in order to raise extra municipal revenue.

    According to a 2006/06/13 Globe & Mail article (“MPPs give the city some tools to shape its future”; Jennifer Lewington & Jeff Gray), the new City of Toronto Act “permits the city to set a Toronto tax on theatre tickets, but not on hotel rooms, as a revenue-making option.”

    Based on that, my assumption is that London would need provincial legislation in order to tax visitors. If you have any information to the contrary, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

    Greg Fowler

    Date: Sat, 9 Sep 2006 14:42:02 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Re: Creative City Report Card
    To: “Arlene Kennedy”

    Hello Arlene,

    Thanks for your email, and my apology for taking so long to respond.

    I don’t disagree with you about the New Economy or the value of arts and culture. But when there is so much competition for public dollars, and seemingly not enough of those for things like public transit, public housing, public safety, it’s difficult to figure out how to support other things.

    As somebody who has to exist on disability assistance, it’s hard to care about huge public investments in facilities like the JLC which are beyond my means to access. I do, however, support the judicious expenditure of public dollars for outdoor public art, because I believe that that can have a positive impact upon the psyche of all citizens, all of the time.

    I’m also a very strong proponent of examing the way that total public dollars are raised and allocated. There simply has to be a better way of generating revenue for local government. Here’s a snippet of my recent post on the London Commons site:

    > The damage done because of the “0% tax coalition” under a previous
    > mayor is something that we still haven’t recovered from. Cuts to LTC,
    > increased fares, and corresponding decrease in ridership is but one
    > excellent example. It’s the services which are needed by the most
    > disenfranchised members of society that are hardest hit.
    >
    > Advocating for sufficient local revenue in order to provide services doesn’t
    > necessarily have to correspond to total increased taxes. It’s a very
    > confused situation, and I often think, deliberately so. The Feds have had
    > how many budget surpluses? Does anybody truly understand the truth
    > about transfers to the Provinces and if they’re being short-changed?
    > Should municipalities have to pay for so many of the things that were
    > downloaded by the Harris government but the McGuinty government
    > hasn’t reversed? Should we scrap property tax? Are business taxes
    > too high? How about Education tax? Should municipalities be
    > allowed to get revenue from the Income Tax system, sales tax, etc?

    Please feel free to continue to convey your thoughts and questions to me. I’ll do my best to respond in as timely a fashion as I can manage.

    Respectfully,

    Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One

    — Personal Background info —

    I am a Ward One candidate in the 2006 London Municipal Election. But as a member of the disabled community who does rely on ODSP assistance, I am prevented from fundraising for my campaign because of the refusal of the local ODSP office to respond to my inquiries about how doing so would affect those benefits. An appeal to MPP Ramal’s office for assistance has been largely ignored. And the London Free Press and other local media are similarly ignoring the situation. This is the democracy that my uncle fought in WWII and died for?

    A former executive member of the NDP (President London-Middlesex, Secretary London-South, Manager London Community Office).

    Having had personal experience with unemployment, poverty, homelessness, suicidal depression, substance abuse, etc., I believe that I can bring a much-needed perspective to City Hall, and can advocate on behalf of the increasingly large population of disenfranchised citizens who are currently so poorly represented.

    Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 19:37:36 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: 2006/09/06 Edition
    To: pmcleod@thelondoner.ca

    Phil,

    With respect to your latest editorial (“Strange bedfellows as London heads towards election day”; Phil McLeod; The Londoner; 2006/09/06).

    “Are London taxes too high? In an election year, almost any candidate will say yes.”

    Perhaps you should identify those candidates who have the courage to say otherwise. Are there any, besides myself? Have any of them adopted a contrary public position, as I did in a letter which you published in The Londoner?

    I don’t dispute that there are fixed-income homeowners who are struggling with the continuously rising cost of living, but what’s the alternative? Shall we slash spending on public services that are most needed by an increasingly large disenfranchised segment of our population? Shall we ignore our crumbling infrastructure?

    Are those same people who complain about high taxes prepared to publicly acknowledge the HUGE true cost of private auto and all of the related costs, and join with me in advocating for a moratorium of an more road widening/extensions, and push for alternate modes?

    “Imagine David Winninger…”

    I fully agree with any observation about the hypocrisy of how the NDP postures in opposition, given Ontario’s experience. And I encourage you to review some of my AltLondon posts on that subject. Just this past week, David managed to sink to a new low in my estimation when he proclaimed that “The provincial government has taken upon itself to gradually increase the OW and ODSP rates to what they once were.” Typically, there’s been no response to my subsequent email.

    Still, posturing or not, I do not disagree with the use of reserve funds. Debt servicing is projected to cost local ratepayers in excess of $60m annually beyond 2010, money which could otherwise help to provide better public transit, rebuilding infrastructure, etc. Isn’t it better to finance future projects using obligatory reserve funds, as opposed to increased debt financing? [not a rhetorical question… I’d really like to know what you think]

    Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One

    — Personal Background info —

    I am a Ward One candidate in the 2006 London Municipal Election. As a member of the disabled community who does rely on ODSP assistance, I am prevented from fundraising for my campaign because of the refusal of the local ODSP office to respond to my inquiries about how doing so would affect those benefits. An appeal to MPP Ramal’s office for assistance has been largely ignored. And the London Free Press and other local media are similarly ignoring the situation. This is the democracy that my uncle fought in WWII and died for?

    A former executive member of the NDP (President London-Middlesex, Secretary London-South, Manager London Community Office).

    Having had personal experience with unemployment, poverty, homelessness, suicidal depression, substance abuse, etc., I believe that I can bring a much-needed perspective to City Hall, and can advocate on behalf of the increasingly large population of disenfranchised citizens who are currently so poorly represented.

    Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 13:42:37 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Municipal Election
    To: “Joshua Hurwitz”

    Hi Joshua,

    I was happy to read in today’s Freeps that you’ve entered the race for Board of Control. The quotes attributed to you with respect to growth appear to be pretty consistent with my own platform. I also agree that we have to be concerned about property taxes, for the sake of those homeowners who are on fixed incomes. But my concern takes the form of lobbying the province for an overhaul of the way that municipalities can finance themselves. London has to spend money in order to provide services which are essential for the health of the community. There is an increasing disparity between rich and poor, and the poor are being left behind. The consequence of that poverty manifests itself in things like homelessness, substance abuse, suicide, crime, etc. I will never be one of those who subscribe to the “0% tax increase” mantra which was so prominent during Gosnell’s term as mayor, and which led to things like increased transit fees and a terrible drop in LTC ridership. Anyways, I wish you the best of luck in the coming months, and I hope that you enjoy the experience.

    Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One.

    — Personal Background info —

    I am a Ward One candidate in the 2006 London Municipal Election. As an ODSP recipient, I am prevented from fundraising for my campaign because of the refusal of the local ODSP office to respond to my inquiries about how doing so would affect my assistance benefits. An appeal to MPP Ramal’s office for assistance has been largely ignored. And the London Free Press is similarly ignoring the situation. This is the democracy that my uncle fought in WWII and died for?

    A former executive member of the NDP (President London-Middlesex, Secretary London-South, Manager London Community Office). Having had personal experience with unemployment, poverty, homelessness, suicidal depression, substance abuse, etc., I believe that I can bring a much-needed perspective to City Hall, and can advocate on behalf of the increasingly large population of disenfranchised citizens who are currently so poorly represented.

    Date: Thu, 18 May 2006 14:50:18 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Public Transit
    To: pmcleod@thelondoner.ca, bbenedict@thelondoner.ca

    Phil,

    To begin with, thanks and admiration to you and Mr. Benedict for the article on public transit.

    I talked to Mr. Ford at the White Oak’s Mall public participation demo yesterday, and suggested that the LTC has to be much more pro-active in getting out to the public and preaching it’s message in order to educate and change public opinion. I had not yet seen the article, so I wasn’t able to comment at that time when he referred to it.

    I would like to take the opportunity to do so now.

    Without demonstrated public support, City Council will continue to pour millions of dollars into road extensions and widenings while underfunding our bus system. London is addicted to private automobile travel, and history has shown that politicians who cater to that selfish indulgence are rewarded. The best example of that is probably Tom Gosnell’s support of the Horton Street extension.

    There’s always a lot of talk about high taxes, especially at election time. But how many people make the effort to carefully study how those taxes are spent? How many people truly understand the extent to which the taxpayer subsidizes private auto travel, including indirect subsidies like on-street parking, public parking lots, etc?

    I keep hearing the same mantra being trotted out time and again, that the city *will* grow considerably and that we must plan and build for that. But where’s the discussion about whether such growth is good, or sustainable, or inevitable? It’s like we’re being brainwashed to have a defeatist attitude about growth, so that we will meekly follow where our so-called “leaders” want to take us.

    Mr. Ford has repeated the same “good news” message at several recent meetings that I’ve attended, that LTC ridership is up over the past 9 years. I don’t dispute the factualness of that message, or the probable strategy behind it’s being delivered, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. And the rest of the story is very important.

    LTC ridership was 18,761,000 in 1988. But thanks to the political pressure of the 0%-tax increase coalition, Council’s attitude toward increased support of public transit and other necessary services became very negative. The result was that LTC made a decision to increase user rates, and the results were predictable. Ridership decreased year after year for the next 8 years! From a ridership level of only 11,905,000 in 1996, we are only now in 2006 finally getting back to that 1988 level.

    But even that stat is deceiving, because the city has grown considerably since then. Whereas the 18,761,000 riders in 1988 represented a very modest mode share of 10%, the 18,276,000 riders which the service attracted in 2005 only represent a mode share of 7%. In order to match projected population growth and simply recapture the 10% share, the TDM estimates that ridership has to grow an average 600,000 additional rides per year, every year, until 2024.

    How much chance do you suppose there is for that with the current Council?

    In my mind, there is no substitute for political courage. I’m talking about such unpopular strategies as an immediate moratorium on any additional road extensions and widenings, and the abandonment of the Urban Works Reserve Fund. Spend some of that money on increased funding for public transit, a more realistic (increased) budget for Allison Cook (TDM Coordinator), walkway lighting, sewer reconstruction, etc. Oh yes, and let’s also scrap the retention pay for upper-level police so that we can put more cops on the street to help deal with motorists who can’t get across the city in 5 minutes (such a tough life).

    Not such a smart position to take for somebody who wants to be elected perhaps, but where have past populist political positions taken us, besides our crumbling infrastructure?

    Greg Fowler

    Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2006 09:45:37 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Property Taxes
    To: newstalk1290today@cjbk.com

    The consequence of Gosnell’s 0% strategy is a deterioration in services, and an increasing disparity between rich and poor.

    Why are we pitting communities against one another by comparing property tax rates? This is a mug’s game.

    The real problem is the level of taxation at the federal and provincial levels, and redistribution of those taxes to local government.

    Stop blaming City Hall. Pick up your phone and call your MP and your MPP, because that’s where the biggest problem exists.

    2005/12/21.

    London City Council voted this past Monday night to hire a “top-gun” lawyer in order to appeal the OMB decision to redraw London’s ward boundaries.

    According to another local website, George H. Rust-D’Eye is employed by the Toronto law firm of WeirFoulds LLP.

    Here’s the kicker… this same Council, which only spent $80,000 this year lighting walkways where women and other vulnerable citizens are at risk, doesn’t know how much this is going to cost city taxpayers!

    According to reporter Jonathan Sher (“City’s legal tab set to balloon”; London Free Press; 2005/12/21), “London city solicitor Jim Barber says he won’t disclose Rust D’Eye’s hourly rate.

    Responsible for hiring the top-gun lawyer at apparently unlimited cost to London taxpayers:

    Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell, Controller Bud Polhill, Controller Russ Monteith, Controller Gord Hume, Councillor Roger Caranci, Councillor Ab Chahbar, Councillor Bernie MacDonald, Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen, Councillor Rob Alder, Councillor Cheryl Miller, and Councillor Sandy White.

    Date: Thu, 8 Dec 2005 09:14:50 -0500 (EST)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Political Posturing
    To: newstalk1290today@cjbk.com

    Municipal tax increases are absolutely necessary simply in order to keep pace with inflation. Beyond that, increases are also necessary for essential services like public housing, public transit, pathway lighting, police enforcement, crumbling infrastructure, etc.

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Greg Fowler (fowgre@yahoo.ca)
    962 Eagle Crescent
    London, Ontario; N5Z 3H7
    (519) 649-0500

    Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 15:17:26 -0500 (EST)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Municipal Budget
    To: jsher@lfpress.com, pberton@lfpress.com

    Mr Sher,

    With so many articles being written about the municipal budget, why is it that the London Free Press continues to promote the idea that this is simply a (1) pay down the debt, or (2) reduce taxes issue? Why do advocates of a “0% tax increase” like Councillor Paul (and the “London Taxpayers Coalition” for many years) get such wonderful coverage from the Freeps year after year, while those in our community who are most disadvantaged get scant attention paid to them at all?

    How about some articles about the services that are suffering because they’re not getting the financial support from the city that they ought to be getting? And the consequences that that has upon the most disadvantaged members of our community who need those services the most? And the long-term consequence that that fact will have upon the health of our community?

    I invite you to visit my blog (http://ca.geocities.com/fowgre/) and peruse some of the things that have recently drawn my attention. I think you may be especially interested in how I was “ahead of the curve” with respect to walkway lighting and the traffic situation along Commissioners Road East, and the abject failure of local officials to respond to my concerns soon enough.

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Greg Fowler (fowgre@yahoo.ca)
    962 Eagle Crescent
    London, Ontario; N5Z 3H7
    (519) 649-0500

    Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 10:59:37 -0500 (EST)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Letter to the Editor
    To: “letters@thelondoner.ca”

    I was pleased to read (Editorial; The Londoner; 2005/11/09) that “…we do not side with those who think the best government is none at all, or that taxes should go forever lower. In fact, sometimes taxes need to go up to pay for goods and services now. Witness the catch up London has been going through because spending was deferred in the 1990s.”

    People who complain about local taxes, and particularly those who advocate 0%-increases year after year, are short-sighted in the extreme. In fact, I’ll go even further and say that they are selfish and harmful to our community.

    Given the financial reality that cost of living increases is a reality that bites us every year, those who argue for no increased local taxes are really calling for a reduction in local services. Reduced policing, reduced fire protection, reduced public transit, reduced social housing, reduced… You get the idea. What about the fallout from all of that reduction? What about the people who are most financially disadvantaged and whose ability to function in our society is directly dependent upon public programs? What about increased costs in the absence of those public programs?

    When you pay local taxes, you get an immediate return on your investment. You can see where that money is (or isn’t) being spent, and it’s fairly easy to influence local politicians about those expenditures if you’re willing to make the effort to do so.

    Contrast that to the taxes that you pay to the provincial and federal governments. And next time that you feel like complaining about your taxes, consider firing off a letter to Dalton McGuinty who has the dubious distinction of breaking more election promises than any previous Premier in Ontario political history. Or consider sending a rant to the federal Liberals, under whose stewardship so many millions have been improperly (perhaps even illegally) mismanaged.

    Don’t complain about local taxes. It’s akin to shooting yourself in your own foot.

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Greg Fowler (fowgre@yahoo.ca)
    962 Eagle Crescent
    London, Ontario; N5Z 3H7
    (519) 649-0500

    Date: Sat, 23 Apr 2005 11:56:52 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Provincial Funding
    To: “Chip Martin”
    CC: “Morris, Meagan”

    London may be receiving $13.1 million more in transfer payments, but exactly how much has provincial restructuring and downloading cost us? What about intangibles like health care that we’re entitled to but not getting because of the doctor shortage? hospital bed shortage? What about the police services that we’re entitled to but not getting because of a shortage of graduates from police college, which then leads to immoral “retention” bonuses for local senior police officers?

    When the politicians talk about municipalities “receiving” more in transfers for a particular period, do they really mean that those dollars were actually transferred already, or that they had simply been announced? or re-announced?

    Given the demonstrated unethical behaviour of so many of our “leaders” in government and business and religion in recent years, we need to have critical news reporting more than ever before. It’s a shame that what we get too often, is simply entertainment disguised as news.

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Greg Fowler (fowgre@yahoo.ca)
    962 Eagle Crescent
    London, Ontario; N5Z 3H7

    Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 09:42:36 -0500 (EST)
    From: “Greg Fowler”
    Subject: Government Incompetence
    To: chapman@cjbk.com

    Jim,

    Is there a reason that you point an accusatory finger at the Federal and Provincial governments, but neglect to mention our local politicians?

    In order to disguise the natural consequence of their massive and irresponsible investment in capital projects, they have instructed that police, fire, etc. should comply with an arbitrarily imposed limitation on any budget increases. Regardless of need.

    Take the police budget, as just one example. We know that the complement of officers is insufficient for them to properly fulfill their responsibilities. And now we hear that the Feds are imposing additional responsibilities with respect to gun control. So now what? Robbery, home invasions, etc will become more attractive career choices because the cops won’t be able to respond? An increase in Toronto-like vehicle/pedestrian accidents and deaths because there’s no traffic enforcement? But of course, those around the horseshoe will shrug their shoulders and say “we don’t have any control over the police, how they do their job.”

    No money for social housing, for bylaw enforcement, for keeping the multi-million dollar library open on Sundays, etc, etc, etc…

    Where did they get the mandate to cut services? Which member of this Council ran on that platform? Because I’ll be dammed if I can recall a single one of them who did.

    Maintain services. If that results in an increase in taxes, so be it. The electorate will then decide whether or not the capital investments were as intelligent as they’re being portrayed.

    Greg Fowler (grefow@yahoo.ca)

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