Posts Tagged ‘LFP’

I’ve Been Reviewed (woot)!

August 12, 2008

graphicRead it (and a critique of other local blogs) HERE, then come back and let me know what you think. And don’t forget to take the survey if you haven’t already done so (ty).

Added 2008/08/25: Local blogs are a hot topic! The LFP has now published an editorial about the aforementioned critique and the local blogging scene, and I’ve replied to the editorial. See: Blogs Blossom in Forest City

In Response to Lynn Horton

June 12, 2008

In an online 2008/06/11 letter to the London Free Press, contributor Lynn Horton describes being struck by a vehicle in a parking lot and suffering “left arm in a cast, two broken ribs, and multible bruises.”

Because the driver of the vehicle on this occasion was an 82 y.o. woman, Ms. Horton expressed her hope that aging drivers know “when it is time to hang up the keys.”

I don’t disagree with that sentiment. But the danger faced by pedestrians goes far beyond that which is represented by elderly drivers, and I think it’s important following incidents like this that we don’t restrict are lobbying efforts so narrowly. Because it’s only when pedestrians start to get more outspoken and political, that the police and politicians will start to give even a small fraction of consideration to our safety as what they routinely give to drivers.

Hence, this 2008/06/12 submission to the newspaper by myself:

It’s Not About Age

This kind of incident can occur any day, at any time of the day, in parking lots, drive-thru exits, etc. all over the city. And it’s not age-related. It’s about the mindset of drivers who think that cars have the right-of-way over pedestrians unless there’s explicit signage/signals saying otherwise. And even then there are many drivers who ignore even those prohibitions. And it’s also about lax city regulations with respect to design, and the fact that many lots make no attempt to accord pedestrians any safety features whatsoever, in the form of sidewalks or anything else. Just another reason why every member of City Council should hang their head in shame for the manner in which my proposal for a Pedestrian Committee has been handled. And other pedestrian safety issues that I’ve brought forward. And if there’s a single one of them who cares to publily debate that, I’m ready.

They’ve Got It Backwards

May 20, 2008

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Typically London. Some people and points of view get media attention, others get ignored. And the democratic process gets subverted.


Paul Berton’s ‘Road Sharing’ Half-Truths

May 18, 2008

With respect to Paul Berton’s recent Point Of View column…

The LFP editor asks “how disturbing…to hear about hit-and-runs involving cars and cyclists like one over the weekend on Exeter Road”? He asks some questions about interaction between motorists/biyclists/pedestrians and he cites some stats (presumably obtained from the police, although he doesn’t say so).

Since Mr. Berton generally just ignores my posts to the LFP website, I’ll put it here as well, and you can comment about it if you like:

It’s About Time
Greg Fowler (

How long have I been trying to interest you in pedestrian rights/safety issues? Nice of you to finally get around to writing something. Too bad though that you didn’t think to pick up the phone and talk to me. Are pedestrians using crosswalks? Who’s determined to be at fault, numbers of tickets issued, etc? Did you think to ask any questions about those stats, Paul? Did you think to ask Tom O’Brien why only 30% of auto operators are being ticketed for striking pedestrians? When you want to give this serious issue the attention that it deserves, you let me know.

Berton’s Pedestrian Pronouncement

May 14, 2008

If you haven’t done so yet, click HERE to read Paul Berton’s latest pretentious POV newspaper column.

You probably won’t ever see it printed in the LFP, and it’ll likely be about 4 days before they post it on their website (so fewer people will read it), but you don’t have to worry about that. Because here’s a copy of the response that I submitted to Mr. Berton just moments ago:

It’s About Time

How long have I been trying to interest you in pedestrian rights/safety issues? Nice of you to finally get around to writing something. Too bad though that you didn’t think to pick up the phone and talk to me. Are pedestrians using crosswalks? Who’s determined to be at fault, numbers of tickets issued, etc? Did you think to ask any questions about those stats, Paul? Did you think to ask Tom O’Brien why only 30% of auto operators are being ticketed for striking pedestrians? When you want to give this serious issue the attention that it deserves, you let me know.

Paul Berton’s Belated April Fool’s Joke

April 6, 2008

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According to Paul Berton’s latest advertorial, “We’re redesigning the print version of The London Free Press…with a focus on local news.” *cough*


Food Bank Challenge

March 11, 2008

The London Food Bank has issued a challenge. The premise is that, by restricting your family food intake to “$30 for yourself and…$25 for each additional family member for all food [which] includes coffee, donuts and lunch money and not using any food which may have been previously purchased, you’ll find out if you could live on the kind of annual income that it’s clients typically have to. 01

Having accepted the challenge, London Free Press reporter Joe Matyas writes that “it was a learning experience.” 02 But was it the right one? And although the article may have helped Sun Media to sell a few newspapers, did it really convey much insight into the plight of too many people?

One week is hardly enough time to gain much of an appreciation for the kinds of choices that have to be made on such a low income. And simply concentrating on diet terribly minimizes the problem of having to make equally and often impossibly difficult choices with respect to things like shelter, clothing, assistive devices, personal hygiene, transportation, recreation and entertainment (food for the soul), continuing education, counselling, legal representation, etc.

Like politicians who spend a few hours on the street to experience homelessness, or a day in a wheelchair at City Hall to experience being disabled (correction… one kind of physical disability), this strikes me as being a whole lot more about posturing than acquiring any meaningful understanding.

01. London Food Bank: Take the Food Bank Challenge
02. 2008/03/10 – LFP: Food bank issues shop-on-a-budget challenge

Other Links:
AlterNet: Food Bills Getting You Down?

Patrick Maloney’s Jumbo-tron Half-Truth

February 4, 2008

Another example of selective reporting by the London Free Press, and it’s penchant for ignoring my initiatives (even when public safety is concerned). This time it’s about the proposed Jumbo-tron on Richmond Street which I opposed. Read my original post HERE.

According to the article (‘City says big no to big screen ‘; London Free Press; 2008/02/04), “it would damage the core’s atmosphere.”

No mention at all of my written submission to the Planning Committee, or the danger to pedestrians from increased driver inattentiveness that this would cause.

Why does the London Free Press continue to ignore issues which pertain to pedestrian rights and pedestrian safety? Visit the London Free Press ‘Editors Blog’ and read my recent exchange with Editor-in-Chief Paul Berton, and witness his continued reluctance to publicly discuss this with me. Remember the last municipal election campaign, in which I wasn’t allowed a fair opportunity to compete and the LFP refusal to cover what was going on?

After a while you really do have to ask yourself, how much truth are you really getting? Or are you just being spun like so much salad prior to being served up to be devoured?

Jonathan Sher’s Police Budget Half-Truth

February 4, 2008

Today’s newspaper article (‘Police budget under fire‘; London Free Press; 2008/02/04) appears to be another vainglorious attempt to stir up local ratepayers and drive a wedge between police and local government.

Different Truths 
Don’t be too quick to accept what’s presented to you. Yes, it’s true that the police budget is taking up a larger proportion of the total city budget. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the increased police budget is irresponsible or even unreasonable. It’s every bit as possible that it simply reflects the fact that the rest of the city budget may not be increasing as it should be. You may not want to hear that, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.

What may not be sustainable, is local government’s ability to shoulder the cost so long as it is dependent upon the outdated property tax system. But Mr. Sher makes no effort to remind us of that fact.

Mr. Sher quotes Police Chief Faulkner as saying that “Policing is very expensive.” Well, I’d like to remind Mr. Sher and London City Council that not policing is even more expensive. The cost which would result from increased violence and property crimes would make current expenditures pale in comparison.

It’s been 6 years since I appeared before City Council’s Community & Protective Services Committee to argue for increased police funding (when nobody else was), but my position has not changed since then. Read the transcript HERE.

The real focus needs to continue to be on funding of municipalities. I addressed the audience during Jay Stanford’s recent Waste Diversion Open House at Laurier S.S. when their understandable upset over rising property tax increases inappropriately manifested itself in a criticism of the perceived cost of environmental initiatives. Here is my recollection of what I said…

In the beginning, before money even existed, the way that people measured their wealth was in land, and the ability of that land to produce crops and sustain livestock. We were an overwhelmingly rural society. Then, as now, there was a need to collect from citizens a share of those costs which were incurred for the whole community. Those taxes were in the form of potatoes, corn, goats, etc. Over the years, property tax has fulfilled it’s purpose for local communities pretty well. But we have made a transition from a rural society to a predominantly urban one. And that trend continues. The property tax system is now broken. It can no longer support all of the costs which city dwellers place upon it. There needs to be a new revenue source for cities. Federal and provincial governments do not suffer the same problem. They have multiple ways in which to raise revenue. The federal government has been awash in our taxdollars for quite some time. Year after year it declares surplus budgets. The fiscal health of the provinces is not so clear-cut, because of the convoluted transfer payments between each, division of responsibilities, etc. But one unmistakable fact remains – provinces has the ability to raise more revenue whenever they need to. Recently, the City of Toronto was given some special new powers as a result of it’s continued budget deficits and advocacy. But other cities have not been treated as fairly. If citizens want to bemoan the seemingly continuous increase in their property taxes, and I fully understand their angst, they must start to appreciate who the real villians are. Don’t moan and groan at City Hall. Take your frustration out on the MPPs and MPs who deserve it. Tell them that we need and demand a New Deal. One that will sustain our changed lifestyle instead of pitting us one against the other.

Submitted 2008/02/04 5:15 a.m. to the London Free Press as a ‘Point of View’ along with this restriction:
Please view my original post ( 2008/02/04/jonathan-shers-police-budget-half-truth/) and consider publishing it unedited as a POV. If you have reasons for editing it, I am willing to discuss that possibility, but will not surrender that right to you without justification. Submission of this article DOES NOT imply such consent.

Other Links:
2008/02/12 – Ottawa Citizen: Tax land, not homes
2008/02/12 – Globe & Mail: Miller Plays Politics

A Dose of Sugar-Coated Crap Fark

January 24, 2008

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There don’t appear to be too many sharp pencils over at the London Free Press. Perhaps that’s why I like to read Dan Brown’s pop-culture blog, and a column which is equally good. Because, and here’s the thing, Dan seems to appreciate the way that the Internet is changing our world forever. It’s an information REVOLUTION, and there’s just no way that we (who used to have to be) silent majority want a return to the past (where we were so beholden to corporate media for our news and information).

I suggest that you read Dan’s latest column (‘Journalists can fight fark by trying harder‘; LFP; 2008/01/24) and then check out his blog to see if I agree with him. And toss your own 2¢ in too.

A Good Year?

January 15, 2008

Sgt. Thomas O’Brien is quoted as saying It was an absolutely fantastic year on the roads (‘Car crashes down in 2007‘; Joe Belanger; LFP; 2008/01/15).

And then the article tells us Pedestrians were involved in 236 collisions, a 12-per-cent increase.

Click HERE to watch a YouTube video and listen to the Kingston Trio sing “It was a very good year.”

Now click HERE to re-read my post about the lack of concern exhibited by The London Free Press about pedestrian safety in this community.

If that’s not enough, click HERE to re-read my post about the absence of pedestrian stats reporting at City Hall and LPS.

Don’t allow yourself to be misled.

Pedestrian Stats Noticeably Absent

November 28, 2007

Q: How often have pedestrians been struck by hit/run drivers in London ?
A: At least twice within the past week.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss it… a brief mention in today’s paper (“Police seek hit and run info“; London Free Press; 2007/11/28) about “a girl” who sustained “minor” injuries last Wednesday evening after she was “knocked down by a dark-coloured station wagon” which then left the scene. And of another female who was “thrown onto the hood” of “a four-door, white Honda Civic” on Saturday afternoon. In both cases, the operators of the automobiles left without identifying themselves. Presumably that means that they left before police arrived.

    Appended 2007/11/30 @ 21:00I just revisited the LPS website and … quelle surprise! … there’s now a “Media Releases” link on the main page pointing to a brand new page (which isn’t dated) all about these recent vehicle/pedestrian incidents and the driver’s “legal obligation” to identify themself before leaving the scene. It seems I may have caught somebody’s attention 😉

As short on information as the newspaper article may be, it puts the London Police Services website to shame. Because there’s no mention of these incidents at all on it’s “Media Releases” page. Or on it’s “Wanted” page. Or on it’s “FYI” page. In fact, when I typed “pedestrian” into the search facility on the LPS website, I got a sum total of only 8 articles. One of those (2006/03/23 LPS Board Minutes) refers to “statistical information on Pedestrian Safety” that had been presented by Sgt. Tom O’Brien, but does not provide those stats.

So, how often do incidents involving automobiles and pedestrians happen in London? If we can’t get that information from the police website, perhaps we can get it from our elected officials.

Yeah, right ;(

I’ve been fighting for such disclosure for many years.Plod on, dear reader…


Our Environmental Arrogance

October 27, 2007

cougar campingHuman population is now +6 billion, and may double within this century. All over the world, other life forms are becoming extinct because of human encroachment. As developers push farther and farther out of the city limits and swallow up wild animal habitat, should we really be surprised by cougar attacks on pets, or vehicle collissions with deer?

deer crossing signIn today’s paper (“Deer runs amok in London furniture store“; Joe Belanger; London Free Press), we’re told that deer are “a menace to drivers.” Well, I beg to differ. It seems to me that we’re the menace, and it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to curb our selfishness before Mother Nature decides to do it for us.

2007/11/20 – LFP: List of cougar sightings growing

A Public Response to Sandra Pavan

September 15, 2007

In a recent Letter to the (London Free Press) Editor, Ms Pavin complains about “aggressive pedestrians.” Since our only daily newspaper does such a poor job of indexing reader submissions, it would likely be a miracle if Ms Pavin or hardly anyone else ever noticed my response. Case in point… the preceding link will take you to the main “Letters” page where you can scroll through the list of letters and try to find Ms Pavin’s submission. But there’s no permalink provided to the submission, else I’d have been able to link you directly to it. IMO, the London Free Press wants to give the appearance of being responsive to it’s readers, without enabling them any more than it absolutely has to.

Here is my response, submitted moments ago:

[submitted using LFP website form]

As London’s most publicly outspoken pedestrian advocate, I suggest that you visit my blog and review my posts in such categories as “pedestrians,” “public safety,” etc. I would be pleased to have you and other citizens submit your comments, and to join me in lobbying City Hall for a Pedestrians Committee such as exists in more enlightened communities. And in getting Ward 1 Councillor Roger Caranci to respond to my emails ;(

Any thoughts? Leave a comment using the submission form below, or click here for an email form.

Council Salaries

April 18, 2007

Hot off the press (“Council salaries to be studied“; Joe Belanger; London Free Press; 2007/04/18), word that some recently-elected members of London City Council are unhappy with the amount that they’re being paid.

Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2007 06:56:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: “Gregory Fowler”
Subject: Council Salaries
CC: “Paul Berton”, “Joe Belanger”

Like the issue of plastic bags, Council salaries was one of my election campain platforms. Now that the election is over, and like plastic bags, recently elected politicians want to talk about their salaries.

What’s next? The Pedestrian Committee which I proposed and Council buried?

Perhaps if the London Free Press had not totally ignored my campaign, these discussions would have taken place when they should have.

Londoners who are interested can still view my platform at

Greg Fowler
2006 Ward One Municipal Candidate

Since 1998/03/02, there has been a City Council policy which automatically adjusts their salaries on Jan. 1 (never downwards) to match any increase which has taken place in the annual Ontario Consumer Price Index (or the Labour Index, if that’s higher, so long as it’s less than 1% more than the OCPI).

The annual salary of a London City Councillor is already $31,414, and 1/3 of that is tax-free (equivalent to $40,482 of fully-taxable income).

That’s a pretty cushy part-time gig if you ask me, especially when one considers that it’s traditionally been considered to be a labour of community service.

The auto-adjustment feature of the current City Council policy is logically sound, but it’s tied to the wrong index. As I’ve advocated for decades, and as expressed in my municipal campaign:

The salaries of politicians at all levels of government should be directly tied to the minimum wage or what those who are on welfare receive. Perhaps then, they would be more cognizant of the plight of those that they profess to serve, as opposed to their own “entitlements.”