Saturday, October 15, 2016

"Hare-Brained"

Prelude

On March 21/16 the City of Hamilton Ontario had a municipal by-election in Ward 7. There were twenty-two contenders who were tremendously eager to be crowned councillor. The title became vacant by predecessor Scott Duvall who won the riding of Hamilton Mountain representing the N.D.P. (New Democratic Party) in the Federal election on Oct. 19/15.

Long time personality of CHCH-TV Donna Skelly won the councillors position by an extremely slim margin...89 votes. Voter turnout was exceedingly deplorable and pathetic...24.35% eligible voters cast their ballots.

I forwarded Donna an e-mail on July 4/16 because I wanted some insight on a concern of mine. The title was 'We Pay Enough Taxes'...this is my story.

Hi Donna, congratulations on your political victory in Ward 7. I am a tax payer in your ward. On July 2/16 at approximately 7:20 a.m. I opened my bedroom drapes and noticed what looked to be a dead rabbit in my backyard. At times a rabbit may look dead but in reality it's just having a nap. I went outside to take a closer peek and my analysis was simple and immediate...the poor thing was dead. It's neck appeared to be broken and there was (I would estimate) a two inch open flesh wound on the left side of it's body and some of it's intestines were visible and dangling.

I phoned 546-C.I.T.Y. and asked for Animal Control (A.C.). The representative who answered said she could help me. I told her my situation and she asked me "can you bag the animal and place it at curbside." I replied, "I am hesitant to bag the critter." She then said, "there is a $50 fee for the removal of dead animals from private property." When I heard that I'm thinking...Hmm, strange scenes inside the gold mine with our tax money.

I did dispose of the rabbit in an appropriate manner. However, I do have three questions for you. (1) What if the animal was a raccoon (we have been warned about the rabies scare by Public Health) or any other creature that may be rabid? (2) What if it was a sizeable form of wildlife such as coyote, deer or wolf? (3) Last but not least what would happen if the tax paying citizen is an elderly individual who is physically incapable of bagging the animal?

Thank you, hope to hear from you.

Respectfully yours,

Harvenut Puritan

On July 6/16 I received an e-mail from Brad Potts, Supervisor of Animal Control...this is what he had to say to my three questions.

(1) For any rabies vector, including raccoon, skunk, fox Animal Control (A.C.) will pick up at this time due to Public Safety.

(2) Even for deer impaled in fences we ask the home owner have it accessible and close to the front of the residence for pick up.

(3) We always take into consideration (age, health, etc.) and make arrangements accordingly.

He also went on to say the following. In 2015 the City of Hamilton implemented a $50 an hour officer assistance fee. This fee is for picking up deceased animals on private property, releasing animals from traps, garages, sheds, basements and the removal of impaled deer on fences from private property.

In 2014 A.C. received and responded to approximately 1300 calls from the above mentioned services from private property home owners. The other option is for the home owner to bag the cadaver and place it at curbside for pick up at no charge when time permits or to contact a private wildlife removal company.

The implementation of asking home owners to bag cadavers allows A.C. Officers to attend calls of high priority (dog bites, dogs at large, etc. etc.) in a sufficient manner ensuring public safety. This was also found to be normal practices by many other Municipalities that offer this type of service.

If you have any other questions feel free to contact me.

I did have one more question after I read his reply. I wrote "what happens if I have a deer impaled in my fence, do I contact my 92 year old neighbour to assist me?" He never replied back.

I dilly dallied for a while whether to write Ms. Skelly again after Mr. Potts replied to me. My Executive Assistant (E.A.) suggested to me let it go...nothing will change. I agreed with her in regards nothing will change but I decided to send my councillor another e-mail July 24/16 to let her know how I feel...this is what I had to say.

Thank you for following up on my concerns. Brad Potts, Supervisor of Animal Control replied to me on July 6/16 explaining the City of Hamilton protocol with reference to my questions.

In my opinion it's endless...less service and higher taxes. My view point of a fee is just another fancy word for tax...it's everlasting. We all know that $50 an hour officer assistance 'fee' is just another tax grab.

Mr. Potts stated his department responded to over 1300 calls in 2014 from the above mentioned services (my questions). Government thrives on statistics so it we do the math, it is under four calls a day (my questions). I believe Animal Control is a 24-7 operations so I did a simple calculation and it turns out to be one call per shift, two per shift if they work a 12 hour system. Mr. Potts didn't indicate the number of other calls Animal Control receives. Either way, just like any other job people work hard for a living and employees have busy days and not so busy days.

I'm truly bewildered that an officer will respond and pick up the cadaver at curbside but for some strange and unusual reason can't make that extra effort to bag the dead animal...is it a long lasting and extensive procedure. I don't think so...nevertheless the officer is at the location anyway...very mystifying.

I really irks me when I hear bureaucrats say (as Mr. Potts did) other municipalities do the same thing. So if Toronto decides to go through with all sorts of new taxes (maybe they are fees) with their authority of the City of Toronto Act, will Hamilton follow suit?...I hope not.

I recall the councillors (you weren't recruited by your voters yet) raised monthly parking fees as reported by the Hamilton Spectator Feb. 23/16...it didn't surprise me...it was predictable and typical. What annoyed me even more was Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr applauded the increase because supposedly one of the concerns was Hamilton had the cheapest costs in the province...so what if we have low rates...yep taking more money out of tax payers' pockets. An article written in the Hamilton Spectator on April 19/16 by Scott Gardner stated some parking lots lost money but overall the city still came out ahead...$1.4 million.

What's next, impose a new fee on fire and police service requests? Once again, we pay enough taxes!

Respectfully yours,

Harvenut Puritan

Time had drifted by but Councillor Skelly did reply to my second e-mail on Aug. 19/16. This is what she had to say.

Hi Harvennut, Thank you for your e-mail. I understand your frustration. However, A.C., like most city departments is struggling with funding pressures while addressing services such as picking up animal carcasses, noise violations, animals off leashes, bites etc. Concerning the $50 Officer assistance fee I will take your complaint into considerations and discuss it with A.C. I appreciate hearing from my constituents. Please don't hesitate to contact my office if you have any other questions or concerns.

Regards,

Donna

To tell you the truth, I had abandoned the idea that Ms. Skelly would reply to me again...obviously I was wrong. She appears to be understanding and practical...although she is the new kid on the block...a rookie councillor. However why do I receive the impression she is quickly submitting into the political pattern (when she stated departments are struggling with funding pressure) they need more of OUR money.

Let's fact it, councillors as well as senior city staff have orchestrated some inadequate and unsatisfactory decisions resulting in numerous amounts of pointless and wasteful spending of OUR money.

A few examples are: Bike lanes, traffic calming, two-way conversions, King St. West bus only lane, (put it in, now let's take it out), bike share program, planting 16,000 plus trees, (Hamilton Spectator April 20/16) the so called revitalization of Downtown, including Gore Park's makeover, expensive overhead street lighting on Bay St. North, "trying" to rejuvenate Barton St., the pedestrian bridge crossing the Q.E.W. Highway in the east end of the city, the Art Gallery and awarding lobby groups (hundreds of thousands of dollars) such as the Hamilton Philharmonic and many other single and special interest groups who yearly attempt to persuade councillors to hand over OUR money to their faction.

There are also an abundance of management and senior administrative positions. The hierarchy in each department is a top heavy organizational structure. It consists of Directors, General Managers, Managers, Project Managers, Senior Project Managers, Senior Directors and Superintendents...a lot of fancy dancy titles.

The Hamilton Spectator published their annual "Sunshine Club" on March 25/16. The article showed the 100 City employees earning $100,000 and more a year in salaries. Unfortunately the list finished at $150,000, so you could say it was the top 100 City employees earning more than $150,000. My E.A. added up the salaries (omitting Fire, Police and Paramedics). The tally was just under $7 million. There is also a considerable number of managerial staff that receive $100,000-$150,000 a year.

In my opinion that is a tremendous amount of money for overpriced "bosses" who enthusiastically suggest how to spend OUR money for illogical, senseless and meaningless projects.

In the past years the "city" has increased in population mainly due to amalgamation which occurred on Jan. 1/01. It was a mixture and blending process of integrating the smaller suburbs of Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook and Stoney Creek into one megacity, Hamilton. Talk to a lot of folks who live in those outlying areas, they declare and insist they are paying higher taxes but receiving less service.

Once upon a time a citizen could journey to City Hall and take care of all their "city" business with one stop...not anymore. The city has more than one dozen departments scattered throughout the 'new Hamilton'.

Here are some disturbing facts about the future of the once called "Ambitious City". The Hamilton Spectator stated in an article on May 21/15 "our" debt will increase to $885 million by 2019, $3.3 billion on needed repairs and a $195 million infrastructure spending deficit. Another article on Aug. 20/16 in the Hamilton Spectator reported they city has an estimation of $3.6 billion infrastructure deficit. Throughout the years the bureaucrats didn't adhere with the fundamentals and essential services...primarily public safety and infrastructure.

Getting back to the unfortunate bunny, maybe I should have bagged the unlucky critter and placed it at my curbside, hoping A.C. would respond in a short span.

They city's refusal to assist home owners (without a fee) with dead animals on their property is absolutely ridiculous. They are always devising and generating new policies and in most cases they don't benefit the tax payer one dam bit...they are remarkably crafty.

Epilogue

It will always puzzle and baffle me how a home owner is responsible for a deer who is impaled in their fence. What bewilders me even more, we are obligated to take it to the curbside, F.Y.I. a male deer will weigh 150 lbs. and a female 100 lbs. I wonder what the reply would be if a tax payer phoned and stated they have a 20' python trapped in their backyard...maybe that "fee" would be $50 a foot.

The End

The Harvenut Puritan Project

Heebie - Jeebies

Heebie - Jeebies It is not an arrogant government that chooses priorities, it's an irresponsible government that fails to choose. To...