Friday, October 29, 2010

Pet Deposits

I love pets... all kinds. Dogs, cats, birds, fish... Of course, having a pet requires one to be responsible for them as well.  I would like to think that most people are, however sadly, there are some that are not.  When you have your own pet, in your own property, then any potential damage that pet could cause is your problem.

However when you have a pet and live (aka rent or lease) on someone else's property, an entirely new "can of worms" comes into play.

Let's face it.  Being a landlord isn't an easy task.  If you have your own property up for rent, or managing someone else's property... you have to follow the rules set out under the Landlord and Tenancy Act.  This act should equally protect both the landlords rights, as well as those of the tenant.  Seems reasonable, right?  People are required to pay a security deposit, which is normally the same as one months rent, and according to the law it isn't allowed to exceed one months rent.  So it doesn't matter if you are a single person, or a group of people (with or without children), you pay the same price.  Seems reasonable too.

But if you are a pet owner, those rules go out the proverbial window.  Clearly, the possibility of the pet causing damage (urine etc on carpets and floors, scratching of doors and floors and walls and carpets, and any other thing that a pet could do...) to the property has increased.  And landlords should have the right to require additional assurances to allow for those times when things happen.  But since the law says that a security deposit can not exceed 1 months rent, landlords are now charging a "pet deposit".  The problem with this is... it's not really a deposit, because the landlord is not required to refund it.

This is WRONG.  The legislation needs to be changed, and it needs to be changed NOW.  Allow for an increase within the legislation, that permits landlords to exceed the 'maximum one months rent' limit so that pets become part of the security deposit, which makes those fees refundable when the tenant moves out.  Responsible pet owners will then be taken care of.  If the pet causes no damage, they will get those amounts refunded.  There doesn't need to be any "differences", as in "part 'A' of the deposit applies to normal things and part 'B' of the deposit applies to pets".  So even if the pets caused no damages, but the property is trashed, the landlord still has the right to use the entire amount of the deposit to make repairs etc.

As it stands now, pet owners are being abused by the process, and in fairness to responsible pet owners (which I submit are the majority of the people) the Government needs to stop allowing landlords the right to rip people off.

YOU must speak up, and let YOUR voice be heard.  You can send in a letter or email or fax, and tell the Government of Alberta to stop allowing landlords having a license to print money.

Snail Mail:
Investigative Services
Attention Consumer Programs
3rd Floor
10155 - 102 street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4L4

Email to

Fax to 780-422-9106

By the way, in my humble opinion, the legislation should be made retroactive to cover all people that have paid "pet deposits"... It's only fair!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So This is Democracy?

Democracy... one dictionary definition is "government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system."

The recent Edmonton elections were indeed a democratic process.  Approximately 1 out of 3 people choose to exercise their democratic right to vote and I wonder why the other two thirds of residents choose not to.  Where they confused with the issues?  Did they care about the issues?  Perhaps the better question is were they informed about the issues in an unbiased manner, or from balanced reporting?

Edmonton's print news media folks were certainly very vocal on things for several months leading up to the election, of that there is no question.  I am not sure how honourable they were, in hindsight.  The Edmonton Journal would place articles done by columnists on the front page of a section of the newspaper, giving the appearance of the item being a news story and not being clear they were opinion comments and not actual news.  The Edmonton Sun and The Examiner also created articles or editorials that never provided the full facts on issues.

Edmontonians were also subject to the influence of campaigns run by Envision Edmonton and Share The Facts.  Perhaps more importantly, in amongst all of this, were the things the people of Edmonton were not told.  I am not going to bother with diving into accusations over the Mayor and Council race, but I will bring up one point for people to ponder on...

As I have stated before, I am just starting to finally pull my head out of the sand when it comes to civic, provincial and federal politics.  Better late than never I guess.  With that said, I really wonder where the voices of the School Boards were in this campaign.  The reason why I say this is simple.  From the school board aspect, I live in the Ward B area.  The incumbent for EPSB was Ken Shipka.  According to the ARTES (Association for Responsive Trusteeship in Edmonton Schools) report card, Mr. Shipka was the worst possible choice.  Talking with many who know a lot more about the Trustee side of things than I do, they are also of the same belief.

According to the election results, Mr. Shipka received a total of 5,013 votes.  The ARTES report card also lists the best choice as being Darryl Lagerquist.  Darryl received only 801... the lowest number of votes.  I am deeply saddened, and if past performance is any indication, then EPSB has another rubber stamp added to it's collection.

I wonder how people are supposed to make informed decisions, if the information provided in the media is continuously biased and/or one sided... or if the School Boards don't tell you about what is going on with the people who were previously voted in?

Democracy can only be true, if you have TRUE facts to base decisions on.

In my humble opinion, the residents of Edmonton were let down in knowing the truth.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


This will be longer than my usual blog posts.  I hesitate in doing posts that are long because most people tend to skim the first few lines and then wander off.  I also said on twitter yesterday, that I was done with things until after the election.  However with the Edmonton election happening tomorrow, combined with recent articles posted in the Edmonton Sun entitled Mandel deserves another term and some surprising comments from Chris LaBossiere in twitter, combined with a review of the public forum web casts by the City of Edmonton, I've decided that there were a few things I needed to say, and to clear up.  I will start off with the article by the Sun first.

"First, the city held a plebiscite 15 years ago to consolidate all scheduled airline service at the international airport, dramatically reducing the traffic at the muni."

Yes, an accurate fact.  But what's your point?  No one was expecting consolidation to increase air traffic at the CCA.  It only makes sense to take the big planes and move them to the International.  The reasons for that part are, I would think, pretty obvious to most people.

"Second, city council held public hearings and open houses on redeveloping the airport more than a year ago. Where were the opponents then?"

Um, this is really the core key issue for everything else, at least in my opinion.  The majority of people who spoke at the public hearings, along with a majority of people who wrote in, were in favor of keeping the CCA open and operating.  Some also had ideas about limited expansion of services.  The real question here should be "Why did the City appear to have NO intention of even listening to what citizens were saying"?

One should also ponder on the timing and the reasons for calling this public hearing process in the first place.  Several have suggested that the closure of the CCA had been on the drawing board for some time but they had to wait until the plebiscite from 1995 had expired. (Or was that a referendum...anyway)  And if that part is true, then someone (or perhaps several someones) had clear intentions of what to do and when to do it, and probably knew they were going to "do that" once they were elected (or re-elected).  This type of situation isn't one that comes up over night and then have someone go BOOM, I need to change this.  Then again, maybe that's what happened too.  It's probably one of those little mysteries we may never know.

The bottom line here is... there was never any intention of actually listening to the public input requested.  If you are going to ask me to "prove it"... then talk with the people who were there.  Go to City Hall and get the names of the people who wrote in, and ask them.  "Hindsight" would give the indication, knowing what we know now, that the only reason these hearings were held was so that the City could be legally "correct" by saying they held the required public hearings in the matter.  After all, I think all of the reports the City tabled during the hearings had to deal with what can or could or will happen WHEN the CCA was closed.  I am not aware of one single report done by the City that showed any of the good things about keeping the airport open.

"Third, according to provincial law, the petition had too few signatures and was filed too late with the city."

Did it really?  We honestly don't know, because the City refuses to allow anyone access to the signatures that were deleted by the examination process.  And was it filed too late?  Well, those are questions that would have to be resolved in court.  I am certainly not a lawyer, and the majority of any legal experience I have is within the Criminal law side of things, which I acquired while working as a volunteer probation officer, along with some generic stuff while working for EPS for 3 years as a Systems Analyst.

With that said, I do want to comment on the Envision Edmonton side.  Yes, I was one of the people gathering signatures.  I didn't care then nor do I care now about who was behind EE, who paid the bucks, or anything else.  I was simply happy that someone had stepped up to the plate to address what was going on.  Other than getting a few signatures, and helping to cook at the various BBQ's that EE had, I have no other knowledge of the internals of the operations.  It didn't matter to me.

I will skip over the Chris issue for the moment, and deal with a point I noted from the web casts.

The Ward 2 forum event was, as expected, mainly dealing with CCA issues, however a few other items were also brought up.  The one comment that I found most curious, was with reference to Epcor being "sold off".  According to Kim Krushell, the city wanted to 'grow two businesses' and in order to mitigate the potential problems with power deregulation.  She says the city is growing the Epcor waste/water business, and what they did was create two separate companies, one that is owned solely by the City.  ... ... So does that mean that we only gave away the bad part and kept the good part?  This is another one of those complex issues that I am no expert in, but many people think this was a bad deal.  Unless of course, you are in that new company that was just given to you... you know.. the one built and paid for with tax dollars?  Like I say, I'm no expert in this.  It sure would be nice to know what this all really means.

I have saved the worst, for last.  I say worst, because out of everything, this is the one that personally pains me the most.  I don't know a huge amount about Chris, we have only met once for a brief period of time but we have had the odd conversations from time to time over the phone.  He is certainly an intelligent man, very "in the know" from the political side of things, which is probably the reason why he was put into the position of President for the newly revamped Alberta Party, a party that after careful review, I decided to take out a membership in.

Over the past few months, Chris and I have butted heads over the CCA issue.  I do not want to speak for him, and all I can say is that from what we have discussed in twitter, it seems like he is taking the stance that public hearings were done and the City did the 'due diligance' part of things so therefore the rest of the situation (whatever you figure that out to be) is correct, and the airport should be closed and redeveloped.

My position is that the hearings were a sham, only done so the City could fulfil the legal obligations required under the MGA.  In MY mind, from a MORAL aspect... if indeed my belief is correct, then anything that came as a result of the process, really isn't (for lack of better words) "valid".  Yes, I will be the first to admit that I am not a politically "smart" person.  That has been made painfully clear within twitter.  I have, like many, had my head in the sand for all too long, and I am *trying* to understand, *trying* to become involved, *trying* to become engaged.  Just because Chris and I happen to be within the same political party, does not mean we have to share the same views.  Nor should we.  Of course, it would be nice for everyone to agree with everything.  Politics is never "nice".  So we have politely agreed to disagree.  I can live with that.

Yesterday in twitter... things got pretty ugly.  It started off with Chris sending this tweet: "Transparency is the new gold standard. @VoteDorward, sadly, has hitched his wagon to the least transparent out there, @EnvisionEdm." His opinion, which is fine.  I happen to strongly agree with the first part, and I responded with the following:  "@ChrisLaBossiere Transparency SHOULD be the gold standard... Something Mandel has not done."

Well at that point I guess the gloves came off.  I know Chris is upset with me, because after the Alberta Party AGM that was recently held (one that I could not attend, and gave my proxy vote to Sue Huff) I had sent off an email to the party, expressing some concerns about his new position in the party.  My concern has to do with the "legal vs moral" issue that I've noted above.  Now, maybe I am totally out to lunch, but let me explain my reasons.  Many moons back I gathered a keen interest in the Reboot Alberta thing that was going on.  I loved what they were trying to create and I had very strong agreements with the political process, and that of politicians, where they were looking for more honesty, transparency, openness and all of the other goodies that Reboot was suggesting.  As many of you are aware, Reboot Alberta had done a spin-off on things and Renew Alberta had been created, with many of those people being a part of Reboot.  And of course, down the road Renew folks "merged" with the Alberta Party, and new things were happening.  Now maybe I am even more out to lunch in my thinking but I had ASSumed that the Alberta Party was also taking on the concepts of what Reboot was all about.  (As a side note, for what it's worth, the party sent my concerns to both Sue and Chris, seeing that I had given my proxy to Sue.... Sue responded, the details of which are not important here, Chris did not.)

Again, for ME... the big issue here is the moral aspect of what the City did, and that part of things doesn't seem to be an issue with Chris.  And that's where my concern came in.

Anyway, things got more heated between Chris and I in twitter.  The following is a list of tweets that were sent, time line ordered as close as possible.  Just to clarify, these tweets are "to" the person.

@CommonSenseSoc your conspiracy theories are running thin. When smearing people's integrity, maybe man-up & share some facts. 10:28 AM Oct 16th
@ChrisLaBossiere I've "man-up" where ever I could have Chris. Example, Ann emails. Public hearing sham.. 10:31 AM Oct 16th
@CommonSenseSoc Read those emails Gary. Cite me one excerpt about the Mayor acting even remotely underhandedly. you can't scream a lie true. 10:36 AM Oct 16th
@ChrisLaBossiere I've said it over and over.. being legally correct does not make it morally right. I'm PROUD my morals are of higher value
@ChrisLaBossiere I've read as much as I could have. As much as what has been made available. Logic tells me the process wasn't clean.
@CommonSenseSoc If your relentless method of unmerited smearing is the moral high road, I'll stick to the back alleys.

... Earlier, I had also sent out this tweet:

@danformayor2010 This latest issue is only to create vote splitting. I can't stand the thought of being raped by Mandel for 3 more years.

For a 'parting comment', Chris sent out this tweet:

Then again, you think you will be "raped" for another three years. That sounds so honest, and filled with integrity.

I responded with:

@ChrisLaBossiere there's more than one meaning to rape... are you done attacking me now? good..

So what did I mean?  Let's look up one of the definitions of 'raped'.
It mentions "To plunder or pillage".  It's not sexual.  However the appearance from Chris is that I am lacking honesty and have no integrity.

My friend, with all due respect... you have no right to judge me.  You've taken no time to get to know me.  I don't cut you down for the things you say, albeit I question what you are thinking because I'm trying to understand.  Strange, how I am so evil for wanting a just political setting.  Strange how you don't cut down everyone else that makes snide comments over the election stuff.  Strange... how its so OK for you to say to me, what you rake me over the coals for saying.

As I said... I think we are done.  I doubt there is little I can say that will change your mind or educate you on how I feel and believe.  I have, up until now, tried very hard (out of respect for who you are and your experience) to listen and understand what you say and why you say it.  I am still of the belief, that the "process" sucked.  And I stand firm in that.

Naturally, I expect you to be pissed.  Sadly, I don't care.  I also suspect that a few, maybe even a lot, of people within the Alberta Party will be pissed with me too.  That is something that I do care about.  IF one looks at my basic beef, which is the process not being with honor, and the Alberta Party actually stands for honor...

To all:

But then again, what do I know.  I am not a politician.  Perhaps I expect too much.  Perhaps I have no understanding of the political system.  If so, then educate me.  Just know that I will always try to read between the lines and see the truth and the bottom line.  I may not be "intelligent" when it comes to the internals of politics.  I may not be able to let big fancy words fly off the tip of my tongue.  I guarantee you however, I am no where near dumb.

This post was made with all due respect, I've been pondering and reading and pondering for 5 hours in creating this.  It's not perfect.  I am not perfect.  There are times when one feels the need to defend what they believe in, and this was one of them.