Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Open Letter



Sent to andrew.knack@edmonton.ca; bev.esslinger@edmonton.ca; dave.loken@edmonton.ca; ed.gibbons@edmonton.ca; michael.oshry@edmonton.ca; scott.mckeen@edmonton.ca; tony.caterina@edmonton.ca; ben.henderson@edmonton.ca; bryan.anderson@edmonton.ca; michael.walters@edmonton.ca; mike.nickel@edmonton.ca; mohinder.banga@edmonton.ca; don.iveson@edmonton.ca << had to guess at the Mayors, since it’s not listed on the city website. If that’s wrong, then I’d ask one of the other council members to make sure he gets a copy.. Just saying.

October 3, 2017

I have been working on this open letter for over 2 years now. The list of issues continued to grow, past the point where it was 17 pages long. Over time, it is clear that nothing short of a re-write would be acceptable. So, here it is.

Do note, for the blog readers of this post… the email has several attachments that demonstrate that I have never been “the bad guy”, and should add much insight to my past employment with the City. Those are not included in the blog at this time.

Dear City Council

You all have a challenging task, in making sure the city runs well, and keeping costs under control. Day after day, media reports have highlighted the failures of communications in departments. Taxpayers have had to bear the burden of those failures, yet we are not the ones that are responsible for creating them.

So much of what happens in every city department, is based a lot on “well, that’s just the way we have done it for decades”. This in itself, is a major problem. The ways things have been done in the past, just do not work in the present, and certainly will not work in the future. Both the Mayor and Councilors are guilty of following those same footsteps.

Everyone seems to think everyone else is doing their jobs correctly, and it is clear… they are not. Yet no one seems to be willing to stand up and fix the issues.

Perhaps the largest expense to taxpayers is that of wages for City staff, most of whom get the “earned day off”. It was a nice perk used to entice people, but it has gotten totally out of control. Most people work that ‘standard’ 40 hour work week, if they are lucky to work just those few hours. Many have to work 60 or more hours just to make ends meet. Yet city employees have been coddled with working less hours (6.75 per day), often for very awesome pay. And then every 2 weeks, they get an extra day off because they “worked” (7.5 hours) more hours in a pay period than their union contracts allow. .75 hours times 9 working days equals 6.75 hours, the ‘contract’ amount. People will take either a Monday or a Friday off, to make a long weekend out of things. And since this happens every week, the City has huge groups of employees who are absent from their jobs. This often makes meetings and other work events impossible to do because these folks can’t be contacted on their day off. So in essence, we have a city that only works effectively for 3 days a week. And as a taxpayer, I have to say, with all due respect, that it is time to remove those “EDO” days from contracts. Oh yes, employees and unions will scream about that. But in case you haven’t noticed, times are tough. We can no longer afford to have over paid and under worked staff. Let’s be clear, many city employees are very well paid. It certainly won’t kill them to work together for 5 days a week. You can easily kill those EDO days, and offer an extra week of holidays to compensate for it. Or you can start laying off people, because we as taxpayers, just simply cannot afford the luxuries of the past century. Times have changed, and you must do your part as well. Governments and businesses all over have cut wages and/or benefits, and I think it’s time for the City to wake up to the reality of the times.

To the Mayor – we had many discussions before you became mayor. Some good, some not so much. I know you took offense to my statement to you about the baby that died, and in my opinion, most likely as a direct result of Council closing the most needed runway for medivac services at the City Center Airport. There was no valid reason to do this, except for out of spite. The day you became Mayor, you blocked me on twitter. You, as mayor, have a duty to listen to all citizens, not just the ones you like. Please make sure you read over the enclosed documents. If you can’t take the time to listen to valid issues citizens have, you simply should not be in office. Your photographic memory is nice, it allows you to rattle things off, but in my opinion, it does not give you the wisdom needed in order to do your job properly. Since you have been mayor, literally every project the City has taken on, has ended up in a disaster. LRT, bridges, roads, CRL development, just to name a few. This is 100% on your shoulders.

Speaking of the airport lands, it’s no surprise to anyone that the project will not be “as advertised”, because the costs are way too high. And of course, like all of the glorious projects done, the excuses just keep coming. We knew it would be too expensive, how come you didn’t?

Our latest bridge, 2 years late, because the contractor decided to get steel from Korea. We have local steel here, contractors should be instructed to make use of local services where ever possible. And the Groat Road bridge failure? The City fined the contractors huge amounts for that failure, yet to my understanding, all of the businesses majorly affect by the road closures were never given one cent to assist them. What a way to treat them.

One of the most comical things was literally the day you became mayor, you just out of the blue, extended the Chief of Police’s contract. Had to be the “big man” and flex your muscles, right? Make sure you read the “go here” link for Mr. Oshry, and then take a peek at this one as well. EPS took TWO years to ‘investigate’ the complaint filed, and of course found no wrong. We appealed to the Law Enforcement Review Board, who heard the case, heard our evidence, and came back with a conclusion that they could not do anything because it was based on the Chief’s opinion. Well, one of the things the LERB did, was force EPS to release all un-redacted documents and interviews with the officers involved. Legally, I am not allowed by law, to release any of that information, but I can tell you this much. In my opinion, those who worked this in Internal Affairs failed to ask the right questions (surprise surprise) and some of the cops interviewed outright lied. The “logic” of the IA report was so out of whack with reality, and the Chief was too complacent to see it, and aided in the cover-up of the officers actions. And again, in my opinion, this is just another case of cops covering for cops. We know it happens. There ARE bad cops on the force. Period. End.  And you all turn a blind eye to the abuse, because it’s easier to be ignorant in bliss, than to want the real truth. Bottom line, in my opinion, you cannot trust EPS.

Michael Oshry – You decided that it would be comical to abuse and insult me in twitter, without knowing anything about my reasons for being “pissed”. Please make sure to read the attached documents, and then go here to better understand why I suffer from severe depression and PTSD. And hey, being out 3/4 of a million dollars in wages since 2001, not being able to work, not being able to support my daughter… as a direct result of bad cops and a bad system. Meh, no big deal. Who the fuck cares, right? My talents in computers and programming let me create from scratch, a brand new system for the Property and Drug Exhibit unit, in less than 3 months. At least 10 times better than the original, which took 4 people 2 years to write. And about 3 weeks after I finished this project, the main frame that was running the old program, died… A rental from IBM that was costing the City 2 grand a month to rent. No longer needed. And are you aware that Crime Analysis approached me to fix the Punkydatabase? No one else in IT at EPS would touch it. I fixed it in about 2 days, recovered lost data that ended up allowing EPS to solve this murder. But hey, I’m the bad guy, right?

For the Caterina crew – Tons of issues reported, discussed, and both Rocco and Tony have turned a blind eye. During the arena discussions, Rocco bent over backwards to supply “instant information” about the public’s responses, in order to aid in the battle of this project. Rocco also informed me that another councilor was given Mandel’s trip to China in order to get him to change his position and vote for the arena. Rocco later denied this but I’ll gladly take a lie detector test. And then of course, Tony also changed his mind and voted for the arena. MANY discussions, emails, phone calls over a long period of time about this, and Rocco just laughed at me and said “Hey Gary, this is politics. Sometimes you have to give something up in order to get something”… So tell me Rocco, what did ward 7 GET in exchange for changing the stance on this? Clearly, council members can be bribed… or shall I say “influenced” … so I really want to know. Speaking of the arena, where did our month of “free time” go? Was this written out of the agreement after it was LOUDLY touted as being something “great” for residents? And what about the 2 million dollars a year we are paying to the Katz group for “advertising” of our city, in our building? I’d like a detail breakdown of those payments and what they were for please.

Three other issues – (well, there are a ton more but…) the first being the change of our main sidewalk from concrete to asphalt. Something we never asked for, something we were never informed of, and something that is falling apart to an end that it is even worse now than what it was before. Tony said that the taxes were lower for this sidewalk, yet they were never ever adjusted to fix it. Rocco recently said “hey, we can send someone out to look at the entire house…” and I’m going like WTF… the City KNOWS they made this change, why were taxes not automatically adjusted for it? Everyone on the block qualifies for this, why does someone have to come out and look IN the house? I mean, seriously!

The second is garbage collection. Many times it has been missed, many times only partially picked up. I got tired of reporting it, and decided that I would take 1 weeks’ worth of “value” off the billing done by Epcor. Garbage USED to be part of taxes, but was removed and given to Epcor to bill, for providing the “service”. Since I was not getting the service I was paying for, why should I pay for it? For about what… two years Rocco?? I fought with you over this and after ignoring the phone calls and emails you simply said “The City POLICY does not provide credits”. Really? You OWE me for that one week of payment that I held back from Epcor, and you OWE me for all of the interest charges Epcor billed me for not paying that part of the bill. Change the “policy” dude. Nowhere else are people expected to pay for a service and not get it. By the way, collections have been really bad again, and I’ve filed 2 more complaints. The first guy that came out and spoke to me, got it… and said he would talk to the crew. Two weeks later, another complaint, and the guy on the phone just laughed, and said they often miss stuff, it happens, no big deal. Really? Not a big deal to actually DO the job they are being paid to do, and that taxpayers are paying for huh. And you want to run for ward 4? Good grief.

Lastly there is the street cleaning issue. We complained every year, for probably 10 years in a row about our street not being cleaned when all of the other streets were. The last time around the City insisted they had cleaned it, and I posted a picture in twitter that clearly showed it had not been done. Consequently, the City had to come back, force residents to once again remove all their vehicles, and came back to clean it. Pathetic, and a total waste of taxpayer dollars.

Rocco, I also politely gave you several suggestions on how to improve things. Traffic light timings in this city SUCK. Yet they tend to be much better during rush hour traffic. So make ALL the lights like they are rush hour (god only knows the city has grown and we have the volume compared to years ago) and save TONS of green house emissions. The other is related to manhole covers not being adjusted after road work has been done. Years and years of going thump thump over these, and nothing is done. I guess it’s too complicated for the city departments to communicate to each other and just come out and adjust these covers once road work has been done. And both you and your father want to get elected… for what, so residents can have more of the same lip service?

Dave Loken – In my opinion, you might be the biggest piece of garbage on council. You remember your (drunken?) rage in twitter, when people were politely asking your stance on the arena. You bashed many people including me. Later on, using the cover of your council office, you tried to cause me a lot of grief over my tank. The one that everyone knew was nothing more than a joke (several local and provincial politicians thought it was so comical, they actually asked if they could borrow it for a spin) yet YOU decided to make a complaint to EPS. I found this out because I FOPI’d the City and got a pile of blank pages and then I FOIP’d EPS and got the truth. I wrote a blog post on that, and now you seem to be the one wanting ‘protection’ within council. Mimi Williams covered this issue in her Facebook post, which also includes my blog post. In my opinion, you outright abused the power and authority of your office in an attempt to intimidate me, and you should have been removed from office.

For everyone else on council – some questions, if you will. There is the issue of our arena time and advertising costs.

There is also the issue of the new building where (apparently) all of the city departments have been relocated to. Another Katz group building that none of the other developers wanted to bid on, because they knew it would go to Katz. Part of that deal touted to taxpayers was “hey, we can buy our space so it will be a good deal”, only to recently get told it would be too expensive to do that. You knew about that all along, but strung taxpayers a line, just like most things done in the city. So… what was the cost of all of the old places combined, and what is the cost currently being paid. More so, we were told that the city was getting a ‘great deal’ for the first few years… what is going to be the cost AFTER that period?

And then we have all the arena parking, and parking restrictions, street closures etc. What a zoo. People loved going downtown after 6 pm to enjoy free parking and dine and shop. No more, when events are on. Businesses are starting to complain about lost revenue, and rightly so. We all told you about this but like everything else, Katz gets the parking money while residents and visitors get the shaft. For the most part, the City has given everyone the middle finger. So yeah, great work.. again, everything for a billionaire and screw the rest of you.

This Epcor water deal.. ‘hey, I’m upper management in Epcor, I got a great idea.. let’s take 500 million dollars in the City debt for free! No one twisted my arm or talked to me about this idea, honest!’ So now Epcor, who is not answerable to taxpayers, will start billing us additional dollars for this, and the City has another 500 million dollars it can put us into debt for, because the City is near the upper limits of what is allowed for a debt. Epcor is going to essentially “tax” us on this, and council is going to do another 500 million dollars in “whatever” and tax us for that. Just like garbage collection… taxes are shifted to services, and taxpayers get the double shaft again. In my opinion, someone (or several someone’s) approached Epcor about this deal, and it was sold to taxpayers as being something cool and OK to do. For Andrew Knack, this has perhaps been the biggest disappointment in your stance. You indicated to me that you wanted to be a champion of the taxpayers. For me, in this issue, you failed.

Logic says, the corruption in this city…. Is astounding… again, in my opinion.

I’ve covered a minuscule part of the issues, and I want some answers please. From anyone on council who wants to chime in. Please respond either to the blog or this email, no later than 5 pm on October 10th.

3 comments:

  1. Epcor. LRT. Funicular. The forced elimination of Northlands. Annexation. CRL's. Arena land flips for the privileged few. Arena deal that not a single private CEO would sign and keep their job. P3 shenanigans. The direct transfer of a former councillor into Federal cabinet to continue the theft of wealth and assets from the public to the private.
    There is a fundamental difference between the "good old days" of corruption under Bill Hawrelak and the new corruption under Mandel and Iveson. Hawrelak was a shady operator, but his largesse resulted in over-engineering, over-building and local power concentration. The only thing Mandel/Iveson corruption has gotten Edmonton is debt and substandard deals. If you can't cheat and lie to benefit those in your own backyard, you are a shitty crook.

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    Replies
    1. There is also the MacDonald lofts issue... http://edmontonjournal.com/business/commercial-real-estate/katz-group-buys-macdonald-lofts-a-low-rent-apartment-building-with-history-of-health-violations My guess, once a new council gets in, Katz will apply to remove the historical ruling, and tear it down. Katz hates poor people hanging around "his" palace.

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