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Zero means zero

Well, the municipal elections are over.

For all those that supported Alex Munter - thank you. For all those that voted differently- glad you got involved. And for the next four years - try to stay involved. Watch our new mayor and his promises, stay in close contact with your councilor, join a local community association. Munter said in his final speech that we lost the election, but we didn't lose our voice, or our values, or love of our city. He was pleased to see all the dialogue between people, the interest from people in how their city was run, how their money was spent. And he hopes that O'Brien and the council can keep people energized and involved. He admitted he was asked by his advisors to also promise zero taxes, he felt he couldn't do that and promise acceptable service levels also, from his experience not that easy to do.

The results were 47% for O'Brien, 35% for Munter, 15% for Chiarelli. Seemed to suddenly become a battle  between the left and the right, with no room in the middle for Chiarelli. And most of the incumbents were re-elected (as often happens) so will be the mostly the old council, who are used to tax increases of a few percent. Not zero.

There were several issues discussed, so interest was up. 55% voted this time as opposed to 30% in the last local elections. The main issue was taxes - always seems to be, and it proved irresistible for the voters. While the others promised to control tax increases, O'Brien said there would be ZERO increases over the next 4 years. And he would do this by increased efficiencies, by running the city like a business, by maintaining core services. I didn't remember a specific inclusive list, but he did say snow removal IS core, libraries are NOT core. Our mayor was elected as a conservative, but changes will be radical I think, to achieve what he promised. Tough on crime, tough on panhandling - all good plans, but still need expensive social services. He's talked to some of the kids on the street and realized social safety nets are needed, but he feels there are a lot of overlapping ones that could be more efficiently blended together. We'll see. "Better means cheaper" is a good sound bite- but isn't a given. I'm all in favour of a vision and mission, of specific measurable objectives, of time-lines and reports on deliverables - I would expect he's familiar with the concept too, and that we will soon see those set up for the next four years.

O'Brien is touted as a "businessman", we weren't given details on that, but he will need some specific leadership and management skills to run the city. He may have shown some of these before (opinions differ), but being the CEO is different from mayor - he's just another vote. He'll be spending the next few weeks cramming, as he admits to knowing little about the workings of city governments in general, or the peculiarities of this one. Especially of working with a staff that has had a number of years of being told to cut back, to be more efficient, to do more with less. Been there, done that, got the half a t-shirt - cutbacks and efficiencies just means fewer people left to do the same jobs, with more report and meetings to reassure upper management. Plus, many are unionized and will expect at least to get COLA increases - they won't be a part of zero-means-zero, that's for someone else. If someone disagrees, he can't pull a Trump with "You're fired". The other prime issue is the LRT - he has to promised to reexamine the whole concept, see if we can delay, redesign to make it rapid also. And also address current transportation bottlenecks, not future ones based on shaky population projections.

Vote for Alex Munter


I’ve been following the campaign, and have decided that in my opinion, our best choice for Mayor is Alex Munter. He has considerable political experience, as well as a set of well linked goals/objectives/tasks that make sense for Ottawa. I think Chiarelli has passed his prime  and O’Brien had neither depth to his platform, nor the political experience needed.

Please consider voting for Munter, and maybe even helping get out the vote.

If you have another preference, please get out and vote anyways.

I’ve included below a press release from Saturday, feel free to forward this email on to your friends and neighbours.


With 48 hours left to go until Ottawa decides, it has become crystal clear that on Monday night our city will have a new mayor.

This morning, a poll in the Ottawa Citizen confirmed Bob Chiarelli's support has crumbled, and that this race is a tight race between me and Larry O'Brien. It's possible Ottawa could end up with Larry O'Brien as Mayor for the next four years. For the sake of our city, we can't let that happen. As the Citizen pollster points out, the person who will win on Monday is the one who gets their supporters to the polls. That's why I'm sending you this urgent note to ask you to help.

Here's what you can do: E-mail, text or phone everyone you know to share this news and get them to vote on Monday.  You can forward this message!

Volunteer now to help on election day.  Call my campaign at 613-241-2489 or visit Vote on Monday if you haven't already done so.  Check here to know where you vote:

Tell everyone you talk to that this is a very close election - their vote will determine the result.  And the result matters - because it's about where we live and what kind of community we will be.

You know my vision for our Ottawa. 

  • I'll protect important city services, like libraries, public health, snow-clearance and community policing; 
  • I'll stop tax increases above the rate of inflation so we can control spending and maintain city services;
  • I'll deliver and fix light rail, so it moves more people and serves more communities, and
  • I'll make Ottawa the greenest city in Canada.

Here's what Larry O'Brien has said he'll do:

  • Cut city services they're a "target rich environment", as he said on CBC radio .
  • Slash community agencies that help homeless people, as he suggested two days ago .
  • Consider restarting pesticide spraying on public property, like parks, despite all the medical evidence of the risk to our children's health.
  • Threaten libraries because they're not a core service, as he said at an Orleans debate.
  • Cancel light rail, with no plan to fix Ottawa's transit problems.

I know Larry O'Brien's plan for Ottawa is not the city we want. In an editorial this week, the Ottawa Citizen worried about Larry O'Brien, "What city services would he eliminate to keep tax increases at zero?  He wouldn't tell us."

This election will be won or lost in the next few days. Every vote counts.  That's why I'm making this urgent appeal.  I know you've been working hard for months, and I'm so grateful for your help.  Now I'm asking you to make one last extra effort from now 'till Monday night.

Victory is in sight -- but only if we all make this last major push to mobilize and motivate our fellow citizens.

Thank you,


Just a drip

No, not a senior's moment of stress, but one my many household chores. Hot water taps in the bathroom sink and tub have been dripping for longer than I care to admit here. I know, bad for the environment and all, wasting energy, but Stevie Harper says all these climate problems won't be an issue until 2050 - and has he ever lied to us before?

So, speaking of drips, this was one of those minor jobs that didn't seem serious enough to get on the day's to-do list. But today was annoying enough that I got to it. Wasn't sure what size washers I needed, so prepared to follow my usual plan - get a variety pack, use the two I need, throw the rest out. Local place was out of variety packs, so the guy there suggested I turn off the water, pull the cartridge, get the right size for once. So - I did - 9/16 flat, 1/4 r. Got several, and some cartridges, as well as 2 replacement valve seats, since mine must be damaged - new washers seem to last only a few weeks. Oops, valve seats need a special tool to remove them, back to the store. They don't have one, maybe Boone Plumbing does? Off to them, yes they do. Guy behind the counter tells me valve seats for bathtub are a different style, I didn't remember seeing a difference but he's the expert. So, of course, once I get home I see I was right, I now have the wrong ones. Back there again.  So, finally, I changed two cartridges (old ones too corroded), 4 valve seats and 4 washers - and the drip is gone. As is the annoying rattle fom the cold water tap - valve seat was partially blocked on one side so created cavitation, and noise.

Got more chores down, a quiet evening now - had some artsy things and a dance to go to, wanted to attend but too tired. Some nice TV on anyways - last episode of Andromeda, new one of Grey's Anatomy, and of course Alias.

Nov - 3 - update - I forgot to mention the interesting technology used at Boone Plumbing and Heating. They have a huge place, just off Star Top road, big showroom in front, warehouse in back with shelves piled high with furnaces and bathtubs and showers and piping and "stuff"  - with forklifts whizzing around. I placed my order at the front desk, it got printed out on a multipart form (not paperless yet) with a bar code on it. The parts desk guy scanned the bar code with a handheld LED reader, which then used a wireless connection to load the order to the device. He then used that to find the items, scanned to show there is now less in the bin, and handed over the order. I signed the form manually - not his scanner. And before going to the parts desk, visited the cashier - who used a big rubber stamp to mark all copies of the form "Paid".  Interesting mix.