Saturday, September 23, 2006

Let the silly season begin

Not - not Autumn per se - but municipal election season in Toronto.

Mayor Miller has just bought us into a landfill near London. Londoners aren't exactly "willing hosts" for this. I seem to remember that this was the reason that council's leftists chose Michigan over the Adam's Mine. What a bunch of pelletized sewage effluent! We don't know the price, terms etc. Miller just wants us the trust him. We'll only find out after the election.

Jane Pitfield - Miller's main challenger in the race - is making as issue of this. Rightly so in my book.

Of course, trained NDP seal John Barber (Globe & Mail) is bounding to the Mayor's defence.

Of course, it's always silly season in "Barberland". It's no surprise that this reporter supports Toronto Mayor David Miller's plan for the acquisition of the Green Lane landfill. Barber's views unerringly align with Miller and his cadre of left-leaning councillors. His columns save me from having to read the contemporaneous writings of my local councillors in the neighbourhood flyers. I'm often left wondering who gets to write the first draft.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The poor Pope

One has to feel sorry for the Pope. When a man devotes himself to his faith and church, there's little time, perhaps, to become an expert in politics. I guess some Muslims have taken offense to some of the Pontiffs statement.

The Pope should have know that anything he might say about Muslims, Islam, Muhammad would have raised a negative reaction. Today's Muslims seem all too ready to take offense. Many have raised being thin-skinned to an art form.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ken Dryden the dreamer

Ken Dryden is one of Cornell's (my alma mater) most famous athletes. No doubt, the man once had some level of intellect - or he wouldn't have graduated. However, perhaps as a result of a puck in the face at some point in his NHL career, he appears to have lost it. There is no other explanation for the continuous stream of babble forthcoming from this candidate for the Lberal leadership.

This is a man who played for perhaps the greatest collegiate hockey coach (Ned Harkness) and the greatest NHL coach (Scotty Bowman). At Cornell and with the Canadiens, Dryden played to win and his teams did so. This is Dryden remembering Harkness:

"At Cornell we played only twenty-nine games a year, as opposed to over a hundred with the Canadiens...Ned knew just how to maximize the importance of each one. Not only was every game vital and critical, so was every practice, every period, every shift. Every player soon understood this and was motivated by the realization."

So why on earth would Dryden join a party where nothing really matters except appearances: where signing Kyoto is important - but results are not; a party that spends on national unity in Quebec, but has no measures of how the money is spent; a party that sends money willy-nilly to the provinces and calls it a child care program; a party that creates a gun registry, without any results.

To continually implement policies that don't work is a policy of continually losing. For the fed-Fibs, all that ever matters is winning power. I wouldn't have thought that this was the right place for someone who has been used to really winning. hmm - perhaps it was those years spent with the Maple Leafs.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Now there's an example of how things should GO!

GO Transit's Board are to be commended on taking swift action to stem absenteeism problems - which are especially impacting Friday service:

Toronto Star - September 9th 2006

Unionized crews contracted by Go from CN have been leaving passengers in the lurch to enjoy long weekends.

Per GO Transit Board member Bill Fisch:

"We'll solve it.... We are going out to the tender process to see if others will be interested in (running GO trains). That will hold everyone's feet to the fire to provide a better service for us. I don't think people will stand for bad service."

It's too bad that the people running (yes I realise - a rather loose use of the term) the Toronto Transit Commission, don't have the same passion for providing service. The TTC has terrible absenteeism problems. Did Howard Moscoe and his fellow traveller commissioners try to address this in the most recent contract? Don't be silly, they were too busy telegraphing the fat juicy raise they were all too eager to grant the union.

Self-styled transit advocates such as Steve Munroe hand ring over the TTC service problems. However, they seem to dismiss any notion that the Commission push for increased performance. In my view, we need true passenger advocates - such as Mr. Fisch instead of the likes of Moscoe and Munroe.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A different view of the Canadian International Airshow

With Ernesto and the rain finally clearing, I biked out onto the Leslie St. Spit this afternoon. I had two purposes: to exercise (getting a break from step machines and weights), and to catch some of the Airshow.

Of course, being out on the Spit is not the same as being front row center down at the Ex. However, the view - especially from the lighthouse 'hill' has some advantages:

1. Fewer crowds - no parking or streetcar hassles.
2. No ticket - if it's raining or the jets can't fly because of the ceiling, you don't have to go.
3. Different views - the jets will circle around to the East in advance of theri actual performance. Many of the high performance jets actually pass very close to the end of the point as they approach the show.

Today, I was a bit late. I could see the very end of the B-1B's peformance as it ascended into teh clouds and away. Someone mentioned that this was an F-14 - because of the intense noise. Well - no, there isn't anything I've heard that's quite as loud as the B-1B. (I once stopped at a rest stop in South Dakota near Ellswoth AFB. The B-1s were on a circle that went right over the MacDonalds. I've never heard anything like it. )

After that, followed the F15, CF-18, F-16 and various more specialized planes - not to mention the small aerobatic planes. (I'd recommend going to the Ex to see these.)

I cycled around until about 4:00 pm. I guess the Snowbirds were a little later - but I had other things to attend to. (Hmm - and there are no concessions out on the Spit.)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

L'Affaire Bombardier

The TTC (i.e. the nine city councilors who sit on the Commission) have voted to approve the award of a contract for replacement subway cars to Bombardier - without having allowed competitors to make proposals. Of course, the likes of TTC chair Howard Moscoe (a.k.a. resident windbag) and Moscoe-lite Adam Giambrone are spouting off about what a great deal it is.

Yes - they did get some outside consultants to bless the deal. This is no surprise. Consultants know what side the bread is buttered on. They would never in a million years concluded that the decision needed to be reconsidered - because they would certainly never get any work at The City of Toronto again. As one of my classmates put it in B-School : "Give me Lotus 123 and a few hours and I can make any company look good" - well the same is true for anything transit related.

Giambrone - who was caught getting election help from Bombardier - is brazen enough to defend the decision in today's Toronto Star (Giambrone - OP ED - Sept 2 2006). Write Giambrone:

Justice Denise Bellamy, in her report on the city's computer purchasing scandal, points out that "if a government's policy gives priority to the local economy, a large procurement decision might properly favour a company that is a bit more expensive but local, so that tax dollars stimulate the local economy."

Firstly, Thunder Bay isn't local. Obviously, Thunder Bay didn't think of Mississauga as local when it purchased low-floor buses from a Quebec company - despite the fact that there is a bus supplier in Ontario. Furthermore, there is no way to tell if a local supplier is 'a bit more' or 'a lot more' expensive without actually allowing different suppliers to quote.

Giambrone goes on:

Transit agencies do this because transit vehicle purchases are incredibly complex and customized. It's best to work with a manufacturer to achieve the product you want more quickly than you otherwise would......We already have Bombardier cars, and they've served us well for many decades. There's value in continuing to use a tested, trusted product. And in this case, that product is a good value at a good price for the residents and transit riders of Toronto.

However, the Thunder Bay plant has a poor record of being able to deliver. Montreal's MR-63 cars - made by Vickers - have far outlasted Thunder Bay sourced subway cars. Bombardier's Thunder Bay plant is also the source of the TTC's disastrous streetcar fleet.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Much airport silliness

Porter Airlines - the startup that will be flying spanking new Q-400 turbo-props out of the Toronto Island Airport - took delivery of the first such aircraft this week. This of course meant a rekindling of howls from the L.F. (that's lunatic fringe or left field - either interpretation will do.)

I actually think more Torontonians are catching on about our Miller-lite mayor. There were three letters in The Star supporing the new service. Today, there was a particularly vehement letter which took issue with the mayor and minions using waterfront examples such as Melbourne, Barcelona and Chicago.

It's telling the that lists of shining examples of waterfronts invariably do not include Canada's own Vancouver. Could this be because Vancouver has a busy commerical airport nestled in Coal Harbour - snug between Stanley Park and downtown? The airport, BC's fifth busiest, uses a control tower on the 29th floor of a downtown office building. Planes frequently (or usually) approach and depart over Stanley Park.

The Coal Harbour facility hasn't prevented Vancouver from having a beautiful waterfront. It didn't prevent it from attracting EXPO or the Winter Olympics. Neither did it prevent Travel & Leasure Magazine from naming it among the top 10 tourist destinations.

Perhaps we should trade David Miller and some minor league councillors to Vancouver for an airport. Oh - we already have an airport. Well, let's just trade them for some cedar shingles.