Thursday, September 27, 2007

Maria Minna - the epitome of lack of class

Enough of my fellow constituents are mindless Liberal voting automatons when it comes to voting in federal elections that they've continued to re-elect Maria Minna.

This is the Maria Minna who managed to vote illegally in a municipal by-election. After she got caught, she looked around to blame someone:

""I made the mistake of listening to the PMO and not speaking out on my own behalf. I won't make that mistake again." (CBC News - March 1 2002)

Well - now Minna has taken her own advice and has said something. Unfortunately, not only has this served to re-inforce that she is not only particularly bright - but it has demonstrated that God handed her a full helping of shrillness while passing over her plate when the class was being passed around.

Minna called Prime Minister Harper a Neanderthal because the government will no longer be funding feminist lobby groups.

"I didn't get into politics, I didn't spend 30 years in volunteer work because Harper, a Neanderthal, would come and take that away from us," said Liberal MP Maria Minna. (Toronto Star/CP - Sept 20 2007)

Well Maria - there's nothing stopping you from volunteering. You can volunteer to work for these lobby groups. It would please us greatly if you would resign from being our MP to make time for this pursuit. Beaches/East York will be much better off without your shrillness and lack of class which is such an enbarrassment.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Back to transit - the TTC cost spiral

It's been a few months since I wrote much about transit. What is there really to write - nothing much changes at the TTC. However, since we're about to get socked with a mammoth property tax increase in one form or another - you all might be interested in a big reason behind the increase.

(The proposed Land Transfer Tax is a property tax - you just pay it all at once when you are selling/buying.)

A while back I analysed the comparative performance of the Montreal transit system (MTC or STM depending on the language) and the TTC. I've put together some updated figures:

Montreal - MTC/STM

Operating cost per rider
1994 actual: $1.63
2007 budget: $1.88

That's a 15.4% increase overall - but a decline of 2.9% when inflation is taken into account. This means that the Montreal system lowered its unit operating costs - even when the increased cost of fuel and electricty are taken into account.

Toronto - TTC

Operating cost per rider
1994 actual: $1.73
2007 budget: $2.35

This is an overall increase of 35.8%!!!!! OR 20.4 percentage points higher than Montreal.

What does this mean in real $$$. Well, if the TTC had matched the STM's performance, it's 2007 operating cost per rider would be:

1.154 *$ 1.73 = $1.995 / rider

or $2.35 - $1.995 = $0.355 lower than the actual budget.

@ the 2007 projected ridership of 461 million

461 million * $0 .355 = $163.7 million

In other words, the TTC has missed and is missing opportunities to become more efficient while the STM hasn't and isn't.

The Montreal system's performance shows that you can have a succesful transit system without an ever upward spiral in costs.

The worst for the TTC is yet to come.

The 2008 TTC pro forma budget that is referenced here shows that the TTC costs will explode next year. Operating expenses are set to grow by $128 million ($1,083 million ==> $1,211 million) while ridership revenue will grow by only $24 million. (This was before the recent fare increase was voted in.) This would vault operating cost / rider to about $2.59 - a whopping 10% increase.

Well -the $163 million in lost opportunity into 1994 and the $104 million in growth in required subsidy this year would give us back $267 million - which would make the Land Transfer Tax largely unnecessary.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bussin and Fletcher's mound of dirt

As I've written on before - there's a mound of dirt on the NW corner of Coxwell and Lakeshore. This is where councillor's Paula Fletcher and Sandra Bussin had teh city spend how ever many hundreds or thousands of taxpayer $$$ to buy some rather expensive votes.

Bulldoxers were hard at work before the 2006 municipal election. The mound of earth is there - but no work has been done all summer. Local skateboarders won't likely see anything for at least another year - as it will take at least another year to build anything.

This is the city that needs to raise our taxes by about 20%!

The only thing that got built in this project is this d++d sign. No kidding.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Education funding

The education funding issue may rear its head again in the upcoming provincal election. The Star recently republished its party line on the subject ranting that 'the school funding formula is flawed'.

Yours truly replied to the editorial - (not published)

Your editorial on school funding ("Urgent need to fix funding formula" - August 27th 2007) would receive a failing grade if submitted as school work. You offer no evidence that the school funding formula is broken.

You don't discuss how spending per pupil in Ontario is not widely different that the average for Canada. You mention that some boards have had difficulty balancing their budgets - but don't mention how many have managed.

That trustees on some boards have chosen to confront the province to the point of having their boards placed under supervision could evidence an issue with the formula, However it could equally be evidence of political grandstanding. You offer nothing to indicate that the former is more likely.

No formula for funding anything is perfect. However, an imperfect formula is not necessarily broken. Since the education reforms of the latter '90s, student performance in Ontario - as evidenced by standard testing - has steadily improved. Ontario students are no longer laggards when compared with those from other provinces. It's hard to see how the flaws in the formula merit the urgency you suggest.

Plaque build-up at the Canadian War Museum

There has been a great deal of controversy over a plaque at the Canadian War Museum documenting the German civilian deaths as a result of Allied bombings. Yours truly weighed in on the subject in this past Saturday's National Post:

Passing judgment on Allied bombing

National PostPublished: Saturday, September 01, 2007

Prof. Hansen leads us to draw a distinction between the respective morality of U.S. bombing tactics and those of the RAF and RCAF on the basis of the America's focus on precision targets. However, he omits to say that the U.S. forces were only able to implement this tactic once sufficient P-51s fighter planes were on hand to cover daylight sorties deep into Germany.

Until fighters could supply the daytime air cover, the only weapon the Allies had to slow German munitions production was nighttime area bombing. This strategy did not stop production, however, Germany would have produced and deployed significantly more planes and tanks had the skies been left quiet. Prof. Hansen offers no alternative -- and hence implies that Germany should have been left to produce munitions without Allied resistance.

This was in response to Professor Hansen's column (THE WAR MUSEUM'S GREAT MISTAKE - Aug 31 2007) that decried the museum's changing a plaque as a result of pressure from WW II veterans.