Wednesday, November 26, 2014


UPDATE: CMS has finally opened an office in Fort Erie. About time.

Been out of commission for a few days due to stomach flu, No time for much of anything. Anything new happen in Fort Erie? Another fire? What's going on? 

Did anyone attend the mayor's send-off? Hope so. He sure has a lot of friends. Meanwhile there was a Friends of Crystal Beach meeting last night. Very interesting from what I've heard.

BTW, just listening to talk radio about the Jian Ghomeshi and a clip of one of his interviews just played. Why does he sound (Jian) just like Mike Cloutier? Inquiring minds want to know.

Between Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi and their "alleged" multiple sexual assaults, it makes me wonder just how corrupt law enforcement is in North America. WOW. My thoughts go out to all the victims of sexual abuse. Every woman I know, including myself, has been sexually harassed at some time in her life. Some of us managed to turn the tables and survive. Many were affected for life. And when it's a person in power (usually it is) it is that much harder for a victim to be believed. 

On to Ferguson: so much wrong there, it's almost beyond fixing. I was listening to the coverage of the Grand Jury "No Indictment" decision when I got ill.  I'm still sick.  

So, I'm taking a break to get well.  Carry on. I will post your comments.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Took this picture on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 9:00 AM.  You can see the wall of Lake Effect snow headed towards Buffalo's South-towns, the traditional Snow Belt of Western New York.

As I was trying to clear the snow sofe off the top of my car this morning, a young lad walked by my place. "Headed to school?" I asked. "Yes," he said. "Too bad," I said, thinking of the joyous "snow days" we enjoyed when I was growing up in Buffalo. We didn't care that traffic and emergency services were tied up; we were having fun making forts and preparing for snowball fights, knowing that our moms would have hot chocolate ready for us when we finally gave into to exhaustion and the cold.

While the Buffalo area makes headlines with a record snowfall, eight people lost their lives over the past few days - all storm related. That is the sobering statistic that comes from such storms. Perhaps people should follow the late Jimmy Griffin's advice during a big snowstorm when he was mayor of Buffalo: "get a six-pack and relax."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Shirley Wallington Grace speaks at Fort Erie Council

"Almighty God, father of all mankind, the source of all that we can hope to have, grant that we may be worthy custodians of all that has been entrusted to us.

And so the Invocation begins. Standard for such things. Humble and hopeful, elected officials and town staff listen in respect, but, do they really get the message?

Not according to Shirley Wallington Grace at the November 17 Regular Council Meeting and last of the present term for some. Shirley, of course was talking about the treatment of four councillors who have been the target of "a diabolical plot" to destroy them. Certainly not in keeping with the spirit of the Invocation.

May we bring to our council chambers minds that think and hearts that feel so that, in our deliberations we may display imagination, wisdom and courage and the will to do our work for the good of all."

Notice that outgoing mayor Doug Martin is not even paying attention to Shirley's presentation. This has been a common occurrence during council meetings when someone the mayor does not agree with speaks before the group. That is, if he is not pounding the gavel to shut them up.  When one of his "chosen ones" spoke, they got away with disrespect and slander against the Four on a regular basis.

One good thing was that the usual suspects were missing a few members of their clown car. As a result, there were no loud outbursts and fifth grade foolishness as has been the case over the past couple of years. Again, the mayor allowed this behaviour to go on unchecked.

Later, each councillor spoke about the past four years as the term comes to a close. Don Lubberts thanks his supporters and helpful staff.  Rick Shular pontificated on his years on council. taking credit for his"policies" which were really just voting along with the mayor on everything. Although Rick may be a master of changing his face into a variety of poses and using his standard Malapropisms in his speeches, he will go on to gyrate with apples and oranges for another mute four years.

John Hill gave an impassioned speech about the good things that have happened in the past four years and his part in them.  He proudly listed his accomplishments and thanked his wife and family in an emotional close to his speech.  He presented himself as a man who tried to do the best for the people despite organized opposition and lawsuits.

Paul Collard spoke of his commitment to the people of Stevensville and his hopes for the completion of project started under his watch such as the Official Plan for Stevensville and the prospect of bring transit to his community. Another good man taken out by the "diabolical plan" of certain people.

Bob Steckley spoke about the harassment that placed a great strain on his family life and warned that on December 1, some people will be receiving phone calls. He plans to tell these people the truth about what he thinks of them. Like the others who have been under attack for so long, he has behaved with class. 

When it was Stephen Passero's time to speak, I left the chambers as I cannot bear the sight of that man. The only good thing from this past election is that he is out, out, out.  It's only a matter of time when he receives his consolation prize for running for mayor from his handlers.

And goodbye to Mayor Martin!  Worst mayor in recent history and he has some strong competition. Ignorant, rude and short-tempered.  Nasty man who will not be missed.  There was applause when The Four gave their speeches, none when Martin ended his.

That tells it all.

Friday, November 14, 2014


It looks like the Ontario Ombudsman will have increased powers over the 444 municipalities of Ontario. According to an article in The Toronto Star, Bill 8 is currently before legislators at Queen's Park. Its passage would give André Marin the chance to field complaints about municipalities, universities and school boards regarding finances and conflicts of interest. One article describes Ombudsman Marin as "salivating over the prospect of delving into the town of Brampton's municipal finances after a spending scandal involving councillors and (now defeated) mayor Susan Fennell."

Bill 8 would, if passed, extend the jurisdiction of the Ontario ombudsman to include municipalities and provide everyone with access to an ombudsman,”  said Mark Cripps, a spokesman for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 

"Deeply important issues affecting the management of cities have been ignored for years. For example, in many Ontario cities, developers continue to have direct access to municipal officials, often with little oversight. 

The line between politicians’ private fundraising efforts and how they use such activities to gain influence is blurred. Conflict of interest laws deal with votes in council chambers but don’t address what council members do outside them." (Toronto Star

The people from Fort Erie had a chance to see and hear André Marin when he spoke to council in December 2007 before being chosen as the representative for municipal complaints regarding closed council sessions.  At the time, the town was considering using the staff recommended Local Authority Services Association, vetted by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario,  as its investigator. That would cost the municipality a $300. per year retainer and $1200. per day for an investigation. The Ombudsman's Office, while independent, is funded by the taxpayers i.e. free. Then Ward 6 Councillor Ann Marie Noyes persuaded the council to consider Marin's department. Marin and a couple of Ombudsman's Office staff members came through a snow storm to appear before council. He gave an informative, professional presentation and his office was eventually chosen by the town over the Association of Municipalities of Ontario's recommendation.

So, we'll be hearing more from Marin in the future as he takes on added responsibilities.  He has done a lot to make sure that local councils maintain high standards.  Incidentally, Fort Erie has remained high on the list of complaint-driven investigations.  Too bad Marin wasn't in charge a couple of years ago.  The conflict-of-interest lawsuit against The Four councillors would never have gotten as far as it did.  Would have been investigated and thrown out - as it will be in the courts.  However, the negative publicity helped ruin their chances in the latest election.  Only one, Don Lubberts was able to retain his seat in Ward 6. (He is also being sued by EDTC GM Jim Thibert in a separate conflict of interest suit.)

André Marin has proven himself to be a hard-working, honest advocate for the people of Ontario.  I look forward to him taking on his new responsibility.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I have taken the above Letter to the Editor and adapted it to the current situation in Fort Erie. 

"You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." (Joni Mitchell)

You Americans Fort Erians have no idea just

 how good you have had it with Obama The


Many of us are confused by the October 27, Municipal Election. Consider, right now in Fort Erie, the tax rate is at a record low; a building boom is taking place in Crystal Beach; there is a healthy amount in the Reserve Fund; Stevensville is moving closer to adopting its Official Plan; transportation is high on the list of priorities; The Four have always been in support of the CMS; and The Four worked very hard to deliver a budget that respects the hard-working taxpayers of Fort Erie.
Fort Erie, especially Crystal Beach is getting national press attention for its quaint village and lifestyle; its National Historic Site Point Abino Lighthouse is hailed as "the most elegant lighthouse on the Ontario Great lakes shoreline."  The restoration of the lighthouse was spearheaded by The Four. It probably would not have taken place without their support.
So, Fort Erie voted for Chamber Maids and guys who supported the efforts to run The Four out of office instead of those who stood up for the average people in Fort Erie. This defies reason.
Only Donnie Lubberts remains and we are grateful for that. 
Sharon Bowers
Crystal Beach, Ontario


At least for Crystal Beach, there is a mini building boom going on. Schooley Road houses going up; Marz Homes getting ready to begin building on Ridgeway Road and numerous in-fill new builds and rehabs in the village.

The Third Quarter issuance of building permits in Fort Erie has risen since the second quarter. Nationwide, the unemployment rate has gone down although it still way too high in Niagara. 

"Fort Erie has a population of 29,960, with a seasonal influx of approximately 10,000 seasonal residents during the months of June through September.
Fort Erie experienced the third greatest population growth in Niagara (from 2001 to 2006) with an influx of some 1,782 new residents." (Source: EDTC statistics)

I have not found the latest stats on new residents, but I'd bet that there is still a sizable influx of new residents coming into the area. The recent article in the Globe and Mail featuring Crystal Beach as the first in a seven part series on desirable locations for senior citizens has verified a favourable trend in Crystal Beach: reasonable housing and great location are drawing people from the GTA to relocate.  All this was accomplished without the addition of a high rise condo on public beachfront lands.  This is what many of us want for Crystal Beach despite being told by carpetbagger planners and greedy politicians that a high rise would spur the local economy.  Thanks but no thanks. We'll keep our beachfront public property and fix it up as a park to be enjoyed by generations to come. 

Important meeting today: 

Region Waterfront Enhancement Strategy 

6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.  Niagara Region headquarters, Campbell East building, 2201 St. David's Rd., Thorold.

"Niagara Region is working together with Niagara’s area municipalities and other key stakeholders to develop a Waterfront Enhancement Strategy. In the first phase of the project the focus was on lakefronts. This second phase, which launches with this open house, will focus on other regionally significant watercourses throughout the region."

Hope that Regional Councillor-elect Sandy Annunziata attends. He can relate how he was able to stop any high rises near the Coal Docks on the Niagara River when he was a town councillor, meanwhile supporting a twelve story high rise condo on public lakefront property in Crystal Beach.  Pretty nifty maneuver from Annunziata's Playbook.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


My mother used to call it Armistice Day when I was growing up in Buffalo, New York.  Later, I heard it called Veteran's Day. Now I know it as Remembrance Day here in Canada.

Although there were many members of my family who served in the military, only a cousin was lost in World War II.  We American Baby Boomers were not well taught on the sacrifices made for our freedoms in the early days, but members of my generation would eventually play a large role in war as the Viet Nam War escalated.

Too bad, that war was one that many wanted to ignore. There were no parades or ceremonies to commend the participants in that war. The devastation to those who fought in another country's civil war should have taught everyone a lesson about getting involved in a country's internal struggles, but it hasn't. Americans are too quick to get involved in countries it has no business getting involved in. One of the reasons I moved to Canada was in protest of that dangerous American policy as exampled by the Viet Nam "Incursion."  They weren't even able to call it a "war" because it was an undeclared war.  Then came the Iraq War which was also given another name because it was also an illegal invasion of a sovereign country.

That is why I appreciate the Remembrance Day events here in Canada so much more than in the US. It is very important to honour those who stood up for the country while they are still alive; those who lost their lives in service to their country and those who returned, never the same after witnessing the devastation of war. Canada takes that into consideration far more than its American cousins. Canada chose to stay out of Viet Nam as well as Iraq. I believe that Canada has it right in that regard.

There is an added poignancy to this year's services: the recent deaths of two active servicemen by self-proclaimed jihadists, Canadians killing Canadians who are sworn to protect and represent our democracy. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo were killed within days of each other by recent converts to Islam. There are still many questions without answers regarding these acts of domestic terrorism but the fact remains that another two fine men are now being honoured for their service to Canada.

We will probably always have a day when we remember those who made the "ultimate sacrifice." We cherish those who served as we should. We must also realize that, if it were not for those brave souls, we might be living in a far different world than we do now.

Thanks from a grateful immigrant.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


This time the article is about the Point Abino Lighthouse. Of course, written by someone from outside the area who is not influenced by nasty local rhetoric about the money (in reality $400K) spent to restore the National Historic Site.

In the book, Brown raves about the Greek Revival  style Point Abino Light Station describing it as, "easily the most elegant lighthouse on the Ontario shore of the Great Lakes." He goes on to describe how Point Abino became the "enclave of wealthy industrialists" where many of the homes pre-date the 1918 completed light station. The lighthouse was constructed to replace a light ship that was destroyed in  a storm in 1913, killing all on board. A plaque was recently unveiled at Waterfront Park in Crystal Beach to honour the six coast guardsmen who died when Lightship No. 82 sunk in a fierce storm that raged 101 years ago this weekend.

The author also reported that the Point is off-limits to non-residents but walking, biking and shuttle tours are available.  As with many other National Historic Sites, access is limited, but not impossible. Other lighthouses are located out of reach of the average tourist. The light station's Fresnel Lens was state-of-the-art at the time of its installation. It remains in the lighthouse and is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Although more access to the light station is always desirable, it stands proudly at the end of the Point, clearly visible to boaters and observers from the shoreline of Crystal Beach. It is truly a beautiful sight from the Waterfront Park, free for anyone to enjoy.  The efforts of The Fabled Four members of town council are responsible for the restoration of the lighthouse. They pushed for matching funds to a government grant to pay for the restoration. The Lighthouse Keeper's cottage was sold to the restorer to complete the funding. Although there was some opposition from people who lived in other parts of the town, there was a great deal of support from the people of Crystal Beach and Ridgeway. The late Janet Truckenbrodt wrote a letter to the editor of Niagara This Week in March of 2012 praising The Four for their "decision to restore and preserve the Point Abino Lighthouse."

Let's hope the new council continues to preserve and protect the unique features of Fort Erie for future generations.

Guiding Light: Beautiful Point Abino Lighthouse was written by Ron Brown and reprinted , with permission, by The Fort Erie Times from his book:  Top 123 Unusual Things to See in Ontario, 4th Edition 

Thursday, November 6, 2014


The secret is coming out!  The Globe and Mail published an article about Canada's South Coast, especially Crystal Beach, as the first of seven desirable places for the over fifty crowd. Of course, those of us who live in the Beach have known this for a long time. Every year, the population of Crystal Beach and Ridgeway increases with refugees from the GTA who long to live in a quaint and quiet community free of traffic congestion, high rises and urban blight.  

This "news" is further proof of the divide between different communities within Fort Erie. we just went over to Buffalo the other day and upon return, when asked, "Where do you live?" I responded with, "Crystal Beach" and my friend said, "Ridgeway." Not Fort Erie, which is technically where we live.  Although the town was amalgamated decades ago, the disparate villages remain loyal to their own brand.  

That is a good thing, except when it comes to politics.  Remember when now Lame Duck Mayor Doug Martin wanted to change the ward system to an at large configuration?  Did he really think that would happen?  That idea will not be discussed again now that the mayor's buddies have been elected in all but one ward. Just as various communities within the amalgamated GTA retain their identities, so too Fort Erie has at least five distinct sectors; some of those broken down even further into neighbourhoods which retain their own identity.  There are many who wish that the former towns within the Town of Fort Erie would return to their former autonomy.  

No wonder there is a divide in the community.  The villages of Crystal Beach and Ridgeway are changing because of the new demographics provided by the influx of people from the GTA and other areas.  It seems that Fort Erie proper, including Bridgeburg, remains static as does Stevensville while Ridgeway/Crystal Beach is growing and changing.

I think we live in interesting times.  I still see great things ahead for the Ridgeway/Crystal Beach area Fort Erie.  Let's see how this new council faces these challenges and opportunities.

Monday, November 3, 2014


UPDATE:  The Mid-term Elections in the States just proved my theory. The Democrats, who, under president Barack Obama brought the country back from a terrible recession; brought in the Affordable Care Act; got Bin Laden and numerous other benefits, were defeated in many crucial elections. The Republicans have now taken over Congress and the future looks grim for average Americans.  Those who voted, voted against their own best interests. In many ases, they voted out the people who stood up for them.

(Just heard this on Stephanie Miller's Show:  Now they have to prove that they can lead.)

It would seem that Fort Erie's recent municipal elections are really a microcosm of what is happening in the US. As I said before, tomorrow, Americans go to the polls to vote for the entire House of Representatives; one third of the Senate of 100; many governors and local positions.  

In this election, it's all about Obama and his "failures" as a president.  The  BIG FEAR that the republicans are counting on to take over the Senate and retain their comfortable majority in the House is EBOLA.  More people have died by falls in the US than have died of Ebola - one.  There is only one active case in the US at this time. So far two who contracted the virus from contact with the first patient are now clear of the virus.  But the anti-Obama media has ginned up the fear and have assigned blame to Obama for "a failure of leadership" in the Ebola crisis.  Which, of course, is no crisis at all.  True, mistakes were made by the hospital in Texas when the patient, who had just arrived in the US from West Africa, presented at the hospital suffering from symptoms associated with the disease.  If he had been treated appropriately at the beginning, he probably would have survived and the two nurses would not have contracted the disease.

But that was only one example of how the media and wealthy donors have manipulated public opinion to turn voters away from those who are working in their best interest.  Same thing happened in Fort Erie.  The fear of higher taxes due to lawsuits filed and funded by agenda-driven persons caused many voters to turn away from their own best interests.  The future may not be so bright for the majority of the people of Fort Erie, but it will certainly be bright for the "friends" of those who were elected.

It looks like the GOP will prevail on Tuesday. This is because they were able to use the media's influence to move their agenda, even though that agenda is woefully untrue.  HERE are some real facts about Obama. None of this got any play in the media, just as the accomplishments of The Four were never included in the local media's coverage.  There is a lot of money behind the anti-Obama effort. The Koch brothers have invested millions in the effort to take over the Congress of the US.  A dozen or so people funded the effort against The Four.  Among them was Marina Butler who was elected in Ward 4. Something about that just doesn't seem right. Call for a Compliance Audit, then fund a lawsuit on the man you plan to run against in the next election.

But it worked!  Now Fort Erie can take pride as a town that followed the American way of winning elections. Except it was on a much smaller scale. The next four years will be interesting as to how this plays out.

Early Predictions:

1.) Taxes will rise but the new council will blame the lawsuits for the rise (which will be a lie.)

2.) The Kinsmen Pool will remain closed.

3.) That other blog, as well as its contributors will be dropped; no one will take their calls.  They have served their purpose. Lesley North will probably not speak at council, but when she does, she will need to be very careful as Wayne Redekop will not allow such antics.

4.) Stephen Passero will get a job with the EDTC or the Peace Bridge.  

5.) The votes on council will be 5-1 and no one will say a word about it except me.

6.) The Fort Erie Racetrack will stay open with million of dollars from the province and a top-off from the town.

7.) Young people will continue to leave town after the get their educations.

Any other predictions?

Saturday, November 1, 2014


On Tuesday, November 4, Americans will go to the polls in what is called a "Mid-term Election."  This is one which falls halfway through a presidential term. Every two years, the entire House of Representatives of Congress is up for election; one-third of the 100 member Senate (two from each state;) numerous governors and other elected officials face the voters. As an American citizen living "abroad" I am eligible to vote by absentee ballot in the election.  This election, I had only one election that I was eligible for: U.S. House of Representatives.

So, I mailed in my ballot the other day. One vote for a guy who will probably have no trouble being re-elected.  I still voted though as I have for at least twenty years by absentee ballot.  I have voted in almost every election that I can since I turned twenty-one. There was a period that I did not vote as I was not aware that I was eligible, living in Canada. Since then, I have not only voted but I've helped other ex-pats vote, including a ninety-five year old woman who had never voted in her life. 

Some Canadians are convinced that what happens in the States has no bearing on what happens here. I think they are wrong. There is a chance that the Republicans can take over the Senate while they retain their majority in the House.  This would make the gridlock even worse than it already is.  President Obama has to work very hard to implement his platform/promises to the American people because of the opposition in Congress.  Some Republicans are still trying to repeal the very popular Affordable Care Act that is still nowhere near as good as the Canadian universal health care. 

I do hope for the best for my native country, but I'm still glad I live in Canada.