Wednesday, September 6, 2017

SANDY ANNUNZIATA REVEALED

 I simply can't do any better than THIS.

From the article:

"OK, time for the quiz.
In arguing that it is a good use of taxpayers’ money to expense trips to Toronto in order to chat about national/international current events and very occasionally name-drop Niagara, Fort Erie regional Coun. Sandy Annunziata is:
a) suffering from big-headedness
b) delusional
c) doing a great job promoting Sandy Annunziata
d) all of the above
e) none of the above; he’s selflessly enhancing Niagara’s profile and potentially attracting investment dollars to the region.
You have three seconds.
Time’s up.
The answer is (d), although (a), (b), or (c) would, I suppose, in this education-coddling world of ours, result in a passing grade.
People answering (e) can only be Annunziata’s close friends and relatives, members of the local Ontario Progressive Conservative Association or, perhaps, Jerry Agar."

Annunziata is trying to build his brand in anticipation of running in a bigger pond. Maybe Sandy expects to take over for his mother's one-time employer, MP Rob Nicholson when he retires. I have to admire his chutzpah in getting the taxpayers to pay for his trips to Toronto to build his brand. Is he also getting paid to appear on Jerry Agar's show? 
You simply cannot make this stuff up. Read the whole article and the earlier one  HERE.
Letter to the Editor re:Sandy  HERE

Friday, September 1, 2017

FAILED HAT TRICK FOR JIM THIBERT

All three of Economic Development and Tourism head Jim Thibert's current pet projects have so far failed. An earlier one, a golf course on the Niagara Parkway failed years ago.

I must say that I'm surprised and heartened by the good journalism coming from James Culic these days. His earlier article on the lack of progress on the Canadian Motor Speedway project defies the hype coming from other sources and gets to the truth of the NOT-NASCAR Middle-Eastern project.

Other Kuwaiti-based investors bailed on a major marina project on the Niagara Parkway a couple of years ago and the project was put up for interested developers. No one came to that party and the present marina remains untouched.

The third, mentioned in the article is that Trump-supporting, bat-wielding, thrown-off-the-Buffalo-School-Board, developer Carl Paladino who now owns the Fort Erie Race Track. He has claimed that he will provide the much-needed improvements to the aging horse track when the Canadian Motor Speedway is actually being built.  Good one, Carl. The rubes and Thibert fans bought that one wholesale. Carl is just like his idol Donald Trump. Need I say anything more?

And Mr. Thibert, the guy who sued me with taxpayer money, is batting zero right now and, if there were any people in position with real care for the use of taxpayer money, Thibert would be fired and replaced with someone who can actually get real projects done, not some guy who enjoys trips to exotic countries on the taxpayers' dime looking for business opportunities and new slot machines. Someone who can bring real jobs to Fort Erie, not some pie-in-the-sky developer BS. We've heard it before. I just came across an article published a few years ago about all the jobs that were coming to a new call centre in the now-empty visitors centre across from the race track. Earlier, in 2011, a call centre opened on Garrison Road promising hundreds of jobs. Where is it now? Thibert and Martin once went on an excellent adventure to the Mideast to look for investors in projects like the ill-fated massive development of the Fort Erie Race Track that fizzled. And then Carl Paladino bought the track and, like most of his projects, will cause great stress to the people in its area. For an example, please visit the once-beautiful Ellicot Square Building in Buffalo now owned by Paladino. 

So, other than successfully suing me, Thibert missed his Golden Hat Trick by a mile. Time to hang up your skates, Jimmy.

Clarification: It's not like I don't want to see the marina improved and modernized. It's just that the ridiculous plans by the Kuwaiti-based developer would have cut a huge portion of the fabled Niagara Parkway into a giant, probably gated development. The people who paid dearly for the beautiful view from their homes on the parkway would have their views blocked by a gigantic development. Not fair at all. A new marina could be built without upsetting the existing vista. Except that some developers only see the profit figures; not the wreckage of natural assets. BTW, the poorly built buildings of one braggart developer have now developed big problems. Water damage to the foundations along with the short driveways. Looks like they will never be sold to anyone with a good pair of eyes. Should never have been allowed to be built as such. Where was the planning department as this eyesore developer was applying for building permits?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

NEWS

A few things are happening that have an effect on our town.

1.) Fred Braken won his right to protest at town hall and other public places. You may disagree with Fred, but it has now been proved that he had a right to voice his opinion when and where he chose. Take note, Richard Berry. You were wronged as well.

2.) Warnings about housing boom and tight market in light of Hurricane Harvey. It has also been reported that the building boom amid lax zoning have contributed to the devastation of Harvey.

3.) Community groups donate funds to restore playground and landscaping to Bay Beach project. Perhaps this is the way to get what the people deserve for their public beachfront property - the last in Crystal Beach. Basically, that is how Waterfront Park was built - against the prevailing council's wishes with community funds from gaming and donations.

While Cheetolini visits Corpus Christie to avoid touching or interacting with actual flood victims while wearing a hat for sale on his re-election website, we in Canada must learn from the mistakes made in the US and never elect someone who repeatedly lies.

We must not continue to let developers hold sway in getting zoning changes and packing in houses and apartments without a thorough study of the potential risks. Forget about the Ministry of Natural Resources or the Ontario Municipal Board. Their records indicate that they are more than happy to rule in favour of developers. Remember, one local developer openly bragged that he could build anything he wanted in Fort Erie as long as he was willing to pay for it. (BTW, you can view one of his poorly planned developments right in Ridgeway that remains empty because he defied zoning regulations and got away with it - except no one wants to live with it.)

Pay attention, Fort Erie. There is a lot going on behind the scenes. We have a sleazy local politician running for mayor already while rumours that a disgraced town official mulls over his chances. Some people have no scruples whatsoever. And like Trump, they could be elected. Except they'll have to cheat, which we've heard, they're already pretty good at doing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

AS PREDICTED SEVERAL YEARS AGO: THERE WILL BE NO CANADIAN MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Many thought that I was being "negative" for predicting that the Canadian Motor Speedway would never come to pass. A few of us actually looked into the background of the investors and surmised that the money was not there and that the developers were hoping for massive government help to finance the effort. The government has not been interested in investing tax payer money to support a foreign-based operation and the Kuwaiti banks behind the project are struggling. The Kuwaiti-based investors behind the abandoned marina development on the Niagara Parkway suffered a similar fate. Of course, that was another dumb case of over-development of an existing iconic roadway. You can't make this stuff up. It defies common logic. 

Many people were lulled into believing the myth that McMaster was going to build its research and development module at the track blew up in developers' faces when the university reported that it was not aware of any such deal and eventually located the program in Hamilton.

Remember the long-gone motorway themed restaurant/bar on Garrison that was supposed to bolster the image? Changed hands two times since. Whatever happened to the local woman who pretended to be an "interested party" but was really the speedway's flack? And Erik Tomas who consistently reported on the "progress" of the development. How quiet he has become.

Once again, Fort Erie Post's James Culic recounted the lack of progress in his latest article.

* The three properties that need to be purchased in order to fulfill the OMB mandate are still not in the hands of the speedway developers and property owners have not heard from the speedway developers in months.

* The bank financing the speedway is in serious financial trouble. (We told you that a long time ago.)

Azhar Mohammad, the project director, has still not updated the Fort Erie Town Council about the lack of progress at the track although he promised such an update months ago.

And the myth continues as it has for almost a decade. The developers had a large group of locals all primed and ready to march to get their speedway. And, as many of us called it, the NOT-NASCAR TRACK myth ran very deep amongst the easily manipulated. And the noise! Who needs that?

This was a bad idea for the get-go and the Fort Erie location is ridiculous for a myriad of reasons. The promises of jobs and increased tourism were attractive to a job-starved community, but the potential cost to taxpayers is astronomical.With one race track already failing, why would anyone think that people would travel from all over North America to a place without proper infrastructure to view car races that are not NASCAR sanctioned?

I'm sure there are a lot of ways to make Fort Erie even more tourism friendly without adding a behemoth race track spewing fumes and noise over some spectacular landscapes. I don't know, but I would venture a guess that Fort Erie's tourism future is in its fabulous waterfront and its closeness to the United States.
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In a town where developers hold sway, it is frustrating to watch foolish mistakes turn up on the town docket. It took Buffalo over fifty years to finally realize the waste of its precious waterfront before it began a concentrated effort to restore and revitalized its waterfront. Now it is a shining example and major tourist draw where once there was blight. Fort Erie has even more potential in its waterfront. All those studies and the town still listens to developers before its people. Will they ever get it right?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

CRIPES! DID IT AGAIN.

I sometimes have no control over my fingers when a computer keyboard is near and I read something on line that irritates me. Damn Facebook. I got into it when someone complained about the lack of response to a question of Ward 1 Councillor George McDermott and McDermott responded with a pat answer that could only come from a local politician in the tank to the people who really run this town. Certainly not the average people. Why do I keep doing this? And to top it off, there was a blog article about Crystal Beach that infuriated me because the "source"of article was none other than Laughing Sal Steve Boyd who is like Rip Van Winkle, still asleep after twenty-five years, dreaming of the reanimation of the long-dead Crystal Beach Amusement Park. The blog writer was shown all the bad things about Crystal Beach including a remarkably empty beach on Canada Day. WTF? It does look like the picture was taken further down from the public access beach on what has been insultingly called "private beaches."

Whatever, these two forays into internet outrage are rare for me since I vowed to stay out of politics except as an observer since the madman Donald Trump was elected president by some of my deluded fellow Americans and a lot of help from the Russians. I spent the last few months in shock and awe of this event. I have become obsessed with it. I listen to comedians like Stephanie Miller, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert and others take Cheetolini apart every day, but he's still there, every day, Tweeting something unthinkable and screwing up the US.

So, I usually do not get too upset (my "give a f*#k meter" is already on full) when I read the local news. Who cares if Sandy Annunziata is screwing up the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority?  The whole organization is an oxymoron anyway. Like the Ontario Municipal Board is there to protect peoples' rights. Yeah sure. 

And the Fort Erie Clownsil decided to go ahead with a report and vote on Bay Beach when its councillor, Don Lubberts was off dealing with a S.L.A.P.P. lawsuit by the Molinaros who got caught up in a real estate mess that rivals some of Trump's well-documented messes. Oh yeah, they (being those thwarted by the locals and circumstance) are still out to punish us and they're pulling back on helping fund the revitalization of Bay Beach. Anyone surprised? To paraphrase the famous remark by Captain Renault in Casablanca, "I'm shocked, shocked to hear that a vote was carried out while the councillor of the ward was away." from the aforementioned George McDermott, who claimed that he was very busy working to help the Fort Erie Racetrack.

Well, George, I've got news for you HERE.

We all know that the Fort Erie Track is running on horse fumes and manure but some would rather throw taxpayers' money on the track than look to the future for Fort Erie and its people.  Like many industries, horse racing is dying out and the only way it can remain viable is for a full casino to provide the needed patrons through the gates. From the article:

"By comparison, the privately-owned Fort Erie track doesn’t pay back to the racing industry, it receives rent from it. That makes for an expensive racing proposition.
What’s worse is the historic old track has fallen on hard times.
Fort Erie is badly in need of a major renovation that no one wants to pay for.
There simply isn’t a business case for a gaming site at the old track and even with generous taxpayer support for horse racing, the facility is in decline.
Fort Erie needs an investor with deep pockets to rebuild the track.
You can bet on one thing; without a significant private sector investment, Fort Erie is going to lose this race. "

And we come full circle. The Fort Erie Race Track land is owned by American Trump supporter Carl Paladino who has adopted many, if not all of Trump's business practices.
He once ran for governor of New York with a baseball bat as his weapon of choice. He lost badly. 

After almost twenty years of watching the politics of Fort Erie, I have pretty much given up hope that the powers that be in the town will ever do the right thing.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

CHEESE SMUGGLER"S APPEAL DENIED

I'm taking a break from the Comey Hearing to note that Scott Heron was denied in the appeal of the 2015 sentencing for his conviction in the infamous Cheese Smuggling Case. Scott Heron, a Niagara Regional Police officer has been suspended without pay since the lucrative cheese smuggling cabal came to light when another NRP officer was charged in a steroid smuggling case and sang like a bird. Disgraced Officer Geoff Purdy served up his colleagues as part of a plea bargain with the US federal justice system to lower his jail sentence in the US. Included in the Cheese Deal was Bernie Polino, a local restaurant operator. Bernie has pretty much disappeared after paying a fine and walking away from jail time. His own snack bar and his in-law's restaurant have since closed. Another police officer was forced to resign over the smuggling matter as well.

 Heron, who was a business partner of Bernie, was also involved in a fatal accident on the QEW in 2009 when he was a passenger in a truck driven by his friend Andy Passero, who was killed. (There were many unanswered questions at the time of the accident which remain unanswered to this day.) 

Heron has enjoyed a long reputation as cop who operates by his own moral compass, so there are many who are cheered by the decision, although many also feel that Heron and Polino got off easy. Heron will not suffer; he has many "friends" who owe him favours, thanks to his years as a police officer. 

I remember too well the harassment I suffered from certain members of the NRP at the behest of a friend or two of these disgraces to the badge. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

CBC REPORTS ON SYNDICATED MORTGAGES

Crystal Beach is once again the centre of a land problem. This one may have cost over one hundred investors millions of dollars. The story was highlighted in a recent CBC report that was partially filmed in Crystal Beach.

See the report and read the accompanying article by clicking on the link below.


This is basically what we have been reporting about here for the past couple of years. It seems that Crystal Beach has been the victim of scams for decades. Some of us remember past broken promises and some of us will never fully recover from the devastating fight to save the public beachfront property from being developed into a twelve story high rise. 

There is still one lawsuit against four Fort Erie councillors on the books initiated by the Molinaros, the developers of the high rise. Rather than placing the blame on the town, the developer chose to sue the four councillors who were trying to get the town to look further into the decision to give away valuable public waterfront property in exchange for an ever decreasing list of "amenities." In another court case over the title of the land, the town was found to be aware that there was an unclosed road allowance on the property, yet chose to ignore it. The recent decision in the matter proves that Ward 4 Councillor Don Lubberts was correct when he challenged former town attorney Heather Salter regarding the road allowance. This was part of the basis for the firing of Salter and a later lawsuit filed against Lubberts and three other councillors by former Ward 4 Councillor Tim Whitfield at the behest of a number of others. That case was finally dismissed after years of negative press and publicity against the four. The truth is that they were being punished for trying to save the public property for the people.

Fast forward to today's hot property market and a couple of savvy promoters and you have the makings of a scam. As the report shows, several people from the GTA thought they could make more by investing in a "syndicated mortgage" provider, although such investments can be risky. The developer of the properties, located in Crystal Beach, was a convicted fraudster, Gary Fraser.

History repeated itself and people lost money. Any time one drives down Erie Road, the results can be seen. Gutted and empty store fronts, most owned at one time by the syndicate give visitors the impression that business is not good in Crystal Beach. Simply not true but appearances would indicate otherwise. The truth is that there are property owners in the business area that are simply holding on to empty buildings for their own purposes, caring little about the rest of the area. The once-popular Pines Restaurant is an example. When the original, long-time owners retired, the restaurant was sold to someone who chose to not continue the legacy of the popular restaurant. It did not take long for that venture to fail and the building and its contents were eventually bought by the syndicated mortgage company fronted by Gary Fraser as its representative. The building has been gutted and stripped; a mere shell now for sale through a local realtor. Its demise recalls the fate of the stately, restored "tourist home" that once stood in Queen's Circle. It was bought by the mortgage company and gutted, eventually torn down along with its smaller cottages. That was what caught the interest of myself and others to a possible scam. That property was advertised as a future million dollar vacation resort, complete with a fancy brochure and staged pictures of elegance and upscale living. Then it was gone and remains an empty lot.

Promises never kept. Despite the hard work of interested people, there are still those who want to use the potential of Crystal Beach to cheat people, whether by scam or by selling off its best assets. We must remain vigilant to keep our treasured waterfront village from being used and abused again.

UPDATE: I have noticed that there are many "hits" on a previous article on this blog about Gray Fraser being on the board of the Crystal Beach Business Improvement Area. He chose to resign that post shortly after his appointment. He cited the negative information about him as his reason. His resignation caused a rift in the board because he did have supporters, including Mia Russell who sold her storefront on Erie Road to his company. That store remains closed and abandoned like many of the other properties bought through the syndicated mortgage company fronted by Fraser. It is reported that the $400K price of the store was used to nearly double the mortgage on the store. Frankly, the store should have gotten no more than $200K in the condition it was in.

At this time, I would like to acknowledge the help and hard work of the late R. W. who ferreted out much of the information that raised awareness to the syndicated mortgage and the actions of Gary Fraser in Crystal Beach. She helped warn potential buyers and sellers of the risk of involvement with this group. She used her skills as a realtor to discover the truth behind many of the promises and purchases of Gary Frser and his associates. She did this while suffering through the final stages of the cancer that claimed her life. Her mother, S. G. was a constant source of material for this blog regarding the matter and all three of us contributed information to the police and media in their investigations. It is still troubling to discover that so many still lost money through the syndicated mortgages of Mr. Ha and the promises of Gary Fraser. Those who came forward are to be commended for their bravery.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

TAXES RISE BY 5.8%

Aren't you glad that the taxpayers are still funding the seemingly useless Economic Development and Tourism Corporation? Yep. All those jobs and new industries coming to Fort Erie. Can't keep up with all the good economic news.

Just take a look at the real estate listings with all the businesses up for sale. Makes one want to invest in this glowing market.

Not really.

Some day it will become apparent to everyone that the reason that Fort Erie is faltering despite new people (mostly retirees) moving in from other places is that its EDTC, headed by the flamboyant James Thibert has produced very little over the past decade or more. Show us the jobs and investments and we'll shut up complaining about the EDTC.

Now that the Chamber Maids and other fans of Thibert are on council, there will be no more talk about breaking up the "arm's length corporation" like The Four tried to do. They had good reason to want the EDTC returned to town hall as a department in order for  it to be subject to more transparency, which was sadly lacking. It took a Freedom of Information filing to get any info from the corporation. In return, a lawsuit that was filed against The Four for conflict of interest in the firing of town attorney Heather Salter whose alternate facts regarding the title absolute for the Bay Beach Properties was challenged by Ward 5 Councillor Don Lubberts who, as it turns out, was right all along about an unclosed road allowance. Guess who may have come up with that grand idea?Thibert has filed another lawsuit against Lubberts for conflict over another muddled land deal that is still on-going years later. (Correction: the lawsuit was cancelled.)  This information does not begin to tell the whole story of how certain cronies closed ranks and did everything in their power to S.L.A.P.P. four duly-elected representatives of the people.

Now, the Council of 2014 can face its constituents. One more year until they're up for re-election. Higher taxes often bring down candidates and we will continue to remind people of the actions of the Chamber Maids and their Fearless Leader. We're all a whole lot smarter this time around.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

FINALLY, THE TIMES REPORTS ABOUT "THE DECISION"

It took almost two weeks for The Times to provide coverage of the recent decision regarding the title absolute of the Bay Beach Properties. The ninety-two page decision pointed out that the town was in error when its legal department claimed that an unclosed road allowance was closed. An appeal was filed by a neighbour of the property several years ago based on an much earlier title search that did show the unclosed road allowance running straight through the beachfront portion of the property as well as a road along the shoreline.

Times Article HERE

There is one glaring error to the article:

"The Town of Fort Erie purchased the Bay Beach lands in 2001 for $2.05 million with a plan to develop the lands and provide a return on investment."

Not so. The property was bought to provide a public beach front and parking for residents and visitors. It was a recommendation of the C.A.U.S.E. Study of 1996 that provided a blueprint for the revitalization of Crystal Beach following the devastation to the community when the Crystal Beach Amusement Park closed in 1989. Shortly after the property was purchased, there was a move to sell off the north side of the property parking lots to fund part of the Friendship Trail. This was an idea promoted by a previous council and Wayne Redekop who was mayor. A group was formed to protest the sale of any of the Bay Beach Properties, citing a further C.A.U.S.E. recommendation that the parking lot land be sold ONLY to purchase more waterfront land. That plan was abandoned when the public became aware of the situation and a new councillor was elected in Ward 5 (Crystal Beach.) That young man, Tom Lewis, started the petition signed by thousands of residents and visitors who wanted all the Bay Beach Properties to remain in public hands.

Shortly after the election of 2006, new mayor Doug Martin was convinced that a P-3 arrangement with a developer was just what was needed at Bay Beach Properties. That's when the meme/lie about "return on investment" was started by then town planner Rino Mostacci.  So, the Molinaros promised major "amenities" to the property in exchange for the town giving over the shore front land so that TWO high rise (12 stories) towers could be built. Thus began the second protest which resulted in the election of some new councillors. The unpopular Martin was elected by a mere five votes over Ann Marie Noyes who opposed the Molinaro development. By then, the Molinaros scaled back their plan to one high rise. Appeals to the OMB and lawsuits were lost by the opposition to the tower and four councillors were put through the wringer because they were against the development although they never had the opportunity to vote against it. Remember that. The appeal regarding the title absolute was filed by a neighbour to the property. based on her belief that Don Lubberts was right about the original title and the still open road allowance as well as the town documents that showed incorrect PINs for several properties in the area.

By 2014, the forces against The Four were able to place their own councillors in Ward 3, Ward 4 and Ward 6. Only Don Lubberts was able to retain his seat in Ward 5. Two of the new councillors, Kim Zanko (Ward 3) and Marina Butler (Ward 4) were prominent figures in the campaign to sully the reputations of The Four. The vexatious lawsuit against the four for conflict-of-interest was supported and financed by a group that has been labeled as "the Old Guard," familiar names to those who who follow the power structure of Fort Erie.The case was finally dismissed but the damage was done. 

We're back to SQUARE ONE as the parking lots in the Bay Beach Properties are once again up for grabs to developers. Sixteen years later and the same people are in place to give away or sell a very important part of Crystal Beach. It is as though this piece of property is a pawn in a surreal chess game, one that is played for the future of the community.

OFF TOPIC: it's a pretty sad day when the Canadian government has to assure people who are Canadian Landed Immigrants from one of the Trump-banned Muslim countries can travel to the US and will not be held. How reassuring.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

VINDICATION FOR THE FOUR

DECISION: a recent decision regarding the Title Absolute of the Bay Beach Properties has vindicated the position of four Fort Erie Councillors, namely: Bob Steckley, John Hill, Don Lubberts and Paul Collard during the contentious "Battle of Bay Beach" waged for over a decade in Fort Erie.Because of their efforts to make the town accountable to its taxpayers, The Four were slandered, vilified and sued. This as it is part of the campaign to ruin their lives and reputations of by a group that even gave a code name to their effort "4-2-0."  One lawsuit was finally dismissed after it had achieved its purpose to punish The Four for the firing of former town lawyer Heather Salter. Part of the reason for that was that she was disrespectful to councillors who questioned her handling of the paperwork pertaining to the title of the Bay Beach Properties, especially the incorrect PINs in the title documents.

At long last, a decision has come down regarding the land title at the Bay Beach Properties. The ninety-plus page document calls for the proper PINs to replace those changed during the time the property was being considered as part of a high rise development. At the time, the PIN errors were pointed out to then town lawyer Heather Salter who maintained that the numbers were correct, even when confronted with proof that the numbers were in error. All that must be corrected, according to the decision. The case was brought forth by neighbours to the Bay Beach Properties who spent well over a hundred thousand dollars and years to be vindicated. Over a decade of fighting to save our public beachfront property from a high rise development cost many of us emotionally, financially and health wise. Hopefully, years from now as people enjoy our last public beach in Crystal Beach, that the dark forces who almost ruined our beach will be forgotten.

And, finally The Four are vindicated once again.

A group of "concerned citizens" put up this billboard on Garrison Road several years ago. This was part of the organized effort to ruin the reputations of The Four councillors. A brochure also appeared that also called out anyone who opposed the Molinaro high rise project on public waterfront property. Kimberly Zanko, who is now the Ward 3 Councillor, was the spokesperson for these efforts. Kim, aren't you proud of your efforts? Guess that getting elected made you forget your actions against four decent men who tried to do the right thing for the people. Of course, Kim, you had a lot of help getting elected - by the very people who plotted the ruination of The Four.  It took several years but the real liars were finally exposed in court and in court decisions. 

AND THE FOUR WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG.

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