Archive for April, 2007

Look Up… Look Way Up…

Monday, April 30th, 2007

The numbers are almost complete for this site for the month.

The amount of readers is very graphically similar to the spending of the city budget.

They both just keep going up…

57 Beats 49

Monday, April 30th, 2007

I can’t fault ol’ Alfie. As some one said to me not long ago “he knows how to do it”. He did put in the better offer for the filmport, and got the short end of the stick. But not for long.

In an effort to calm the storm, the people pleaser Miller, mayor of the biggest city in Canada, passed Alfie’s Hummingbird project.

And Miller did this the exact same day the filmport passed. And she’s big. 57 stories big.

Casino Corrupution Correction Connection

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Last week in my post entitled “Steiner Feeds It To Sprackman” there were a couple of mistakes.

I was reviewing some documents relating to the O.P.P. investigation into the TEDCO/Stavro lease and I noticed some oversights.

On a minor note, the intended use in the wording of the lease is “grocery store with ancillary parking”. Also, I misspelled Sprackman’s name.

As some of you know, I often spell incorrectly. This program is called WordPress and it does not have spell check. I tend to read the material and just bang out the story.

But the connection of corruption is like a big jig-saw puzzle. The more I look at the pieces the more the picture gains clairity. Thus the words tend to free flow.

So I appreciate your understanding. And no, I am not dislexic. And yes, I failed typing. But the teacher had mercy on me and gave me 51 per cent.

Anyway, another mistake more interesting is that TEDCO, on this occassion, did not utilize “the milk machine”, Robins Appleby and Taub, but rather, used Jeff G. Cowan of Weir Foulds. One of Cowan’s specialties in law is alcohol and gaming. Ol’ Cowan is not alone as a specialist in this field, for prior to being appointed to TEDCO, our mutual friend Jeff Steiner, a lawyer by trade, served on the alcohol and gaming commission.

I guess it’s birds of a feather.

A little side note that I find conflicting is Cowan’s colleague at Weir Foulds is George Rust-d’Eye who is the former city solicitor. Georgie boy has acted for and against the city on a number of occasions since leaving this postion.

When it comes to conflict of interest, with lawyers, there’s tons of case law. Many decisions come down to whether or not, in a particular case, the said lawyer had intimate knowledge of the file. Now there is not a snowballs chance in hell that you can convince me Rust-d’Eye did not have intimate knowledge of the TEDCO file when he worked for the city. So how is it he can represent TEDCO? How is it that Weir Foulds as a firm can represent TEDCO?

From start to finish, the legal ruling for the disclosure of the filmport lease is a travesty of justice. The freedom of information officer ordered the city to disclose the lease. Rust d’Eye was legal council for TEDCO against the city. The court awarded TEDCO 18,000.00 in costs against the city.

And it was the mayor, David Miller himself, who was the one who ordered this judicial review.

This is front page stuff, so where is the press? It blows me away that this is standard operating procedure for the biggest city in Canada.

It’s a Good Thing

Friday, April 27th, 2007

A stock is a piece of equity. A bond is a piece of debt.

The “City of Toronto Act” that Miller loves to talk about will be the ultimate brake pedal for council’s free-wheeling spending.

Although the bond rating firms like the revenue generating options of the act, I am not sure they realize how perilously close Toronto is to breaching its compliance. The Act clearly states in the financing sections that Toronto is required to have an AA bond rating with Dominion Moody and S&P in order to borrow money through a variety of means.

In the past several years since Miller has come to power, the credit rating has been downgraded. Toronto did have a triple AAA rating when the budget was being balanced. Simply put, Toronto’s credit rating is at the end of its rope. If the rating is adjusted downward again – at all – the city will no longer, under the terms of the act, legally be able to borrow money.

I must say that this is good news to the weary taxpayer. Indeed it was a very shrewd move to put this check inside the Act.

Nooooo money…

Friday, April 27th, 2007

In The Star today it announced that the taxpayers could be on the hook for over $130 milion for “Project Symphony”.

So, what did you expect? That is why government should stay out of the development business – there is a risk. In addition, what is more criminal than Diamond, the co-chair of Miller’s last campaign, being allowed to push his plan through without a tendering process for the design of the building that will be on future Toronto post cards.

But then, the way Miller is not letting off on the gas with his spending and further pushing the province with the litigious threats, I am questioning if this building will ever be started, never mind completed.

Adding to the misery will be the eventuality of Tory being elected as the next premier. This is a certainty because the electorate will never forgive McGuinty’s 2 pay raises for M.P.P.s in a single year. So you can rule out any help from the province.

In addition,we have a prime minsiter that did not sign on to TWRC and should feel little obligation to Toronto considering that it paints itself red after every federal election. So, in fact, Miller’s mismangement could destablize the entire tri-lateral agreemment in place for the TWRC.

As my rearch into municipal bankruptcy continues, I have a feeling that the city will be unable to raise the necessary money for Project Symphony. I question if the bond rating that the city has on its web page is currently accurate, and further, I question if Toronto will be forced to suspend issuing any bonds to raise money at all in the very near future.

If I worked for the city and did not have much seniority, I would get my resume out because cuts to services will follow.

Filmport or Casino

Friday, April 27th, 2007

For many years a casino has been sought by those holding the reigns of power in the portlands.

When the filmport was first annouced, my gut feelings told me that they are gunning for a casino. You see, first I looked at the math. Toronto Film Studios grossed somwhere around $9 million five or so years ago, according to a now departed property manager of TFS. This amount is not big money when you consider it is a gross number. Movie studios, contrary to what most people believe, do not make big money. He also said that TFS was profitable because it picked up 629 Eastern Ave. for a song from the receiver.

When one considers the $275 million dollar price tag to build the filmport, it’s hard to substaniate the project’s feasibilty. Because the numbers were so way off the chart I questioned the real purpose of the development. In addition the litigious stonewalling publicly diclosing the lease added to my suspicions. I heard that, within the lease, if the filmport does not fly that within a certain number of years this facility can be used for other things.

The next discerning thought was a studio is just a big room exactly like the floor of a casino.

Furthermore the filmport is going to be built in phases. The second phase is to include office buildings which could be future hotel space.

Numbers don’t lie, unlike the people who hold the reins.

Regressive Tax

Friday, April 27th, 2007

A casino in Toronto.

I remember when I was a kid, I would go to the Olympic pools to swim. I would pass the Greenwood race track and I would look at the men standing outside, and even as a child, I knew something was wrong.

I have heard it said that of all the addictions, gambling takes a person down the fastest. And it is only through the grace of God that I was not afflicted by such a disease.

In fact, I have never even bought a lottery ticket. I had the good fortune of being taught by some great teachers and one of them explained how this cash expenditure is actually a regressive tax. Further, he said desperate government utilize such policies.

Sadly, the idea of a casino in Toronto is being floated again. When I walked by the tv last night the newscast had Howard “the Jenny Craig candidate” Moscoe front and centre touting the merits of this industry and the financial benefits it would bring to Toronto.

It is no fluke Moscoe sits on TEDCO’s board, courtesy of mayor David Miller.

It’s Official – WhatsWrongToronto.com Just Passed 40,000 Hits

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Thank you for following my posts. When you consider that I really did not start until mid January 2007…

I do lead a busy busy life, and it takes time to research, read, and follow up the info that is being sent. But the numbers keep growing and thus you are inspiring me to carry on.

Not sure if you heard the radio ad Miller’s people are pushing. He knows his popularity has turned.

TEDCO Lawyer Leaves Partnership of Robins Appleby & Taub

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Jeffrey Dicker, a long time lawyer representing TEDCO, has abruptly left his partnership position at Robins Appleby & Taub.

I would like to note that I dubbed this firm the “milk machine” on several early posts.

The new bill C-56 that Miller is so proud of speaks loud and clear about transparency, yet this firm has made millions of dollars for 20 years off TEDCO and there is no public information about the fees they charged. Word has it that TEDCO has been trying to wrestle some of their files back from Robins for the last 6 months.

Speculation aside, Dicker’s departure represents a significant dark cloud over Robins’ horizon. As a partner, Dicker worked on the TEDCO files for over 15 years. Gerry Taub, the well connected founder, has been busy doing damage control. Never one to refuse a good fight, bend the rules of civil procedure, or utilize moral suasion to sway the sitting legal community, ol’ Gerry offered up Dicker as a scapegoat to TEDCO.

Making partner is a crowning achievement for lawyers. There are few savory explanations for a lawyer to leave a firm that boasts a stable of bank clients such as the Royal, BMO, and Laurentian. Indeed, Robins’ list is impressive but has diminished noticably on their new web page. Indeed, Dicker’s actions were so severe that he has ceased practicing for any legal firm.

This type of negative press can lead to a mass exodus of clients. For what ever reason, when partners leave as witnessed in recent times with Goodman & Carr, it is usually the precursor to the ultimate demise of the firm.

San Diego Case History

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

This piece was sent to me by a friend that lives in California.

This lady was raised in one of Toronto’s Ontario Housing Corporation projects. She lied to get her first job at age 13 over at the Dominion near Wellesley and Parliament. She entered university at 16. She has 2, children one with special needs. She built a special needs school with private money. She was an elected school board member and because she was a self-made wealthy person she did not accept any money for 8 years on the job. Her own mother didnt even know this, and only became aware of it when it was divulged by a local paper upon her retirement as Trustee.

Moreover, after discovering that the teachers did nothing when her child was being abused, she sued the school board and won. Next, she had the appropriate people fired, and then returned the settlement money back to the school – all while siting as an elected Trustee.

Her wealth allows her to have houses in different parts of the world, One of which is in Toronto. She is appalled at how our city is being robbed by the politicians. She was kind enough to share the following about what is happening in San Diego due to criminal acts and poor management:

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In 2004, the City had a deficit of more than $2 billion:

· the pension fund had a shortfall of more than $1.15 billion; and

· an additional $1 billion in unfunded retiree health care costs

The City had deliberately under-funded the pension system for years, relying on higher interest rates. Dick Murphy was Mayor at the time, but the majority of under-funding actually occurred under the previous City-Manager’s reign – Jack McGrory. Moody’s Investor Service downgraded the city’s general obligation bonds. Investigators from the FBI, the U.S. attorney’s office and the Securities and Exchange Commission were probing whether charges should be brought for the suspected filing of incomplete financial documents before the sale of bonds. The federal investigation, along with credit-rating downgrades from Wall Street, prevented the city from issuing bonds to raise revenue. They started to cut City services – it cost more to swim in the city’s pools; some public libraries cut hours; potholes and infrastructure were virtually ignored, etc. Nonetheless, in 2004, Murphy got re-elected. Ultimately, Murphy crumbled under the pressure and resigned. Several key City employees and union leaders (all union presidents, except the cops), get indicted for basically negotiating sweet retirement deals.

Fast forward to November 2005. Former Police Chief Jerry Sanders, a fiscally-conservative Republican, gets elected and develops a five year financial plan which sets the city on course to pay down the pension deficit in 20 years and alludes to benefit changes to be negotiated with the unions at the bargaining table. He even hints that the City’s previously attractive bond rating may return in the Spring of 2007. He also convinces the electorate to vote in a “strong Mayor” form of government, giving him all kinds of power without the need for council approval.

Fast forward to Spring 2007. The Mayor just gives the cops a 9% salary increase but cuts their health care benefits drastically. He is proposing no pay hike for the firefighters and a drastic cut in their health care benefits. The other two City unions are mid-term in their agreements and will not bargain until 2008.

He unveiled his fiscal year 2008 budget just last Monday. The Mayor has proposed privatizing a number of City services (which has the municipal employees union in an uproar). He just eliminated 710 jobs. Sanders told the council that he is looking toward slashing another 250 jobs in the following year’s spending plan. That would bring job cuts to 960, or 12.4 percent of the city’s workforce. The Mayor lucked out – San Diego’s high real-estate cost brought in 6% more in tax revenue than had been expected. He plans to use the money on the City’s infrastructure. The unions hate him – he has a 70% approval rating with the general public.