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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

#yegcc #lrt & #asked

Kudos to Edmonton City Council for voting for the Stony Plain Road and Mill Woods LRT By-Law today, setting the stage for public transit expansion that has been 20 years in the making. Four Councillors voted against the motion, Jane Batty, Karen Leibovici, Linda Sloan, and Tony Caterina. Defending his decision to oppose LRT expansion, Caterina accused his fellow Councillors of:

...imposing their ideology on the city. Caterina also raised concerns that online bloggers had too much influence on the decision. “A number of bloggers — who knows where they come from — are treated as gospel,” he said.
Putting aside that functionally, writing a blog is not much different than writing a letter to the editor or telephoning a City Councillor's office, I have heard suggestions that Councillor Caterina was taking a shot at Councillor Don Iveson (who writes a blog). Iveson has been a strong advocate for public transit since being elected to City Council in 2007. There are are a number of Edmontonians who publish blogs that focus on urban issues in our City and they should take Councillor Caterina's complaint as a compliment.

I am told that Councillor Caterina is still a little miffed that his fellow Councillors voted for the phased closure of the Edmonton City Centre Airport earlier this year. During that debate a strong online campaign was launched by a group of passionate Edmontonians (which included notmyairport.ca). I have met Councillor Caterina a number of times and found him to be a fairly nice person, but a string of bizarre comments like this one has left me questioning his critical thinking abilities.

#AskEd

Three "AskEd" YouTube videos have been released with Premier Ed Stelmach responding to questions submitted to his office via email and Twitter. When it was announced I really like the idea, as it has the potential to allow for  Albertans to have some real interaction with Premier Stelmach, and it also allows the Premier to answer questions in an environment that he is comfortable in. Affording Premier Stelmach the ability to avoid the awkwardness of having to answer questions in front of the media or a public audience, the videos appear closer to 'father figure' Stelmach responding to questions of his choice than an authentic conversation.
Stelmach spokesperson Tom Olsen said the video responses are a lot like having a conversation with Stelmach in a coffee shop.
The videos are exactly like having a conversation in a coffee shop, especially if the coffee shop is an exact replica of the Premier's Office and includes a large wooden desk, gavel, and Premier Stelmach reading off a laptop while talking straight into a video camera. Sounds like a typical small-town main street coffee shop to me!

Mastermaq has some good observations on the AskEd videos and DJ Kelly has offered some suggestions on how to fix the Premier's communications problems.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ed who?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Turnbull said...

I love the accusation of "imposing their ideology on the city". One supposes that the ideology of elected officials is a rough approximation of the ideology of the people who elected them. I hardly feel imposed upon.

Miyata said...

AskEd: So all these bloggers who are slagging AskEd always perfect at their first attempts at social media? Is it okay to crawl before a sprint, or do we expect politicians to full on run?

Anonymous said...

Dave: is there any indication that a bunch of twitter posts actually influenced the airport decision?

Gauntlet said...

Maybe I'm reading him wrong, but I don't think Dave is suggesting that a bunch of twitter posts influenced the airport decision. I think he's suggesting that Tony is suggesting that.

Anonymous said...

Why does Tom Olsen claim the video is something that it isn't?

Jeremy Wilson said...

@Paul Turnbull
Do tell me which councillors campaigned on closing the airport? At least Catarina had the guts to campaign on his views, and he won his seat.

Do tell me which councillors campaigned on selling Epcor?

Do tell me which councillors campaigned on farty-arsed, slum-train LRT lines that are essentially a new slow trolley?

Do tell me which councillors campaigned to make Edmontonians live in a high-density socialist utopia?

Iveson is nothing more than Tooker Gomberg V2.0...and he has a devoted following of likeminded Tookers. Buy hey, at least you're sticking it to 'THE MAN'...and, of course, none of you are ever wrong about anything.

Look at the remarks here, Dave. Some one has called Catarina a 'village idiot', and Stelmach 'stupid'. Would you allow that post if it were Laurie Blakeman being called the village idiot?

This sort of behavior epitomizes the computer-nerd-activist.

Neumanic said...

Jeremy - I agree that none of the councillors ran on a platform about Epcor. But last time I checked, a number of sitting councillors ran on a platform of density over sprawl, and on LRT expansion, and strangely enough they were elected.

They didn't have to campaign on closing the airport, because that decision was made in 1992. Tony didn't run on a pro-airport platform either, as I recall; he raised the issue shortly after he was elected, and thus put the question squarely on the table where it was squarely defeated.

As I recall it, Caterina's campaign material could be distilled to "spend less money, unless it's in Ward 3, unless it's any of that farty-arsed slum-train social spending because we've got enough of that up here in the greatest ward in the City, thanks very much."

AK said...

"farty-arsed, slum-train LRT lines that are essentially a new slow trolley?"
well, not when you say it like THAT!
I could call them 'super awesome, revitalization-train LRT lines that are essentially the first step in bringing Edmonton into the 21st century'.

- AK

p.s. please do tell me which councillors campaigned to make Edmontonians live in a high-density socialist utopia!! Sounds great - sign me up!

Paul Turnbull said...

@Jeremy Wilson
We elect people to make decisions on our behalf. They campaign based on the issues at hand but I fully expect them make decisions on the issues that arise whether those issues were part of the campaign or not. The issues they campaign on give the voters guidance on how these people will make decisions. Notably both Caterina and Iveson's positions on council pretty much jibe with what I expected from their campaigns.

To address some of your straw men:

- Council did not sell Epcor, they spun off the generation portion of the company so that it could compete in the private marketplace effectively. A publicly owned utility can't raise the capital needed to compete effectively. Council retained sole ownership of the part that matters to us, local distribution. Besides, you seem against anything vaguely socialist why do you support the public ownership of large company?

- Council's current development position is to focus on suburban development rather than on densification so I'm not sure where you get 'high density socialist utopia from'. Furthermore, transit systems and high density are not left/right issues. I hardly think of New York or London as socialist utopias but both are densely populated with extensive transit systems.

- Finally, do you have any evidence that Dave is censoring comments because I'm pretty sure he does not no matter who you insult. If he is censoring insulting posts why do I have yours to respond to. ;)

Anonymous said...

Neumanic - Agreed! Council has attained critical density. You do realize that this is not mainland China. You can't tell people how to live. You can't tell them where to live. If you believe that people in this city, that vote, appreciate your central planning, you are deluded. They'll just move to better cities like St.Albert or the Park or Calgary or Red Deer. Then Edmonton will be left with a tax base of idealist hippies...not much cash there. It kind of makes your sprawl arguement look stupid.

JW said...

The brightest of capitalists know that economies of scale can be acheived particularly with utilities. Aside from that, it made money for the city. So nothing about it was socialist.

Given that I'm from London, I can tell you that their civic governemnt never mandated density. It happened naturally and was a function of a fantastic public transport system that actually moved people. London and New York developed their densities because they were at the centre of Empire...capitalist Empire. Here, we just build transit to provide a better sort of poverty.

Lastly, I am suggesting that it is inappropriate to host comments whose sole message is that so-and-so is an idiot.

Jon A said...

Does anyone think that Ed Stelmach's videos would be vastly improved if he put on a pair of boxing gloves and a wrestling mask?

"Dear StrongMach: how do you type with boxing gloves on?

Yours truly,

Ed in Mike-monton."

And he would proceed to make fun our and our e-mail's butt. Think about it.

Party of One said...

I, for one, support urban densification. I live downtown, and it annoys me that I have to pay taxes to support utilities further and further afield.

Suburban growth of the kind we have seen for the last ten or twenty years is inefficient, and expensive. Densification of already developed areas is one way to increase the efficiency of services provided. It doesn't cost much more to provide drainage and electrical and transit services to one multi-family building than it does to provide them to a single house out in the boonies.

We, as a society, don't have to "tell" people where to live, we just create conditions that make living in denser neighbourhoods a more logical and affordable option. Then, people will make rational decisions based on the availability of public transit (roads are public transit too, you know!), tax load, etc. People can still live in suburban areas, but I'm damned if I can see why I should subsidize that choice through increased tax expense.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with "urban sprawl" anyways?

Brian Dell said...

If yegcc were serious about densification it would balance the tax burden between business and and single familiy detached homes. But in fact they keep the burden on business high because most of city council has a left wing mentality that puts "the people" ahead of "corporate interests" and that effectively trumps densification except when it comes to rhetoric.

Same thing with affordable housing. Economists understand that it is red tape and taxes on developers that makes housing unaffordable but yegcc would rather lay the regs and taxes down heavy.

Albertagirl46 said...

Brian, has it all been downhill ever since they brought in those nasty safety and health regulations? You know, the mentality that puts people ahead of corporate interests.

Anonymous said...

brian should compare Edmonton's non residential to that of other municipalities in the region as well as the province. I think he will find that Edmonton has a very competitive non-residential mill rate.

Brian Dell said...

Lowes has decided its first building centres will be in Calgary because the approval process in Calgary is at least 5 months faster. That means $1 million in lost tax revenue for Edmonton.

Many businesses have simply given up on trying to get a permit from Edmonton's development board, and have decided to go elsewhere.

The 5% property tax increase is a hike of $2500 on a 10 000 sq foot commercial building. The hike is actually 7% if one doesn't adjust for the expansion of the tax base brought by new construction. It is the idea of expanding the tax base that yegcc doesn't get.

Organized labour interests are well represented on city council, as are persons connected to the provincial Liberals. #toncat may be seen as "right wing" but he likely got the short straw with the new ward system that he is unlikely to be re-elected. After next October's election who on council will be alerting fellow councilors to the reality that consumers, ie "the people", pay indirectly for the taxes on business?

Anonymous said...

Tony Caterina doesn't accomplish that task right now, just as Mike Nickel didn't before him. As a self-identifying conservative I can tell you that neither of those nut jobs ever spoke on my behalf.

Council does need a voice of reason to help reign in frivalous spending & to ensure delivery of core services, but Mr "The Rich Man's Airport is VITAL!" has done none of that.

Why try and spin it that his impending defeat has anything to do with the new ward system? That seems like such a cop out. The man will be held to account for his time and actions in office, same as every other member of City Council.

Anonymous said...

My post referring to Tony Caterina as a village ***** and Ed Stelmach as Ed ***** got deleted. (I am self censoring my comments which were satirical and in now way profane).

And yet Scott McKeend in the Journal has had 2 columns this week mercilessly demonizing Caterina while the comments section in the Journal and Herald have been pounding Ed ***** into the floor.

Funny that the MSM is now offering more freedom of speech than blogs.

Come on Daveberta. You only deleted my post because of peer pressure from people who had politically correct feelings hurt. If there is anything I cannot stand it is politicians manufacturing their own victimhood.

Not a lefty said...

The City Centre airport should have been left open and still carry commercial traffic you lefties are morons.