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Responsible Vigilance
January 2011

Democracy’s continued success depends on vigilance. Without vigilance, democracy will always deteriorate into undemocratic rule. As democratic transparency diminishes, open and honest democracy turns to secrecy and conspiracy. Ample evidence is on display by the outrageous outcome of expensively funded and government protected agencies that answer to no one.

Planning behind closed doors and behind the voters back is, by its very definition, conspiracy. Conspiratorial autocrats are motivated to exclude the public, the very public which they have sworn to serve, from our public forum, from our televised council chamber where we can both speak and be heard.

Only a jaded autocrat would consider it ‘intolerable’ and ‘rude’ for a citizen to publicly present opposing views or open and honest criticism of autocratic decisions. This was evidenced by the CORC Chairman’s devious assertion that ‘long-winded presenters’ were causing late-night council meetings. The truth is that presenters are strictly limited to 10 minutes, whereas 'in-camera' sessions go on for hours forcing delegations to wait until 1 to 2 in the morning to be heard. Obviously the three (3) week schedule is inadequate for an $800-plus million municipal government. Citizens have the right to deliver a non-repetitive address to council unimpeded by ANY type of government censor.

Cynicism accepts that it is easier to pass laws against the citizen in the middle of the night!

Forty years of inadequate oversight has manifested undesirable change to our Niagara Regional Government. The gag order, which blocked the public from presenting their views at council, was a conspiracy hatched in a clandestine meeting of the CORC committee and agreed to unanimously by the entire council.

Too comfortably imbedded media reporters no longer find anything wrong with the questionable activities of governance. As an example, they had to be dragged into reporting on the deliberate and unanimous decision by our region councillors to exclude the public from our public forum.

Following our exposé of the imminent danger of the Burgoyne Bridge, a secret emergency meeting of the St. Catharines’ contingent of regional councillors was hastily convened to get their political narrative in line for public consumption, which passed without media attention. The press was incorrectly barred from this secret meeting.

Reports from the imbedded media reporters suggests little or no concern with the Niagara Region’s pretence of holding the line on property tax by stacking part of the infrastructure costs onto our water bills with all the inequities this deception entails.

    It was the Niagara Winners Circle that twice asked the Niagara Economic Development Corporation, and asked every Niagara Regional councillor, three times “Would you kindly describe some of NEDC's achievements and successes as they have related directly to NEDC's ability to attract specifically how many companies and employees to the Niagara Region?” The fact that no one could answer the question regarding the $2 million economic boondoggle called NEDC did not stop the Regional Chair from ruling us out of order for what the chair termed was ‘unfounded allegations’.  What did the comfortably imbedded media report?

Where was the media when the Regional Government spent over $100K to run a business-busting Ponzi scheme by the ‘Culture Committee’ to acquire a few thousand dollars worth of ‘free’ photographic images, with nothing going to ‘Culture’, ‘artists’ or the ‘Arts Community’?

   Did the media recognize the successful effort of citizen Andrew Petrowski {Now Regional Councillor} when he reminded Regional Council that the $1.7 million dollars in a "surplus" account belonged to the citizens of Niagara and not for the indiscriminate use by the councillors of the Niagara Regional Country Club?

It is no longer enough for the citizen to assume they have done their duty by simply casting a ballet. When you do vote, how do you know who to vote for if your councillor hides behind process, deceptive rules, prevarication and tries to conceal their voting record?

To preserve our precious democracy, for the future of our children and grandchildren, citizens have the awesome responsibility of remaining ever vigilant of their government.
-Niagara Winners Circle
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