Budget time!!

Well, lets see. Courts across the country are indeed proving that there is not, never has been and never will be a Charter protected right to squat illegally in a city park under the guise of freedom of expression. Sadly court time had to be wasted in reaffirming this reality as common sense on the part of city officials should have ended all this squatting long ago.

Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton are all moving and will be getting rid of their illegal squatters soon. Regina, Saskatoon, Victoria, London and Halifax have all evicted the squatters from their park.

Despite all this, Nenshi’s Calgary is still intent on negotiating with what can now only be called extortionists. These guys are clearly breaking the law and are demanding that the city provide them with a long list of freebies in order for them to consider ending their illegal squatting.

The city’s last offer (way too generous as it was) was spit upon by the squatters who said they would like to light it on fire. That offer from the city would have provided the extortionists with the means to hold several public forums and to establish what could be a permanent information booth for them near the plaza.

I am sure that many charities and lobby groups would love to have free hosted public forums and free permanent information booths downtown. Alas, legitimate groups have been playing by acceptable rules of society. Clearly the way to get things is to break the law. Nenshi and the rest of the cowardly officials will then heap offers upon your cause in hopes that you consider becoming law-abiding again.

Now the squatters have been emboldened further (who can blame them?) by the craven attempts of capitulation from the city and they are drafting new demands. Since it is budget time, I would like to itemize these demands so that Nenshi can add them to the budget deliberations as he clearly is not afraid of throwing city tax money at our illegal squatters (on top of the estimated $40,000 in damage that the squatters have already done to our park).

From the mouths of squatters themselves:

1) That the city find a place agreeable to OC where we can hold General Assemblies in safety and warmth.

2) That the city will cover rent for said place.

I guess it should go without saying that the squatters expect us to pay for everything but they made sure to make a specific demand for that to be sure.

Now they hold their GAs daily and have been known to hold them twice per day. Turnout is extremely variable but lets be generous and assume that they will need daily space for as many as 60 people. The Epcor center is right next to the squatters so would be an ideal new warm spot for their general assemblies. Lets be kind on the costs though and just assume that they will hold one meeting per day in that room.

Daily meetings for 60 in meeting room next to Olympic Plaza: $277,400
Of course with regular scheduling that could even be knocked down to a cool $250,000

4) That the city pay to hold sixteen GAs as stated above with time/date/location/format of our choosing. (Maybe even twenty to get us through our winter of discontent with weekly GAs).

Again they wanted to ensure that the taxpayers would cover everything. Now when I went down to Olympic Plaza, they advertised a General Assembly every day at 1:00pm and 6:00pm if I recall. Perhaps it has now moved to sporadic or maybe there are different categories. Some are general General Assemblies while others are Uber Big General Assemblies. It really does not need to make sense or have consistency. Nothing else from the squatters has so far.

Due to the above ambiguity, I will raise the Epcor room cost back to the initial estimate that I had reduced for what I thought would be regular scheduling of the room.

5) That the city permit one tent at the plaza, or at a mutually agreed location, as an info booth to disseminate information to the public and to operate during normal park hours.

OK so they want permanent prime space downtown. Well, for a 10×10 vending tent on Steven Avenue it is $520 per month plus GST so that comes to about $6552 per year.

6) That the city provide electricity during normal park hours to ensure adequate lighting in and around the information tent referred to in 5) and provide assistance (CFD, Bylaw) in setting up an adequate and compliant heating system for the information tent referred to in 5). Also, that the city provide security for the information tent during off hours.

Hmm. So they want the tent to remain 24/7, with electric, heat and security. That is essentially a small free-standing business in downtown Calgary. Lets give that a cost of around $200,000 and forgo the earlier vending tent estimate.

7) That the city pay for three evenings rental of the largest rooms at every Community Hall in Calgary for the purpose of holding public forums.

This one is cute. I am afraid that at three days each, they would not be able to get through all of the meetings in one year as there are too many halls in Calgary. Lets just assume one every day all year then. My community hall charges $500 for it’s largest room for a night. It is about an average sized hall. There will be a meeting held at a hall in somewhere in Calgary every day of the year.

Demand for hall rentals: $182,500

8) That the city pay for the rental of all equipment necessary to hold such forums. For example: mic’s, amp’s, speakers, tables, chairs etc. Including internet access for live steaming.

Tables and chairs are usually included with most halls. Sound systems and internet are extra though. Lets just be generous and add $100 per night.

Extras: $36,500

9) That the city pay to advertise all public forums. Including TV, radio, newspapers, community newsletters, etc.

Hmm, I am afraid that gets really pricey. Lets just assume that you get good deals on advertising in all of those mediums for 365 meetings per year with a total being about $2,000 per day.

Advertising on all forms of media: $730,000

10) That the city pay for a CPS presence at each public forum for the duration of the meeting.

Afraid I can’t find a pricing guide for genuine armed police officers. I assure you it will be at least $500 per meeting.

Personal police presence: $182,500

Well at the moment that is all they have come up with so far. Rest assured their greedy little entitled minds will come up with more things that they feel hardworking taxpayers owe them.

Nenshi has made it clear that he is OK with squatters being in our park ad infinitum so this had best be added into Calgary’s city budget.

The cost annually to keep up with he latest extortion demands being made by “occupy” Calgary squatters totals:

$1,608,900!!!

Please include this in the budget deliberations Mayor Nenshi.

Of course you could also grow a set, do your job and kick the damn illegal squatters from our park too.

The above pricing does not account for leap years nor further illegal occupations of parks that will be sure to follow upon capitulation to extortion by the city of Calgary.

Gee, go figure. Iris is surprised.

 I am doing rather well in my predictions. I have to admit, one does not need to be a modern-day Nostradamus to have predicted that our gang of clowns governing the province would be in shock and running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to understand how they have spent us into a record and growing deficit. Ignoring advice from many quarters, the Progressive Conservative government has continued with unrestrained, untargeted and unsustainable spending after having castrated the main industry in the province with an ill-conceived and greed driven royalty gouge. The “rainy day” savings will quickly run dry and we can look forward to putting our grandchildren in debt soon.

 The cartoon in the Calgary Herald lays it out very well.

 The PC government has realized that they were rather dependent on the revenues from the industry that they so recently demonized and drove from the province. Revenues are now down on all fronts. From field and office workers who used to pay income taxes, to land-sale revenues, to corporate tax revenue, to municipal road use revenues and of course royalty revenues the government has seen a massive drop in them all since attacking the energy industry. Sure things were going to slow down in this recession anyway. It never needed to be this bad however.The energy industry came to a screeching halt in Alberta almost a year before the world economy dropped.  This is directly due to the actions of Stelmach.

 Special Ed made a short appearance the other day and muttered some incomprehensible excuses to try and soften the blow for the coming budget update. Ed has now sunken down and will likely remain well hidden until the Calgary by-election is finished. The PCs have at least realized that whenever their leader speaks, they drop another couple points in the polls.

 Despite all of these hard lessons for Albertans, the PC government still appears to have not learned a thing. Iris Evens looks dejected and clearly realizes that she has blown it. Still, there was no uttering of terms such as spending restraint or trying to encourage business to come back to Alberta. From all appearances the PC government looks like they intend to continue with massive spending and praying for a miracle.

 I will make another prediction. Iris Evans is praying that natural gas will suddenly jump in price. Sorry Iris, hoping for it to happen will not make it happen. In the next quarter we will see yet another jump in the deficit. The world is in a slowdown and there is a glut of natural gas (not to mention energy companies don’t want to come back to Alberta right now).

 In a dark-humour sort of way, I am tempted to start a pool for how long it will take and how many budget updates we will see before the sustainability fund is completely gone. It should not be too long.

 The belt-tightening Albertan’s did through the 90s was a good thing. We eliminated our debt and saw a sustained boom afterwards. Ed Stelmach has managed to eliminate all of those benefits in a few short years in power. I shudder to think what he may do with three more years in power.

Idiocy wins.

 

 Well, Druh Farrell was quite petulant and perturbed about having her senseless plan to close a portion of Memorial Drive for pedestrian use brought up for discussion in city hall. How dare the electorate question the notions of Druh?? How dare people want discourse on issues that we pay for???

 Well, despite five aldermen showing common sense and opposing what has to be one of the silliest notions ever to come from city hall, the motion to end this lunacy failed.

 The discussion in city hall was nauseating on this one. NDP Bob Hawkesworth actually wrote a sad little poem showing the offense he has taken with democratic exercise. Gord Lowe went even farther and chided the entire room. There seems to be nothing that these overpaid stooges get more worked up about than open discussion of policies. How dare the public try to express their views??

One columnist at the Sun wrote a poem in response:

Dave Breakenridge

We bring you editorial verse,

Because Ald. Hawkesworth

wrote one that was worse,

about an asinine lark

to make a roadway a park,

that’s sure to make all drivers curse.

There once was a council in tatters,

that gave in to ridiculous chatter

to shut down a road,

common sense was KO’ed

by people who think only they matter.

Brought forward by a member named Druh,

who with her presumptuous crew,

shot down all good reason and made driving treason,

no matter how angry we grew.

Then the jester stepped up from his chair

and proceeded to bellow hot air.

He poked fun at the press

and made discourse a mess

But his limerick was too much to bear.

Opposition was soundly defeated

Ridicule with which they were greeted,

called them all petty,

with the brains of a yeti,

while the victors look simply conceited.

Calgarians do like to party.

When it comes to the outdoors,

we’re hearty.

But this plan seems absurd,

the worst many have heard.

Why not move it and compromise partly?

So we’re left with a council divided,

just because a few members decided

that what all of us need

is for them to take the lead,

but it’s they who deserve to be chided.

Please bring back municipal sense

and do away with ideas so dense

And while we’re at it,

the sniping

and political griping

that comes at great civic expense.  

 

  Despite nearly universal opposition to this lunacy shown by Calgarians, city council has marched on and forced this idiotic road closure down our throats.

 Thankfully, while Druh initially wanted to make these closures a regular thing, it has been pared down to a one day test run.

 In August we will see one of two outcomes. The weather will be poor and we will see traffic backed up for miles while belching exhaust due to the road closure or the weather will be sweltering and we will see traffic backed up for miles while belching exhaust due to the road closure.

 In both of the above scenarios, we can rest assured that the closed lanes of Memorial Drive will be empty. Nobody will be out in the pouring rain nor will people choose blistering pavement over a river path right next to them.

 Aldermanic clown Brian Pincott will now no doubt feel inspired to push further with his notion of spending $250,000 in taxes per year in order to hire an official city poet.

 We have little more than a year left to endure this crop of idiots in city hall. They very well may do some terrible damage in that time, but there is hope. Think of how much better this city will be when the self-entitled parasites Druh Farrell, Bob Hawkesworth, Brian Pincott, and Gord Lowe are gone. Losing the organ grinder Bronco would be nice too.

Why, why, why?

 I just finished listening to a frustrating and circular interview of Lindsay Blackett on an Albertan radio show. While Blackett should be commended for being willing to respond to callers (most PC guests refuse to), he really did not have much of worth to say.

 The subject was the contentious Bill 44 that is going before the legislature. Some months ago Blackett mused about the need to reform Alberta’s human rights act as section 3 was leading to infringements on free speech. Blackett was applauded by supporters of free speech and no opposition to this reform was heard.

 Finally the day arrived when Lindsay Blackett presented the bill to reform the act and it looks like pretty much nobody was prepared for the idiocy contained within the bill. While the free speech amendments appeared roundly popular, Blackett was compelled to drop that aspect of reform. Protection of free speech is not a priority for the Stelmach Progressives. Alberta can look forward to more attacks on the press and individuals in the future by people claiming hurt feelings. Press can continue to feel the chill and activists can continue to abuse our tax funded human rights commissions in order to stifle contrary opinions.

 I can understand why Special Ed Stelmach would like to curb free speech. Stelmach has been known to bully student bloggers who have dared mock him with legal threats. I am sure that Chairman Ed would like to expand his powers to suppress speech made by Albertans that he does not approve of. This move was sad but not surprising from a government that has little respect for democracy and discourse.

 What is really odd with Blackett’s bill was the inclusion of parental rights regarding education. The hornet’s nest has been poked and opposition to this addition is coming from all directions whether teachers groups or civil libertarians. Fears of people taking teachers to the human rights commission over the teaching of evolution and other such examples are abounding. Alberta’s unfair reputation as being backwards or redneck is only getting more deeply entrenched now.

 Getting back to the “why” of this. On the radio, Blackett kept downplaying the potential impact of this bill by pointing out that the Alberta School act already allows parents to remove their children from school if they feel the subject matter clashes with their religion. Uhh, OK. In that case, why do we need this added to the bill? The host kept asking and Blackett kept dodging. Blackett than pointed out that while there are over 2000 schools in Alberta, only 50 some people actually opted their kids out of any classes. Uhhhh OK. In that case why do we need this? Clearly it is a tiny minority that really even care on this issue. The host persisted on the why aspect and Blackett got increasingly flustered. The reason Blackett was flustered was that he really has no answer to the question of why we need this addition to our legislation.

 Stubbornly our PCs push on, enduring heaps of abuse and having our province labelled as being populated by bumpkins (considering the bumpkin nature of our premier, we really did not need more of this).

 From record deficits to needless controversy over unnecessary legislation, the Progressive Conservative government of Alberta is proving itself to be completely incompetent. To those who have been claiming for the last 8 years or so that the PCs can be reformed from within, give your heads a shake. The PC party is hopelessly inept.

More idiocy from city hall.

 One has to laugh to keep themselves from crying when we see the stooges coming up with their idiotic notions at city hall. While city spending is out of control and municipal taxes are going through the roof, the priority initiative for Alderman Druh Farrell is to close a portion of Memorial Drive on Sundays for pedestrians and bicyclists.

 druh

 Brilliant Druh.

 For those who may be unfamiliar with the area in question, here are some facts. Paralleling Memorial Drive in the section in question is a beautiful and expensive pedestrian/bike-path as well as a large parkway that follows the river. There is no need for extra pedestrian space in this stretch. Why in the hell would somebody choose to walk down the hot pavement of a main road when there is a path in a treed park right next to them anyway?

 People have long bemoaned the lack of interest in Calgary’s downtown on weekends. The failed experiment of Eau Claire mall was an attempt to bring a Vancouver-like atmosphere into Calgary’s core and draw people there on weekends. Memorial Drive is a main route into downtown Calgary and is already chronically congested. How will weekend closures of portions of that drive effect weekend visits by people to downtown Calgary?

 Druh Farrell was also in support of those stupid $50 million dollar pedestrian bridges that would come right from that pathway that follows Memorial Drive. Now if people were walking down the street instead of on the bike-path, how will they be able to take advantage of those great bridges designed by a supposedly famous Spaniard? Perhaps Druh is trying to reduce access to those bridges in hopes that they do not wear out too soon.

 Druh has always been a sucker for “green” initiatives and is second only to Brian Pincott in the eco-flake department that resides in city council. Now think of this. With part of a main thoroughfare being closed on weekends, how much extra idling will occur as drivers languish in what will inevitably be a traffic jam stretching for miles? How many air conditioners will be on?

 We have about a year and a half to prepare to throw this crop of fools out of city hall in the next municipal election. The time to get some candidates with common-sense in place is now.

Idealistic Naivete Can Kill.

Ideals are a good thing. Getting out and pursuing your ideals and goals is also always a good thing.

Being blinded by your ideals to the point of experiencing a complete loss of common sense and endangering yourself however is not such a good thing.

A recent event brought these self-destructive people to mind for me. I will list three prime and suicidal idealists who have died of naivete.

PIPPA BACCA

 

Recently a performance artist named Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo (known as Pippa Bacca) decided that in order to demonstrate that all people are good at heart and somehow promote world peace, she would hitchhike throughout the Middle-East while wearing a wedding dress.

Ms. Bacca’s ill advised trip lasted from March 20, 2008 until March 31 when she disappeared in Turkey. Bacca’s raped body was discovered and identified shortly afterwards.

The unfortunate Pippa lasted less than two weeks on her journey and in giving her life she actually achieved the opposite of her goals. Bacca’s death illustrated that indeed not all people are sweethearts and the Middle-East simply is not a terribly peaceful place. Hardly a point that somebody needed to die to prove.

TIMOTHY TREADWELL

Timothy Treadwell (AKA The Grizzly Man) made a name for himself with his documentaries where he would approach and play with wild grizzly bears in Alaska.

Despite numerous warnings from park officials, Treadwell would insist upon sneaking into areas in order to get his footage. Park records indicate that Treadwell’s violations included: Guiding tourists without a license, camping in the same area longer than the Parks Service’s seven-day limit, improper food storage, wildlife harassment, and conflicts with visitors and their guides.

Treadwell’s goal was to demonstrate that grizzly bears were simply gentle giants who loved human company. Grizzly bears were not dangerous in Treadwell’s world, they simply were misunderstood. Many environmentalists applauded this man’s work and considered him a great pioneer in building human/grizzly relationships.

The law of averages finally caught up to the “grizzly man” in early October 2003. The partially eaten remains of Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard (his girlfriend) were discovered near his campsite. Treadwell had set up a campsite next to a salmon stream in fall when grizzlies are fattening up for winter. While Treadwell clearly did not realize it, the grizzlies realized that Treadwell and his girlfriend are indeed made up predominantly of protein and they were promptly consumed.

When park rangers came to the campsite, a grizzly was present and protecting it’s kill. The rangers shot it. Shortly afterwards rangers were forced to shoot another young bear as it charged them. Despite the assertions of Treadwell, bears are rather aggressive when there is meat about. Treadwell’s idiocy not only led to his own death and his girlfriend’s death, but to that of two of the bears he claimed to love.

RACHEL CORRIE

 

Rachel was a nice young idealist living in the American Northwest. Like many young people, Rachel felt there was wrong being done on the planet and that she must do something to remedy these wrongs.

Unfortunately Rachel was recruited by the “International Solidarity Movement”. Rachel was filled in on the atrocities of the Zionists in Israel and promptly took off to halt these evils in the Gaza Strip.

On March 16, 2003, Rachel was run over and killed by an armoured D9 bulldozer while trying to block the machine with her body. It would appear that bulldozers are much faster in Israel than they are here. I work with them constantly and have never had difficulty in stepping out of the way.

The outcry was immediate and some elements of the anti-Israel community have shamelessly tried to capitalize on Rachel’s death. Corrie’s death has been called murder (despite multiple investigations indicating that the driver could not have possibly even seen her much less chased her down) and a play has even been travelling North America telling the Rachel Corrie story. A nice looking and idealistic girl makes the best sort of martyr for these kinds of things.

While the left has canonized Rachel Corrie, others who have looked more deeply into the issue have christened her St. Pancake.

To begin with, the “International Solidarity Movement” is anything but a peace group. Increasingly it has been indicated that this group thrives on finding foolish Western kids and dropping them into war zones in hopes of drawing attention to their cause. One of their reps says it well: George Rishmawi of the ISM told the San Francisco Chroniclethat “When Palestinians get shot by Israeli soldiers, no one is interested anymore. But if some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice.” This George Rishmawi is an activist with the Palestinian Communist Party by the way.

The death list for this “International Solidarity Movement” also includes Tom Hurndall. Shot in the face while volunteering for ISM was Brian Avery. Australian ISM volunteer Kate Edwards sustained severe internal injuries while out there for the cause.  The ISM is doing well generating these Western martyrs.

The ISM is hard at it trying to recruit more young western martyrs here.

They give travel tips and assure you that they will put you right in the war zone. You have to pay for it yourself of course as most of funds that head that way seem to have been set aside for explosives and such.

 Lets look through Rachel’s activities upon arrival.

 First Rachel got herself into the imaginary mode that she herself was indeed a Palestinian woman being oppressed by Israel.

 

Next, Rachel decided to help young school children by teaching them how to burn American flags.

 

Look at the love and passion in the face of this young western “peace” activist.

 

 Now the importance of good flag burning technique can never be understated. Had the poor young fellow pictured below been able to take advantage of Rachel Corrie’s tutelage, he may have been able to avoid his nearly premature trip to 72 virgins.

 

After Rachel’s teaching duties were completed, she was ready to be moved to the front lines.

 While ISM activists deny it, the constant barrage of missiles into residential areas of Israel sort of indicate that Palestinians are getting them from somewhere. A common method of this is to dig tunnels into neighboring countries in order to smuggle ordnance in. Israel uses bulldozers to close these tunnels.

 Rachel sadly thought that it would be wise to stand in front of one of these slow-moving machines with very limitted visibility in order to stop it.

 

 Rachel was crushed shortly after her shortsighted effort.

 

 There are a great many pictures of this incident out there. This is due to the ISM moving rather too quickly in cooking their spin on this new martyr.

Shortly after Corrie’s death, the ISM placed photographs on a website which it claimed showed the events leading up to Corrie’s death. AP, Reuters, and many Internet discussion pages reported that the photographs showed two (perhaps three) different bulldozers and inconsistent pictures of the sun’s movement across the skies. The ISM then changed the site to show a more consistent group of photographs.

 The death of Rachel Corrie and the others listed above were truly tragic. Any premature loss of life is a sad thing. All three deaths could easily have been prevented however by just a dash of common sense.

 If you know a young person who wants to make their splash in activist circles, it may be advised to tell them to put on a mask, attend a protest and smash the windows out of a Gap store as so many others do. It may lead to an arrest and some tear-gas pain, but it will beat the hell out of being eaten by grizzlies, being raped and killed or being squashed by a bulldozer. They will live long enough to realize how important self-preservation is.