Ccl NOTES Mar 30
Calendar to Apr 25

by Carolanne Reynolds, Editor

Spring Equinox is past, Easter approaches......ENJOY!
IN THIS Serious/Budget ISSUE:
MAIN ITEMS Ccl Mtg Apr 6th: Hugo Ray Park Status and Update (Field Hockey going to be at Ambleside instead?) and Nbrhd Visioning process for a 48-unit devt on the Unitarian Church site there; Update on Heritage Strategic Plan and adding St Christopher's to Heritage Register; Five-Year Financial Plan aka Budget 2009 Bylaw for adoption (last chance to amend by rescinding third reading if good reason to; speak or forever hold your peace on the 2009 Budget); lotsa letters
=  QUESTION (what do want to pay in M taxes for the services you get in WV?); Vive le Canada; ANIMALWATCH (zoo babies); from the EDITOR'S DESK; UPDATES (Strategic Vision Planning; Cyclebetes, WV Golf Courses; Return of Herring)
=  CALENDAR to April 24th; CULTUREWATCH (Theatre; Music)
=  Ccl Mtg NOTES Mar 30th: Five-Year Financial Plan Bylaw (BUDGET 2009) -- some comments and D/Fin report, then Third Reading passed; Federal Infrastructure Funds
=  ANSWERS re Finance Cmte & Budget Questions + WVM COMMENTS to responses [Letter to Mayor and Ccl]
=  Ccl Mtg AGENDA Apr 6th:
=  INFObits (our rivers); NEWSWATCH (Joya Award; Women's Rights, Marriage); WEBWATCH (Israel-Canada Agreement; Cdn JDL; Galloway Update); LANGUAGEWATCH (typos); POETRY (Ferlinghetti and NYT); QUOTATIONS (Power of One? Margaret Mead; Money; Moral of the Month)
How much is reasonable to pay in taxes for every $100K of property assessment?

FYI from a contributor:
Subject: Stats Can Show WV Amongst Most Regressive Property Tax Munis
What this report shows is that, because of our unusual combination of high property values and large low-income pockets, Stats Can has found us to have one of the most regressive municipal taxation structures in the country.
Since municipalities have limited methods of raising revenue, there are not many ways to fix this but increasing user fees for non-senior user groups is probably the best.
===  Vive le Canada  ===
Former Prime Minister Lester Pearson once said that as our Gross National Product grows, our national character must not grow more gross.
Let us hope and work for a return to a more balanced attitude and behaviour by our federal govt, a return to as a commentator remarked during the G20 summit in London, "act as an honest broker".

===  ANIMALWATCH  === http://wcbstv.com/slideshows/zoo.babies.animal.20.229088.html

===  from the EDITOR'S DESK  ===
        The letter to Mayor and Ccl was updated and appears in its own section below.
        Please note that the Calendar is a best efforts.  It's what has been sent to me and what appears on the DWV Calendar at time of preparing the newsletter.  Some are late in putting in mtgs and when trying to go as far ahead as three weeks, of course some will be missing.  (Thanks to Deputy CAO, Brent Leigh, that when I asked for clarification about the Climate Action WG he replied saying that the intention is every two weeks on a Thursday.  My recommendation re mtgs is to put in what is planned, can be as TBC -- to be confirmed -- and note any changes.)
        The big Strategic Vision Planning mtg was Apr 1st with the next one planned for Apr 25 (see Updates).  This is an opportunity for anyone in the cmnty who wants to have a say to speak up.  No doubt it will start with wishlists -- my hope is that it will be followed up by setting a budget limit, then prioritize from there.
        Typing while listening to a ccl mtg results in many gaps, typos, and perhaps misheard words, etc but again best efforts.  Sometimes text is provided to me wch is great -- it's all that they wanted to say.  Although I'd asked and thought Richard Laing, the Director of Finance, had agreed to send me his prepared remarks, he didn't so, since such a critical issue -- the budget and some of his explanations re input -- I had to listen to the tape and do a full transcript (this takes hours), but I'm sure you'll appreciate his clarifications and add'l information (and hope he does that it was done).
        The frustration I share with readers is that in spite of presentations made at the Mar 4th and Mar 23rd mtgs, Ccl made no amendments -- as if it didn't matter.  There is a small possibility they cd rescind third reading Apr 6 and make some b/c the budget doesn't need to be adopted until May 15th so there is time.  Time also for the FCmte to look at the budget during its Apr 8th mtg.  We are heading into dark waters and it is imperative that WV be prepared -- striving for efficiencies and not overestimating revenues.  Yes, Cclr Evison, we shd squeeze the orange until the pips squeal -- we want the juice!
Letter to Mayor and Ccl re Budget
Reads more like a research paper, I'm afraid.
If you read the comments starting WVM you'll see questions the answers elicited.  In order to be complete and prove claims, accuracy, sorry that it's in four parts for each item.
One of the reasons I've done that is that over the years I've become sick and tired of ppl, on/off ccl, resident/devpr, staff/expert, making assertions that simply are not true.  Often in Ccl someone will make a statement and it's taken as gospel truth.  Someone might refute it but that's again almost a question of belief.
The raw data is there for you to read.  In the first case Cmte minutes followed by questions, answers, and comments; in the second it starts with the transcript of the Mar 23rd mtg.
Now that Dir/Finance has provided more information, Mar 30th, my hope is that ITAC and others will follow up.  
COMMENTARY:  I love my country, I love my province, and I work for fairness and peace in them as well as in WV.  Freedom of speech is an important cornerstone of Canada.  As you will have noticed, barring Galloway bothered me.  Even more upset when told of the strings attached.

===  UPDATES  ===
*  Strategic Vision Planning
Seminar Apr 1st at the Wosk Ctr -- about 200 there?  Next event April 25.
Deputy CAO Brent Leigh is spearheading this effort.
See http://westvancouver.ca/Residents/Level3.aspx?id=17168 for information and in particular click on the Process and Timeline.  Here's part:
To bring the community's realities into focus, a vision needs to be articulated and goals need to be set....  The outcomes are expected to achieve:
                A long-term Vision for the Community
            Clarity of Mission for the District
             A set of long-term community goals
              A financial plan that enables those goals
               A measurement system to ensure the District is achieving those goals
There will be two phases:
           Public Consultation - April through mid-summer
                Plan Development - Will build as public input concludes...
This framework will then drive the fiscal priorities for many years to come. Council and staff are committed to achieving this work in 2009.  At the conclusion of the plan, an online performance management system will be implemented as an ongoing strategic management tool, so both the community and the corporation can track progress on an ongoing basis.
More Information  Process and Timeline  (PDF, 11 KB)
* Cyclebetes
Francesca McDowell, media contact, reported on Sunday Apr 5 that the Rockridge Cyclebetes Spin-a-thon was a huge success: raised $110,000 and still counting!
*   Golf Notices: Ambleside Par 3 and Gleneagles Golf Course -- April 2
Ambleside Golf Course 
     Ambleside Par 3 is currently open for the 2009 season.  Proshop can be contacted at 922 3818.
Gleneagles Golf Course 
     For the week of April 6th through 9th, Gleneagles will be undergoing work on the greens to aerify them. For this week, winter rates will be in effect.  Proshop can be contacted at 921 7353.
A silvery sliver of good environment news -- on False Creek
        by Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun, Apr 2
Silvery hordes of Pacific herring, one of the key indicator species for the health of intertidal habitats, have begun spawning again along the once-toxic shoreline of southeast False Creek.
See rest of story:

===  CALENDAR to April 6th to 25th  === Mtgs at MHall unless noted otherwise
Mtg NOT on DWV Calendar Mar 30 so missing from Calendar in WVM7:
= Thurs Apr 2nd ~ 4pm ~ Climate Action WG in Cedar Room, Cmnty Ctr
        {Wonder why belatedly; was last time too, hm.}
= Tues Apr 7th ~ 7pm ~ 32 Books in Edgemont Village celebrates Poetry month with wine and cheese:
32 Poets Divided by 8 presenting four fabulous Canadian poets: Brian Bartlett, Kate Braid (with bassist Clyde Reed), Shannon Stewart, David Zieroth; with wine and cheese. Info: 980 9032
= Wed Apr 8th
        ~ 5pm ~ Finance Cmte
        ~ 7:15pm ~ Field Sport Forum mtg
= Fri Apr 10th ~ 8am to Noon ~ Southern Straits Race Kickoff at Dundarave Pier
= Sat Apr 11th ~ 11am ~ Dundarave Easter Egg Hunt (in park)
= Easter Sunday Apr 12th ~ noon ~ Lions Club Easter Egg Hunt in John Lawson Park
= Wed Apr 15th
        ~ 4pm ~ Climate Action WG at Cmnty Ctr (in Cedar Room)
        ~ 6pm ~ Child Care WG
        ~ 7pm ~ Board of Variance
        ~ 7pm ~ Library Board at Library
 ~ 7:30am ~ Wednesday April 15  --  April's Networking Breakfast
Guest Speaker:  Professor Anthony Farrell, Ph.D, Dir. Fil. H.c., University of British Columbia
        at Hollyburn Country Club, 950 Crosscreek Rd; mbrs $25, non-mbrs $35
Topic:           Using physiological knowledge of salmon to help with management
Anthony Farrell came to UBC in 2004 where he holds an endowed research chair in Sustainable Aquaculture.  His area of research is comparative animal physiology and environmental toxicology, with specific interests in the cardiorespiratory system of fish -- its control and contribution to whole animal function, and how environmental change affects it function.
Dr. Farrell is considered to be among the leading comparative cardiovascular physiologists worldwide and his influential reviews have helped shape a somewhat fragmentary field into a more unified subject.  His "lasting and outstanding contributions to comparative physiology" resulted in the award of an Honorary Doctorate of Science by the University of Goteborg, Sweden.
He has been honoured with the Murray A. Newman Awards for Significant Achievement in Aquatic Research and Conservation from the Vancouver Aquarium and Marine Science Centre and Awards of Excellence from the American Fisheries Society for Fisheries Management and Conservation (in 2005) and for Fish Physiology (in 2006).
In May 2009, he will receive the 2009 Fry Medal from the Canadian Society of Zoologists, their top honour for an outstanding lifetime contribution to Zoology.
Kindly pre-pay by 5pm Friday April 10th to ensure your breakfast and seat reserved.  Please SIGN UP on www.westvanchamber.com and click on Events Calendar or call 926 6614.
= Thurs Apr 16th
        ~ 4:30pm ~ Design Review Cmte
        ~ 6pm ~ North Shore Family Court/Youth Justice Cmte at DNV M Hall
= Sat Apr 18th
        ~ 10am to noon ~ (Last) North Shore GardenSmart Workshop
        Backyard Composting: Making Black Gold for Your Garden; free but pre-register 990 3755
        at North Shore Neighbourhood House Rainbow Room (225 East 2nd Street, NV)
= Sun Apr 19th ~ 11am - 4pm ~ Earth Day at Cmnty Ctr: Climate Change - Taking Action Close to Home
= Wed Apr 22nd
        ~ 1:30pm ~ Arts and Cultural Facilities WG
        ~ 7:15pm ~ Field Sports Forum mtg
= Thurs Apr 23rd ~ 5:30pm ~ WVPBd mtg at Police boardroom
        WVPD - S. W. A. T. Apr 23rd to 26th at Ambleside Park
o  think Adopt-a-Fish at Library and Memorial Park organized by WV Streamkeepers has been moved from 19th to 25th
o  Fundraiser for TLC re B C Binning House May 3; info 926 9039; details in next WVM

- for Events and Programs: http://www.westvanlibrary.ca/index.php?page=5
- for Event Calendar: http://www.westvanlibrary.ca/event/calendar.php
*  BC Book Week April 18-24
"BC Book and Magazine Week highlights the BC publishing industry by promoting the diverse and high-calibre work of the publishers and writers in BC." Check out a BC book this week, we have many BC authors to choose from... try Red Dog, Red Dog by Patrick Lane or What is America?: A Short History of The New World Order by Ronald Wright.
*  Earth Week at the Library, April 18 - 25
Come by the Library to check out our Earth Week displays and peruse the wide range of books and DVDs concerned with everything from sustainable design and global warming to eating locally and reducing your environmental footprint. Special Kids Activity Day Saturday April 25th. Interested in Earth Week activities and events? find out more...
*  North Shore Writers Festival -- Apr 18 to 25
Our tenth annual festival of readings by Canadian authors is brought to you by your North Shore Public Libraries, with the assistance of the B.C.Writers in Libraries program of the Public Library Services Branch, the Writers Union of Canada, the Friends of the Libraries, North Shore News, North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, West Vancouver District, and 32 Books.
Enter our Short-Story Contest and Win a gift certificate for $100 from 32 Books.
Contest information is available at your library or go to http://www.northshorewritersfestival.ca/
        Please note: all events are free, however, seating is limited
+  This month's Philosophers' Café: "A Grand Passion"
~ 10:30am ~ Thursday, April 23rd  --  Is it possible to identify the ultimate "love of your life" while you still have love and life to live?  Enjoy the snacks and coffee hospitably provided. Everyone welcome. Registration not required. Admission $5. Co-sponsored by S.F.U.  Moderator: Randall MacKinnon has a Master's in Social Policy and Planning. He is an IDEASage with MackINNOVATION, a service consultancy.
+  Fridays English Corner ~ 10 - 11:30am ~ practise English conversation [Apr 3, 17, 24]
=  Apr 7 to 19
LAND - ESCAPES -- Bill Hoopes
An exhibition of recent oil paintings depicting the fragile soul and precarious nature of the landscape.
Opening Reception:  Tues April 7, 6 - 8pm; Artists in Attendance:  Sat, April 11, 2 - 3pm
=  March 16 to May 8 -- The woven tapestries on linen of Hanna Haapasalo; display at M Hall

+++ SILK PURSE +++  www.silkpurse.ca
-- March 31 - April 12 -- "Portraits of Power"
To be able to capture a moment in time that is never going to come again is simply fantastic. Some artists focus on clothing, body language, and expression as they portray people in a realistic style. Parvis Djamtorki's primary focus is on portraiture, using a minimal background to showcase his model, with a special overlay to enhance the mystery and magic of each individual portrait. This is what art is in our culture -- something that feels valid and special to the artist.
Opening Reception: TUESDAY March 31st from 6 - 8pm
-- April 14 - 26 --  "Stepping Into Abstraction"
Abstract art uses a visual language of form, colour, and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references. Join talented North Shore artists Lori Bagneres, Catherine Fields, Therese Joseph, Mena Martin, and Sara Morison as they show alternative ways of describing the visual experience with their unique creations.
Opening Reception: TUESDAY April 14th from 6 - 8pm
To see a list of events: http://kaymeekcentre.com/on_stage/events_calendar
To see the electronic newsletter, the address is http://kaymeekcentre.weebly.com.
Getting onto the mail list: the simplest method is to call the box office (604 913 3634) or email tickets@kaymeekcentre.com
WVSS Presents LoveBites  --  April 1-3, 7:30pm
Harmony House presents Ensemble Showcase  --  April 3 & 4, 7:00pm
Movies at the Meek: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly  --  April 6 & 7, 7:30pm
Collingwood School presents Live in Colour  --  Tuesday, April 7, 7:00pm

+++ ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION BRANCH 60, West Vancouver +++
See: http://www.westvan60.com/Images/The%20Torch%20Newsletter%20-%20Winter%202008.pdf
***  The Spring-Summer issue of "The Torch" is now available via Branch 60's website: to view the newsletter, just click the following link for direct access: http://www.westvan60.com/Images/The%20Torch%20Newsletter%20-%20Spring-Summer%202009.pdf
The newsletter is available to any non-member who is interested.  To sign up, please fill in the form at the bottom of the webpage, http://www.westvan60.com/newsletter.html  Please email me at thetorch60@telus.net, if you would like to submit an article, or if you have any questions or comments.
Thank you for your interest.
Best regards,  Janice Mackay-Smith, The Torch

 +++  WV MUSEUM  +++  Visit:  http://www.westvanmuseum.blogspot.com/
North Star: The Art of Lyle Wilson  [March 4 to May 30]

*  The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard at the Arts Club is not only about love and relationships but also linguistic artistry.  You have to listen closely to catch the wordplay.  Then there are the plays within the plays and the difference between sex and love.....  It ends soon but we love Tom Stoppard's work and there's another, a Canadian premiere, The Invention of Love, at the Jericho Arts Centre (1675 Discovery), starting April 3rd, Thursday through Sunday, at 8pm.  Tix $12 - $16 with Preview:  Thur April 2nd tickets $6; and Thursday April 9th - Talk back session after the show.  ONLINE RESERVATIONS  or 604 224 8007, ext. 2
*  The Full Monty (at the Norman Rothstein) ends this weekend as does Where the River Meets the Sea by Patti Flather (UBC grad now living in Whitehorse) is a First Nations play at Presentation House.
*  You missed a great evening of vocal/choral programme on weekend Apr 4/5 if you didn't go to Capilano U's Carmina Burana -- get the CD!  In Carmina Burana, the baritone booms, the soprano soars, the percussion pounds.  The first half of the evening has such variety: three choirs (S, M. L, at 100) with pieces from old French and Latin American songs to an African lullaby and local compositions -- really liked "Royal Hudson" -- shd maybe be played during 2010 Olympics!
*  tick...tick...BOOM! at the Jericho Arts Centre; April 6 - 22, Monday through Wednesday, at 8pm; Tix $15 - $25  ONLINE RESERVATIONS  or 604 224 8007, ext. 3
===  Special Ccl Mtg NOTES March 30th  ===
SSch: late correspondence items all regarding the Financial Plan Bylaw (item 2)
2. [Five-]Year Financial Plan Bylaw No. 4592, 2009 (File:  1610-20-4592)
This bylaw received first and second readings at the March 23, 2009 meeting.
RECOMMENDED:  THAT [Five-]Year Financial Plan Bylaw No. 4592, 2009 be read a third time.
CR: Thank you.  I thought ITAC wd be here before me again.
Carolanne Reynolds, Editor of West Van Matters
I want to thank the Dir/Finance for the answers to my questions, but I only received them just a couple of hours ago so I haven't been able to go through them but I thank him for the responses.
I do have a couple of comments wch I tried to write out but haven't finished... but a couple of comments....
Someone said that it wd be difficult to run a biz only finding out about your budget the end of the third [month, first quarter]
(and I applaud Ccl and the Dir/Fin for wanting to have it finished earlier and I know that's been your aim and you've been trying, and we applaud that).
I must say that staff is quite experienced [have a lot of experience] in doing that b/c they've been doing that for many years.  It's not really a challenge for them.  It doesn't mean that we shdn't try earlier...
but I keep [getting], I'm starting to get this feeling that we're rerunning an old movie with something similar.
Last year in February, many of us wanted the new Finance Cmte to look at the 2009 budget -- 2008 Budget, sorry -- and were told no, it's too late -- this was in February -- even it doesn't [have to be passed until May 15]
I know Ccl Sop and some others also urged that the FCmte and others look at it.
no no we have to do it {meaning 2008 must be passed then, not wait for FCmte to look at it}, cuz it's 2008 and they'll work on 2009.
But here we are again.
2009, absolutely the same scenario, we do have till May 15, we do have more time, and the FCmte has scheduled a mtg for Apr 8, so I hope they'll be able to review the budget Apr 8th.
But the thing is that last year we were told they were going to work on it, and things didn't happen.  Now this year comments were made that the 2010 Budget will be better, and try harder and everything else, once we have the Strategic Plan.  I think that's great too but the Strategic Plan won't be completed until the end of October.
So once again we're going to be in the situation that they'll say, "Oh, it's the end of October.  We haven't got time."
So my first question: how, are you going to get serious about dealing not just with 2009 and let the FCmte see it, b/c you've got to the end of April to have more ideas, and challenge the cmnty groups and the FCmte to come with either $1.5M less somewhere or revenue of $1.5M or a combination. 
Challenge them to do it.  You've got nothing to lose.
They come up with it, we all win.  They don't, well, we're just where we are now.
Then come up with some serious ideas of steps of how you're going to address 2010 rather than leave it to the end of the year again.
So, what I wd ask is that you pls give more time.  I think that tonight I understood that Cclrs were going to be giving their opinions on what they thought shd be done with the budget. 
Of course we can't comment on the results of your reflections and your considerations, and of course we wd like to do that, so we look forward -- and we're not allowed to speak after you start discussing it -- so I hope that Ccl comes up with some really good ideas for us to run with for 2009 and I hope you will give us more time to look at the decisions you make.
{as you'll see, not even a smidgen of recognition of this or willingness to give time :-(]
Thank you v much.
Mayor: Thank you.  Next is former cclr, Rod Day.  Welcome.  And I shd hv said Carolanne Reynolds is also a former cclr. This is the first time we've seen you.
RD: Rod Day, not used to giving my address.  Not a whole lot to say tonight.
When asked for approval of agenda, I almost raised my hand.
I really like this budget and felt I had to say so.  I've sat through 16 budget discussions.
and somewhat impatiently over the years; budget not being my strongest card
one of the best budgets I've ever seen
{sure is pretty! I agreed with that}
beautifully laid out, great detail, transparent, open, reasonable; 2.99% makes a lot of sense, is a mild increase; we had 3.5% GVRD settlement on salaries.
Again, it's just keeping up; maintaining our outstanding services and I think this is wonderful
here to say I support this budget; hope you will go ahead expeditiously and quickly and pass it
of course after you've heard from the public, but I don't see a huge amt of ppl here tonight worried about it
Get moving!  Great to see you again.
Mayor: thank you; b/c did have many comments at second reading;  turn the floor over to CAO and Dir/Fin to respond re questions that were raised
CAO: thank you; will have Mr Laing speak to comments
RL: This will take a few minutes but hope worth everybody's while to hear what these responses are.
From last mtg on 4th I went through presentations and picked out what I felt were the signif comments on the budget and prepared responses to each one of them
amalgam of issues raised on the 4th
one of the comments, what I'll call "alternative interpretations to the economy", appropriate response, local govt.
There are many and varied assessments in prediction as to depth and length of the current recession, and the range of that commentary depends on wch sector of the economy is under consideration.
A lot of what we read out of the US is largely driven by partisan politics; on budget doc p31, I derive that from official pronouncements of the Bank of Canada and most specifically a paper called, A Monetary Policy Report Update of January 2009, and I have circulated that to Ccl for your information.
There was a comment that the 2009 budget represents biz as usual, there's really been no change and we haven't really responded, and in response to that I'd like to say that starting with the reorganization through to an in-progress budgeting and accountability framework that will support the new cmnty vision, this budget positions the District to effectively implement and manage the fundamental change that Ccl is striving for.
The re-org driven by our CAO has reduced staffing costs from $200K annually
{Well, we did notice there's no longer a Dir/Admin Services, but there's now a Deputy CAO}
 and ev Div has participated in over $1M of expenditure cuts and revenue enhancements in this budget, so that we cd achieve the lowest operating tax increase requirement of the past decade of 1.57%, and all of that while preserving core services intact, in anticipation of a service-level review exercise going forward into the 2010 budget.
There were some comments, using terminology of presentation, of a Lamborghini syndrome and our costs compare unfavourably with other NSh Ms and my response to that is, current service levels in a number of areas are known to be the highest on the NSh, and that's an accumulation of many years of service level decisions by a great many Ccls and it aligns with the areas of highest resident satisfaction in our triennial resident surveys.
Your Worship, ev time we do one of those surveys we use that as a guide [to see if] on track as to what residents want.
Expenditure structure is driven in part by these service level decisions, but there are also issues of demographics and geography that impact our costs.
In 2008 we had an insert in the prop tax notice that talked about WV's geography, topography, and popn presenting service challenges that add significantly to our costs.
One example, Fire Service -- same service levels as CNV in response time, we require four fire halls, CNV requires one fire hall to deliver same level of service
That entails approx an add'l $5M of costs
Notwithstanding our higher service levels and such issues, WV expenditures not as unfavourable as have been claimed
Some claim our costs per capita 30 to 50% higher on the NSh and that is not true when diffs attributable to service and delivery framework
choices: own M Police Force vs RCMP contract
rec commission in NV, we have full blown parks and cmnty services operation
we have Blue Bus operation
when we convert all of that apple to apple
latest numbers 2006, 2006 numbers our critics focused on as well
general operating costs per capita in WV is $1168, CNV $1116, DNV $929, and while dangerous to compare ourselves to City of Vancouver, did attempt, their costs are well over us at over $1M99 {??? that's what he said but maybe he meant $1990}
WV staffing levels are approx 16% higher than other NSh Ms, that amounts to about 110 FTEs; we can point exactly to where -- Fire, Police, Rec and Culture
those numbers were included in 2008 prop tax insert so we've been up front about that
impact further heightened, lack of industrial tax base means residential bears brunt at 93% of tax load
Statement made general operating costs in 2009 Budget are higher than av of past four years and that's incorrect.  In fact the av increase over last four years hs bn almost 4.5% while the 2009 increase will be just slightly above 4% and that four-yr comparison is skewed b/c of including artificially, low 2005  2.06% increase, just preceding the current climate of salary settlements that no longer align with CPI; earlier time period when closer to what CPI was
Statement made that other revenues just taxes by another name; I've spoken about this before and a resident also countered this at a mtg as well.  Fees and charges and our approach to them, recognize signif emphasis on user-pay for a range of discretionary services and activities that the District makes optionally available to residents, a signif recommendation from Fiscal Sustainability Task Force in terms of equity between those who use the services and those who do not, when possible to measure that use and charge for it as opposed to keeping it in the general basket of what's funded by general taxation.
Statement was made relatively painless to achieve zero % tax increase this year.  Yr Worship, the cost reductions of 1.57% we did achieve, Div Mgrs have already characterized as getting at the bone, follows on several years of cost-cutting while required maintained visible service levels in those years
further cost-cutting of $1.5M in order to achieve zero tax rate increase getting into the bone can only be achieved through staffing reductions, and that means service reductions; can be done but not painless, wd require conscious decisions wch Ccl and residents want us to target
The past pattern of those exercises exempting Police and Fire, and fact reductions to rec offsetting to revenue in the end wd probably mean into double digit %age reductions to remaining divisions
A final point; there was some discussion on general stmt personal incomes continue to deteriorate and that while that is happening govts continue to tax and spend rather than getting costs under control.  I have circulated to Ccl a pubn of the Canada West Fdn called The Problematic Property Tax.  That pubn, I wd recommend to anyone who wants to recommend what some of the dilemmas are that local govts find themselves in, that pubn talks about and critical of prop taxes as being inadequate to revenue needs of local govt -- not necessarily the fairest way to raise prop taxes
Those issues, budget exercise, we're not able to address those within this Chamber.
that pubn did make some fascinating comments about what real numbers did show
When study looked at history of taxes by all levels of govt for last 45 years, made the dramatic point that local govt taxation largely static related to GDP, to %age of disposable income, those kinds of things over last 45 years, been a flat line and in fact up to 2007, lowest ever been in last 45 years
If ppl want to talk about the larger tax bite by govt, shd look to prov, fed govt, definitely shd not look to local govt.
Think that's all concluded at that point
Mayor: Everything from your point of view, then I'll ask Cclr Sop to introduce third reading
Sop: thanks Ms Scholes for reminding us of Correspondence we received
ME seconded
Mayor: Ccl discussion
ME: think we've heard quite clearly and plainly, I made a few notes, some repetition
beg the first question; with the first question
how did we get there and shd be be satisfied with the results
the majority of this Ccl came more than halfway through the budget timeline

{you mean candidates running for Ccl did not inform themselves about the 2009 budget when they wd anticipate starting to serve in Dec 2008? esp when they say they think budgets shd be passed in December (or early Jan)?  And voters didn't check to see who had a handle on the budget and what their choices wd be?}

make no excuse for time I and my colleagues have put in
wd hv bn helpful to hv bn through whole but staff gave me enough time as I needed to review ...
easy for critics to criticise raw data
{where's responsibility of staff and/or Ccl to explain clearly to public?}
they sometimes struggle to commend, sometimes collective recall is selective, all too frequently paint a doom and gloom picture
the reality and challenge, any M is a work in progress, changes cannot happen overnight
our staff in my experience dedicated and hard-working, qualified
hv worked with a grt number of them both as Cclr and prof relationships from my biz and cmnty involvement
often hear lament cut costs, reduce staff
I cd cut $1M here, $1M there, but at what price; this Ccl decided high standards won't be compromised
cd squeeze orange till pips squeal and to suffer the consequences of low staff morale and high turnover
{then that means not handled well; many companies and organizations today are handling cuts, and doing it well as ppl realize the state of the economy.  Besides what about the low morale of taxpayers with diminishing incomes?  With unemployment rising, it is less likely someone who has a job will leave it.}
I don't put that kind of gas in my tank
we do have a higher public safety base cost than many Ms
been by design; v high resident satisfaction ratings
as Dir/Fin mentioned four fire halls, City of V for a similar popn base only has one {he meant CNV}
during past sev months questioned many expense categories, have argued and still might some of our capital replacement policies
just costs puts bad decisions and policies today at feet of chn tomorrow
hv tried to balance fiscal mgmt with some sensitivity
wd I do things diff next year or for 2010 budget  --  yes
agree budget cycle far too long; will more closely review some acctng policies in time for thoughtful discussion before we commence the budget cycle
although I don't necessarily agree with all of the criticisms I have taken note, embrace their points of substance in 2010 budget cycle.  I will be supporting this budget.
Sop: I was going to go last so not accused of talking too much
TP: add a few points
WV has committed to a strategic plan, performance mgmt system and capital assessment prog
critical to have in place, public mgmt of public funds
without strategic plan in place believe we have come through
bridge through
so all of those actions can take place; be sustainable in future
SW: reiterate what Cclrs Evison and Panz; with overwhelming support of the budget
enormous work staff, mayor....
three months of discussions, hundreds of hours put into budget
although critics of some of the costs, the overwhelming silence we've experienced and v little outcry speaks overwhelming to support of this budget
{Americans often say silence is agreement; that's not always the case for Canadians -- the issue is not important enough, they don't feel they'll be listened to, it's too hard to get through to make a difference, they're too busy, they don't know what's involved, they're afraid to speak, etc.}
MS: must admit I didn't have a speech prepared, guess I shd hv
seems a bit of a love-in happening over the budget wch is fine
so I guess I'm going to... my remarks, cautionary
reality is it's a 5.33% increase in spending, wch is far and above inflation
as Cclr Day has correctly pointed out, our staff settlements in the next two or three years are going to be 3.5% for M workers and probably more for Police and Fire
most of our budget is staff salaries
don't know what our game plan is to address this issue of public sector salaries that are clearly outpacing the private sector wch is in disarray in my opinion, and things going to get worse before better
Police and Fire -- faced with a situation no control over costs
last ten years 75% higher than inflation and all bound by Police and Fire Act wch we have no control over; compulsory arbitration, most arbitrators, won't be inflammatory, so shall say slightly left-wing, result in awards wch generally don't favour the employer that's my perception
maybe this Ccl can be excused but previously deferred budgeting to staff wch is the part I take a disconnect from
staff grind and grind these number, Ccl says we don't like 5% make it 3% or this year 2.95% and staff go away and grind numbers down, find savings and come in with a budget at the agreed amt, and that's a deferment of this Ccl's duty wch shd be reviewing these expenditures and if tough choices need to be made, then they need to be made and shd be made, and I've said now for the fourth year that if we had deptal reviews of facilities and programs you wdn't have fiascos like that Gleneagles where we have a working golf club, generating a nice profit, nobody can decide what the biz plan is b/c not reviewed annually, and the facilities deteriorate to such a degree that they have to be closed.  The golf course revenue plummets and then a Ccl, sort of operating independently, builds recreation facilities adjoining the golf club/course with no facilities for golfers!
We cannot have that level of decisions.
somehow have to find a path through the maze
I suggest, this Ccl, hope in the 2000 {doesn't say 9 or 10}, I don't believe in the magic wand theory of the Strategic Plan we've got coming up.  I'm all in favour of planning and I hope the Strategic Plan gives us the results we want, but it's not a magic wand.
At some point we're going to have to say we can afford to fund A but not B
This Ccl has to finally wake up and make some decisions
that's the real challenge that lies ahead; hope the seven ppl and the staff around this table are up to the challenge
will support in the interest of Ccl collegiality, but I certainly am concerned that we have some serious issues we need to address for the next budget.
Mayor: the real Cclr Lewis
ML: as opposed to?
last week I spoke about my concerns about the budgetary process
had discuss with CAO and Dir/Fin, and I believe we're going to come forward shortly with some recommendations on that front
I'm a v strong proponent of something other than incremental budgeting, as they well know
We've spoken about the importance of having the budget to the public and approved before end of calendar year
This, March, is just not appropriate.  You can't run a biz with a budget wch hypothetically is going to change in March when you've already gone through a third of your biz year and expended all those resources

{I address this at PQP at end since not allowed to speak at this time.  Not a big deal!  staff have been operating this way for YEARS!  As the mayor says later, this is earlier.  Not that it's ideal but staff have been working this way.  Not difficult if you know the passing of the budget just means more money so you can continue as you have been the previous year.  Some years the budget has been passed in May, just before the May 15 deadline.  This year the Mar 2nd budget's appearance heralded one set in stone with nary a change -- at least went three readings with no amendments.
Slight chance at adoption Apr 6 but don't bet on it.}

The other thing important, spoken before as well, is this issue of having a monthly review by Ccl of budget, status of budget, where we sit year to date, are there any variances, are they explainable, what is the remedial action if any that's going to be needed to be taken to correct them, and finally importance of having this entire process articulated at the beginning of the year so that Ccl can provide approp direction to staff around the end of June timeframe.
So as we're going into this process there is direct guidance provided by Ccl to staff, to Cclr Smith's point, Ccls in past have perhaps abdicated their responsibilities in that area.
From what I hear from this Ccl, they really do want to be more pro-active, and I think that's an encouraging sign
Next week I hope we'll bring forward our final recommendations, and we have our final vote next week.
{right after the mtg, I wrote to Cclr Lewis to ask what he meant by this but received no reply before completing this Sunday Apr 5.  Did he think third reading wd be postponed to Apr 6 or, since adoption is on the agenda for Apr 6 ccl mtg, that they'll rescind third reading and introduce recommendations/amendments, or are the recommendations wrt a new process, a new Finance Cmte, or???}
Mayor: that's right
Sop: went through budget, my own determinations found $2.86M I felt cd be cut, but what do I know
what wd be reflection what wd be cut, what impact on each dept
how do I know requirements to have ongoing presence of Engg Dept or any Dept for that matter
there are systematic processes Depts go through to make up their budget
certain side of cmnty that needs a certain amt of bureaucratic {bureaucracy?}

{hm -- hard to think Sop shy of asking staff about the $2.86M cut he feels cd be cut.
Even more so, since he's had more than ten years to become familiar with the budget, how it's spent, what it pays for, what assumptions made, what based on....  Last year he voted against the budget presented saying he wanted a zero tax rate increase.  What's happened this year?  hypnotized along with rest, all obediently obsequiously chanting the mantra?}

reminded on Sat, incredible number of ppl incredibly overwhelming and pleased, for a bldg, with interest off something else we had developed
naysayers and others who cd hv made a decision earlier to finalize it, even cost us money, inflationary times, a couple of years back
those are never talked about
waterworks went through; incredible water we'll have; water up there state of the art
all things we do for ppl of this cmnty; not cheap to do
the bldg process for water alone, when the GVRD said to us you're going to face 80% increased costs in five seven ten years
I defy anybody to stand up to say not pleased with Fire and Police services; safest cmnty around, lowest crime rate
Fire services provide safety and if I ever fall, I want to hear that siren; I want them there
these are the kinds of things, adored that type of service that's been provided
This current year budget, what have we learned?
critiquing from public v v important; we've created v open profile and awareness, and I've been through 13 budgets, in early days had a big book, Cclr Day will remember that we'd go through the line items, and the supplementations.
It was difficult, and we'd demand -- what did we know

{Yes! thx, Bill, the binder! and many were able to make practical concrete recommendations from the list of FTEs, duties, and ofc purchases.  Bring it back!  I've asked for it for the last five years.
Blank wall.
Maybe no cclr has.....}

we didn't know a lot of stuff how it wd affect year to year
as time goes on we came to a new mgr who re-organized the staff and brought in some changes that brought in some $200K benefit to taxpayer; putting right ppl in right place
that had never happened before, not for many years
and then, I don't necessarily tie what we wd call strategic planning to budgets, but out of the strategic planning will in fact come a 20-yr budget for infrastructure, give indication to staff of a corp biz plan that they can build on
We and our staff can say that's what we're going to do in three years, and we're not going to go beyond it; then we know where we're going and we can adjust accordingly
budget on time and in line is important
process has been a little diff from time to time
must say v plsed, had some v gd ppl, after we did the Tax Sustainability {think he means the Fiscal Sustainability Task Force}  with all those recommendations, that we formed a FCmte, and I haven't felt FCmte hasn't given us as a Ccl due representation and I don't know why, and I hope, that is one of my critiques
I wd ask Mgr if what we learned from ITAC or anybody else, taxation and the economy, that we wd look at examples that we cd challenge in next budget that wd allow us to investigate some of the things Mr Laing looked at and opted out of, ie zero-based taxation -- how wd that look, what wd it mean?

{Not the only one to seem to confuse a zero tax rate increase and a zero-based budget.
As I said in one of my presentations, it need not be done ev year, but it's a good way to review expenditures and costs.  Whether faxes, email, computers, or up-to-date technology, efficiencies are achieved in a dept but if the dept just thinks of how much more it needs for the next year, those do not always get taken into account and sometimes cuts if required are made where it hurts, not where a service or equipment is no longer needed.
That's the debate and why so many have spoken against an incremental or sequential budget.
It shd be viewed as a sensible way to set basic costs, then to build from there.  More like analysis with no pre-conceived idea of getting more or less money.}

or consideration of a 20-yr budget for infrastructure, what wd that mean? how wd we go about that? how wd we draw it out
that format wd give some encouragement to the ppl who critique the budget ev year and give us a new road or insight
Other than that, I'm concerned like Cclr Smith, his trickle-down economics are a little bit diff from mine; still believe a bit more of an open process this year
Certainly more than I've ever seen

{hold on there, pardner.
More open than you've ever seen?
there used to be more information (as you've alluded to) and there used to be mtgs sometimes a roundtable with ratepayer and cmnty groups, other times with a mtg in Ambleside and in Gleneagles for residents to attend and get summaries, ask questions.
At least one long-time budget watcher has told me it's about the least open.
And don't forget, the FCmte didn't even get to see the budget!
Their purpose and duties refer to the annual budget yet they've only met in February this year, when they were not given the draft budget and then their March mtg was cancelled so the next is for Apr 8 wch will be after adoption at the Apr 6 mtg if that passes!}

we've learned as we've gone along

{what, exactly?  not clear to this resident.  Last year when you advocated zero tax rate increase Cclr Smith challenged you and Cclr Vaughan to give examples but none came forward so so much for that budget.  What actions did you, Cclr Smith, Chair of the FCmte, and Cclr Lewis, mbr of FCmte, work for last year to have effect in 2009?  Oblivious to non adherence to timeframe given to FCmte last summer? totally bamboozled by staff?  or if Ccl involved all along the way, staff totally bamboozled by Ccl?}

Maybe it took some citizens out there to say, let's look at that and let's look at this, but this budget is proper for this time and I'm going to support it
{so, no effect or result from citizens saying look at this and that?
Must say that the first step toward GFOA from FSTF and FCmte is good, but many feel more cd be done.}
Mayor: did you wish CAO to respond
Sop: yes, his reaction
CAO: budget process diff from past years, yes
what we've been doing is trying to refine the budget process, this Ccl strong proponent
doesn't mean in past not done well; this year refining, moving process much quicker, providing more depth of info to public
FCmte in past year has recommended we provide diff info to public so can look at it in diff ways
excellent job in past
this time recognizing the economy is diff, have to look at things differently
as mentioned last week in my presentation, we do have a much younger, progressive view at the staff level
how preparing budgets, moving forward, looking responding to cmnty
we will be looking at diff ways providing info to public
will be looking at other ideas; I'm not a proponent of zero-based budgeting, I'm not a proponent of mgmt by objectives, but there are other ways of how we provide budget info rather than simply implemental {think he means incremental} budgets, but looking at what the value for service is, and that's coming from a strategic plan
agree not the magic bullet, not silver bullet, but process on wch we'll set our goals
that's when we set our deptal and staff requirements for performance measurements
that's when we'll feel more comfortable, Ccl and cmnty will
goals will be achieved, and we'll be held accountable to achieve those goals
in response to Ccl and Cmnty, we are moving in that direction, implementing new processes
how we spend money in M, ongoing process, govt is diff
we're not only respond to it but we're going to lead it
Mayor: support budget  not b/c of love in, but b/c starting to take shape
GFOA standard, came out of FCmte, long way to improved accountability
user fees, incentivize
are treating what we do as biz units
Gleneagles decision made long before I was on Ccl; Ccl I was on cdn't grapple with clubhouse b/c select facilities cmte refused to deal with it
Ccl I was mayor of decided to get on with it
will be entrepreneurial; hope partnership; while holding fast to that public golf course
believe in smaller govt; hived off cmnty ctr to a non-profit
Police costs: per ofcr cheapest by a long shot in region that's what we've managed to achieve but when you take a small popn and divide it per capita, cost seems higher
value is unsurpassed in the region
I believe this Ccl is starting to get a v gd handle on what makes up our budget
{starting? Lord help us.}
The real challenge is stated absolutely correctly by Cclr Smith and that is that CPI cd be as low as zero; we are not threatened anymore by inflation but deflation
how to handle union costs in that context, a serious challenge
we're aware of these things and wish to try to deal with them
think this is our understanding as a cmnty more sophisticated and don't think Ccl is shying away from that
Each of us has participated fully in getting us to the earliest date in seven years, since I've been on Ccl for passing the budget and that provides security and stability to the Corp we're responsible for being stewards of and that's why I'm supporting this budget.
Sop: questions re status of FAC
any talk that they wd give a, refresh, memorandum to Ccl either here verbally quarterly or less to us, to keep us up to date on the budget, and their thoughts as you meet with citizens as well in that cmte
if ongoing technique is to look at diff ways and means, then we as a Ccl shd wait for response of the  FCmte.
Mayor: let's look at what terms of reference are; shd go to CAO or chair wrt the upcoming report on role of FCmte
CAO: in process now of having discussion with two mbrs of Ccl on FCmte
{Smith is chair, and Lewis a second ccl liaison}
looking at moving forward and providing stronger direction as well as perhaps involving a group of citizens with our devt of the Strategic Planning process, and the financial implications, flowing from Fiscal Sust Task Force, and that report will be coming forward in the next two mtgs
Sop: role
Mayor: sure; that's Ccl's opp wrt reporting or their goals
Sop: second question to Mr McRadu; did you say wd look at ways and means budgeting diff what is wrong, what specific examples wd come forth
you're not a fan, I'm not necessarily, of zero-based budgeting, maybe from an exercise wd give an indicator might be more expensive than actually tax increase we have
don't know till exercise done
assure you when back to zero base, you're building a case, everything mounts and gets expensive
is that an exercise or wd we ever choose to go there
CAO: without going into detail, that'll be forthcoming
zero-based budgeting is one, mgmt by objectives is another concept
a number of other diff ways or how to prepare budgets rather than traditional sequential way
that info will be coming, we'll be recommending it
whether trial ones for diff depts to see wch fits best
know staff keen about how we become more effective and how provide services
that's really the dialogue with the public over the strategic planning process
Mayor: that's about service level reviews and performance measurement in order to manage better.

{There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, third reading unanimous.  The budget was introduced Mar 2nd, public heard from without time Mar 4th, but then on Mar 23rd to second reading, tonight third reading.  Did they listen? they sat there politely.  Did they make any changes?
That's the reason many have said to me they don't bother saying anything b/c it doesn't make any difference. 
What you saw on March 2nd (and the FCmte did not see) is what you got.
Do you feel you were included? and if so, wd it have mattered?}

3. Federal Infrastructure Funds (File:  1765-14/1815-05)
RECOMMENDED: THAT Council authorizes [sic] submission of the following applications under the Building Canada Fund - Communities Component: the Ambleside Sewer Rehabilitation Project and the Montizambert Creek Water Treatment Project, as the municipality's first and second priorities, respectively.
Sop: Mr Fung, Amb not Lions' Gate?
Mayor: sewer plant, no
RF: it's looking at grouting and lining of the existing sewers that are fairly old within the Amb core that lead into the Hollyburn interceptor that goes to the Lions' Gate wastewater treatment plant
Sop: Montizambert is drinking water. When Cypress Bowl cutting trees affecting water flowing into Montizambert, if you remember those days; hard fought in those days to preserve that water; now is it going a step further in the plant from what it is now?
RF: Sunset Highlands cmnty is quite small and we have an active water licence over Montizambert Creek.  In order to treat that water with a plant, the type of system is actually quite small, and cd fit into a bldg footprint that wd be a fraction of the size of this room here so we don't believe will have a signif impact, environmentally in chopping down trees
ME: I had question on the same creek treatment.  Total cost is $2.6M and you say here our share is $871K.  Who contributes the balance? how is that structure being worked out?
RF: whole project $2.6M.  With Building Canada Fund, application proposed cost-sharing is one third for each govt;
our share $871K, each of two senior govts will equal share
Mayor: opp to garner two thirds of cost that otherwise we wd be responsible for.
CR: Thank you.  I think it does happen that, as one of the cclrs pointed out, some of the good things don't always get mentioned, and there were some v good things and some improvements in this budget, and if ppl haven't always said that, I'm sure they recognized it.  I don't want that to be lost.
But I still wd like to ask, WHEN are you going to start looking at the 2010 budget?
I still think somebody shd, you'll have, you'll obviously receive comments before the 2009 is adopted, but when, if your Strategic Plan isn't completed till the end of October, when are you going to start the 2010?
Last year, with all the goodwill, they [FCmte] looked at a beautiful graph of how they were going to do 2009 starting in June or July and it did have an ending in, as Cclrs Lewis and Smith saw -- they were at those mtgs and saw the graph, and it didn't happen.
This time, how are you going to make sure the 2010 planning starts if you're not going to get the results of the Strategic Plan till the end of October?
Mayor: well, I think it's actually quite interesting that with an election we've delivered the budget the earliest ever; that gives an idea of how quickly we have been working
Perhaps Mr Leigh wd like to comment, re Strategic Plan
BL: happy to, thank you.  Further to the questioner, we wd expect that through the first public deliberations through April and May, we will have some direction on vision and key goals.  There's nothing that will set clarity about our financial imperatives than those key goals.  I expect that Ccl will be reflecting on those goals and looking at the implications of the financial direction on those goals, and as we move to strategies wch will happen before the summer, we'll start to dial that in and know, as Cclr Smith noted, there will be trade-offs.  I think that's the most challenging part of the plan, is looking at those strategies and some things will have to go if we're going to maintain a tax base or change.  So that will be the deliberation well before summer with Ccl, and those imperatives financially will be set prior to the fall therefore the tactical level plan can still move ahead but the direction for the financial plan will be well set by that time.
CR: That's good to know they'll be on it.
Will the FCmte, or WG as you mentioned there, might be?
First of all, the binders that Cclr Sop mentioned were v helpful and I hope they can appear again although we've asked for them every year [since] and not got them, but they were v helpful before.  Maybe they can be re-instated or if they're in a different format that's fine.
But will the FCmte or WG or whatever you appoint, will they have accountants among those experts and will they be able to review the budget as it appears they weren't able to this time?
Mayor: I think we'll wait for the report that's coming to Ccl.  That way everybody has same information and then some of those, that, will come clear, I'm sure.
CR: Yes, b/c if you look at the purpose and duties on the webpage for the FCmte it did say they were to look at the annual budgets, so we don't know how that got off track.
{and nobody has said why........}
but anyway, it's exciting.
This is a beautiful booklet, Dir/Fin.  There are some improvements.  I like the fact you've got objectives and you can gauge them for the next time.  I think that's an initiation by the CAO, that's a great initiation, however nobody's perfect and of course if we can try to find something we wd try, and I think it's all in the spirit of trying to help us do as best we can.
Thank you very much.
Mayor: thank you.


re      Budget 2009: Process, Information, Input
        [Excerpt from West Van Matters 2009-08, April]

Subject: Budget 2009: Answers and Questions

Dear Mayor and Council:

re   BUDGET 2009

This is an excerpt from my newsletter (WVM2009-08) wrt Budget 2009: Process, Information, Input.  [The background is followed by my remarks starting with WVM: to indicate new.]

Thank you for the beautiful budget booklet -- at 142 pages it deserves time for careful consideration by residents when spending about $75M of their money.

First of all, it was appreciated that answers were provided to my questions just before the ccl mtg on March 30 when Third Reading was passed.  Below, are my comments on those answers.  The first part deals with the minutes of the last Finance Cmte mtg for wch there are minutes (Nov 13); the second part address questions I asked during the March 23rd ccl mtg.

At the March 30 ccl mtg, the Director of Finance spoke from prepared remarks providing more information on some of the statistics and assertions made (mainly) by ITAC at the March 23rd mtg.  It was my hope to obtain a copy of that text or to find it on the DWV website.  Since unable to do so, review and absorption of that information will have to be later.

+ QUESTIONS and ANSWERS re FINANCE followed by editorial comments


Each in four parts: minutes of Nov 13 Finance Cmte mtg; my questions (A, B, etc); Dir/Finance's replies; my comments (introduced as WVM)
The Director of Finance answers questions from the last minutes available from the Finance Cmte.  That mtg was Nov 13.  The next mtg was Feb 11 but no minutes posted.  The March mtg was also cancelled however there is a mtg scheduled for April 8.
B/C of add'l questions in my comments, this will be sent to Mayor and Council for response.
It appears public input this year has been limited to having one public mtg Mar 4th (and then an extra ccl mtg on Mar 30th -- thanks to some on Ccl who arranged it) at wch several spoke, but wch made not one iota of difference or change to Budget 2009 presented at the March 2nd ccl mtg Monday night (~70-page booklet, well, the meat -- the Dir/Finance quite rightly corrected me to say it's a 142-page booklet and it does have other info like maps, history, etc but it is a great and beautiful booklet) -- anyway, we'd need even more time for 142 pages!) at wch it was announced there'd be a 'public' mtg immediately after, on Wednesday night Mar 4 -- how many in cmnty wd have know about it let alone read it???
The excuse given last spring for the new Finance Cmte not to look at Budget 2008 not yet passed, was that it was not enough time to come up to speed on that budget but cd start right away on the 2009.  It's therefore astounding that despite that rationale counting on their involvement on budget 2009, THEY DIDN'T EVEN SEE IT!  Mtgs were cancelled.  Now we see a mtg scheduled for Apr 8, notably AFTER adoption planned for Apr 6.  Since it does not have to be adopted until May 15, with sufficient will (read: votes) to postpone adoption until the following mtg, there is in fact an opportunity for the experts selected for the Finance Cmte last year to review the budget and give all of us the benefit of their expertise with recommendations.  Surely Ccl wd appreciate having this.  Unless there's no will on behalf of Finance Cmte mbrs either.  Have been told at least one resigned (don't know why); will the rest ask to see the budget?
One of the many unimplemented recommendations of the 2006 Fiscal Sustainability Task Force (David Stuart's brave but mostly fruitless attempt to drag Council into the 21st century, at least as far as financial management was concerned) was "that Council establish sustaining committees ... to review...budget planning and execution".

Advance on one front, fall back on another.
As you see from Quotations (Margaret Mead) at the end of the newsletter, it will take a lot of effort to change this closed system.

Date: Fri, 27 Mar 2009 11:03:31 -0700
From: "Richard Laing" <rlaing@westvancouver.ca>
See my responses in blue below

Sent: March 27, 2009 4:54 AM

Dear Richard,
Some questions wrt the FCmte and the budget if you don't mind.....

Below is copy and pasted from the Nov 13 Finance Cmte minutes:
~~~ Staff continue to implement recommendations from the Finance Committee, and are working to identify potential service level adjustments for both a zero percent tax increase and a 5 percent tax decrease.  Staff did not feel that a tax decrease of ten percent was a feasible exercise. ~~~
QA: It is clear that the decrease of ten per cent was felt 'not feasible', however these minutes do indicate in Nov staff was on track for zero and -5% yet they were not presented to Ccl and the public (at all, even later in March).
When was the decision made not do do the zero and minus five per cent, and why? 
ANS: "In the March 2 presentation of the budget at Council, following is the content of one of my PowerPoint slides that dealt with this:
Visualization of 0%,  -5%,  and  -10% not realistic
Dollar amounts are very large (over $500k per 1%), and would require service level reduction decisions In absence of community vision and goals, no basis on which to make such choices this year 
This is a more realistic exercise in 2010 - after the Strategic Planning exercise"
Note: Answer did not say when the decision was made or by whom.
Those zero and minus scenarios were discussed at the FCmte about last June.  Why only state at presentation March 2nd 'not realistic'?  Presented so late, calculating even if asked then cd say not enough time?  Why not make that statement as soon as determined last year so that not awaited for Ccl then to consider?
More satisfactory to offer or to do it as asked and then have Ccl and the public request not be done rather than an apparent arbitrary staff decision.  In the past, multiple 0% scenarios have been presented to the community and Council, outlining different choices for service level reductions. This clearly could have been done without a specific "community vision and goals".

~~~ Mr. McRadu informed the group that staff continue to look for efficiencies.  All new vacancies are now being evaluated as an opportunity for change and must be approved by the CAO.  Mr. Paterson questioned whether Council and the public would be involved in an exercise to determine what services the municipality should be reducing or cutting.  He indicated that although some ideas were brought forward in the 2008 budget process there had not been a public process in this regard.  Mr. Laing confirmed that the list of potential service level adjustments that Staff are currently preparing will go to Council for their review ~~~
QB: did they? and when? and if so, why not to public for their comment? 
ANS: "As explained above, this is now to be a separate exercise following the Strategic Plan"
So are we to conclude from this non-answer that the decision not to was made behind closed doors perhaps without the knowledge of the FCmte or Ccl (and certainly not the public)? 

~~~ and he expects Council to then direct staff as to which of these should be reflected in the 2009 Budget Book for public comment.  Mr. Paterson expressed his disappointment that Council has not yet provided formal instruction to staff regarding budget assumptions and process for the 2009 budget. ~
QC: If this was not done at the time in November, was it done subsequently?
If not, why not?
Surely if cuts or efficiencies are to be made, it is essential to have input from Ccl and the public, no? 
ANS: "Council has been involved at every step of the budget process"
OOOH!  So that means Ccl knew and agreed?
Again -- when?
and it means the FCmte was not told so this was Ccl's will?
And Council decided there was no need to involve the public in this process?!?!

C. Reynolds provided the following questions and comments:
=B7 Questioned whether the 2008 budget can be used until the 2009 budget is adopted.  Mr. Laing informed that the 5 year plan is in effect and has authority until amended;
=B7 Requested information in regard to operating costs of the new community centre.  Staff did not have this information available. ~~~
QD: Would it be possible to have that information or estimate now (before Mar 30)? 
ANS: "The estimated increased operating costs of the new Community Centre are unchanged from that established for the 2008 budget and discussed in the "2008 Budget - Issues for Discussion" brochure that was circulated to all households - $500,000 annually." 
so, increase was DOUBLE
and this is the increase -- btw, what are the actual operating costs (by facility)?
Appreciate answer but important to know that several times ADRA asked what the increase to the operating budget wd be (we have an accountant on the board, after all) and each time we were told $250K.  A couple of cclrs at an ADRA mtg at the time also told us $250K.  Maybe without an accountant on Ccl no one on Ccl queried that estimate or asked for an explanation/confirmation.
Can we hope this Ccl will require substantive documentation before accepting or agreeing to estimates to avoid result being double?
And if they don't, will the public again not hold them accountable?
QE: Are the draft minutes of the Feb 11th mtg available yet? 
ANS: "Not sure what meeting this refers to -  minutes are distributed when in final form for adoption."
Since this is all about the FCmte, this reply is a surprise.  Let's hope they'll appear at the Apr 8th FCmte mtg.

+ QUESTIONS and ANSWERS re BUDGET 2009 followed by editorial comments
        ANSWERS received not long before ccl mtg Mar 30
Again in four parts: transcript of Mar 23rd Ccl Mtg; my questions (1, 2, etc); D/Fin's replies; my subsequent comments/questions (marked WVM)

Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 15:45:45 -0700
From: "Richard Laing" <rlaing@westvancouver.ca>

Some Questions on Budget 2009
Since in previous years, some answers have not been supplied and sometimes told not sure what the question was, herewith (may also help for the drafting of the ccl mtg minutes) a transcript of my remarks at the Mar 23rd ccl meeting with questions clarified and numbered in RED (to 14).
Thank you for arranging a mtg on the budget for Monday Mar 30th.
MARCH 23rd CCL MTG NOTES (~~~transcript excerpt)
CR: Thank you for this opportunity.  Sorry, I didn't get time to type things out -- family obligations; Carolanne Reynolds, Editor of West Van Matters -- but I've jotted down a few things that I hope you will consider.

~~~ It is a challenge to go to zero per cent but I know last year the Finance Cmte was talking about a budget with the scenario that was minus 5% and minus 10% to see what wd happen.  Unfortunately at the input mtg, or the Mar 2nd mtg, they [meaning staff or Ccl] said they cdn't do that.  It might take too much time to do the zero, five, and ten, but perhaps you cd do zero and 5%.  The cost of living I understand right now is just over 1%, so we wonder about a 3% increase that you've got here and for some salaries.  I never did get an answer to my question last May of why in the IT Dept, the average increase in salaries was 9%. ~~~
> 1a.  Wd it be possible to reduce each dept by 3% (so zero increase) or wd it be preferable to have an average of 3% reduction (so that some depts stay the same as in the draft and others have higher reductions)? 
ANS: "Further cutting of this budget in the order of $1.5 million would not be possible without targeting staffing and service levels in specific areas. The past pattern of exempting public safety (police and fire) from such considerations, and the fact that reductions to recreation involve offsetting reductions to revenues, would likely mean double digit % reductions to the remaining divisions."
Is this a sudden revelation so must be given up?  Last year some on Council urged a 0% increase so maybe this possibility had to be avoided this time.
Does anyone seriously think no one realizes cuts will have to be made perhaps in both services and staffing unless more revenue can be found -- a challenge of course but pls allow the option! and input! 
Why raise false hope?  that the public might be listened to or maybe even the FCmte?
Well, all have been dramatically reminded where they are in the pecking order.
> 1b.  Can any adjustments be made now since inflation/cost of living is now around 1%? 
ANS: "CPI at December 31 was 1.2% higher than the previous December  - and this is after a one month drop in gasoline prices of over 20%. Bank of Canada's core index advanced by 2.4% year-over-year in December. In any case, departmental budgets have already been cut in order to achieve tax increase targets."
Thanks for the stats.  Question remains. Drop predicted to be more THIS year.
> 1c.   Is it possible to get the information wrt the Information Technology Dept salary increases 2007 to 2008, and now 2008 to 2009?
ANS:  "IT salary costs increased by almost 9% in 2008 due to transferring in 1.6 staffing positions that had previously resided in Library, and topping that up to an even 2 FTE's. [sic]
IT salary costs for 2009 have increased by 5.23%, which is higher than normal due to a reclassification of 3 positions.
thx, but wonder why this answer was not given last May when I first asked.
Also, wonder if this 'reclassification' practice is what Cclr Sop referred to a few times over the past few months, ie that some staff get a higher increase b/c their position title is changed and/or the position is given different levels so someone can go to a higher level without its being noted as an increase.....

~~~  I also -- there are some other things we want more details -- I also noticed that at the Cmnty Ctr announcement, and we have an excellent Communications Dept, was outsourced and a private company was paid to do the press release.  Why was this?
{why not use inhouse? why pay extra? and I forgot to ask then, how much the private company was paid.} ~~~
> 2a.  Why wasn't inhouse expertise used? 
ANS: "2a) The in-house Communications Department worked with Vicki Noble, who provided some media support for the Office of Cultural Affairs, managed by Cathy Matheson, who is also the Executive Director for WV Community Centres Services Society.  There is no formal contract because the work was minimal and "as needed" when the Communications Department was overloaded."
> 2b.  Was the contract put out to tender, for competitive bids?
> 2c.  How much was paid to Noble Communications?
ANS: "2b) & 2c) The  scope was less than $2,000, so the project was not tendered."
hm.  Followup questions:
how much is set aside for untendered contracts in a dept's budget?
How many contracts $2K and under have been awarded altogether?
How much to Noble Communications?
Basically, why was it decided that DWV's Communications Dept cd not provide media support as it normally does?
It is not clear that we have so great a need for media relations that the present Communications Dept cd not have handled the add'l two press releases from Noble that were sent out.  We note that there were only six press releases in March and four in February.
Fundamentally there has to be clarification as to procedures,
Where does responsibility lie?  Is discretion solely that of staff?  At the last mtg of the Heritage Cmte they were told to their surprise that $300 of their budget of $1000 had been spent on a photographer -- mbrs did not even know one wd be hired and some mbrs wd have been willing to do it free; besides the cmte might have felt that money cd hv bn spent elsewhere better yet it was spent ostensibly in their name.

~~~ I asked last year also if there were guidelines for the tendering process, so that you cd make sure that you got a competitive bid.  We know of some xx things that went out for bid that were for about a $1M, but they didn't go out for tendering.  ~~~
ANS: "What were these? Details please."
~~~ {clumsily said; what is meant that some contracts have been awarded that did not go out to tender to get competitive bids with the obvious risk of overpaying.} ~~~
ANS: "Again, details please."
An example.  There are estimates that DWV spent something on the order of a million dollars moving to their new VoIP telephone system which, AFAIK, went to Telus without a competitive process. DNV (a much larger municipality and municipal government) made a similar move, did not choose Telus, and did it for $140,000 plus staff time.

~~~ So I think looking at the tendering policies wd help lower your costs.
> 3.  What is the tendering policy? 
                including what amounts decided by staff and how much for Ccl.
ANS:"   Purchases to $5,000 at discretion of purchasing agent
        From $5k to $10k - quotes either oral or written
        From $10k to $50k - written quotes  
        Over $50k - sealed tenders
Variations on above at discretion of CAO or Director of Finance, especially where timing is a consideration.
Council is not normally involved in other than the larger tenders/contracts."
At last getting the policy in writing is appreciated but clearly it's all hypothetical if the CAO or the Dir/Finance can ignore it without letting Ccl know let alone get permission first!
No doubt no chance a Finance Cmte wd be able to review it either.
Guess it's time to ask for a list of contracts/outsourcing paid for without going to tender as well as those Ccl was not informed of.
This has the potential of savings in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And ~$500K is a decrease of 1% of budget we'd been told.
Is there a report of contracts let? given to Ccl? made public? eg $50K and over.
Sometimes outsourcing is cheaper, but not if it's duplication.
~~~ The CAO mentioned re-organization and that it wd be explained.  Really great, but it wd be really appreciated if the CAO cd make that explanation [about] re-organization perhaps at a ccl mtg so we can all hear it-- and perhaps putting it on the web[site]. ~~~
> 4.  Where can a description of the new re-organization be found? 
ANS: "The results of the reorganization can be seen on the organization chart included in the budget document." 
what about information on how much was saved? and where that money was then allocated to?
Besides, why in the booklet are the costs of the Deputy CAO office not included as part of the CAO's costs?

~~~ I spent a lot of time on Friday trying to find the budget on the web[site].  You have to go through several clicks before you can even find it.
{UPDATE: Budget 2009 must have been put on the DWV homepage Monday Mar 23, b/c I saw when checking after the mtg}
ah, I also asked last year and wd like to ask again this year for the salaries that are reported.  I know they don't have to be reported till June but b/c the T4s have to be in the end of February, you shd hv an idea of the salaries for 2008 to see how they're comparing now.
{For the salaries for 2007, pls see WVM2008-25 on www.westvan.org}
> 5.  Will you release the salary info completed in February for the Mar 30 mtg, and if not how soon after?  
ANS: The FIA report is part of the audited package that forms part of the Annual Report, and will be available end of May/early June. 
Yes, of course we know that, and have been told that before, but it's irrelevant, a smokescreen.
That was NOT the question.
Cop out.
ITAC and others last year and this have asked for the salaries precisely b/c they have to be recorded/reported to govt by Feb 28 (not that the Finance Dept doesn't very well know before the end of 2008 what the salaries were!!!).  Even the established annual salary information wd be available with a caveat, if necessary, that remuneration figures may vary once benefits, whatever, are included and full audited figures will appear in the report.

~~~  So I think I support the other ppl who said that zero-based budgeting -- I've been asking for that for many years, and ...time... you don't have to do that every year but you shd at least do it at one point so that you get that base to go on from. ~~~
> 6.  If zero-based budgeting not done for this year, will it be done for next year's budget? 
ANS: "The process and format for next year's budget will follow from the requirements of the Strategic Planning exercise - and has not yet been determined."
Oh.  Not even any commitment to public input starting say, the end of September, so time before the desired passage end of Dec and avoid need for haste resulting in little or nothing for input from residents.

~~~ So my main question is, I think we shd be given more opportunity and time, it's a 70-page booklet {budget}. ~~~   
ANS: "The budget book in fact is 142 pages. What booklet are you referring to?"
Thank you.  In fact it is indeed 142 pages and I'll reflect this in future references.  A lot to go through with only the full day, Tuesday Mar 3rd, between release the night of Monday 2nd and public input mtg Wed evening to provide Ccl with substantive practical recommendations re cuts and revenue, hm?
p 6 to 16 is demographics, stats, history of WV
Staffing is on p32
p 45 has the 2009 Assessments/Taxable, between ~$22 and $23B; and the mill rate conversion.
If you read the booklet, you'll see Chapter 3 (Planning Environment) and Chapter 7 (Service Level Adjustments) and they are in pale grey in the Table of Contents with the explanation they're not for 2009 but will be in 2010.
If they were to embark on this in March/April last year and didn't manage it, what steps will be taken to make sure it can be done this year?  How can we help?  When will we see a timeline that we can watch?  The timeline given last year seemed simply to melt away unseen -- and no one much bothered....

~~~  It's a lot to look at, and I think the citizens wd v much appreciate more time for looking it over and reviewing it, and helping you, giving some ideas and recommendations to try to keep the taxes down. ~~~
> 7.  Will more time be allowed for public input? more public mtgs? Mtgs during the month of April (b/c Budget has until May 15 to be adopted)?
This wd also give time for the Finance Cmte to see the budget since their next mtg is scheduled for April 8.
ANS: "The public process for the 2009 Budget is now concluded. Policy developed in prior years, and widely supported, encouraged a brief and focused public process, and adoption of the budget as early in the new year as possible (December adoption was actually favoured)."
Note this answer is being given BEFORE the March 30th mtg wch had third reading on the agenda indicating Ccl cd still introduce amendments.
Widely supported? Depends on the definition of 'brief' -- obviously not six months, but enough information and time for serious consideration.
Last year I recall ITAC and others complaining/pointing out that some information was only provided about April 12.
The date of the adoption of the budget shd not be driving this decision, it's when ALL the documentation is provided to the public and then HOW LONG for them to analyze it so as able to give Ccl their opinions and recommendations.
There have been years in the past when the rough guideline was Sept for depts to get their budgets in, October for release of budget to residents and with rest of that month and November for public input.  There were even roundtable mtgs with ratepayer groups and a binder with complete information on FTEs and capital expenditures.
It is not reasonable to release the budget in December and expect adoption by end of December since so many ppl away -- and otherwise occupied!  Another recipe for justification of little time for public to see.
REALLY a lot to go over at 142 pages.

~~~  I know that there are many ppl on fixed incomes now, and they've talked to me.  It's not just that their pensions are fixed while other ppl's incomes go up, but a lot of ppl in this cmnty have invested their money to supplement their pensions and with the loss of stocks and bonds, there are many ppl suffering who wdn't even have thought about asking.  I've also had ppl say, "I don't want to get up and speak and make it look as if I can't afford to pay my taxes, wd you pls do it."
Thank you.
{See my comments and further questions at PQP at end of mtg re the budget b/c the public is not allowed to speak once Ccl starts to discuss an item.}
CR:  Thank you.  Just a few questions based on what I heard during the discussion if you don't mind.
It was brought up that there was $31M for the capital budget without much information.  Will we have that information before March 30th? ~~~
> 8.  Pls confirm amount and identify the projects for this year's capital budget. 
ANS: "The budget document presents much detail on the capital program in pages 98 through 123." 
Another reason for needing more time and consideration.  This echoes some questions asked at Ccl and some budget comments on the DWV website (letters in Correspondence and verbally at Ccl) that some have asked Ccl about.
A few examples from p 104, General Fund Projects:
Infrastructure Program:
        Computers and Communications $740K+; Furnishings and Equipment $770K+
(Note, $300K of the Computer budget is simply described as "Balance unallocated"... so that one can't help wondering if this is a slush, oh pardon me, contingency fund.)
New Recreation Ctr:
        Construction Completion $1.8M+
        Covered Breezeway to Srs' Ctr $80K
Major Civic Buildings:
        Library -- New Programming/Mtg Room and Collection Re-Organization, over $1M
        Srs' Ctr -- Building Envelope/Roof ~$2M
Argyle Property New Acquisition, Unspecified, $3M
Other Projects: Gordon Ave Area Improvements $500K

In the funding section it has an entry $3M "Land Sale" without any explanation. What land? Over the five years of the plan land sales total $12M. And it appears that $9M in land sales is to pay for 50% of the new police building (the other 50% is to be borrowed).  Surely clarification is needed.
In the past, some cclrs and some mbrs of the Planning Adv Cmte, as well as citizens were alarmed that anyone wd contemplate selling a municipal asset (land/property, other than a road end, for example) to pay for something that depreciates (eg a building).  Surely this Ccl will not be so cavalier or shortsighted/unwise.
Pls do look at these.  I know Cclr Smith asked about some of the expenditures on the capital program and IMO these do bear looking at to decide whether or not can be postponed in a year of economic downturn. 
Also, wd like to know if the almost $2M earmarked is over and above what has been said to be the cost of the cmnty ctr so that it's 'on budget'.  I have no problem with completion being delayed -- it makes sense and at the outset I'd recommended the Cmnty Ctr be designed in module fashion so that modules built as afforded and huge cost not delay the start. but we shd know if this is part of the estimated ~$40M.

~~~ Also, someone made reference to the Recreation Facilities Master Plan (RFMP) that was ten years in the making.  Yes, but what was accepted was at a much lower budgeted dollar amount than what happened.  And every time ADRA asked for the {increased} operating costs for the Ctr, we were told $250K.
{For instance, the RFMP had the Aquatic Ctr as $2.5M and it cost at least $8M; the Cmnty Ctr was to be $13M.  Last info we had on the [increased} operating costs for the Cmnty Ctr is $500K, ie twice what we were told.}
As for monthly deptal budget reports, the Police Dept does that every month, and they do an excellent job;   That is really well done.  Madam Mayor, I know you're chair of it [the Bd], but that's very well done, and that cd be a model for other depts. ~~~
> 9.  Will depts start giving monthly budget reports, following the Police Dept's excellent example/practice?
ANS: "Our practice is to conduct more comprehensive quarterly reviews, and this will continue in an expanded format during 2009."
Then let that at least be done at a Ccl mtg -- preferably by Division/Dept.  All right, Ccl?
(Note that first and third quarterly reports currently provide a fraction of the information given by the Police Department to the public and the Police Board, EVERY MONTH! The mid-year is better but still with less detail.)

~~~ There seemed to be some confusion  in some minds when they say [zero] -- there's a difference between a zero increase in the tax rate and a zero-based budget.  A zero increase is something we'll have to look at for efficiencies and getting other revenue; but a zero-based means you start at the bottom
{a cclr spoke as if latter same as former, so I was worried maybe some watching/listening wd too}
and take a look at what you're going to spend and justify it all the way up.  And that's what's been recommended and, and that's why I said you don't necessarily have to do it every year but you have to do it at some point to get the base.
There's a, um, ah.  No one seriously wants to cut back our dear Library, or our facilities, and so I don't think that shd  be put as a boogeyman for not looking at the budget, but there are, for example, we were told [there's] land, road ends and lanes, that cd be looked at and they can be sold to the nearby property owner, who'd be happy to have it.  We cd look at that.
{My example as revenue, not just cutting, to lower the increase.}
Mayor: We are.
CR: yes, good; that's good, thank you. ~~~
> 10a.  Will the public be informed of what's being considered to be sold before the final decision?
>10b  How much will be sold this year (anticipated revenue) and wch parcels?
ANS: "A program of proposed land sales for 2009 has not yet been documented. Minor road ends, etc are not normally referred in advance to the public."
Well, every little bit helps, however what's the answer to anticipated revenue?
Any land sales in budget confirmed?
Or is it just that Ccl has decided to sell $3M worth without knowing what?  Let's hope they seek public opinion.  (Of course not needed for lanes and road ends.)

~~~ Now, I think everyone who's serious about running for Ccl will have looked at budgets before they're elected, so I don't really think that's a reason for not [x] keeping the same time table, and having ppl come forward with constructive suggestions.
Now, as to the place if you're going to have, as someone else mentioned not everyone's on the Web
{Of course I meant a lot of ppl don't use computers, have them at home, and surf the Web.}
 -- may I suggest that you have some facility for ppl to comment, say at the Library, Srs' Ctr,--
Mayor: and the cmnty ctr
CR: yes, at the cmnty ctrs.  I think that wd get around that b/c some ppl don't like that [using computers]
Also, I understand the Finance Cmte did not get to see the draft budget before it went to the March 2nd ccl mtg.  Will they have seen it for the Mar 30th mtg, next Monday night?  Will we have the benefit of their comments that night?
So that's several questions.
Otherwise, thank you v much for the Strategic Planning Initiative that you're doing.  Thank you very much for scheduling a mtg on Monday night for more input.  That's v much appreciated.  We look forward to that.
Mayor: Thank you
CR: the two questions: when will they be answered?
Mayor: not sure that there were two
CR: main ones
Mayor: the main one, on the Finance Cmte, Mr McRadu, do you want to update us on that?
CAO: There will not be a FCmte mtg prior to next Monday.
Mayor: That answers that question.
CR: so that means the FCmte did not get to see the budget to comment.
Now the last I heard was that it was perhaps going to be a FCmte mtg on Thursday this week
{no, it was to be the 25th, not the 26th as I'd thought, but had I been more combative I wd hv asked why not!}
Mayor: The Terms of Ref of the FCmte have never included, I don't believe, comments on the budget. It's more to do with the process.  Is that right?  we've got two mbrs of the FCmte right here.
{er, um.  As I wrote in an earlier msg:
On the Finance Cmte webpage: http://www.westvancouver.ca/Government/Level3.aspx?id=2884
How wd you interpret:
o  The Finance Committee provides recommendations regarding the budget, financial policy and process issues to Council; and
o  Committee members may review and comment on annual and long-term budgets, and quarterly financial reports, as referred to them by Council.
MS: No.  it depends on how you interpret the TofRef.  The bottom line is we did not, at the FCmte, we did not review the budget.  That's the answer to the question. ~~~
> 11.  Last year and this, many expected the FCmte with mbrs selected for expertise, so will the FCmte mtg be given the draft 2009 Budget before the Apr 8 mtg thus giving us the benefit of their knowledge? 
ANS: "The earlier comments are still applicable. The Finance Committee was asked for recommendations on process, and further recommended a two year program to implement GFOA best practices. As to budget dollar content and service levels, this is not a question of expertise, but rather a question of resident preferences as to which services they value and are willing to pay for. So resident support (or otherwise) for proposed service levels is the real quest of the public process."
Yes, the FCmte made recommendations about process and implementing GFOA best practices.  This budget is one step toward that.  It does not mean, however, that the FCmte ought not to review the budget (astonishing when you see FCmte Purpose and Duties from their webpage cited above) or that the public not be given sufficient time to review the choices made by staff and/or Ccl.
hm -- and just how was the Cmte diverted from reviewing the budget (well, not being given it was one obvious way along with cancelling the mtg in January and any after the Feb mtg at wch Finance Dept staff were absent)?  Cclr Smith's 'diplomatic' answer of "depends" may imply they were given an interpretation that precluded reviewing the budget.
Besides, how cd anyone think residents wd not have expressed their preferences had they been given any?
Besides, while valuable to approach services by what ppl want, it's also valuable to have residents say how much they want to pay and then find the services by prioritization.

~~~ Mayor: and I think we're going to be bringing a report forward to Ccl for how the FCmte is going to operate in 2009, and that's a reflection of a couple of things: Ccl's own budget process
{ah...  indicative of the public and cmte still being left out?}
and also some questions it has that a WG cd work on, so we may split into two different aspects of dealing with our budget process. ~~~
> 12.  When? for 2010, presumably and/or as a result of the Strategic Vision Planning 
ANS: "The issue of Finance Committee/Finance Working Group will likely be dealt with in April"
Replay of 2008? or will they this time actually be allowed to look at the budget this time, not just the process?
Incredible with the Purpose and Duties clearly indicating the FCmte look at the budget, when asked directly.
Manipulation or lack of will?

~~~ What was your other question?
CR: no, b/c I know the Fiscal Sustainability Task Force had made recommendations and so did the FCmte--
{was interrupted but I know last year when the FCmte was appointed it was said it was too late for them to look at Budget 2008 but they cd look at Budget 2009.  So what happened?  Always a reason for the FCmte 'experts' not to review the draft budget?}
Mayor: I'd like to know what your other question is
CR: are we going to get some more details of the $31M of the capital projects?
Mayor: that's the 2010 capital project, I believe.  In 2009, we have really got v little in there and so it's maybe skewed the 2010 budget a little bit

>> WVM interjects before Q13:
{This is strange. What document is she looking at? Page 104 shows $24M for 2009, $21M for 2010, $98M for the five years covered by the budget. Maybe I'm missing something, or the document is.}

CR: but whatever's in it you'll tell us?
Mayor: Mr McRadu, do you have anything further on that?
CAO: any information that you want, certainly our Dir/Finance can walk you through it.
CR: no, I think everyone is interested in what the capital budget is going to be spent on. ~~~
> 13. Capital spending projects info for both 2009 and 2010 wd be appreciated.
ANS: "As noted earlier, these details are in the budget document.".
Poorly asked on my part.  Debate on these capital spending projects is what is needed -- explanation for need now, why can't be postponed or can be, etc.  Not all immediately obvious urgent.

~~~ Thank you very much.
Mayor: sure; thank you.
> 14. At the Mar 4th Budget mtg a request was made to have notes from the meeting showing the answers given to the questions asked.  Will these be submitted to Ccl to form part of the ccl mtg package and/or will they be put on the DWV webpage?
ANS: Notes of this meeting have been circulated to Council, and have been posted to the web. 
Have now found them -- they are in the minutes.  Difficult to find since most will not think to look in minutes or know minutes of wch mtg.  May I suggest all budget-related information be in one place, ie BUDGET, with a list of the info/docs, for the convenience of the public -- make it customer/user/ratepayer-friendly.

We look forward to reading the Dir/Finance's explanations given March 30th.

Your attention to these matters wd be appreciated.
   Yours thoughtfully,
        Carolanne Reynolds * Editor, West Van Matters; t 926 8649, f 484 5992; www.westvan.org

===  Ccl Mtg AGENDA April 6th  ===
March 23, 2009 Regular Council Meeting; March 30, 2009 Special Council Meeting
A. Hetherington, Canadian Cancer Society, regarding North Shore Relay for Life - June 13, 2009 (File:  0055-20-CCS01)
Metro Vancouver re: Regional/Municipal Solid Waste Update (File: 0185-20) -- to be provided.
5. Regional/Municipal Solid Waste Update (Zero Waste Challenge)  (File:  0185-20)
1.      Council receives [sic] for information, the report entitled "Regional/Municipal Solid Waste Update";
2.      Council encourages [sic] the public to attend and to provide feedback on the Zero Waste Challenge at one of the two upcoming Metro Vancouver meetings for North Shore residents.
6. Hugo Ray Park Status Report and Options (File:  2160-03-HRAY1)
1.      The report dated April 6, 2009 from the Acting Manager of Parks titled Hugo Ray Park Status Report and Options be received for information;
2.     The proposed Artificial Turf Field project at Hugo Ray Park as outlined in the June 9, 2008 Report to Council not proceed;
3.      Approval be given to staff to investigate the feasibility of Artificial Turf designed for field hockey located at Ambleside Park on the existing "A" Field, using funds provisionally allocated in the draft 2009 Budget for this purpose;
4.      Approval be given to staff to consult with the neighbourhood in the area of Ambleside Park "A" Field about Artificial Turf on "A" field, and also to consult with all field sport groups regarding this location in accordance with the Neighbourhood Consultation Strategy outlined in Appendix D;
5.      Staff report back to Council regarding recommendations based on estimated costs, availability of funding and results of community consultation;
6.      Authorization be given for the submission of an immediate application under the Recreation Infrastructure Canada (RInC) Fund for an artificial turf field designed for field hockey.
7. Official Community Plan Amendment, Rezoning and Development Permit Application No. 1010-20-08-014 for property located at 370/380 Mathers Avenue (File:  1010-20-08-014)
1.      Staff hold a Neighbourhood Visioning Workshop to solicit neighbourhood comment on:
(a) neighbourhood strengths, issues, character and vision of the future; and
(b) the proposed development application for 370/380 Mathers Avenue;
2.      Following the Workshop, staff report back to Council on what the neighbourhood said at the Workshop and with a complete review of Development Application No. 1010-20-08-014; and
3.      The public notification area for the Neighbourhood Visioning Workshop be as outlined on Appendix D to the March 26, 2009 report from the Manager, Community Planning, along with advertisements for the public meeting listed on the District website.
8. Strategic Planning - Next Steps (File:  0270-07)
                Information to be provided.
9. Status of Heritage Strategic Plan Implementation (File:  2585-01)
RECOMMENDED:  THAT the priorities for implementation of the Heritage Strategic Plan during
2009-2010, as outlined in the report from the Sr. Community Planner dated February 2, 2009 be endorsed.
10. Addition of 1068 Inglewood Avenue (St. Christopher's Anglican Church) to West Vancouver Community Heritage Register (File:  13-2585-03-04)
RECOMMENDED:  THAT 1068 Inglewood Avenue (St. Christopher's Anglican Church) be added to the West Vancouver Community Heritage Register, pursuant to Section 954 of the Local Government Act.
11. Development Variance Permit Application 08-017 (3371 Marine Drive) (File:  1010-20-08-017)
RECOMMENDED:  THAT Development Variance Permit Application 08-017 (3371 Marine Drive), which provides for retaining an illegally constructed second accessory building (exercise room), be denied.
12. 5-Year Financial Plan Bylaw 4592, 2009 (File:  1610 20 4592/0860-01)
This bylaw received first and second readings at the March 23, 2009 Council Meeting, and third reading on March 30, 2009.
13. Consent Agenda Items - Reports and Correspondence
The following Consent Agenda items may be considered separately or in one recommendation.
14. Active Development Applications to March 27, 2009 (File:  1010-01) -- rec'd for information
15. Correspondence List (File:  0120 24)
Correspondence received up to March 20, 2009
Requests for Delegation  --  No items presented.
Action Required
(1) March 18, 2009, regarding Garbage and Recycling Collection Issues
Referred to Director of Engineering and Transportation for consideration and response.
No Action Required (receipt only)
(2) Committee and Board Meeting Minutes
        (a) West Vancouver Memorial Library Board - February 18, 2009
(3) J. Carline, Commissioner and Chief Administrative Officer, Metro Vancouver, March 13, 2009, regarding Upcoming Public Meetings on Metro Vancouver's Zero Waste Challenge
        Attachments available for viewing in Legislative Services Department.
(4) J. Carline, Commissioner and Chief Administrative Officer, Metro Vancouver, March 13, 2009, regarding Metro Vancouver's Draft Regional Growth Strategy and Consultation Program
(5) C. Leia, Vancouver Coastal Health, March 11, 2009, regarding Appreciation for your Support for the Age Friendly Community Workshop
Responses to Correspondence  --  No items presented.
Responses to Questions in Question Period  --  No items presented.
Correspondence received up to March 27, 2009
Requests for Delegation  --  No items presented.
Action Required  --  No items presented.
No Action Required (receipt only)
(6) K. McNamara, Housing the North Shore, undated, regarding Invitation to Event (May 27-28)
(7) Light House Sustainable Building Centre, March 25, 2009, regarding Green Building Market Insights Forum (April 29, 2009)
(8) G. Barlee, Western Canada Wilderness Committee, March 19, 2009, regarding Endangered Species Law
        Attachments available for viewing in Legislative Services Department.
(9) Hon. K. Krueger, Minister of Community Development, March 20, 2009, regarding Provincial Grants for Infrastructure
(10) E. Fraser, Lower Mainland Local Government Association, February 27, 2009, regarding Request for Donations for the 2009 AGM and Convention (May 6-8, 2009)
(11) March 31, 2009, regarding the West Van Connector
(12) C. Reynolds, West Van Matters, March 24, 2009, regarding 2009 Proposed Budget
(13) C. Reynolds, West Van Matters, March 24, 2009, regarding 2009 Proposed Budget
(14) C. Reynolds, West Van Matters, March 25, 2009, regarding 2009 Proposed Budget
(15) C. Reynolds, West Van Matters, March 29, 2009, regarding 2009 Proposed Budget
Responses to Correspondence
(16) R. Laing, Director of Finance, March 30, 2009, regarding 2009 Proposed Budget
Responses to Questions in Question Period  --  No items presented.
Correspondence received up to April 1, 2009
Requests for Delegation  --  No items presented.
Action Required
(17) R. Hobson, President, Union of British Columbia Municipalities, regarding Access Awareness Day
   Referred to Mayor and Council for response.  Attachments available for viewing in Legislative Services Dept.
(18) C. Reynolds, West Van Matters, March 31, 2009, regarding 2009 Proposed Budget
        Referred to Director of Finance for consideration and response.
No Action Required (receipt only)  --  No items presented.
Responses to Correspondence  --  No items presented.
Responses to Questions in Question Period  --  No items presented.
16. Oral Reports from Mayor and Councillors (Including updates on working groups)

===  INFObit  === Rivers
We as a population in BC face a historic challenge. All through time our rivers have flowed freely. Our provincial government is quietly giving away rights to our public rivers for private power production to some of the world's biggest corporations. Not only is new private river power significantly driving up our power bills already but the policy that has never been debated threatens our environment, economy, and society as a whole. more  http://www.saveourrivers.ca/

===  NEWSWATCH  === first the good news....  then marriage :-)
+  Malalai Joya receives International Anti-discrimination Award 2009
On March 28, 2009, in a ceremony in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Malalai Joya received the International Anti-discrimination Award 2009. She was nominated for this award by the Dutch Unity is Strength Foundation. With this award she is honoured for her courage and persistence in her struggle for liberty and women rights in Afghanistan.
The award was given to her by Ms. Edit Rauh, State Secretary for the Ministry Of Social Affairs and Labour of the Republic of Hungary.  Joya received a standing applause from the over 1100 participants in the ceremony. Some parts of the "Enemies of Happiness", the award-winning documentary on Joya was also shown in the event.
+ Marriage and Women's Rights
= Much kerfuffle over the proposed law in Afghanistan, to apply to the Shia (a minority of about 10%) that women may not leave the house unaccompanied by husband (or delegated relative) and may not refuse sex for more than four days (ie, then raping her wd not be illegal).  At Canada's and others' insistence President Karzai will review the legislation.
I hope so.  What are we fighting for?  Wd those good military men and women defend that?
* Meanwhile over in Israel:
MARCH 25, 2009...9:17 AM
Israel's "revolting" Marriage Law Faces A Court Challenge by James M. Wall
Veteran Israeli journalist Uri Avnery is constantly outraged at the conduct of the nation he loves.  
In a column in the Palestine Chronicle, Avnery writes about a case now before the Israeli Supreme Court in which a group of Jews and Arabs seek to overturn a draconian Israeli law that attacks the core of Palestinian families.  
Though security was the pretense for the passage of the law, Avnery knows the real reason for this "temporary" law was to make life untenable for Palestinians who live both inside and outside the border of Israel, a border that continually expands, also under the pretense of "security".
Israel has no constitution. Instead, the nation is governed under what is known as "Basic Laws". The case now before the Supreme Court insists this marriage law violates the "equal rights of all citizens" provision of those Basic Laws.
The marriage law mandates that the wife or husband of an Israeli citizen is not allowed to reside with a spouse in Israel if the non-Israeli spouse comes from the occupied Palestinian territories or from a "hostile" Arab country. The non-Israeli spouse is either forbidden to live in Israel, or if they have received a six month visa as a "visitor" to their own home, the visa must be renewed every six months, a renewal easily and often rejected.
Uri Avnery describes this law as "one of the most revolting laws ever enacted in Israel." 
For the rest: http://wallwritings.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/israels-revolting-marriage-law-faces-a-court-challenge/

===  WEBWATCH  ===  Update on George Galloway (Cdn Govt aside.....)
Sad to say our courts upheld banning his entry -- bizarre when you consider he was visiting the US on a speaking tour and is not banned there or from going to Israel.  Do understand courts reluctant to overturn govt decisions.  Does, though, make Canada a bit of a laughing stock and difficult to take seriously freedom of speech in this country.
Since then however, CBC reported that someone with the Cdn Jewish Defence League is the one who told Cdn govt that Galloway supports Hamas and therefore is a security threat.  As reported in the last issue, he has denied that.

Info forwarded to me, and references follow, reported that
(a) on Mar 23 last year Canada signed an agreement with Israel regarding public security and
(b) a Jewish 'activist' (with JDL) contacted the Cdn officials, and keep in mind the Israeli cabinet considers JDL as a terrorist org (article by Independent Jewish Voices Canada; wch I found absolutely mindboggling)
To show how bound Canada (Harper?) is, having strayed from being balanced, even-handed, the honest broker, see (c) -- Canada the sole vote against expansion of the illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank

British MP George Galloway barred from Canada under the Canada Israel "Public Security" Agreement
by Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, March 26, 2009
British MP George Galloway was refused entry to Canada on the pretext that he supported Hamas, which is categorized by the Canadian government as a "terrorist organization." 
Contrary to what has been reported in the media, this was not a unilateral decision by the government of Canada. 
In all likelihood, the decision was taken in close consultation with Israel under the terms of a far-reaching agreement on "public security" signed in Tel Aviv on March 23 2008. The "Declaration of Intent" establishes a framework of bilateral cooperation between Canada and Israel in the area of "Public Security". The agreement has not been the object of debate in the Canadian parliament, nor has it received media coverage. Under the proposed agreement, the Deputy Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Canada is in [liaison] with his Israeli counterpart the Director General of Public Security for the Government of the State of Israel. Together they chair a joint Management Committee.
The terms reference of the Canada-Israel "Declaration" are extremely broad. They include issues of immigration and ethnic profiling, the management of borders, intelligence and the exchange of information, emergency preparedness, correctional services, prisons, law enforcement  and counter-terrorism.  The agreement allows for officials from the State of Israel, to play a role in Canadian "public security" including border security and immigration.
The important question is whether Israeli officials were present in Canada and whether they were assisting their Canadian  counterparts with regard to the decision to bar George Galloway.
The article below provides detailed information on the nature of this Canadian-Israeli project. 
Also see text of agreement in ANNEX,...
then in April:
The Canada-Israel "Public Security" Agreement
        Ottawa & Tel Aviv collaborate in counter-terrorism & Homeland security
        by Michel Chossudovsky  --  Global Research, April 2, 2008
Canada and Israel have signed a far-reaching public security cooperation agreement.  
The agreement, described as a "Partnership", involves a "Declaration of Intent" by the two governments. The Declaration was signed in Tel Aviv on March 23: 
"Today, the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety Canada and Avi Dicter, Minister of Public Security of the Government of the State of Israel...
The final text of the Declaration of Intent remains vague. ["Counter-terrorism"] and the "Homeland" are not explicitly mentioned in the final text of the Declaration signed on March 23.   
Legal Implications
The text of the Declaration of Intent states that ": {it] is not intended to create legally binding obligations, under either domestic or international law. Yet, at the outset, it violates several fundamental principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms." 
The Canada-Israel Public Security agreement has barely been mentioned by the Canadian media.
It has not been the object of a debate in parliament. Why has this issue not been brought to the forefront of public debate?  Why has the parliamentary opposition remained mum on the subject?
It should be forcefully challenged in Canada's courts.
ANNEX -- FULL TEXT of AGREEMENT http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/media/nr/2008/nr20080323-1-eng.aspx
Public Safety Canada March 23, 2008
Declaration of Intent Between the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Canada and the Ministry of Public Security of the Government of the State of Israel
*** This info also in http://mostlywater.org/galloway_barred_canada_under_canada_israel_public_security_agreement

(b) JDL MEMBER advised Cdn Govt
Excerpts from http://mostlywater.org/updated_jewish_terrorist_organization_planned_bomb_concordia_advised_canadian_govt_ban_george_galloway
Jewish Terrorist Organization that Planned to Bomb Concordia Advised Canadian Government to Ban George Galloway
By Scott Weinstein  March 29, 2009
An organization that planned to blow up Concordia University, and that the FBI, the U.S. State Department, and U.S. courts have branded a 'terrorist organization', has given advice to the Harper government that led Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to barring a British MP from Canada.
A Kenney spokesman said Kenney first heard about British MP George Galloway's visit from a Jewish Defense League (JDL) March 16 letter.
The Jewish Defense League, is categorized by the FBI as a "right-wing Jewish terrorist group", founded in 1968 by ultra Zionist Meir Kahane. Kanahe then founded the terrorist group Khach in Israel. JDL leader Meir Weinstein (no relation to the author) boasts of getting the Canadian government to ban Galloway.
Mr. Galloway, labelled a terrorist threat by the Conservative government, is freely touring the U.S. now. Galloway is scheduled to speak in four Canadian cities from March 30 to April 2 on "Resisting War from Gaza to Kandahar". He plans to speak against the Conservative government's war in Afghanistan and uncritical support for Israel, which is why his Canadian defenders - and even opponents - feel he is banned from speaking here.
The JDL can now claim further success because Concordia University just forbade a planned Galloway live video feed into their auditorium, citing Canada's banning his entry into the country.
The JDL's well documented history of terrorism
It is impossible that the Harper government is unaware [of] the JDL's terrorism designation given how earnestly Canada and the US share such information, and how public information of some of their dozens of domestic terror acts is. (See http://www.adl.org/extremism/jdl_chron.asp)
The US State Department designated the JDL's Israeli affiliates, Kach, founded by Kahane, and the Kahane Chai, named in honor of Kahane after his murder, as "foreign terrorist organizations" - a decision recently upheld by a US Appeals Court. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2006/82738.htm
The Israeli Cabinet declared them terrorist organizations in 1994. Last year, Meir Weinstein answered the question by The Jewish Press if the JDL in Toronto adheres to the ideology of Meir Kahane? "I will always be a loyal disciple of Rabbi Kahane. Our ideology is based on the Jewish Idea as taught by Rabbi Kahane." http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/35188
Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians praying in a mosque in Hebron. The Jewish Defense League states, "We view Dr. Goldstein as a martyr in Judaism's protracted struggle against Arab terrorism. And we are not ashamed to say that Goldstein was a charter member of the Jewish Defense League". http://www.jdl.org/index.php/about-jdl/faqs/
The JDL is still active with Hebron's Jewish settlers, most visibly remarkable for its hate graffiti such as: "Arabs to the Gas Chambers". http://www.cpt.org/gallery/slideshow.php?set_albumName=album...
In a 1986 study of domestic terrorism, the US Department of Energy concluded: "For more than a decade, the Jewish Defense League (JDL) has been one of the most active terrorist groups in the United States. Since 1968, JDL operations have killed 7 persons and wounded at least 22."...
The Jewish B'nai Brith and the JDL both targeted the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) in 2007 to prevent them from debating a motion critical of Israel. The JDL is now going after the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) for similar reasons. Liberal aide Warren Kinsella appeared last week at a meeting organized by the JDL as a surprise guest.
In last week's interview on British Channel 4 TV with George Galloway, JDL leader Meir Weinstein threatened any Canadian who attended or supported Galloway's presentation would be "monitored" by the Canadian government. (See: video)...
{article continues} -- Scott Weinstein is a member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada. H

(b) Canada Casts Sole Vote for Israeli Settlement Expansion at UN
UNITED NATIONS -- Press Release; 26 March 2009 - Human Rights Council
Council Adopts 10 Resolutions on Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories and on Combatting Defamation of Religions, Among Others
In a resolution (A/HRC/10/L.5) on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 46 in favour, one against, and no abstentions, as orally revised, the Council deplores the recent Israeli announcements of the construction of new housing units for Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as they undermine the peace process and the creation of a contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State;...
...And urges the parties to give renewed impetus to the peace process in line with the Annapolis Peace Conference and the Paris International Donors' Conference for the Palestinian State and to implement fully the road map endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 (2003).
The result of the vote were as follows:
In favour (46): Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Zambia.
Against (1): Canada.
Abstentions (0):

===  LANGUAGEWATCH  ===  no fear we'll ever lose the little darlings!
The Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL) has been [travelling] around the US on an ambitious Typo Hunt Across America, correcting as many typos as they can.
This March through May, we, sworn members of TEAL, will be taking a road trip around the country to stamp out as many typos as we can find, in public signage and other venues where innocent eyes may be befouled by vile stains on the delicate fabric of our language. We do not blame, nor chastise, the authors of these typos. It is natural for mistakes to occur; everybody will slip now and again. But slowly the once-unassailable foundations of spelling are crumbling, and the time has come for the crisis to be addressed. We believe that only through working together with vigilance and a love of correctness can we achieve the beauty of a typo-free society.

===  POETRY  ===  APRIL is Poetry Month
+  Happy Birthday, Ferlinghetti:
          Constantly risking absurdity
               and death
          whenever he performs
               above the heads
                    of his audience
          the poet like an acrobat
               climbs on rime
                    to a high wire of his own making.
LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI (San Francisco's first Poet Laureate, 1998), title poem (sect. 15), A Coney Island of the Mind, 1958. Ferlinghetti celebrated his 90th birthday on 24 March 2009.
+  from The NYT Review of Books Apr 3
- Got Poetry? by Jim Holt  who says:
Memorizing poetry in this day and age may seem eccentric, not to say masochistic. I recommend it anyway.               
- Reading Updike's Last Words, Aloud by Charles McGrath
What the experience of reading the audiobook version of the author's last book of poems revealed.              

===  QUOTATIONS  ===
*  from Dr Mardy Grothe:
When ignorance has ruled the day -- as it has so often in world history--it was not only foolish but perilous to be wise.  This is what Voltaire meant when he wrote, "It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong."  Usually, though, it's more frustrating than it is dangerous when we encounter ignorance in our bosses, co-workers, and acquaintances. Euripides captured the experience well in "The Bacchae", a Greek tragedy first performed in Athens in 407BC:
   "Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish."

*  Always borrow money from a pessimist, he doesn't expect to be paid back.  -- Author Unknown
*  Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won't buy the wag of his tail.  -- Henry Wheeler Shaw
*  The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.
                                        -- Herbert Agar, American journalist (1897 - 1980)
In the final lines of a 1747 poem, the English poet Thomas Gray wrote:
   "Where ignorance is bliss
    Tis folly to be wise."
It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.
                                -- John Locke, English philosopher (1632 - 1704)
October:  This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in.  The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.
                                -- Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar for 1894
A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it.
                                -- Bob Hope                            

MORAL OF THE MONTH:   Don't join dangerous cults: Practise safe sects.