Since its establishment in 1969, the Urban League of London has acted as an umbrella organization for community groups in London. It is composed of representatives from neighbourhood associations and citywide organizations. It is the longest standing umbrella group of its type in Ontario (the other is located in Ottawa).
One of the key objectives of the Urban League is to enhance the quality of life in London by encouraging citizen participation in community and civic affairs. Such a mandate automatically denotes involvement ourselves in order to encourage & mentor others. League members attend on a regular basis, Committee meetings. There are 3 standing City Committees B Planning, Community and Protective Services (CAPS) and Environment and Transportation Committee (ETC). In addition, we have representatives on a number of Advisory Committees.
It is fascinating to watch, sometimes frustrating but above all else so interesting. We very often come away with a new nugget of information, a different perspective, unique solutions and shared understandings.
Perhaps no other group in London has been actively involved in and followed municipal politics as has the League. One might assume that the League then would have a clear understanding of who is strong in ward work, who is strong in committee work, who is a competent chair, who champions various causes, who generates ideas, who implements strategies, who can do both, who comes prepared to discuss the city's business etc.
The London Free Press originally asked the Urban League of London if it would score card councillors. But it is important that citizens of this city should learn to judge for themselves. Therefore rather than a score card, we've selected 7 key issues (#8 is #7 revisited), explain what these issues mean to us and let the votes of our elected officials speak for themselves. Additional votes and links can be found on our web site: www.ul.london.on.ca
Industrial Land Development Strategy: To spend $60 million over 20 years with the purpose of buying up raw land, servicing it and have available for business interested in locating in London.
The issue: Not part of the determined strategic objectives for the City. In addition, the scale of the project deemed to be too high with a $60 million price tag. Consider balance e.g. Affordable Housing issues. Further note since strategy was approved, the initial sales were at a loss. Overall, strategy could be supportable with a stronger business case and less dollars. But not at $60 million.
For: Alder, Armstrong, Caranci, Chahbar, Corrigan, DeCicco, Hume, MacDonald, Miller, Monteith, Polhill, Swan, Tranquilli, Usher, Williams
Against: Baechler, Eagle, Levin, Winninger
To appoint deputy city manager Jeff Malpass as acting city manager, effective Feb 1, 2002 at $196,600 annually plus 13 weeks paid vacation.
The issue: Fiscal responsibility as to the compensation package for Mr. Malpass.
For: Alder, Caranci, Chahbar, DeCicco, Eagle, Hume, Levin, MacDonald, Miller, Monteith, Polhill, Swan, Tranquilli, Usher, Williams
Against: Armstrong, Baechler, Corrigan, Winninger
Votes on Sydenham/Sifton/Warbler Woods ESA. To refer back to Planning Committee to review other options (such as linkages, buffers, fencing and less intrusion by development) which would include better protections for the ESA and the significant woodlot.
The issue: As per the Official Plan objectives, protection and enhancement of our Natural Heritage.
For: Armstrong, Baechler, Corrigan, Eagle, Levin, Miller, Monteith, Swan, Winninger
Against: Alder, Caranci, Chabhar, DeCicco, Polhill, Tranquilli, Usher, Williams
A 3% pay increase to Councillors
Issue: Fiscal responsibility/voting to increase their own remuneration
For: Alder, Armstrong, Caranci, Polhill, Corrigan, DeCicco, Hume, MacDonald, Miller, Monteith, Polhill, Swan, Tranquilli, Usher, Williams
Against: Baechler, Levin, Winninger
Recommendation to NOT have a public participation meeting before the 2003 budget is distributed.
Issue: Public process of input, discussions and clarification from the public as to priorities, process and prior to budget pre-distribution. Whose priorities are in the budget without this type of discussion?
For: Alder, Caranci, Chabhar, DeCicco, Hume, MacDonald, Miller, Monteith, Polhill, Tranquilli, Williams
Against: Armstrong, Baechler, Corrigan, Eagle, Levin, Swan, Usher, Winninger
Covent Market policy banned political and religious rallies in the Covent Market Garden Square. A recommendation was made to seek a legal opinion as to whether the BAN violated Section 2 of the Charter of Rights B freedom to associate and freedom of expression on public land.
Issue: Erosion of basic civil rights. Decisions affecting the public domain must be transparent and with accountability. Note: The legal opinion determined the policy did violate the Charter of Rights. The policy was subsequently rescinded. Polhill, Caranci on the Covent Market Board.
For: Alder, Armstrong, Baechler, Corrigan, DeCicco, Eagle, Hume, Levin, MacDonald, Miller, Monteith, Swan, Usher, Winninger
Against: Caranci, Polhill, Tranquilli, Williams
Recommendation to MAINTAIN the existing tax-free allowance for municipally elected officials, thereby saving Londoners $233,000 in the upcoming budget.
Issue: Fiscal responsibility. Also level of service for Londoners (e.g. items on budget chopping block are removing LTC discounts for seniors and the blind and staff position for affordable housing) NOTE: If the allowance is not maintained and unless changed prior to Dec 31st, this cannot be undone. If the allowance is maintained, Council must confirm it annually.
Defeated: Early Dec/02 Cost to taxpayers: $233,000 minimum ANNUALLY.
For: Alder, Baechler, Chabhar, Corrigan, DeCicco*, Eagle, Levin, Monteith*, Winninger
Against: so supporting the $233,000 extra tax bite IN 2003 (and each budget going forward unless changed with a 2/3's majority vote by Dec 31/02)
Armstrong, Caranci, Hume*, MacDonald, Miller, Polhill*, Swan*, Tranquilli, Usher, Williams
* Board of Control members - the City's Financial Overseer
Council revisits Tax-Free Allowance Vote December 20, 2002 due to public outcry.
Recommendation to OVERTURN the previous decision to eliminate the tax-free allowance for municipally elected officials, and REINSTATE IT, thereby saving Londoners $233,000 in the upcoming budget.
NOTE: If the effort to change the previous decision does not receive 2/3's majority vote, it cannot pass. If it does not pass prior to Dec 31, 2002, the allowance is gone forever and municipal taxpayers are on the hook for $233,000 minimum annually thereafter.
If the tax-free allowance is confirmed to stay, Council must confirm this annually.
Vote carried 15-0 to reinstate the tax-free allowance with a $233,000 tax savings for the municipal budget.
SWITCHING their vote on Friday after voting earlier on Monday to eliminate the tax-free allowance at a cost of $233,000 minimum annually (and for subsequent years).
Armstrong, Caranci, Hume, Miller, Polhill*, Swan*, Tranquilli, Usher, Williams
MAINTAINING their original vote to keep the tax allowance and save $233,000 this year
Baechler, Corrigan, DeCicco*, Eagle, Monteith*, Winninger,
Absent: Alder, Chahbar, Levin