GUELPH POLITICAST #64 - The Allt Brothers

18Jan

It's arguably the most important meeting of the year for any city councillor, the night when council votes on the city budget for the coming year. What could possibly more important that the immediate financial future of the city for one of the politicians that oversees it? Well, Phil Allt couldn't make the budget night vote last month, and he had a very excellent excuse: he was saving his brother's life.

Councillor Allt's brother Greg needed a kidney, and Councillor Allt - Phil - was ready and willing to give his brother the organ he needed. Greg was lucky. Of the 4,500 people in need of an organ in 2014 and on the organ donor list, 77 per cent were needing a kidney. And although organ donation has gone up in the last decade, 278 people still die waiting for the replacement they needed; one-third of those that died needed a kidney.

So you can imagine the relief of the Allts. Not only was Phil a willing living donor, but after rigorous testing - physical and psychological - Phil was approved to be a donor. In this week's Guelph Politicast we talk to Phil and Greg about Greg's illness, why the time came to get a new kidney and the long, strange journey for Phil to give his brother the life-saving operation he needed, even if it didn't always look likely it was going to happen.

Yes, this week's podcast is a human interest story. A fascinating tale of two brothers, the gift of life, and a reminder of the importance of identifying yourself as a organ donor, and making your loved ones aware of that fact. Over the last decade, "deceased donation" has gone up 44 per cent, but nearly 300 people are still dying every year as they wait for the organs they need.

It's an uplifting story, it's a story of gratitude, it's the story of brothers, and it's this week's Guelph Politicast.

To learn more about organ donation in Ontario, you can click here, and if you choose to be a donor yourself, you can click here and register to be a donor.

The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday's episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

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Open Sources Guelph - January 12, 2017

16Jan

It’s time to catch up on some punditry on this week’s edition of Open Sources Guelph. With Scotty back from his trip to the dentist, we’re going to dive back into the latest news and come up with some opinions about the same. For instance, the prime minister gave his cabinet a shuffle this week as he’s tries to get the new year started on better footing than he ended the year with. We’ll then look at the Conservative leadership race, where at least two people are in a race to see who can be the more Trump-like. Speaking of the President-Elect, we’ll check in on his doings and then examine how a beloved film actress taught us all to rebel again…

This Thursday, January 12, at 5 pm, Scotty Hertz and Adam A. Donaldson will discuss:

1) Tru-D'OH! Electoral reform, pay-for-play, stagnant jobs numbers, Trudeau was taking it on the chin from all sides before the Christmas break, and 2017 wasn’t looking much better with Bahamian vacations and visits to private islands. So you know what that means: LLLLLet’s get ready to SHUF-FLE!!! But with Chrystia Freeland, taking over at Foreign Affairs, and Maryam Monsef being less of an embarrassment as Minister of Status of Women is Trudeau going to be able to shake off the cobwebs and get back to crowd-pleasing governance, especially with the Trumpocalypse about to erupt south of the border?

2) Kevin Can Wait. Kevin O’Leary gave a Christmas present to the country last month announcing that he seriously starting to think about maybe possibly getting involved sorta in the federal Conservative leadership race. O’Leary threw his lure into the water to see if he could catch anyone interested in his running, but all he got was criticism for waiting till after the French debate to make it official. Meanwhile, Kellie Leitch is trying to make inroads into Fox News, which would be a great idea if she were running for the Republican leadership, but the Conservatives are trying to make inroads beyond their base. We’ll update the state of the race.

3) Trump Guard. Meanwhile, in New York City yesterday, Donald Trump took a break from prepping to make America great again to do a press conference. It was his first since he won the presidency, his first overall in over six months, and he decided to do it at the exact same time his controversial pick for Secretary of State was being vetted in Congress. So naturally, it was a dumpster fire, and Trump’s antagonist relationship with the press shows no sign of mending, and it’s only going to get worse as Trump finally takes office next week. All that, and alleged Russian tampering in the American election as we dig deep into the madness and try and find some sanity.

4) Resistance is Brutal. Sanity is one word for what people are looking for. Relief is another. Relief from a world where the incoming President of the United States can say anything he damn well feels like and the people that elected him don’t seem to give a damn. A world where people cheer for the repeal of Obamacare because they “know” the Affordable Care Act will be unaffected. But then the three-time Academy Award-winning actress showed them the way. Meryl Streep made a convincing argument at last Sunday’s Golden Globes, and it seemed to get under the skin of Trump and his supporters in an unexpected way. So what will the resistance to Trump look like?

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on T

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GUELPH POLITICAST #63 - Electoral Reform Redux

11Jan

It was a little over six months ago that I sat down with Steve Dyck and Ken MacKay of Fair Vote Canada's Guelph branch to talk about electoral reform, it's various options, and what form it might take when the Trudeau government came back with its options this past December. Those were the days.

There's been a lot of noise around the electoral reform portfolio over the last month or so, but not much movement. The promised reform seems even further away now with the Liberals issuing a minority report to the committee they organized on the matter, a much derided online survey that seems to accomplish nothing, and now, the Minister of Democratic Institutions that supervised it all, Maryam Monsef, has been shuffled off to the greener pastures as the Minister of Status of Women.

That did not go as hoped.

So in considering all that, I thought the time was right to get some Fair Vote people together again to look at the "progress" made on their favourite issue in the last six months. MacKay couldn't join us, but Dyck and his son Nathan, who's been working on the youth end of supporting electoral reform, could, and we discussed the process, the public statements, and the chances that electoral reform might still become a thing passed by the House of Commons. Surprisingly, there is still optimism on the matter.

Of course given the givens, this is an optimism tempered by a degree of cynicism. We called it "electoral dysfunction," where there's widespread agreement that a change has to be made, but we're getting bogged down in the specifics. Can we all agree on what reform looks like? Were the Liberals being too ambitious in getting this done before 2019? Are Fair Vote supporters putting too much faith in the power of proportional representation to cure what ails us politically? We talk about all that, and more, on this week's Guelph Politicast! (The first of 2017 by the way.)

The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday's episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

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Open Sources Guelph - January 5, 2017

9Jan

We’re back! Well technically, we never went anywhere. There have been new episodes of Open Sources Guelph during the holidays over the last two weeks, but they we’re “canned,” that is to say “pre-recorded.” But we’re back!!! Well, Adam’s back, at least. Scotty had some minor dental surgery this week, so he can’t talk, or maybe he shouldn’t talk. It’s definitely one of the two. Anyway, so it’s the first week of January, we’re back with the live shows, and it’s time to get back to the business of acquainting you with your local politicians. And we’re starting 2017 with the even numbered wards...

This Thursday, January, at 5 pm, Adam A. Donaldson will discuss:

1) Salisbury’s Rake. Our first guest this week is the first we’ve had from Ward 4, and the only member of city council (so far) to appear on Dragon’s Den. Being a politician that’s appeared on reality TV, and being a successful businessman, is very *in* right now, but that’s not what we’ll talk to Salisbury about. With Salisbury we're going to look to the year ahead and talk about what to look forward to in 2017. New wasterwater rates, new developments for hydro, and new infrastructure projects are all up for discussion, and since Adam's a Ward 4 resident, he's going to have some very westend-centric stuff to ask too.

2) The Ref. Our second guest this week may be one of the less outspoken members of city council, so this will be a rare treat to hear from him directly. Ward 2 Councillor Andy Van Hellemond is the only member of city council with his own hockey card, and as a former NHL referee, we know he has a keen and discerning eye that he brings to all the various subjects that come before city council. So we'll ask him about some of them. For instance, there are now no less than four appeals before the Ontario Municipal Board against the 75 Dublin St development, or the recently passed 1 per cent infrastructure levy. We'll also ask about dipping his toe in the water debate with his ward mate, James Gordon.

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on Thursday.

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Open Sources Guelph - December 29, 2016

2Jan

It's that time of year to look backwards, and rank and evaluate all the various aspects of the last 365 days. Here, Open Sources Guelph is no exception to other sites and shows, and in our final program of the year we hand out the usual awards honouring the best and worst of 2016, a year that was pathetically awful in its own right up until the bitter end. (RIP: Princess Leia.)

This Thursday, December 29, at 5 pm, Scotty Hertz  and Adam A. Donaldson will discuss:

1) Worst Politician of the Year. Throughout Canada and the United States, who was the one politician that so utterly failed in his or her mission? Who gambled when they should have played it safe? Who horribly miscalculated? Who lost all possible faith in their party, or blew his first big day in government?

2) Good News Story of the Year. Let's be honest: it was a rough effing year, but yes, there are still some good news stories out there. Governments and people can still sometimes do good, and over the past year there’s been at least one or two good news stories worth celebrating.

3) Trainwreck of the Year. Oh what a year for trainwrecks... Frankly, the entirety of 2016 could be classified as a trainwreck, but we'll narrow that down to who screwed up the most? Whose mistakes were the most costly? Who lost the most in terms of prestige, or influence, or just general dignity?

4) Best Politician of the Year. This one should be self-explanatory, and since we will start the show with a loser, that means there has to be a winner. This is the politician who was able to take the most ground, win the most arguments, and/or launch a new era of governance. Maybe, they also became folk heroes of the movement in the process...

***Programming note: This episode of Open Sources Guelph is pre-recorded.

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on Thursday.

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GUELPH POLITICAST #62 - Bradley Breedon, Substitute Politico

30Dec

In my time using my Twitter account to cover local political events and council meetings live, I have been the one posting words next to the Twitter handle with my name and my picture. By necessity, that all changed this past November when the 2017 budget process unfolded on consecutive Wednesdays. I needed someone to step in and fill the void, and a desperate call out out to Guelph Redditors delivered me the man who kept Politico in the game. His name is Bradley Breedon, and he is the guest on this week's Guelph Politicast.

It seemed appropriate given the time of year, and the conclusion of the project I hired him to do, to invite Bradley into the studio for an exit interview of sorts. It's also an occasion to chat about the job, the work we've done this year, and the budget process itself, which was supposed to be the toughest in recent memory but actually seemed to sail through debate with relative ease. The 2016 budget passed barely after two nights of meetings at nearly eight hours each; the 2017 budget passed unanimously in less than seven hours. So what happened?

That's one of the questions I talk to Bradley about as we look back at his experience live-blogging city council for Guelph Politico. We look back at the process, the personalities, and how the practical nature of governance compares to the political science that Bradley studies at the University of Guelph. Bradley was essential to Politico's success this year, and I'm grateful for his commitment, just as I'm grateful to the small but dedicated group of patrons that support this site and allowed me to pay Bradley to cover those budget meetings.

So having said all that, let's put a ribbon on the year by talking about the fun and unexpected pleasures of transcribing city council meetings in 140-character servings...

A programming note: there will be no Guelph Politicast next week as we make the switch-over from posting the weekly podcast on Wednesday as opposed to Friday. I have a lot of really great ideas for guests coming up in the new year so stay tuned for more great Guelph Politicasts to come in 2017.

The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday's episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

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Open Sources Guelph - December 22, 2016

26Dec

It's Christmas week, and for Open Sources Guelph that can only mean one thing: our annual political movies special. This year, we put the emphasis on documentaries (and docu-dramas), which cover a variety of subjects concerning country music protests, failed political candidates, and fighting for a woman's right to vote. It's the holidays, so let's put the issues on the backburner and dig into a big bowl of popcorn as we go to the movies. (Or the video store, or streaming site as the case may be.)

This Thursday, December 15, at 5 pm, Scotty Hertz and Adam A. Donaldson will discuss:

1) Scotty's Pick #1: Suffragette. "A drama that tracks the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State. These women were not primarily from the genteel educated classes, they were working women who had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing. Radicalized and turning to violence as the only route to change, they were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality - their jobs, their homes, their children and their lives. Maud was one such foot soldier. The story of her fight for dignity is as gripping and visceral as any thriller, it is also heart-breaking and inspirational."

2) Adam's Pick #1: Mitt. "Mitt Romney, with the support of his family, made two major campaigns for the Office of the President of the United States in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. This film takes an intimate portrait of the Romney family during these bids through the initial decision to run, the primaries and the general election itself as the former Governor of Massachusetts experiences the highs and lows of his ultimately unsuccessful campaign."

3) Scotty's Pick #2: Weiner. "This behind-the-scenes documentary follows former congressman Anthony Weiner as he runs for mayor of New York City in 2013. During the campaign, he becomes embroiled in a second widely publicized sexting scandal, which ultimately derails his once-promising political career. Directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, Weiner received its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival."

4) Adam's Pick #2: The Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing. "In 2003, the country trio, The Dixie Chicks, are at the top of their game being one of the most successful bands of all time. However with the invasion of Iraq about to begin over frustrated worldwide objections about the needless war, lead singer Natalie Maines vents off the cuff in a London concert about being ashamed that President George W. Bush is from Texas. This statement sparks a firestorm of organized and personal right wing attacks against the Chicks for daring to think they have the right to express a negative personal opinion about the President. This film covers the band's effort to ride out the turmoil that would leave their careers under a cloud, but would eventually give them a opportunity to grow as great artists who bow to no one."

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on Thursda

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GUELPH POLITICAST #61 - Randalin Ellery, Guelph and Wellington Task Force for the Elimination of Poverty

23Dec

A couple of years ago, I dedicated a December episode of the Guelph Politicast to the Guelph Food Bank. It seemed wise, and it still does, to dedicate some time at this point in the year to remembering that no matter how lucky we are, there's always someone less lucky. The thought occurred to me again this Christmas season, and that's where we get this episode of the Guelph Politicast, remembering Guelphites in need.

However, unlike agencies like the Food Bank, the Guelph and Wellington Task Force for the Elimination of Poverty isn't about collecting donations and trying to make today and tomorrow a little bit better for Guelph's poor. They're playing a longer game. The Task Force is trying to address the root causes of poverty, and are trying to make sure that everyone has the opportunity and the tools to live a fulfilling life free, or at least freer, of the grip of poverty.

There are a lot of issues so far as poverty in Guelph is concerned, but in talking with Randalin Ellery, Coordinator of the Task Force, I decided to narrow it down to three: affordable housing, living wage, and under-employment. The Task Force is already trying to address the first two with the support of the City of Guelph, but make no mistake, this is an effort on the part of a non-profit agency that may never accomplish its goals. So long as there's been material wealth, there have been those that have had little to none of it, and since the goals of the Task Force are policy based it could be years until they see their efforts realized, which is far different than the immediate effect of giving someone a meal, or a roof over their head for the night.

So before breaking for Christmas, this Guelph Politicast is a reminder that the poor are still among us, and there are people in the community working very hard to do something about 365 days a year.

If you would like to learn more about the Guelph and Wellington Task Force for the Elimination of Poverty, or read up on their recent campaigns, you can visit their website for all the details.

The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday's episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

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Open Sources Guelph - December 15, 2016

19Dec

It's been about 18 months since we last held an #AskMayorCam session, so as you can imagine there's an awful lot we could potentially ask the Mayor of the City of Guelph. So with the end of the year, and the end of the annual budget process at city council, the timing seem right to invite Mayor Cam Guthrie back to Open Sources Guelph for a bit of chat, a bit of reflection, and some questions from the listeners about what they think the important issues of the season are. 

This Thursday, December 15, at 5 pm, Scotty Hertz and Adam A. Donaldson will discuss with Cam Guthrie:

*Halfway Point - Earlier this month marked exactly two years from the start of Cam Guthrie's term in the mayor's office, so we'll discuss with the man who literally wears the chain of office about how he feels at the halfway point of his mandate, whether or not the job is everything he expected to be, and what he is hoping to accomplish before 2018.

*2017 Budget - In what ended up being a relatively smooth process this year, we'll ask the mayor about the challenges in meeting his mandate to keep taxes increases within the rate of inflation, and what he was thinking about as he cast his vote in favour of the one per cent infrastructure levy.

*Development - From movement on the redevelopment of the IMACo site, to the lightening pace that the 75 Dublin St N project went through, there may be some big changes coming soon to the landscape of Guelph. We'll talk to the mayor about the speed of development and whether changes made this year to various policies and bylaws will have the desired effect for a more business-friendly city hall.

*Transit - There's been a lot of changes in transit this year, and a lot of challenges. So we'll ask Mayor Guthrie about his feelings on what direction he thinks transit should take in the new year, what direction he thinks it will go in under the new management of Mike Spicer, and what his expectations are for the service review of transit coming up later in 2017.

*City Hall Relations - There was a lot of movement in key positions at city hall this year, with the old chief administrative officer stepping away, the city treasurer moving on to a new job and the general manager of transit being quietly fired. On top of that, there was some friction between the councillors themselves over what was going on behind closed doors. So what is the mood at City Hall after a year of upheaval?

*Your Questions - And you have a lot of them.

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on Thursday.

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GUELPH POLITICAST #60 - Mike Spicer, Guelph Transit General Manager

16Dec

One-hour holiday service, no peak service in the summer, the cancellation of Free Ride Fridays with the Storm without notice, no service expansion for 2017, the firing of manager Phil Meagher, no restoration of 2015 service... This was not a good year for transit in Guelph, and probably not the plate you want set for you when you sit down at the desk as Guelph Transit's new General Manager.

Still, this was the portfolio that Mike Spicer was handed when he was hired as Guelph Transit's new GM last month. An experienced city employee who came up through the transit ranks in Brantford and Burlington, Spicer now arrives in the Royal City at one of the trickiest times in local transit history. He will experience pressure at both ends, from a public eager to see service expansion and a senior staff and council looking for fiscal efficiency; two years of planning for an expanded service and new schedule was put on indefinite hold as Transit is one of three subjects to endure the pilot service review process.

In other words, there's a lot to talk about. I got the chance this week to sit down with Spicer, live and in-person, to chat about his expectations for the job of running Guelph's public transit, what his understanding of the City's expectations are, and how he might address the concerns of the greater public. On top of all that, he has to work to find a way to get more people on the bus, while convincing council that Transit can't afford anymore cuts. Yes, Spicer says for the record that he's not in Guelph to cut service, and he's not here to privatize it either. (You may all now breath a sigh of relief.)

So on a cold December morn', this poor podcaster made his way to Watson Rd. to talk turkey with the man who will guide the future of public transit in Guelph, and transit nerds just might enjoy his vision.

You can follow along with any new Transit developments here on Politico, where we cover this subjected in a dedicated manner, or you can visit Transit's website, Facebook page or Twitter feed for updated information.

The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday's episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

Stay tuned for future editions of the Guelph Politicast!

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