Conflicts of Interest

Ah, the words that rev up every political junky’s heart – “CONFLICT OF INTEREST!” Yes, we just love to get the dirt on our politicians at every level. It helps to distract us from our own failings. There’s just one problem. It is a politician’s responsibility to report any potential conflict of interest prior to that item being discussed in council or in caucus or in parliament. It’s not exactly headline news. Unless you’re a C grade reporter trying to create a crisis as happens often in one of our local papers.

Really, the stories we should be reporting are about the politicians who DON’T declare a conflict of interest, I’ll give you an example, purely hypothetical of course but, just in case, the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

First, here’s an example of a case that goes by the book. A politician who lives in a rural area in Ontario, decides to sell the family farm. Kids have moved on to software development, and, as much as they love the grass fed beef, don’t want to be mucking out the barn anymore. The sale of the farm may affect the course of residential development in the area, The politician rightfully declares a “conflict of interest” and is dutifully excused before the issue is resolved,

No biggie! Unless you’re a reporter hungry for headlines and think you’re the smartest guy in the room. NOT.  A politician declaring a “conflict of interest” is a non-story – it’s what they are supposed to do. We don’t report on every dump we make in the toilet. It’s just not front page news. Unless you are trying to create a crisis … or relieve a lower bowel impaction.

What is front page news is about the politicians who DON’T declare a conflict of interest. Keep in mind that the “pecuniary” advantages and financial impacts of these deals can go up or down. A land deal close to your abode could jack up your home value, or a huge warehouse next door could lower your residential development potential. The good politicians declare. The slimy ones don’t.

Secondly, let us suppose that a major golf course development is being proposed for a property that abuts ours. Prior to being elected, I rant long and loud about this proposed development. After my election, I say nothing. Am I guilty of a conflict of interest? Oh, yeah … big time. But it doesn’t make the front page.

You think? So, let’s start reporting on the politicians who are NOT reporting their conflicts of interest, specially if they’re running for higher office. And leave the good ones alone to do their jobs without incompetent reporters trying to make headlines over smoke and mirrors.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease. journalist, Caledon

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Canoeists in Cars Getting Coffee

With total apologies to Jerry Seinfeld and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

As narrated by Sharon …

***

“Hi, Harry, this is Sharon. In your neighbourhood and wondering if you’d like to go out for a coffee.”

“Sure Sharon” replied Harry.

Now the car I picked out for Harry, although he is more at home in a canoe, is my 2006 Porsche Boxster. This car can do zero to 60 mph in under 6 seconds.  It’s a 5 speed manual transmission, a 2.7-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder that develops 240hp.  The engine is located behind the seats (mid-engine) but ahead of the rear axle. This gives the car two cargo compartments. Very practical.

But it also has the enlarged front and side air intakes for cool styling. Finished off with 17-inch alloy wheels. Inside, two occupants enjoy body-hugging leather-upholstered bucket seats.  Seat warmers included for cool spring and fall temps. Bose surround sound and a navigation system. Not a bad choice for my favourite teacher.

He was rather astonished when I pulled up in his driveway. “We’re going for coffee in that!”

“Oh yes,” I answered, “and with the top down. Harry, this car is like our friendship.  Still going strong after many years and stands out amongst others. Will always be a classic. We are stylish.”

“Alright,” said Harry, “I am definitely in a Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee episode. Drive on!”

It was a wonderful afternoon. Having missed the 50th Reunion of my Junior High School, I wanted to catch up and hear the stories. Harry had attended and had been mobbed by his old students, from science to English to outdoor education. He had been our guide through the wilderness, and school, and far beyond. The lessons we learned on trips with him will remain with us for life. Over those years we became such good friends that I even asked him to give the speech for the bride at my wedding.

“So Harry, what’s retirement like?” “Eggsellent,” he replied, as I got to learn all about his current Caledon backyard hens project. With that teaser, I just had to see the hens, so the Boxster navigated the potholes on the Albion Hills Community Farm driveway to visit the hens.

He’s there at 5:00 in the morning and 9:00 at night and those hens love him. I even got to take home some free run, organic Omega 3 eggs for my son’s breakfast the next day. After the hens, we headed to the Four Corners restaurant in Bolton for that long awaited coffee – and it was a perfect cappuccino.

Then began that exchange of catching up on the many years in between the canoe trips of my youth and the realities of life as a working mom. Harry talked about his family and his children and his journalism. Mostly he reflected about how important his students were to him. I got to share my enthusiasm for golf, my children, and my grandchild. We both reflected on the joys of getting older with my knee problems and his cataract surgeries. But our memories are always young.

My friends and I travelled with Harry on canoe trips from Grade Eight until we left high school. The level of training and our capabilities of performance increased every year. It was almost as though he was waiting to see if we could fly on our own.

On the last night of our final canoe trip to Algonquin Park, my friend Marie noticed another group just upwind from us washing their dishes in the lake. Harry, who taught us to always leave our campsite cleaner than we found it, had spotted this but uncharacteristically hadn’t said anything. Marie marched right over to their campsite and said, “Excuse me, but I don’t appreciate you washing your dishes in our drinking water!”

That was our last trip. Harry told me over coffee that he didn’t say anything that day because he was waiting to see what we would do without him.

“When Marie spoke up that was the precise moment when I knew my work here was done.” We had all learned to fly.

And now I drive a Porsche Boxster taking Canoeists in Cars to Get Coffee. I wish I had been able to be at the 50th Reunion at Zion Heights, but I got to see the joy of it through Harry’s eyes as he talked about how wonderful it was to see almost all of us together again and recount the glory days with happiness.

I dropped him off at his home with the teaser that he could get to drive it the next time. Now I’m off to watch the Seinfeld episode that he said is most like him – Jerry taking Steve Harvey for a coffee. Who knew our teachers were such comedians! And would be friends for life.

Sincerely,

Sharon

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Extreme Political Correctness is a Disease

… a bitchin’ satirical evisceration …

Bitch noun:

1.  a female dog, wolf, fox, or otter.

2.  informal: a difficult or unpleasant situation or thing. “the stove is a bitch to fix”

verb informal:   to express displeasure; grumble. “they bitch about everything”

“While female students often affectionately refer to friends as “bitches”, the term “bitchin” is commonly used as a positive description by young people in the U.S.A. “Bitch” can also be used as a verb, meaning to “complain”. Or changing it to “biatch” can add humour or force. The word biatch is the youth slang for bitch. While it is pejorative it is not misogynistic.

Yep, right out of the dictionary, Matthew and friends. Golly gee, get with the times. It was way back in the 15th century that it started being used as a derogatory term for women – if you were the “son of a bitch” it implied your mother was a whore. That allusion apparently descended from the notion that because female dogs have multiple nipples they must be promiscuous. Men are so visual.

However, the actual acceleration of the usage of “bitch” more than doubled around the 1920’s when the word was applied to those annoying suffragettes. Yes, it was the rise of feminism that brought “bitches” into real prominence. Author Jo Freeman in The Bitch Manifesto, declared: “We must be strong, we must be militant, we must be dangerous. We must realize that Bitch is Beautiful and that we have nothing to lose.”

However, the Merriam Webster dictionary defines “bitch” as “a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman.”

Well, I have witnessed that malice and spite from certain people associated with the Chamber of Commerce and I have witnessed that malice and spite at Town Council from certain politicians, and I have witnessed that malice and spite from extreme politically correct delegations and their supporters, so I really can’t understand what all the fuss is about.

It’s 2018, and no hard feelings John Rutter, but if it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck and it squawks like a duck … it’s a duck.

The way I see it.

 

Skid Crease, journalist, Caledon

*image from smallholder.co.uk

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The Bitch is Back

I was justified when I was five
Raisin’ Cain, I spit in your eye
Times are changin’ now the poor get fat
But the fever’s gonna catch you when the bitch gets back, oh, oh, oh
Eat meat on a Friday, that’s all right
Even like steak on a Saturday night
I can bitch the best at your social do’s
I get high in the evening sniffing pots of glue, oh, oh, oh
I’m a bitch, I’m a bitch oh, the bitch is back
Stone cold sober as a matter of fact
I can bitch, I can bitch ’cause I’m better than you
It’s the way that I move, the things that I do oh
I entertain by picking brains
Sell my soul, by dropping names
I don’t like those! My God, what’s that!
Oh, it’s full of nasty habits when the bitch gets back.
I’m a bitch, I’m a bitch oh, the bitch is back
Stone cold sober as a matter of fact
I can bitch, I can bitch ’cause I’m better than you
It’s the way that I move, the things that I do oh
I’m a bitch, I’m a bitch oh, the bitch is back
Stone cold sober as a matter of fact
I can bitch, I can bitch ’cause I’m better than you
It’s the way that I move, the things that I do oh
Bitch, bitch, the bitch is back
Bitch, bitch, the bitch is back
Bitch, bitch, the bitch is back
Bitch, bitch, the bitch is back
Bitch, bitch, the bitch is back
Bitch, bitch, the bitch is back
Bitch, bitch, the bitch is back
Bitch, bitch, the bitch is back

Lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

***

Politically correct? Take it up with Sir Elton.

Skid Crease, journalist, Caledon

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Feed The Hens

Feed the Hens (to the tune of Feed the Birds)
new lyrics by Skid Crease
(with full apologies to Mary Poppins, who would approve anyway)

Early each day
To the fields of the Farm
The little old chicken man walks.

In his own special way
To the people he calls,
“Come and care for our hen flocks.
Come feed our hens, show them you care
And you’ll be glad if you do
They want to lay eggs
But their feeder’s so bare
All it takes is a toonie from you.

“Feed the hens, Toonie a bag
Toonie, Toonie, Toonie a bag.”

Feed the hens.” That’s what he cries
While overhead wild birds fill the skies.

All around the old farmstead the hawks and the councillors
Look down as he sells his wares
Although we don’t see it, we know they are smiling
Each time Townsfolk show that they care.

Though his words are simple and few
Listen, listen – he’s calling to you:
“Feed the hens, Toonie a day.
Toonie, Toonie, Toonie a day.”

I’ll be doing a dress up video at the Farm to promote this one – our hens do not eat like birds!  All proceeds go to the Albion Hills Community Farm and the Caledon Backyard Hens Pilot Project.

🐣 little old chicken man Skid Crease, Caledon

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