Wine and watering the garden

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

RT @ccaaltavista: Next up – Breakfast with SANTA! Sat. Dec.10, 8-10 a.m. Canterbury Community Centre #ottawa #altavista

So OK, this isn’t the post I was hoping to out up the day after the vote, but I am proud nonetheless.

I gave her a run for her money and while I truly thought I had a shot, it was not to be. This time.

Will there be a next time? I don’t know. It really depends on what the Board and Ms. Funiciello do over the next few years. I will be watching them closely.

What will I do between now and 2014?

Well, I will stay involved in child and education related groups and follow the issues (e.g., integration of Early Learning into our schools). I am going to integrate more discussions of these issues into my “normal” blog, Trashy’s World.

I am going to involve myself even more in the comings and goings of my local community. One thing that this campaign has taught me is that I have truly missed the political side of community involvement and will be engaging even more intensively over the next while.

So watch for me… I’m not going away.

Bronwyn – congratulations. You ran the campaign well and you earned the win… and it was nice meeting you. It is clear that public education is as important to you as to me, but heed the sentence above. I’m in this for the long haul. I will commend you when earned and will criticise when warranted.

Mohamoud – great meeting you too. You bring a lot to the table and I sincerely hope our paths cross again.

Aside from the 4462 voters of Zone 6 who voted for me, I need to thanks some folks who made this possible. Politics is really a team game and without a good team, success is difficult.

  • All who volunteered their lawns to be the home of an advertisement for yours truly.
  • The friends and family who took time out of their own busy lives to go door-to-door for me. I appreciate your commitment and I will never forget this. Ever.
  • Riley Brockington – thank you for your advice and your confidence. It was and is appreciated. Too bad about EMC screwing up and putting the ad in the WRONG paper!
  • The other Trustees and Trustee candidates who gave me encouragement and advice. I will not forget who you are. And that goes also to the Council and Mayoral candidates who I had the pleasure to meet.
  • All of the folks in the Twitterverse who provided me with endless entertainment, valuable information and a good belly laugh or three.

And most importantly… my family, who have put up with me over the past few months.

  • Steve, Stella and Vicky for helping out in an amazing way! Steve and Stella actually drove from Montreal on the first day of my campaign just to hand out flyers for a few hours!
  • My daughter and son, Addy and Owen (6 & 3), were my War Room coordinators…. stapling business cards on to flyers and cutting out other promo materials.  They have delved into this like a couple of political hacks!
  • My 17 yr old daughter Torii, who has always amazed me with her personality and confidence, but I never imagined her being an eager canvasser! She took to it like a fish to water. Thanks Bubba! You have earned a nice gift from China.
  • And the biggest thank-you goes to my beautiful, talented and incredibly organised wife, Colleen. She was simply amazing through all of this. Picked me up when I was down, kicked me out the door when I didn’t really feel like hitting the sidewalks and most of all – kept my head in check.  Those of you who have run in campaigns know what I mean when I say that the full commitment of one’s spouse is essential. Without it, you might as well forget running. Colleen’s support was over the top. And guess what she is doing today? As I am on my way to Beijing on a business trip (I’m writing this in the lounge of the Vancouver airport), she is driving around Zone 6 picking up signs.

Are we up to 3 pairs of shoes and a girls’ weekend, honey?

That’s all I have to say for now. I don’t know what I’ll do with this site (51 posts and over 4000 page views). I don’t have the time to run Trashy’s World plus this one on a full time basis, so this might be archived. And like I said above, I think I’ll be taking Trashy’s World in a bit of a different direction anyhow…

So that’s about it. Thanks for reading and I’ll see y’all around.

OCDSB Zone 6

Total %
Number of Polls/Nombre de bureaux de scrutin 76
Polls Reporting/Bureaux de scrutin rapportés 76 100.0%
Total Votes/Total des votes 13127
Mohamoud Abdulle 1311 9.99%
Bronwyn Funiciello 7354 56.02%
John Marshall 4462 33.99%

Here we are folks. The day before the election.  Tomorrow, we will vote for our Trustees, Mayor and Councillors.

I have received so much encouragement from so many people…. got a call the other night that gave me the impetus to stay the course for a few hours more.

Here are the brass tacks: I will do as I say. I will listen. And I will respond.

The past few months have been really enjoyable. So many great folks in this community. So many great ideas.

I ask for the honour of your vote on Monday and I will put these great ideas into motion.

Thank-you..

And yes, I know I look goofy below… it gets better.

Not going to spend a lot of time on this… more important to get out on the streets as much as possible these last few days.

But there has been much talk about Trustee slates and endorsements by various “community groups” and unions. One of the endorsing groups was Our Ottawa – who came out with their endorsements for Trustee. They are as follows:

Zone 1 (West Carleton–March/Stittsville–Kanata West/Rideau–Goulbourn):  Todd Johnson
Zone 2 (Kanata South / Kanata North): Christine Boothby
Zone 3 (Barrhaven / Knoxdale):  Donna Blackburn
Zone 4 (Bay):  Theresa Kavanagh
Zone 5 (College): Pam Fitzgerald
Zone 6 (Rideau-Rockcliffe / Alta Vista): Bronwyn Funiciello
Zone 8 (Orleans / Cumberland): Lale Eskicioglu
Zone 9 (Rideau-Vanier / Capital): Rob Campbell
Zone 10 (Somerset / Kitchissippi): Jennifer McKenzie
Zone 11 (River): Shirley Seward
Zone 12 (Innes / Beacon Hill-Cyrville): Chris Ellis

Now. This is not a whine. Nor sour grapes. Folks are free to endorse whoever they want.  But…. I was checking out the Our Ottawa Facebook page. And these are the Admins for the page:

  • Phil Robinson
  • Jennifer McKenzie
  • Johanna Hove (Carleton CA)
  • Will Murray
  • Rob Campbell
  • Sabrina Bowman
  • Rick Devereux
  • Patrick Quealey

And they claim there isn’t a slate? I mean, I can understand the whole sign colour thing being a coincidence, but how transparent is it for obviously active members in an organization endorse themselves and those Trustees and candidates who share their views?

Just sayin’…

Oh, and I took a screen shot of the page because I suspect someone will be rushing to remove these names real quick-like…

October 20 2010
*For immediate release*
Trustee Brockington endorses John Marshall for Ottawa Carleton District School Board Zone 6 Trustee.
Public School Board Trustee Riley Brockington offered his endorsement on Wednesday to newcomer John Marshall for Zone 6 Trustee (Alta Vista and Rideau/Rockcliffe).
“Mr. Marshall has consistently shown both through his service to his community and throughout his campaign that he has the skills and enthusiasm necessary to be a strong voice for the Zone 6 community at the Board table. I am confident that his election would mean a truly representative and responsive voice for parents and other constituents in Alta Vista and Rideau/Rockcliffe.” Brockington announced on Wednesday.
Marshall responded that “I am very pleased and honoured to receive this endorsement. Trustee Brockington has a long history of service to the Board and his community and his confidence in me is very encouraging. If the voters of Zone 6 see fit to elect me on October 25th, I look forward to proving myself worthy of his endorsement.”

On the left, Trustee Brockington, on the right, John Marshall

to big time advertise the Pleasant Park / Hawthorne GIANT Book Sale to be held this Saturday!

This is an important fundraiser for all of you who like books. And who doesn’t like a good book?

Mega thanks to Anne and all of her volunteers who have pulled this together. This is a LOT of work and I want to recognize that! I’ll be at PP on Friday night till the wee hours sorting books. No campaigning, just helping out.

Come on by. Buy a book or three. And help your community school!

Raising the bar

Posted: October 17, 2010 in Platform
Tags:

Verb

to raise the bar

  1. (idiomatic) To raise standards or expectations, especially by creating something to a higher standard.
    Acme’s new technology will raise the bar for the entire industry.

“Why do you want to do this?”

As I walk around the streets of my community, I have time to reflect on questions like these.

It is in fact a stock question asked of each and every candidate for a seat at the School Board Table. Indeed, it is a question asked of any candidate – Trustee, Councillor, Mayor, or in a job interview.

But in the case of public office, the question is often framed in the context of “why do you want to take on a task that will place huge demands on you and your family, practically wipe out any free time you now have, sets you up as a target for anyone with a grievance and pays pretty much peanuts relative to the hours spent on the job.”

The answer for each candidate varies according to the platform of ideas that the particular candidate wants to put out there. Some have new and innovative ideas and approaches. Some want greater transparency and accountability. Better communications. Better fiscal management. Better representation. Some care deeply for local governance and feel they can contribute in a positive way. Others have an axe to grind. Some are running more “against” an incumbent than actually “for” anything.

My reasons for running fit into a number of those reasons.

But, as has happened a few times over the past few months, clarity clicks and I am reminded of the real reason why I took up this challenge.

I want to help raise the bar for education in Zone 6 and in Ottawa.

Joe Banks of the Citizen penned an article last week that reminded me of my true motivation.

Mediocrity has become the new normal.

Today’s Castor Valley School Council was told at its June meeting that the school would have two more portables, bringing its total to nine from seven. This is progress?

That over-reliance on portables, in fact, is a city-wide problem. And as much as we can harp on it in the rural wards, Citizen columnist Randall Denley recently highlighted the 30-year-old school overcrowding issue in Kanata. Katimavik elementary school “has nearly as many students in portables as it does in the school and is likely the most crowded school in the system,” he reported.

Even if you don’t have kids in the system, the structural reliance on portables is an aged sign the system is not progressing, in spite of McGuinty’s pro-education pronouncements.

That should be of great concern to every taxpayer, and something broached by the candidates running for school board this fall, a campaign largely overshadowed by the municipal one, which has in turn been sidelined by the mayoral contest.

Mediocrity has become the new normal.

If an apparently progressive society has stopped progressing and, in fact, shows signs of regression, then it’s a clear sign there’s a systemic break in the system, that in spite of the comings and goings of staff, trustees, students and parents, there remains an immovable obstacle to make things better.

Regrettably, most voters don’t care, or at least don’t know to care, about local government, and much less about school board matters, at least until an issue surfaces that directly affects their property values or quality of life.

You and I can shout that needs to change. But until the current system recognizes how some wrongs are never made right, the only progress we’ll see is in voter cynicism.

If low standards (e.g., portables) persist long enough, then they become the benchmarks – the norm rather than below the norm.

And I don’t think we can point to only our aging infrastructure in this way. Talk around Board tables and Council tables is always about cutting programs, prioritization, slashing budgets, “zero means zero”. It is seldom about how to move forward, improve programs meet new needs, excelling. It does happen (e.g., Trustee Brockington’s motion to look at the feasibility of integrating a swimming program into the curriculum), but not as often as it should.

Now to be clear, I am not suggesting that the Board go on a haphazard spending spree. Not at all. The Trustees are responsible for tax dollars collected from Ottawans and these funds must be allocated carefully and without waste. This is imperative. Yet it is also imperative that the conversation changes from one of meeting the bare minimum to how families can be offered a boosted version of excellence in education. Innovation in programs. Challenges to the norm.

Raising the bar.

We are fortunate to have truly great schools in this city with equally talented and inspiring educators. We are not starting from the bottom rung by no means! Look around. Look at Canterbury HS and its world-renowned arts programs. Look at Riverview Alternative and how it offers top-notch teaching in a way that meets the needs of a variety of students. Pleasant Park PS and Alta Vista PS and their engaged parent communities. Rockcliffe Park PS and its rich history. And look at all of the rest of the schools in Zone 6 and this city and each of them offers something that screams out “excellence!”

But we can do even better. We can raise that bar everywhere. Stand up to Queens Park. Raise that lowest common denominator. Reduce the number of portables. Be more responsive. Be more transparent. Don’t settle for less.

And that is why I am running for Trustee.

 

Then click on this link. Go to Zone 6 and you will see the link on my name.

It sends you to the answers to a number of questions posed to me last week by the Ottawa Parents Education Network. They seem like a solid group with admirable goals.

Here is a summary of their mission:

The Ottawa Parents’ Education Network (OPEN) is dedicated to providing information on public school-related issues to people in the Ottawa region. OPEN was created by a group of parents who want to focus attention on what is happening in our schools and promote greater parent and community engagement in public education.  Our goal is to keep parents and community members informed about local issues in education and, in doing so, foster greater collaboration between parents, trustees and board staff to ensure that public schools are meeting the diverse needs of all students and families in Ottawa.

I think that regardless of whether or not I am elected, I will stay in touch with these folks.

After campaigning full tilt for the past month, I have found that among the majority of voters, there is a misperception or no perception of the role of the Trustee.  Young and not so young, high school graduates and PhD alike, there is certainly a disconnect when it comes to understanding the Trustee and their place in our system of local governance.

Yes, School Board Trustees are elected at the same time as are the Mayor and the City Councillors. And it is your democratic duty to vote for them as you would your Mayor or Councillor.

When you arrive at your polling station, you will be given 3 ballots, one (a very long one in Ottawa) ballot for your choice of Mayor, one for your Ward Councillor and one for School Board Trustee. Depending on which system you gave designated as having your support – through your property – taxes you will receive either a ballot for the English Public, French Public, English Catholic, French Catholic. You mark an X beside the Trustee of your choice just like the others.

So why bother? Say you don’t have children and never plan to, why vote for someone who is not going to impact your life?

Well, for starters, the children now are the Doctors, Engineers, Builders, Teachers, Emergency officers, Nurses, etc. of tomorrow. The decisions that the Board makes DIRECTLY impacts on how these children are taught, what they are taught and where they are taught.

So you do have a stake in this.

Plus, whether or not you realise it, you are paying into the system so why not have a say? Through your property taxes (they are buried in your rent if you are not a homeowner), your provincial taxes and the HST you are paying… and paying big! The OCDSB, for example, has a budget of $700 million! That is not chicken feed.

Finally -and this is a pet reason of my own – by not voting, you are sending the message to Queens Park that local control over education decision making is not important.

Since the Harris days, power has gradually shifted from our local communities to the Province of Ontario. Provincial officials are making decisions that affect Ottawa families and I strongly believe that these decisions are best made by local communities.

The Boards do still have considerable authority. They choose which programs are offered in which schools. ESL, French Immersion, Gifted Programs – all are under the authority of the Board. They choose to open schools or close (gulp!) them. They vote on student transportation, programs with the broader community.

They are responsible for our schools’ infrastructure and the safety of our kids.

Their role – albeit diminished from past years – is vital to our City.

In short, please do vote for your Trustee. Even if you don’t vote for me, at least cast a vote. This is democracy in action!