Wednesday 28 September 2011

Working in Montréal today --Cost of Flight

Good morning folks, I will be working in the belle province today.
Took the 7 A.M. flight which is fine, but I was still in my housecoat at 5:55 so do the math, shower, ear Q-tip, shave, brush teeth, run out the door.  Stop, turn around, go back in, get dressed, out the door, drive (construction on Eglington, one lane of course), park, security, gate, plane, yeah baby!
Hey, how about this from the reckless spending department:
Peter MacKay, Defence Minister flew 35 times in the last four years, 25 of which were flights in Canada and he spent 2.9 million dollars doing it.  That is $82,857 per flight.  Even with a 50% bullshit factor that would still be $42,430 per flight.  I'll add that only the PM is precluded from flying commercial flights for security theatre reasons, and that cabinet members are encouraged by policy to take commercial flights where possible, but these weren't commercial flights but rather flights by way of our armed forces Challenger jets, oh.. and none of the flights were to Afghanistan.
Interesting, I do specifically remember a flight from Ottawa to Toronto that I was on, perhaps the year before last and the guy in the seat adjacent to me had two brief cases, one had Peter MacKay's tags on it, but I recognized him as not being Peter MacKay.  I queried something to the effect of, "How is it that you have Peter MacKay's briefcase?" (but not coming across as an interrogation although I had asked the flight attendant to help me with the water-boarding) and he replied that he was MacKay's aide, and the minister was on a different flight.  I guess a different airline too.
I'll add that I have seen many MPs, cabinet members, a few former PMs and once sat across the aisle from Jack on commercial flights and no one ever bugs them, although it's nice to exchange a "good morning".
Last year for business and personal I flew around 60 round trips in Canada, the U.S., and France and Italy and I bet I spent around $36,000 averaging around $600 per loop, the Paris - Toronto flights certainly pulling up the average.  Flying on a Rapid Air flight pass for Toronto, Ottawa, Montéal, upgrading only on points and using Aeroplan miles for some flights all help control the costs.
I don't think he's even trying.
Have a good day, please shop responsibly.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Working in Ottawa today --Peace Out

Good morning folks,
I will be working in Ottawa today.
Are our leaders mad?  In a odd reversal of position, both Harper and Obama took positions against Palestinian Statehood and are both lobbying for UN members to vote against the Palestine bid for recognition as a state.
Bear in mind that both of these leaders stated support for such an initiative as recent as last year.  Obama stated last August, ".. security for the Jewish State (Israel) requires an independent Palestine."  Now Obama was quoted as stating, "there is no shortcut to the end of conflict that has endured for decades. .. Peace is hard work.  Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN."
Really?  Perhaps we could try another 60 years of territory conflict and violence and see how that works out.  Another 60 years of bloodshed and crimes against humanity orchestrated by both sides of this enduring conflict?
What is the source of this reversal, I don't know, but for Obama it may be that once again that this rather ineffectual president (remember the high hopes we had when he was elected?) has capitulated to the Republican agenda-- one that sees the political advantage of continued military aggression between the parties, evidence which can be seen outside the UN with U.S. Conservatives picketing against the Palestine bid.  As for Harper's reversal --I don't know, I sincerely hope he is not just following the Americans blindly.
Interesting enough, the bid has the support of dozens of leading Israeli intellectuals and Israel Prize laureates.  Today they will unveil a supporting document at the same place where David Ben Gurion declared the state of Israel in 1948.
Israel was formed based upon the UN offer of partition, an offer that at that time also proposed the state of Palestine.
So not in 1948 and not in 2011 either, still too early?
Have a good day, Peace out.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Working in Ottawa Today then Montréal --Fight City Hall

Good morning friends, colleagues, countrymen,
Today I will be working in Ottawa followed by tomorrow in Montréal.
The love affair with Toronto's mayor may be over as quick as it began, such as it is with infatuations.
When Rob Ford was running for office he ran on a campaign of getting rid of the gravy, that "Toronto's budget was thick with wasteful gravy" (?) -- I don't know, perhaps it was "Toronto's plate had too much gravy"..  "The gravy boat needs to be bailed"?
What ever it was, Ford was the guy to trim the fat.  damn.  Let's start again.  Ford was the guy to get the Gravy Boat's sails running trim?  But after months of study, it turned out there wasn't any, you see, the previous administrations had actually done their jobs, they too looked to their staff to see where tax dollars might be wasted.
The several month study performed by KPMG commissioned by Ford confirmed exactly that.
So Ford has turned to a different tack (see, we knew this was about boats) and wants to lay off 300 firefighters, effectively taking 22 fire trucks off the street, despite the fact that response times are already 24% longer than council targets.  He also wants to sell off the city zoo, Casablanca Loma, and the Port Lands.  Oh yes, and also sell off Green P parking, despite that Green P makes money for the city, it's profitable.
The Port Land sell off is being characterized as a "revitalization" of the lands near the mouth of the Don River.  Ford's vision is to sell off the land to foreign investors that promise to build a shopping mall, to presumably take the retail business away from the existing city malls and place all of the traffic down to lake shore where we already have large traffic problems.
And my favorite part of his plan?  A monorail and a ferris wheel.  Really, a ferris wheel?
Did he miss the Simpsons episode where Springfield has some 'extra' money and builds a monorail?  Does he just pretend to not be aware that there exists already a multi-jurisdictional Port Lands planning and development board that has just recently concluded a 5 year study involving actual wetlands and municipal planning professionals?
Their study confirms the requirement of additional flood control wetlands, a project already started by previous administrations, additional green space and multiple use parkland.  Bet you have already guessed that their study did not show that we needed a ferris wheel.
Have a good day, fight city hall.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Working in Ottawa today --New Class Wars

Good morning folks and folkettes, I will be working in Ottawa today.
Will be a tad late getting into the office, the A320 that we took us from Toronto was originally scheduled to fly to Vancouver.  Ottawa being much closer would not consume as much fuel as was supplied for Vancouver and would have left us overweight for landing.  Apparently putting fuel into a plane is much much easier than removing fuel.
Why we are on the subject of consumables.. I have read a few accounts in the last few days about certain U.S. municipalities criminalizing the feeding of their city's hungry and homeless.
Eh?  Oh yes.  Orlando, Florida, which one of my brothers may once have described to me as a great series of highway exit ramps to not take, passed legislation back in 2006 making it a code violation punishable by 6 months in jail and a $500 fine to feed people in public parks.
The city's finest have begun arresting members of groups such as "Food not Bombs" for feeding the hungry.
On the opposite end of that country San Diego, California, has taken a slightly different approach, and instead of passing new laws, simply cites the fact that parks, street corners and church parking lots are not zoned for eating.  This writer will comment that no such zoning exists, not in San Diego, not in Toronto.  Similarly no special zoning exists for breathing, kissing or the wearing of loafers.
That city's food programs have all but disappeared as the city moved against church groups and the Salvation army which also shut down its meal program.  I could only find info on one group trying to fight back, the Pacific Beach Methodist Church has filed a suit against the city after code enforcement officers cited the church for conducting a once a week feed program.
Now this is the type of class warfare one expects to see the press report on, unlike Fox News report that Warren Buffet is unfairly targeting the rich for taxation with his comments that he and his ilk should be paying higher taxes.  Fox News also reported that "Just because someone is wealthy, it doesn't mean they are rich and have extra money to pay higher taxes."  Fox News also wants the IRS to do away with the loop holes that allow lower income families to pay no or little tax at all.
The new IRS motto:  "All should pay their share of taxes, including the homeless, hungry and indigent."
Have a good day.  Make a donation.