banned in Westcliffe

If you’re looking for a typically scintillating post on the momentous Westcliffe Estates Community Meeting last night – sorry! It’s hard to report on events that you’re not allowed to attend.

I was banned from entering the building – when I arrived on the bike-taxi with wanderer on board we were told that wanderer and her squeeze could enter, but me, I was banned on the authority of president Bill, who was plenty steamed that I was raining on his parade.

I still respect you, Bill, but quite a bit less. Please consider carefully what you’re doing – sooner or later you’ll have to square it with your conscience.

To enforce Bill’s edict several other poor souls were on duty to make sure that I didn’t try to sneak into the public meeting: Greg Dack, the six-figure Manager of Corporate Security, two police officers, Rick’s hitman Jay, my buddy Bruce, and some of Mayor Watson’s people. Surely there are better ways to spend our tax dollars?

I’m not complaining – I was better off outside peeking through the window, as nothing exciting seemed to be going on inside. Mayor Jim delivered a long, boring electoral speech about why he’s the greatest invention since sliced bread, Rick got to perform his standard stump speech, and everything else went tickety-boo. The promised “free refreshments” lacked lustre. I’m guessing there were about 25 people present, not a bad turnout for a community association meeting, but hardly representative of the entire Westcliffe/Bells Corners community.

Rick had a few of his taxpayer-funded employees on duty to make sure that everything went smoothly. The missus, looking ravishing as usual, was there to lend support to her man, and all the usual characters were in attendance to protect their interests.

On the good news front – even though Bill has banned me for life from public meetings, I’m still allowed to post on the Westcliffe Estates Community Association Facebook site, as long as I behave myself and not write anything that will offend any of the persons in power.

Welcome to grassroots democracy, Rick Chiarelli style! Pretty crappy democracy, in my humble opinion, but way better than in Syria or Libya!

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19 Responses to banned in Westcliffe

  1. The problem with people like Rick Chiarelli is that they can’t survive in the internet age. He is too stupid to realize that doing stuff like this is a lot worse than just letting you attend. If he allowed you in one of two things happens — you sit through a boring meeting quietly or you cause a disturbance at which point you look bad. By preventing you from even going in and showing up with a ridiculous level of security all he does is spare you the mundanity of sitting through a boring meeting while simultaneously giving you abundant ammunition to mock him.

    Before anyone knew who I was I got to overhear their conversation discussing you and your blog at the Lynwood meeting. It is quite interesting how much your blog bothers them.

    – I’m disappointed that Bill is willing to hop into bed with Rick and Alex, turning a blind eye to all their underhanded dirty deals. Sure, there are benefits to kowtowing to powerful people, but is it really worth it?

    Bill claimed in public that his anger comes from me “accusing him of stealing money from the community association” even though he knows that I have never said any such thing. He’s been hanging out with the councillor too long, admiring his sleazy tactics, where winning is all that counts and ethics get thrown out the window. Pretty sad.

    • I think your use of “powerful” has to be a joke. We are talking about megalomaniacs who despite a lifetime in politics are still at the municipal level and will never amount to anything greater than that. A bunch of nobodies prevented Rick Chiarelli, who was almost certainly doing the bidding of Jim Watson and Bob Chiarelli, from wasting business owners’ money on a vanity project for a deceased Liberal. Rick gets mocked constantly in the press and nobody who matters has any respect for him. So unless by powerful you mean Rick is the official Ottawa goof I think you’ll need to edit that for accuracy.

      The problem with a lot of people is that they give too much deference to offices. Most people also prefer to avoid confrontation. It is a lot easier for Bill to just go along with Rick than stand up to him. I wouldn’t really hold it against Bill. He likely hasn’t realized that all Rick does is take credit for things he had nothing to do with and make empty promises. As soon as Bill realizes that Rick is not coming back in 2014 he’ll jump ship. There is no loyalty in a modus vivendi arrangement and the second the cracks start showing people jump ship.

      – I wasn’t joking when I said “Rick is powerful man” – he sure beat the crap out of me and I don’t go down easy. Got me fired from my volunteer jobs and branded a pariah in my own neighbourhood. You gotta respect that kind of street-level power when it’s shoved in your face.

      But I agree with you that, on a grander scale, Rick’s balloon has been punctured. All the bad press and the political damage he did to his fellow councillors means that the Chiarelli brand is severely tarnished.

      That doesn’t mean that he won’t get away with it though. Sure, any aspirations to a higher level of power have been shot down by the Lloyd Francis Boulevard blunder, but he still has a shot at getting reelected as College ward boss in 2014, especially if a serious candidate doesn’t step forward to take him on.

      Somebody told me that Randall Denley lives in College ward, which was news to me – I thought he lived in Jan Harder’s bailiwick. If Randall loses to Rick’s cousin Bob (which seems unlikely to me), then maybe he’d run against Rick in 2014? It’d be a cakewalk for him and he’s made it quite clear in his columns that he has no respect for Rick.

      If Randall’s not interested maybe Earl will throw his hat in the ring?

      Or Lowell? He’s like a god around here.

      It IS a pretty amazing story, how, as you say, “a bunch of nobodies” managed to upend the Rick Chiarelli applecart and deal him the biggest defeat of his long political career (not counting the time he ran for the Liberals and Gary Guzzo kicked his butt).

      It was really a perfect storm of bad luck for the councillor, which started when Nancy Robertson said “That’s the last straw!” and launched her petition.

      From that point on all the pieces seemed to fall miraculously into place, a combination of luck, skill and hard work, as ordinary people (journalists, residents and local business owners) decided it was time to remind Rick that he works for us (not the other way around), and that all taxpayers (residents and businesses) need to be respected, not just special interests.

      It’s no wonder Canadians don’t respect politicians with guys like Rick at the helm:

      doctors – 94 per cent respect them

      police officers – 83 per cent

      teachers – 83 per cent

      journalists – 49 per cent

      lawyers – 44 per cent

      politicians – 25 per cent

      • margaret says:

        even below lawyers …
        wonder what the figure is if the politicians are lawyers too

        maybe Randall Denley could win against Bob C – journalists rate higher

  2. margaret says:

    what a waste of taxpayers’ money … police and security guards and bodyguards ….

    Craig and I have had some long chats the last few months …
    had one last night in Westcliffe where he appears to be banned too ….
    he knows he gets close to the wire on certain issues – I’ve told him enough times

    I thought we had freedom to choose what we hear or read or speak – even the right to protest ….

    I also thought we lived in a democratic society …. but do we ?
    maybe with the above security set up and banning without apparent just cause …
    it sounds more like a police state in the making

    we might not agree with everything Craig rants on about …
    that’s our choice in this so called free country …
    but he certainly provides an ‘eclectic’ or even ‘electric’ blog
    that gets us thinking outside those little boxes we live within

    admit it …. how many times has he stirred something up when the light bulb went on
    ‘that was just what I was thinking …’ ?

    how many of us are only too thankful that someone else is voicing concerns and raising issues ? …. it lets the rest of us off the hook of being labelled ‘rebel’ and being ‘banned’ from community spaces … for daring to make a statement

    I started writing this in reply to Gordon Stewart re bullying and switched it to this section …
    it is sad to see community people who are willing to provide a service for their community being ousted or not encouraged to help … it’s not as though there is a deluge of volunteers out there these days

    OK …. Craig can be bothersome at times – he’s a character …
    but if I need to know what is going on in my community of Bells Corners …
    I know where to look … HERE … thanks to Craig

    thanks Craig for raising concerns for us all …
    thanks for your sense of humour – most of the time …
    and thanks for your love of our community ….
    keep up the good work you are trying to do –
    just maybe ‘temper’ some of it down a tad 🙂
    or we’ll all lose the benefits you CAN provide ….
    or are ALLOWED to provide

    finally got a ride on Ellie the rickshaw – bike – taxi …
    ( known by some as the rick-chiar-elli )

  3. wanderer says:

    I was disappointed to have to leave Craig outside of the community centre for the meeting. I quickly became aware that unpopular questions weren’t wanted or properly responded to. When RC proudly proclaimed how much BC had improved during his tenure, I was tempted to stand up and ask exactly what had changed, outside of the huge Rexall box store. The streets, sidewalks and ‘boulevard’ are still in terrible shape with weeds aplenty, there are still plenty of boarded-up stores, and the dreadful BIA signs are still ugly as sin. Where is the improvement? The Vox was going to be ‘dozed no matter what was going on – it was a legal matter and nothing to do with RC.

    He was sure tooting his own horn, as was Jimmy – electioneering all the way, and extolling his own marvellous virtues, with promises galore (which may as well be ignored, as we know how well the Liberals keep their promises). I left before the end, as I couldn’t stand to hear any more BS.

    The ride to and from the meeting was truly delightful, and I’ll be using it more often – thanks again, Craig ol’ buddy (:>)

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmmm, if that’s all that went on during the meeting it seems I saved a couple of hours of my time, and I was kind of upset that I couldn’t make it.

      Although it would have been fun to hang around outside and watch Craig giving people rides on his bike-taxi.

      – After taking the community police officer on her hair-raising thrill ride (it’s a very steep hill from the community building down to the playground) my next customers were a middle-aged couple out for a stroll. I pulled up beside them on Seyton and they just hopped on without further ado, as if it were the most natural thing in the world (I’ve noticed that people from other nations, where rickshaws and pedicabs are not uncommon, tend to be less wary of the bike-taxi than the average Bells Corners resident).

      Then some teenagers hailed me down on Forester. I had already given two of them a ride on the strip a couple of days earlier, so they were eager to go for another spin. One of the kids wanted to stop and talk to the policeman guarding the entrance to the community building because “he wanted to go into law enforcement” so we went over for a chat. The officer encouraged him to work hard at school and wished him luck in his chosen career.

      My next passengers were a blue-collar guy (judging by how dirty his clothes were) and his roommate- I saw him getting out of his vehicle after a long, tough day at work and he immediately said yes when I suggested a ride. They really whooped it up – he said that he had experienced a pretty crappy day at work, and that the bike-taxi ride was pretty much the highlight of his day. Must have been a really crappy day! Somebody took a photo of them, but it didn’t come out too well – you can hardly make out Greg Dack and Jay lurking in the shadows chatting with the policeman guarding the meeting.

  4. wanderer says:

    PS – I forgot to mention that I am now a ‘friend’ of Jay’s – he recognized me and called out to me. Is that a good thing, or am I now in deep doo doo as well?? Just asking.

    – With friends like Jay you don’t need enemies. But there may be hope for him yet – while I was chewing the fat with Greg Dack and the police officer I was getting off some good zingers, poking fun at corrupt politicians and overpaid smug bureaucrats, and Jay actually laughed at one of my jokes! Maybe the mini-Rick has a conscience and a sense of humour after all (if you dig down deep enough).

  5. Gravy says:

    “Greg Dack, the six-figure Manager of Corporate Security, two police officers, Rick’s hitman Jay, my buddy Bruce, and some of Mayor Watson’s people.”

    Terrible. What does that make, almost a third of the people in attendance were City staff there to defend themselves against the founder of the Bells Corners bike-taxi? That’s the second time in six months that they summoned expensive muscle to go to a *community association meeting.* How is that going to look to observers in the media? It doesn’t make you look dangerous, it makes them look crazy and paranoid.

    – To be fair, only one of the police officers was on active security duty – the other one is the community police officer who was there to liaise with the community, not to keep an eye on me. She even went for a ride on the bike-taxi, much to the crowd’s amusement.

    Jim’s handlers didn’t look at all like muscle (more like mini-Jim wannabe politicians) and, in any case, they were too busy tweeting to have been of any practical use if I had made a sudden move and tried to run over Rick with the bike-taxi or launch a water balloon at Jim.

    Bruce is on Bill’s payroll, not the City’s.

  6. TonyL1 says:

    I thought Lynwood’s circus in May was bad, the common people who go to these community meetings must wonder about all the tough security, which is especially alarming considering it’s only a community association meeting.

    So glad I live in Bellwood, our community association is dead and buried and I hope it stays that way!

    I now have a total dislike for community associations, all they seem to do is create friction and start in-house fighting… time to listen to some punk rock now!!!! I’m pissed off.

  7. Brian says:

    A least Alex and I can agree on this – it looks like there is a conspiracy afoot in Bells Corners, in order to deceive, mislead, or defraud some of their legal rights to gain an unfair advantage.

  8. Jayme says:

    It does upset me that craig was banned but no, this is not leading to a police state – if that were the case all we would see is closed meetings – no public allowed, no public voting, in short no public say.

    • The current track we are on is worse than that. At least in a police state there is no illusion of freedom. The current situation where politicians subvert community groups and replace individuals who represent the interests of the community with people who will just endorse what the politician wants is much worse. This allows the politician to claim he has community support when he actually doesn’t.

      I don’t know enough about Westcliffe to say if that is the case there but it is certainly the case with the Bells Corners BIA and the Lynwood Village Community Association. There is no reason to assume it would be any different in Westcliffe but hopefully it is.

    • margaret says:

      abusing one power against another …. just because that ‘power’ has ‘muscle’ and can do it …. not acceptable

      would the ordinary ‘man-in-the-street’ … Craig for example …. be given that kind of protection and support ? doubt it very much

      as for closed meetings – there have been issues recently where public input was not actually prevented, but it certainly wasn’t sought, and it got to the stage where the public had to fight every inch of the way to get some say … in OUR community in 2011

      to me, not being kept informed and no meetings/consultation … when the public has to constantly search for information to know what is going on …. is as bad as closed meetings and in effect produces what you mention ….. “no public allowed, no public voting, in short no public say”

  9. Jayme says:

    In some cases community associations are needed – in bellwood it may not be but in westcliffe it is.

    • margaret says:

      why would westcliffe be any different to any other community ?
      bellwood needs or should have an association
      same as lynwood
      or maybe it’s time to start a Bells Corners association to cover the whole community –
      most issues that arise affect the whole community rather than each little pocket

      • Jayme says:

        Neighourhoods should all have community associations, yes, but smaller communities that may not want to organize events etc. could get away with out having one.

  10. TonyL1 says:

    I’m just upset that community associations have now become politician associations, all about power, power, power. Examples: Rick and Co. hijacking control of Lynwood (for power) or Annie Coghlan taking control of the Bellwood Homeowners Community Association, which in turn caused its total collapse.

    The BCHA is just as much a dirty word in Bellwood, just as dirty as the shady landlord Parkbridge is here- it all went to crap!

    We didn’t even hold an AGM this year. In Bellwood a community association is definitely needed – at least it succeeded in warding off Rick’s developer friends who wanted to evict residents from 250 homes in 2008.

    So at the time it did a wonderful job…. but time passes and power gets ugly…….

    • margaret says:

      if it’s needed there’s nothing stopping you from forming an independent association / committee … just call yourselves something else

  11. Brian says:

    Tony is correct about the Bellwood Association. I helped create and plant the seeds for the Association, but was never its president or vice-president. My role was “media director”
    a position that I held from the association’s early days in 2008.

    Then I volunteered to step down from the the board in order to go up against the landlord, to avoid a conflict of interest.

    Something Annie Coghlan must not agree with this principle, as she is now not only president of the association but also works for the landlord Parkbridge.

    She didn’t have the fortitude to have the board help me in a legal battle that required
    a lot of support (and could have saved every tenant in here money!), support I had to gather myself knocking on every door!

    On November 26th 2010, the court date came. I lost the case (but I came close to winning though!).

    Basically the case was against Parkbridge. The tenants were (and still are) paying the landlord’s taxes on property that the landlord owns. The judge ruled that since this situation has been happening since 1959, then it was still okay….

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