1. Low income transit passes
“Why are we holding back on low income transit passes?” asks Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler:
Some time in the four years it took to get this program officially adopted, city staff and council decided that only 1,000 people can qualify for discounted passes at a time. (Once you qualify, you don’t necessarily buy a pass every month. Even at $39, a monthly transit pass is a considered purchase for anyone with a low income.)
This month, that participation cap means 137 people are on a waiting list, and will remain there until someone in the program cannot afford to buy a pass for six consecutive months, getting themselves officially kicked out.
It’s needlessly complicated, and it’s unfair.
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2. Auditor general to investigate IWK
Auditor General Michael Pickup issued a release yesterday:
In response to an official request from the IWK and ongoing discussions with Board officials, Auditor General Michael Pickup has announced his intention to conduct financial and performance audits of the IWK’s books and practices.
The auditor general and staff have been meeting with IWK officials, and reviewing public reports, but have not yet conducted any detailed audit procedures.
“I am gravely concerned with the ineffectiveness of financial controls and lack of rigor in financial management as publicly reported by the IWK in recent weeks,” said Mr. Pickup. “Given the serious nature of the identified weaknesses at the IWK, my office intends to conduct financial and performance audits of the IWK’s books and practices.”
In addition, Mr. Pickup will become the annual financial statement auditor of IWK, beginning April 1, 2018.
As part of early planning it is expected that a performance audit will cover critical aspects of oversight, financial management and controls on expenditures.
The auditor general and the IWK have agreed that, as a result of discussions to date, the IWK will turn the information it currently has related to the former CEO’s expenses over to police for their consideration on any possible legal matters.
If the auditor general’s audit uncovers additional relevant information it will also be turned over to police. These decisions will be made by the auditor general during the conduct of the audit.
The results of all performance audit work done by the auditor general will be reported publicly to the Nova Scotia Legislature as well as any significant financial statement audit results.
Reporter Michael Gorman at the CBC owns this story:
CBC News first reported in June about inconsistencies with [former IWK CEO Tracey] Kitch’s expenses. A CBC News investigation found thousands of dollars of personal expenses were charged to a corporate credit card in Kitch’s name.
CBC News reported on Monday evidence that showed Kitch and [IWK CFO Stephen] D’Arcy worked to downplay her expenses and that some items were knowingly left off public expense reports. Documents also showed D’Arcy prevented emails about the preparation of those expenses from being publicly released.
Kitch resigned from her post in August, a week before the release of a report by auditing firm Grant Thornton that showed she expensed $47,000 in personal charges to the hospital in almost three years. To date, Kitch still owes the hospital almost $10,000.
3. Monarch butterfly
The Monarch Butterfly has been added to the “endangered” category on the province’s species at risk listing, which notes:
The showy Monarch butterfly — one of the world’s recognizable insects — has experienced a 90% decrease since the 1990s. It faces multiple threats most notably disruption of unique forested mountain areas in Mexico where most of the global population overwinters, and habitat loss in summer breeding areas in Canada and the United States. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognizes the migration of Monarch butterfly as a ‘threatened process.’ Recovery of the species requires conservation effort throughout its range. The increased use of industrial herbicides in North America has depleted habitat for breeding Monarch butterflies. Native Swamp milkweed and the introduced Common milkweed are essential adult breeding habitat and larval food sources in Nova Scotia.
“Nova Scotia is a summering area for the Monarch, and they breed here, but the numbers globally aren’t huge, said species at risk biologist Donald Sam who works for the Department of Natural Resources in Kentville,” reports Lawrence Powell for the Annapolis County Spectator:
“That makes it more clear what people can do,” said [Amanda Lavers, executive director of the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute]. “We can support agricultural practices like organic local farming, that don’t destroy milkweed habitat. In Nova Scotia we have the swamp milkweed as our native milkweed and it grows typically along rivers and wetlands, sometimes along lakeshores. So we can also try to keep those areas wild, but we’ve already lost a lot of that kind of habitat.”
The Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute has established a Butterfly Club to encourage people to plant milkweed for the butterfly. Click here for details.
4. Rocky Jones Boulevard
Angel Marcus has started an online petition to change the name of Cornwallis Street to Rocky Jones Boulevard.
I believe this is the same Angel Marcus who was profiled by Rana Encol for the former Media Coop. It’s still an interesting read.
Besides the proposed name change, I don’t know what the difference between a street and a boulevard is, although I suppose “Rocky Jones Street” lacks something. Maybe if it’s named a boulevard the city will be inspired to do boulevard-like things to the roadway, like plant trees along it. (There’s a dearth of trees on the east-west streets in the neighbourhood, although when I was working at The Coast I convinced the city to plant a tree outside the office; it’s still the only street tree on Cunard between Gottingen and Argyle Streets. I walk out from Charlies sometimes and speak with it.)
Then again, Angel Marcus totally misread Peter Kelly, so there’s that:
5. Allan MacEachen
The New York Times has published an obituary of Allan J. MacEachen.
6. Horse semen
Chelsea McKendrick won a $740 small court judgment against Fed Ex because the company failed to provide overnight delivery of a package of horse semen sent from British Columbia to McKendrick’s farm in Seaforth.
“Horse sperm is motile for only a very short time. It must be kept cold and used within roughly 24 hours of production,” noted adjudicator Augustus Richardson.
I mention it only as an excuse to link to the disgustingly hilarious article written by a young Matt Taibbi for the eXile, an expat magazine published in Moscow in the 1990s and 2000s. The short shelf-life of horse sperm was an instrumental part of the story, which begins:
His name was Pobornik.
He had never read The New York Times. He would never be able to recognize a classic “pyramid lead.” His hours were occupied by other pursuits: grazing, sleeping standing up for long stretches, swatting away insects with his long, swishy tail, crunching mounds of hay in that big conical face of his. And then there was that other thing…. Pobornik had probably never known any other kind of life, and so he probably thought that his day job at Moscow’s Horse Farm #1 was part of the natural biological mission of the adult males of his species.
Strange-looking men would come to his stable during the daytime, and begin massaging him in strange places. One would be tugging at a strap tied to his mouth, and pulling him this way and that, back and forth, and all the while that strange stroking would continue, and the air would be filled with strange smells, and he would feel a tickling at his ears as his huge body convulsed with volcanic tremors…. Then there would be a commotion, and the little men would be running back and forth and between his legs, fiddling with something. Then, before he knew it, it would all be over, and they would leave him alone in his stable again. Once again it was quiet; once again the insects, the pile of hay to be finished off, the long night of confusing visions and dreams as one slept on one’s hooves.
In the first week of February the little men came twice one day. They’d had an extra order. Pobornik never saw her, but a redheaded woman in her twenties arrived at the farm one chilly morning with a handful of money. In return, Pobornik’s handlers gave her a big black thermos.
The girl, normally an office secretary, worked for the eXile. She was buying Pobornik’s sperm because she’d been gruffly ordered to do so by the newspaper’s editors. They’d been vague about what they needed it for, saying only that they needed a large quantity of horse sperm for some prank they were planning. They gave her money and delivery instructions and little additional information. They didn’t specify which horse the sperm should come from, or how she should obtain it — that was a logistical problem that they left up to her.
She did what she could, and it was only by chance that the horse farm she contacted chose Pobornik for the job. Yes, they chose Pobornik, a 15-year-old dark bay stallion with what his trainers called “totally mediocre” genes, and the poor horse never knew. He never knew what those men were really doing to him in the stable, and he never knew that it was his giant dollop of hot yellow sperm that would end up covering the face of an unsuspecting American correspondent named Michael Wines — the Worst Journalist in Russia, year 2001.
1. Cranky letter of the day
I am writing this letter about the hiring of CAO Mr. Peter Kelly by the City of Charlottetown.
It is somewhat troublesome just how this hiring process happened, due to Mr. Kelly’s past leadership roles in Halifax and Westlock, Alta.
His tenure as mayor was tainted by unauthorized spending of approximately $360,000 for a failed concert. Then he was involved in a real estate deal involving $160,000.
After he left the mayor’s seat in Halifax, he came to Charlottetown as a consultant, hired by Mayor Clifford Lee, which resulted in city council receiving huge raises of aproximately18 to 20 per cent.
He then gets hired as CAO in Westlock, again followed by allegations of unauthorized money of approximately $300,000. This came to light after he was hired by Charlottetown as CAO.
Who could possibly complete a truthful interview process and a get a CAO’s position after a proper review by any hiring board? This person has shown he cannot be trusted. Recent news released by Coun. Bob Doiron, spells miscommunications between the mayor and council. To date he is the only councilor speaking out, which is very strange.
Charlottetown council better not do what the City of Summerside did in 2010 with a failed concert, costing taxpayers approximately $1.3 million, plus another $500,000 in legal costs — and costing the mayor the election.
Once any mayor or elected officials loses trust, they are damaged forever. I would suggest Charlottetown council do the right thing and quick.
During my recent Adventure in America, my sister (that’s her to the right of the photo above) insisted we drop by the Chincoteague Museum, where Misty is on display.
Sis says that as a young girl she “fell in love” with the Misty book and would spend days drawing pictures of horses, practice which later developed into a career in art (although she doesn’t much draw pictures of horses anymore).
After the museum visit, I discovered that my friend Ruth Calvo once owned Misty (is this a small world or what?); reported the Washington Post in 1989:
But Misty died in 1972, and the Beebes turned her over to a taxidermist. Now she resides at the Chincoteague Pony Farm, a tourist attraction off the main drag that also boasts Falabella miniature horses, a miniature mule named Schultzie and nine live Misty descendants.
Ruth Calvo, the proprietor, owns most of the descendants but has a contract to show the stuffed Misty and her live foal Stormy, subject of another Marguerite Henry book.
Calvo said she pays $800 a year for the contract, with Jeanette Beebe getting a sizable cut.
About Misty, Calvo’s daughter Celina explained, “Several people think it’s a little weird to have her stuffed. Some kids ask, ‘Why doesn’t she move?’ ”
Celina Calvo, who conducts tours of the pony farm, said she is somewhat critical of the taxidermist’s work. “She has a straight back, and she’s supposed to be in a canter,” Celina Calvo said.
Ruth Calvo said Maureen Beebe, scraping along on her waitress salary, comes by fairly often because “she loves the horses.” But paying visitors are less plentiful. “It costs $3 to see 19 horses, but some people are too cheap to pay,” Celina Calvo said.
Ruth tells me that she never made any money on the pony farm; it was more a labour of love.
The pony farm is still there, behind the McDonald’s across the street from the museum.
Now it costs four bucks to see Misty at the museum, but it’s totally worth it. Oh, and Stormy is there too:
Audit & Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Mumford Terminal Replacement – Open House (Wednesday, 2pm, 6pm, St. Agnes Parish Hall, Halifax) — tell ’em to get rid of the cigarette butts and build a shelter already.
Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, NSCC IT Campus) — I keep thinking about the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. But that’s silly… we’ve got trinkets to sell to tourists.
Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Wednesday, 5pm, Alderney Library) — the board wants to talk about daylighting Sawmill River.
Public Information Meeting – Case 20756 (Wednesday, 7pm, École du Carrefour, Dartmouth) — Anthony Chedrawy, who is presumably kin to Danny Chedrawe, has a company called G2J Residential Holdings, and wants to build a five-storey, 56-unit apartment building at the southeast corner of Waverley and Montebello Roads.
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — the committee will discuss the Cogswell Interchange redevelopment.
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — just the organizational meeting for the next term of the legislature.
Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House) — Pomp! Circumstance!
Genetic conflicts shape meiosis, centromeres and speciation (Wednesday, 2pm, Collaborative Health Education Building, c-140) — Harmit S. Malik, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, will speak.
DNA methylation (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Daniel de Carvalho, from the University of Toronto, will speak on “Translational aspects of DNA methylation in cancer: therapeutic target and circulating biomarker.”
New Voices, Masterclass for Singers (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 121, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Soprano Martha Guth, baritone Tyler Duncan, and pianist Erika Switzer will perform.
Associative Algebras (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Mayada Shahada will speak on “Relationships Between the Canonical Ascending and Descending Central Series of an Associative Algebra Combinatorial Method Using the Verbal and Marginal Properties of Associative Algebras.”
Rules of Engagement: Molecular Arms Races Between Host and Viral Genomes (Thursday, 3pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Harmit Malik from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle will speak.
Capturing Conservation: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Conservation with Photography (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Nick Hawkins will speak:
Nick Hawkins is a Canadian conservation photographer and photojournalist specializing in natural history, science and conservation related issues. A biologist by training, Nick believes that photography and storytelling are key components of conservation. Nick is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers, an elite group of the world’s top wildlife, nature and culture photographers who have demonstrated a deep commitment to conservation efforts around the globe. Nick’s work has received awards in the Windland Smith Rice International photography awards as well as the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year. As an assignment photographer working in Canada and Central and South America, Nick has produced feature articles for Canadian Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine and Canadian Wildlife Magazine.
When the War Came Home (Thursday, 7:30pm, Auditorium, Museum of Natural History) — MA candidate Liam Caswell will speak.
In the harbour
0:30am: Nave Pulsar, oil tanker, moves from Imperial Oil to anchorage
5am: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
5:45am: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship with up to 540 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Charlottetown
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, , arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
6am: ZIM Qingdao, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Algeciras, Spain
7am: Akademik Sergey Vavilov, cruise ship with 92 passengers, arrives at Pier 27 from Sable Island
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 27 from Saint-Pierre
7:30am: Celebrity Summit, cruise ship with up to 2,100 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Quebec City
8:30am: Nave Pulsar, oil tanker, sails from anchorage for sea
1:45pm: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
4:15pm: Tongala, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: Atlantic Star, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
4:30pm: Celebrity Summit, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
4:30pm: ZIM Qingdao, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
I’m back in town, and this is Wednesday, so that means I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.