Friday, April 29, 2011

NDP Candidate: Not Ready for MP because I'm at School

 I love watching the debates in elections.  Candidates exchange views and sometimes end up looking like complete idiots.  Sometimes it is the candidates who don't show up that look like they are just not into it.  The latter occurred in the riding of Newmarket-Aurora when the same two candidates failed to show up at two different debates held back to back.  Kassandra Bidarian (NDP candidate) and Yvonne Mackie (Animal Alliance Environment Voters Candidate) both failed to show up to debates. 

No word has come forth as to why Yvonne failed to show up for the important debates held by the The Newmarket Era and Aurora Banner newspapers in Newmarket and The Auroran newspaper debate in Aurora.

Kassandra Bidarian, the NDP candidate, on the Aurora Citizen blog has responded as to why she failed to show up for the debates. Bidarian claims she is currently a student at the University of Toronto - St. George Campus doing a specialist in Philosophy, with a minor in political science, and the exam schedule has gotten in her way.  Thus she couldn't attend the debates because of the exams.  Further she claims to have a 4.0 average and wishes to continue her studies.

Ms. Bidarian repeatedly says she is a serious candidate for the riding of Newmarket-Aurora.  But, based on what I'm currently reading that doesn't appear to be the case:

1. She failed to show up for two debates claiming her exam schedule got in the way.  This may be true that there were exams on both nights of the debates and she was stuck not being able to be two places at once. 

2. From her comment on the Aurora Citizen blog:

"I am committed and I am a person dedicated to achieving all that I can. I have always committed myself to multiple avenues in the past with positive results, and if need be, I can continue that here. My educational load will be lessened next year, leaving me ample time to work as a Member of Parliament."

The above truly points out how Kassandra has lost touch with reality.  A Member of Parliament, let alone one representing a riding around Toronto, is more than a FULL TIME JOB.  Kassandra's studies in Toronto will obviously prevent her from being full time in Ottawa and serving her constituents in Newmarket-Aurora.  So when exactly, if elected, Kassandra going to find all the time to: sit in the House of Commons, comittee meetings, traveling between Newmarket-Aurora and Ottawa, appearing at community events, responding to constituent inquires and working on her studies in downtown Toronto at University of Toronto?  Will she give up sleeping to do all that?  Something has to give, either her studies or her $100,000 dollar paid position as MP will.

3. A few posters on the Aurora Citizen blog noted the lack of signs for Ms. Bidarian in the riding.  In fact some posters inquired to see if there were any out there.  Sightings have been few and far between.  Personally, travelling along Yonge Street and Bayview Avenue in Aurora I've seen only one sign for the NDP and the name on it? "Jack Layton".  So where are the signs with "Kassandra Bidarian" on them?  Kassandra responds ont he Aurora Citizen blog with:

"Unfortunately, there was a delay in retrieving signs that was out of my control. But as soon as we received them, we have been putting them around Newmarket and Aurora..."

So Kassandra failed to have her signs ready for an election that had ample warning of coming?  Political writers were expecting an election weeks before the budget and the contempt of parliament charges being table in the House of Commons.  As a political science student one would expect Kassandra to be watching closely while the politics played out on Parliament Hill with her leader Jack Layton humming and hawing over the budget and the contempt of Parliament charges. The NDP surely had given their candidates some prior warning to start the election campaign engines.  Kassandra's opponent, Lois Brown (Conservative candidate) had election signs up all along Yonge Street in Aurora by the Sunday after the election writ had been dropped.  Lois was ready, why wasn't Kassandra and NDP?  As evidenced by Kassandra's response to her continuing studies while being an MP, planning is not Kassandra's strong suit.  Otherwise her election signs would have been on order with the sign maker and all she would have to do is call them and say "start printing!"

4. Kassandra's election website is a complete joke.  The only sections she has are contact information and her biography.  Everything else on the simple one page layout is for the NDP overall party.  Even what she does have on their is a little thin.  Her contact information lists her campaign office address for "mail or document delivery only".  Thus if you want to volunteer and pick up materials to do a little canvassing or have questions you would like to meet with her office staff -- presuming she has office staff -- your out of luck. Next her biography is also very thin.  About the only thing I learned about Kassandra is:

"Kassandra represents the riding of Newmarket-Aurora for the NDP. She first became engaged in politics as the New Democratic Party Youth representative for Newmarket-Aurora. She then furthered her involvement by participating in the Ontario New Democratic Party and was the Northern Ontario Representative for Ontario New Democratic Youth. Currently enrolled in Philosophy and Political Science at the University of Toronto, she is not only a student, but also a civically engaged and passionate youth."

The rest of the bafflegab in her biography is what she believes in.  There isn't one word on what past positions she has held in terms of employment or any volunteer organizations she belongs to.  She apparently is a blank slate applying for a $100,000 job position with only political volunteer campaigning experience behind her.  And, sadly, that is all she has on her website pertaining to her. 

As far as I can tell based the previous federal election, the NDP in Newmarket-Aurora has trouble finding candidates to run.   Kassandra Bidarian is obviously just a filler for the NDP in this particular riding. She responds to the questions at the Aurora Citizen blog about her candidcy by outlining how she became a candidate:

"I want to make it clear that it is not just “anyone willing to be a candidate”, but that there was a long democratic process involved. Firstly, I had to fill out detailed papers containing my information and have them approved by Ottawa. Secondly, there had to be a nomination meeting with the New Democratic Party members of Newmarket and Aurora. During this meeting, I explained my credentials and what I plan to do and I was democratically voted in, unanimously. Thirdly, I had to obtain about 120 signatures from residents in Newmarket and Aurora, which basically stated they are giving me their permission to be a candidate for their riding. 

Prior to all of the above, I was already involved within the party attending caucus’, being politically active, and speaking up for the youth and issues we faced. I was also the Youth Representative for Newmarket and on the executive of Ontario New Democratic Youth. To further my experience, I am also attending University of Toronto-St.George Campus and doing a specialist in Philosophy with a minor in Political Science. So the statement that “anyone willing to be a candidate” can, is completely false. If anyone had any concerns over my candidacy, they could have asked."

The above just shows again how out of touch with reality she is.  Perhaps she had to receive 120 signatures and fill out "detailed papers" in order to be approved to be a candidate for the NDP for Newmarket-Aurora for the federal election.  But I would imagine so did Lois Brown, Kyle Peterson (Liberal candidate) and the others.  These other candidates also opened campaign offices that people could visit or work from.  They also have their signs out in relatively reasonable amount of time wich meant prospective voters didn't have to search for their signs.  She also points out her continous learning by taking courses in Philosophy and politics which I've already outlined previously will be an issue if she is elected in terms of her time management. 

But the most laughable two sentences of Kassandra's response to the questions of her candidacy is:

"So the statement that “anyone willing to be a candidate” can, is completely false. If anyone had any concerns over my candidacy, they could have asked."

Kassandra is completly wrong.  The NDP in Newmarket-Aurora was presented with one possible candidate, Kassandra.  There was nobody else stepping forward.  The NDP membership, presuming their is such a thing in Newmarket-Aurora, had one choice as there was no mention in the media or anywhere else of any other candidate stepping forward to compete at the nomination meeting.   So Kassandra was the only person to step forward and thus was the only "anyone willing to be a candidate".  Without her the NDP would have been forced to concede they do not have a candidate in all ridings across Canada and thus couldn't be considered to be a national party. Thus, the statement "anyone willing to be a candidate" is true in Kassandra's case. 

Finally the statement of "If anyone had any concerns over my candidacy, they could have asked" is also hillarious.  Up until the election writ was dropped nobody knew who Kassandra was.  So who would exactly they ask?  The local riding office which is a house on a residential street where only mail and documents can be sent?  There is no name associated and there is no local riding association website that I can find to put inquiries to.  Thus is there really a riding association President for the NDP?  Not that I can tell or at least not someone who is willing to put their name to it. So voters had to wait to question her candidcy until she announced she was running for the NDP and failed miserably at debating and properly launching her campaign.  Hence why the questions are now coming forth a week or two before voting day.

Kassandra Bidarian is obviously not ready to be elected MP for Newmarket-Aurora.  She failed to show up for two seperate debates blaming her exam schedule.  She failed to have campaign signs out and nailed in.  Her local riding association who one would expect to be supporting her, doesn't even have a named President that is findable via a Google search. She doesn't have a campaign office at all.  She also believes she can reduce her course load to continue studying at the University of Toronto while being an MP in Ottawa.  Yet with all of the above she believes she can be a serious candidate for MP of Newmarket-Aurora. Kassandra Bidarian is an idealist who is not ready to be elected MP.  She should stay in school and learn politics, the real world of time management and how to properly campaign.  Kassandra Bidarian needs to chock this campaign up to the school of hard knocks and move on.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Who to Vote For: The Federal Edition

Another election is upon us.  In Ontario it will be the third election in just about a year.  Last October was the municipal election, currently there is a federal election underway and in October a provincial election is scheduled.  And yet some of us, like Vaughan, will have seen four elections in that time frame.

I currently reside in Richmond Hill and have been investigating which one of the four candidates to vote for and what each of the parties they represent stand for.  Through this investigation I've come up with nothing. You would think when candidates are applying for a job that pays over one hundred thousand dollars per year the parties and candidates would bring their "A Game" to the table.

First the incumbent for Richmond Hill, Bryon Wilfert (Liberal). Bryon claims on his website he has been an MP in Ottawa for this area for over ten years.  At least he puts out his political involvement with various committees and positions he has held in the past.  However, what had Bryon done outside of politics like in the private sector as a businessman or volunteer.  About all we know about Bryon is that he has been honoured with various honourary chairs and memberships in over ten volunteer organizations.  However, this doesn't say whether he was originally a volunteer or member of these organizations for a certain amount of time and did good works with them or did these organizations just honorarily bestow these memberships on him whilly nilly.  About the only thing I know about Bryon is that he has a mother who needed hospital care and he has been involved in politics for a long period of time both municipally and federally.  Too bad there is nothing else on his website that I can see as being more in touch with the community. 

Bryon's other problem is his leader, Michael Ignatieff, who has failed to attend House of Commons votes over seventy percent of the time.  So Bryon's leader and, I would surmise, his supposed muse for politics who is supposed to show his MPs how it is done has a worse attendance record for votes in the House of Commons than the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.  Stephen of course did miss votes but at least he has other duties like meeting with foreign dignataries at home and overseas as well as other similar Prime Ministerial duties.  I can't imagine what more important duties Michael Ignatieff would have as the leader of Official Opposition than being in the House of Commons ensuring the government of the day is held to account and voting as the constituents he represents sees fit.

The next two candidates have the same issue and it is a major one.  Neither of the following candidates lives in the Richmond Hill riding. If you do not live in the riding you wish to represent. How can someone represent an area if they do not even live there?  How can someone know intimately what the issues are in the riding if they have not experienced them for themselves?   Both Costas Menegakis (Conservative) and Cameron Hastings (Green) live in Richmond Hill.  Costas lives in neighbouring Markham while Cameron lives in Scarborough. 

Cameron has a major issue as even his own volunteers don't seem to know where the Richmond Hill riding starts and stops.  This past Sunday I viewed campaign signs for Cameron at the corner of Yonge Street & Bernard Avenue in the town of Richmond Hill.  Today I saw signs on the west side of Bathurst Street & Autumn Hill Blvd.  The problem is neither of these locations is within the riding of Richmond Hill as set out by Elections Canada.  The Yonge & Bernard location is within the riding of Oak Ridges-Markham and the Bathurst and Autumn Hill is in the riding of Thornhill.  None of the opposing parties candidates made this mistake. 

So neither Costas or Cameron I can really trust as they do not even live in the riding they are running for.  In fact it appears their parties merely parachuted them into the riding. 

This leaves the NDP candidate of Adam DeVita.  Adam I have yet to hear from in terms of campaign literature or in person by any of his campaign volunteers or himself.  All I've seen of his campaign is lawn signs up and down Yonge Street.  I have yet to see one on actual front lawn of a supporter.  This is opposed to his competition who have lawn signs on several neighbourhood lawns in front of houses.  As well, his website is the local riding associations website and he doesn't seem to have one of his own.  Of his campaign website he has a sparse bio stating he has lived in Richmond Hill for 35 years and he works in the technology sector.  However, he doesn't say much beyond being a member of Richmond Hill United Church as his volunteer work.  He also doesn't mention what his platorm is as a candidate for Richmond Hill. The only thing he really has on it in terms of platform is broad NDP policies placed on an electronic version of campaign literature with such a poor layout that it should be turned over to a high school student to improve. Bottom line, if you want a job that pays over 100,000 at least put a little effort into it.

In Richmond Hill the question comes down to the following, who do you want to represent you?

1. Someone whose leader believes it is fine to not be in the House of Commons for over seventy percent of all votes?

2. Do you want someone who doesn't live in the riding?

3. Do you want someone who believes the entire process is a high school assignment?

Who to vote for in Richmond Hill is all in how you answer the above questions.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One of the Reasons I moved

There were many reasons I moved to my new place in Richmond Hill.  These included a place to call my own (along with a mortgage of my own), a wider space to design and expand into. 

After moving into my place for a lot of reasons I found yet another reason to find my place, the passing dogs!  In my neighbourhood there are two basset hounds that go for a walk everyday with their owner.  They love everyone and everything! 

I happened to have my cell phone (hence the grainyness) with me and took the following encounter happening across the street of one of the reasons to love where I live!

Our Basset hound friends!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Liberal: Late and short a few Flyers

Since moving into my new home in Richmond Hill, I've been receiving erratic and poor service of the local free newspaper, The Liberal.   The Liberal is scheduled to be delivered on Thursdays and Saturdays before 7:00 P.M. with all the flyers associated within the area that I live according the paper's distribution department management.  This seems simple enough, a community paper that has been around since 1878 should have delivering twice a week on the right dates by the deadline of 7:00 P.M. down to a science.

But no, the distribution dates of Thursday and Saturday are the first issue.  I looked up the paper's website "about us" section  that states the paper "is published on Thursday and Sunday."  So why then does the paper copy itself show dates of either Thursday or Saturday on the front page and on the top of each page inside the paper.  No wonder the carrier for my street has no idea of when to deliver the paper, the paper's management has no idea when it's supposed to have a paper to press, is it Thursday and Saturday or is it Thursday and Sunday. 

Then comes the issues with the flyers.  One week I will get the M&M Meatshops flyer and the next I will not.  I check the flyer listing printed in the paper to see if there is an M&M Meatshops flyer for that week and there is!  So where is it?  I have no idea.  The paper itself charges $0.05 per flyer to deliver it to a house.  So if a house doesn't get a flyer can the advertiser call and complain to get a refund for non delivery of a service?  No that is not the case.  According to The Liberal's advertising management they only guarentee 90% delivery of all flyers.  Yes, up to 1 in 9 prospective customers may not receive your flyer and yet The Liberal can still request payment for delivery to every single one as if they were 100% acurrate.

Since I moved in I've called the distribution department of The Liberal a couple of times and spoke with the area supervisor for my area about the late or no delivery of the paper.  She seems barely interested as she goes on and that they don't pay the carriers that well.  I never get the newspaper after calling in and speaking with the area supervisor after at least two occasions. 

Fast forward to February 2011 when I again called into the distribution department again to complain about missing newspapers, late deliveries and missing flyers.  The area distribution supervisor listened to the what I was missing, put me on hold and eventually hung up on me.  I called back and asked to speak to the "Distribution Manager" who then took my name and number and said an investigation would be opened to see what the circumstances were around the delivery of the newspaper to my home and my street's delivery route.  A few weeks passed and the Distribution Manager, I presume the area's supervisor's boss, had yet to call back. 

Then I finally had enough after a no delivery of the Saturday March 5th paper occurred.  I tried another tactic than merely calling the distribution department over the phone as phoning obviously was not working.  I visited The Liberal's website and found the "contact us" page and wrote an e-mail on Monday March 7th to the distribution manager listed on the page:

Mara Sepe  Circulation/Distribution Manager, Richmond Hill/Thornhill Liberal

In the e-mail to Mara I laid out the previous trials and tribulations of merely getting the paper delivered, getting the paper delivered by deadline and with the correct flyers inserted.   I finished the e-mail with the following:

I believe the above circumstances are unnecessary and not very condusive to your advertisers in getting the word out. In fact I have talked to the Franchisee at M&M Meat Shops at Yonge & Carrville about a the problems in receiving the flyers via The Liberal and he was not impressed. He said he would be following up with your paper and his head office about the issue as well as keeping track of the delivery issues of the M&M Meat shops flyer with his other customers.


Missing flyers, missing papers, late deliveries seem to plague this neighbourhood and do not provide a good image of The Liberal as being a true "Community Newspaper". A Community Newspaper cannot be called that unless it is delivered in a timely fashion and read by the local community.


If you could follow up again with your department and provide a written response as to the status of the delivery of the papers to [my street] it would be greatly appreciated.


Please feel free to contact myself if you have any questions. I have over ten years experience in delivering your sister paper when it was called "The Era-Banner" in south Aurora. Thus, I know quite well the difficulties your carriers may be experiencing. Nonetheless, I hope the experience I've been having with the Liberal since I moved to the neighbourhood in June 2010 can improve.

Sincerely,


Michael Suddard

Within 30 minutes of sending the above e-mail, I received a written response back from Mara Sepe.  She replied that she has forwarded my e-mail onto Carrie MacFarlane who is the Circulation Manager of The Liberal.  Mara signed her e-mail "Circulation Manager, Vaughan Citizen."  It turns out Mara is the Circulation manager for The Liberal's sister paper, the Vaughan Citizen.  

So not only does The Liberal not know which day they are supposed to deliver the paper on, they have no idea as to who is in charge of the distribution department of their paper.  Their website says Mara while the paper says Carrie.  I wonder if they know who the editor of the paper is? With these two errors I highly doubt it.
Another two hours went by on Monday March 7th and Carrie MacFarlane replied.  Carrie, in her e-mail to me said she would investigate what has occurred and find a solution for the future.  She also noted that the solution may involve removing the carrier.  She said she would follow up later in the week with the solution "to ensure proper delivery."
I responded to Carrie on Wednesday March 9th that I was eager to hear back on the possible solutions and would update her on what happens with the March 10th edition.

On March 11th I replied to Carrie what was ocurred and it wasn't good:

An update on the Liberal for the Thursday March 10th edition:



Thursday

8:30 P.M. - no paper delivered to anywhere on [my street].

Friday

7:00 A.M. - [my houses] paper delivered to front door a quick scan of the street shows I'm the only one to get front door delivery. The Liberal is bagged and on front steps in the rain. A little wet on the inside but a big improvement. I also receive the National Post to the front door. It was right at the front door taking advantage of the significant overhang to stay dry. I opened the paper and flipped through the flyers. I went through them twice and immediately noticed again there was no M&M Meats flyer. I normally receive this flyer and it is noted on page 7 of the Thursday March 10th edition that it was included in the paper this week for delivery. Also, there was no "Red Plum" coupon flyer either.

- [ny neighbours address] - delivered to rear driveway and was in same condition as 10 Ellesmere's (see above). No M&M Meats or "Red Plum" Coupon flyer either.


So here are the issues with this paper:


1. Late Delivery as per normal (after 7:00 P.M. of the date printed on the paper)


2. Missing flyers. - Please deliver an M&Ms and Red Plum flyer ASAP to [my address] - 1 copy each. Otherwise I will be visiting M&M Meats again on Saturday on a shopping trip and will let the franchisee know that again I haven't received his flyer and neither did [my neighbour's address].


A Delivery Suggestion: Most Townhouse units on [my street] and in this neighbhourhood have front door overhangs that keep front porchs dry year round. The Liberal, like the National Post, Toronto Star and several phone book companies (e.g. Yellow Pages, CanPages, etc.), could deliver to the front and have their product both kept dry and free of snow for the most part as well as better found and read by the locals as compared to the rear door. When delivered to the rear driveways in the winter they are either shoveled into the snow banks (i.e. the weekend paper because it is smaller) or get drenched as they are delivered so late and sit in the elements for so long (i.e. 8 hours).

If you could please follow up with the carrier to ensure I receive the flyers requested above and to ensure proper and, ON TIME, delivery again it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.


Michael Suddard

Carrie replied that afternoon stating the missing flyers would be delivered and my street's Liberal Carrier would be issued a final warning.
 
Well, as of 8:00 P.M. that night I still hadn't received promised flyers.  I wrote to Carrie saying I would be following up with the M&M Meatshops local franchisee that I hadn't received the flyer he paid to have delivered to me via The Liberal.
 
Carrie responded that she would check again with the office on Saturday March 12th as to if the replacemnt flyers had been delivered. Sure enough by noon on Saturday I had a whole new paper delivered to replace the Thursday edition's mistake.  But there was still yet another problem which I detailed in an e-mail back to Carrie:
 
On Saturday there was a copy of the Saturday Liberal on my front doorstep by 8:00 A.M.


My wife and I left for No Frills then and returned to find a Saturday THORNHILL Liberal on our doorstep around 9:30 A.M with the full set of flyers and some we had never seen before. I suppose the other flyers are normally delivered to other areas as these stores (i.e. Guardian and IDA) are not near us.


I hope things get better and I will be looking forward to Thursday and next Saturday for improved delivery.


Thank you for resolving the issues this past week and I will continue to enjoy reading the Liberal both for content and for the flyers that my wife and I shop from.


Thanks


Michael Suddard

Yes even when The Liberal distribution department is set out to deliver one newspaper to one address they cannot get even the newspaper edition right (i.e. I received the Thornhill version instead of the Richmond Hill version) and the flyers were incorrect as well. After all the history with incorrect and poor deliveries of the paper, one would think the brains of The Liberal's distribution department would have paid a little more attention to detail to ensure the correct flyers and the correct paper were delivered.  But apparently not.

Carrie replied to my Saturday e-mail stating that for next Thursday they would have a staff member doing visual checks to ensure proper delivery.  I still wonder if this same staff member redelivered to me the replacement Thursday paper with the M&Ms flyer and the Thornhill edition of the paper. 

Meanwhile also on March 11th I receive a seperate e-mail from Anne Beswick, the Advertising Manager of The Liberal.  She thanks me for my patience and e-mailing regarding my concerns about the delivery of the paper.  She also notes in her e-mail that The Liberal guarentees a 90% delivery rate to their advertisers and that the Thursday March 10th edition:

"We had some very serious interruptions in our business that barely enabled us to publish at all."


She also mentions that The Liberal team came together to resolve a lot of issues and get the paper out.   Anne finishes up her e-mail saying she would like to send me a small token of appreciation for bringing the delivery issues to The Liberal's attention.

From Anne's e-mail I thought Anne believed that this was a one time issue (i.e. just the Thursday March 10th edition being late) and that the flyers missing there as well.  I replied to Anne with:

Anne:
I wish to respond to your e-mail below as I know the newspaper and all business have "bumps in the road" where things don't go as they should.

I have over ten years of carrier experience in Aurora with The Liberal's sister paper, then called The Era-Banner. Thus, I have quite a bit of experience when it comes to delivering a free local newspaper on a route. I've seen the issues with receiving the paper and getting it out on time.


I've been dissapointed with the delivery of The Liberal since moving to Richmond Hill in June 2010 and I've called distribution on the phone and dealt with the regular supervisor. Things would improve for one delivery but soon fell off from there. Thus, I felt further action needed to be taken and do not believe the repeated issues are merely


Three weeks ago I was in the M&Ms at 16th Avenue & Yonge Street and was served by the franchisee who inquired if I would like next weeks flyer. I responded I would like both next weeks and this weeks as I only get the M&Ms flyer peridiodically. He took my address down then and said he would be following up with M&M Head Office as he is paying for the delivery of each flyer.


Following that occurrance, I called again and spoke to the delivery supervisor who put me on hold so she could investigate. I was on hold for over five minutes before she picked up and hung up on me. I called back asking for the delivery manager and not the supervisor. The recepitionist put me through and the manager said she would investigate and get back to me. Another two weeks went by and no call came back.


Last weekend the Saturday paper was never delivered. So I felt since phone calls were not working that an e-mail follow up was in order. Thus, I visited www.yorkregion.com for contact information. I found the "Contact Us" page (http://www.yorkregion.com/contactus) and scrolled down to The Liberal's listing and e-mailed "Mara Sepe Circulation/Distribution Manager, Richmond Hill/Thornhill Liberal" with the issues I've been through.

Mara e-mailed back, with a "Vaughan Citizen" in her signature, that Carrie looks after the issues in Richmond Hill. Carrie wrote back that she would be investigating the issues and to get back to me.


This past Thursday came and went with the issues of flyers noted. Two newspapers on our street did not have M&M Meatshops or the Red Plum flyer. Hence why I was going to follow up with the franchisee of M&M Meatshops again this week. Bottom line is the non-delivery of the M&M Meatshops flyer off and on can not merely be a "blip" in the system. The whole street didn't get it this time as evidenced by my research. Neither [my home] or  [my neighbours home] got it, thus the M&M Meatshops paid 10 cents for non delivery of two flyers and thus I believe should be asking for a refund on this for services not rendered.

Bottom line, I can appreciate when, as you noted:


"Any business we have our challenges and this week we were no exception. We had some very serious interruptions in our business that barely enabled us to publish at all."


But this has been an ongoing issue off and on since last June of late deliveries on Thursdays and Saturdays. In fact, I didn't even know until last October that the Liberal Saturday paper was issued on Saturdays. I thought, like the Era Banner, they published the weekend edition on Sunday. All the issues I have detailed to Carrie are not simply "one offs" but are constantly cropping up. Here is a brief list of what I've dealt with:

1. Late Delivery - I don't receive the paper until well after 9 P.M. of the date of the paper. Thus, the paper usually sits on my driveway all night.

2. Wet unreadable papers - with #1 in mind, the Saturday edition is normally not bagged. So the delivery person drops it off after 9 P.M. without a bag on it on my driveway. It may snow and/or rain overnight. Thus, I have to find the paper in snow the next morning and/or through it out as it is soggy and completly unreadable.

3. Missing Flyers - M&M Meatshops and Highland Farms I normally receive in the paper. But for weeks at a time it would be hit and miss whether I would get them or not.
 4. No delivery - Saturday edition some weekends I don't even receive. From what I can remember this has occurred three times and is evidence to me the original Delivery Supervisor I called didn't really follow up or supervise properly the delivery person after the first issue.

So I hope this gives you an indication what [my street] has been through in less than a year. The above issues also mean that your advertisers would have the product they paid for not properly read by the readers of The Liberal in a timely fashion.

My contact information, as requested, is:


[contact information included]
I hope the above and my past e-mails to Carrie provide some indication what experience the residents of [my street] have had on an off and on basis for almost the past year.


Thanks for assisting in resolving this issue.


Sincerely,


Michael Suddard

Anne replied to the above e-mail saying she wasn't aware of the past issues and would meet with Carrie about resolutions to the issues.  She also requested to be included on future e-mails about delivery issues.  I replied to Anne thanking her for the follow up and that I would gladly include her on the e-mails I was sending Carrie. 

I received an e-mail on March 14th from Anne stating that the street had been verified by phone and that all the houses received the M&M Meatshops flyer except for one who was unsure.   Anne also noted that if there were any other issues that the carrier would be replaced. 

There is obviously issues with phone verification of whether the a household received a flyer or not in the local paper.  This past Thursday's (April 14th) edition of The Liberal, for example, had over twenty flyers of all shapes and sizes in the paper.  So fast forward to a busy Saturday afternoon when the representative from The Liberal calls and inquires if a house received a paper on time and if a certain flyer was in it.  Not really caring the household will probably respond "Yes I got it and it had the M&M's flyer in it".  The response of the household obviously came from the idea of "that was Thursday, it seemed to be there on time I think it had the M&M's flyer but I'm not going to sort through my blue box for a simple phone call".  So if five households responded like this The Liberal would have considered the M&M's flyer to be delivered.  Perhaps a more sooner phone verification, like perhaps on Friday for Thursday edition delivery, would have been more accurate.  This is because by Saturday chances are the edition would have been duly filed away to recylingville.

To say the least after March 14th, things seem to have returned to what they should be.  I now receive the Saturday Liberal by noon and the Thursday edition filled with flyers. But late delivery past the 7:00 P.M. cut off seems to still be an issue.

Sad really that a local community newspaper who claims to have been around since the 1800's cannot for the life of them guarentee their advertisers duly paid flyers are inserted beyond 90% of the time and their customers a timely delivery of the news on the promised day.  Sad really, if Canada Post were a newspaper company they could actually due better.  Just ask my mailbox on a daily basis, guaranteed to have flyers!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Steer Inn for Mediocre Burgers

Steer Inn Burgers on UrbanspoonThis afternoon I stopped by Richmond Hill's legendary burger palace, Steer In Burgers (9839 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill).  This place in recent history has had several newspaper articles and "best of" nominatinos by local business associations which are duly posted on the walls of the establishment.  So one would think that this place would rival the best burger ever made.  I've been here once and had an mediocre experience. 

This time I showed up for lunch shortly before noon today after visiting th local library.  I walked in up to the counter and immediately ordered as there was no other customers there.

The Order: 1 hamburger, 1 fries and can of Coke.

I waited about five minutes for the order to be cooked, topped and put on the tray.  This included telling the cook how I wanted my burger topped.  Not a bad speed for food that is cooked to order.

I sat down at my table with a newspaper I brought myself.  The seating appears to have been there for a while along with the plastic plants and lighting.  So the atmosphere needs a little renovating. 

I dug into the burger and found nothing special.  It was not handpacked by the proprietor or be advertised as being green or anything.  Really there was nothing special at all.  It was an average burger that, barring the dated atmosphere, could have been from the local Harvey's.

Next came the fries.  Nothing to write home about here, again similar to the Harvey's fries but a little more potato per fri than Harvey's. 

The prices came to $7.54 including taxes for my meal which is more expensive than Harvey's  The food was average, not terrible and the service was quite good.  However, if I wanted Harvey's food at more expensive rates I would visit Harvey's and not this place.  Overall, I probably won't be visiting this place for a while.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

York's Bad Move with the Green Bin: A Follow Up

As mentioned in the first post, the Region of York has mandated that effective May 1st all York Region residents will be required to use certified compostable bags in their Green Bins.  Otherwise Green Bin waste not be picked up.  Since the first post I've done some digging on prices as well further reaction has come forth from those affected.

I've recently completed a price analysis on purchasing compostable bags from major stores in the Richmond Hill area.  Below are the cheapest bags I could find at each location.  They are the smallest "kitchen catcher" bags (i.e. for smaller containers for under the counter) and all regular Green Bin bags cost more (around $0.25 to $0.60 per bag on average).  Here is what I found (before taxes):

Dollarama: 10 bags for $2.00 = $0.20 per bag.
Home Depot: 30 bags for $3.99 = $0.13 per bag
No Frills: 20 bags for $5.49 = $0.27 per bag
Wal-Mart: 50 bags for $7.49 = $0.15 per bag
(Note: These were Sold out when I was there)
Zellers:  20 bags for $4.99 = $0.25
Now with the above pricing in mind, lets paint a picture of an average week for, lets say, a family of four people without a Costco membership.  

Currently, my wife and I would normally fill one kitchen catcher bag plus maybe a half of a second one.  So lets give the family four two kitchen catcher bags at the Home Depot price of $0.13 per bag (total of $0.26 bags for kitchen catcher bags per week then lets say there is one large bag to hold the two small bags and a little more of the compostables at a price of $0.25 per bag (if your lucky to find them) for a grand total of $0.50 per week to merely through out your compostables extra. 

Extra? Yes, I currently use shopping bag in my kitchen one and go through one or two worth a week for free.  I get my free grocery bags from the local Wal-Mart when I do grocery shopping there.  Thus, because the Region of York believes this will be better for the Green Bin program an average family of four will have to be dealing with a $0.50 weekly increase or an extra $26.00 per year just to use the Green Bin program before the 13% HST in Ontario.

Now I've had reports from commenters on the previous post that the bags are available from Costco at $12.00 for a box of 200 (or $0.06 per bag) in the St. Catherines, Ontario area or a box of 100 for $10.00 (or $0.10 per bag) in Richmond Hill which I presume is for the larger green bin bags.  I would suggest the kitchen catcher size is the same.  I can only go on what the comments posted have said as I currently do not have a Costco membership.  I do know someone with a Costco membership though and may purchase a mass amount through them.  But unless a family knows someone with a Costco membership, has one themselves, the Costco membership option may not be a financially feasable option due to the extra cost of the Costco card on a yearly basis.  Thus, for everyone purchasing the bags at Costco may not be a financially viable option.

Another update is the reaction from the Council of the Town of Markham.  The Council has ruled that the By-law passed by the Region of York will not be enforced in the town of Markham until a new date until further notice.   Markham Council has delayed the implementation in order to study the ramifications of the change as well as to take the time to review their diversion of waste from landfill tactics.  This decision to delay by Markham may only create issues between the Town of Markham and the Region of York.  Currently it is the local municipalities who complete curbside colleciton and the region looks after taking the bulk material from the municipalities to the composter or whoever will take it. So basically what the Region of York has said by passing the By-law for the use of compostable bags only is that no plastic bags will be accepted from the compost material handed over by the municipalities.  So Markham's move to allow residents to continue to use plastic bags in the meantime creates a question: what will the Region do when Markham's trucks come rolling in after the May 1st Regional deadline, will they be refused?  If so where will these trucks dump their loads? Markham Town Hall?. 

What is even more amusing is five members of the twenty one member Council of the Region of York originate from the Council of the Town of Markham.  Did not one of these members of Markham Town Council speak up at the Region of York with reservations about the passing of the Regional By-law and the need for more study?

A further issue was brought forth by Markham's Manager of Waste Management, Claudia Marsales.  In the Yorkregion.com article she points out that Markham's contractor for curbside pick-up, Miller Waste, will probably decline to inspect the bags due to health and safety issues as the bags contain pet waste and diapers amongst other items.  So with the health and safety issues as a possibility, will the other curb side contractors for other municipalities also reject the requirement to inspect the bags?  Probably.  Thus, there is a possibility the Region of York's By-law may be declined as the contractors who pickup refuse to discriminate between plastic and compostable plastic due to health and safety issues under the province's Workplace Health & Safety Act.

Overall, the Region of York's new By-law requirement that all residents as of May 1st have no option but to use compostable bags seems to be falling apart.  First the cost to residents is a significant negative and now the Region's second largest municipality, Markham, has refused to go along.  Added to this is the possibility that many of the region's contracted collection companies may refuse to inspect the bags under York's By-law due to their right to refuse work under the provinces Workplace Health & Safety Act. Further to this mess is that much of York's 2010 Green Bin Material ended up in either in landfill or being incinerated anyway due to supply chain issues.  So far it looks like the Region of York's attempt at implementing the compostable bag requirement within a successful Green Bin program may have been a noble reason that has turned into one big sopping stinky wet mess of compost. 

Friday, April 08, 2011

Tips on Finding a Realtor

One of my favourite columnists, Ellen Roseman of the Toronto Star, recently wrote a column on finding a realtor and the pitfalls some of her readers have gone through.  She takes particular issue with the signing of the "buyer representation agreement" and it's many pitfalls.   Ellen always brings forth the issues and highlights the areas of concern for consumers to watch out for when dealing with big companies and/or simple transactions.

As I've noted before I had good experiences with my realtor and my experience in purchasing a house.  This is what reputable realtors will want you to have, a good time during the ride of the house hunting experience. 
But, hiring a Realtor can be a little daunting. 

Back in early 2010 my wife and I decided we would at least look at the housing market to see what the prices were like.  We visited http://www.mls.ca/ (the Realtor website) to determine what prices were like.  We then took a look at what we thought we could afford (i.e. a budget).   As well, we took a look at what we were looking for in terms of "wants", "needs", "nice to haves but not necessary" and "forget it...NEXT HOUSE!" aspects for houses.  We also read several articles online, library books and in the newspapers that we could find.  Then we started looking for a real estate agent.

As first time homebuyers and knowing nothing about house hunting than houses with real estate signs in front of them we definately needed someone who could answer simple questions clearly as well as school us on what to look for in a house.  We also had to be comfortable and trust our agent. It was also important in taking our time to choose the right agent.

I thought I had just the right person in mind.  I had known that Roy Eveleigh had been a long time realtor and had spoken to a couple of people I knew about his services and recommended him. I spoke to Roy after church one day and he pointed me towards getting preapproved for a mortgage first.  He gave me a couple of business cards and said once that step is done please feel free to contact me so we can move forward.

We contacted our current bank, one of Roy's recommendations and another bank to see what we could get in terms of rates. We then got preapproved at a great rate for us and took the paperwork with us to our next meeting with Roy.

We met Roy for an evening where he outlined how the Realtor and buyer relationship would work.  He gave us a bunch of paperwork to read over, sign and return to him in the future.  We appreciated that Roy let us take home the agreement to ponder and didn't pressure us into signing.  In hindsight this was one the best suggestion Roy made as he wanted us to feel comfortable with him without any pressure.  We took it home and read it over.  The next visit we had a couple of questions on the Realtor agreement which Roy easily answered in straight forward language.  We took the agreement back home to review again. 
On the same visit, we also went over what the mortgage provider gave us to give Roy an idea on what we could afford.  Roy was a complete professional. Together with Roy we went and looked at a few houses.  Roy showed us a few houses by appointment and we gained some experience in what Roy would show us in.  Roy never tried to "sell us" on a house.  He always showed us both the good and bad of a house. If I had a question he always answered truthfully.  This helped us bolster our decision to sign the Realtor agreement. 

So my suggestions on finding a Realtor and before signing a Realtor agreement is (chronologically):

1. Get preapproved for a mortgage.  This allows you to know what your price range for houses to purchase.

2. Have a referral from friends and family on who they feel is a good real estate agent. 

3. Have a meeting with the agent and go over the details on what you looking for to give them an understanding.

4. At the same meeting go over the Realtor agreement with the agent but do not sign it at this point.  Take the agreement home and reread it again.  If you have questions be sure to ask your Realtor on the next meeting. 

5. Also before signing, see a few houses (two or three houses) by appointment with your prospective Realtor.  Remember you are going to be seeing probably close to forty houses or more with this Realtor so you must feel comfortable with them.  Look to see if the Realtor is only playing up the good parts about the house or are they willing to point out both good and bad issues with the house.  Also, when you ask a question do they sound truthful or are they giving you a sales pitch to explain a possible defect away?  Bottom line, a good Realtor should make you feel comfortable with the buying process and want you to feel comfortable in your new home instead of trying to make a quick sale. 

6. Ask any questions you may have about the agreement and then sign if you wish.  If you do not wish to sign at this point, there would be no obligation to you to maintain the relationship with the agent. But if you do sign, you at least have done your research and should be comfortable with the agent.

After signing the agreement Roy gave us a great time house hunting.  We learned about what foreclosure houses looked like and the pitfalls behind them, how as first time homebuyers we probably want to stay away from houses that are currently rented to tenants and that you need a deposit of ten thousand or so before putting down an offer.  We had a good time visiting prospective houses either giving them a thumbs up or thumbs down and giving reasons why. Roy quickly learned what we were looking for and had suggestions of where further to look. 

Roy was always willing to answer stupid first time home buyer questions and still enjoys hearing about the trials and tribulations of owning a house. 

Finding a good Realtor is very important as they will assist you in making one of the biggest purchases of your life, a home to live in.  Thus, I was glad to have Roy assist me in this as he was very knowlegable, patient and professional with my wife and I.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Free Slurpee!

Yes that title is right.  Today I got myself a free Slurpee!   How?  By signing up for their e-mail newsletter.  So here are the details. 

1. Click here to be taken to the sign up spot.

2. Fill in the detials required and click "submit".  Suggestion: For deals, draws and newsletters from companies I suggest having a seperate e-mail address.  That way if they sell the e-mail address or somehow a spammer gets a hold of it all spam will be sent to this account. 

3. Slurpee.ca will send a confirmation e-mail to your account.  Note: This took about ten minutes to arrive in my Hotmail.com account, so be patient!

4. Click on the confirmation link in the supplied e-mail to confirm your Slurpee.ca e-mail account adress.

5. A confirmation screen at Slurpee.ca will appear.  Close this window and double check your e-mail. 

6. You should have one coupon for a free 828 ml Slurpee.

7. Print the entire e-mail and take the coupon to your local 7-Eleven and collect your free Slurpee!

Warning! Coupon expires at the end of April 2011.

Monday, April 04, 2011

All Star Wings & Ribs

All Star Wings & Ribs on UrbanspoonOn Friday evening my wife and I went out for dinner to All Star Wings & Ribs.  This restaurant had moved from Yonge Street & Elgin Mills Road West to it's current location on Yonge Street in the former East Side Marios Richmond Hill location (10520 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill). 

We arrived around six p.m. and were duly informed that their credit and debit machines were down.  I inquired with the lady at the front if they still accepted cash around these parts. She smiled and said yes and led us to our seats.

We perused the menu for a couple of minutes trying to figure out which wings to eat and what side dish we wanted.   After perusing the menu and deciding the flavours we wanted we had one question: hot many pieces or weight, aproximately, does each amount of wings have?   At All Star Wings & Ribs you order your flavour of chicken wings you need to give the amount of chicken wings you want in "Single," "Double," "30 Wings," "50 wings," and up.  But how many wings are there in a "Single" or "Double".  Turns out there is 10 wings in a single.  So we were ready to order.

The Order: 2 Single orders: 1 Italiano and 1 Honey Honey with onion rings on the side and a Pepsi and Glass of water. 

The wings took about twenty to twenty five minutes to show up.  While waiting we noticed all the televisions were down (i.e. no feed for television) and the place had about ten tables occupied as it was still early. The waitress apologized profusely for some reason for the food taking so long saying it was a crazy day.

When waiting for the food to come I finished my Pepsi and the waitress promised to have it refilled.  She disappeared and didn't bring back the refill for ten minutes.  She later apologized.  But really, there was more than enough waitresses walking around the restaurant looking

The Italiano wings were tasty except in some cases were a little dry at times.  Is this from slight overcooking?  The taste though more than made up for this oversight.  The Honey Honey wings were much more juicier tasting and seemed to have more meat on the bones.  They were also slightly more tangy too. 

When we were finished the waitress came by and inquired if we would like anything else.  We asked for the bill and she dissapeared but quickly returned with the bill.  Apparently the cash registers were down as well as received a handwritten bill in blue pen instead of the usual machine receipt.  It really was a crazy day! We paid the bill and left our waitress a tip. 

Overall the crew at All Star Wings & Ribs did a pretty good job considering most of the technology (i.e. televisions and cash registers) were not working properly, yet the place seemed to running as normal with cheery wait staff and decent food.   We will definately be returning again to see how well they do when everything is back up and running.

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