To Occupy or not to Occupy, this is the question…
Ron Bolin: Nov. 30, 2011
A recent article in the Nanaimo Daily News, “Occupy camp turns down city proposal”, Nov. 30, 2011, raises some issues which demand clarification. Foremost is the nature of city bylaws. In the above story our Mayor is quoted as saying that: “the city must enforce the bylaw that prohibits tents in city parks.” He went on to state that: “We are not going to compromise on the bylaw . . . to ignore it would start anarchy”. For better or for worse this is poppycock. Legally, the city is under no obligation to enforce its own bylaws, even in the face of complaints. This was first pointed out to me by our City Manager and was later confirmed by a panel of judges which was convened in the Courthouse on Law Day earlier this year. To say that I was flabbergasted, naïf that I am, would be a gross understatement. I later came to learn that not only does the City not always enforce our bylaws; they may, at times, actively ignore infractions on their own recognizance or even on instruction from Council.
Citizens who believe that they will always be protected by existing City bylaws should be forewarned. Your complaint may legally fall on deaf ears for any number of reasons. This ambiguity in the legal structure can offer solace against the use of bylaws for abusive purposes. It also opens a perilous path for active non-enforcement. Bylaws are not a shield; they are a weapon of choice.
A number of years ago when I worked in the Planning Department at the City of Edmonton I found myself in discussion with the Director of Bylaw Enforcement about the fees for various city permits. In reviewing the list of permit charges I ran across one which was $1000 per day. Intrigued, I asked him what this was for. He answered with a straight face that it was, “for gypsies and other people whose faces we do not like.” I took this as an isolated and unofficial interpretation, but it stuck with me as an isolated statement until the circumstance described above.
While I may agree that it is time for the occupiers to leave the plaza while the broader legal issues of public occupation are settled, and that they should immediately clean any walls or space that has been defaced, I admire the manner in which they have generally conducted themselves. Their point has been clearly made: Many of our institutions have failed us and need to change. I hope they will find creative ways to keep this message before our eyes. It is not only they that have been injured; it is the rest of us as well. Whistling through the graveyard will not only NOT revive our dead institutions, it will also disguise the bell that is tolling for us all.
“Bylaws are not a shield; they are a weapon of choice.”
Ron I am heartened by this.
As I remember you, Diane (Jaime too but I have not seen him on the blog) and I were the only Nanaimo Goverancers to show at OCCUPY for all the pious chatter.
Shame! It isn’t a matter of agreeing with them. It’s a matter of understanding what is being done to us!
“I admire the manner in which they have generally conducted themselves. Their point has been clearly made: Many of our institutions have failed us and need to change.”
Quite eloquently put. As a sometime G’dad participant I am right behind them.
Did you perchance see their FLASH MOB at Walmart last week: they have more to say than tents on the Plaza (although IMHO they have given life to a perennially dead area).
As for all our other loquacious, pretentious blog-istas, where the hell were you?
I have attended nearly every Saturday and several times mid week. I have not heard any of them say anything that isn’t obvious to anyone paying attention, but more to the point, I have heard nothing concrete in the way of practical ways of changing things.
The points they raise……. how come our beloved NDP and social leaning Liberals bring all of these pressing issues to the front burner?? Again, what solutions do they offer.
To the point of what is being done TO us ….. where were we when all of this was happening, did we ring any alarm bells, or were we too content in the increased wealth brought by housing bubbles, and all those fat looking, stock funded pension funds?
I know not as much about human history as I am sure the learned folk here do, so perhaps you can point me to the perfect time of the golden age of man on this little sphere so that we may replicate it in the current day.
What has fueled our current worldwide dilemma? I think it can simply be traced to the failing of man.
Occupy is trying to bring our ruinous banking system, among other things, to our attention:
Essentially our lives are dictated by thu ponzi . . .
. . . There will always be more debt than money in circulation. How come you haven’t noticed?
Kudos to them: they refuse to resort to our tactics of violence.
Jim I only know you from your brief blogs but I had you pegged as a man of substance, intellect and curiosity.
If you have kids please pay attention rather than veiling contempt in your comments.
ON presents a peaceful threat to the status quo, that’s the point.
As Ron says . . .
“ I admire the manner in which they have generally conducted themselves. Their point has been clearly made: Many of our institutions have failed us and need to change.”
Don’t try to fit their modus operandi into our formulaic lives . . . we are yesterday. They are tomorrow.
Not happy! Can you blame them?
“To the point of what is being done TO us ….. where were we when all of this was happening . . .” Obviously asleep at the wheel.
Therefore, because our negligence impacts their future they are out there . . .
The Occupy group currently in DKP are not unlike the ‘peace and love’ movement of a few decades ago. They see the problems with the system and express their dislike.
Indeed I have concern for the legacy we will be leaving the next generation, but am not convinced that city square occupations, letters to the editor or even blog posts, will likely have any real impact on this juggernaut of a system, which likely can only be stopped when it collides with the wall, I have been predicting we will have to hit that wall, for the past two decades.
Listening to the worlds ‘leaders’ addressing the problems since 2008 gives no reason to believe they can solve this problem. The Occupy movement is also, no more capable of a solution either.
I believe the system we have constructed since the early 70’s has taken on a life of it’s own, which no amount of tinkering is ever going to get under control.
Observe what is happening in Lotus land and other places, as the chickens come home to roost. We can pretend that our paper wealth will take care of all our needs, but that only lasts as long as someone is willing to take our paper. Housing is no longer valued by what it is really worth, but is based on what people can ‘afford’ to pay based on low interest rates.
We are perhaps among the most deluded, self centered Hedonists to draw breath, and I hope it is US who get to reap what we have sown, and not just the next generation.
Jim: The solution will not come from the Occupy movement, but its point is not to solve the problem but to draw attention to it. It’s like the story of the perfect mule. A farmer went to market looking for a mule to help him with his fields. He found a fine looking specimen and asked the owner if it was well trained. The owner told him that the mule would do anything it was asked. This sealed the deal and the farmer took him home….. The next day he harnessed up the mule and gave the “get up” signal. The mule just stood there. Nothing he said did any good…. He returned to the former owner and complained that the mule would do nothing it was asked. The previous owner returned to the farm and confronted the mule. The farmer said, “get up” and nothing happened. The previous owner pulled up a 2×4 and hit the mule soundly on the head. “Now get plowing.. First you have to get its attention!”
Society is a lot like that mule. Occupy is the 2×4.
It is a long standing principal of municipal law that a town or city or district does not have to enforce its bylaws. There are innumerable decisions supporting this principle and municipal officials are hyper-aware of it. Basement suites (illegal) are a spectacular example of selective enforcement. Like a reverse lottery a limited number of basement suites are “chosen” to be closed down by the by-law enforcement people. The number tends to drop when the building inspection staff are busy with other work and tends to rise when they are otherwise idle. No blanket effort, however, is made to rid Nanaimo of the supposed dangers of illegal suites since it would create an enormous housing crisis. It is a policy which I would describe as controlled hypocrisy.
It is my view that a skilful argument could be made that the discriminatory enforcement of by-laws could reach a point where it has become, well, just too discrimanatory. A case in point is over here on Gabriola where building infractions number in the thousands but only a handful are pursued (usually relentlessly) by the Region District. Extremely unfair, of course.
While on the topic of edgy politics, I am reminded yet again of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall. George Washington Plunkitt (1842–1924) was a long-time State Senator from the U.S. state of New York, representing the Fifteenth Senate District, who was especially powerful in New York City. He was part of what is known as New York’s Tammany Hall machine.
Plunkitt became wealthy by practicing what he called “honest graft” in politics. He was a cynically honest practitioner of what today is generally known as “machine politics,” patronage-based and frank in its exercise of power for personal gain. In one of his speeches, quoted in Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, he describes the difference between dishonest and honest graft: for dishonest graft one worked solely for one’s own interests, while for honest graft one pursued the interests of one’s party, one’s state, and one’s personal interests all together.
He made most of his money through land purchases, which he knew would be needed for public projects. He would buy such parcels, then resell them at an inflated price. (This was “Honest Graft”. “Dishonest Graft” according to Plunkitt, would be buying land and then using influence to have a project built on it.) Source: Wikipedia
See also: Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics, by Riordon, William L., Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1993. (Originally published in 1905)
An ebook copy can be found at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2810
Our youth seem to get it!
Stephen Harper is the best Prime Minister this country has ever been fortunate to have and it’s to be expected that lefties and pinkos such as Trailblazer,Ron and Roger do not understand this.
My mistake; it’s parts two three & four of Oh Canada that discuss banking.
“NA comprehensive Defense and Security Agreement” is a creeping intrusion into our sovereignty by a heavily indebted, worn-out empire aimlessly flailing for a fight and desperately looking to steal our junk“.
We now have armed US border thugs policing our side after looking out for ourselves, successfully, for over a hundred years. What’s the prob?
F-35’s. Why the hell do we need these thing? The only people we choose to beat-up on are innocent, unarmed women and children and wedding parties. Where’s the enemy?”
Sludge/Tar sands. Has Harper heard of abiotic oil? There’s plenty if he knows where to look without killing every living ecosystem within stinking-distance.
He’s a Fundie, kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out sorta guy. And that, more than even mistaking histoupee-for-a-crown, scares the living hell out of me!
”Stephen Harper is the best Prime Minister this country has ever been fortunate to have and it’s to be expected that lefties and pinkos . . .”
Lefty? Pinko? Moi! I dunno about the rest of us “few, we happy few, we band of brothers . . . who into the breech” will not, but labels don’t work for me!
I was no fan of Trudeau but at least he kept the baying monster at bay. For the best-of-the-worst I’ll settle for Lester Pearson, but maybe he was before your time!
Sorry Wayne, you ain’t cool no mo’ man. Add it all up Harper NOT!
NA Defense and security
Lest you not recall,there are enemies all around this dangerous planet that like,for example,to hijack jet airplanes and fly them into buildings,killing thousands of innocents in the process.The first and foremost obligation of a government is to protect its citizens and that is called defence and security.What “junk” is the U.S.trying to steal by the way?Is the act of purchasing and paying for our goods and services considered by you to be theft? Canada’s economy is based on trade and we cannot and will not sustain our standard of living without it.The U.S. has the right to police their borders as they see fit,as does Canada.This is not the same world it was a few years ago.
F-35’S/Where’s the enemy?
Our military needs the best available technology now,just as they did in WW11.You will recall the success Poland had in 1939 fighting the Nazi tank corps with their soldiers on horseback.The cold war and the fall of the Soviet Union was a direct result of Ronald Regan’s relentless push for military superiority and the realization by the Soviets that they could not compete.That’s why we need the best gear available.It’s the men and women in the military that are doing the fighting and dying and the least the rest of us can do is pay for it.
The proper name is oil sands,which provides a product absolutely essential to our economy as it is now structured.The environmental footprint is miniscule and the sites will be rehabilitated.If you are worried about green house gasses,suggest you go talk to China and India.By the way,those societies have been around a long,long duration more than Canada so why should we subsidize them?
Note to Ron
You seem to take great personal delight in bloviating on any number of subjects.I am surprised you do not wish to expand the scope of your blog.Perhaps we should return to your major “plank” of the municipal election,that being to have the minutes of meetings available to the public within 2 days.That’s sure one helluva hard hitting policy,Ron.
Note to several. The commie vs. fascist debate is well beyond the scope of a blog about Nanaimo City Hall. Please confine this argument, interesting as it is, to another blog. I suspect that there are many of them out there. Or perhaps you might wish to start one on the topic: nanaimocommies.com or nanaimofascists.com. My patience on this subject is wearing thin.
The occupy movement..
Protesting because normal methods to make change are no longer working..
Throw them out & ignore them at your own risk.
BTW; Sorry I even mentioned Steven Harper!!! LOL
Ummmm, you are taking the proprietorship of this blog just a little bit too seriously Ron: “My patience on this subject is wearing thin.” Wow!
Note to several. The commie vs. fascist debate is well beyond the scope of a blog about Nanaimo City Hall. Please confine this argument, interesting as it is, to another blog. Ummmmmm, really . . .
Such elocutionary admonishment may have been appropriate in Sunday school but we wear long trousers here and some of us enjoy a pint.
It matters who the PM is! (Fascist, IYO, I assume. Who are the commies? I’m at a loss!)
Our opinions of such matter, to wit: Nanaimo Harbour commission: Federal. US tourism, especially in the boat basin: Federal. Shipping raw logs depriving the city of jobs: Federal. Highways: Provincial (Did you know the Province has jurisdiction over Nanaimo’s Terminal Avenue, 600m either side of the center line, which puts 90% of downtown under the province). OCCUPY Passim.
Although I do not agree with Wayne’s fascistic rhetoric, his energy is welcome. I would be sad if Mrs. Be-done-by-as-you-did . . .
. . . dumbed us down to mellow.
After all, whoever may be the proprietor, we are only gossiping!
The propensity for democratically elected, unpopular, national governments to wage indiscriminate war and, unpopular, local governments, sheep-like, to follow concerns me deeply and it should you too Ron. (i.e. Nanaimo’s Mayor’s condescending tolerance of OCCUPY: yours too if it comes to that. You have skin in this game even if you have ot noticed)
Your anecdote of the fabled mule is irrelevant. We are not mules!
For the sake of my coming-of-age G’son and my two GG’sons, one of whom lives in Nanaimo such violent deviance is relevant to “Nanaimo Governance big-time!
. . . and if you block us from expressing our opinions on your blog that is fascism big time!
Whether the left wing, commie, pinkos or the ultra conservative right wing-nuts are to blame, I think we could all agree, that the current experiment of wealth distribution seems have become quite ragged at the edges, and subsequent pulling seems to be unraveling a few loose threads??
Can anyone hear honestly say, they have true confidence that those in charge of running the world, really know what they are talking about, and that we are all not just involved with one 50 year old experiment that seems to be flawed???
Yes Jim the experiment is flawed to the point, may I add, where it is becoming a disaster.
As for Rogers comment on just who rules who that is also relevent for whilst we may chastise the local decision makers the real decisions are made elsewhere.
That said we should not give those that subscribe to the business as usual syndrome a free ride for it it those that do business as usual that sustain the rot.
Hats off to Ron & his like ( Gord Fuller ) who actually go forth! & take on the system against over whelming odds.
What really upsets me is now that Ron has become an elite in our society,member of the fifth estate et al) he chooses to disparage us little people by telling us our views are no longer of interest to him.He wants to disallow free speech and take away the few freedoms we have left.I feel intimidated even mentioning the term ‘left’ or ‘right’ because of the fear he will report it to the authorities.I sometimes wonder if being in Syria or Iran might now be a better option.Really all I want to be able to do is continue to pen a few words about commies,pinkos and the like but Ron wants that I start my own blog.But I don’t know how to do that,and nobody would read it anyways.And being an admirer of our current Prime Minister (Won’t mention his name on this blog) I am now considered to be a traitor to society.I don’t mind that Ron refers to me as a fascist but I do care that he is wielding his power and grinding his boots into my fingers as I try to exit the abyss that he has chosen for me.
What could I possible say. I think that Wayne has said it all… and more…. ;-)
PS: For those who would otherwise be bereft of a place to vent, I continue to ponder whether I should not take some sage advice I was given long ago and have all comments sent for moderation. What other sites still remain open to anyone who can hit the keys on a computer?
The only time I ever saw my vote count was back in the mid seventies. T’was my first vote and it was because a minority gov’t had fallen. While too young the first vote I had noticed that in the riding I was in there were 1000 votes for the communist party. With the new election I chose to vote communist, there were 1001 votes.
It is interesting that this post started with regards to the Occupy Group and the City enforcing a bylaw that they could just as easily have chosen not to enforce. The squeaky wheel doth get the grease and as is sometimes the case with Bylaws it is those with a perception of power, one mitigated by others such as councillors or upper echelon staff as well as by what club a person belongs to, that are heard when doing the squeaking.
No offense to Mr. Harper but from what I have observed most are of the conservative ilk.
Gord: are you suggesting that when city hall receives complaints from taxpayers that someone is breaking a city bylaw, those taxpayers and their concerns should be ignored?? Interesting stance.
As for the Occupy Group I read someplace they are in the process of renting some office space from which they intend to continue to organize and engage in the process. To that I say ‘Bravo’ keep up the good work and I hope your supporters will pass the hat to keep your movement going. As I understand the Bygone book store is closing the end of this month, which is right across the street from the plaza. Perhaps the ON group could rent that location…..
Again, where do you come up with some of this stuff? How do you read, ” are you suggesting that when city hall receives complaints from taxpayers that someone is breaking a city bylaw, those taxpayers and their concerns should be ignored??”, into what I said. Read Ron’s original post and tell me if you think he suggests the same?
Occupy is still going though now out of the Krall Space and yes good for them:)
Gord, you said:
“and the City enforcing a bylaw that they could just as easily have chosen not to enforce”,
so in answer to your question “where do you come up with this stuff”, I would say I come up with it by trying to understand what you have said in your post.
I notice, you did not answer, but rather asked me another question.
If downtown merchants, and members of the community complain to city hall, was city hall supposed to ignore the bylaws being broken??
Yes or No ….. not a tough question.
As for the support for ON, that will be measured by their ability to rent a location, true support for a cause can be measured by what happens when you pass the hat.
The Occupy group in Nanaimo may be reorganizing, but I predict in a month or two, you won’t even remember them. When you consider 75% of Nanaimo doesn’t care about who governs them at city hall, what makes anyone think that ON will really hold anyone’s interest for any length of time??
Two protesters showed up for the protest at BC Ferries in Nanaimo, and in Vancouver the union asked why they were picketing a dock trying to interfere with working stiffs trying to make a living instead of protesting some large bank or other symbol of evil.
I really think something good can come from people wanting to get involved, but if the Nanaimo group is an example, I don’t predict a very effective future for them.
I’m afraid that ON lost any support from me very early in its “occupation”, when I visited the Library and viewed chalk writings on the red brick exterior of the Library, and then, later on, when “demands” were made of the City.
On Thursday, December 1st, at the Krall Plaza, I had an amicable and lengthy conversation with two members of ON. (Was familiar with one of them … a Nanaimoite, who is an active member of a political party.) When I broached the subject of writing on the Library wall, I was advised that the writing had been erased. Funny though, how it shows up in the photos that I took on that same day!
I strongly support reasoned and honest debate and several weeks ago, on another online forum, regarding ON, I wrote that, I wonder why, two years ago, I had to comply with City policy, (which included a damage deposit), when I enquired about the use of either the Krall Plaza or Maffeo-Sutton Park for a public rally on a ”matter of public interest” … tax reform. (Rally lasted a couple of hours in the Park). At the same time, I wrote that even though the Charter provides certain rights and fundamental freedoms to Canadians, subject to reasonable limits prescribed by law … , the Charter also states that Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the rule of law.
Here’s what Toronto journalist, Christie Blatchford, had to say just recently, when writing about various types of actual “occupations” that she is very familiar with in Ontario:
“What counts is the rule of law, the notion that we all subscribe and agree to the same set of rules, that I know that you will be arrested for the same breaches for which I will be arrested. In other words, since you and your friends can’t take over and foul a private development or business or a lovely public park, neither should I and mine be able to do so.
As the exceptions begin to add up — natives, Tamil protesters, Occupiers — and things fall apart, the centre struggles to hold. It is the only principle in any of this that rings in my ears, every bit of worthy of defence as freedom of speech.”-
A ha, Janice Irvine rears her pretty proboscis once again: haven’t heard from you for quite a while Jan. Woz up?
May I call you Jan?
And to bring us up to date, emphatically states the insufferable Christie B, “ What counts is the rule of law . . . ” in true lack luster journalist-jingo fashion.
But, but but . . .
“The law is an ass” said Dickens’ fictional character in reference to it protecting his bully wife.
Bully wife” A ha!
“ . . . the exceptions begin to add up” there are exceptions, and certainly not fictional and you must thanq your lucky stars for that!
Exceptions! You got the vote, ‘cos a few brave souls broke the law. Remember the “Suffragettes” Jan old gal? They certainly thought the law was an ass (thu hee haw kind, not the other): disfranchised just because they occupied the distaff side.
People like you really piss me off. Sanctimonious and shrill relying on other’s bravery to protect your arse so you can sound off, pontificating like you have something worthwhile to say while really you are just an interfering old woman.
OCCUPY NANAIMO is today’s suffragettes!
“The law is an ass” Get it! Tell Christie.
OCCUPY NANAIMO is today’s suffragettes! ?????
Using a fictional character to support a claim about the law seems pretty weak. Are you suggesting we should not be governed by laws, or just change some?
The law like anything crafted by man is imperfect, but I would sooner live under it’s rule than the ‘mob’. Which seems to be what you are suggesting Roger.
Jim Taylor If you do not know about theSuffragette movement and its lasting achievement then I will not waste my time explaining.
The OCCUPY movement has exposed the latent self-hate rampant among some of you. For that alone they have succeeded. My comments apply equally to the “Occupy-has-a-good-point-but now-shut-up self-debasing crowd.
They are on your side and you are so devoid of emotionally courage you cannot even see it.
One thing you have exposed . . . the likes of Janet Irving do not need white knight Don Quixotes tilting at windmills on her behalf!
Roger; I am familiar with the Suffragette movement, and frankly I think you do them poor service comparing them to the Nanaimo Occupy movement.
I am not sure they (ON) have actually exposed anything to anyone who has been paying attention for the past few decades. There are inequalities in society, hardly a revelation, when hasn’t there been?
I do not think the Occupy movement needs to shut up at all. I do think they need to put a much finer point on their efforts, as just repeating…… society sucks….. while playing bongos, does little to forward their cause.
I don’t really find what this group is saying is much different from what the love and peace movement had to say a few short decades ago.
On another point, saying the law is an ass …. means what?? What characteristic of a ‘hee haw’ ass would you say applies to the law. Hardworking?? Beast of Burden??? Stubborn?? They certainly ain’t stupid! By four legged animal standards that is. And by some two legged animal standards also.
“Roger; I am familiar with the Suffragette movement, and frankly I think you do them poor service comparing them to the Nanaimo Occupy movement.
It’s time to stop hedging your beys Jim
You and your pal madame Irvine and just showing yourselves to be moral cowards . .
Name calling………finger wagging……….You Tube predictions…..??????
Hardly a convincing argument Roger….. would have expected better.