Opening Statement



Monday, 30 December 2013

On My Year 2013!

 
 
The end of 2013 finds me in especially good spirits! After 6 months of retirement from active teaching, I can unequivocally say that I love it! This is definitely the best decision I've made since I decided to get into teaching. Hmmmm. Does that make sense .... ? Yup! Does to me! Got in. Did my bit. Got out. And now?

It's great being at home, free to read, write on the computer, listen to my music or take naps as I please. The crisp autumn in Toronto was a treat far too long overlooked when I was busy with school. My leisurely drive through Northern Ontario to see the leaves change colour was highly delectable. I travel as I will, so far to London, Paris, and Cuba twice. Evenings, weekends + holidays with my wife Janet are totally dedicated to leisure.

There will be a lot else to do as I eventually get more adventurous in the year ahead. Meantime, I am never bored. Janet even has to remind me to come to bed at night. Best of all I'm never in a hurry any more. Nor at any body's beck and call! My advice? When you feel the time is right for you -retire! It's great! We earned it!

Then there's my blog. Not to mix business with pleasure, except that my business is my pleasure nowadays, I will comment on the state of the teacher unions in my New Years Day message, instead of here right now! Suffice to say I am honoured that as of December 29th this blogsite has had 295,000 reader visits. It feels great to find an obvious need and help fill it.

Once a teacher, always a teacher? Ha! I think it's in our blood, and a mind skill set of sorts ...... Well, enough for now!

Cheers/
Solidarity/
Thanks!

David Chiarelli

PS: Please continue to share my blogsite link in solidarity if you like it!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Jibicoa Cuba: The Abandoned Holiday Camp

Walk on the Beach Continued ...


On my walk back along the beach I noticed a horse trail. It ran behind the bushes inland to an abandoned holiday camp. The Cuban summer was over. The young people were long gone.


I walked among the weathered overgrown camp huts. Then past a huge empty swimming pool.


I stopped to read the graffiti on the fences, trees + a ball court wall.


An old hunched over black man in simple country garb ambled across a field in the tall grass. He stopped. We looked at each other + waved.  Then he shuffled off among the guava trees. I made my way back along the trail to the beach.


Thursday, 26 December 2013

Jibicoa Cuba: A Beach Resort



I was at the Breezes Jibicoa Resort from Dec 14-21. The Jibicoa is halfway between Habana and Varadero, about an hours drive either way. It is in a garden setting below a small steep coastal hill lining a long wide white sand beach. I had come to go diving in the Atlantic. There is a big coral reef. It comes right up to the shoreline. I like that a lot. Janet was with me. She likes to lie on the beach chairs in the sun or under a tree. Me too. This was our 4th visit to the Jibicoa over the past 8 years or so. My treat. It was an early Christmas holiday for us both.

December is cool for Jibicoa Cuba. Like in Canada it is their winter. The climate is subtropical. During the day the temperature was in the mid 20's, and cooler at night. It was minus 15 to 20 degrees Celsius in Toronto. We flew out of Pearson Airport in a blizzard, a hour late. I could see the windswept runways, piles of snow everywhere outside the frosty air plane window. Ground crew ran about bundled up thick against the cold moving cartloads of luggage, driving snow tractors + preparing the jets for takeoff. It was a rough ride up through the clouds  and a bumpy flight all the way to Cuba. Here are some of my notes:

Our Room 


We were on the second floor with a balcony facing the swimming pool. First morning I awoke + stepped out on the balcony. I watched 2 people swimming their morning laps, the still, glass, smooth water rippled by their strokes.

We had a queen sized bed, a dresser + a closet. We didn't use the coffeemaker or freezer much.
There were clothes hangers on the wall. The room had a high pointed ceiling with an arched entrance way. There was a hallway and bathroom inside the front door.



We had a flat screen television set with HBO. We half watched the television shows, the beginning, middle or end fading in and out along with the dialogue, images, story lines + intrigue, when we came and left the room or maybe took a nap. Also before bed at night. It was rather unnecessary, but familiar + surreal all the same.

The Food
 A lot of the guests said they liked or didn't mind the food. It is usually pretty touch and go at the Jibicoa, the only drawback to an otherwise very friendly, cozy, picturesque and relaxing resort. Food preparation + handling safety by staff is rudimentary at best. Regretfully, this time I was sick the last day and after I got home. Blech.


 Friends

 The Jibicoa is a small resort. The visitors keep coming back. Your sixth stay is free. We hooked up for the trip with a British couple, Richard, Elaine + their adult son Alex who we have met there twice before. Richard and Elaine are a delightful couple who are very interesting + easy to get along with. Alex is a strong swimmer. It's often hard for me to find good swimming partners who like to go snorkeling a lot and can keep up, especially when they reach my age.


Adults Only

There's an age limit of sixteen and up with parents only, strictly enforced, another reason we come here a fair bit. Especially noisy, rude or drunk guests are removed immediately and sent to another resort in Varadero where they will be more at home. Otherwise it is a very fun, laid back and informal adult resort, never too uptight. It is very popular with Canadians and Europeans.

The Beach

It is the reason why we like the Jibicoa the most + keep coming back. Here is a map of the coral reef along the beach:



First Swim

Swam with Alex from the beach hut [above left] to the pond.
Pond is like a huge aquarium of tropical fish with coral walls
Swam in and out both passages [top right + top left of the pond]
Water too rough to explore along the outer reef wall
Rode waves across the flats to make landfall 100 meters down the beach [to right]
Lots of fun!


Second

Swam by myself from the beach hut to explore the pond.
Swam out passage way [top right]
Very very rough water beyond pond
Waves breaking to right and left of the outer coral wall
I was getting tossed about and fighting the currents too much to stay outside the pool
Hard swim to get back through the passage way and into the pond again
Finished a full circuit of the pond
Near the valley [top left of pond] saw a huge school of Blue Tang.
Saw Barracuda swimming back to shore across the flats.
An invigorating swim -quote the adrenaline rush!


Third

Very windy, rough day.
Crossed from beach hut to the pond. Took a long time fighting the waves.
Made it to the pond which was too rough. Saw hardly any fish even beneath the coral ledges
Rode current back to shore making landfall near the beach hut.
A good workout but far too risky!


Fourth

A water camera shoot
Swam from beach hut to pond
Very very rough, too stirred up even for fish
Explored coral garden at right end of the pond
Passed through the reef to the sea side again
Getting pulled out then pushed back towards rough coral on crests of the waves
Swam as hard as I could just to get back into the pond. Rather touch and go
Dove down below waves + just swam hard as I could
Made a complete circuit of the pond
Waves pushed me into middle of the pond
Some coral photos but few fish except near shore
Rode current back to make landfall near the dive hut again
Totally exhausted. Dragged myself out of water + just lay on the beach to catch my breathe
Very tired + sore next day! Felt nauseated.


 Fifth

Swam with Elaine towards the pond but she swam back
Explored beach side of the pond not much fish
Swam out to middle of the pond looking for fish
Crests still breaking over the coral reef
Swam back across the flats. Saw lots of big fish, some Parrot fish too
Made perfect landfall on the sand beach.
Lay in sand on shore + just enjoyed the sun!
Technically near perfect swim but another rough day.


Conclusion
Vigorous swims but water was very rough most of our stay this visit. Other times it has been very still, almost glasslike, with few strong currents. Atlantic seaboard winds are quite common and unpredictable.


Flying home 

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas Everybody!



http://www.ninebreaker.deviantart.com/

Have a Merry Christmas! A Happy Hanukkah! A Great Holiday! A Well Deserved Break! The very best of Christmas wishes to all my readers everywhere!

David C

From Me To You:


The Beatles Christmas Album: Hear it @ Youtube

The 1968 Apollo 8 Christmas Eve Message! The astronauts had reached the earth's moon for the first time in history. From orbit,camera was pointed out the space capsule window to show the moon sites while one of them read Genesis. Very kool + moving. I remember it well. Watch + hear @ Youtube

John + Yoko: Merry Christmas [War is Over]. It's very moving, but with a rather disturbing reality fix in the anti war footage @ Lennon Video

Pope Francis delivers his first Christmas greeting around the theme of hope for a better word @ Pope Francis

Here's the "12 Canuck days of Christmas" or " A Moose in a Maple Tree" @ Youtube

New Canuck Christmas Carol: "Rob Ford Got Run Over by a Reindeer". Guess what he gets for Christmas??? @ Youtube

Just what the heck is Boxing Day anyway? Ever heard of the ancient god "Boxedus"? I thought not. Story + video @ True meaning of Boxing Day?

I am posting my recent Jibicoa Cuba Diaries over the next few days of Christmas as separate blogs, with photos + text. Also see the slideshow on the top left of the my blogsite. Take a walk on the beach + a swim at sea. Sure beats the cold eh?

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Jibicoa Cuba: A Walk On the Beach!

from my recent trip ...


A walk on the beach:

It was Thursday, still overcast, warm, + balmy with sunny breaks. I took a long walk on the white sand beach until I reached a rocky stretch further along the coast.  Sitting on the shore I listened to the thunder of the surf as the huge rolling waves crashed over the reef; majestically satisfying breakers from far out at sea.  I took pictures with my camera. I sang Beatle songs as loud as I liked. I was totally alone, relaxed + free.



What the ocean washed up:

a coconut
a pineapple
a grapefruit

a watermelon
an orange
a shoe
stones
seaweed 

sand 
shells
broken coal

smooth coloured glass
sea fans
bottles
jelly fish
bags
and a syringe.


Monday, 23 December 2013

OECTA's O'Dwyer Bargaining + Contract Services Appointment!

 

FYI:

OECTA Past President + MOU architect + advocate Kevin O'Dwyer's new permanent position was confirmed at the OECTA Provincial monthly meeting last week after the meeting had to be rescheduled when quorum was lost prior to the vote. Mr. O'Dwyer had previously been temporarily seconded to the executive assistant position in October of this year.

Here is the confirmation letter distributed late last week:

DATE: December 19, 2013
FROM: Marshall Jarvis, General Secretary
SUBJECT: Welcome: Kevin O’Dwyer

Please join me in welcoming Kevin O’Dwyer as the successful candidate for the executive assistant position in the Bargaining and Contract Services Department. Kevin brings with him 20 years of extensive collective-bargaining experience at both the provincial and local levels.
Kevin will assume his duties on January 6, 2014.

Specific unit assignments will be forthcoming.
MJ/cr

Here is the previous notice of Mr. O'Dwyer's secondment @ October
 
COMMENTS:

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Teacher Christmas News + Views Updates!

 
Blog acronym dictionary @ Here!
 

Greetings All!

Latest additions below are posted in Large for your convenience.

For the last days of December I'll be tweeting the Blog's 2013 Best: that is the most read articles and any of special interest. You can subscribe to me on Twitter:

#davidchiarelli

I'm just back from a dive trip off the Atlantic coast at Jibicoa between Habana and Varadero Cuba. It was a very long flight back to find we were without power due to the crippling ice storm when we finally arrived home at 5am this morning. Janet and I are now at Second Cup recharging our computers, Iphones, internet hot spot + so on. Also getting a real cup of coffee! Finally. I will bring you up to date on everything, but for now, to put it briefly:

TEACHER + UNION

Ex President Kevin O'Dwyer is confirmed as the new permanent Collective Bargaining and Contract Services secretariat officer [Talk about out of the blue!]. A list of his assignments will be announced, but the position would normally mean he's actively involved, if not indirectly, in the upcoming 2013-14 contract talks. General Secretary Marshall Jarvis made the announcement late last week after the PE monthly meeting. Excellent news if you are in the pro OECTA MOU units I guess, but otherwise?

Merry Christmas + Happy New Year from OECTA Provincial?!?The Brock case was not discussed on either day of this month's OECTA PE meeting. The 3rd party legal report is still missing in action.


How the OECTA Grinch stole Christmas:

President Ryan was served notice of Mr. Brocks civil suit on December 6. Last Thursday OECTA Provincial lawyer Paul Cavalluzo's firm advised that it had filed a Notice of Intent to Defend with the OSCOJ [Ontario Superior Court of Justice]. Later Thursday it was also advised that Provincial is seeking a Demand for Particulars. It's essentially questioning whether the civil case can proceed on the grounds of whether Mr. Brock is or was an OECTA employee. More of the technical legal language + references later.

Hope everyone survived the last week of classes and is ready for the Christmas holidaying! Of course our hearts are with Richard Brock + OECTA Halton Elementary unit during this very disappointing + unfortunate development at OECTA Provincial. An excellent opportunity for a moral change of heart + a turn in a constructive, positive direction has been lost. Seems it's full speed ahead with OECTA Provincials controversial and divisive course of action to bully + silence any opposition or dissent. Having abandoned the high ground I see little good coming of all this nor much of a future for OECTA as a Catholic school teacher union acting to represent all it's members collective interests in an open, fair and democratic manner.

Mr. Brock will without doubt need very deep financial pockets to deal with the OECTA legal strategy. He does not have access to the membership fees for paying his legal costs as does OECTA Provincial. Everyone is reminded that contributions can be made to the Richard Brock Trust Fund. It's a worthy Christmas gift for all to give who care about justice and fair play within the union movement. Don't doubt the other affiliates are watching how this case proceeds with great interest. Also don't doubt yours could be next to follow suit if OECTA succeeds and you get uppity during the upcoming round of provincial concessions, oops I mean "negotiations" this spring. More info on the Fund @ Brock Legal Trust Fund


How OECTA stole Christmas 2013 ...

CUPE educational workers rally to protest Thames Board implementation of the MOU. Hmmm. So its not just the Catholic schools now too eh? They are all in cahoots if you ask me. More @ CUPE

A union drive squashed by a union? University workers claim to have been left hanging. A fight involving 50 students erupts as post unionization drive harassment allegations fly. Hey, OECTA isn't the only union we need to keep a close eye on at the grassroots level y'know. More @ CUPE?

Some Waterloo region parents in uproar as Catholic + Public boards co-ordinate bell times for next September. Some schools will start 40 minutes earlier, some 40 minutes later @ School Bells!

Harris/ Decima Survey shows strong support for unions in fight against Work to Rule 4 Less, despite some reservations. You will find a detailed breakdown of the questions asked + answers received in the article + slide show @ Huffington

Economic "trickle down" theory: It doesn't work. Surprised? Take a gander @ $21 Trillion?!?

Unemployed beginning teachers are scooping up fulltime teaching jobs in the UK! My niece Katrina got one in London. Says there are so many that if you get a lousy school or admin you can just cross the street and get another teaching position there. She holidays + spends long weekends in Paris, Monte Carlo, Amsterdam + so on. Something to think about. Many if not most of her fellow graduating class are unemployed back here in Canada right now, often having to take crummy service industry jobs at a restaurant or bar. Still what about your superannuation/ pension plan? Story @ Lots of teaching jobs!


Here's the New York Times 75 best Education books from 2013. Most teacher readers here on my BlogSpot are in Ontario Canada, not the US of A but am sure you can pick and choose for relevance as need be @ Top 75!

PARTY POLITICS

Final 2013 Forum poll forecasts another minority government: PC=38%/ OLP=31%/ NDP=24%/ Greens=5%! Seat count would be: OLP=51 / PC=43/ NDP=13! PC's would apparently need 41-42% in the polls for an outright win. NDP's Horwath still ahead in leader popularity poll, with Hudak still languishing in dismal 3rd place. Story @ Toronto Star

OLP using Internet loophole to increase their publically funded government ads @ CTV


Is it cold?!? Even Jack Layton needed a scarf on Christmas Day!

QP has wrapped up for Christmas holidays until February 18 2014. Sounds like quite a hangover! Nice work if you can get it, eh! Don't forget our teacher provincial contract talks will follow. Also a quite possible spring election!

Ontario Landlords' Association complains Province's Rent Control increases for 2014 are too low @ Want more $$$

CPC-ML Political Forum provides an interesting labour perspective on what to expect in the spring legislative session. More attacks on workers for sure! Gotta balance the old Ontario bludget on the backs of the poor or what are the rich folks to do?!? Umm ... get richer??? Read @ CPC-ML


Joy to the world ....

Bill 122, the new Provincial Bargaining Legislation passes 2nd reading 65 to 31 with OLP/NDP voting for, PC against. 3 days of committee hearings will be allowed. More @ Bill 122

Premier Wynne admits to running on wrong side of the road in her last TV "jogging" political ad. I thought it was a rather dull, didn't grab me, but Janet + some of the girls have said they really like it. Just Wynne running and talking? Hmmm. Guess I am not the target audience as a middle aged guy. Makes sense @ Jog right!

On the Ice Storm Campaign Trail: Premier notes she was 3 nights without electricity in her Toronto home. A good "Just plain folks" move. She also continues to don her Commander in Chief hat to tour the province's worst hydro stricken areas, always a good political move in times like these @ Commander Win?

Reconsider: Are new Canadians a strong recruiting base for the Conservative party? Not necessarily! Many came to improve the quality of their lives, not the quantity of life. Think about it: they left better jobs + positions of status to come here for less. They want education, better work + living conditions, on and on the list goes, not just more money + less taxes as the Cons will promise if they can slice social services so they and their supporters get more of the pie! Read @ Conned Recruits?

IN OTHER NEWS


Christian left: Time to put a compassionate Christ back in the streets!

An interesting Christmas perspective: Social conservatives are giving Christianity a bad name. Many reasonable folk look at us in disgust because of their attitudes and claims, supposedly made in the name of Christ. Enough is enough @ Religious right sucks!

Very strange Story from New Brunswick: Did the RCMP + US Army infiltrators work together to forcefully bust up a First Nations protest exposing a bad "Irving Oil Canaport" gas leak to silence the news story ASAP? News source claims to have photographic evidence that the RCMP was armed with assault rifles. The US army had snipers in place. Explosive devices might also have been used. Story @ What really happened?

Pro lifer angry with Federal Conservatives supposed concern over the rights of the unborn. A lot of Pro Lifers I know, with the best of intentions, keep getting sucked into supporting the Conservatives because they will tell them whatever they want to hear but they are NOT to be trusted. Very despicable + unfortunately effective. Read @ Con

Did you know you can get electrocuted from just walking on the ground near a fallen hydro wire? Pass it on -great to know if it saves even just one life, perhaps a kiddie!


Toronto Ice Storm: Crisis?!? What crisis?!?

How many homes were really without power after the Ice Storm? Consider this @ Fudging it!

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford MIA Sunday morning during ice storm crisis/ not a crisis @ What crisis?!?

Ford refuses to declare a state of emergency as 250,000 frozen Torontonians are without heat and electricity, for up to Christmas Day, if not the end of the week! He doesn't want folks to worry! Hey! I feel better all ready!!! Now you don't suppose this is one of his drunken stupors again eh? No. No. Don't forget: If Rob declares a state of emergency then Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly must take charge because our Rob will be stripped of any emergency power or authority. Instead we get the friggin' fool's stupid TV + radio announcements listings where he reads the name and address of every warming centre across the city in ad naseum as if he's firmly in charge. Great "just plain folks" appeal though.The guy never gives up! Full storm coverage @ Toronto Star 

Should the provincial government intervene + declare a state of emergency in Toronto? Read @ 92.8 blog


Toronto Housing Residents give Ford an icey blast over his Ice Storm response across city. Many are afraid to leave their homes despite lack of heat + lighting @ Cold reception

CBC to Fords rescue finding sources saying he was right to not call an emergency but others remain critical. Con side argues citizens were not in danger though we have had sub zero temperatures all week + some parts of Toronto are still without lighting and heat @ CBC

Of course you can just check Toronto Hydro's constant Twitter updates or go to their site. There's a complete list of shelters etc there too @ Toronto Hydro info

Huffington Post also provides a good ice storm update page. Plus it covers outside Toronto. You ... you ... you mean there are folks actually living OUTSIDE TORONTO?!?! Yes there are my friends + they are cold too! Learn more @ Huffington

Possible Ice Quake hits Toronto Christmas Eve @ Ice Quake?!?


The NASA Cassini Space Orbiter provides us with this tres kool photo of planet Saturn. Hey, if somebody doesn't come up with a way to save Earth from itself I might want to be moving there soon by golly @ Far Out [so to speak]!

From Earth to deep space: NASA's best of 2013 @ Youtube


Cold colder coldest?!? Antarctica wins hands down! Yay Antarctica!

How cold can it get?!?! The record is in Antarctica on August 10 2010: minus 93.2 Celsius/ 136 Fahrenheit! No thanks! Story @ NASA Reports! 


Winter in Canada: Real pretty but ....

Thousands in Toronto still without power on Christmas Day. Now that would be a real bummer eh? At east a coal in your stocking could keep you warm! ;-) More @ Xmas Outage

Mikhail Kalashnikov inventor of the famed AK-47 assault rifle dies at age 94. Favoured killing tool of many a freedom fighter and terrorist [Which is which? depends upon who's side they are on really .... ]. See @ AK-47

KULTURE KULT INK

Merry Christmas 2013! The Kulture Kult Kristmas links have been moved to my December 25th blog~

Holiday amusements: Aaaarg! Look! 8 T.Rex's are watching you. Ohhh noooo! Ones in your den! Ha. It's an optical illusion. Pretty kool @ T.REX Attack!


Here's a great photography project: Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. I recall being in a university hall with over 200 people. When asked to put up your hand if you were born in Toronto, two of us put ours up! In a class I once had we surveyed the different birthplaces of both parents for each student + came up with 28! [Great social science exercise by the way. Colour the countries in, add pins + threads all leading to Canada on a huge class wall map! Students also complete in their notebooks.]  Anyway the photographer is out to take a photo of somebody from each country in their new Toronto setting. Tres kool @ multiculturalism


All I want for Christmas is ...... an unreleased Beatle's album?! It's true. Scroll down the blog page for my Quickie Review of the new Apple Itune Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 release!

Be forewarned: If the major US telecoms get their way "internet neutrality", that is any ones ability to online invent, communicate, broadcast, create, share etc. etc. etc., may soon be a thing of the past. OK. Remind me again why folks aren't free in Red China unlike in a democracy?!? Read @ Bye Bye Freedom!

Hey! Don't forget to keep checking Rob D'Addario's Tweeted Times for all your techie news. Actually, I heard there's more than one D'Addario working on this. The more the merrier @ Tweeted Times

The "selfie": Just what the heck is that all about?!? One opinion @ Selfies


Early Christmas release for the new Bruce Springsteen "High Hopes" album is now available on ITunes prior to the January 14th CD. It certainly highlights the changing marketing priorities for music @ Bruce Springsteen

Hey whatever happened to that Hanna Montana who all the young girls looked up to? Wanted to be just like her? Ho boy! Does she look just plain ridiculous or is she a serious bad influence? You decide. An evolution in style in 64 steps @ Smiley Miley 

Objects de arte?! New medium creates sculptures that look like they are made of human skin @ Creep Out Time!

I am posting my Jibicoa Cuba Diaries over the next few days of Christmas as separate blogs, with photos + text. Also see the slideshow on the top left of the my blogsite.


I find myself now in the ironic situation of suffering from too much sun and sea while being stuck in an ice storm back in the true north strong and cold. But was it worth it? You bet!!!!!!!!!

PS: Fortunately Janet + I got our power back on, for now anyways, at about 3am Monday morning!

PPS: Well dear readers it's been quite the Christmas week for me! I got food poisoning in Cuba on the last day. It's finally moved through my system a week later. I think it feels like being pulled out of your skin, thrown on the floor and given the boots. Yes, that would probably be about right. Totally jarring!!! I hurt and ache all over + have been nauseous with diarrhea all week! Blech. I figure I get a bug one out of 10 trips down south, and was long overdue. Yes, I took Dukerol, but so it goes.

More to come ...


Ahh warmer climes! It seems like only yesterday .... Oh wait a minute ...... It was!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Brock: Mr. Cafferky's Questions for the December OECTA PE Meeting!

My Teacher + Union Acronym Guide is Here!


It's the countdown to Christmas holidays! Most teachers can hardly wait! But first we have an interesting OECTA week ahead. More below!

On November 25, OECTA member + frequent guest blogger Mr. John Cafferky submitted the following letter to the Provincial Executive [PE]. It regards the controversial dismissal of OECTA Halton President + anti MOU'er Mr. Richard Brock. John has requested a response to his questions in full by writing, from the PE or the associations lawyers. He asks that his letter be brought to the provincial executive table at the December monthly meeting. The meeting has been rescheduled to this Monday and Tuesday after quorum was lost when it met earlier this month. 

Members are also looking forward to learning the results of the third party legal investigation into Mr. Brock's dismissal by the OECTA Discipline Panel. The confirmation of a permanent appointment to the Collective Bargaining + Contract Services secretariat position is also pending at the PE meeting. A Council of Presidents is scheduled for later in the week. It looks like a very interesting week ahead! Here is John's letter:

Non-confidential Letter of Concern over the dismissal of Richard Brock

To the President and members of the Provincial Executive

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am deeply troubled by the process the Association has employed to remove the membership privileges of Richard Brock. My concerns encompass doubts about the disproportionate punishment; the possible illegality of no appeal or review for such extreme punishments; whether you (through both the so-called discipline board and the panel struck from that entity) afforded Mr. Brock due process; whether the process you have accepted from the discipline panel met the standards of fairness demanded in cases of administrative justice; whether you as the directors of the Association have made any effort (let alone every effort) to ensure that justice would not only be done, but would be seen to be done; whether you as directors of the Association have strictly enforced the rules of our Association codified in what we refer to as the “Handbook” and to which we loosely refer to as the bylaws; whether you have scrupulously held those bylaws inviolate as your contractual obligation to me and all other members of the Association demands; whether you as the directors and highest management of the Association are permitting rule-breaking that in essence subverts the chain of authority enshrined in the Handbook and the Canada Corporation Act. 

I understand that you have directed the General Secretary to instruct a second law firm that is intimately associated with OECTA to investigate the dismissal of Richard Brock. Regrettably, the instructions to that lawyer are not available to members at large so I do not know the scope and parameters of that investigation. On that account I address my concerns to you, the members of the Provincial Executive (PE), but I am happy if you direct the investigating lawyer to respond to my questions. I hope that you will reply fully in writing to my concerns.

The PE is the board of directors of our Association and as such has both the legal authority and  duty to manage the affairs of the Association. Staff must report to the PE and must never act or presume to act in such a manner that subordinates the PE to the secretariat at large or any member of the secretariat. Our bylaws legally describe our Association; determine how it is governed; how it operates.

Under article 2.51 the PE is legally required to act in accordance with the handbook; therefore, once you discover that actions, measures or procedures have taken place in opposition or in violation to the bylaws you must take immediate corrective measures to restore the Association to governance according to our bylaws. Bylaws are a contract among the members of the organization and they must be followed. I maintain that this has not happened in the Brock case and that this failure is a breach of contract on your part, a contract that you accepted with your election to the PE. By now you have received a copy of the petition that I helped organize. The petition’s importance rests in the clear message that at least four hundred members of this Association are deeply unhappy and concerned with the process in the Brock dismissal; hence, they are unhappy with the manner in which the contract (OECTA’s bylaws) has been upheld.

 
Let me begin: I find the harshness of the “sentence” meted out to Richard Brock grossly disproportionate to the alleged offence. The PE asserts that they have no control over the discipline process. Question:

Is it legal to have a discipline process in an Association without any review or appeal when that discipline process has the power to strip a member of their privileges, effectively undo a valid election and dismiss that person from employment in the Association?
 
Regarding the conduct of the trial I ask the following questions:

  1. Ms. McVean wrote an article in favour of the MoU. Did the writing of that article impinge on her ability to be at arm’s length while judging Mr. Brock, an outspoken critic of the MoU?
  2. Mr. Tomcko was present at the July COP which voted on the MoU. In law, does a witness/participant in an event meet the standard of an “at arm’s length” judge in matters arising from that event? Furthermore, given that Mr. Tomcko was the immediate past president of a unit that strongly favoured the MoU, can he meet the standard of; a) being “at arm’s length”; and b) being perceived to be “at arm’s length”?
  3. Mr. Ryan is a past president of Durham. His old unit lodged one of the complaints   against Richard Brock and it strongly favoured the MoU. Does Mr. Ryan meet the standard of an “at arm’s length” judge of Mr. Brock and does he meet the standard of being perceived to be “at arm’s length”?
  4. Given the individual concerns expressed in 1,2 and 3 above and given that the three panelists who judged Mr. Brock are perceived to be supporters of the MoU and that no panelist was perceived to be against the MoU, can the panel as a whole meet the standards of fairness and impartiality that the law requires in these situations? Can justice be not only done, but be seen to be done?
 
Questions on the conduct of the trial:

  1. Robert’s Rules allow the accused to produce witnesses, to cross examine witnesses, yet Mr. Brock was denied that right. By what authority did the panelists deny Mr. Brock the right to call his witnesses?
  2. Mr. Brock was not allowed to conduct his defence and was reduced to a witness in his own case. By what authority did the panelists deny Mr. Brock the right to speak?
  3. Mr. Brock and Mr. Boyle twice asked in writing for the manual being followed by the discipline panel. They did not receive that manual. Can one conduct a fair process without disclosing to the accused the rules of procedure, especially when asked twice to make that disclosure?
  4. Concerning the manual used by the discipline board and given article 1.10 of our  constitution:

 1.10: The rules contained in the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, where they are not inconsistent with this constitution or any special rules of order the Association may adopt, shall govern the Association.

Chapter XX in Robert’s Rules lays out the procedures for disciplining members; therefore they are our Association’s procedures when our Handbook is silent. I ask the following questions:

·         What authority does the manual of the discipline board have in our Association?

·         What higher authority in OECTA approved the discipline board manual? And when did that authority approve?

·         If the AGM has not passed “any special rules of order” for discipline, Robert’s Rules outweighs in authority and priority any unpublished manual of the discipline board so where or by whom did the discipline board manual derive its authority?

·         Can unpublished and virtually secret rules of procedure have any validity in a democratic Association such as ours?

I think we may all agree that these are the easy questions (almost trivial) and I fully expect to receive a comprehensive reply to them. I now want to take up the vexed and troubling question of the discipline board’s validity, which I do not think trivial.

 
There is no ambiguity in the OECTA bylaws pertaining to the discipline board. Bylaws always supersede procedures such that the absence of adherence to the bylaws renders any procedure taken that is mandated by the bylaws invalid. To contradict this statement one must argue that in OECTA staff and members can implement procedures and processes without receiving the legal authority to do so. Under the bylaws of OECTA there is no board that has the power to dismiss any member without the strictest adherence to articles 1.1, 2.5 1.15, 2.193, and 2.51, in the Handbook. In law, where there exists an obligation to constitute authority, this requirement must be met before any authority can be assumed or transferred. In the case of Richard Brock, OECTA did not constitute the discipline board; therefore, that board or that party purporting to be the board had no authority to meet. Without the enabling motion from the provincial executive, the party that purports to be the discipline board had no authority to act because it does not exist. At least that is the common sense view of the affair.

It would appear that OECTA dissents from what I refer to as the common sense view of things. The following is extracted from the letter James Ryan sent to the Council of Presidents on September 18, 2013. 

There has been much interest in the recent decision of the OECTA Discipline Panel, its implications, legalities and the role of the provincial executive in the process. The provincial executive has discussed all of these issues with the advice of legal counsel. The following is a summary of the salient points in this discussion. …

In the minutes of the February 12, 13, 2013 provincial executive meeting the following two motions were carried:

 Grafton/Cox   THAT THE PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE ACCEPT THE LATE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOUND ON F 1:3.

Ryan/Karuhanga THAT THE PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE APPROVE THE APPOINTMENT OF JOE RYAN AS THE CHAIR OF THE DISCIPLINE BOARD. (PE-12/13-1368)

A motion was therefore passed by the provincial executive appointing the chairperson of the Discipline Board. This then leads of course back to the question: did the provincial executive ever appoint the Discipline Board itself?

In the first of these two motions the provincial executive accepted a late report. That late report (see appendix 1) was the “MINUTES OF THE DISCIPLINE BOARD MEETING ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2013, AT THE PROVINCIAL OFFICE, 65 ST. CLAIR AVENUE EAST, TORONTO, ONTARIO”.

 
These minutes recorded that the following individuals were present at the meeting: Bill Brazeau, Kathleen Gardiner, Donna Marie Kennedy, Kathy McVean, Joe Ryan, Gary Tomcko, Joe Pece, Marshall Jarvis, Jerry Raso.

While there is no provincial executive motion appointing any of these individuals to the Discipline Board, it is the belief of legal counsel that in view of the contents of the discussion regarding the late report, by accepting this late report and then by acting upon the Discipline Board’s recommendation to appoint its chairperson, the provincial executive consented to appointment of the OECTA Discipline Board. (Please note that the bolding and underlining originates with the present author and not James Ryan)
 
In admitting that there was no PE motion appointing the members of the discipline board, James Ryan inadvertently admits that unauthorized person(s) called the February meeting, selected the participants and set the agenda. Question:

  • Does the PE have the authority to delegate their duties under articles 1.1, 2.5 1.15, 2.193, and 2.51, of the Handbook either before or after the fact when the Handbook provides no authority to do so?
  • By what authority in OECTA did the so-called discipline board first meet?
  • Who called the meeting, who set the agenda and who chaired the meeting?
 However, that is only the beginning of the questions. Only the AGM can alter the rules of the Association as they are codified in the Handbook. The PE is mandated to follow those rules. If the PE agrees with their lawyers "belief", it means that OECTA has adopted the corporate position that a staff person can call a meeting in direct opposition to the bylaws and it could after the fact be sanctioned by the provincial executive. The question then arises:

  • Does this acceptance of their lawyer’s “belief” in the legality of the subsequent sanction make the PE in its capacity as the Board of Directors of OECTA subordinate to the employees or staff of OECTA in apparent contradiction to the structure of authority enshrined in the Handbook?
At the September meeting of the PE Grafton moved and Cox seconded the motion:

   THAT THE PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE ACCEPT THE LATE REPORT  AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOUND ON F 1:3.

My question to the PE and its lawyers is:

  • Can the PE accept a report and a recommendation from a body that has not yet been duly constituted given that according to our bylaws that body does not exist?
  • If the answer is yes, which articles in the Handbook permit such acceptance and how do they do so?

The argument that past practice justifies the violation of the bylaws raises many questions:

  1. At the time of receiving the lawyers “belief”, did the members of the PE know that some previous General Secretaries had appointed members to the discipline board?
  2. If members of the PE and the members at large did not know of the past practice, does such a secret past practice have any standing in law as past practice?
  3. If the past practice involves violating the bylaws, does it not therefore represent a breach of contract? Can this practice continue once it is discovered and a member objects? (I formally object to any suggestion that the General Secretary may violate the bylaws.)
  4. How can OECTA break its contract with me, Richard Brock or any other member without first obtaining our consent?
  5. Is there in law such a thing as a legally valid one-sided breaking of contract that would apply to this situation?
 
It seems to me that the lawyers’ “belief” cited above provides the all-important fig leaf for the PE to avoid addressing whether the discipline board was duly constituted; however, it forces upon every member far more serious questions. Staff fall under the authority of the PE and staff may never act contrary to the Handbook. Staff must always follow the procedures of our Association, but staff are always constrained to first obtain the prerequisite higher authority before executing or following procedures. The chain of authority prescribes that staff can never implement a procedure without being authorized by a higher authority in the organization.

Our Constitution encompasses Robert’s Rules of Order. Robert’s always rules out of order any motion that conflicts with laws (federal, state, or local), or with bylaws, constitution, or rules of the organization; Robert’s also rules out of order any motion which propose actions beyond the scope of the organization's bylaws. Under both of these provisions the motion to accept the recommendation from the so-called discipline board and the motion to appoint Joe Ryan chairperson of the discipline board were automatically out of order.

 It is at this precise juncture that the lawyer’s “belief” cited above creates problems. The lawyers tell us that if the PE acts on a motion that is out of order, that action legitimizes the motion in so far as it transfers to the motion all the authority of the PE, whether the PE intended that or not. I know of at least one member of the PE that received the late report who denies any intent to either approve of the discipline board or appoint its members when they accepted the late report. Therefore, following the lawyer’s “belief” the tabling of  a motion that the PE at the time does not know is out of order is a grave matter in the governance of our Association because it transfers the authority of the PE to the circumstances relating to that motion whether the PE intended that transfer of authority or not. The lawyer’s “belief” clearly dismisses the need for the PE to intend to appoint the discipline board members; therefore, the intent is not germane to any motion the PE accepts.

 The problem is that three staff members (Joe Pece, Marshall Jarvis, Jerry Raso) sat with this so-called discipline board and the minutes state that they reviewed all of the relevant sections to the discipline board in the Handbook. Therefore, these three individuals read the stipulations of our bylaws regarding the appointing of discipline board members—there is no appeal to honest oversight when you have just read the bylaws; therefore, they have serious questions to answer:

  1. Did they know that the meeting had been called without the necessary authorization from the PE in direct violation of the bylaws?
  2.  Furthermore, did they know that when the so-called discipline board reported and recommended Joe Ryan as chairperson, that board did so without the necessary authority to either report or recommend to the PE?
  3. Was there any attempt by one or more of these staff members to connive at the non-lawful meeting and reporting out of the so-called discipline board?
 
The more egregious problem is not whether the staff connived at rule-breaking (and that is a serious matter in its own right) but that they may have enabled an out of order motion to go before their superiors, the Provincial Executive, through their personal decision not to inform.  The withholding of relevant, important or germane information from one’s superiors is always intolerable and must always be formally censured. Unfortunately for OECTA, the lawyer’s “belief” amplifies the offense of withholding information from one’s superiors because informed by that legal opinion we now have to consider whether staff’s personal decision not to inform their superiors might amount to deliberate subversion of authority.  Furthermore, when the PE accepted the late report there were other staff members present. Thus we have the situation that at least four members of staff were silent when the PE accepted a report that would always be out of order, an action which led our PE to violate the Handbook and pass a motion that was at the time of the recommendation always out of order. Furthermore, the silence of staff led the PE to take actions with unintended consequences—The PE never intended by their motions to appoint the discipline board. This is a far more grave matter than anything Richard Brock is alleged to have done and given the severity of the punishment meted out to Richard Brock, I shudder to think what might be meted out to any guilty staff member.  Questions:

  1. Does the PE acknowledge that staff has a manifest duty always to disclose and inform when staff has relevant and pertinent information to the deliberations and decisions of the PE?
  2. Did any of the three members present at the meeting of the so-called discipline board inform the PE that a) the meeting had taken place without the required motion of the PE; b) the report and recommendation they submitted was out of order?
  3. Did those staff members present at the executive meeting when the PE accepted the late report inform their superiors that the motion to accept the report was out of order because the report emanated from a non-constituted discipline board and by our Handbook a body that did not exist?
  4. Did the staff present at the PE meeting have a duty to inform their superiors that the report and recommendation from the so-called discipline board was out of order?
  5. Did the staff present at the PE meeting know that the so-called discipline board was not duly constituted and hence did not legally exist?
  6. Depending on their degree of guilt, are there any consequences for any (or all) of the staff  for not informing their superiors that the discipline board was not duly constituted and that the report submitted was out of order?
  7. Richard Brock has launched a civil suit against OECTA. Given the irregular method staff used to get the discipline board appointed and given the troubling decisions of that board, who bears the costs should Mr. Brock prevail in court?
  8. Why should the members at large be put at financial risk in the Brock case when the bylaws of our association were not strictly followed by the employees of the Association?
  9. Why should I and my colleagues have to pay anything when the staff of our Association make personal decisions not to inform their superiors of relevant details and information?
  10. Will the PE investigate the conduct of staff? If they find them guilty of withholding information from the PE, will they remove the “corporate shield” from the guilty staff so that the Association can recoup any costs that accrue in the Brock case?
I find these questions troubling but necessary. The PE has a duty to defend and uphold the bylaws of our Association, and I, a member, ask you collectively to do your duty by the Association and all its members.

Sincerely,
John Cafferky, member of OECTA

 
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