All In Hand
Here you'll find the sum total of Miss Vicky's Remarks thus far.
A reader writes:
Hey Miss Vicky! I bookmarked your site a little while ago when you had a posting that may have had something to do with "Best things to do in Westboro..." or something to that extent. My boyfriend and I heading down there to find him a parka...(he's moving to Yellowknife in a couple of weeks) and as it's our anniversary, we'd like to have a nice evening. Keeping in mind that we're both poor recent graduates and somewhat health conscious...is there anything that you would suggest for a cute date? A healthy bite in a cozy atmosphere? It would be LATER on in the evening... Thanks a bunch! Sorry for the short notice!
Happy anniversary! There are a few things you can o in Westboro, or down the road in West Wellington and Hintonburg if you want to travel that far. Once you've picked up the parka, you might try the following:
Trio is a nice cozy place. While it's not really a spot for dinner, it is an intimate spot, the snacks we've had there are tasty, and there's often a DJ on weekends. And they have Beau's on tap, which is always a plus for Miss Vicky and the Webgeek.
MHK Sushi recently opened a restaurant at the tail end of Westboro, in the new Domus building. While we haven't tried it yet, it may offer an affordable, healthy alternative.
If you like Mexican... ish, you might try the Milagro Grill. Not sure what the atmosphere is like in the evenings. But a few margaritas might be appropriately celebratory. Plus, I think it's probably hard to find Mexican in Yellowknife (I could be wrong - there is a lovely little cantina in Whitehorse).
If you want to travel a bit further east, Caffe Mio is a lovely little West Wellington bistro featuring tasty Italian fare. It is just east of Island Park. Siam Bistro, near Holland, has amazing Thai food. Vegetarians and other health-conscious eaters quite enjoy The Table at Holland and Wellington, but it probably isn't a later-night option, nor does buffet style food-by-weight scream "romantic anniversary" to me. Further east in Hintonburg, there's Hino's, an affordable Japanese fusion restaurant with very yummy meals. It is never, ever crowded. And you can always head over to the newly re-opened Elmdale Tavern for a beer afterwards (again, some may not consider this romantic).
Now, if you are looking to spend a little more and want an amazing meal with a nice atmosphere, then try the Wellington Gastropub. That's where Miss Vicky and the Webgeek head when we want a special night... we have never been disappointed.
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As I type this, a block of Wellington between Melrose and Rosemount is shut down and filled with emergency vehicles. A ladder truck is reaching up to the second floor of the Giant Tiger, and the neighbourhood smells like smoke. Apparently there has been some sort of electrical fire - I hear something about freezers exploding, but I guess we'll find out more details later.
I hope everyone's already loaded up on groceries and stocking suffers, 'cause I have a feeling we won't be shopping there for a while.
UPDATE: Here's the Citizen story. So the fire seems to have been contained in the basement, but all the windows had to be broken to let the smoke out. Ouch. Let's hope they re-open soon - so many rely on GT for their groceries.
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I'm posting this partially as a sorbet of sorts, to counteract the rather heavy news Miss Vicky posted, but mostly as a warning to other parents of pre-schoolers out there. It's never too early to be vigilant and (over)reactionary.
I'm talking about the new Ottawa Police Gang Card. It's a list of potential signs of gang activity that we parents need to watch for in our children.
Here are the signs, as laid out in the card -- Let's see how Wee G stacks up:
- Shows signs of tobacco, alcohol or drug use
No tobacco use as far as I can tell, but he does seem overly attracted to empty beer bottles, and may even have tried to drink from them. Also, he's had several doses of tempra while teething. Check and Check
- Changes circle of friends and desires too much privacy
Wee G has recently joined a daycare (or gang of babies, if you will) and has taken to playing shy (and peekaboo) with extended family members. Check, and Check.
- Carries a weapon or conceals personal items
He likes playing with his spoon during mealtime. It's not a big jump from spoon to fork, spork or knife. He's also taken to putting his toy animals in his toy farmhouse then closing the barn door. Check, and Check.
- Makes impulsive, excessive purchases (clothes, jewelry, car)
His Christmas gift to Mommy was beyond the agreed upon budget -- and hear that his gift to Daddy might also be a bit 'pricey'. Check. (though, he may *ahem* have had help purchasing those -- dear me, I think I'm an enabler!)
- Has large sums of money from an unexplained source
It surprises me how often he seems able to find loose change. The big coins too. Twoonies and loonies. Check.
- Uses a gang’s specific colours, emblems or hand signals
I don't know what, exactly, gang colours and signs are, but he does seem drawn to bright red objects -- and he's taken to using sign language for "more", "food", "bath" and more. Check and Check
- Has had negative interactions with police
He never plays with the white police car bath toy we have, preferring instead the red tow truck and yellow jet plane. Check.
- Engages in vandalism or delinquent behaviour
Not a day goes by where he doesn't pull down my DVD collection or the contents of our "tupperware cupboard". Check
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I'm not quite sure how to write this. The Webgeek and I lost our baby this week. We are quite heartbroken and taking some time to look after each other. We're giving WeeG lots of hugs and kisses and are very grateful for his presence in our lives.
We're not quite sure yet what we're going to do to honour the memory of the little Bug that we won't be having in May. We'll keep you all posted. In the meantime, if you've got little ones of your own, give them a big hug for us.
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Monday December 17th is the 5th International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. There are a few things going on in Ottawa to mark the occasion. There's a march gathering at 5pm at the corner of Laurier and Umbrella. Marchers will sport red umbrellas (which apparently is a symbol of sex worker solidarity and resistance to discrimination) and will walk to the Human Rights Monument on Elgin and Lisgar.
At 5:30pm there will be a candlelight vigil at the Human Rights Monument. Sex workers and allies will speak about federal and local phenomena that increase the violence they face in their lives and work.
Following the vigil, there will be a reception at Venus Envy (320 Lisgar, just off Bank). There will be refreshments, a documentary screening and an open mic for sex workers and allies to remember lost friends, share stories and reflect.
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Council's decided to look to user fees to keep this year's tax increase down.... Transit fares will rise 7.5% each year for the next 3 years (and this is to address rising costs, not to improve service). Parking rates are going up as well, although they're still a bargain. And new parking meters will be installed along mainstreets in areas that don't currently have them (including Wellington Street West). Rink fees are going up, as are sports field rentals for adult programs. Unfortunately the text of the motions being considered is not yet available so I am relying on media reports here, as well as an email circulated by our councillor regarding the parking meter issue.
You all know how Miss Vicky feels about transit fare hikes. It's infuriating that the folks who rely on public transit have to pay more, year after year, while millions are shelled out to keep traffic humming. And it's a double slap in the face to raise fares while canceling the LRT and replacing it with a transportation plan written on the back of a napkin at a committee meeting. In the meantime, consumer confidence in OCTranspo is at its lowest in a while and senior management are jumping ship to the private sector.
As for parking rates, well, I've always felt they were low. If we were serious about encouraging transit over car use we'd jack parking rates up (especially in the downtown core) and invest the money in a world-class transit system, making sure that transit use was affordable to everyone. But no, we have the highest transit fares in the country and it looks like it's going to stay that way.
I have a question in to a source regarding the rink rates and some other recreation-related matters that are before Council, so I will hold back my vitriol on that for the time being. Rest assured I shall endeavour to obtain the wording of the various omnibus motions they're passing at City Hall this week and will report the gory details to you as soon as possible.
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Yesterday the CBC called me for comment on the charges against Mayor Larry. I told them I hadn't yet decided whether I felt the Mayor should step down. Either decision carries some pretty massive implications for the city, and I wanted to think it through a bit before I decided to jump on any bandwagon.
Ultimately, I said, it's the Mayor's decision. His indication yesterday that he wanted to hear from citizens and his council colleagues was, I felt, a bit of a cop-out. He's not under any legal obligation to set aside while the courts determine the validity of the charges. But he has to decide whether he feels he can do his job effectively while he is navigating the judicial process, whether his credibility has been undermined by this scandal, and whether he is capable of being the kind of leader this city needs right now. And only the mayor can make that determination.
Unfortunately, I am not convinced that the mayor's arrogance will let him put his own interests aside for the good of the city. This is, after all, a man who continues to insist that "zero means zero" when all evidence shows that the city's financial position is unsustainable. But for what it's worth, here's why I think Larry should step aside.
This city is in crisis, on several fronts. We have a dysfunctional council that all too often splits down the middle on fractious issues. We have a budget process that has been in disarray for several years running, the legacy of a decade of misguided tax freezes, provincial downloading and federal neglect of municipalities. Our transportation system is a mess, thanks to unchecked suburban development, rising fares accompanied by declining standards of service, and a failed attempt to bring light rail to the city. Oh yes, and there's that multi-million dollar lawsuit arising from said failed attempt.
Setting aside what I feel about Larry's failure to rise to these challenges so far, it is glaringly obvious that the spectre of the OPP investigation has already made it very difficult to lead the city effectively. His credibility was undermined from the time the allegations were made, and the lengthy investigation only fueled the rumours and questions surrounding his leadership. Now that the charges have actually materialized (and I highly doubt the crown would actually lay such serious charges against a public official if they didn't think they would stick), O'Brien faces a potentially lengthy trial... a trial that will be about as public as trials get. Anyone who thinks this won't interfere in his ability to do his job is seriously deluded.
We need a mayor that can put their nose to the grindstone and start tackling this city's problems (and I don't mean the fake problems, like O'Brien's manufactured conflict with senior city management)... someone who can build consensus among councillors and restore the confidence and morale of city staff. We need someone whose vision for the city extends beyond corporate buzzwords and vague promises of running the city "like a business". The Mayor has had over a year to bring some substance to the table and show us some concrete ideas. He hasn't, and now he seems to be willing to drag the entire city through a lengthy period of uncertainty and turmoil while he deals with these allegations. Four years is too short a mandate to maintain a holding pattern until this issue is resolved. Better that O'Brien step aside now, so the rest of the city can get on with things.
Of course, the nagging question is: if he steps aside, then what? Is he resigning or taking an extended leave until the court decides one way or the other? If he resigns, council has two choices: appoint a replacement, or hold a by-election. Neither option is particularly appealing. But given the divisions among the councillors I am highly skeptical that they would be able to find an appointee that everyone could agree on. An election, of course, would be costly and a hassle for everyone. And there's the whole issue of who - who would run, or who'd be willing to take an appointment if that were the route council chose.
If the mayor requests a leave, I believe that council would have to consent. Right now the role of deputy mayor rotates every couple of months, so if the deputy mayor becomes acting mayor, does that mean that we'd have a different mayor every couple of months, potentially for the remainder of this council's mandate (depending on how long this trial lasts)? No matter what our political leanings are, there are prospects there to make any of us shudder at the thought: Mayor Gord Hunter, Mayor Alex Cullen, Mayor Bob Monette... see what I mean?
No matter which way you slice it, council faces a political minefield. The Mayor needs to end the uncertainty and decide once and for all what he is going to do, so council can get to work on dealing with the fallout.
UPDATE: While I was writing this, the Mayor announced his decision to stay on. Score one for arrogance, 0 for leadership.
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So CBC is just announcing that Mayor Larry has been charged under 2 sections of the criminal code for his alleged attempts to bribe a political opponent during the 2006 election.
He doesn't have to step down... not until he's convicted. Will he, though? Should he?
UPDATE: So he has said that he will reserve his decision about stepping down until he hears from the public and a special council meeting.
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The Hintonburg Community Association's Annual Kringle Event - featuring all kinds of holiday activities for kids (including a visit with that Guy Dressed in Red) - takes place TONIGHT at the Hintonburg Community Centre at 6:30. Drop by for some festive fun!
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