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Letters: week of Oct. 4

Letter about eVoting showed a basic lack of understanding Sir: Regarding the Sept. 6 letter, 'Missing information about eVoting.' It was full of misinformation.
Letters to the editor

Letter about eVoting showed a basic lack of understanding

Sir: Regarding the Sept. 6 letter, 'Missing information about eVoting.' It was full of misinformation.

I've been in the IT industry over 20 years and am a Solutions Engineer for a leading data protection company. Let me clarify some things.

The requirement to eVote is simply to have a relatively modern browser; the same requirement you'd need for banking or shopping. Older browsers are just not secure enough for safe eVoting/banking/shopping, and allowing them would open security holes.  But if you can shop on Amazon or bank online you'll be fine.

VPNs are great in certain circumstances. A VPN puts the user's computer inside the company’s network; plugging you into the back office. This would be a field day for hackers. Getting behind the firewall and onto a company network is the hardest part of their 'job' and the reason you don't use a VPN bank.

Modern web browsers use secure connections to encrypt the traffic between you and the web server automatically, without allowing you access to the entire system. In other words, a web browser is like going to the teller's counter and making your request. A VPN would be giving you the keys to the vault.

The data is housed in a Tier 3 Bell datacenter. It houses many businesses and government agencies. The servers themselves are almost certainly using disk redundancy (or RAID) to ensure that if any hard drive fails the system can still run.

Power redundancy would be a requirement for the datacenter; if one source was interrupted another would kick in.

UPSs are designed to provide a few minutes of power to give the computer time to shut down correctly. They are not a long-term power supply. These datacenters typically also have generators that can provide power in the event of a total disaster.

However, if you’re still worried about eVoting, then just vote by phone. Or go to the nearest voting station for help.

We now have many, easy options to make our vote count. I'm hoping, once we see the turnout numbers, this fear mongering about computers will be ancient history.

Dave Browne


Mayor Mike Bradley tried, tested – and sanctioned by council

Sir: It is unbelievable the amount of disinformation espoused by the current mayor, Mike Bradley, and his friend Coun. David Boushy.

A.M. Golian’s letter of Sept. 18, “Vote for Bradley, elect a new council, and clean house,” endorsed the misconception that the mayor is the one who has been ostracized by City Hall.

Once again, I reiterate, the one constant in the entire furor at City Hall is the mayor. “Fortress” City Hall does not exist. Councillors had no choice but to bring in the Integrity Commissioner, and key card access was put in place for all at City Hall, not just the mayor.

Only those blind to the procedures of the Municipal Act would absorb the false rhetoric from a mayor who has been sanctioned. Blame cannot be apportioned to anyone but the mayor.

The reality is that four staff members made formal complaints about his harassment and bullying. That this trait of the mayor’s was not reported before is irrelevant. Eventually, enough was enough, and it was reported.

Someone in council had to take the lead or it could have been fined for not taking staff seriously. Anne Marie Gillis carried out the correct procedures and has been wrongly vilified ever since.

This vilification of Gillis is endemic among Bradley supporters who cannot believe their “beloved” mayor has had to face the truth about his unforgiveable actions. Despite the bad press, Gillis has risen above this awful mess. She has my vote because Sarnia deserves better.

For those who wish to have a council respected inside and outside Sarnia, the current mayor cannot be part of it. No matter how glibly he promotes his “new” image, and the way forward for Sarnia and City Hall, there is no way back for him with the staff.

There is no place for the same irresponsible mayor and his loyal lieutenant Boushy, who have no respect and do not deserve respect inside City Hall.

Peter Clarke


We need to elect Mike Bradley and a new council

Sir: According to many people, Mayor Mike Bradley should be replaced with a younger one.

How much younger is Anne Marie Gillis than Bradley?

If Gillis happens to be elected, will she use the $75,000 wall the present council managed to get for the mayor? And will she have an after-hours key for City Hall?

We need to re-elect Mike Bradley and a new council.

Ken Keeling


Departing councillor offers winning recipe for new council

Sir: As I prepare to depart city council after 21 years of service, I’m thinking about the kind of candidate I’ll vote for.

I had some of these characteristics when I was first elected. The rest I had to learn from experience:

* Collaborator. Works with others. Mayor, council, CAO, as a team. Respects fellow council members, even when difficult. (and sometimes it will be)

* Independent thinker. Has their own ideas. Stands on principle. Even if it means standing alone.

* Graceful loser. Respects the majority vote and moves on.

Drama-free. It’s city council, not Game of Thrones.

* Forward-looking. "Where are we going?” Not “where were we?”

* Knows the rules. Complies with them, including the Municipal Act and Ontario’s workplace regulations, especially regarding roles of council/mayor/CAO and harassment in the workplace. (If you cannot comply, you’ll be a magnet for lawsuits and Integrity Commissioner complaints. Societal norms are always changing. Can’t accept this? Don’t run for council.)

* Patience. You’ll get hundreds of calls/emails/texts over a 4-year term. The public won’t have the information you do. Listen. Then inform, gently, respectfully. People appreciate it, every time.

* Knows when to ask for help. Sometimes you’ll need advice. Look to other council members and city staff when appropriate. They might know something you don’t.

* Respectful of staff. They know the nuts and bolts of the city. We expect a lot from them, and they deliver. Don’t criticize them publicly. They can’t fight back.

* Possesses good judgment. Presents clear, logical, concise arguments, fact-based. Folks want to understand your position, even when they disagree. No one wants a sermon from a councillor.

* Is loyal to the city, above all else. The good of the city supersedes personal loyalties, relationships or ambitions.

Please vote. Do your homework. There are many capable people running.

Thank you, people of Sarnia, for allowing me the honour of public service over these 21 years. Adieu, not goodbye. And God bless you and our fair city.

Coun. Mike Kelch


Gillis doesn’t have the leadership that matters

Sir: I find it very interesting to see mayoral candidate Ann Marie Gillis' slogan is "Leadership Matters."

As a member of both city and Lambton County councils, she has dealt with many issues, including long-term care homes.

There have been multiple complaints about a host of concerns. Family council members have sent letters, spoken with Lambton CAO Ron Van Horne, addressed council in person, and sent petitions; to no avail. Changes were pushed through without regard for resident wishes.

Senior staff come and go (who approves the removals, the severance packages, and where does the money come from?) Staff turnover is high, either willingly or unwillingly. Many are on sick leave or stress leave and the work atmosphere has been described as "militant."

Ms. Gillis has been seen to ask only a minimum of questions and appear satisfied by vague, general responses. Family councils counted on her.

Has she investigated further into the issues brought to her? Has she spoken with ALL the concerned constituents?

She appears to accept the word of one over many. Is this an example of being part of the "old boys club?" The problems still exist and are growing exponentially.

These are county homes, run by the county, for the county, and PAID for by the county taxpayers. Yet they have no say and are totally ignored.

When things got uncomfortable for Ms. Gillis she ceased communication, hence no resolutions.

So how does she plan to lead a city full of tough, volatile issues? Will she stop communicating and digging for the truth when it gets uncomfortable?

Leadership does not get to pick and choose the issues. It is time for new vision, new blood and new leadership in our city. But where was her leadership when many needed her? Leadership does matter.

Ann LeClair


Union member opposes council endorsement of Bradley

Sir: Regarding the Sarnia & District Labour Council’s endorsement of Mayor Mike Bradley.

Please let it be known that I am a longtime member of Local 663. I have paid dues for over 40 years.

I was never approached by anyone in my union to support Mike Bradley. I take a very strong position against harassment in the workplace. As such, I would not support the mayor.

I also strongly disagree with the practice of Union officials saying that they have the backing of members when those members were never approached by the leadership.

Jacques Levesque

Point Edward

After 30 years, it’s time to elect Gillis as mayor

Sir: Over the past several years there has been so much drama at City Hall that a time for change is upon us. This means everyone needs to vote.

We have had the same leadership at City Hall for almost thirty years and it is time we voted for new people to lead us into the future. I have come to the conclusion that Anne Marie Gillis, a long-time councillor both on City and City-County would prove to be the person Sarnia needs as the next mayor.

I am very impressed with Ms. Gillis’s ‘Five Point Platform,’ which includes Leadership, Growth, Quality of Life, Plan for the Future and Manage our Money. This platform sets out exactly what she plans to do.

Her personal resume, which includes that of a retired R.N. along with her calm demeanour at council, and her well thought out decision-making, is an indication of someone who will work well with councillors.

Anne Marie has clearly clarified her desire to move our city forward, and constantly refers to the importance of leadership and working with City Hall staff.

It has been a concern to me that she has been held responsible for $400,000 in costs relative to inquiries at City Hall. Ms. Gillis did not make a complaint regarding the investigation but rather worked diligently to resolve the matter, as did other members of city council.

It is most unfortunate that the costs of the investigation were borne by the taxpayers.

Anne Marie Gillis is a well-informed leader with strong family values and a desire to carry the mantle of Mayor and lead Sarnia into a strong and dynamic future.

Robin Moore


Cull Drain Bridge shows why Sarnia needs comprehensive policy

Sir: When asked about the future of the Cull Drain Bridge, some people may suggest that although the bridge is beautiful and has historic significance, there may be far more urgent and necessary infrastructure projects the city should budget for.

This is the classic argument against heritage preservation. There is always some serious, practical need that demands urgent attention and forces projects like the bridge to sink to the bottom of public works priorities. Inevitably this leads to a lack of timely intervention to protect significant heritage properties and the result is “demolition by neglect.”

The case against the bridge is almost entirely based on the presumed cost of restoration and the lack of enthusiastic official support. The case for it is its engineering uniqueness and its history as a locally designed and built structure that once served a useful purpose and survived the ravages of natural wear and tear.

It could also, in its present situation, be a symbol of the city’s difficulty in maintaining all its built assets.

Heritage properties, treated one by one just as they happen to pop up for official consideration, are always going to be vulnerable to the expense argument, and the Cull Drain Bridge is a fine example of the conflict between preservation and practicality.

The city, however, has a responsibility both to protect its heritage and to promote awareness of its importance to the community. The long, drawn out and unresolved predicament of the bridge illustrates how badly Sarnia needs a coherent and thorough policy that embraces not only heritage but all aspects of art and culture.

At this point, we can only hope the impending Master Plan for Parks, Recreation, and Culture will present a broad policy overview along with practical and ambitious recommendations for implementation.

Bryan Trothen


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