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Questions without Answers

Madam's and Sir's of the Council,

Further to my previous letters regarding serious concerns about the LRT, I now have some questions. Not all are related to the LRT. But all are equally taxing.

Why are the property taxes on my house still increasing?

Property values here are dropping. Yet the property taxes on my house went up by almost ten percent yet again. This is far more than inflation and infinitely more than the non-existent increase in property value.

I'm certainly not seeing a corresponding improvement in city services for the extra money I'm paying.

In fact, over the years, services have deteriorated to the point where garbage pickup only occurs every two weeks now for over half the year. We used to get weekly pickup all year round.

And back then our tax bills were a lot low lower than they are now, even after accounting for inflation. Plus we had nice, tree-lined roads and beautiful parks that everybody used instead of ugly trains that everybody hates.

So is the city tax department simply taking my tax money and giving it to the train lobby under the guise of public transit? If not, well, where is it going then? Down the drain? And who exactly is at the other end of that drain anyway?

Why is that dangerous LRT sandbar still showing up in the river?

Any first year civil engineering student knows perfectly well that if you interrupt a flowing river that carries tonnes of sediment with an LRT bridge it will cause an LRT sandbar to appear.

And anybody with a lick of sense knows that wading or swimming in a large flowing river like the North Saskatchewan is a good way to drown.

So when the city uses it's LRT project to knowingly create an artifical sandbar that clearly attracts people to a serious danger I have to wonder:

Is it a beach? Or is it criminal negligence?

Why is the city charging me an additional "neighborhood improvement fee" on my tax bill?

As mentioned above, property values here are dropping. It is hard to see how getting poorer can be considered an improvement.

Further, the city is installing a train less than a block from my house. As everyone knows, trains in a neighborhood like mine are no improvement at all. In fact, it is common knowledge that having trains installed in your neighborhood is actually a major disaster.

Then there is the ongoing, excessive racket coming from that train project. An ongoing racket and beep-beep-beep all day is no improvement to anyone ever. It's almost as bad as being permanently forced to detour around empty train corridors or having to wait for empty trains to crawl by every single time you want to go anywhere.

And before this railway came along, my neighbors and I recently paid extra to have the roads here rebuilt. And it wasn't just a little either. It was very costly and lots of us are still paying off the bill for that.

Still, even though we had to pay for something that everyone else in the city gets for free as part of their taxes, it was nice for a while. New roads, nice sidewalks and new grass to compliment all those beautiful old growth trees that characterize our area.

But now, a huge number of those trees are dead and heavy trucks and other LRT related construction equipment are wrecking our brand new roads. And everybody knows that dead trees and prematurely worn out roads are not normally classified as an improvement in most peoples books.

So, were we really just duped into paying even more of the LRT construction costs here?

Why were our roads not rebuilt after the train was built? Or if the roads were to be fixed before the train arrived, why didn't the construction companies now wearing out our roads kick in to the rebuild costs?

Either way, we would have got a lot more for our money that way. And had we known the city was planning this all along, I am sure it would have affected important decisions like: should we move to Regina?

So there are no improvements going on in my neighborhood in any way, shape or form as far as I can see. And instead of this so-called "improvement fee", we should all be getting an "LRT destruction reduction" I would think.

Is the train lobby being billed for the increased cost in local garbage collection that they are causing?

The garbage trucks around here now have to backup down the alley with their beepers blaring. Then, at the end of the alley they switch to forward gear and collect the garbage. This is because the LRT has blocked off one end of all the alleys around here.

Because of this it now takes twice as long to collect the garbage and the garbage trucks have to travel twice the distance.

So they waste time, burn excess fuel making unnecessary pollution and put double the mileage on the equipment. Plus they now make a really loud racket while doing it.

Are the people causing these additional costs and disruption in our garbage collection system being billed for all this? ie: Are Bombardier, Ellis-Don and the rest of the boondogglers kicking in here? Or is this just another example of how hidden LRT costs cause local property taxes to go up?

Where is the latest online survey form for gathering public input regarding the LRT?

I know for a fact that any first year computer programming student can write a simple web form in about an hour. A more complex one (like say a boondoggle survey for example) takes an actual computer graduate a few days to write. Then you need an intermediate level analyst to check the work before releasing it.

This assumes its being done in an existing technical framework by a group that has published many hundreds, if not thousands of web pages in that framework already. The website site would be a typical example of the sort of framework I am talking about.

In such an environment, two weeks would be generous. The end result would be a functioning survey form. Or at least it would be if almost any one of the dozens of professional computer people and other project managers I've worked with in the past were in charge.

And so I highly doubt the city has technical issues here. Nor does it appear to have technical competence issues either. So, the lack of a promised online survey form to collect public input regarding the LRT is clearly not a technical problem in any way. Instead, it's obviously a leadership issue.

So, is the promised survey form missing because the city just doesn't want any records of public input on this issue?

If so, this sort of behavior is called "willful ignorance" and as far as I know, in court, this specific behavior is not considered a legal defense.

It is true the city continues to use FOIP laws to suppress publication of LRT related information?

Yes, it is true and we already know that. Didn't want it to pass unnoticed though.

Will the city install anti-terrorism body scanners in the train stations?

It is common knowledge that LRT train systems attract dangerous criminals such as muggers, rapists and deranged people bent on violence.

In addition to these well known LRT dangers, The City of Los Angeles has recently acknowledged that LRT systems attract terrorists and others who wish to engage in mass murder.

And so to help prevent terrorism, the city of Los Angeles is planning to install body scanners in their subway stations. They say that installing body scanners will help prevent weapons and explosives from being carried onto their trains.

Will Edmonton be doing the same? If so, it is worth noting that the Edmonton LRT system is mostly above ground. So any terrorists here could easily defeat such a system simply by standing at the end of my block and blowing up the train as it goes by.

In Los Angeles however, their system is a subway. So by installing scanners in the stations their trains should be safe. This way, only the station and all the people in it at the time will be wiped out in the event of an attack.

So, will the trains here in Edmonton be similarly safeguarded by body scanners like the ones in Los Angeles?

And if so, where can I find the scanned images? Will they be posted online?

Or will they be considered private and as such be safeguarded from leaks and abuse?

If so how exactly will this happen? Will access be restricted to city employess? Or will third party contractors such as Amazon or Thales be responsible for the image database?

Or will it be handed over to one of those facebook analytics firms? They already get the faces from facebook. But they need the city to provide the bodies.

How many years has it been since the old airport was shut down?

And all we have to show for it is a gravel pit and an abandoned construction site? Is there more to this airport-shutting-down thing than we were originally led to believe?

And regardless of what people said -vs- what they did, doesn't this also indicate that there is glut of land here? And if so, why are we tearing down perfectly good neighborhoods just to build train slums?

We can build all the 80+ story high density train tower slums we want at the old airport. I think there is enough room to build one for every poor person who actually lives here. And it used to be an airport so we don't even need trains at all.

That way we can just call them "slums" instad of the more cumbersome "80+ story high density train tower slums".

So when does the new propaganda channel go online?

I am so looking forward to the first edition of the China, er, Edmonton Daily News.

Hopefully your reporters are as witty and clever as the Chinese are. Those guys and girls over there manage to use loopholes in their language very effectively to ensure that the common people almost always know the truth no matter what the politicians tell them to say.

You could try poaching some reporters from the Economist if you can. Of all the popular English language publications available today, their reporters are by far the funniest. And their skewers are the best in the business. I think they use old Monty Python skits for training purposes.

Don't bother recruiting from the local paper though. The reporting itself seems ok. But you don't need facts and the editorials and opinion pieces are generally humorless and often totally out of touch. For starters, that gondola thing was nowhere near as funny as it should have been. And they keep missing the train on all sorts of other hilarious opportunities too. Like the cannabis lottery, road planter mania or "gag me with a law" for just a few examples.

And this latest Whyte Ave LRT thing is an un-harpooned whale of a story if there ever was one. And they let it slip through their palms. I wonder why?

Do you think it has anything to do with the cities new policy of pitting drivers against trees like what's happening with the west LRT? Funny how the LRT always manages to escape editoral blame for these things. Even though every single time it's the cause of all the dead trees and congested drivers in the first place.

And that's the end of my questions for the moment. I look forward to your response and wish you well in the upcoming elections. Note that the words "wish you well" and "winning" are not necessarly the same thing.

Best Regards,
Your Loyal Voter

PS: Do you still need blog censors for If so, I know someone who has a sharp tongue, bad judgement and poor writing skills. Plus he supports preposterous ideas like low taxes and roads without trains. Why yes, he's very gullible in fact. He likes money too so it should work out perfectly for your purposes.

PPS: See Part 2 or See Part 3

If you oppose the train you can complain to the mayor or your councillor here: City of Edmonton Website
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