What In The Actual Hell Is Going ON In Guelph These Days?

These are all items from Guelph police news releases, and all were published this summer. I’m not 100 percent positive that this is a complete list, but lord love a duck, there are certainly plenty of them as it is.

Obviously there were incidents here and there, but I can’t recall there being this sort of volume in such a short time during the years we lived there. What is happening? Did somebody slash the event budget? Are you aiming to change your slogan from Royal City to Oil City?

Good lord.

Update: The local CBC appears to have stolen my gimmick and begun compiling a list of its own. Theirs stretches back to March, so has a couple of items mine doesn’t.

Also, Mayor Guthrie is unimpressed.

“Guelph is known for our beautiful parks and green spaces — so people, whether they’re visiting our city or live here, they need to be able to enjoy them without any fear of this activity going on,” said Guthrie.

“Police are very aware of these incidents and are taking this very seriously,” said Guthrie. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve had some increased investments in enforcement — and I’m going to continue to support that.”

Guthrie adds mental health issues and drugs are most likely playing a part in this as well.
“Those can’t be full out excuses for what is happening, and for the younger people performing any ‘acts’ as a ‘prank’ . . . it’s not a prank, it’s disgusting. My message for them? Find a different hobby, or get a job.”

“As I said, there is also a part of this which is mental health issues – so we do need to have some further support from the provincial government for all municipalities. We need to make sure people are aware there are drug issues involved in this too – but these aren’t way of ‘explaining out’ the situation, or using it as an excuse.”
He adds as much as we need to be aware of these issues, we also need to acknowledge that Guelph is a great place to live.
“It is going to take our whole community coming together to not be fearful of this issue. Go out, enjoy our parks — but at the same time, be vigilant and call the authorities if you see anything out of place.”

Hi! It’s Adam From the Ontario NDP. Do You Have Some Random Numbers I Can Dial?

I don’t know how widespread it is, but the NDP is causing a bit of annoyance in some places thanks to texts from someone or something calling itself Adam.

A lot of locals aren’t happy about receiving random texts on their cell phones from the New Democratic Party.
The texts started popping up on phones earlier this week.

“Hi! It’s Adam from the Ontario NDP. Do you know about the election happening on June 7?” it reads.
It then advises to reply “stop” if you want to “opt out” and that SMS rates may apply.
People responding would find themselves in a political discussion with “Adam” who would also provide links to the NDP platform on issues.

I haven’t gotten any of these myself, and I’m not sure how much of a problem I’d have with it if I did. On the surface it’s basically a modern version of a party calling you, and it’s even less irritating because you don’t have to get up from dinner to answer it because it might be something important. Man do I ever not miss those days at all. Whoever invented caller ID should win every award that exists and a few I can make up if those aren’t enough.

But while the text itself may not bug me, I’m not so sure about the NDP’s response to the controversy.

“We use texting as part of our program to get voters out on election day to cast their ballots,” Party spokesman Jared Walker told GuelphToday. “We use texting, but we do NOT use lists.”

Ok, so then where do the numbers come from?

“If you receive a text from us, you’ve either signed up OR you’ve received a random text that comes with an opt-out option. Our texting method is sort of like our door-knocking method, we visit everyone!”

First of all, if people have signed up, that’s a list. But the bigger issue is the random part. Sending hundreds or thousands of texts at a time helplessly into the wind and hoping that maybe a few will land? That sounds inefficient. It also sounds an awful lot like spam.

If you guys are using lists, just admit it. And if you aren’t, maybe now might be a good time to start. It seems like a much better strategy than what you’re doing now, bothering people with cell phones and confusing old folks with landlines.

I, For One, Cannot Wait To Get The Day Started! Oh, And Where In The World Is Dave Hannah?

I don’t know what’s going on down at CKWR this morning, but it sounds like somebody might not have had the best weekend. In the span of an hour or so, I heard both this

and this.

Don’t you just want to jump right out of bed and take on the world?

And while we’re talking about radio, what in the heck happened with Dave Hannah on CJOY? When he disappeared suddenly a few weeks ago, I didn’t think much of it. I thought maybe he was sick like everybody else around here. Carin and I haven’t been able to speak for more than a few minutes without coughing for like two weeks now, and when you’re doing radio that’s just not going to work. But then last week they aired this announcement, which they’ve also posted online.

1460 CJOY wants to thank Dave Hannah for his service to the community and for his many valuable years of being "that…

Posted by 1460 CJOY on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

1460 CJOY wants to thank Dave Hannah for his service to the community and for his many valuable years of being “that voice” you’ve been used to hearing on radio first thing in the morning. Unfortunately Dave is no longer the CJOY morning man or a member of the Corus/Guelph team. We want to wish Dave the very best in the future.

And then…nothing. No local news coverage, nothing so far in any of the various radio industry news places, not even any rumours. I know broadcasting can be a pretty garbage business about letting people say goodbye, but there’s been a trend, especially with long-serving employees, of giving them a sendoff. CJOY and the papers gave Neill Clemens one just last year. But now it’s this year, and Dave has simply disappeared. Hopefully everyone is ok and nobody’s in any trouble.

There Was A Prof Named Edward Heddican, Teaching Cheques He Will Not Get Again,, Acted Up And They Suspended Him, Career of Edward Heddican Is At An End

Just in case you don’t get the reference.

I know this happened the week before last. I wanted to write about it last weekend but I ran out of time.

The story goes that University of Guelph professor Edward Hedican was filling in for another prof, and got irritated with a student. Obviously I didn’t see it, but several students on Facebook said that he told the student he was annoying, questioned if he was even enrolled in the class, and referred to an assistant who was with him as his handler, telling the assistant to control him. That’s pretty unprofessional behaviour for a professor at the best of times, but it gets really bad when the student has severe anxiety, hence the reason for the presence of an assistant.

I can’t even say the professor was unaware of the anxiety issues, since apparently, during one of the times the professor asked him what he was doing, the student said he had severe anxiety, and the prof just kept on ridiculing him like he was dealing with a heckler at a comedy club. And after all of this, and despite his union discouraging him from making comments to the press, he said the following:

“There was no physical contact here, there’s no sexual interaction, there’s a verbal altercation that happened in class. And I’ll just leave it at that,” he said.

Hmmm, I think I wouldn’t have even gone that far. Nobody else mentioned any physical or sexual misconduct. He also said there were two sides to every story, and then proceeded to not give his. If you can’t comment, don’t even start.

And allow me to get down to the big reason I wanted to write about this incident. Mr. Heddican obviously has no idea how devastating mere words can be when they are used to humiliate in front of hundreds of people simply because the person holding the power feels like doing it. It’s especially difficult when the thing being used for ridicule is a disability with which someone is trying to deal. Maybe the student had just been recently diagnosed with it and was still trying to figure out coping strategies.

What if I had been in Mr. Heddican’s class and something about my assistive technology had annoyed him. Maybe my notetaking device had beeped unexpectedly. Maybe the sound of me typing would have been a distraction to him. Maybe he didn’t like my dog. Would he decide I should be centred out for his amusement? Would it have required physical or sexual impropriety for it to have been misconduct?

I had something happen to me years ago that wasn’t even close to what Mr. Heddican did, and apparently, by the way my hands are shaking as I write, it still bothers me. I was in a class where the professor loved to put up graphs and charts and pictures, and then just say “You can see from the graph how the crime rates have fallen,” or whatever. He didn’t take the few extra seconds to say “The graph illustrates that there was a steep drop in crime rate after a neighbourhood watch was put in place…” for example. I approached the prof in private and asked him if he could either make the slides available to me, or just verbally describe things a bit so I could be in on the lesson. He said he would try. But the next class, as he put another graph up on the projector, he actually said something to the effect of “I’m sorry, Carin, but a picture is worth a thousand words…” and put the graph up without even trying to describe it. He centred me out in front of a giant class full of students, by name, mentioned my blindness, and then decided to say I wasn’t worth the time to make the lesson inclusive. I wasn’t worth it. I think I turned 40 shades of red. I wish I could say I called in people from the Centre for Students with Disabilities and we had a big meeting about this, but I didn’t. I was in my first year. I shrank back in my chair and wanted to disappear. That was nothing compared to this tirade.

It’s especially difficult for someone with an invisible disability when someone decides to pick on them because of it. A lot of people don’t believe invisible disabilities are a thing. People think of disabilities as blind, deaf, using crutches or a wheelchair. If they can’t see it, it can’t be that bad. So disclosing this sort of thing is something the person does with people with whom they are comfortable, and Mr. Heddican made him do it in front of a giant class. That could have been forgiven since it was given as the answer to a question, but Heddican kept going!

I can understand why Mr. Heddican might be wondering what the hell’s up with the gum, but I’m sure he could have handled it much more tactfully. He’s supposed to be the mature one, after all. Even if he asked what was up with the gum, as soon as the kid said he had anxiety, he could have tried to go on as normal and then talked to him afterwards.

Finally, I’m not one to pick on a specific word used to describe someone or something, but that whole “handler” bit just illustrates Heddican’s attitudes towards anyone who might need extra assistance. It, and that no comment comment he left speaks volumes about his character, in my opinion.

I’m glad he was only substituting, and is now on leave. I can’t imagine the dread that student would have been feeling if he knew he had to walk into another class taught by him.

Never Say Bye Without Your Supply

In spite of the stupidity at work, I think I understand the decision making. Though it was one of her own creation, our friend here was caught in a no-win situation. Do you go back for the drugs and risk getting arrested, or do you let them go, losing more than 40 grand in the process? Not to mention that depending on the structure of the drug operation, not going back could mean having your legs broken or worse. Yeah, I think I’m gambling that maybe housekeeping hasn’t shown up yet or taking my chances with the cops, too.

On Jan. 6, 2018, staff at a west end Guelph hotel located a quantity of crystal meth and cocaine that had been left behind by the people that had checked out of the room. A female returned to collect the forgotten items in the room, at which time she was arrested. The estimated value of the drugs is $42,000.
A 33-year-old London female has been charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

A Real Uber Driver Will Never Try To Negotiate A Price Or Ask You for Cash

Normally when one of us writes about a scam, we’re doing it because we want to either laugh at an incompetent one or at the people who fall for an obvious one. But right now I’m going to be completely serious because I know that even as popular as it is, there are a lot of people out there who have no idea how Uber works.

I don’t know how widespread this is, but there’s no way in hell that this fella in Guelph is the first or the last person to try it. It’s far too obvious a con to have not at least been attempted somewhere before now.

Guelph Police say it all started around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, when two women leaving a restaurant accepted a ride “from a man who was posing as an Uber driver.”
When the women arrived at their destination on Victoria Road, the driver allegedly demanded more money than he had originally agreed on.

At that point, police say, the upset driver grabbed a water bottle and threw it through a window.

He was captured and charged shortly thereafter, so he won’t be out giving repeat performances right away at worst or ever again at best.

But the reason I’m writing this is because as easy a scam as this is to pull off, it’s equally simple to spot before you get sucked in.

Basically, the moment your driver starts talking to you about a price, you’re being lied to. If he asks you for cash or a credit card, you’re being lied to. Neither of these things happen in a legitimate Uber transaction. Everything is handled through the Uber app. It’s both how you call for a ride and how you pay for it. You give your credit card number to the app, which then times your trip while you’re on the road like a taxi metre and then bills you when you’re done. You and your driver have no reason to discuss money unless your conversation turns to the stock market.

That’s not to say that everyone who claims to drive for Uber and offers you a ride out of the blue is a liar. I’d bet most of them are, but it’s possible. And if that happens, you’ll know he’s for real when he tells you to open the app and book a ride to wherever you are even though he’s sitting right next to you. He’ll do that because that’s how legitimate Uber drivers get paid the proper amount for their work. If he doesn’t, offer to do it and watch his reaction. If he’s hesitant and tries to talk you out of it, it’s because he’s full of shit and not a ride you want to accept.

Hopefully this clears things up before any of you run into a situation like this.

Happy National Your Jumpy Ass Just Got Popped For Drugs Day

Dear Nameless Criminal:

Next time the police see you holding a popcorn maker box and playfully wish you a happy National Popcorn Day, try playing it cool. Chances are it would work out much better than the alternative.

A man was spotted beside the street holding a popcorn maker box by officers on patrol.  They stopped to wish the man a “Happy National Popcorn Day”, which was recognized this year on Thursday, January 19.
The man immediately took off.  The officers, now suspecting the package may have been stolen, ran after the man and eventually caught up with him.

When they did, they got a bit more than they bargained for. $2700 worth of various drugs were discovered, leading to him being charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The report doesn’t note whether the popcorn maker was stolen or if the box was simply a hiding place for his stash.

So Colin Westman Suddenly Cares About Impaired Driving For Some Reason. That’s Nice, I Guess

Looking at Twitter this morning, I kept seeing the headline “In drunk-driving flood, judge criticizes society for promoting alcohol.” At first, I didn’t pay it much mind. Judges rail against things all the time and while it can sometimes be entertaining and they’re often not wrong, there are better ways to spend my reading energy today, I figured. But by the third or fourth time it came up, a thought struck me. This story is local. It sure would be funny if the judge in question was Colin Westman, wouldn’t it? Hopeful but certainly not expecting something that rich to just land in my lap, I clicked it. And guess who I found. Our old pal Justice Westman, lecturing folks about their bad decisions.

A steady stream of impaired drivers in court on Thursday prompted a judge to criticize society for promoting alcohol use.
“The costs are huge,” said Justice Colin Westman, citing a World Health Organization study that found alcohol kills more than 2.5 million people in the world each year.
In one sentencing on Thursday, Westman cited the recent case of Marco Muzzo, who was drunk when his car hit a minivan in Vaughan, killing three children and their grandfather. Muzzo, 29, was sentenced to 10 years in jail minus time served.
“The only difference between you and him is good luck,” Westman told Jacob Beck, 20, a Wilfrid Laurier University student who pleaded guilty to driving with more than the legal limit of alcohol in his blood.

In January, John Blais, 46, who works for a masonry company, was driving erratically on Roseville Road in North Dumfries Township. A motorist followed him and called police. Blais’ car went through two red lights in Kitchener and hit another car.
Breath tests showed he had more than three times the legal limit of alcohol.
Westman fined Blais $1,800 and handed him a one-year driving ban.
The judge asked him if he calculated the total cost of his impaired driving conviction.
“Many thousands, for sure,” Blais said.
Westman said extra insurance premiums could wind up costing him $35,000 over his lifetime.
Blais has a prior impaired conviction from years ago.
Westman said he once sentenced a man on his 18th impaired conviction. The judge said he asked the man if he thought he had a drinking problem. “Who me?” he replied.
The judge said Blais’ high alcohol readings suggest he has a problem. He said Blais may be healthy today, but won’t be if he continues to drink excessively.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice to see that after all these years, he might be having a change of heart and seeing impaired driving for what it is. Everybody makes mistakes, and we all deserve a chance to make things right. But while you’re busy RTing and sharing and liking and holding this guy up as a model of justice, right and truth, remember that this is the very same judge who once let someone off for driving while suspended because he was getting coffee for church people at the time and cut off the victim impact statement of a drunk driving victim because it was too negative.

It’s hard for me to sympathize with Westman’s frustration or even to trust him long term knowing that his actions in his position of authority have more than once contributed to the problem. Perhaps, if we treated serious offenses seriously when we’re supposed to, we wouldn’t have to sentence somebody eighteen times for the same damn thing. Just a thought.

A Few Scattered Thoughts On The Death Of The Guelph Mercury

When I moved to Guelph in 2001, I didn’t know much about the place. I knew it had a university because Carin and some other friends of mine went there and I would visit them sometimes, I knew it had a couple of radio stations because that’s the sort of thing I tend to know, I knew it had a mall because I’d been in it once or twice, I knew the names of a few random businesses through word of mouth and years of watching CKCO, and I knew it had hockey and baseball teams for basically the same reasons. All of this is to say that when I got there, I was pretty well lost and useless.

I eventually figured things out, of course. Necessity tends to force that issue. but it wasn’t just necessity that helped me along. There were also those aforementioned friends, more than a few assists from some mostly kind strangers, and the Guelph Mercury.

Until last week when it became the latest victim of media cost cutting, the Merc was Guelph’s daily newspaper of record. And now, as crazy as it sounds, a city of well over 100000 people no longer has one.

I’m not sure how true this is in every town (I can’t say I’ve noticed quite the same thing reading the Waterloo Record, for instance), but once I started reading the Mercury fairly regularly, it didn’t take long for me to start putting together a picture of what Guelph was. Every day brought new stories about fun things to do, places I should avoid, activists doing good work, activists who’s hearts may have been in the right place while their brains had very clearly taken a walk, silly local outrages that some crank felt needed attention, entirely logical outrages that some crank (Carin and I included) felt needed attention and so much more, all put together in a package that gave Guelph an identity and a character I could relate to, making it feel less like a mysterious mishmash of university students, bars and vegetarian restaurants and more like someplace that felt as though it might just be home. thanks to the Mercury, I could have a conversation about something Guelphish with someone without sounding like a total fool. Thanks to the Mercury, my radio shows were a little better and a bit more focused…sometimes. And thanks to the Mercury, even though I haven’t lived there in over three years, Guelph still feels more like a hometown to me than anyplace else I’ve lived.

And now it’s gone, and it sucks.

I’m sure that eventually something will come along to fill at least some of the void. Hell, If I know Guelph, City Hall might already have four or five new citizen reporters lined up to blog the blow by blow of every open meeting. And while that’s great and I absolutely encourage it, it’s not going to teach Guelph to the next me the way that the Merc did, and it’s not going to hold those in power accountable the way that the Merc did, either. It’s a lot easier to bully some dude with a Twitter account into silence than it is a newspaper with the resources to chase down stories. And that’s the biggest shame in all of this. Guelph has so many stories, good and bad, that deserve to be chased down. Who’s going to be able to do that on a wide enough scale now? No matter how you feel about newspapers, the truth is that every city needs them and that all of us, whether we read them or not, are worse off when they disappear.

Help Wendy Fuller Recover From An Eviction That Should Never Have Been Allowed To Happen

This woman is a friend of some friends of ours. It’s sad to see systems that are supposed to be helping give people a hand up fail the very people who are trying to take that hand. If you can help out by sharing, donating or both, I know it would be appreciated. They’re looking to raise $8000 to help her pay back rent and such, and at the time I’m writing this they’ve already gotten almost $1800 in less than a day. That’s impressive and gives me hope that everything is going to work out as it should. Wendy Fuller rent arrears fund.

My friend Wendy Fuller has been living in the Downtown Guelph Matrix building for almost 10 years.
She is developmentally challenged. On Friday morning the sheriffs came and escorted her out of the building and changed the locks. She has been being helped by social workers at Community Living but they really dropped the ball on her case. She was given an eviction notice and had a tribunal to dispute it. Her worker did not attend . Wendy went alone and had no idea what was going on. She was on geared to income and only paying $130 a month which was fine for years. Wendy is a proud person and wanted to work so she got a part time job dishwashing at Coras restaurant. When she started to work her rent up to $300 and that was fine too. She had to report her earnings to ODSP with a copy of her pay stub. That worked out too until Wendy started getting paid by direct deposit. She then had no way of reporting her income with out that stub!
She got kicked off of ODSP and her rent went up to over $800.00 . I have no idea how much she became in arrears because the building manager would not share this with me. I am so disappointed that the social workers at Community Living and ODSP failed this hard working lady. The manager at matrix failed her too! She knew that Wendy had this mental disability. Thank goodness the drop in Center has given her a voucher for 5 nights in the Royal hotel. I just don’t understand why they would evict an 48 year old mentally challenged lady a week before Christmas! This has seriously traumatized this disabled woman. I have emailed friends and many are willing to pitch in to pay her back rent. I know we can straighten things out to get her back to geared to income rent.
I will be her advocate and make sure this doesn’t happen again.