Filed under: Alberta, Arts, Calgary, Marketing, Politics, Technology
As 2009 comes to a close I wanted to take a look back. It was a good year for me personally and I think this blog shows some of the highlights that come to my mind when I reminisce about the last year of the decade. I could simply select my favourite posts, but I decided why not not just let the readers “select” by highlighting the most popular posts on this blog for 2009.
So without further ado, the most popular djkelly.ca Blog posts of 2009:
14. What kind of bridge will $25 million get us?
May 22, 2009
This was my first blog post about the soon to be built Calatrava bridge. I decdided I would take a look at the design limitations given to Calatrava and try to predict what the bridge might look like. While, I was right about it not being white with soaring cables, I wasn’t even close to the guessing the Chinese finger trap design, which is much more ornate than I was expecting.
13. Conversing with Alberta politicians on Twitter
June 4, 2009
A useful post that should probably be updated given how many more Alberta politicians have joined since June!
12. New Ward Boundaries Demystified
February 21, 2009
A simple post created by laying the old ward boundary map with the new map that was being proposed by the chief electoral officer. (Showing off my Photoshop skills.) It turned out to be a post that proved it was sorely needed.
11. Loving or hating Calgary’s new bridge is not as easy as it sounds
July 29, 2009
This is probably one of my favourite posts of the year, as I went through what I observed to be each of the areas of complaint about the proposed Calatrava bridge and outlined which were fair game and which were not. It was my attempt at adding clarity to an issue extremely misunderstood by Calgarians. While it landed at number 11 on the most popular posts, I don’t think I was overly successful because people still complain about the price with little understanding of “why”. If you’re one of those folks, it might be worth a re-read.
The last blog post on the old blog template! It holds a special place for me for that reason, but most people probably just appreciated it for what it talked about – as outlined in the post title. This is the most proud I was of our council this year. They painted themselves into a terrible corner, but admitted their mistake and righted their wrong. I wish they would have done this more times during 2009.
9. Vanessa Porteous, ATP Artistic Director Designate
January 14, 2009
I am shocked an arts related post ranked so high on this list! (And it’s not even the highest one!) Is it because of the lack of local entertainment reporting resources? I think it might be, because non-Hollywood entertainment news tends to take a couple days to make it into the papers. Maybe I should take up Metro Calgary on their offer to blog about Calgary arts for them… It could prove to be a very successful blog that maybe long overdue.
8. Doug Elniski: how to do it right
June 24, 2009
This post – along with number 5, which I wrote a day earlier – simply outlined where things went wrong in MLA Doug Elniski’s mini-Twitter scandal. This particular post provided follow-up and greater context to comments I made in several media interviews on the subject. (You can say SO much more on a blog than in a media interview!)
7. University of Calgary cutting 200 jobs
July 14, 2009
Out of all the posts in this list I think this is the closet to “regretting” one as I come. Unlike all the other posts (save the honourable mention) this post was “breaking” news instead of my usual commentary on the news. I didn’t mean for it to be however! Here’s what happened: the UofC sent an email to all staff saying they were cutting 200 jobs. I heard about this and asked the individual if it was okay I mentioned it on Twitter. They said yes, because it was sent to all staff and thus obviously public info now. The problem was, UofC never sent a press release. So when I posted it on Twitter I was inundated with media requests for more information. The result was I had another source send me the text of the email and I posted it on this blog. That night the television and radio news lead with the story and it was front page news in the papers the next morning. I’m not sure if the lesson here is about the power of Twitter, or to always keep your communications department in the loop when making major announcements. Maybe both.
6. Progress and respect
November 30, 2009
In the aftermath of the first Reboot Alberta conference I summarize my thoughts on the participants themselves.
5. Doug Elniski: now just another walled off politician?
June 23, 2009
(See number 8 first.) This is the blog post that started it all. I’m not sure why no one else was talking about Doug Elniski’s comments in context of his use of social media. It still baffles me that people think social media is some sort of special entity instead of what it actually is: just another way to talk to people. It’s nothing special, but is highly effective. This post was also was popular enough to result in me being invited to talk about his comments on CBC Calgary’s The Calgary Eyeopener, CBC Edmonton’s Edmonton AM and for a feature article in the National Post.
4. The #AskEd Accountablity Window ends tomorrow
December 3, 2009
Just like number 5 this was me talking about Alberta politicians and their failures with social media tools – although this time Mastermaq got the press coverage a week later
3. How to fix Ed’s communications problems
December 14, 2009
After number 4 I felt like I had to address the Premier’s communications problems appropriately. It’s bizarre how he’s lost the media and the public so thoroughly by a simple failure to communicate. He’s our premier and I want to see him, and thus us, succeed. This is my attempt to throw the premier a bone. We’ll see if he and his team take my advice or if they continue to fumble their way through 2010.
2. Look out Alberta, you’re about to get “rebooted”: First Impressions
November 28, 2009
I honestly think the Reboot Alberta movement – along with the Wildrose Alliance’s rise – is the single most important thing to happen in Alberta politics since the creation of the Progressive Conservative party. This post outlines my initial thoughts after the first day of the conference. The fact so many people read it gives me hope that Reboot Alberta is on the right track in their discussions. You can expect more thoughts from me on this movement in the very near future.
Yes, an arts story made it to number one on the list! And for such a short blog post?! The people spoke.
Honourable Mention: “Open Government” coming to Calgary?
July 21, 2009
Usually you expect to see an honourable mention at the bottom of the list, but I think this one deserves to be at the top of the list. July 21 had more people visit my website that any other day in it’s history. By a LONG SHOT – almost twice as many as any other day. There was only one post written around that period of time, and it was written on that very day. I think what happened was the main URL of this site was circulated and shared rather than the actual URL of this paticular post. Therefore I don’t have accurate numbers on exactly how many people visited this particular story, but the numbers are just so overwhelming I had to include it.
I wrote this post during the morning hours in a business centre of a hotel in Portland, Oregon. I had been given permission from Ald. Pincott and Ald. Ceci to announce the open data notice of motion the day before it became public when the council agenda was released. People from all over North American immediately sat up and took notice and did so by reading this post. Amazing. Look for a lot more on outcome of this notice of motion in early 2010.
I tweeted about this and lots of people were asking for the full text of the mail sent to all UofC staff letting them know they were going to be reducing the workforce by 200 people. I know it is not politics, arts or marketing related but I figured my blog was the best way to make the text available.
Subject: [All-staff-l] Budget Update from the President
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
July 14, 2009
We are now about three months into the 2009-2010 fiscal year. This period has allowed us to appreciate fully our financial situation at the end of the 2008-2009 fiscal year and to evaluate the reasonableness of some of the assumptions we made in constructing the 2009-2010 budget.
We ended 2008-2009 with a $14.3-million deficit. In fact, because of the financial prudence exhibited by the University community, we actually spent $4.5 million less in university operations in 2008-2009 than we anticipated. So, where did the deficit come from? It stemmed primarily from the fact that we continued to fund the various activities supported by the University endowments—things like undergraduate and graduate scholarships and bursaries, salary support for professors, equipment and facilities upkeep—even though, as a result of poor market performance, the return on endowment funds did not provide sufficient monies to underwrite these expenses. This resulted in an additional $19 million charge on our operating fund.
What does this mean for our 2009-2010 budgets, the fiscal year we are currently in? As we have indicated in other budget messages, the first charge on our 2009-2010 budget is the $14.3 million needed to cover the previous year’s deficit. In addition, though, the 2009-2010 budget will also be adversely affected by the increase in the deficit in the Universities Academic Pension Plan (UAPP), itself a victim of poor market performance. This will result in the U of C having an additional $8 million expense to cover the UAPP liability in 2009-2010.
One way that we are mitigating these financial hits, as indicated in previous messages, is that the University is increasing enrolment in a planned and strategic way. Hitting our enrolment targets is key to our financial sustainability and will also help off-set the anticipated zero-percent base increases from the Province of Alberta in the years ahead. Notwithstanding the enrolment increase, the University is in a situation where we must make difficult decisions to ensure that we produce a balanced budget in 2009-2010 and into the future—something mandated by the province and the Board of Governors.
To balance the budget and also to continue to live up to the commitment to fund envelope carryovers, we are pursuing several strategic initiatives. First, we have reduced the 2009-2010 budget allocations by an average of three percent for all units and Faculties. This means continuing budget adjustments by Deans and other budget managers, but this is the reality of the dynamics of budgeting and resource allocation.
Second, as we have indicated in previous messages, a significant portion of the University budget, approximately 60 percent, pays for the salaries and benefits of our employees. Given this reality, there is simply no possibility of ensuring that a balanced budget, once achieved, is sustainable unless we reduce our number of support and academic staff. I anticipate that we will need to reduce our staff complement by up to 200 people by the fall of this year. There is likely to be additional staff and faculty reductions in the future. The number is not known now, but will depend on a whole set of factors such as future government grants, tuition levels, endowment performance and salary and benefit settlements.
No one makes a decision like this lightly, even knowing that the staff complement at the U of C is greater on a per student basis than our comparator G13 universities. The University will reduce its staff complement in as transparent and supportive manner as possible. Senior leadership, as well as your deans, department heads and managers, will share information as it becomes available and work to ensure that you are all informed about the reductions and the plans for your particular units and Faculties.
Third, we are vigorously pursuing the iS2 Project to improve our support service delivery and to reduce operating expenses strategically with as little impact on operations as possible. Projects like iS2allow us to make differential, strategic choices rather than just applying an across the board cost reduction strategy. This project will help the University improve its business processes and internal controls and also reduce expenditures through initiatives such as standardization of service levels and preferred buying arrangements.
I wish that the budget news was better, but it is not. You will continue to hear from us regularly about initiatives—such as iS2, capital projects like the co-gen facility that reduce utility costs and strategic enrolment increases—that reduce University costs and increase revenue, and in some cases allow us to deliver the University’s mission more efficiently than we did before.
Thanks for reading.
Harvey P. Weingarten
I don’t work at UofC but have several friends that do (including my wife) I hope this doesn’t affect any of them. But then again, knowing how Fine Arts has already been gutted in anticipation for the merging of the Arts faculties the majority of my friends probably find this as old news and not likely to affect them any further.
PS – And don’t even go there – my wife did not send me this email text. She was in a meeting. And I doubt she would have even if she could have. She’s prim and proper and works hard for the U. I cajoled someone else. Besides, they sent an email to all staff. If that is not making something public I don’t know what is. Plus I’m not sure if this is even really new news. It may just be the first I’m hearing about it.
Does anything suck more than studying for an exam for two weeks only to arrive to find out it has been rescheduled? Being shot would suck more, I guess. Good call by University of Calgary security today.
Early Sunday morning there was a drive-by shooting at the residential home of a University of Calgary student. Several shots were fired but there were no injuries. The information provided to the University today suggested that the perpetrator or perpetrators had threatened to come to campus looking for the student. As a precaution, the University requested that City Police attend campus. Campus Security was also increased. Two exams were postponed and will be rescheduled.
The University of Calgary takes all threats to students, faculty and staff seriously. The campus community is advised to take normal precautions and advise Campus Security if they see any unusual activity or have any concerns at 220-5333.
So as I said in a previous post the University of Calgary’s tuition is set to raise again this month. That will make 17 years of tuition hikes of more than twice the rate of inflation.
But here’s something to make you even more angry, turn green and destroy all the clothes you are wearing save your handsome purple pants:
For the first time in anyone’s memory anywhere the Students’ Union and Graduate Student Association have decided they will not lead protests. Instead they will sit idly on their hands and let the maximum legally allowed tuition hike of 6.3 percent go unchallenged.
How can they say they are representing the best interests of their students if they don’t even oppose a tuition hike? If they were to do nothing else in office except one thing, wouldn’t you think that would be it?
Instead they say they will work with the Board of Governors to make sure the newly collected money is spent on – according to undergraduate president Julie Bogle – “better quality education”.
Uh-huh… And what exactly do you think they’ve been spending the previous increases on? Everything the University board does is to improve the education of students!!! I dare you to name one thing they spent money on that did not at least indirectly improve the quality of the education at UofC. Go ahead… No, no; I’ll wait.
Okay while those folks are off on that wild goose chase I’ll tell you what I think should happen: do BOTH. Crazy idea, huh?
Why can’t they be arguing for more directly student related spending AND protesting their tookus off? One doesn’t preclude the other! They need to get off their lazy asses and get a movement going. Make rational arguments in the boardroom AND show you have the student body behind you at a rally. Show them the impact tuition is having on students AND carry placards. Suggest viable alternatives AND have a tent city representing where student are going to have to live if something isn’t done NOW.
Either Julie Bogle and David Colletto and their vice presidents do this or they should probably get ready for the student body to start protesting them. Students may be apathetic most of the time but I’m not convinced they can take this kind of a slap in the face from their own ELECTED representatives. They may not be able to vote out the UofC Board of Governors but they certainly can fire them. And permanently harm any future political aspirations they may have in the process.
It will soon be 17 years of fee hikes of more than twice the rate of inflation. Can you imagine if the City did that to your property taxes? What would you do if the federal government did that to your income tax rate? We’d probably all get outrageously angry and oust the government as soon an election was available. I doubt a government could even go for more than 4 years of raising a fee of any kind in this manner before they were turfed from office.
But this is exactly what is happening at the
Think about that for a second… 17 years in a row.
Over that time tuition has gone from slightly less than $1,000 a year to slightly more than $5,000 per year. That’s an increase of more than 500% in the time it took a mom and dad’s new baby to start thinking about what s/he would like to take at university and do for the rest of their lives. How can a parent save for something that so wildly increases in price in such a short period of time? No wonder we have students graduating from our universities and upon notice of having to pay back their student loans they promptly become homeless. Even though they have a good steady job they love.
It’s enough to make you go insane. Insane because there are none of the usually expected checks and balances we find in other systems. Students and citizens can’t vote for who is on a university board. Heck, when they renewed the UofC president’s contract the university didn’t even follow their own rules by having a formal committee with students sitting on it. (That’s a story for another day though. Let’s stay focused here, okay? Eyes on the prize.)
I guarantee our universities will continue this trend unless WE help them stop. Yes, us. You and me. It is the only way. And because of that I fear our students may face another 17 years of tuition hikes. Sigh.