While we are shaped by our past it is what we do with those experiences that make up our character.
Being a police officer taught me how to interact with a wide variety of people in a even wider range of states, situations, and emotions. I learned that no matter how different people are they often face the same or similar situations.
Attending over 1000 domestic disputes, many with violence, enforced in me the importance of family and the tragedy that occurs when it falls apart. I was also reminded of my own childhood growing up in an alcohol fueled violent home.
Going to 60 traffic fatalities and experiencing the emotional devastation they had on families and communities made me want to work even harder to find solutions. And not just the simple call for more police or more enforcement. These were senseless deaths without any reason or justification and they deserve a serious response that will actually work utilizing multiple city departments.
A mother of three young boys walking home on the sidewalk just before Christmas who was struck by a hit and run impaired driver and left to die in the middle of a snowy street. Or the 16 year old motorcycle rider who died in my arms late one summer evening while I powerlessly waited for an ambulance to arrive. After 20 years these memories can still wake me up at night. Finding solutions means having people who are committed and passionate about the problem.
The city needs to create a Traffic Safety Department which crosses the lines of Police, Fire, Roads, Traffic Operations, Transportation, and several other city departments that impact on our roads with the authority to direct resources in the reduction of traffic collisions.
I have always had a passion for justice and truth but dealing with the legal system showed me that rules and bureaucracy often take us away from justice and from what is right. I was absolutely stunned when a judge found an impaired driver not guilty because his lawyer argued that he was too drunk to understand the paperwork I served him with and therefore his rights had been violated. This was a man driving a truck with a blood alcohol of over 300 - almost 4 times the legal limit. Of course he was not too drunk the next day to contact a lawyer and deliver the paperwork to him.
I have seen similar things happen at city hall repeatedly where common sense solutions to every day problems get lost because of too much red tape and conflicting policies. Such as senior citizens at risk of losing the house they lived in for decades because property taxes are outstripping their pension income but the city refuses them the solution of a renter in a secondary suite to cover those costs.
Or how about the nonsense a few years back where is was okay to smoke inside a bar but illegal to smoke outside on the patio?
At what point did we abandon common sense?
After graduating Lord Beaverbrook
High School I earned a BA in Psychology from the University of Calgary followed by a Masters degree in Applied Psychology.
One of my most important lessons at university was critical thinking. How to look beyond the statistics to find the real truth and causes of something in order to create unique workable solutions. Working on the university paper made me curious about why things happen, the people behind them and how important it is to listen.
As a Calgary Police officer I worked mostly in
high service areas such as Forest Lawn, Dover, Inglewood, the downtown core, and Beltline. I logged more calls in my first 5 years then most of my classmates did in 20.
These areas still require attention so that we can actually solve some of the problems rather than just respond to them or shuffle them from one neighbourhood to another. Inglewood and Ramsay are experienced that reality today as we increase our beat patrols in the Beltline and inner city.
I attended over 50 traffic fatalities in two years as part of a project to revamp the Selective
Traffic Enforcement and Checkstop Programs. I know first hand the cost of not solving this massive safety problem and the impact it has on Calgary families. The chances of serious injury or violent death are 20 times greater from a traffic crash than from a shooting or stabbing.
In 2001 I ran for Ward 8 alderman after the seat was vacated by Jon Lord. Madeleine King won the seat on her third attempt.
In 2004 I came second to incumbent Madeleine
King by only 146 votes.
In 2007 I earned 30% of the vote in a tight 3-way race that was decided by 164 votes for John
Mar who received 32%.
Since 2000 I have attended hundreds of council and standing policy meetings and been cited frequently by media regarding city hall activity especially where policing or public safety are concerned. When not able to attend the meeting personally I watch them on the Shaw city channel and have even recorded them for later viewing.
As a serial entrepreneur I have started several small businesses and know the challenges businesses face when dealing with the city. Being a business owner and employer teaches a different set of responsibilities and decision making processes. You have clients, suppliers and staff that depend upon you.
While teaching psychology at Mount Royal and the University
of Calgary I also consulted on traffic safety projects for government and billion dollar businesses. Some of these projects are still in use and have saved millions of dollars in collision reduction.
One of the six books I have authored was Take Back City Hall
(coauthored with Marcel LaTouche) which took a hard look at the City's budget and spending. One of the issues we identified was how the city used utilities as a means of vicarious taxation. Just last week Calgary media reported how Calgary utility rates were 6% greater than Edmonton because of add on fees and levies.
We also identified over a dozen ways in which the city could streamline its expenses and get more cost effective results.
From my office window in the Beltline just blocks from city hall and the Stampede grounds I see the challenges of poverty and homelessness every day. I see the consequences of poor planning and the lack of accountability at the abandoned construction projects that were supposed to help Calgary achieve better density.
As a parent I worry about the safety of my 3 daughters who are now between the ages of 18-24 and my 4 year old son. I want a better safer city for them.
My volunteer experience has included charities, community associations, and political campaigns at all levels over the years. I have raised millions of dollars, knocked on almost 100,000 doors, and talked to at least that many people. Elections are simply too important to leave to politicians.
It really is about the people who get inspired and want to be part of something worthwhile. I feel sorry for people who have become so jaded and isolated that they can't even care anymore.
For the past three years I have been the Chief Operating Officer of Venturion Inc., a Venture philanthropy
social enterprise company that is dedicated to delivering over $1 million a month in
sustainable revenue to charities across North America. In the process we while also make a profit for investors and artists. Venturion is based on the philosophy of making a profit while making a difference.