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SERIES: Cipolla says health of community, economy are keys – OrilliaMatters

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This is the third in a nine-part series in which OrilliaMatters asked city councillors to reflect on the first half of their mandate, look ahead to the second half and let citizens know if they intend to see re-election.

Today, we provide the answers from Ward 2 Councillor Ralph Cipolla.

Question 1. What are you most proud of, personally as a councillor, that you/council have been able to accomplish in the first half of your mandate?  

This council worked really hard during this pandemic to limit community spread. It has been an unprecedented year and no one could have expected this.

It is a difficult question as there are many aspects of our mandate I am proud of such as the opening of the recreation centre, which I have been waiting 42 years to open. Although, I have to say that protecting the health and safety of our city and the people in it is what I am most proud of.

Question 2. What is your biggest disappointment as it relates to a council decision/direction or issue?

The biggest disappointment of this term is the delay of the development of the Metro lands/waterfront. I would have liked for all stakeholders to cooperate to ensure that we have residential occupancy within our downtown and to create a tax base which helps keep taxes down.

Another area I think that would be something for us to work on going forward is to make sure that there is enough affordable housing in the downtown and surrounding areas.

Question 3. Nobody saw the pandemic coming. Specifically, as a councillor, what is the biggest challenge the pandemic has created and how have you tried to tackle that challenge?

The biggest challenge that I felt was to keep everyone safe and secondly is to ensure that the economy in Orillia survived this pandemic. We wanted to keep people working so they had food on their tables. We wanted to ensure that as a city council we educated everyone to ensure that the Orillia citizens were informed and stayed safe.

We have created an economic task force to specifically tackle the issues pertaining to business survival during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Question 4. As a result of the pandemic, many citizens are worried about the future and think council should have halted everything (ie. waterfront plan, Centennial Drive project etc.) to save money. What do you say to those people and what is your view of the future of the municipality amid the reality of a pandemic? 

We have followed provincial guidelines to ensure safety for all citizens. I would say to the people that may be worried about the continuation of projects in the City of Orillia: “Pausing programming would cause havoc in terms of growth, in terms of provincial funding and it would take years to catch up.”

The future for Orillia looks bright and the projects that are in place, such as 144 Elgin, Waterfront Development, the Rexton Property, the new hospital and Hydro One coming to Orillia, will create jobs and increase the tax base to make it affordable to live in Orillia.

Question 5. The recent discussion about the waterfront plan spawned a lot of debate and, despite your efforts, many seem to think there wasn’t enough public input. Are you doing enough as a council to be transparent, to encourage public input and to listen? How so? How could that be improved during the second half of your mandate?

There can always be more public discussion in everything we do. I am sure there would have been more public discussion if COVID had not been a factor.

I fully support more public discussion in terms of the waterfront plan. I would like to see us have a survey to ensure everyone has a voice whether that is through social media or other outlets to ensure everyone has the opportunity to speak up.

As a council, we are constantly learning how to navigate through this pandemic and we can always do more, but we are thinking about ways of how to stay safe as well as to ensure the voice of our community is heard.

Question 6. What is the biggest challenge council faces in the second half of its mandate (ie. Staff retirements, promised tax freeze, capacity) and what are your top priorities?

Council’s biggest challenge is to keep the tax increase at 0% and to create employment in the city. My top priorities are 1) to ensure everyone is safe and healthy during these unprecedented times; 2) to create good paying jobs for the people of Orillia; 3) to make sure all roads are upgraded and repaired to a safe standard; and 4) Listen to what the people of Orillia want and I will work hard on behalf of the people in this community.

Question 7: Lastly, do you intend to seek re-election? Why or why not?

I would like to run again for City Council. Due to COVID-19, there were some projects that we started that we were unable to complete. I would like to have one last term as your city councilor in Ward 2 to ensure that I can make certain that these commitments are completed.

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Turkish Economy Likely Outperformed Most Peers at Lira’s Expense – Bloomberg

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Turkish Economy Likely Outperformed Most Peers at Lira’s Expense  Bloomberg



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The worsening pandemic raises the stakes for Biden's economic program – CNN

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“You have to right the market a little bit,” the former vice president told me. “The middle class is getting killed.”
Within weeks, the coronavirus hit and worsened the toll — literally and figuratively. That steepens the challenge President-elect Biden faces when he replaces President Donald Trump in January.
For at least a half century, multiple economic forces have exacerbated disparities within American society. By 2016, a Pew Research Center analysis recently found, the most affluent 5% possessed 248 times the wealth of the least affluent 40%. Wealth improves health; on average, the richest 1% of Americans live more than 10 years longer than the poorest 1%, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found.
Covid has deepened both dismal grooves. Blacks and Hispanics, who lag behind Whites in wealth and income, die from the virus more than five times as often, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
The economic dislocations of the pandemic have largely spared more affluent Americans. Buoyant financial markets and home values have protected their wealth, and their ability to work from home has protected their jobs.
Low-paid service workers, by contrast, have been devastated. Many of those who have been lucky enough to avoid being laid off must report to job sites as “essential workers,” heightening their risk of exposure.
Others have faced layoffs due to plummeting demand, and the prospect of permanent job loss from sectors such as leisure travel or in-person retailing that won’t recover soon if ever. While higher-wage employment has risen back to pre-pandemic levels, the number of jobs paying $27,000 or less remains down 19%, according to Harvard’s Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker.
“For people who can work remotely, all this is slightly inconvenient,” observed Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist David Autor. “For many others, they’re going to have to change their livelihoods.”

‘A lot of people have been left behind’

Responding to all this won’t require Biden to rewrite the economic plans he’d already developed, because of who they were always intended to help.
“The agenda was really crafted with the core insight in mind that a lot of people have been left behind for a long time,” noted longtime Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein.
In the name of rebalancing for fairness and equity, his campaign proposed trillions in tax increases on the affluent to finance trillions in spending on health care, infrastructure, education and other programs.
But Covid raises the stakes for getting his proposals enacted, and suggests subtle shifts of emphasis.
For example, higher minimum wages work best in tight labor markets. So elevated unemployment has diminished the urgency of Biden’s call for doubling the federal minimum to $15, according to Autor.
Yet pushing any tax increases through Congress will be difficult, especially if Republicans keep control of the Senate after Georgia’s runoff elections in January. But Biden’s proposed payroll tax hike on incomes over $400,000 has grown more important. That’s because a significant number of older Americans who’ve lost jobs are expected seek Social Security earlier than previously planned, adding new strains to the program’s finances.
Workers cast off by suddenly declining industries face a more immediate need for the job training upgrades Biden has proposed. Those responsible for young children and aging parents have grown more desperate for the kind of help Biden’s proposed caregiving subsidies would provide.
The inadequacy of virtual learning required by Covid elevates the importance of his higher proposed school funding levels. Without remedial education programs, low-income families less able to compensate with technology or tutoring will fall farther behind than they already are.
“The learning deficits are going to be so deep we don’t know if they’ll ever be able to overcome them,” said Melissa Kearney, a University of Maryland economics professor who specializes in inequality. “I want to be an optimistic person, but I am so disheartened at this moment.”

Congress remains stalled on more relief

One source of her discouragement: the inability of the lame-duck Congress and Trump White House to agree on a new Covid-relief package, which Republicans and Democrats alike call necessary. Without year-end action, millions face impoverishment from expiring unemployment benefits, eviction from their homes and business failures.
The stalemate augurs poorly for passing a major new economic stimulus once Biden and the new Congress take office in 2021. Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody’s, calls a large infrastructure program, to help stave off a backslide into recession, the most potent single step the new president could take to reduce economic disparities.
Democrats say Biden can make some progress without Congress, including possible executive action to relieve some student loan debts. His expected choice for Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, is a labor market expert deeply familiar with fiscal and monetary tools from her past work as Federal Reserve chair and a Clinton White House economist.
Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain brings expertise in pandemics from his work overseeing President Barack Obama’s successful response to Ebola. Taming the coronavirus would at least help the new administration prevent economic disparities from widening any further.
A year later, that issue remains Biden’s target.
“The middle-class and working-class people are being crushed,” the President-elect told NBC last week. “That’s my focus.”

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Families ‘facing hardest period in five decades’ as Britain's economy stalls – The Guardian

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Families ‘facing hardest period in five decades’ as Britain’s economy stalls  The Guardian



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