Debate ends in dust-up

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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After jostling over the issues for almost 40 minutes, Keith Coombs threw off the gloves and challenged Shannie Duff, the woman fighting him to become St. John's deputy mayor.

"How much do I believe $44 million is real? If the numbers don't add up, I'll step aside. If (my) numbers are accurate, then Mrs. Duff doesn't know what she is talking about," Coombs said.

St. John's deputy mayor candidates Keith Coombs and Shannie Duff exchange views during a CBC Radio forum for the two at Atlantic Place Thursday. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

After jostling over the issues for almost 40 minutes, Keith Coombs threw off the gloves and challenged Shannie Duff, the woman fighting him to become St. John's deputy mayor.

"How much do I believe $44 million is real? If the numbers don't add up, I'll step aside. If (my) numbers are accurate, then Mrs. Duff doesn't know what she is talking about," Coombs said.

"I'm prepared to put the election on the line right now, right here. Are you willing to put the election on the line, Mrs. Duff, right here, right now?"

"That's exactly what we are doing, Keith," Duff fired back, "and I think the voters have to decide."

That exchange concluded a testy debate between the deputy duo on CBC Radio's "Morning Show" Thursday morning.

The pair - who have served together as councillors for years and have butted heads over development issues - went face to face over everything from downtown building height restrictions to the success of the Dominion grocery store on the old Memorial Stadium site.

They were even at odds over whether or not Mile One Centre was built for the long-departed St. John's Maple Leafs.

But it was Coombs' campaign pledge to return $44 million to taxpayers over four years through a lowered mill rate that sparked the debate-ending dust-up.

Duff had earlier dismissed her opponent's promise, saying she supports dropping the mill rate, but doesn't know by how much because the figures aren't in.

She said she strongly disagreed with Coombs' commitment, and she also questioned its validity.

"I think this will jeopardize our existing level of service, and I think it's based on statistics that don't exist. There is no $44-million surplus. It's a phantom. I think that is an irresponsible promise."

Coombs, indicating he got the projected surplus from city finance officials, accused Duff of issuing a news release that misquoted the city's director of finance, Robert Bishop.

He also said his numbers are accurate and account for things like salary increases for city employees.

"What I'm saying is, the $44 million is real. It is not a phantom at all," he said.

Duff then argued the surplus doesn't allow for millions in assessment rollbacks as well as new commitments such as curbside recycling.

"That's sort of why I'm saying there is a phantom surplus," she said. "There is no way of getting even close to what we have until we get down to the nitty-gritty."

With that, moderator Jeff Gilhooly asked Coombs how the city would pay for the increased costs in providing services if it lowered the mill rate.

He replied that it would be done through new development, which he said has brought in more than $16 million in the past two years.

Coombs said he's frustrated by Duff's approach to financial matters.

"I'm really stymied and I'm disappointed, because Coun. Duff sits on the finance committee and it seems she is not prepared to deal with this. And what's really scary is that the new deputy mayor will more than likely, traditionally, be the chair of finance."

Duff fired back.

"I would say that he has a better crystal ball than I do. I think we will get some new development, probably a lot of new development. The big point I want to make here (is that) he tends to link the fact that we have to approve everything that comes at us in the downtown - and raise heights and things - with the fact that we need development."

Duff returned to Coombs' $44-million promise in her closing remarks. Again, she described it as irresponsible and a phantom.

"It's unrealistic and I would be less than honest if I made that promise. I don't have a crystal ball and neither does my opponent."

Voters have until Sept. 29 to decide who's right.

Meanwhile, to prove he has his numbers straight, Coombs supplied The Telegram with an analysis of the city's budget since 2005.

It shows St. John's in a multimillion-dollar surplus every year except 2007, including $16 million in the years 2008-09.

The city's director of finance declined an opportunity to confirm the numbers because of the ongoing election campaign.

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: CBC Radio, Maple Leafs

Geographic location: St. John's, Memorial Stadium

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Recent comments

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I for one will be voting Coombs. He has publicly stated that he will vote against any proposed tax increases during his term in office. I live downtown and enjoy the culture, heritage and communities we have in the whole city, but anti-Shannie development will keep this city in the dark ages. We've got to look forward and vote Coombs.

  • TrinA
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I think you are forgetting that downtown, the view of the narrows and the hertitage homes are not just for those that live downtown. Both the City of St. John's and the provincial government use these very things to promote our province as a viable tourism destination. So stop with downtown just benefitting those who live downtown.

    Personally I came home because I missed the look, feel, atmosphere, art, theatre and music of St. John's and downtown specifically and if you ask any tourist they are blown away by it as well. What will go in the tourism commercials and pamphlets if our downtown because a haven for high rises?! We will be no different from any other metropolitis and that would be a shame.

    I have heard Mrs. Duff say she is NOT anti-development, she merely would like to develop responsibly. I don't feel Keith Coombs will be as fiscally responsible (Mile One) or that he will consider the residents of St. John's and what they would like or not like. I feel he will give the oil companies what ever real estate they want for the right price and before we know it St. John's will be unrecognizable... and once the oil is gone... they will leave us with their ruins.

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    $44 million is a lot to promise, Keith. What you're basically saying is that the costs of running the city will not go up, and that the surplus will simply be given back to the people.

    That's a cheap election promise that the voters won't fall for. We're voting for improvements in services like: better roads, reliable water sources, curbside recycling, affordable housing, and safe walking trails. These things cost money, and there are only so many budget efficiencies that can be made to pay for these. We need our surplus to improve quality of life.

    A responsible finance committee would work hard balance tax breaks with measured spending on the services we need. Not make an easy blanket tax break - that is a cop-out.

    If you want to look forward, Keith, you've got to take your blinders off.

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Always vote for the person who commits to lowering your taxes. Make it your rule of thumb. Governments and their bureaucrats need to be starved of resources before they will make sound and sustainable financial decisions. Excess money will inevitably lead to more waste you can be sure.
    I was undecided before this article (I never heard the debate) but I am leaning Combs after reading this.

  • Ken
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    a smith from GFW teachers have that many PD Days in the run of a year they are the only ones that have time to run for council. Selfless teachers a good laugh for friday afternoon.

  • Hoarce
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Coombs-chop, is easy to spend, Please NOT MY HARD EARNED Tax dollars
    Shannie-cranky or not, she really looks into things and gives a professional answer. One we might not like but I believe she is looking out for St. John's not like Mr.Personality who is riding O Keefe coat tails.......

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Generally, I don't care who gets in where but for the sake of the city, I really hope people don't vote for O'Keefe AND Coombs together. The city might be able to withstand the fiscal damage that one would cause along but putting these two in charge of running the city at the same time would be equivalent to jumping on the freeway to financial chaos.

    I wonder if cities can apply to Ottawa for a bailout after being driven into the ground by buffoons?

  • Emily
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Oh my, and the lesser of the 2 evils is??? Duff has to go now and then we can vote Coombs next time...and we can also get rid of Doc now too. And Galgay...I pray.

  • Thomas G.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Shannie Duff would make an excellent deputy mayor. Her positions are well thought out. You can be confident that her positions are based on research and not speculation.

  • Deb
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    some of the people are so harsh here. i can understand having our viewpoints and opposite opinions ...but the references to Shannie being old like it is some strike against here, will this is unfortunate... she is older but she is a progressive thinker and she holds her own. she is Intelligent and she cares in my books! and she totally got my vote! you go Shannie ! you speak with clarity and practicality. you have the peoples interest at heart and i commend you for that. Before we get into the New developments Coombs talks about how about fixing up so many of the abandoned building around this city. Lets think of the people first and look at affordable housing , healthy and safe lives for every single one of us! not just the rich few who benefit from this... Greed got to go! this is NL for god sakes! where are the heads of people obsessed with new development....It is not gonna fix the poverty issues.

    Oh and i vote Ellsworth for mayor. His care and compassion is genuine from where i sit.

  • Dave in NL
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Enough of Duff!
    At least she didn't suggest we locate high rises out by the airport as she did on the Rogers' debate. You do know what happens at an airport, don't you Shannie? You have been north of Elizabeth Avenue, haven't you Shannie?

  • Kent
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Personally, I can't stand the sight or sound of either of Duff or Coombs. Duff treats the downtown like its some sort of ancient archeoligal riuns and is adverse to development anywhere near it. Meanwhile, Coombs seems is so arrogant and fullof himslef that he thinks he's the next candidate for Donald Trump's Apprentice show. What a joke.

  • Joyce Moores
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    The voice of reason with Coombs of the voice of gloom and doom with Duff? You decide. All she cares about preserving is herself as usual.

  • LP
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    She is totally against development of any kind.

    Get your facts straight. Shannie is not anti-development. She's one of the few people on council who actually pays any attention to the heritage regulations. Most of them are too busy seeing dollar signs to care if all of downtown ends up looking like the TD Building and the rest of St. John's ends up looking like Stavanger Drive.

    Go Shannie!

  • Eugene
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Forget these fools, DeeBee for deputy mayor. If we're saddled with the business man for mayor he'll keep him in line, if we get the school teacher DeeBee will advance his goals, and if we get the reggae singer, he can just dance, dance, dance the night away! Seriously, though, I'd vote you sir (or ma'am!)

  • Earl
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    It's a sad commentary when the consensus among voters is that they feel they have to vote based on who they don't want to get elected.

    When people say, I don't like either of them, but I'm going to vote Candidate A because I like Candidate B less, it tells us that the City's residents are tired of the way the City is being run, and they're going to have a problem with whoever gets elected.

    I can't remember the last time I heard of a candidate, I'm voting for Candidate C because he has a great vision for the City and the ability to get it done!

    Maybe if someone like this came along we'd lose some of the complete indifference and apathy towards our Council. Right now half our citizens don't care and the other half only care about who doesn't get elected.

  • Miriam
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Shannie is the candidate with clear understandings of all sides of the issues and makes decisions with more than re-election as her main thought. She has developed ideas that aren't just sound bites.
    We can be in a rush and look at an ugly building for a century or take a little more time and continue to enjoy a unique and beautiful downtown. I for one am for sound and well-thought out development, not just development. Shannie is not about the big ego, she's about keeping our city a wonderful place to live, with services, buildings, and development plans that will keep our city growing and beautiful. Shannie's got my vote.

  • Experienced
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Amen there Gerry! I was so pleased to see your comment on Mr. Coombs fiscal management record with St. John's Sports and Entertainment. I worked at Mile One and I can honestly say that it's quite agravating to watch someone like him going around acting like he's c**k of the walk while simultaneously running it into the ground... with my taxpayer dollars!  Plus, the man treated everyone there like they were beneath him. 

  • Jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    I fully support Mrs.Duff because she really cares about the city.

  • Linda
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    I think Mr. Coombs has some good ideas and is a hardworking man.

    He has my vote!

  • DeeBee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    To Megan: I'd run for council in a heartbeat but for my fear of public speaking and the fact that I don't have two cents to rub together right now, let alone come up with some funds for a campaign. Plus, I work 40 hours a week for my pittance... where would I find the time? I don't have a degree from a university either, so, yes, I could run... but how long would it take for my rivals to bring this little tidbit of info up during the smear campaigns? Let's face it... the system is set up so that anyone can run, but it helps to have some public persuasion ability to begin with. If I could get elected based on what I type here alone, I'd be mayor the next election. ;-)

  • crackie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    I don't understand why we have so many politcal science students/grads, but none interested in running for politics. What's up with that?

  • Coombs must
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Coombs is the councillor who had no qualms about the box seat Council pays for at Mile One and how they split the time in it amongst themselves as a benefit of employment even when they were trying to cut costs.

  • Joe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Better off Keith Coombs don't give up his daytime job; or just retire as his teaching skills were lacking as well.
    We all saw what mess he made of the Leafs and the Fog Devils.
    Mr.Coombs leave the business deals to business people; you and Dennis O'Keefe have a happy retirement .
    If two of you guys are elected it will be a sad day in the City of St.John's; comparable to the great fire as you will destroy this City.

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Duff really has to go. This is the person (and O'Keefe too) who voted against giving her OWN City residents first crack at the Recreational programs FULLY funded by the taxpayers of St. John's. She is totally against development of any kind. Let's be reasonable. I don't want massive skyscrapers downtown either but there's got to be SOME give and take to get rid the old, run down buildings that are major eyesores in our otherwise beautiful downtown. Coombs is far from perfect but he's the better choice of these two by far.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    I think it is a sad commentary that the only choice we have for this position is between these two individuals.
    As far as Ms. Duff's contribution goes I think downtown St.john's is one of the dirtiest, most depressed, seedy, rundown looking areas, in a town that is filled with seedy rundown areas. What has all this heratige BS gotten us. I mean take a walk along water street and have a look around, it is disgusting, The old Bowring bldg. on one side, the old telephone bldg. on the other. The stink of human waste from the bubble. Garbage all over the place. Bums and panhandlers, grafitti...the whole george street issue. And these guys are worried about what kind of windows you put in your house. Give me a break.

  • Jill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Whomever keeps voting for Shannie....please stop!!! I can't take it anymore! Just because she's been a public figure since the time of the dinosaurs, that doesn't mean that we have to put her back in office. She's like a bad habit, and it's time to break that habit. At this moment in the city of St. John's we're experiencing a housing crisis. See for yourself. Go to the classifieds and see how many apartments are available for rent. Not many. If she would step back for a moment and stop dwelling on preserving dilapidated buildings, she might just notice a REAL issue that's happening right under her nose and do something about it. Build something! For the love of God, take your horse blinders off and focus on the fact that the city is growing. If we don't keep up with the demand, this city is going to hell in a handbasket.

  • Megan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    I challenge all of you who claim council doesn't do anything, makes all the wrong decisions, is obsessed with incorrect priorities, etc to RUN FOR COUNCIL. I hold a degree in Political Science and I promise you this comment section is so expected. If those elected are not representing your needs and you can do it better, than DO IT. The beauty of our political system is that anyone is free to run, free to be those voices making decisions. Get involved if you feel nobody else can do it right. If people looked at candidates, considered their priorities and voted for someone to represent them... then stayed involved voicing realistic expectations and volunteered to help, perhaps all our municipal councils would have greater success. Enough already with complain complain complain..... but not being willing to act or even simply give respect to those that ARE willing to put up with all the bs. These leaders are not perfect, so vote in the best and then help make it better.

  • Tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Must protect every single bit of green space we have left or she's all over folks - another concrete block therefore I am voting Shannie so the next generation can have a field to kick a ball around in URBAN St. John's instead of what I believe will be a give away of our green areas to developers.

  • Sam
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    No Frank, Coombs isn't responsible for Mile One being empty, it's the lack of hockey fans.

    I'll give him my vote if only because he's the lesser of 2 evils and it's a chance to finally force that old relic Duff into retirement and see the city grow in peace.

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    I'm sick of teachers thinking they have the smarts to run this city. Coombs isn't capable. He's responsible for Mile One sitting empty.

  • Alex
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Hi Steve,

    You make some good points, and I didn't meam to malign development; it serves its purpose well, but is not enough on its own.

    True, most residents live outside downtown, but as someone who lives out in the east end I think I'm not alone in saying I don't want the core of my city turned into a monstrous eyesore.

    The mill rate does need to go down, without a doubt, but to throw out such large numbers without concern to other spending priorities is irresponsible.

  • Alex
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I understand some people's concern with Shannie Duff, but Coombs is a proven liar and cleary in the pocket of developers.

    Yes, development is important for the city, but development alone will only benefit a small few, and not significantly impact city coffers.

    The mill rate cleary needs to go down, and \i think Duff realizes that. But to throw out giant numbers when we have sub-par snow removal and no curbside recycling is irresponsible.

  • Jane
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    I want a deputy mayor who will be able to keep up with the growth of the city over the next four years. Shannie will be close to 80 years ol by the time the term at council will be over. How many people really want someone of that age running the deputy chair?

  • Nappy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    YAWN. Someone wake me when all this garbage is overwith, huh?

  • Evelyn
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    I've lived outside of NL for too many years. We are now planning our return to live in the province I have proudly called home whenever someone has asked me where I am from.
    I've seen unplanned development destroy the character of communities. I've experienced the disasterous consequences on neighborhoods.
    We cannot live in the future without development; but it does not need to be and must not be at the expense of destroying our history and heritage.
    It's interesting that many towns/cities in Europe have successfully developed while retaining their unique history and architecture. This history is what draws people and creates a strong tourist industry. Successful development can coexist with historical preservation.
    Old buildings are not going to last forever ... said the previous writer. I believe this is a decision we make. When the old buildings are gone... they are gone forever. And they can be kept forever.
    I cannot comment on past decisions make by the candidates and how they voted on issues. I believe that Shannie Duff's position on historic preservation and heritage is essential and critical to the economic future of St. John's.

  • Angry Voter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    ENOUGH OF DUFF

  • Truth
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    I think the ageism here is terrible and shows what kind of people those uttering such discrimination are. Shannie Duff has done more for this city than all of you haters and cranks combined.

  • Luke
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    So, Mr. Coombs is going to pay for EXISTING services with FUTURE development?

    I'm no partisan for Ms. Duff, but that seems like a populist move that could land the city in another budget crisis.

    Beware the politician who promises money in your pocket.

  • Eugene
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Duff, by a nose! or is that a heart and a nose. With all the development-happy freaks at city hall we need at least one voice opposed to blocking the few remaining vistas downtown with more condos. A bit of new blood would have been far more welcome, but Coombs, who seems to be more concerned about his entitlements (eg. box seats at the Mile one money pit) isn't my first choice in this, er, limited field.

  • Jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    For the sake of the city of St. Johns, I hope that Keith Coombs does not get elected. Its about time that that bag of wind is thrown to the curb. The mans arrogance knows no limit. Any typical business student forgets more about business on the bus ride home from class on any given day than Mr. Coombs knows or will ever know. The pontifications from this self-appointed business guru have turned the stomach of too many citizens for too long.

    Now, he seems so sure of the $44 million dollar deficit over four years. Just as sure as he was of the $93 million dollar cost of the waste treatment facility on the Southside that ballooned to $150 million.

    And then there was the matter of eight free tickets to events at Mile One for selected councilors. Coombs defended the largesse by claiming that councilors need to attend these events to see that the facility is being run properly. So why Eight Seats. Wouldnt one be enough?

    If he succeeds in becoming deputy mayor and runs St. Johns like he did Mile One Stadium, heaven help us. Or maybe he plans to do the same thing that he did then; screw it up completely and then get Ron Ellsworth to take over and fix it.

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Hey Alex

    You seem to forget when Mrs. Duff ran for Mayor against Andy Wells a few years back. She adamantly denied ever having a credit card issued to her by the city but in the end it was proven that not only did she have a credit card but used it as well but that's a whole other issue.

    Mrs. Duff has proven time and again that she doesn't support development. Development creates a tax base. First and foremost we need to be able to provide services to the residents of the city. Limiting the height of buildings in the downtown may keep a nice view of the Narrows (for a small number of people who live in the downtown area) but that doesn't pay the bills which means that the residents (the majority of which live outside of the downtown area and can't see the Narrows anyway) have to pay more for the increased cost of services which in turn makes it costlier to live in St. John's. The costlier it is to live in st. john's means that when people are trying to decide where they want to live they now consider other options like Mount Pearl, CBS, Torbay, etc. Mrs. Duff should get with the times and consider the many many residents of St. John's who live payday to payday would gladly welcome taller buildings in the downtown area if taxes would go down or at least not increase. City council has been trying to promote St. John's as a business friendly city for years but people like Mrs. Duff are more concerned about views and heritage. It was bad enough when she was just a councillor but I can only imagine how things will come to a standstill if she gets elected to the deputy mayor's chair.

    That being said, I don't think Mr. Coombs is the be all end all either but at least he will let our great city grow and become an even greater city which can offer even more benefits to it residents.

  • a
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Bit profesionally biased , aren't we, Frank ?Did you offer yourself for council ?If not, can it .If it weren't for teachers , the municipal movement would not be as advanced as it is .Look at any council and note the selfless teachers who still tend to be dedicated givers.

    Re.....

    I'm sick of teachers thinking they have the smarts to run this city. Coombs isn't capable. He's responsible for Mile One sitting empty.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    I really don't understand why we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to these guys. They have no vision, no direction, to me they serve no purpose at all. What is it that they actually do? I wish some of the more informed could provide me with the answer.

  • Gerry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Well here we go again!!! The smoke and mirrors game. While I have to make a choice between the two ( slim pickings) I would have to give the nod to Mrs. Duff. I base this on watching the council meetings every week and watching Coombs on many occassions wanting to spend, spend , spend outside of budgeted guidelines. This guy is a joke when it comes to fiscal management. Ex. He fought year after year for the 25000 for the Jazz festival...finally got it. even though this was not in a budget. Ex 2 he has no problem taking free seats from the Council box at Mile one and giving them to his friends ( This is by his own admission.) The rest of us have to pay for our tickets. It was under Coombs leadership that ST. John's Sports and Entertainment was head over heels in the hole. It wasnt until Ron Ellsworth took over that we saw any improvement . If we get the combination of O'Keef and Coombs in city hall they will spend like drunken sailors and we the taxpayers will foot the bill. There has to be some sort of moderation on council. Mrs Duff has shown class, ( mind you I dont agree with all of her decisions on Heritage) but she has a wealth of experience. Beware when you cast your ballot!!!!!

  • DeeBee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    It would be nice to have someone with a dust of sense, along with less of a look at me attitude, on St. John's City Council, that's for sure. I don't believe any of the current council has a clue how to run the city. Development is nice, but it needs to be tempered with the concerns of the people who actually live in the city. Before anything is developed anyWHERE, poll the people in the area to find out their concerns. Doesn't seem like rocket science, does it? And yeah, Mile One Stadium is awesome. If you ignore the location. Why do people want to build arenas like this in the downtown core of their communities? Is it a subtle way of telling people to carpool or take public transit? I wonder what the overhead dollar figure on that place was for 2008 alone. And to 'Joe from NL': It's a toss-up for me... yes, it would be nice to have people who know business running the city in one sense, but business-oriented people tend to have their blinders on even tighter than retired teachers when it comes to issues requiring other skills. My own experiences with business-minded people leaves me less than confident they would be good as city councillors. You need to be somewhat sympathetic to & representative of the people who elect you as well. Don't go out making all these campaign promises that conveniently slip your mind once you get elected. That's half what's wrong with the provincial gov't. They're all lawyers and businesspeople who think they're so smart they don't have to listen to the people who have elected them.

  • Eugene
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    To Steve, who seems to be development happy: Develop, please, but just concentrate new development outside the downtown core. The historically interesting parts of St. John's are all downtown and while one knows that a city needs a sustainable level of growth and development, this has to done in a way that is sensitive to heritage. Progressive jurisdictions (yourself and Messr Coombs may call them backward) allow for development only outside historically significant areas in an effort to preserve our ties to our past and enhance tourism potentials. Building should be encouraged, just do it where the land is available and not at the expense of our heritage.

  • Clifton
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I am a Keith Coombs supporter, all the way.
    I am sick and tired of hearing the word HERITAGE . That is all you hear from Duff. Heritage is NOT going to pay the bills.
    It is high time she pay attention to the buildings that are falling down in front of our eyes, in the downtown area. Business owners should not have to be told to clean up the areas around their business. Common sense dictates that you should be responsible to have your business area clean at all times.
    There is a place for heritage, however, there is a limit.
    We need development in the downtown area, to bring tax revenue to the City. Stop crying foul!!!!
    All I hear from some City councillors is responsible development. And, statements like~~we are committing cultural genocide if we allow this development to go ahead. This is out in left field thinking.

    Mrs. Duff DIDN'T support the Sobey's development at Shamrock field, or the old Memorial Stadium. She also voted against the first proposal for a hotel at the harbour front, until the stupid height restriction was dealth with. It is high time for some City councillors to wake up, and smell the roses. We are actually living in 2009, and NOT in Queen Victoria's day. Get real, please!
    If Mrs. Duff was so concerned about the dirty downtown, as she is with this Heritage, we would have a cleaner downtown. She is totally mute on the filth that litters the lane ways, streets, and buildings downtown.
    Why don't the City ask the owner of the old Avalon Telephone building to demolish it? It is a complete eye sore, to say the least. Also, what about all the graffitti on the buildings downtown? It is sickening to say the least. Why don't the Councillors enforce the bylaw? Some buildings that are open for business are full of graffitti. It is in all of the lane ways. But, not a word about that.
    Old buildings are NOT going to last forever.


    We need a new vision for this City, and I know that would come from the leadership of Keith Coombs.

  • Truth
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Why all the hate for Duff? I think people need to be less cranky and nasty and get out there yourselves and improve this city. Shannie Duff is leading Keith Coombs in at least one poll, and people find her less threatening when it comes to development, which is what Coombs is obsessed with. And where did Coombs get that $44 million figure as a surplus?? And to promise that to voters??? What planet does he live on??!!! Shannie Duff will get in and all you haters will be eating crow.

    Enough of hating Duff.

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    I for one will be voting Coombs. He has publicly stated that he will vote against any proposed tax increases during his term in office. I live downtown and enjoy the culture, heritage and communities we have in the whole city, but anti-Shannie development will keep this city in the dark ages. We've got to look forward and vote Coombs.

  • TrinA
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    I think you are forgetting that downtown, the view of the narrows and the hertitage homes are not just for those that live downtown. Both the City of St. John's and the provincial government use these very things to promote our province as a viable tourism destination. So stop with downtown just benefitting those who live downtown.

    Personally I came home because I missed the look, feel, atmosphere, art, theatre and music of St. John's and downtown specifically and if you ask any tourist they are blown away by it as well. What will go in the tourism commercials and pamphlets if our downtown because a haven for high rises?! We will be no different from any other metropolitis and that would be a shame.

    I have heard Mrs. Duff say she is NOT anti-development, she merely would like to develop responsibly. I don't feel Keith Coombs will be as fiscally responsible (Mile One) or that he will consider the residents of St. John's and what they would like or not like. I feel he will give the oil companies what ever real estate they want for the right price and before we know it St. John's will be unrecognizable... and once the oil is gone... they will leave us with their ruins.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    $44 million is a lot to promise, Keith. What you're basically saying is that the costs of running the city will not go up, and that the surplus will simply be given back to the people.

    That's a cheap election promise that the voters won't fall for. We're voting for improvements in services like: better roads, reliable water sources, curbside recycling, affordable housing, and safe walking trails. These things cost money, and there are only so many budget efficiencies that can be made to pay for these. We need our surplus to improve quality of life.

    A responsible finance committee would work hard balance tax breaks with measured spending on the services we need. Not make an easy blanket tax break - that is a cop-out.

    If you want to look forward, Keith, you've got to take your blinders off.

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Always vote for the person who commits to lowering your taxes. Make it your rule of thumb. Governments and their bureaucrats need to be starved of resources before they will make sound and sustainable financial decisions. Excess money will inevitably lead to more waste you can be sure.
    I was undecided before this article (I never heard the debate) but I am leaning Combs after reading this.

  • Ken
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    a smith from GFW teachers have that many PD Days in the run of a year they are the only ones that have time to run for council. Selfless teachers a good laugh for friday afternoon.

  • Hoarce
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Coombs-chop, is easy to spend, Please NOT MY HARD EARNED Tax dollars
    Shannie-cranky or not, she really looks into things and gives a professional answer. One we might not like but I believe she is looking out for St. John's not like Mr.Personality who is riding O Keefe coat tails.......

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Generally, I don't care who gets in where but for the sake of the city, I really hope people don't vote for O'Keefe AND Coombs together. The city might be able to withstand the fiscal damage that one would cause along but putting these two in charge of running the city at the same time would be equivalent to jumping on the freeway to financial chaos.

    I wonder if cities can apply to Ottawa for a bailout after being driven into the ground by buffoons?

  • Emily
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Oh my, and the lesser of the 2 evils is??? Duff has to go now and then we can vote Coombs next time...and we can also get rid of Doc now too. And Galgay...I pray.

  • Thomas G.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Shannie Duff would make an excellent deputy mayor. Her positions are well thought out. You can be confident that her positions are based on research and not speculation.

  • Deb
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    some of the people are so harsh here. i can understand having our viewpoints and opposite opinions ...but the references to Shannie being old like it is some strike against here, will this is unfortunate... she is older but she is a progressive thinker and she holds her own. she is Intelligent and she cares in my books! and she totally got my vote! you go Shannie ! you speak with clarity and practicality. you have the peoples interest at heart and i commend you for that. Before we get into the New developments Coombs talks about how about fixing up so many of the abandoned building around this city. Lets think of the people first and look at affordable housing , healthy and safe lives for every single one of us! not just the rich few who benefit from this... Greed got to go! this is NL for god sakes! where are the heads of people obsessed with new development....It is not gonna fix the poverty issues.

    Oh and i vote Ellsworth for mayor. His care and compassion is genuine from where i sit.

  • Dave in NL
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Enough of Duff!
    At least she didn't suggest we locate high rises out by the airport as she did on the Rogers' debate. You do know what happens at an airport, don't you Shannie? You have been north of Elizabeth Avenue, haven't you Shannie?

  • Kent
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Personally, I can't stand the sight or sound of either of Duff or Coombs. Duff treats the downtown like its some sort of ancient archeoligal riuns and is adverse to development anywhere near it. Meanwhile, Coombs seems is so arrogant and fullof himslef that he thinks he's the next candidate for Donald Trump's Apprentice show. What a joke.

  • Joyce Moores
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    The voice of reason with Coombs of the voice of gloom and doom with Duff? You decide. All she cares about preserving is herself as usual.

  • LP
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    She is totally against development of any kind.

    Get your facts straight. Shannie is not anti-development. She's one of the few people on council who actually pays any attention to the heritage regulations. Most of them are too busy seeing dollar signs to care if all of downtown ends up looking like the TD Building and the rest of St. John's ends up looking like Stavanger Drive.

    Go Shannie!

  • Eugene
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Forget these fools, DeeBee for deputy mayor. If we're saddled with the business man for mayor he'll keep him in line, if we get the school teacher DeeBee will advance his goals, and if we get the reggae singer, he can just dance, dance, dance the night away! Seriously, though, I'd vote you sir (or ma'am!)

  • Earl
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    It's a sad commentary when the consensus among voters is that they feel they have to vote based on who they don't want to get elected.

    When people say, I don't like either of them, but I'm going to vote Candidate A because I like Candidate B less, it tells us that the City's residents are tired of the way the City is being run, and they're going to have a problem with whoever gets elected.

    I can't remember the last time I heard of a candidate, I'm voting for Candidate C because he has a great vision for the City and the ability to get it done!

    Maybe if someone like this came along we'd lose some of the complete indifference and apathy towards our Council. Right now half our citizens don't care and the other half only care about who doesn't get elected.

  • Miriam
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Shannie is the candidate with clear understandings of all sides of the issues and makes decisions with more than re-election as her main thought. She has developed ideas that aren't just sound bites.
    We can be in a rush and look at an ugly building for a century or take a little more time and continue to enjoy a unique and beautiful downtown. I for one am for sound and well-thought out development, not just development. Shannie is not about the big ego, she's about keeping our city a wonderful place to live, with services, buildings, and development plans that will keep our city growing and beautiful. Shannie's got my vote.

  • Experienced
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Amen there Gerry! I was so pleased to see your comment on Mr. Coombs fiscal management record with St. John's Sports and Entertainment. I worked at Mile One and I can honestly say that it's quite agravating to watch someone like him going around acting like he's c**k of the walk while simultaneously running it into the ground... with my taxpayer dollars!  Plus, the man treated everyone there like they were beneath him. 

  • Jim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    I fully support Mrs.Duff because she really cares about the city.

  • Linda
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    I think Mr. Coombs has some good ideas and is a hardworking man.

    He has my vote!

  • DeeBee
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    To Megan: I'd run for council in a heartbeat but for my fear of public speaking and the fact that I don't have two cents to rub together right now, let alone come up with some funds for a campaign. Plus, I work 40 hours a week for my pittance... where would I find the time? I don't have a degree from a university either, so, yes, I could run... but how long would it take for my rivals to bring this little tidbit of info up during the smear campaigns? Let's face it... the system is set up so that anyone can run, but it helps to have some public persuasion ability to begin with. If I could get elected based on what I type here alone, I'd be mayor the next election. ;-)

  • crackie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    I don't understand why we have so many politcal science students/grads, but none interested in running for politics. What's up with that?

  • Coombs must
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Coombs is the councillor who had no qualms about the box seat Council pays for at Mile One and how they split the time in it amongst themselves as a benefit of employment even when they were trying to cut costs.

  • Joe
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Better off Keith Coombs don't give up his daytime job; or just retire as his teaching skills were lacking as well.
    We all saw what mess he made of the Leafs and the Fog Devils.
    Mr.Coombs leave the business deals to business people; you and Dennis O'Keefe have a happy retirement .
    If two of you guys are elected it will be a sad day in the City of St.John's; comparable to the great fire as you will destroy this City.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Duff really has to go. This is the person (and O'Keefe too) who voted against giving her OWN City residents first crack at the Recreational programs FULLY funded by the taxpayers of St. John's. She is totally against development of any kind. Let's be reasonable. I don't want massive skyscrapers downtown either but there's got to be SOME give and take to get rid the old, run down buildings that are major eyesores in our otherwise beautiful downtown. Coombs is far from perfect but he's the better choice of these two by far.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    I think it is a sad commentary that the only choice we have for this position is between these two individuals.
    As far as Ms. Duff's contribution goes I think downtown St.john's is one of the dirtiest, most depressed, seedy, rundown looking areas, in a town that is filled with seedy rundown areas. What has all this heratige BS gotten us. I mean take a walk along water street and have a look around, it is disgusting, The old Bowring bldg. on one side, the old telephone bldg. on the other. The stink of human waste from the bubble. Garbage all over the place. Bums and panhandlers, grafitti...the whole george street issue. And these guys are worried about what kind of windows you put in your house. Give me a break.

  • Jill
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Whomever keeps voting for Shannie....please stop!!! I can't take it anymore! Just because she's been a public figure since the time of the dinosaurs, that doesn't mean that we have to put her back in office. She's like a bad habit, and it's time to break that habit. At this moment in the city of St. John's we're experiencing a housing crisis. See for yourself. Go to the classifieds and see how many apartments are available for rent. Not many. If she would step back for a moment and stop dwelling on preserving dilapidated buildings, she might just notice a REAL issue that's happening right under her nose and do something about it. Build something! For the love of God, take your horse blinders off and focus on the fact that the city is growing. If we don't keep up with the demand, this city is going to hell in a handbasket.

  • Megan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    I challenge all of you who claim council doesn't do anything, makes all the wrong decisions, is obsessed with incorrect priorities, etc to RUN FOR COUNCIL. I hold a degree in Political Science and I promise you this comment section is so expected. If those elected are not representing your needs and you can do it better, than DO IT. The beauty of our political system is that anyone is free to run, free to be those voices making decisions. Get involved if you feel nobody else can do it right. If people looked at candidates, considered their priorities and voted for someone to represent them... then stayed involved voicing realistic expectations and volunteered to help, perhaps all our municipal councils would have greater success. Enough already with complain complain complain..... but not being willing to act or even simply give respect to those that ARE willing to put up with all the bs. These leaders are not perfect, so vote in the best and then help make it better.

  • Tim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Must protect every single bit of green space we have left or she's all over folks - another concrete block therefore I am voting Shannie so the next generation can have a field to kick a ball around in URBAN St. John's instead of what I believe will be a give away of our green areas to developers.

  • Sam
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    No Frank, Coombs isn't responsible for Mile One being empty, it's the lack of hockey fans.

    I'll give him my vote if only because he's the lesser of 2 evils and it's a chance to finally force that old relic Duff into retirement and see the city grow in peace.

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    I'm sick of teachers thinking they have the smarts to run this city. Coombs isn't capable. He's responsible for Mile One sitting empty.

  • Alex
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Hi Steve,

    You make some good points, and I didn't meam to malign development; it serves its purpose well, but is not enough on its own.

    True, most residents live outside downtown, but as someone who lives out in the east end I think I'm not alone in saying I don't want the core of my city turned into a monstrous eyesore.

    The mill rate does need to go down, without a doubt, but to throw out such large numbers without concern to other spending priorities is irresponsible.

  • Alex
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    I understand some people's concern with Shannie Duff, but Coombs is a proven liar and cleary in the pocket of developers.

    Yes, development is important for the city, but development alone will only benefit a small few, and not significantly impact city coffers.

    The mill rate cleary needs to go down, and \i think Duff realizes that. But to throw out giant numbers when we have sub-par snow removal and no curbside recycling is irresponsible.

  • Jane
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    I want a deputy mayor who will be able to keep up with the growth of the city over the next four years. Shannie will be close to 80 years ol by the time the term at council will be over. How many people really want someone of that age running the deputy chair?

  • Nappy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    YAWN. Someone wake me when all this garbage is overwith, huh?

  • Evelyn
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    I've lived outside of NL for too many years. We are now planning our return to live in the province I have proudly called home whenever someone has asked me where I am from.
    I've seen unplanned development destroy the character of communities. I've experienced the disasterous consequences on neighborhoods.
    We cannot live in the future without development; but it does not need to be and must not be at the expense of destroying our history and heritage.
    It's interesting that many towns/cities in Europe have successfully developed while retaining their unique history and architecture. This history is what draws people and creates a strong tourist industry. Successful development can coexist with historical preservation.
    Old buildings are not going to last forever ... said the previous writer. I believe this is a decision we make. When the old buildings are gone... they are gone forever. And they can be kept forever.
    I cannot comment on past decisions make by the candidates and how they voted on issues. I believe that Shannie Duff's position on historic preservation and heritage is essential and critical to the economic future of St. John's.

  • Angry Voter
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    ENOUGH OF DUFF

  • Truth
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    I think the ageism here is terrible and shows what kind of people those uttering such discrimination are. Shannie Duff has done more for this city than all of you haters and cranks combined.

  • Luke
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    So, Mr. Coombs is going to pay for EXISTING services with FUTURE development?

    I'm no partisan for Ms. Duff, but that seems like a populist move that could land the city in another budget crisis.

    Beware the politician who promises money in your pocket.

  • Eugene
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Duff, by a nose! or is that a heart and a nose. With all the development-happy freaks at city hall we need at least one voice opposed to blocking the few remaining vistas downtown with more condos. A bit of new blood would have been far more welcome, but Coombs, who seems to be more concerned about his entitlements (eg. box seats at the Mile one money pit) isn't my first choice in this, er, limited field.

  • Jim
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    For the sake of the city of St. Johns, I hope that Keith Coombs does not get elected. Its about time that that bag of wind is thrown to the curb. The mans arrogance knows no limit. Any typical business student forgets more about business on the bus ride home from class on any given day than Mr. Coombs knows or will ever know. The pontifications from this self-appointed business guru have turned the stomach of too many citizens for too long.

    Now, he seems so sure of the $44 million dollar deficit over four years. Just as sure as he was of the $93 million dollar cost of the waste treatment facility on the Southside that ballooned to $150 million.

    And then there was the matter of eight free tickets to events at Mile One for selected councilors. Coombs defended the largesse by claiming that councilors need to attend these events to see that the facility is being run properly. So why Eight Seats. Wouldnt one be enough?

    If he succeeds in becoming deputy mayor and runs St. Johns like he did Mile One Stadium, heaven help us. Or maybe he plans to do the same thing that he did then; screw it up completely and then get Ron Ellsworth to take over and fix it.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Hey Alex

    You seem to forget when Mrs. Duff ran for Mayor against Andy Wells a few years back. She adamantly denied ever having a credit card issued to her by the city but in the end it was proven that not only did she have a credit card but used it as well but that's a whole other issue.

    Mrs. Duff has proven time and again that she doesn't support development. Development creates a tax base. First and foremost we need to be able to provide services to the residents of the city. Limiting the height of buildings in the downtown may keep a nice view of the Narrows (for a small number of people who live in the downtown area) but that doesn't pay the bills which means that the residents (the majority of which live outside of the downtown area and can't see the Narrows anyway) have to pay more for the increased cost of services which in turn makes it costlier to live in St. John's. The costlier it is to live in st. john's means that when people are trying to decide where they want to live they now consider other options like Mount Pearl, CBS, Torbay, etc. Mrs. Duff should get with the times and consider the many many residents of St. John's who live payday to payday would gladly welcome taller buildings in the downtown area if taxes would go down or at least not increase. City council has been trying to promote St. John's as a business friendly city for years but people like Mrs. Duff are more concerned about views and heritage. It was bad enough when she was just a councillor but I can only imagine how things will come to a standstill if she gets elected to the deputy mayor's chair.

    That being said, I don't think Mr. Coombs is the be all end all either but at least he will let our great city grow and become an even greater city which can offer even more benefits to it residents.

  • a
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Bit profesionally biased , aren't we, Frank ?Did you offer yourself for council ?If not, can it .If it weren't for teachers , the municipal movement would not be as advanced as it is .Look at any council and note the selfless teachers who still tend to be dedicated givers.

    Re.....

    I'm sick of teachers thinking they have the smarts to run this city. Coombs isn't capable. He's responsible for Mile One sitting empty.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    I really don't understand why we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to these guys. They have no vision, no direction, to me they serve no purpose at all. What is it that they actually do? I wish some of the more informed could provide me with the answer.

  • Gerry
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    Well here we go again!!! The smoke and mirrors game. While I have to make a choice between the two ( slim pickings) I would have to give the nod to Mrs. Duff. I base this on watching the council meetings every week and watching Coombs on many occassions wanting to spend, spend , spend outside of budgeted guidelines. This guy is a joke when it comes to fiscal management. Ex. He fought year after year for the 25000 for the Jazz festival...finally got it. even though this was not in a budget. Ex 2 he has no problem taking free seats from the Council box at Mile one and giving them to his friends ( This is by his own admission.) The rest of us have to pay for our tickets. It was under Coombs leadership that ST. John's Sports and Entertainment was head over heels in the hole. It wasnt until Ron Ellsworth took over that we saw any improvement . If we get the combination of O'Keef and Coombs in city hall they will spend like drunken sailors and we the taxpayers will foot the bill. There has to be some sort of moderation on council. Mrs Duff has shown class, ( mind you I dont agree with all of her decisions on Heritage) but she has a wealth of experience. Beware when you cast your ballot!!!!!

  • DeeBee
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    It would be nice to have someone with a dust of sense, along with less of a look at me attitude, on St. John's City Council, that's for sure. I don't believe any of the current council has a clue how to run the city. Development is nice, but it needs to be tempered with the concerns of the people who actually live in the city. Before anything is developed anyWHERE, poll the people in the area to find out their concerns. Doesn't seem like rocket science, does it? And yeah, Mile One Stadium is awesome. If you ignore the location. Why do people want to build arenas like this in the downtown core of their communities? Is it a subtle way of telling people to carpool or take public transit? I wonder what the overhead dollar figure on that place was for 2008 alone. And to 'Joe from NL': It's a toss-up for me... yes, it would be nice to have people who know business running the city in one sense, but business-oriented people tend to have their blinders on even tighter than retired teachers when it comes to issues requiring other skills. My own experiences with business-minded people leaves me less than confident they would be good as city councillors. You need to be somewhat sympathetic to & representative of the people who elect you as well. Don't go out making all these campaign promises that conveniently slip your mind once you get elected. That's half what's wrong with the provincial gov't. They're all lawyers and businesspeople who think they're so smart they don't have to listen to the people who have elected them.

  • Eugene
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    To Steve, who seems to be development happy: Develop, please, but just concentrate new development outside the downtown core. The historically interesting parts of St. John's are all downtown and while one knows that a city needs a sustainable level of growth and development, this has to done in a way that is sensitive to heritage. Progressive jurisdictions (yourself and Messr Coombs may call them backward) allow for development only outside historically significant areas in an effort to preserve our ties to our past and enhance tourism potentials. Building should be encouraged, just do it where the land is available and not at the expense of our heritage.

  • Clifton
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I am a Keith Coombs supporter, all the way.
    I am sick and tired of hearing the word HERITAGE . That is all you hear from Duff. Heritage is NOT going to pay the bills.
    It is high time she pay attention to the buildings that are falling down in front of our eyes, in the downtown area. Business owners should not have to be told to clean up the areas around their business. Common sense dictates that you should be responsible to have your business area clean at all times.
    There is a place for heritage, however, there is a limit.
    We need development in the downtown area, to bring tax revenue to the City. Stop crying foul!!!!
    All I hear from some City councillors is responsible development. And, statements like~~we are committing cultural genocide if we allow this development to go ahead. This is out in left field thinking.

    Mrs. Duff DIDN'T support the Sobey's development at Shamrock field, or the old Memorial Stadium. She also voted against the first proposal for a hotel at the harbour front, until the stupid height restriction was dealth with. It is high time for some City councillors to wake up, and smell the roses. We are actually living in 2009, and NOT in Queen Victoria's day. Get real, please!
    If Mrs. Duff was so concerned about the dirty downtown, as she is with this Heritage, we would have a cleaner downtown. She is totally mute on the filth that litters the lane ways, streets, and buildings downtown.
    Why don't the City ask the owner of the old Avalon Telephone building to demolish it? It is a complete eye sore, to say the least. Also, what about all the graffitti on the buildings downtown? It is sickening to say the least. Why don't the Councillors enforce the bylaw? Some buildings that are open for business are full of graffitti. It is in all of the lane ways. But, not a word about that.
    Old buildings are NOT going to last forever.


    We need a new vision for this City, and I know that would come from the leadership of Keith Coombs.

  • Truth
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Why all the hate for Duff? I think people need to be less cranky and nasty and get out there yourselves and improve this city. Shannie Duff is leading Keith Coombs in at least one poll, and people find her less threatening when it comes to development, which is what Coombs is obsessed with. And where did Coombs get that $44 million figure as a surplus?? And to promise that to voters??? What planet does he live on??!!! Shannie Duff will get in and all you haters will be eating crow.

    Enough of hating Duff.