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August 2009

Mike Bendixen leaves CJAD

A lot of people have been asking me about the recent changes at CJAD. Well, as I wrote on a previous blog entry the dismissal of Peter Anthony Holder, Kevin Holden and Kathy Coulombe is just part of being in the radio business. It is a job which does not come with a lot of security. On Monday, another big change will come into effect as news and program director Mike Bendixen (pictured below)  departs for Toronto. He is returning to CFRB, where he worked before being summoned to CJAD four years ago as a 26 year old unknown. Mike has been named interim program director there.

"Mike has done a incredible job with the reinvention CJAD," Astral Radio Montreal Operations Boss Bob Harris told me.

I wish Mike well. We met soon after he arrived in the city and whether it was my job at the school board, columns for The Suburban or as a Côte Saint-Luc city councillor he was always there to chat over the phone or meet for coffee. We last spoke two weeks ago when I requested that the Andrew Carter morning show broadcast live for the fourth year in a row from one of my EMSB schools. He agreed immediately and Andrew and the team will be at Edinburgh in Montreal West. Mike will be missed. His replacement will be named soon. More to come in Wednesday`s Suburban.

Bialik announces new parking rules for parents; fines could be handed out

The following is a press release I issued following a meeting with the JPPS-Bialik administration:

Councillor Cohen pleased with Bialik’s new traffic rules and fines

One of the first issues Côte Saint-Luc City Councillor Mike Cohen chose to deal with upon being elected four years ago to represent District 2 was traffic safety related to Bialik High  School, located on Kildare Road and Marc Chagall.

Regular meetings were held with the Bialik administration, some of which included officers from Police Station 9 who pledged to enact a zero tolerance approach towards any parents caught contravening traffic laws.  Patrol cars have staked out the area on different occasions and handed out tickets.

Councillor Cohen established the first ever Bialik Student Traffic Committee, which subsequently made a number of recommendations to the city. Many of these measures have, in fact, been enacted.

Bialik is the home to more than 600 students. Traffic is busiest at drop off  between 7:55 and 8:15 a.m.  and 3:30 p.m. for pickup.

With the start of the 2009-2010 academic year, Councillor Cohen met with JPPS-Bialik Chief Operating Officer/Head of School Laurence Fhima, new Bialik Principal  Andrew Trager, Head of Building Facilities Maintenance and Security Florian Gaudreau and Communications Officer David Smajovits.FlorianLaurenceTrager

 Left to right: Florian Gaudreau, Laurence Fhima, Councillor Cohen and Andrew Trager

Councillor Cohen is pleased to report that the Bialik administration is taking its strongest steps ever to deter traffic and parking violations near the school. In addition to having staff assigned outside, wearing orange vests,  during drop off and pickup, a new set of traffic safety rules have been transmitted to students and parents.  This year the license plate  numbers of each parent has been recorded and  Ms. Fhima made it clear that should any family member associated with the school be recorded as  breaking a traffic rule they will be issued a ticket by the school.

Ms. Fhima said the school will start with some warning tickets, but quickly move to fines and no exceptions will be made.

Councillor Cohen has applauded this impressive initiative. “Bialik should be commended for making attacking this problem head on,” he said. “The school has now given them specific rules to follow and warned them of the consequences.”

The rules include no parking at all times in front of the school or the driveway, no parking or stopping at any time in the turnaround nor in neighboring private parking lots or driveways. For the school drop off zone on Kildare Road, motorists will be allowed to use the right hand sidewalk side only. The driveway lane is reserved for the bus bringing in students from the West Island while the parking lot just before the school entrance belongs to the Meadows Town House condominium complex. Similar actions are required for   pickup in the afternoon,  

Parents and students  must use the crosswalks. No double parking or U-turns  will be permitted. Cars are expected to obey all traffic lights and signs, not trespass on nearby private property and obey and respect the crossing guard, public security officers and the police.  At no time are students or parents allowed in the  Meadows parking lot. This includes dropping off, picking up, parking or walking through.

With the help of Mr. Gaudreau, Councillor Cohen  intends upon establishing a new Bialik Student Traffic Committee this year



Councillor Mike Cohen


Owner of Kildare Towers and Manoir Camelia is hands-on

It is always a pleasure for me to meet with property owners in District 2. Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Howard Szalavetz, a hands-on owner if there ever was one of two large apartment buildings: Kildare Towers (5761 Honore de Balzac), and Manoir Camelia (5875 Cavendish).

A chartered accountant by profession, Howard  (pictured with me below) is an energetic 44 year old businessman who also owns apartment buildings in N.D.G., LaSalle, T.M.R, and St. Hubert. He has an excellent website at which provides comprehensive overviews of each property, including availability.HowardSzalavetz

Howard has owned Manoir Camelia, a 98 unit located directly next to the City Hall and Library, since 1992. In fact, this was the first place he lived upon moving out on his own. He did so for five years, eventually buying a home after getting married and having kids. As for Kildare Towers, situated adjacent to the Cavendish Mall, Howard only purchased this large 162 unit facility in 2007.

I was amazed to see Howard’s familiarity with the tenants in his properties. Not only is he in touch with his building managers throughout each day, he makes a point of making personal visits to each place several days a week. "I absolutely love what I do," he insists.

That is clear!

The tragedy of Hila Zohar

I attended the funeral of Hila Zohar (pictured below), the beautiful four year old girl who drowned tragically this week at  Parkhaven Pool. Councillors Mitchell Brownstein and Dida Berku were there, as were some city staff. Our hearts break for the family. Hila passed away the day before and there was no notice in the newspaper. Nonetheless, Paperman and Sons was nearly full with mourners. Most of those people on hand did not know the Zohar family. A neighbour of mine was among that group. As he looked at the crowd leaving the funeral home he remarked , "What an incredible community this is to provide this kind of support to the family."  Hila Zohar

The insecurity of broadcast journalism

From the time I was very young, journalism represented my chosen profession. I grew up watching my dad enjoy a career as a radio announcer and sports reporter and determined this was the future for me. Then my mom intervened, insisting that the media was an unstable business. "I want you to become a chartered accountant," she proclaimed.

I began my journalism career while in Grade 11, writing a local community newspaper sports column and helping my dad out in the press box covering the Expos, Canadiens and the Alouettes. It was all pretty exciting, yet when I graduated from high school I reluctantly decided to follow mom’s advice and entered the commerce program at Dawson College. Not surprisingly, I did not like it at all. Journalism was my passion and when I was hired during my second semester to become the assistant sports editor of The Sunday Express, a Quebecor publication, I made the decision to bolt commerce. Becoming a CA was simply not in the cards.

Journalism has been a central part of my life for 30 years. However, at one point I did realize that my mom was correct. Upon graduation from the Communications and Journalism Program at Concordia University I applied for posts at nearly every daily newspaper in the country. I still remember the then city editor of The Gazette, Jim Peters, telling me that since my experience was with weekly newspapers he had no place for me. His sports editor at the time, Alan Allnutt, tried to convince him otherwise. Ironically, Allnutt is now the publisher and editor of that paper.

While I continued on after university as a full-time reporter for The Suburban, I also started to dabble in public relations. I gained experience as the sports information director for Concordia varsity sports and then went into the communications field permanently when the Canadian Jewish Congress hired me as their national director of communications. During those wonderful 11 years, I continued to write for weekly newspapers on the side. In 1999 I moved on to the English Montreal School Board as their communications and marketing specialist, retaining my column in The Suburban and undertaking some other newspaper assignments.

Four years ago I added another post to my repertoire when I gained 92 percent of the vote for a C

ôte Saint-Luc city council seat. I am seeking re-election this fall. PeterAnthonyHolder Why am I giving you this background? Well, upon learning of the recent decision by Astral Radio to let go the likes of Kevin Holden, Peter Anthony Holder (left)  and Kathy Coulombe from CJAD and the new Q92’s dismissal of Paul "Tasso Patsikakis" Zakabe and Suzanne Desautels - my mother’s warning screamed loudly in my head. Their sudden dismissals were just part of the business. And where do they go now? AM 940 sacked its newsroom last year when it switched from news to oldie songs. CBC is the midst of letting personnel go. Global TV virtually gutted its news operation two years ago and now runs a top notch organization on a shoe-string. The Gazette is getting smaller in size and has gone through a number of procedures whereby it asked for voluntary retirements. Gazette writers have been negotiating for a new contract. They tried a byline strike as a pressure tactic. It did not work. And they probably see what a real strike did to the writers from Le Journal de Montreal, who have been out of work since last January as the editors cover the stories. The paper is making zero attempt to entice them back to work or even negotiate. La Presse just cancelled its Sunday edition.

I am not among those who believe that as the internet continues to gain in popularity, the newspaper will go the way of the dinosaur. People still like to sit with a paper at breakfast, on a bus or Metro or in a waiting room. However, there are definitely less jobs in the business now that when my mom gave her warning nearly three decades ago.

If you are young and contemplating a career in this business, do not let me stop you. But have a backup plan.

Sir Walter Scott Repaving Approved

The long awaited repaving of the street and sidewalks of Sir Walter Scott Avenue was approved last week by city council. For 2009 council allocated $1.2 million for work on four streets and accompanying sidewalks, with most of the funds going towards Cavendish Boulevard. But with the support of Mayor Anthony Housefather I was able to get Sir Walter Scott on the list at a cost of $201,692.35. We expect work to occur in October. Sir Walter Scott is the home to five apartment buildings. In addition, it is the entrance point to Ilan Ramon Crescent. The street and sidewalks are in urgent need of repair.

Seniors Garden Party

Congratulations to the wonderful and dedicated individuals who run the Côte Saint-Luc Seniors Garden, situated near the Kellert entrance to the Cavendish Mall.  SrGarden09

Seniors Garden president Sava Todorovic (left) and vice-president Chuck Schwartz  (right) welcome me to the party.

On August 8 they hosted their annual Garden Party, rescheduling the event a day earlier than originally planned because of a forecast for rain. Members joined Mayor Anthony Housefather and some city councillors- myself, Mitchell Brownstein, Dida Berku and Allan J. Levine - for Italian sausages,pizza and beverages. Everyone was comfortably seated at picnic tables and there was even a live musician. This all overlooked the beautiful garden, which the members devote so much time to maintain.

In Memoriam: Bob Feldstein and Rose Itman

Two outstanding citizens of Côte Saint-Luc passed away very recently. One, Bob Feldstein, had a fairly high profile in the community as a war veteran; the other, Rose Itman, was the wife of one of our city's most devoted civic activists - Irving Itman.


I knew Bob Feldstein (pictured on the right with members of council)  for many years. On more than one occasion he kept me enthralled with his amazing war stories. Here in Cöte Saint-Luc Bob devoted his life to the Brigadier Kisch Branch # 97 of the Canadian Legion. The annual VE Day Commemoration in May was a magic date on Bob's calendar. He would plan for it most of the year and proudly serve as master of ceremonies. Soon after this year's event Bob found out he had a brain tumour. It was one battle he could not win. We salute you Bob!

I did not know Rose Itman well. But her husband Irving is no stranger to any one of us on city council. The turnouts at our public meetings are not very significant unless there is a hot button issue. Nonetheless, year after year, Irving Itman is regularly in attendance, so much so in fact that if we have a change in the schedule we call him. When I was elected I even invited Irving to be part of one of my committees.

You cannot devote the time Irving does to community affairs without support at home. Rose was Irving's devoted partner for 43 years and the adoring mother of Arie, a young lawyer. The last time I saw  Irving and Rose together was at the 2007 Volunteer Recognition Evening. They looked like they were still on their honeymoon as they lit up the dance floor. This was a true love story.

Last year Irving called me with the bad news that Rose had been diagnosed with cancer. He wanted me to know that he would be by her side every step of the way and this might mean he'd be missing some meetings.

Our hearts and thoughts are with the Itman and Feldstein families. May they be spared further sorrow.