Posted July 18, 2012
My first mistake was watching the recent city Council meeting on local television. It had all the elements of watching paint dry.
Any attempt by councillors to amend proposals was shot down by the Mayor’s gang on Council whose inane reasoning resulted in defeat of anything unique or different.
It is as if the agenda has been pre-digested by the pro-Farbridge councillors and, because of their majority it’s their way or the highway.
Opposition is stifled at every turn. The five members of Council who are not on the Farbridge team, battle in vain against the diet of political Pablum. It flows out of the secret, closed door meetings held before the regular, and public, council meeting.
Here’s an example of the Mayor’s controlled operation, using picked surrogates to defeat a proposal, this time from Coun. Cam Guthrie, to meet twice in August to do the city’s business.
You’d have thought Guthrie had done something unspeakable in the punch bowl at the Mayor’s garden party.
Coun. Karl Wettstein surfaced like a U-boat on the prowl to speak against the motion citing that it wasn’t necessary to hold council meetings in August. He theorized that the federal government can run perfectly well with the House of Commons off for three months.
The subject of staff hardship was slowly emerging. Coun. Leanne Piper cited how she never stopped being a councillor as she fielded constituent queries and information during August.
The Mayor added her comments stating that this “little council meeting” requires a huge commitment by staff to prepare for such a meeting.
Not one councillor dared to say: “Well, that’s their job, isn’t it?”
Guthrie’s motion was defeated and there will be no Council or committee meetings in August this year. The rationale? Because it’s always been done it that way.
So when it comes to the citizen’s business, August is not happening.
It’s kind of like France, right?
The irony is that Council debated that there would be no tax increases next year. That moved to decide that up to three percent would be acceptable. The staff report then recommended the starting point could be three per cent. Of course more than $5 million was for increased staff wages, salaries and benefits. This was included in the three per cent scenario.
These Council meetings are laden with pre-digested decisions, arcane procedural rules and iron-fisted control by the Mayor.
It’s the unfortunate fall-out of more than five years of dictatorial operation of the city.
At present, it is discouraging that there is little free discussion by all members of Council on behalf of the citizens who pay the bills.
The city’s business does not stop in August, but the board of directors, aka Council, apparently does.