"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Sunday 26 August 2007

Choose Your Weapons

We are nine months into the current term of council. In the last term, a fairly efficient campaign was waged in the community to convince residents that I alone was responsible for the lacklustre performance of the last council. I stayed the course however and I was re-elected

.Character assassination is not an unusual gambit in politics.. I tend to discount its effectiveness.
Particularly if I am not in a contest for one particular office. But it was effective and it is continuing now, only more openly. A sequence of letters in The Auroran repeat the same phrases; " small- minded , mean-spirited" and deplore the fact there were people who marked a cross beside my name on the ballot." One writer suggested I won votes only because my name was first on the ballot.

Virulent letters tell more about the writer than they do about the target. Yet I know from experience if something is repeated often enough without challenge, it is eventually accepted as fact. Heretofore I have accepted there is not much one can do to counteract the attacks. So I have given my detractors the back of my hand. But things are different now. We have the internet.

So... what to do what to do. How does one defend oneself against an insidious campaign of hate mail? Should one even try? To engage on its level is unlikely to be effective. How would one do that anyway?

"You are small-minded."
"Am Not. "
"You are mean-spirited."
"You are."
"You should never have been elected."
"You neither."

My critical blog correspondent rose to my challenge this morning. She still did not reveal her identity. But she did specify a list of my sins.

  • political e-mails

  • blame-finding for water shortage

  • Aurora Farmers' Market attitude

  • refusal to honor the ideas of others

  • refusal to embrace the concept of co-operation.

The list opens a host of opportunities for discussion.

I assume my critic is a council member because I do use the internet to correspond with colleagues.in open dialogue.The most recent exchange was my response to an e-mail sent to staff from Mayor Morris. Councillors received a copy.

The Mayor notified staff that in her absence at a conference, she had appointed Councillor McEachern to the position of Deputy-Mayor. Councillor McRoberts was also attending the conference.

I informed the Mayor, with respect, the authority to appoint a Councillor to the position of Deputy -Mayor rests with the council. The Mayor responded thanking me for the information. She stated had she thought of it, she would have made the recommendation at the previous council meeting.

I responded I was glad that had not happened. I would have been unable to support the recommendation and I would not have relished giving my reasons in a public forum. I did however provide them in an e-mail circulated to councillors including the Mayor. It was a blunt statement of facts as I see them.

. Mayor Morris has made no secret of her alliance with Councillor McEachern from the beginning of the term. Impartiality from the chair is non-existent. The clerk has been removed from his place at the left hand of the Chair and the CAO from the right .. The Mayor and Councillor McEachern are openly in control They frequently engage in private dialogue. There are no rules, save the ones the Mayor chooses to exercise.

There is no respect for the essential principle of debate. . No recognition that council is composed of nine members. With control of five votes, there is no need for full and respectful consideration of input from every councillor. . It even seems like some decisions are made before they come to the table.

As a councillor with a substantial background of how things ought to be, I have probably experienced a level of frustration not shared by my colleagues. From time to time, I have reacted. Meetings extending to midnight and beyond have become the rule rather than the exception. There is a total lack of imperative from the chair Because all other efforts have failed and to make a point, I have decided I will not sit past 11 p.m. The hour of adjournment is 10.30p.m.

If anything is being accomplished, I stay. If the meeting has ground to a halt with idle chit-chat from the chair I leave...

As bad as it has been, I do see small signs of improvement . We still have time to discover there is a great deal more satisfaction in working together to accomplish the town's business
rather than carrying on the Endless, Pointless , Dance of the Pecking Order.

Four years is a long time to keep butting heads.

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