"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

Tuesday 4 March 2008

Alice in Wonderland

Tuesday's meeting was particularly weird. Few are normal but this one was a doozy.

It started with a portrait photographer from Georgina doing an effective job of self-promotion. She thanked council profusely for allowing her to use the Skylight Gallery on the third floor of the Town Hall for a show of her work. She spoke of a collection she had created called Women of Wisdom in which Mayors Morris and McCallion of Mississauga were featured.

There were presentations to sixteen young hockey players who had won the “Silver Sticks Tournament Championship”. Each was called forward to pose for a photo with the Mayor. They had already experienced the thrill of being champions, received the trophy and carried it triumphantly home. We have a Civic Awards night in May to celebrate outstanding achievement.

Heritage Awards were presented also for the second time I gather. It seems they too had already been presented at Queen's Park. More photos were taken with the Mayor front and centre.

Then there was a video to watch. It purported to be about the dedicated work of David Tomlinson, a prominent naturalist in Aurora. The Mayor’s face and voice were heavily featured.

Afterwards, there was a lengthy discussion about Ontario Power Authority's plans to locate a Power Generating Station in Aurora. It ended at ten o'clock. Then we started on the Town's business agenda. I left about ten-thirty pm. Council and some staff wound their weary way home after midnight.

It is not an unusual scenario but by no means is it normal. Every week people appear by invitation of the Mayor to promote their particular enterprise. Sometimes presentations made in committee are repeated in council to take advantage of the television cameras.

By law, at the beginning of every term, we are required to fix and publicize the dates and times when town business will be debated and decisions made. Agendas are prepared and published on the web. Meetings commence promptly and immediately go off the rails. Usually all of two hours are spent receiving presentations from people the Mayor has encountered and invited to come and use council meetings to promote their projects...on camera.
Exiting the council chamber and going behind closed doors for forty-five minutes at the start of a public meeting is not unheard of, leaving staff, reporters, members of the public wondering if we are ever coming back.

The Mayor's voice is seldom still. The nittering and nattering continues unabated except when she calls upon Councillor MacEachern to allow herself time to breathe and ensure little participation from anyone else at the table.

It is the function of the presiding officer to move an agenda along in accordance with the rules and ensure impartial consideration by council of matters to be decided. So what is the solution when the presiding officer has a compulsion for the comfort of hearing her own voice non-stop?

The problem is made more difficult when the majority of council does not understand the pattern is weird... and growing ever weirder. Pretty soon, Alice will be too large to fit through the door.

What to do. What to do.


Anonymous said...

Evelyn, you haven't put on that much weight!

Anonymous said...

The majority of council seems to be of the opinion that your constant emails are a destructive force. It seems that your negative spin diverts members from focusing on the town's business. Yet when their concerns were placed on the agenda for a public airing you opposed the agenda from the start, then left the meeting to avoid a public discussion of your behavior. It appeared as though you were too cowardly to deal face-to-face, preferring instead to bully behind the scenes. How do you feel knowing that others must delete your words? What is the point of hurting, not helping?

Anonymous said...

A little bit of denial? I would expect a person in your position to take responsibility for their own behaviour.