"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

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Bringing This Comment to the Top

"Anonymous" posted the following comment to my "Navel Gazing" blog. I have added my response below the comment:


Permit me to ramble a bit.....

I did not vote for you last time (I only voted for people that I wanted on council so if memory serves, I voted for 3 people). However, given the make up of the council, it's a good thing you are there to at least be the "senate" with the crew in place.

I can't imagine anyone in this group going out to a mess hall to hoist a pint after a meeting. It would require an ethics test first and who knows, an amendment to the code of conduct would have to be drafted.

I had high hopes for a couple members of council (Marsh and McRoberts). I think their potential is huge but they have a hard time to compete with the "wackos" around the table.

While I know it is a person's right in this country (unless Mayor Morris has taken it away) to express an opinion in public, I have a hard time when a councillor (you or any other) writes a letter to the editor of a local paper. This is especially true if the letter is dealing with an issue that was discussed at council. On the surface, it appears as sour grapes, but the reality is, unless another councillor rebuts it, it gives you (or whomever writes it) the "last word" on the subject. I feel that the place to discuss council issues is in the council chamber only.

Your blog is a great vehicle to express your opinion too. As long as it is used to discuss issues that follow the same guidelines.

I understand why Mayor Morris brought in the lawyer to look at the "leak". I would hope that she would do the same thing if any other councillor had a blog or letter that potentially compromised privelege. I somehow doubt though if Councillor MacEachren wrote a blog entry about something in council, she would receive the same unfair treatment as you.

I also have a hard time reading letters to the Editor coming from former councillors (Mr. Kean especially). He clearly has not gotten over the fact that he came in third in a two-person race for Mayor and his campaign for the next time began the day after the election. Letters to the Editor for him are free advertising. However, he (and Mr. Hogg) are civilians now, and they have the same rights as everyone else.

I had given thought to running for council last time, but given the number of candidates, I thought it would water down the vote - I was right. But watching council today, I think I would be very much like you. I like to adhere to the rules of procedure. I also like to empower the people that have a certain job. If staff has reported on an issue, why the constant referral back to staff or trying to get the Mayor involved in the process - these people are paid for a reason. I would only speak to a topic if I felt it was required. I can't count how many times I see a member want to speak to a topic but only to say "I will be supporting this motion". Who cares, that's what the vote is for. These guys are only looking for TV time. I also feel council is a venue for the town's business. There is no need to pat each other on the back for jobs well done. That is why you are there - to get the job done.

Thanks for the opportunity to rant. Keep up the blog, but try to (I know you won't) tone down the Letters to the Editor.

And my comment:

Thank you for your thoughtful comment and your support. I understand your reservations about letters to the editor from council members. There are arguments pro and con.I know them all. As a practising politician,I have to respond to the exigencies of circumstances , if only to keep my end up. My supporters expect it of me and I need them as much as they need me. I do not sit alone in that council seat. The people who put me there are with me always.

My last Blog morphed into a letter to the editor. It need not have happened The Force decided to place a couple of my emails on council's agenda for the purpose of finding fault. I objected to that. I had no intention of submitting to the carping critics. I responded in the Kangaroo Court Blog to the points made during the histrionics.They keep making the same assumption that I am helpless and harmless.

To function effectively, a council needs to have an opportunity for informal dialogue. We should be able to throw half-formed ideas across the table and consider every possibility. We are the only level of government which doesn't have that flexibility. We may be the only council in the region to interpret the legislation so rigidly as to deny ourselves that opportunity. The Internet restores that which has been lost. Tossing ideas across the wires is an excellent alternative. We already have a ton more meetings than are necessary or useful.

The one we didn't have which was critical was the weekend orientation gathering at the beginning of the term. Its purpose is to bring new councillors together with staff and experts to put them into the picture on the state of the nation, so-to-speak. The Mayor made sure that didn't happen, although I understand she has already attended a couple herself at the Region.

Obviously my opinion is not shared. Heavens to Betsy that can't be allowed. Councillors cannot be subject to the influence of each other. That is not what The Coalition of Ratepayers and The Sports Coalition intended when they worked so hard to elect their respective slates and were successful with at least five of their picks.

We have thirty-two months of this term left. There is serious work to be done. We can do it together as a nine member council and staff or we can go on as we are. Whatever the choice, I will continue to keep people informed by whatever means available to me.. I made no pledges to special interest groups in the last election.

You mentioned "the leak" that caused the Mayor to retain legal counsel. The issue related to an offer by York Regional Police to purchase, at the appraised value, a parcel of land we had for sale The offer was for the purpose of building new Regional Police Headquarters in Aurora. The request was refused on September 11th. The news story app
eared in November. How long does anyone imagine a secret like that can be kept? Had it been reported out as it should have been, there would have been no secret to leak. It has still not been reported out. In fact at one point, it was denied by a councillor in a letter to the editor.

Do you my friend, have any curiosity about what the lawyer retained by the Mayor came up with at taxpayers' expense at the end of "the investigation"? That was never reported out either.Nor was the cost.

We have four councillors who continue to think for themselves and vote independently. They include Councillors McRoberts, Marsh, Collins-Mrakas and myself. Every councillor puts an enormous amount of time and effort into the job. What separates us are the decisions we make and the way they are made. I can only answer for myself. I think Aurora expects the best and deserves no less
you again for taking the time to express your thoughts on the situation. . It's good to be able
to give and take like this.

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