"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 27 April 2008

The Great Campaign

There has been a flurry these last few days and I don't mean precipitation. The Mayor is on the attack. Staff received an email seeking information or confirmation of talk the town had legal costs because of action taken by residents in which I was named as the cause.

If there was substance to the "talk" I knew nothing of it. It would be odd to be party to legal action in the circumstance. But the possibility intrigued me. If a house can be stolen out from under, maybe a person can be a party to la law suit and not be aware.

Last Wednesday, after a Planning Meeting the Mayor announced a Special Emergency Meeting to discuss potential liability to the town from legal action as a result of what happened at Tuesday's Council Meeting.

That's a subject for another Blog.

Following the in-camera meeting, in a public space, the Mayor was heard shrieking abuse at Councillor Grace Marsh. It's a familiar routine to associates and positively horrendous.

"How dare you!"
"Don't you dare!"

Accusations of perfidy and transgression abound.

The other routine is the extended baleful glare.

It is not rational discourse. No logical response is possible. Grace Marsh, the epitome of grace and dignity resigned her seat the next day. She gave no reason but those favoured to regularly witness or be a target of the histrionics can readily understand.

In response to an email from myself expressing my concern about the haste to make a decision about filling the vacancy. I stated expressions of regret to staff about Councillor Marsh's resignation have a hollow ring to those who know the circumstances.

An email response from the Mayor advised me that for my own good I should stop sending negative emails.

There is a weird perception among some current councillors that their actions should not be subject to critique. Criticism for positions taken and/or their rationale should never be allowed.

"She must be stopped", one councillor has been heard to lament. Councillor MacEachern has suggested has suggested I should stay at home.

This group has no comprehension of the shared authority of a council.

Though the freedom of our elections can allow it to happen, it is not anticipated an amorphous blob will form a municipal council. It is why we do not have the division of the party system of politics at the local level. It is the reason nine members take their separate seats.

That's what forms the substance of openness and transparency. It served our community well long before there were Regulations or Codes of Ethics.

At no time in history has the phrase Openness and Transparency had more meaning than the Age of The Blog. No Councillor is ever powerless with this magical tool of communication.

The Mayor and her faithful acolytes are having trouble dealing with the new reality.. That's tough.
It is here to stay for those who wish to use it. . Politicians would be wise to govern themselves accordingly. It may not be a camera watching and recording every action, but it surely is the next best thing.

I sent the following letter to my former colleague ., Grace Marsh:

Good Morning Grace

I know you decided to be a candidate because you thought you could make a contribution. I encouraged you. It was the same reason I decided in 2003 to try to restore the lost dignity and order to Aurora Council; an institution I regard as the most important in the life of the community.

I know when you began to have doubts and fear that on balance, frustration might be far greater than satisfaction. The time away from your family kept growing and productivity steadily diminished.

I know when one councillor did his yelling jag you were deeplyoffended.. It was especially difficult because of your own innate sense of dignity and civility. Under no other circumstance would you choose such an association.

When it happened a second time, you were quiet for weeks afterwards. I felt you were struggling with a decision. You felt both honoured and humbled by being chosen to serve the community in the last election.You said so on the night of The Inaugural. Now you were fighting the realisation you might not be able to continue to serve.

I know the issue of a contribution to capital reserves in the budget could have given you the professional incentive to think it might still be worthwhile. Then to watch the manipulation as it was jerked this way and that and finally removed would be another hope vanquished.

I heard about the yelling and shrieking abuse on Wednesday night. I did not have to be there to know the words. I was afraid it would be the last straw for you.
When I received your message I was devastated but not surprised. I know how hard it was for you to break your commitment. I also knew you had reached a point of no return.

So, waste no more time grieving than you must my friend. Do not believe your experience was typical. The current term of Aurora Council is a gross aberration of how it should be.....

It was never thus.And it may not be again.

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