"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

Thursday 1 May 2008

Democracy or Not

A special Meeting was held last night to declare Grace Marsh's seat vacant. The agenda listed the decision as to how it would be filled. I moved the motion to declare the vacancy and call a by-election.

The decision was a majority of four to three in favour. Then the Mayor voted to create a deadlock. So the question remained. A new motion was put forward to fill the seat by appointment. It was deferred for a legal opinion.

The Procedure Bylaw became the issue. It was interpreted, at the Mayor's coaching that once a vote had been taken the issue could not be raised again for six months. I challenged that. The Bylaw intends once a decision is made, the question can not be raised again until six months have elapsed. A tie vote is a non-decision.

When a vote results in a tie it is deemed to be defeated. That is deadlock. The question remains to be decided. The Municipal Act requires a decision to be made within sixty days. Therefore the matter is still pending and still open.

The deadlock derived from the Mayor's vote demonstrates why the question must be decided promptly if council is to function properly. An odd number of councillors are needed for a decision-making body.

For the Mayor's vote to be used to create a deadlock completely undermines the functional structure of the decision-making body that is Council. The Mayor's vote is intended to break deadlock not create it. The only time the Speaker of either senior legislative body votes is in the event of a tie.

That's how it always was until some minion at Queen's Park, clearly lacking in comprehension of the practical application, changed the regulations to require the Mayor to vote on every question.

On Monday, councillors received a steady flow of emails favouring a by-election. None favoured appointment.

Susan Walmer was at the meeting in the evening as was John Gallo (runner-up in the last election). Ms Walmer was widely credited for the election of the Mayor and a slate of candidates in 2006. Mr. Gallo was the losing candidate and I believe one of the slate, who called the morning after the election and asked me to step aside and let him have my seat. Apparently he doesn't think much of the voters right to choose.

On Tuesday morning early, there were two identical emails favouring appointment. There have been none since.

If I am reading reaction to Grace Marsh's resignation right, the community strongly favours the right to choose her replacement. Between now and the next council meeting. May 5th, there needs to be a resounding clamour of voices that makes no bones about it.

Aurora deserves the best. Don't settle for less.

If you would like to voice your opinion to All Councillors and the Mayor - the email address to use is allcouncillors@e-aurora.ca


Heather said...

I'm DEFINITELY in support of a by-election. What about the residents that voted for Grace Marsh? Shouldn't they get to choose again? As Cllr Collins-Mrakas pointed out at the meeting on April 21 - there was already something in print presented to the councillors regarding appointing candidate #9.

We know how many people voted for Grace Marsh, and we know how many people voted for John Gallo - she outnumbered him at the polls where the people were given a choice.

I don't believe anyone should take that choice away from the people this time around either.

By-election all the way! (Tell all your friends!)

Anonymous said...

By-election, please. Too much time has passed since the last election.

Anonymous said...

I hear it was Madame Buck herself who accepted an appointment, to be Mayor no less, some years ago. Interesting how she views appointments when they don't serve her.

Yes we need an appointment of John Gallo.

And yes, Madame Buck, we need a Code of Ethics.

Heather said...

The last comment reads "Interesting how she views appointments when they don't serve her."

I think the difference is that at the time Evelyn Buck was 'appointed' Mayor - she had already been elected Deputy Mayor (ie, top of the polls on the councillor side).

Anonymous said...

i read all about this in the banner. i think the people should choose. we did not choose Jon Gallo in the election and i think we should be able to choose who we want on council.

i read that phlylis morris wants to crack down and keep everyone under control by not being polite. isn't that just the silliest thing you ever read?

Anonymous said...

Why would the Public Want an appointment? There are a few people on council that I think should resign, but Mrs. Marsh wasn't one of those.

I think we need another election. That way we can choose who we want. Maybe someone new can bring something new to the council. If you don't want an election of new people at least let the public vote to choose who gets appointed!!!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, at this point, I must remain anonymous..it is a sad fact that there are some very vindictive people on council, and my comments would be an excuse to further some of this vindictiveness.

We need a by-election. While it is a reasonable position that the 9th person be appointed to replace former Councillor Marsh, it is no coincidence that this position is being pushed by Mayor Morris as Joe Gallo is one of her, ah, supporters. If, for example, Tim Jones had been number 9, I suspect the push would be for a by-election.

There are a number of issues to be recognized here - the biggest one is that his council is more disfunctional than the last. Why appoint someone who is just going to add to this?

And, in the spirit of "open and transparent" governance, why was a by-law to appoint a replacement already to go prior to to the special council meeting?

Further, why was Stephen Granger telling people at the Bob Hartwell Marathon that Joe Gallo would be the new / next councillor, one day before the special council meeting.

How does all this translate to "open and transparent" governance?

It doesn't - so let's get on with the by-election.

Anonymous said...

Hey May 5th 2008 "anonymous",

The name is John Gallo not Joe Gallo.

What does a pig that feeds from a public trough look like?

What I have noticed - this Council does not offer any “freebies”, no "giveaways" and no "deals" for their pals, obviously caused some to grow desperate and hungry.

No need to panic, your fearless leader may become a Federal MP and "giveaways" may start flowing. The effect, at the Federal level it may be less than 1 cent on the $1 (of my money) at the Municipal level it might be more like 14 cents on the $1 (of my money). Don’t panic it may happen soon.