"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 26 November 2009

Apropos of Previous

People are impressed that I blog. I don't know why. All I do is log in,. bring up the page and write.It doesn't seem like a big deal. I have a steady source of info and the readers come.

The more melodramatic the events, the more people read. When I throw in an explanation of how this or that works, numbers drop. I read somewhere once, gossip is an essential function of social interaction. It keeps the lid from blowing off.

The foo-fa-ra this week about Councillor Gaertner's "Question of Privilege" is an example. The Councillor was dragooned. My tendered apology was part sympathy for her predicament.

We had yet another budget meeting on Monday night. The Mayor was sending out shards of glower power all evening. But we made steady progress. We started at 7 p.m. At ten past ten, we were winding down.

A contingency of $100ks came under discussion. Councillor Wilson expressed his opposition. I contended if we didn't have contingency for unexpected expenditures, we would end up taking money from an unintended source.

"That is not straightforward" I said. "I think that is not honest budgeting."

It was the moment the Mayor had been waiting for;

"Council's integrity has been impugned " she cried out in triumph.

" That's a Question of Privilege"

It was twenty minutes before the hour of adjournment. I decided to leave.

The Mayor was still demanding a response as I climbed the stairs
"There will be a Question of Privilege at the start of the next meeting" she proclaimed.

The Chair is normally required to recognise a Question of Privilege.

The Mayor and Councillor MacEachern have attempted twice to expel me from the Council Chamber.

On the last occasion, a team of auditors ,at our expense, were making a presentation to Council.

Councillor Mac Eachern interjected with a question about our former Mayor monitoring telephones. I challenged the relevance to the matter at hand and all hell broke loose.

The Mayor demanded I apologise to the Councillor or leave the Council Chamber.

I answered civilly and respectfully;

"No Madame Mayor I will not apologise and I will not leave the Council Chamber."

Councillor MacEachern urged that Rick be called in. Rick is our friendly security at the reception desk when Council is in session.

Then Councillor Gaertner rose from her chair and declared she would not sit at a table where the Mayor was not respected. She left and the rest followed, the Mayor calling to Councillor Granger to come too.

The auditors still stood at the podium, books and mouths open, clearly astonished by the turn of events.

With the meeting adjourned, no further business was accomplished.

Councillor Buck's expulsion from the Chamber has been a pending item ever since.

I made plans. First I thought I would lie down on the floor and warn whoever approached that to lay a finger upon my person would bring a charge of assault.

Then I realised. I can't do that. If I got down, I wouldn't be able to get back up.

I thought about handcuffing myself to the brass rail behind me and having a cell phone to call the media for photos.

Procedure allows for the police to be called to deal with disruption and disorder in the Council Chamber.

It also allows for the Chair to leave the Chair and precipitate adjournment.

What chance these two women would opt not to have the satisfaction of having me dragged kicking and screaming from the seat to which I was elected?

On Tuesday, I contemplated the possibilities. Early in the day I learned Councillor Wilson had no intention of seeking recognition for a Question of Privilege.

The Mayor had warned it was going to happen. If the Mayor intended to do it, the chair would have to be surrendered to Councillor McRoberts; who would have the authority to recognise the question ...or not.

What other possibility ? Control of the outcome rested on the question being recognised by the Mayor.

Someone else would have to be dragooned. Now we know. Councillor Gaertner was it.

Councillor Gaertner started by declaring she was unwell and hadn't wanted to be there. There was recount of an exchange from the previous Saturday at another lengthy budget meeting.and a declaration of being offended.

Rules require a Question of Privilege to be raised instantly or before any other business at the next meeting of the Council.

The Question, therefore, was out of order.

What were the chances of that argument prevailing considering the Presiding Member's previously declared intention ?

Not much, I thought. Was this the moment for a knock 'em down and drag 'er out fight ?

I had a crazy fantasy of the Mayor and Councillor Mac Eachern jumping out of their seats to haul me out of mine and propel me from the Chamber.

At best of times, I do not regard Councillor Gaertner a worthy opponent. She has no defences. This situation was clearly not of her choosing.

If it made her feel better and foiled the Mayor's intention, allowed town business to proceed, and I hadn't brought my handcuffs, and never did acquire a cell phone to maximize the opportunity, well then, I could afford to tender an apology.

High Noon could await another time.


Anonymous said...

I watched the meeting live on cable 10, and was literally jumping up and down, imploring you through the television to say "Councillor Gaertner, I am sorry that you are stupid". I am sure I was not alone. I confess to being angry with you when you chose a higher road. This post sheds much light on your reasons for doing so.

I will wait, with countless others, for Gary Cooper to make his appearance.

Anonymous said...

Good move Ev, foiling the plan of Morris and company.Ms Gaertner's cry of being belittled is laughable at best. Council's scarecrow should be apologizing to all the staff (past and present) for prolonging meetings and requesting countless clarifications
and reports.Also, those who attend council should also receive an apology as her questions sometimes border on the absurd prompting an even embarassed chairman morris to cover up the ineptitude with statements such"is there a question there?"
Sorry you had to take this one , but the good news is, less than 1 year to go.Hang in there.

Grace said...

Evelyn, your memory is very good.

I recall the night you are describing when the auditor's were there because I was still in the chair to your left. That was quite early in the term. Just goes to shows it was bad from the get go! I remember feeling horribly embarassed for the auditors and the staff.

Remember how, if the Mayor hadn't told Grainger three times to get up, we actually still had quorum and could have finished the meeting with Bob in the Chair, but Phyllis wasn't going to let that happen. It did turn out to be one of the few nights that we actually got to home before midnight though!

Luckywife said...

I hope that when she is feeling better Wendy reviews the tape from the meeting and sees what a fool she made of herself. If, as Evelyn suspects, the Mayor did coerce her into making that ridiculous speech then shame on them both and Wendy needs to make damn sure she doesn't get herself roped into a farce like that again. Admitting that she reads Ev's blog and complaining about it on tv wasn't very smart either. Love her or hate her, Evelyn has the right to speak her mind in HER blog and people certainly have the right to choose not to read it! And can somebody please tell me what bloody good an apology from Evelyn or anyone else is if it is not genuine or offered freely? Even Bob McRoberts, who in my opinion is a very polite and earnest gentleman couldn't help but snicker when he noted that they should not be making a motion for an apology! Thank you Evelyn, for not obliging Phyllis and Evelina, I'm sure it spoiled both their evenings when they missed out on the chance to expel you from the chamber. As for Wendy, she is a nice woman but as a councillor she fails to impress at the best of times, and last night was definately not one of her shining moments.

White Knight said...

The "P" in our mayor's initials should stand for "Patsy" because she sure knows how to use people as patsies.

Robert the Bruce said...

To the White Knight....

Let's be up front with this. She can use people as patsies, but the "patsy" has to allow it to happen. If someone (Ms. HotSpot) allows herself to be manipulated in this way, she deserves the patsy brand. If she had the backbone to stand up for herself, Morris would not be able to use her (or any of the others) in that way.

To make a motion to have some apologize is just stupid in the first place. An honest, meaningful apology has to be unsolicited. Otherwise the apology sounds just like Anonymous on 11/26 2:25pm says "Councillor Gaertner, I am sorry that you are stupid".

I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the campaign literature that will coming next year from the incumbants. I am sure it will have to filed in the fiction section of the library.


Luckywife said...

To: Robert the Bruce
I agree with you Robert, Gaertner allowed herself to be used by the Mayor in the Hang, Draw and Quarter Evelyn Buck campaign she has been waging. I have even pondered that the Mayor chose this for her simply as a form of punishment for making them all suffer through another lengthy explanation of the tax rate calculations. There is no way that Evelyn was the only one frustrated by that, she has been on council for seven years, nobody should cut her any slack, if she doesn't get it by now she never will! I've got to hand it to Ev though, she played this one perfectly, foiled their plans by actually saying sorry but not being sorry. In the end the Mayor looks like a tyrant, Gaertner a dumb sycophant. The Mayor may be able to manipulate the public record at will but she can't change what we all saw and heard!