Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sound familiar?

H/T to Councillor Halberstadt for the link to Municipal World Magazine:
Believing Every Issue Needs Unanimity

Democracy is not well served by the search for unanimity on a council. Some of the most successful councils have very heated debates on the key issues and resolve such matters by a 5-4 vote. While the mayor may view the matter as very significant, there is nothing to suggest that the issue should result in everyone seeing the issue the same way.

If, after the council has heard all the evidence and still decides the matter by a narrow margin, it may well be that the community as a whole would, if exposed to the same arguments vote in a similar fashion. It is my view that the best councils, like hockey games, are unpredictable in nature, given the propensity of most leaders to see the world somewhat differently.

The key to successful mayoral leadership is the recognition that the key issues were fully debated, the public view was heard, and the majority decided the result. Those matters that do receive the support of all members of council are often quite straight forward or are of a housekeeping nature. It is seldom that a council resolves contentious matters by a unanimous vote. The mayor should not be perturbed by the failure of council to agree unanimously to any matter but, rather, maintain focus on the course ahead.
How many 5 to 4 votes on any issue can you recall at Windsor Council over the last 11 months? Key issues debated, the public heard?

In Windsor, the appearance seems to be the exact opposite. Procedural maneuvering, committees/sub-committees debating issues out of the public eye and without public input or scrutiny, items buried in the consent agenda, stifling of public input, lectures for Councillors when questions are asked, verbal reports in-camera ... the list is long. Every time a Councillor "steps out of line" it seems to generate another edition of the "Cheerleader Chronicles".

How much longer are we to endure this Kumbya council voting 10 - 0 or 9-1 on issue after issue?

I am looking forward to Councillor Postma voting against the budget if it doesn't produce a 0% tax increase. She was well quoted last year as saying that there wouldn't be any tax increase as a result of building the new arena. Since then we've had an 86% increase in our utilities bill, with another hefty increase due next year. Council is currently examining a budget with a recommended increase of 3.6% plus a further 1% levy. Wow, if that's Councillor Postma's definition of no increase in taxes, I shudder to think of what she classifies an increase!