Our sometimes friend Mr. Becker has posted a lengthy article on the mayor’s tendency to exercise authority he does not have . Mr. Becker calls this tyranny.
For those lazier than we are we offer here a summary adding a few comments of our own.
Mr. Becker raises again the question of the CAO’s contract and asks who authorised the generous terms. Was this a decision made by the Mayor alone? Was the Council involved? If so why is there no record in the minutes that Mr. Becker can find (even after requesting documents under the Freedom of Information Act)? Was the decision made improperly “in caucus” “in camera” to give the mayor carte blanche to negotiate the contract? [This is not an unimportant question of course, because it may mean that the CAO is in a position of considerable obligation to the mayor personally.] And Mr. Becker asks why his questions on this point have never been answered.
As a second incident Mr Becker cites the notorious letter written to staff during the municipal election campaign complaining of criticism of his administration by candidates for office, which many considered a campaigning letter although it was written -inappropriately it is thought- on Town letterhead, copied 2000 times and distributed via the Post Office using -presumably-Town (ie taxpayer) resources. While the letter said the mayor was speaking “on behalf of Council and staff” it is extremely unlikely either Council or staff -other than the CAO-had any part in approving it, in fact the staff seemed quite taken aback when it was read to them .
The third incident Mr. Becker cites is the Mayor’s foray into the cheap drinks issue when he singled out the Anvil in the press, inaccurately, as the culprit in town when other establishments also had cheap drinks on offer. Mr. Becker suggests the mayor was jumping solo on the provincial anti-cheap drinks bandwagon for his own reasons rather than with the intent of really solving any drinking problems in Town. Mr. Becker wonders again whether he had Council’s backing in this overture. [We can impart that the issue of cheap drinks was raised at a Council meeting- Oct. 15, 2007- but by residents, who complained vociferously about problems in town due to over drinking. Little happened at this time. Whether Council subsequently suggested that the mayor write this specific letter to the Premier is doubtful.]
Mr. Becker’s fourth instance is the mayor’s discussion of various plans in the works – the “Town Centre” plan, the Facade Renovation plan, and the Central Ave. pedestrian walkway plan. He asks whether these were ever discussed in public meetings or approved in Council. We can answer that they were discussed and a motion approved according to the Minutes of the Economic and Community Development Public Advisory committee mtg of April 11 2006 and that committee presumably came to Council with a recommendation to pursue them. Whether townspeople will have had sufficient input into these proposals and whether we can afford them is another question. We believe these plans are in this year’s budget. It is very true that the mayor speaks of these plans as if they were a fait accompli, and were definitely going to happen rather than things that might happen at Council’s and the public’s discretion. That is typical.
We hope we have done Mr. Becker’s post justice. To see for yourself, read his version.
Part of the mayor’s problem is that he speaks of things decided by the collective as if they were his ideas alone, and his decisions alone, taking credit for actions which rightly belong to Council. The irony is he thinks this make him look good when in fact it has the opposite effect to right thinking people. OR, perhaps it is true and he controls everything in what some would call Harperish fashion. Either way it doesn’t look good.
Quote of the day:
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”