As an update to our recent post which referred to the local paper’s “report” on the June 22 Budget meeting, we direct our readers to Lutz Becker’s latest writing on VoW which refers to the mayor’s closing comments at that meeting. Here are a few excerpts – without, we hope, stealing his thunder.
Listening to the recording of the June 22nd Special Council Meeting and taking certain parts down verbatim, I found that Mr. Stead did not use Ms. Elliott’s freely invented word “disparagement”. The Mayor did not speak in general terms – as Ms. Elliott describes it in her article – but related to comments received regarding the Hospice issue only, quoting them in his very personal opinion as “uneducated”, “inappropriate” and “unfair”.
Covering this “motivational” speech of Mr. Stead at the end of the meeting, there are three very questionable parts that got my attention.
The first one is Mr. Stead’s sentence: “What we have expressed over and over again and the budget will reflect that, we are not prepared to see the character of the Town changed for reasons that in our opinion or estimation are not sufficiently good”. …
Mr. Becker has several comments about this statement, the most notable being this one:
In my opinion the “character” of this Town has deteriorated drastically during the too-long Mayor-ship of Mr. Stead. As just one example I would like to refer to the “Railtown monstrosity” built on a flood plain. As another one I would like to draw the attention of the reader to the fact that I was able to count 14 empty business locations on Main Street alone lately.
We have to concur. If Mr. Stead has been the protector of the Town’s character he has failed miserably. To us the RESIDENTS in their activities determine the character of a town. The Council and Staff’s job is to provide an even handed environment that allows residents to engage in those activities with a minimum of interference. This includes cultural activities, recreation, and yes, business. Taxing businesses to extinction does not build a town’s character. And you can’t tax trees and planters.
Secondly, Mr. Stead went on to say “..there are enough of us at the table that are prepared to support those things that we think protect the integrity of the Town while at the same time committing ourselves to frugality..”. [emph. ours]
Mr. Becker has questions about this statement. So do we. What is integrity of the Town? The integrity of Staff? Of Councillors? Does Mr. Stead imply that there are those at the table who are NOT prepared to protect the “integrity” of the Town? If so we would like him to name names. And who is the WE he refers to? The same “we” who have shown themselves NOT to be committed to frugality for the past 2 terms?
The third point covers Mr. Stead’s statement that the whole budget process (without the public being allowed to ask questions at all) had been teambuilding as well and that he hoped “..that we are now at a point where in fact we are ready and able to operate as a team of seven..”.
Mr. Becker rightly suggests that this is not a hope we as residents should have if this means that new members of Council are now on side with Mr. Stead’s “we” team. A mayor should expect differences of opinion around the table as this more likely represents the divergent views of townspeople. The whole point is to work out these differences to the satisfaction of all. This is something previous Councils have not even tried to do as far as we could see. Instead it was assumed residents agreed with them whole hog when they clearly did not.
To us the mayor’s closing remarks at this meeting were beneath his office.