We didn’t witness the incidents mentioned in this second submission by Lutz Becker but don’t find them hard to believe as we have seen and heard similar incidents in the the past. We are copying Mr. Becker’s piece in full as we received it.
Behavioural Problems at the Council table?
On January 04, 2010 during the official QUESTION PERIOD at the Committee of Council meeting Mayor Stead tried and succeeded in “shutting up” a Wolfville resident in the audience, who wanted to ask a question.
As always, Mayor Stead allowed the audience to ask questions to issues only which were not on the Agenda for the particular meeting. Public participation is limited, for the audience has to be quiet and listen to the discussions at the Council table. The public cannot interact with questions to contribute to the subject.
When the resident indicated that he would like to ask a question, Mayor Stead made it clear that he would allow the question only if he judged it helpful, constructive and reflecting the representation of a builder advancing the interests of the Town. “We are a little bit tired of the other approach” Stead said, and it is very interesting that he sees himself as a pluralistic person.
Due to this aggressive attitude of Mayor Stead, the resident “swallowed” his question at this point in time and as far as I know, he is in the process of writing a complaint to the Ombudsman of Nova Scotia. Stead’s outburst could be interpreted as a violation of the Charter Rights as well.
I regard this outburst of Mayor Stead as an insult to this resident and all Wolfville residents and expect a public apology. Mayor Stead’s behaviour has to be taken in context with the Town’s repeated intention to increase communication and public participation. All Councillors and the two hired $15,000.00-expensive consultants showed no reaction to Stead’s outburst. At least one of the Councillors apologized to the resident later on.
I have no problem to state firmly that at all public meetings I attended I have never ever heard a resident’s question not being helpful, constructive and/or advancing the interests of Wolfville tax payers. Town officials and the general public should be grateful for all of these residents who show up at the public meetings and ask questions.
Is Mayor Stead stressed out and unable to cope with his emotions?
If this behavioural incident at the Council table had been the only one lately, I would have let it pass without writing about it.
But during the last Council meeting in 2009 the same resident had asked why the reason for Councilman Zimmerman’s excuse from the table during a motion regarding a decision in favour of Habitat for Humanity was not documented in the Minutes. This documentation is required in the Municipal Government Act. Mr. Zimmerman quoted the question of the resident “a colossal waste of time” before he then explained that he is somehow in a committee function with Habitat for Humanity. In addition I was told that at the end of a public meeting at the Wolfville School last year Mr. Zimmerman had used a much worse language while addressing another concerned Wolfville resident with the words: “You are full of sh**”.
I hope and wish that these incidents will not create nor project a new style on how to behave as elected public officials. Maybe, a kindergarten course could achieve behavioural improvement or Wolfville residents should call our Council “Comedy-Council” if its strategic goal of increasing communication and public participation is treated and acted on as nothing but a joke.
Lutz E. Becker / January 09, 2010
The mayor doesn’t like being “verbally stoned” by questions or criticism and yet he seems to practice this himself; residents who are on the other end of his barbs certainly must feel bruised.
There is a saying which is pertinent: “If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.” [And Puhleeze don’t suggest this is a sexist comment. Men are chefs too!]