Let’s communicate

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Let’s communicate

On June 7/10, I attended a town council meeting in which the consultant presented the final version of the public participation and engagement plan… (Let’s finally admit we have a communication problem in Wolfville… among other things.. we can call it INDIFFERENCE)  … as a resident of Wolfville I will be supporting this effort by “OUR” municipality to communicate… with the understanding that this document Is Not “ABSOLUTE” – like others have stated during this meeting concerning this document… it is a “continuing work in process”. I am all for communication which = Dialogue in this context.
However, there are a few things I would like to mention concerning this particular meeting…

1st. Social media in the form of face-book, twitter & you tube were mentioned as possible forums of communication the town could explore… this is ALL well & good if it is IN ADDITION to other forms of communication. No tunnel-vision by focusing on computers alone… u limit the output of your information by communicating with ONLY those few who can afford to be connected to the internet. Again, the town may not want to hear this “BUT” do not forget that in “reality”… the real world that is… we have a class system in Wolfville… I know this maybe an easy reality for some to forget. But, we do want to reach as many community members as possible… right??

2nd. I put forward on a number of occasions including the last workshop the idea of utilizing Community Broadcast Television – LOCAL TV. By installing camera(s) in chambers, the citizens of Wolfville who can not for whatever reason get to our town council meetings would be able to watch the proceedings on their television “Channel 5”. Other municipalities have used this means of communication successfully to reach their community members. Mr. Zimmerman was quick to jump on this idea when the consultant mentioned it in her summary via comments from the workshop. Mr. Zimmerman focused on the negative aspect of this venue as a means for GRAND STANDING. Let me ask whom Mr. Zimmerman was referring to??? I was under the impression by his comments that he was talking about his fellow councillors using television to Grand Stand… excluding HIMSELF I am sure… Forget about the fact that this is a means of communication that would help reach the people of Wolfville with the agenda and council discussions. What’s more important? And we must be such simple minded people that we could not possibly recognize Grand Standing for what it is if we saw it on television for ourselves. Right….. Because Mr. Zimmerman was quick to tear down Community Broadcasting for his own reason, I am willing to compromise …. (as a Wolfville resident who believes in communication and reaching the PEOPLE with pertinent information from Town Council, information that affects us all whether home-renter or home-owner in one way or another) and suggest an alternative if not television then at least consider “Community Radio”… perhaps a less intrusive mode of communication to start with.
At this time I will also take this opportunity to comment on something else I witnessed at this council meeting… I do not understand why it was that every time one of the new councillors asked a question… or wanted an explanation or clarification on something (like they did at this meeting as well as others I’ve attended)… Mr. Zimmerman was so quick to jump in or rather jump on them… (I recognize the professor role that continuously takes over, but this is not Mr. Zimmerman’s classroom) Mr. Zimmerman’s explanation was condescending. His lecture and gestures was as if his fellow councillors should not ask the question or that they were projected as stupid for wanting clarification… or wanting more time for discussion to better understand something… I do not understand Mr. Zimmerman’s attitude.
And furthermore… why Mr. Zimmerman would try to engage and or verbally attack a member of the audience as he did during this meeting… …was it a form of reprimand because he knew the audience and or this particular person was not allowed to speak or to partake in his venting… Why the Chair or someone did not step in and say ENOUGH….??? (and as an Elected Official frustration is no excuse) … although I must say his outburst was a good example of municipal monologue… he targeted one person in the audience and on another occasions two people have been signaled out in the audience… these are Wolfville citizens by the way… those whom Mr. Zimmerman considers obnoxious… (Mr. Zimmerman once gave as an analogy by example that if they-the obnoxious were in his class they would have been physically removed… if that’s how one/some of his students were treated in his class I ask… where is the learning in that???? )…. And regardless of what some municipal representatives may THINK… there are OTHER community members along with these two who want answers or rather shared information about various concerns from this municipality. Lest they forget this is “OUR” municipality…. some may not think so, but this municipality does answer to the people of Wolfville… ALL Wolfville residents. I know Mr. Zimmerman has done good things for his community and continues to… but in chambers during this and other council meetings his methods of sharing his wisdom leave a lot to be desired.
3rd. The question period or call it a community discussion if you wish… Regardless if it takes place at the middle or the end of the council meeting the question is… Will it be part of the recorded minutes??? If after the fact (after adjournment), again…  Will it be recorded as an attachment to the minutes?? During this time… Will the councillors be required to stay or allow to scurry off?? These are questions I hope the town considers before their final decision in this matter.
Lastly, citizens SELECTED to contribute information was also mentioned during this meeting… whether these are committees or working projects… maybe as a municipality your SELECTION should be RANDOM… like a lottery… where the municipality and staff has no stake or influence in whose chosen or who gets those coveted invitations that were mentioned.
Thank u for allowing me to express my opinion on these matters. As a Wolfville resident I appreciate your consideration. judoth aro.

3 responses to “Let’s communicate

  1. I wonder what percentage of ratepayers are not connected via computer or some other electronic device that interfaces to the web? (I couldn’t find the answer in “Wolfvilles Vital Signs 2009”.) It is interesting that every budget seems to have about $10+k for the Valley Community Fibre Network (VCFN).
    I see that VCFN is ready for “commercial customers”. There is a certain irony in view of the comment by Judoth which seems to suggest that not all ratepayers can afford to be connected… yet are required to subsidize a special few who have a premier connection. Will VCFN eventually return a dividend to ratepayers if/whenever it starts turning a profit?

    Judoth raises a good point about the SELECTION of citizens who might be permitted to present “information”. When the politicians and bureaucrats select the information, it’s called propaganda….

    Anyone should be able to have a say and access information — in whatever way is convenient. Any document in a digital format can be printed! Computers should be used to give everyone more options, not fewer.

    Good luck, I can’t fathom the mysterious workings of Wolfville. Still, just so long as Mr Zimmerman knows it all, perhaps the rest of us don’t have to…

    • We wondered about the value (to townspeople) of the Town’s contribution to the fibre optic network at the time as it was said NOT meant to compete with commercial providers but would benefit large institutions ie Acadia, Municipal offices and hospitals. Kentville did not contribute as we recall.
      2006! Geez – we’ve been at this too long.

  2. William Zimmerman

    1st: I couldn’t agree more with this point.

    2nd: There is currently no Community Broadcast Television. I have participated in the community radio experiment and always been a supporter of such efforts including the CapCast project. I am just not sure that broadcasting council meetings is really “communicating” and I certainly wouldn’t want council meetings to descend to the level of Question Period in Parliament.

    With respect to my engagement with Mr. Becker, at least now I know that he doesn’t believe anything I say so there isn’t much point in speaking with him.

    By the way, I answer to the people of Wolfville all the time. I have a button that says “Let’s talk…” but found in unnecessary to wear it! In fact Ms. Aro, we have had several conversations over the past months and I would like to think that I have listened to what you had to say with great care. I hope you have at least found me thoughtful in my comments.

    One point of clarification: The example I gave of an “obnoxious” (I think I normally say disruptive) student being ejected from class is actually a statement that it is not up to us as a council (or me as a professor) to remove the individual. It was in fact a case where the “community” (fellow students) decided that enough was enough – their learning was being disrupted so much that THEY removed their colleague.

    Our (my) responsibility is to make every effort to communicate. It is up to the community to decide how to deal with the disruptive behaviour that inhibits communication.

    Lastly: To carry this proposal to it’s logical conclusion, why not select councillors at random instead of electing them.