Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Essence of Leadership

I am amazed at how naively Oshawa This Week editorialists (pg 6. January 19, 2007 editorial) accept Oshawa Councilor’s “spin” that they “grudgingly felt obliged to vote to eliminate Oshawa’s Ward System” when most of them stated publicly in Council that they didn’t think it was best for Oshawa but they would vote for it anyway because of the plebiscite result on the question in the recent municipal elections.

This raises the question, “Is the essence of good leadership voting for something you say you don’t support and know to be wrong for Oshawa? Is this the kind of leadership we can expect from this council? I don’t think any Oshawa taxpayer wants this kind of leadership. The Oshawa taxpayer’s expect and deserve politicians who vote for what they know to be right. If they don’t think Oshawa should abandon the ward system, there is only one way to vote on the issue. Politicians who vote for what they know to be wrong deserve neither our respect nor our vote.

The staff report stated that “no clear mandate has been established with respect to changing the current system of election of councilors by ward to general vote” which should have been the dominant input to council decision making. Instead, quite apart from the spin councilors are trying to put on it, they voted purely out of self interest to adapt a system that virtually guarantees them a lifetime seat on council…a system that serves them rather than the citizens of Oshawa. Every step of the strategy toward a return to the general vote has been driven by politicians without a whimper of concern with the present system ever being raised by the taxpayers

Interestingly, at the same council meeting, councilors argued to work to preserve ward voting for the vacant trustee seat on the Durham District School Board because they want to insure Oshawa’s representation as they know that Oshawa’s voice on the school board is not guaranteed without ward voting. Too bad they didn’t apply these same principles to guaranteed representation for all parts of Oshawa as under the general vote, all representation will migrate to a few sections of the city leaving much of the city disenfranchised as happened under Oshawa’s previous general vote councils.

An interesting sidebar to council “In-Camera” discussion leading up to the council vote on wanting to adapt the general vote arose when one councilor asked, “How we divide the council workload in handling taxpayer issues under the general vote?” “That’s easy,” said an obviously more astute councilor, “We’ll simply put all of our names in a hat and draw to see who will be assigned to look after the problems arising in the various wards.”

Fortunately for Oshawa, this issue will be resolved by the OMB and retaining ward voting will be a “slam dunk” for my group. Unfortunately, taxpayers will have to foot the bill as some of our unprincipled politicians work to preserve their own electoral interests. To me, this seems to be the ultimate “conflict of interest”.


Anonymous said...

The fact that some councillors have very little support within their wards as evidenced by the election results and absolutley no support or respect outside their ward leads me to believe that some who try to stop a general vote possibly may have a conflict of interest. It may be and hopefully will be the end to the political careers of some of the more useless self serving politicians on Council.

If Councillors did not want to abolish the Ward system they should not have asked the question.

Remember, be careful what you ask for! You may just get it.

To keep with the City motto. "Prepare to be amazed". Living in Oshawa not a day goes by when I am not amazed by the antics of our Councillors.

Inquiring people want to know said...

I read this same message on the other website about this issue.

Why does the poster hide behind anonymity instead of posting his name? Is the poster a member of Council or one of their election workers?

marty said...

Of course Nicholson is against a general vote. He knows full well that without the protection afforded him by the ward system he would be out of a job on Council. The people have voted, Council has voted so lets get on with it. Next election should and will be a general election.


"Anonymous" although probably quite a smart individual, is mistaken about voter's ability to remove "useless" councillors under the ward vs general vote. He/she, although writing very intelligently, reflects the knowledge possessed by most voters on this complicated issue. In point of fact, it is far easier to target and remove a "useless councillor under ward voting. In Oshawa's general vote experience from the time Durham Region was formed to the 1985 election only one "general vote" incumbent was defeated at the polls. Perpetually top polling Local Councillor, Cy Elsey, ran regionally and defeated perpetually lowest polling regional council, John McLaughlin. All other change on council took place through death or resignation. So if citizens want the opportunity to remove useless politicians, they should support ward voting where electoral success depends upon service to the ward voters. Under the general vote, electoral success depends upon high name recognition and so "Job One" for general vote politicians is to grandstand, bitch and bicker fighting for press coverage. Because every general vote politician is also a "competitor" for votes with every other politician on the council, the entire council turns out to be very fractious and argumentative all at the expense of productive work for this city. When Oshawa got the ward vote in 1985, about half the general vote council was defeated under the ward vote. Also half of the general vote council lived in the city's ward 6 and 3 council members lived in one polling subdivision in ward 3 leaving most areas of the city without any representation on council.