Friday, February 9, 2007

Recent Letters Received...Published with Permission

Thank you Mr. Longworth for your efforts I would very much like to add my name to your petition as well as my husband and my mother.

We did not know we were going to be voting on this to begin with.

Knowing you only get about 25% turnout for elections of any kind, why would such an important question be asked in the first place?

We all get tax bills so why not include it in that and then it gets to EVERYONE.

Also the wording of the questions were not clear. Both my husband and I are University educated and I answered wrong by mistake. My mother at the age of 85 wanted to cast her vote for councilors but had no idea of what was being asked in the questions so she just didn't answer.

I am having problems with vandalism in my area and am having difficulty getting help from my WARD councilors as it is now, so what hope do I have with no ward system. I would like to help you with this issue which I feel is major.

Please let me know how to sign the petition and help out.

Josie Pascoe,

P.S. - I watched the Council meeting and was also disgusted with council members stating that they do not agree with getting rid of the Ward system but then voting to get rid of it. How can we trust these people?

Following is an Unpublished Letter to the Editor...Oshawa This Week

This is going to turn into a popularity contest only. I will not go out to vote if we have no Ward system.

Judging from news items and letters to the editor, the issue of election by ward vs. election at large is not one that is going to go away any time soon.

Councilors, many of whom have admitted voting against their better judgment, will need to caution staff not to expend too much time with the conversion, lest it be reversed.

There are times when, the voters having made a bad decision, a councilor has to do what is right and then educate the voters to his/her position in order to obtain re-election.

One point that has not been addressed is that conversion to a general vote puts an exceptional amount of power in the hands of the media.

In this day and age, politicians and CEO’s are increasingly being paid celebrity incomes rather than merit incomes.

The media are in an excellent position to give face time and recognition to specific politicians and to create, and destroy, celebrity status.

Those conditions follow increasingly when voters do not know their elected representatives personally.

Wrong decisions by councilors also follow when the councilors do not know the people they represent, whether they voted or not.

Somehow we have drifted into (by) law making using the adversarial system rather than looking for consensus. The adversarial system should remain in the law enforcement arena, not in the law making arena.

The ward system does not set one ward against another. That is kind of thinking that caters to special interests, rather than the general interest, for which council needs to strive. The ward system does allow representatives of the wards to bring the interests of the wards to the table. That having been done, the consensus of the general interest or interests of the city takes over.

Another point that needs to be made is that election at large invites even more participation of political parties into local government. It is generally accepted that election to local council needs at least the tacit support of one political party or the other.

Now that all levels of government are committed to the 4 year electoral cycle, with increasing political party involvement, we are aligning ourselves increasingly with the Republican system of the United States.

Ed Goertzen,
Oshawa, Ontario

VOTES Chairman comment 1...As Mr. Goertzen states in his item above, I think there is evidence at this early stage that we are seeing the seeds of development of political parties in Oshawa Muncipal Elections. This will be a "must" with general vote elections in a city the size of Oshawa. It will be impossible for voters to get to know all of the general vote candidates and therefore people will have to be presented "party platforms" so that elections make sense to the voter. Without party platforms, voters will not be able to make informed decisions. The City of Vancouver that has the "at large" (general) vote has approximately 10 political parties that run slates of candidates and people vote for candidates because they are part of certain slates. Of course when Oshawa had the general vote prior to 1985, the Oshawa Labour Unions selected slates of candidates and many politicians of the day kow-towed to the unions to get their blessing. One of the problems with the general vote is that it caters to the wishes of large groups and organizations at the exclusion of the interests of the individual homeowners and ratepayers. In Oshawa's history with the general vote, a question of increasing taxation levels for the Oshawa Golf Club came up to the dismay of the golfing fraternity. The result...the golf club members organized and took over city council. The result? You guessed it!

VOTES Chairman Comment 2--The author above talks about the power of the press to create/destroy celebrity status to selected politicians...The newspapers are in the business of attracting readership and increasing their circulation as advertising revenue depends upon circulation. They choose to print things that will help in this pursuit. As a result, they are more apt to print something "quotable", "outrageous", "controversial"... and not "good news" stories. Politicians realize this and their comments and behaviour will start to reflect the competition among them for press. Under the general vote, name recognition is the name of the game for electoral success, so this becomes "job 1" of general vote politicians...all at the expense of co-operative and serious work on behalf of the voters. Fixing a problem on your street is not worth one line of print and maybe only 1 or 2 votes and so this kind of work is not going to be worth the time and effort of general vote politicians who have to campaign across the city and may need 25,000 votes for election even on a poor voter turnout. Therefore, general vote politicians will only devote time and effort to big issues attracting lots of votes...but every politician will compete for recognition for doing big things...but other politicians, being competitors, will be reluctant to support things giving another politician any credit or press...the result...stagnation! That was the devastation of Oshawa's past under the general vote when city politicians would not even replace our burned out library or arena. Nothing happened in Oshawa...and so few wanted to live here. The result...the cheapest housing around...cheaper than Ajax, Pickering, Whitby and even Bowmanville and Newcastle. Because housing here didn't sell, the only new development we could attract was townhouse complexes, co-ops, and assisted housing units. Under the ward system, Oshawa has wonderful new recreation facilities throughout the city, a new university, expanded library services, tons of high quality housing, and one of the fastest growing places in Canada. Let's hope we don't turn back the hands of time to the sleepy nothingness of the past.

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