Sunday, February 18, 2007

The School Yard Bully at Work

The following is the actual transcript of a portion of the Feb. 5, 2007 Oshawa City Council debate on a Councillor Nicholson motion having to do with communication for a public meeting on a change from ward voting to a general vote for the election of city council …you couldn’t write a better TV show--this is real entertainment, unfortunately all of the motions having to do with this issue were of the same tenor…with the same players and the same roles.

It has all of the elements of life…the aggressive bully powering to get everyone to fall into line, the bullied, the silent, the followers, the obedient, the young guy trying hard to warm up to “the boss”, and the strong who cannot be bullied. This could make top rated “reality television” and you can watch this stuff regularly on the Rogers Cable coverage of Oshawa City Council.

We’ve all seen the bully in action----attack, overpower, beat down! Maybe not the brightest in presenting ideas but his personal attacks intimidate and browbeat the people into line, too timid to jump into the fray lest they get in the line of fire, too frightened of being targeted for personal attacks to express any opposition to the bully--even afraid to do what they know to be right if it doesn’t have the bully’s backing.

Maybe the frightened are those less verbally able to express their ideas or to defend themselves.

The bully attacks the person with competing ideas, he never debates the ideas. Ontario’s Safe Schools Policies would dictate that he would be pulled into the principal’s office these days and suspended from school if he didn’t clean up his act.

See if you can identify the different characters playing the various roles.

The bold comments are the writer’s who will play the role of the TV moderator…you know--the guy you never see but who fills in the extra details.

So here is the actual transcript of part of the meeting.

Councillor Nicholson seconded by Councillor Neal--I’d like to move that council provide a written notice to each household within the city of Oshawa with the date and time of the public meeting to be called on this issue and that no further action be taken on the issue until following the public meeting

Councillor Kolodzie---Would Councillor Nicholson mind repeating his motion

Councillor Nicholson---That city council provide a written notice of the public meeting to each household in the city of Oshawa and that no further action be taken on this issue until after the public meeting

Councillor Kolodzie---I won’t support it…

Note no reason has been given. On a later Nicholson Motion, Kolodzie said, “I’m not going to support any motions proposed by that member!” This is maturity isn’t it? The guy says he’s not going to support motions even before he hears them. Is this the kind of person we’ve elected in Oshawa?

Mayor Gray---You won’t support it

Councillor Kolodzie—Just telling you…he’s spinning again

Councillor Nicholson---Can I speak to my motion?

Mayor Gray—Councillor Nicholson, you have the floor

Councillor Nicholson---You know we just said we were going to call a public meeting…now we don’t want to tell anyone about it…I have no idea on the thought process on that….we want to hear what people have to say ..The public will say at the public meeting so obviously the second part that we take no action until after the public meeting is in order…and all I’m suggesting, staff gave us a list of options…to go out there to get the information before…household. The only option that guarantees that every household within the city of Oshawa gets notice of the meeting is to provide them with a notice of the meeting…and that can be done through postal walk, its not expensive…my god, it’s probably cheaper than putting 4 or 5 ads in papers and things like that that only some people will see…somebody may miss it if they don’t see the right page –they will not get the right day and then we get people arguing to us later on, well I didn’t see the paper therefore this meeting’s no good…you can’t argue pro or con to this issue if you get a notice …if we’re going to have a public meeting then we send out one notice to every household in the city…you know, that’s all we have to do…we’re not taking sides on the issue, we’re just telling them when the meetings going to occur, what its on, where its at, time it begins, and encourage them to show up…now what’s so hard about that? But I can tell you if you do anything but that, you just raise the spectre of someone saying I didn’t see the ad or I didn’t hear the radio ad or I didn’t get the PUC bill cause some people don’t get PUC bills, you know some people get it sent to other addresses…what are you afraid of? You know you say you’re required by statute to tell them about a public meeting, so tell them..Can’t be that hard…and I still believe it’s probably the most cost effective and the most effective way of doing it and I think most members of council know that because that’s what they do during the elections to get their own message out…so if we’re serious about getting it out there, tell them.

Mayor Gray---Are there any speakers?

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Am I next? Are we not going to be debating I guess till the wee hours how we’re going to send the information out with regard to the meeting…I think it’s here, is it not?

Mayor Gray---we’re dealing with the report right now…and Councillor Nicholson pulled the item and moved that we use the method of doing a postal walk

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Now I think….Is that just on that issue? I need clarification here because I’m a little bit astounded at the statement that we send out the notification to everybody, every householder, every voter, and that nobody is to inform anybody about anything until that meeting and at that meeting. Does that mean then that the city has no more…we don’t do any more advertising, we don’t do anything else, we don’t go in the paper, we don’t go on the radio

Mayor Gray---That wasn’t the motion, but…

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Well I want clarification because his motion says we do nothing further than do that…and I want clarification

Mayor Gray---From my perspective, I don’t think any of us should…could have an issue with that…unless you’re planning to try to do the bylaw before the public meeting…so basically all you’re just saying is we won’t do anything

Councillor Pidwerbecki—(interrupting)…we can’t, we can’t, (LOUDER), “BY LAW WE CAN’T DO IT!”

Mayor Gray---So that just…

Councillor Pidwerbecki---(interrupting) You know I just heard Councilor Nicholson say…

Mayor Gray---Could you just let me answer your question?

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Sure

Mayor Gray---So basically even though he’s thrown the words in there they’re not threatening because you’re not planning to do anything till after the public meeting…that’s when you can take action

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Are you finished Mr. Mayor?

Mayor Gray---Yes

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Can I speak?

Mayor Gray---Yes

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Thank you. But what he’s saying is he wants this done so that we don’t pass the bylaw…once again the Municipal Act is very specific…you will hold a public meeting before passing a bylaw…now what is this all about? Really! Come on! The spin is getting out of hand here. Don’t you think?

Mayor Gray---None of us need to take exception to that wording

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Well I take exception

Mayor Gray---It’s not threatening

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Well I take exception to the statement that he has made that he wants to be sure that a fast one isn’t pulled …that we don’t pass the bylaw

Mayor Gray---We can’t

Councillor Pidwerbecki….

Mayor Gray---We can’t

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Come on

Mayor Gray---That’s why…

Councillor Pidwerbecki---(Interrupting)---So what’s the spin all about…the deputy mayor keeps coming up…about three or four times….

Mayor Gray---It behooves all of us to stay a little bit on the calm side

Councillor Pidwerbecki---CALM

Mayor Gray---The fact is…we can’t …

Councillor Pidwerbecki---CALM

Mayor Gray---The fact is we can’t do anything until after there’s a public meeting. One way or the other…so I mean those are just extra words, flowers up the language of the motion

Councillor Pidwerbecki---(Interrupting)---Just spins it around…I’m tired of the spin all the time

Mayor Gray---We can’t do a thing

Councillor Pidwerbecki---(Interrupting)---Are we not tired of the spin?

Mayor Gray---But what’s it done is it got your dander up and it didn’t need to

Councillor Pidwerbecki---No it’s making me laugh because we’re putting up with the same CRAP we’ve been putting up with all along, spin, spin…

Mayor Gray---Now why we don’t just….

Councillor Pidwerbecki---does this also

Mayor Gray---starts to speak…

Councillor Pidwerbecki---(Loud)---I had the floor…You allowed me to speak Mr. Mayor, I think

Mayor Gray…But I’m just trying to urge some calm….

Councillor Pidwerbecki---(interrupting)---Okay so let me ask you this…let me put through you Mr. Mayor, does this mean that once we put the ads out. Once we send out whatever notification to each householder, to each voter nobody is to do anything until the meeting and that means on your blog, no blogs, nothing on the inter… you can’t go out and do anything in your own ward , you will not do anything until that meeting. …am I understanding this correctly or are we getting set up here again?

Mayor Gray---No that’s not what I took from that motion

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Well can I have clarification from the mover?

Mayor Gray---that’s why I…

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Can I have clarification from the mover?

Mayor Gray---Let me just explain to you what I took from that motion.

Councillor Pidwerbecki---I’d like to hear it from the mover…..Mr. Chairman….

Mayor Gray---Well I’d just like to give it to you so I can give it in a…you know, from the chair’s perspective. We’re going to go out and hold a public meeting, the notification will be done through a postal walk, so there’ll just be a notice going to every household, and that he threw in the extra language “that no further action be taken on this issue”…we can’t as a city take any action on the issue until…till you have the public meeting. That’s why you don’t need to get upset about the language. Councillor Nicholson didn’t even need to put that in the motion, I agree with you,

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Sure

Mayor Gray---But it’s not something we need to argue about. We don’t need to argue about it

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Mr. Mayor, I get very suspicious when a certain councillor puts those kinds of words in there…the hair stands up on the back of my neck…because something…something is going to happen here that we’re not too sure about

Mayor Gray---Just to do that for you…so let’s just stay calm here

Councillor Pidwerbecki---I haven’t had my question answered…does that mean there’s no more blogging, there’s no more going on the computer and putting out one sided issues to the public…is that what we’re talking about here

Mayor Gray---You can set up the Nester Pidwerbecki blog and I look forward to it….knowing what your computer skills are, I do look forward to it

Councillor Pidwerbecki---Mr. Mayor…I don’t have the time to confuse the public on those blogs, I’m sorry. Some people seem to have too much time on their hands for that anyway…thank you

Mayor Gray---Are there any further speakers?

Councillor Henry---Mr. Mayor…Through you to the clerks office…what would the cost for a postal walk to the entire city of Oshawa be?

City Clerk---according to the information that we received, a postal walk would be $5000 to print the flyers and another $4700 to distribute

Sounds a little inflated…At the same meeting Council received reports re production and distribution by Canada Post to every household of an 8 page 11X16 full colour brochure, “Inside Oshawa” with photographs, graphic illustrations and budget information on 60 lb. paper---$16,000 quoted in staff report---The notification brochure for the ward/general vote bylaw will be a simple flyer devoid of info except for purpose, date, time, place as politicians don’t want to provide any rationale, background, need, description, etc. of the change or what it means. They still want to keep the public in the dark. Again…a bias is shown for changing to the general vote by quoting inflated costing figures.

Also a report was received showing estimated Oshawa ad cost expenditures for 2007 as $236,000 (Oshawa This Week and Oshawa Express, $150,000, Durham Radio, $10,000, TV, $61,000, Other $15,000…Oshawa This Week ads cost taxpayers $109,500 in 2006 or about $9125 monthly…so $10,000 is small potatoes! And the issue is the most important Oshawa Council will face this term!

Councillor Henry---$10000…I’ve never made a motion or added something on the floor so I’m rather excited about this. I don’t believe that this should be a city expense so I’d like to amend the motion that it’s paid for out of the councillor’s expense salary

Does this make sense that Councillors should use their own office expense budgets to inform the public about this important issue.

Mayor Gray---This is a city wide issue

Councillor Henry---So if the councilors are absolutely serious about sending information to the residents of the city then they should pay for it out of their own councillor’s budgets. I’m absolutely serious about this…I don’t think the city should pick up the tab for something that we can’t control anyways. So if the councilors are absolutely serious about sending the information to the residents of the city then they should pay for it out of their own councillor’s budgets.

Does Councillor Henry also think that the “Inside Oshawa” publication should be distributed at the expense of Councillor’s office budgets. I wonder also if he thinks that the Councillor’s office budgets should fund the $10,000 monthly advertising budget to Oshawa This Week Newspapers. The Councillor should remember to put his mind in gear before his mouth. Methinks he tries too hard to please his other members of the “Gang of Four”---but this is one of the roles played in the bully schoolyard referred to in the opening paragraphs of this post.

Mayor Gray---Lost for a lack of a seconder

Amazing that none of his fellow “Gang of Four” saw fit to second this ludicrous proposal---but then this Councillor is on a learning curve.

Councillor Nicholson---Point of privilege Mr. Mayor…I’ve sat here and not insulted anybody and I know that Councillor Pidwerbecki ran against my brother in the last election and he’s upset and that’s understandable but I’ve listened here and I’ve not attacked Councillor Pidwerbecki in any motion and I’ve counted at least 8 times where he has personally insulted me, personally attacked my integrity, personally accused me of lying on this floor of Council, not just once…and I think the Council Rules should be read again to everybody that there is no rule where you can stand up and you can cast aspirations or accuse a member of Council of lying…now I’ve not accused him of anything tonight….not one thing…not even mentioned his name tonight and I think its time for Councillor Pidwerbecki and some others got past the last election…if they want to fight the next election, bring it on…Mr. Chairman, my motion was a simple motion. Council was asked in the report, I ask you to look at the report for two directions, how to advertise the meeting and whether or not it wanted to give it direction on whether to include the ward boundaries or not within the system. My motion deals with both of them. It suggests a method of election and my motion suggests that that decision be deferred until after the public meeting…that is all I moved in my motion…and the gentleman’s paranoia is getting the better of him tonight.

Mayor Gray---Well I think there’s been a level of rhetoric by a number of people and I actually can say sitting up here that some of your rhetoric was a little on the hot side too and so I think every body should just calm down…let’s get to the vote

City Clerk---Just a point of clarification if I may…Councilor Nicholson’s motion states no further action including whether it means no dissolution of wards as we know them…in order for council to have a bylaw available for the public meeting, to technically hold the meeting, we need to know council’s direction on that or else the bylaw cannot be developed.

The city could have alternative bylaws drafted to put to the public but mind is made up…but they are approving in principle a bylaw that will move to the general vote and keep the wards simply to avoid any public appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. They could have produced alternative bylaws a) to keep the election system as is with ward voting, b) to move to the general vote dissolving the ward organization so that a public appeal to the OMB for a sober second look would be possible, or c) a bylaw to move to the general vote but keep the wards organization so that no appeal to the OMB would be possible. Because Council's mind is made up, they voted to direct that a bylaw by drafted that would move to a General Vote but keep the existing wards...but not use them---all to avoid an appeal to the OMB. They have made up their minds on this issue and the public meeting is going to be a sham.

Mayor Gray---Thank you very much for that clarification Madam Clerk

Councillor Nicholson---I will withdraw the second part…we don’t have to deal with that tonight. I didn’t know that at the time I moved the motion

Mayor Gray---Can we get somebody to move that so we can satisfy the requirements by the clerk

Councillor Nicholson---What would you like it to say?

Mayor Gray---You have to provide clarification on the wards


Mayor Gray---Well I’ll take that first and then we’ll come to that…so we have a motion on the floor right now which deals with doing a postal walk, it gets printed up and distributed

Councillor Pidwerbecki---And that’s it.

Mayor Gray calls the vote---Those in support…those opposed…that’s carried!

Call for a recorded vote

Mayor Gray---Madam Clerk…a recorded vote

Councillor Parkes---Can I have clarification please? We typically place ads for public meetings in Oshawa This Week and Oshawa Express and I think those ads have value and people catch them. Sometimes, depending upon how a notice is folded in a postal walk and sometimes people don’t go to the postal boxes for a couple of weeks in the north end its not as effective an advertisement so I have a concern….so are we still going to do the ads in the newspaper in addition to the postal walk

Methinks Councillor Parkes is stretching too far for justification to not support providing information...she knows no system will guarantee everyone sees it but she also knows that a postal walk guarantees that more people will see it than read it in the newspaper as stuffed as they are with advertising flyers and rather slim on news. Ms. Parkes no doubt uses a postal walk to deliver her own election flyers and she knows full well it is the better way. When we stretch the truth too far to justify our locked-in positions, we lose credibility! It is ludicrous that she believes that the norm for people in the north end is to not check their mail boxes for weeks on end! Does she really believe this???

Mayor Gray---No. Because the motion if it’s carried would be that it would be a postal walk

Councillor Parkes---Well your worship, under those circumstances I cannot support it because ward six relies upon information from the paper…they wouldn’t necessarily get to their box

Recorded vote on Revised Motion:

Yes: Nicholson Neal, Cullen, Lutczyk, Marimpietri, Gray, Sholdra

NO: Parkes, Pidwerbecki, Henry, Kolodzie

Guess the “Gang of Four” didn’t really want to make sure a notice was delivered to every door. They favored newspapers which are really “carriers” of a “multitude” of advertising brochures which would overburden the chance of most people seeing the city ad. All of the “Gang of Four” found ways to speak against distributing notice of the time and date of the meeting to all residences by postal walk.


Well dear reader…did you identify the different role players. The bully who beats people into submission, the followers, the strong who cannot be bullied, the weak trying to befriend the bully, etc. It’s not too hard is it? It’s too bad that the bully shouts out, “Are you calling the people dumb,” when anyone questions the referendum result and the convoluted question. The people are not dumb…but they were certainly not informed…and council failed the people on this important issue.

If you asked me a question about a multitude of things that would seem ludicrously simple to some people, “Is the Robertson screwdriver the one with the square head, yes or no, my answer would be as likely to be right as wrong as I haven’t been informed or I'm not interested…but don’t call me stupid…call me uninformed! Just like the people were uninformed on the meaning of the different electoral systems and were further confused with the way the question was worded…they had to vote NO to maintain the ward system. But this is the way Council designed the question so that it was likely to give them the result they wanted. Politicians are expert on politics and electoral systems knowing the advantages and impact of each. They know that the General Vote is a system that serves the politicians…not the people! They want to return to the General Vote because it guarantees them a lifetime seat on Council.

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