Written by Bill Longworth and
Reprinted from Oshawa Express, Feb. 7, 2007
Oshawa citizens are becoming more aware of Oshawa City Council’s desire to return to the general vote and some anger has arisen at their self-serving actions. Council failed to provide voters information about the issue prior to the referendum vote and political action groups like VOTES (vote to eliminate self-serving politicians) have sprung up to fight the change.
Citizens are finally being provided information about the issue by sites such as www.oshawaspeaks.ca which is the VOTES website.
Some angry residents have asked who was responsible for the referendum question and who supported it.
The sole architect of putting this asinine referendum question was Nestor Pidwerbecki. This was despite the fact that there had been not been a whimper of public discontent for the ward system. It’s unfortunate that he was able to solicit council support to get the question on the ballot.
Voting for the ballot question were Councillors Nestor Pidwerbecki, Brian Nicholson, Mike Nicholson, Cathy Clarke, John Neal, Joe Kolodzie, and April Cullen. Voting against were Mayor Gray, Councillors Robert Lucyk, Tito-Dante Marimpietri, and Louise Parkes.
According to press reports Pidwerbecki’s rationale for introducing the issue was: 1) Oshawa was growing too large for a ward system, 2) that a ward system council was too divisive and, 3) councillors should have a city-wide mentality. Pidwerbecki is dead wrong on all counts and hopefully he brings less faulty thinking to his council votes. I suspect, though, that Pidwerbecki is smarter than this and that he is “stretching” to justify the unjustifiable.
Let’s analyze Pidwerbecki’s argument.
Oshawa is growing too large for a ward system---This is completely opposite from the truth. In reality, a general vote is only valid where the municipality is quite small and everyone knows each other. Using Pidwerbecki’s argument, Toronto’s council of 44 members representing 2.48 million people because of its vast size should be an obvious candidate for the general vote because he would argue it is too large for a ward system….ridiculous and absurd!
A Ward System Council is too divisive---How so? General vote politicians compete with each other at every meeting for press necessary to foster high name recognition.
Therefore, they hog the floor and backbite, bitch, and bicker to steal the press. Ward politicians are not election competitors and have to be far more co-operative with their peers in order to gain support for the needs of their ward
A general vote promotes a city-wide mentality---Not so! A general vote politician gets elected through high name recognition and thus promoting themselves at the expense of real productivity becomes job one for general vote politicians.
A ward vote politician gets elected through service to his/her constituents and so service to people becomes job one for a ward politicians.
Ward politicians have to develop positive relations with their fellow politicians to get support for any of their ward initiatives.
The very nature of co-operation leads to politicians working together to set priorities for the betterment of the city.
The general vote cannot be justified on any grounds for a municipality the size of Oshawa, It is obvious Pidwerbecki is stretching for straws trying to justify the unjustifiable…Don’t let him pull the wool over your eyes.
When we got the ward system in 1985, Pidwerbecki was quoted in the press as saying, “They are going to have to break up the country club and it is going to be the best thing that ever happened to Oshawa. How can I describe our feelings,” he continued, “we’re elated.” He said up to now Council had been composed of people who have had enough money to afford the high price tag of a general election campaign. “Now people who are relatively unknown may figure they have a chance where there was none before,” he said. “Instead of spending a lot of money to cover the whole city, they can now concentrate on one area and reduce the cost factor.” Describing the then “General Vote” Council as an “elite group”, Pidwerbecki said he expects some new faces on council after the next municipal election in November.
Pidwerbecki knows the value of ward elections but has changed his tune now that he is a member of council.
His bringing up a return to the general vote can be no less than self serving in insuring his re-election.
Self serving politicians deserve neither our respect nor support. Councillor Pidwerbecki will undoubtedly be #1 on our hit list for politicians to be defeated in the next election.
We will organize his ward to ensure this. We are keeping our options open on other council members to see how they vote on the Bylaw that has to be introduced before a change.
We shall appeal this bylaw to the OMB and have every expectation of a “slam dunk” win.
Updated Comment by VOTES Chair…Council has moved to adapt the general vote but to keep the wards solely to avoid an appeal to the OMB. Their case there would be indefensible. While they are keeping the wards, they will not be used for voting or for any other "real" purpose. The votes group still plans to appeal to the OMB arguing that wards are associated with voting by practice and tradition and therefore insist that the 7 election wards are being folded into one ward for voting purposes…this is a change in wards that is appealable to the OMB. Two additional grounds of appeal, however, have been developed but cannot be released until the city bylaw is passed and we are ready to appeal to the OMB. If we release the information early, the politicians in their greedy and self-serving efforts to move to the general vote will simply try to word a bylaw to thwart our efforts. We think this is impossible but still do not want to disclose our case and our arguments prematurely.
Be sure to watch tomorrow’s post….We will present a humorous Video dramatization of the above that will both inform and entertain you.