Thursday, March 1, 2007

Overheard in the Oshawa City Hall Corridors of Power

"Okay Counselors…listen up you guys. Hey Tweedle Dumb! Listen up!!… We got another big night tonight. Our city council meetings gonna be on Rogers Cable TV. We gotta look and sound our best."

"Let’s have a little warmup. We need to rehearse our lines. After all this is prime Oshawa entertainment---it's reality TV--Oshawa style"

"Hey Counselor Tweedle Dumb--stop singing that stupid song, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Have you any ideas for tonight’s meeting? Of course we got ideas…Let’s see--Eenny Meeny Miny Mo…that’s it! We gonna introduce the idea of returning to the general vote. That’ll be some interesting time filler for our meetings. If we work at it, we can probably keep this issue hot for most of the term."

"That’s great Boss, It's sort of, like, abstract for us. It’ll fill up our time for council meetings so we don’t have to, like, come up with new ideas all the time. The people won’t really understand the impact of what we're talking about. They’ll think, like, we’re philosopher kings or something. They’ll think we’re, like, really smart--ahead of our time. Even, like, ahead of Canada. They’ll think that we’re so progressive, like, setting the pace for the country."

"That’s right Tweedle Dumber!"

"But Boss… wouldn’t having a general vote result in very expensive city-wide elections that would prohibit all but the rich from becoming candidates. And wouldn’t that result in all of council members coming from just a few of the richest areas in Oshawa. And Boss, how would we handle all of the issues arising from the different neighbourhoods in Oshawa if we are no longer elected by the different neighbourhoods."

"Well it is true that long term there are a few problems with the general vote. But why are you interested in that? Aren’t you more interested in having your seat as long as you want it without any competition…or being accountable to neighbourhoods for solving their problems. That takes up a lot of time. Besides, if you are really interested in looking after neighbourhood problems, I guess we put names of those who want to continue to do this in a hat and draw lots. As for the campaign cost, you're on council. Just vote the right way for developers and they'll reward you with cash to pay for your election."

"But Boss....Duh, Duh, we had de general vote 'fore 1985. Duh, Duh, It didn’t work out too good for Oshawa back den. The people not like it and so they kicked dee idea out. Duh, Duh, We not go back to that can we?"

"Sure we can Councillor Joe. That was close to 25 years ago and people won’t remember that it didn’t work. They won’t remember that Oshawa was a “do-nothing" place and so no one wanted to live here and so housing prices bombed. They won’t remember that Oshawa was such an undesirable place that the only housing we could attract was the low end stuff like subsidized row house and townhouse complexes. They’ll think that Oshawa was always the vibrant place it is today. Besides, I got a friend that wants to get back on council--figures to be a lock under a general vote, but couldn’t get on with the ward vote."

"But Boss--Do you really think its right for the people of Oshawa that we try to turn back the hands of time to the past?"

"Look Counsellor , Forget about what’s best for the city. What's best for us? Look, I’ve got big competition in the next election and this could happen to you if we don’t take some action. We gotta protect our turf. We gotta make a change so that our rear ends are protected. What would we do if we lost our seats and lost all of that easy city cash. We gotta look after ourselves."

"But Boss, that guy Longworth that brought the ward system has proven that he’s pretty persistent in doing what he says he’s going to do. He worked for five years against all odds to bring us up to date with the rest of the country in 1985 when he won the ward system for Oshawa. We haven’t heard from him for a number of years now. Do you think we can slip this through without waking him up?"

"Counselor, that is a good question. We’ll have to develop a strategy to give the thing legs before anyone finds out about it. Once we give it enough momentum, it will be tough to stop."

"Okay Boss, we’re with you, but how do we keep Longworth asleep on this?"

"Counsellor, that’s a good question. I think the answer is to keep the thing secret. We’ll not make any big announcements. We won’t communicate to the people about it. We’ll work at giving the people a question that’s sure to produce a result calling for a return to the general vote. We’ll trick the people with our question. We’ll catch them cold in the voter’s booth where they will be confronted with the question for the first time. We don’t really want them to know about it in advance, otherwise people may start discussing the issue and then they’ll wise up to what we’re doing. If you counselors want to win this thing, keep it quiet. Don’t say anything about it. If the word gets out, it will destroy our efforts to return to the general vote that will guarantee us council seats as long as we want them. I’ve come to depend on all of this money and can’t lose it now. Besides, we’d lose all of those extra perks like the city charge cards, auto allowances, our blackberries for free world-wide telephone and internet use, entertainment budgets. Look our lifestyle could get ordinary if we lost all of that stuff. You must all promise to keep this a secret. If this thing gets out, we'll all fall off the wall, just like Humpty Dumpty!"

"Okay Boss--now councillors, let’s give our warm up chant before we enter the chambers, "Mirror Mirror on the wall, Isn't our boss the smartest politician of them all"

"It’s off to work we go, Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s off to work we go. We absolutely can’t go wrong as long as we keep this thing secret. Hi Ho."

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