Thursday, September 27, 2007

"I will never take a donation from a developer!"--John Henry

Such was the exclamation from Councillor John Henry in a “holier than thou” statement he made in an August 1, 2007, Page 1 Oshawa This Week Story. By making the statement, Councillor Henry impugns the integrity of every incumbent Oshawa politician all of whom took money from the development industry.

Impugning the integrity of his fellow politicians though is not such a far-fetched action. But by doing so, he is certainly implying that his fellow politicians trade their votes for election funding.

Perhaps Councillor Henry’s utterances were the first shot across the bow of his fellow councillors in what is sure to become a very fractious and unproductive council as members grow their political recognition for a general vote council where all members start competing for the same citywide votes.

Henry’s assertion will prove to be a gross misrepresentation in fund raising for the next election where he will certainly want development industry support. Perhaps he hopes the short term platitudes from the non-analytical will be forgotten by the time of their next vote.

Councillor Henry must not confuse his ability to raise funds from the development industry and his inability to do so.

The article stated that Councillors Henry and Mary Ann Sholdra were the only Oshawa politicians not to benefit from the largesse of the Development Industry. Both will readily accept the largesse of the Development Industry come the next election.

The Development Industry is not in the business of funding a “pig in a poke” and didn’t expect Councillor Henry to defeat incumbent Cathy Clarke and thus wouldn’t fund his campaign. Instead, they funded the campaign of the defeated incumbent!

Councillor Henry was no different in this regard than any other non-incumbent candidate in not receiving development industry political contributions.

The only non-incumbent receiving some Development Industry funding was the spouse of an incumbent councilor. Perhaps this is the reason she received Development funding.

To establish the honesty of Councillor Henry’s dogmatic comments about accepting Development Funding, we will have to wait to see his listing of donations received that must be filed after the next election.

I have annotated my computer calendar to check this issue following the next election and will publicize the result contrasting it with Councillor Henry’s assertions now.

It is hard to believe that he would want to expend $35,000 or so of his own money to self-finance his next “General Vote” campaign.

For him, ward campaigning was cheap, only costing $14239.43. He won’t get by on this slim budget campaigning city wide under the general vote.

Same is true for Mary Anne Sholdra, the other Oshawa Councillor not receiving any donations. Her complete campaign costs had to be borne by herself, despite her past seat on council.

Non-incumbents don’t get development funds…only incumbents get these funds.

Typically non-incumbents have to fund their own campaign and the $35,000 or so necessary to run a viable campaign in the general vote that Oshawa politicians have brought to the city will make it virtually impossible for them to compete. Only incumbent politicians will get donations from the Development Industry and other businesses and individuals that want their votes.

Virtually the only donors to non-incumbents was from trade unions. And you guessed it—they donated to union members…chiefly to members of the UAW retirees who were candidates in the last election.

The donors to all candidates can be surveyed yourself. You can check out who received union donations, who received development industry donations, and who received no donations.

The union movement is a great beneficiary of the general vote. They hope to influence their city-wide membership to vote for their union candidates. The union movement did not have the degree of influence under ward voting as they will have under the general vote.

The union movement has always been supportive of the general vote in Oshawa and labour leaders along with incumbent politicians were the outspoken leaders for retaining the general vote when we last had it prior to 1985. In the days leading up to Ward Voting for Oshawa, the union movement and its leaders like OFL President, Cliff Pilkey, expended huge advertising budgets to try to influence public opinion to retain the general vote.

Even the greatest preponderance of those speaking in favour of the general vote at the April 19, 2007 Sikorski Hall Public Meeting were retired CAW members and virtually all sat together as a group at this meeting. All of these individuals certainly hope to garner the support of city-wide unionists in their next municipal campaign for the $500,000 council seat prize.

We would hope that Oshawa This Week's objectivity is not clouded by the $120,000 annual Oshawa City Hall advertising budget as the public media has a responsibility not to mislead the public when they choose to write “puff stories” to promote city politicians.

Perhaps famed newscaster, Walter Cronkite, was right on in when he stated, “Pressures to go along, to get along, or to place the needs of advertisers or companies above the public’s need for reliable information distort a free press and threaten democracy itself.”

I often wonder if that is why Oshawa This Week refuses to print letters to the editor regarding Oshawa’s change to the general vote that I submit. Perhaps they got the word from City Hall---“Be good or lose our advertising dollar!”

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