Do As You’re Told

April 28, 2011

First, I had to overcome my own laziness and a certain sloppiness in uncovering the facts. Like Fox News, this isn’t journalism we practice here but heavily biased opinions. Then, there was Easter and all the chocolate eating and religious ridicule. I’m not sure what happened to the last couple days, frankly, but that is not an infrequent occurrence around here.

But I did promise an update to a post we wrote about last week’s Executive Committee meeting and ensuing kerfuffle over the cutting of many citizens advisory committees. Cue TV voice-over: Previously on All Fired Up in the Big Smoke… Just before the vote was held to adopt the staff report…Councillor Jaye Robinson used her 5 minutes to speak and express concern about the details of the report. It was ‘light’, I believe she called it, meaning not fully thought out or explored. She then offered up a motion requesting a further review and exploration before proceeding with a decision… It was defeated and the staff report was then passed as is but…the vote… was very close… 6-4 against the motion. At the Executive Committee. The mayor’s handpicked team that, to date, has basically served as a rubber stamp for whatever it is he wants to do. Cut to: follow-up.

I got my grubby little hands on a copy of Councillor Robinson’s motion which read like this:

“That the City Manager report to the Executive Committee at its meeting on June 20, 2011 on the need for program advice and civic engagement in each program area, and to recommend an appropriate format and mechanism to meet those advisory or engagement needs.”

“… on the need for program advice and civic engagement in each program area…”

Simply outrageous. How dare the councillor thumb her nose like that at the mayor who simply wanted to eliminate 21 of the 23 advisory committees, no questions asked. Pure heresy. Such independence must not be countenanced.

“… to recommend an appropriate format and mechanism to meet those advisory or engagement needs.”

I mean, really. When did Councillor Robinson become a left wing, pinko kook? City staff recommends what the mayor wants recommended, and the mayor wants citizens advisory committees gone. Did the councillor not get the memo? The mayor’s needs are the only ones Executive Committee members should be concerned about meeting.

Even the slightest whiff of compromise or independent mindedness is treated like some sort of shocking transgression if you’ve signed on to Team Ford, it seems. Councillor Robinson’s motion could not have been more benign or reasonable without sinking into a pit of meaninglessness. Yet, as we stated in our previous post, it was met with a great big fat over-reaction and scrambling by the mayor’s staff and the toadier of his supporters on the ExComm and beaten back down as if the administration’s entire future depended on it. Such heavy-handedness loses its force and effectiveness eventually as the mayor should already be realizing.

Despite all the moves to defeat her motion and the mayor’s obvious displeasure at it, Councillor Robinson was not left out to dry by all her colleagues. We sent props out to councillors Denzil Minnan-Wong and Peter Milczyn for openly defying the mayor and voting for the motion, knowing that there was one more committee member who joined them. Lo and behold, it turned out to be the Deputy Mayor himself, Doug Holyday. Yes, that Deputy Mayor. Yes, that Doug Holyday who had otherwise so publicly supported the mayor’s move to eliminate almost all of the committees, claiming it wasn’t doing away with public participation but only making the government and bureaucracy leaner.

So, a belated tip of the hat to you, Mr. Deputy Mayor. When Doug Holyday votes on the side of fairness and prudence, you know those opposing him have just given over to blind, willful ideology or are simply bowing down to the power of the mayor and have stopped using any independent thought whatsoever. Unfortunately, last Wednesday at least, a majority of members on the Executive Committee displayed the worst of those tendencies.

follow uppedly submitted by Cityslikr