Sunday, July 6, 2008

How Do Our Councillors Rate?

We have to start thinking about rating our Councillors’ performance. So from first to worst here are my observations after 6 years of regular Council attendance (they are listed alphabetically where tied) :

Do they make sure we can see how they voted on every issue or do they go out of their way to hide this most important information, including trying to change procedures to eliminate any sign of how they voted; do they actively try and make the votes more transparent?

1. King
2. Bryson
3. Graham, Mar
4. Garrison, Mason
5. Thompson

Do they sincerely care about the environment or are they just greenwashing their own and our District’s record (this includes doing research, making proposals, finding funding and proposing tougher bylaw & OCP wording vs watering down, creating loopholes and refusing to reconsider when a bad decision has been made)?

1. King
2. Bryson
3. Graham, Mar
4. Garrison, Mason, Thompson

Did they provide a welcome atmosphere for citizens coming to council with ideas and problems, or did they whine about too many citizens showing up or that the same ones show up regularly (this includes placing letters at the end of the agenda and finding other ways to muzzle citizens; interrupting, being rude, rolling their eyes, belittling in the media etc)?

1. Bryson, King
2. Graham
3. Mar
4. Garrison
5. Mason
6. Thompson

Are they only interested in their own ‘perspective’ or are they actually listening to the community?

1. Bryson, King,
2. Graham, Mar
3. Thompson
4. Mason
5. Garrison

Special mention needs to made of Councillor Bryson’s reminders that applause and scornful comments may intimidate some of the speakers at Council and that is undemocratic. His wise and thoughtful comments on many issues are very helpful.

Councillor King is far and away the most concerned about our environment and although the vote is almost always against him he never gives up trying to put forward ideas that are for the benefit of our community. He is also the champion of citizen participation and inclusiveness as he encourages people to bring their thoughts, ideas and concerns to Council and to participate on both citizen-initiated and council committees.

I find Councillor Graham and Mayor Mar to be sincere and hardworking, willing to listen to what citizens present for the most part and willing to stand up and be counted on difficult issues. I don't always agree with their decisions, but I do respect them.

Almost all the Councillors have had a 'shining moment' at some point, but this list is meant to be reflective of the general state of affairs.

Someone spoke to me the other day about their anger over part of the new draft Official Community Plan. I pointed out to them that it is a draft only at this point and there is still plenty of opportunity for input and change. Councillors did not make all (or even most of), the suggestions that went into the draft: staff, citizens and the consultant have all added pieces to the document, so saying the Council should be thrown out because the document contains bits you don’t like is quite unfair.

It's interesting to note (see the articles below, especially that on the Civic Leagues and one called 3 Unfair Motions and Their Implications from September 2007) that the sense that Councillors' are hiding the votes so we can't know who stands for what is quite universal in the region, and in fact, in Guelph, Ontario citizens got the Council to buy a voting machine to record the vote as it is cast and project it on the wall for all to see. Knowing how they voted is fundamental to any democracy. Without it we have only a sham.

I guess we need the machine too.

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