Saturday, March 11, 2017

Focus, People, Focus!

One of the ways that Andrea maintains control over stress is to remind herself when something is outside of her control.  If it's a situation that she can do nothing about, she simply says "out of my control", and refuses to worry about it.  If it's something that she can influence, if not directly control, then she will take that step, and of course, if it's something that she can do something about, she'll do it, but she won't waste either time or mental energy on something that she can do nothing about.  As someone who sometimes likes to rant on about other people's stupidity, it can be frustrating when she points out that I'm wasting energy, but I have to admit that it helps her come to more useful decisions in a calmer way, and is a good way of maintaining focus.

It's something that I wish members of council were better at doing - focusing on what they can control, and taking action there, not on matters that are outside their responsibility, or even their influence.  I'm speaking, of course, about the great discussion at the last meeting of council about council letting the province know that they don't agree with the potential selling of Crown corporations.  Not your job, you didn't ask the people of Prince Albert if they agreed, and it's doubtful if the province really cares whether this is something that Prince Albert supports.  It's kind of like the efforts that were made by a previous council for petitions for a second bridge - lots of effort, for no result.  Or like the efforts that were made by a previous mayor in speaking to the federal government of the importance of the pulp mill to Prince Albert - still no smoke coming out of that building, more than ten years later.

Other topics that have been floated recently that are out of council's responsibility - bringing back door to door mail delivery, and providing a safe injection site for IV drug users.  Might be good for getting headlines, but these are matters not within council's control or responsibility.

So why do some members of council want to fill the agenda with such discussions?  Sometimes it's to fulfil their own personal or political agenda, especially if they have aspirations to higher levels of government.  Sometimes it's because it's a topic that someone raised to them while they were door-knocking, and they want to look to their constituents as if they're taking action.  And, I fear, sometimes it's because they don't know what their job is, but if they get their name in the paper, they feel recognized.

I don't disagree that these are interesting topics, but they're topics for discussion over coffee, not when you're supposed to be making decisions that the city can actually implement.

So what's the harm, you say, in letting councillors talk about issues that are important to them?  Well, my big complaint is that there are immediate issues out there that are more important to the people of Prince Albert, and when you spend your limited time talking about stuff that doesn't matter, you're not addressing those important issues.  The big one at the moment, which will likely have a direct impact on your taxes, is the court's decision that the city owes Domtar 2.8 million dollars.  Why isn't council discussing this, in public, not in camera, instead of making statements that they aren't going to talk about it until the end of March?  To me, they've had ample time to come up with a plan, but instead I fear that they're more interested in butt-covering to explain why this wasn't made public before the election.

It's too bad that more members of council don't realize that their responsibility is to the taxpayers of the city, not to their own personal agendas, and make the effort to drag the rest of council back on track.  I know that it's tough to stand up to those who are quite satisfied to just let things slide, but that's not what the job is.

"You'll never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks." - Winston Churchill

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