Sunday, October 1, 2017

You Pave Paradise, Put Up a Parking Lot

Once again, a long break from blogging, for the same reasons: not much happening at council, and busy with house renovations.
But council made a good decision last week, and this doesn't happen very often, so I thought that it was worthy of comment.
I'm speaking of course, of the decision not to raid the reserves set aside for street maintenance in favour of paving the parking lot at the Art Hauser Centre.  This project first was brought forward with a previous mayor; the cost then was $500,000, so I'm sure the cost has gone up since then.  It's also become a favourite cause of the current mayor, largely because of the baseball championships coming next year.
Once again, it's putting image ahead of needs.  In this case, paving a parking lot to impress people from out of town, while using tax payers' money, already ear-marked for their needs, which have been identified as a priority after several years of neglect under previous councils.  This is not right, but is so often where council goes.  I don't know about you, but rarely do people mention the status of the parking lot as what they enjoyed most about an event.  And considering that the baseball tournament will happen in the summer, common parking lot issues like icy spots and poor drainage are unlikely to occur.
When the matter of funding came to council, five members of council voted against it.  I don't know the motivation of those who voted for it, although one council member has said that he likes to go along with the mayor so that he can get stuff for his ward.  Not exactly thinking about the good of the city overall, that's for sure.
What made it interesting was the mayor's reaction to the defeat of the motion.  He tried to bring it back, saying that a certain council member had voted incorrectly.  Fortunately, said council member had the fortitude to disagree.
Of course, trying to influence another member's vote is against the law, as well as the basic principles of democracy.  But I guess all that pales compared to getting your own way.  Although one would hope that an elected official would show more maturity about the matter.  I often think that there should be a term used for when a mayor forgets that  he's not the boss of the other members of council, since that seems to afflict so many of our mayors.
One hopes that this issue won't come back to council, although intentions to do just that were expressed.  And if it does, one hopes that the result will be the same.
If nothing else, I hope that all councillors learned from this that they don't have to just blindly follow what the mayor wants.  They have equal responsibility to think of what's best for the city, and each of their votes counts, just as much as his.

"It's never wrong to do the right thing." Mark Twain

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