Let's start with some honesty. Something which some might say has been lacking as of late, but not me, at least not yet. Truth is, I'm not sure yet where this post is going yet - but for now let's just say we'll get back to that later. Back to honestly. This is probably a letter which likely should never have been written. Maybe it should have been. Maybe. But certainly not started at 10:35 on a Friday night when multiple adult beverages have been consumed. Yet, here we are. There is of course a chance that I may delete this before I publish it - but at this point I don't like your chances.
In fairness, this is not directed to the entire city council as a whole, only the 'Fontana 8". I have so many questions. Of course, I don't expect answers, simply because I've already formulated most of my own. That being said, I'll certainly take answers if you're up to providing them. Where to start? OK - I can kind of see 'hitching your wagon to the Mayor's star' - let me start with yet another confession, I voted for him myself. Joe. Me. Voted for him. Was the 0% a factor? If I'm on an honesty run, well - maybe. But not the only reason. There was a few: political experience, passion for the city and was not Anne Marie DeCicco.
illustration by doug rogers
For starters, Joe - why didn't you step aside? Or down? Any direction really? Rumour has it the story is still developers - erm, developing. I mean, I know your official line has to be that you have have a mandate … blah, blah, blah … but certainly the boos still ring in your ears? So while the question of whether or not you're going to stick around remains the question as to why continued to linger. So, let's move on…
To the rest of the 'Fontana 8', well, once again -- why? I think most people (and common sense) would have thought that you would have distanced yourself as soon as fraud charges were suggested. Not laid, hinted at. Yet, to date - you remain. Do not even rats abandon a sinking ship? (Spoiler alert: they do.) There have been people who have called this the 'worst council ever' and well, given my history in London (pretty much my lifetime) let me assure you that this is not an easy belt to claim. (There has been some pretty awful ones.) To make matters worse, you have individually shown moments of sanity and clarity in media interviews that gave me hope, only to return to your expected level come voting time. Do you truly speak for your constituents?
To be clear, although this will be the last time I admit so publicly - it wouldn't bother me so much if the voting bloc where aligned to make decisions I agreed with. But alas, it seems destined to never be the case. A short list of decisions you've made that I consider ill-advised:
ISSUE: Whether to freeze water and sewer rates in 2011, over staff objections, as per Joe Fontana’s campaign promise.
VOTE: 8-7 in favour
FOR: Bud Polhill, Joe Swan, Stephen Orser, Dale Henderson, Paul Van Meerbergen, Denise Brown, Sandy White, Fontana
AGAINST: Joni Baechler, Bill Armstrong, Nancy Branscombe, Matt Brown, Paul Hubert, Harold Usher, Judy Bryant
ISSUE: Whether to divert $1 million earmarked for London’s affordable housing reserve funds to help grease the rails for 2012 tax freeze.
VOTE: 8-7 in favour
FOR: Polhill, Swan, Orser, Henderson, Van Meerbergen, D. Brown, White, Fontana
AGAINST: Baechler, Armstrong, Branscombe, M. Brown, Hubert, Usher, Bryant
ISSUE: Should city hall spend $25,000 to study the possibility of having an integrity commissioner to police council conduct?
VOTE: 9-6 against
AGAINST: Polhill, Swan, Orser, Henderson, Van Meerbergen, D. Brown, White, Fontana, Usher
FOR: Baechler, Armstrong, Branscombe, M. Brown, Hubert, Bryant
ISSUE: Final approval of 2012 city budget with a tax freeze made possible by millions diverted from savings accounts.
VOTE: 9-6 in favour
FOR: Polhill, Swan, Orser, Henderson, Van Meerbergen, D. Brown, White, Fontana, Armstrong
AGAINST: Baechler, Branscombe, M. Brown, Hubert, Usher, Bryant
ISSUE: Opening debate on whether to request Fontana temporarily step away from office amid an RCMP probe into how his son’s 2005 wedding was paid for.
VOTE: 8-6 against
AGAINST: Polhill, Swan, Orser, Henderson, Van Meerbergen, D. Brown, Fontana, Usher
FOR: Armstrong, Branscombe, M. Brown, Hubert, Bryant, White (Baechler absent)
Did you not align yourself with Joe in hopes of advancing career? Is the choice to distance yourself from him any different? If there is a method to your madness? If so, I (amongst others) would certainly be interested in hearing how the long game plays out. (Oh sweet Jesus, I'm back on the red wine now.) I guess the hope is that voters have a short memory but I can assure you now that I will do all I can to refresh it. The alternative of course is that you truly were representing your constituents' best interests the entire time, in which case there is no way this could be a bigger waste of my time. To be honest, I'm not sure - as someone who spends a LOT of time on twitter, I realize that I may be in a minority (maybe) politically but I also have realized my access to the media is amongst the most direct. If there is a reason that the 'twitterati' (trademark pending) feel a certain sense of importance -- it is this.
Government only job is to provide the services that the citizens need. That is the one and only job of government. Those who suggest that government should be run like a business, well? You're in the wrong business. If you'e not providing what London needs to be the best city it can be, it's 'core services', then there is quite frankly no need for you at all.
Let's move on. This note is no longer to you.(The 'Fontana 8'.) But to those who hope to replace you. And let's be clear - there are a LOT of them. So many in fact that the rest of this post is dedicated to discouraging them. You don't like your current representatives. You're mad. You decide to run. I get it. But let me perfectly clear. Unless you are the best person to win not only are are you not helping, you're hurting. The current thinking is that there will be SO MANY people running that the votes will be split and the incumbents will win. This is less productive. In fact, unproductive. The opposite of productive. You guys honestly and truly need to work this shit out in advance.
So, that's it. We're done here. This post is done and quite frankly so am I. There is little doubt what side I'm on and what my goal are - but, I am Canadian after all. So let me back peddle a bit. I truly do believe that most of the people I disagree with politically truly do believe they are doing the right thing. (They are wrong, they just are not that self aware.) So, 'we" (I use the term royally) do not need to win all the seat. (This is good.) We need only win one. (This is even better.) Can we do it? Of course! Will we? To be honest, probably. However, that does not mean that we should not be smart and/or intelligent about it.
It is common knowledge that London needs a vision. A voice. A face. While I'm sorry to disappoint everyone (read:no one) by saying that I will be none of those things, you can be encouraged that I can think of three off the top of my head who could be. That's for the top job alone. Wards? Forget about it - too many. Which is potentially the problem. Too many cooks truly does spoil the broth. We need to work this shot out. And soon.