Political Analyst and Observer, Bill Longworth's, Weekly "Eye on City Hall" Columns, as published in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada's Oshawa Central Newspaper

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Clean Slate in Oshawa Politics

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
June 21, 2010

A new facebook page, “An outreach to everyone. An opportunity to heal and move forward. It's time,” has been started by Bill Steele, one of the candidates for Oshawa City Council.

Mr. Steele writes, “I am reaching out to all politicians to work together for a ‘Better Oshawa.’ New Candidates and Current Council members can all start fresh as of today. New respect and the betterment of Oshawa is priority number one.”

Of course, I am sure that Mr. Steele is a candidate for public office because he feels that the present Oshawa City Council has messed up at every turn, and that he can do better.

I guess, though, Mr. Steele is not going to, in future, mention all of the mess-ups that have motivated him to run for election.

This is unusual as Mr. Steele seems to be an excellent candidate for city council whose campaign has so far flourished by exposing and campaigning on many of the “negatives” of this city council---a council that concentrates on entitlements and self-serving bylaws that take up far too much council time.

Perhaps Mr. Steele is an early victim of the caution extended by the mayor, and outspoken incumbents like Brian Nicholson, who have called exposure of council mess-ups destructive of the city.

Destructive of the city my eye! What is really destructive of the city is failing to remind voters of the specifics of all the council mess-ups, thus insuring the re-election of the incumbents and their destructive, tax wasting, inept and sometimes unethical actions and behavior in the leadership they provide for this city.

If Mr. Steele were in the news business, he’d have a “good news” paper, and go belly up following his first edition. The public expects things to be okay, and in most cases they are, and so the public wants to know of any anomaly from the expected. This is news!

And there’s plenty of that negative National Press coming out of Oshawa---$46,000 MBA funding, $45,000 spent on Mayor’s birthday party, $250,000 spent on Cullen Miniatures which are now rotting in a city warehouse, city handling of the student housing issue, council’s unethical handling of Ontario Ombudsman’s Report criticizing City Council for its illegal in-camera meetings, etc., etc., etc.

This negative news all resulted from city council actions, despite the fact that Mayor John Gray and Councillor Brian Nicholson say negative news is destructive of the city. I’d say, “Then clean up your act, boys!”

And, of course, regular council observers know that Oshawa City Council itself is a fighting forum akin to currently popular cage fighting, where every councilor is trying to viciously subdue every other councilor into a tapout.

This is a function of the general vote where every politician is a competitor with every other council member, fighting to the death for the same votes, with their handsome $100,000 salaries and perks as a reward.

Hell, murders have been committed for a lot less!

Part of the problem with city hall is that councilors generally circle the wagons to hide the negatives, even the indiscretions of their fellow politicians, lest anyone focus on the skeletons within their own closets.

In many cities, investigative reporting by the local press exposes weaknesses in the political system, and often moulds public opinion as a force for political change.

Note the federal politician’s of all parties’ recent conversion to the idea that their political expenses will now be audited by Sheila Fraser, Canada’s Auditor General. Federal politicians were powerless to resist public opinion stirred up by the “Critical” National Press.

In this case, Federal Politicians of all parties stood united against the audit. We had lost the “opposition” role of the non-government members, which is one of the protections of the common good in our system of government. The “opposition” role had to be played by the independent press.

It is the opposition that plays the important role of attempting to keep government actions above board, righteous, honorable, and honest. Without this role, governments can degenerate into personal fiefdoms of privilege and power. The opposition role is an integral and important part of “responsible” government.

Of course, Canada’s Supreme Court says information is a public right…and that democracy itself cannot exist without an informed public.

So an opposition to question and criticize government authority is at the very heart of our democratic institutions.

This is quite contrary to the argument that Mr. Steele proposes which plays into the hands of the incumbents in hiding, as best they can, all of the shortcomings of the current council.

An opposition voice is not divisive…it is responsible…and a necessary part of governing at every level in a free and democratic nation.

How can the public be in charge of their political destiny in the absence of the free flow of all kinds of information which informs the public and allows them to make informed ballot choices?

Our whole government system at the senior levels is set up with an opposition that criticizes and offers alternatives...a role that is required by candidates for public office at all levels

Every candidate has two roles in a political campaign…to criticize what they see as wrongs, mismanagement, and wasteful and unnecessary tax expenditures, and to state their plans to fix the system.

And despite council incumbent’s attempts at silencing their opponents by loosing some of their lapdogs on those who criticize, even at senior levels of government, this column and my candidacy for mayor will continue to speak out to try to insure a fully informed public.

If this is not done, we will get the same gang re-elected with the same and continuing devastating consequences by an unknowing, unwary, and happy public.

The result would be four more years of mismanagement, growing political entitlements, and a too frequent unethical behavior by some politicians who have been on council too long, and have grown comfortable with stretching the rules of their conduct and behavior.

I'm in this race because I'm damn concerned about Oshawa, and how the present bunch are destroying virtually everything they touch---and I'm in the race to spend the next four years starting to turn things around to get things on track again.

I want a progressive, ethical, open, and accountable city council to serve the people of Oshawa. The growth of our personal investments in this city depends on it.

This column will continue to expose the rotting and smelly deadwood on Oshawa City Council. This has been the vital role of Canada’s free press since Confederation.

This is also a message I will bring to the Mayor All-Candidate Forums, and in my campaign generally, in my efforts to inform on the need for voters to “usher out the old” and “bring in the new!”

The clean slate the city really needs is fresh bottoms sitting on all of the council chairs.

And now for my giant vision and positive proposals for Oshawa….see www.wepromise.ca

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

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