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

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mayor Elect Henry Gets Euchred Even Before the Game Begins

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
November 22, 2010

The Municipal Elections are behind us. We have elected a new City Council and a new Mayor to lead us into the next four years, but it appears that Mayor Elect John Henry may have been euchred---a political eunuch, neutered even before the council term begins.

We had a rather dysfunctional city council over the last term and voters elected a team of new faces that would hopefully produce a respectful and productive council that would lead us into the future. But there are early signs this council is already running off the rails.

It had already been speculated that Mayor Elect John Henry was probably not a strong or knowledgeable enough leader to keep the reins on council….this seems now to have been demonstrated.

I learned in over 29 years of management work experience, that assigned leadership is not worth a damn….that leadership is something you earn every minute of your leadership role, and concrete signs now appear that Henry is not up to the task.

It has been speculated that Regional Councillor Elect, Nancy Diamond, would be waiting in the wings to dispose of Henry following the next election to once again resume the mayoralty of this city.

But Diamond is not wasting any time in assuming the reins of power.

The political intrigue and war over control of council has not taken long to surface.

I have learned from a reliable source that, shortly after election results were announced, Nancy Diamond invited all of the newly elected Regional Councillors to her house for a meeting.

Not invited were Mayor Elect John Henry, and the rest of MP Colin Carrie’s Oshawa City Council “Conservative” Caucus, John Neal and Tito Dante Marimpietri. Nor were any local councillors invited. I have not established whether Nester Pidwerbecki was invited.

MP Colin Carrie’s active election support for Henry, Neal, and Marimpietri was a rather risky business. It is unusual for Federal or Provincial Members to take such an active role in local city politics. We do know that PM Harper is a leader that wants tight control of everything and perhaps Carrie was working at developing a formal Conservative Dynasty in this city to create a puppet city government controlled by Ottawa power brokers. Part of the motivation may have been to see that the Federal/City Waterfront Agreement with increasing industrialization on the East Wharf goes ahead without any hitches.

Now Colin Carrie’s “chosen three” seem to be being shut out of key council influence, policy, and committee chairmanships.

In a recent Press report, Diamond stated that getting back on council was like getting back an “Oshawa Team” sweater. She said that council will be strong enough that if someone decides to dance to their own tune, the rest will respect the mayor. “It’s about creating teams that can work together to bring about positive change,” she said.

Despite her assertion, it appears she has many new council members now wearing “Team Diamond”---not “Team Oshawa” or “Team Henry” jerseys.

Diamond’s actions to consolidate power and influence may already have rendered John Henry a “lame duck” mayor prior to his assumption of leadership. The other members of Carrie’s Conservative Club on council may also have been equally rendered “out of the loop.”

Anyway, Carrie’s involvement with his personally supported candidates which have been excluded from the Nancy Diamond meeting, has set up two opposing council facets….the three-vote “Henry Team” and the “Nancy Diamond Team” whose size and power is a question mark at this time, but seems to include herself, John Aker, Amy England and Bob Chapman.

The allegiances of Nester Pidwerbecki, Roger Bouma, Bruce Wood, and Mike Nicholson are unknown at this time but no doubt will become illuminated in the first weeks of the new council as will the solidarity of the “Diamond Team.”

It is obvious, however, that Diamond has already moved to consolidate power and steer the agenda of city council, and this would leave Henry as a toothless leader.

The first signs of the new alliances and who is in control will be when committee chairs are determined shortly after the Dec. 1st inaugural meeting of council. It would be a sign that Diamond is in charge if Neal and Marimpietri are blocked from Council Committee Chairmanships. Conversely, it will be a sign that Henry is retaining control if one or both of Neal and Marimpietri secure committee chairmanships.

There is indication that some decisions were made at the Diamond meeting.

I have heard on good authority that agreement was made apparently for Diamond, Aker, England, and Chapman to block vote for Roger Anderson to be returned as Regional Chair despite the fact that John Mutton has been campaigning hard for the position and certainly has the support of the verbal activists in Oshawa. There was also Region wide support for electing the chair by public vote rather than being appointed by Regional Council members.

It is entirely conceivable that some of the councillors at the meeting were promised both local and/or regional committee chairmanships in return for their support for Anderson. After all, these councillors must serve their own interests as they pretend to serve ours, mustn’t they?

Some Committee Chairmanships were apparently decided at the Diamond meeting. It was agreed that Nancy Diamond would be Deputy Mayor and that Amy England would be Assistant Chair of an as yet unknown Committee.

I am trying to establish more details of committeeships agreed upon.

Undoubtedly, Roger Anderson will swing support behind some Oshawa Regional Councillors for Regional Chairmanships as payoffs for their Anderson votes.

Ontario Municipal Law prohibits such private meetings from conducting public business and all indications point to the Diamond Meeting as illegal at worst or unethical at best. Certainly conducting public business with only a selected number of invitees from all those elected is grossly unethical.

All public business with a few exceptions for economic and personnel matters must be conducted in public.

If Diamond’s meeting was only a social gathering, all members of council, without exception, would have been invited. The exclusions of the “Carrie Team” indicate the development of two factions on council and the conduct of some business in the absence of the excluded members seems to indicate a lack of openness and transparency which all seemed to support leading up to the election.

This secret and private meeting sponsored by Nancy Diamond is dynamite, and shows her early determination to wrest control of the council agenda from Mayor Elect Henry, undermine his success, and her return to the Mayoralty in four years.

Politics is a “blood sport.” You have to be tough to survive in the “cut-throat world” of politics, and often operate with the ethics of Attila the Hun or the Godfather.

Nancy Diamond’s easy smile and engaging manner may disarm you….but make no mistake, she is one smart, tough and strategic cookie and has the vulnerable Mayor Elect puppy in her lethal sites. She is holding all the cards in this game and will Euchre Henry and his three-man Colin Carrie Caucus every time.

As the saying goes, we have a city government elected by the people for the people…oh yeah!

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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