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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Council Resolutions for the New Year...Do they have any?

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and unfiltered opinion
reprinted from Oshawa Central Newspaper

Bill Longworth, City Hall Reporter
December 27, 2010

When Mayor John Henry got elected on October 25, 2010, just about two months ago, stealing a line from Barack Obama, he brazenly promised us 100 days of action.

So far we’ve had 60 days of inaction and so the Mayor better get on his high horse and whip up some action to avoid disappointing Oshawa voters. He’s only got 40 days left of those 100 days and so far not a damn thing has happened!

Shortly after the election, Henry stated, “This city is poised for greatness and I’m excited to get started.” For a guy anxious to get started, he sure is slow off the mark.

He said Council was going to start to work on a vision statement once the term of council got underway. With those sixty days already gone, we haven’t heard anything more about the city vision statement. So far city council seems leaderless and rudderless. Hopefully there is more to Henry’s leadership than a few glibly uttered quickly forgotten words.

In Toronto, the new Mayor Rob Ford, whether you like him or not, has gone about business like a bull in a china shop.

In the first few days of his mandate, he announced expense account cuts for city councillors, announced a cancellation of the vehicle registration tax saving Toronto taxpayers $60M, announced initiatives to declare the TTC an essential service to prohibit employee strikes, filled all of the committee chairs with his chosen appointees, scrapped Metrolinks “Transit City” plans for street level light rail transit lines in favour of subways and elevated transit lines...and all of this was done within days of assuming office.

In Oshawa, committee chairs/vice chairs were decided at a private meeting convened by Nancy Diamond in return for block voting for Roger Anderson as Regional Chair as speculated in one of my recent Central columns.

In the only bit of Council business in these first 60 days, city council on a motion by Nancy Diamond voted to receive and file Mayor John Henry’s only initiative so far, that was to assign city wide councillors to ward responsibilities...a deft sleight of hand by Henry who voted to remove ward councillors with his consistent support for the general vote and the election of city-wide councillors.

It’s amazing that council utterly rejected Henry’s first and only initiative in these first 60 days, when he had promised to move the earth and the sky during his first 100 days in office.

So much for empty words....hopefully we’ll get some action soon or Oshawa is in for a very long and fruitless four year council term.

Henry did not really present a platform in the election campaign but did give some vague statements about respect for voters, transparency, spending restraint, and keeping a firm hold on taxation.

He has yet to present any real vision for the direction he wants to take this city. Guess he’s just going to have the city drift along with the wind.

In terms of respect for taxpayers, there have been many reports of him failing to reply to telephone calls, emails and text messages sent to him....all things he seemed quite diligent about prior to his election as Mayor. Maybe now that he has reached the pinnacle of his political career, he feels he can disregard communication with the voters.

In terms of holding the line on taxation, John Henry was vocal in attacking fellow Regional Councillors who didn’t support 8% increases in water and sewer rates.

With this flagrant disregard for the principles he espoused leading up to his election, I shudder to think about city tax increases resulting from the city budget council will approve in February.

Henry has made so little impact as Mayor of Oshawa that Durham Region Chair, Roger Anderson, in a recent Freudian slip mistakenly referred to Councillor Nancy Diamond as Mayor Diamond, perhaps in a not so subtle reference to Mayor John Henry’s weak leadership.

Perhaps by way of a not so subtle editorial comment, some enterprising entrepreneur has started selling T shirts emblazoned “Shwatarded.”

And hell, I was hoping the election of our new council would start to change the reputation of this city!

May I wish all my readers a wonderful Christmas Season and a Healthy and Prosperous 2011.

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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