Perhaps when we say Council is revolting, it can viewed now in a positive sense!
I don't want to be too dramatic but last night was a big night for a number of Councillors. They actually took a stand based on their own principles and doing what they thought was right, not what was politically expedient. It was a baby step but at least they are learning how to walk.
Whatever happened to 10-0 votes on fundamental issues? Whatever happened to unanimity so that no one could pick apart Council and say that they are dysfunctional. Is that era over or was last night an anomaly, never to happen again? We will have to wait and see before we can form a firm opinion.
It's funny, the Council of 2003 was the best Council that the City has seen since that time. Generally, they were accused of being dysfunctional because they were supposedly not united. They were of course, against the Mayor of the time, Mike Hurst. He lost every significant vote by a 7-3 margin. There was no need for Council to pretend that they were united when they were not. We actually had some interesting Council debates where both sides were able to present their points of view. That has not been the case for a long time.
7-3 against DRTP, or rather the Rail Tunnel proposal (The Mayor voted) and
6-4 against Openness and Transparency. (5-4 if the Mayor did not vote. Note, Councillor Jones had to leave for a personal family matter and did not vote on either Motion).
Councillors Marra, Hatfield and Halberstadt united on the first Motion while Councillors Dilkens, Marra, Hatfield and Halberstadt came together on the second one.
Oh by the way, the Mayor asked for a Motion to be introduced to support Greenlink in between the two Motions. Of course, the Procedural Bylaw had to be waived in order to do so and the Public was never given notice of it in advance so that no one could attend and speak on it. (I am too polite to mention that Councillor Valentinis objected on the Rail Tunnel Motion that the Public had no chance to debate the issue. For whatever reason, he did not raise the same issue with respect to the Greenlink Motion.)
That Motion passed unanimously. It made me slightly queasy that the Council might be going back to bad habits but, then again, it had to pass that way given what the Councillors had said to date on the issue. You can't expect too much on the first day of the rest of their Council life after all.
I'm also quite surprised that the City Clerk did not raise the matter that the Greenlink Motion was in conflict with the City's Tunnel Resolution that was passed earlier. I think she should have done that to avoid inconsistency. Does anyone know what the City stands for now since one Resolution wants full tunnelling and the other just partial?
Did the Mayor win last night? I don't think so. He needed deferrals on both Motions and did not get them. He did not play his cards properly in my opinion. What last night told me was that Council unity is dead. It is going to be an ugly three years as Councillors jockey for position. And he will NOT be able to control them. Just watch the grandstanding, public insults and the name-calling....Where's the Governor's hubby?
The stage was set by Councillor Valentinis for deferral on the Rail Tunnel Motion but he did not follow through on it. Councillor Halberstadt tried to get a deferral on the Openness Motion but it failed. Instead, the message in the end that the investment community got was that Windsor is still closed for business. The message that Windsorites got was that citizens are not allowed to get information and that, at least according to one Councillor, his Councillor colleagues are not trustworthy since they would reveal confidential information.
The pressure of the local media and their cheerleading did not change the minds of the revolutionaries. This was the first time in years that Councillors had the nerve to speak their own mind. We even saw an element of nastiness that has been kept hidden behind closed doors while the Mayor and Councillors pretended to be united. We heard Councillor Lewenza's insulting remark directed to his colleagues and Councillor Hatfield's bitter response. Too bad that we have been unable to see more of this so that we know that issues have been properly debated rather than stage-managed behind the scenes.
The Three Blind Mice, Councillors Marra, Halberstadt and Dilkens, stood together on the Openness Motion while two of the Mice stood together on the Rail Tunnel Motion. (You did not think that Councillor Dilkens could support a Motion that could be perceived as helping DRTP do you since he is a Ward 1 Councillor).
It was not a bad start for the newly forming Opposition. The sky did not fall. Their actions forced the Mayor make another one of his long speeches to justify the fact that he took it upon himself to vote. I was hoping that he might give a white-board presentation too to make my night but no such luck. Try as he might, the Councillors learned not to be intimidated any longer by the School Principal. They were not required to stay after Council and write 100 lines saying "I will not disobey the Mayor."
Imagine, Charles Clarke Square becoming our Tiananmen...Up the Revolution!