Knaves and Fools
Ron Bolin: August 19, 2011
On the night of November 19, exactly three months from today, we will have a “new” Mayor and Council, whether new by first time entry or “new” by re-election. If the traditional pattern holds, we will not know much about their motives as they will not have debated the issues with us or with each other; they will be backed almost entirely by either the union movement or by developer/ contractor/ real estate interests; and they will not have a transparent agenda (notice that I did not say that they would not have an agenda) by which to measure their previous actions whether they have a political track record or no.
Think back to the 2008 election. Do you remember what our current Council members promised? Did any of these promises materialize in the past three years? Or were they simply overwhelmed by events, leaves in the wind so to speak? If they run again, ask them to haul out their old election materials and measure their own progress. Determine whether they have met their -and your- expectations. Ask them what has been the hardest thing about being on Council. Ask them if they feel they lost income to be your representative (Council remuneration for most is commensurate with the median income in Nanaimo, i.e. the point at which half the population earns more and half less).
Until today, I was unaware of the under the radar preparations being made for the election. Today I learned that the union faction is holding interviews to determine which candidates they will endorse. From what I have heard a lot of old names are on the list. If the unions are moving, the developer/ contractor/ real estate interests will not be left behind. The question for citizens to answer is whether they are satisfied to have their future settled by an underground war taking place in the back rooms of our City, or whether it is time to start an up-front civic political party to bring our election practices out into the light. I will be interested in your opinion on this and other election related matters. I will be particularly interested in your thoughts on whether it is too late to begin a push for a party. Would you be interested in participating in the development of a municipal party?
What have you done to deserve and protect your rights today? What will you do in the next three months before the November 19th election? On reading Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man” the other day I was struck by the cogency and currency of the following statement:
“When I contemplate the natural dignity of man, when I feel (for nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for the honour and happiness of its character, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.”
Are we satisfied to be treated as knaves and fools?
“The question for citizens to answer is whether they are satisfied to have their future settled by an underground war taking place in the back rooms of our City, or whether it is time to start an up front civic political party to bring our election practices out into the light. ”
Ron, thanqu, you have brought up an important insight, albeit posed too late to affect November.
Political parties? “Wise voices” tell me political parties are anathema to Nanaimo voters: coming, of course, from self-serving incumbents who have sat on council, at their pleasure, for decades.
I ran for council, as an independent, in 1999 gleaning 2,300 votes. A pretty good showing, I am told, considering I had only been in town a year. To me, nevertheless, an insight into the thirst for change.
And no I was not invited to the Home Builders’ golf club, pre-election, party: an early indication of the results!
Evidently my Achilles’ heel was the finger incident which in retrospect I should have capitalized on but didn’t.
I financed my own campaign and, as I recall, the largest single budget item was C$1,800 for selected postal code distribution of my flyer. Finance, alone, is reason enough for party organization.
As for future political parties? Developers and unions have well-established organizations and clear motivations.
Local voters do not.
As for what is best for the city? A naïve question any where in today’s “democracy”.
We, the voters, are an amorphous bunch, mostly, over-the-hill, old age pensioners with time, good intentions, experience, insight and motivation. But we lack the necessary energy. We are also arrogant in the belief that on-line gossip and a letter to the editors has any effect on decision makers.
Looking back I am relieved I did not make it. Incumbent coagulated, collegial familiarity alone would have broken my heart.
Unbeknownst to us living in Nanaimo to describe a town as just like Nanaimo is a well-established, familiar pejorative.
Of course that is lost on the incumbents who are so marinated in their lack of achievement and succor from their support mechanism what they see and hear is, well, look at the results . . . but they do not see what we see!
My subsequent professional contribution has far exceeded anything I could have done as a lone voice on council!
Is the governing class (elected and non-elected) unique to the city of Nanaimo? It would seem that provincially and federally, we are being ruled by the same interests, and machines on all levels.
Providing the loaf of bread, jug of wine and the circus has been quite successful throughout the ages in keeping the mob in check.
Why change what seems to be working?
Unless of course, you think it is no longer working?
What concrete alternative would you provide for Nanaimo?
What historical model of civic governance would you chose to replicate?
Just some random thoughts ………. but unless you can capture and motivate the interest of the 70% who don’t give a rip for what anyone is saying………. what is the point?
Where are the environmental candidates?
Last week the Province released a Policy Report on climate change, specifically on Adaptation Guidelines for Sea Dikes and Coastal Flood Hazard Land Use. Of special interest is the predicted sea level rise mapping web site (which seems to have temporarily failed due to popular interest). According to information provided by the Ministry of the Environment, Nanaimo can expect recent public land acquisitions and public works projects to be underwater during the design life of these projects (with-in 80 years). These projects include: the cruise ship terminal building, Maffeo Sutton Park, and parts of Neck Point, to name but a few locations where the City has recently spent millions of dollars.
The City website has no indication as to who on staff is responsible for the long range planning required by this issue, its not the environmental planner, not the planning department, and not the engineering department, so how can sitting Councilors be informed by staff in this regard?
We need environmental candidates.
Joe: You raise some interesting points. Can you provide a web site with the climate change, sea rise info you have mentioned? You might also wish to write a letter to the editor to our local newspapers. Believe it or not their circulation is still higher than ours. ;-)
As for your question about environmental candidates, might I suggest that you come up with some more targeted questions for them. I suggest that we will not have any candidates who do not claim to be environmental. On the other hand there will be few, if any, who can give solutions which lie within the capacity of Nanaimo City Council to fulfill.
Putting the cruise ship terminal on Mt. Benson, might save it from the rising sea level, but would make it of little use.
If this is more global warming ‘science’ I don’t think I would be too fussed about it.
Actually that might make it of more use.