The Leadership Crisis

In his latest book, The Leadership Crisis, Gord Hume defines seven characteristics – the Seven Cs – of great political leadership*. See how many you can recognize as attributes within our own council: Competencies, including people, organizational, business and strategic. Character, and its traits, values and virtues; integrity. Commitment, including aspiration, engagement, perseverance and sacrifice. Charisma, that unquantifiable attribute that political leaders either have or don’t. … (more–>)

Two conferences and a show

I had the honour and the enjoyment of attending two municipal conferences last week. While no longer directly involved in politics, I am able to keep my finger in some of the political pies through my current work for an NGO. Plus, I like to remain informed and up-to-date about politics and governance, and am always looking for opportunities to increase my knowledge and understanding of pretty much … (more–>)

Muddle-headed editorial palaver

There’s a muddle-headed editorial in this weekend’s Collingwood Connection titled “Citizens, not rich developers should drive political ship” (sic*) that shows (again) how little the chain’s editorial writers understand municipal politics and the laws that govern it. It opens: Money talks and, in the case of municipal elections, one could argue that all of those cheques, banknotes and e-transfers going toward funding the war chests of various candidates … (more–>)

Demagogues and democracy

“I just wish, at some point in time, councillors would show a little more integrity or credibility on the floor of council… It’s like every time we try to do something, there’s criticism, no matter what we do. I’d like to see councillors do the right thing. And in my opinion, these people are not doing the right thing. They’re hypocrites. They’re not telling the truth.” … (more–>)

Time for Closure

Thirty-six months ago a small group of disgruntled, angry residents, some with burning ambition to take a seat on council themselves, allegedly complained to the OPP about decisions made by some members of the previous council. Decisions they didn’t like. They chose to act in secret, through anonymity and stealth, rather than through open, democratic and public processes. Using biased media, gossipers with their own agendas, sycophant bloggers, protests, ambitious … (more–>)

Where Have the Ratepayers’ Groups Gone?

Why don’t Collingwood’s ratepayer groups and associations last? In the 25-plus years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen several come and go. Every one has dissolved, evaporated or imploded within a year or two. Seldom do they last longer than a single term of council. Is this a normal part of the life cycle of such organizations, or is Collingwood at the unfortunate end of the Bell curve … (more–>)

The high cost of affordability

Affordable housing is crucial to the economic and social vitality of every municipality. Without it, people cannot afford to live here, which means they will look for jobs in places they can afford. Young people, especially, will move to places they can afford better. Collingwood is especially vulnerable to housing issues.* Given that the growth trend in our area is in low-paying (minimum wage), and part-time employment, … (more–>)

Apps are making us criminals

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og3PjvcR1Pc] Almost every week you read in the news about another taxi driver protest against Uber and its drivers. Taxi drivers go on strike, some rage against Uber and attack the drivers or damage their cars. Similar protests – albeit not yet as violent or large – have been made against Airbnb for its effects on local property values and changing social conditions like the loss … (more–>)

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

You can’t help but think, when you read that title, of five block-thinking, dysfunctional members of Collingwood Council. But, relevant as that description may appear in our political sphere, it is actually the title of a book by Patrick Lencioni, about how teams fail to coalesce and work together. I found it at a local bookstore this week and read it in a single night. Unlike … (more–>)

Openness and Transparency?

Legitimacy is earned through accountability. Accountability is produced through transparency. Those words are from an opinion piece by Ian Lee, published in the Ottawa Citizen, back in 2008. Important words; words that should be carved above our own council table in large letters. Although it seems like he was writing about Collingwood Council, Lee was actually writing about the need for more accountability and openness in the … (more–>)

Rethinking Parking

Parking in Collingwood – especially downtown – has been a contentious issue since at least the mid-1980s. Numerous studies have been done advocating a variety of answers, none of them entirely satisfactory to everyone. The factions of free versus paid parking have been warring as long as I can recall. No council has managed to fully come to grips with the issue. To compound the issue, … (more–>)

Cold Camembert, Collingwood Style

Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth made comments last week about how awful it is to eat normal airplane food as an excuse why she billed more sumptuous meals to her taxpayer-funded expense account. Cold camembert and broken crackers, she whined, were not acceptable breakfast fare for the likes of a Senator. As the NatPost quoted her: “There are a couple of times when my assistant put in for a breakfast … (more–>)

Closed for Business, Hostile to Seniors

Closed: that’s the message Collingwood Council sent to business during its recent budget discussions. We’re making it more expensive to run a business here, and by the way, we’re hostile to seniors and low-wage earners, too. Under the tissue-thin pretense of keeping taxes low (which they aren’t, really), council approved a staff initiative to remove the costs for maintaining hydrants from the general tax levy and add them into your … (more–>)

Councils and Their CAO

A good relationship between a municipal council and their town’s CAO is crucial to smooth, effective and efficient governance. The CAO is the liaison between council and staff, responsible for directing staff to implement council’s direction and overseeing internal personnel issues. If the relationship is rocky, then governance and Council’s interactions with staff – and therefore the entire public’s interests – all suffer. To fill this role well, … (more–>)

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