“You really are negative about our council,” the woman said to me as I stood in the grocery store, trying to decide whether to converse or pick mushrooms from the bin. But she insisted on the former. “Your blog is always about the bad things they do. You ought to try to say something positive now and then.”
“What if I can’t think of anything?” I replied.
“Oh come on,” she said. “They can’t be totally bad. Everyone does something good. Even them. You shouldn’t just write about the bad things. Write about the good things, too. It will improve your credibility if you compliment them on their accomplishments now and then.”
Well, that’s possibly true, I conceded, and picked another mushroom button to add to my paper bag. And it made me think. She’s right. I do tend to dwell on the negatives, and even if they outnumber the positives by a sizable proportion, I should not be merely one-sided in my coverage, like the local media. I should air some of the other side, too.
So, in response to that conversation, here below, for the sake of my credibility and in the name of fairness and objectivity, is the complete and comprehensive list of all of Collingwood Council’s accomplishments to date since they took office, more than a year-and-a-half ago.
And to be fair, while this conversation took place several days ago, it took me some time to go back through the records of the past 18 months, to re-read the agendas and minutes of meetings, and the media reports in order to collate everything and be sure I hadn’t missed anything. I had to create two piles: one for those things I felt were negative to the greater good, and those that were, on fair assessment, good for the community. Sure, the former was larger, but the latter was not empty, once I applied some standards of fair and objective judgement.
Now keeping in mind her admonitions, and not wanting to always seem negative, I will not comment further in this post on the material in the larger pile.
I won’t, for example, reiterate the Block’s egregious betrayal of the public trust, on their wasting of hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars on outside lawyers and buddy consultants to pursue private vendettas, on raising your taxes and utility rates unnecessarily just because staff told them to, on giving out blank cheques for expense accounts to one another to pursue personal political ambitions that don’t do squat for the town, or their expensive “strategic plan” that was neither a plan nor strategic, or their disrespect for the mayor and her office, or their destruction of staff morale, our town’s reputation, and our partnerships. I won’t even comment on how staff run the town and tell gormless councillors what to think and how to vote.
No, I’ll keep those negative vibes out of this post and instead concentrate this time on what good things they have accomplished this term. What they have done for the betterment of Collingwood, for the greater good, for the wellbeing of all of our residents. The positives.
So here it is, the complete list of council’s rich and rewarding achievements since the first week of December, 2014:
- It is now illegal to throw birdseed on your lawn.
I know, I know. it deserves more recognition than a mere mention in this blog can offer. After all, think of the widespread, long term and beneficial impact of that bylaw. Think of how councils and even generations to come will hold this up as the model of council achievement and community-driven consensus.
How can a few words posted here capture the uplifting effect this has had on our municipality? Before this bylaw was passed, malefactors were casually and carelessly throwing birdseed hither and yon with nary a thought to the consequences. Wildlife was being fed without regard for the dastardly effect it had on neighbours and neighbourhoods. People were wantonly feeding birds and squirrels without asking – no, without begging – the approval of council. Just going ahead and spreading their birdseed. Why, it was chaos on the streets!
Now, thanks to council’s herculean efforts, the long arm of the law is pushing its weight down on everyone to prevent such shameful dispersals of seed in future. Kindness of this sort cannot be left unpunished and only total acquiescence to the absolute letter of the law will be tolerated. Violators will be punished! Spread your seed no more, criminals! Collingwood is on a mission.
This momentous act deserves a bronze plaque in town hall at the very least, with the names of everyone on council emblazoned for all eternity. A plaque to immortalize the ability of our politicians to blindly vote without once questioning the motive or logic behind this – or any other – bylaw, and simply obey staff. Thought is, after all, highly overrated in politicians. So let’s celebrate those who don’t practice it!
Or better yet, how about erecting a statue downtown? Something large and (dare I say it?) arresting. Maybe a handsome bronze statue showing a stern bylaw officer handing a ticket to a miscreant senior found guilty of illicitly feeding the birds, showing a handful of bronzed sunflower seeds carelessly tossed at her feet without regard for proper law and order. Or cuffing her for transportation to the cells. Maybe a dog lunging at the seeds still clutched in her outstretched hand…
Oh, the horror, oh the cosmic perturbation of such heinous acts! Oh, the pure and inspiring effect of a subsequent arrest and incarceration.
And, for the unveiling, we should have a parade, too. After all, the community should be made to line the streets to celebrate the timely intervention of our brave and wise council to prevent this sort of delinquency from further staining our community. After all, it took our council months and months of ceaseless effort and cogitation to come up with this, the single greatest achievement of their time in office.
And speeches. There must be speeches. Long, windy speeches to communicate the importance of this bylaw in keeping our community safe and secure and free of uncontrolled birdseed, and to celebrate the town’s resolute progress towards a future free of errant birdseed. No more will sunflower shells litter backyards and decks. No more will millet and nyjer seed be spuriously scattered on driveways by diversionist wreckers and saboteurs. Imagine how the local media will shower the council with the praise it duly deserves.
Imagine, if you will, a plaque at the base of the statue on which is stamped the following words…
Now we have the opportunity to carry out a resolute offensive against the undisciplined spreaders of birdseed, break their resistance, eliminate them as a class and replace their wanton birdseed spreading with the firmness of obedient non-dispersal. De-birdseedisation is being undertaken by the masses of residents themselves, who are realizing total collective acquiescence to the law by turning in their non-compliant neighbours. We will capture and punish the recalcitrant ringleaders who continue their resistance. But de-birdseedisation is not just a simple administrative measure. No! Total acquiescence is an integral part of the creation and development of collective community obedience. When the head of this criminal class is cut off, no one wastes tears on the hair.
Stirring words, eh? Fitting. I’m sure something like that will grace the statue or the plaque.
So there you have it. The fulsome list of council’s grandiose and unforgettable achievements this term. Little wonder that they have done nothing more for the greater good since, because this effort no doubt took the wind out of their collective sails. They are spent, intellectually and physically from the effort.
Too tired, they must be, to raise even a finger to accomplish anything else for the greater good for at least the rest of this year, if not the rest of this term.
But let us not criticize them for taking their salaries and expense accounts and their automatic annual raises without giving us something in return! Surely this single bylaw is ample repayment to the community for the pittance we have given them, and will continue to give them for the next two-and-a-half years, without demanding more! They are, after all, only human.
And don’t worry. Should council rise to the occasion and come up with a similarly beneficial, momentous accomplishment, you can bet I’ll be here to report on it. Me and the local media: mouthpieces for council’s great deeds.