The Hypocrisy Goes On

Anyone having supervisory responsibility for the completion of a task will invariably protest that more resources are needed.
Hacker’s Law of Personnel, coined by Andrew Hacker in The End of the American Era, Atheneum, 1970.

At the end of the Feb. 8 virtual meeting of Collingwood’s “Strategic Initiatives Standing Committee,” under “other business,” Councillor Jeffrey (~2:02:20) worries about the “lack of staff resources” the mayor has at his beck and call. She wants to “make sure he has the benefit of the resources he needs to do his job.” She wants the town to hire or appoint him another assistant. Ka-ching! 

Is that not the wildest hypocrisy? Jeffrey and our current mayor were both part of the council that stripped the former mayor of her executive assistant (a position in town hall for at least two decades previously) in mid-2018. Some of those on that council felt she didn’t need one. They turned the assistant out of her office and made it into the council mail room.

In her term, Mayor Sandra Cooper went to many meetings, in and out of town, attended hundreds of town events and community occasions, met face-to-face with business leaders and citizens every day, attended conferences, met with ministers at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa.

I have known every one of our mayors since 1990; I covered them for the media for a dozen years; I served on council under three of them, and in those three decades I never encountered a mayor who attended more events, or engaged the community more than Sandra Cooper. She was in the office almost every day (when not away on some municipal business). She was tireless in attending to her job, and not just the official responsibilities: she cared more about the people of this community than anyone I ever saw in the mayor’s chair before, and certainly after.

Yet Jeffrey and The Block apparently didn’t think she was busy enough to need an assistant to do all of this. Her assistant was taken away shortly before the 2018 Mayor’s Charity Golf Tournament when the assistance was needed most of all, and re-assigned within town hall. It hobbled the mayor’s ability to engage the community, but she carried on doing the best she could. It also made it increasingly difficult for the community to engage with their mayor (community engagement was always despised by the Most Secretive Council Ever.)

Spiteful and vindictive? It sure seemed that way to a lot of people at the time. But then a lot of what that council did over its four years was considered very petty and disrespectful, especially to Mayor Cooper.

And here we are in 2021. Mayor Saunderson has been in the pandemic lockdown since early 2020; half of his time since the election. He meets almost no one face-to-face, attends virtual meetings from his home or office, doesn’t participate in person in social gatherings or occasions like previous mayors did. No golf tournaments, no curling bonspiels, no charity dinners, no social lunches to schedule. He doesn’t get out to do the store openings, the presentation of certificates, the 100th birthday celebrations or 50th anniversaries like Sandra attended regularly.

Since 2014, the town has added around 40 more people to the payroll, some of whom are already assigned to provide services and support to the mayor and council, as the CAO and Clerk mentioned in their comments during the meeting. So he already has more people to provide administrative service or answer his calls than Mayor Cooper had after that council stripped her of her assistant.

But yet Jeffrey thinks he’s too busy to do his job and needs another assistant to help him handle his responsibilities. Would that have anything to do with his campaign to get out of the mayor’s office and become the riding’s next MPP? He refuses to do the right thing for the people of Collingwood and resign from office while he applies for an out-of-town job (although he continues to take his municipal salary while he job-hunts).

Saunderson doesn’t utter a peep of protest against spending more of taxpayers’ money on him (as if a wasteful $9-million judicial inquiry wasn’t enough!). He doesn’t protest that if Mayor Cooper could do her job so well without an assistant, he could do it even better without one. But then, Mayor Cooper didn’t try to quit her job soon after she was elected and go looking for another job that paid better.

It seems what was good enough for Mayor Cooper is not good enough for Mayor Saunderson. This has always been a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do group. Perhaps councillor Jeffrey assumes she’ll get appointed to the mayorship if Saunderson gets elected, and she is planning ahead to build her power base within town hall. If so, how Machiavellian of her.

The whole thing stinks of hypocrisy and sycophancy.

Collingwood deserves better.

The effectiveness of a politician is in proportion to [their] commitment to principle.
Sam Shaffer, Newsweek reporter.

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