Why are they called The Block?

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BlockheadsSeven members of our council are collectively referred to as “The Block” in common parlance. A fitting nickname for a group that includes its leader, the deputy mayor, Brian Saunderson, his five core minions (all newly elected to council this term), and one veteran wannabe (nicknamed the “pledge” in frat house terms).

Most folks assume they are called The Block because they vote as a block. Once Brian raises his hand, the rest raise theirs like obedient little puppets. No need to think, no need to question, analyze or debate: they do what they’ve been told. For which they are also referred to as The Blockheads (not to be confused with the Minecraft-like game of the same name, although a review of the game noted, “A total lack of community renders the game relatively hollow…” which could equally refer to The Block’s behaviour on council).

No, the nickname doesn’t mean they are a crazy, harmless sitcom family acting their antics for the delight of the audience or clunky game ‘toons whose antics you control. Those this term antics have been destructive, self-serving, unethical and often illegal. The harm they have done to this community is more than all other councils in the past 30 years combined. Sadly, we have to put up with more of this for another year, when we can toss the whole lot out on their corrupt ears in the next municipal election. But I digress…

True, sometimes a few of them do seem to act independently at the table now and then, but it’s an illusion, like a ventriloquist’s dummy seeming to speak by itself or a marionette appearing to dance independently. These sycophants use their speaking time to express their oleaginous adulation of The Leader with an ingratiatingly smarmy statement of support. Councillor “Fluffydog” Madigan comes to mind as very well experienced in this practice.

However loudly The Block proclaim their everlasting love of The Leader, however long they bloviate in his honour – eerily similar to speeches made of Stalin by his pet Politburo in the 1930s – these are just verbal piffle. They have no real content or depth, just use up precious oxygen in the council chamber. They are to real democratic debate what farts are in a crowded elevator.

Nor do these comments ever suggest any of The Block might rebel and vote against The Leader. They won’t and express their own opinion, because they have none, aside from what they have been told. These statements are meant to show how firmly cemented to his backside they are. The solidarity of Blockdom.

Some of them remain mum in, I suspect, a false belief in the words of various speakers and writers that it is, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” Not that any council watchers think there is more to the silence than the loss for words by a mind easily numbed by the ongoing processes.

Events and discussions, motions and votes simply move at too fast a pace for most of The Block to keep up and comment intelligently. They are mostly still trying to figure out what page of the agenda they are on and by the time they open their mouths, the topic has moved on. Council watchers have no doubt who the fools at the table are, regardless of whether they speak or not.

Our somnambulant councillor “Sleepy” Ecclestone hardly utters a sound, aside from what seems to be gentle snoring. It seems the meetings often go on long past his bedtime. To date in almost three years at the table, his contributions to the discussions and to the general well-being of this town have been minimal: when he’s awake, we hear some snuffles and snorts as he fumbles to find the right motion to read and has to be directed by his colleagues or the clerk as to where in the agenda he should have his finger. At least he’s good for a giggle.

His colleague is Councillor “Mr. Mumbles” Fryer whose penchant for rambling, unfocused and often barely coherent commentary has staff shaking their heads in wonder and media guffawing behind their hands. No one seems to understand what he’s on about. But then, apparently neither does he. But none of The Block were elected for their intellectual capacity, of course.

They’re not called The Block solely for their block voting or their Politburo-like solidarity behind The Leader.

Not, they are also called that because they block everything: they put up roadblocks, stumbling blocks and closed doors to all sorts of development, growth, change, initiatives, business, public input, public engagement, anyone they don’t like, and anyone the interim CAO doesn’t like, including the Collus-PowerStream board, PowerStream executives, town staff, the hospital board, the airport board, local developers, other municipalities… pretty much everyone and everything except their dwindling handful of friends and a bunch of sole-sourced lawyers and consultants chosen by the interim CAO and unquestioningly approved by The Block (more sole-sourced contracts have been handed out this term than all of the previous councils in the past 25 years COMBINED – they’ve been given out like party favours).

So, to conclude: they are called The Block because the nickname is appropriate to their actions, their behaviour and their detriment to the town. No better term can be found to describe them. Yes, lots of other terms apply, but none are appropriate for civil discussion. And I don’t want to fill my post with symbols like $#%^&* all the time.

Collingwood deserves better.

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