Our Know-It-Alls


Municipal WorldCollingwood Council obviously knows more than anyone else in municipal governance. More, in fact, than anyone else in the entire country. In fact, they may all be geniuses in local governance issues.

Otherwise, why would council cancel their individual subscriptions to Municipal World magazine at the start of their term?

Previous councils subscribed to an issue for each member of council, plus others for administration. While I can’t say everyone read them, the brightest and most dedicated politicians on council read them cover to cover.

Now the whole town gets one issue. ONE for the entire workforce;  for the dozen or so staff AND politicians. That suggests council must be brighter not only than all previous councils, but brighter than all other municipal politicians, advisers, consultants, lawyers, planners and administrators in the whole country, combined.

Since 1891, Municipal World magazine has been Canada’s foremost source of information, best practices, issues, ideas, challenges, policies and opportunities for local governance. Every issue – 12 a year – is packed with important, informative articles and columns. This is considered the “bible” of municipal governance by every other politician across the nation.

But Collingwood council doesn’t read it any more. Clearly our council are all atheists, when it comes to the municipal bible.

I guess it’s because they already know so much they have no need to learn more. Their heads are just bursting with knowledge and just can’t fit any more in. No need for the ideas of others. No need to obey their own Code of Conduct which states councillors are obliged (underlining in the original) to learn more about their roles and responsibilities:

Members have an obligation to promote, support, pursue and partake in opportunities for professional development…

This council doesn’t need more learning because clearly they all know it all, already.

This might be Collingwood council’s new theme song:

We don’t need no education
We don’t need to learn no more!
No bookish learning at the table
Teachers! leave our council alone.
Hey! council! Leave your books at home!
After all, you’re only bobbleheads on the wall.
After all, you’re already such know-it-alls.
With apologies to Pink Floyd: Another Brick in the Wall

For the past year, no one on council has read anything in Municipal World magazine because they stopped getting it a year ago, when they took office. Who needs to read when you already know everything there is to know? Right from the moment they sat in their chairs, they knew more than everyone else about everything.

They have not read any of the articles on open data, transportation, hydro utilities, smart communities, contaminated property, urban planning, rules and regulations, merging condo units…. and that was just in the January issue, and doesn’t include the regular columnists!

Since then, in 2015 alone council has ignored the ideas, advice, debate and information about: heritage monuments, war memorials, urban design guidelines, food security, economic development, cultural development, school closures, urban stormwater, air pollution, water regulations post-Walkerton, municipal cemeteries, GIS, budget planning, branding, food security, e-democracy, communications, re-opening debate, downtown renewal, green infrastructure, P3 partnerships, smoke-free regulations, educational relations, legal issues, cycling, broadband, engaging citizens, unopened roads, hacking, social media, digital government, empowering citizens, planning, financial stress, Uber, human resources, NIMBY-ism, water quality, environment, economic impact, insurance, sustainability, Ontario’s Clean Water Act, public libraries, sidewalks, aging demographics, public servants, succession planning, mentoring, youth participation, strategic planning, wetlands,  biosolids, using plain language in bylaws, urban water sources, environment, leadership, committee structures… and much, much more.

It’s comforting to know that our council is already so well read, so experienced, so smart that it can shrug off the advice and ideas, policies and information presented by municipal leaders, lawyers, engineers, planners, consultants, administrators and fellow politicians from around the country.

Be comforted too, that each councillor saved taxpayers $55 a year in not getting their subscription. True, it comes out their expense accounts, so it doesn’t affect taxes. And true, they gave themselves a raise and that even one councillor’s annual raise would more than cover the cost of ALL the subscriptions for council combined.

But what is ignorance when compared to saving $55? Our know-it-all council don’t need no more education.

I cannot think of a more evident example of the sheer and unbridled arrogance of any politician than to decide he or she already knows everything; that he or she can stop learning, stop reading, stop investigating, stop listening to and researching the ideas of others. But that’s exactly what this council has done.


Full disclosure: I wrote several articles for Municipal World magazine in the past, but not for pay or any other remuneration. MW’s book arm published my three most recent books when I was on council. At least seven of the nine on council have not read them, nor am I aware of those seven ordering and reading ANY of the many other books published by MW. And yes, I did read every issue when I received it as a councillor. I considered it a responsibility to do so. Obviously my belief in educating oneself in the roles and responsibilities of a municipal politician, and learning from the experience and wisdom of others is an archaic notion.

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