True Integrity? Not The Block…


IntegrityThere’s an interesting article online called, 13 Traits of People With True Integrity that opens with the (unintentionally?) funny line:

Integrity, for those who are not familiar, is quite important.

After you guffaw at that bit, the author continues, “People who have a strong sense of integrity are sadly a rare breed. However, there are still some people left in this world with integrity, and usually, they share the following 13 traits.” Integrity in this article is linked to the meaning, “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” (Yes, I know we’re talking about The Block, just stop snickering and let me finish.)

We all agree that integrity is sorely lacking these days, particularly in our politicians. And I’m not talking just about Donald Trump and his gang of sociopathic liars. No, I mean locally, where the Trump mini-mes form The Block on Collingwood Council. Integrity, it seems is not as important here as it ought to be.

So let’s look at those 13 traits and see if we can measure The Block against them. How well do they collectively live up to these standards? Or do they fall below the bar? And if so, how far? Here’s number one:

1. They value other people’s time.
Okay, we’re not off to a good start. First, they don’t value anyone except themselves and the interim CAO. And maybe the sole-sourced lawyers and consultants the interim CAO hired to provide The Block with a foundation for their wild and paranoid conspiracy theories. But Brian and his Block certainly don’t value the time of the hospital board and staff, otherwise why would they waste it in their futile, confrontational efforts to block the hospital’s redevelopment plans? They certainly didn’t value the time of the Collus-PowerStream board or the water utility board – otherwise why would they appoint them only to fire them (illegally) and replace them with pro-Block stooges? They didn’t value the time of Collus-PowerStream staff whom they harassed and made increasing demands for information that they already had (If The Block actually read anything, they might have realized they were asking for information that had been provided several times previously).

So for number one, they fail the test. Well, maybe they can make up for it in the next twelve.

2. They give credit where it is due.
Oops. Another one they don’t live up to. The Block try to take credit for everything, even though they have not actually done anything this term. Really not done ANYTHING of note, aside from raising your taxes three times and giving themselves a pay hike each time.
In particular, they claim credit for projects and initiatives begun by the previous council, which should be humourous, given their absolute hatred of the former council. To be fair, Block-wannabe, Councillor Edwards, always says thanks to staff for every scrap of paper they produce, even though his questions suggest he hasn’t actually read it. That’s his major contribution to council meetings – thanking staff gratuitously for doing their highly paid jobs – so maybe we shouldn’t complain. Without that, he’s be as silent as Councillor “Sleepy” Ecclestone in meetings.
Well, yes, they did pass a bylaw to make it illegal to throw birdseed on your porch, so we have to give them credit for that stellar piece of legislation. But even though it’s the highlight of their legacy, it doesn’t deserve a lot of credit.

Number two fails, too. Eleven left to check.

3. They are authentic.
That’s hard to decide. If by the word authentic, you mean, “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified” then yes: they are authentically evil, unethical, immoral and dishonest. And they revel in those traits because they are true to their nature. But the writer clarifies: “You won’t catch them in a lie or being fake.” In which case, no they aren’t ‘authentic’ any more than Donald Trump is honest. Some of them lied on the campaign trail in order to get elected, and never broke the habit after they won.

Another no in number three.

4. They are always honest.
We’re really not doing well here, are we? Most council watchers would be delighted if The Block were honest just once. Always – that’s such a distant goal for them that we might as well be talking science fiction here. Just once in four years would be nice. Like keeping just one of your campaign promises – but I suppose it’s far too late for that since they were all broken within the first few weeks of The Block taking office. It would be nice, too, if they just once honestly told us their motives behind their destructive rampages through our utilities and their staff. But you can’t get zebras to change their stripes. Honesty, it seems, is out of their reach. Light years away.

Number four is a definite no way.

5. They never take advantage of others.
Not when the others are looking, of course. The Most Secretive Council Ever does its conniving and backstabbing behind closed doors. That way they can manipulate and scheme without public scrutiny, them come out and pass a motion to do their dirty work after the cameras are off and the media have gone home. Why attack someone frontally when you can stab them in the back?
They certainly took advantage of the trust staff initially gave them. They have time and again taken advantage of the mayor’s good nature and her unwillingness to be as nasty, uncivil or selfish as they are. They took advantage of the taxpayers by promising to be open and accountable, which, like giving out sole-sourced contracts, they ignored from day one.
In fact, they have taken advantage of everyone and everything they can in order to benefit themselves and pursue their personal agendas and vendettas.

So they fail at number five.

6. They do not argue over disagreements.
Given that they conduct everything of importance and relevance to taxpayers behind closed doors, it’s hard to tell if they argue or even disagree. Since their ideology requires them to march in lockstep with Brian and the interim CAO, and to vote as they’re directed, it’s hard to imagine them being anything more than puppets. I suppose you could say they are very agreeable – as long as the words come from Brian, the interim CAO or one of his sole-sourced lawyers or consultants. With them they never argue. With everyone else, though – recall how confrontational, disrespectful and argumentative they were to hospital board and staff at the public meeting. That is how they treat everyone with ideas or opinions not in line with their own.

Nope, they fail miserably at number six.

7. They give most people the benefit of the doubt.
The Block didn’t give the Collus-PowerStream board, or the water utility board any chance to even speak on their own behalf before they illegally fired them all. They didn’t give the staff at Collus-PowerStream the benefit of the doubt when they kept asking over and over and over and over for the same information (all of which they had received months earlier). They didn’t give the former council or staff the benefit of the doubt about the provincially-lauded share sale last term. Or about the construction of the now much-loved aquatic centre and new arena. They didn’t give the hospital board the benefit when it said it would provide answers to all the questions (in fact, Brian and Kathy even snuck down to Oakville hospital to try and dig up dirt they could use against our hospital, but failed to find any…). They didn’t give the benefit of the doubt to the airport board or the airport developers trying to create a $300 million industrial centre there that would create hundreds of jobs.
The writer clarified, “They accept your word as truth until it is disproven,” which is exactly the opposite of The Block’s ideology. Like the old Soviet Union, they believe in guilty until – well, forever. They never accept any proof of innocence. Little wonder people are starting to refer to town hall as the “Little Kremlin.”

I can’t think of anyone, any organization or agency The Block have given the benefit of the doubt to. Their ideology tells them they are always right, because they already know everything, so it would be hard for them to even acknowledge someone else had a point to make.

They don’t pass number seven, either. See number nine for similar comments.

8. They know when something is bothering someone.
Well, sure they do. But so what? The writer comments, “They have a great intuition that lets them know when something is going on. If someone is down in the dumps they will notice. Chances are they will actually do what they can to cheer you up.” So let’s break that down: intuition? None, not even minimal let alone great. They lack that facility because they have replaced it with a we-know-everything-we’re-always-right ideology. Cheers others up? They destroyed the morale at Collus-PowerStream, in our water and electrical utility boards, in our water utility. They showed great disdain and disrespect to our airport board, to our hospital board, to local developers (who aren’t in-laws). They mostly refuse to participate in the popular Elvis festival, thus insulting the thousands or residents who enjoy the event.

The only way they could cheer up anyone in this town is through mass resignation.

So, yes, they know when people are upset, but frankly they don’t give a damn. It’s always been their way or the highway. I’d call that a failure.

9. They believe others.
The Block didn’t believe the board or staff of Collus-PowerStream when it challenged the erroneous reports from the sole-sourced consultant. They didn’t believe the integrity commissioner who investigated the complaints about their bad behaviour (so they fired him). They didn’t believe the COO of the water utility who publicly said a sole-sourced consultant’s report “bordered on the fraudulent,” so he quit. They didn’t believe the hospital board or staff or its planner who made a case for redevelopment on a new site. They still don’t believe staff or users who say the new aquatic centre and arena are great places to play and perform, and very energy-efficient and welcoming. They didn’t believe the CEO of Collus-PowerStream and harassed him until he retired early. They didn’t believe the IT staff when they said they did the job better and for less money than hiring new people and giving them new offices would (in fact, the annual cost for IT services has tripled as a result).

To be fair, The Block believe everything Brian says. And everything the interim CAO tells them. And everything their highly-paid, sole-sourced lawyer tells them. Just not anyone with expertise, experience or professional status in the fields they question.

So we say no for number nine.

10. They apologize first.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha… okay, let’s stop laughing. Apologizing is associated with taking responsibility and since The Block Never Take Responsibility, they never apologize. They blame everyone else for their own actions, especially when they cause problems. Which is very often. They blamed PowerStream for the horrible mess The Block and the administration made of the shared services agreement, they blamed the hospital for the roadblocks The Block and the administration put up. They blamed the former IT services for the mess The Block and the administration made by creating a town IT department. They blame me for their miserable popularity ratings. 

The writer says people with integrity “… own up to their mistake and try to make things right” which should start you giggling again when you think of The Block.

They never apologize, period. No to number ten.

11. They are humble.
I’ll say it again: stop laughing. We still have a few more to go. Humble isn’t a word in their vocabulary. The Block are so arrogant and self-centred that Councillor Bob “Fluffydog” Madigan used a non-political charity golf event this summer to promote his own run for deputy mayor next year, and his leader, Brian Saunderson’s run for mayor. As if either had a chance…

Councillor “Gimme Gimme” Jeffrey was voted an unlimited expense account to wine and dine around the country at taxpayer expense, without any oversight or accountability on her spending – and we’ve never heard once what she did for the town’s benefit for all that money. They have the collective arrogance to think that they are not accountable to the public and have no need to engage the public or explain their actions.

L’etat c’est moi. Number 11 is another no.

12. They do good when they can.
Well, yes if it means doing good for themselves and not the rest of the community. Like giving themselves a pay hike three times running, while putting up property taxes each time. And sure they help their few friends and in-laws and cater to that dwindling handful of supporters. And yes, they hand out sole-sourced contracts like party favours to people who will tell them what they want to hear. But if it means doing something – anything – for the greater good, for the taxpayers and residents and seniors and everyone else who lives here – forget it. They have aggressively and deliberately done harm to the town’s reputation, facilities, agencies and operations and will continue to do so until they are kicked out of office.

Number twelve fails. This isn’t looking good, is it?

13. They are always kind to those who need it.
The Block raised taxes THREE TIMES this term already. In a community already overtaxed with lower average income and a higher number of seniors than our comparators, that was meant to hurt the seniors and people on low or fixed incomes the most. They also raised water rates and are planning to sell our electrical utility to an out-of-province, for-profit corporation which will raise the electrical rates with no accountability. All of this hurts the people most vulnerable. They have blocked an airport development that would have created hundreds of much-needed jobs here, and blocked a hospital redevelopment that would see similar growth in related healthcare industries (not to mention improved healthcare for everyone).

Kindness, like compassion, like caring, is another of those words not in The Block’s vocabulary. Unless it means being kind to themselves, since that’s all they really care about. Especially when it comes to giving themselves entitlements and pay hikes. Ah, how the stench of entitlement hangs about in the council chambers these days…

Number thirteen fails, too.

So let’s add up the yeses and nos. Let’s see… one, two, three… that’s thirteen nos and…, oh my. No yeses.  Not even one. A simple test of integrity and they can’t even get one of the traits on their side. I suppose that’s just what we expected, isn’t it? 

I don’t make this stuff up. Try it yourself and see if you can find a single of these traits in which The Block excel. Or even get a passing grade. A single example of their integrity.  You’ll fail. Thirteen chances at redemption and they didn’t make the grade on a single one.

That makes them sort of like ethical ebola: something no one wants to come in contact with in case it’s contagious. Bad news for our community, but the good news is we can throw them all out next election and bring in people with ethics, morals and, yes, integrity.

Collingwood deserves better.
Let me add a postscript. In his book Why Be Good? (Rodale Books, NY, 1998), author Byron Sherwin writes,

Ethics is an inextricable part of the art of living. Who we are and who we aspire to become are, to a significant degree, the result of decisions we make – and many of those decisions are ethical… it is important for each of us to be and to remain ethically fit… Let it slip and it becomes increasingly difficult to retrieve.

What, then, can we say about a group of people who collectively aspire to greed, to power, to entitlements, to accomplish vendettas – and have clearly lost every shred of their ethical fitness? Aside, that is, from “There goes The Block…”?

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