Opinion – Open Mouth Insert Foot Disease Reigns

through the looking glass

By Marianne Curtis

It is a known fact that I am a municipal groupie. I attend more council meetings throughout the region then I care to shake a stick at. If I can’t attend, I know that a mere phone call away I will find the answers I seek.

It is such common knowledge, that sometimes various councils consult me on what their neighbours are doing and I have gladly offered advice on some issues even when it wasn’t asked for. I give that advice freely, especially if it will benefit the ratepayers in the end.

For example, one municipality was establishing a dog bylaw – I offered them some useful information on who has hired whom to deal with a dog problem, and who has the best bylaws for enforcement. Information is also available to ratepayers who, for example, may want to know more about another municipality’s livestock bylaw.

I do not mind this at all. After all, I have been in this business for six years and I have learned and seen a lot along the way. Not to be excluded are bitter feelings of one council against another or councilors against councilors.

What perturbs me the most, is when I am sitting in a council meeting and a councilor looks at me point blank and dares me to quote him – when he knows he has already been caught with his pants down (so to speak). He already knows he stuck his foot in his mouth, he knows that if it pertains to the subject, what he said will be held accountable – and yet, he adds to the fire.

I personally don’t see the point of this. I mean, if you say something negative about another council or councilor, they might read it in the paper – after all – depending on the subject it is news. A backlash can be expected. Ill feelings develop and working relationships can even be destroyed.

But what these councilors fail to remember is that they are working for the people – not themselves. When they make enemies in other jurisdictions, they are not only affecting themselves, but the thousands of people they represent. Councilors need to carry themselves with integrity and be responsible – there is no room for emotions or personal preferences around the table.

Check your anger at the door ladies and gentlemen, and don’t tick off your neighbours – you might need them some day. And remember – the media is there to write the news, not be entertained or disgusted by your behavior. Oh, and one more thing – if you say it be prepared to be held accountable by the public.


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