New councillor still has a lot to learn

District needs economic diversification of the tax base

Editor, The Record:

It isn’t often that a sitting councillor chooses to lash out through the opinion pages of local media, but apparently former councillor (Paul) Horn’s letter struck a nerve with Mr. (Dave) Hensman. Perhaps he should be forgiven, as the last week hasn’t been particularly kind to the CRMG (Citizens for Responsible Municipal Government).

First, their much anticipated Core Review did nothing but shine a very bright spotlight on the  foundation of sand upon which the new council built their election campaign and strategic plan.

This was followed up in short-order by council member(s) throwing the community into turmoil by bashing a very respected senior staff member in public for doing nothing more, nor less, than providing value-added service within their existing budget and mandate.

Now, on top of a good drubbing here in this forum by a cross section of the public, the CRMG and Mr. Hensman in particular, are having their rather selective interpretation of events challenged by those who have been paying close attention to what is actually being said and done by this council. Not the kind of “transparency” I suspect Mr. Hensman would have chosen at this juncture.

No matter, it is clear from his letter that Mr. Hensman will continue to cling to the myths that the messenger extolled and will continue to spin anything that can be used to cast the former council in role of “bad guy”.

It should be noted, however, that there is a very real difference between “ignoring” staff recommendations and “considering” them in the fullness of the larger context of a municipal budget. Mr. Hensman will learn this over the next year or so. He will also learn the realities of local governance, such as the very real economic cost of alienating the district workforce and the cost of clinging to the myth of “doing more with less.” Only through economic diversification of the tax-base will council “do more,” a fact that former councillor Horn and the rest of the previous council understood very well, and took very large steps to address.

The fruits of those labours, in the form of increased retail/commercial tax flow into the city coffers via the development strategies and efforts of those of us who came before, will be the “income growth” or “pennies” that Mr. Hensman and company now have at their disposal. It remains to be seen whether they can rise above the rhetoric and justifications for their recent behaviours and start governing. The initial signs are not encouraging.

 

Mike Scudder

Mission