The Big Question has been answered. Will this new council seek out new concepts and new ways of doing things; will it boldly go where no council has gone before?
Donovan Cavers and Arjun Singh have learned that in nothing flat.
They have been sent a clear message that civic government is about serious things, like landfill off-gassing and sewer pipes. It is not a forum for trying out off-the-wall ideas in the names of environmental friendliness, customer service or healthy living.
For example, Cavers got it in his head that, instead of raising their hands when voting, council members should stand. It would be healthy, he said.
It was a goofy idea, of course. What was interesting was how Cavers’ colleagues reacted when it came up for debate at the end of a four-and-a-half hour meeting Tuesday.
Ken Christian couldn’t resist. “This is not a Pilates class,” he began, grandly declaring that he ran for council to do the City’s business, not to get exercise.
This, in itself, demonstrated the usefulness of putting forward ideas with a week’s notice, for Christian put the time to good use polishing his clever rejoinder.
Good for you, Ken. Now cut it out. Council chambers are not the legislature or the federal House, in which combatants sharpen their political swords on hapless opponents. Neither is it the school board, where such comments can be made without fear of them ever making it to the public ear.
Everyone in the room, including Cavers, was aware the motion was going down 8-1. Was it necessary to speak at all?
To her credit, Nelly Dever treated Cavers’ idea respectfully, though she didn’t support it. She noted that good health is a product of good nutrition, proper exercise and a decent night’s sleep (which, incidentally, a certain senior staff member who somnambulated his way through the whole meeting might take to heart).
Also to her credit, Nancy Bepple thanked Cavers for bringing forward the idea, though she, too, opposed it.
At the end of this very short debate, Cavers stood to vote in favour, while the others sat to vote against. (As a side note, there’s nothing prohibiting Cavers from standing any time he wants to when he votes, as long as he also raises his hand.)
Adding to Cavers’ — and Singh’s — misery was council’s “flip flop” (we media love that term) on solar heat.
Maybe, with time, Cavers will learn to affect the chair-leaned-back nonchalance and self-assured demeanor of Christian, but Tuesday wasn’t a stellar day.
As for Singh, well, he had the temerity to support a citizen’s concern about snow clearance, proposing that the clearing of sidewalks and driveway windrows be put in the supplementary budget for consideration next year.
Horrors! The spectre of a tax increase was quickly raised. More importantly, though, was that “we,” as in councils past, have discussed this issue many times and “we” don’t want to do it again. No going where council has refused to go so many times before.
Apparently unaware that nobody save for Singh and Cavers was much interested in supporting the proposal, the mayor capped the discussion with another lecture on his aversion to “yet another report.”
Singh, as he himself appropriately put it, “quit while he was behind.”