I was eager to find out how the issue of the appointment to the Guy Lombardo Tempo VII would turn out once it went before Council for a final decision. Unfortunately, it was almost the last item on the agenda and I can't say the decision was worth waiting for.
Following dinner break last night, Council returned to council chambers to complete the agenda. The first part of the meeting had gone reasonably amicably and, given that all had dined on what my experience tells me must have been a pretty darned good meal with lots of dessert, I anticipated relatively goodwill all around.
Alas, it was not to be. It began with a tussle between Councillors Polhill and Armstrong over the naming of a dead end street consisting of a dozen houses whose identity was lost when the Hale-Trafalgar overpass was built. Personally, I think they should have called it Hagar and saved a lot of anguish and embarrassment. I’ll reserve that story for another day.
Despite ultimately achieving consensus on the budget targets at the Committee of the Whole a few weeks earlier, some councillors appeared to be ready to go through the whole debate again at Council to ensure that some way, somehow, the zero per cent increase got into the resolution, if only as a goal.
It was Paul VanMeerbergen’s 50th birthday. Joe Swan suggested that he only deigned to have it because it had a zero in it. Perhaps that was why VanMeerbergen wanted to include the zero per cent goal in a motion that had already identified 2.4 per cent as the target. Councillor Joni Baechler suggested that such a qualifier would be contrary to the motion and asked the mayor to rule it out of order. Failing that, she would like to have an amendment to the amendment to ensure that council was committed to no service cuts.
Councillor Nancy Branscombe pointed out that “We had a full debate,” and suggested that opening up this line of amendments to the motion would “Open up a can of worms.”
“Is that a threat?” the mayor wanted to know. Nevertheless, he did not choose to test it and ruled the amendment out of order. There ended the first item on the Committee of the Whole report.
The next item was non-controversial but interest was regenerated with the following two items, appointments to the committees discussed in yesterday’s blog.
A third person had applied for the Steering Committee for the Old South Neighbourhood Improvement Plan, Dean Sheppard. It turned out that, contrary to my understanding, that subcommittee was open to three appointees and, having already selected two, the third was added with little comment.
The same cannot be said about the appointments to the Guy Lombardo Tempo VII Hydroplane Sub-Committee. Noting the appalling violation of procedure that had taken place at the Committee of the Whole meeting in dealing with the appointment to the sub-committee, Councillor Baechler, with the support of Councillor Swan, moved that Barry Wells be added as one of the appointments. Then it began.
Councillor Usher pointed out that he knew nothing about the recommended candidate, Derrick McBurney. Where was the application? It turns out the Usher had also missed that part of the meeting, something that I had not realized from my vantage point in the public gallery close to the only electrical outlet. How could he make a decision about someone for whom there was no information?
He was advised that the appointee had not made an application (despite the fact that he had several weeks to get one in after his rather unorthodox way onto the list for consideration). That reservation was shared by Councillor Branscombe.
Then it was Councillor Steve Orser’s turn. Orser, you will recall, was the one who had picked McBurney out of the public gallery, for a spur of the moment appointment.
Orser pointed out that McBurney had “spent 15 years in the Canadian Navy” so he should be “sea-worthy”. He noted that Barry Wells is a member of the media, just like Pat Maloney or Phil McLeod. Fortunately, neither of those esteemed gentlemen was in the room at the time. I think they would have some difficulty with that statement. Orser recalled how there had been controversy about the appointment of Nathan Smith, news director at 980 radio, to the London Transit Commission. He was not mollified when it was pointed out to him that Smith had been appointed but thought better of it and declined.
Councillor Sandy White took up the cause, calling Baechler a hypocrite, but it was unclear whether she was referring to the appointments issue or her feeling that she had been sabotaged in her attempt to get council to endorse a Multi-Cultural Economic Council earlier in the evening.
Orser then went on a rant about Wells, claiming the Wells “lacks integrity”. He denied that his actions were based on Wells’ “attacks on me” but decried “the things he said about me”. He ventured that “certain members want to get even with me”.
His frustration was palpable. “I give up on Wells,” he said. “Do whatever you want.”
All in all, it was quite a performance, with little consideration for protocol or public sentiment. There was little attempt to keep the meeting in order, with speakers being interrupted and heckled with no consequences to the hecklers.
A recorded vote showed that, in the absence of Councillor Bryant who is on a mission to New Zealand, the vote to add Wells was tied 7-7. A tied vote always loses.