Monday, May 7, 2012

Clear conscience? Yes indeed.

For a few weeks I've been stewing over some things in my head about next Monday's Municipal election day here in New Brunswick. I've been reading things from candidates in the newspaper and hearing things on the radio and television.
I can get past the people who aren't currently in office saying things like "we need open access to members of Council which we don't have."

Personally, this ticks me off a bit. I suppose that the evening phone calls or messages that I have promptly returned from my home don't count as access?
What of the multitude of emails from residents that I have received during my term that I replied to as soon as I was able to? I suppose if a reply is not instantaneous some may deem that unacceptable.
Oh, let's not forget on more than one occasion that someone has contacted me requesting that I attend their property to see something.
If I could I went right away.
There were instances that I contacted these people to advise that I was asking a member of staff or other to attend on my behalf as they were better suited to address the topic.
I guess that could be seen as my not being accessible.

Now I know that I can't speak for the other members of Council. Perhaps there were times that they didn't reply to or ignored something.
It just annoys me when there are broad brush strokes though. I tend to take it personally.

Let's just say that I am going into my last week as an elected representative of the Village of New Maryland with a clear conscience.
I believe that I have done all that I could and what I said I would do to keep New Maryland as an awesome place to live and raise a family.

There was a letter to the editor the other day from an elderly lady which seemed to imply that most of Council has failed to do any of the things that they promised before the last election.
I honestly don't have time to go into everything that was screwed up with that letter but it was full of misinformation and confusion.
She praised one member of Council for being a champion of the people and standing up against the rest of us.

No-one has ever properly explained to these people that when things like the Baker Brook construction came to Council for decisions the votes were unanimous. Who opposed them? No-one.

Council all agreed that the poor residents of Baker Brook had lived with a goat path of a road for long enough and we were going to do right by them and throw in a big bonus of municipal water and drainage while we were there. At no cost to them except to decommission their wells. What a great deal that was.
All of us felt great that we were doing a great thing.
ALL of us.

I wish that more people would take the time to go to the Village web site and read through all of the posted committee and Council minutes and see what really went on and who voted for what.
That would be very time-consuming but man, it would bring so much clarity.

While you're in there, have a look at the minutes from committee meetings and see what Council candidates were really part of what committees as they have stated in their campaign literature.

I understand that attending one committee meeting and then resigning shortly afterwards officially could be considered "being on the committee" but feel it is misleading.
The reader of the campaign literature would read that someone was "on" the committee and must have gained some great knowledge and experience from it.

In reality, one meeting really gives a person little experience.

Then there was a candidate who was a part of the construction of the walking trails behind the New Maryland Centre.

Myself and my entire family were involved in that project from its absolute start to the last day and I don't recall seeing this individual on site at all. I guess he may have been there on a day that I had to miss for some reason.
Or perhaps he was a part of the planning phase at a time when I was not? That seems unlikely though. I recall that very first meeting at the Village offices when we met to start planning the trails.
This was a few years before I ran for a Council position. My father was also at that meeting and was a large part of the construction too.

When I set up my campaign four years ago I listed the board and committee experiences with complete confidence.

When I said that I had been a member of the Water and Wastewater Committee I was talking about being at almost every single meeting for the previous four years.
That's what being a member of a committee really is. Not popping in for one meeting and skipping off again.

Prior to that last election I had sat in the public gallery on the Council chambers for over a year to see what went on and to get a feel for what Council is about.
While I was there I took that opportunity to do a Home and School report from New Maryland Elementary School. I was the president for a few years and felt that it was a good idea for Council to be aware of what was going on at the school.

I clearly realize now that there are things that a member of the public will not know that Council members and Village staff do.
In honesty though, these things are few in number and the reasons for privacy are clear to me.
Eventually all comes out to the public though. Once minutes are approved by Council they become public.

I really want to mention as well that every meeting of any committee or council session is open to all members of the public at all times unless there is a reference to a specific individual or property being made.
We have to adhere to privacy regulations for those cases and ask members of the public to step out until the discussion is over.

I can't recall a single time that this has happened though because no-one ever attends any meetings.

People complain that they can't get information or that things are being kept from them but everything is right there in front of them.
There is so much information for so many people to see, yet nobody takes a moment to see it and decides that it's easier to complain.

Ah well. This rant is nothing new.
I have told people this over and over again.
If you REALLY want to be a part or have input in what goes on. Step up!
Put your money where your mouth is!

When my term is done in the next couple of weeks I hope to remain on the Recreation and Transportation committees as a public member. If the new mayor and Council will have me.

If they decide that they don't want me there anymore I'll accept that and ride off into the sunset with my clear conscience and the satisfaction of a job well done.

At least until the next election.
But that's a blog post for another day. :)

Oh, I should mention that the Public Gallery will be a sweet place to be if I happen to have something to raise at a future Council meeting.
I'm just saying.

Stay well,

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