Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grumble grumble comments on municiple politics

I know this is a bizarre and stupid idea, but honestly, I don't care what end of the polarized and polarizing political spectrum my municipal politician (or any other politician) has for that matter. I believe that every voter should take up the time to size up their local candidate, the same as they would if they were conducting a job interview. They should look at their experience, past record, their vision, their ability to communicate ideas, their trustworthiness and their skills, and vote for the guy who has the ability to lead, create policy, work in a team, and who really truly cares about doing the right thing for the people he is representing, even if it means changing his mind. Its nice when the package of ability of a person I trust to make decisions about my life happens to share key philosophies with me, but I'd rather have a competent leader that I occasionally disagree with, then an incompetent one that spouts what they think I want to hear, but doesn't have a clue what they are doing. The only thing worse is one that is only their for wrong reasons.

Where is this rant coming from? - yet again this post is brought to you by the dangers of reading the comments on political newspaper articles. Although, perhaps its as much in response to the content as the comments. I think that for the most part the comments were actually generally well thought out although partisan. I think we'd do well to get past the concept of left and right and focus on a shared vision of success and happiness for our country, province or community. Sadly, federal and provincial politics have degraded to the point where you wonder why we are paying these guys to spend half their time calling the other guy a moron-liar-thief-incompetent and the other half of their looking for dirt to back up their raving.

The gist of the article is that Rob Ford, the proudly-right-wing, newly-elected mayor of Toronto has selected a cadre of like minded folks to fill key leadership roles on city council. I hope, that regardless of their political stripe, he has chosen people who are competent rather than just greasily cooperative and like-minded. The person running public works should in my admittedly biased opinion know something about public works - a civil engineer would be an ideal candidate. The politician keeping track of the budget and book keeping should have some kind of business or accounting background. These people should be leaders, set the standard for work ethic, and be able to create an environment of collaboration on their committees so that the city benefits from the abilities of all 44 councilors working on their behalf (ideally). The minute you have your municipal councilors identifying themselves as being liberal, conservative or NDP then council will quickly degrade into a lot of time wasted on partisan nonsense.

The counselors loyalty should be to their riding, the people whom they represent, not to some political gang more interested in its own survival than their real job. While I see the obvious efficiency of having parties, the fact that the concentration of the decision making in the party leader and their cabinet and too often their unelected policy advisers rather than have to everyone make a decision and do the research individually. This fact is why armies have generals and schools have principals. The failure to do this results in events like the 2-hour scrap paper drawer debate of '96 when a simple decision that just should have been made by an administrator (because honestly the location of the scrap paper drawer is so inconsequential that it does not merit discussion in a team meeting nor a vote) turned into a painfully lengthy debate including ruffled feathers and a good deal of time wasted. Still, it does reduce the say of members who are not in the cabinet even though they may represent a large area or a large number of people.

I don't really have any background in political science, so I may not know a thing about what I'm talking about and I'm not pretending that I do. Still, as I see it, municipal politicians are more or less running a business that delivers basic services to people with a smattering of policy, thus the ability to get the job done has a major direct impact on the lives of people in their community and I don't care whether they like Stephan Harper's sweaters or not, I just want them to be able to efficiently run the city and not make too many expensive mistakes even if they have to change their mind from their original stance after learning that its not a good idea (called flip-flopping by the opposition) because only a moron-liar-thief-incompetent would do something they knew was the wrong thing to do, just because that was the thing they said they thought they should do originally. So, I really hope that Rob Ford picked his leaders based on their merits and not just because he thought they'd tell him what they thought he wanted to hear.

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