Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lunenburg Council Meeting - A few items on tonight's agenda

Just browsed through tonight's council agenda and I noticed a few things that might be of interest to the residents of Lunenburg. 

1-  Council is being asked to approve the contribution of up to $620,152 for exterior work to the Lunenburg Academy.  As a resident I would like to understand this expenditure.  It is a large sum of money.  Will this affect our tax rate?  If we are spending this much money is there still money in the budget to install the bio filter (odour control mechanism)  in the Waste Water Treatment Plant? This money is for the exterior of the Academy. What happens when the paint chips off again?  Is this an ongoing expense?

There may be a perfectly sound plan, but as a resident I would like to hear the details.

Our existing bylaw that states that council times are at 7:00 on Thursdays is being repealed.  This is the policy that will replace it.  This is the very first item on the agenda.  There is a public hearing at the beginning of the meeting, so if anyone has an issue with council meetings taking place when most residents cannot attend please show up and have your say.  If you cannot show up because of the time then feel free to email me a letter and I will submit it to council on your behalf.

I have two concerns with a 5:15 meeting time.  Firstly, it is a difficult time for residents with jobs and parents of school age children.  As such, it limits civic engagement.  

My other concern is that this council time prohibits the vast majority of residents from running for council. We should be striving for a diversity of ages, gender and perspectives on council.  We cannot achieve this goal if we exclude people with jobs. 

This is from the minutes of the last council meeting.  It describes the motion to remove councillor Davis from all committees.  A few things concern me.  It confirms that councillor conduct was discussed in camera.  Can councillor conduct be discussed in camera?  I don't recall that being one of the permitted items listed in the Municipal Government Act.  I am also concerned that there is such an issue being made regarding Councillor Davis' offer to resign.  This offer was made in the heat of the moment, in a private conversation with the mayor. Is it right for the mayor to disclose the contents of a private conversation to the press and the rest of council?  If disclosing the contents of private conversations with the mayor is in fact the right thing to do I'd really like to know that.  Asking for a friend.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Silencing Communication Never Works

After questioning the transparency of the town,  Lunenburg Town Council has voted to remove Councillor Brian Davis from all committees of council.   The majority of council wants Brian to resign, but since they have no legal right to demand his resignation they have voted to silence his voice using any means available to them.

Silencing communication is never the way forward.  Two way communication is the only way to resolve conflict.  Silencing a voice that wants to be heard will always backfire.  It creates animosity, anger, frustration and division. Ultimately, when one wants to be heard they will find a way.

We recently saw this phenomena with U.S senator, Elizabeth Warren when she was prohibited from reading a letter from Coretta Scott King .  The senate found her voice threatening, so they pulled up an old law and used it to prohibit her from addressing the senate. What did Elizabeth Warren do?  She went out in the hall and posted a video of herself reading the letter.  It went viral.  The senate took away her microphone and handed her a megaphone.

When the Town of Lunenburg excluded me from the committee that had been established to discuss the very issue that I brought forward, they chose silencing over communication. They took away my microphone and handed me a megaphone.

Brian Davis is asking many questions regarding council procedures.  All effort is now going into silencing Brian Davis' voice.   They are taking away his microphone and inevitably handing him a megaphone. 
When will they ever learn? 

The next council meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday February 28th at 5:15.  Please come and support Brian.  Taking a stand takes great courage.  Taking a stand is a very lonely experience.  He needs the presence of his supporters.  See you there.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Anonymous Love Letters

Last week I went to the post office and found a hand written letter in my box.  I was pretty excited.  I miss letters.  Well, I opened it and wouldn't you know it, it was a hate letter.  It was silly and delusional and signed, "A Lunenburger"  I do know who wrote it because after sharing it on Facebook someone had a signed letter with the same hand writing.  Really, I feel sorry for this person.  I would recommend taking up knitting.  Put beauty into the world.

But speaking of beauty.... Today I went to check the mail and there were two more letters waiting for me.  My first reaction, of course, was, Oh God, get a life.  But I opened them up and wouldn't you know it, they were both anonymous love letters.   I won't share the contents, but to whoever wrote them...I love you.  You are sweet and caring, you made me smile and you are the Lunenburg I focus on. Love trumps hate.

There is one particularly charming part of this story.  All three letters were addressed to Anna Shoub, Lunenburg.  No PO Box, no street address.  Is that not the best?  I do love this town.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

You have shamed the family and now you must die.

Lunenburg Councillor, Brian Davis, has shamed the council family and now he must die.

After weeks of insisting that Lunenburg council needs to be more transparent, Mayor Bailey finally received  public affirmation of her rightness and now she wants Brian Davis to resign.  An article on the  CKBW web site states,  "Bailey is concerned Davis has damaged the trust the town has in council with his efforts over the past weeks."

There's a pattern with Lunenburg council.  It goes something like this:  A citizen, a councillor or the local press dares to ask a question.    Instead of examining a new perspective, Council does everything in its power to shut this perspective out. All effort goes into proving the rightness of how things have been done for years and in silencing and shaming the offending questioner.

Those citizens that attend council meetings have not lost trust in council because council might appear to be wrong.  They have lost trust in council because of how they consistently stone wall any new perspective.

The issue of the day is in-camera meetings, but it hardly matters. It's not the issue, it's how every single conflict is handled.  Shut it up.  Shut it up.  Shut it up.  We are right.  You are wrong. Do you see how wrong you are?  Look how badly you made us look.  Shame!

I'm a news addict.  I love to listen to interviews with other provincial politicians and local organizations.
I have heard Halifax Mayor, Mike Savage, talking about the need for HRM council to constantly examine red tape.  I have watched Annapolis Royal respond to challenges by creating a red tape committee.  A couple of years ago, I spoke to the Antigonish building inspector who told me how he was part of a local group working to reduce red tape. I heard the head of the Halifax police commission state that they were always examining ways to improve their practices.  None of these statements or actions are about being right or wrong.  They are about understanding that things can always be better.  Red tape happens in every organization.   Transparency can always be improved.  It does not matter if you can say you are right.  It matters if you can say, "We can do better."

Lunenburg never says, "We can do better."  They only say, We are right.   It's exhausting.  This is the change that the citizens who elected Brian Davis wish to see.  We want a council that does not try to get rid of a councillor with a new perspective. We want a council willing to consider that things can always be done better.

Brian Davis'  desire to constantly examine and improve should be commended.
The mayor should be saying, Thank you for your concerns.  Thank you to all the citizens of Lunenburg who are concerned. Let's see if there are ways to be more transparent.  Let's see if there are ways to make our processes better.

There's this notion that council needs to present a united front to the town.  It is the job of a Municipal councillor to represent his constituents to council, not to represent council to his constituents.   A good councillor  questions and improves the processes of council.  I voted for Brian because he was willing to do this job.  Brian represents my values and my perspectives and the values of many other residents.  I'm not sure it's appropriate for the mayor to be calling for the removal of our representation because she feels they  made council look bad.  This is government.  Reasonable people should be able to disagree.