I'm going to come clean: I voted for Mayor Joe.
The breadth of my reasoning had less to do with liking his platform and more to do with stirring the pot a bit and seeing what could happen - very scientific, I know. The incumbant, Anne Marie, had run out of steam from where I was sitting - not that I was ever that impressed by her rein. We needed some new faces and Joe's was new enough.
Don't get me wrong, I never bought his 0% tax schtick. I knew it wasn't workable. And I assumed he knew that, too, just like we both knew his promise of 10,000 new jobs for the city was never really going to happen. He was a character - a guy who was a lttle over the top in his enthusiasm for the job. On the whole, he had a Big Picture in his head, which was more than I could say for the others running that race.
"Why not give the guy a chance?", I thought.
I was wrong, of course, and I'm not the only. one. Joe's Big Picture these days seems to be doing whatever it takes to meet a few election promises vs. taking the long view for a city that desperately needs one. In a better world that would be a great thing - a politician trying to keep their promises. But we've learned too late that those promises are mostly about Joe, not about the city.
That Joe is a damn fine cheerleader for our city is not in dispute, nor is his genuine desire to bring jobs and prosperity back into town. Urban sprawl, neglected parklands, development at any cost (despite the best advice of city planners and residents), secret deals to sell off city assets, dysfunction in the council chambers, fuzzy surtaxes, Ombudsman investigations - these are just some of the reasons I regret giving the guy a chance.
Now the latest embarrassment: an RCMP probe into Joe's office finances from his time as a federal cabinet minister. The guy who has never been at a loss for adjectives has suddenly lawyered up and makes a point of running from the very media-types he loved to court. Ego intact, he refuses any discussion of stepping down from his post until the investigation is complete (perhaps the most honourabe path). Worse still, he will not even provide his side of the story to the very people who voted for him.
And for those who say Joe's RCMP troubles don't matter to our city - they're wrong. They do matter because these allegations speak directly to the ethics of the Mayor. They matter because we trust the Mayor to be a Stewart of the city's finances and growth. They matter because they cast doubt on the ability of the Mayor to put the city before personal interests.
We need to give Joe the benefit of the doubt under due process, but the Mayor needs to respond clearly to the citizen's of the city who elected him. A resolution is simple, really - 2 easy questions. Observe:
My free advice now complete - and apropos of nothing - here's my one-and-only Joe story:
Back in the mid-1980's, David Suzuki came to town and gave an evening talk at a local high school. I happened to be in attendance that night. Somehow, I ended up sitting in the front row of the auditorium and, to my surprise, Joe was sitting directly beside me (he was a city councillor - or maybe on Board of Control - back in those days).
Over the next 90 minutes or so we listened to Suzuki give his impassioned plea for us all to be nicer to the animals, plants, and natural resources all around us. Suzuki's talk complete (and our eyes opened), we all got up to leave and I found myself near the doors standing in a small group that included Joe. At this point in the story I have a vague sense that Suzuki was standing nearby, but that might be my own wishful thinking for a great embellishment.
As we milled about, waiting to leave the auditorium, I remember Joe making a small joke to no one in particular (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Well, after listening to all that, I guess I should stop kicking my dog, eh?".
You could have heard a pin drop after Joe's quip hit the floor with a meaty thud. I recall a few awkward chuckles as we all concentrated hard on getting out the door. All of us, I suspect even Joe, knew that a faux pas had been committed - in capital letters.
With our current troubles in the Mayor's office, I kind of feel that way again.