You may have noticed an absence in columns in the last while. That’s because, like you, I¹m pretty much just just standing in the County and saying: “Wow! How stupid is that?! … Wait, here’s something even more unbelievable!”
Then the Church started to come down, and the absolute extreme, end-of the-universe, ” I can’t believe this is even happening” stories started to pour out.
Sheesh! It just wears you down.
I can’t write about this! I can’t even deal with the obvious: The enormous backlog of stupidity we have built since 1797 is now coming to full flower.
It’s just plain painful to watch.
So I won’t write about that in this column. I will write about the stupidity we are about to bring in later this year – on Election Day.
Nominations have just closed as I write this, and I have to say there were a number of surprises at the last minute.
We had one more person – Paul Boyd – jump into the mayoral race just a few hours ago. I knew Paul years ago and, I have to say, this guy is a contender. That’s not an endorsement, it’s just that I gave a long “Hmmmmmm” when I heard it on the radio. This could change everything.
(By the way, you will not see an endorsement of any candidate in this column, that’s not my job … that’s your job.)
After years of bitching in this column that “People SAY they want change, but they don’t VOTE for change,” I am happy to say this is going to be a pretty interesting election.
We now have four councillors and two former councillors running for the top spot. So there will be change, since only one of these can win.
There are some people who think ALL of the councillors should have run for Mayor, which would guarantee Change across the board.
I expect, by October 25, we will see some pretty heated Mayoral Debates, some amazing political side-stepping, several Big Bags of Outright Lies, perhaps some arm-wrestling competitions, a couple of mud-wrestling matches, maybe a Death Squad or two roaming the neighbourhoods, removing the “competition” and, with any luck at all, a Wet T-Shirt Contest.
As I slowly arm myself for the battle which is about to ensue (by fastening my samurai sword, and applying full body armour on top of my wet T-shirt), I am going to do something no columnist in Canada has ever done before.
I¹m going to give you a “heads-up” on something that hasn’t happened yet.
I am going to appear at the Mayoral Candidates meeting and, if they have an Open Mike, I will be asking them a couple of questions. (Since I also MC the Quarter Moon Coffee House in Bloomfield, I will likely sing a couple of tunes as well … I just can’t stop myself.)
No normal columnist gives away the question before the debate, because that gives them a chance to prepare an answer, well in advance. But I’m not normal.
So here is the first question I will ask, before I go to the back of the line to ask my second question:
“Prince Edward County has an Out-Of-Control Budget. We are spending more than we can generate in taxes. Our deficit continues to grow. The Budget issue is clearly one of the two major issues in this election.”
(Actually, it’s a good thing I’m asking this question now, because the preambles to my actual question can take up to three hours.)
Jumping ahead, my question is:
“All of you have been councillors; four of you have been councillors in the last term of office. Why didn’t you fix it then? Why did you just let the money go rolling out?”
“As Mayor, what makes you think you now have the Magic Touch to fix it?”
Keep in mind, County Council is not a dictatorship. If the Mayor has an idea – even a brilliant idea – he/she still has to convince the majority of councillors to agree with the Divine Inspiration behind it.
That’s a pretty tall order.
Which leads most politicians to promise everything to get elected, and then bemoan the fact that no one around them will follow the plan. It’s also a great excuse … so everything goes back the way it was.
(Come to think of it, there’s some hot races going on in the townships as well … maybe you can ask your incumbents the same question.)
Everyone has their own idea of how our budget can be fixed, including me.
I’m no top-notch economist, and the situation is complicated, but I have some observations which may help our candidates to form an answer. (This is also a columnist no-no but, if you remember, I’m not normal.)
Here’s my first thought, which is not very constructive at this point, but I¹ll add to the List later, with some possible solutions.
Amalgamation was supposed to reduce our costs, and build efficiency. For those of you who lived through this Sales Pitch years ago, you can now hold both fists in the air in triumph. You can scream, “I told you so!” and purge your frustration.
Everyone knew that “Growing Big” was a bad idea. Everyone was happy with the people they knew in their own townships. Everyone knew that our problems could be solved, quick and easy, with a phone call.
Everyone knew that, given the chance, Big Government always grows into Really, Really Big Fat Government, which needs to hire more people to just figure out what the Big Fat G has done.
But nobody can figure that out.
One top official told Council (according to the papers): “You really, really, really need to curb your expenses.”
The response was: “Yes, we understand completely.”
They really meant: “Jeez, what a Downer.” And carried on.
To me, the whole way of budgeting is out of whack, though there’s nothing you or I can do about it. It’s the way of the world now.
But I run a business and, the way County does things would be Death On Wheels in the business world.
For one thing: You never ask the people you employ to “keep your budget below a 5% increase.”
They will always come in at 7% and then, through intense negotiation, agree on 3%. So everyone can slap each other on the back, and rejoice in the Cost Savings.
Except it’s not a cost savings. It’s a cost increase.
This is how things start to spin out of control.
The rest of us are still earning the wages we had in 1995, but there’s a Big Party going on because our tough-as-nails Council is totally in control of regular increases over the last 15 years.
Sorry, forgot about the enormous property tax increase. And Wonder Bread, which has doubled in price in 12 months.
Sorry to ruin the party.
What a Downer.
Filed Under: Steve Campbell
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