| Apr 07, 2005

Feature article,April 7, 2005

Feature article April 7, 2005

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Woes_innkeepers_wife"Rage Against the Municipal Machine" by W.Kenny

Thats the title of an article in the February 2005 magazine Municipal World. Its written by George Cuff, a Management Consultant in municipal matters, and Rick OConnor, Deputy Clerk and Legal Counsel of the City of Ottawa. Part of this article was included in South Frontenac Councils information package this week. Here are some quotes: "Regardless of any other good that a council might do in a term of office, if it does not pay attention to connecting with citizens, the tenure of elected officers will be short indeed. ..If avenues of discussion and debate are not kept open and accessible, it is highly likely that council will hear a public eruption...Ultimately a council and their administration must be mindful of their responsibility to serve the publics needs as expressed through the election, petitions, public hearings, council delegations and the like. Those serving the public must exhibit ...care for community concerns, (and) a desire to seek out the will of the majority...When these are not in evidence, the publics rage may well be expressed by angry outbursts or protests at council meetings, heated exchanges at the front counter, nasty letters to the editor..."

Sound familiar? Meeting after meeting, delegations from the Sydenham Safe Water Association have expressed frustration that their pleas, suggestions and offers of cooperation have been ignored or made fun of. Petitions and presentations asking for traffic calming measures in Sydenham were met by jokes about fast drivers all being local. Offers to help develop a system of trails and connecting roads as a compromise to opening all township roads to ATV use are brushed aside. Letters to council go unanswered. Angry and rude outbursts from the back of the hall are familiar to regular council observers, but have drawn a horrified "Does this sort of thing happen often?" from out-of-township visitors.

Sadly, the positive achievements of South Frontenac Council are being grimly overshadowed by the unfortunate perception that election to public office seems to mean one need never admit to being wrong, or that there just might be a better way of approaching some problems. Granted, a politician can never please everybody, and there come times when unpopular decisions have to be made. But when the same negative patterns repeat so often, it may be time to ask what could be done differently.

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