When you engage in public debate you should know when to disengage, or as the adage goes “know when to stop digging” when you are already in the hole.
A recent example is the furor and invective, as well as some derision aimed at the new Mayor of Cobourg. Lucas Cleveland said he ran for Mayor to avoid an acclamation for the old Mayor. He also refused to engage in policy debates and just repeated the mantra “I am a leader and will lead Council” His opinions about what the Town should spend its money on and what direction he wanted the Town to go in were still unknown until the Town started to discuss the 2023 Budget.
A couple of controversial and astonishing remarks immediately angered some of the Townsfolk. Calling the Transit system a “luxury” and supporting the axing of the Centennial Pool and the Tree Planting programme set the tone. His defence of these remarks was twofold: one they were expensive items for a Town to support and we should be talking about the need or support, secondly he bragged about being a leader and as such, in that capacity, he was stimulating debate and making people uncomfortable in talking about the items.
The public stand that has infuriated the populace was his support for a proposal brought forward by Citizen Bryan Lambert. He produced a slide show to support his position that Council, as a whole, is underpaid and that the workload of the Council has overtaken the remuneration. Stating that the job of Councillor is now a fulltime job and currently the wage is less than minimum wage it should be paid as such.
The Mayor has enthusiastically supported this proposal also pushed for a personal assistant so, as he said, “It will give me more time to lobby other levels of government.” These moves created a huge backlash as well as almost a revolution in the Council Chamber during the debate about the proposal. A couple of members took extreme umbrage with his “mansplaining” of the need for the assistant. He saw the lack of support for the idea and withdrew it.
Not content with just sitting back and licking his wounds Mayor Cleveland went on the offensive to defend his position. In a recently published interview with “Today’s Northumberland” he explained his position. Pete Fisher, the Publisher also placed the link on his Facebook page and then the comments exploded. Some of the comments are here I didn’t find one comment in support.
So my advice to the new Mayor is to give up the defence and move on to a couple of items that need fixing in the future:
- We need to find a replacement for the Centennial Pool and fast. it is no use saying “the pool was slated for closure next year” without offering a replacement or a public debate about the need. I would suggest he mend fences by spearheading a public fundraising campaign for the renovation of the pool. We do not need a grandiose Aquatic Facility that will cost millions, we need a summertime swim. Join the Rotary Club and lead the fundraising. The Lions Club contributed mightily to the initial funding. Get the Service Clubs involved and the well heeled to chip in.
- Sort out the Transit mess, it is of no public interest when you harp on the fact that each rider costs the Town large bucks.
- Drop your apparent vendetta against the library by trying to embarrass the workers by revealing their salaries.
In other words Mr Mayor if you want to be the “Agent of Change” you have to understand the environment and pick the hill you want to die on. Council salaries, and the BurdReport happens to agree with your position, is not that hill.