Just Makes Ya'
Just plain nasty and mean-spirited is about the only way to describe the Nanaimo political scene these days.
From the get-go of this council's term the rift the Mayor put between himself and the balance of council has set the tone we see still playing out today. Beginning with his complete turn around on the Colliery Dams, to the refusal to support council resolutions, to working more closely with the city manager than his own council, the blame for the divisive, combative nature of city council politics rests firmly on his shoulders. What other mayor has had 7 out of 8 councilors sign a letter asking him to resign? What other mayor was not trusted to refrain from running up massive expenses on his expense account?
Fast forward to the unexpected departure of City Manager Swabey and his replacement being hired by actually going through a job competition. It is noteworthy that Mr. Berry, Mr. Kenning and Mr. Swabey were never required to compete for the position of city manager and were basically 'appointed' by the outgoing manager.
The hiring of the current city manager was met with vicious opposition from the get-go with Councillor Brennan using back channels to immediately call the new managers hiring into question. Why she and McKay were so fiercely opposed to this hire is subject to nothing but speculation on my part but those reasons have been the source of an open, festering division at city hall that continues to this day.
Purely my own opinion here (I think I am entitled to one) but I can't help thinking that there was someone else in the queue that other people wanted hired in place of Ms Samra who may have had some history with Brennan when she worked there before. Perhaps someone to continue the Berry/Kenning/Swabey lineage.
Whatever the reason the running gun battle that has ensued to this day has proven neither healthy nor helpful in the running of the city's affairs. Rather than extending a hand of co-operation, opponents of the majority of council and the current city manager never miss the opportunity to heap criticism and condemnation on them at every opportunity.
During the recent event centre exercise which was resoundingly rejected by the electorate political turf was being carved out by those who wish to get some name recognition in the run up to the next civic election.
Social Media and Online Snipers
On some happy sounding social media pages with names like a bitter nanaimo you will find no end of mean-spirited commentary from folk bent on making life miserable for the administration at city hall and the majority of this council. With flip references to the 'fab five' no shortage of criticism is hurled at the majority of council given every opportunity.
Somehow, this faction on the Nanaimo political scene just can't seem to get over the fact that the majority of council isn't doing what they want, and therefore the claim is made that the 'five' have hi-jacked council. How absurd is that !!
As to nastiness on the social media circuit, perhaps the sleaziest example of that came when one of the usual online snipers tried to suggest that a person who raised funds to support Gord Fuller when he had his heart attack, was somehow setting in place a favour to be called when the current city manager was being considered for the position. How absurd is that??
Criticism was also thrown at the Hometown Hockey event by drawing the comparison that some communities hosted the same event for $50,000 while our tab greatly exceeded that mark. What the sniper didn't mention is this was more than a case of the circus rolling into town. It was an event with an outdoor skating rink, floor hockey rink and a very popular zipline. It was a serious attempt to put something together in Nanaimo that would be more than the two bit efforts that usually pass for an 'event' in Nanaimo. For all the hollering about trying to do something to make Nanaimo stand out, when someone actually does attempt to do that, there is no end of the crap and abuse they have to endure.
Referendum being claimed vote of no confidence
Headed by political wannabes the No Vote committee is trying to claim the recent referendum to borrow $80 million gives them some serious political capital with which to harangue the current city council.
Trying to capitalize on the referendum result local politico Don Bonner has set up another social media page by the name 'my nanaimo' which I presume he hopes will give him licence to be spokesman for this group. This is possibly the formation of an attempt to win a council seat, either in the upcoming by-election or the next general election. Some might remember it was Bonner who first published the information coming from D.Brennan about the Samra hiring. Some observers think that Mr. Bonner may be the chief cheerleader on the Brennan Bandwagon.
This was not a vote of no confidence, it was a vote saying NO to an $80 million loan. While I certainly did not support the loan I could appreciate the well intentioned motives behind trying to create a venue in Nanaimo that could be of benefit for decades to come. That said, due to pressures brought by the WHL to make a hurried decision, the project was pretty much doomed from the get-go.
Opponents were able to label the project as just an ice rink for rich WHL owners. A label the proponents had a hard time shaking, if they ever really did. There were too many legitimate objections to this project from the get-go but given more time the objections could have been overcome. Location, cost and funding were all credible objections to the project the way it was packaged and really made a soft target for those wanting to score political points by leading the charge to scuttle the project.
While I did not support the project, the way it was packaged and if the funding of the long term debt repayment had been more clearly laid out they might have gotten off the ground. Of course location may still have been the Achilles heal of that project anyway.
All that said, this was not some malicious misuse of taxpayer funds as the opponents would have you believe. It was a legitimate attempt to do something that was believed would benefit Nanaimo for years and years to come. The benefit would not simply have been WHL and their fans, but the facility would have had much greater benefit if it succeeded as planned.
So why all the mean, nasty and just downright ugly that keeps rearing it's head in Nanaimo??
You tell me, it is not new and this city has been polarized from the beginning to this day and this is just another glaring example of why Nanaimo is likely to always take a step forward followed by two back.