Howling at the Moon – Accountability and finger pointing

Filed under: Opinion |

by Sylene Argent

It is easy to point fingers, but we are taught in our youth that when you do that, you have three move fingers pointing back at yourself.

There is a difference between deflecting responsibility and making a point. Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell which is what when dealing with a tricky situation. As we experience situations, our radar gets better at determining that.

While I was at the special Council meeting on Monday, the Mayor or Essex asked me to write positive things and refrain from the negative.

Wow! Really!

I get Fred Groves has put the fire to them lately, and who doesn’t want a positive light shed on one’s work. I want to write all the positives when I can.

My Council Notes, I would say, are neither negative or positive. I write what actually happens in the Council chambers. I do not have misleading headlines and don’t twist the facts. My only agenda is to move the Town forward. I record the meetings and often play them back, especially when it is a sensitive topic. I devour the reports submitted to Council to try and paint the best picture I can of every topic.

Am I perfect? No. Of course not. But, I strive for it every week. No one is perfect. I have written that in this column many times. Imperfections and mistakes are what allow us to grow and learn.

There are two problems with the Mayor’s comment. Firstly, you are trying to dictate how I should conduct my business as a reporter. Secondly, it was during a meeting and as the Mayor should know I can not even engage the situation as protocol for a meeting does not allow that. To be fair, I was the only non-Council and non-staff member there, but does that make a difference? Rules are rules, as he always likes to say.

I was also given some suggestive direction from Councillor Bill Caixeiro  as to what he wanted included in my notes. After they were finished discussion on the Community Services Department, he suggested that I should include that the Town was doing a good job with Community Services because if they were not the taxpayer has to flip the bill.

It was also after I was asked by Council members to put in my notes that Councillor Randy Voakes was absent and apparently did not tell anyone he would not be there, but they were not sure if he had contacted the Clerk (that’s hearsay then, not a fact and I’d have to figure out the truth before I wrote it in an article).

Whether or not Voakes said he would or would not show, Ward 1 had no representation at a budget-type meeting to review and finalize the 2017 General Municipal Mill Rate and the 2018 to 2021 Operating and Capital Forecast. I found it interesting that the fact that a Ward did not have representation at a meeting like this was not mentioned by one other council member as their concern.

When did my articles become a message board? Hey, I am there to pass along Council rep’s opinions and highlight their thoughts so voters know what you are up to, but there is a difference in sharing an opinion and telling the reporter how and what to write.

I absolutely refuse to be a pawn in some kind of tit-for-tat game between Council reps or be dictated to on what and how to write as we gear up for a 2018 election.

Contrary to what the Deputy Mayor wrote about reporters making stories more interesting in his Letter to the Editor last week, trust me, Council creates no shortage of interest that any has to be created. I am busy enough and do not need to add unnecessary drama to my to-do list. All I ever wanted was for everything to run smoothly.

Most interesting was the musical chairs our Council played at the last meeting. For as long as this Council has been in place the seating has remained the same. At the last meeting, Councillor Bondy and the Deputy Mayor had switch seats, placing Meloche next to Councillor Randy Voakes, who moved down a seat to Councillor Steve Bjorkman’s temporarily vacant seat.