The Windsor Independent – Jon Liedtke
Jan. 15, 2016
City council has been hijacked. It was hijacked before this council was sworn in, and it appears as if it will remain as such.
It was hijacked by greed, manipulation, and a lack of concern for the basic tenets of democracy.
When councillors approved the enhanced capital budget, it signalled that the ‘Sunny Ways’ Canadians have been observing on the federal scene will bypass the 401 entirely.
Blatant vote buying is taking place. The mayor, with support of friendly councillors, has continued a legacy set before him by his predecessor of helping councillors geo-target and ‘purchase’ votes from residents.
A simple look at the Mayor’s initiatives approved in the enhanced capital budget is enough to turn your stomach and fill your head with rage.
Of $10 million doled out whether in sacks of cash stamped with a money symbol or in envelopes handed out in a dark alley- $6.1 million went directly to the mayor’s friendly councillors for ward enrichments meant to appease their constituents: $1.5 million went to Hilary Payne (Ward 9), $1.1 million to Ed Sleiman (Ward 5), $2.1 million to Paul Borrelli (Ward 10), $600,000 to Fred Francis (Ward 1), and $800,000 to Jo-Anne Gignac (Ward 6).
It should surprise no one that this group of councillors received a wonderful Christmas present: reelection, so long as they continue to do exactly what has been set out before them.
In order to fend off rightful outrage at this blatant abuse of democracy, and sound and ethical business practices, the enhanced capital budget also includes a $2 million arts endowment, meant to unveil annual art pieces throughout the city (hey, artists love art, right? That should appease them), $400,000 to be divided equally among all councillors, amounting to $40,000 each, and a mysterious $1.5 million sum reserved for “environmentally significant lands acquisition”, perhaps something to appease those pesky environmentalists who keep hammering on about very legitimate issues that we just don’t have time for right now.
What we have is a municipal omnibus in this enhanced capital budget – oppose one part of it, and you oppose the whole thing.
I can just hear the talking point from the mayor and friendly councillors: “You don’t think $2 million for artists is a good thing?”, they’ll say slyly, almost with a Cheshire Cat grin, knowing we’ve all been duped.
It’s time for something new.
We are past the point where we can allow our citizens to be misled purposefully. What we need is a new course. What we need, is a new voice. What Windsor needs is accountability; something we’ve been lacking.
This administration, much like the one before it, is a failure. Not a failure in the sense that they did not achieve their goals, but because, quite frankly, they have; above and beyond.
A failure because they’re resorting to these types of actions.
It’s not that they’re not nice people, and assuredly, they have the best interests of their constituents at the forefront of their mind.
But, is this the cost of zero-tax increases? Having to gut our political morals and accept that playing in the mud is the only way to get things done?
Perhaps. For the time being, it appears the answer is yes.
The Windsor Independent
Jan. 15, 2016
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Jon Liedtke was a co-owner and business development manager for The Windsor Independent.