It’s about damn time we took the politics out of government. After the most recent few Orangeville Town Council Meetings, I leave feeling like I just watched the most ridiculous game of chess – where no one actually wins, but the Town residents suffer. Watching reactions from all of the members of Council with every motion that is brought forward, you can clearly see the wheels turning – they are trying to figure out what the underlying political motivation is – they are actively trying to unravel the conspiracy theories….wondering if someone is about to holler out ‘Check Mate’.
The Code of Conduct is an ongoing topic of discussion…in fact, this is one game that has been going on for the entire term of Council thus far, with no resolution. Still no code of conduct. This is a sore spot for me – maybe it’s the corporate world in me, I don’t know. I have said time and time again – if I were looking to do some hiring, and a potential employee refused to sign our company code of conduct, they just wouldn’t work for me. Period. End of Story. As a resident of this great Town, it makes me shake my head to continue to see pushback for what should be a non-issue such as this.
Councillor Garisto had issues with the report stating that this Code shouldn’t be limited to just Council and that it should also include staff – that the respect should go both ways. He was quickly corrected by the Clerk Susan Greatrix who stated, “There is a code of conduct in place for staff now and there has been for a number of years. I don’t know how many years, but certainly it has been in place for awhile.” Councillor Garisto also just simply doesn’t see a need for such a code, “We already abide by the Municipal Act, we already have things in place that give us direction.” He went on to say, “I know what a code of conduct is, and I think I follow this code of conduct to a tee.” I’m not sure which meetings Councillor Garisto has been attending if he doesn’t see the need for a Code of Conduct – In the last 18 months, I have seen eye-rolling, laughing, yelling, finger-pointing, accusations, and even name-calling…and not by any one member specifically. Perhaps in some municipalities, abiding solely by the Municipal Act works, but it has been made very clear that this is simply not the case in Orangeville.
There has been so much ‘politicking’, for lack of a better word, that adopting a Code of Conduct is even seen as a conspiracy theory – Ironic, right? You would think that a Code of Conduct could help to control some of the destructive behaviours we have seen exhibited inside Council Chambers, and yet Mayor Williams has concerns about this code being used a weapon – “Anytime there is something like this, we have to be very careful that it is not used politically, as a tool, against others.”
Mayor Williams also made a suggestion, “I think we need to have another look at it and have a bit more input from council.” So, the motion to adopt a Code of Conduct hasn’t died yet – Council has the week to review the report and make suggestions and it will be brought back up for discussion at the next meeting.
Even simple motions are seen as politically conniving. A perfect example from Monday’s meeting was a motion brought forward by Councillor Bradley to present all Town awards during Council meetings – doesn’t seem like an outrageous request. In my humble opinion, after watching enough meetings, I would perhaps suggest that in the essence of time it isn’t really prudent to add more items to the agendas, nonetheless, I didn’t see this as anything drastic. However, I was quite surprised at the reaction that it caused, especially from the Mayor. “I’m the Mayor of Orangeville. Maybe Council will do things to conspire to move me on. Maybe I won’t be here next year, I don’t know! But I do know right now I’m the Mayor, and I try to do things the way I’m doing it. I was elected to be Mayor and to lead Council and to do publicity and the other things to promote the Town. And I feel quite strongly that this is a (tick in the box) against me. And maybe I’m wrong, but that’s the way I feel.” I was left a bit confused about how this is a political move…Is it simply because the previous term of council did it this way and Mayor Williams changed it? I don’t know.
Perhaps it is just all of the most recent issues that have created this uneasy feeling, or is it more? I know that the social media frenzy doesn’t help matters at all. After the last council meeting where the motion was passed to contact Peel Police to commence an investigation into the Mayor’s spending, social media erupted. If you blindly read the comments on any of the number of posts about this topic, you would honestly think that Deputy Mayor Maycock is the devil. The followers who just jump on any Facebook bandwagon are feeding the insecurities. Are the last 18 months of politics just finally getting to be too much?
So, this is my ask – to every member of Council who is taking the time to read this – Get over yourselves. If you, as an elected member of council in any capacity, are so busy trying to figure out what the underlying scheme is, how much attention are you actually paying to making proper decisions for Orangeville? Not much, I would suspect.
We are tax paying residents. Not chess pieces.