At your service

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by Councillor Jim Bertram

Earlier this week, I was involved in a consultation meeting with a concerned citizen. At the meeting there were in attendance, besides myself and the concerned citizen, another Council member and two members of municipal staff. As it happens, the citizen in question had brought up a number of points for consideration by the municipal government.

Excellent points as it turned out. And municipal representatives were responding in detail to those points. At the close of the meeting, the citizen expressed his satisfaction at the process which was undertaken. He will continue to consult with us on the subjects under discussion. An excellent resolution of important matters was set in place.

Shortly after that meeting, I came across a copy of the Times which I began to read. The stream of criticism I found in the editorial therein seemed to stand in stark contrast with my experience earlier that afternoon. The editorial I read attacked members of Council, criticising “…the way some people take themselves so seriously”. It further excoriated us, stating that “…our politicians act…as if they were Very Important People…” Furthermore, “They seem to believe they are more important than the rest of us…” A further brief volley states “…the residents of North Grenville are not very well-served by their leaders and decision-makers…”

My goodness, what a bunch of bad apples they seem to be. Rotten to the core, I’d say. Except that I don’t. I am one of the people referred to and I take issue with this pejorative description of “our politicians”. In fact, as I read the editorial, I began to think: What is the proof offered for such a tirade of accusations and assertions.

Well: here it is folks : the so-called “Flag Issue”. And here’s what happened in that case. The municipality consulted with our hamlets on the subject of new flagpoles and flags. It was agreed that, at the expense of several thousand dollars, a number of flagpoles would be provided by the municipality to some of the hamlets. Those hamlets not receiving flagpoles would be assisted differently. Along with the flagpoles, would be provided the requisite flags. When these flags had to be replaced, the Community Associations would be responsible for doing so. An agreement between the municipality and the various representatives of the hamlets was struck with the provisions I have just outlined.

So far so good: consultation, negotiation, agreement. No VIPs throwing their weight around. No ego-inflated politicos puffing themselves up and walking rough-shod over the populace and issuing decrees. Nothing like that at all. However, after misreading an article last week in the competing newspaper, some residents have concluded that, after disbursing thousands of dollars for flags and flagpoles, those MISCREANTS at city hall have decided to save money by not agreeing to pay for flags when they must be replaced, all of this with no input from citizens or their representatives.
Well, that’s just incorrect by any measure.

The concept is, in fact, ludicrous from beginning to end. To verify my understanding of events, I attended the OMCA meeting on June 1st, this after having investigated the sequence of events to verify my understanding of this so-called flag issue. What I discovered at that meeting verified my previous understanding that a fair and respectful process had taken place. The member of OMCA Executive who spoke to the issue at the meeting in fact expressed substantial satisfaction at the negotiation process and had praise for the municipal representatives with whom she had had contact. In short, the citizens involved in the process were well satisfied with it. Could it have been different? Well, sure. It always can. But it was held to be fair by those with whom I spoke.

So, what may I conclude. Simply, that the further away from the de facto process one was, the greater the degree of gross misinterpretation which has occurred. In fact, I must say that when I myself first saw the report describing the process at a Council meeting, my first instinct was to question the fact that replacement flags would not be provided by the municipality. Then another idea crept in. Would it be right for me to attack an agreement arrived at by consultation with our citizens. I decided to leave it alone out of respect for the consultative process which had taken place. Does that sound like a careless and arrogant politico to you, dear reader?

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