A little history here as I have to admit that until a week ago, I honestly considered running for city council here in St. Albert. We are a small city of just under 70,000 people on the Northwest edge of Edmonton. The municipal area has a little over 1 Million in total but even our little corner of it has political drama. It is my opinion, and I am not alone, that our city council has been dysfunctional and as close to insane as can possibly occur in municipal politics.
A week ago, this 189-page report was released about our city governance. It saddens me to admit that I read it. I could have been working, or gardening, or watching paint dry. Any of which would have been more productive uses of my time. That report, and the fact that politicians actually see value it paying someone $80,000 to write it, shocked me.
I will tell you that the number one reason that I did not run for office this term was that I do NOT want to be a politician. The number one reason I was considering the role was that our city needed a new council filled with people with common sense.
This report had a couple glaring comments that seemed to make a big deal out of some issues that it found. Although it never named councilors by name, it commented on events it deemed noteworthy. I am in the middle of another post that I need to tone down a bit, my own municipal report on how I think our city has been managed. It is honestly hard to find a redeemable political quality about these politicians. Keep in mind that I know some of them and I have nothing but good to say about them as people. As politicians I simply cannot be so nice.
My problem about the report was not that it caught these mistakes, it is that it missed a million more. It seemed to show petty examples of what the report called “quite improper and irregular” behavior. While I take issue with the report here, my big problem is the way a biased media outlet would twist the wording and report on this aspect of the report.
Media Bias Shines On
If you don’t know why I feel the way I feel about media, check this post out where I prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that local media here in Edmonton is hell-bent on leaning so far to the left that they don’t mind sinking the ship.
The St. Albert Gazette has some great writers on staff and has produced some wonderful reads for me over the years but they tend to show their political bias fairly often. This is a private business and, in my mind, they have the right to do so. The fact that I have been told on many instances that there is no political bias in their reporting though drive me to writing blog posts that I don’t have time to write.
So the Gazette read the same report I read and instead of using it to simply report facts, it decided to choose a side in a political election season. One of the things I hate most about our existing council is that everyone seems to have picked a side. Where left and right and liberal and conservative don’t play as large a role in municipal elections as in provincial, state or federal, our city seems to have divided down the middle somewhere on so many issues that it would make your head spin.
It is no surprise that the report picked on three councilors from the same side of our dysfunctional family, clearly because one side would complain more during interviews. This wasn’t a report written by staff members who lived every day with these elected officials, it was a report that was a result of 3 months of interviews and discussions with whoever wanted to talk to George Cuff. A 3-month report that I dare say we spent $80,000 on. In my mind that is not a very big bang for our buck… but I diverge…
The Gazette wrote an article that took what the report typed up and twisted it to suit a narrative that made these three councilors even worse. They stated that the three councilors that they named “had their behavior highlighted as quite improper and irregular”.
The problem with this is that the report seemed to make it very clear that the three examples it presented were “examples of the type of behaviours exhibited by some members of Council” which they disproved of. The report didn’t specifically say which other examples they could have detailed or if other councilors were involved, but it is sad that they only picked three examples from three councilors on one side of this cabal.
Would Anyone Vote For Me?
One of the examples that the report and the Gazette discussed is Councillor Sheena Hughes using something the report calls “disparaging language” with a group of grade 6 students. After the Gazette’s FOIP request came back, they had this to say…
“One student asked if you needed a university degree to be in politics and you replied, in obvious reference to the other councillors, ‘No, you can be as dumb as a sack of hammers and still get in!’” the letter said.
~attributed to Sheena Hughes (St. Albert councilor)
How obvious that reference was to any specific councilor is unknown but one thing is for sure, what Councilor Sheena Hughes said is a statement of fact. It is obvious that she wasn’t talking about herself, but she didn’t mention any councilors by name when she was at the grade 6 presentation at Muriel Martin Elementary School.
The most important thing about the quote is that it is also funnier than a cat eating ice cream. While it might not be appropriate for chambers, I thought it was a great line to add some humor to a school and it simply is a truthful statement. Of course, in a school you are likely to be surrounded by left-wing sissies (and students too) so she probably could have chosen her words more carefully… especially considering how little our educational institutions care about facts nowadays.
If I ever decide to run for office, I will look into changing my name to Bacon first. Who could resist voting for Bacon?
I am still undecided about who to vote for as our next mayor because I really like Cathy Heron as a person, and she seems willing to hear differing opinions and Cam McKay seems to share a lot of my opinions right out of the gate. Tough call next month.
As for councilors, I have often said that we might need a clean slate which is one of the reasons I was considering running for office in the first place. After reading this story though, I might just have to vote for Sheena Hughes in October. She can learn how to use PowerPoint but she already has more common sense than most on our council and she apparently has a great sense of humor and isn’t afraid to use it.
The entire time I have been on term I have strived to try to do better – whether it’s through my communication or interpersonal or understanding how the government process works – I have continually tried to do better.
~ Sheena Hughes
That is more than most politicians would commit to and good enough for my vote.
Don’t Take Bloggers Any More Serious than the Media
This week a popular local socialist, David Climenhaga, wrote an interesting post about the Gazette article and it wasn’t totally jam packed with the left-wing hypocrisy that I am used to from his site…
David called out the Sheena Hughes quote above, which I have already shared my opinion on but he also went on to make fun of people on social media calling out the Gazette for being biased. David, if you believe for one second that the Gazette would have printed the same article if Councilor Heron would have been named as one of Mr. Cuff’s conspirators, well, you may have a better imagination than I do after all.
In 2015, the same school was informed that Councilor Hughes would be presenting again and they requested another councilor.
We would much rather have a council member that was able to show the positive aspects of city council and how the needs of a city are managed by a team that works together.
~ unnamed teacher from Muriel Martin Elementary School
Apparently David misunderstood the teacher. They weren’t asking for a different councilor. They were asking for a councilor from a different city… one where they know the meaning of ‘team’.