Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Conduct unbecoming a city...?
As Peggygate 2 has unfolded, as Council's impending censure of Mayor Bratina approaches, as the various tactics of The Spectator, of the mayor himself and everyone associated or simply watching arc their way across the cityscape, it's been fascinating to observe how everything has been been presented, processed and labeled.
As someone who tends to want to see 'the picture behind the picture' more than get all caught up in the headline-prone specifics of a situation, to me all of this has been especially disheartening.
Because from my perspective, what's not most important is the mayor's questionable tactics in managing the Peggy Chapman 'pay raise' situation and everything attached to it, even in this second iteration.
What's not most important is whether or not The Spec or Andrew Dreschel have a vendetta going on where Mayor Bratina is concerned.
And what's certainly not most important is any discussion about whether there's any way the mayor can be, not to put too fine a point on it, removed from office.
What's most important to me is the fact that our collective maturity level in Hamilton is such that this interlude can dominate the day-to-day dialogue regarding goings-on in the city.
This is the best we can do...?
We are part of a society of carrion. Of rubber-neckers. 'A cult of personality' morphed by reality television and hyper-fuelled by social media courtesy of the Internet. We tend to attach more value to spectacle then substance, and wonder why, following an engorgement, that we feel so empty.
Hamilton's profile is all this, with the added magnification of our legacy malaise, accentuated by our habitual floundering, the seeming inability to get much done. Or, much done right.
So maybe it should come as no surprise to see us running around like Chicken Little over something that while disturbing, in the overall scheme of things, doesn't amount to much.
But it would be a surprise, were there other, more substantive issues at play. Constructive, positive projects. Forward-moving developments.
The fact that this ongoing transgression on the part of Mayor Bratina can take on such heightened importance speaks volumes as to how skewed our priorities are, and how debilitated this city really is.
As I've said previously, I am neither impressed nor supportive of much of what Mayor Bratina has delivered in terms of conduct or leadership. So once again, I don't want what I'm about to say to be taken as some kind of defense of everything having to do with Peggygate 2. But the fact remains that it's a pretty damning testimony that so many energies have been trained on 'taking him to task', or wanting to impose some degree of justice on his gluteus maximus. I can fully understand how frustrating it must be to have someone at the putative helm of the city who just doesn't seem to grasp the importance of propriety, of keeping 'the big picture' front-and-centre, but I cannot understand attaching so much to so futile an endeavour.
Except that I do get that we're collectively mired in cynicism, in frustration, where a bizarre form of desperation manifests itself in seemingly refined expressions of pleading for relief.
And so I'm disappointed that we appear to only have one 'leader' at City Hall, and his capabilities don't seem to be up to the task. I'm disappointed that it appears as if there's really nobody on the scene who's capable of creating cohesion, of having sufficient visionary innovation at their fingertips to be able to counter what all this internecine squabbling has cost us as a city in terms of momentum and progress.
But mostly, I'm disappointed that we as Hamiltonians not only don't demand better (in non-caterwauling ways) from our elected officials, but are so ill-equipped to contribute to our own governance that all we can do is wring our hands as we anguish and kvetch, counting down the days until the next municipal election in 2014.
N.B. Last autumn, I predicted to a small handful of confidantes that Mayor Bratina wouldn't serve out his term. I stand by this.
M Adrian Brassington