As an ardent proponent of the written word, this time of year is particularly enjoyable because of the bumper crop of flashback features recalling the past 12 months in quotes.
It’s been a tradition in this corner to greet the incoming year by surveying the past 365 days to savour the wit and wisdom of our elected representatives.
Of course, when media scribes document a response or comment to the pages for posterity, they must be prepared for the inevitable charge of being taken out of context.
Or, as one anonymous wag noted, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.”
With the ground rules established, let’s venture through the verbiage to fully appreciate what transpired in 2010.
Mayor Cliff Barwick wrapped up his New Year’s address to council this past January seeking a vote of confidence from St. Thomas voters in the October municipal vote.
“As I approach the zenith of my political career, I earnestly believe my civic duty will be fulfilled and personally complete, to serve just one more term as Head of Council.”
The electorate obviously didn’t get the gist of Barwick’s message.
An appearance on Dan Reith’s Politically Speaking program in April yielded probably the strangest exchange of the year as Mark Cosens attempted to explain the whereabouts of a $40,000 Community Improvement Grant from the city.
Something Cosens pawned off as a bit of a kerfuffle.
“To clear the air for those who may be wondering, has that money been repaid or will it be?” queried Reith.
“No, it’s got nothing to do with me at this point in time,” Cosens reiterated. “The city made the decision that caused that to happen and it’s got nothing to do with me at this time. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
A month later, Cosens and a group promoting a community garden on Isabel Street, dominated headlines and raised the ire of Barwick, who observed, “The idea is excellent, the execution was poor and the location was really not well thought out.”
Something we’re sure Cosens will address in his new portfolio as chairman of the planning and development committee.
If your remember, 2010 was the year Barwick winged his way to China and was impressed with the knowledge of St. Thomas acquired by his hosts.
“They’re very keen, very welcoming. They certainly knew all about St. Thomas. They knew how many Chinese restaurants we had.”
From the we’re-going-to-miss-him file, former Central Elgin Mayor Tom Marks had a way with words, both combative and confounding, as illustrated by this outburst following the August boil water advisory.
“We’re trying to get the system working, and working well. It doesn’t matter who takes credit for it. Everyone park their agendas. It’s a review to make the system better, and that’s a good thing. Keep politics, agendas and egos outside the room.”
In September, Ald. Terry Shackelton died after a lengthy illness and Mayor Barwick said it best, “He was honest, that’s the greatest epitaph a politician can have: he was an honest guy.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Steve Peters announced in November he will not seek re-election when Ontario goes to the polls in the fall.
“My focus has been to serve people and put people first . . . I can rhyme off all kinds of buildings and investments that have been made, but for me, I hope my legacy is people recognize I was truly committed to public service.”
And finally, Barwick’s wish for a second term was dashed when Heather Jackson-Chapman topped the mayoral polls.
Ald. Gord Campbell marked the end of Barwick’s political career by observing, “We have not always been on the same page of the hymn book. We each believed what we were doing was right for the citizens of St. Thomas. That’s what debate is all about.”
AND NOW, THE TOP FIVE THINGS YOU WON’T HEAR IN 2011
“I have arranged with city treasurer Bill Day to fulfill my obligation to the city and St. Thomas ratepayers and have enclosed a cheque for $40,000 to repay my CIP grant.” — Ald. Mark Cosens
“Heather Jackson-Chapman is to be commended for the prompt and efficient manner in which she alerted the residents of St. Thomas to the boil water advisory.” — Former mayor Cliff Barwick
“No, I’m not stepping down because Dalton McGuinty doesn’t stand a chance in hell of re-election.” — MPP Steve Peters
“I’m sure I’ve made myself perfectly clear.” — Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands
“I deeply regret my implication Ian McCallum’s City Scope is nothing but gossip.” — Ald. Gord Campbell
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: email@example.com.