Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you


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“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.” — Actress Marlene Dietrich

As a wordsmith, there is particular appreciation for thought-provoking quotes — be they humorous, timeless, or utterly mangled in their reasoning.
No one fit the latter category better than ballplayer Yogi Berra, who observed: “I didn’t really say everything I said.”
It’s been a tradition in this corner to greet the incoming year by surveying the past 365 days to savor the wit and wisdom of our elected representatives.
This time around is satisfying in that we get to recall the best of the best on the final day of 2011, a year which yielded a bumper crop of memorable moments.
As noted in this corner one year ago, when media scribes document a response or comment 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 formalities out of the way, let’s trace the course of history in St. Thomas this past year through the words of wisdom uttered by our elected representatives.
Ald. Mark Cosens got the ball rolling when he threw a jab at the Times-Journal back in January with this zinger.
“There was no conflict of interest. It won’t show on any income statements there was any income gained. The only people who think I have a conflict are the Times-Journal.”
Cosens stood firm on his assertion he had no reason to step down as committee chairman during council debate on community gardens in St. Thomas. One could easily argue conflict of interest extends far beyond monetary gain.

In February, Southwold Mayor John McIntyre was readying himself and his administration for the negative fallout from the pending closure of Ford Canada’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant.
“I’m painting a picture of doom and gloom here, but we have to face the truth.”
The coming year will be a test of grit for McIntyre and Southwold.

Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands made several appearances in the quote countdown. The first, in February, when she announced she was seeking the provincial Liberal nomination in Elgin-Middlesex-London, or maybe she meant the Libs are dead in the water, we’re not sure what she was implying.
“It’s something I’ve been mulling over and giving it a considerable amount of thought, but let’s just drive the nail in that coffin.”
She did just that when her campaign crashed and burned in October.

On his brief visit to the St. Thomas area in March, Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Leader Tim Hudak continued his attack on Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Green Energy Act.
“I just don’t see it as the role of the premier to lecture people on doing their laundry earlier in the day to save money.”
Hudak and his party will have to live the Green Energy Act for the foreseeable future.

One of the best in dishing out quotes at city hall is Ald. Gord Campbell, who has the wonderful ability to summarize the absurd in a few short words, as was the case during budget deliberations in March following several instances in which community organizations received far more funding than requested.
“We’re giving out money to people who haven’t even asked for it.”
In another life, Campbell would make a dandy stand-up comedian.

In the reach-for-the-sky category, Ald. Baldwin-Sands stretches the bounds of imagination.
“Saturday will show the Liberals are committed to strong leadership. I believe I can take that torch from him (MPP Steve Peters) and hold that torch high.”
The comment was made prior to her April acclamation as Liberal candidate in Elgin-Middlesex-London.

Although he will forever believe he was the victim of a smear campaign in the final days of the 2010 municipal campaign, former mayor Cliff Barwick retained his sense of humour.
“Looking back on my career, boy I’ve known a lot of people in a lot of situations. If I wrote a book, they probably would have to publish it after my death.”
Watch this corner for more on the dirty politics in that campaign and the Sutherland Press building shenanigans that appear to have involved one member of the current council.

As always, former MPP Peters was gracious in his observations.
“I wasn’t looking for personal accolades. I was there, did my job and had a great time. It was an amazing experience.”
In June, Peters reflected on his time as Ontario Speaker.

To wrap up the year in quotes, we return again to Ald. Baldwin-Sands who, in July, claimed Ontario PCs have flip-flopped on the much-hated provincial eco tax.
“Now they’ve flip-flopped on it so I don’t know if they’re going off-track or they’re going backwards.”
Baldwin-Sands knows a thing or two about changing stripes, after her about face in 2011 on the city’s new consolidated court facility.   

We leave you with these words of wisdom for the coming year from English poet Edith Lovejoy Pierce.

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

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