Now that he has officially tabled his motion, we can approach Dave Warden on the motivation behind adding another alderman to the council mix.
We wrote at length about this proposed change to the structure of council last week and in a conversation with Ald. Warden on Tuesday, he filled in some of the blanks.
Most important, Warden stressed, he is not going to support his own motion when it comes up for discussion on July 15.
“In fact I will withdraw it if council will deal with the bigger and more costly system we are presently working under – the committee system – which needs to be overhauled.”
Warden is talking about each member of council representing the city’s interest when sitting on a variety of bodies such as the hospital and library boards, special events committee, cemetery board, etc. A function of council that substantially increases the workload of each member while tying up city staff who are also part of the process.
Milton Berle painted an apt portrait of some committees in today’s headline.
“We have too many committees,” Warden asserts. “We are architects of our own workload. I will challenge in open council chambers any member of council to deny this.”
He continues, “The amount of money that is spent on wages for staff to sit on these committees and actually do the work for the committee, this is far more costly than it is to add a member of council.
“Compounding problems under the present committee system is attendance at meetings and members of council dropping out of committees, leading to unfair distribution of the workload.”
Warden concludes, “We need to change the way that we do business.”
Couldn’t agree more. And the notion of adding another alderman to the mix solely to cut the workload due to committee obligations flies in the face of logic.
SPIRIT OF COOPERATION
Do you think John Dewancker, the city’s director of environmental services, and Ald. Mark Cosens, chairman of the environmental services committee, have a warm and fuzzy working relationship?
You could cut the tension at Monday’s council meeting as debate turned to the proposed widening of Fairview Avenue. A project Dewancker is trying to move forward but is encountering pushback from the committee chairman.
Cosens got the ball rolling by stating, “there are better options than expanding this road.”
When Dewancker tried to explain the drawn-out process that has consumed more than two years he noted, “the delays are due to hesitation and internal debate.”
Obviously a reference to the input being offered by Cosens, who countered with, “I’m here to build a community not a traffic plan.”
It kind of parallels the snail’s pace over at the police station. And what is it they say, “time is money.”
TIME TO CLEAN UP
Garrett Smith is no stranger to the pages of the Times-Journal.
The young accessibility advocate has written numerous letters to the editor and his latest effort draws on personal experience.
We’ll let Garrett take it from here.
“The reason that I am writing you this letter is because the other day my class from school was walking downtown and, to be honest with you, I think our downtown looks like a dive because of all of the dog logs that people do not pick up.
Garrett continues, “I feel the need to speak for all of the people who are in wheelchairs because I am one. I think that it’s not OK for people to let their dogs poop on the downtown sidewalks or anywhere without a dog poop bag in their hand.
“I am a person who has a dog who lives in St. Thomas and my mom and dad and I bring a bag wherever we bring our dog for a walk, so why can’t they? I hope once people read my letter they will decide to be responsible and bring a bag.
“I think when people are too lazy to bring a bag that there should be some kind of fine they are given for this. (A consequence for their actions.)
Here’s where Garrett gets to the heart of the matter.
“Let’s say that someone is in a manual wheelchair, then how would they get the dog poop off their wheels or hands? They can’t unless they have some help. They would be in a terrible state if they were alone wheeling and had this happen to them.
“It would have to stay on their hands until they got home. Their tires have to be wiped down and sanitized so it doesn’t come into the house and their hands sanitized as well. Who would want that experience? I have had it and I don’t ever want it again!
“I care about our city. Why can’t other people do the right thing and care about what our city looks like? If you are reading this letter I urge you to take responsibility for your actions – have a conscience and realize that be being irresponsible impacts other people’s lives in an unsanitary way and demeans the image of the city.
“Come on people, scoop your pet’s poop!”
Owning a pet brings with it responsibility. And Garrett, in his own way, lays bare the consequences when dog owners absolve themselves of that responsibility.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Do we swallow bad pill A or bad pill B.”
Ald. Mark Cosens on the two options presented to city council on Monday for the widening of Fairview Avenue from Southdale Line to Elm Street.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope