Civic leaders are elected to make decisions, except when they aren’t

Sean Shaw, our earnest city councillor-in-waiting, writes to the StarPhoenix today about how politicians are elected to lead, damn it, and it’s about damn time they vote on the recycling issue already:

City councillors are elected to make decisions on our behalf. When those decisions are particularly important to the direction of our city, there are mechanisms at council’s disposal to engage, consult and gain feedback from residents. On the issue of recycling, council over the past five years has received numerous studies and reports, engaged residents through several community consultations, and had countless debates both in public and behind closed doors. It is the role of city councillors to sift through the mountain of paper, consider the range of opinions gathered from the public, and consider the interest of their wards and the city as a whole. Ultimately, it’s their responsibility to demonstrate leadership by making the tough decisions. While there are occasions to ask the public to cast the deciding vote on an issue, recycling is not one of them. This is what councillors are elected to do. It’s time to make a decision. It’s time for some leadership.

Sean Shaw

Saskatoon

Sean Shaw, December 2010:

For the most part, I’ve attempted to steer away from specific issues on this blog, tending instead to focus on broad issues and my vision of Saskatoon in the future.

However, I will kick myself if I don’t highlight a topic I am very passionate about – public participation in our civic government. [emphasis mine–ed.]

We should be striving for a city were [sic] citizens are aware, informed, and engaged in how our city is run and the process by which decisions are made on our behalf by elected and unelected officials. I’ve previously touched on the subject of public engagement and the need to involve Saskatoon residents in the decision making process. However, without a commitment by our civic government to increased transparency and accountability in the day-to-day operation of our city, engaging residents isn’t worth our time or money.

How about this, Shaw? To decide this whole bullshit recycling issue once and for all, how about having the public “shift through the mountain of paper, consider the range of opinions gathered from the public, and consider the interest of their wards and the city as a whole”?

You know, let the public participate. This debate’s been raging for a few years now. Let them decide for themselves. Allow access to all this data to anyone and everyone who wants it. If they want mandatory curbside recycling, purportedly at $4 or $5 per month [cough-bullshit!-cough], they will vote for it.

Because you can’t have it both ways. You can’t just call for public participation and then deny their voice when it doesn’t convenience your agenda.

Let’s have a referendum, and maybe after all that, whatever the outcome, Shaw will finally shut up about it.

But don’t count on it.

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