Show ‘em don’t tell ‘em is the writers’ rule
Why keep on coming by, unless you see this site as cool?
Journalese, Ecologese, Free Enterprese, Philosophese
Loggerese, Psychologese, I’m at ease in all of these
Bureaucratese, Intellectualese, neither bring me to my knees
Marketese, well that’s a breeze
And Pollenese will make you sneeze
I like to think that what I’m saying isn’t said in vain
That in any of these languages, my meaning will be plain
So drop on by once in a while, for more than just one date
You never know, you might find that we can communicate
I experience a kind of bemused pleasure when someone in my community who I have only scant acquaintance with refers to my writing in a general way as if for them I am a ‘writer.’
I don’t fully identify myself that way…probably out of aversion to the limits of categorization.
I write, obviously. But I garden too….sing (well enough to please me at least)….invent a bit…channel the odd witticism….retain some hand skills and the physical wherewithal to use them. My guitar playing sometimes surprises me and can draw the odd approving comment. I have recorded four albums of my songs.
It is about being manifest in as many ways as bring me some level of satisfaction. I guess it comes from wishing to be complete…for no better reason than to not be incomplete.
From which observation I can go ‘writing off in all directions’.
This bit of pondering is in aid of finally getting around to re-vitalizing this web-site from which I have been too long absent……. attending to those other interests..
Other content on this site should suggest that adventure is one of my delights. And still, now out of the mainstream of endeavor as it were, the odd one comes my way without me seeking it out as I once did.
It might bring a degree of associated fear, suffering, hurt and loss, but also delight and triumph…as is the way with adventure and life in general.
Last week, for instance, to kick off November 2013:
It is late afternoon of a pleasant fall day. I nevertheless have gotten busy inside the house when the phone rings, as it does infrequently nowadays. One of the very good neighbors whose places bracket mine relates anxiously that four raccoons have just vacated her back porch and might be after my hens.
Guilt suffuses my very being. I thank her for the heads up, hang up, glance out into the yard and ponder how to quickly arm myself.
After losing birds last year to the weasel from hell and then to a black bear I went to great trouble to rebuild their run to exclude predators. It’s a fair-sized enclosure but doesn’t work if the ‘girls’ aren’t in it and my own dislike for feeling penned in has me free them into the larger yard when I’m working out there. On a nice day, I generally am and was earlier on this one.
I have a couple of rifles from my hunting days, but I’m not going to use either in this semi-rural residential area. I have a pretty good sling-shot, precisely for this kind of occasion. But, hanging underneath a coat and long unused it just plain doesn’t come to mind.
So I pull on my high rubber boots (as a hedge against being bitten), go out the back door, grab a piece of bamboo about four-feet long, slip through the gates that bracket the bird run and hurry over to where, sure enough, four raccoons are dragging my spunky little barred-rock hen towards the alders and salmon-berry bushes on the other side of the back hedge. She’s on her side, one wing dragging, head bloodied.
The hen is either in shock or is realizing that deliverance is at hand. She and I seem to connect at the soul level, very much eye-to-eye. Seriously. And she is by far and by habit the more aloof of my two hens.
The four-raccoons….this spring’s litter by the size of them….orphaned perhaps….their mother, at any rate, thankfully, not on the scene…..are looking warily up at me.
I’m not afraid of being bitten….particularly….and I would like to deliver them at least something in the way of a memorable deterrent to hunting in my territory….but can’t quite get past their combination of temerity, timorousness and (dare I use so pithy a term) ‘cuteness.’
The stand-off lasts less than a minute, until one of them can’t take the tension and starts to sidle off towards the hedge. Two more quickly follow. The third reluctantly looses the bedraggled hen from its salivating jaws and joins the retreat.
And up she springs…..literally…..and gallops across the scrub grass into the bird run.
I herd the four raiders off the property…..directing a few half-hearted pokes their way. They go and return and finally go for good.
And that’s it. I flush out the other hen from where she’s hiding under a clump of bamboo, herd her into the run, close it up, and get back to whatever I was doing in the house, feeling strangely blessed to live where I do, at the edge of the forest, where such things can happen.
The next morning, in an act of noble obduracy I thought, but more probably because it was in process already, my little hen gifted me with her usual egg. The last of her laying season, as it turned out, but then the other hen had laid herself off a few weeks earlier, as hens will in winter, and my rescued one was due for a rest, on multiple counts.
Young raccoons might be appealing but a sow with her teeth bared is a different matter. And once they have a taste for your wares- animal, vegetable or fish, deterring them takes more than a little application.
Live traps can work on raccoons, if you terminate those you’ve caught, and only until more show up. Relocating them might accommodate your own understandable aversion to this, but it shifts the consequences of your intervention elsewhere. Dropping a predator off in habitat that already has its balance of species just means some other creature or creatures are going to take the brunt of the move….if the raccoon doesn’t find its way back to you.
This year I kept them off fruit trees with a few feet of barbed wire wrapped artfully around the trunks and main limbs combined with some wrapping of foam-belting coated with ‘Tangle-Foot.’
My pond plants sit snugly in a grid cut from galvanized cattle panel, about 30” square, with barbed wire laid around them on the surface. I hose-clamped this grid atop a galvanized milk crate within which I located my pump, the spout just clearing the surface. For a change the raccoons left both plants and pump alone. The array provides shelter for fish and frogs. A plastic crate would work just as well.
I could not trap and never did see the weasel that lay waste to first three and then another two hens on separate nights. Rare they might be, but nothing else could have got in through two-inch stucco mesh. I rebuilt the whole run…with chunks of old concrete, stucco wire and rocks buried eight to ten inches deep around the perimeter, all of that covered over with foot-wide swimming-pool material and smallish stones for looks. I will be adding electric fencing as a deterrent to bears.
My alternative to all that was to give up on having hens and perhaps adding a drake-for slug deterrence. It was immensely satisfying to refuse to be beaten. The re-framing and rewiring with one-inch mesh was excellent if painful therapy for wrists that were sequentially operated on last winter.
It isn’t having the eggs that I like best about having birds in the backyard mix….it’s having close-to-hand a place to throw organic kitchen and garden waste. It just plain disappears. A roomy run for two hens generates no smell and one or two eggs a day for much of the year.
I got my heavy-duty, factory-seconds 1” mesh from Fraser Valley Wire and Steel, in Abbotsford. They make it there and carry cattle panel…..54” x 16′. They can order in the 5 gauge (1/4”) 7 1/2′x20′ concrete mesh that I cable-clamp end to end and have located pretty much free-standing between two row of hedge to keep out deer. A pretty neat place to check out for the practically inclined. They sell top-quality hog-ring pliers and the rings…18-gauge hold up pretty well to the pressure of stretching. Chain cutters will run you about $40 at GBS in Sechelt. You’ll need the 24” ones to cut cattle panel or barbed wire..or a small grinder. The upper-body strength some folks might have to borrow from a friend.
How can the Sunshine Coast’s Regional Board directors, many of whom, have served multiple terms, sanction a report based on water usage figures that are so utterly and blatantly misleading?
Most of our resident population of under thirty-thousand lives within a mile of our occupied and convoluted shoreline. At least thirty miles of it, as the crow flies, far longer when you factor in its bays and inlets, relies in whole or in part on water from Chapman and Gray Lakes, Chapman being the far more substantial source. Ten thousand connections.
According to engineering firm Dayton and Knight our high-season per-capita water consumption is extraordinarily high, about the same as Ladner, where agricultural use is a major factor.
That seems bizarre on the face of it, and before putting such a statistic out, you would think someone on the SCRD Board would point out that there are a hell of a lot more ‘capitas’ taking water out of the system in the middle of summer than in the winter. That’s because all the non-resident property owners become resident. And they are not counted in the census figures upon which D&Ks per capita consumption figures are based.
Did nobody on the SCRD Board point this out? Did not one of them suggest that provincial property tax rolls might give us at least a rough idea of the percentage of local property owners who are not full-time residents, who receive their tax bills elsewhere…..Alberta, Vancouver? Do they not get out on the streets in the summer?
Let me offer up a conservative guess: Twenty percent. Which is about what the SCRD’s new and improved conservation program projects in savings over the next few years.
Factor in the semi-rural nature of much of the area served by Chapman/Gray and the amount of gardening that takes place here, that institutional water use is undoubtedly higher here because of the stretched out population (two pools, for instance, two rinks e.g. where one might serve a more compacted population), an unusual per-capita length of pipeline to serve those 10,000 connections, with junctions that leak simply because of expansion and contraction.
We don’t have figures we could have, at least in the form of estimates. From the inadequacy of those we have been provided we might intuit that our actual per-capita consumption is far more in line with a population that overall has a pretty high level of conscience where water use and environment in general is concerned.
The threat of water-shortage is not new. It was there in 1999 when I was first elected to the Regional Board as the director from Area B/Halfmoon Bay. We rejected the idea of a floating pump, now being suggested again by D&K, as a temporary measure with a possibly permanent environmental downside.
Then we focused on meeting provincial water quality concerns with a new treatment plant and kind of got watered out. There was Shirley Macey Park to develop, a perversely complicated and expensive but finally successful recreational facilities process, major rezoning issues in Pender Harbor….etc. And there went two terms.
Since then there have been two more with incumbent directors knowing very well that supply was a critical issue. And now, a third term down the road, five in total, we are just beginning to look at it again, and at a temporary, once rejected, probably controversial fix.
At least now they get it that our best bet is a man-made reservoir downstream from Chapman Lake. There is a potential site currently being quarried by Lehigh, formerly Construction Aggregates Ltd..
According to D&Ks public presentation they haven’t approached the Province as to what it might require of us. No…. they haven’t approached Lehigh either. No they don’t know how many people actually use the water..
Hey, the conservation measures are fine….intrinsically worthwhile. My garden gets for the most part hand watered. You can find lots of pictures of it on this site. Here’s one of the lawn that I never water (or lime or aerate) but still seems to overcome the winter moss and give me several months of green each year, fed only by its own clippings.
Folks on the Sunshine Coast are big on gardens. Our veggies, flowers, shrubs and trees feed the birds and the bees, the bodies and souls 0f ourselves, our friends and neighbors, our food bank.
Our local governments need to get their act together to insure that we can continue to optimally do so.
It’s not a choice. It’s an obligation.
A good number of those reading this will live in or near the town of Sechelt, which sits ever so slightly ashore of Georgia Strait on Canada’s west coast.
Others may have stumbled here by happenstance, appreciate the writing in and of itself (just say) and read enough to recognize that the town’s current and hopefully temporary political woes grow out of common human experience and failings that make a tale worth reading, globally, for that alone.
Then (as I imagine it) just a few will send a link to friends, preferably after exploring here a little further and finding songs somewhat other than run-of-the-mill….narratives out of the ordinary… the benefits of the hearing and reading wide-ranging.
And then….again, in fantasy perhaps…..with a few wee shifts in the minutiae of the universe, ‘Sechelt’ will virally move to becoming not merely an object of area-wide derision to triggering equally deserved and healthy derision, worldwide, for the small-minded, self-deluded, disproportionately egocentric, horribly ignorant behaviors found where-ever we humans gather.
And thus the word Sechelt, in all its succulent and salivary deliciousness, will come to represent the inborn desire in the human breast for us to do our very best to warrant all the ways in which we still are free and deserving of democracy.
And God willingly, if God exists at all and cares, perhaps a few more bed-and-breakfasts will fill too-empty rooms and in this way may be laid to rest the suggestion that I, dear reader, am of an anti-business persuasion. A small enough personal boon, surely, for writing late into the night.
And so I give you this tale of one man’s brave (if timorous) quest to overcome the trembling in his breast, to not bow down to temporal fears of his elected but unequal peers. And the appropriateness of the style of the poem….sweet don’t you think, given the unevolved behavior it illuminates?
Unsolicited image received by e-mail
My little locale on the planet is currently hosting a microscopic demonstration of just how foolish it can be to let ‘business’ determine who will govern.
On the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia big or biggish business has played its part in diminishing the area’s intrinsic worth and potential. That the natural beauty of this place continues to be lauded despite the ravages of clear-cut logging, gravel extraction and property development may simply be due to falling standards in a world itself ever more damaged by profiteering.
We are on our second round of timber harvesting, having heavily clear-cut the place roughly a century ago. A vast, dusty gravel-mine visible from miles away and miles above looms scab-like over the unique inland waterway of Sechelt Inlet and the dynamic waters of Georgia Strait at whose confluence the town sits.
The small cottages that once dotted a long shoreline have now been overwhelmed by over-sized and grandiose side-by-side ‘look-at-me’ houses that collectively serve to diminish and trivialize the environment in which they dwell. Away from shore the land is slowly infilling with housing whose developers bank sequential short-term profits without regard for long-term consequences to the environments they ravage in order to build. We do not, for instance, hear them urging local governments to explore ways to grow an already strained water supply to meet the demand they are creating. It might, after all, look prohibitively expensive and reduce public support for more development.
Over the last couple of decades the councils of Sechelt, the region’s most populous municipality, have made no effort to take its waterfront under public ownership, despite the obvious increase in both aesthetic and economic value that could have meant to the town as a whole.
Further down our coast, the current council of the Town of Gibsons has been left scrambling by previous councils to retain for the public a tiny portion of a vast and unique vista of rock and low ground-cover overlooking Georgia Strait with views over the islands at the entrance to Howe Sound and out to Vancouver itself.
Had municipal councils in both communities not been so chronically local in their perspectives they might have used their positions on the Regional Board to highlight the wider interest in keeping these treasures beautifully intact and available to all. Had it been sought, public approval for regional funding to purchase the relevant lands might have been approved. A more holistic contribution in general at the regional level from municipalities might reflect an understanding that the half the population of the region that dwells outside municipal boundaries provides revenue to their businesses and via them to municipal coffers, not to mention contributing to the vitality to their art and culture. Then there are the tax contributions from-non resident property owners to regional services that we all use. Most live in the rural areas of the region, and themselves use comparatively little of what they help pay for.
In no instance was contempt for regional interests more blatant than in Sechelt council’s undermining of Regional District’s efforts to obtain a true community forest outside the boundaries of the watershed, as an aid to protecting it from logging. Under the mayorship of one time provincial liberal aspirant Cam Reid its council co-operated with the Provincial Ministry of Forests to obtain for itself a community forest license that actually mandates logging within the watershed. The further effect of this was to send a message to other BC communities that efforts to protect their watersheds from logging would prove fruitless. It was in essence a betrayal by Sechelt Council of the interests of communities across the province.
Electing people to office who advocate for particular interests too often saddles us with councils and/or mayors lacking conceptual scope, imagination and independence of mind to even conceive of how to serve the community and the region as a whole. The resulting disharmony discourages more broadly well-intended people from standing for office.
Disharmony is what we see in Sechelt these days, in spades. After a sequence of mayors and councils at best mediocre and at worst incapable of meeting their legislated obligations, the town has finally succeeded in electing a mayor with absolutely no idea of how to govern. Aided and abetted by a largely compliant council, he operates as if the town were his private enterprise…one conveniently able to arbitrarily get its revenue from property-owners, business people among them.
Sechelt`s municipal government culture has become so toxic in the year since the last local elections that senior staff have been sequentially leaving the municipal ship following the firing of the first two departees. The cost of this goes way beyond severance payments. It costs money to recruit new staff. Local government professionals do network with one another. Hearing what they inevitably will have about the situation in Sechelt, if they are willing to hire on at all it may well only be at richer-than-normal salaries and severance packages.
Those leaving who were not fired can hardly be faulted for offering polite reasons for doing so. It would hardly be professional of them to do otherwise. I don’t believe for a minute that so many would leave in such a short time if things in the organization weren’t seriously off-keel. They would at the very least have co-operated to space out their departures rather than leave an organization they had worked for in the lurch.
It must be hell to be Mayor John Henderson right now, a peacock not just prematurely faded but pretty-much plucked.
He was elected by citizens buying an old and discredited lie from a lobby purporting to represent the business community which quite probably does not.
While serving two terms on the Sunshine Coast Regional District Board I researched Sunshine Coast chambers of commerce claims to be the voice of business. At that time well short of a majority of Sunshine Coast businesses were C of C members. A good benefit package and low dues had some signing up to avoid any slight hassle for not doing so.
In Sechelt the business lobby has repeatedly woven an ‘if you aint with us you’re agin us’ web around people’s thinking.
Falling for that nonsense undermines the protection of Provincial legislation that clearly seeks to reduce the vulnerability of communities to biased governance and its nasty, dysfunctional and expensive consequences. Unfortunately it provides no process to enforce compliance, to accommodate appeals by individual counsel and board members against decisions to go in camera, for instance. Sechelt’s current council goes in camera so often that people might well forget what they look like.
It might be worth considering, broadly speaking, that the ethos of self-interest that vitalizes business, particularly ‘bigger’ businesses, does not serve to and perhaps cannot easily generate net benefit of all.
So, why the title to this piece? The image heading up this post, circulated to me and others without attribution, pretty much demanded it. The car is Mayor Henderson’s….. its side emblazoned with large black letters spelling out SECHELT.
The image is amusing but at the same time sad and somewhat cruel. Henderson’s campaign style was never designed to disguise his narcissism. Why did so few care enough to vote to protect themselves from the likely consequences of it? Why did they elect or allow to be elected another pro-business slate when previous ones had proven to be so flawed? Those are the questions folks should be asking themselves and keeping in mind for future elections.
There are many understandable reasons why people do not vote, not least of all flawed election processes that accommodate unverifiable claims of performance by incumbents and provide little useful information with which to assess new candidates. Local governments could do something about this….and should. That would require an understanding on the part of those we elect to understand that in serving their constituencies they must first of all serve the democratic process. Failure to do that, at all levels of governance, obviously contributes greatly to citizen disinterest in election processes.
Here’s a song that sprang into existence around 1990 as I looked across to Sechelt from my home of that time on North Trail Island…at a fresh batch of land clearing and slash-burning. I recorded it a few years later in Vancouver.
I recently had a wrist surgically re-engineered. I’m wondering whether the pain and stiffness should be gone by now. I’d like to be able to ask that simple question in a phone call. But my experience is that I am going to have to actually get an appointment and get in line. Together with the shortage of doctors on BC.s Sunshine Coast where I live, part of a Canada-wide phenomenon, this small personal experience brings to mind the generally acknowledged inadequacies in our medical system.
Knowing how hard doctors and nurses work, I find myself speculating that these days fewer university entrants are likely to opt for a medical career precisely because too few are doing so. Who would not reasonably be deterred by the oft-stated example of surgeons working 70 hour weeks?
We should have a medical system that nurtures the physical and mental well-being of those who keep us healthy, bind our wounds and ease our pain. We don’t. Overwork, on one level or another, denies them that, as it would for any of us.
Why does a simple query require an office appointment? I have history with my doctor, pretty-good self-knowledge in health matters and am comfortable doing my own primary research in a world where useful data is readily available? Why do I have to take a subsidized ferry trip into Vancouver to ask my specialist a post-op follow-up question? The answer might require that, the question should not.
As a good friend pointed out to me, the ubiquity of smart phones would allow folks to take a picture of anything (well most everything) a doctor might want to look at and send it in digitally and 3-d modelling should enhance that. Seniors so far reluctant to take on the digital world would have more reason to do so, opening up for them a world of information and engagement as a counter to deterioration of intellectual function and, contributing to shrinking the generation gap.
Need a release from me to take care of liability issues? Show me the dotted line. Add another for me to agree to the digital swapping within the system of my medical records. The privacy concerns strike me as something of a straw-man, the concerns over-stated and far from applicable across the broad swath of citizens. Most everything is digitized now anyway. I don’t see or hear a whole lot of old Underwood typewriters in today’s hospitals and doctors offices. So defenses against unauthorized access need to be devised anyway.
Meanwhile, we could do a better job at all levels of developing a population educated about how their own bodies work and what can go wrong with them. We could start out by showing all those young athletes, graphically, just how much the visceral pleasure of knocking an opponent into next week is likely to cost them both, not to mention the medical system, further on down the line. It occurs to me that if professional leagues want to profit from violence games they should directly help cover the cost of injury, not just to who they hire directly but for those striving and failing to be hired. They are obviously not short of money. The medical system is.
As for failing to expeditiously qualify foreign-trained immigrant doctors and nurses, that is near to criminal….at the very least immoral…..when the failure to employ those skills results in delays in getting care to those governments are responsible to. As is the failure to rapidly employ new communication technology.
I don’t want to believe that physician greed is delaying practical improvements. There’s a certain incoherence to believing this to be true true of folks immersed in matters of health.
An estimated $40 billion per year go to drug companies to treat the pain of those waiting for care. It drains our resources and energy. The pain itself diminishes the quality of life for those waiting in line and of those close to them. It diminishes their effectiveness on all levels, including the ways they contribute to or interact with the economy. It creates addiction.
And, personally, I don’t need to have been doing it for long to already be tired of damaging my innards by dealing with pain a pill at a time and quite likely generating further costs for the medical system down the line.
I’m always tickled by the way things pop up for me to think and write about: Especially when I need a post each week to honor the promise of a small weekly box-ad I place in the local paper I prefer.
This week, scanning (as I rarely do) through the other (larger) local publication, hitting the Letters section, which I tend to avoid (its editorial policy limits the length of submissions to the point of trivializing our issues), I came upon a reference to myself.
Apparently I told the writer..Brian by name, twelve years ago, that I didn’t see the Sunshine Coast, where I live, as a better place for having grown more populous than when I arrived here thirty-four years ago..and likely to become more so. The writer characterized this view as ‘selfish’, linking it to the actions of a group of folks currently freezing their arses off up on a local mountainside, protesting yet another shearing of the forest.
I am guessing Brian is a status-quo kind of a guy.
Twelve years: That’s some burr that apparently got under whatever sense of indignation Brian has been saddling himself with ever since the first of my two terms on the Sunshine Coast Regional District Board.
I t might well be that I said what he attributes to me and would today. Some folks may look past the fact that every bit of development requires the destruction of what already exists. They may be able to ignore the small part played here in overpopulating the Earth. I don’t find myself quite able to.
Lots of folks who live here can’t. They might, on behalf of future generations, see selfishness in the greedy hurry-up consumption of finite non-renewable resources, the degrading of renewable ones and in the global population growth that exacerbates it all.
It doesn’t mean we dislike human beings as individuals, even those who disagree with us. It doesn’t mean we don’t contribute in ways to the very things we want to see stopped or in some ways depend on them. It can’t be completely avoided.
It doesn’t alter the fact that we humans, along with the vested interests that drive our economies and control our governments and our minds, are pretty well certain to be slapped with a big bill from The Four Horsemen Inc. somewhere down the line. Perhaps not all that far. You know this bunch: War; Pestilence; Disease; Starvation.
A lot of folks I know express this kind of concern. If articulating it empowers more of us to do likewise then taking the odd late shot for it is a tiny, tiny, tiny thing.
Folks like Brian would like to characterize such concerns as bias. It is the old ‘discredit those whose arguments you can’t counter’ trip. I freely confess to just a little bias in favor or my kids and grandkids being able to experience their lives free of cataclysm.
For that to be the case we need to devise economic structures based on no growth, to follow up vigorously on the discussions in that vein that pop up here and there and hopefully will draw ever more attention and consideration.
My biases, during my terms in office, did not stop me from advocating for a water-filtration plant, or adding a satellite fire hall to reduce response times or pressing for the building of safe access to a popular lake, away from the previously-used side of the highway. They didn’t stop me from agreeing that a referendum should be held on borrowing money for new recreation facilities some citizens wanted, some of them hoping they would attract more citizen/customers our way. I didn’t vote for them in the referendum but had no trouble comprehending and supporting at the the taxation model our Board came up with might tip the scales in their favor. You don’t get elected to do the business of the community as if it was your own, in order to suit yourself.
Nor did my larger perspective stop me happening upon and taking up a working life sorting and later salvaging logs to earn a living and support a family. It didn’t and doesn’t stop me from both loving and using wood as building material. The stuff much more amenable to being cut and dried than are the choices life presents us with.
It doesn’t stop me now, well out of office (and with no inclination to stand again, by the way) from urging the current crop of local politicians to identify and cost out more sources of the water that our tactically-self-identifying ‘Coast Community Builders Association’ should be pushing them to do and are not.
Of course buildings do not a community make any more than a house will necessarily become something fully identifiable with a home. And while there’s a level on which you can appreciate the hutzpah of this bunch, being bright doesn’t necessarily stop you from being illogically in thrall to your own interests.
Their objectives would directly require more water. Are they afraid we may discover that we don’t have a further usable supply or that creating and accessing it would be so costly that folks would call a halt to development? Are they pressing on in their own short-term interests regardless, perhaps not wanting to see themselves having to directly cover the costs linked to their own objectives?
Within the group I imagine and would hope there is a range of perspectives on this but as a bloc they are not forthcoming on it.
Folks seem far too inclined to try to get those sharing their biases elected to office. Around here it has too often saddled us with representatives who, even after they are elected, apparently can’t read well enough or grasp right away that they have hired on to a job with existing parameters specifically designed to neutralize bias.
Those parameters are established by the Province, under whose aegis local governments operate. They have been developed, it seemed clear to me, to deter local politicians from getting themselves entangled in their own intrigues and keep them on task, providing, maintaining and where necessary expanding local infrastructure.
They still try to do sideways what they think might not be doable straight ahead, often for what seems to come down, when you look past the posing, to a need to be one of the gang.
To counter that, in hope of having something other than a grade B job done of running the community’s business, citizens will always need to keep an eye on those we elect. It is not saints we elect, but human beings……inclined to think that holding important jobs makes them important, forgetting that they, as are we all, constitute passing phenomena, on this plane at least.
We are in serious trouble on this terrestrial vessel of ours, overloaded with our own kind, our needs and expectations, pressed to take more on board by those with stuff to sell. We need far more than hackneyed, hide-bound diatribes on socialism vs. capitalism to start changing that.
We humans share immense capacity and can be wonderfully imaginative and good-hearted. We know how to work. Applied to what really needs doing (for starters determining what that is) those factors could lead to our avoiding a painful and disastrous future and remedying what for a goodly number of people is a present already like that.
Right now it seems that in some ways we are the prisoners of obsolete mathematics and the misalignment of capacity and resources.
And yes Brian, I see that as a big-time problem for all of us, our offspring and theirs.
Local politicians conducting community business out of the public eye generally ticks us off. Meetings held ‘in camera’ are the most obvious example of it. The term does not refer to stepping out for a photo op. It translates from the Latin as going ‘In Chambers’.
Doing so restrains any Board or Council member from later disclosing what was said. Boards and councils in turn are legally limited in placing that restriction on one another and on the public’s right to know.
Folks in Sechelt, near where I live and where I access shops and services, are currently wondering how a publicly elected council member, the only one serving a second term as it happens, can be summarily dis-appointed from some key positions with no public explanation, by a council meeting ‘in camera.’ It’s mayor of mere months cited the ‘Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act’ as justification.
Whose privacy? The councillor so removed seems quite open to the public knowing why she was stripped of a number of responsibilities. It looks like she is going to have to go to a lot of trouble to bring public attention to a matter she doesn’t believe should have been dealt with ‘in camera’ in the first place.
She may be right. The problem is that while the Province makes the rules, it provides no appeal mechanism for electees to challenge decisions to go ‘in camera’…..which are not necessarily by any means cut and dried.
In the absence of a review and appeal process, councillors and directors can, by mutual accommodation, exceed their authority to go in camera. That ethically compromises each participant in the decision. They can say that they objected to the decision to go in camera, which was made publicly; they cannot say how they voted on any issue discussed under that format.
You have to be very naïve to believe that the ‘in camera’ provision does not get used merely to avoid ‘unpleasantness.’ In our neck of the woods more than a few councils and boards have been largely turfed from office after turning their stint in office into a B movie in which such scenarios could be imagined.
In practice the spirit of open government is regularly contravened even when elected officials chat together individually about agenda items before they hit the table.
The spirit and rule of public process requires those we elect to read the agenda material staff provides, discuss it only at relevant public meetings and not before. Good process provides time for staff or elected representatives themselves to seek answers to questions arising from initial public discussion and bring the matter forward for more informed discussion if necessary. That is doing the public’s business in public and being particular about it.
If that, along with their own research, knowledge and judgement, doesn’t to allow them to engage the issue effectively, then the job is beyond their capacity.
Of course, if we choose to elect people for their biases- often and most recently those purporting to represent the local ‘business community’-we are guaranteeing that broader interests and the decision-making process as a whole will be compromised. There is always a dollar-cost to that.
The Sechelt Councillor directly affected by the current situation might want to formally ask the provincial Minister of Community, Sports and Cultural Development to rule on the legitimacy of this most recent use of the power to go ‘in camera’.
Alternatively she could petition our MLA Nicholas Simon to raise the issue in the Legislature.
Victoria has recently and quite rightly met its obligation as the creator of local governments and the regulations under which they operate by instituting a financial review process.
To that measure should be added a means to review and appeal decisions to go in camera. That would be a plus for democratic process and accountability, not to mention for greater public trust, something badly in need, at all times, of any bolstering it can get.
Don’t you think?
Share your perspective in the ‘comments.’
My old Imac is refurbished so I can have it sitting bedside. I’m satisfied enough with a relatively new PC tower and laptop, and that the savings over another Mac was worthwhile. They are freshly complemented by a new mechanical Leopold tenkeyless USB keyboard that does indeed emulate the feel of the typewriters I employed over the years. It seems to be restoring my typing comfort level and speed and without the number pad I would rarely use, is nicely compact. The full-size keys and the span of them beats by a mile the cramped mini-keyboards I have tried. Pricey at around $150 with shipping and duty in, but so were the computers the other keyboards discouraged me from optimally employing.
Last year was pretty good one for this blog/web page. A lot of material got entered into it: Songs, stories, commentary, a poem or two….pictures. Traffic to it has been steady over the summer even in the absence of fresh material.
Spring and summer writing got waylaid by responsibilities to my garden. On top of the planting and cultivating, raccoons and a marauding weasel laid siege to my garden and hens in that order. Now in November it is a black bear that, while I was overnight in Vancouver, tore off one side of my potting shed, broke down my bird run, and flushed out the black drake which alone had been able to beat off the weasel. A few hens had not. One gate left open was all it took.
This place of mine has been mostly free of this kind of thing for eighteen years, the rarity of weasels in our neck of the woods making them an unlikely problem.
By next spring I will have replaced two-inch stucco mesh that did not keep this one out with one-inch chicken wire that should. Parallel and multiple hot and ground wires from an electric fencer should deal with the bear and help with the raccoons too, as will wrapping the trunks of my fruit trees with aluminum flashing. Then I can bring in a couple more chickens and a duck and get everything back in balance. They more than adequately recycle my kitchen and garden waste.
On top of that I am just now getting back most of the capacity temporarily lost to re-engineering the joint at the base of my right thumb. It had been ever-more-strongly complaining about the cumulative effect of thousands of one-handed axe strikes (the driving of log-dogs into salvaged logs)and perhaps from the playing of even more bass guitar riffs. It is coming around now post-operatively, but for a while I have been limited in my typing. No more. This keyboard is really nice. It sounds right and feels just right.
There’s no shortage of things to write about in this chaotic, fault-ridden, cacophonous amoral reality of ours.
I most recently find myself gobsmacked by the temerity of Enbridge’s pastel, coloring-book images of an oil tanker proceeding in fairy-tale fashion through placid west-coast waters, apparently unnecessarily guarded by two good-sized tugboats, on their way to pick up another load of Alberta-enriching toxic crude. Here is a youtube video showing the route shown in Enbridge’s original ad, along with commentary and accurate graphics to depict the actual tanker route exiting the proposed port of Kitimat:
Even after navigating to open ocean, the waters their tankers would traverse are nothing like the calm waters suggested. They are home to an almost ceaseless Pacific-generated ground-swell, to complicated tides, to eighty-knot storm-winds driving massive seas across Queen Charlotte Sound and across the shallows of Hecate Strait. Enbridge’s own technical data refers to “larger waves with heights of 4m or more….twice as likely to occur in the fall-winter period…extremely large waves with significant height values of 8m occurring eighteen percent of the time.” There is nothing comic about an area where it is not unusual to have winds reach 190 kph.
Still, I am happy to see them present us with yet another example of their contempt for us, as with their creation of a separate corporate structure to protect their core interests from liability for failures of the proposed pipeline, by their record of inadequate preparation for spills in their other operations. I’m even happy to see this further evidence of their clear belief that they have Stephen Harper’s government incontrovertibly in their pocket and operating with complete disregard for the ‘precautionary principal’ by which all those charged with the care of others need to operate.
Hell, I’m even happy to see Harper parading his Memorial Day hypocrisy, his pithy praise for the Canadians sent overseas believing themselves to be protecting a democracy Harper and his party casually undermine with lies and dirty election tactics as they are not crudely seeking to undermine discourse that contradicts their narrative.
I admit to reluctance to write so disparagingly about a prime minister, On the other hand what this fair land of ours is getting from Harper is not leadership imbued with long-term affirmative vision, but leadership tainted by the manipulation by which it was gained and for the power and control it confers under this far too undemocratic democracy of ours.
But then surely Canadians can’t continue to maintain a naive belief in the integrity of this government and in this dangerous and deceitfully-presented Enbridge project.
More fundamentally, can we really continue to assume that the natural resources of this land should be squeezed from it as quickly as possible for one or two generations alone, mostly to profit our elites.
Surely we can see that reliance on natural resources as a hedge against our dose of global financial instability represents not strength but failure to adequately educate ourselves so as to limit or remove the dependency.
One friend kind enough to scan my efforts felt this post could be more neatly tied back to the theme of predation with perhaps a reference to our P.M. as a bear or weasel. I think this, even as metaphor, is unfair. They latter, after all, are somewhat lower on the scale of evolution than we and merely being true to the nature of their species. As the record clearly demonstrates, we humans are no slouches at predation, frequently targeting our own kind, institutionalizing it in many ways. But it is also within our capacity to rise to greater behavioral heights, something you would hope for in a leader.
Shortly into my willful escape from an uninspiring middle-class fate a markedly adventurous and self-reliant old soul told me the key is the willingness to go:
To hit the lower slopes, intent on reaching higher;as prepared as you can be, knowing that it may not be enough.
But when your upbringing, providential in many ways as it might have been, provides you with little in the way of skills, you are going to need a little help along the way.Read More
Our past is never past, it’s said
Be it brief or long.
The beauty that informed it
What was dire
That made us strong
And the fortunate song-writer
Can save much of it in song.
For the most part I don’t think of what has come my way lyrically over the years as time-linked. Mostly I experience it as generated by some kind of universal resonance having more to do with simply being human than being a particular one in a particular place and time?
Scenery changes, and props, but for the most part the range and color of individual psychodrama seems much as has been remarked upon generation after generation, age after age. The forms evolve; the substance….not so much. Ergo…again…the past is always with us, just in its present form.
So….’Lions in the Den’….what’s that all about anyway? ‘Too wild to lure into the pen?’
That it was my head the lyrics popped into doesn’t make my take on them definitive. However…..to me the song and these lines are about what exists unexpressed in our consciousness, in our emotional depths, that we strive to be able or brave or open enough to allow into the light.
It is the lament of a young man for his own sadness, for it’s pressing in on him despite his loving and being loved, regardless of the profound beauty to be experienced in all of his circumstances and the adventurous life upon which he found himself so fortunately embarked…..all precisely as hoped for.
What was that? What has it been….over the years….over centuries? Is it Adam, still itchy in Eden?
And what is this particular evocation of it now….in its present form? Well….hopefully, at least an engaging song.
Lions In the Den came into being as the love of my life and I absorbed the pearly evening twilight from the beach pictured here. It is one of a couple of songs that stand up for me regardless of the inexperience I brought into the Inner Ear Studio on the Sunshine Coast back in the eighties to record an album called Land of the Tree. This version, recorded last fall, benefits from the technological advances since those days and the multi-faceted contributions of musician, producer, engineer and arranger Bill Buckingham. Enjoy.