The first time I used the expression “ I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking it any more” was nine years ago in a column I wrote for the Telegraph Journal The occasion was the plebiscite on changing Saint John from an “At Large System” to a “Ward System”
Since the original I have asked the question no less than 30 times in subsequent articles.
Effective Democracy I am learning is a slow painful process, at the very least with the ward system we have Councilors responsible and accountable to constituents in a smaller specifically defined area. Prior to the implementation of a ward system Councilors were accountable to everyone and accountable to no one. The consequence of the at large system was that we were inclined to elected too many smiling non-accountable faces term after term after term. With the current ward system taxpayers can at the very least, figuratively speaking, reach out with “I’m mad, what the hell is going on”?
In the absence of acceptable answers from Councilors the voters have an opportunity to send “non performing” Councilors packing during the next election and we saw some of that during the last municipal election when most of the incumbent Councilors were given their walking papers. .
In my opinion we ain’t there yet……. we have a Common Council that has NOT “found the courage to make the tough decisions”. Turning a city around is no different than turning a business around, it was done in New York City during the mid-eighties by Rudy Giuliani and his team, the turnaround has not even began here in Saint John at the end a four year term.
The old north end is an absolute disgrace and we have seen residential real estate prices continue to fall and in many cases residential properties are being sold well below the property’s assessed values. Commercial vacancies in Saint John are one of the highest in North America. Where is the strategy, the bold decisions that will make Saint John a community of choice for businesses and families?
‘I’m mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.” This has become a famous line taken from the movie Network released in 1976 .
…… one evening, Howard Beale, an aging news anchor of a network with poor and falling ratings becomes fed up with the pabulum, truth distortion, denial and spin of network news, decides he’s mad as hell, he can’t take it anymore, and he’s going to start telling the truth (or kill himself). Panicked producers fire him but not before his ratings soar, so he’s brought back as a commentator. In one scene on TV he tells everyone to get up, go to the window and scream “I’m are mad as hell and I’m are not going to take it anymore.”
Nine years later after my original question” Are you mad as hell”? conditions in Saint John have gone from bad to worse, do we yet have enough folks “Mad as hell and are refusing to take it anymore”?
Our lack of municipal progress is not meant to predict or suggest a future of gloom and doom. Saint John’s future is not determined by happenstance; our future will be shaped by strong municipal leadership with vision, courage and execution.
If Saint John is to give up the title to some of our less-dubious achievements and pave the way to a city that we can all be truly proud of we will have to demand significantly:better vision, leadership, performance and accountability by the soon to be elected new Common Council and City Management.
Get mad as hell. Don’t take it anymore or expect more of the same.