Watergate Part1 – If You Can’t Stand the Heat

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Since the City has announced a few weeks ago that they will not proceed with installing water meters at all residential properties that do not currently have same I have taken the time to email each Councilor with the question:

“The following (see below **) is an extract from an article I did last week. Is there any reason that those currently without water meters shouldn’t be given an opportunity to have a water meter installed at their own expense in an effort to monitor and /or control water consumption?  I would appreciate your opinion or comments”.

(**) Why in the name of common sense and fairness  should a a little old lady living alone in a wartime bungalow in the North End with her cat named Fluffy pay the same water and sewage fee as a family of 5,6,or 7 living in a Millidgeville McMansion complete with a swimming pool and Jacuzzi? Excuse the expression but the little old lady is getting “hosed”.
 The retail price for an acceptable “City approved” water meter ( Sensus SR II) is $60.00. If the city is not prepared to “invest” the approximate $5 million to install residential water meters for tax paying homeowners then give home owners the option of installing water meters to the tune of $100 to $150 at their own expense. Its the very least City Hall could do after committing over $216 million or $4000 per household for “clean safe drinking water”.
Over the course of the past week or so the responses from Councilors have trickled in with most Councilors more or less agreeing that it would be reasonable for taxpayers to have a water meter installed at their own expense. There has been one “non-committal” and two missing in action (refuse to respond) Councilors, which brings me to a page from the past and a possible lesson for some members of Common Council.

A few decades ago  I was chair of the Saint John Board of Trade Business Development Committee. As fate or timing would have it  it was also was a Saint John municipal election year. It was the pre-ward era, all Councilors were elected at large, which meant every four years you had 50 to 60 candidates jockeying for a seat on  Common Council.

What were the chances that the voting public knew very much about those “applying” to represent the public for a position on Common Council?

My committee decided to develop a questionnaire for the candidates running for Council. The Business Development Committee had compiled questions on issues such as economic development, taxation, water rates, recreation, etc. I personally hand delivered most of the questionnaires to those running for Council. Many of the incumbents who had been returned to Council for number of terms seemed “indignant”. Who would dare question their position or their right or entitlement to sit on Council?

It would seem that some had forgotten that they were “applying” to represent the voting public and the voting public had a right to know how they were going to be represented.

The Telegraph Journal had agreed to publish the Committee’s pre-election piece Opinion article that stated that our future was to important to trust it to a popularity contest, outlining that it was important to know the candidates and their position on a number of important issues related to the City’s management and future.

The Telegraph Journal also agreed to publish the questionnaire responses from all 50 plus candidates. Some incumbents chose not to answer the questions while others provided what could best be described as “glib” answers, as if to say how dare anyone question my right to sit on Common Council?

Some had forgotten that in running for Common Council you are applying for a position to represent the public, if chosen to represent the people you are accountable to the people. When the election was over a number of prominent multi-term Councilors were not returned to Council. The election results should have served as a lesson to all that you are elected by the people, to serve the people and accountable to the people.

With a seat on Common Council there are times when you will be challenged on your position, as in the water meter question, it goes with the territory. There is an old saying; “If you can’t stand the heat…..stay out of the kitchen”.

Think about it.

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