How much consideration do elected representatives give to what they say and how they say it at city council meetings being broadcast live on the internet, available to anyone anywhere with a computer.
Recently, at the urging of a friend, I followed the entire 62 minute webcast of Terrace city council’s August 22 meeting. It soon had steam spouting from my ears like Shrek.
I recognize my super sensitivity to word choice, tone, and body language arises from watching too much Trump and his wacky pronouncements followed by hours of experts parsing every phrase he uttered, and valiant attempts by supporters like Rudy Giuliani as they try to establish coherent positions out of his policy flip flops.
During the August 22 Terrace council meeting, two councillors’ casual treatment of a couple of agenda items perturbed me.
The first was Terrace’s impending 90th birthday in 2017. The mayor suggested the marker be celebrated in some way. Not necessarily elaborately or expensively, but it should be given its due.
One councillor deemed a 90th birthday unworthy of celebrating. “The 75th year was important,” he said. “The 100th will be important. But 90?”
Did any other seniors feel as indignant as I did hearing that? After all, if it weren’t for the dedicated efforts of community pioneers the city wouldn’t exist.
A more experienced councillor disagreed with the first. He noted, “Amongst seniors, it is important to celebrate milestones. Celebrations raise city spirits. If there’s a rationale for a celebration, we should.”
Discussion contemplated possible ways to celebrate the date, whether or not to strike a committee to come up with plans, whether to task city staff with drawing up a proposed budget to guide a committee’s spending possibilities.
The second agenda item to be dealt with in a manner to perturb me arose reviewing minutes of the regional district’s latest meeting – the city’s two boundary signs welcoming visitors – one at the east entrance to Terrace opposite Azorcan Auto Body, the second on Highway 37 toward the airport.
Both of these highway signs stand on Thornhill land though the signs themselves give no hint of that. And while the importance of this acknowledgment eludes city council, it’s a longstanding slight that sticks in the craw of Thornhill residents; for the correction of these signs to be perpetually bumped forward on a to-do list as regularly as shopping for back-to-school supplies with never any remedial action has been an irritant for at least seven years.
Council’s representative on the board was asked why the sign problem had surfaced at this time. Why the urgency now?
Council was told, “the regional district was reviewing the to-do list. Ted and Harry moved a motion to re-word the signs to acknowledge Thornhill. This is a priority for them but not for Bob. Bob indicated he has neither the time nor the inclination to deal with this unless the board puts their foot down.”
As elected representatives – absent from the council table – Ted and Harry deserved the respect of being referred to by their surnames. And rewording the signs to acknowledge they are anchored on Thornhill turf is of importance to Thornhill taxpayers, even if it isn’t to Bob, the regional district administrator.
It’s subtle slights such as these that get our backs up so that when we are asked to amalgamate with Terrace, we balk.
I doubt some councillors realize they might be speaking to many more people than the one or two they observe sharing council chambers with them.