Page 8 of 12
Misled by council
Early in my childhood I learned an important difference among phrases "I cannot," "I will not" and "I don't want to." Where "don't want to" or "will not" could get me into trouble, "I can't" sometimes worked very well as an excuse. This was reinforced when I had to serve my time in the army. One did not say, "I will not" or "I do not want to." You would end up in a brig. However, "I can't" worked sometimes.
It seems our mayor Ken had similar experience. By saying that he, council and RMOW "cannot" do something they are absolved from any responsibility, debate and criticism. Just say "we cannot" and any further debate is just waste of time. The most glaring example of this has been the annual budget question about salary increases of RMOW employees and management. In the past the mayor simply stated that RMOW has a contract with employees and nothing can be done to change that. The debate was over. This year, in the deepest economic recession with falling tourist revenues and many struggling businesses, more and more Whistler taxpayers are disgusted with paying higher taxes to fuel these obscene year-on-year wage increases. So, more questions were raised.
First we learned that only a small proportion of RMOW staff is unionized and actually have a contract. We then learned that there is an "employee handbook" which contains a policy to set wage increases for all other RMOW employees according to the contract with the small union. This was to represent a contract that council said it "could not" change.
During the last public question period I finally managed to get an answer from the council that basically the council "can do anything" it wants, but considering the repercussions it decided not to deal with this issue. This is very clearly "we will not" and not "we cannot!"
If the mayor had said upfront, "Council CAN change the policy/contract, however for these reasons we choose not to" I would have still disagreed but I would have respect him and his position. By saying "we cannot" he was trying to avoid the responsibility and criticism, he obfuscated the issue and misled us. For that we should have no respect.
There may have been an extenuating circumstance. Last Tuesday morning I went to the post office to send a computer to my niece. I chose the time to avoid the noon crowd but when I arrived there was a lineup outside because a fire alarm had cleared the building. I waited in my van. As soon as the post office reopened I joined the line just inside the doors and waited some more. I don't have to wait at the post office very often but if I do, I deal with it by slowing down to the pace around me. So I was already processing life more slowly than usual when, as I was leaving, I noticed a long time acquaintance who always gives me a super slow motion moment.