Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

That was then, this is now



I really don't want to write this column.

After 12 years of darkness during the reign of St. Reagan and Bush the Dunce - as distinguished from his son, Bush the Dupe - and 14 years in Canada, I toyed with the idea of returning to my home and native land south of the border. The air in the U.S. was electric with high expectations in the wake of Bill Clinton's presidential victory, my successfully severed Suit Years were behind me, and it seemed the benign climate of the southwest was a better place to store the few things too dear to garage sale in anticipation of moving to Whistler.

Rattling across America's heartland in a tiny U-Haul truck, there was a palpable divide on AM radio. Youth, liberals, aging hippies were giddy with anticipation, having finally replaced the old, grey, conservative men with someone who, at least on his MTV appearance, looked like he stepped out of the Blues Brothers movie. Conservatives, a relatively new force on talk radio, were going ballistic, spinning doomsday scenarios and replaying feigned outrage over the new commander-in-chief's sexual peccadilloes. How cool was that.

And then, having barely warmed the Oval's seat, Slick Willie shot his wad - figuratively - and frittered away his political capital taking on the issue of gays in the military. It was all downhill from there.

I had a similar sense of hopeful anticipation almost six years ago when Ken surprised a number of people and thwarted Ted's attempt to wrest back the mayor's chair. I was a big supporter of Ken from the moment I saw him raise stink after stink as a councillor. Always better prepared than the others at the table, always ready to raise unwelcome and uncomfortable arguments, never willing to retreat when his gut told him to charge, Kenny embodied the brave phrase, "Speaking truth to power."

Besides, it was just damn entertaining watching him drive Ted Nebbeling, Max Kirkpatrick, Thelma Johnstone and the rest of the business-as-usual power brokers nuts.

So often was Ken the lone vote, I thought it would have been an ironic campaign slogan for him: Kenny's the One. Want to drain another wetland? 6-1. Want to cut a sweet deal with a developer? 6-1. Want to ignore the best interests of the community in favour of the best interests of the resort? 6-1. Though frequently alone, he was almost always right and I imagined his term(s) as mayor would play out in similar style.

That was then, this is now.

Over the past two terms, I've not infrequently disagreed with the decisions made by mayor and council. Such is the nature of human relations; reasonable people can agree to disagree. Nothing personal, just a different point of view, set of goals, expectations and hopes for the future. Recognizing I don't have to compromise very often to do what I do, I understood there were times someone holding one vote among seven might have to bend in directions they prefer not to bend to get things done. Fair enough.