Now that Happy Jack has declared himself a mayoral candidate, the race is on and it's time to kick the Campagne de Fous into a higher gear. Easier said than done in the midst of this on-again off-again summer that sees far too many visitors and far too few staff to serve them. But with only one current councillor having tossed her hat in the ring for another ride on the municipal merry-go-round, there appears to be a wide open opportunity to flesh out the platform of the Never-Ending Party and, just maybe, recruit some worthwhile candidates to join up.
If it stands for anything—and I'm never certain it does—the Never-Ending Party believes in open and transparent government. OK, I hear your collective, cynical sigh; I see your rolling eyes and I hear you mutter, "Yeah, and the cheque's in the mail." Understandable. Totally understandable. Candidates have been grinding that old chestnut to dust since, forever. Open and transparent government has replaced mom and apple pie as one of the most meaningless promises uttered on the campaign trail. Governments, starting with our own local version, on up to the very tippy top, have rendered the phrase worse than meaningless. They've reduced it to the butt of jokes, much as they did "sustainable" a number of years ago.
Just this week, I received an official "response" from the RMOW to a letter I'd submitted to mayor and council. The letter was a slightly less wordy version of a column I did a few weeks ago about the travesty of so thoroughly marginalizing and frustrating the efforts of the board of the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation that they were left with no better option than to resign en masse.
The "response" thanked me for writing. It advised me Council received my emailed letter and included it in the Regular Council Package. It further informed me Council had referred it to staff for further consideration.
If it had gone no further I'd have said, "Fair enough!" What we have here is simply an inaccurate choice of words. While the covering email termed it a response, what was clearly meant was here's an acknowledgement. Response suggests an answer, a retort, a rejoinder, a reply. Passing it on to staff for further consideration is none of those things. Passing it on to staff is more akin to a prehistoric animal stumbling into a tar pit, only to have its bones wind up in a museum millennia later.
But like I said, if it had just stopped there I wouldn't be writing about it here. The next paragraph reminded me the RMOW was "... committed to providing open and transparent channels for community members and interested stakeholders to provide input into our (italics mine) organization." I'll skip the part about telling me my input is valued because no one believes that.
There are a couple of problems at work here. But the biggest one is—and this is just a gentle reminder—the RMOW is not "your" organization, in the sense calling it "our" organization suggests those at Fortress Muni "own" it. The RMOW is my organization. It is a "service" organization paid for by the residents of this town to serve the needs of this town. It does not, should not, and cannot have a life outside the members of this community. Therein lies much of the source of endless griping among Whistleratics about how out of touch, autocratic and unresponsive muni hall seems to be.
So the Never-Ending Party pledges to put all muni staff, including those who understand they don't own the town, through humility training, followed by service reorientation training. Like so many businesses in town, this will be followed up and monitored by a secret-shopper program to see how well the training has taken root.
And as a bonus, there will be a new policy of actually responding to formal submissions to mayor and council not sending them where ideas go to die.
But wait, as they say on late-night TV, there's more.
The Never-Ending Party, recognizing the shortcomings of the current voting system, is calling for electoral reform. We need electoral reform because—let's be honest here—there are, in nearly every election, candidates who appear out of nowhere and leave you wondering just where their cabbage patch is in town. Or candidates that have personal axes to grind, have no clue what the role of local government is or, not to be too blunt, are just plain whacko.
To counter this unfortunate situation, the Party proposes a two-vote system. Yes, you get two votes, not just one. One for, one against. If there's a candidate who speaks to you, seems to have good ideas, appears honest and trustworthy, you should vote for him or her. But if you also believe there's a candidate who, under no circumstances, should be allowed to hold office, you'd get a vote against him or her. One positive; one negative. The person with the most net votes wins. And just to make it interesting, the person with the least net votes has to leave town.
The Never-Ending Party also proposes a bylaw adopting, within the boundaries of the RMOW, the Bavarian Purity Law. If you're not familiar with it, that law states the beverage referred to as beer contains four, and only four, ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. Notice what's missing from this short list? Yup! Fruit. Beer doesn't not contain watermelon, peach, kiwi, grapefruit, chocolate or gummi bears. Brewers have been adulterating their previously fine product by adding these things—not gummi bears; I just made that up—ostensibly to appeal to younger drinkers. If you like fruit in your malt beverage, fine. But it ain't beer and under the bylaw, it would have to be labelled accordingly and not sold in the same mix pack as real beer. Beer is beer; fruit is fruit. Mix them together and you have a mixed drink, not beer.
Clearly, changing the voting rules and possibly interfering with commerce fall outside of the Community Charter, the document that governs the scope of municipal government. Details, details.
The Never-Ending Party proposes to get around this speedbump by reiterating an old plank in the platform. Recognizing Whistler is unique, the Party again proposes a clean break with Canada and the establishment of The Resort Principality of Whistler. Don't laugh. Every European country sharing a border with a Principality benefits greatly. And all the Principalities do quite nicely, thank you.
But let's leave this for now and next week, I'll remind you what a boon to both Canada and Whistler this harebrained scheme would be.