Bashing mayor and council seems to have become a full-time sport for a segment of Penticton’s population.
It’s easy to see where this comes from. Some of council’s decisions can’t be considered anything but controversial: the Skaha Lake Park lease and expanded pay parking have both generated endless discussion. That’s a good thing. No council should be given carte blanche to make decisions without ongoing public scrutiny, before and after the vote.
One of the many roles of a newspaper is that of watchdog; in particular, keeping an eye on the functioning of city hall and the decisions coming out of it. In Penticton, though, this scrutiny of mayor and council has passed beyond oversight and restraint to insults and shouting for recall legislation. Nothing (except Donald Trump) could be worse for democracy than bringing recall to municipal politics. Because, and here’s a secret, no matter what a council decides there is an ever-shifting segment of the population disagreeing with the outcome.
Approval ratings for mayors and councils are never likely to be high. Making unpopular decisions — and indeed, sometimes making the wrong decision — goes with the job.
Unlike provincial and federal politicians, local politicians have to face their constituents on a daily basis. Recall might be useful in getting your point across to a senior government politician, but in city government, there is no avoiding the public unless you chose to move into a cave and live as a hermit between council meetings. Few caves have internet, so that’s not really an attractive option.
This is the mayor and council we have to work with. Demanding accountability from them, demanding they interact with the community better to understand the effect of their decisions, these are all good things, that we will continue to do.
But the insults, name calling and unreasoned attacks, frankly, are making this community look bad. It’s time we started telling council what we want from them rather than bashing whatever decisions they make and personally attacking them.