“I Like You, You’re White”

 

“I like you. You’re white.”

That was just one of the ringing endorsements I received on the campaign trail!
The somewhat startling observation came from a lovely older woman at a local seniors’ residence. She was right of course, I am white.

In the 2014 municipal election, I decided to throw my hat into the ring.

It was a wonderful experience and I don’t regret a minute of it, save for losing, which as it turns out is a lot harder than I anticipated. I have to admit, despite my years of covering municipal politics, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

With Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Steve Desroches honouring his commitment to only serve two terms, (imagine that) and as such leaving the ward without an incumbent, I felt the timing was right. After observing city politics for a couple of decades, I thought it was time to put myself on the election line.

I’d seen enough craziness and plenty of reckless spending and I thought I could make a real difference.
And so with so many fabulous people offering their support to help me, I registered to run in a neighbourhood I’d spent much of my life in – volunteered in – raised my family in.

On Tuesday, candidates wanting to run in the 2018 municipal election ran register as well. And only then can they start raising money and spending it in their pursuit of elected office.

I have nothing but total respect for anyone willing to put their name on the line to be judged by the electorate. It’s much harder than I imagined and far more rewarding than I ever anticipated.

As the campaign heats up, I’ll be blogging from time to time about my own experiences. And yes, those stories you may have heard about people answering the door half-naked, all true! I will of course also be covering the campaign and some of the more interesting municipal candidates out there.

And while I can now empathize with the difficulties of being on the campaign trail, that doesn’t mean I won’t ask the hard questions of those seeking to represent us.

 

 

Dear Eugene, I’m Here to Help

 

Dear Mr. Melnyk,

Just a short note to offer up my services, need you to know I’m here to help.
Having left Postmedia almost a year and a half ago, I’m always up for contract work, especially in the field of communications. And let’s face it Eugene, hope it’s okay to call you by your first name, you need help. For some reason that is difficult to understand, you appear to be hell bent on destroying even the semblance of a relationship with the citizens of Ottawa and your reputation along with it.

You might have saved yourself the time and money for your little town halls, designed as they were to help strengthen the relationship with Ottawa Senators’ fans. In hindsight, they seem like a bit of a waste of time. Why bother when you’re clearly still playing your role as the boy who cried wolf? No one knows whether to even take you seriously. Some have stopped caring.

“It’s a huge project with a tremendous risk,” Melnyk is reported as saying in one of those town hall sessions.“I’m a risk-taker, but this one is really rolling the dice.”

Melnyk said he’s concerned about whether there’ll be a place for the condo units the RendezVous LeBreton plan includes.

“I’m now hesitating back and saying, ‘You can’t do all this development there and have LeBreton’,” he was quoted as saying.

You know Eugene, this isn’t the first time you’ve mused about this, but it should be the last. This is a deal you wanted, so now make it work. For some reason, you seem absolutely determined to prove your word means nothing – and are destroying any possible relationship with the citizens of this town who have spent their hard earned money and time supporting the team.

Why?
That’s hard to figure out. But don’t worry, I can help you with that. For starters, it likely will involve you learning to speak only when spoken to.

And this latest fiasco on your ramblings about LeBreton Flats has brought us to yet another Battle of the Bosses. Not surprisingly, Mayor Jim Watson – the Boss of the City – has taken exception with your musings as the Boss the Ottawa Senators and the suggestion that perhaps playing at LeBreton Flats isn’t the way to go.

I don’t want to give away too much free advice Eugene, but surely even you see that this is in direct contrast to what you’ve said in the past, that you simply couldn’t make it work financially out in Kanata. Now I don’t say this often, but Watson is absolutely right to publicly address his concerns – surely so is the rest of the city.

You know of course how the Battle of the Bosses played out last time. Frankly, as you’ll know if you were reading me in the Ottawa Sun at the time, I had a fair amount of sympathy for you and didn’t think you got a fair shake when it came to your desire to run a casino. Sadly, though I tried desperately to continue with my sympathy, instead of taking the high road, you behaved like a petulant child, pulling Cyril Leeder out of some of his very valuable and important community work.

So when Watson says he’s going to call you out on your ramblings, he’s absolutely right to do so.

“We’re not going to waste our time and waste their time and waste the public’s time if Mr. Melnyk keeps changing his mind whether he wants an arena downtown or he doesn’t want an arena downtown,” Watson was quoted as saying.
(Presume you and the mayor aren’t on a first name basis!)

Watson is looking for a clarification of your intentions.
That’s his job, to look after the city.
And you, now with your threat to jeopardize the LeBreton Flats project, is childlike and incredibly irresponsible.
One can only imagine how you’d have reacted if you were shut out of the project.
I can just hear you now, extolling the virtues of everything you’ve done for the city and then not getting a fair shake. Don’t blow this one.

You wanted this deal.
It’s yours now.
And before you say another wrong thing, call me.
I’ll be waiting,

Sue Sherring
(And yes, you can call me Sue.)

 

Beyonce – Take Two

 

So it turns out a dancing Beyonce with her fabulous body on display in sexy stockings isn’t the right image for Elections Ottawa to encourage women to work for Elections Ottawa.
Doh!

As On the City, From the Burbs reported on Sunday, two entrepreneurial city employees, described as young women working the National Women’s Show, improvised with Queen B – changing the lyrics to Put a Ring On It – to attempt to encourage fellow millennials to work for Elections Ottawa.
And then all hell broke loose at the city.
“The tweet was taken down, it was completely inappropriate. There were two employees who thought it was a good idea. We apologize to any one who was offended,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said.
Well, there’s that half-hearted apology again.

For sure, not everyone is going to find the tweets as offensive as I do; or as offensive as someone like Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans does. But surely the apology shouldn’t be qualified.
“Well, the reality is these two employees thought it was a good idea to try to spice up the campaign. Obviously, I don’t think that representation of the city is a good idea and the offensive tweet was taken down,” said Watson.
The mayor said when he first saw the tweets, he didn’t quite understand the message.
“Well, at first I just glanced at it. I didn’t know it was Beyonce, but I knew it was inappropriate. And there was a whole lot of talk about polls, so I had poll dancing in my mind which I thought was in bad taste. I think they’ll be much more careful in the future and I was surprised it was thought that would be a good idea to attract millennials,” the mayor added.

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder was bang on when she said aside from the bad messaging was the fact that the two young women had authority to tweet on behalf of the city.
“That is astonishing to me. This city is well known for its caution in communicating, everything has to be researched. It is very labour intensive and to have relatively new people (tweeting) well that’s absolutely flabbergasting,” Harder said.
“I cannot believe their judgment was so off and once again, it reflects poorly on a city working really hard to do good things, it’s a shame. We’ve been talking about the need for a (female) lens. And when you look at this kind of decision, seems you really need to have that.”

Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais admitted he couldn’t make sense of the message, using Beyonce in her skin tight outfit and switching up the words to her song Put a Ring on It as a way to encourage women to work for Elections Ottawa.
“It made no sense, I’m still having such a hard time understanding what it was thought that would do. It’s just a head shaker,” Blais said.

Deans, who on Sunday had questioned whether the employees should be terminated, told On the City, From the Burbs she was satisfied the employees had been dealt with properly – and was assured nothing like this would happen again.
“I have to presume they won’t be doing any more tweeting,” she added.

 

Want women involved in elections, Put a Ring On It

Ottawa does want women in municipal election, here’s Beyonce proof.

So despite Mayor Jim Watson’s protestations to the contrary, turns out the city of Ottawa does want to encourage women to participate in this year’s municipal election. Just not how you might have hoped. The city isn’t actually encouraging women to run for office, instead seems Ottawa is spending our tax dollars to encourage women to get their Beyonce on, slip into a Danskin and head to the elections office singing Put a Ring on It.

Can’t make this stuff up folks. And wouldn’t if I could. This is apparently how the city feels about women.

On Sunday, the city’s elections office under the Elections Ottawa twitter handle @ottawavote sent out a couple of incredibly demeaning and inappropriate tweets referencing Beyonce in her skin-tight bodysuit where she belts out Put a Ring On It to call on women to work this election.

Apparently keeping women behind the scenes is far more important than getting women to run for office.
Unbelievable? Absolutely. But true. The tweets were deleted before many got a chance to read them, but sadly the damage has been done. On the City, From the Burbs received emails showing screen shots of the tweets and immediately phoned
Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, a strong feminist, for her reaction.

But the tweets are so incredibly crazy, so absolutely offensive to women, Deans dismissed them outright, saying she simply didn’t believe they were legitimate. It wasn’t until this blog received an email from Tyler Cox, the city’s manager of legislative services, that Deans was convinced of the tweets’ validity.

“The City of Ottawa’s Twitter Elections account, @ottawavote, posted a Tweet during the course of the weekend that did not reflect its mandate and values.
“City representatives have since made the decision to remove the Tweet, and would like to offer their apologies to those who may have found it inappropriate,” Cox’s email read.
Frankly, hate apologies like this that really aren’t an apology at all. Surely, everyone found the tweets inappropriate. Suggesting the city offer an apology IF we found them inappropriate is offensive as well.
And Cox, who’s in charge of Elections Ottawa, should know that. Doesn’t he find the tweets inappropriate?

Convinced the tweets were legitimate, Deans could still barely respond.
“I don’t understand what possible reason there could be for the elections office to tweet something like that. I’m dumbfounded, it’s mind boggling to me, it’s so inappropriate.” Deans said, struggling for her words.
(And if you know Deans, that doesn’t happen often!)
“I’m honestly, I’m so dumbfounded I don’t even know what to say, it’s so wildly offensive and I don’t understand its relevance to the election. Of course it’s offensive, it’s completely inappropriate and I think we need a greater explanation how this happened and if (the tweeters) are still in the employment of the city,” Deans said, adding that it seems abundantly clear her call for a gender lens at the city is absolutely needed.

“To encourage women to work for the Elections Office with dancing Barbies, that is just mind boggling and to say if anyone was offended, I’m sorry, you have to go farther than that, have to say we will ensure something like this never happens again,” she said.

Aside from the tweet with a picture of Beyonce in her Put a Ring On It outfit, another tweet changes up the words of Put a Ring On It.

All the Women’s Show ladies.
All the Women’s Show ladies.
All the Women’s Show ladies.
All the Women’s Show ladies.
Now put your hands up.
WE WANT YOU TO WORK THE POLLS.
Visit the Elections Office staff at the National Women’s Show Shaw Centre #werk #ottcity

Unclear here whether they’re referencing the election polls or those used by strippers.
And no word on whether the tweeter(s) doesn’t know how to spell work or perhaps it’s a play on the word twerk, which is equally as likely.

The city needs to explain this mess. And it needs to do better. Much better.

 

Mitic Feels the Wrath of Social Media

 

Let’s face it.
Social media is not for the faint of heart.
It’s something Innes Coun. Jody Mitic learned that the hard way on the weekend.
Mitic was on the receiving end of some nasty comments on Facebook after he posted a picture with his girlfriend and former staffer Kelley Shields: “Troops! Meet my girl Kelley. She’s my best friend. #truelove #bestfriends”

Is it anyone’s business that our politicians have affairs, that they cheat on their spouse? Still wrestling about that. But when a politician takes to social media and makes the relationship public, well, that’s a different thing. The public is then free to write anything or everything. And they did, some offering their support to Mitic, wishing for his happiness; just as many had scathing comments for Mitic, accusing him of leaving the woman who had stood by his side and hurting her by going public. Note that Mitic has been busy deleting many of the posts. And Mitic’s ex Alannah Gilmore weighed in too, well…Facebook became a free for all.

What Mitic has never accepted is that as an elected official, the rules are different for him. He hates that, doesn’t seem to really understand it and doesn’t react well when it happens. When I tweeted that I was going to be writing about the Facebook controversy, Mitic didn’t take it well.

“What the f..k are you doing?” he asked me through a direct message.
To be fair, Mitic apologized twice afterward for his language.

Mucking about politicians’ personal lives generally isn’t something news journalists engage in. But when the private lives of politicians are made public by the politician themselves, the rules change. For sure, he’s free to write what he wants, so is the general public and so am I. And yes, lots will have their own opinions about all of us.

In an interview with On the City, From the Burbs, Mitic said he didn’t understand why posting a picture of himself and Kelley was anyone’s business. Well, clearly, Mitic put it on Facebook so he must presume it’s of some public interest.

According to Mitic, he and Gilmore separated in the fall of 2016.
Shields worked on his election campaign and then in his office. Mitic said the affair was discovered during the campaign and wasn’t ongoing when she came to work in his office. She was somehow later moved into the city bureaucracy after Gilmore protested to her husband about his former mistress working in his office. This is all according to Mitic, Gilmore did’t return may calls. Don’t blame her. Since yesterday, she has protected her tweets so they’re no longer accessible to the public.

How and why the city gave Shields a job in the city’s bureaucracy is a story I don’t quite understand. And Mitic’s explanation is troublesome. Surely our tax dollars shouldn’t be used to give someone a job because a city councillor had been having an affair with them.

Mitic seems to take some sort of joy in not abiding by the usual rules that most of us accept. And yes, there are plenty of people who admire him for that. I’m not one of them.

Mitic of course recently announced he wouldn’t be seeking a second term on council, having gone public with his battle with both depression and alcoholism. In making the announcement, he said he had to take care of himself and spend time with his family.

And for those of you who are Mitic admirers, feel free, as you always do, to point out that I’ll never in my life do anything for this country anywhere close to the magnitude of what Mitic has done. Fine. You’re right.

But for a city councillor, for a man with children, for a man whose ex-wife clearly has carried him through some terrible times and is still clearly hurting, really don’t understand the need to take to Facebook.

And yes, there are his children, who can access social media as easily as the rest of us.

Here are some of the tweets written by Gilmore.

“Hilarious, I’m asked to be discreet, but he makes it public. I guess he doesn’t want the truth to come out first. So many lies, cheating so much pain caused. But who cares as long as they are happy right.
“Keep pushing her in my face,” wrote Gilmore.
“I have never been so hurt and so lost in my life.”

Mitic said a lot of other things about the mother of his children, things I told him he shouldn’t be telling a reporter.
“I thought we were just talking,” he responded.
Yes, that’s what an interview is, I reminded him – along with assurances I wouldn’t write some of the more unsavoury things he’d said.
For the record, he also said some lovely things relating to her professional life.

Clearly, Mitic has struggled during his time as a city councillor. This won’t help.

“I have not ever denied I’m a f…k up,” Mitic told On the City, From the Burbs.
“I’m not rubbing anything in anyone’s face. I live my life and I try to let other people live theirs.
“Kelley and I are best friends, we’re madly in love and we’ll be just fine.”

 

 

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