AND THE AWARDS (phase two) GO TO… DRUM ROLL PLEASE

At Thursday’s epic – and especially awful – transit commission meeting, the public saw the worst of the worst – certainly an event worthy of a few awards from On the City, From the Burbs. The first group of awards were announced earlier this week, here’s a handful that the blog is still handing out. 

BEST PUBLIC EVER AWARD: It can’t have been easy to sit through the mess of a five-hour transit meeting, what with Chair Allan Hubley shutting down questions on any technicality he’d been clearly told to make up, councillors muttering – and all of this headed to no real conclusion. But yet, a small handful of the dedicated public could be seen sticking the meeting out. Kudos to them.

MIC DROP AWARD: (Okay, it’s not really a mic drop, but love that phrase!) When councillors are addressing committee or council, their mics are turned on. When they’re done, their mics are turned off. But at Thursday’s meeting, Capital Coun. Shawn Menard ended his questions, and then presumed his mic was off after yet another crazy ruling by char Allan Hubley. “Pathetic,” Menard could be heard to say under his breath. Oops. Yes, councillor, pathetic is right.

BEST CITIZEN TRANSIT COMMISSIONER:  There’s no doubt Sarah Wright-Gilbert, one of the citizen transit commissioners, is making her mark. She’s dedicated, she’s committed, she’s a transit user who knows her stuff – and Watson has nothing over her. It’s perfect. Wright-Gilbert is also on social media much of the time, airing her concerns and her grievances on Twitter. All commissioners should be this committed. Of course, because she’s doing her job, and doesn’t have any vested interest save for a good transit system, Watson doesn’t seem to like her! That’s an endorsement if I ever heard one! She’s making waves, that’s for sure. As a result, she says the mayor has unfollowed her on Twitter! 

AND THE AWARD GOES TO… DRUM ROLL PLEASE

An epic five-hour OC Transpo meeting on Thursday is certainly worthy of its own set of awards.

So for the first time ever for this blog, here are a handful of awards stemming from that crazy meeting.

BEST HISTORICAL REENACTMENT: If you thought public lynchings were a thing of the past, think again. At Thursday’s transit commission meeting, it seemed to be fair ball to question the axing of OC Transpo general manager John Manconi.

Gross. Not especially the most eloquent of words, but it’s the right one.
There would seem to be good reason to examine the roles that senior staff, like Manconi, have played in the many mess ups of light rail. But a public airing of his role at a meeting should just not have happened. And given the number of times Chair Allan Hubley called something out of order, just can’t imagine why he didn’t shut down any discussion of the senior manager’s role at the city immediately. This simply should never happen.

BEST HYPERBOLE or THE BEST PRETEND REENACTMENT OF FALLING ON YOUR SWORD: Goes to general manager Steve Kanellakos’ speech to council in defending John Manconi, his man in charge of OC Transpo, it was full of passion and sadly – hyperbole.

Kanellakos, playing his best leadership role, vowed to fall on his own sword if people wanted to get rid of Manconi.

Look, it was a disgrace for Manconi to be publicly shamed the way he was. Again, what happened to dealing with personnel issues behind closed doors? Apparently, when it appears you’ve wasted $2.1 billion of taxpayers’ hard-earned money, you can throw just about anyone under the bus. (PUN INTENDED). Badoom, badoom. But when Kanellakos says if you want to take Manconi out, you’ll have to take him down first, well, that’s just HYPERBOLE. 

Kanellakos is in the enviable position of being great at his job and he knows that council – at least at this point in time – can’t run the city any better without him. So yes, he can throw himself under the bus and know the next day he’s driving that bus. No one is ready to throw him under the bus.
ALSO a runner-up for the next best – that sweet-talking Kanellakos for most disingenuous quote

NICE, BUT INCREDIBLY DISINGENUOUS QUOTE: “We’ve been pulling off miracles.” Steve Kanellakos, Ottawa city manager told members of the transit commission on Thursday.

What? Has someone’s God intervened in light rail? I’m all for that if it’s possible. But does Kanellakos really understand what a miracle is? And if he does, and he’s really able to make them happen, couldn’t he have asked the Big Guy to make the trains run on time? What sort of miracle does he believe he’s performed? And does he think he’s close enough to God to make the trains run on time?

“We’re very prepared to answer the difficult questions, with what we’ve been attempting to do, staff that have been working on this project for many years, and we’re very committed to this,” Kanellakos said on Thursday. Nice, but where’s the miracle you allegedly pulled off? Don’t see it. And again, if you’re close enough to empower miracles, make them happen. And seriously, if what we have now is a miracle, let’s just pack up our bags and ask for God’s forgiveness and hope we can get to work on time.

CRAZIEST QUOTE: “We don’t have trouble with winter operations,” stated Peter Lausch, with Rideau Transport Management. Still guffawing about this quote And I say guffawing because I just am crazy about that word.

BEST POLITICAL RESPONSE: “How can you say that with a straight face?” courtesy of Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais. (We’re going to miss him when he takes over his seat in provincial politics.)

WORST MOMENT EVER: I’ve never understood, when everyone knows a long meeting is about to take place, why they don’t give the public a chance to speak before politicians get the mike. Those aren’t the rules, but this group happily breaks rules when need be. You know how procedure can take precedence over everything else. So when citizen Miranda Gray finally had a chance to speak, she was totally disrespected. And I was incredibly embarrassed by the process. Having waited about five hours, Gray finally had her chance to speak and make her point.

What does Hubley say when she wrapped up? “Did you want to finish your talk, sorry I wasn’t following.”  She’d already finished. Disgraceful. Seriously, covered council a long time but this was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.

WORST CHAIRED MEETING EVER: The truth is, I quite like Allan Hubley. But he’s so far gone in finding a place on Watson’s team, he’s lost his independence. And his morality. Hubley was incredibly quick to shut down anyone who asked a question outside the purview of Thursday’s meeting’s mandate if it wasn’t about the present crisis with the system.

Yet he let others who had nothing to say in reference to light rail absolutely ramble on. He chastised those he disagreed with, yet he let others talk about issues which had nothing to do with the meeting. And he wasn’t at all worried about showing his bias toward certain councillors. Case in point, when Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper was looking for info, Hubley said, “Coun. Leiper, surprise, surprise.” Maybe a little bit of objectiveness would go a long way councillor.

MOST REFERENCED QUOTES: If only there was one winner! In no particular order, here’s a sampling of the most repeated phrases, mostly from staff:

“Sorry, I don’t know.”

“The root causes are still unknown.”

“I’ll have to get back to you.”

“Sorry.”

“I’m not making excuses.”

“I don’t know the answer to that.”

“Can you repeat the question?”