Archive for May, 2006

armchair quarterbacks

May 18, 2006

My, my how quickly the tables turn when someone in the room has millions of dollars in their pocket. It’s surprising to see who in this community seems to find it so easy to spend other people’s money. It’s become a room full of righteous pick-pockets. Attempted extorion justified by the oft-repeated statement that Bosa should be “giving back to the community”. Greed is greed.

A lot of people seem to have a lot to say about how much money Bosa will make from their Town Centre development amendment. And as the figures fly, I wonder, so what?

It’s amazing how fast communist rhetoric shoots from the mouths of the most conservative conservatives as the community salivates over Bosa’s potential profits. I always thought I was a socialist, but here I am asking the question, why shouldn’t they make a lot of money?

I hope they do. If they make a lot of money, then hopefully other developments will follow. Those redevelopments bring opportunity.

In the meantime, all those who think that scanning the real estate listing makes them a pro forma expert should put down the calculator and think about the principles of a healthy community that need to be maintained and strengthened. Let’s stay focused on those, shall we?

popularity contest

May 15, 2006

It’s a bit depressing to see so many examples where being nice and attractive is apparently more important to voters than being intelligent and constructive. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that an amiable personality and agreeable appearance are not reliable indicators of a person’s ability to make good decisions. Since elections are all about choosing people to make decisions on our behalf, it’s really too bad that manners and physical attractiveness so often trump competence.


May 4, 2006

After writing my post from this morning I was wondering, why do some people get so upset when it is revealed that they weren’t paying attention to something that maybe they ought to have? I wonder if this is another example of a culture that avoids taking personal responsibility for our choices. To blame government communications is to try to deflect taking responsibility for the fact that they didn’t think the information interesting enough to catch their attention until it had some obvious relevance to their personal lives. ie: “the City didn’t do enough to tell residents about plans to redevelop the town centre!” But yet those plans had been on the books and the subject of public meetings and newspaper articles since 1966. It has been a very active subject since 1987. There was a brief denial of logic for several years (“I don’t want it to make sense because then I would have to accept something I don’t think I will like”), but the body of evidence and principles only grew stronger.

communicating with purpose

There should be more to “communicating” than trying to convince someone to agree with you. What is the purpose of communicating if you’re not trying to get someone to agree with you? There is so much value in simply sharing perspectives. I hope we, as a community, can foster open communications – sharing of stories.

communications failure

I find it interesting how often it seems people complaining that I’m not listening are actually just upset that I don’t agree with them. The way they see it, if I were listening, obviously I would agree with them.

I see the complaint that the city is not communicating very well much the same way. Certainly in White Rock we have a lot of work to do for improving how we communicate in the community. But that criticism is too often used as a cover-up for the fact that people find political issues boring or the human reality that we don’t usually pay much attention to things that don’t seem relevant to our lives at the time.

Is this a point of pride? Is there a reason people don’t want to simply say, “I wasn’t listening” or “I never really paid attention to that because it didn’t seem interesting at the time.” Why should there be shame in that?

Why blame government communications for your lack of interest? Government shouldn’t have to market citizenship and democratic responsibilities like toothpaste or beer.

efficiency vs. effectivity

May 2, 2006

I often hear complaints that start with “If government were run like a business…”. The rant is usually about the time it takes for decision-making or the cost of conducting government affairs. It is also used in criticising the use of tax dollars, often with something similar to “if this was your own money, you’d be more careful with how you spent it.”

Unfortunately, those are competing arguments – act faster, be more careful. It’s a similar contradiction to the oft offered ‘be more creative, take less risk’ advice. Then followed by the angst-laden criticism of wasted tax dollars if an experiment fails.

Government is not business. Government has to be more careful than business. Government has to be much more open and transparent than business.

Openness and transparency is expensive, invites criticism needing a response, and creates an environment of fear and culture of risk aversion.

The expectation that government not make mistakes causes a decision-making system that has many layers of scrutiny built in. All that time, all those reports, and all those procedures – it all costs money. They are all staff intensive. More staff time = more of your tax dollars.

Business doesn’t have to jump through those public hoops. That’s why it takes so much longer for government to get anything done. And perhaps that’s why it’s so rare for a government to go bankrupt, but quite normal for businesses to close shop.

Is this another case of being careful of what you ask for? Will demanding faster decision-making create more risk? Will demanding more careful spending actually cause an increase in administrative spending?