judgment day

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

My petition to have the election of James Coleridge declared invalid was successful. The judge released her decision yesterday. He is no longer a member of City Council for the City of White Rock. He is required to pay $20,000 toward the cost of a byelection to fill his vacant seat, and some of my legal costs will be reimbursed.

What is ironic about the decision is that the judge seemed less concerned about him pretending he didn’t know who sent the contentious email and making up stories to cover his tracks, it was that he was lying about being honest in his campaign advertising — he was selling himself as being someone who citizens could trust to be honest with them, all the while he was lying.

But this judgment is less about lying than it is about integrity. They are related, but there is a difference. Integrity requires that you accept responsibility for your choices. Yes, Coleridge lied, but it was his lack of integrity — his unwillingness to accept responsibility for his incorrect and misleading statements — that cost him his office. In reading the judgment, it sounds like, had he enough integrity to admit his error when he had the chance (before I filed a petition in Supreme Court to force him to do so), he probably would have escaped this consequence.

survival of the deceptors

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Are we born to be deceivers? If humans evolved this way, it might have been good for cavemen, but doesn’t work so well now. So, how can we inoculate ourselves against something we’ve inherited in our genetics?

There are some things we are pre-wired for. From birth, we know how to eat and have a fear of falling — nobody has to teach us. Our brain structure is set up in such a way that emotions can easily take command of our reaction to something before we’re even consciously aware of it. Even smiling is thought to be evolutionary because it seems there is no culture or society, no matter how isolated, that does not understand what a smile means. These shared traits were established within our neural circuitry before groups of Homo sapiens struck out on their own (which was relatively recently) to discover new lands, eventually forming new races and developing unique cultures.

Unfortunately, it seems we also share a less constructive human condition. We have a tendency to form assumptions based on almost no information and to try to escape responsibility for things that go wrong. It seems more important to have a complete explanation than for the story to actually be true. So, when faced with a lot of unknowns, we just fill in the blanks ourselves. Likewise, impulsively at least, figuring out whether a mistake was made isn’t as important as avoiding responsibility for it. This is witnessed frequently, daily. Read on »

evolving social ideal

Friday, February 27th, 2009

What ultimately determines rights and wrongs… all of our rules are a combination of law and the social ideal. And that’s always all over the map. Once upon a time, the law and social ideal said that blacks should be slaves and women shouldn’t vote.

– Ron MacLean

Quoted from The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos Video Podcast February 11 2009

shades of honesty

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

This morning on CBC Early Edition, Rick Cluff asked me an uncomfortable question; “Did you ever lie when you were in office?” Uncomfortable because there’s no safe, honest way to answer the question directly. It fits among others, such as… Do I look fat in this dress? or… When did you stop beating your wife?

As noted in previous posts, particularly we’re all liars from just last week, Homo sapiens are not perfectly honest creatures. We lie to ourselves and each other frequently, daily. Anyone who says he doesn’t lie just proved himself a liar. I am just as human as you are. I have lied. I remained human when I held an elected office. I lied there too. Given the realities of human nature, is the issue of honesty black and white? Is it realistic to expect someone seeking public office to suddenly shed their humanness to become the most honest person in their community?

I’m hoping my petition spurs a public dialogue on the shades of grey of honesty. At what point does an innocent white lie, intended to make a better story or prevent unnecessary insult, become a black lie of unacceptable deception or unfair characterization? Read on »

do what you think is right

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

You can’t do what I do if you’re worrying about how people view it… you know, people who don’t understand everything about what you’re doing; who don’t have as much access to the facts as you do. And so, from early on, I always said, particularly as it related to articles and commentary, don’t pay attention to the good because it’s never as good as they’ll say, and don’t pay attention to the bad because it’s never as bad. You have to do what you think is right. And that’s what you have to live with because you’re always going to have critics.

– Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

Quoted from The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos Video Podcast February 05 2009

we’re all liars

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

CBC Doc Zone broadcasted a documentary on lying earlier this month. Below are excerpts from the last 5 minutes of “The Truth About Liars”. Lines that are not otherwise attributed are quotes from the narrator, Anne-Marie McDonald. The full video is embedded at the end of this post.

The secret of politics is this: tell people the lies that are consistent with their own self-deception [that is, the lies that people tell themselves]. If you can do that, you’re a successful politician. So, we’re not really that concerned about politicians lying to us. If we were, we would be horrified at every bit of political campaigning because it’s mostly all bullshit.

– David Livingstone Smith,
University of New England

The experts say our faith, our trust, that leaders are telling the truth has been eroding for years. Now it’s become commonplace to see our leaders in business, entertainment and sports face disgrace in front of the television cameras. And then, often, life seems to go on pretty much as it did before: our heros reduced and returned to us, our respect replaced by cynicism and satire. But is this spectacle changing how the rest of us behave? Experts say there is no evidence that we’re all lying and cheating more; it may just look that way because television and technology allow us to see it more, to catch our leaders in the act.

Finding the truth about liars begins with accepting some facts: We all lie; We’re going to have to continue lying if we’re going to get along. Read on »

liar’s supporting cast

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Coleridge’s slate email saga was not a solo performance. Nor was his wife the only other player. His tangled tale was made possible by a cast of supporting characters.

In his election campaign he made up a slate of other candidates and labelled it the “Real Estate Slate.” He said the City loaned Bosa money, certain candidates were heavily financed by developers, and others advocated outlandish development schemes. These were all lies; Coleridge made it all up, just like his bizarre stories about the email’s source.

But he’s been a known liar for many years. I’ve heard stories of other dishonourable dealings, but the one for which I have seen documented evidence took place in 1999 and was also an issue of public trust. So, how could he continue to be elected to public office?

That’s a good question. Here’s some for the people who helped him cover up his lies and get re-elected… Read on »

weight of the wait

Friday, February 13th, 2009

And the wait begins. The judge gave no indication of how long it might take for her to render a decision. My lawyer’s guess is that we won’t be waiting more than a month. But she might come back sooner than that knowing that the Local Government Act directs the court to act as “expeditiously” as possible. She seemed to be fully aware and sensitive to the impact her decision would have — whatever her decision is — on the community of White Rock. So, hopefully we won’t be waiting very long to learn the outcome of my petition.

day of the respondent

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

All my witnesses appeared in court yesterday and provided their evidence. Coleridge has begun to present his evidence and will continue to do so today. He has expressed intent to have only two witnesses: himself and his wife.

perception stains

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

I find it interesting how my reflexive tendencies for righteous irreverence is both celebrated and reviled in the community. The difference is usually whether a person agrees with me or not. If they do, they thank me for my courage to state what so many others have been too polite to say publicly. If they don’t, they chastise my lack of respect for social conventions. Read on »