Editorial – Stick to the issues

Jeff Burgar

A High Prairie town councillor says, “I don’t read the paper you read.”

Usually, a few less intelligent elected officials around the country think not keeping up with the news, no matter what the news might be, is an admirable trait. As in, “Look at me. I know what is going on. I read tea leaves, listen to coyotes at night and follow Facebook. I am so wise.”

Some of the clumsiest politicians ever elected, anywhere, often brag how uninformed they pretend to be, no matter what they really do. People do love to see their name mentioned on radio or in print. Even what some affectionately call the “social column, [court docket]” smile inside.

But admit that? Oh gosh, no! Taking a cheap shot at local media is, in their minds, the height of laughter and humour.

As in, “Look at me. Not only do I read tea leaves, I am such a funny, funny person.”

Back to our “cutesy” politician, a person who thinks quite highly of himself, because after all, he did get a lot of votes in the last elections, making what he thought was a witty jab at the local press.

The scene was at the March 10 Town of High Prairie regular council meeting. A crowd [11 people, which at council meetings is a huge turnout!] had come to learn why their town council was going to vote themselves up to 150 per cent raise for their monthly honorarium. The whole thing would cost taxpayers $36,000 extra per year.

This, from a council that says, “Money is tight.”

And in the next breath spends on breathtaking innovations like “rebranding.” It also finds itself paying as much, or more on a local airport that it sold off because it couldn’t afford to upgrade it. And no longer has any real say in how the money is spent.

For management like this, the raise meant taxpayers were about to be told, “Cough up, because you know, we are really worth so much more than what we are getting now.”

Honestly, many elected officials will tell you half, if not more, of their brothers and sisters, aren’t worth the padding on their soft chairs.

Councillors all get information packages to prepare them for the coming meeting. It is not unusual to see a councillor or two ripping open their package to find out what is on the evening agenda – right at the beginning of a meeting!

On the other hand, there are councillors who dig in. Instead of gabbling at the coffee shop and enjoying the sucking up of local citizens, they are meeting with community people and clubs. They are reading their packages. Phoning the MLA. Asking questions. Wondering how they can do a better job to move their community forward. These folks are worth their weight in gold.

And they usually never ask for more money. Many took their cheques, passing them to local clubs and groups and never asking for thanks.

Meanwhile, our “cutesy” politician is proud he doesn’t read “that paper?” It is the same fellow who brought the whole raise proposal to council!

The person doing the reading answered, she was simply reading from council’s agenda, not “that paper!”

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