Monday, June 26, 2006

Councillor sticks neck out

St. John's is proud of it's status as a World Energy City and well it should be.

In the past Mayor Andy Wells could not keep quiet about it. According to Oil and Gas Magazine, he proclaimed that "This is an offshore oil capital ... And we need new developments to be announced before construction finishes next year on the White Rose project. The Hebron-Ben Nevis announcement should be made soon and this will keep momentum moving in the right direction."

That was then. This is now. These days you couldn't get Andy to speak on the oil issue if you beat him with an iron rod.

He is, however, very vocal on other issues critical to the city such as the discovery of pigment-coated rodent cadavers but let's leave that to another day.

Not a sound on oil/gas will he make today.

Why the sudden shift? Why won't he make any statement on the collapse on the Hebron negotiations other than "I support the Premier"? After all he's not normally a follower who leaves the talking to others if he help it. He's proud of his status as a self-proclaimed truth-speaker who will always stand up for the interests of the people of St. John.

That's part of the great Andy Wells political myth.

In fact the Hebron development (or lack of it) is the biggest economic issue currently on the horizon and it has the potential to affect the overall health of the city of St. John's for the next 20 years. This industry has already made an enormous difference to the region. It has ensured (up till now) healthy housing starts and prices and a booming retail sector. If you drive up and down Water and Duckworth, you see more interesting stores and restaurants than we've ever seen before. To top it off, the employment rate is as close to full as we've seen in our lifetimes.

All this makes for stable St. John's municipal tax revenues.

Yet Mayor Andy Wells will not utter a peep in fear of possible jeopardizing his chance of taking over the Chairmanship of the CNLOPB.

Now it has been left to councillor Art Puddister to take up the issue. Tomorrow night he will ask city council to back his request that the province confirm Ruelokke as the new chair.

Wells will raise holy hell when he not entitled to. He is in a clear and gross conflict of interest on this and should keep to his strategy to keeping quiet on this issue. He should not contribute to the debate because he has nothing to contribute but self-interested noise. Nor should he be voting.

My bet is that he will anyway.

Then the people of St. John's will be treated to the spectacle of having their economic future held hostage to one man's personal ambition.

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