Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Ellsworth amateur hour

St. John's City Councilor Ron Ellsworth has made quite a name for himself already. He has carefully and methodically carved out a reputation as a straight-talking, sensible, responsible stand-up member of a council not really known for that kind of personality.

And he's only been an active politician for less than 24 months. And it shows.

On the one hand he's done yeoman's service on city budget matters (although he folded like a deck of cards on the Mile 1 subsidy issue) and he's been pretty solid in standing up to Andy (mayor for life and Bully-in-chief) Wells.

But his inexperience shows in the political boners he's committed. One that springs to mind was his flip-flop on the retroactive, over-generous council pay increases that almost slipped through. Not only did he make the wrong call on supporting this outrage in the first place, he backslid by proposing paycuts for all members of council. This not only showed he was weak in intent at the start but that he had no problem digging himself out of his hole through transparent pandering.*

He didn't really acquit himself too well on the issue of garbage net covers either, flopping around all over the place calling for new votes every second meeting depending on which way the wind blew.

But overall he has been able to maintain credibility with the people of St. John's and the media who report on Council activities. But all that is now in jeopardy.

If there is one piece of advice I would tell any aspiring politician it would be a simple commandment: Thy Shalt Not Lie. Not complicated; just never lie. Don't lie to constituents.Don't lie in meetings.

And never never never lie to the media. That way you won't end up with the media scratching their heads and wondering about your level of credibility of anything you say in the future.


There seems to be lots of the "politicians should take paycuts or no pay at all" going around. In the case of Premier Williams, it's held up as a sign of virtue.

Not that long ago in this province, all politicians were miserably paid, if at all. The result was that the only people who could afford to run were the independently wealthy, pensioners or those who would continue to conduct business while occupying public office.

There is no virtue in that.

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