At City Hall “looking” democratic is often the best councillors can hope for, and when Rick Chiarelli is cooking up a deal, even that isn’t always possible.
It was quite the zoo at council yesterday. First time I’ve seen Jim lose his cool a little bit, speaking sharply at times, as the procedural wrangling over Rick’s embarrassing Lloyd Francis mess tried councillors’ patience and postponed lunch hour by over an hour.
Basically Rick is arguing that even though 90% of Bells Corners businesses and residents want to just leave things the way they are, because “you’ll never get 100% agreement,” council should ignore the majority, suspend the rules and go along with his costly foolishness.
Eyes were rolling and tummies growling as politicians from Orleans, the Glebe, North Gower, etc. had to once again spend yet another hour trying to understand Rick’s lame reasoning on the renaming fiasco. They’re sick to death of hearing about Bells Corners – one councillor told me (off the record) that it was almost as painful as having to sit through an Alex Cullen filibuster.
At one point Jim threatened to evict Bayshore Shirley and other hecklers in a bid to restore order. The lawyers and clerks were working furiously to find a legal way to pass Rick’s dog’s breakfast motion. The security personnel redoubled their vigilance as the mood turned sour. Luckily somebody cracked a joke about a cow on a roof – even the journalists joined in the mooing. Bob Monette did an especially good cow imitation.
Mary Pitt, sitting in the front row, looked disgusted with the whole process, but hey, what are friends for? She answered the call when Rick needed a quote for his campaign literature, so she couldn’t very well turn down a desperate plea now, much as she must find it distasteful. On the other hand, she probably enjoyed the attention – even the mayor himself, never one to miss the opportunity to schmooze, went over and paid tribute. Rick swaggered over and thanked her profusely for rescuing him. Jay, Alex Lewis, JP and other Chiarelli employees were standing by, ready to fetch her coffee or fluff up her pillows.
Finally the top City lawyer found a way for Jim to regain control and foil Councillor Wilkinson’s attempt to restore sanity to Bells Corners, and it was time to call a vote.
Councillors held their noses and did what the mayor wanted – they’re furious at Rick and they just want the nightmare to be over. More importantly, it was way past lunchtime – what ever happened to Mayor Watson’s vaunted lightning-fast council meetings where everything runs smooth as butter and he never has to raise his voice or admonish his councillors?
No wonder Rick’s in the doghouse at City Hall and sleeping on the couch at home!
Is this the beginning of the end for the ex-McGuinty government cabinet minister/Larry O’Brien wannabe? Another sign of the cracks beginning to show – Mayor Jim Watson got the consultation he wanted on expanding the urban boundary, but just barely. In the closest vote so far by this council, 12 sided with the mayor, while 10 gave the consultation idea the thumbs down.
Jim tries to explains the RC motion to a puzzled Le Droit reporter in his fractured French (sorry for the blurry image – Jay jostled me as he went by)
Peter D. Clark jokes with the CBC guy after the fun-filled meeting
Marianne Wilkinson gave it the old college try. Jim and Rick are pissed at her but she doesn’t care. Al from Corporate Security strikes a pose in the background.
The career politician gives it his best spin, even if his pig won’t fly.
Jim tries to explain the inexplicable and defend the indefensible as a worried Watson political spin doctor looks on.
The Sun journalist ignored the story to work on his tan.
Al from Corporate Security tried to give me the boot for having a sign but I explained to him that it was wasn’t a sign, it was just a large name tag, so this time I didn’t get banned from City Hall.
The real story is here!