People are already gearing up for the 2010 municipal elections, even though they are a little over a year away. But it is not too soon to begin planning to oust certain municipal politicians who very blatantly gave the one-finger salute to their residents during the last couple of years. Residents have every right to target those who refused to listen to overwhelming opposition to the incinerator, especially when so many tried to make their voices heard.
Silly me. I always thought that we elected our municipal council and mayor to represent us and to do what is best for the residents of Clarington. What happened? Do they not know that WE are their bosses? Have they become so big-headed that they don't need to listen to those who elected them? Do they honestly believe that they know better than 80% of the residents of Clarington? Do they really believe that the Region's propaganda was any more honest than the biased and misleading studies done by their paid consultants?
Those consultants were hired for one reason. They were hired to see the EA process through to a favourable conclusion (favourable to the already decided end result of the Region to make incineration the option of "choice"). Numerous times residents were told publicly that the Region had decided on this course of action in 2000, with their 20 year waste management plan. Of course that plan only mentioned that burning garbage should be looked into. It did not say that this was the course that should be taken.
Too many of our myopic councillors either can't read and comprehend or they intentionally twisted that plan to mean exactly what they wanted it to mean. The writing was on the wall (and in the direction given to the consultants) before the EA even began.
The writing is now on the wall for several councillors and a handful of Mayors of Durham municipalities. But none more so than Clarington, which harbours 4 who need to be replaced.
The Mayor of Clarington, with his sometimes incomprehensible mutterings needs to be soundly punished and relegated to the trash heap. He was not able to fool all his residents with such gems as his declaration in explaining his "No Waste by '38" motion which he made a point of making clear "didn't mention incineration or landfill". The reason for that? "Neither of these two options is acceptable to me, but you've got to do something with it," Abernethy stated.
You could have fooled us. The mayor was a huge supporter of incineration from the start, despite his attempts to convince residents that he was looking for the truth (not a very funny joke) and that he hadn't yet made up his mind. Early on he took a trip to Nova Scotia and made a home video of the Halifax Otter Lake landfill. All he was interested in was the seagulls (meaning there was garbage present) and that it didn't look pretty. He made that DVD available to people who made it available to even more residents for their viewing pleasure. Abernethy also promoted an industry made propaganda infomercial for SYSAV - yes, promoting incineration in Europe. He played it for audiences around Clarington, all the while promoting incineration. Yet he had the audacity to continue to tell people he hadn't yet made up his mind. How insulting to the residents of Clarington.
As recently as last month he said neither landfill NOR INCINERATION are acceptable. The way he has promoted incineration for the last 2 1/2 years it is apparent that he believes incineration is not only acceptable, but desirable. The facility will have floors so clean you could eat off them (his comments about the European incinerators) and even more important - no seagulls!
This mayor ran his 2006 campaign on having "an honest and open government". He also said, "The role of council is to manage the assets of the municipality and ensure that there is a democratic process." What exactly does "democratic process" mean to this man?
On his campaign video he also said, "There's a lot of important issues that have to be dealt with, and have to be dealt with uh, fairly, uh, dealt with uh in the best interest of all of the people of the municipality." Is that what he has done? NO.
"I think that what needs to be done is we need to have a look to see what will Clarington look like in 50 years from now." Well, for the next 30 - 35 years at least we will be dumping more pollution into an already dirty air shed where record numbers of children now have asthma, older adults have respiratory problems, and cancers are already on the rise. Now we will be adding to those problems and adding new ones. Does he care? Apparently not.
In 2006 Abernethy said, "Our municipal Council needs a made in Clarington agenda." Does that sound familiar? Like the "Made in Durham garbage solution" he is always promoting (which isn't made in Durham at all)? This incinerator being forced on Clarington residents is most certainly NOT a "made in Clarington agenda". Was this an outright lie, or was he so quickly and easily sucked in by Regional Chair Roger Anderson immediately after he was elected? Enquiring minds want to know! This Mayor betrayed Clarington and put the Region first and foremost, unlike the other mayors in the Region. He said on more than one occasion that he was "elected to represent the Region". Funny, I thought he was elected as Mayor of Clarington to represent Clarington.
He ranted against the "Mutton shell-game experience" - or was that "Mutton-Schell game" - (his words). "Higher taxes, higher salaries, higher mileage charges, and numerous international trips," Abernethy said. So what has changed since 2006? It has only gotten worse. Have we heard an apology to Mutton since then? No, only attacks on his campaign financing by Abernethy's former campaign team, and those charges are ongoing. Was Mutton faultless? Hell no. But was he worse than Abernethy? That is debatable at this point, but I'd say no. At least Mutton didn't give away the (Clarington) store to the Region while he was in office. Would he have, on the incinerator issue? Very possibly he would have supported the incinerator as he did quite a job in facilitating the political acceptance of the incinerator and approval of Covanta as the builder/operator. But we won't know because Abernethy beat him to the punch. At least Mutton surely would have gotten a better deal for Clarington. As it is, there is hardly anything in the Host Community Agreement that wasn't already in the works or owed to Clarington without it. That's another discussion altogether.
Speaking of Mutton, Abernethy said, "I've had enough of their experience. Have you?" I can tell you that I, along with the majority of Clarington residents (according to several recent polls), have had enough of the Abernethy experience. More than enough.
Abernethy in 2006 asked us to vote for change. This is not the change we wanted or anticipated. A Mayor who refuses to listen to the residents unless you are one of his favoured friends, or unless you are someone he considers "important to the community". Anyone who is a plain old resident, a plain old taxpayer isn't important to him and he has shown people that in spades, including not allowing street parties which could foster more community spirit. Including the elderly who have been the first to have services cut. Including those speaking out against the incinerator, who were basically given the Trudeau salute, in so many words. Including those asking for more time to speak or to be allowed more input. He shut people up, made them sit down if he didn't like what they had to say, and even went so far as to throw people out. One of the biggest complaints about former Mayor Mutton was that he was a bully. Abernethy has turned out to be as big a bully. But he hates that word because he threw out a resident for calling his best buddy Roger Anderson a bully. He'd better take a good look in the mirror.
I wonder what half-truths this Mayor will tell us during his 2010 campaign. Or will he give up and run away, knowing he hasn't a chance in hell of being re-elected?
Mary Novak and Charlie Trim deserve the same fate, although the word on the street is the Trim is retiring, allowing local ward 4 councilor Gord Robinson to attempt to move up to Charlie's regional seat. Fat chance, after the betrayal of his constituents and those of the entire municipality. Were it not for Robinson, who has now been given the label "traitor", at least we would have remained an unwilling host, which, in spite of statements to the contrary publicly by Anderson, everyone knew would be the nail in the coffin at the Regional Council vote. And it was. This man deserves to hit the unemployment line next year and there are already groups seriously working toward that end.
There are groups spread across Durham Region already making plans for the 2010 election. They are organizing and are determined. They are looking for strong, ethical and honest candidates who understand what democracy is and who will listen to their residents rather than their political bosses in issues affecting our very lives. There will be some massive campaigns not only in support of good candidates but also against those who need to be replaced.
Those who chose to ignore the will of the people will suffer the consequences in 2010. And they will deserve it. They think 2010 is far enough away that people will forget the insulting behaviour of these councillors and mayors, but the opposition to these people is building, not waning since the June Regional vote. We are not stupid. We will not forget. The damage done to our municipality which now has a very deserved reputation as being the dumping ground for Durham Region is irreparable. And Durham Region's reputation for being the dumping ground for York Region is also building. From Stop the Incinerator to Stop the Stink, we get all the crap from York while York Region gets all the benefits. Is that the sign of a good and effective Durham Regional council or leadership? We think not.
The "Elect the Chair" movement is alive and well, and has now been joined by the "Dump Durham's Democratically Deficient" Mayors and Councillors. The most targeted already of the Mayors is Abernethy, O'Connor, Pearce, Perkins, Shepherd and Ryan. Some (most) of these are very vulnerable. Pearce is probably the least vulnerable, even though Scugog could do so much better. The rest are not at all secure in their seats according to local sources. There are more Councillors already with a bull's eye on their backs. Stay tuned for more in coming days, weeks and months. Mayor Abernethy can be assured that we will "Vote for Change" in 2010.