Municipal Election 2010

Butani: Put a Lid on Press Releases

By RTH Staff
Published September 20, 2010

this blog entry has been updated

Mahesh P. Butani has issued a press release sincere request to fellow mayoral candidates Fred Eisenberger and Larry Di Ianni, asking them to "put a lid on the press releases".

In his letter, Butani argues that the press release is supposed to be used "to announce something new and substantial or meaningful to the public via the media ... not a weapon to launch political attacks [or] authenticate lackluster or dubious political performances of the past decade."

Butani then goes on to claim that "the people of the City of Hamilton have suffered enormously" under both Di Ianni and Eisenberger, who, he argues, have "brought us to the current state of financial and infrastructural crisis we are facing as a city."

Responding to the recent press releases by both the Eisenberger and Di Ianni campaign in regards to their plans to promote light rail transit (LRT), Butani writes:

Your most recent LRT media releases - which imitate [Hamilton Spectator editor] Howard Elliot's latest missive on the same topic in the Spectator – are clear examples of your abject lack of knowledge of the kind of projects this city needs to recover financially; and displays your lack of sensitivity towards the families and countless small and mid size businesses in our city that are struggling daily to just survive the harsh realities of your policies.

Butani accuses them of "poor judgment" for "jumping onto the LRT bandwagon," which he notes is still in the design phase under development by City planners. He also levels criticism at "an uncritical media that's quite hapy to change the focus of the fatigued minds from the absurd Pan Am issue they helped create".

Instead of more "posturing", Butani calls on political leaders to "focus on creating real jobs from the ground up" by "writing policies that open up the gates for small businesses to flourish and increase wages for workers who are already present in our communities".

He also disputes the argument, supported by both Di Ianni and Eisenberger, that the McMaster Innovation Park will drive future economic growth, citing a 2009 working paper by Marc Levine of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee titled, The False Promise of the Entrepreneurial University: Selling Academic Commercialism as an 'Engine' of Economic Development in Milwaukee [PDF link].

Here is the full text of Butani's letter:

A sincere request to both the incumbents mayor Fred Eisenberger and the past mayor Larry DiIanni, to put a lid on the press releases:

The press/media release is an instrument that is used to announce something new and substantial or meaningful to the public via the media. It is not a weapon to launch political attacks nor is it a means to authenticate lackluster or dubious political performances of the past decade.

It is an understatement to say that the people of the City of Hamilton have suffered enormously under both your administration

Your policies over the last two terms have seen an increase in poverty, loss of industries and jobs, spiraling taxes and user fees, cut in essential services, and the degradation of our environment and physical infrastructure. Both of you have shown a total disregard for the financial and physical realities of our city, and instead have chosen to create and support projects that have brought no immediate or short term reliefs to the residents who have been suffering the serious consequences of your media driven leadership style.

Your continuing indulgence in projecting major economic gains from highly contentious 'publicly funded' mega projects, has brought us to the current state of financial and infrastructural crisis we are facing as a city.

With an election in a few weeks, instead of bringing forth policies and plans that at least have the pretense of leading us out of the colossal mess that our city has been in since amalgamation, you'll no doubt continue to challenge the intelligence of the people by indulging in public mudslinging with your so-called 'media releases'.

Your most recent LRT media releases - which imitate Howard Elliot's latest missive on the same topic in the Spectator - are clear examples of your abject lack of knowledge of the kind of projects this city needs to recover financially; and displays your lack of sensitivity towards the families and countless small and mid size businesses in our city that are struggling daily to just survive the harsh realities of your policies.

Your assumptions that a few public announcements of unsubstantiated mega projects will bring back the lost jobs and prosperity ends up making a mockery of the fundamental tenets of economic development and community rebuilding.

Supported by an uncritical media - that's quite happy to change the focus of the fatigued minds from the absurd PanAM issue they helped create - both of you have shown poor judgment in quickly jumping onto the LRT bandwagon, something still in the design/review phase in our Planning Department.

Attempts to make this into an yet another hollow key election issue will no longer distract people's attention from your very public record of lack of leadership over the last seven years.

While the one candidate who decimated an entire ecosystem in just one mayoral term has proudly managed to reintroduce himself to the people as a sensitive green man and is now pushing the limits of credulity by suggesting that he wants to reroute the LRT lines to whichever neighborhoods that promises him the most votes, the other, the incumbent who has made a political career out of selling the virtues of LRT - while being fully aware of the enormous funding gaps - now just weeks before an election wants to establish a SWAT team to twist the arms of the federal/provincial governments to hand over the entire funding for a LRT system, while he is still at their very mercy to yet deliver to the people his promise of the PanAM stadium and the Randall Reef capping.

It is this kind of pathetic posturing supported by an equally pathetic and uncritical media, that turns cities in a developed nation into a third world, banana republic; where just about anything goes, as long as you are in power, and you have a band of misguided merry men to cheer you along.

Both of you could have done better than this. Our city surely deserves better.

If you're both running out of ideas to win another term in office, I can suggest a few which are guaranteed to capture votes. How about focusing on creating real jobs from ground up? How about attracting new private sector investments? Or writing policies that open up the gates for small businesses to flourish, and increase wages for workers who are already present in our communities? Or even offering solutions to address the devastating impact that your continuing inactions have had on mental health issues at the street level in our lower city?

Putting a gun to the head of higher levels of government to get them to invest in Hamilton, or rerouting the LRT through various neighborhoods to win brownie points is not the best way to raise investments for a sustainable transit system, nor is it an appropriate way to win votes, least of all run a city.

It is my sincere hope that both of you begin to focus on issues that critically matter to the very survival of this city. I challenge you to read this report titled: "The False Promise of the Entrepreneurial University", by Marc V. Levine, and tell the people how wrong your past policies have been in suggesting to the people of Hamilton that our publicly funded Innovation Park is going to be the much celebrated driver of our economic engine!

I also challenge you to show up for this meeting tomorrow, and explain to the thousands of families of the lower city, as to how your policies over the last two terms have impacted their health and wellbeing.

Update: the text of Mr. Butani's letter has been updated to include the hyperlinks in the original. RTH regrets the oversight.

38 Comments

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By z jones (registered) | Posted September 20, 2010 at 18:57:23

So lemme get this straight, Mr. Butani chastises Eisenberger and DiIanni for attacking each other through the media....and then attacks them through the media?

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By yawn (anonymous) | Posted September 20, 2010 at 19:33:32

AT least he didn't call anyone racist this time.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted September 20, 2010 at 21:26:07

Mahesh is desperate for someone to attack him so that he can get some oxygen. Good calculated ploy.

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By Ancopa (registered) | Posted September 20, 2010 at 21:35:02

What little I've seen coming from Butani has been almost exclusively negative and critical of others. Is he campaigning on a platform of "Those other guys suck, vote for me"?

Totally unimpressed so far.

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By Laura Peterson (anonymous) | Posted September 20, 2010 at 21:52:51

Finally someone who has the courage to tell the emperor and the king that they have no clothes. You have my vote Mr. Butani. And thank you very much for pointing out the relevant report on Innovation Parks and the smoke and mirrors behind them. Many of us at Mac are much appreciative of your efforts to bring serious accountability to this public madness legitimized by the press and as see here too lately.

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By AngieD (anonymous) | Posted September 20, 2010 at 22:06:38

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 20, 2010 at 22:06:49

No Z. Mahesh asked them to stop using media releases to launch these attacks. RTH gives Mr. Butani space, then mocks him by typing press release and crossing it out.

Sorry, I have come to think a lot of this RTH community and what this media outlet stands for, but leave the mocking and twists of the truth to the 'other' guys. We are here because we want non-partisan truth. Titles that are what they are and not some way to grab our attention at whatever costs.

Are we really happy with how our city has 'progressed' the past 8 years? Obviously Ward 2 is looking forward to chagne with all those candidates running so would I be safe to say that change doesn't mean you want the current person holding office to change seats to head that same table?

I challenge you all to give Mahesh's website a gander. Look at what he stands for. Meet him for a coffee. Face to face. Look into his eyes. I see positive change when I stand beside him. I don't feel that with Larry or Bob. Haven't stood face to face with Fred other than at the delegates podium, but I don't get that vibe from him either. Perhaps it's because everytime I have been in his presence, he's stressed about stadium talks. Either way, I truly believe that Mr. Butani has what this city needs.

Some of the comments are starting to look like Spec or sport forum comments. Just a bunch of shots. When I first came on here, I was a little intimidated to comment because I found the people on here to be very knowledgeable, informed, and engaged citizens. Comments were only flagged for the most part, because they were very negative or putting others and/or their thoughts down.

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it - or at least be constructive. I like that RTH doesn't delete comments - just greys them out. The Spec seems to have people trolling around marking comments that aren't offensive, offensive because they don't like a person or their views. I think it's three hits and your out.

RTH is a great site. Just remember what you were before the stadium debate. Perhaps we all need to remember who we were before this stadium debate.

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By Presser (anonymous) | Posted September 20, 2010 at 22:38:46

Mahesh, what are you smoking man? This is politics. People issue releases. Others rebut them. And fringe candidates like you try to butt in...it's all a game really...so come on. If you can't skate with the big boys, get out of the rink!

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 20, 2010 at 22:50:48

Fringe candidates. Kind of like fringe commenters hiding behind anonymous comments. Why not join the community and stand behind your comments.

Bottom line, politics should not be played like a game.

And skate with the big boys?

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 20, 2010 at 23:28:11

Hello Ryan McGreal,

Earlier today, I emailed you the copy of this blog post, with a simple request stating:

"Hello Ryan, Here is something you can publish - if it meets your guidelines. Best, Mahesh"

As in the past, you have emailed back with an yea or a nay, and that was that.

Given your present political predisposition, I am quite surprised and frankly thankful that you saw it fit to be even published here, in whatever form you have chosen to introduce it in.

The title of this post stated that it was not a press release. This post has already been published with the title in The Hamiltonian and on my FaceBook Notes.

So why the mockery with typing some words and then striking them out?

I think you do know by now, that I have been deeply disappointed in the manner in which you have chosen to take this very respected public platform - which was worth something to this community - and turned it into a grotesque shadow of its original self.

While this city frankly is indebted to you personally for having sustained the inquiring nature of this forum over many years - you are way too intelligent not to realize this self-inflicted damage.

So what went wrong since this summer?

I think you fell in love with an idea. That is what went wrong. Much like Fred did too, with an idea!

This in itself was not as damaging, as was your collective "fan following" - who I can almost with certainty tell you, has less than a quarter of your intellectual skills and rigor for logic and the pursuit of hard evidence.

I think this was indeed your "Summer of Love"! You got taken in by the adulation and screams of your high pitched fans. It led you to hand over the keys of this almost profound vehicle to others, while you basked in the glory of the screams.

It was this self love that did you in. Fortunately, this is not an irreversible condition. Painful as it is to watch someone suffer from it, it can be healed with some quite and retrospection.

I did ask you once before, and am compelled to respectfully ask you once again -- If you do love what you have created, it is high time to take back the keys from your fan club, and hand them over to someone who possesses the same intellectual rigour that you once did.

For, you have made the same fatal error as has Fred, and many others before him - that of surrounding yourself with some very small and weak minds. It can only get worse.

Typing something and striking it out is only a small manifestation of the rot that had already set in.

I do respect your abilities deeply, and hope to share a coffee with you someday soon, when you have managed to free yourself from this self-deception and are able to shine brightly once again.

Best Wishes, Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2010-09-20 22:36:53

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By Laura Peterson (anonymous) | Posted September 20, 2010 at 23:58:06

Ancopa: "Is he campaigning on a platform of "Those other guys suck, vote for me"?"

No, Ancopa, if you care to read at all, his platform is very well articulated here:

http://www.butaniformayor.com/solutions.html

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By mikeyj (registered) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 00:42:00

Great, Mahesh seems to have himself an equally longwinded following. Is it just me or does this guy seem a couple of retaliatory rants too sensitive, and a few lengthy sermons too preachy for politics?

If only he could share a coffee with the world.

Comment edited by mikeyj on 2010-09-20 23:43:06

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By Laura Peterson (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 01:17:58

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 21, 2010 at 01:40:51

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 07:44:55

Wow Mahesh, oversensitive much? When you crap on the alt. media that actually cover you why would you expect the MSM to pay any attention to you?

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 08:38:29

"So why the mockery with typing some words and then striking them out?" Wow, that's not how I read it at all. I took it as making a point that it's not a press release. Maybe you're overreacting just a bit.....?

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By jasonaallen (registered) - website | Posted September 21, 2010 at 09:06:36

@lawrence writes: "Sorry, I have come to think a lot of this RTH community and what this media outlet stands for, but leave the mocking and twists of the truth to the 'other' guys. We are here because we want non-partisan truth. Titles that are what they are and not some way to grab our attention at whatever costs" (clearly I'm going to have to learn markup some day)

  1. I would have to respectfully disagree. I dont' come to RTH for 'non-partisan truth', I come to RTH for thoughtful opinion and commentary. Most of which I agree with, and some of which I completely disagree with. That's what the dialogue and comments are for.

  2. Is there any such thing as 'non-partisan truth'? I would say no. Even a passing familiarity with Jung will reveal that every type of information of this sort is first written through one person's filter, and then read through another. As a long-time student of Political Science and the media, I would submit that there is no such thing as 'truth' in media, there is only 'stuff you agree with', and 'stuff you disagree with.' Ask a FOX News fan if they feel their media outlet is 'non-partisan' truth, they will insist that it is. Now who's right? And who gets to decide?

As for @Mahesh's remarks about Ryan's waning intellect, I would encourage him to keep the dialogue respectful if he wishes to have any hope at that Mayor's chair. If the 'strikeout' was meant to be mocking, my advice to Mr. Mahesh would be to 'suck it up'. Being in the public eye is not all sunshine and rainbows, and letters filled with righteous indignation and personal attacks over very minor slights do nothing to help his cause. This is a lesson I suspect the volatile Mr. Bratina is going to learn the hard way, shortly, assuming The Spec ever stops with the daily foot massages.

Comment edited by jasonaallen on 2010-09-21 08:07:13

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By Linbrook (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 09:17:20

This Mahesh Butani is a nerd's nerd. I don't really believe he exists except in hyper space. Mr. Mahesh stop talking nonsense and start telling us what you would do! Or better still what you have done that is so successful we would want you to lead our city.

From what I know, you don't have a penny to spare, are not employed, have been involved in some 'ahem' developments downtown...what is your curriculum, Mahesh?

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By jasonaallen (registered) - website | Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:09:16

Maybe 'mocking' was too strong a word. I did mean 'teasing'. Thanks for the clarification, Ryan.

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:18:50

I think this is much ado about nothing.

If one wants to challenge the contents of a press release; go for it. But to issue, what is essentially, a press release to complain about press releases is asking to be "mocked".

Personally, and as a rural resident, I find the DiIanni campaign's not-so-transparent attempt to stage this election as a battle between the old city versus the suburbs disgusting, but it's got nothing to do with press releases.(see DiIanni's LRT release)

I find Mr. Butani's general references to various people's intellect to be quite insulting. My experience has been that most of the posters on RTH, and especially those who are registered, put forward well-written and thoughtful positions. The chirps from various trolls really don't count and they're almost invariably "anti-RTH" in any event.

As to the stadium debate, I applaud RTH for standing up to those who would see Hamilton become/remain a "company town" at the cost of taxpayers. On balance, when considering the general quality of life in the city, the value to taxpayers and, yes, even the benefit to the Tiger-Cats, I've yet to see a compelling, factually-based demonstration that there's a better sight for a stadium than the West Harbour. No one would even be discussung this if it weren't for Bob Young's last minute double-cross.

Keep up the good work RTH.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:39:30

Honestly, Mahesh, it's hard to call your letter anything but a press-release that's attacking other candidates for making press releases that attack other candidates.

Now, that could be intentional humour or not... but either way it's kind of funny and I can't blame Ryan for making a joke about that with his strikeout comment. Internet people like to make snarky jokes. Welcome to the internet. Here's your kitten.

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By jellybooster (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:56:53

Wow - really Hamilton...this is how things in this election are unfolding? I just finished reading Ward 2 candidate Matt Jelly's platform on his website and I am impressed and proud. That's what we should be talking about today - not this back and forth bickering...

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:59:10

So anything a mayoral candiate writes is considered a press release during his or her campaigning?

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By z jones (registered) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 11:16:14

No, only press releases, you know messages written up and sent to the press.

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By Centrist (registered) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 12:33:58

who cares.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 14:14:06

I think you do know by now, that I have been deeply disappointed in the manner in which you have chosen to take this very respected public platform - which was worth something to this community - and turned it into a grotesque shadow of its original self.

Mahesh, you're unelectable, in my opinion, chiefly because you are far too sensitive.

When Ryan wrote his introduction to your letter in a humourous way, he put your post in the best possible light by presenting it as a clever, ironic rebuttal of your opponent's missives to the media. Just like, I might add, the title it had when someone emailed it to me, "Not A Press Release!"

Without that introduction and that title, it's just a long-winded, pompous rant, full of hyperbole and insults. For example, "It is this kind of pathetic posturing supported by an equally pathetic and uncritical media, that turns cities in a developed nation into a third world, banana republic."

Now you see fit to accuse one of the humblest, hardest-working citizens I know of "self love" simply for having a sense of humour?

You should be ashamed of yourself.

I did think you made one good point: "Painful as it is to watch someone suffer from [self love], it can be healed with some quiet and retrospection." I just think that it applies best to you. Your writing makes it clear that you view yourself as a deep and enlightened thinker, far above the intellectual downfalls of "small and weak minds".

Physician, heal thyself.

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By FringeFest (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 18:17:30

How to earn the "fringe candidate" label:

1. Bitch and complain about the media and call the city's main columnist a racist.
2. Ask the media to cover your campaign while insulting them for not covering your campaign.
3. Crucify the one media that actually does cover your campaign in a rambling diatribe that insults it's readers' intelligence.
4. Rinse and repeat until election day.

If you want to be taken seriously you'll need to grow up and start running a serious campaign.

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By Laura PU (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 18:22:09

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By kevin (registered) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 22:09:59

Mahesh:

I read, respect, and rite for RTH. I've been to Ryan's house for beer and he's been here. I think he's a smart man and a good guy. I assume, therefore, I am one of the weak-minded sycophants you're disgusted with and dismissive of.

You're running for mayor, sir. If you want me to consider voting for you, think nasty, angry thoughts; yell them to yourself in the car; WRITE THEM IN BIG BOLD TYPE!!@!$%!, but then delete. Never publish them. That would be weak-minded.

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By doyouhear (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 22:56:38

Do you hear that? It's the sound the chip on Mahesh's shoulder crushing his mayoral hopes.

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By AngieD (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 23:47:13

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By Sarah (registered) | Posted September 22, 2010 at 00:05:38

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By Mark (registered) | Posted September 22, 2010 at 00:55:55

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By Tartan Triton (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2010 at 10:12:53

I gather that someone dumped Rob Ford leaflets into our city's water supply. Fifteen mayoral options and the joke vote is looking increasingly sound.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted September 22, 2010 at 13:36:49

As a relative new comer to this city I believe there are plenty of people on all sides that need to get over themselves. To me this article/request, (or whatever it is) and subsequent discussion is a perfect example of what needs to change. There are too many people so entrenched in their opinions/beliefs and so busy arguing about them they never hear what anyone else has to say. The quicker we all find some common ground the better. But by the looks of this thread it appears the downtown "progressives" have decided to start fighting amongst themselves now.

FYI to all… the sun isn't shining out of anyone's ass in this city.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted September 22, 2010 at 14:45:52

From both sides this looks like a very straightforward case of misunderstanding due to text missing context that cannot be conveyed by text. Don't forget the internet came up with emoticons to mitigate that. :P

In my opinion Mr. Butani raised very valid points. Much of Mr. Butani's discourse, in my opinion, at the very least brings a breath of fresh air and honesty.

First point : A candidate should strengthen their campaign by articulating solutions, not by attacking opponents and playing dirty. If you are rebutting your opponent, it should be rooted in logic and reason with supporting arguments. Using marketing techniques to psychologically influence in your favor with selfish wrong motives is extremely disgusting and harmful to any community/state/country regardless of what type of election it is.

Second point : He is also right that public projects should not be used as a distraction/excuse for continuing to neglect sound policy that is conducive and supportive of community enterprises and initiatives. The outrageous Pearl issue is case in point. The case of the failed coffee shop at King and Sherman is infuriating. There is absolutely a tie in to public projects:

Public projects (properly done) are amazing, community building, and create real assets for the public and private good. But if its positive externalities are strangled - what's the point? It is insane to build LRT and then strangle one of its principle benefits - increased business and investment. I see his point if I interpreted it correctly. Get your house in order - have a sane regulatory framework - so that $public_project (e.g. LRT) will have an environment in which its benefits can actually accrue!

Can you imagine we build LRT and then the resulting influx of businesses faces retarded obstacles such as ongoing examples? Where well meaning but overzealous bylaws and inspectors overlook that they are strangling a community instead of supporting it?

The above is how I interpreted Mr. Butani's honest and cautionary letter. That said ...

This in itself was not as damaging, as was your collective "fan following" - who I can almost with certainty tell you, has less than a quarter of your intellectual skills and rigor for logic and the pursuit of hard evidence.

I think it was intended to compliment Ryan on his abilities, not put the rest of us down. Nevertheless it was phrased poorly. In my opinion this sentence was an error to post. Intelligence is irrelevant where public interaction is concerned. By definition you are speaking to everyone, of all abilities, opinions, experiences, walks of life, and personal circumstances. As soon as a candidate starts vocalizing a group beneath another, that is a HUGE red flag that there is chauvinism in the mind. Even if you don't mean it that way it comes across that way and is very damaging as a result. I second your compliment to Ryan; and agree that I am not nearly as concise and rigorous as Ryan. But say things like that privately if you wish/must. Let me give you an analogy:

I work in IT and one of my jobs is end user support. I think equivalent thoughts more often than not. But I never say it out loud, even if privately, I think a user is actually being a dumbass in a particular instance. I would be rightly fired if I did. Tact and professionalism come with the job; you are dealing with the public. How much more is that true when your profession is public service (politics).

Anyway wow drama queen central in here today. Everyone please have a wonderful day!

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2010-09-22 13:52:42

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted September 22, 2010 at 16:21:26

He is also right that public projects should not be used as a distraction/excuse for continuing to neglect sound policy that is conducive and supportive of community enterprises and initiatives. The outrageous Pearl issue is case in point. The case of the failed coffee shop at King and Sherman is infuriating. There is absolutely a tie in to public projects:

Public projects (properly done) are amazing, community building, and create real assets for the public and private good. But if its positive externalities are strangled - what's the point? It is insane to build LRT and then strangle one of its principle benefits - increased business and investment. I see his point if I interpreted it correctly. Get your house in order - have a sane regulatory framework - so that $public_project (e.g. LRT) will have an environment in which its benefits can actually accrue! - Mikeonthemountain

Well said Mike!

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-09-22 15:21:48

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2010 at 16:57:04

I agree that people should stop fighting through press releases. I've always found the whole thing silly.

News Flash: I disagree with you publicly and want to copy in all the media in the hopes that they'll write a story about it. Listen to me, I'm important.

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