Woe betide the weary Calgarian

I spotted Michael Platt’s column this morning thanks to Twitter. 

I argue with his premise.  This is the most exciting election I’ve been involved with in my entire life.  I’m much more in tune and energized about this election than any other.  I’m volunteering and active and sharing my opinions because this time, I think it matters more than ever. 

No, Mr. Platt, it didn’t have to be this way.

What we did have in Calgary, leading up to the election race, was anger; anger over waste and arrogance at city hall, where lavish spending and political pay raises went unabated in the face of a crushing recession.

Anger, like nothing else, can turn apathy into a vicious stroke of the pencil: An X to mark your disgust.

Perhaps he’s right, but I’ll argue that premise, too. 

If you’ve been paying any kind of attention to municipal politics over the past three years (Mr. Burrows claims four - he saw it at the end of the previous council to this one) you’ll understand that our city council has been rife with anger.  Mad, unfocused, unconstrained anger vented weekly.  Anger that has built with every 8-7 vote, anger that has spawned with entrenched opinions and that voting tally on the wall where the same aldermen link arms to play a political game of British Bulldog.

What has three years of anger got us from city council?  We have a shiny red bauble bridge a few hundred of meters from two other pedestrian bridges.  We have a last ditch decision to make over a ditch - even though the Calgary Airport Authority had been jumping up and down waving it’s hands yelling, “We’re building the new runway like it or not, have you decided about the tunnel yet?“  We’re looking at potentially double-digit tax hikes and we still can’t plow streets in this city.  Worse - we can’t even hire someone to do it for us!

Does this sound like I’m less than angry?  Do you think I’m not typing with fury over the ineptitude of what City Council’s anger has wrought?  I was enraged, I am enraged, I will continue to be enraged with the terrible service 15 good people have provided.  The work of City Council was swallowed up and lost to us due to their anger.

Has nothing good come out of the past three years?  We have the west leg of the LRT going up - I think that’s a positive.  We have more arenas being built.  We’ve dealt with some of the infrastructure problems.  Is it enough?  Hell no, and I’m pissed off about it.

Anger is not going to fix this city.  Anger in council caused this mess.  Anger at the polls will only put 15 different ideologues into council who do not represent us.  Anger is not the answer.

There is an answer, a better answer.  The answer is policy and getting back to the fact that we have had a broken city council and we need to change philosophy and processes to get it back on track.  The answer is not screaming in rage at each other across an aisle but by understanding that we have to talk about priorities and what is best for our city at large.

The broken answer is listing who you can work with in council.  The better answer is listing the priorities of what you want to accomplish.

The broken answer is giving vague and non-committing answers to not cause offense to anyone.  The better answer is – wait for this – the same answer!  List your priorities and let’s talk about the vision from here.

Again, I criticize because Calgarians deserve a top performer from their candidates. They deserve to make their choices not out of anger, but for the right reasons.

We do have a champion.  Naheed Nenshi has led by elevating the conversation.  He is a candidate who is trying to put debate on a level higher than anger, he’s talking policy and he has put substantial ideas out for debate.

If you’re standing with me in the Nenshi camp, remember that we don’t have to resort to anger.  We’ve got policy to argue in the very best sense of the word.  When someone talks claptrap about Nenshi being anti-business I go to Better Idea #3.  Worried about transparency at City Hall?  Go visit Better Idea #8.  Tired of an endless argument over secondary suites, Better Idea #1.

Our candidate has done the hard work.  Now your job is discussing why they’re good ideas and if we can think of better ways to improve them.

I’m not going to argue some other guy has been bought by developers.  I want to know how that other guy plans to make it easier for developers to redevelop inner city areas, to become more creative and vibrant in their plans, and to act more responsible about the land we’re living on.  When do we stop blocking inner city roads and start focusing on safe traffic flow instead?

Talk about your guy’s ideas.  Each and every idea has merit, everyone else in the city needs to know about them and that our guy supports them.  No matter who your guy is.

Anger doesn’t cut it.  Come talk with me about good ideas worth supporting.