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Roland Tanner lets it rip: council is more toxic, more dysfunctional and more vile than the council that went before it.

By Pepper Parr

April 29th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ten years ago, as a result of the Shape Burlington Report – the Gazette was born.

Since that time a number of “alternative” media have been created.

The Gazette was the first on-line newspaper to be accepted as a member of the Ontario Press Council which is now the National Newsmedia Council.

Roland Tanner as a candidate

Roland Tanner, a failed 2018 election candidate and his friend Joel McLeod created the 905er, a podcast that sees the 905 as its market – which is major undertaking.

Earlier this week Tanner got himself all wound up over the Statement Mayor Marianne Meed Ward issued – the result was a rant of staggering proportions.

We have excerpted parts of the 30 minute rant – click HERE if you want the full Monty.

“ It’s obviously down to councils to agree or disagree with the recommendations for the Integrity Commissioner” said Tanner who went on to say:

The issue I really took exception to was statement that that it took courage for the two councillors Rory Nisan and Kelven Galbraith to request an investigation. And I cannot see that; you know, if there is an example of punching down by the strong side of council on the weaker side, this is it.

Shawna Stolte was on her own; she has the sympathy of at least one other counsellor but she was basically alone in this campaign for increased openness and against what she claims is the overuse of closed session meetings.

And here we have the gang; the rest of council to a large extent, using every tool that they can to shut her up and ultimately to force her out of what would certainly be quite an easy re-election campaign.

What I find to primly ironic is that Meed Ward, who for the best part of a decade, was a one person outsider on Council, who put up with some really atrocious behaviour from other counsellors.

There is an issue here with openness and transparency, which was a core tenant of what this council was supposed to be about.

We’re going to in camera, we don’t know necessarily why, we have a vague idea. We don’t know what was discussed what was decided.

The Mayor doesn’t address that at all in her statement. She doesn’t go to say yeah, you know what, she’s right (meaning Stolte). We should be more open about these things. But we aren’t we’re going to address that but we are going to stick to the rules: and she has to be penalized for it.

Shawna Stolte – Councillor for ward 4.

No, it was How dare she? How dare she? The meeting was supposed to be a secret.

I found it a bit sanctimonious her praising Counsellors Rory Nissan and Kevin Galbraith. I’m going to quote directly from the statement

“It took courage for Counsellors Rory Nissan and Kevin Galbraith to request an investigation. They knew the report and their identities would be public. They’ve received unwarranted criticism for doing exactly what the code requires of all members of council to hold each other accountable to our obligations under the code and the legislative provisions of the Ontario Municipal act that all members of council swear an oath of office to uphold.”

So my question is Why was her name not on the complaint that was made? Where was her leadership on this?

You know, this idea that there’s been a breach of public trust and that the city has been harmed by this.

No, it hasn’t remotely been harmed by anything that was revealed by Shawna Stolte – what was revealed was so piddling and inconsequential – basically Stolte gave the address of a house to a constituent – everybody knew, and a number that is not actually a number. It was a number of a much bigger thing. And the whole point of that number is that there is a number that has to be secret, and that is quite rightly protected,

Marianne Meed Ward as Mayor

The Mayor comes into to say there’s a breach of public trust, because counsel can no longer be confident that what they bring forward in a confidential session will remain so that compromises their ability to have robust discussions, or to make the best decisions for the community a community loses.

At this point Joel McLeod cuts in and said: Now I have an issue with this because we don’t know that they were talking about. It’s this arrogance that council knows what’s best. So therefore the council can just do what it wants.

Tanner returns saying “People are rightfully upset with how Stolte was treated. She is a she is very much a beloved counsellor, a counsellor that people respect and people say she’s in it for the right reasons. She’s in it to make the community better for her neighbours. She just wants to make them better. And a lot of people are viewing her as one of the good guys.

Counsel is being viewed as bullies in the story. And I would argue that the rest of council has breached public trust because people understand what they say.

Why is the purchase of Bateman so secretive? Why is it that everything has to be done behind closed doors? The simple question of why do we need to buy this building has not been satisfied to the public satisfaction

 

An impressive piece of land, lots of ideas on how it can be used – not much in the way of information on what it is going to cost. Removing the asbestos from the buildings is going to expensive

 

The is the conceptual plan show who will be using what part of the Bateman high school site. Council, the City manager and the city solicitor have taken the position that all of this has to be discussed in a Closed session of Council.

Nobody knows what are we going to do with it? Why do we need this in our inventory as a city and why are we going to go into city reserves to get it? And that’s something that probably, may not the best way to do it. But someone has a valid point say that people deserve to know this. And if people say, Well, I don’t care if it’s a Brock University, Brock gets a teacher’s college. Library gets another branch.

You know, it suits the ward five Councillor because it’s in his ward, suits the city because they get to say, hey, we’ve got a university in our city.

And if you want to build a legacy project, the best way to do that is to try not to talk about the money that’s involved because legacy projects are always expensive.

They have to answer to the public for the decisions they’re making. Decisions that are made in private are not in the best interest of the public.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward during the session of council at which the Integrity Commission report was received.

In her closing statement the Mayor said I stand by all the decisions we have made in closed session and look forward to in the details of the two matters that led to the breach of confidentiality can be made public, that time will come in a matter of months for both I welcome the opportunity to provide my take and explain my vote to the community.

Here’s my issue with this in camera.

They say yeah, we’re gonna buy Robert Bateman for this price. Except here’s the thing everyone’s gonna say, really? Is this a good deal? Is this going to last longer than the pride sidewalks outside of the Halton Catholic school board because, you know we dipped into reserve funds for that and that didn’t even last a year.

This patronizing tone of just wait, see, we’ll talk we’ll tell you later. What will tell you eventually? No, we’re adults, we’re supposed to be informed citizens here. You don’t make the decisions for you. We get to tell you how we want you to vote.

This is where you get to with a culture of secrecy at City Halls. And it’s not just counsellors and mentors who are part of that; staff are part of it too. Because very often, the interests of counsellors keeping things quiet and the interest of staff keeping things quiet, come together.
We are reliant on counsellors like Shawna Stolte who are willing to lose a career over it because they want to serve the public to stand up for us for years and years and years.

Roland Tanner delegating at city council

So God dammit in Burlington, you shape up; you have made a fool of yourself. You have damaged public trust, but not because of the actions Shawna Stolte took but because of the disgraceful way you’ve treated a decent counsellor who is nobody’s rebel, who is nobody’s troublemaker, but who will certainly put the interests of what she feels the public interest ahead of her career and ahead of the careers of people who are just trying to build legacies so that they can point election time to look what a nice thing we bought, you will give me your vote.

If we’re talking about a new type of council after 2018, with a new tone, my God, that’s gone.

This council is more toxic, more dysfunctional and more vile than the council that went before it. And boy, is that saying something?

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7 comments to Roland Tanner lets it rip: council is more toxic, more dysfunctional and more vile than the council that went before it.

  • Elan

    The ‘rules’ in this regard have been set at the minimum standard for public disclosure by MMW and the city Manager and his Clerk (the very effective deputy clerk left, I surmise, due to his incompetence). Pressure to change this has been met by MMW, the City Manager and the City Clerk with political violence. Discredit the one advocating for openness. Threaten them (MMW, City Mgr and City Clerk), Then pretend the Mayor is not involved by sending in her flying monkey (Nissan) and sleepy Galbraith, for whom this second motion for him in four years is about how democracy is wasting his time. Burlington is the worst offender in Southern Ontario in this regard. That is what MMW and Bruce Leigh (nee Peter) are defending. Hide the debate. Control the message. Punish the truth tellers.

  • Having actually read the integrity report – I’d say that the contents of that report have not been reflected accurately. It’s hardly some inditement of councilor Stolte. It’s got lots of shade to throw on Councils use of closed session. Of the 4 charges 2 got thrown out all we have left are:

    1) She said she believed the cost would be over $50 million for land purchase and community center. Well the purchase price is “protected” as a legitimate closed session figure – the amount we spend on the redevelopment has to be a matter of public debate. When you add the purchase price plus renovation together then say “over that”. It’s really hard to see how there is any damage to any party from that statement. Should she repeat numbers from closed session NO. But it’s a little bit like J walking. If she had said “Over $51 million” the theory would be that she is implying $51 million was from closed session. However she needs some way to object other than going the purchase plus renovation will cost “some high amount” sorry I can’t tell you any numbers. Because the other councilors can keep calling the project “reasonable” sorry I can’t tell you exact amounts.

    2) This second is she tipped off locals that something was being discussed in closed session. As far as I can tell – this is supposed to be disclosed by the clerk anyway. E.G. They council can report – we are going into closed session to work on salary for park staff, but they must describe as much as they can without disclosing the private closed section. E.G. The salary and negotiations of park staff are protected, the fact they are discussing it is not.

    Should these issues should have been handled with more nuance to say in bounds by Stolte – yes.

    But this is hardly even any stain on her character and portraying it as if she acted for self enrichment, craven or in an un-ethical way is just not accurate reading of this report.

  • Alfred

    Penny.

    The trouble is that she was not always transparent and when not telling the dirty little secrets of the in camera meetings was to her benefit, she failed to disclose them to the general public.

    I and most people don’t have a problem with troublemakers. Actually I would encourage it, selective troublemakers I have difficulty with.

  • Penny Hersh

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but why is it that you feel it necessary to viciously attack anyone who disagrees with you ?

    What is most at issue is the way this played out. Could it have been handled differently? Only those involved should weigh in. Would it be handled differently in future should something like this occurs again, I think quite possibly?

    The one thing that no one can dispute is the interrogation that took place when the Integrity Commissioners Report came to council. This was a disgraceful display of pettiness and vindictiveness.

    If you had the opportunity to watch the meeting you would have seen the body language of some members of council. There was no question that some members of council would have been happy with more than the original 5 days of pay that was suggested in the report.

    What came across was that Councillor Stolte was NOT contrite enough because she chose to make the report public ( which was legal), and not follow the “suggestion” that she not. Kudos to Councillor Stolte for being transparent to the residents of Burlington.

    Councillor Stolte accepted the decision by the Integrity Commissioner unfortunately the city and some members of council have felt it necessary to continue with trying to absolve themselves of any responsibility in the question of closed sessions and the way the council meeting transpired on April 22nd.

  • Bruce Leigh

    Mr. Tanner what have you been smoking lately?

    You question that it took courage for Councilors Nisan and Galbraith to do the right thing, being to follow protocol and report a fellow Councilor for breaking the City’s confidentiality rules. I suggest their courage is evident because they would have know that they would be drawing the ire of the likes of you Mr. Tanner who somehow see Councilor Stolte as a victim. The two councilors did what they were supposed to do and what they has to do.

    Many, many people, including myself, have sympathy for Councilor Stolte’s quest for greater transparency. But one cannot break the rules. The end does not justify the means.

    “And here we have the gang; the rest of council to a large extent, using every tool that they can to shut her up and ultimately to force her……”. Mr. Tanner, exactly what tools and what actions did the rest of council use to “shut her up”

    “Counsel (sic) is being viewed as bullies in the story.” 9nly by people like you Mr. Tanner. Not by those who are able to separate Councilor Stolte’s aim and her completely inappropriate actions

    “Why is the purchase of Bateman so secretive?”. Mr. Tanner, you having to ask that question shows you have no grasp of who are the parties to the deal or how their interests are not aaligned.You are 9bviously not ready to be a Councilor.

    There are three parties to the deal. HDSB the vendor, CoB the purchaser, Brock U a potential tennant. The City is negotiating separately with both HDSB and Brock. As such it would be foolish to discuss in open session just how the City proposes to get the best deals possible for the taxpayers of Burlington at the expense of HDSB & Brock.

    “Decisions that are made in private are not in the best interest of the public.” Mr. Tanner. That is a very broad statement and one I would call idiotic. Each and every decision made in closed session is not in the best interest of the public? Really?

    “They say yeah, we’re gonna buy Robert Bateman for this price. Except here’s the thing everyone’s gonna say, really? Is this a good deal? Is this going to last longer than the pride sidewalks outside of the Halton Catholic school board…..”. No they’re not. Silly comparison. But you were ranting, so it’s understandable that your thought process was not on an even keel.

    “So God dammit in Burlington, you shape up; you have made a fool of yourself.”. Mr. Tanner, I think it is you who has made a fool of themselves.

    I really don’t want to find out the answer to this, but I wonder how you would act if you were elected to council. Would you throw out the rule book? Would you insist Council discuss its negotiating strategies and positions so those on the other side of the negotiating table know in advance the City’s position. As I said, I hope that situation never comes about

  • Don Fletcher

    Art truly reflects reality. This rant is just more of the same; a “tempest in a teapot”. I do respect Councillor Shawna Stolte as thoughtful, hard working and well-intentioned, characteristics I would also ascribe to our Mayor. Most politicians put spin on their messaging, and it does not justify vilifying Marianne Meed Ward. Get a grip, our local democracy does not hinge on this issue of too many “behind closed door” sessions. Oh, and by the way, I consider your “God dammit” blasphemous language as uncalled for & classless.

  • Penny Hersh

    Any resident that opposes what is happening at City Hall and is prepared to stand firm and not back away is labelled ” A Troublemaker”.

    This has been going on for years.