Tom Muir has some advice for parents with children at Burlington high schools - don’t go quietly.

opinionandcommentBy Pepper Parr

December 12, 2016



Tom Muir has been delegating to city council for more than 25 years.

He is a solid thorn in the side of his council member who doesn’t send Muir a Christmas card, Muir doesn’t lose any sleep over this.


Will this high school close – and if it does what will it do to the life of the downtown core.

He has been watching the Board of Education plan to possibly close two Burlington high schools and he has some advice for the parents. The following is an unedited comment Tom Muir made earlier today.

From my experience, parents just have to become completely self-aware, so they find out for themselves what is really going on.

Don’t expect the Board to tell you what you want to know. This is really politics, and the key in politics is to control the narrative.

That’s what the Board is doing very well. They have the whole process structured and orchestrated.
They act interested, but they are defending the closures recommendation that they made right off the bat. That is their real interest. Don’t be fooled.

Of course you are being manipulated. Your key questions are being avoided, and right in front of your face. So what does this tell you?

They are trying to get you to fill in the blanks of some of their key questions. Your were “facilitated” – another political tool.

They are doing their own brand of efficiency, and I don’t think parents are being told the half of it. Parents are doing heart. Get that through your head.

If parents don’t let their outrage loose, and in mass numbers demand answers to their key questions, on a schedule parents set, to the Board, and the Trustees, and your Councillor and Mayor, and right now, immediately, then the trip down the garden path will continue.

Parents have to self-organize and go to war for what they want. Sheep are for slaughter. They are the big bad wolf.

If parents don’t do this, then give up, because they will just put you down slowly, on their schedule, with their information driving the bus your kids are on.

Don’t kid yourself, and don’t go quietly.

Take the advice of a citizen who has been down this path more often than he cares to admit.  He recently chastised council for their attempt to limit the length of time a citizen could delegate at a Standing Committee.

Tom Muir explaining to city council what their job is:

Tom Muir made, as he inevitably does, points worth remembering.

Muir making a point

Citizen Tom Muir

“I would hope that Council votes in favor of the 10 minutes unanimously, as a show of good faith. I will say that a vote to reduce to 5 minutes is something I see as an insult to citizens and their possible contribution to what we do as a city – our city.”

“Further, if Councillors still want to vote down the 10 minutes, I say this. If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit. I mean that, and will not forget how this vote goes tonight. “

“This Council is not your Council; it is the people’s Council.

“And these Council Chambers are not your Chambers, but are equally, the people’s Chambers. All the Councillors and Councils hold these offices and chambers in trust.

“So to vote to reduce the people’s time to speak in these chambers is to fail in that trust, in my opinion.

I ask therefore; herein fail not.”

The vote went 6-1 with Councillor Craven voting against ten minutes for Standing Committee delegations.

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3 comments to Tom Muir has some advice for parents with children at Burlington high schools – don’t go quietly.

  • Stephen White

    Yes Bryce: term limits would be a good idea. And this Council and our Mayor really are well past their “best before” date. As for Councillor Craven, he never supports anything that might detract from Council’s stated agenda or prescribed plan, or which might encourage a serious dialogue or discussion on pertinent issues. No surprise that he voted against it.

    Mr. Muir’s comments may, on the surface, sound a bit cynical, but he obviously knows from experience how issues get addressed or resolved.

    With so many knowledgeable and insightful people commenting on the Gazette regarding the state of municipal government in Burlington I hope that many of them will seriously consider running in the next municipal election. We really need some bright, capable and experienced people who will offer their candidacy. I have lived in Burlington for 42 years. This Council, and this Mayor, are the worst I have ever seen.

    While not a fan of Donald Trump his slogan about “draining the swamp” has a certain appeal.

  • Phillip

    Tom’s observations are highly accurate about the self-styled “elites” that run the City and education in Burlington. All are practitioners of “top-down” leadership based on an inaccurate overassessment of their own limited abilities. Bottom-up leadership requires more self-confidence and the wisdom to recognize that those who are being served know much better what’s in their best interests, and by extension, in the best interests of the community; it is a more difficult leadership style but, in the long-run, will produce far superior and sustainable results. (I long ago learned in my business that the smartest people in it were the customers; when I listened to them, I was very successful).

    Congrats Tom on another well-written op-ed.

    Another MacMan (Class of ’70)

  • Bryce Lee

    Maybe it is time for Councillor Craven to step down; he obviously has his own private agenda.

    As a matter of fact maybe it is time for the entire City Council to step down at election time; their
    attitudes smack of a conspiracy to not be the representatives of the residents of this city.

    There are times when I would wish there was a maximum amount of time a resident could be a member
    of City Council, say eight years maximum?