Contempt: Welcome To City Hall


Bulldog columnist Ron Benn gets that affliction of so many columnists, “I wish I’d said that”.

Now Benn gets his second chance. Here’s what he wished he said on Saturday:

When I wrote my column of May 26, I struggled with how to balance an objective tone and the degree of revulsion that I felt.

On reading your Stuff column, Ken, I regret even more the decision to not convey the one overriding thought that infused my thinking.

The process that the planning staff and our elected officials used to run the high-rise plan was one based on contempt. This contempt starts at the top. It starts with Mayor Jim Watson, who needed to consult on consulting, and has, ever since, ignored the advice he was given. His contempt for any input that is not consistent with his pre-conceived conclusions is beneath the chain of office he wears for official photographs.

At the next level down, the chairwoman of the planning committee, Jan Harder, who on more than one occasion has opined that she is the smartest person in the room. Of this she might, from time-to-time be correct, especially if her view is confined to some of her colleagues around the council chamber. However, to be absolutely certain, she should confine that thought to when she is the only person in the room. Contempt of the public and of her colleagues is not a characteristic that is becoming of an elected official.

Finally, contempt is a sibling of resentment. As I said in my column, it is clear that staff resent having to present their ideas to the public, and then have to listen to the challenges to their assumptions, especially the ones where they assume away reality. Their participation in the charade of public announcements and consultations on the high-rise report is contemptuous of the process of checks and balances.


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