Wednesday, September 28, 2005

And now, a moment of silence...

....while I try to catch my breath from laughing so hard that Paul Sears lost last night.


That's better.

I know it's cruel to mock those who have gone down to defeat and at least he offered up his time in public service. But really, he was so bad at it that it's a bit of a mercy. There were many times when covering council that I would turn to one of my fellow reporters after Sears had said/did something spectacularly stunned and go "can you believe this?" The responding look was often one of equal disbelief.

He really was a bad councillor. It felt like Shannie Duff was holding his hand half the time, trying to prevent him from going completely around the bend. I suspect she won't miss him too much. Sadly, Sears likely won't take the hint and go quietly into that good night. He's probably going to have to lose one more time before he finally goes away.

As for the rest of the results, pretty much as suspected. Aaron Rudkin didn't win and I would have been astonished if he did. Still, he's got potential. I hope he tries again in four years. Gerry Colbert did win, and I would have been pleasently astonished if he lost. Ah well.

As for Andy winning, no surprise although Ed Hollett does some mighty fine grousing on his blog about Wells. Look, no one is more aware of Wells numerous faults than I am. He has a temper, is short with people he doesn't respect and rhymes out numbers of dubious validity.

But he's a good mayor. The only time he has been this vulnerably policatlly was in '97 when he ran for mayor the first time. Because of the Stadium/development issues, because of the possibility he would leave the mayor's job for the C-NOPB job. And nobody had the balls to run against him other than Ray O'Neill who is joke that no one took seriously. Nobody thought they could beat him. What does that say about the quality of the job he's doing as mayor?

It says he's doing a good job and that he's a good mayor. That St. John's is better than it was four years ago. Wells creates debate. That's never a bad thing. Can the city be better? Absolutely. But I think the odds of it getting better are greater with Wells than anybody else I've heard interested in the top job.

Oh, and just because I feel like snarky (because lord knows Ed's blog is that way), I'd get use to backing losers on the provincial scene for awhile, Ed. Lord knows I'm nowhere near being a Conservative, but the Liberals won't be getting back into power in this province until the next decade sometime. Rough guess? 2015.

As for other elections, I'm glad to see Paula Tessier get in in Mount Pearl. She's a nice woman and I think she'll do a good job. Maybe she'll introduce some, what's the word I'm looking for, ah, "personality" to the otherwise deathly boring Mount Pearl City Council.

And this one is for Liam...I can't fucking believe Fred Best got acclaimed as Mayor of Clarenville. The Battle to the Death between him and Barb (editor of The Packet.) continues. She's been with the paper for as long as he's been mayor, which is 25 years and counting. I'm still betting Barb will win. She's younger and craftier. But I won't count Fred out. I supect he drinks the blood of virgins or something to keep himself in the game. Disturbing.


Anonymous said...
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Ed Hollett said...


Geez, you're an optimist.

As for Wells, the issue really isn't whether or not he is doing a good job as mayor. The issue I was cracking at in my own post (which you linked - mucho thanks) was that his assessment of what happened was about as funky as his numbers.

Wells tosses out crap numbers as you noted. A couple of people call him on it. No other candidates took issue with the idea that the guy is basically misleading people left and right. Putting crap numbers out would qualify as misleading in my book. How can voters make informed decisions on anythign when they are getting bogus numbers from the guy in charge?

Ultimately, Wells got elected; my guy didn't. That's the way elections work.

It makes for great blogging material and some intentional provocative posts in my world.

Ed Hollett said...

BTW, just thought of this after I hit send.

Your observation on Sears is spot on. The guy basically defeated himself and then proved why he needed a boot with his comments last night.

Sears image of himself as "the best councillor down there" tells you exactly why the guy got punted.

towniebastard said...

Thanks for responding, Ed. And we both agree on Sears. I haven't heard his comments yet (perhaps they'll be on the NTV news, which I get up here), but I imagine they are something suitably delusionary.

As for Wells lying about numbers, well, yes. If you followed how much it was going to cost to buy back the stadium and turn it into a park, the numbers went from about $4 million to, I think at last count, $11 million.

But Ed, and you were in politics so you have to know this, politicians lie about numbers as easy as you and I breathe. It's what they do. Take a number, distort it to your advantage, play it out in public and hope no one calls you in on it. Wells does it, Williams does it. Hell, every premier since Confederation did it. If you live in this province and trust a number a politician tells you, then you deserve to be fooled.

As for 2015, well, Williams wins in 2007 (I have genuine fears that he's going to sweep the board leaving a miniscule or little opposition which, no matter how good a job he's doing, is a very bad thing). His successor takes over in 2011 (Ed Byrne, perhaps). By 2015, Tory infighting, plus the inevitable Newfoundland political disease of "Bored of you now, you must go" will be in full force. It will be 12 years of Tory rule at that point

This, couple with the inevitable rise of the next Great Liberal Saviour, should lead to the Liberals regaining power. So yeah, 2015 sounds about right.

Damian P. said...

Over here in Corner Brook, the whole council got overhauled - Charles Pender was elected mayor (the incumbent, Priscilla Boucher, came third), and five of the six councillors are new. That should say all you need to know about the esteem in which we hold our local government. (Indeed, Pender's election means there have three different mayors in Corner Brook since I moved here in 2001.)

As for Paul Sears, I remember when he ran as a PC candidate in the 1993 provincial election, and he had up all these signs purporting to show himself in his fireman's uniform. That, combined with what has to be the worst-written election brochure I've ever read (the message was, I kid you now, "this election, think of yourself!") has made it pretty hard to take him seriously since then.

towniebastard said...

HI Damian, thanks for dropping by...

There were rumours in the 2001 election, whether you choose to believe them or not, that firemen were actively campaigning for Sears in the hopes he would win and finally leave the department. No one would go on record, but he was not exactly loved by his former co-workers

Even the Gang of Six on the previous council seemed to only tolerate him, even though his outbursts, temper, illogical rants and sniping did more harm to their causes than good. They needed his vote.

I wonder what the odds are that he runs in Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi against Jack Harris for the Tories in the next provincial election? Harris could only dream he would get that lucky.

Ed Hollett said...


There is an easy cynicism that all politicians lie about numbers and so forth. From experience, I can say that this is not universally true. Far from it.

There are a bunch of things both at the provincial and municipal level over the past 10 or so years that have changed how politics gets done in the province. These changes aren't good in the medium to long haul and need to be corrected. (There's a longer blog posting coming on this point).

As for the longevity of the provincial Tories, we'll have to see. Your optimism about Ed Byrne may be misplaced. There are strong signs he is tired of politics and looking to move along sooner rather than later.

Williams will easily gain re-election in 2007. After that it becomes a bit of a crap shoot.

One might have easily said that Tobin would reign here for a long time; personally I doubted his longevity from the start and what was more startling was the extent to which the public turned on him within a year of his taking office. He regained his footing but the signs of rot were showing early on. Grimes managed to hang on solely by virtue of his chosing to postpone the election.

While there will be a number of economic developments that will cement the Tory chances of re-election (aside from the disarray of the Liberal party), beyond 2010/2011, things may get a little more difficult.

At that point, oil revenue will tail off dramatically and at the same time, the provincial debt will have balloned owing to the Williams/Sullivan policy of sustaining $500 million shortfalls (on accrual basis) for the next eight years or so.

In the interim, like all governments, their cohesion starts to go so the post-Williams elader will be facing a party that is just as likely to end up with the sort of practices that piss off the public that occured with Peckford and then later Tobin.

All that said, in the short-term we have still not seen the full impact of the pending Abitibi closures.

The public are still labouring under the mistaken belief that there is a $10 billion oil deal with Ottawa. Once it becomes clear in the next year or so that the Great Deal is worth only the upfront cash, there may well be some grumblings of discontent.

In closing (and so as not to clog your comments section), lemme put it this way. Since Smallwood, Moores ruled for seven years. Peckford hung on for a decade. Note the huge contrast in their personal styles. Wells went seven years. Tobin arrived and brought a change that was much more substantial than looking at the party labels would suggested.

Rather than look at it as Liberals for 14 years, look at it as seven years of Wells and then a return to typical local politics for seven.

What does that mean for Williams? We will have him until around 2008/09. If -and this is a big if- the Liberals sort themselves out, there might be a window of PC vulnerability around the time the legally-required "new premier" election takes place in 2009/2010.

Liam O'Brien said...

Yeah Craig, I was surprised by the acclamation in Clarenville. The Town had a lot of people interested in municipal politics. Thought there'd have been more interest in Mayo'rs job. That said, I don't remember much about Fred! I do remember Barb. Great lady.

Shiver... please don't tell me Sears will try to carry the Tory Standard against Jack. That's my new home riding! Sears apparently gave a bit of a sour grapes speech on Cable 9 on election night. Ed's completely right about his comments.

Ed's also right to be concerned about multi billion dollar shortfalls. I think the provincial government and the opposition have dropped the ball by refusing to advocate and lay out much more significant cuts in spending in tandem with this offshore revenues equalization money.

To Damian -- only CB councillor elect I know is Downer. I heard there was a bit of a shake up.

Ed Hollett said...

Sears said something to the effect that people booted out the best councillor the city ever had. (!!!)

towniebastard said...

I finally had a chance to read Sears' comments, both in The Telegram and on VOCM. Dear sweet Jesus. I mean, I've known for years the man is crazy, but those comments are priceless.

It's too late to catch Sears in action at council (and if he thinks he has a chance to be mayor, then someone should call the Waterford for an intervention), but I always recommend going to see a council meeting in person. Television can never catch the back and forth properly when it gets really rocking. You don't hear the stuff said off-mike, but that you can pick up if you're sitting in the gallery. Or the looks on their faces.

Sears was a lame duck councillor not half as bright as he thought he was. While I'll miss Wells unerring ability to slice and disect Sears at will, the business of council is better off without him.