Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me Some Pepto-Bismol
City councillor Al Maghnieh must have died and gone to the Mercedes-Benz dealership in the sky.
Predictably, the Windsor Star waited until the Saturday edition with its largest circulation to unleash their nausea inducing full-page ”profile” which had nattering types chasing their Gaviscon with shots of Pepto-Bismol.
Never before has a city councillor who has accomplished so little been rewarded with coverage large corporations pay upwards of $10,000 for. Light rail proposition? It was never going to happen as the Windsor Transit Board (and his council colleagues) ultimately demonstrated. The Library renewal was old news – a product of a prior consultant’s report under the old board repackaged.
But I’ll give credit where credit is due - the councillor built a sidewalk. Kudos.
Heck if that is all it takes to score a full-page ad, er article, budding politicians should promise to look into not only light rail, but a subway system as well as space shuttle launch pad. Perhaps we can be promised world peace in addition to an open and transparent municipal government while we’re at it.
Who knows, maybe there will be a brainstorming session about that sometime in the future when the Star publishes the next headline, “Maghnieh Buys Groceries.” Hopefully for the councillor’s sake, it’s not with Windsor Fire.
Perhaps a little harsh – but tough.
Any respect I had for the councillor was lost when he told residents on Twitter opposed to the library relocation to “stuff a sock in it.” As a telling side-note, 90% of the individuals Maghnieh follows on Twitter are media types including of course my biggest fan, Marty Beneteau.
Realistically, few pay attention to Twitter so the councillor’s secret is safe unlike the not-so-secret way of shaking off the councillor – ask him probing questions holding him accountable for his public statements. He disappears faster than the ribs at a city council meeting.
But the Maghnieh advertorial, which read like a Janis Joplin song, did not do the councillor or his mentors any favours if word on the street is correct.
If voter’s weren’t aware before, they certainly are now – Al Maghnieh is a protégé of the Honourable Dwight Duncan. A fact re-iterated by the Windsor Star in its related stories links which included Dwight Duncan and the Liberal Party of Canada to name but two.
“Al’s generated a lot of media attention — there’s gonna be rivalries,” said Maghnieh’s longtime political mentor, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan (L — Windsor-Tecumseh) (Doug Schmidt, Windsor Star, January 6, 2012).
Seriously? I may disagree with some councillors, but I also know many work hard at responding to constituent concerns sometimes 60 hours a week. In other words, they are simply doing their jobs without running to the nearest microphone or Blackberry to contact their media friends on Twitter.
But too much media attention can cause problems, and the Honourable Minister would have been wise to not endorse the councillor let alone feed into “his ego surpassed only by his height,” as a friend of mine says.
Of course, as would be expected, the Minister was statesman in his response.
“Al’s a people person,” – but so are the hundreds of people who pass away each year according to their eulogies.
Although the 1,854 word ad was obviously written to show a softer gentler side of Maghnieh, it also affirmed what a growing number of individuals are coming to believe – the councillor is an out-of-touch, elitist and professional politician – a harsh criticism in poli-speak.
In a community which has experienced a hollowing out of its domestic automotive sector, the councillor breezes about in a sleek European-made Mercedez-Benz which can sell for up to $54,000. All this on a council salary of $40,000 nearly all of which he claims he donated after spending over $4,000 of his own money to get elected. It’s a good thing the councillor landed a job at the Catholic School Board. Maybe next year we’ll also see his name on the Sunshine List.
However, politicians have survived worse – and this in of itself doesn’t reflect poorly on the councillor. What commonly sinks an elected official are the off-the-cuff remarks – say perhaps on Twitter or in emails to citizen journalists – or colleagues that turn on you. So for some, the more media exposure the better.
And this could become an issue for the Finance Minister particularly in a minority government situation – after all Maghnieh is his protégé so the Windsor Star reminds us.
Of course, the councillor is a rookie and there are over two more years until the next election – a lot can happen.
Many elected officials find religion in the year before the election and all is forgotten – so there is plenty of time, as Janis Joplin would sing, ”to make amends.”
And any media savvy politician knows this very well.
But there is always a downside to so much media attention – and time will tell if that too follows its natural course.