By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – The hi-jinks have started. Some call it the silly season. To others it is the most wonderful time of the year. These people, of course, are political junkies who eat and breathe politics, so the time for them just before the next municipal election is a glorious time indeed.
They doubly enjoy watching egos clash and politicians fight the good fight, which has already happened. Reporters fear the season because they are besieged, besieged by political hopefuls and current elected representatives pestering them all day long with all of these people looking for more than their 15 minutes of fame, most of it undeserved.
You can imagine how tense or intense, your choice, it must have been in the first skirmish of the season over at the Percy “Party Hearty” Hatfield campaign office the day, actually Tuesday, June 11, when ineffective councilor Drew Dilkens did something effective but untoward in some people’s books, most likely those of Hatfield’s campaign manager, and by doing so officially declared silly season duly underway.
Dilkens was trying, but the try turned bad, to take the lead on chastising – Dilkens just frolics in any chance to complain about things – a taxpayer who found a legal loophole and built a three story house on Riverside Drive. His loophole was not putting a floor between floors two and three. Dilkens was on that like a cat on an early morning sunspot on the living room rug. But, and this brought on the intrigue, where was Hatfield?
No doubt his campaign office must have been in full turmoil mode, and the operatives there where flying off the handle within its walls, and started working full out because within hours the results of their efforts were totally visible. The tables were quickly turned and Hatfield grabbed, or had one of his campaign workers grab, the mantle from Dilkens and was off and running with it so fast that Dilkens was left to sit in the dust. This of course would not be a pleasant sight given it might have interrupted the sartorial elegance Dilkens likes to sport. But all Dilkens could do was sulk now that Hatfield was all over the media.
It was rare to find a television station, save maybe Leamington’s, that did not have Hatfield yapping about the situation on their suppertime news. It was, in one case, as if Hatfield hadn’t even retired from the CBC, and maybe that was his point given he is battling for a seat in the provincial legislature and wanted, probably, to remind voters that he didn’t do the honourable, although not required by law, and resign his council seat so a pro-Windsor councilor could run and maybe get the seat.
The next day on a CBC radio report, Dale Molnar broadcast that Hatfield was about to get a change to the planning bylaw so that there would be height restrictions on monster home renovations. Really? Was the inference that Hatfield was going to do that all by himself?
Does he not have to go through due process and at least first convince the other inwards on council? During the silly season such processes seem to be tossed to the wind. Some might call those processes anal anyway and who knows that might include Stephen Tyrone Colbert. But, such hasn’t happened yet, Colbert getting involved with rectum related stuff, although it could be possible that right now Hatfield’s campaign publicist is working on that although that is speculation but think of how much stature Hatfield could lose by being on national American television.
Not to be outdone and to show too that he is just as involved in silly season Biagio Marra made his re-election plans well known by exposing the apparent fact that he – most likely like most of his peers – is mining the media looking for publicity opportunities. He seems to be sitting at his day job and might have constructed a mini emergency response room right next to his desk where he can monitor what the media are saying and on the same day that Dilkens launched his re-election campaign Marra was ready to launch his and used what he heard on CBC radio to get that going.
In this case his ears might have been burning when his own name was mentioned. It was included in thoughts of a political commentator and city hall watcher from the university who boldly declared over the airwaves that Marra had been seen to be doing nothing on the issue of getting more women councilors.
Marra leaped into action, something rarely seen up to now – so you can be sure that the election run has started – and Rolodex in hand quickly called the station and offered almost a full mea culpa and promised to get on that issue right away and even assured the listening public that things were about to happen if he can convince the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to put on a seminar or something.
In the silly season it is not so much what is said as it is who is seen to be saying it. So, the denizens of the once rosy city have been warned and now should be prepared to be hearing and watching their inwards ad nauseam as they try to build cases that they should be re-elected.
Obviously some councilors think that winning re-election is not based on what they accomplish but rather on how often they get the media spotlight to shine on them. And shine it will, the season has begun.
For more of the Rest of the News listen to CJAM 99.1 Monday evenings at 8:30.