Friday, January 21, 2005

Bitch slappin' and name calling

Ian Gillespie highlights the combative nature of Wednesday's marathon budget meeting:

City manager Jeff Fielding set the sporting tone with a "win one for the Gipper"-type speech, exhorting councillors to tackle "tough decisions."

Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco encouraged councillors to "really dig deep." Coun. Ab Chahbar said, "I'm certainly onside with the problem." And intergovernmental liaison director Grant Hopcroft said other cities "have tilted the playing field."

And that was all during the game's -- er, session's -- opening minutes, long before it lapsed into extra-overtime.

- Most confusing moments: At one point, Chahbar raised his pencil to make a dramatic point, then asked for a few minutes because, "I can't even read my own writing."

Later, during one of those I'd-like-to-propose-a-motion-to-amend-the-motion-to-amend-the-amendment sequences so beloved by politicians, Coun. Susan Eagle raised her hand to vote against her own amendment.

- Best yuks: While discussing health care, Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen protested, "We're trying to create a Cadillac system out of a Chevrolet body." To which Coun. Cheryl Miller quipped, "I do that every day."

While dissecting the problems surrounding public housing, Miller said she was fed up with the province: "It's like they've given us a dog, but they still hold the leash."

- Best did-he-really-say-that? moment: While discussing the mayor's plea to hire someone to recruit family doctors, Coun. Rob Alder said the lack of local family doctors isn't that big a problem because old people are much healthier these days.

"There's some kind of healthy aging process going on," he said, adding, "People demand physicians, but that doesn't necessarily mean they need physicians."

Ah, yes. And maybe that whole "death" thing is just an attitude problem.

- Best unsubstantiated boast: While discussing a proposed cut to the library's budget, Coun. Fred Tranquilli praised London's library system as not only the best in Canada, but "maybe even the best on the continent."

- Best tell-it-like-it-is statement: Ninety minutes after the session's scheduled 1 p.m. start time and after DeCicco's extended plea for a recruiter, Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell leaned toward the mayor and said, "So much for your half-hour presentation."

- Best mangled metaphors: While discussing possible cuts to Orchestra London and the Grand Theatre, Coun. David Winninger protested that, "I think you're cutting here with a broadsword instead of a paring knife."

Controller Bud Polhill seemed to agree, then upped the kitchen metaphor to a more manly construction analogy: "I think we can make more progress with a jackhammer than a sledgehammer."