Groucho Marx defined politics as: “The art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then applying the wrong remedies.” The last four years have produced an almost unbelievable amount of controversy and disharmony between the mayor, the council and the staff at City Hall. Many of us are unable to decide for sure just exactly who is at fault. Who is telling the truth?
I only know what I hear and read and I have had a tough time trying to figure out which way to go on this. This little story that follows has really helped me make up my mind. Best of all, it actually happened… it’s on YouTube.
On September 1st, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide played the Louisville Cardinals in the season opener of the NCAA college football season. Alabama won 51-14. I didn’t watch the game; I was watching Notre Dame play Michigan, but I kept an eye on it during the endless, lengthy commercials. For those of you who don’t follow college football, Alabama is consistently nationally ranked at or near the top of the pile. In fact, as I write this, they are currently ranked #1. A major reason for that, I believe, is that their coach is Nick Saban, one of the best in the game today. Because of his consistent top rankings, he usually gets the cream of the crop when it comes to recruiting his players. Everybody wants to play for Alabama because it’s a good ticket to making the big bucks in pro football.
This year Alabama is blessed with two top-notch quarterbacks. After the big win over Louisville, TV interviewer Maria Taylor walked up to Coach Saban as he was walking off the field and asked him, “What answers do you have about your quarterbacks after watching both of them play tonight?”
Saban, looking kind of exasperated, replied, “Well I still like both guys. I think both guys are good players. I think both guys can help our team. Why do you continually try to get me to say something that doesn’t respect one of them? I’m not going to do it. So, quit asking.”
Later during the post game wrap up, some of the commentators criticized Saban for disrespecting the press. Why? Because rather than come out and admit on national TV that one of his players definitely had a better game than the other, he decided not to give them what they they wanted: him taking a huge dump on one of his people in public so they can smile and close out the evening with, “Thanks coach, now here’s Tom with the weather.”
And what does the Alabama football team get if he does that? Well, despite the fact that they just won a nationally televised football game featuring the #3 ranked football team at that time in the nation (Alabama), versus the 58th ranked team in the nation, they should be feeling good about winning a game they should have won. They are now feeling shaken because they watched their coach throw one of them under the bus for making a mistake, having an off-night or looking bad because somebody else missed a block or blew an assignment. In other words, they would not be a team that was together and heading in the right direction. They should be feeling good about accomplishing their objective as a team.
But that didn’t happen. That’s because the Crimson Tide are led by a man who will deal with those issues where they should be dealt with: in the workplace and not in front of a bunch of reporters who are looking for blood they can put out in front of as many people as they can and say, “Boy, that guy really screwed up. Watch this.”
The only one who took any guff for anything that the Alabama football team did that night was Nick Saban.
Would you want to play football for a guy like that?
Would you want to be led by a guy like that?
I would. I would follow a guy like that anywhere.
Because Nick Saban is a leader in the finest sense of the word.
Everybody on the team believes he’s got their back. If I am going to catch any flack for something I’ve done, I catch it from him, not from watching him “share” my faults with a national TV audience and having it shown and discussed over and over again on SportsCentre and YouTube.
Wouldn’t it be cool if everybody was like that?
When I saw that, I thought to myself, that the real problem at City Hall is a question of leadership.
Mayor Bradley accepts some guilt for the harassment and bullying charges but qualifies it by saying something like, “I did lose my temper and if I have offended anybody, I am sorry,” which really isn’t much of an apology because it’s conditional.
It’s like, “Listen your honour, I didn’t kill the guy, but if I did, I’m really sorry.”
“I did it, but I did it out of love for my city,” is not going to cut it here. You’d think after 30 years in the mayor’s seat, he might have learned that. Instead, he has encouraged a lot of people to run for council in the upcoming election, saying that if he gets re-elected and gets a mostly new Council they can take back City Hall from the administration. This means that a lot of the high-priced talent at City Hall will be well compensated for their termination and then - I guess - the mayor and his new council will just go out and hire more high-priced talent to replace the high-priced talent they get rid of. They are dreaming if they think they can get rid of high-priced talent and replace it with low-priced talent. If they try to do that, what they – and we – might get are some “yes” people who are not as competent as the people they replace. It won’t matter though because they are just there to carry out the wishes of the Mayor and the council. In that case Mr. Bradley will go from being the mayor to being, “The Boss.”
I’d hate to see that happen. I think that if I was the mayor – and trust me here, I do not want to be the mayor – I would want a great staff at City Hall. I would need them to be running things I had no idea how to do. I would want/need them to feel that I believed in them and their abilities, and that if I had any issues we could talk freely about them behind closed doors. You can’t solve those kinds of problems in the media.
If coach Saban was told that he was bullying and abusing his players so much that they wouldn’t let him talk directly to them anymore, that he could only do it through his assistant coach, do you think they would just say, “Okay, let’s build a wall or maybe even get him an office in another building so he won’t be able to abuse them anymore?”
Of course not. There would be a new coach at Alabama. The reason being that, “If you can’t handle your players, you gotta go. You need to understand Nick, we can get along without you but, we need the team. You’re either a part of it or… you’re gone.”
I love this statement as a guiding principle for leadership: “People seldom remember what you say but they will never forget how you make them feel.” How do think Nick Saban’s Alabama football team felt when they heard him talk to that reporter?
The big question for us is: who is really in control of our situation?
The mayor? The council? The staff at City Hall?
The correct answer is: you.
Because you can vote.
The city of Sarnia consists of 71,594 souls. Of that number, 69.62% of them (49,841) are eligible to vote in this year’s election for the mayor and the council.
In the 2014 election, 13,174 people voted for Mike Bradley to be our mayor. The other 3 people who ran against him got 6,670 votes in total. Sadly, only 37.1% of the 54,456 eligible voters, voted. We live in a community where 24.19% of the eligible voters (24.19% of 54,456 total eligible voters = the 13,174 who voted for Mr. Bradley) are controlling who runs this city. I’d hardly call the result of the last election the “will of the people”. It’s actually the will of the people who cared enough, or who were motivated enough to vote.
The strength of this city depends on all of us - not 24 % of us. The 24% and the people they vote for know that. I wonder if the 34,249 who didn’t vote, know that or even care. If they don’t, we will continue to be what we have become, a former industrial power that is fading into a retirement community with a crumbling infrastructure and a growing tax burden. Only a strong voter turnout can do anything about that. The 13,174 who keep this political machine in power will probably vote to keep things the way Mr. Bradley wants. Maybe even more will get on that bandwagon… and if that happens?
Well then, so be it. The people have spoken. I just hope we don’t get another majority elected by a minority.
Working from an old quote by Plato, it is my opinion that, ‘Those who are too lazy to vote are punished by being governed by those who get off their duffs and vote.’ Voting and getting others to vote is your only real political job in this society, and if you think I’m wrong then just stay home and let the 13,174 have their way.