Part of the problem of having a council made up of mostly rookies is that they appear to come with not much awareness of what their job is supposed to be. I've mentioned before that it does not include raising issues which are outside council's mandate - council should not be a place to advocate on whatever people complain about, but on whatever is within council's control. Many on council seem to think that council meetings are an opportunity to beat their own personal drums, not recognizing that they're wasting valuable time, and thus money, on useless discussions.
The other disturbing tendency is for council to decide that the mayor can make decisions, even if policy says otherwise. This is disappointing, and I'm sure that most councillors don't realize that if you do this often enough, people might start to wonder why you're getting paid, if you decide that the mayor's decision is good enough, so that you don't have to bother. I'm sure that they also think that, in the case of potentially controversial issues, they can then absolve themselves of responsibility - hey, we left it up to the mayor, so get mad at him. I hate to tell them this, but most people are smarter than to be fooled by that line.
Council does have some difficult issues before them right now - while the grant reduction imposed by the provincial budget has been partially reduced, it will still have a major impact on how much money the city has to spend. The $2.8 million owed to Domtar isn't going away, and if paid for out of reserves as planned, will just deplete those reserves, which are already being used for ongoing operational needs rather than their original purpose. Those reserves are not limitless. And the public awareness that big tax dollars are owed by a couple of downtown businesses, who apparently are only interested in finding excuses rather than paying what is owed (and has been owing for quite some time - just ask anyone who was on the last two councils) is going to lead to demands for council to take some kind of action, not just sit there looking surprised. And yet there's been surprisingly little discussion about these decisions that definitely have the potential to affect the taxes that you pay, and the services that the city provides.
Council also needs to remember that they are supposed to direct administration, not just approve whatever is brought forward. Too many times over the past few years council has given direction, only to be totally ignored. And the worst part is, nobody is ever held to account as to why such things as monthly water billing (direction given more than four years ago now) have never happened. Other utilities manage, why can our administration not figure out how to do this? And why is nobody on council asking this?
I know that some rookie members of council are disappointed with the lack of glory that comes with the job, forgetting that respect has to be earned - it isn't automatic. They don't remember that fewer than half of the residents of the city voted in the last election - for reasons that are beyond my knowing, civic politics just doesn't engage people the way it should.
Or maybe the way that most members of council behave , either during campaigns or afterwards, just leaves people wondering why get involved, when so few people seem to be truly interested in doing the job at hand, just in getting paid for putting on a suit and showing up every couple of weeks..
"Your self-image should not come from the job you do, but from how well you do your job." Martin Luther King Jr.