Mark Taylor, Deputy Mayor of Awesomeness

Years ago, I had a colleague who wore many hats. He was a marketing specialist, but he was also a writer and occasionally a trainer. Consequently, he had a number of different email signatures. Just for fun, he had one email signature that read “Vice President of Awesome”. He wanted to see if anyone would ever notice (no one ever did).

I thought about my buddy when I read this story about Mark Taylor and his fondness for the Deputy Mayor title:

Mark Taylor has used taxpayers’ money to buy embroidered jackets, pewter lapel pins and a special seal for embossing certificates in order to brand himself as Ottawa’s deputy mayor — a largely ceremonial post that requires him to attend events Jim Watson can’t.

The second-term city councillor for Bay ward has spent more than $3,500 since being appointed to the job last year — almost four times what the other deputy mayor, Orléans Coun. Bob Monette, has spent on letterhead, business cards and magnets, according to documents obtained by the Citizen through a freedom-of-information request.

Now, I’m not going to say that Deputy Mayor is a fake title…but it is made up. Watson has basically designated two mini-mes to show up at breakfasts and church bazaars when Watson decides to break a pelvis. It’s a useful enough job (Watson can’t be everywhere, though he really does try), but it’s pretty meaningless.

So it’s really gross that he has spent so much money stroking his ego. It’s like he made us all buy him jackets that read, “Jim Watson is my BFF”, because that’s about the gist of it (except for the existence of Bob Monette).

It’s wasteful, it’s narcissistic and it’s contemptuous of the public.

Worse, still, is Taylor seems to think this is an actual leadership position, all the while showing zero leadership.

Pay attention to council and the goings-on of the city. Who are the councillors who are out in front of city and ward issues? Catherine McKenney, Tobi Nussbaum, Mathieu Fleury, Jeff Leiper, Diane Deans, Riley Brockington…hell, even Jan Harder (with whom I tend to disagree) shows much more leadership than Mark Taylor.

In fact, there are few councillors who are less present than Mark Taylor. If I was to list the councillors who seem to have the lowest profile, I would actually list both Deputy Mayors, Monette and Taylor.

There was some chatter that Taylor was chosen for the role because Watson was grooming him. Taylor has a lot of political experience, so it was reasonable to think he might be eyeing bigger things (at the local level, or at the provincial or federal level). But, more and more, I’m thinking Watson has chosen dutiful lieutenants who will never outshine him.

Very shrewd.

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What is Bob Monette thinking?

The other day, we were treated to an update on Lansdowne transportation. We were told that the transit plans for RedBlacks games were a resounding success. Yes, there were fewer people biking than was anticipated (though some people would park off-site and walk a block or two to the game) and the shuttles weren’t as popular as intended, but lots and lots of people used OC Transpo, so it’s kind of a wash.

So, we learned, special event transportation worked as well as could have been hoped (and, from what I observed, this is generally true…though with relaxed parking restrictions late in the RedBlacks season, a lot more people started driving…and drinking and driving).

What we didn’t get (at least not from the city or OSEG) was an update on the day-to-day traffic issues, and there are a few. There’s no doubt that Lansdowne has caused traffic problems in the Glebe, and I can only assume Old Ottawa South, too (in the past few years, traffic in Old Ottawa South always seemed worse than the Glebe, at least in my journeys).

Orleans councillor Bob Monette had an… interesting… idea:

During a transportation committee meeting Monday, Orléans Coun. Bob Monette suggested transit use to Lansdowne in the winter might not be as high simply because people don’t like walking. Allowing parking in the stadium could reduce the traffic congestion on Bank St., Monette said.

This is, obviously, ridiculous (and not just because the idea of turning your professional sports field into a parking lot is ludicrous).

First of all, creating an inducement to driving (more parking) will just result in more traffic, not less. I imagine Monette might be thinking that it will keep traffic flowing as people don’t stop to park on the street. But this assumes a finite number of people driving to Lansdowne. There’s no reason to think that’s the case (or that we’re at that limit). We’re Ottawa; we’ll always find more cars if we need to.

Under this proposal, we’ll have people driving to TD Place to park, driving around to park on neighbourhood streets, and, soon, driving to the parking garage mobility hub they’re building down the street.

Further, Monette’s argument has an internal contradiction. He is suggesting that people don’t take the bus in the winter because they don’t want to walk a few blocks. If that’s actually the case, then they wouldn’t be parking throughout the neighbourhood in order to walk a few blocks to Lansdowne. But this is exactly what is happening.

Monette’s solution to the traffic problem is predicated on the notion that the exact cause of the traffic problem doesn’t exist.

This is why we’re in our current traffic mess. All of our solutions–more roads! more lanes! more parking!–exacerbate the problem.