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.

The Election’s Over, Guys

I think it’s fair to say that almost no one had as much fun with the last municipal election as I did. It was a good (and bad, and depressing, and cynical) time, but it’s over; the project of actually running the city should really be important.

Sadly, some just can’t leave the campaign behind.

For all its fun, the Bay Ward election was also nasty at times. Incumbent (and eventual winner) Mark Taylor and challenger (and former concillour) Alex Cullen really went after each other. You may remember* that as much as I wanted to support Cullen, his performance in the debate (and the campaign overall) was a massive turn-off.

He had a very combative tone, and was never able to rise above the muck, no matter what. I think this temperament cost him votes.

Well, months later, and the two are still going at it.**

It would behoove Mark Taylor to avoid these sorts of “debates”. A simple initial response was valid, but it would be much more becoming of a councillor to leave once things get nasty. Let your interlocutor scream into the void of Twitter; don’t engage.

As for Cullen, this type of discourse isn’t going to help him in any future political endeavours…not that he should be calibrating his every tweet with an eye to the next election (in fact, his obvious sincerity, despite the anger, is something to respect). However, if you fancy yourself a community leader (which I’m sure Cullen does, and which, arguably, he is), this exchange was not a display of leadership. It was, I’d say, a tad childish.

Hopefully, this is the last of this sort of thing.

…but I doubt it.

*Looking through the archives, apparently I never actually wrote about the Bay Ward debate. Huh.

*For some reason, I can’t get that to embed. Apologies.

Lunch Out Loud Election Preview

The guys from Lunch Out Loud Ottawa invited me onto their podcast yesterday to chat about the upcoming election. We focused on a handful of wards (and I think I talked way too much), and they even got me to give some predictions.

You can listen:

[Author’s note: Crap, I can’t get the embed to work. Just click on the link above.]

Since I made predictions there, I’ll list them here. If I get 3/10 correct, I’ll be happy:

  1. Somerset: Martin Canning or Jeff Morrison (yeah, I wussed out and picked two)
  2. Rideau-Rockliffe: Tobi Nussbaum
  3. Rideau-Vanier: Marc Aubin
  4. Kitchissippi: Jeff Leiper
  5. River: Riley Brockington
  6. Osgoode: George Darouze (I’m really guessing here, but this is a really interesting race with lots of good candidates)
  7. Gloucester-South Nepean: Susan Sherring
  8. Alta Vista: Jean Cloutier
  9. Bay: Mark Taylor
  10. Innes: Jody Mitic

By the way, these aren’t endorsements, just predictions. Though I think most of these people would make solid councillors


Same old news for Ottawa’s taxi market

The Ottawa Sun‘s Susan Sherring notes that a new proposal regarding Ottawa’s taxi system has appeared at City Hall. If adopted, every time a taxi plate was sold, the new owner would have to provide an accessible cab. The proposal is hung up, as Councillor Mark Taylor, who chairs the city’s community and protective services committee, wants it to be given more study.

Annoyed by the typical (and typically annoying) political hang ups, Ms. Sherring is a big fan of the new proposal, arguing that it is a good fit with the evolving demographics of the city. I am less inclined to believe this is such a happy development. Continue reading