Big talking Joe
In North American urban life, is there anything harder to swallow than the lowly but self-important municipal councillor?
Dont know about your city, but in Toronto we have the holier-than-thou Councillor Joe Mihevc, whose long suit is the lecture. Joe went on a self-imposed "welfare diet" a few months back, subsisting on macaroni canned-tuna type meals. On the last day of the self-imposed diet, Joe, along with his family members, was shown at the supper table in a Toronto Star photograph. The publicity stunt was meant to prove that Joe could "really relate" to the paltry diet of welfare recipients such as single mothers. Problem is the single mothers and their youngsters continue with macaroni, canned-tuna type menus while sanctimonious Joe returns to his fatcat Toronto City Hall life.
His month-long welfare diet well behind him, Coun. Joe Mihevc is now making headlines lashing out against a group of lawn and garden companies opposed to a proposed city bylaw restricting pesticide use.
In radio ads, the 12 Toronto-area companies called the Toronto Environmental Coalition dared to suggest that pesticide-free yards could breed mosquitoes at a time when John Q. Public is worried about West Nile disease.
Mihevc, who also chairs the citys board of health, called the ads "fear mongering" in post-SARS Toronto.
The ads, he said, were "wrong, misleading and cynical" before going on to urge all radio stations to stop running them.
The radio stations, of course, immediately bowed to the local councillor. The sanctimonious Mihevc gets to do things like that.
The citys proposed bylaw, to be debated on May 21, essentially bans all chemical pesticides, the imminent return of the mosquito notwithstanding.
Given that the City of Toronto uses pesticides in its parks, its somewhat hypocritical, we might even suggest, cynical to ban pesticides for use on private lawns.
Coun. Mihevc also lectured the Toronto Environmental Coalition for taking a similar name to the, God forbid, Toronto Environmental Alliance, a volunteer community organization dedicated to environmental causes and an organization which shares a somewhat cozy relationship with his politically correct colleagues on city council.
"The Toronto Environmental Coalition is not an environmental group, it is the pesticide lobby, it is the industry lobby trying to protect their vested interests. They have, through this campaign, shown that theyre not really interested in protecting the environment," Mihevc said.
Mihevc, who has a vested interested in saving his own skin in this an election year, takes lectures from no one.
There may be those who ponder how the sanctimonious Joe Mihevc would dare to lecture business leaders who happen to be on the other side of a contentious issue during a municipal election campaign.
Not many care about the breed known as municipal politician.
Apathy means 30 percent and lower voter turnouts for civic elections at the best of times. This election campaign has the further distractions of SARS, West Nile, an imminent provincial election and a federal leadership race, all of them much higher in the priority list of the public than another lackluster civic election campaign.
Unfortunately, civic elections will come and go in November with the very same councillors returning to their seats as they did the last time out when only one newcomer joined 43 incumbents.
And the problem is that no one knows this better than big talking Coun. Joe Mihevc.