Editorial: Pattison’s motion boneheaded

Last week’s Council meeting left many of us in the gallery shaking our heads at the motion Councillor David Pattison made to financially support Safe Grad with public money. It was defeated 3-1 because the remaining members of Council had the good sense to realize what a boneheaded idea it was.

Like Pattison, the rest of Council think the concept of Safe Grad, where grads are bussed to an undisclosed location to cut loose after the grad, dinner and dance, is a good one in that there is chaperoning involved and a straight-as-an-arrow driver to get everyone back to their final destination safely. The difference was only Pattison thought it should be funded from the public teat.

Although the councillor was only looking to pony up $250 of public money to do it, it is still a $250 investment in what will inevitably be an event at which a bit of underage drinking will occur. It is still a $250 investment in an event that is a private party. It is still a $250 investment into a private event where some underage drinking may occur and through which the Town opens itself as a possible defendant in a lawsuit if the thing goes pear shaped.

And it is in that last one that Pattison’s motion is truly boneheaded because we expect our elected officials to have some understanding of the kinds of stuff that could and could not cost the taxpayer bags and bags of money down the road.

Like any Council decision, there are those who think it was correct and there are those who think it is an outrageous denial of a fundamental public right.

We’ve heard from some who feel Council’s denial of $250 for Safe Grad is somehow tantamount to Council preferring dead graduates on our roads. Ridiculous. The community is full of personal responsibility issues that are not municipally funded. Children ride through the community on their bikes without bike helmets all the time. Should Council vote in favour of paying for bike helmets because parents are too stupid to tell their children to wear them and to make sure they do?

Council’s decision to nix the funding request was correct for a number of reasons. Their decision to deny Pattison’s motion is no more opposition to Safe Grad than failing to put a can of peas in the food bank box is a signal you want the needy to starve to death.

The parent committee is looking to do what they see as the right thing by their kids – fundraising for a Safe Grad event. Council was one stop on the fundraising journey. There will be others.

Absolutely no fault should be found in the request being made. But it is troubling that some members of Council see it fit to just make motions without first researching what is being requested and what that could mean to the community beyond the $250 being offered up.
We hope the motion was merely a matter of not thinking the matter through or not being willing to find less direct ways for Council to be supportive of Safe Grad. Many of those graduating this summer will be old enough to vote in the municipal election in the fall. We’d hope a member of Council would not be so shallow as to try and win the youth vote by trying to be one of the cool kids. That way lays the road to futility. Our students are too smart for that kind of game. They tend to be more cynical than even reporters.

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  1. Out of all the discussion around town, and commentary in here (aside from one), I think there is an obvious consensus that the council got it right. I think you’re beating a dead horse on this issue. Pattison made a mistake, yet most of us are aware that there are probably many $250 contributions made by the taxpayers of this town that aren’t right, that slide under the microscope of our diligent media. Good luck to all the grads.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with this editorial letter. Saying that the Town shouldn’t pay does not take away at all from the value of the Safe Grad event. Instead, it raises an important issue about educating taxpayers (and some councillors) on where their tax money should be going.

    There are a lot of great causes out there – the multitude of cancers and other deadly and debilitating illnesses that canvas for research dollars, food banks, the Catholic church steeple and others – that are all worthy of people’s support. However, the Town does not, nor should it, donate tax money to such causes. Once it gets started, others would then have a right to expect money for their causes, which means that the Town would either go broke supporting them or dilute the dollars available to the point where they are irrelevant.

    My comment in the original article was that the grads should fund their private party themselves as part of becoming responsible citizens, and I stand by it. If they are dumb enough to drive drunk on one of the most important days of their young lives, then they haven’t learned very much. They must take responsibility as a group and individuals to do the right thing the right way.

    My tone towards Councillor Pattison would have been a bit more conciliatory, but you are still right – he should have known better. Our councillors are elected to do what is best for the Town of Morinville as a whole, not for individuals or anyone’s pet projects. I would recommend that anyone who still doesn’t understand why the Town can’t fund events such as this needs to educate themselves on how public money is supposed to be spent before the Fall election.

  3. Does it make sense to forward a motion like this when the Town would not even put funds toward our most valuable historic town building?

  4. If only the Town took this much time to debate and showed this kind of judgement when it came to their 4 million dollar decisions!

  5. I appreciate that people congratulate council for making the right decision. As the editor pointed out, in my opinion, the three that voted against the motion did so correctly.

    It’s not about the amount that was put forward in the motion. It could have been $100 or $5000. No matter the amount, to propose the motion or vote in favor of it was going against the purpose of council and the finite fund which council has to hand out to groups looking for it.

    Town Council serves a purpose. They are accountable to the citizens. Council has a responsibility and in fact a duty to manage the funds that they have in a responsible and prudent manner. Their job is to ensure that the money they have is spent on the town to maintain the standards that are expected by the citizens and to improve upon them.

    Safe Grads are a good way to teach teens to be smart about drinking and the importance of planning. They are almost always safe and the fact is that all of the members of council and all of the people in the room that night seemed to agree on the merits of a Safe Grad. However, nearly everybody in the room agreed that the money that council has should benefit the most people in the community possible. By granting money to sports clubs, recreational clubs and community groups they can ensure that the money they give out will benefit the most people possible.

    Safe Grad is a party. A private party that most often involves underage drinking. Aside from the fact council should not support private parties for its citizens, the council also has a fiduciary duty with the citizens of Morinville. Were they to fund anything illegal they would open themselves up to legal recourse in the event of anything going wrong. And while I speculate that over 99% of all Safe Grads go off without a problem, there is a small number in which somebody is hurt or worse.

    Some people have criticized the editor for being harsh. I don’t agree. It is the responsibility of the citizens to hold their leaders, in this case our local government, to task. Councillor Pattison seems to be an intelligent man which makes me wonder why he would have proposed it at all when he should have understood the implications of a successful motion.

    It is an election year, isn’t it?

  6. I think the Council should donate 250 dollars to an awareness program about the possible repercussions of an after grad party gone wrong.

  7. I totally disagree with the editor on this! Mr Pattison was acting on behalf of constituents from Morinville who came forward requesting this donation. Mr Pattison was approached by the parents committee (read TAXPAYERS) who asked for help with a donation. Seems to me, if you are a member of any form of Government, that you represent the people who voted you in, i.e. TAXPAYERS! If anyone is “boneheaded” I would say it is the parents committee for putting Mr Pattison into a position where he is mocked by those who do not know the facts! If all councillors act on their personal feelings rather than those they represent, then they will NOT be there for long! Whether this request was morally acceptable to Mr. Pattison or not, he still had the guts to put it forward on behalf of the parents (read TAXPAYERS)! I will vote for him again, he listens to his constituents and acts on their behalf, not like some, who have a personal agenda, whether it agrees with those that voted them in or not. Council made the right decision by turning the request down, but that is what Councils are for, a chosen number of intelligent people whose job it is to take these requests and, through discussion, make the right choice. I believe that Mr. Pattison is owed an apology from those who labeled him “bonehead”! And by the way, I think “Safe Grad” is totally wrong, it is illegal, end of story!

    • I have expressed my opinion. You have expressed yours. It is my opinion the motion was boneheaded. There will be no apology.

      When we are critical of the town they always have warning it is coming and always have opportunity to respond. They are welcome to respond that an editorial is boneheaded and a few of them have been.

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