You’ve got to at least admire Leslie O’Shaughnessy’s commitment to a promise.
The veteran of municipal politics, who spent years around municipal council tables in Cornwall and the counties, issued a blockbuster statement this week, which included a litany of suggestions and accusations levelled at city hall.
Very little was left untouched by O’Shaughnessy.
He took a run at former colleagues around the council table, administrators and even city lawyers were challenged by O’Shaughnessy on topics ranging from the content of in-camera meetings to missing e-mails and accusations of administrative tampering.
It makes for good copy – the big question will be whether or not the electorate is paying attention.
The thing is, there’s a lot more legitimacy that could be added to O’Shaughnessy’s arguments if he were still a member of council.
The unfortunate thing for him is he’s now an ex-councillor, who decided on his own to leave the table.
Some might argue he was forced out, that he was one of few sane voices around the council table and a grand conspiracy had been created to ensure he had no choice but to leave.
I don’t buy it. He made that decision on his own – and it was wrong.
O’Shaughnessy should have stayed at the council table. So many gave him support to make decisions on their behalf at city hall.
It irks me that he made the decision to leave without fighting, for himself and others, to correct the problems he perceived at 360 Pitt Street.
I can understand how frustrating it must be to sit at a council table and feel as though you haven’t been given all the facts. City hall is one of the biggest rumour mills in Cornwall. There’s more than enough water-cooler talk and innuendo-filled gossip to make anyone give their head a shake - let alone those at the council table.
I can sympathize with O’Shaughnessy, trying desperately to sift the truth out of all the double-speak.
And when the process doesn’t evolve the way one believes it should, I understand where a tidal wave of frustration can seem impossible to manage.
But that’s politics – trying to find the truth amid a sea of opinions that counter each other.
When a candidate puts their name forward, it’s hoped they know this going in. When that candidate is Leslie O’Shaughnessy, with years of experience...well, one hopes he's been around long enough to know how to deal with issues like this as they arise.
Which is why I find it so frustrating that he quit. If it was an attempt to play the martyr card, I think he failed. But it likely wasn’t - O’Shaughnessy isn’t that kind of politician, and it’s difficult to parlay quitting in 2012 into an election victory in 2014, or whenever…if ever.
It’s more likely that months of frustration at city hall, combined with personal issues that politicians in a small communities don’t speak of with media-types, let alone the electorate, finally got the better of him…and he decided to quit.
O’Shaughnessy made a promise to fully explain his story when he got the chance and he feels he’s done that.
Some councillors have privately suggested to me his arguments about the content of in-camera meetings isn’t far off the mark.
If he had stayed on council, his thoughts on administrative reports that are filed with councillors during in-camera meetings may have changed. Council, it would appear, has demanded more reports to ensure a paper trail of support for decision-making during private sessions – something O’Shaughnessy had been demanding almost from day one, says Mayor Bob Kilger.
And that’s the biggest shortfall of all - if there was success on this one issue, perhaps O'Shaughnessy could have created more.
O’Shaughnessy says he’s not making any more comments on the issue, so don’t expect another statement from the former city councillor.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about him over the years, he talks only when he wants to.
He said a mouthful this week. Publicly many around the council table will admit he's entitled to his opinion, and wish him well.
But privately those same council members are probably more than just a little ticked off with O'Shaughnessy. And others privately suggest to me he said nothing new this week - it's the same issues council has been plagued with for more than a year.
Regardless, O'Shaughnessy told us a year ago to stay tuned for more news, and this week he followed through on that commitment.
I've been wrong before, lots of times, but I'm willing to bet his statement this week will change little in the eyes of voters. Those who argue for wholesale changes at city hall still want them - and those that are happy with the status quo haven't been given enough ammunition to change their minds.
That assessment could have been different - if O'Shaughnessy was still a councillor.