One of our writers–I won’t say who but his name rhymes with “hall of fame” — walked past a Metro box today and saw the 200-word front page story “Fiacco Era Comes To A Close”, and promptly sent me an e-mail ORDERING me to blog about our outgoing mayor. “You could title the post “Fiacc-WHO!” he suggested.
Well, it’s true that I do like to put the “pun” in “punditry”, but maybe another time. It’s worth sharing my opinion on our outgoing Mayor, though. I’m the editor of an alt paper that covered city hall for his entire term, after all.
Pat Fiacco was a powerfully well-spoken, charismatic mayor with a commitment to repairing city infrastructure deficits, which is something prairie dog is all the way behind. I admire his total exasperation with successive Provincial governments never giving cities the resources to run themselves. I really admire his national infrastructure initiatives.
Fiacco also worked hard to get a new stadium rolling, and wanted it downtown on the CP yards (a notion I was a fan of — I’m disappointed we’re not getting that). One gets the sense our business community really let him down on that. Big surprise — Regina’s business elite doesn’t exactly inspire awe. No Bill Gates or Warren Buffets here, I’m afraid.
On the downside, the housing crisis, the pension shortfall, the lack of recycling, the near-destruction of our library system and the kinda-bungled plaza are all blemishes on Fiacco’s legacy, if only because they happened on his watch.
Fiacco was also inexplicably thin-skinned — the excellent MacLean’s story on “Canada’s worst neighbourhood” that led to a weird ambush meeting and the Jonathan Weidlich middle-finger allegations were memorable examples. If reporters are doing their job, there will obviously be times when politicians want to strangle them. Neither of those incidents called for the resulting Fiacklash, though.
Fiacco seemed unhappy with prairie dog too — which is fine. I take his “could have been more fair” jibe as a high compliment. It’s super lame that Paul Dechene was only able to wrangle maybe two phone interviews with the mayor during the years he’s covered city politics, though. Why so shy? We’ve criticized Fiacco but we’ve never trashed him anywhere near what we’ve done to, say, the despicable federal Conservatives (a malicious tribe of warty, fetid morlocks who are destroying this country and ought to be driven out with pitchforks and righteous, cleansing fire — but I digress).
You think if Michael Fougere — the right-wing, business-backed candidate — wins today he’ll avoid Paul Dechene? Pffft. No. Fougere’s even friendly to me, for fuck’s sake.
Besides, even when we were dicks to Pat Fiacco, it was not without playful affection. Trust me, we are all well aware what truly awful mayors look like — we all follow Toronto’s Fordmageddon. We know that Pat Fiacco is far from a disaster. Besides, we’ll sometimes be dicks to any politician, because they’re all going to do dickish things, It’s inevitable. Oh, plus we’re kinda dicks.
Anyway, you’d think a boxer could take a punch.
If I could change one thing about Fiacco’s time in office, it would be to give him stronger councils. One former City Hall insider whose opinion I respect enormously had a lot of praise for Fiacco’s second term, but not so much his last couple. It’s too bad we had such a bad mix on council the last two terms — they seemed to get along but I think they all made each other worse. With Fiacco’s talent for creating enthusiasm and excitement, this was a shame. He’s not a visionary or an “ideas guy”, but he can be a helluva champion for good causes. Give him a strong council and he could be the best mayor in Canada. This group dragged him down.
Ah well, forward to the next chapter. Best of luck to our outgoing mayor in his future endeavours. Extra best of luck to his restaurant — everyone’s rooting for that to be great.
Off to the polls!