Putting prefab walls into place at an affordable housing project. (File photo: Liam Harrap)

Putting prefab walls into place at an affordable housing project. (File photo: Liam Harrap)

OUR VIEW: Surrey city staff tells it like it is

It’s not the job of city staff to be cheerleaders for current civic administration

Today’s word is vainglorious.

Of course, everyone appreciates some positive reinforcement at least once in a while. And this is good.

To be vainglorious, on the other hand, is not. That’s a condition, the dictionary informs us, when someone is “excessively proud” and given to embracing the misguided concept of “personal infallibility.”

How a majority of Surrey city council sent a 246-page report on a critical issue like affordable housing, researched and written by capable professionals at city hall, back for a redact to make it “a lot more positive and uplifting” (Coun. Allison Patton), and not be “so negative” (Mayor Doug McCallum) suggests that in certain circles, sometimes affirmation trumps advice.

READ ALSO: Surrey council rejects staff’s ‘negative’ report on city’s housing needs

City staff, except for those working in public affairs or marketing, perhaps, are not employed by Surrey residents to be cheerleaders for the current civic administration, but rather to advise – help guide elected officials, that is – on how to improve the lives of those they were elected to serve.

This is achieved through fact-finding and thorough research. The conclusion of embarking on more thorough research will lead to more information that may, or may not, bring happiness to council.

Requiring something to be more positive is not asking for more useful information. It is asking for tribute, homage.

If city staff instead become driven by an imperative that information provided to council must meet a certain standard of Pollyanna cheerfulness, rather than tell it like it is, this city will suffer consequences.



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