The corollary to the adage that all good things must come to an end is that all bad things also, mercifully, end. And so it is with 75 percent of the Gang of Four on Pelham Town Council. It is not a stretch to say that in many regards they were a step down from the people they replaced— while this paper took serious issue with the previous council’s decisions, at least its members were generally civil and did not appear to deliberately or incompetently hold up important work or legislation. Those councillors also attended their subcommittees and reported back. Try getting an airport commission report out of Councillor Haun. And, to our knowledge, Councillor Kore has not attended a single Welland Pelham Chamber of Commerce meeting since he was sworn in to office four years ago—notably unfortunate, given that he is council’s liaison to that business group.

Notwithstanding what the Town’s CAO wrote in last week’s “Municipal Matters” column about there being a lot of work remaining in this council’s term, it does not look like the Gang of Four is inclined to do it. It’s now two meetings in a row without Councillor Kore, and the second meeting was also skipped by Councillors Stewart and Haun.

Now, one could say that it’s summer, and the meeting prior went late, but it must also be noted that Councillors Haun and Stewart voted to end that meeting rather than extend it, and then complained from the other sides of their mouths about the volume of work they have to do as elected officials (not, praise be, for much longer).

At the ultimate vote to extend the regularly scheduled August 22 meeting—with the Town’s new zoning bylaw hanging in the balance—Councillor Bob Hildebrandt blinked, reverted to old habits, and voted with the other Gang members to end the evening prematurely, and thus it was so.

All of this of course begs the question of Councillor Hildebrandt’s political behaviour. One might charitably refer to it as uneven. Over the past half year or so he has shown some independence of thought from the Gang and occasionally voted more in line with the moderate faction of council. It was unclear if he was evolving (improving) or if this was calculated stumping for the upcoming election. Now that he is acclaimed—automatically returned to office without an opponent—we shall find out. At present it seems that these old habits die hard for the Councillor as he keeps siding with the Gang on unfortunate non-issues, including complaints about workload, the number of words which must be read in pesky staff reports, and the length of meetings. Folks, you have a $140 million dollar corporation to run. Please run it.

One might want to ask Hildebrandt what his end game is. Does he not appreciate that making allies among his newly acclaimed colleagues (Councillors-to-be Shellee Niznik and Kevin Ker, come on down!) or among those returning (Councillor Olson), or competing to return (Mayor Junkin and Councillor Wink) should be more important than propping up colleagues whose term is almost up and who clearly seems like they don’t want to be there?

But trying to stymie all growth simply because we don’t want any change is futile, and merely drives house prices even higher

The Gang of Four’s approach to work: Do relatively little of it, criticize the staff who write the reports that make it possible, and then motion to delay or defer decisions. This tends to accomplish next to nothing, which may actually be their desired outcome. It is entirely appropriate, for example, to ensure that new housing growth has only minor effects upon current residents. But trying to stymie all growth simply because we don’t want any change is futile, and merely drives house prices even higher.

When council bailed on the night of August 22, here are some things that Councillors Hildebrandt, Haun, and Stewart felt were less important than stopping work after four hours: the passage of an update to the Town’s 35-year-old Zoning Bylaw (effectively deferred that evening for an astonishing third time); approving 21 new homes in the Tanner subdivision expansion; approving 46 new homes in Park Place West; passing a public works waste collection project; passing an update to the Town’s emergency plan, and conducting the CAO’s annual performance review.

Councillors Hildebrandt, Haun and Stewart all opted to go to bed rather than put these matters to bed.

It is perhaps no coincidence that in the catch-up council meeting held last Tuesday—the one skipped by Kore, Haun, and Stewart—the proceedings fairly flew along. Minus the dragging anchors, council was a speedboat, finishing its work in just an hour.

There may be some merit in encouraging future such absences after all—on the assumption that minus their corrosive influence, Councillor Hildebrandt will prove himself worthy of the trust voters originally placed in him, judiciously leaving the Gang of Four and joining the Gang of Quorum. May it thus be so.