Monty Simon is a Town councillor who writes a regular blog at montysimon.blogspot.ca. I can't remember an issue or time at Council that angered me to the extent I felt at Wednesday's Public Hearing on the garbage by-law. Another packed, room full of objectors (since the boarding house issue) each articulating a dire view of what the by-law would cause in their personal or business situations. Their words did not anger me. The fact that the issue had reached such a point and how it got there is what stirred my dander. It didn't have to be that way. We wasted a lot of peoples time and effort. And we knew better! As a Council, our main objective is spelled out quite concisely in the Municipal Act. Municipal purposes: 3) The purposes of a municipality are (a) to provide good government; (b) to provide services, facilities or other things that, in the opinion of the council of the municipality, are necessary or desirable for all or a part of the municipality; and (c) to develop and maintain safe and viable communities. The exercise that just took place was a pathetic effort at good government. Sure, you spoke... we listened. One might exult in the fact democracy prevailed, the system worked! No it didn't! If the system had worked, the one where good government is the primary objective, Council should have vetted the issue out long before it came to a Public Hearing and second reading. I'm rarely someone who uses the "I told you so" phrase but in this case the Mayor heard it last night. In my view where we (Council) went off the rails is when we reverted to the portfolio system. This archaic method uses little fiefdoms headed by the Mayor to pre-develop issues before coming to Council. They are inherently problematic for two reasons: 1) seven heads are better than four, especially if you want to build consensus, and 2) generally people who put a lot of effort into a task prepared for the rest of Council are reluctant to redo it when other ideas, suggestions or objections are raised. This Council began on good footing by eliminating the portfolio system and working together as a group (which we performed quite well at). The garbage by-law was developed by the infrastructure fiefdom that blatantly ignored suggestions and ideas that most certainly would have avoided the drastic action we had to take last night...that is to defeat the by-law and revert to square one. You may think that's fine, go ahead and start over but take the time to do it right this go 'round. Sure, we'll do that. In the mean time the taxpayer of Neepawa is still on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars of waste disposal costs we don't have a way of accounting for. There is no excuse for it. We had the time to develop a viable alternative in short order to get us through to where a more permanent solution could be implemented. We could have simply adjusted our existing by-law to account for the severe deficiency in what HyLife pays for disposal. We could even have added a small increase to the rest of the fees in the existing by-law. And we could put in place cost-saving measures, one of which is moving to in-house collection and control that would save ratepayers approximately $40,000 right-off-the-bat rising to double that in 10 years! So we're back to square one on this issue. I'm sorry when things go this way but more so angry when they do. I struggle to see the reasoning behind my colleagues' decisions. Information, cooperation, questions facts and data are the tools with which we craft our outcome. All we need to do is use them to: "provide services, facilities or other things that, in the opinion of the council of the municipality, are necessary or desirable for all or a part of the municipality." ...And that would be Good Government! Comments on this column are welcome both at montysimon.blogspot.ca as well as in Letter to the Editor format.