As someone who has known Dave Chesney for far longer than he’s been a councillor for the city of White Rock, I was as shocked and offended as anyone at the comments revealed to the press yesterday.
In days gone past, pregnancy was often referred to as a ‘condition’ and societies view of a pregnant woman was that she should cover up as much of that belly as possible. And in fact,looking back at maternity wear throughout recent history reveals huge,over-cut tops and dresses that not only hide your entire body,but an easy chair as well.
I’m really not sure why a woman’s belly was something to be hidden while pregnant.
A clerk once joked to me that it was evidence of a woman’s sexuality- gasp- something polite society didn’t want to be confronted with. Whatever the reason for past ignorance,women happily now embrace their growing bodies in all shapes and sizes-and that is just fine with me.
Dave’s comments on this were not only very old-fashioned, but insensitive and he doesn’t get a free pass here!
Maternity wear is costly and many women can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe and try to make do – baby equipment is a far better investment. And during a period of your life where many women do just feel icky or fat,it’s comments like his that just don’t need to be said. Women do not need to be told what to wear, or how to wear it- period. Epic fail and a lesson on how fast social media can be a politicians worst nightmare.
But the calls some are making for him to either step down or be removed as a councillor are what have prompted this post. In fact in a CBC story about Dave’s comments, it was Mayor Baldwins statement that caught my eye:
“Baldwin says Chesney made some defamatory comments about another a councillor and as a result, he was censured and taken off council committees.
“There definitely seems to be a pattern and that’s unfortunate.”
I’d like to thank Mayor Baldwin for opening the door here to a bigger story.
Time for some history here because I suspect Dave’s recent comments are about to be loaded up as political ammunition to silence one of the only dissenting voices on White Rock council. Many have been watching the antics in White Rock since the last election, which have played out very publicly. There definitely is a pattern here…but it’s being set by Mayor Baldwin and council.
In recent years there have been growing concerns among many White Rock residents over what they perceive as a lack of transparency from their mayor and council.
Dave announced his run,hoping to bring the voice of the people back to city hall.Having lived in the community for decades and a regular face himself at council meetings at the microphone, asking questions,many supported his bid.
He won, and during his short time on council has raised issues that are increasingly giving the citizens of White Rock the perception that a target is on his back.
It started with White Rock councils decision to eliminate the question period from council meetings.
Dave Chesney and Helen Fathers were the only two dissenting votes against this move that angered many in the community.At the council meeting where this decision was voted on, former councillor Margaret Woods called out “Cowards!” to the council as she walked out of the room along with other residents disgusted by the action.
Chesney himself admitted the question period had become rather useless, but not because it wasn’t needed, or for lack of questions.
“Chesney – who noted he had been at the question-period microphone prior to his election last November – said that while he voted against the decision on Monday, he agrees question period had become “useless.”
“I’ve been there, and to be very honest, question period, at the best of times – and this isn’t a reason to get rid of it – but at the best of times, as someone that’s used it on various occasions, I felt like I may have just gone down and talked to the white rock,” he said. “You get up and ask a question, and they just stare at you and ask, ‘is that it?’
“They don’t talk to you, they don’t discuss it, no one gets back to you.”
I suspect that telling statement didn’t go over well with his fellow council members, or the mayor. There is reasonable expectation from voters that council should address questions in a public format.
Chesney went on to make good on a campaign promise to host a monthly informal meeting with White Rock residents who wanted to discuss city issues,much like former Mayor Catherine Fergusen used to do. He even invited the mayor and the rest of council, but only councillor Helen Fathers attended the event where approx. 50 residents attended. But the mayor and rest of council did not attend:
“However, Baldwin told PAN Wednesday that he “likely would not go” to one of the events hosted by Chesney.
“Really, what it is, is something for him to get his name out there,” Baldwin said, noting former White Rock mayor Catherine Ferguson had a similar arrangement called Coffee with Catherine.
Baldwin noted that council is working on an alternate forum for discussion after question periodwas removed from the end of council meetings last month.
“We’re working on how we can accommodate that,” Baldwin said.
Apparently, they are still working on that…
Residents were again yelling- literally- at mayor and council again over the in-camera decision to alter garbage collection in the city. Questions were asked why the decision was made in-camera( closed to the public) and councillors Chesney and Fathers thus requested a special meeting to re-visit the decision and address residents concerns.
However, public were discouraged from attending that special meeting by Mayor Baldwin and it was moved to April 10th.
The April 10th meeting was unlike anything the small city of White Rock has ever seen I suspect, with plain clothes police in attendance. The lack of transparency at city hall, particularly with respect to this issue and decision, had clearly reached a breaking point. This report from the Peace Arch news is a must read.
Despite overwhelming opposition, council moved ahead with the contentious plans and Chesney was again a dissenting vote on two of the three motions and critical of the decision,which is detailed in the link above. And criticism is something that appears to be not well received at city hall.
Which brings us forward to the comments made by Mayor Baldwin in the CBC story I began with, in which he refers to defamatory comments made by Chesney and alludes to a pattern of behavior.
In fact, the comments Baldwin refers to in the CBC story, were not actually written by Chesney himself but by a feature writer on his community news site, the White Rock Sun.
Further, in an editorial published by the Peace Arch News questioning the actions and statements of the mayor, the following is written:
“Turns out, Baldwin acknowledged later – once again, when pressed – that Chesney had not written the comments himself, and that the city’s counsel advised what was written was merely “most likely” defamatory.
Which would make his comments to the CBC, if accurately reported in the story, false.
Chesney has responded on his own site with his side of the story under an April 3oth post: http://whiterocksun.com/index.php?mode=yell_it_like_it_is
There is a steep learning curve for new politicians and being in public office means everything you do is under scrutiny. Without a doubt, Dave Chesney’s sausage casing comments are completely out of touch, insensitive and uncalled for. (He should be made to wear spanx so he knows what a sausage casing actually feels like) I’m still shaking my head at them.
But while the public is rightfully outraged, he’s still only accountable to the voters in White Rock and may pay the price for such ill-advised comments… or it may blow over as these things often do.
But that same voice that speaks his mind whether you like it or not, is one of two voices on White Rock city council who, according to many White Rock residents, are actually listening to the voters. And that matters – at least to the voters in White Rock.