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City hall can take a page from Rainmen

Not only are they taller, but it seems the Halifax Rainmen run a tighter ship than city hall.

Not only are they taller, but it seems the Halifax Rainmen run a tighter ship than city hall.

The Rainmen shocked fans by suspending star player Eric Crookshank for the season. Crookshank had spoken out about being benched and it seems to have led to some spat behind the scenes that ended in him being suspended.

That’s what sports teams do. They get rid of a player if they don’t think he’s working in the best interests of the team.

Crookshank has some things in common with Dartmouth Coun. Gloria McCluskey. Yes, they can both dunk and are strong rebounders. But McCluskey also doesn’t like sitting out while her teammates get all the action.

Take this past Tuesday. It was brought up that Neptune Theatre doesn’t pay property tax. The tax would bankrupt the theatre, so the exemption allows Halifax to have a marquee theatre company. Seems like a no-brainer.

But McCluskey cried foul. Eastern Front Theatre in Dartmouth doesn’t get the same treatment. Nor do tons of other deserving groups. Giving Neptune that exemption just isn’t fair, cried McCluskey.

Well, duh.

Of course it’s not fair. Why should it be? Big companies get tax breaks if they create lots of jobs. Marquee theatre companies that anchor a city’s arts scene get tax breaks. If you add a lot to a city, it will help you out. This is not news.

And yet, council devolved into a we-want-breaks-too discussion. The problem is that many councillors — McCluskey is far from alone here — spend too much time focusing on their own district and not the whole picture.

Yes, it’s nice to have local representation. You want your councillor to fix the potholes on your street. But when you put 23 people into a room all clawing for their districts, getting anything done can become infuriating.

To be fair, they know this. Councillors do try to work together, but we still see things like Neptune Theatre being leveraged for tax breaks in other districts.

This is more difficult than we’re making it. Council should be chopped, more or less, in half. Calgary has 14 councillors — aldermen, actually — and a mayor. Edmonton has 13 including the mayor. Victoria, similar in size to Halifax, has eight councillors and a mayor.

And yet HRM has to deal with 23 conflicting interests. Even some councillors are openly campaigning for it to be cut down. Sometimes, less is more. Then again, we’ll see what happens to the Rainmen this season.

Paul McLeod is a staff reporter at Metro Halifax. He is currently in rehab for being a political junkie. It’s going badly.

 
 
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