Keeping it real

Pam Frampton
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Found poems from the Municipal Issues Campaign

As September's municipal election looms like a heavy bank of fog outside The Narrows, I applaud the St. John's Board of Trade for trying to gauge the opinions of would-be members of St. John's council - incumbents who are hoping for re-election as well as a crop of newbies.

But really, as some Memorial University administrators used to be fond of saying of faculty, it's a little like herding cats.

In the case of the council hopefuls, they're madly off in all directions, tails in the air, yowling animatedly but sometimes actually saying very little.

The board of trade tried to home in on issues that are key to the capital city; motherhood stuff, really, like water consumption and conservation, long-term vision and planning, the importance of public consultation - by asking council candidates to respond to survey questions.

Astonishingly, two candidates - Ward 5 incumbent Wally Collins and newcomer Sheilagh O'Leary - didn't even bother to take part. (What does that tell you, folks?)

Thankfully, all the others did think the questions were important enough to warrant a response, though some of their answers, God bless 'em, might leave you scratching your head.

Why, I can't make hide nor hair out of what some of them are trying to tell us. (What is it Lassie? Is little Timmy down the well?)

Here's a hint for aspiring politicians: sometimes the five-cent word says a lot more than the one that cost you a toonie.

And perhaps the best way of exploring how candidates feel about key issues is to read their survey responses as poetry ...

(The words are all theirs; the titles are mine).

Change is good, I think

By Debbie Hanlon

A plan is something

that can change

with changing circumstances.

However, change

should be by exception

and not a regular occurrence.

It's all up here, folks

By Dennis (call me Kreskin) O'Keefe

Any town or city

needs a vision.

A mental vision

of where your community

should be

10 to 15 years

from now.

Goals have to be set

and time is needed

to reach these goals.

I should've been an optometrist

By Steve Manuel

I am in favour

of a long-term vision

but we have to keep in mind

that visions can be changed,

we have to be flexible.

All plans tend to change.

The future is as clear as mud

By Bernard Davis

Long-term visioning

is the only way

to ensure

that residential and business needs

are being exceeded.

With solid visioning

our city can better manage

the great economic growth

that we are experiencing

for the betterment

of all individuals involved.

Worth saying twice

By Todd Perrin

Changes to this plan

and the guidelines therein

should not be done lightly

and there should be

serious deliberations

before opening up the plan

to any such changes.

I can see it now

By Keith Coombs

This wave of prosperity

will arrive

sooner rather than later.

We must prepare

for the immediate future

with a view

to the long term.

Like, duh!

By Debbie Hanlon

Long term could

and maybe should

be "forever"

and there be a review

after 10 years

which may or may not

produce significant change.

Plan change must be based

on significantly changed circumstances.

Say what?

By Shannie Duff

An effective visioning process

must be inclusive

and undertaken

in a creative

and professional manner.

It will take time and resources

but can be a very effective

and exciting process

for building bridges

between constituencies

and re-engaging the community

in the future of our city.

So, there you have it folks!

Thanks to all candidates who participated.

And thanks, most of all, to the St. John's Board of Trade, for having the tenacity to get council candidates to take a categorical stand on the issues that matter.

Now it's official - we've got them firmly on the record.

Let's see them even try and wriggle out of this.

Unless, of course, all that long-term visioning leads to unforeseen but significantly changed circumstances that could not be avoided in the absence of a flexible plan.

Pam Frampton is The Telegram's story editor. She can be reached by e-mail at Read her columns online at or read more found poems at

Organizations: St. John's Board of Trade

Geographic location: St. John's

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