Thanks, Rowden! – A response to a column in the local newspaper

By Robert Washburn

I would like to thank Councillor Forrest Rowden for his response to my column, in which the relevant excerpt is publish on Consider This. Mr. Rowden deserves equal time and space on this website in all fairness and for balance.

Sadly, I made a really dumbass error. I called his fellow councillor Jay Sherwin instead of Larry Sherwin. Jay was on council with Rowden in Hamilton Township back in the 1990s. Larry is the Cobourg councillor today. I got them mixed up. Stupid me. I deeply regret the error.

Mr. Rowden’s rousing defence of his time was clear. The column stated he has it pretty easy. As protection services co-ordinator, he is responsible for the police and fire departments.  He took the opportunity to share with readers how his time is also spent sitting on the bylaw committee, the Waterfront Trails Committee, Lakefront Utilities Committee and he is chair of the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority. Also, he is a member of Conservation Ontario.

Okay, but does he do all of that directly due to his position as protection services or is it additional responsibilities given to him by council (or did he take it on himself)? Maybe I was being too technical, but I believe police and fire are under the umbrella of protection services. I am not too clear as to how bylaws, waterfront trails, the local utility and the conservation authority are directly related to protection services. However, I do not doubt he attends the meetings.

Still, he wants Cobourg citizens to know he is a busy guy.

But this does not address the central argument of the column. He continues to defend the conservation authority and does not address the contention that he let Cobourg residents down by not arguing for a dog run in James Cockburn Park.

It is great Mr. Rowden attends all these meetings. I am sure it is a busy schedule. But, what initiatives has he brought to the table at each committee? What projects did he start and see through? How have Cobourg residents benefitted from his actions around the table?

That is the bottom line.

And, it applies to all Cobourg councillors.

As the fall municipal election draws closer, councillors will be touting their accomplishments. But, voters need more than grocery lists. They deserve details. What did each councillor actually do for the town besides fill a chair in a meeting room? How did taxpayers benefit from their work?

Many committees outside the town provide a stipend for participants. It would be interesting to know how much councillors get paid to attend these meetings. It would be even more interesting to see if taxpayers are getting their money’s worth.

There is no doubt Mr. Rowden is a busy man. And, he deserves credit for the work he does. So, let him be specific. It is one thing to say a committee or staff have done “this”, but it is another to say “I have done that”. Let’s not confuse the work of others and the work of individual politicians seeking re-election.

The question still remains: Is Rowden getting the job done for Cobourg residents? It will be up to voters, not columnists, to decide.