Where’s Cecil?

Welcome to the penultimate installment of “Where’s Cecil?”

For eight months, I’ve attempted to track our peripatetic CBRM mayor as he was “criss-crossing the province” and “burning up the phone lines” in pursuit of the job he really wants: leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives.

Left: Cecil Clarke "politician" (Source: Facebook). Right: "Mayor Cecil Clarke" (Source: CBRM website)

Left: Cecil Clarke “politician” (Source: Facebook). Right: “Mayor Cecil Clarke” (Source: CBRM website)

I started this feature because, quite frankly, I couldn’t believe the mayor of a struggling municipality like ours could get away with continuing to collect his $109,754 a year salary while spending what I would argue was the bulk of his time campaigning for another job. But guess what? I was wrong.

Clarke’s decision to spend eight months (he announced his candidacy on February 3) mounting a leadership campaign without stepping away from his day job barely raised an eyebrow in the mainstream press. (The Cape Breton Post will occasionally refer to complaints about Clarke’s dual-role leveled by his “critics” but the paper — which clearly doesn’t count itself among those critics — didn’t have any problem with our mayor’s absenteeism.)

I’ve only been able to track those campaign activities Clarke announced publicly on his social media feeds. I will never be able to quantify exactly how much time he spent “burning up on the phone lines” or “criss-crossing the province” — nor will I ever know what municipal resources were pressed into service for his campaign. (But…what exactly does the mayor’s executive assistant do while the mayor is campaigning? I know what his spokesperson did — she got another job.)

My mistake, I now see, was forgetting that Clarke does what he wants to do. Sometimes he does so in defiance of precedence — no CBRM mayor before Clarke, to my knowledge, had hand-picked “political” staff (the aforementioned executive assistant and spokesperson).

Sometimes he does so in defiance of the law — see Marie Walsh’s testimony during John Whalley’s civil suit against the municipality in which she said the mayor had hired consultants who reported directly to him, something municipal mayors in Nova Scotia are not permitted to do under the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

Clarke wanted to run for the PC leadership without taking a leave of absence as mayor, so he did. And to be fair, there is nothing in the MGA that would have prevented him from doing so, although there is also nothing in the MGA — or in CBRM policies — about him accumulating paid vacation, which he claimed to have done and to be using for his political campaign.

I’ll wind things up officially next week with the final ‘Where’s Cecil’ in which I expect to provide the definitive answer to the titular question, which could be:

“Leading the province’s official opposition.”

Or could be:

“Back in the CBRM Mayor’s chair.”

Or could, apparently, be:

“Both.”

Stay tuned.

 

Sub-text?

After posting nothing on his @MayorCBRM Twitter feed since August 10 — as in, over two months ago — Clarke suddenly tweeted this on Wednesday:

 

Clarke himself obviously isn’t going to be at the free compost giveaway on Saturday, October 27 — he’ll be in Halifax, at the leadership convention.

So, is this some sort of coded message to his opponents? Or to the citizens of the CBRM? Some sort of commentary on the state of  our politics?

Talk amongst yourselves.

 

Calendar

Sadly, I have yet to figure out a way to track hours spent “criss-crossing the province” let alone time spent “burning up the phone lines,” and as of Wednesday, Clarke wasn’t announcing any further ballot parties or rallies or meet-and-greets. I guess it really is all over but the voting.

 

 

 

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