Deputy Mayor sacked via email

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Hints of tension within London City Council could have dire implications for a potential performing arts centre and the future of London Hydro.

Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell was relieved as chair of the Committee of the Whole at the behest of Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best, who will now preside over the committee.

The Committee of the Whole is a meeting of the entire council that offers the opportunity for unlimited debate. Some such issues coming before the committee include a proposed performing arts centre, and the future of London Hydro.

The mayor told council members of the decision in an email about a cancelled meeting due to last week’s power failure. The announcement was a prelude to the heated reactions to DiCicco-Best’s handling of the situation.

“[The mayor’s handling of the issue] was unprofessional and showed a lack of class,” Gosnell said. “The mayor kowtowed to certain members of council.

“She never discussed this with me in any context.”

Other council members echoed concerns about DeCicco-Best’s actions.

“It would have been nice if [DeCicco-Best] spoke to [Gosnell] beforehand. I had found out at the same time. Common courtesy would have been nice,” Bud Polhill, a City of London controller, said.

“We have to remember that we represent the people, not ourselves, and we need to focus on that. Personal conflicts should be resolved.”

Gosnell, who is firmly intent on leaving the fate of London Hydro open to several possibilities, including its buyout, has encountered stern resistance from other council members.

Some even applauded the manner in which DeCicco-Best made her decision.

“I’ve been here for a while and he’s continually demonstrated [self-interested] behavior. It’s been going on for a long time,” Nancy Branscombe, Ward Six councillor, said.

“[DeCicco-Best] handled it the way she saw fit. I expect her to run [council meetings] for the next little while.”

Branscombe said there are issues in the future requiring major decisions.

The squabbling in council has raised questions about its direction, especially how it will deal with hot button issues such as a London Hydro buyout or a potential performing arts centre.

“You need a chair that knows how to effectively govern a meeting,” Branscombe said.

“There are certainly distinct points of interest regarding the direction of the city,” Board of Control member Gordon Hume said.

It remains to be seen how this situation will play out with regards to the future of London and its council members.

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