Dear Councillors, Stop Saying Silly Things

This can be seen as an open letter to all local Councillors, especially those in London since they get far more press for the shear fact that they are Councillors for the largest municipality in Middlesex County. It can also be seen as a call for anyone to simply open a book, read a few research papers, or generally obtain more knowledge before shooting your mouth off. I’ve been guilty of doing that in the past, but I’m also not so prideful that I’m not willing to back away from my comments and apologize when proven wrong.

Dear Councillors,

Stop saying silly things. I’m using “silly” here as a catch-all for all things stupid, overly boastful, demeaning, untruthful, and distasteful. I wish I didn’t feel the urge to write this, but I do. It seems to have gotten particularly bad since the most recent municipal election, but 2012 has proven to be a year just full of gaffs, and therefore plenty of fodder for local press.

Most recently, Councillor Denise Brown said something particularly silly. “The library has cost jobs in this city. They have first-run movies and Rogers and Blockbuster have gone out of business,” Brown said.

Really, Ms. Brown? I’d like to see facts, figures, and research to back that up. I know it’s very pithy, and made for a good quote in this article, but that sentence makes you sound like a fool. If the library, any library, put Rogers Video and Blockbuster stores out of business, then surely Chapters/Indigo is shortly behind, right? In fact, by your logic, large book store chains should have gone out of business decades ago!

I don’t know if Ms. Brown really meant to say what she did, but if not, then clearly she needs to take the time old wisdom of, “Think before you speak.” I don’t care if there’s a journalist on the other end of the phone line.

And really, this leads us to the larger issue of who we, as constituents, elect. It’s not cute or quaint anymore to have people running our governments that don’t know squat about technology, or about other cultures, or without an iota of vision for how the city/province/country can and should be (even if you disagree with it).

But focusing locally once more, and on the issue at hand, Councillor Brown I have a small list of events/trends/companies that have actually led to the demise of Blockbuster and Rogers Video stores, including…

Piracy, over the Internet, which is fueled by high content acquisition costs. But there has also been a slew of alternative services like Netflix, not to mention the broadcasters putting their content online, making it available for all to see with or without a subscription to cable/satellite services.

In fact, if anyone has destroyed Rogers Video, it was Rogers itself. Rogers’ own video on demand (VOD) service has made it possible for anyone with digital cable to order movies, and also watch past TV episodes, without leaving the house. Perhaps Councillor Brown doesn’t have Rogers cable, and has also been living under a rock for the past five years (thereby avoiding Rogers’ ads), but VOD directly from Rogers has certainly contributed to the decline of its video rental stores in Ontario.

So there you have it. Please Councillors, stop saying silly things. Or at least do your best not to say silly things. Read the London Free Press, or Metro. Listen to CBC Radio One or AM980. Pay attention to what’s happening in the business and technology news, not to mention research on urban planning and sustainability, and I’m willing to bet you’ll sound like the smartest Councillor on council. Up your game for the sake of your city, if at least not for yourself.