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ROBBINS provides advice to PoCo city council relating to Scott Young matter.
  Apr 14, 2007

At a press conference this week, Port Coquitlam Mayor Scott Young admitted that he has a problem with alcohol, and will seek treatment. Fair enough.
Acting Mayor Michael Wright presented the media with his assertion that (essentially) he didn't think that Mayor Young had a drinking problem. City councillor Wright's assessment serves no relevant purpose other than to underscore my general thesis that Port Coquitlam city council is ill equipped to deal with extraordinary circumstances such as this, and somehow believes that they are better served by denying the problem.
Overall, the further evidence of my assertion is underpinned by the media communication from Port Coquitlam city hall that 'alcohol is no excuse for violence'. Really, although it is well intended, this is a silly comment. Alcohol isn't the Mayor's excuse, it is his explanation. An extensive treatment program will bear out the veracity of this initial self examination, but to say that he doesn't have the problem he says he has, is tantamount to a person saying they feel sad, and another saying "no you don't, you feel this way." It is condescending and reveals a tremendous lack of empathy, or insight. Further, violence quite obviously is a manifestation of anger, and anger is always a prime element of ALL substance abuse, particularly alcohol abuse.
The person who drinks and drives (like Premier Campbell) is an angry person. Untreated (and whether they actually drink or not and remain untreated) they remain angry. It is a core 'value' of the alcoholic or problem drinker. The violent drinker is exhibiting overt anger, the drinking driver, or passive aggressive drinker is exhibiting covert anger. They are both angry. Although only one relates to the criminal code, both relate to a type of mental illness and often to some form of depression. The police, crown prosecutors and the courts deal with the criminal code, but they and the city must understand how to deal with social problems such as alcoholism. The difference in the level of sophistication of society is how we approach this problem. If we deal in the cold abstract of 'you made the mess you deal with it', we miss the greater, more important picture. If we deal with this with greater empathy and wisdom, we can turn a potentially zero sum situation into a positive one.
Port Coquitlam city hall is disappointed with the Mayor because he is stepping down and not resigning. The most relevant distinction between the two scenarios in this circumstance is that by not stepping down, he cannot be replaced. Because we are only through one-half of the term, this could greatly hamper the proper functioning of city hall. This is where the wisdom of political magistrate ROBBINS comes in.
The Mayor has invested himself into his community as have his peers. They have done an excellent job in Port Coquitlam. Port Coquitlam is an excellent place to live and raise a family. Their athletic organizations are excellent (although they could use even more soccer fields). Their softball organizations are the best anywhere (dont' be shy giving these winners a few dollars). Everyone is happy save for the Fire and Safety people, particularly the Chiefs who feel they are not respected particularly by the City Manager. (This can be worked out between reasonable people).
Mayor Young has performed well, and deserves the support of his peers in council. He should be taken at his word. This is not a time for shin kicking. Real leaders do not avail themselves of petulance in times of crisis. This is not just about the Mayor's professional life, and the investment the community has in him, he also has a five year old son. For me, this is what matters and this is why we all will support him (as we should all parents of younger children particularly when trouble comes).
But Scott Young needs to accept that he cannot be Mayor again. If he comes back from treatment and wants to continue in politics, he can be an MLA, or an MP etc., but he cannot return as Mayor. This is how the system needs to work. He must let this go, or while he is not well, his lawyer and his friends need him to understand this.
Scott Young has a future in the community if he wants it, because he is a valuable asset to the community, if he is whole and healthy. He only need to look after his internal mental and spiritual health with the same effort he places on his outward health and appearance.
A lesson that many people do not understand. Sick people attract other sick people. Normal people do not attract sick people. The significant other of a person with substance abuse problems ALWAYS has more emotional problems than the person with the substance abuse problems. The former is covertly dysfunctional, the latter overtly dysfunctional. The former never wants to be 'found out', the latter who exhibits the dysfunctional behaviour ALWAYS wants to be found out. The degree of rationality that a person, or persons have, is the ability to understand and accept, not deny or rationalize this simple axiom of health as it relates to substance abuse.
Although this problem is Scott Young's and his alone, on balance of probability by the end of his treatment, he will not be able to comprehend what he saw in the woman he was with, and at that point he will realize how sick he was, and how much better he is becoming.
Port Coquitlam city council needs to sit down with the Mayor, the city solicitor, city manager and Mr. Peck (Mr. Young's lawyer) and work out a deal which includes provisions for alcohol treatment, and involves a 'pay-out' constituted as an annuity and not a lump sum. Payment MUST be contingent upon his successful completion of a treatment program. I would suggest Edgewood on Vancouver Island, six weeks or more based on assessment. This latter consideration is the lynchpin of the deal. Premier Campbell did not get proper treatment for his alcoholism, the entire world around him began to construct excuses and has propped him up in apparent perpetuity and now the province is living the 'surreal life' as a consequence.
Political actors at all levels need to be more sophisticated. As Jim Van Rassel pointed out to an individual in James Moore's executive, "politics is a business not a hobby." The democratic process is a function of the political industry which must be efficient, yet be sufficiently evolved to include the human condition. With Mayor Young we are dealing with an element of Port Coquitlam's political (and the community) machinery, and he has been 'burnt out'. He needs to be reconstituted, not rejected.
In my judgement Scott Young ought to be paid one years salary on a monthly basis, as I said contingent on his successful completion of treatment. It takes about one year for overall 'recovery' from substance abuse to realize a foundation. If he drinks again within this period, he forfeits his pay or other. Hopefully the courts with provide a similar Order insofar as the satisfaction of his criminal breaches are concerned in an overall format which compliments the aspects of his recovery and his resignation from city council. These will naturally include conditions which make the victim of his crimes safe, as well as significant community service. Why not at Insight after he has completed his treatment program? Coquitlam city council permitted Louella Hollington (a person of some sobreity I am ashamed to say), who got herself re-elected and than decided to change her mind and retire. This cost Coquitlam taxpayers around one quarter of a million dollars. Just disgraceful. Scott Young's salary, plus and election will cost in total around $120,000. No small potatoes, yet I have no difficulty with this, frankly, because he ought to have been making about $85,000 to 90,000 per year to begin with (less than one half what the city manager earns).
If we are able as a community to help Scott Young on a professional basis and on a 'judicial' basis with mechanisms of oversight we will more likely succeed in not only salvaging a life, but creating a better person altogether. Isn't that what we all desire?
If Mr. Young never comes back to politics from his successful recovery that is how it goes. The real focus of all of this relates to Mr. Youngs' relationship to his five year old son. This is the most important matter of all, and this is why it is so important for his friends and colleagues to set aside the politics for a moment and understand what is the best solution. Griping, frustration and political petulance will not solve this problem. Wisdom and thoughfulness will.
Glen P. Robbins (604) 942-3757 -30-

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