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The lynching of Dan Taylor

Before I add another (endless) voice to the wind turbine situation, I’d like to tackle something a little more current.
The Deed is Done and Done. But that doesn’t necessarily keep my mouth shut.
I’d like to reflect on the recent demise of Dan Taylor, our Economic Development Officer. There’s a large mob out there with pitchforks and torches and pens poised in the air – on the basis of my headline alone. Because they’re not going to hear or believe anything I say.
I know this because I’ve heard Word on the Street, over and over again, about the dastardly deeds this guy has performed.
Poor Bryan Bondy in the County Weekly News made a brief reference to the ‘Sandy Latchford proxies’ on Council who were gunning for Taylor, and Bondy received two letters which were way longer than his original column. One letter writer called these three words a ‘tirade’, and then proceeded to fill several columns of letter space. Check your Webster’s on ‘tirade’.
I’ll take it one step further, if only to get poor Bryan off the hook.
Certain people attained council seats, and they had an ‘agenda’ to tackle the EDO. As one councillor pointed out, no other County department was put under this kind of scrutiny.
And, Word on the Street, plus personal discussions with some of those councillors, says to me that the lynch mob who took down Taylor had a personal beef with the EDO.
The same clan (or Klan) who started this whole thing, is now foaming at the mouth. Because they will tell you stories of outrageous and egregious abuses by this EDO Devil.
I’ve heard some really horrible and shocking things myself about the EDO’s alleged abuse of power. Some are so outrageous that I expected to see Dan Taylor’s photo on America’s Most Wanted.
But I did what no-one else wanted to do. I called the EDO to find out what was going on. I wasn’t born yesterday, I’ve been interviewing people for 35 years, and I can tell a lie from a finesse from the truth.
And my analysis?
Well, we have this thing in the County called Gossip. And gossip is not just a good story, it’s a story that is so good it grows and grows and grows.
It’s fed by people who believe what they believe, and accept everything that supports their own beliefs.
I love the County, but I’ve been a victim of this myself, after my divorce. And it ain’t fun being on the Rumour Chain and watching yourself turn into some kind of brutal monster, according to local talk.
I did what Dan Taylor did. I said to myself: “Those who know me, know it’s not true. Those who don’t can run the story down to its final chapter. And then it will be forgotten when the next Victim appears.”
This isn’t to say that Dan Taylor is an angel. I’ve told him outright that he’s abrasive and often obnoxious, and that he doesn’t always give a fair hearing to ideas that cross his table. I’m not forming a Fan Club (though I would gladly lead a local John Lennon Fan Club).
Most of my heat on this ‘lynching’ comes from my 35 years in business.
I’ve seen EDOs come and go. Most of them are bureaucratic dorks, who sit in their office and file glowing reports to County Council. But they do nothing.
They last, traditionally, about a year and a half, and they end up investing their budget in tourism. Because what else do we have to work with?
Then Council, traditionally, asks for a Dollar Figure Return on their investment in tourism, which is, unfortunately, not measurable. So they boot the EDO out.
Taylor (go ahead, take off your white hood and open your mind) found a different path. Through attracting wineries, he managed to create a new agri-industry, to join with the fading traditional small-farm agricultural endeavours. What more can you ask for? Businesses based on our agricultural heritage!
And – to me – wisely, he saw that the County would not be comfortable with giant industry … even if it were possible to attract them. So he focused on small businesses which could grow and add jobs. (If you dispute that, you don’t remember when a giant pulp and paper factory planned for Huyck’s Point was driven out of town by local residents. Lots of people want Big Industry but, when it comes down to it, we’re not willing to sell our souls to get it.)
Lots of people, who are tuned into the Gossip chain, think that the growth of the County in the last few years has been some kind of accident.
But it’s not.
It’s not entirely due to the EDO, of course, but the work of Taste the County, Chamber and every group and organization and individual business owner that helps build the County as the place to visit – whether it’s an Art and Craft Sale, Quilt Show, Studio Tour, Regent presentation, hockey game, and the list goes on.
Some people resent our Sudden Popularity, and I understand that. We’re not quite prepared to handle the success we have.
Some people think we can coast on the promotion we have already earned. But they don’t see the effects of tourist dollars on employment, and wealth, and just plain keeping the doors open for most retail shops.
So the thing that killed Dan Taylor is the same thing that County business owners deal with every day.
How do you measure the impact of Economic Development? It’s an impossible task, and one which some councillors consider to be the Holy Grail.
For those of us who own businesses, we measure it by whether we can make enough money in the summer to keep our doors open in the winter.
And I’ll close with some advice:
To the councillors: Take off your blinders, and lose your personal grievances. Stop listening to the dogma of your cult. We didn’t put you there to fulfill your personal hit list. We put you there to plan our future.
To Dan Taylor: I suggest, when your job comes open in the County, change your name and submit your resume.
The smart people will say: “Hey! This is exactly the kind of guy we’re looking for!” And the rest will settle for some bureaucrat that some other community is tired of, who likes to file reports.

Filed Under: Steve Campbell

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  1. steve campbell says:

    I agree with most of what you say.

    Unfortunately, I can’t explain to you the information I receive. Within the confines of print, I won’t name names. And that is not my intent in my columns.

    I don’t have any interest in persecuting individuals in print. Through my columns, I hope to set up discussions like this. And perhaps lead people to think about the effects of decisions made.

    I do receive information from a variety of sources and, in this way, I am indeed subject to the Gossip chain, and I am well familiar with it.

    I do contest that the EDO was already moving on. All my info tells me that he saw the writing on the wall and, like any of us in this situation, started looking in other directions to protect himself. I can’t fault him for that.

    It sounds like I’m his buddy, but I’m not.

    I’ve been helping to develop the County for almost 40 years, and am involved directly in almost every organization with that goal. Needless to say, I talk to a lot of people and, believe me, I can sort the wheat from the chaff.

    I do have a problem with the ‘show me’ aspect of your argument. What Taylor did is in the newspapers on a regular basis. You and I don’t get to read the papers all the time, but councillors should. I do, however, agree that he did not spend a lot of time convincing council that he was worthy of their support. Maybe some of his budget should have been spent on a Report Writer/PR person, to compensate for his reckless independent tendencies, and his often ‘Holier Than Thou’ attitude.

    So you’re right there … a large part of the outcome is due to the failure of the EDO to sell itself. And you’re right again that cooperation is the key to democracy. Well said.

    Still, most other municipal departments can throw any budget they want onto the table, and councillors just rubber stamp it, or call for a 5 percent decrease. Because they don’t know 10 tons of asphalt from a $150,000 excavator. Spiffy new trucks … no problem.

    Are they asking them for numbers for Return on Investment? That money just flows out, and everybody wears a smiley face.

    There’s no justice in that, either.

    Thanks for caring

  2. Chris Keen says:

    I have never met, nor have I had anything to do with, Dan Taylor, but the usefulness of the EDO has certainly been a topic of conversation for years.

    I had hoped that this column might shed some useful light on the subject but instead find only hyperbole, gossip, and innuendo.

    It’s hard to lynch an individual who has already decided to move on. No doubt aware of the possibility that the EDO’s budget would be cut, Taylor was quoted in a local paper as saying he had already applied for, and accepted, the position in Peterborough, before the final vote took place.

    Having apparently been very hurt by gossip himself, it’s surprising to read statements from Campbell like these:

    “Certain people attained council seats, and they had an ‘agenda’ to tackle the EDO.” – Really? Names please?

    “And, Word on the Street, plus personal discussions with some of those councillors, says to me that the lynch mob who took down Taylor had a personal beef with the EDO.” – Really? Names please?

    “The same clan (or Klan) who started this whole thing,…” – Really? Names please? (And your use of “Klan” is outrageously and offensively misplaced.)

    Apparently all it took to convince Campbell that all was well was a call to the EDO – “But I did what no-one else wanted to do. I called the EDO to find out what was going on.”

    EDO funding has been a contentious issue for several years now. I find it odd that there has been no effort made whatsoever by the EDO (that I can find) to publicly provide details of its work so that residents can decide for themselves whether the money being spent is useful. It may be impossible to calculate outside dollars brought in by the EDO but basic information like the number of businesses assisted in locating here and jobs they created can easily be provided. It seems to me that a major part of this story is the failure of the EDO to sell itself.

    Other groups, which Campbell acknowledges also have made major contributions to tourism and the well being of the County don’t seem to have any problem selling themselves – their contributions are very clear.

    As with every story, there are interesting nuances, one of which Mr. Campbell provides:

    “This isn’t to say that Dan Taylor is an angel. I’ve told him outright that he’s abrasive and often obnoxious, and that he doesn’t always give a fair hearing to ideas that cross his table.”

    And that ultimately may be the whole point. Cooperation is the key to a functioning democracy.

    We elected this Council overwhelmingly to keep taxes down to a minimum. They have democratically come to a decision as to the EDO. I would hope they will subject every other department to the same level of scrutiny during future budget deliberations.

    In the meantime, let’s wish Mr.Taylor well, cease the gossip and innuendo, and move on.

  3. I am so tempted to quote several statements here which would shed some not so flattering light on the subject matter. Hey Dan! You could work somewhere else and live here. Sound familiar?

  4. Wilson says:

    well said, Mr. Campbell – but you forgot to mention what Taylor’s done for the ‘creative economy’. You think the Hatch’s set up shop cuz Picton is the heart of the technological universe? I’m guessing not.

  5. manuela says:

    I’m pretty sure something similar happened within my “High School Student Council”. ….. How bloody embarrassing …… Shame! Shame! Shame!

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