Councillor Portfolios A Good Idea
Rabbi Schecter and Mr. Mergler

Lang, Greenspon and Butler Contribute Experience

The current Côte Saint-Luc City Council has been in office for more than a year now. One of the most positive things we did upon being sworn in was to open up the doors of our standing committees to citizens in the community. In the past, these bodies consisted primarily of councillors and staff. Only the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC), then known as the Town Planning Commission (TPC) sought the participation of citizens with expertise in this field. With the mayor and each councillor holding different portfolios, we have the opportunity to start up standing committees. While the citizens who have agreed to step forward and work with us all boast impressive backgrounds, three stand out in particular: Bernard Lang, Harold Greenspon and James Butler.

Bernard Lang was the mayor of Côte Saint-Luc for 22 years. Prior to that he was a city councillor. While he retired from municipal politics a decade ago, he attempted a comeback in the 2005 election and ran against Anthony Housefather. I have a long history with “Mayor” Lang. No, he is not the present-day mayor. But just as they refer to President Clinton, President Carter and President Ford in the United States, it is difficult to address someone as “Mr.” Lang when he held the mayoral post for so long. I go back many years with Lang, notably to my years as the Côte Saint-Luc beat reporter for The Suburban, The Monitor and briefly The Weekly Herald. We have never lost contact. He may be 81 years old, but the arrival of his first grandchild – Dylan- six years ago rejuvenated him. He is the youngest and most fit looking 81 year old I know. Soon after his crushing defeat more than a year ago, he began calling me at least once a week. He was not bitter. It was clear that he chose to run again because of his undying love for the city. He questioned me on various decisions of the city, but out of general interest and concern that the right thing be done. As time went on I sensed a genuine support for the current council. He and Mayor Housefather began to speak. At the VE Day ceremony in May, Mayor Housefather acknowledged Lang in a very positive way. Afterwards, Lang thanked him warmly. When we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Eleanor London Public Library, Lang was profiled prominent in the special edition of our Courier newspaper. He was also brought on stage and saluted by Mayor Housefather at our ceremony. It was on that night it became clear to me that we needed to find a place for him at the committee level. And what better place than the library, a facility he is chiefly responsible for building. I spoke to Councillor Steven Erdelyi, who holds the library portfolio and to Director of Library Services Tanya Abramovitch and they were both very enthusiastic about my idea to add him to the committee. Mayor Housefather agreed as well. To have someone with his experience, knowledge, expertise and history around the table is a distinct advantage for us. This is not the best municipal library in Quebec for nothing. We want to keep it that way. After spending almost $1 million in renovations, adding a café, signing agreements with Hampstead and Montreal West, and introducing non-resident fees, we have a lot of work to do where the library is concerned.

Harold Greenpon was a city councillor for 25 years, serving District 2. He was my immediate predecessor and endorsed my candidacy. Harold is a chartered accountant and gained everyone’s respect and admiration as the head of the finance and audit committee. He also oversaw the parks committee. Very soon after the 2005 election he was in fact the first citizen officially invited to join a committee – the audit committee. He also maintained his chairman of the Maison Fleurie competition. As we build our 2007 budget, Harold’s presence around the table is a plus. Oh yes, he is also a member of my Toponymy Committee. Since one of goals is to bring in new revenue through naming rights, we need a finance guy like him to turn to.

James Butler was the city manager for 36 years. He retired just prior to the forced merger with Montreal in 2001, but continued to attend borough meetings. When Councillor Allan J. Levine was handed the urban planning portfolio, he wisely reached out to Butler to become part of PAC. Butler accepted and as council grapples with important zoning issues and proposals from the Cavendish Mall for demolition we need someone like him around the table.

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