The Braves will win this faceoff

(The Braves' Liam Folkes cuts in from the boards of the Brockville Memorial Centre where advertising of local businesses can be seen on the other side of the rink. DARCY CHEEK/THE RECORDER AND TIMES)

No one on city council is truly ideologically pure.

In fact, I doubt any politician, living or dead, would fit that description, since governing would be impossible without making compromises when the practical conflicts with the ideal.

But among the nine members of the current city council, one can point to a few who at least strive to govern from a position of ideological consistency.

Jeff Earle comes to mind, with his insistence on common-sense fiscal prudence and extra-institutional solutions (Uber, anyone?), while Leigh Bursey, although amassing a voting record that is not devoid of fiscal prudence, does usually tack to the left of everyone else.

And Jason Baker is another local politician who scores high on ideological consistency, like Earle, on the fiscal conservatism end of the spectrum.

It is Baker who will vote against otherwise laudable spending items, like renovations to the Brockville Public Library children's section, when they are presented at the last minute, untested by the rigorous priority-setting process.

Baker's insistence on fiscal rigour, in fact, brought us the tensest moment yet in the current budget process. Last Tuesday, Baker clearly got under Mayor David Henderson's chain of office by delaying final approval of the 2016 budget with two new items.

The first, the question of what to do with $100,000 in benefits savings, is a useful exercise in fiscal scrutiny.

And the second, a call for the city to assume all rink board advertising revenue from the Memorial Centre, is arguably the most ideologically pure suggestion to emerge from the current budget process.

That is why it is doomed to failure.

I single this out not only because hockey, most of the time, is a more exciting topic than civic politics, but also because Baker's suggestion the city, and not the Brockville Braves, reap the benefits of rink advertising is a perfect illustration of ideological purity colliding with political practicality.

(We will set aside as secondary the consideration that the amount under discussion here is probably lower than $50,000; we'll get the specific numbers later this week.)

No fiscal conservative will dispute the purity of Baker's suggestion. The Braves are in effect a private business, and are in effect getting a subsidy from the city by getting dibs on rink board revenue.

But it is also hard to dispute the suggestion of Mayor David Henderson (who governs from the more practical end of the ideological purity scale) that the Braves are not your ordinary private business.

They're for-profit, to be sure, but not the kind of profit that will put anyone on the Forbes list.

In fact, running a Junior A hockey team is the kind of thing one probably does for love of the sport and the community – in Brockville's case, a beloved Friday night ritual. Practically speaking, plenty of citizens and voters are big fans of that ritual and would punish politicians who might jeopardize its continuation in an already precarious junior hockey climate.

Also on the matter of political practicality, it's hard to imagine a move to yank funding from our Junior A hockey team helping us out in our bid to be deemed Kraft Hockeyville.

If the coming staff report reinforces the Braves' contention that the rink ad revenue is critical to the team's financial survival, it seems clear that the practical recommendation will be to let them continue collecting it.

And it seems highly likely that suggestion will command a significant majority on council.

It's ideologically impure, but eminently practical.

Because in civic politics, when purity faces off against practicality, it almost always loses the draw.