Friday, December 28, 2012

Have you had enough BS in 2012? The year of taking it with a grain of salt

Do you remember the Mayor’s Town hall meeting of June 23 the now infamous “Beef on a bun with lots of salt meeting” we had lights, we had cameras, we had action (RCMP earned their keep that night).
We had hoopla, like a carefully choreographed dance recital each councilor had a turn to stand up and recite from his particular part of the script. Remember Councilor Gallant clarifying the “silly” rumors one that pops to mind quickly was the gopher hunters. Remember Councilor Saindon justifying all the use of consultants to replace all our absence administrators. Let your memory wander back to all those senior managers fleeing our community to get married, or for the greener pastures of California and Fernie.
Then we had the main character in this theatrical production take over for the second half, we heard about the importance of putting together an Economic Development committee, about how the frozen situation at River Run is beginning to thaw, how he is going after our rich neighbors to the north to solve our financial woes. Then we reached the climax of this play the Crowsnest Centre site, the beautiful picture of what a hotel “could” look like. The building gone before first snowfall, the developer starting the hotel by spring I was so excited by the time I left, I treated the wife to a coffee at Timmy’s.

The BS was really served up in 2012 let us review a few of the yarns that have been spun in the last year:
1. As previously, mentioned the old hospital gone before first snowfall?
2. The hotel starting in Spring? Not without #1 happening very fast, I have heard just two more weeks and the deal will be in place at least a half dozen times?
3. The Quebec manufacturer I hope they are collecting air miles for all their trips out west?
4. MD of Ranchlands surprisingly it was never mentioned in previous discussions that it would take a minimum of 18 months to deal with this issue starting in spring?
5. Heavy Industry looking at the Pass in the first quarter of 2013, 700 jobs wow?
6. River Run, that’s going to be tied up in the legal process for years?
7. $1.5 million set aside for recreational purposes we now find out that it is waiting for the same recreational feasibility study that was discussed two years ago.
8. Then we have the Economic Development committee that was so important just a few months back, and yes I remember the Mayor stating at a council meeting that the Development Officer will be in place by Christmas. Now I read that this is being pushed back to at the earliest “May” this council will have four months left? What if the next council chooses to go in a different direction?

I understand has a politician you have to sell hope, but when you create expectations especially with timelines you better be prepared to meet them.    
Looking forward to 2013 let us hope all of the things listed above become real, and please stop trying to satisfy our appetite with so much salt.   

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Manager of Corporate services ? and a few other issues

Hopefully everybody had a good Christmas.

This morning I noticed on the Municipal Web site under the employment section the Manager of Corporate Services position is no longer listed.

In my mind this could mean one of two things either the position has been filled, or the ghost of fiscal sanity  visited council and administration Christmas Eve and showed them a glimpse of the future. Which led to a stalling of the drive to fill every vacant office in the municipality with an administrator.

If the position has been filled then contrary to what any politician claims we will have the largest bureaucracy in the thirty three year history of the Crowsnest Pass.
(CAO, Directory of Finance and Corporate Services, Director of Community and Protective Services, Director of Engineering, Planning and Public Works, Manager of Public Works, Manager of Corporate Services, Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief). Now repeat all of that without making a mistake.


Attended a Budget meeting just prior to Christmas, couple of issues of note interesting to hear that the money for the demolition of the Centre is still there for next year despite everybody brimming with confidence that the developer will be tearing the building down at their cost. Also that $1.5 million dollars has been set aside for recreational purposes (very general statement) no specific place for this cash it will have to wait for the out come of a recreational feasibility study. With less than ten months left in this council's term they better get that consultant in quickly to do this study or is this funding being directed towards this council's second term?  

Friday, December 21, 2012

For those that Can't wait. Mayor's Newsletter #67

 NEWSLETTER # 67    December 18th, 2012
At the time of this writing we are enjoying a warm December with little snow, however this is not deterring my neighbour who is in his backyard preparing his snowmobile.  Those who ski are readying their equipment and I see our people are on the hill making snow.
November has been an exciting month for several reasons.  The “petition” has been delivered and was deemed sufficient.  The Minister has forwarded a letter indicating a consultant or person from the Ministry will conduct an inspection “to support the role of the Council and Administration in providing local government services in the community” and this is fine- your Council welcomes it, and will seriously consider any recommendations made and stringently follow any directives given.  Democracy can be messy, which is a good thing.  We want our community engaged in the decisions we make.  Sometimes good leadership means making tough decisions that may make people unhappy and I appreciate that.  Clearly, we must work harder in the community to communicate the rationale behind the decisions we make.  We all want the same thing: a vibrant and prosperous Crowsnest Pass.  Council and Administration are determined to deliver on that work.  Some communication Initiatives that have been undertaken thus far are:
•                  After the election, I extended an invitation to the media to interview me after every Council Meeting.
•                  Recently we have given the media an opportunity, before the conclusion of the Council Meetings, to ask questions.
•                  Two of our Councillors provide personal blogs.
•                  We have ensured that Council minutes are placed on the Municipal Website at noon the following day.
•                  Council has instituted ongoing Town Hall Meetings.
•                  Our website is consistently being improved with a  major upgrade coming in the New Year.
•                  A Facebook page has been implemented.
•                  We have instituted a short five minute radio spot every Monday morning after the 8:30am news where I keep listeners updated on our current affairs.
•                  We have worked very hard to provide this newsletter in which I have the privilege of conveying on an informal basis “what’s going on” in local government and your community.
•                  I am always available for ongoing interviews with individual citizens and the media, as are our Councillors. 
Further, we have noted the growing popularity of ‘Shootin’ the Breeze’ and recently, the ‘Fernie Free Press,’ both of which are available in many local outlets free of charge.  The Voice, a web- based newspaper is also available, and in the future we will be considering these media in order to improve our communication.   On that note, I will be bringing up the notion that we need to televise our meetings locally so people can see “first hand” what actually occurs at a Council Meetings.   This could be done at very little cost and be of great benefit to our seniors and anyone who can’t make it to the meetings.  This broadcast could be streamed or replayed by those who wished to view the meeting later, I brought this up twice in the past two years; I am beginning to believe perhaps, our Councillors are just too bashful. 
Moving on from Communication, the manufacturing people flew out again, visited the site, took notes and left.  They did mention that it was their first experience where the CAO of a community asked them what “we” could do to help them, and they did thank him for his assistance.  We will wait (impatiently) until they decide, and if it falls apart, we will at least know we did everything possible.
The hotel/restaurant/truck stop legalities have made significant progress and are drawing to a close and we are planning a public session in February.  Initially it was predicted that they would not begin demolition until next spring but apparently they are planning to start much earlier.  I am told they are close to selecting a “flag” hotel chain. 
Last month I commented that a heavy industry has met with the CAO and I over the past several months  and they planned to make an official announcement towards the end of the 1st quarter or the beginning of the second quarter in the New Year.   It has now been moved up to January. 
The people from Quebec, the hotel developers and the representatives of the heavy industry have all noted the ratepayers petition and the resulting inspection.  I hope the inspection occurs as soon as possible to prevent any reactive concerns from developing on the part of these businesses.   
When one door closes, another one opens or so the saying goes.  Last spring when Devon announced it was leaving I began to think about the best possible use of that land and the surrounding area for our benefit.  At our last GPC Meeting I presented an idea for that land.  Our local media accurately reported on this presentation in more detail than I can cover here so if you’re interested please do pick up a copy.  In a nutshell, I indicated we need to acquire that entire land area from Devon regardless.  A portion of it could be utilized for recreation programs on an ongoing basis, perhaps year round.  I spoke of a summer music jamboree, rodeo, enduro race, shrine circus, mud bog, monster truck, a staging area for quads, a place for staging poker runs for snowmobiles and snowmobile drag races on the old airport in conjunction with a winter carnival and many other activities.  I see the area as a natural stadium where we could stage activities that Banff, Jasper and Waterton cannot.  This would of course be a Crowsnest Pass project that might take as long as a decade to accomplish adding a little more each year.  Such attractions could be coordinated to occur at the same time as local festivals thus bringing people to all communities.  I have done some research on this and professionals in the entertainment field that I spoke with indicated that this concept/project has the potential of becoming a “major Southern Alberta Attraction.”  We had invited them  to speak to us at the GPC Meeting regarding a jamboree next summer on some land in Bellevue as Devon would not be available for at least two years.  However that group, this past week determined that due to the ratepayers petition and the resulting inspection that they would decline meeting with us until the situation is clarified.  Depending on the date of the inspection, possibly three to four months away, and a final report,  I suspect we will be putting this major activity “on the shelf”. 
In closing, I will note that as your Council we have had to undertake some serious planning.  In following these plans we have had to make some difficult and unpleasant decisions for the long term benefit of our community and its citizens.  The “heavy lifting” is almost done and beginning next year we will begin to see the positive results of that planning and those decisions. 
Merry Christmas from myself and your Council.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas comes early.......Crowsnest Pass

Well just seven days before Christmas and we are all blessed with the best gift of all Newsletter #67 (has it been that many already) and my personal highlight “The Mayor’s Corner”.  Well here is my interpretation of what jolly old Saint Bruce has to say.

“Sometimes good leadership means making tough decisions that may make people unhappy and I appreciate that.  Clearly, we must work harder in the community to communicate the rationale behind the decisions we make.  We all want the same thing: a vibrant and prosperous Crowsnest Pass.

Well maybe they finally are getting the message that people are unhappy, working harder to communicate I have said it before they have done a better job of communicating than any previous council. Maybe it’s what you are saying not the fact that you are saying it.

“Further, we have noted the growing popularity of ‘Shootin’ the Breeze’ and recently, the ‘Fernie Free Press,’ both of which are available in many local outlets free of charge.  The Voice, a web- based newspaper is also available, and in the future we will be considering these media in order to improve our communication”

So does this mean they will continue to communicate in the present local papers, or is this the year end message that Randy, Lindsay and Joni keep reporting the news "accuratly". We do have alternatives.

“The people from Quebec, the hotel developers and the representatives of the heavy industry have all noted the ratepayers petition and the resulting inspection.  I hope the inspection occurs as soon as possible to prevent any reactive concerns from developing on the part of these businesses.”

Sounds like the laying of the groundwork to place the blame just in case things do not work out in any of these area’s, I guess a politically shrewd move.

However that group, this past week determined that due to the ratepayers petition and the resulting inspection that they would decline meeting with us until the situation is clarified.  Depending on the date of the inspection, possibly three to four months away, and a final report,  I suspect we will be putting this major activity “on the shelf”

Why the hell would a municipal affairs petition have any bearing on a “jamboree” being held in Bellevue this summer. Will everything that does or does not happen now in the Crowsnest Pass be blamed on the petition and the ratepayers?

“In closing, I will note that as your Council we have had to undertake some serious planning.  In following these plans we have had to make some difficult and unpleasant decisions for the long term benefit of our community and its citizens.  The “heavy lifting” is almost done and beginning next year we will begin to see the positive results of that planning and those decisions”

So we have got all the really crappy stuff out of the way, now all the good things are going to happen just coincidently in an election year. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Spoon fed the truth for Christmass….. Hallelujah

Available on Brian Gallant’s blog in response to Peter Rosners comments it looks like we are getting spoon fed the “truth” for Christmas. Available at the following address:

I would like to address Councillor Gallants comments, first impression for anybody that did not know better would be that everything is good in our little community:

  1. He addresses the volunteer boards issue, looking from the outside I would have the impression that everything with volunteer boards is good. Did it not take six months of advertising to fill all the boards and committee’s if they are indeed filled. Question for my readers does anybody think council would have backed down on the Pool authority prior to the petition, the authority had two letters from administration telling them they were done. Did council not know? Is this one of those cases of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing?
  2. He appears to place all the blame on the firemen because they walked out. What did he and the rest of council expect? What would happen at the mine if a Union President was fired on the spot. No suspension pending investigation, no external review by an independent agency.   
  3. Peace Officers have given almost no tickets for bylaw infractions (10 in the past six months) despite hundreds of complaints. That would lead me to believe that the community has been cleaned up? Very good. They have given a number of tickets to non-residents, so are our Peace Officers treating residents different to non-residents? I can speed on 20th avenue but not my friend from Sparwood can’t.. This will work well for community branding “Crowsnest Pass Alberta’s best kept secret home of a little piece of paradise and the non-resident speed trap”.   
  4. He speaks to Peter’s comments on the Municipal Inspection, still does not get it 2500 taxpayers are not happy, with the exception of the hundreds upon hundreds that were bullied and intimidated to sign.
  5. He addresses the “bureaucratic monster” has no substance. So it’s just a figment of everybody’s imagination at this point in time we really don’t have a CAO, Director of Finance and Corporate services, Director of Planning Engineering and Public Works, Director of Community Services and Protective Services, Manager of public works, Fire chief, Deputy Fire Chief, plus advertising for a Manager of Corporate Services. This is not a “bureaucratic monster” but then has councilor Mitchell very proudly stated a year ago, “The public should keep in mind that we now only have three Directors when we used to have four”.
  6. Tax increases no increase in 2011 and only 2.5% in 2012, yes Councilor Gallant puts all the blame for tax increases on the Provincial government and the seniors. Check out the mill rate bylaws in 2010 the Municipality collected $6,432,821 from the municipal taxpayers in that year. 2011 with no increase the municipality collected $123,000 more in general taxation than the previous year (0% increase maybe it was all those new houses going up, or our increased home values). In 2012 with just a 2.5% increase the municipality collected another $265,000 in additional general taxation (2.5% increase once again maybe it was all those new houses going up, or our increased home values). Lots of new homes and greatly increased property values I’m sure most home owners that are deciding to sell are doing well. Then lets not forget the additional tax increase (more commonly known as the Franchise Fee). Some will even attempt to argue that this is not a tax, 2010 it sat at $295,000 increased to $570,000 in 2012 and would have gone to $907,000 in 2013 had it not been for the uproar from the public. Instead, it will only jump to $682,000 next year being Christmas I guess we should be thankful that this little tax only jumped 231% in three years instead of the proposed 308%.
  7. Thinking about the Tax increases and the Franchise Fees I guess us Taxpayers should be thankful again, that the municipality as decided over the last two years to take less money out of our left pocket and more out of our right pocket.
  8. And now I will present the opportunity for anybody to comment on my points or to list for us all the good things that have been achieved.
  9. Being the Christmas season every time I drive by the Blairmore shop I get to say hoe, hoe hoe.       

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Community Peace Officers how the public sees it.

I received the following comment today at 10:11:

“Change of subject - I see the Peace officers wrote tickets to the tune of 13,442 in the month of November. All traffic violations. They did some bylaw work but I do not see any major clean up going on. 2 things come to mind. I think that they would have to write tickets to the tune of about 17,000/month to break even and probably even more. So I think we are losing money and not getting any major clean up done. Secondly, I think it will only get harder to continue to generate these revenues. The locals already know where the speed traps are and it is only a matter of time before almost everyone else knows too.”

This appears to be a reflection of what I am hearing around town, first unless somebody can prove otherwise I see no evidence of any major or for that matter minor clean up.

The second comment regarding revenue of $13,442 in November and the remark that it will take about $17,000 a month to break even and probably even more? It will be more much more let me throw some numbers at you.

First CP Officer Rate of pay Jan 1/2013 $31.68 per hour x 2080 hours a year (40hrs 52 wks)   $65,894.
Second Peace Officer rate of pay is not in the collective agreement but being a sergeant he is probably making at least $4 a hour more so $35.68 x 2080 hours a year $74,214.    

Wages alone come to $140,108 then factor in an additional 5% for overtime that number becomes $147,113.

Now let us talk about benefits the municipality allows 25% on top of wages to cover the cost of benefits provided to the employees in the collective agreement. $147,113 x 25% = $36,778.

Already we are at $183,899

Let’s talk about the trucks $130,000 to buy them and rig them all out if you amortize that over four years, you know by then most of the equipment they have in their trucks will need replacing at it will be obsolete. Another $32,500 a year.

Fuel they have to be spending a $1000 a month on each vehicle, $24,000 a year.

Registration/Insurance $3,000 a year.

Cell phones $200 a month $2,400 a year.

Clerical support even allowing 5 hours a week at $30 per hour $7,800 per year.

Up grading, training, certifications have to be at least $5,000 per year.    

Wages + Benefits $183,899
Trucks + up keep   $32,500
Fuel                      $24,000
Reg/Insurance        $3,000
Phones                  $2,400
Clerical support      $7,800
Training                  $5,000
Total      $258,599 divided by 12 months $21,550 per month.

I am sure I have not captured all the costs here, what will it cost to fight these tickets in court? I am sure not everybody is going to just right a check.

Then to the reader’s last comment about getting harder to generate that level of revenue, your right the locals have figured out where the speed traps are. In addition, keep in mind these Peace Officers are CUPE members which means they will be taking an average of 4 weeks off next year, which will mean less revenue again. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Deputy Fire Chief No longer a rumour?

Well its no longer just a rumour the municipality did hire a new deputy Fire Chief. The story is in today's newspaper.

For a minimum of one year and possibly two.

There goes another $100,000 a year.

Note: Check the following posts out from a while back so many people have said to me "I didn't see this coming"

Monday, December 10, 2012

They just don’t get it……… or are they?

Now both Councilors that blog have spoken plus the Mayor’s press release from last week, it appears to me that they and the rest of council are not getting the message about the petition. (See links below)

They are all welcoming Municipal Affairs, they all have nothing to hide, and the people have been misled or intimidated. I have this vision in my mind of the Mayor and Council waving their arms and telling the Minister to “bring it on”.

Personally, I do not and I think most people would agree expect Municipal Affairs to send somebody in here that is going to find massive incidents of fraud or other criminal activity.

We all know that we have had petitions in the Crowsnest Pass before; they failed for one reason or another. From the research, I have done other communities that have been involved in petitions some succeeded some failed. I cannot find one other community where such a high percentage of the population signed a petition so fast. In less than twenty days, every second voter in this community signed the petition.

Does that not say something? The message Council and administration should be getting, is that the taxpayers are not happy. Rome was not built in a day and yes people will accept “change” it always a matter of how much and how fast.

Some people say to me that this Council due to some of their member’s arrogance, naivety, or just plain state of denial will never get the taxpayers message. We should not lose sight of the fact that since the petition was presented to Municipal Affairs, the municipality has changed course on a number of issues, removing the Swimming Pool Authority, The Quint Ladder truck, Franchise Fees. What is next? May be we will all be seduced with the ultimate in vote buying a smaller tax increase.   

Weather they are getting the message or not one thing they will not be able to beat is time. All politicians find out that the same people that put them in power can remove them just has fast. Come October 22, 2013 people will analysis the results, some people will be very happy and some will claim the voters were misled, intimidated or any other excuse that makes the speaker feel better.    

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crowsnest Pass Electrical System

Basically, half the Electrical Distribution System (The lines that deliver power to homes and businesses in our Municipality) are owned by us the taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass.
You can see which lines are owned by the Municipality on their web site at the following address the rest are owned by Fortis.

There is lots of noise being made around the Pass right now that the municipality is looking at the merits of selling the assets, who knows for sure if there is any truth to that.
However, for what its worth I am going to add my two bits, if they do sell it, they had better get some substantial dollars in return. Unbelievably the electrical system actually contributes net revenue to the municipality every year. From 2011-2014 the municipality in their own figures show a surplus of $1,752,860 from the electrical system that’s an average of $438,215 surplus to offset that lose of revenue the Municipality would have to increase taxes by minimum of 6% a year or find additional revenue sources from other areas.
The number of $10,000,000 is being floated around look at the average surplus number above $438,215 that would mean any potential buyer would not get their money back for at least 25 years. Would anybody pay that kind of money for a businesses that will take 25 years to pay for itself? I doubt it.
What does that mean in layman terms? If somebody is going to buy the system, they are not going to buy it unless they can pay for it in a maximum of 5-10 years, which based on the average projected earning means $2-4 million unless of course a potential buyer comes in with the intention of driving up those revenue numbers. (We all know what that means).
We all need to keep in mind that if our leaders are even contemplating getting rid of this asset we better be getting a lot in return. Because once it is gone the taxpayers we be expected to make up that short fall, and we will all probably be paying a little more in our power bills. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass Press Release Dec 4

NEWS RELEASE | Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mayor and Council Welcome Minister’s Involvement
Provincial inspection will help to confirm practices and policies
of Crowsnest Pass government

(Crowsnest Pass, AB.) Yesterday, in a letter sent to Crowsnest Pass Mayor Bruce Decoux, Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs Doug Griffiths advised that he will conduct a municipal inspection of the policies and practices of the municipality in response to a petition received by his office. According to the Minister’s letter, the objective of the inspection was “to support the role of Council and administration in providing local government services in the community.”
“We welcome Minister Griffith’s review of our community’s practices and policies and appreciate the inspection’s importance in clarifying the value of the services and decisions that we make each and every day to support Crowsnest Pass,” said Mayor Bruce Decoux. “We value the fact that the Municipal Government Act within this province allows for checks and balances in the operations of local governments so as to protect communities and individuals. Having an oversight system in place strengthens democracy and helps to build strong and vibrant communities,” said Decoux.
Mayor Decoux and Council are determined to ensure that community members feel confident in their local government and the decisions that are made on behalf of our citizens. According to the Minister’s letter, an inspector will be appointed who will have broad access to any matter connected with the management, administration or operation of the municipality. Once complete, the inspection report is generally presented in an advertised public meeting.
“Council and our administration will continue to serve in an open and transparent manner and we will continue to be accessible to the community we serve and to make decisions that will strengthen our community which we all value,” said Mayor Decoux. “We will do everything in our power to support the Ministry of Municipal Affairs as it moves forward with its inspection.”

For more information contact:
Myron Thompson, Chief Administrative Officer

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass | 403-563-2201

A victory for the taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass, standing up and making a difference.

Finally 2500 names on a petition, taxpayers standing up all over the Crowsnest Pass is making a difference. 

One of the most controversial methods of picking the tax payers pockets next year was going to be a $336,000 increase to the amount of Franchise Fees that we the residents of the Crowsnest Pass have no choice to pay unless you can live without Gas or Power. Even when the Municipality presented their “Fact Sheet” at an approximate cost of $10,000 in the local media back in November, they had the Franchise Fees rising from 20% to 35% for gas and from 14% to 20% for power. This on top of the fact that the revenue being generated by these Franchise Fees had already jumped from $295,000 in 2010 to $570,000 in 2012, the further increases would have taken that number to $907,000 next year.

To my shock the “Facts” have changed up on opening the local paper last night, I see that the Municipality is now advertising the Franchise Fees are only increasing from 20% to 25% for gas and from 14% to 16% for power. This means instead of the Franchise Fee Revenue jumping from $295,000 in 2010 to $907,000 in 2013 it will only jump to $682,000 next year an increase of  231% in three years instead of the 308% previously proposed. I know we should not be dancing in the streets over this but it is a partial victory in that $225,000 less will be taken out of our pockets next year.

On top of that at last week’s G+P meeting the CAO clarified that there will be, has the Mayor stated in his last newsletter a $500,000 savings in the Fire Departments. This savings will come about by them not taking that money and purchasing the much-discussed Quint Ladder Truck. Now I know some people may look at this skeptically and think games are being played with numbers here, somebody said to me yesterday so if I propose to buy a $150,000 Hummer that I don’t need then I come to my senses and back off on buying it did I really save $150,000?

Two things here first of all Council/administration are going to look heroes here with the 2012 budget, $250,000 not spent on the Quint this year, $600,000 not spent on demolishing the Crowsnest Centre and all the savings they have incurred by not filling various positions in a timely fashion. (We will talk about this more in a future post)
Second, do I think this would have happened without the petition without people finally speaking up? Not a chance.

You would almost think Municipal  Affairs was coming in to do an investigation!  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Update: Municipality of Crowsnest Pass Initiative to gobble up MD of Ranchlands

Good follow up for my previous post: 

At the council meeting of last week the Mayor spoke about this very issue and the process that the Municipality would have to go through to achieve the goal of getting it’s hands on the MD of Ranchlands very lucrative Linear Tax base.

Two ways it can be achieved either by Amalgamation or Annexation, the first is more of a co-operative approach where the Crowsnest Pass requests Ranchlands to share its wealth with us and we state all the good reasons why they should do that and all the benefits we could provide for them. The Mayor stated that process has been gone through already and just as they did with previous councils they respectfully declined the offer.
So that leaves Annexation a process where one municipality takes another over or portion of. Much more of a confrontational and timely process, by the Mayor’s own admission at minimum a eighteen month process. That’s not to say that it can’t happen but the argument usually put forth by Municipalities to grab part of their neighbours is that they have gone through tremendous growth and need the land.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Do you really believe or are we making excuses?

We are now well past the two-thirds point of this council term. A strange thing started to happen during the petition process and now I am hearing it more around town, and I expect it will happen more and more as we get closer to the next election.
I do not know if people just want to believe this or maybe there really is something to it.

Getting to my point during the petition process, I heard from people we have spoke to a “councilor” or knows somebody that has spoken to a “councilor” who does not agree with council’s direction on some of the issues. I see and hear  comments on blogs and around town about us having some good people on council who have lived here all their life’s who got caught up in some bad decisions but just don’t know how to get out.

Well maybe there is something to that, or maybe people just want to believe or they are making excuses.

What can a councilor do if he does not agree with the position the council has taken on an issue? Lots.

First, when the issue comes up on the agenda he needs to speak to it, to make arguments against the issue, to disagree with administration or the rest of council to vote against the item.
If it is an issue that has been gone through all ready or an issue that is being brought up in the public forum repeatedly. There is no reason that a councilor cannot add that item to the next agenda, raise it again, and express either his or the public’s concerns.

If a councilor feels that, the Mayor is jamming an issue through or not giving council enough time to deal with an issue. Councilors have the authority to challenge the Chair, it is very simple (I did it a number of times during my two terms on council) you make a motion to challenge the chair the councilor that made the motion then gets to argue his point, the Mayor gets to respond. Which is then followed by a vote amongst council where a simple majority can over ride the Mayor’s position on that item. No, I am not talking about launching a coup here or getting rude, ignorant, or disrespectful of the process, I am talking about a simple procedure that allows a member of council to stand up and say I do not agree with the ways things are being done here.  

With the present council it is more that likely that any of the steps above would probably fail, but that’s ok at the minimum it would send a message to the public that there is some dissent on council that there are some councilors that don’t agree with the issues and directions that this council has taken. It is strange that at all levels of government except municipal you have opposition.

Do I think any of this will happen? No, not really with the possible exception of a few months before the next election somebody may wish to prove to the public (voters) that they are their own man.