Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a Latin phrase from the Roman poet Juvenal which is literally translated as “Who watches the watchmen?”. In the city of Nanaimo, we trust the operation of our city to a staff of professionals who serve under our City Manager. We elect those who are to be our watchmen to a City Council which is largely made up of amateurs. But as the ancient question asks, who watches our watchmen?
Watching the watchmen is the duty of all citizens and is our only safeguard from the tyranny by default which arises when both the watched and the watchmen find themselves without scrutiny. In the absence of oversight it is easy to equate the interests of oneself or one’s friends with those of society at large. The extent to which this may have happened is debatable, but that it will happen when citizens ignore the state of tension between operations and policy is assured: ask Plunkett of Tammany Hall whose watchword was: “I seen my chances and I took ‘em.”
Nanaimo City Hall needs Watchpersons to attend and report on one or more of the neatly 20 different commissions, committees, and related agencies established by City Council to assist them in running our city and spending our money. If you can commit to one or more meetings of a given advisory group, please contact us at NanaimoCityHall. We have already published a list of these groups which is currently undergoing refinement. We will further establish a calendar of meetings which can make it easier for citizens to perform their basic civil function of watching the watchers. We look forward to hearing from you.
– Ron Bolin