The Role of Local Government
Last Friday, Jim Taylor, in a comment on the issue of Political Parties in Nanaimo, raised a very fundamental question which demands an answer, or answers, prior to any final discussion of Parties or Candidates. The question was this: “Can anyone here define what they believe the role of local government should be limited to?”
It seems a simple question, but if one thinks about it for a moment it is not simple at all. In fact it gets at the heart of the issues with which this blog is concerned. It strikes me that there are at least two direct methods of attack on the problem.
One is to examine first principles, i.e. to try to determine why we have any municipal government at all. Aren’t provincial and national governments enough? In Nanaimo this seems to have come from the head man of the Hudson’s Bay Company and developed from there. Perhaps some of our local history buffs can fill in the blanks.
The other is to take a look at what we have in our municipal organization and budget and to ask whether each element found there belongs there. Questions here surround what kinds of activities are proper for a municipal government. Should we, for example, be building Conference Centres, Multiplexes or other edifices which have traditionally been funded by private means?
Can we find a mutually agreed mean? What do you think?
I think that local government should definitely NOT be involved with ventures such as the convention centre which is nothing more than a speculative business venture. They should not be able to spend $100 million on a business venture which never could have secured private capital based on the business model. (which was non-existent if you remember).
The same can be said about the cruise ship business, again no business model to support the development.
When all the retired folk who have moved here with the bags of money have died (and they will), who exactly is going to pay these tax bills we keep running up?
Local government should definitely be restricted to the areas of demonstrated expertise, ie: roads, sewer, water, sanitation. They have no demonstrated expertise in the areas of business development and social engineering based on an elitist mentality.
Let’s face it most on council and city staff are simply ordinary people with ordinary skills pretending to be capable of the extraordinary.
I think that we can probably all agree that purely commercial ventures (can we define these as ventures which which are supposed, in themselves, to make a profit, no matter how small?) should be left to the private sector, but what about those which, like the conference centre, the Port Theatre, the Aquatic Centre, a Multiplex, etc. do not pay for themselves but must be subsidized? What role should municipal, or for that matter, any level of government, play in the development of such facilities? We build parks for the enjoyment of our citizens and charge citizens nothing for their use. Is this right? What kinds of facilities for the use of which we charge (and thereby price some of our tax paying citizens out of their use) should we be building? Where do we draw the line on subsidized facilities?
As for the retired folks who moved here with bags of money, I’m afraid that most of them will find that with a disintegrating world economy reducing their private pensions and inflation reducing both their private and public pensions, for many of us our money will run out before we do. And what happens to our taxes then? But that’s another topic…
Why couldn’t conferences centres, theaters, swimming pools and multiplexes pay for themselves?
Why is it a forgone conclusion that they could not be built and run far more economically than when the whole project is undertaken by the public sector?
Regards the ‘theatre’, why should Nanaimo residents subsidize professional entertainers bottom line? Have you ever checked the potential gross, some of these performers can leave town with?
The conference center probably cost at the very least twice as much as it should have. Remember when the convention centre was going to occupy the old Malaspina site? The total bill then was $12million for a convention centre.
That was when the brain trust at city hall demonstrated that a little old developer from Parksville could out-savvy them. So what did they do? They climbed into bed with the ‘pros’ from south of the border, and the rest is history.
A whole lot of the ‘events’ that are being hosted at the VICC could just as easily been handled by existing facilities, and many of them in the private sector.
“We don’t charge citizens for the use of parks’?. If my $2,000 per year isn’t already paying my admission to the park, what is it paying for? I don’t have sidewalks and there is open ditches on my street, and my house is 70+ years old.
Do parks really have to cost as much as they do? Did Maffeo Sutton really improve after we spent all that money on it? Once established, parks should not need much more than routine landscaping.
There are some things which local government has to provide, but I think it has been allowed to grow uncontrollably for years, fueled by special interest groups who keep lobbying for their pet project and bureaucrats, ever wanting to add to their value are more than happy to oblige by taking on more and more and more.
There I go again …. :^)
Why is it that we have allowed all this to happen? Are we too stupid or simply too lazy? The latter condition can be cured. Even the former can be remedied if the problem is simple ignorance. Mental exercise is required and this is what we (the all encompassing we) are trying to stimulate. Awake! You have nothing to lose but your chains!! :-)
But seriously, should we perhaps define some criteria for personal use projects which are to be publicly funded: for example a demonstration that at least half our citizens will benefit from each of them? Or from a collection of them?
Or should the prime beneficiaries be bound to raise a substantial amount of the money required? As I recall, the swim club promised to raise some millions for the Aquatic Centre and then bowed out after the public purse stepped in. How do we define where the line should be drawn?
The participation in this thread is to say the least under-whelming.
If you can’t agree on WHAT government should be doing, how in the world can you ever formulate an effective form of governance?
Those people with the ‘bags of money’ have been the biggest growth industry in Nanaimo in the last decade.
Mining the Retirees has become the major focus of economic development in Nanaimo.
I doubt if the brain trust on the Economic Development Board will have anything more profound to add, other than attracting more and more people to Nanaimo, who hopefully will bring their bags of money with them.
Here’s a suggestion: perhaps we could build a Geriatric Theme Park ….it would be in keeping with the other ‘build it and they might come’ projects we keep getting involved with.
Ron; your question ‘are we too stupid or simply too lazy?’ It is from the same pool of people our leaders are chosen. Why should they be any different than the general population? They certainly have not demonstrated themselves to be any brighter.
It is not unreasonable to expect from city hall the management or even the development of the “commonwealth.” It is also, not unreasonable that “average, ordinary” citizens with meagre abilities and modest talents be involved in this effort. Sometimes it irks when those of modest abilities end up in positions of considerable influence, but I’m not aware of a democratic government (or any government) that avoids this. Perhaps I’m generalizing too much, but I’m inclined to believe, as I grow more experienced, that democracy, especially city sized democracy is, to paraphrase Marx, a dictatorship of the mediocre.
For those of us interested increasing the commonwealth (perhaps because we have no hope of increasing our personal wealth), then the best we can do is encourage talent when we see it, and elevate the median that determines mediocrity.
Unfortunately, our city administration has recently made a series of blunders that have resulted in a decrease in our commonwealth (the most significant of these blunders are all the decisions related to the conference centre). There is certainly enough evidence to suggest that our administrators are, in general, operating at a standard well below par. I do believe we deserve better. I don’t think the problem is incompetence as much as it is morale, but either way this city administration needs a really big shake-up. We need this administration to get over some very bad decisions, and move again, in a focused way, towards the difficult and important job of increasing our commonwealth.
While I would very much like to see the bar to rise here in Nanaimo, I find myself hoping that mediocrity will, in time, again, prevail.
Aaaaah that we could at the very least attain mediocre. How refreshing that would be.
Is it even possible to attain anything beyond mediocre?? As a society I think we have all sunk well below the threshold of mediocrity a long time ago.
Staff have proved their incompetence with the conference centre, and seem hell bent on continuing with the chasing of a hotel and the construction of a cruise ship terminal.
On the matter of incompetence or morale. If you dissect the deal with Millennium, beginning to end, it is the poster child for either gross incompetence or a whole bunch of graft in the background.
Do you remember the fellow who sued Millennium for a finders fee for introducing them to city staff?? He was awarded something on the order of $300,000 for this efforts.
We need to define just exactly what we want our local city staff to spend our money on, and unless they have proven levels of expertise it should not be a part of their mandate.
Of course for anything to truly change, the average voter would have to rise to the level of mediocre as well.
Does anyone really see that happening, unless you are wearing rose colored glasses.
Perhaps we are demonstrating our own sub-mediocrity as it relates to actually answering the question posed in this thread.
Perhaps here, we are seeing the real problem: everyone knows something is not right with the way governments have been governing, but we are at a loss to provide a lucid alternative.
Have to leave now, my next ‘navel-gazing’ session has begun!
As a society, mediocrity is all that we or any other civilization has had to work with since time began. The question, it seems to me, is whether the level of that mediocrity is rising or falling -as you suggest. But the question here is why that level may rise or fall. I would not wish to argue that our current level of mediocrity is the same as it was for our cave dwelling ancestors or for society during the Dark Ages. If not, how did we change it.
I suspect that there are two primary factors which account for raising the level of mediocrity: education and organization, both of which are entwined with government in general and our current situation in particular. Education is being priced out of the market and civil organization is being overwhelmed by the demands of everyday existence. The orchestra is playing too fast and we are dancing as fast as we can.
The best way to slow the music may be to pay the orchestra a little less. We have just completed a budget process which has again, against all real world experience, raised municipal taxes and fees beyond the beat of the world. Thus far, rather than buying us a competitive edge, it has dulled what edge we have. As long as we do not mind the store, there will be those willing to manage it for us -at a price.
I would argue that what is needed is more light on the books -and the book-keepers and that is what this blog is attempting to be about. But Lord knows, we need all the help we can get. Thanks for taking the time and the ‘naval gazing’. We need more of it.
What else can be done to keep our keepers in check?
I foolishly jump to the defense of the role the City plays in economic development including the equity ownership in property and projects like the conference centre. Oh it’s imperfect (on a good day) and it’s so difficult to quantify in an objective way its value and effectiveness. The cost side of the financial statement is known, quantifiable and frightening. The asset side though is complex and even abstract: I would have to include public ownership of a much improved heart of our city, even a Council Chamber that might bring some much needed respect to the institution, a proper museum facility, the desirable mixed use of civic, institutional and commercial with new residential nearby. These are increments of progress toward a better downtown and a better city.
I share the disappointment and frustration that our municipal level of government doesn’t display much higher levels of vision and professionalism and competence. The institution is however inherently conservative and that’s probably not a bad thing.
Equity ownership?? The only part of this building that stands to make money, was sold off!! Did you ever look into the sweetheart terms those shrewd types at city hall gave the purchaser?
If not mistaken I think the current city manager had a lot to say about how the VICC was handled. ’nuff said.
What is conservative about giving an American developer carte blanch? No one has ANY idea what that conference center should have cost.
When it comes to buying paper clips, the city calls for tenders.
When it comes to $100 million or so ….. well, we’ll just ‘trust’ the salesman that came a calling!
City Hall Staff has gone well beyond their level of competence. And no one seems to have noticed.
I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, Jim. To clarify though there’s value in the ownership of the asset. There is a role for the public participation in our economy. (It’s the Canadian thing to do, eh). City Hall needs fixing but I’d hate to see us abandon that principle.
I think we may be confusing assets which are required for the efficient functioning of municipal government and services and those which serve other purposes. We need assets, for example, which house civic services such as council and staff, police, fire, etc. Then we have assets which are not necessary, but are certainly both welcome and useful to municipal taxpayers such as parks, recreation facilities, etc. Then we get to facilities which are touted as “pump priming” which are aimed at drawing people and money from other places in order to promote growth and bring in income which is not directly returned to taxpayers in either money or services.
For me, the first of these classes is clearly acceptable though there may be quibbling about the number and character of the assets acquired.
The second class is debatable within the limits set by taxpayers and the nature and extent of use.
The third category which adds nothing directly to the public welfare -the trickle down theory- should be avoided at all costs as they inevitably end up doing just that: sticking taxpayers with all costs.
re: Frank Murphy 31 May 2010 at 2pm – Frank, given the VICC experience and the fact that the Multiplex remains as a primary category on the city’s web site, despite never, as far as I know, having been subject to any vote, the approval of both the Sandstone and Oceanview projects and their unaccounted demands on public services, do you still wish to maintain that: “The institution (our municipal level of government)is however inherently conservative and that’s probably not a bad thing.”
Our City Halls are conservative in that they react and respond, they don’t innovate. Conservative organizations can launch ill-advised schemes if they chose, but the wheels tend to turn very slowly.
You mean they have applied all of their skills and ability and taken a great long time to decide a course of action and still we get ? ? ? ?
Yeah… something like that. I’m not defending it just trying to understand it a little better. To figure out how to fix it we’ll have to have a realistic understanding of it won’t we?
Something else you should factor into your equation trying to understand how and why some things are done, is good old fashioned greed.
When you have millions and millions of dollars to be spent, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone gets a Christmas Turkey every now and then.
Suppose some people involved in the process are in the real estate business, and just suppose those same people see themselves as exclusive agents for a large condo project that just might come out of the convention deal ……
I am sure Nanaimo would never be the home to a good ole boy network where those who support successful election campaigns gain some kind of financial reward. But it could be used to explain what has happened in other municipalities.
I am sure there are no local businesses that have any kind of advantage when it comes to securing city work, but I have heard of such things happening in other places.
But it is probably just so much bunk, as I am sure people aren’t really subject to greed, graft and corruption in a happy little place like the Harbour City.
I wonder how comfortable some cities would be if their accounting were subject to a forensic audit by accountants trained to look for suspicious matters, and not the ones who simply make sure the balance sheet balances.
Oooops there I go again with my fanciful, over active imagination. I am sure nothing like the above could ever happen in our home town.
But like you say “it could never happen here.”
I don’t feel too comfortable with the suggestion of corruption at city hall. I don’t mind arguing that there might be incompetence, and perhaps a low morale, that’s because I see evidence of those things. I don’t see the evidence of corruption. I wouldn’t want to accuse someone of acting illegally unless I had some evidence.
Also, I don’t think corruption is needed to explain the incredibly bad decisions that where made. They were not bad decisions made on purpose. They were decisions made as Korpan put it, “in the best interests of all of Nanaimo.” These are not incompetent people all the time. Its just that they where presented with an issue so complex, so layered, so multifaceted that they didn’t want to think about it. So they didn’t. They went with their gut. They winged it. And, they fucked up.
You may ask yourself how these otherwise intelligent people could behave so stupidly, but I can see why: Suppose someone came into town stark naked, mumbling something about the second coming of Buddha. At some point in his diatribe he reaches back and pulls out of his ass a cheque for 200 million dollars saying that he wants to invest this money in our fair community. Suddenly, nobody gives a dam about the size of his pecker, nobody is listening to what he says, and nobody can recall where that cheque came from. Everybody just wants to know how they can get a piece of that money.
That’s how stupid decisions are made. It’s not so much corruption, as it is basic human nature slickly conned.
The problem that remains is two fold: First, nobody wants to believe that they’ve been conned. If they don’t realize they’ve been conned, its easier to be conned again. Second, nobody wants to admit they’ve made a mistake. The sooner we admit we’ve made a mistake, the sooner we can make a correction and get on with our lives. We invited an elephant home for dinner; do we ask it to leave before we run out of food?
We are left with a bunch of people with influence, unwilling or unable to learn from their mistakes. Thus, the incompetence persists at a level far below mediocrity. City hall needs a shake up the size of a major earthquake. Until that happens there is not much we can do; the elephant stays.
I want to add to your excellent insights, Dan. The better we understand our adversaries (I accept, others may disagree, that the relationship between citizens and their City Hall is essentially adversarial — in what I see as a healthy way) the better we can know how to have positive and constructive influence on the system that has such impact on our daily lives. The fight against corruption requires a very different strategy than the one against hubris, arrogance and delusion.
Corruption does not always have to come in the form of envelopes stuffed with cash.
A wise man once said that power corrupts.
“These are not incompetent people all the time. Its just that they where presented with an issue so complex, so layered, so multifaceted that they didn’t want to think about it. So they didn’t. They went with their gut. They winged it. And, they fucked up.”
I don’t agree that they didn’t think about it. There was lots of well prepared and researched opposition to this scheme and I suggest they were thinking and planning quite well how they could best manipulate the vote to achieve an outcome favourable to their plans.
The corruption I refer to which comes from power, is when ordinary men start to think they are something else. Quite heady stuff that power.
When you start wanting to build shrines as your legacy during your time ruling the city …..
Fair enough, Jim. But where to from here? Haven’t we expressed our outrage and indignation every which way and from every angle? Can we find a way to add constructively to how City Hall conducts the public’s business and how it’s seen to conduct the public’s business? Not that I know the answer… but I think it’s the approach that’s needed now, don’t you?
WE, the people elect people to watch over our city every three years. We then close our eyes and go about OUR busy lives, leaving the running of the city to the elected officials.
Unless, and until, WE, the people, take more interest in how these elected officials conduct themselves nothing is ever going to change.
Surely history has taught us that by now.
It is not the elected officials or the city staff that has to change it is the apathetic, lazy voter who MUST change, if anything else ever will.
Democracy is a process that will only work, when the people actually participate in government more often than once every three or four years.
Is the general population stupid? lazy? apathetic? completely disenchanted with the whole process? or is it something else ???
When the Libs, NDP and Bloc tried to seize power from the newly elected Conservatives, I was truly surprised at the passion expressed by many Canadians.
What does it take to wake people up??? Perhaps there is really no stomach for that either, on the part of those who run things???
I really do believe the answer involves waking up the electorate, lighting a fire under people, stirring up their passion, giving a sense that this is THEIR community and that THEY are welcome to participate and that it REALLY COULD matter if they got involved.
Ooops there I go again ….. :^)
I go back to my suggestion that, despite having problems of its own, the lesser of the evils at this time is political parties (no idea or method is immortal as times pendulum swings). Such organizations can offset the collegial bond that enforces silent internal control on any organization. And organizations are, after all, set up to handle the “us vs. them” problem. In the municipal context absent parties, Councillors are basically loose cannons whose only substantial bond is to election contributors and each other: the “us” becomes the Council and the “them” becomes the public.
A similar case may be made for the relation of Council to its Staff. Again, Council finds itself outnumbered and outsmarted by its professional staff and may, as I would hold they have in recent years and without other support, allow themselves to be made ineffective. Without an organized external political force, loose cannons can be relatively easily controlled by those both close and engaged.
While I would not hold that parties are always good or effective, I do believe that they are what Nanaimo needs at this juncture given our present reactionary “all over the board” development circumstances.
I don’t wish to belittle the ideals of the elected, nor to question their motives, but merely to point out what I believe to be the hazards of human nature which demand constant monitoring of both the incentives and the rules of the game.
Are you proposing a ‘party’ with candidates, which ‘if’ elected would somehow be more effective than those elected with the current system?
Or are you proposing a ‘shadow’ council consisting of non-elected ‘saints’ to oversee the governing process? Another layer of bureaucracy?
If a shadow council is what you are proposing, I would suggest there is one which already exists, and they meet daily at Tim Horton’s all across this country.
They participate in that great Canadian pastime of discussing endlessly what is wrong with our current governments but limit their involvement to the discussion among themselves.
The end result is that those who end up ruling over us have learned they really don’t need pay attention to anything that is said as Canadians are known for being very polite. Polite to the point, you might argue of being comatose.
You will never see them show up en masse at a council meeting or financial meeting. I did attend the meetings held at city hall when the budget was open to discussion by the public at large, and virtually a handful were in attendance, and none of them offered any serious input into the process.
I repeat, unless the electorate actually participates in the process, nothing is going to change.
Last election ‘None of the Above’ got 85% of the vote. We are stuck with the rest.
I have commented before that what we need is a King after the order of Solomon, which basically is what we have now with the elected ‘Kings’ who go about doing what they think is best regardless of what the commoners think.
The difference of course is that they lack the Divine influence which rested upon King Solomon.
Take a a quick scan across the Nanaimo City Council table.
How’d they get there?
#1 element by your country mile: profile. Name recognition. Hockey coach, newpaper ex-publisher, jocks, incumbent, incumbent, incumbent. Oh and one, a travel agent, just really really wanted to be mayor so spent a small fortune.
How do they keep getting re-elected?
Once in, here’s what you do: lie low. Just don’t fuck up too bad and do not whatever you do engage in the public discussion of the public’s business and you’re back in.
We can sneer if we like but this has invariably been a winning formula. My question is: how can it be that we can’t come up with strategies more clever and effective?
Follows: is a copy of an email I sent to several Councilors. It stems from an item open for bids on the city website;
Perhaps you can explain why with a payroll in excess of $50,000,000.00 and some 500+ employees (?) is it still necessary to hire experts in the areas of:
Plant Maintenance (machinery or horticulture?)
Training & Events Management
Business Warehouse/Portal (whatever that might be)
As a taxpayer ‘looking in’ I would have thought our taxes would have already paid for considerable brain power making additional funding redundant.
Are we perhaps not paying senior staff enough to get people qualified in these areas?
Re: Jim Taylor 4 June 2010 at 4am
In my response to Frank in “United we stand” I have put forward some ideas about why I think political parties offer at least some hope for a change to the current status quo. But I agree with you that as long as folks are, if not happy, at least content, public participation will not be forthcoming.
I think that one might be able to find more participation at party meetings than at Council meetings as people would be less intimidated. They might find their voice through party stalwarts. It also takes a lot of work to do the research that is necessary to form policy. It is obvious that Council does not have access to such research -and one suspects that they may not make the best use of the access that they do have.
I admit, in this town it seems to be a long shot, but as I see it it is the only shot in town. I don’t feel comfortable waiting for a king whether Solomon or Vlad Tepes or Godot. Do you have another idea?
re: Jim Taylor 4 June 2010 at 10am
I will look forward to the response that you elicit from Council. It has been my experience that they do not want to engage. Staff on the other hand, if devious, are much more forthcoming.
On the issue of hiring experts, are you talking about consultants or about permanent staff?
Apparently it has to do with upgrading the software that runs the city’s finances.
I guess what we have now is not working.
Waiting for Vlad?? I think the Impaler has been at work not only locally but provincially and federally for a great long time. I wish I was kidding!
I think one of the reasons that people do not get more involved is because they have come to the conclusion, it rarely matters what they say, those elected pretty well do as they please anyway and there is little that can be done about it. Except of course kick them out come next election, and unfortunately, you then wind up in bed with the devil you don’t know, instead of the one you do.
A local example? Fred Pattje and his hard fought Cable Bay petition. In the end what did it accomplish??
I think a major issue is that the electorate truly don’t have much power in between elections and even then it is just Hobskins Choice.
To truly change anything you would have to engage the average joe, show them what you have to offer that is any different that the status quo, and be able to convince them, you are not just another politician blowing smoke.
BTW, are we any closer to defining the Role of local government? Didn’t think so.
Hey, did I say that I thought that there was a perfect and perpetual solution? If parties can get somebody elected, they can get them unelected as well and you would be surprised how quickly that money becomes a necessary adjunct to your real job or your prestige or your pension. That is the power that parties have to control people between as well as at, elections. Ask Helena Georgius.
The Cable Bay petition accomplished several objectives. It proved that it could be done and more concretely it kept the cost of project entrance roads and some other infrastructure costs in the RDN rather than transferring them to the city. When you see the servicing costs that are going to come in on this project you will really appreciate these savings no matter how relatively small they may be. By the way, have you heard of any work going on out there?
You state that; “To truly change anything you would have to engage the average joe, show them what you have to offer that is any different that the status quo, and be able to convince them, you are not just another politician blowing smoke.” What would one Councillor have to do to set the average Joe in motion if he knows that it takes at least five to control Council? Back to the party system, at least until party pride has turned to simple partying.
I thought we had at least outlined the kinds of activities that should be included in the role of local government and that now we are talking about how to get there, no?
OK, I understand if you are talking about upgrades of the financial software. I wasn’t able to find out much about what the upgrade was supposed to do, so can’t say much. But highly technical tasks are, in my opinion, often best left to contract workers. On the other hand I am aware that our internal staff did develop the software used to handle the video info from Council meetings. This is first class stuff.
My comments re: Cable Bay, is basically the project is still proceeding, I don’t know if there has actually been any significant changes as a result of the petition. Are there any fewer homes? Less demand for services? roads? I did not keep up with all the ins and out of that one I must say, but to the casual observer, I can’t see much accomplished.
It does however show something of interest regards petitions. I have observed the same thing with my own petition about Berry’s Golden Handshake, and that is even something as simple as signing a petition gives the average person the feeling there IS something they can do.
Re: having defined the role of local government and supporting candidates via a party; what would you say would be the ‘planks’ this party would be built upon?
Jim: Did you ever get any response from the city to the petition when or after you presented it to them?
As for planks, I guess I would put forward, among others to come from others:
2. Communication with the Public;
3. Tax increases commensurate with cost of living index;
4. Effective use of planning tools to effect planning goals;
5. Effective research and implementation of Best Practices.
I would also hold that the effective implementation of such planks requires an organized structure such as a party. Individual Councillors just don’t have the time to do these jobs effectively as they are already swamped from their current duties (assuming that they actually perform them).
I’m sure that you and our other readers have more and I look forward to discussing these and them.
Now if you are looking for a winning ticket for your civic party be sure it includes:
1. Give the homeless bus tickets east.
2. Increased police surveillance downtown.
3. Ban pan handling.
4. Looser dog leash by-laws.
5. No pay garbage pick up.
6. Give city employees a raise. (Don’t forget of the 15% who bother to vote city, and associated, workers probably make up over 50%: they have a vested interest!).
7. City hall, NRGH and Harmac are the only employers left in town: be sure to belly-up to them.
Then I’ll give you a fighting chance, but without throwing a fancy-dress party for real estate and developers (even though both are essentially defunct) forget it.
And ,no, I am not being cynical. I am being realistic having been involved, on and off, since 1958.
This in Nanaimo, don’t forget . . .
OK, I’d vote for you, Ron, but then again I tend to vote for the man, not the party.
Typically, parties start by defining themselves along philosophical lines. How would you describe the philosophical foundation of your party? Does it lean left or right? Is it green or mean? Would the party prefer reform or would it rather protect the status quo? If I could get a sense of a meaningful point of view, I might be able to predict how you would vote on any particular issue.
If Ron runs again I will not vote for him.
Last election he gave me 40 flyers to distribute to 104 suites, with the excuse that is all he could afford.
if Ron is not prepared to go all out, if he lacks faith in himself and will not invest in himself, then I sure as hell wont respect him on council.
re: Urbanismo 6 June 2010 at 7am
Urbanismo, you sly boots… You put forward a platform much like that which appears to have been adopted by this city for some time. Are you implying that there is already a party at work in the back room?
re: Sunny Dan 6 June 2010 at 8am
I have been a player in the “I vote for the man, not the party” game all my life. I’m afraid if I examine the results of that strategy, they are pitiful indeed. We come back to the age old struggle between deeds and works; between Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism. Do we advance by saving our own souls or by serving our fellows?
I have come to the conclusion that attempting to pick one position or the other exclusively is nothing but vanity and a misplaced will to seek consistency in an inconsistent world. Accordingly I will promote the left at some major junctures and the right on others. We live on a pendulum which swings right and left but does not conveniently stop at some universally correct point in its swing. Thus, I fear, my votes will not always be predictable when I find the sentiment of the group has gotten out of sync with the temper of the times. We live in a parliamentary system where, like the mafia, individual representatives are “honour” bound to go with their party. I fear I am more inclined toward a system where party obligations may be strong, but not stifling. Kings have their place, but not here and now.
re: Urbanismo 6 June 2010 at 8am
Urbanismo: If you were honest, you would own that those 40 brochures were more than adequate had you sussed out those of your 104 suite mates who would have benefited from them. After all, you reported that only about 15% of the eligible voters voted in the election and had you been diligent and insightful only 16 brochures were needed in your building.
Further, while you denigrate my unwillingness to buy office (I had a maximum limit on contributions from any entity of $50), I further note that I got not a red cent from you, who apparently think that money should grease the wheels of democracy thickly, as long as none of it is yours. Shame.
Regards the petition. The only ‘official’ spokesman for the city on the matter is Mayor Ruttan, even the City Manager defers to him.
The Ombudsperson’s Office has now officially asked for written answers to my questions, which were not answered by the Mayor. I am sure the Ombudsperson’s Office was hoping I would just go away by suggesting I go the FOI route, but they have now finally officially taken up the matter.
I don’t hold out any hope for a clearer explanation, but it is beginning to make an interesting ‘file’.
If anyone had the funds and the will, I am not sure that, that whole contract could withstand a legal challenge.
I can’t think of any other matters involving public funds, where only the Mayor is allowed to speak on the matter.
This issue is not dead by a long shot and is predictably an issue that will return come next election.
My name is Roger Kemble. I am a practising architect in Nanaimo: http://www.theyorkshirelad.ca/8architecture/vivo.htm
Don’t be ridiculous Ron. How the hell do I know, who, in my building will vote for you: to distribute your measly largess. To most Nanaimo voters you are a non sequitur.
Had your FPN cohort not been intoxicated by their the stench of their own academic fumes and had the humility to recognize that there were powerful backers of the “Marriage parlour” we may yet have C$120,000,000 to spend more on community amenities. (Good heavens I tried to enlighten you all).
Of my own council bid, I spent C$3,400 of my own money, in 1998 dollars, and refused offers from others. Thanq God I did not win: wrestling with those losers could well have killed me, with Nanaimo still wrapped in sprawl.
Instead of whining against sprawl while living in sprawl I live my convictions. You should try it sometime . . .
As for Frank sneering that I couldn’t beat the NHBA, he, too, should try living his convictions sometime: the sniveling little prick!
But Roger, I mean urbanismo, I thought you’d said goodbye. We’ve all been struggling to figure out how we’ll ever get along without you.
Wow, how dramatic. Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal that the great and all wise Urbanismo, is none other then the petty curmudgeon, Roger Kemble.
re: Ron, Jun, 7th
You’ve confused me (not that hard to do).
Are you for or against a party system at the civic level?
Is a party a mechanism to get someone elected (I thought that’s why we have the Chamber of Commerce), or is a party a group representing a common set of ideals, values and aspirations who nominate a candidate who they see best represents them.
Seriously, I would really like to know.
re: Sunny Dan 8 June 2010 at 7am
I feel your pain. At bottom, I fear, in politics, is getting elected, without which nothing can be done. Given current count that means getting at least five positions filled by folks with some kind of controlled coherence. This is, of course, the lesser of evils, not the kind of choice that a saint would make.
Ron, I think I know what you mean by controlled coherence, but expand on it will you…
By controlled coherence I mean that a consistent approach to problems is not a random event, but is enforced by the means of group dynamics using methods such as forwarding or withdrawing support, etc. by a party.
re: Jim Taylor 3 June 2010 at 10am
Jim, I hope you have noticed that a task force of Councillors and Liberal MLAs has come forward with recommendations for reforming municipal elections. See: http://www.localelectionstaskforce.gov.bc.ca/library/Task_Force_Report.pdf
If these recommendations are implemented we will only have municipal elections every 4 (four) years rather than three. I note that for Nanaimo’s first hundred years the term of a Councillor was for one year only. Now there is control! In my opinion, to have a semblance of control the term should not be longer than two years.
Interestingly the report also proposes limits on campaign spending (not on donations), and changing the time for reporting on donors to 90 days after the knowledge has become useless rather than the current 120 days.
Good work Ron. How about a post on its own on this report. Sitting Mayors and Councillors making recommendations like 4 year terms is pretty offensive. Their rational: “voter fatigue” and “…this would strengthen citizens’ recognition of local government as a
government of importance, equal to the provincial and federal governments.” You couldn’t make this stuff up. So they’re saying that the reason the municipal level of government isn’t treated by the general public as being as important as the senior levels of government is because it’s term of office isn’t 4 years. When does hubris turn into blind willful ignorance?
One of the main problems with local government these days, is the fact it has become a professional job. Don’t forget that in addition to their visible wage and benefit, they pick up some nice coin for being on different boards.
What used to be a position in community filled by those who first and foremost cared about the community, has become another career choice for some. You now have two levels of ‘staff’, who firstly are taking care of their own interests.
Having said that, who knows what kind of governance would emerge if the ‘profit’ motive were removed from the office? Personally, I think this region probably has a vast resource of gray matter beneath a lot of gray, which could run things very well. However, the present system of theatre does not really make it easy to participate in the process.
If the term were limited to two years, under the present system, enough damage could still be done by those who are not only there for their own benefit but there to serve those who got them there.
Under the present system (where voter apathy rules) it likely makes no difference if the term is four years as likely the same crew will get elected anyway.
When the ‘Star Chamber’ picks their boys/girls, there is a pretty good likelihood they will remain in control.
Not cynical just looking at reality.
Tap into the older voters, get them energized (unless they are too busy with retirement) and you just might be able to change things.
Anyway, that’s my two bits worth.