The Race is on… Isn’t it?
Ron Bolin, Feb. 28, 2010
We know the field. Now we need to know the candidates and their issues. Thus far I have seen about 80-125 words per candidate in the Daily News, and about 275 words per candidate in the Bulletin. In returning to the Daily News this morning to check some info, I couldn’t even find the by-election listed on the front page and a search didn’t find anything either. I hope that the Bulletin will keep running the by-election banner until it is over. We will see what more our newspapers do to keep us informed of the candidates and the issues.
I have heard rumours of an all candidates meeting to be held soon, but have not heard any details. Hopefully, with only six candidates, there will be adequate time for some debate on the issues rather than the simple “I am a good person and I am for lower taxes and better services for everyone,” which is the usual fare. (I do not mean to insult the candidates here. Given the few seconds that have traditionally been allocated per candidate, that is about all that they can say.) It would be nice if the sponsors of this meeting would open up on-line to take questions ahead of time from a broader segment of the population than is usually present at such events and which are often padded by the proponents of individual candidates. And one does hope that the affair will be televised and recorded for replay. We really need to at least try to give the public enough information to make a rational decision in this important election.
We can also visit the web sites or blogs of the candidates. Those that I have been able to find are listed on the lower right of the front page of nanaimocityhall.com. I have been disappointed in the static nature of these sites which do not encourage questions, at least in any public way. It is not enough to answer individual questions individually. It is too easy to have a different answer to suit each questioner.
And last, but not least, there are still two Council meetings before the election and five more before the final adoption of the budget. While during an ordinary election in November, the budget is not up immediate discussion; during this by-election the city is still reviewing it. At every Council meeting anyone wishing to comment on the budget can do so without pre-registration. One would have to question the sincerity of candidates who are afraid to appear before Council and the public to give voice to their feelings about the budget and the improvements they would recommend.
Please forward any information about events at which candidates can be seen or heard and any media coverage of the by-election which we have missed at any time during the election; or any suggestions which could improve this election. We look forward to hear from you.
In truth, it would be good to see some of the candidates here on this blog, putting forth their cases. I wonder why all of them have passed on the opportunity? Unless I’ve missed something–may have!
Not only are there some pretty well-known civic movers and shakers here, but also a larger number of others who might be tapped into, passing along in conversation a candidate’s opinions voiced here. A good politician passes up *no* opportunity to get at least name recognition, if nothing else.
Ron; The YPN is hosting an all candidates forum Mar. 10 from 4 – 6 pm in the Shaw Auditorium.
I also put up a separate page on my blog with coverage and links related to the by-election.
So far, all is pretty much quiet on the front.
My hat is off to the Young Professionals of Nanaimo who are already up and running and asking for input from all of us. See http://www.ypnanaimo.com The event will be held from 4-6pm on Thursday, March 10, at the Shaw Auditorium downtown. This venue only seats about 200 so be there early. And for this reason it is most fervently to be hoped that the event will taped in full and rebroadcast in full either on Shaw or on Youtube. This may be the only coordinated event we see of all six candidates at once.
In the meantime, email those questions or comments to the YPN at
I hope that the NYP event will be broadcast on Shaw TV, as a lot of seniors don’t have computers or are not computer literate (except for e-mailing their grandchildren!).
Congrats to the NYP for getting more politically involved and hopefully we see more of them stepping up and running in the Nov. election.
Inge: I emailed the Young Professionals last night to find out their plans for TV, but have not yet had a response. I will let folks know as soon as I can. It may also be possible to independently tape the event if NYP is amenable. It could be up on youtube if Shaw is not putting it on channel 4.
You will note that I now have Murray McNab’s web site in the Candidates list on the front page of this blog. All six are now in place. Murray emailed the following statement which I believe should be emulated by all candidates. He has stated that: “I will be posting any donations or expenses incurred each day as I get the site completed.” We all know that by the time the required financial documents are released the election is long since over and the information is of use only in matters involving filing false information or in cases of conflict of interest. My hat is off to Murray and I will watch with interest his progress in this matter… and that of his fellow candidates.
This just in from Toby Gorman at the Bulletin.
“Here’s the TV coverage info:
Shaw will be broadcasting the whole event live and will air 2 repeat broadcasts at a later date to be confirmed.
Chek will be showing parts of the debate on the newscasts at 5, 6.30 and 10 pm that night.
Hats off again to the Young Professionals of Nanaimo and to Shaw Cable for getting TV arrangements so that we can all hear the full All Candidates Meeting on Thursday, March 10, 4-6 pm and in a couple of repeats.
At the Monday, March 7, meeting of the Finance and Policy Committee of the Whole (FPCOW) meeting, Council will be asked the following:
Council direction is requested.
Staff has researched the option of providing Council with some reimbursement for mileage
and the following is provided for Council’s consideration:
1. Maintain the status quo, i.e., no mileage reimbursement for Council.
2. Reimburse for mileage expenses incurred while on City business, except travel to and
from City Hall (travel to and from the Shaw Auditorium would be reimbursed).
3. Reimburse for all mileage expenses incurred while on City business (travel to and
from City Hall would be taxable).
4. Provide Council with a fixed monthly vehicle allowance (two-thirds of this would also
be taxable) with the amount to be determined by Council.
It is noted in the report that: “In the past, it has generally been assumed that this expense was covered by the
one-third of Council’s remuneration that is designated as a tax-free allowance.” but that: “Staff considered the question as to whether it would be legally permissible to pay Council
members for mileage incurred- while undertaking their municipal responsibilities. Staff consulted with both the City’s solicitor and the City’s auditor. The conclusion is that Council could, as a matter of policy, provide for reimbursement of mileage expenses. This payment would not impact the status of the tax-free allowance.”
Do Councillors really need yet another perk? They were added to the city health care plan a couple of years ago.
I will anticipate comments from our Council candidates as they can, just as they can during regular Council meetings, rise to speak for up to 10 minutes on the budget items without prior registration under item 6 of the agenda.
This just in from YPN:
Thank you for your email and positive feedback.
The event will be airing live on Shaw and will be broadcasted taped two other times before the election. Yes, each candidate will be provided plenty of time to equally answers all questions asked.
Other cameras and recorders are welcome but yes space could be limited. We are not setting any restrictions for this event.
Secretary, Young Professionals of Nanaimo
Every so often a skilled bureaucrat (or a skilled CEO) proposes a perk here and there for their councillors (or directors). It helps keep them in line. Give them their little goodies and it makes it more difficult for them to question your much bigger ones. An almost universal strategy for dealing with your (in theory) governing body whether its BC Ferries, the Royal Bank or the City of Nanaimo.
City Council is grossly underpaid now. Why in the world would we expect anyone working for less than $30,000 a year to really be able to oversee the management of a $140,000,000 corporation??
We have decades of experience to draw from with the idea that we are going to get the brightest and best to work for peanuts. How we doing so far??
I submit, we have the mess we have because of the notion that ‘competent’ councilors are going to work for free. The pay rate, and job description means this is supposed to be a very part time position not requiring someone to quit their ‘day job’, however, the expectations that are put upon councilors would suggest we think we are paying them a king’s ransom, and that the taxpayer owns them body and soul.
Pay peanuts …….. and you get monkeys.
What became of the concept of “public service”, replaced by a new measurement of worthiness, “the brightest and best”, to serve the citizens of Nanaimo judged upon earning capacity in private life? Or that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys, an expression used thirty years ago across contract bargaining tables, and hopefully long gone. The age of the professional politician appears to be upon us. My father, a long-time politician, several times re-elected before his retirement, regarded his payment simply as a token stipend in recognition of his work. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood your intent here? Are you saying that people will only run for city council if the pay package is an attractor? Or that “brighter and better” people may run for city council if the payment is increased?
What became of the ‘public servant’? There are about 150 public servants employed by the city with an average wage of $100,000.
In the day when men and women could approach offering their ‘service’ on council and be well compensated by their stipend, they were not dealing with $140,000,000 budgets or overseeing $60,000,000 payrolls either.
What is required of a councilor to perform their job no longer leaves enough time to hold down their, full time, family supporting jobs.
In Nanaimo part time Councilors are expected to oversee what 150 non-union staff who are being paid on average $100,000 per year are doing for the taxpayer. A possible task? I doubt it. Who on council has actually read and UNDERSTAND the complex documents that staff throws at them?
What I am saying, is that the job of properly overseeing the running of a $140,000,000 corporation can no longer be left to well intentioned citizens with well intentioned ideals but who are sadly lacking in the ability to do the job.
In the end it is the city staff who are actually running things for the most part. City council, in the end will pretty much do whatever city staff directs them to do. That is just a fact.
In the interest of controlling spending, do you think that city staff would seriously suggest looking at the cost of labour as a percentage of the total overall budget? They will suggest cutting back on items they know are politically impossible and it will appear as if the decision as to how to spend the budget was left to council, but that is just a bit of the old ‘two step’.
An average wage means that some of those 150 earn under $100,000 and some over. What’s the median wage? That’s a more significant number.
A traditional method of top-level (or close to it) civic employees in bargaining is to “whipsaw”, pointing to what’s paid to others at the same level in comparable cities. Or having those they’ve hired to bargain their contracts do so. That becomes an ever-increasing spiral. Those at the top levels have been smart enough to employ specialized and professional bargainers like George Cuff & Associates to do their bargaining for them. Those a step or two below those levels then point upwards on the food chain and negotiate on that basis.
Who sat across the table from George Cuff or one of his associates (or someone similar to George Cuff) when Gerry Berry’s last contract was bargained? How competent was that person? How much was that person or that company paid? Who selected the city’s bargainer?
There is a widening gap between those who govern and those of us who are governed. How many people in Nanaimo are in jobs flexible enough to be able to sit on council? Not too many, I’d guess.
With the demands of work and family, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Average Joe or Josephine Citizen ever to aspire to elected office on city council. It may be safe to say that people who can flex-time work to accommodate the demands of being on city council hold positions which probably pay higher than average Nanaimo salaries. Or they’re retired or semi-retired, as some councillors are. Therefore, some city councillors show at least a degree of “disconnect” from the lives of average Nanaimo citizens.
Perhaps we should look at a system used by some American cities: a “city manager” who is elected by taxpayers and holds considerable power, along with mayor and council.
It is no wonder that many average, and younger, Nanaimo voters have little interest in civic politics. In some ways they could be said to be cut off. They are not in jobs which would allow flex-timing. Increasing the amount paid to councillors would make no difference to many possible candidates whose jobs simply would not allow for time off to attend to city business.
There are none of those jobs paying less than $75,000 and the top end is closing in on $200,000. The exact information is available from city hall to anyone who cares to look at it. But there are 150 employees whose total wage package is $15,000,000.
If they were paid enough, they would not need to take time off, they could either ask for a leave of absence or resign from the other job.
In what approximate wage bracket do most of these employees appear? The “bump” in the line from $75,000 to $200,000?
If we were to pay enough to permit people to take leaves of absence or resign from other jobs, what kinds of costs would that involve? What about jobs in which salaries increase with years of service/experience? Do we reimburse those people, who might take leaves of absence for council seats, for years-of-experience-tied salary increases which are lost because of those leaves of absence? The leaves of absence will have an impact on their pensions when they eventually retire from the “I took a leave of absence twenty years ago” jobs, because there will be years of pensionable service missing. Do we make up the difference in their pensions? With possibly some changes on council at each election, how much future financial obligation are we assuming, simply on the “lost pension-credit” years? And what do we do for people who quit their regular jobs to serve on council and then have a delay or difficulties in finding another job? Or for long-serving councillors who leave and discover that their skill sets are now outdated? Do we pay for their upgrading or even complete retraining for another job?
Let’s try to take a relatively objective view of this situation. While a Councillor has an important job as a member, in effect, of the Board of Directors of the City of Nanaimo, neither the Mayor nor the Council is charged with the job of running the city any more than are the Board members of other types of corporations. The primary difference in a municipality is that, as an elected political Board, the objectives are likely to be more diffuse and there is no necessary implication that those elected have any special training or skills other than those needed to be elected.
If we look at the duties of a Board of Directors, we find, on Wikipedia, the following:
“A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization. The body sometimes has a different name, such as board of trustees, board of managers, board of governors, or executive board. It is often simply referred to as “the board.”
A board’s activities are determined by the powers, duties, and responsibilities delegated to it or conferred on it by an authority outside itself. These matters are typically detailed in the organization’s bylaws. The bylaws commonly also specify the number of members of the board, how they are to be chosen, and when they are to meet.
In an organization with voting members, e.g., a professional society, the board acts on behalf of, and is subordinate to, the organization’s full assembly, which usually chooses the members of the board. In a stock corporation, the board is elected by the stockholders and is the highest authority in the management of the corporation. In a non-stock corporation with no general voting membership, e.g., a university, the board is the supreme governing body of the institution.
Typical duties of boards of directors include
• governing the organization by establishing broad policies and objectives;
• selecting, appointing, supporting and reviewing the performance of the chief executive;
• ensuring the availability of adequate financial resources;
• approving annual budgets;
• accounting to the stakeholders for the organization’s performance.
• setting their own salaries and compensation
The legal responsibilities of boards and board members vary with the nature of the organization, and with the jurisdiction within which it operates. For public corporations, these responsibilities are typically much more rigorous and complex than for those of other types.”
The duties prescribed in BC legislation for the Council, the Mayor and the CAO (Chief Administrative Officer are:
[SBC 2003] CHAPTER 26
Part 5 — Municipal Government and Procedures
Division 1 — Council Roles and Responsibilities
Council as governing body
114 (1) The members of a municipal council are the mayor and the councillors.
(2) Despite a change in its membership, the council of a municipality is a continuing body and may complete any proceedings started but not completed before the change.
(3) The powers, duties and functions of a municipality are to be exercised and performed by its council, except as otherwise provided under this or another Act, and a council, in exercising or performing its powers, duties and functions, is acting as the governing body of the municipality.
(4) A council has all necessary power to do anything incidental or conducive to the exercise or performance of any power, duty or function conferred on a council or municipality by this or any other enactment.
Responsibilities of council members
115 Every council member has the following responsibilities:
(a) to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality and its community;
(b) to contribute to the development and evaluation of the policies and programs of the municipality respecting its services and other activities;
(c) to participate in council meetings, committee meetings and meetings of other bodies to which the member is appointed;
(d) to carry out other duties assigned by the council;
(e) to carry out other duties assigned under this or any other Act.
Responsibilities of mayor
116 (1) The mayor is the head and chief executive officer of the municipality.
(2) In addition to the mayor’s responsibilities as a member of council, the mayor has the following responsibilities:
(a) to provide leadership to the council, including by recommending bylaws, resolutions and other measures that, in the mayor’s opinion, may assist the peace, order and good government of the municipality;
(b) to communicate information to the council;
(c) to preside at council meetings when in attendance;
(d) to provide, on behalf of the council, general direction to municipal officers respecting implementation of municipal policies, programs and other directions of the council;
(e) to establish standing committees in accordance with section 141;
(f) to suspend municipal officers and employees in accordance with section 151;
(g) to reflect the will of council and to carry out other duties on behalf of the council;
(h) to carry out other duties assigned under this or any other Act.
Division 5 — Officers and Employees
146 A council
(a) must, by bylaw, establish officer positions in relation to the powers, duties and functions under sections 148 [corporate officer] and 149 [financial officer],
(b) may, by bylaw, establish other officer positions, and
(c) may assign powers, duties and functions to its officer positions.
Chief administrative officer
147 A bylaw under section 146 may establish the position of chief administrative officer of the municipality, whose powers, duties and functions include the following:
(a) overall management of the operations of the municipality;
(b) ensuring that the policies, programs and other directions of the council are implemented;
(c) advising and informing the council on the operation and affairs of the municipality.”
Wikipedia goes on to discuss the difficulties boards of all types encounter in performing their duties. I think that we can recognize some of these in the Nanaimo context.
“While the primary responsibility of boards is to ensure that the corporation’s management is performing its job correctly, actually achieving this in practice can be difficult. In a number of “corporate scandals” of the 1990s, one notable feature revealed in subsequent investigations is that boards were not aware of the activities of the managers that they hired, and the true financial state of the corporation. A number of factors may be involved in this tendency:
• Most boards largely rely on management to report information to them, thus allowing management to place the desired ‘spin’ on information, or even conceal or lie about the true state of a company.
• Boards of directors are part-time bodies, whose members meet only occasionally and may not know each other particularly well. This unfamiliarity can make it difficult for board members to question management.
• CEOs tend to be rather forceful personalities. In some cases, CEOs are accused of exercising too much influence over the company’s board.
• Directors may not have the time or the skills required to understand the details of corporate business, allowing management to obscure problems.
• The same directors who appointed the present CEO oversee his or her performance. This makes it difficult for some directors to dispassionately evaluate the CEO’s performance.
• Directors often feel that a judgment of a manager, particularly one who has performed well in the past, should be respected. This can be quite legitimate, but poses problems if the manager’s judgment is indeed flawed.
• All of the above may contribute to a culture of “not rocking the boat” at board meetings.
Because of this, the role of boards in corporate governance, and how to improve their oversight capability, has been examined carefully in recent years, and new legislation in a number of jurisdictions, and an increased focus on the topic by boards themselves, has seen changes implemented to try and improve their performance.”
The question then here is whether more time or more money would contribute to better governance in the City of Nanaimo. It has been put forward that more money means better governance. This fallacy can be put to rest by simply looking at the financial scandals of the past few years which have found very well paid corporate boards to be no protection against bad judgment or personal interest. Though the monkeys were very well supplied with bananas as well as peanuts, it did not avail our corporations.
In Nanaimo, two Council members are paid at a rate which puts their income at the medium of the pack in Nanaimo with half our citizens making less and half more. Seven of our nine Council members make another $10,000 as members of the Board at the Regional District of Nanaimo, which puts them well above the median income, while our Mayor receives a salary some 2.5 to 3 times that amount.
If one reads the duties of Councillors carefully, it will be seen that the job has relatively few direct obligations, that these are commensurate with those of Board members in other corporations, and that it does not include running a city. That is the job of the City Manager and his/her Staff. It does not describe a full time job, nor any particular skills beyond vision, equity and prudent scrutiny, although like any job, it can be expanded to fill the time available. The duties of the Mayor are more demanding and cannot, I would offer, be filled by a part timer in a city as large and complex as the city of Nanaimo.
In brief, money, in itself, is not the answer to our prayers, but rather a false hope in lieu of vision, principle and attention to the duties entailed. The present by-election is thus far a shining example of what is wrong with our system. The candidates are mute on their plans beyond a few platitudes, despite the opportunities for serious discussion of the issues at FPCOW meetings, at Council meetings or on their own blogs or web sites. It is fervently to be hoped that we will hear some ideas that are worth voting for before the election arrives.
In this latter regard, do not forget to send in your questions for the candidates at the All Candidates meeting this Thursday at the Shaw Auditorium from 4-6pm to the Young Professionals of Nanaimo at email@example.com .
Hint dropped. Hint picked up. No more comments from me, with no ill will.
This ‘relatively objective’ posting is a waste of internet space.Who the hell wants to spend time on this word junk that contributes nothing to the sum total of human knowledge.
I can’t help wondering who dropped what hint. I think I am not subtle enough for these discussions.
I cannot take “a relatively objective view of this situation” (your post) when I read posts condemning pay rates of current city employees and posts by the same person proposing radical changes in the stipends paid to councillors which, if adopted, might result in unanticipated, unpredictable and possibly very high costs in the future. To continue posting on the topic I might very well reduce things to a “slanging match” and I’m unwilling to do so. I have worked both sides of bargaining tables, a “hired gun”. ‘Nuf said, and no more.
Then I presume you see no need for changing the present system, just encourage a better class of individual to step forward and sit on council?
So how has that been going the last few decades??
I do not believe that money alone is the answer, but think it would draw out more competent individuals who do not remain mute, as they actually have an informed opinion upon which they would act.
A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. If something substantial does not change, then nothing substantial is going to change and we will simply keep muddling along headed for oblivion.
I fear that my quest is even more Quixotic: to develop a better class of voters. A better class of voters will bring forward a better class of candidates who are not satisfied to work in the dark. The current issue is whether the cost/benefits associated with Council are sufficient. I hold that they are and that experience has shown that sweetening the pot does not automatically draw a better class of bee.
While I agree with your definition of insanity, I am not sure what it may have to do with politics which might be defined as a kind of organized insanity: i.e. the confusion of hope with reason.
re: Wendy Smith 6 March 2011 at 12pm – I fear that without proper identification of the person to whom a comment is directed, it is very easy in this environment to be confused about who is commenting to who. I concede that I have been guilty and may have aided and abetted this confusion from time to time. I will try in future to be consistent in proper identification.
It is also important to draw a distinction between a post and a comment. Posts can only appear here when the author is identified properly by name. Comments can appear from anyone using any alias. This is a dangerous game to play and, in my mind, indicates the low level to which discourse has fallen in our troubled times where everyone feels the need to hide in the bushes under a pseudonym. This is tragic. So many seem to be afraid to express their views openly else they might be harmed in their public or private lives in Nanaimo. This is very sad and is the basis for the difficulties in which we find ourselves. We no longer operate in a democracy (even a representative democracy), if, indeed, we ever did. We operate in the machinations of an unseen dictatorship and no longer even pretend to object. Sad.
I do hope that you are not to be toppled from expressing yourself, however remotely, by the comments of other invisible commentors. If this is the case, then we are truly lost.
Ron Bolin,there is nothing “tragic” about someone not wanting their name on a comment but there certainly is something funny in your Quixotic personality.Your quest “to develop a better class of voters” is just plain silly.Methinks you just like to see your gibberish ideas in print.
Jeez “Bill” what’s put the wind up your arse? In whose army do you snipe?
It IS tragic when people feel that they must hide. It is perhaps vain to hope that electors could be better informed (not only by me, by the way),but one can hope.
And if I did not believe that I have something to say, I would not say it. What is curious is that you seem to keep reading it despite your obvious dyspepsia.
Although I do not think that increased pay for councillors is a significant part of the solution I agree with Jim Taylor’s following two paragraphs:
“In the end it is the city staff who are actually running things for the most part. City council, in the end will pretty much do whatever city staff directs them to do. That is just a fact.
In the interest of controlling spending, do you think that city staff would seriously suggest looking at the cost of labour as a percentage of the total overall budget? They will suggest cutting back on items they know are politically impossible and it will appear as if the decision as to how to spend the budget was left to council, but that is just a bit of the old ‘two step’.”
The best councils struggle to deal with the professionals who manage our City Halls. Nanaimo has far from the best council. The Old Boys (and one old girl) seem to be overwhelmed most of the time. They are unsophisticated and easily manipulated. Most of them are retired or near-retired and probably are almost full-time. It needs more than being ostensibly full-time to be effective. Effective councillors must be negative (particularly good at saying no), must question everything, must not accept glib answers. They SHOULD NOT see themselves as part of the City Hall Team. It is only when they are prepared to be “critics” rather then “cheerleaders” that they properly perform their political function.
Interesting post and comments. Council and Mayoral positions should not be seen as a career move. Hopefully you get people on council who want to give back to the community not those who are pissed off at one particular issue so decide to throw a pile of money at getting elected and once there, with the help of special interests, support a very narrow agenda. Sadly this seems to happen a lot and as such we do not get the best we could serving on council. In my opinion Ron is one of those who should have been elected years ago and is also one of the most knowledgable people I know when it comes to running a city or digging for answers when they are not forthcoming. If these positions are simply about money then I would suggest folk not run. As for the mileage question this statement sums it up; “It is noted in the report that: “In the past, it has generally been assumed that this expense was covered by the one-third of Council’s remuneration that is designated as a tax-free allowance.”’
In this case I agree absolutely with Gord. More money does not make for a better councillor. It takes a lot of dedication , a lot of work and integrity.
Ron’s knowledge of so many issues are very valuable as a ” watch dog”. Too bad the voters did not recognize his potential when we voted last time.
You refer to those with special interests throwing support behind a candidate to support a narrow agenda.
I presume this logic applies to Labour Council endorsement of a candidate?
That could be the case but a bit differeent than actually receiving money. With anything like labour council one hopes that their members will actually research the candidates and not simply take the word of the 6 or so who choose whom to endorse. Much like me endorsing Darcy Olsen those I know have the choice of whom to support by putting a check beside the name on voting day. I think it is when someone or business actually donates money to a person that it becomes an issue, especially if that person or business ever comes up on the agenda. The whole conflict of interest thing really needs to be made abundantly clear to candidates and if elected they should recuse themselves in the event a contributor or business they work for comes before council. I do like the idea of candidates posting their donations as they come in.
I think that having an influential body like the Labour Council encourage their 13,000 members to support a candidate, is worth a whole pile of money in terms of winning a local election.
Kipp, would seem a contradiction to large amounts of money being what wins elections. Ditto for Councilor Sherry.
Jim: You say: “Kipp, would seem a contradiction to large amounts of money being what wins elections. Ditto for Councilor Sherry.”
On that note, CUPE BC reported that Kipp received an endorsement … however, it appears that Sherry was successful without receiving same.
If anyone is interested, the Memo from the Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE BC to the Chief Election Officers of BC dated March 12, 2009, when filing the Campaign Organizer Campaign Financing Disclosure Statement for the 2008 general election advised that CUPE BC endorsed the following candidates from the City of Nanaimo and further, that $69,198.01 was the total amount spent on CUPE BC’s campaign across all of BC. The following names appear in the order that they were disclosed on the form:
It has recently occurred to me that it would most likely be frowned upon if “Management/Excluded” (non-union) employees of the City made election campaign contributions to the municipal candidates!
I agree with Ron that the candidates for Council are serving up platitudes. Personally I will never vote for candidates who say they will listen to the people. The people speak with many different and conflicting voices – 40,000 voters, 40,000 different opinions. Next on my bad list are prospective politicians who tell us how dedicated they are to serving us, that they are answering a calling. Whoopy-doo! Then there are those aspiring politicians who pronounce that they do not have enough “facts” yet to have opinions on the big issues – but they are great learners and will listen carefully and you can be sure they will make the right decisions. Nobody told these people that they are running for a political office, not a judgeship.
Here are some sample statements candidates could make on various issues.
1. THE CONVENTION CENTRE
We can’t keep supporting the Convention Centre year after year. There is an operating loss of one million dollars and it is not going to get any better. Lets find some way to unload this White Elephant.
We have to stay the course with the Convention Centre. An operating loss of a million dollars per year is tolerable. Lets work hard at making it profitable including getting that hotel built.
2. WATERFRONT HI-RISES
Lets not destroy visual access to the waterfront by building a wall of hi-rises. Also, high density housing should be built along transportation corridors.
Let the market decide. People who are interested in buying condos in hi-rises want waterfront locations. These buildings will add to the tax base. Besides we can be sensitive in their placement so as not to ruin everybody else’s views.
3. THOSE $100,000.00 DOLLAR PLUS JOBS AT CITY HALL
Management structures at City Hall need to be greatly simplified. There are far too many costly administrative positions for the overall size of the civil service. There are times when you have to take the ax to management – which is what businesses do in the private sector when they are forced to cut costs.
You have to provide competitive salaries to attract the best people. Besides in today’s complex society you need large numbers of administrators and professionals to deliver the services people want and expect. And civic government can not be operated like a private business.
4. WAGE INCREASES EXCEEDING RATE OF INFLATION
City Hall workers are pricing themselves right out of the market. They are already better paid and have far more benefits than their private sector counterparts. Nanaimo’s homeowners can not afford 3 to 4% tax increases year after year.
I believe in maintaining genuine bargaining rights for public employees. Besides some studies dispute whether public workers with the same education and experience really are paid more than private sector workers. Even if they are, so what. Our objective should be better wages and pensions for everybody.
5. SOCIAL HOUSING
There is a need for social housing including wet housing in Nanaimo. It can’t be concentrated all downtown. Well managed social housing can and should be provided in neighborhoods throughout Nanaimo.
It is dangerous to locate wet housing next close to an elementary school. Besides it won’t ever be built in the North End or other middle class neighborhoods. It will, as always, end up being built almost exclusively in blue collar neighborhoods like Townsite or Harewood.
6. URBAN CONTAINMENT BOUNDARY
I support resurrecting urban containment boundaries. I am opposed to massive rezoning of the Sandstone and Cable Bay lands. Nanaimo needs to be densified. It is already spread out to much. It is not going to be viable post peak oil.
People are moving to Nanaimo whether we like it or not. We can’t dictate people’s individual preferences. They want the kind of housing and stores that these developments will provide. Besides we need to increase the tax base.
Jim: Further to your reference to the Labour Council, I understand from a CAW 114 website that a Vice-President for the Nanaimo Duncan & District Labour Council, who apparently, sits on the Council’s “Political Action” committee, has urged “all CAW and other Union members in the Nanaimo area (and their friends), to vote for Darcy Olsen”.
Gord: As you dropped out of the by-election, when the NDDLC endorsement of Ms. Olsen was announced, and at the same time, publicly threw your support behind her, it would seem reasonable that the NDDLC and Ms. Olsen will do the same for you come
I was somewhat surprised by your comment to Jim 7 March 2011 at 2pm, when you replied to him: “That could be the case but a bit differeent than actually receiving money.” :)
David: I sincerely hope you are sending the questions which gave rise to the dichotomous responses which you presented to firstname.lastname@example.org . It would be interesting to hear candidates responses to some specific issues at the all candidates meeting. You have captured the essence of many, if not most, of Nanaimo’s nagging issues.
I would be interested to get a STRAIGHT answer to David’s questions from those currently sitting on Council.
I can dream can’t I?
Janet, the reason for the comment is that endorsements are simply that. Anyone can make them but the people ultimately make their own choice. Certainly some will follow the dictates of a group like the Labour Council or Chamber of Commerce, but I would like to think free will also plays a part. This is far different than when money is involved.
I have no illusions that the NDDLC will support me come the next general election, they haven’t in the past and never even invited me to apply for their endorsement. If they were to do so then so be it. Every ppotential candidate looks to receive support where they can and I would hope that mine would come from a wide range of interests.
I like your reminder of whom CUPE supported through campaign contributions. Folk should also be reminded of those that received contributions from those involved with Cable Bay. In my opinion, and this would include myself had I been elected, councillors receiving monetary donations should not take part in decisions that can be tied to campaign fund contributors.
Should they be allowed to take part in the discussion process prior to the decision being made? This is a question I would be interested in hearing more on.
Gord: Thanks for response directed to me on 8 March 2011 at 8am, a portion of which, I quote:
“I like your reminder of whom CUPE supported through campaign contributions. Folk should also be reminded of those that received contributions from those involved with Cable Bay. In my opinion, and this would include myself had I been elected, councillors receiving monetary donations should not take part in decisions that can be tied to campaign fund contributors.
Should they be allowed to take part in the discussion process prior to the decision being made? This is a question I would be interested in hearing more on.”
Gord: My first response to your question would be that, quite simply, if candidates were not permitted to accept such campaign contributions in the first place, then they wouldn’t even have to take the time to consider as to whether they felt that they were in a conflict situation, would they?
As you and I have witnessed on more than one occasion, unfortunately, not all elected officials possess the same degree (level) of judgment, when it comes to the topic of ethics. On a lighter note, sometimes good old-fashioned common sense also seems to be in short supply. :)
I have previously publicly expressed my views several times with respect to elected officials placing themselves in potential situations of “conflict of interest”, or even “perceived” conflict. The most recent being the following online comment posted in an NDN forum:
Janet Irvine Sun, Mar 13, 11 at 12:28 AM
JAKE said Sat, Mar 12, 11 at 01:34 PM …. “Olsen and Greves are strongly supported by the local municipal unions. That’s good if you happen to be a member of C.U.P.E. or the fire dept., but hold on to your wallet if you are not!”——— I have often wondered how we can expect the people, who are elected to City Council to make “UNBIASED” decisions, when faced with decision-making that involves lucrative contracts or benefits that flow to any individual, who is EMPLOYED by the City, OR any COMPANY, that is involved in any way, whatsoever, with land development, ALL areas of the construction industry, and perhaps, liquor licencing?, if that particular entity, (including organized labour), had contributed in ANY way, (financially or “in kind”), to the election campaign of those who get elected to office? —– Is it not time that the electorate started to demand some change to campaign financing legislation at the MUNICIPAL level? — I believe that legislation relating to election funding was reformed in this manner at the FEDERAL level of government several years ago, was it not?
Hopefully, this addresses your query to me, Gord, regarding your specific reference to the Cable Bay land development project and the campaign contributions that were made to municipal candidates by the proponents of that project.
IMHO, there is a great need for reform of election campaign financing legislation at the municipal level of government. As this is the level of government CLOSEST to us, it is only natural that engaged members of the electorate are in a position to be more aware of what actually goes on at the municipal level and IMO, as we have unfortunately, seen on a few occasions, the outcome does nothing to raise the level of discourse in the community. Discussions on this topic seem to evoke a lot of emotion and sometimes, some rather nasty things get said, probably due to misunderstandings and a lack of literacy on the topic, I would say.
I recall that,during the 2005 municipal election campaign, I returned to Nanaimo from a trip to Ontario and quickly penned a letter to the editor, which did appear in the Harbour Star during the campaign. I referred to what had been going on at the municipal level of government in Toronto regarding conflict … a case had gone to court … also referred to the fact that an independent “conflict of interest commissioner” position (or some such name), had been created to address any complaints of conflict.
P.S. to Gord
On 8 March 2011 at 8am, you also referred to the Chamber of Commerce and I meant to say that if you are still employed by Nanaimo Youth Services, you are probably aware that the NYS organization has been known to belong to the Chamber.
And if I owned a business at this time, I would be inclined to take out a membership in the Chamber. – just sayin!
Janet: Apropos of your comment about municipal election funding one can find that Murray McNab has apparently been keeping his promise to show both donations and expenses at his web site (see the candidates links on this blog). It would be very useful if all candidates were to follow his example. And of course it will be possible, albeit too late, to check on the candidates before and after statements of income and expenses. It a start.
Ron: I do admire municipal candidate, Murray McNab, for his disclosure initiative in this regard and IMHO, it certainly does no harm. I am in NO way, saying this to be cynical; however, as we know, in general, monetary contributions are not the only method of donating to the campaigns of those running for elected office.
I understand that during the recent BC Liberal Leadership Campaign, lawyer, Mike de Jong, one of the four final contenders, initiated the voluntary practice of disclosing donations to his campaign and I believe that the other three candidates followed suit. Don’t know if all four of them used the same cut-off date. IMHO, although it certainly doesn’t hurt to do so, in the case of numbered companies that donate to a campaign, there is no identity of who the principals of such companies are, in any event.
Can you imagine having perhaps, several hundred contributors to your campaign at the provincial level and then, when you are involved in the actual decision-making process on a particular issue, having to think about placing yourself in a possible conflict situation? I would imagine it’s next to impossible. Would be interesting how this is deal with at the provincial level.
(This may be off topic but discussing this, brings to mind the rule, whereby law practices are required to check their client list for “conflicts” before acting for a new client and, as you can imagine, doing so, is of utmost importance, especially, in matters of litigation. Law Societies take this seriously.)
When I consider who to vote for at election time, I’m thinking about the overall qualifications of the candidate. And then, of course, it is also what that individual does AFTER he/she is elected that is most important. Not much different from any other type of employment really … except that elected officials are involved in spending other peoples’ money and making decisions and forming policy that affects the citizens’ lives on a daily basis!
I watched the televised version of the forum for the by-election candidates. Wonder why the forum at the Shaw Auditorium had to start at 4:00 p.m.? What about those, who work and didn’t have the flexibility to participate in the “live” interview? … as I understand this was the “lone” event. IMO, with the exception of perhaps, TWO of the candidates, I found it rather difficult at times, to maintain interest in what they had to say. I stand to be corrected but it seemed to me, that most of what was said was general “stuff” that most of us already know.
I guess it remains to be seen, how much value the taxpaying citizenry will actually receive during the short time period that the successful candidate will hold office, prior to the general election in November. One can only hope!