A Light on City Hall is Going Dark
Ron Bolin: Nov. 25, 2012
Citizens unable to make 4:30pm meetings of City Council in their guise as COW (Committee of the Whole) have only two remaining meetings which they can attend at home via video unless Council redirects its current policy. While these last two COW meetings will be held in the Shaw Auditorium at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre and will be captured to video for citizen access on the City’s web site, its first meeting of 2013 is scheduled to move permanently to a committee room in the New City Hall Annex which has limited seating and no video capability.
COW meetings are the same as Council meetings for all purposes (such as finances) but bylaws cannot be passed at them. They are, however, the primary vehicle where departmental budget presentations are made, where the Financial Plan is discussed, and where progress reports are made. If you feel that as citizen taxpayers you are entitled to see your elected officials represent you in these matters then I suggest you contact City Hall and the Mayor and Councillors to ask that they reconsider their decision to take the COW meetings dark and continue to use the Council Chamber which was built for this purpose in the Vancouver Island Conference Centre with your tax money and which provides more than one set up for recording video.
Unless Council is disabused of their intention to move COW meetings to the video-less and short seated committee room in our new $14 million Annex, the last such meetings which you will be able to view at home will take place on Nov. 26 (tomorrow/today depending on when you are reading this) and on December 12. The first COW meeting of 2013 where budget discussions will be fully underway is scheduled to take place in the video vacant committee room in the new annex on January 21.
In a report to Council on April 30 of this year, City Manager Kenning is quoted:
“My experience is that televised Council meetings tend to be formal in nature with strict adherence to protocol and procedure. In the past, Finance/Policy Committee of the Whole meetings have been less formal, allowing for more in-depth review and discussion of issues. It is recognized that Council has made a commitment for increased public transparency, but having television cameras at Finance/Policy Committee of the Whole meetings may not contribute to increased transparency unless the Finance/Policy Committee of the Whole meetings continue to be a forum for detailed review of issues.”
I don’t know about you, but I do not find this revelation comforting. More than enough of our City’s deliberations and decisions are already hidden behind a cloak of silence.
I anticipate that an item on this subject will appear at the last minute on the Agenda for tomorrow’s (Nov. 26) meeting though it did not appear on the original agenda presented on Thursday afternoon.
Contact information for our Mayor and Council can be found at:
Does it really matter what Nanaimo council and its bureaucratic, salaried keepers talk about behind closed doors . . .
“Farming comes back to the center of economic life. Hard to believe, I’m sure, if you live in an iPhone fantasy-land of apps and tweets. Forget all that stupid shit.”
“Find a nice small town on a waterway surrounded by farmland and get ready to have a life.”
Ummmmm sounds just like here . . .
If there is a true desire for transparency in how council makes decisions (pretending for a moment they are the ones making decisions) they need to open up the rehearsals that precede council meetings.
Put another way, Mr. Kenning’s comment could be interpreted to say, that we will only be open and transparent when we think no one is watching?
They could have to change their minds if enough citizens get off their butts and actually attend meetings, it would soon be evident the room in the shiny new office will just not do the job. Forcing them back out into the glare of public scrutiny.
COW meetings must continue to be recorded and posted to the City’s Website. As can be seen from the last council meeting, Nov 2nd, information was brought forward during question period establishing that City Staffs costs for removal or remediation of the Colliery Dams were simply based on conjecture. You can guarantee that this info would be left out of simple minutes of the meeting.
These are also the meetings where delegations not pertaining to regular council agenda items are brought forward. Without this venue to get their information out to the broader public these folk will be no less than muzzled.
that City Staffs costs for removal or remediation of the Colliery Dams were simply based on conjecture.
Last night I attended a RDN meeting primarily to witness the discussion on the grant(bailout) to the Island Corridor Foundation.
Whilst many wonderful words were used to justify bailing out the railway the bottom line was just as you describe the Colliery Dam decision i.e conjecture.
Whilst off subject, the decision was made by the way of the weighted vote & Nanaimo City Council over ruled/voted the wishes of the RDN Directors.
After listening to the unelected, to the RDN, Nanaimo Councillors defend their decisions I have never felt so discouraged as to the state of our Governance.
To describe these people as incompetant would be praise.
A lot of people feel the same way but it doesn’t seem to transfer to the polls during the election. I have to wonder how many of the decisions that council makes are based on simply the assumptions of what costs will be.
City Council only get their advice from city staff, whom they agree with almost all of the time……..most i fnot all councilors are nearly useless when it comes to making policy.
Assumption of costs??? Look no further than a $12 million conference centre on the location of the old Malaspina Hotel to a $51 million one we voted on, to a $75 million one Mr. Kenning and crew oversaw.
Then the Annex is another example, they had no tenders for that building and one contractor was offering to build a brand new building for $9 million.
City staff don’t have to be concerned about how they manage our money because the worst they get is a half million golden handshake………
Why???? because 73% of Nanaimo can’t be bothered, or don’t think it makes any difference, to get involved……… sad but true.
For anything to change you need to elect 5 Councillors, not just one, with the backbone to tell staff what to do……. good luck with that.
Currently there are only 3 Councilors that seem to ever oppose staff recommends. A good example right now is the overspending on the new pump house at the new reservoir. Kipp knows construction, but Kenning calls the shots…… he’s an accountant I believe, but council won’t vote against Kenning even if it would save money……..
The biggest myth about civic politics is that your City Councillor makes policy …… that is pure nonsense, which most of us still believe. The city is actually run the the king and his many lords who populate the city bureaucracy. City Council is just window dressing.
Click to access C121203A.pdf
City Council Monday December 3rd Councillor Kipp will be providing notice of a motion for Council to direct Staff to start the process of a Core Service Review.
As the motion itself will likely be made at a different council meeting let’s hope it is at one that citizens can view the debate. We need to know just who will and will not support this much needed review.
Also on the Agenda; information related to any effect a potential conflict of interest for Mayor John Ruttan would have on resolution no. 57712 2012-0CT-01 related to advancing the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Area (DNBIA) 2013 funds. Staff feel there was no conflict, despite his owning property where the Environmental Study is being conducted on the Terminal Corridor, because his vote for the advancement of funds to the DNBIA did not determine the outcome. His eminence Mr. Ruttan took part in the discussion and who knows may have actually influenced others in their vote.
To me this is not about any effect his vote had but that he voted in the first place and as Mayor should have known he was in conflict. Another fine example of why we need this Core Review.
Finally, though up first, the long awaited presentation by NEDCorp; this should be amusing.
Place your bets……
the only ones who will support the core review are kipp, bestwick, mckay, the rest will all fall into line under school master kenning’s direction and kill it.
I’ll bet you’re right Jim . . . .