It has been pointed out to me by both Tyler Brown on Facebook and our Mayor by email that my facebook post of a quote from a September 13 email from Mayor Krog not identifying him as the source and thus calling all members of Council into question could be seen as disingenuous. After some consideration I have come to the conclusion that I must, at least to some extent, agree.
On September 13 I sent an email to Mayor and Council along with a post from my Facebook page entitled: “What is it about Nanaimo” concerning Council’s decision to ignore live streaming and video availability for all citizens unable to personally attend the September 19 Public Hearing in the Shaw Auditorium. This can be seen as part of “It’s not a lovely day in the neighbourhood” at http://www.nanaimocityhall.com
Later on September 13 I received the following email from Mayor Krog:
“Hello Ron, As I recall we even discussed the reasoning for Council’s position on this in an open meeting and I believe I also responded previously by email. As has been expressed by others speaking in public at a public hearing is extremely intimidating for many when you may be opposing your neighbours etc let alone when it is broadcast and then available for all to see. As I recall after your many years of attending Council meetings you only became aware of the fact they weren’t available when you left one early because you thought the rezoning wasn’t going ahead for the old Long Lake Nursery site and a Councillor changed their mind after listening to me. With respect we have really serious issues to deal with that have a real impact on people’s lives. For me the debate which appears to be confined to a very small number of folks is over. Not changing my position on this one. Cheers, “
On September 18, I posted the following on my Facebook page:
The following quotation from one of our Councillors concerning 388 Machleary Street begs the question of whether our Council goes into Thursday’s Public Hearing with a mind open enough to hear the public:
“With respect we have really serious issues to deal with that have a real impact on people’s lives. For me the debate which appears to be confined to a very small number of folks is over. Not changing my position on this one.”
On Sept 19 Tyler Brown posted a remonstrance to my above quote:
“This quote has been taken out of context. It was clear in the email they were speaking to whether public hearings should be video recorded or not. They were not speaking to the actual land use application.”
My Sept. 19 response to Councillor Brown’s assertion that I felt the comment fair was, unfortunately, made without sufficient thought and clarification of why I felt that the my use of that quote was fair.
“Hello Tyler… I grant that the quote could be so construed, but as it speaks to the opinion of the author on the role of the public in Public Hearings and of previous Public Hearings, I feel that it falls fair. I trust that all of Council will keep in mind Fred Pattje’s comment above as well as the City’s past and ongoing experience in chasing “downtown” growth for its own sake.”
The reason for my feeling that my brief comment was sufficient actually lay in my failure to disclose the whole of the Mayor’s original email, shown above. In it are two statements which I find to be logically if not apparently bound together.
The first point in my consideration is the assertion that the public is too weak for democracy when major municipal rule changes are involved and that therefore Public Hearings, the only legislatively mandated meetings of Council at which the public must be able to speak, should not be livestreamed or be available on video and are thus only open to the circa 300 citizens of Nanaimo who can legally fit in the Shaw Auditorium? Why are the City’s media tools not extended to the circa 65,000 who can view regular Council meetings live or on video. My basis for this interpretation is the earlier point made by the Mayor in his September 13 email:
“As has been expressed by others speaking in public at a public hearing is extremely intimidating for many when you may be opposing your neighbours etc let alone when it is broadcast and then available for all to see.” (See the original email above from the Mayor)
The second point and counterpoint to the above is the quote which was found offensive as it arguably, and to my regret, seems to accuse one or more Councillors (who include the Mayor in their ranks) of ignoring their duty to keep an open mind in dealing with the public. For this I offer this, my sincere Mea Culpa.
Shortly after 11pm on Thursday following the adjournment of the Public Hearing I found myself leaving the auditorium in the elevator with the Mayor and we exchanged some words, as it happens both burdened by misunderstandings.
On Sept 20, I received a lengthy email from the Mayor which I include here as per his advice:
Good Morning, Reflecting on our conversation last night and trying/hoping to give you the benefit of the doubt I reread the email exchange and the post where you refer to “one of our Councillors” and disappointment doesn’t begin to describe how I feel not that that matters. You are a smart guy and you know the rules and the law around public hearings so why would you ever think or suggest that the statement you posted, a partial bit of my whole statement, would relate to anything other than only the issue of recording public hearings, and definitely not a specific public hearing? Do you think I would be stupid enough even if my mind was closed on a matter going to public hearing which it isn’t, to state so in writing to someone like you who I should assume would and of course did send it out into the ether albeit sadly without your email and my words taken out of context? All of Council are supposed to go into public hearings with an open mind. Trying to cover it by referring to Councillors which is a slam against eight members of Council instead of saying it was me, the Mayor, indicates a desire to make mischief. I am a Mayor not a Councillor and they are different roles which you well know. So please reread everything and tell me that my interpretation is not correct. Saying no one knew which Councillor is a cop out because it leaves the impression out there that it was one of them and not me. Moreover I own my response to your issue around recording public hearings and happily defend it. Just tell the whole story please? I would have expected you to print your whole email and my response. It appears you deliberately chose not to do so and saying “I feel that it is fair” to Tyler suggests to me you knew what you were doing. This appears to me to be another sad example of why I don’t do FB or tweet or participate in any social media. It is nasty world but I am grateful that I have a few friends who are prepared to defend me in that ugly arena. Ron, I have respected you and want to believe this was a mistake but it doesn’t look like it to me nor I suspect would it to any objective observer who read the whole exchange. Your call now.
I recognize that I should have used the first quote from the Mayor’s first email which dealt with the matter of the suitability of the citizens of Nanaimo to deal with Public Hearings but instead confused the conflated issues of Public Rights vs Council Responsibilities in my excerpt. I should have simply originally have named the author of the email and provided his full statement. I continue with my contention that the public has a right to see Public Hearings even if they cannot, for whatever reason, attend in person. If all of the Public is to trust in Council’s open minds, why should Council mistrust the Public’s ability to deal with Public Hearings.
Those who may be interested in issues raised in Mayor Krog’s emails of either of September 13 or 20 can read more about my views on some of the issues involved in the most recent Public Hearing can read them on my blog https://nanaimocityhall.com/ in the post “Is it a beautiful day in the Neighbourhood.”
In summary: I apologize to Mayor Krog, Councillor Brown, the rest of Council and to any of the Public who may have been misled by my inconsiderate decision to keep the author of the original comment unnamed and thus to cast doubt on all Councillors; and for leaving readers with the impression that I was impugning Council on the grounds of possible dereliction of their responsibility for an open mind rather than for their position on Public rights.
Ron Bolin, September 23, 2019