Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January 28 Council Meeting - Another Lost Opportunity

"A clash of doctrines is not a disaster - it is an opportunity" - Alfred North Whitehead

Last night's council meeting was another in a long line of lost opportunities - lack of questions, planning, or serious debate before we made yet another short-sighted financial commitment. This council operates as though any question or disagreement is to be squashed as quickly as possible, not answered or discussed in the hopes of making a better informed decision.

The decision in question last night was providing additional funding - $10,000 - to the Art Hauser Centre so that they can hire a consultant to do a marketing strategy. Now, the way this council has been committing money lately (before preparing the city budget or setting priorities) $10,000 probably doesn't seem like a lot of money. However, who knows how many speed bumps in school zones that could fund - something that I first proposed to council a couple of years ago, after being asked to by the Ecole Valois Parents' Council. More recently, it made front page news in the local paper after it was proposed by the Youth Council. However, apparently it's recognized in the draft budget, but not recommended. I haven't been given any reason why, nor was I consulted by city administration on this matter.

But to get back to this marketing strategy for the Art Hauser Centre. I voted against this for a couple of reasons. The first is that a year or so ago we hired a marketing manager for the Centre, at considerable expense. One of his responsibilities was to prepare a marketing strategy. Although he has since left the Centre, I would like to know what happened to that marketing strategy. Rather than pay for a new strategy, why not try the old one? The second reason is that these funds will come out of the capital reserve - this is money that's supposed to reserved for facility repairs at the Centre in the future - saving for a rainy day, as it were.

Council also voted to spend more of your money to seek an outside legal opinion on whether I have breached my oath of office in joining the lawsuit of previous council members, trying to get RRSP payments that are owed us, not paid due to mistakes made by administration. Current council is getting these benefits; I and other former council members feel that the council that developed the plan and did the work should get what they are owed. In any case, it is before the courts, and the courts will decide. Despite ill-informed allegations that you may have heard, council has had no meetings, secret or otherwise, to discuss any strategy on this particular case - none that I was invited to, at least. I have no control over the outcome; neither does anyone else on council. I don't understand the logic of spending even more money on what's starting to feel like an attack on me personally, rather than spending council time on many of the serious issues that are within council's mandate - serious fiscal planning, crumbling infrastructure, tax rates that appear to be headed for another increase.

However, only Darcy Gervais, Shawn Williams and I felt that this would be a waste of tax dollars.

I appreciate the phone calls and emails of support that I've been receiving - citizens seem to feel that my approach of asking questions and standing by my principles is what they expect from a city councillor, and I'm hearing a lot of anger and disappointment that this council is not operating in an open and honest manner. I'll end this post with another, more famous quote courtesy of William Shakespeare: "This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." Not bad advice for anyone to try to follow.

1 comment:

Barb said...

I appreciate the chance to get a glimpse of what is really going on at council, beyond the fluff we are served by the local media. I hope you continue doing this, Lee.