Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Process and Legitimacy: Why Following the Rules Matters

Shortly after former Acting CAO Bob Johnston abruptly left his post in the fall of 2015, he went public with a number of complaints about what’s been going on behind the scenes at Tom Davies Square.  One of his complaints had to do with governance, and the blurring of the roles between elected officials and administrative staff (see: “Sudbury’s city hall ‘toxic’: Johnston,” the Sudbury Star, November 19, 2015. Note: all subsequent quotes attributed to Bob Johnston in this blog are taken from this source, unless otherwise attributed).

As many of my more regular readers know, I’ve been an opponent of the Maley Drive Extension project for some time now.  I have written extensively about why I feel other municipal infrastructure projects should receive funding priority over Maley, and I’ve critiqued the Maley project to a considerable degree, based on information made available to the public.  This blog post isn’t about Maley Drive – although the proposed new road is at the heart of an issue which is emerging in our community in a very public way.  

That issue pertains to whether rules and processes are being followed.  In answering those questions, other questions are raised.  If the rules aren’t being followed, why not?  Both supporters and detractors of the Maley Drive Extension project ought to expect that rules for collecting public input are followed, as any subsequent decision to build or not build the project is put at risk of having been made on an illegitimate basis.

A specific circumstance has come to my attention related to the calling of a public information meeting, to be held in Council Chambers on Tuesday, March 1st, 2016, in accordance with an advertisement appearing on the City’s website (see:  “PublicInput Session on Maley Drive Extension,” City of Greater Sudbury (undated)).  For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to obtain answers as to how this meeting has come about, given the absence of direction provided to the Clerk of the City of Greater Sudbury from either Council or a Committee of Council , as required by the City’s Procedure By-law 2011-235.  I’ve publicly expressed my concerns related to the need for Council processes to be accepted as “legitimate” by members of the public in order for meaningful and substantive public input to be offered (see: “Public Input Meeting on Maley Drive Shaping up to be a Sham," Sudbury Steve May, February 9, 2016). 

Under most circumstances, the legitimacy of public input sessions isn’t something which is questioned –and that’s because the City has through an open and transparent process set out the rules for the collection of public input through meetings and other processes.  By providing a clear set of rules, the expectations around participation in public input meetings are established for both members of the public and members of Council and municipal staff.  Following the rules establishes legitimacy in the process – and gives all public participants a level of assurance that there is equity in the process.

With regards to the March 1st public input meeting on Maley Drive, it has come to my attention that the rules as outlined in the City’s Procedure By-law have not been followed for the calling of the meeting, and may not be followed at the meeting itself.  Specifically, the Clerk of the municipality whose job it is to call public meeting, appears to have done so on the direction given to her by the Chair of the Operations Committee and the Mayor.  This direction appears not to have been based on any measurable expression of Council or one of its Committees, but rather on what can only be described as pure fantasy.

Let me explain further – and please forgive my deep dive into the arcana of the City’s Procedure By-law.

In my efforts to determine how the March 1st public input meeting came to be called, and what rules are to be followed at the meeting, I’ve engaged several Councillors and the Clerks’ office, looking for information.  Yesterday, via a post made on the Valley East Facebook group, I was advised by Operations Committee Chair and Ward 5 Councillor Robert Kirwan that the meeting was scheduled to take place on the basis of direction provided to the Clerk through himself as Chair of the Operations Committee, based on his understanding that at its January 18, 2016 meeting, Operations Committee had reached a consensus to hold the Maley input meeting.

This came as a surprise to me, as the Agenda for the January 18, 2016 Operations Committee meeting doesn’t even reference Maley Drive, much less a public input meeting.  Further, the Minutes of the January 18th meeting also fail to mention Maley Drive, or indicate in any way that the Chair should direct the Clerk’s office to schedule a public input meeting.

I’ll let you read the text of Councillor Kirwan’s post in its entirety, so that you can see if his interpretation of how he obtained Operations Committee’s consensus to schedule a meeting makes any sense to you.

“I always enjoy a discussion about procedural rules, Steve May. So let's see where we are with this one.

Under Section 32.01, "The Clerk, as directed by Council or a Committee, may schedule a meeting for the purpose of receiving public comments on any matter, in which case:

(1) the meeting may be conducted with four or more Members present; however,

(2) if less than a quorum of Council is present, no resolutions may be enacted at the meeting except for a motion appointing a Chair and a motion to adjourn.

During the January 18, 2016 Operations Committee Meeting discussion that emanated when I was questioned about Mr. Price not being on the agenda, there was mention of a public meeting that would be held at some point in the future when all members of the public would have an opportunity to make presentations. This was confirmed by Mr. Cecutti and the Operations Committee was in favour of such a meeting being scheduled where Mr. Price would eventually have his opportunity to speak. I would say that there was consensus, but I will definitely admit that there was no formal motion of direction. However, strictly speaking, Section 32.01 does not specify that the "direction" must be in the form of a resolution duly moved and seconded.

Prior to the Operations Committee meeting held on February 1, 2016, I met with the Mayor, the Clerk, and the CAO to discuss when a public meeting could be scheduled. If you will recall, it was at the beginning of the Operations Committee meeting of February 1, 2016 where I announced that the public input and information session would be held on March 1, 2016 and that further details would be forthcoming from the Clerk's office. This was the first time that any details of the public input session was announced publicly.

Again, I will concur that there was no formal motion made providing direction to the Clerk to hold the public input session, but there was consensus from the members, and that would be enough for the Clerk to act in scheduling the session under Section 32.01.

If we look at the wording of the By-Law, "direction of a Committee" does not necessarily require a motion. The consensus of the Operations Committee would, in my opinion, constitute "direction" that would be in keeping with the spirit of the By-Law.


LENGTH OF TIME FOR EACH SPEAKER

Under the terms of Section 32.02, it is indicated that the Chair may only allow a maximum of 5 minutes per speaker. However, under Section 32.01, if there is a quorum of Council members present, and we expect all of Council to be in attendance, a resolution can be made to allow 10 minutes or any other length of time that is approved by the Councillors. If quorum is not present, then despite the advance information in the news release, speakers will only be allowed to speak for 5 minutes, as you point out. In this case, we are hedging our bets that we will have quorum and therefore we can pass a resolution to allow 10 minutes. I also expect that there may be a member of Council who will ask for an amendment to allow a longer period of time for the individual presentations. We don't know for certain but Councillors want to be fair to speakers so I can assure you that I will be making a motion to allow 10 minutes per speaker.

I will agree that the By-Law is written in a manner which allows for some flexibility in the interpretation of "direction". However, the wording in Section 32.01 gives us some evidence that this direction does not need to be by way of resolution.

For example, Section 32.01 states "The Clerk, as directed by Council or a Committee, may schedule a meeting for the purpose of receiving public comments on any matter,"

In this case, the fact that the Clerk "may" schedule a meeting implies that there is some discretion on the part of the Clerk. We know that if the Council or a Committee passes a "resolution" directing the Clerk, there would be no room for "may". She would be obligated to schedule a meeting in accordance with the resolution. Therefore, I feel comfortable in stating that the very fact that none of the Operations Committee members objected to a public input meeting being scheduled on March 1, 2016, meant that the Clerk was free to schedule such a meeting. If the Clerk decided that she did not want to schedule the meeting, then we would have had to resort to passing a resolution requiring her to follow our direction.

So, in conclusion, I still feel comfortable in asserting that the Procedural By-Law was not violated in this matter. The only thing that remains to be seen is if the time limit will remain at 5 minutes or be approved for some other time period. I am pretty confident that we will have more than a quorum in attendance at the public input session and we will approve at least 10 minutes.

Thank you for your question, Steve May. I love working with by-laws and the language of the law and enjoyed this analysis. If you feel that I have missed anything, please point it out and we will continue.

As for having staff make a presentation to set the stage and provide the public with a status report prior to the public making their presentations, that is something that I understand has been done many times in the past and is definitely not intended to infringe upon the integrity of the proceeding.
At the end of the day, we will now be able to listen to everyone who wants to make a presentation on the Maley Drive Project.”

Sorry for doing this, but let’s just revisit a few lines of this post one more time, as I’d like to draw your attention to some specific information contained herein, which I’ll highlight.  Councillor Kirwan wrote, 

“This [holding a special meeting for public input] was confirmed by Mr. Cecutti and the Operations Committee was in favour of such a meeting being scheduled where Mr. Price would eventually have his opportunity to speak. I would say that there was consensus, but I will definitely admit that there was no formal motion of direction. However, strictly speaking, Section 32.01 does not specify that the "direction" must be in the form of a resolution duly moved and seconded.” 

Later on, Kirwan returns to the topic of consensus, and writes, 

“Again, I will concur that there was no formal motion made providing direction to the Clerk to hold the public input session, but there was consensus from the members, and that would be enough for the Clerk to act in scheduling the session under Section 32.01.”

Councillor Kirwan believes that the consensus of the Committee provides enough direction to the Clerk so that she may schedule a meeting.  But how did he determine consensus in absence of taking a vote? Councillor Kirwan writes, 

“Therefore, I feel comfortable in stating that the very fact that none of the Operations Committee members objected to a public input meeting being scheduled on March 1, 2016, meant that the Clerk was free to schedule such a meeting.”

So, by virtue of not objecting to scheduling a public input meeting, Councillor Kirwan indicates that he was able to determine that it was the consensus of Operations Committee to schedule that meeting.
Of course, it’s difficult for Committee members to express an objection to something which isn’t actually on their agenda, or which does not appear as a motion.  It’s not at all clear that members of Operations Committee were given any opportunity to “object” or even comment favorably on the idea of holding a public input meeting on Maley Drive.  Based on my review of the January 18, 2016 Operations Committee meeting, it appears that Chair Kirwan was the only member of Council to discuss a public input meeting at all – and then so only in the context that it would be something which Committee should think about doing.  Was it the following silence which led him to believe that other Committee members had agreed with him and provided their endorsement for holding a meeting?  One can only speculate here – because there isn’t anything on the record to which anyone can turn to which suggests that any member of Operations Committee other than Chair Kirwan had any opinion at all on holding a public input meeting.

Again, though – why is any of this important?  Let’s go back to the City’s Procedure By-law and see what it says about establishing a transparent and predictable process for meetings of Council.  I’ll highlight areas of certain sections of the by-law which I think are relevant to this discussion.

“1.01 Purpose

In order to better serve the citizens of Greater Sudbury by ensuring the most effective, efficient and timely procedure for governing the calling, place and proceedings of municipal meetings, the City of Greater Sudbury hereby establishes its Procedure Bylaw in accordance with the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 25, as amended. The rules and procedures contained herein shall apply to all meetings of Council and Committees, unless otherwise prescribed."

The City has a Procedure by-law so as to serve the citizens of the community in an effective, efficient and timely manner, in accordance with provincial legislation.

“1.03 Basic Principles

The basic principles for the application of these rules are:

(1) take up business one issue at a time;

(2) promote courtesy, justice, impartiality and equality; and

(3) while the majority rules, the rights of the individual, minority and absent Members are protected."

All of these principles are important, but I wanted to highlight the second one, because it’s the one that I’ve been on about for some time now in my earlier blogposts.  Clearly, the Procedure By-law agrees with my assessment that meetings of the public should follow certain rules so that issues of justice, impartiality and equality (equity might be a better term) are addressed at all meetings of Council, including public input meetings.

Now, let’s continue on, keeping Chair Kirwan’s explanation regarding how he was able to determine that Operations Committee had provided a consensus decision to direct the Clerk to schedule a public meeting on Maley Drive. Helpfully, Chair Kirwan himself has already directed us to Section 32.01 of the by-law – the section which lays out how a public input meeting is called.  It reads,

“32.01

The Clerk, as directed by Council or a Committee, may schedule a meeting for the purpose of receiving public comments on any matter, in which case:

(1) the meeting may be conducted with four or more Members present; however,

(2) if less than a quorum of Council is present, no resolutions may be enacted at the meeting except for a motion appointing a Chair and a motion to adjourn."

The by-law contemplates direction for scheduling the meeting to come from “Council” or a “Committee”.  What does this mean? Let’s return to the by-law:

“2.10 Council

“Council” means the Council of the City of Greater Sudbury.”

Ok, so that doesn’t apply here, because it was Operations Committee which Chair Kirwan says provided the direction to the Clerk.

“2.06 Committee

“Committee” means a group composed only of Members of Council, who are appointed by Council to perform a function, or functions, and does not include a committee otherwise defined by statute. “
So, Operations Committee is a “group” of “Members of Council”."

“2.18 Member

“Member” means a Member of Council or a Committee and includes the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Chair and Vice-Chair, as the case may be.”

This is different from the definition of a Chair – which you’ll note is not referenced in the definition of composition of a Committee.

“2.02 Chair

“Chair” means the Mayor or presiding officer at a Council or Committee meeting.”

All of this is to clearly establish that Operations Committee can only be considered to be a group of Council Members, and not simply the Chair.  And only as a group can Operations Committee direct that the Clerk schedule a public input meeting, as per Section 32.01 of the by-law.

Of course, Chair Kirwan maintains that it wasn’t his unilateral action which provided the Clerk with the direction to schedule the meeting, but rather that direction was given to the Clerk by the Members of Council on Operations Committee acting as a group through some sort of consensus process which was based on the lack of an objection to holding a public input meeting.  Let’s examine this further to determine if there any legitimacy to using this kind of process to direct the Clerk to schedule a meeting.

Well, the by-law references the word “consensus” only once – in Section 7.17, which indicates that by consensus and subject to the Municipal Act, Council Members may alter the time, date and location of a meeting.  Since this section of the by-law pertains to meetings which have already been called, it is not relevant to the matter at hand.  There is no reference that Council or a Committee may call a meeting through a consensus process.

So, perhaps there is some process outside of the Procedure By-law which can be followed when the direction contained in the by-law is vague or unclear.  In fact, there is such a reference:

“1.04 Robert’s Rules of Order

For purposes of interpreting this Bylaw or determining a proper course of action for matters that may arise that are not specifically contemplated by this Bylaw, the most recent edition of Robert’s Rules of Order in existence at the time shall be referred to."

Unfortunately, we’re no better off with Robert’s Rules, as the concept of “consensus” doesn’t appear in Robert’s Rules of Order at all (see: “Robert’s Rules Online: Index," RulesOnline.com, undated).

Ok, so the Procedure by-law is silent on the matter, and Robert’s Rules are no help.  Here’s a shot in the dark: can the Chair of a Committee disregard the Procedure by-law entirely, and make up his or her own process (although let me be very clear here – that’s not what the Chair of Operations Committee contends having happened). In fact, the Procedure By-law does speak to this matter here:

“3.02 Rules - Temporarily Suspended by Unanimous Consent

Any rules established by this Bylaw, other than a quorum requirement, may be temporarily suspended at, or for, a particular meeting with the unanimous consent of all Members present and voting, provided that this does not result in a contravention of the Municipal Act, 2001 or any other statute."

But the Members of Operations Committee didn’t consent to suspending the rules of the January 18, 2016 meeting.  Or perhaps they did by not indicating their opposition to suspending the rules (cheap shot, sorry).

What then to make of the notion that the consensus of Operations Committee was given to the Chair by virtue of Council Members having remained silent during a discussion on a matter which didn’t appear on their agenda?  Both the Procedure By-law and Robert’s Rules are silent on using this method to determine the will of a Committee of Council.  And yet, that appears to be the method used by the Chair to provide direction to the Clerk.

The Procedure by-law does provide a method for determining the will of Council or a Committee.  It provides that Council or a Committee may make recommendations for future action,

“2.24 Recommendation

“Recommendation” means a proposed course of action suggested by a Committee or staff for an eventual final decision by Council.”

The minutes of the January 18, 2016 meeting of Operations Committee indicate that no recommendation to hold a public input meeting was brought forward to Operations Committee by any Committee of Council or member of staff at the meeting, so that process wasn’t followed. Having said that, Chair Kirwan alludes to General Manager of Infrastructure, Tony Cecutti, having engaged in the discussion around holding a public input meeting.  Could this constitute a “recommendation” to the Committee?

Generally, staff recommendations are brought forward in staff reports, and not verbally at Council or Committee meetings. But for the sake of argument, let’s presume that Tony Cecutti’s contribution to the discussion about Maley Drive was, in fact, a recommendation made to Operations Committee to hold a public input meeting.  By the very definition of “recommendation”, Cecutti’s advice alone was not enough to act on when it comes to scheduling a public input meeting, because “recommendations” are for “eventual final decisions” of Council.  And clearly Council never undertook the action of making a further decision based on Operation’s Committee’s “direction”.
Council or Committees can also make decisions by way of motions.  Here’s the process for that:

“2.25 Resolution

“Resolution” means the result of a substantive motion of Council.”

Despite the unusual numbering below, there are only two types of motions, both of which must come before the Members present at a Council/Committee meeting for consideration.

"2.19 Motion

“Motion” means a question which a Member may bring forward for the consideration of the Members present, and may be:

(4) procedural (“procedural motion”) when it concerns the process, timing, manner or methodology of any matter; or

(5) substantive (“substantive motion”) for all other questions."

Members are defined in the By-law to include Members of Council.  Therefore, it stands to reason that in accordance with 2.19 of the by-law, motions are to be considered by all Council members present, and not just the Chair.  In the case of the January 18, 2016 meeting of Operations Committee, no motions were presented to Committee on the subject of scheduling a public input meeting on Maley Drive. 

Why does any of this matter?  Well, earlier this year, I wrote a blogpost on why I believe the Maley Drive Extension project requires a “social license” from the community before proceeding (see: "No Social License for Maley Drive Phase 1 Project," Sudbury Steve May, January 27, 2016).  I laid out the case that the current version of the Maley project has never been one which has gone before Council, and has never received the benefit of input from the public through a municipal process.  I indicated that as part of obtaining a social license from the community, that one of the components would be for Council to put public input onto their agenda prior to making a further decision on Maley.  I have always acknowledged that this is just my opinion – there is no requirement for a “social license” that I am aware of for infrastructure funding.  There doesn’t even appear to be the need for Council approval at this time for the shortened “Phase 1” Maley project.  But I continue to believe that it’s in the best interests of the community for our Council to obtain that social license through public discussion – and to proceed to some sort of decision point on Phase 1 in absence of Phase 2 ever moving forward.

As part of the process for obtaining a social license, I’ve suggested that a public input session be held on Maley.  With this public input session being called for March 1st, 2016, I’ve received a certain amount of feedback through social media regarding why I am questioning the legitimacy of the meeting – and not just simply accepting the fact that I and others like me are going to be given a chance to speak our piece on the matter.  As I indicated in another blogpost (see: "L'Affaire Tom Price: Who is Setting the Agenda in Greater Sudbury?" Sudbury Steve May, January 20, 2016 ), I believe that it’s important that rules be followed in order for the public to have the assurance that their voices will be heard.  In the case of the March 1st public input meeting, I had previously suggested that since the rules for calling and holding this meeting appear to have been circumvented, that the meeting itself was shaping up to be a sham.

Today, after further information received on how this meeting was called, and how it is intended to be held, I am going further.  The process for calling the meeting and for holding the meeting isn’t a sham; it’s an outright fraud being perpetuated on the public and members of Greater Sudbury municipal Council who have been implicated by the Chair of Operations Committee as having provided their consent to direct the Clerk to call the meeting in the first place when no direction was ever given by them.

What appears to have happened is that the Chair of Operations Committee, in conjunction with the Mayor (according to the Chair’s own words) have unilaterally made a decision to direct the Clerk to schedule a meeting, and to arbitrarily change the rules of procedure for the meeting without either the scheduling or rule changes having gone before Operations Committee or Council.  That would be egregious in and of itself, but both the Chair of Operations Committee and the Mayor have gone on the public record to indicate that they’ve already made their minds up on the Maley Drive project, and while they may appreciate hearing public input on the matter, their minds aren’t going to change.
Further, the Chair of Operations Committee has appealed to his followers on a Facebook Group which he moderates to come out and make presentations in favour of the Maley Drive project – essentially to provide him with the input that he wants to hear.

From a post by Councillor Robert Kirwan, February 9, 2016 on the Valley East Facebook Group:

"I have made it clear right from the beginning that I am in support of Maley Drive as a package that includes the Barrydowne Extension and the extension of Main Street in Val Caron to the Barrydowne Extension. As far as I am concerned, the Maley Drive project will only take some of the trucks off of MR 80 and MR 15. We need the entire package in order to give the trucks and alternate route.
Residents of Valley East should express how they feel about the Maley Drive project as a way of saving our roads and the infrastructure of the homes along the truck route. This is your chance.

As for Councillors seriously considering the presentations, I can assure you that this is one Councillor who is very committed to evidence-based decisions that take politics right out the mix. But I do know that the residents of Val Caron and Blezard Valley want to get the trucks off the highway going through the Valley. And the only way to do that is by building Maley Drive to start with.”

Keep in mind that it was the Chair of Operations Committee who originally dis-invited public deponent Tom Price from giving a presentation on Maley Drive to Operations Committee on January 18, 2016 (see: "No-show irks Sudbury Councillors," the Sudbury Star, January 19, 2016).  The Clerk had originally invited Mr. Price to speak, but at the January 18th public meeting, when questioned by Councillor Dutrisac why Mr. Price was not on the agenda despite the Clerk’s invitation, Chair Kirwan refused to provide Committee members with an explanation.  Councillor Kirwan later took to Facebook to shed some light on his rationale for having Mr. Price silenced in front of the Operations Committee – but to my knowledge, he has never had the courtesy to provide this same information in a public forum to his Operations Committee colleagues.



Shortly after leaving the City, former Acting CAO Bob Johnston wrote,

“After a number of weeks observing the interaction between council and staff it was clearly evident that day-to-day operations were subject to political interference and pressures.  In particular, my office was significantly impacted by the mayor’s office and in particular the chief of staff, who micro-managed my work activities.”

Can the current Acting CAO be experiencing similar pressures? 

Given these circumstances of how this meeting came to be called by the Chair of Operations Committee, and (allegedly) the Mayor, Clerk and CAO , can the March 1st “Public Input Meeting” be anything other than a fraud?  We have rules for a reason. In this case, the rules are codified in the City’s Procedural By-law.  These rules are not being followed.  Instead, it seems that some members of Council believe that they can make up the rules as they go along – and then imply that their colleagues have consented to these rules through their silence or through the presumed manner in how they will vote on an issue in the future.

I understand that one has to have a broad skill set to be an effective municipal councillor.  However, I didn’t think that clairvoyance and the ability to predict the future were included in that skill set.
In response to statements made by former Acting CAO Bob Johnston shortly after his departure from City Hall, Mayor Brian Bigger responded in part with the following statement:

“Every decision made by myself and council has been made in the best interest of our city and our citizens. Council has shown respect for staff and their enquiries for information should not be seen as interference. It is why we were elected. We expect a high standard of performance, which may be higher than evidenced in the past, but always in the best interest of the community. The mayor and council will continue to represent the public in a responsible and accountable manner. It is what the citizens of Greater Sudbury deserve.”

As the Mayor has been implicated by the Chair of Operations Committee in the process of establishing this public input meeting through a process outside of the Procedural By-law, as head of Council, I believe that he owes his fellow Council members an explanation as to how this meeting came about, and why it is being held now, in absent of any further decision point appearing on Council’s agenda.  Mayor Bigger owes it to the public to reassure us that despite the flagrant flaunting of the City’s procedural rules by those who have stated their public support of the Maley project, that our public input on the matter will be heard and considered in a meaningful way.  The Mayor must hold himself to the “high standard of performance” he has previously identified.

None of this can happen in the context of the March 1st public meeting.  I believe that it’s incumbent on the Mayor and administration to scrap this fraud of a meeting, and go to Council to seek direction on when it would be appropriate to hear from the public about Maley Drive through a process anticipated by the Procedural By-law and endorsed by Council.

Former Acting CAO Bob Johnston cited a lack of good governance as one of his primary concerns about what’s going on at City Hall behind closed doors.  Here’s how Mr. Johnston defined “good” and “poor” governance in the context of his experience at Tom Davies Square as Acting CAO:

“Good governance to me is a council that sets strategic goals, priorities and policies, and passes resolutions. It’s the staff that enacts those directions and provides services in the most cost-effective manner possible. The working environment was not conducive to that. Poor governance was contributing to this poor morale. I worked extremely closely with the mayor and chief of staff, and I have to be truthful – there was a very high level of micro-managing and interference in the work I was doing. And it was very negative towards the senior management team and the people working closest with the mayor and council.”

You can make up your own mind as to whether the debacle surrounding the calling of the Maley Drive public input meeting represents “good governance” in action or not.  After having taken a close look at the public’s ability to provide input on the Maley Drive Extension project, I believe that Mr. Johnston’s concerns are ones that we here in Greater Sudbury should take to heart.

I personally can’t participate in a fraud public input session.  I sincerely hope that the Mayor and members of Council seek out the public’s input in a legitimate, transparent and open manner which includes one or more appropriately constituted public input meetings.  Until that happens, I am refusing to take part in what appears to me to be a fraudulent public process.  And I encourage other citizens – and members of Council - to follow my lead.

UPDATE (February 18, 2016): The Clerk's office has confirmed with me that this meeting was in fact called by the Mayor, in consultation with the Chair of Operations Committee, as a special meeting of Council in the format of a public input meeting.  That's quite different than I was advised by the Chair of Operations Committee.  Further, special meetings are generally reserved for emergency situations (notice provisions for these meetings are far less robust), but I do acknowledge that the by-law provides no direction on when the Mayor can use this exclusive power.  So I no longer have questions related to process, per se.  Now I am left wondering why the Mayor believes that it was in the public interest to by-pass his Council through the use of these special powers to call a meeting.  Gathering public input on a matter that might never come before Council for a decision seems a strange case for the use of this special meeting section of the by-law.

Questions raised by the Operations Committee Chair with regards to how much time will be given to presenters remain outstanding at this time - so for all of those prepping to present, keep in mind you might only get 5 minutes, despite what the City has indicated in the meeting advert posted online.  Or you might have more time - I guess it all depends on the whim of Council.

(Opinions expressed in this blog are my own and should not be considered consistent with the policies and/or positions of the Green Parties of Ontario and Canada)

2 comments:

Greg D said...

Excellent work cutting thru the crap Steve...

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