Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nanaimo Civic Election 2011

Time to Start Building An Election Platform

Given the great weather we are having, and given it is the final two weeks of freedom for the kids, most of us can be forgiven if the next civic election is far from our minds.

However, it is time for those seeking to guide the city for the next three years to seriously outline a platform that they not only think will get them elected, but they will commit to if they are elected.

Nanaimo civic polictics for the most part is just a little bit of theatre with special interest groups throwing their support behind their favoured candidate assuring them enough money for signs and ads to get themselves elected.

The meet the candidate meetings are pretty shallow with little opportunity for any meaningful discussion with the candidates. The moderators usually just lob softballs at the candidates and there is little chance to get to know anyone in the couple of hours the meetings last.

If history is repeated fewer people than ever will even bother voting with the result that councilors will be elected with less than 15% of the eligible vote. The voting statistics in Nanaimo (and Canada in general) are a sad reflection of how we handle a freedom people around the world are laying their lives down for. Yet, we are too self centered and self absorbed to get involved in our community and have our say in how our tax dollars are going to be spent for the next three years.

We can make up all sorts of excuses for our own apathetic laziness, but the fact of the matter is that democracy will only work when we ALL are involved in the process, our lack of involvment has led to the current political landscape which most of us are unhappy about, but too damn lazy to do anything about.
For candidates, and would-be candidates I offer the following suggestions for what I think could be a sound election platform for candidates to campaign on. Ones which I seriously think will benefit Nanaimo for years to come, as clearly the current council and city staff have never demonstrated any real desire or ability to hold the line on taxes.

Remember we could have had a ZERO percent tax increase for five years, but council led by city staff chose to spend $16 million on a shiny new office for city staff. They did it all behind closed doors, and without going to tender for the building.

Suggested Platform
  • Complete Core Review At City Hall.
  • Limit top management jobs to no more than 5 year term.
  • Zero based budgeting in all departments, eliminate the bloat in the budget, remember there was $12 million just lying around waiting to build an annex.
  • Institute a Town Hall meeting every three months allowing the public to ask questions of city council in a public forum. Transparency and openess are absolutely necessary.
  • Rip up contract for new annex and apply money saved to holding line on taxes for the next 4 or 5 years.
  • Revisit the demands imposed by VIHA and seriously consider if we need a new water treatment plant.
  • If we do need a new plant, hire an outside project manager to manage the entire project, as I doubt anyone at city hall is capable of running such a costly project. Remember, it is the same bunch that brought you a $52 million convention centre for only $75 million.
  • Examine all costs associated with 'emergency' line to Harmac and determine if it is really necessary at all.
  • Commit to holding the line on tax increases to ZERO for the next ten years, and mean it!


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