Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Notes From FPCOW Meeting Apr. 23

FPCOW Meetings Will Be Captured On Video

The city managers report attempted to discourage council from video recording of the FPCOW meetings which are now being held in the Shaw Auditorium until such time as the new Annex is complete this fall.

In what seems almost like a contradiction, Councilor Johnstone says that she is in favour of transparency at city hall, but at the same time was opposed to the transparency the video recording would provide. Agreeing with city staff and others, Johnstone made the point that not being in front of cameras provided a more candid meeting where she felt more freedom to express her thoughts, a freedom she feels is lost in the more formal setting of the Shaw Auditorium and in front of cameras.

Her expression echoed the opinion of the city manager saying the less formal setting of a FPCOW meeting away from cameras allowed fro more in-depth review and discussion of issues. The inference being that as soon as the camera is present, and council are aware that the public can actually hear how they come to their decisions, this will somehow stifle the debate and deliberation you would hope council engages before deciding on city business. The idea that councillors may be too 'camera shy' to openly discuss matters is a little troubling to say the least.

As a personal observation I have always been bothered by the demonstrated lack of discussion that council engages in during regular council meetings. In fact, I had pretty much decided that Councillors must be meeting over coffee someplace to make up their minds, as open council meetings provide little insight into the 'decision making' process.


1 comment:

  1. You did not make clear the fact that, in the end, Council voted 6 to 3 to have the FPCOW meetings recorded. We will see how this plays out.
    At the same time, I do have some sympathy for Council. The Community Charter forbids them to meet outside the public eye, except by means of in-camera sessions which, if used honestly, are restricted to particular topics.
    So where should they go to have the kind of in depth and sometimes lengthy discussions which democracy requires. I submit that this is another function which can be performed by political parties which can wrangle over the arguments for and against an issue and thus provide some background which is missing in the current set up.


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