Sunday, April 27, 2014

Specific Issues With Governance Documents

Why Needed At All??

The first issue with the three reports that have burned through nearly 100,000 TAX $$$$$ is why in the world after years and years the Mayor and City Manager don't know how they are supposed to do their jobs? The city of Nanaimo was incorporated in 1874, so guidelines as to  how a city is to be governed should be pretty much established by now, one would like to think.

Why does Nanaimo need a special document outlining the role of the Mayor and Council? The BC Community Charter ( Section115 & 116) already clearly establishes what the responsibilities of the mayor and members of council are with sec. 116 defining responsibilities of the mayor, and section 115 setting out the responsibilities of council members.

Our Mayor is in his sixth year of office, nearing the end of his second term, and the city manager has been employed by the city many years in senior levels of management. For those paying attention their joint salaries likely well exceed $300,000/yr. which as I stated elsewhere should allow the city to employ people who actually already know how to do their jobs.

The need to hire three outside consultants and blow off another $100,000 could be a testament to a level of competence being demonstrated by the Mayor and city manager that should be of some concern to the taxpayers picking up their paychecks. If the Mayor is not sure of his job, and the city manager seems in the same boat, it gives little comfort to realize the Mayor hires the city manager.

The Governance Framework Roles & Responsibilities Could Muzzle Councillors

If left unchanged this document could see councilors sanctioned if a majority of council wished to find their conduct inappropriate. The language around these provisions is so open it could be abused to the point where any councilors in disagreement with the rest of council could in effect become impotent as a councilor.

While the document lays out the basis for disciplining rogue councilors it uses language such as bullying and intimidation as cause to remove a councilor from a committee, limit their access to staff or to municipal resources.

Anyone who has paid attention to this council will realize this document can be misused by the majority of council to muzzle the opinion of councilors the balance do not agree with.

While the document outlines the reasons for sanctioning a councilor, which I presume needs a simple majority of council to enforce, there is no defined mechanism whereby a councilor can appeal his/her case if they disagree with the finding. As it stands it is the perfect mechanism to shut down a councilor who strongly disagrees with a council decision.

In recent years a couple of glaring examples where this process could be misused would be the $20 million 'shiny new staff office' and the $30 million to replace Colliery dams.  At a time when Nanaimo needs more transparent, open and public debate, there seems an unsettling move to more and more secrecy, and bigger and bigger tools to shut down dissenting voices on council.


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