Monday, June 11, 2012

Tripping Babies

Parents know how difficult the transition from crawling to walking can be for a baby. It takes patience and love, but mostly it requires a great deal of encouragement.


Changing the attitude and accountability of government is also difficult. Very difficult. But what happens when politicians vote against the idea of simply researching the reforms? Absolutely nothing happens, as we will find out.


Recently, 11 of our elected officials voted against the initial baby step of researching progressive reform. 


That's right, just the mention of researching and becoming prepared for change and possible engagement with citizens was enough to spook 11 of the 15 members of Calgary City Council. 


For the record, 4 new members of council, Mayor Nenshi and Aldermen Carra, Demong & Keating were the only politicians to embrace the idea of simply researching and developing a pro and con background report on various governance reforms.


Who voted against the incredibly frightening proposition of researching governance reform?


Pincott-Pootmans-Stevenson-Chabot-DCU-Farrell-Hodges-Jones-Lowe-MacLeod-Mar all voted against the Demong motion. 


Ostensibly, this was a simple symbolic baby step towards the possibility of more open and accountable governance. 


11 aldermen tripped the baby.


As citizens, we need to get this baby back on her feet.


~Paul Hughes




Backgrounder:


The essence of the motion was to research:



·         Term limits and whether they have provided evidence of improved governance or not;

·         What audit, overseer and reporting rights should the Province hold or not hold, and of those processes what should be mandatory or discretionary;

·         Taxpayer protection legislation and approaches-experiences elsewhere;

·         Creating an office of City Ombudsman





Here's the complete dirt:


On 19March2012, Ward 14 Ald Peter Demong made the following motion at Calgary City Council:


8.1


DISTRIBUTION

At the request of Alderman P. Demong, and with the concurrence of the Mayor, the City Clerk distributed copies of Alderman P. Demong’s Revised Motion NM2012-16.



ADOPT, Moved by Alderman P. Demong, Seconded by Alderman S. Keating, that with respect to Part 1 of Alderman P. Demong's Revised Motion, NM2012-16, the following be adopted:

WHEREAS Recent political discussion has noted that the Province may be open to setting up a different relationship structure with Alberta’s major cities, either through a Large City Charter or by other amendments to the Municipal Government Act;

AND WHEREAS the Calgary Chamber of Commerce is launching a Great Cities Event Series campaign to explore new tools, authorities and innovations in financing, funding and managing our cities;

AND WHEREAS little formal discussion has taken place with Calgarians with respect to what changes Council might request if such a review of the MGA were to suddenly be approved;

AND WHEREAS if such a review were to take place, then it is vital that citizens, taxpayer groups and other involved stakeholders be thoroughly consulted; and they will likely be seeking input into how more accountability, checks and balance, and fairness and equity in public and electoral processes will be assured;

AND WHEREAS if The City of Calgary were to initiate such public discussions – prior to any review announcement – and engage sizeable numbers of citizens in the process, the resulting public and media interest might help provide a further catalyst precipitating such a review, which could be vital to Calgary’s best interests in future;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Council request the Mayor’s office, along with Administration, and in consultation with other interested stakeholders, develop a proposed action plan, with budget implications, to undertake a broad and open public consultation process that would assist in determining what changes in powers, legislation, rights and responsibilities the citizens might want to see in an amended Municipal Government Act or in a Large Cities Charter, and report back to Council through the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee no later than September 2012 with the cost and schedule for the proposed public consultation process for Council’s consideration.                                       

ROLL CALL VOTE:

For:
G-C. Carra, P. Demong, S. Keating, N. Nenshi

Against:
B. Pincott, R. Pootmans, J. Stevenson, A. Chabot, D. Colley-Urquhart, D. Farrell, D. Hodges, R. Jones, G. Lowe, G. MacLeod, J. Mar

MOTION LOST


ADOPT, Moved by Alderman P. Demong, Seconded by Alderman S. Keating, that with respect to Part 2 of Alderman P. Demong's Revised Motion, NM2012-16, the following be adopted:

AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that Administration be asked to concurrently research and develop a pro and con background report on various governance reforms (Municipal Government Act or others) in order for Council to be prepared to engage the public in an informed and balanced manner, such report to include:

·         Term limits and whether they have provided evidence of improved governance or not;

·         What audit, overseer and reporting rights should the Province hold or not hold, and of those processes what should be mandatory or discretionary;

·         Taxpayer protection legislation and approaches-experiences elsewhere;

·         Creating an office of City Ombudsman; and

·         And any other likely amendments identified by the Administration.

The results of this background research are to be directed to Council through the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee as soon as it is possible to do so.

VOTE WAS AS FOLLOWS:

For:
G-C. Carra, P. Demong, S. Keating, N. Nenshi

Against:
B. Pincott, R. Pootmans, J. Stevenson, A. Chabot, D. Colley-Urquhart, D. Farrell, D. Hodges, R. Jones, G. Lowe, G. MacLeod, J. Mar

MOTION LOST