Welcome to London Civic Watch

"Ever wonder if City Council is as contentious and chaotic as it is sometimes portrayed? Here you can get a progressive perspective on some of the issues from someone who spent four years in the trenches. Totally unbiased, though! Feel free to comment but keep it respectful, just like they do at council."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Renovating Council Chambers

There was a bit of a dust up at the Board of Control meeting yesterday when we were considering the renovations that had been previously approved for council chambers. Controller Bud Polhill, who has supported this initiative many times before, suddenly decided he didn't like the price tag, even though the final cost to us will be just over a third of what was originally contemplated.

“Did you think we’d get it for free?” enquired the mayor.

“Don’t try to make a fool of me,” complained Polhill. “If you want to insult me, go out in the hallway and insult me. Don’t do it in public.”

Actually, Polhill was quite happy to go public in the hallway after the meeting where the media were only to eager to cover a bit of political posturing.

Because that’s what this was all about.

Both Bud and I served on the Governance Task Force which recommended a number of changes to the council chambers to make it more transparent, accessible and accountable to the public. These changes included electronic voting to ensure recorded simultaneous voting, shifting furniture to have council face the public, projection of motions being debated on a screen for public viewing, and a move to a paperless agenda.

These changes were adopted unanimously by the taskforce and by council in several separate votes. Additionally, the projects that dealt with these changes were adopted at the meetings on stimulus funding and budget considerations. Not once did the controller object to any of these proposals at the time.

Not only are we dealing with the same proposals for the renovations, the cost has declined by about two-thirds since we originally supported them when we expected to pay the whole shot ourselves, rather than getting help from the federal and provincial governments.

So what has changed?

An election is four months away. This is nothing more than a cynical move to cater to popular stereotypes about public spending. This is not the first about-face of this kind. It won’t be the last.

That’s why we need to implement these changes, to ensure that the public knows exactly what its elected representatives are saying and doing.

Accessibility, transparency, accountability. That’s what these renovations will give us. It's about time.


Graeme Meyer, Ward 4 Nominee said...

Thank you for sharing with residents of London.

Imagine Council Chamber Renovation discussion is ongoing. It is good to have debate on matters of importance to City of London and residents of London are keenly interested in variety of opinion on how City's Income is allocated. Thank You.

Anonymous said...

The one thing all of you are good at is spending taxpayer's money on yourselfs! No need to update the council chambers, I could hold meetings in a broom closet and accomplish more than gets done at silly council. Say NO to this waste of money.

Sonny Drysdale said...

Thanks for the background info, Gina. ... Too bad Andy Noodleman never knew of any of it before yesterday's rant on his radio show on CJBK and demanded the Mayor apologize to Bud for what was - to anyone with a brain - BLATANT ELECTIONEERING on Bud's part. ... Nice to know that at least you and Steve Garrison actually saw the script as it was written and responded appropriately.

I don't know what's worse, a seasoned radio-guy like Andy totally ignoring the obvious optics of Bud's sudden 'epiphany' or Bud's friend Jim Chapman asking 'what's wrong with changing your mind when it comes to tax-payer dollars, in an election year?'

Thank God we have Garrison - and to an extent, Jeff McArthur.

Butch McLarty said...

You nailed it, Sonny!

In Bud's case, flip-flopping appears to be genetic.