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— City of Brandon website
OK, consider this editorial disclaimed.
Most of the time, council does some pretty good work on behalf of the folks who elected them.
They try their best and are in the business of embarrassing themselves.
For the most part.
One of our favourite items on the bi-weekly council meeting agenda are councillor inquiries. Here’s where you can tell if a rep is in it for the guts (truly helping his ward) or the glory (face time on the cable TV broadcast and city webcast).
There has been a spate of rather silly questions of late being uttered from around the oval table on Ninth Street and we thought we’d share a couple with you today, along with an example of a serious inquiry and important answer:
•Enquirer: Jeff Harwood. Enquiry No.: 320
Subject: AMOUNT OF LITTER ON MCDIARMID DRIVE
Meeting Date: 11/5/2012
Enquiry: Councillor Harwood advised that the amount of litter on McDiarmid Drive had become a problem. He enquired if the area businesses and Vincent Massey High School could be contacted for assistance in getting the area cleaned up.
Response: Enquiry No. 320 Response.
Ian Grant, acting chief of police, fielded that foul ball. Councillor Harwood ... enquired if the area businesses and Vincent Massey School could be contacted for assistance in getting the area cleaned up. In response to the enquiry, the Police Service By-law Enforcement Unit attended to the McDiarmid Drive area. There was some minor littering found in and around a couple of food businesses in the area. Management of the businesses was met with and were extremely co-operative, agreeing to conduct clean-up in and around their businesses on a regular basis.
Although there were no litter issues in and around the Vincent Massey High School during the By-Law patrols, contact was made with the school administration. A request was made to remind all students not to litter should they attend to any of the food establishments in the area or otherwise. Minor littering ... no issues.
Our view: A waste of bylaw time when they should be enforcing more important bylaws such as the Solid Waste Collection and Disposal Bylaw.
•Enquirer: Jan Chaboyer. Enquiry No.: 339
Subject: WATER USED FOR FLOODING RINKS AND WATERING BOULEVARD FLOWERS
Meeting Date: 12/3/2012
Enquiry: Councillor Chaboyer enquired if treated water was used for flooding rinks and watering boulevard flowers, and if so, whether other more economical options could be considered.
Response: Enquiry No. 339 Response
Perry Roque, director of community services responding via letter that the water for the flowers came from the Parks Building and fire hydrants with the annual cost of same being approximately $15,000.00 split evenly between watering of flowers, trees, etc. and other parks operations such as the greenhouse and flooding of the skating oval. The city manager agreed to take this matter of the potential to use untreated water under advisement.
Our view: OK, we can see the use of untreated river water for flower baskets and city gardens, but certainly not for skating rinks. Toddlers slip and slide all over that ice, which melts, releasing whatever hardy organisms could survive freezing. And that untreated water then can easily be ingested by a young one — or an adult helping to untie their skates.
People could get sick.
However, there was a diamond in the rough lately.
It looks as if the city has finally formalized conflict of interest guidelines.
This comes after our own Arab Spring where a small group of folks were ready to storm city hall with pitchforks and torches over the mayor’s perceived conflict of interest over a vote she made and land she owns downtown,
•Con Arvisais, a good and decent man, has finally laid down the law:
Re: Conflict of Interest Rules for Council Members on Boards and Committees
Enquiry No. 338 City Council Meeting Dec. 3, 2012
The following is in response to Coun. (Shaun) Berry enquiring at the above noted meeting on the potential conflict of interest for members of city council appointed to boards and committees.
These would include the Brandon Downtown Development Corporation (Renaissance Brandon), Brandon General Museum and Archives Inc., the Keystone Centre and the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium. Basically, the Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act applies to councillors appointed to those boards. It also applies to regular council meetings.
Our view is that the act is quite clear: If you or a member of your family have a direct pecuniary (financial) interest, you better get the heck out of that part of the meeting that effects you or you’re gonna be in trouble. You could even lose your seat.
Arvisais says he has spoken with representatives of the above noted autonomous incorporated bodies, who have agreed to abide by the Act.
But here’s the part of Arvisais’s letter we felt was quite interesting and is almost an escape clause for many politicians who could be flirting with a conflict:
However, that member may participate in discussions and voting on the matter if such interests do not exceed the pecuniary interest of an ordinary resident in the matter. In such cases, there would be no conflict of interest in accordance with The Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act.
Our view: Define for us, please, an ordinary resident.