City Hall Practises Democracy Putin-Style

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This is absolutely disgusting.

When the amalgamated City of Ottawa was created, the mantra repeatedly spoken by stakeholders, politicians and staff was “open, caring and inclusive”.

Where is that now?

Residents know of at least two confirmed instances where city staff and politicians deliberately withheld important and necessary information from the public. First, the Mooney’s Bay playground plan was not released to taxpayers and residents until there was no backing down from the project. That was an undemocratic and dictated act. Astonishingly even Ken “Good News” Hughes, the city auditor general, raised an eyebrow at that one.

Second, city staff and politicians called on the Salvation Army not to release its plans for a homeless centre relocation to Vanier until the deal was done … thereby shutting down participatory democracy in an important area of Ottawa public policy.

If you believe that the bad information you get is just the tip of the iceberg of bigger problems, the implications of these two acts are frightening. City staffers and politicians are withholding important public information because it works most times, not because it doesn’t. In how many instances have Ottawans been denied public information they should have seen? From the outside, it appears it has happened often.

What has gone on at Ottawa City Hall that residents should have known, but don’t?

Issues of importance must be debated in a public forum. That is critical to a free society. Democracy doesn’t just occur every four years. Election-day-only democracy is Putin-style.

Councillors Riley Brockington and Mathieu Fleury have rightly carried the can on these two odious mistakes in their wards.

But the responsibility is not all theirs.

Ultimately the buck stops at the desks of Mayor Jim Watson and city manager Steve Kanellakos.

Stop it. Ottawans deserve open, caring and inclusive government. We’re not getting it.

The 2018 municipal election is just around the corner. It’s time for voters to take charge and bring a culture of democracy and openness to Ottawa City Hall.

That means a reform mayor and a reform council … new people who will pledge to restore open, caring and inclusive government at city hall and replace individuals who stand in its way.

 


Video above: Russian leader Vladimir Putin on U.S. democracy.


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8 thoughts on “City Hall Practises Democracy Putin-Style

  1. Omerta refers to a code of conduct that places importance on silence, non-cooperation with authorities and non-interference in the illegal actions of others. This code is associated with criminal organizations.

    Ohmydirta is a pledge that many adhere to. It places importance on silence, non-disclosure to the public, turning a blind eye to the actions of others of your ilk and lots of spin-doctoring.

    Both result in cover-ups and nastiness. Breaking the code can result in consequences.

    In the first case you may end up wearing cement over-shoes. In the second case you end up being thrown under the bus.

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  2. My recollection is that Watson and Fleury both stated some time ago that the Salvation Army needed to be relocated.

    Who knew that plans had been ongoing for years? Both equally guilty and the Salvation Army is not enhancing its reputation with private meetings. Who loses? Residents of Vanier and people needing the Salvation Army services.

    Vanier has been used as a dumping ground for too long and I hope they mount a successful ‘SOS’ campaign as they did for the Montfort Hospital.

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  3. Thanks for this. I’d like to know at what point can the city back down from a project submitted by a developer? Time and again the fait accompli is presented to the taxpayers and residents during “consultation” sessions. The sessions are really: “This is what you getting so get over it.” Am I being cynical? No, I don’t think so.

    Once again, Riverside Park is being ill served by Riley Brockington. On behalf of city hall, he accepted a retirement project that would see commercial space and a reduction in park space. Both of these were not and are not in the community plans. Once again, the developers, as we all know, rule the roost.

    I’m certain other readers can provide numerous examples.

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    1. Anne:

      It’s discouraging isn’t it.

      I favour consultations but why hold them if the fix is in or no one is listening?

      The way to get people to listen at city hall is through the ballot box.

      cheers

      kgray

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  4. Agree that the failure of openness and transparency at City Hall is widespread. Need I remind anyone that in 2011 the up to then very well crafted synopsis Minutes of Standing Committees and Council were abolished. We’re giving you the audio and video, they said. Problem is, they often have technical problems, lately can only be accessed if you dig up your old Internet Explorer browser, and, of course cannot be searched.

    Now the City sits with a little egg. Bill 73 obliges them to have a Public Advisory Committee. Their proposal was laughed out of court last November. A proposal put forward by some citizens has received ZERO response.

    Tell me about transparency and openness.

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    1. I thought it was just my computer that had issues with the audio or video proceedings. I have to use Internet Explorer to listen/view and that is really the only time I use that browser. For some reason I can’t get the proceedings to work on Google Chrome or Firefox.

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      1. Luke:

        I was told last year by communications that tech at city hall was going to put council proceedings on Google Live in real time early this year.

        Now communications says there were no plans to do so.

        cheers

        kgray

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