City Has Conflict Of Interest Beyond Lansdowne: Reader

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Frequent Bulldog contributor Ron Benn looks at the conflict of interest between the city’s entertainment interests and those of the Ottawa Senators in a rink at LeBreton Flats.

Mayor Jim Watson wants to have sole negotiating responsibility along with city manager Steve Kanellakos to work out a deal with the Senators and the National Capital Commission on the project:

The City of Ottawa has a real conflict of interest on any matter that involves a privately funded (in whole or in part) entertainment facility within Ottawa by virtue of its $125-million-plus expenditure on Lansdowne.

That has (the illusion of) a future revenue stream that will feed into Ottawa’s $3-billion-plus operating budget. No resolution, instruction (fill in any noun you want mayor, it will not change the following conclusion) passed by council will change that conflict of interest.

It reminds me of the defence put forward by Andy Fastow, the then CFO of Enron, during his fraud trial, that since Enron’s board of directors gave him permission to be in a conflict of interest, he was no longer in a conflict of interest. Feel free to ask Fastow how that turned out.

Mind you, the above lecture is directed at a group of elected officials who, collectively though not necessarily individually, do not comprehend that accepting election campaign funds from organizations, or the principals thereof, that do business with the City of Ottawa creates a conflict of interest.

 


 

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3 thoughts on “City Has Conflict Of Interest Beyond Lansdowne: Reader

  1. Conflict of interest
    How does a person decide what constitutes a conflict?

    – Emotions,beliefs,social cliques,friends,family,etc. :
    If I know someone or of someone then there is a possible conflict of interest. The more I know about you the more the possibility of conflict will exist.
    – Financial connections:
    If I can gain something monetary for myself or a friend or a family member then the possibility of conflict increases.
    – Status:
    If dealing with someone could enhance or could be detrimental to my status then there is a possible conflict.

    There are so many things that can create a conflict of interest. This is why it is necessary to have several parties on one side of the table and several parties on the other side.

    Two people from the city does not constitute a great enough of a barrier against actual or perceived conflict. This could be particularly troublesome when one was exuberantly welcomed back to the city by the other and the other believes his boss “has the pulse of the city better than anyone I’ve ever seen” (quote is from a Bulldog podcast interview).

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  2. The city does have a code of ethics and also I think a code of conduct which applies to employees and council alike. Conflict of interest should be covered within one or the other but on many occasions council and the mayor appear to work in ignorance of both codes.

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  3. The bid submitted by Melnyk’s group contained an incredible amount of density (about 8,000 housing units if memory serves me correctly). We were told that the density was required to generate enough profits to cover the cost of building the arena. While we may not wanted to see such density, it was a fair trade-off. Sort of like Section 37.

    Regardless of whether or not the city is in conflict, why would they even be talking about government money when none was ever asked for. If there is any government money required, then the density should be dropped as there will be no financial reason for so much massing.

    This city does a really strange job of negotiating. Their opening position seems to be: “we don’t care that you said this was going to be paid for strictly by the private sector, please take our money”.

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