'On the Other Hand'
July 27, 2015
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To the Editor:
Despite my decision to retire last fall from municipal politics, I remain very interested in the future and the decisions being made . From time to time I would like to comment or challenge some of those issues and decisions in a respectful manner . I would like to call this letter to the editor - " On the Other Hand "
For those of you who follow municipal politics it would appear that there have been considerable "growing pains" for our council during the last few months. Given there are 6 members of a nine member council with little experience, it has ended up in a lot of late night meetings with extensions of time to get the job done beyond the procedural curfew.
Recently there was the discussion on updating the procedural bylaw. My take on the procedural bylaw is that it is absolutely necessary to keep some semblance of structure and order not only for councilors but the public as well.
One item in particular was the suggestion that an "open forum" be started so that members of the public can ask questions. Of interest is that this amendment to the bylaw was defeated in a 4/4 vote by councilors. One councllor suggested that it should come back to council as the absent member with the ninth vote perhaps would have voted in favour.
Having listened to the various reasons councilors gave to either support or reject this change left me wondering was it really a good idea at all ?
The intent of the open forum is to allow members of the public to bring issues to councilors with the cameras rolling and the press available. One council member however, suggested that there already exists many opportunities for members of the public to engage any or all councilors either through deputations, letters to councilors, phone calls, etc.
There were those who suggested that this type of open forum was already experimented with during the DGR Liaison Committee and it worked, and with this I beg to differ .
My observations of many meetings over the last few years did not make me think for one minute that an open forum would work. Time and time again many people would stand up shout and insult councilors and staff. In fact, just less then two months ago, the chair of a council meeting had to deal with an unruly spectator to the point of nearly suspending the meeting.
For those who must make decisions based on ALL the facts, it leaves little or no time for a factual response as some of the issues will need research. Given the history of the behaviour of some folks, it certainly could seem counter-productive to making an informed decision.
Council members are given many recommendations and options for making a final decision and an open forum would seem to me very counter-productive. An open forum has the potential to become a circus something Saugeen Shores does not need.
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Sunday, July 26, 2015