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EDITORIAL – Five words that would help City council talk to people

 

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

AS MAYOR REID HAMER-JACKSON continues to contemplate the structure and membership of City council committees, here are a couple of additional thoughts for him.

He has the foundation of a good idea with his intention to set up task forces to deal with specific issues. While committees are still needed for some things, task forces have two things going for them: they can include members of the public, and they usually have a defined shelf life — when the job has been accomplished, they fold up their tents.

While he’s at it, the mayor should put his mind to a couple of other things that would enhance public involvement.

The first one is simple: do away with just five words on the weekly agendas for regular council meetings. Those words are, “matters relating to the agenda.”

On each agenda there’s a section for public inquiries. It’s supposed to provide an opportunity for citizens to ask questions of council or staff. It can be awkward when people get stubborn or combative, or wander off course; the five little words are supposed to add a measure of control to the proceedings.

But they’re counter-productive. Politics can be awkward.

Why shouldn’t taxpayers be able to stand up and talk to council about anything they like, whether it’s on the agenda or not? The control game doesn’t help connect the public with the politicians who serve them.

Let people in. Hold open-door days in the mayor’s office, no appointments necessary. Take council meetings into the community.

It’s been done before and it’s worth doing again. It’s amazing what can happen when ideas are given free rein. Few people have the time to attend council meetings on an afternoon, or even watch the livestream, but when council goes to Valleyview or Westsyde or Brocklehurst or elsewhere in the city, people appreciate it and turn up.

This is a mayor who wants to connect, and there are many ways to do it.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (9358 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Five words that would help City council talk to people

  1. Political success can be metamorphic to a person’s character.

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