Hey Kevin! Thanks for making this page available for everyone! Well, so far this election has been conducted very politely. Everyone has been very respectful to one another and to the organizers of the forums. I’m going to be the one to change that now.
Like you, I’ve been watching council with a keen interest for a number of years and I have to say that this last term has been horrendous! This council is completely dysfunctional and the decisions that have come out of council chambers have done nothing for this city but make its taxpayers dig deeper into their pockets!
Last election we were sold a bill of goods. The term “Core Review” was used a lot during that campaign. Like many people, I thought “Core Review” meant an internal examination of City Hall, with a focus on streamlining the delivery of local government and administration. What we got was the “Core Services Review” (when did the “Services” part get added?!) which did nothing more than pay $300K to KPMG to tell city council to raise taxes and user fees and sell off city-owned assets. Who voted for that?
User fees at the hockey rinks, entry costs for the swimming pools, costs to use the civic centre, and downtown parking costs all got increased. And what happened when we, the taxpayers complained? Empress Green insisted that we all voted for this. Really? I call “Bait and Switch!”
More to the point, let’s look at which councillors supported these increases, and which councillors wanted to re-visit the costs. Cameron Stoltz (the City’s poster-boy for user-pay) and Dave Wilbur insisted downtown parking costs should stay the way administration had advised. Stoltz even went so far as to scream, “Jesus Christ, can’t we at least base this (increased parking fees) on science?” in the middle of council chambers. Hey, Cameron really wants to see us paying more, and it frustrates him when councillors concerned about its citizens try to do the right thing. Wilbur don’t think a few hundred dollars a year should make a difference. He was more concerned abut having to re-do the same work, rather than getting it right for the citizens of Prince George. Frank Everitt, Lyn Hall, and Garth Frizzell all supported a notice of motion to revisit costs. We should all remember that when we go to the polls.
This last year, I had the opportunity to attend a forum for First Nations Housing. One of the topics of discussion was the desire of administration to create a policy that could survive a change in chief and council. You see, they wanted to make sure that a policy they put in place to enforce rent collection with the threat of eviction wouldn’t be reversed after an election. That made me think. We keep voting for a new mayor and councillors looking for change, but we keep getting the same old same old. Why is that? It’s because we have bylaws and administrators that survive a change in council. What has to happen is for new councillors to work together to change the procedural bylaws that have been put in place to give authority back to council where it belongs.
Do you realize that an item can’t be added to the council agenda unless approved by administration?
Have you watched recent council meetings? Did you hear what happened when council unanimously asked Beth James, City Manager, to provide a quarterly report showing all of the outside consultants used and money spent? She told them it would take FIVE HOURS and that everyone was already really busy! REALLY?!
Speaking of staffing at City Hall, can someone please tell me why Bill Gaal still has a job? Remember him? He’s the guy who sat in front of City Council in January saying there was nothing wrong with city snowclearing and that peoples’ expectations were just too high and then was back in February saying that poor maintenance practices, poor management, poor scheduling, and ineffective supervision had, indeed, created the disaster we all know last year’s snow-clearing was! How do you feel knowing that he got a raise and a promotion after that performance?
As for snow-clearing (and outside consultants), now that the City has paid $140K to a consultant, the City is budgeting $700,000 to replace a bunch of equipment. That’s ridiculous! I say, let’s see management show us they can effectively deploy what they have before pulling non-existent funds out of a still-in-the-works budget just because some consultant says so!
Kevin, I can go on-and-on for pages-and-pages! Any of your readers is welcome to reply here, email me, or give me a call. I call Prince George home as do all of you. We deserve responsible representation from people genuinely concerned about bettering their community, not wannabee-politicians trying to make a name for themselves, build an empire, or use a council position as a stepping stone using our money to finance their plans!
You’ve asked me to answer your questions and I will do so now.
Why vote for me? Don’t. I’m not the right candidate. There are some really fine people running like Terry McConnachie, Jason Luke, Ron Gallo, and Roy Spooner who will work very hard, work with fellow councillors, engage taxpayers in discussion concerning city matters, and hold city staff accountable.
What can the city to do keep kids busy, safe, and out of gangs? Well, Kevin, first of all that’s really not the job of the city, it’s the job of their parents. If you go to the lobby of City Hall and look through the directory of departments, you won’t find one labelled Social Services. The City’s job is to keep water running through the pipes, maintain and keep local roads clear, and pick up the garbage every week. Right now we’ve got rotting pipes in the ground and our water mains keep failing, we all know what happened to our snow-clearing last year, and we still haven’t been able to get recycling to all areas of the City. Seems to me we should concentrate on what we are supposed to be doing before we try to get involved in areas that fall under senior government’s jurisdiction.
Again, thanks for giving us all this space. I look forward to lots of dialog leading up to the election.