Seeking Accountability and Transparency at City Hall
“We are going to have a much more inclusive council than we’ve ever seen before,” he said. – Brian Bowman at City Council Inauguration Meeting, November 4, 2014 (Winnipeg Free Press)
“Mayor Brian Bowman abandoned a promise to change the way EPC members are appointed but says other measures have been put in place to create a more collaborative council.” (Global News Winnipeg, October 28, 2016)
In the 2014 election campaign, when I was knocking on doors in the South Winnipeg-St. Norbert ward, I heard repeatedly from residents about the need to strengthen accountability and transparency at City Hall …. and rightly so. Accountability and transparency are two of the principles that guide public sector governance as well as integrity, stewardship, leadership, efficiency and customer service.
The point of this blog is not to criticize, but to provide some insight into what’s happening at City Hall to become more ‘inclusive and collaborative ’ under the current leadership model. I was elected to make change – and I will continue trying to do so in this odd environment.
What ‘Inclusive and Collaborative Measures’ looks like at City Hall
In 2014, I was appointed by Mayor Bowman to sit as Co-Chair on the Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region (PMCR) with Mayors and Reeves of the Capital region. PMCR is focused on collaborating and working together for the benefit of Winnipeg and the surrounding municipalities. Their goals are to:
- Develop a competitive, economically strong Capital Region
- Build strong civic leadership in the Capital Region and strengthen working relationships
- Create awareness of Capital Region issues and concerns;
- And resolve issues.
As Co-Chair of PMCR, I represent the City of Winnipeg, attend regular monthly meetings, and participate in Partnership conferences and events. I have represented the City at PMCR meetings for the last 2.5 years. Not once during this time have I been asked to provide updates to the Mayor on PMCR initiatives.
In April, 2017, Mayor Bowman attended a PMCR meeting for the first time. I was not notified by the Mayor’s office of his desire to attend a meeting, despite the fact that I serve as Co-Chair of PMCR.
Late on Friday, May 5, an e-mail from Mayor Bowman was sent to all City Councillors inviting them to join him and the PMCR Mayors and Reeves to a ball hockey game and BBQ to launch Neighbours Day. This initiative came as complete surprise to me, despite the fact that I serve as Co-Chair of PMCR.
- Other non-Executive Policy Council Members and I were not briefed on the new Neighbours Day initiative or why the City was launching it. However, I was expected to attend the event and wait for the ‘announcement’ to learn more,
- Other ‘Non-Executive Policy Council Members’ obtained details about Neighbours Day through local media and via a tweet that contained a video, asking residents to invite Councillors to the ball hockey game.
Should I, as Co-Chair of PMCR, received notice of this event and PMCR’s involvement in it?
Should ALL City Council Members have received a briefing on a brand new City initiative before the media and public did?
Is this considered to be inclusive and collaborative behaviour?
Should this matter to taxpayers? It matters because I could substitute Neighbours Day for multiple examples of FAR MORE SIGNIFICANT issues where there has been little to no inclusiveness and lack of collaboration with City Council members, i.e. UBER, Impact Fees, lobbyist registrations, inquiries, etc
As always, I welcome your input on this as well as any other issues – E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Strong leadership is more than talking- it’s actually rolling up the sleeves and doing what you say you will do. And I’m not seeing that occur on many fronts.