First published: October 19, 2006
Port Hope councillor John Morand was quick to respond to the column on openness with a copy of his campaign literature. Feel free to check out what he promises by reading on.
Transparency – No More Secret Meetings!
We demand and support open and accountable governments at the municipal level and will continue to fight for it. Council and its agencies and controlled corporations are not private corporations or secret societies. All council and staff decision making must become fully transparent. One secret meeting is one too many!
John will continue to work hard to make certain that the public is able to monitor all decision making in process not hear the results when council or committee members come out from behind closed doors with a behind closed doors “done deal.”
No straw votes or polls should be taken in camera. He will do his best to insure that there is a full discussion of the agenda item in open council by council members and voted on in public. Port Hope council must become a leader in accountability and open decision making. From time to time that may be uncomfortable for council and our community but open meetings are the right way to go!
All Committee meetings and Harbour Commission meetings must be on the public schedule and all committees must start in public, go into camera only if legislated and then report out for debate and decision. John supports your right to know!
Public Input and Participation
Port Hope is a community that thrives on public input and participation. John would like to see the current efforts of Council enhanced. John would encourage council to hold quarterly Town Hall meetings where the public are free to make statements and ask questions of elected officials and senior staff about any issue that bothers them. John would encourage council to:
1.) Rotate Council/Committee meetings to the Canton Municipal offices at least quarterly to recognize the duality of our community,
2.) Allow the public’s to address council from the floor before a decision is made to give them input into the agenda before rather than after a decision,
3.) Provide agenda information fee of charge or at a nominal cost ($1.00) to those without computers or on a fixed income – pensioners!
4.) All legitimate in-camera (secret) meetings must be held at the start of regular council and the results reported out when council resumes in public.
Committee Chairs and Structure, Deputy Mayor Selection, Public Input and Participation
John has a number of recommendations for the new council at its first meeting. They are all designed to increase efficiency, effectiveness and public participation. They all deserve consideration and debate. There are also suggestions from other council members and the public which should be discussed during this election campaign. I favour suggestions, 2, 4, 5, 6 & 7.
1.) Create two deputy mayors, one from each ward and assign them responsibility of coordinating the issues in their ward and be part of an executive committee that would meet regularly with staff to make certain policy development and implementation flow as a single process, or
2.) The largest vote getter is offered the position of Deputy Mayor first and if he or she declines it is offered to the next individual, or
3.) Rotate the Deputy Mayor position yearly to council members based on election standing and availability,
4.) Elect the Deputy Mayor at large,
5.) Rotate committee chairs at mid-term,
6.) Assign a vice-chair to each committee with the vice-chair having the first pick on rotation,
7.) If a committee Chair is away on business or ill then the vice –chair not the Mayor chairs the committee,
8.) Combine committee of the whole and council meetings into one meeting every two weeks as is done in many Canadian Communities. The off week would be available for other functions.