If you visited Vancouver City Hall this week, you may have stumbled upon a very unusual sight taking place just beneath Mayor Gregor Robertson’s newly renovated office. Elected politicians from the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) and Green Party were teaming up to hold their first-ever joint news conference.
The issue that brought councillors George Affleck, Elizabeth Ball and Adriane Carr on stage together was a mutual concern that the Vision-dominated council is severely restricting the amount of budget information made available to the public.
Up until Robertson and his Vision team were elected in 2008, it was common practice for city bureaucrats to publish a full report of the city’s finances on their website. However, since 2009, what the public and media are provided with is a watered down "Cole’s Notes" version instead.
By limiting access to critical budget information again this year, Vision has unwittingly found a way of uniting the Greens and NPA on the key issue of openness and transparency. Yet despite the unwanted media attention, Robertson won’t be opening up the City’s books anytime soon.
What’s happening in Vancouver is in stark contrast to an initiative Port Coquitlam Mayor and Metro Vancouver Chair Greg Moore launched this week. He is committing to publishing on the city’s website a complete record of his meetings and activities on a monthly basis.
While Moore deserves kudos for his announcement, we can only hope he takes this enthusiasm one step further. How about webcasting all of the Metro Vancouver meetings as well as posting online all of the board of director expense claims? If he were to accomplish this, then we’d all know he was truly putting our money where his mouth was.
Meanwhile, back at Vancouver Fort Knox, Robertson’s Chief of Staff Mike Magee was also making headlines this week after he lashed out at the small business community. That’s because they had the temerity to place newspaper ads denouncing his Vision government for not doing enough in the budget to keep costs under control.
While it might have felt good to release some steam, Magee’s outburst is not sitting well with some of Vancouver’s key business leaders. However, don’t expect any of them to speak out publicly as they fear being singled out by the Mayor’s office.
After only a few months of winning another majority government, Robertson has done what few could have anticipated. He’s managed to alienate a large portion of his COPE allies, forge a bizarre alliance between the two opposition parties and anger the small business community. Suddenly this term of government is starting to look a lot different than the last.
- post by Daniel