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REPORTING · 5th August 2010
Walter McFarlane
Dark Clouds on a Bright Summer’s Day: Part 1

Presentations were wrapping up at the City Council Meeting on August 3rd. Mayor Joanne Monaghan called for any public comments on upcoming Council items. Councillor Gerd Gottschling said he would like to speak to the George Cuff Reports which were scheduled for discussion later in the evening. Monaghan suggested he wait.

So when the time came for a motion, Monaghan called upon Councillor Mario Feldhoff, who was the first person with his hand in the air for a motion. He motioned for the information within to be received as background information for their meeting with George Cuff.

“I think I would like to speak, Madam Mayor, I’d like to…” began Gottschling

“Point of order Madam Mayor,” interrupted Councillor Mario Feldhoff. “You can speak to the motion once it’s…”

“Point of order,” exclaimed Councillor Randy Halyk. “The Mayor asked you specifically instead of asking Council.”

“The Mayor can ask whomever she wants to recommend. It’s her purgative as the Chair,” said Feldhoff. While he was speaking, Monaghan in the background was trying to talk over him: “No, he raised his hand.”

“Excuse me, he raised his hand and I asked him as I would anyone else sir,” said Monaghan.

Bob Corless seconded the motion.

“I don’t have anything to say at this time Madam Mayor,” said Feldhoff when asked if he wanted to speak to the motion.

Gottschling on the other hand wished to speak to the motion. He asked Monaghan when they would be meeting with Cuff. She replied they would be setting up the conference call when Trafford Hall returned from holidays and he could do this now with him back in town.

“I believe this is essential to clarify the role of the Mayor and Council to create a more collegial environment in our Council Chambers,” said Gottschling.

Gottschling had just started to speak when Feldhoff cut him off to remind him this was his motion, not Gottschling's. Gottschling said he had 15 minutes… “You didn’t ask me,” said Monaghan. Feldhoff stated Gottschling had only 5 minutes to speak to this motion. Gottschling reminded Monaghan he did ask to speak on this motion.

This protocol had been explained at a Council meeting a while ago. When a motion has been made and has been seconded, the person who made the motion has 15 minutes to speak to it, then each of the other Councillors can speak to it once for five minutes each, then the mover has a chance to close his discussion for 5 minutes before the motion is called. It is also often brought up that people who present to Council have 15 minutes to speak, not including time for questions and answers.

Why is this all so important? The person who submitted the report for the Council Package was Councillor Gerd Gottschling, he had come prepared to speak to this motion only to have Councillor Feldhoff beat him to the punch. Gottschling was permitted to speak to the motion and he was about to rock the Council Chambers.

To all present it appeared as if the Mayor turned to Feldoff in an attempt to obstruct fair judicial procedure.