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REPORTING · 21st September 2010
Walter McFarlane
On Tuesday, September 7th, Councillor Randy Halyk gave notice of motion to set guidelines for Council based on the advice of George Cuff. At the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, September 13th, Halyk provided a point form version of the report and made the motion.

“I’d like to move a motion that the guidelines be set for Council according to George Cuff’s Recommendations,” said Halyk. “The report from George Cuff indicates that we need to have some guidelines so Council and the Mayor have a baseline of understanding. I therefore resolve that Council adopt a short list of guidelines attached. They in no way reflect any other principals other then those of Mr. Cuff and they reflect favourably on the Local Government Act. Mr. Cuffs recommendations have already been accepted verbally by the rest of Council including the Mayor and I see this as the next logical step.”

He added this would ensure the money spent on consultants would result in action. He also asked for friendly amendments to the guidelines he presented so they could put this problem to rest.

In addition to Halyk’s notes, administration provided a recommendation where they considered the problem could already been solved as things had not fallen apart since meeting with cuff. They also provided the George Cuff report and an amalgamation of what Cuff, Halyk and Gottschling had provided to Council.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff expressed opposition of formalizing the Cuff report and suggested simply being more respectful in debate. He suggested the Council already has a set of bylaws for how they conduct themselves and deal with each other. He suggested they do not need new rules gumming up the works when everyone interprets them differently.

Halyk expressed concern because he had hoped these resolutions would resolve issues rather then cause them. He expressed again: “I know that we have spent a whole lot of money on bringing people here to tell us what the best way to do business is and I think that we need to act on something. We need to come up with some kind of guideline, I’m not saying the one I put forward is the end all be all but we all agreed that Mr. Cuff knew what he was saying when he said it and all I’ve done is taken Mr. Cuff’s wordy document and shortened it to point form so it was simple and easy to read.”

Councillor Gerd Gottschling could not see why they would not adopt this appendix. He said the reason they kept running into trouble was because they did not acknowledge their guidance which consisted of 2 books and several documents and prior consultants. “If we don’t put it in writing, if we don’t follow rules and guidelines, then we’ll be in the same trouble and we’re going to spend some more money trying to find another consultant.”

Gottschling suggested going through the document phrase by phrase and voting on them and these issues have kept Council from moving forward. “These are trying times and if we don’t have rules to play the game properly, we are going to make our own rules and that’s what’s happened,” said Gottschling.

Feldhoff wished to add there would be value to self evaluating the Council Meetings after the fact to look at what happened. He did not wish to argue over interpreting the rules of engagement.

Councillor Bob Corless stated nothing was wrong with Council. “Debate is healthy, debates always worked in the past,” said Corless, “The only thing that remains broken is when somebody doesn’t get their way. That’s happened for 15 years. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. You give it your best shot. I don’t understand what’s broke. If somebody didn’t want something the way you wanted it? So that happens all the time around Council tables. That’s why there’s seven of us. Hopefully, the Majority rules. I don’t know what’s broken but you can tell me.”

“Council’s getting dragged into a whole bunch of crap that was never ours in the first place. We have education, we have health, that’s the province. That has nothing to do with us. Yes we want to do what’s best for our people but we’re supposed to be doing water, sewer, roads. Those are the things we are expected to do and were getting all this other stuff but it’s not our responsibility. Why do people come to us with that, because they can’t get a hold of the shmucks in the province,” said Corless.

He told Council they were all trying to do what was best for the community and they might have different ideas on how it was done. He said the good ideas would get the vote. He could not see how a bunch of rules could change things.

Councillor Rob Goffinet clarified the motion which triggered a debate between Halyk and Feldhoff on whether or not putting the motion in point form would change the meaning. Administration pointed out the motion was ultimately based on the George Cuff Guidelines.

Goffinet agreed with creating guidelines. However, he had compared the guidelines from Halyk to the report and found a few things were missing and their order had been changed. He said Cuff had looked at all of them and there was more to the Cuff report and suggested each of the Councillors do what Halyk had done. He said by adopting the Cuff recommendations, they would be duty bound to follow it.

Gottschling expressed Council did have issues. He stated the entire report could be found in Cuff’s books and they were good which would unify the Council and Councillors would know where they stand in regards to different issues so they do not send mixed messages. He stated the roadblocks came from these issues and the Council, Mayor and administration would benefit.

Feldhoff expressed with all the issues raised by Gottschling, the way to solve them would be with their existing rules. Gottschling agreed with going through the rules and pointed out Feldhoff had introduced Gottschling to the books. He pointed out they were still had the same problems and suggested this would be an attempt to make things better.

Halyk wanted to close. He began to read out the guidelines. Mayor Joanne Monaghan told him he had 15 minutes. Halyk read the first item, putting the Mayor first. “The Mayor must share her monthly calendar with all of Council Biweekly so that all of Council is made aware of the type of meetings that the Mayor has been invited to or to which she has invited others,” read Halyk.

This brought forward argument. Monaghan raised an objection as her calendar changed weekly and even daily. She said if there was a meeting which the Councillors were invited to, they always received an invitation. At this time, Feldhoff pointed out that closing debate was 5 minutes, not 15. This led to another debate on Council proceedings.

Halyk pointed out the very first point he brought forward brought out concern with the Mayor, he said the concern is always with the mayor and closed debate there. Monaghan agreed. Feldhoff raised a point of order which led to another argument about protocol.

“There is to much testosterone going on in this room,” exclaimed Monaghan giving administration a chance to speak.

Municipal Manager Trafford Hall suggested they meet as a Council in a workshop to discuss these guidelines. He asked them if they think the problem exists and if the problem persists. He suggested adopting a series of guidelines based on George Cuffs report although he suggested they may or may not agree on all of them.

Halyk pointed out they should make their motion based on what they feel is right as he had suggested when he made his motion. He expressed there was issue based on the arguments which spawned from his reading the first. He said if the line should not have been in there, they should take it out or change it to make it right.

Goffinet liked a little of all of the reports. Halyk withdrew his motion and made a motion for Council to form and adopt a set of guidelines. The motion was called and carried with Feldhoff opposed.
Response
Comment by Steve Connolly on 21st September 2010
What a gong show. Being heard all around Canada. I live in Quebec. If Corless thinks that the Council functions normally, then he is out of touch with reality.

You are going down as the most dysfunctional Council in the history of Kitimat.

Sadly,

Steve C.