If I were to summarize what I have learned about understanding politics in the last 5 years in two words, they would be: “Give up”.
One thing we have learned from watching City Council Meetings, attending every available meeting for five years, there is no consistency in the rules of engagement. It is nothing but organized chaos.
Meetings differ from City to City, Community to Regional District and so on and so forth. Earlier this year, I listened to a recording of the Prince Rupert City Council. There were many noticeable differences between what is done in Rupert and in Kitimat. Mayor Joanne Monaghan can learn a lot from Mayor Jack Mussallem.
The best way to understand what is going on is to show up. Get involved in the community and understand what is going on. If you see something which you do not understand, look it up.
The British Columbia Community Charter is located online: http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/03026_00
The Kitimat Municipal Code can be found here:http://www.kitimat.ca/EN/main/municipal/kitimat-municipal-code.html
For Roberts Rules of Order, consult your local library.
However, these documents present loose guidelines at best. Former Mayor, Rick Wozney, gave people a lot more leeway then Monaghan. Both do things differently. Is it a bad thing? In some cases it is, in others, it isn’t.
Consider the Council Chambers as a sporting event. When things do not work out right, the players look to the referee (the chair (In Kitimat, Mayor Monaghan)) or the judges (administration).
Council’s dysfunction during 2009-2010 could be analyzed like this. Imagine watching a hockey game. Sometimes, the referee would favour one team over another. Other times, the referee would stop giving out penalties to the players who were breaking the rules.
If you want to understand what motivates the actions which City Councillors carry out, remember: they want to be re-elected in the next election so they will try to fill gaps which they see in the community to claim to be doing something. I’ve noticed a few of them making their colleagues look bad in the process.
It is my strong belief that everyone should be aware on what is going on in City Hall and how the Councillors are supposed to be conducting their business.
Remember this article next week when my five year anniversary month continues and I start delving into some of my least favourite memories… City Council. I’m going to start by proving something people claim to be true as a myth.