Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Loss of Independence at City Hall

Good morning Regina!!

Well, as expected, Regina City Council voted last night, unanimously, to subvert democracy even further, and have appointed Mr. Jim Nicol (below) to the position of City Clerk, upon resignation of Ms. Joni Swidnicki. It is unclear as to whether this will be a demotion for Mr. Nicol, or if he will be holding both roles as City Clerk and the one he currently holds, effectively collecting two salaries for one job. Ironically, he would be his own boss if this is the case. Yes, even more of your valuable tax dollars wasted in an already ineffective Senior City Administraiton at City Hall.

UPDATE: The Leader Post did a lovely PR Piece for the City today, where I am actually quite surprised that they quoted Mr. Nicol as stating something that is completely contradictory to what Mayor Fougere had been trying to emphasize for months.
That's right, folks. During the WWTP Referendum, the mayor went out of his way to stress to taxpayers just how "independent" the City Clerk was from City Council, to validate her decisions on invalidating signatures on the petition. But, Mr. Nicol wipes all that out with one statement to the local rag. ONLY IN REGINA!!

Here's his mug shot, you might want to remember this face - you'll be seeing it a lot in the Courts over the next few months!

And, again not surprisingly, they voted unanimously to give their best friend, Mr. John Hopkins, another questionable tax break. The Regina Trades and Skills Centre, with Mr. Hopkins at the helm, subverted the City's own policy of applying for tax breaks through the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission, and received another five year, 100% property tax exemption for their surface parking lot. When will these favours for friends of City Hall stop? Sadly, only when the Federal Courts intervene, it seems.

At least we know, now, why the Regina Chamber of Commerce would go against their own mandate of representing business interests, and participating so heavily in the "Vote No" campaign. Favours for favours? Seems to be the order of business in Regina!

Below is a copy of my delegation from last night, regarding the appointment of Mr. Nicol. Note that not a single one of my concerns were addressed.

Good evening Members of City Council and Senior Administration,

My name is Chad Novak, and I am here today representing myself, a devoted taxpaying citizen of the City of Regina. I am here to address the recommendation before you today, regarding the appointment of Mr. Jim Nicol as the City Clerk.

I would like to open tonight by extending my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Ms. Joni Swidnicki, who has done an amazing job of City Clerk over the past number of years, and I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say that she will truly be missed in these chambers. It is because of her dedication and hard work that I have learned a lot about how our municipality functions and I have found her to be very personable and friendly, even when I’ve called her to account on a few occasions. I am confident that she is not leaving particularly because she wants to, and I can only hope that she is appreciated as much back in Manitoba as she was here.

Now, speaking directly to the recommendation before you tonight – a surprise recommendation to the public I might add – that being the appointment of Mr. Jim Nicol to the position of City Clerk. I find it so very unfortunate, and yet not surprising, that this appointment has been discussed behind closed doors for the past few weeks. I note that Ms. Swidnicki’s notice was provided to you on November 12, 2013, and it was discussed in a PRIVATE session on December 4, 2013. I have several concerns about this process, the least of which is how this has been kept from the public eye until a Friday afternoon, as is traditionally expected in the media world for news that one wants to be “lost in the hustle and bustle” of the weekend ahead. I find it truly disturbing that this has been kept from the public eye for so long, especially considering the questionable actions that came from the City Clerk’s office during the WWTP Referendum, and in light of the current Federal Court proceedings that speak directly about the City Clerk and her activity with the recent Referendum. I should note this information is 100% publicly available, so I would hope you won’t censor me from mentioning this as the public should be aware of this action.

It is my hope that there will be some answers provided this evening in regards to the many questions that have come across my mind, only a few of which I will speak about this evening. The first is how are we, the voting public, to be assured that the office of the City Clerk will remain independent from the Mayor’s office, when Mr. Nicol is currently on the Executive Leadership Team, which consists of Senior Administrators, and works hand in hand with those around the Mayor’s office? Secondly, why do you feel it is appropriate to simply appoint an individual, let alone from a higher-level, into this position - rather than putting out a competition to get the best qualified candidate? Thirdly, why are you not “promoting from within”, as I note there are a number of individuals that have assisted Ms. Swidnicki in her duties over the past number of years. Will Mr. Nicol be demoted into this position, or is he to receive his current salary plus that of the City Clerk’s $140,000? In regards to Mr. Nicol’s “fine” performance, could you provide the taxpayers with documentation to back this up? I know I, personally, have not seen anything that would demonstrate this, and in fact, I feel that he has taken his authority and “rapport” to some pretty extreme lengths, that I think a reasonable person would certainly find questionable.

Finally this evening, I would like to note that I feel it would be in everyone’s best interest to have a City Clerk who may not have such a “strong rapport” with Council and Administration, as that position best suits taxpayer needs when they remain independent, as has even been stressed by the Mayor during the recent referendum. If you aren’t willing to do this, then perhaps it would be appropriate to hold a competition for an Independent City Auditor as many other municipalities have, and which Regina seems to have been without for a number of years.

Thank you for your time, and I will now welcome any questions you may have.

No comments:

Post a Comment