Committee system still broken, still in use

This post has already been read 25976 times!

The real purpose of The Block...
“A committee,” wrote Sir Barnett Cocks, former Clerk of the UK’s House of Commons, “is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.”
How very appropriate those words strike us as we gaze at Collingwood’s ineffective, severely broken standing committee system. The brainchild of the interim CAO, and the very model of his business style, it has been fervently embraced by The Block. Yet to outsiders, the committee system has been a bureaucratic quagmire of redundancy and ineptness since its inception.

It was a mistake to continue it after the first meeting, when most observers realized it didn’t work. But despite its flaws – evident to everyone but The Block – the committee system is still in use, stumbling along two years later like some cranky steampunk wagon with mismatched wheels.

Look, for example, at the “Strategic Initiatives Standing Committee” (SISC) agenda for January 23. Notice all of the motions for action are in reality just procrastination:

RECOMMENDING THAT the Strategic Initiatives Standing Committee support and refer the following Staff Report to the next regular meeting of Council…
RECOMMENDING THAT the Strategic Initiatives Standing Committee support and refer the following Staff Report to the next regular meeting of Council…
RECOMMENDING THAT the Strategic Initiatives Standing Committee support and refer the following Staff Report to the next regular meeting of Council…
RECOMMENDING THAT the Strategic Initiatives Standing Committee support and refer the following Staff Report to the next regular meeting of Council…

Every single report, every single presentation, every public delegation has to return to the full meeting of council to repeat and reiterate everything it said to the SISC. And yet EVERY MEMBER of council sits on the SISC but are powerless to act. So they have to repeat it to THEMSELVES!

Yes, that’s right: they have to recommend that they pass the report on to THEMSELVES to deal with at a different meeting! A perfect model of bureaucratic confusion evidently derived from Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine.

Bureaucracy

I know you’re not surprised by the inaction of a group renowned for its lack of initiative. It should be called the Slothful Inaction Standing Committee. Procrastination, as Don Marquis wrote, is the art of keeping up with yesterday. And our Blockheads have developed their skills in it to a fine art.

Now I know what you’re going to say: But Ian, The Block need to have everything said more than once just to give it a chance to sink in. They NEED the repetition otherwise they will have forgotten it all by the time they vote to adjourn the meeting. And yes, you’re correct. It would probably help if all the presentations were written in big crayon letters, too. But why should staff and the public have to wade through this morass TWICE just to get a single issue raised or a motion passed?

Lest you think this was merely an anodyne solution to an imaginary bureaucratic problem, the real reason for its adoption was much darker: to enhance the secrecy and inaccessibility of council. The committee meetings were moved out of town hall and hidden away on the third floor of the library building, far from the prying TV cameras, and held in the mid-afternoon, to avoid public participation and scrutiny; openness and transparency being anathema to The Block.

So for two years we’ve been saddled with a broken system that further isolates the public from its elected representatives and forces a time-consuming redundancy into everything this council does.

It’s utter, useless nonsense. Even the most inept Blockhead (of which there are several) has to see this is inefficient and redundant. Surely one of them has enough common sense to realize this isn’t working. Don’t any of them just once think “we can do better”? Evidently not.

“A committee is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour,” wrote Elbert Hubbard. In Collingwood, it takes even longer and twice the effort.

Collingwood deserves better.
~~~~~
I wrote about the broken committee system previously in February, 2015 and again in April, 2016. Since then, its inefficiency and ridiculousness have risen to new heights.

Post Stats
  • 711 words
  • 4454 characters
  • Reading time: 231 s
  • Speaking time: 355s
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Reply to “Committee system still broken, still in use”