Undermining the Mayor, and Theft

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There are several changes to Collingwood’s procedural bylaw proposed. They will come up for voting on Monday night. Most are dry procedural stuff that will likely improve or smooth the normally byzantine process.

But one section in particular troubles me: 4.3: allowing the CAO to call special meetings of council by himself:

Special Meetings of Council
The Mayor and/or CAO may, at any time, summon a Special Meeting of Council on twenty-four (24) hours written notice to the Members. Upon receipt of a written petition, hard copy or digitally, from a majority of the Members, the Clerk shall summon a Special Meeting on twenty-four (24) hours written notice to all Members and the media for the purpose and at the time mentioned in the petition. The only business to be dealt with at a Special Meeting is that which is listed in the notice of the Meeting. Special Meetings may be open or closed as provided in the Municipal Act, 2001.

This strikes me as just a cheap way to undermine the mayor’s authority. As I’ve been told, the mayor has already vetoed staff attempts to call special meetings this term. Now council is being asked to give the CAO permission to do it on his own without the mayor’s approval.

If approved, it just shows how the cabal is working against the interests of the community and our democracy. It opens the door to all sorts of future abuses of power.

WHY should any bureaucrat have that authority over elected officials? No restrictions, no explanations are provided, it’s just giving the CAO more, unbridled power. This is a violation of the whole democratic ideal.

Since when do staff get to tell democratically elected representatives what to do? When Collingwood Council gives them that power.

Its a travesty and an abuse of power to allow this to happen. It is the opposite of every notion of accountability. No one who cares about openness and transparency could possibly vote for this change.

Then there’s Section 5 Remuneration/Compensation:

No member of Council shall receive a stipend, remuneration or compensation for any committee or board that they are a Council appointed member on. If payment is required to be provided, those funds shall go into general revenues and will form the basis of the funds available for Council grants and donations. Travel expenses shall be exempt from this provision.

I can understand stopping town-paid per diems submitted for town committee meetings like the hospital, airport or library board meetings. After all, that’s what councillors are already paid to do (and, yes, I’ve been told per diems have been submitted for such meetings by some greedy councillors…).

But does the town have the legal authority to take money paid by external, non-town agencies?

For example, can the town take away the money paid by the NVCA or County? I don’t think so. The mayor’s and deputy-mayor’s seats at County are NOT appointed by council: they serve Simcoe County by dint of their electoral success, not some local appointment. It’s the county’s budget and decision to pay its members, not the town’s.

Nor do I think the town has the moral or ethical right to demand that what is paid by an outside agency for services rendered to that authority be then paid to the town. That’s robbery.

If the money is paid in good faith for services rendered to another agency or organization, for the town to take it away is theft. Plain and simple.

This is another violation and I suggest it would not withstand a legal challenge should anyone care to fight it. It really doesn’t matter that some holier-than-thou righteousness thinks this is a good idea: it’s stealing.

Who thinks up these things? He or she should be fired for assaulting democracy.

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2 Replies to “Undermining the Mayor, and Theft”

  1. Another point: the recipients of stipends from outside agencies have to report that income and pay taxes on it. How fair is it to steal the money from them but still require them to pay the taxes on it?

    Another point: it appears neither of these changes were sent to legal or accounting firms to confirm both their legality and financial impact.

  2. It’s noteworthy to point out that while some councillors are trying to look righteous by taking away the money paid by other agencies, they’ve padded their friend Councillor ‘Senator’ Jeffrey’s expense account with ANOTHER $7,500 this year so she can fly around the country and wine and dine at taxpayers’ expense. And what does her jet set boozing and schmoozing do for Collingwood? About as much as tent caterpillars do for apple trees.

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