On Monday, December 1, 2014 the new Nanaimo council will be sworn in and will sit for the next four years. Also, on Monday night there will be 7 councillors appointed as Directors to the Regional District of Nanaimo.
New Nanaimo Council Seating Plan:
Last year at the December 9, 2013 council meeting a report was received from the Governance Review committee regarding proposed new changes for how meetings would be run.
One of the recommendations was to change the seating arrangement in order to improve dialogue between Council and City staff during meetings.
The new changes would cost approximately $4,000. The seating changes were approved unanimously at a recent council meeting. Are these changes necessary?
The proposed new seating arrangement is typical of what is found in most other cities. It is not too clear from the drawing where the media would sit. Having the podium more central and moveable and wheelchair accessible would be a good idea as suggested at the last council meeting.
Group dynamics may improve with the seating changes. Research has shown that if councillors want to be favoured by the Mayor who sits in the middle, then they are advised to sit on the Mayor’s right.
The big question is how will the new council engage the citizens of Nanaimo. Somehow the public has to be more involved in local politics. We have seen how crowds can get angry and out of control quickly when issues are sprung on them.
The public’s conduct in council chambers is something that must be addressed. Can people clap? Can people bring signs? Can people wear hats, masks, wigs? The rules should be clearly stated at the beginning of every council meeting and adhered to.
All councillors should be familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order. It outlines how meetings are to be conducted. The Mayor should reserve his comments and voting until after all others have finished so as not to bias the direction of the discussion.
For many members of the public it is very intimidating to speak about their concerns before council and to have people waving signs behind their heads is unacceptable.
Unfortunately, Mayor Ruttan condoned Sign Man. Frequently, Sign man has waved offensive signs behind the City Manager and behind delegations as they make presentations.
As pointed out in a previous post this activity is all part of a larger group on social media and letters to the editor in mainstream media. Any councillor who they do not like is also a target.
In the local papers it was reported that Councillor Brennan used social media on election day when then there was to be a blackout. It has since been reported that Elections BC has ruled that since Councillor Brennan removed her social media posts when asked that she was in compliance.
When politians don’t follow the rules people have no patience. For those politicians that stand up for unions, arts and the LGBTcommunity or minorities they need to be extra careful and watch their step as far-right religious groups will have no mercy with them.
The new social media civic election rules were introduced in May of this year and will not be around for the next civic election in four years. Lawyers have stated this social media rule is flawed because other people can ‘tweet’ out a candidate on election day, other people can ‘facebook’ a candidate; there is no limit. It is a ridiculous rule that is severely flawed.
For people who aren’t given a ‘suggested list’ of who to vote for, voting is not an impromptu activity. Far too many people in Nanaimo arrive to the polls with a ‘suggested list’ to which they have no clue as to whom they are voting for.
Over the next four years a lot will happen. The core review will cost at least half a million dollars, city staffing levels will be gutted, there may be an incinerator and a coal mine in Cedar. There could be 70,000 Chinese ‘tourists’ move into a new hotel downtown, and a possibility that the conference centre will be sold for a $1.