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Consent agenda 'flaw in the open and transparent procedures'to the editor,
Posted September 19, 2012
The issue of the lease and the Hornet's Nest is a clear example of how things can go squirrelly at our 'City Hall'.
I do not generally pick out any members of Council for recognition but the following passage quoted from your story yesterday on this matter, helps demonstrate how the swiftness of the hand can deceive the eye:
"Ward 2 councillor Jamie Smith, who said he was part of the council that approved the September 2007 deal in principle, but distanced himself from the final lease because he was absent from the June 9, 2008 council meeting that ratified it, said the lease could have been renegotiated at anytime, that nothing in it triggered the discussions."
The one flaw in the open and transparent procedures that guide Council and Committee of the Whole meetings is the "consent agenda" whereby "all items not Requiring Separate Discussion," - meaning all members of council agree with whatever the report/direction of staff is in those matters - are all approved in a blanket recommendation.
What happens inevitably is an issue like this one springs up and catches councillors by surprise because it was approved as part of the consent agenda. More often than it's because members of council either did not know what to ask or did not feel equipped in their legal knowledge of such a document to speak to the subject. Or worse, they did not read it.
And that's how we end up with deals like this one, without
proper debate or perhaps sufficient legal advice. Nothing like going to
sea without your life preserver, disaster is always a possibility.