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Mississauga News - July 2, 2009 - By Joseph Chin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Council gets tough with public questionsResidents are welcome to continue addressing City of Mississauga councillors, but not at City Council and as long as they’re not too long-winded about it.
Citing long, complicated presentations by the public, councillors today gave preliminary approval to remove the question period segment from Council meetings. Instead, residents will be re-directed to subcommittees.
The motion also slapped a 15-minute limit for all questions. Any time extension will require an affirmative vote by councillors.
If the proposal gets final approval, it will be a further tightening of procedure. Three years ago, Council voted to go by the letter of the bylaw and restrict questions to matters on the agenda. This after almost three decades when any questions could be asked.
Mayor Hazel McCallion, who has often boasted about her Council’s accessibility, defended the move.
“It’s a good procedural change,” she said. “We experimented with all the different processes and it’s now to a point when a lot of time is being spent (on public questions).”
The mayor said councillors want to continue listening to the public.
“We don’t want to cut them off because we’re here to serve the people.”
She noted, however, that councillors and staff often do not have relevant material on hand during Council to answer questions properly.
The resolution was moved by Ward 6 councillor Carolyn Parrish, who raised the issue shortly after taking her seat on Council in 2006.
“We don’t want to inhibit people from speaking or asking questions,” she said. "What we want to do is actually give them two kicks at the can (by having residents go to subcommittees first). It’s just a way of making it more efficient...”
Longtime city resident and City Hall observer Alan Forde says he’s reserving judgement on the proposed move until he learns more about it.
“Clearly Council cannot be held back for hours with an open question period. But restricting citizens from being able to appear is a slippery slope. Bringing this down a day before Canada Day is regrettable,” Forde told The News in an e-mail.
Don Barber, one of the city’s best-known political watchdogs, however, was less reticent.
“They’re killing what’s a 30-year tradition. It’s all about Council and staff not wanting to be accountable,” he said.
If approved, the public question procedure will be reviewed again next year.
Comments by others, 3, to this web-page;
MISSISSAUGAWATCH Jul 3, 2009 2:14 PM
REMOVING PUBLIC QUESTION PERIOD JUST AS I WAS ABOUT TO ASK ABOUT THE FOLLOWING FACTS BEFORE THE CAMERAS
The Roots of Youth Violence website states, "The "Review of the Roots of Youth Violence" report was released to the public on Friday, November 14, 2008" MISSISSAUGA YOUTH FACT 1: Freedom of Information has confirmed that on Friday, November 14, 2008 (the same day as the release of McMurtry/Curling’s “Roots of Youth Violence” report), City of Mississauga Corporate Security banned a 9/10 year old girl from the Mississauga Civic Centre, Mississauga Central Library and the Living Arts Centre for 30 days. MISSISSAUGA YOUTH FACT 2: City of Mississauga did not notify her parents/guardians of her ban. MISSISSAUGA YOUTH FACT 3: Mississauga Mayor’s office stated that elected officials (Mayor/Councillors) are responsible for holding Staff accountable. MISSISSAUGA OPINION: 1: That's quite the Youth Plan that Mississauga's got goin' and 2: Unaccountable Municipal Governments: A Mayor Root of Youth Violence. Signed, The Mississauga Muse, MISSISSAUGAWATCH
MISSISSAUGAWATCH Jul 3, 2009 2:14 PM
MISSISSAUGA YOUTH FACT 4: On Tuesday, September 25 2007, Mississauga held the Mississauga Summit, A Meeting of Minds: Charting a Brave Bold Future” According to John Stewart of the Mississauga News announcing the event, "Seven speakers will share their thoughts on Our Mississauga: A Progressive, Humane and Caring Community.” Yes, seven speakers! MISSISSAUGA YOUTH FACT5 (confirmed through Freedom of Information) Less than two months later, on November 15, 2007, the City of Mississauga’s Corporate Security banned three 13/14 year olds and one 12/13 year old from the Mississauga Civic Centre, Mississauga Central Library and the Living Arts Centre for 30 days for “skateboarding around vehicles” MISSISSAUGA YOUTH FACT 6 Had they returned during their ban, the City would’ve arrested them for Trespass. MISSISSAUGA YOUTH FACT 7. Parents/guardians of the 12/13 year old and the three 13/14 year olds were not informed. [“Our Mississauga: A Progressive, Humane and Caring Community.”] MISSISSAUGAWATCH
WatcherOIO Jul 2, 2009 11:25 PM
Here is an issue that should really get the back of the media up, instead the reporter goes about how he agrees with the City, what country are you in Chin. Worse yet, when I made a point of saying the key issue was staff can’t say how much time had been wasted in the past or how much was too much, without these changes, and that as a reporter Chin should find out the facts, he carried on about how its their opinion and hung up! That will be remembered. Also, Councillor Parrish originally stated it was about the cost to the City of people actually using Public Question Period. In the report it clearly states “FINANCIAL IMPACT Not applicable.”, staff is saying Council is wrong, money or cost is not an issue and staff will not lie for Council. There is a story here but it is Missing.
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