Civic Affairs

Municipal politics

With apologies for the delay...

[img_assist|nid=36|title=Louise Severson|desc=Former councillor Louise Severson speaks to city council's finance, administration and operations committee last Wednesday.|link=none|align=right|width=350|height=312]In the news business, it's always a risk to promise.

When I promised, yesterday, there would be more coverage of Brockville's OPP costing debate in today's print edition, it was before a much more important story, the Boston Marathon tragedy, had happened.

Today we pray for Boston, and tomorrow (one hopes), we can return to the debates that fill our regular civic space, albeit with a renewed sense of perspective.

In the meantime, I see former Councillor and COPS chairwoman Louise Severson has taken to Facebook to deny, yet again, any intentions of running for mayor -- or at least, as she noted here, of running with policing as her platform -- in next year's municipal election.

To be clear, my opinion to the contrary, in Friday's column, was just that: an opinion, based on my reading of the political math and the political momentum.

Here's the other way this could be an election issue

[img_assist|nid=18|title=Policing debate|desc=|link=none|align=middle|width=1000|height=209]

 

Should the city and Ontario Provincial Police bureaucracies decide to work well together in the event of a council "Yes" vote on an OPP costing request, I may end up with egg to remove from my face. (Keep it sunny-side up, please, and do pay attention to those shell fragments...)

My post-FAO opining about the likely outcome of the crucial April 23 council vote included some significant electoral implications. That was based on the assumption that, out of the typical estimate of 18 months to two years to turn a city from municipal policing to OPP, the lion's share of that time would be spent getting a figure that is palatable to the city, while less time would be needed for the powers above to approve any badge change.

Getting that number late would put the whole decision whether or not to switch badges into the 2014 election season.

Shifting winds, then and now

Former councillor Louise Severson speaks to city council's finance, administration and operations committee on Wednesday.

As I point out in my column on Wednesday's OPP costing decision, I now believe my previous post on this subject will turn out to be only half right.

Smack-talking cops? Not really.

Police Chief John Gardiner, right, speaks to OPP Sgt. Paul Legault, while OPP Supt. Carson Pardy, centre, looks on during the April 10 finance, administration and operations committee meeting.

 

I believe it was the late, great Recorder and Times scribe Harry Painting who once famously said: "Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story."

A bold prediction

I'm not sure what my record is for predictions, but here's how I think Wednesday's debate on the OPP costing will go.

Brockville's small-town neighbours

You can say what you want about Brockville's budget, and there's usually plenty to say, but at least your criticisms and complaints have to do with the content of the budget, and not its disclosure -- or lack thereof.

In a decade or so covering city council, I have never had to fight for access to city budget details. In fact, I recall sitting at a table in the Victoria Building with three very patient women, each of them in charge of a different section of the budget, hashing out how to add up operating, capital, water and sewer to come up with a comprehensive total expenditures figure.

There are plenty more details in Brockville's budget than in a smaller municipality like, say, Front of Yonge. So it was more than a little surprising to hear my colleague, Alanah Duffy, tell me staff and elected officials there were telling her to wait a week for the details of a 3.7-per-cent levy increase last night. And this, after third reading -- that is to say, after the budget is done and adopted.

Twin-pad supporters, don't worry...

Supporters of a twin-pad arena in Brockville may be alarmed at the sight of Councillor Jason Baker's motion crossed out of Tuesday night's agenda. No need to panic, the explanation for the motion's deferral is a little higher up, under delegations.

A rational rezoning

Dr. A.G. Ahmed speaks to city council's economic development and planning committee on Tuesday.When the news broke, more than 15 years ago, that the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital was marked for closure, the thinking was the city would lose its status as a regional centre for psychiatric treatment.

Thanks, Gobbler, for reminding me why I do this

(Photo by Darcy Cheek) Mary Brown looks on as Gobbler gets comfortable on my shoulder.

 

In journalism school, my profs used to call it a "Holy Sh** Edna" story. As in your typcial middle-aged reader picking up the paper and yelling: "Holy sh**, Edna, look at this!"

Our red carpet town

 

Of the many photos I took at last Thursday night's Brockville and Area Music and Performing Arts Hall of Fame gala, I am fondest of this one.

Consider for a moment everything this photo says about Brockville.

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