There’s a movement afoot and it is going to affect the makeup of the Alberta legislature moving forward. Each of the three provincial parties without a leader now officially has someone running for the position.
That in and of itself isn’t news, but what is of note is how they have each announced and how they’ve behaved in the hours immediately after that announcement. And it’s that “how” that is beginning to tell the story of what kind of a general election we are going to see once the writ is dropped.
Instead of the old-school media release and speech attended only by close supporters, each candidate has opened up the campaign to the public from the get go.
For both Alison Redford and Doug Horner — Progressive Conservative hopefuls — the first act on their first day as a candidate was to create a Twitter account. Redford used it right away and made her big announcement on Twitter.
Social media are changing the face of how politics is done.
Alberta Party hopeful Glenn Taylor and PC MLA Doug Griffiths took it one step further and announced their intentions using a live video stream, so anyone in the province who wanted to see their speeches could do so. Those videos are available online, where visitors to their websites are able to share them with friends on Facebook or Twitter at the push of a button.
Griffiths, a social media veteran by any standard, started his second day as a candidate by sitting down for breakfast with political bloggers to tell his story to them directly. Redford spent the afternoon following her announcement doing sit-down interviews with Edmonton media outlets. One after the other, she told her story one-on-one.
These candidates know the world of politics is evolving and see the role social media can play as part of that evolution. As Griffiths explained during his blogger breakfast, the candidate who engages directly with as many Albertans as possible will have the greatest chance of winning the leadership contest — something he sees the social media tool very effective in achieving.
If this is where these candidates are starting, it will be interesting to see how their use of social media has developed by the time election day arrives.
Speaking of social media, that’s where you’ll have to find me moving forward. Today represents my last Metro column. I first started writing it to increase the public’s knowledge of issues during the Calgary municipal election, but I quit my day job to do that. I’ve recently accepted a position with the City of Calgary and so it would be inappropriate for me to continue writing here every week.
I thank my editor Darren Krause for the opportunity to share my opinions over these past few months, and I know Metro will continue its dedication to local news long after my departure.
See you online!
Calgary original: http://www.metronews.ca/calgary/local/article/777370–social-media-are-game-changers
Edmonton original: http://www.metronews.ca/edmonton/local/article/777370–social-media-are-game-changers
This week, the City of Calgary made an announcement that I think deserves more recognition than it got.
It was announced the city has selected a public-engagement firm to talk with us — the citizens — about what we want to see in the upcoming 2012-2014 budget.
It may seem like a no-brainer that the city would actually take time to ask us what services we would like and how much we would be willing to pay for them, but strangely enough it’s not something that’s done often, if ever.
I think the administration and council deserve a huge round of applause for thinking far enough ahead to ensure that this time, they involve the public right from the beginning.
However, my round of applause may look like a standing ovation to some and an ironic slow clap to others.
In hiring a firm — and according to the request for proposals, paying them $250,000 — to “engage the public,” the city is effectively admitting that it doesn’t don’t know how to do this itself.
Which, of course, begs the question: If 14,000 municipal employees don’t have the skills to engage the public, then what they heck are they doing? If there was one thing they were good at, shouldn’t this be that one thing?
To even the untrained eye, however, this has become reality. “Public engagement” has been twisted into “informing the public about a decision that’s already been made,” which obviously is exactly the opposite of what public-engagement processes are meant to be.
This leads us to another question: Whose job is public engagement anyway? I would argue asking us what we want and then making sure it happens is entirely the point of elected officials. After all, if they didn’t do this, then what purpose do they serve?
But if public engagement is the job of our elected officials, I have to ask: When was the last time your councillor asked your opinion on something coming up at city hall?
If it’s the job of the alderman to know what the public wants, we’re in bad shape. Aside from Ald. Gian-Carlo Carra, who is very familiar with the planning charette process, I can’t think of any other alderman with previous experience in this field.
That could be forgiven by each of them hiring a constituency assistant with these skills. But if any of those assistants have these skills, you wouldn’t know it. Aside from Bob Hawkesworth in 2008 and 2009, no alderman has held a big public priority-setting event.
Ald. Shane Keating gives us some hope, however. Next week, he’s holding an event to gather information about the future of motorsports in Calgary. Granted, the event is not open to the public, but so long as it’s not a town hall-style meeting — a confrontational event format that can’t disappear from use quickly enough — this is at least a baby step forward.
There are infinitely better ways to find out what the public wants. Hopefully the professionals will show them how it’s done, and the city will be able to follow their lead.
Let me welcome you to 2011.
After the election and budget deliber-ations of November and December, our city council has emerged into a new year with all the possibilities in the world before them.
So what now? Well, here’s what to expect:
If you weren’t sick enough of hearing about the airport tunnel during the leadup to the election, I hope you’ve enjoyed your two month respite, because Mayor Nenshi is about to make it something you’re going to hear about every day moving forward.
Figures ranging from $100 million to more than a billion dollars were batted around during September and October, but the time for inflammatory politics is past. The first step for the airport tunnel is to find out how much it actually will cost, then if it can be built. Once that is settled, expect council to begin the debate on the need for such a tunnel in earnest.
Expect to hear a lot about secondary suites — an issue that has put a bug under about a third of our council members including, and perhaps most so, the mayor. The debate about a city-wide policy to give homeowners a less onerous — and less random — process will be a big one with lots of Calgarians getting the chance to have their say.
The future of the southeast LRT is something I expect you’ll be hearing more about soon enough, too. If the money is to be had — and some argue with the bounce back of the economy it more than likely will be — the southeast LRT could rocket to the top of the agenda once the airport tunnel is dealt with.
You can also expect the topic of campaign finance reform to return to council again, this time with a mayor and a couple of councillors who count this as a “pet peeve” actually committed to finding a way to make the change permanent and enforceable.
Don’t be surprised if you see Nenshi enter into a battle over the city’s procurement processes either. With Louise Crossing becoming an issue during the election and the mayor’s humorous public musings about the cost of everything from an internet router for his office, to business cards, to his quest to get a less expensive vehicle, this aspect of our civic government could very well end up under the microscope sooner rather than later.
Of course with all these issues to choose from, you can be forgiven for wondering why fluoridation — a topic that I’m confident councillors heard about rarely when door-knocking during the election — has become the first issue to make it on the 2011 agenda
It’s a good conversation to have, but is it really the most pressing one? The other items listed here should be dealt with next. If they aren’t, then you have my permission to lose faith in our new council’s ability to set priorities.
It looks like it’s going to be a busy few months. Hold on for the ride.
It’s one of those annual rites of passage in Calgary. Early in every new year each Calgary property owner opens their property assessment and promptly proclaims “my house isn’t worth that much!”
Those who feel the value listed is more than their property is worth scream it from the roof tops and often appeal to the City of Calgary using as many dirty words as possible.
Others who find their property undervalued either snicker to themselves and hope no one notices, or dread the day they sell, fearing they’ll only get a pittance of what they think they should.
Either way, no one is ever happy after opening that envelope and everyone remarks what a terrible job the City of Calgary did in putting a dollar figure to their cherished home.
The problem is — and this is hard to wrap your head around — it doesn’t matter how much the city says your home is worth. That dollar value isn’t important; it’s just a multiplier needed to figure out what share of the tax burden you should pay in relation to everyone else in Calgary.
As a result everyone gets mad at entirely the wrong thing.
What is more important is how that listed value compares to your neighbours’ value.
Don’t get me wrong, the city brings the pain on themselves.
The percentage of Calgary’s property value you own does not need to be viewed as a dollar amount, but they choose to show it to you like that; thus leading to all the misdirected confusion and anger. Marc Doll, a local realtor says, “You wouldn’t believe how much time I have to spend teaching people that the city valuations are not market value.”
So this year, forgo the anger at the “value” of your home and instead visit calgary.ca/assessment and view what others are paying. You can even search your neighbours properties to see if you’re paying your fair share compared to them.
Then ask yourself — “Is there a better way to do this?” A topic for another day.
Filed under: Alberta, Arts, Calgary, Politics, Technology
On this exact day (January 3) of last year I wanted to take a look back at the previous year as viewed through the eyes of my blog. At the time I said 2009 “was a good year for me personally and I think this blog shows some of the highlights that come to my mind when I reminisce about the last year of the decade.” As good as 2009 was for me, I feel safe in saying that 2010 surpassed it in almost every way. From the election, to starting a new column for Metro, to finishing up a good run with Lunchbox Theatre, to the birth of my daughter (not to mention the whole pregnancy) I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It was probably the best year of my life – if I can declare such a thing.
So I decided to do what I did a year ago and instead of selecting my favourite posts of 2010, why not not just let readers “select” the top posts of 2010 by highlighting the most popular posts on this blog during the year, and then give some background as to where the post came from?
Last year I included the top 15 posts. This year I thought I’d shorten up the list on an even… 13. So without further ado, the most popular djkelly.ca Blog posts of 2010:
13. What CivicCamp is doing for the 2010 Calgary Municipal Election
May 18, 2010
In this blog post I revealed CivicCamp’s plans – and it turns out mine – for the 2010 municipal election. I think it was the night before that the “Governance Cabin” met at Eau Claire Market to finalize the plan. I actually posted details on the CivicCamp blog and then wrote this post to give more info into the rationale for the plan and to give my own personal opinion (which I didn’t think was appropriate on the CivicCamp site). Shortly after this I actually stepped away from the Cabin while I considered running for alderman — a rule the members came up with the ensure CivicCamp stayed non-partisan and that eventually affected Paul Hughes, our new mayor Naheed Nenshi, and volunteer extraordinaire Cheri Macaulay, all cabin members who stepped away to work on campaigns instead. After I decided not to run I returned to help execute some of the plans laid out in this post.
I actually meant to write this post months earlier, but I eventually did it in mid-June. My hope was it would help the City determine what data sets people might be looking for. The eventual catalogue release however only included mapping data. So while numbers 1 and 5 were included in public catalogue, we’re still waiting for numbers 2, 3, 4 and 6 to make the mapping data actually useful. Until then, don’t expect the catalogue to be all that heavily used. (Number 7 isn’t really “open data” but my hope is our new mayor may actually try to make it happen. It’s not something administration can do unilaterally.)
11. What most needs doing?
August 3, 2010
It took me a long time to make my decision not to run for alderman. It was hard because so many people had signed up to help run a campaign. In the end I had to ask myself “what most needs doing?” and I outline my answer in this post. At the time I said, “I believe I don’t need to be on council to help improve Calgary in a meaningful way,” and “meaningful public engagement may be something [alderman] want to do, but it rarely is something they have time to do at the level I believe we need.” My goals were to “raise the level of discourse around the election” and “[have] people who believe in the kind of public engagement I believe in helping create more people who want to, and know how to, become engaged.” I think I help achieve this so successfully in 2010 that the day after the election I remember breaking down in tears because I was so proud of Calgarians and the role I was able to play. (It could have been the lack of sleep however.)
10. How open data came to be in Calgary
March 22, 2010
This post sat unfinished on my work computer desktop for months. When it first passed committee I decided to write up all the steps that were taken to make the open data policy a reality. On the occasion of it finally passing council I finished the post and put it up as documentation of the process – mainly so I wouldn’t forget, but so that others could see how easy (or hard) it is to get a policy from scratch approved.
9. Calgary, meet your new council
October 19, 2010
It was a pleasant surprise to see a post election blog post make it on to this list. Although it was only written the day after the election. While everyone else was focussed on who won and how they did it, I thought I’d take the opportunity to be the first to ponder how this new group might work together. Some of the predictions are coming true already, others might still – or not – time will tell.
8. 18 to 34 Year Olds, Social Media and the Calgary Election
August 17, 2010
This is probably the most frustrating piece I wrote this year. Often I find myself writing things in the hope that once I do, and expose the rationale behind something, the issue will be put to bed and not brought up again. I wrote this piece in response to political pundits (specifically political scientists who had no idea what they were talking about) about the myth of social media being only about young people and thus it wouldn’t have any impact on the election. Balderdash I cried! And even after I wrote it I had to scream the same thing over and over and over. Those poli sci profs sure like their narratives. Even when they have no basis in reality. And even when they’ve been proven wrong by an election. Then all they do is twist things around a little to show how they were right all along. Cheeky buggers. Duane Bratt still owes me that beer he promised on Global Television on election night.
7. Nuit Blanche Calgary update
June 16, 2010
This post might be artificially inflated on this list because it was emailed out to everyone who signed up at http://bit.ly/nuitblanchecalgary indicating they were interested. So it got about 100 extra visitors because of that. The post is a long overdue update on where things are at in the planning for a Nuit Blanche in Calgary. Something I’m long over due to do again… I’m excited at how the plans are shaping up. As I was then too.
6. Fun with Maps: Top 3 Calgary mayoral candidate vote share
October 28, 2010
David Johns deserves all the credit for this post. He made three great maps of how the three leading mayoral candidates did on election day. A post that obviously got lots of interest. Visual is better.
5. Comparing Budget 2010 to Budget 2009
February 9, 2010
In a year of municipal posts it’s nice to see a provincial one make it on to the list — let alone be written! This is a short post where I outline a nice easy way to compare the 2009 and 2010 ministry plans using Acrobat. It’s nice when the Alberta Government makes it this easy.
4. Loving or hating Calgary’s new bridge is not as easy as it sounds
July 29, 2009
In an odd twist this “oldie” was actually written in 2009. As a matter of fact, it was the 11th most popular post on my blog that year. Obviously in an election year as contentious as this one was it should be surprising that a post about a contentious issue would make it on this list, but I am surprised it is so high. I guess there are more people curious about why they are supposed to be so mad about that darn bridge than I thought.
3. If you want me to run for Alderman…
June 25, 2010
This post was probably the only one I’ve ever written that I passed by other people before putting up. It also received about twice as many unique visitors as #4. It’s probably the most important post I’ve ever written as I contemplated running for alderman. And people paid attention too: the post had the longest visit time of any I’ve written on this blog. The premise of the post was simple, I’ll do it if you are willing to help me win. Politics shouldn’t be about ego. I didn’t see why someone would announce they are running and then try to find people to help. That seems entirely backwards to me. In the end almost 100 people signed up to help me run a campaign, but I decided against it. See #11 on this list for why.
2. Calgary Municipal Election: 2010 will be a year of new faces
March 21, 2010
The top two posts on this list got more unique visits than anything else I’ve ever written. They both received about four times as many visitors as #3 on this list. (Which itself had twice as many as #4, so that’s saying something.) I’m not sure why this post got so many visits but it probably has something to do with how early in the year I wrote it. I don’t recommend making predictions seven months in advance, but this time it looks like it paid off and I was right: we did see “more turnover in one go round than many of us can remember,” with six new faces on council.
1. Who’s running for Calgary City Council in 2010?
April 3, 2010
Yes people were curious about who was running for council. From April until July I kept this blog post updated with the names of who had declared they were running for council. (Once CalgaryDemocracy.ca was up and running I decided to retire the post. It had served its purpose.) The post proved so popular that I eventually had to pin it to the main menu of my website. And even after I stopped updating it – and said I was stopping updating it – I still had people sending me tips and trying to get the list updated. If that didn’t prove Calgarians cared about the election I don’t know what would. (Aside from the voter turnout on the day of. Which also proved that.) It is the most popular post in my blog’s history.