Now that the spring is upon us and we are just six months away, many wonks are turning their thoughts to the municipal election in October. With Bill 9 receiving royal assent last week, you can include the Alberta Legislature in that group.
After the Bill was given assent into law, I gave it a read hoping to provide readers of my blog some insight beyond what has been given in the main stream media. Sadly I can’t give you any. I still have no idea what it says.
It’s a complicated mess of ‘this part is cut’ and ‘this is what it’s replaced with’ and ‘this is something new’. I felt stupid just trying to figure out what is new, what is old, and what is gone, let alone what it all means. Why can’t legislation be written for normal people? Why can’t it show the whole law as it stands now, instead of just an summary of all the changes, which forces you to go find previous versions to do some kind of legal, time-travelling mash-up? No wonder so many people breaking laws say things like “I didn’t know it was illegal” if we make finding out what is legal and illegal so hard.
(My solution would be to just have a bill that shows the deleted parts as text with a strikethough and new text as bold. Or new in green and deleted in red. Whatever. There just has be a better way. But I digress, because this is not what this post is about.)
Apparently the legal minds at the City of Calgary are having the same sorts of difficulty as I am. Although obviously they got through Bill 9 in enough detail to realize there is a section which don’t make sense.
Yesterday the Mayor sent the following letter to the Minister in charge of municipalities:
2010 April 27
The Honourable Hector Goudreau
Minister of Municipal Affairs
Government of Alberta
104, 10800-97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Dear Minister Goudreau:
Re: Bill 9 – Local Authorities Election Statutes Amendment Act, 2010
I am writing you in respect of the above noted statute, which received Royal Assent on April 22, 2010, and is now in effect.
I understand that Bill 9 was intended to clarify certain issues raised by the amendments to the Local Authorities Election Act (RSA 2000, c. L-21) resulting from the Local Authorities Election (Finance and Contribution Disclosure) Amendment Act, 2009 (SA 2009, c.10; formerly Bill 203).
In particular, section 147.6 of the Local Authorities Election Act requires that:
(1) candidates for municipal office must file a declaration outlining the total amount of campaign contributions held by the candidate, including any surplus money from previous campaigns; and
(2) if the total amounts held by a candidate exceed $500, the candidate must pay the excess to the municipality.
Both of these requirements must be met within 3 months following the coming into force of the Local Authorities Election (Finance and Contribution Disclosure) Amendment Act, 2009. That statute came into force on February 3, 2010; accordingly, the above requirements must be met by May 3, 2010.
However, the Bill 9 amendments to the Local Authorities Election Act included the addition of the following section:
147.92(1) Sections 147.5,147.6,147.7(2) and (3) and 147.91(b) apply to campaign funds on or after December 1, 2011.
(2) Subsection (1) is deemed to have come into force on February 3, 2010.
Can you clarify that it was the intention of the Legislature in adding section 147.92 to delay the operation of section 147.6 until after the upcoming municipal elections taking place in October of this year? In other words, was it intended that a candidate would not be required to file his or her declaration and pay any surplus campaign funds pursuant to section 147.6 until December 1, 2011?
Furthermore, if the above was in fact intended, how is this to be reconciled with section 147.4(1} of the Local Authorities Election Act, as amended by Bill 9, which is a similar disclosure provision and which requires that candidates for municipal office file disclosure statements and pay any campaign surplus in excess of $500 to the municipality by March 1,2011?
In short, kindly clarify on what date candidates for municipal office are to file declarations or disclosure statements and pay any campaign surplus to the municipality.
I appreciate your assistance with clarifying this issue.
I barely understand the question being asked here, but after several readings it seems to me the Province has multiple pieces of legislation, which are either contradictory, or mandating required time travel on the part of candidates. Either way; I agree, clarification is needed.
And I’m happy to see I’m not the only one who is confused.
The case of the missing question mark, or How it’s important to remember no one on Council is ‘evil’
We all make mistakes. They happen. But we need to be man enough to admit them when we do.
One of the things that I value most about having a blog that is followed by as many people as this one is the number of comments or emails or tweets that I get about it telling me how the writer agrees with me, or how they disagree but see my point. It’s important to have both sides of this equation to maintain perspective, balance and a foot firmly planted in reality. (Never believe your own hype.) I try my best to break down the hyperbole – and sometimes hypocrisy – that often comes with our political landscape. To do this all one really has to do is take a step back, peel back the layers, and rationally examine the situation step-by-step. Almost always you will find Occam’s razor holds true.
Last week I wrote a blog post called ‘Council playing politics with the Pumphouse’. I received a lot of positive feedback about the post – more than usual – and so thought I must have hit the nail on the head. It was a few days later that I got an email from a friend who noticed my post was unusually pointed and didn’t have the same sort of level-headedness I usually try to apply to an issue. It was the lone dissenter. None-the-less I decided to take him up on his suggestion to go back to the Administration report and re-read it. Mistake number one: I didn’t read it to begin with. I inferred – albeit mostly correctly – from other people heavily involved what was in it. The nuances of the report however do paint a slightly different picture of what probably happened in the Committee meeting.
The most important thing I saw in the report is that despite my understanding that the Province pulling their funding not being the impetuous for the Pumphouse returning to Council for another $2 million, the largest paragraph in the entire report focused on this aspect. Upon reading that I can only think to myself, no wonder a couple of the aldermen had a lot of questions about this. If it’s given a great amount of weight in the report, it’s fair to think it’s going to get a great amount of attention during questioning.
The second thing that I noticed was that the report was anything but clear. You can probably sense my confusion in my original blog post about whether this ask was another $2 million or just the top up to the total $4 million that was previously approved. I can only imagine the aldermen were stuggling with the same issue. The report does not make this clear. Here is the very first sentence of the report:
Under CPS2006-45, 2006 September 18, Council approved the facility expansion project, in principle, based on the evaluation completed by the Calgary Arts Development Authority (CADA) on behalf of The City of the Calgary, subject to the conditions outlined in Attachment 4 and to submit a Request for Expenditure for the Pumphouse capital project to the Infrastructure Coordinating Committee totalling $2 million, to determine project and financing priority, in accordance with the approved 2007-08 Multi-Year Capital Budget process and since the Pumphouse Theatre is a heritage building, direct Administration to investigate other potential sources of funding.
Note that’s not the first paragraph; that’s the first SENTENCE.
Even in areas where the Pumphouse project has a clear advantage, the report doesn’t do a great job of outlining things. For example, every Administration report comes with a triple bottom line assessment. In this report the “Social” assessment is only twelve words: “The project will increase artistic incubator and rehearsal space capacity in Calgary.” That’s it? The Pumphouse is a catalyst for an entire industry’s basic training; every theatre artist has worked there as they started out! The Pumphouse has a waiting list for users twice as big as they have capacity to house. And the social impact of this vital cultural icon is summed up in twelve words? Again, no wonder the questioning skipped over this line of inquiry all together.
One other area that surprises me is the “Risks” section which says, “Pumphouse will be required to submit its project business plan… for Administration’s full due diligence review…” If I were an alderman the first question I’d have is: what are we waiting for? Why is the business plan not included as an attachment now? With a statement like this, I can certainly see how the committee would not want to approve anything until they had seen the business plan.
As a matter of fact the entire project description and funding breakdown is only one page long. When it is juxtaposed against the previous page saying Administration (not even Council, at that) will see a business plan later, this page looks woefully short for $2 million. There simply is not as much detail as there could have been – which opens the door for more questions. For example, it lists “Government of Canada” as a contributor. Aldermen had every right to be wary of how strong the fed’s commitment might be if the Province pulled out so easily. It’s the lack of detail here that is the issue. I’m told the Province pulled out easily because it was a one off commitment from a department. The GoC commitment isn’t going anywhere, because that money is being allocated through a granting program. One is a well-defined funding system, the other carries as much weight as a handshake from an MLA.
If the simplest explanation is usually the correct one, I should never have bought into the hype that Council is playing politics with this proposal. At the very least the title of my last post should have had a question mark on the end: “Council playing politics with the Pumphouse?”
So the question is what does this change in the content of my first post? The answer is ‘not much’. Everything I said still holds water, I just have a much better understanding as to why the recommendations “got a rough ride”.
I still hope as many supporters of the Pumphouse expansion project come out to the Council Meeting on Monday. The only difference is they do not need to be their to show their defiance at the evils of aldermen who are out of touch with the basics of their job, instead they should simply be there to illustrate how important the Pumphouse is to them.
Hopefully the crowd won’t make the same mistake I did.
And hopefully Administration, the Pumphouse Theatres, and Calgary Arts Development have been hard at work getting all the questions asked at committee answered so Council has all the information they need to approve the $2 million on Monday.
One of the more fun aspects of having a blog is the number of “tips” I get sent by readers and marketers. Usually there is very little newsworthy about them, other times they might be newsworthy but the tipster provides little in the way to back up their claim. In both cases I usually ignore the tip for those reasons. However this tip is different.
This past weekend I recieved a tip from two different sources that Diane Colley-Urquart, current alderman for ward 13, has been buying advertising space for a run at the mayor seat.
It strikes me this isn’t the kind of thing an overly enthusiastic volunteer would do without the candidate’s go ahead on a campaign, so I’m inclined to believe it to be a sign she’s in.
Neither tipster could provide evidence without outing themselves as a tipster and so I have none. But I know both of these folks and trust them, so I’ve decided to report it. Take if for what it is: completely unsubstantiated or verified by yours truly.
Personally I have my fingers crossed it’s true. We need more women running for council! It will be nice to see her make a run along side fellow aldermanic mayoral wannabes Joe Connelly and Ric McIver (still no official announcement from the latter).
It’s been the City’s worst kept secret that Ald. Ric McIver will be annoucing his intentions to run for Mayor at “Ric’s Block Party” on April 21 (5pm to 8pm, get your tickets here.) But what about Ald. Joe Connelly?
Ald. Connelly has been saying for a little bit that he would make an announcement between now and May. An email sent out today has set the date for this announcement however: tomorrow. Expect him to be trying to scoop Ald. McIver by getting out of the Mayoralty gate first (even if only by a week).
Here’s the full text of the invitation. Be there or be… running for alderman (? I suppose).
Media and Guest Invitation for Announcement by
Alderman Joe Connelly, Ward Six
City of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta Alderman Joe Connelly, Ward Six, City of Calgary will be making an important announcement on Wednesday, April 14 in his Ward at the Strathcona Community Association.
Media and guests are invited to attend as follows:
Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Time: Meet and Greet 3:00 pm
Announcement 3:30 pm
Location: Strathcona Community Association
277 Strathcona Drive SW, Calgary, AB
Phone number of the Community Association: 403.249.1138
Free parking available
For further details contact:
Joe Connelly [deleted for privacy]
Corinne Wilkinson [deleted for privacy]
This post has been cross-posted to CalgaryPolitics.com.
It’s not very often my biggest areas of interest – local government and local arts and culture – intersect, but this is one of those times.
The Pumphouse Theatre is an amazing story that I invite you to read up on. It is one of those stories about saving Calgary’s heritage while at the same time making the city an even better place to live. The Pumphouse is owned by the City of Calgary and runs at capacity. There is a waiting list like you would not believe for community and professional theatre groups to gobble up even a week of free time in either of the Pumphouses two theatres. In short, it’s exactly what one would hope a performing arts space to be.
Because they have been at capacity for several years and the demand is so extraordinarily huge the decision was made a couple years back to expand the facility once again. The Pumphouse went through Calgary Arts Development’s Arts Spaces Initiative, was approved for funding, and placed high on the list of locations to receive financial support from the City of Calgary. Calgary City Council even awarded the project $2 million in 2008. Last week the final $2 million dollars required to make the expansion a reality went to the Community and Protective Services Standing Policy Committee of city council and, in the words of Pumphouse Theatre Executive Director Scott McTavish, “got a rough ride”.
Basically what happened – and remember I wasn’t in attendance and I’m hearing this third hand from aldermen and interested parties that were there – is political grandstanding. It’s an election year and no alderman wants to be seen as “wasteful”. Cutting the arts is an easy way to take a stand because it is often not seen as a necessity.
The problem is this is not some pet project or some “would be cool to have” third party proposal. The Pumphouse Theatres are OWNED by the City of Calgary. To not approve funding to the facility that has been recommended by all the powers that be in the City of Calgary is nothing short of being an absentee landlord. The project has been identified as achievable by Administration (after a stringent multi-year approval process they are recommending the expansion go ahead) and necessary (again, the building has a waiting list long enough it could operate two facilities and still be full).
So if a project is both acheivable AND nessecary why not fund it? They are looking for $2 million. Just a couple months ago, Cantos was approved for $25 million for a building that is in it’s very early stages of design. That is a new construction and that conversation took 10 minutes and ended with applause from council. $2 million for the Pumphouse however took an hour and forty-five minutes and was not approved.
The problem here is that the City owns the building and has NEVER, in 38 years, put a single dollar into it. And now that they are asking for $2 million to make up for the Province reneaging on a $5 million commitment, they are balking. $2 million over 38 years sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.
And here’s the kicker: the $2 million isn’t even from the property tax base. It’s going to cost the City zero dollars to give the Pumphouse $2 million. The money is coming from the Province through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative. One of the hoops you have to jump through for funding from that project is that not only does the City need to approve your project, bus so does the province. Which they have already done in this case. All of this means that if Council does not give the $2 million to the Pumphouse then guess what happens? The City has to give the money back to the Province!
That’s right. In the process of looking like they are being tough on wasteful spending, City Council is… losing $2 million and leaving another $2 million in limbo. Sigh.
The Pumphouse Theatre board and staff are more than a little confused by all this. (After all they are facility operators and not used to the often non-sensical world of politics.) So they have sent out a call to everyone affected by this recent committee decision to help them bring some common sense to Council. Below is their message.
As you may or may not know our upcoming expansion project Pumphouse 2012 received a rough ride from Community and Protective Services this past Wednesday April 8, 2010. We are working with our partners at Calgary Arts Development and City of Calgary Administration in an effort to save Pumphouse 2012 from cancellation when it comes up for reconsideration at the April 26, 2010 council meeting.
We urgently need your support and the support of your volunteers and patrons in a two-stage lobby effort. Stage 1 will involve a letter, phone, fax and e-mail campaign to select members of council including the aldermen who we want to reconsider their position on the issue: Alderman Joe Connelly, Alderman Rick McIver, Alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart, Alderman Andre Chabot, and Alderman Jim Stevenson. We also need to sway the Aldermen who have an unknown position including: Alderman Dale Hodges, Alderman Gord Lowe, Alderman Ray Jones, and Alderman Linda Fox-Mellway.
The Pumphouse is working on a draft letter of support, which we will make available to you ASAP along with contact information for you to forward to your constituents.
Stage 2 will involve a public presence at the council meeting. Our goal is to fill the council chambers with 200-300 people on April 26, 2010 at 9:30 am.
For those of you with productions remaining in the month of April we request that you include a pre-show chat preceding each of your presentations to solicit your patrons for support for the continued health and vibrancy of not only The Pumphouse, but also the diverse theatrical community in general who benefit from the existence of The Pumphouse Theatre.
Some points to include in your message are the following:
1. The city of Calgary owns the building. If there is weak support from the owner the federal government and other donors are less likely to give.
2. The building is aging; some parts are 38 years old and some 100 years old. This project is not only about an expansion to help foster the theatre community, but also about maintaining the existing building to ensure that the Pumphouse will remain an affordable venue for both community theatre and emerging professional companies.
3. If the project fails to go ahead there is a risk that the Pumphouse will cease to remain affordable due to increases in fees to cover maintenance costs. We will cease to be accessible in the event of any infrastructure failure because The Pumphouse will be forced to close its doors until such time as the city chooses to effect repairs.
4. If the city decides to support the project, all of The Pumphouse children’s theatre programs would be in house and there would be no need to rent additional facilities. We would also be able to expand programs and capacity so more children would benefit from our affordable programming.
5. If the city supports the project the expansion translates into jobs. The Pumphouse will hire more staff to assist the growing client base and children’s programming
An important question to ask is: why did the Pumphouse get a “rough ride” from Council? From what I hear one of the big sticking points with several questioners at the committee meeting was that after the Province reneged on their portion of the funding, Council did not want to commit to the project until they knew the Feds were committed. On the surface this looks like a good idea, but I have to ask: how in the world will the Feds commit to a project when the owner (the City) won’t do it first? Why not, simply add a caveat to the funding: you can have this $2 million only if the Feds come on board too. Wouldn’t that solve the issue? (I’m asking this question seriously. If it would not solve the issue, please let me know why so we can come up with a better solution. But as it stands now, this sure seems like a no brainer answer.)