The world has changed a LOT in the last few years. Things are speeding up so fast many of us have difficulty keeping up. Stereotypically the ones complaining about this “speeding up of life” are members of older generations. This isn’t ageist – its just that those under the age of 35 have grown up with a high level of change and haven’t been around long enough to remember any form of ”good old days” when the pace of life was different.
As my grandma once told me: each generation that has passed has experienced more change in their lifetime than the one immediately preceding them. Or you could just ask anyone who has had to ask a toddler to program their latest gadget; they’ll tell you. (My best friend’s daughter who is just two is already better than I am with Skype for example.)
While it has been my experience frame of mind, rather than age, is usually a much better indicator of willingness to work with – rather than against – the new challenges the world may give you, there is sadly no denying it can be a factor. So with that in mind, here is the list of the ages of Calgary City Council incumbents as of voting day 2010. Decide for yourself if their is an age pattern to the ones you agree with, and compare your philosophies with the ones about the same age as you.
Although, there are none under 40 so I can’t really compare myself on that basis. And I’m not sure how many of my blog readers will be able to either. (Perhaps that’s a naive assumption on my part however.) Either way, I still find it interesting to know the demographics of those who represent me and I thought you might too. So here they are:
Dave Bronconnier – 48
Dale Hodges – 69
Gord Lowe – 71
Jim Stevenson – 65
Bob Hawkesworth – 59
Ray Jones – 57
Joe Connelly – (Couldn’t find his age.)
Druh Farrell – 51
John Mar – 41
Joe Ceci – 53
Andre Chabot – 51
Brian Pincott – 49
Ric McIver – 51
Diane Colley-Urquhart – 61
Linda Fox-Mellway – (Couldn’t find her age.)
These ages are based off of numbers I pulled from the introductory articles of candidates in one of our two big newspapers during the 2007 election, so I can’t vouch that they are 100% accurate. Please forgive me if there is a mistake.
And yes, there is something to be said for having life experience too.
At this today’s Regular Meeting of Council, Calgary City Council passed their Open Data Motion.
Obviously I’m beyond excited about the City of Calgary transitioning into a period of openness and accountability. Passing an open data motion should be seen as a gigantic step forward in rethinking how a government interacts with citizens and who really runs ‘the show’. The people.
I thought I’d take advantage of this moment to shine the light on how this motion came to be.
On May 27 I saw something come across the CBC Spark Twitter feed that caught my eye. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, in writing this post I am able to go back and see exactly what it said: “Just posted full interview with @andreareimer about open data, open source, and cities that think like the web: http://bit.ly/129Cox “. It was that bit about cities thinking like the web that interested me. What did it mean? So I clicked the link.
After listening to Nora Young’s interview with Vancouver city councilor Andrea Reimer I thought to myself, “Why can’t Calgary have something like that? What’s stopping us?” The next day on May 28 I had a coffee meeting with Calgary Alderman Joe Ceci and the former president of my community association. Following the meeting Joe offered me a ride to work downtown. We got to chatting and I mentioned the project Vancouver is undertaking. He was interested but it was nothing more than a conversation during a car ride. On June 6 I was having a coffee with Ald. Brian Pincott on Olympic Plaza to talk about ward boundaries and how things had gone so wrong. Hoping to introduce something of a little more hopeful tone to the conversation I mentioned the Spark interview and the Vancouver Open Government project. He too was interested.
Somewhere in there I came up with the ludicrous idea that I should get these two aldermen to talk with their Vancouver counterpart. And it just so happened that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities was meeting in Whistler the next week. Knowing both Ald. Ceci and Ald. Pincott were attending I contacted Cllr. Reimer via Twitter. She too was attending. So I sent the three an email saying they should get together while in Whistler. (I also attempted to include Cllr. Don Iverson of Edmonton, but as he just had a baby he told me he would not be attending. We talked more about the project however when I drove up to Edmonton to attend TransitCamp on May 30. Edmonton, as it turned out, followed Vancouver and Calgary’s lead and actually got their open data motion passed months ago.)
After a couple friendly emails over the next couple weeks I found out they did not get a chance to meet up with Cllr. Reimer in Whistler but Ald. Ceci met with another Vancouver councilor. Toward the end of June Ald. Ceci and Pincott had met with the city’s IT department and the text of a motion was being drafted.
On November 17 I heard from Heather Reed-Fenske, the City’s Manager, eGovernment Strategy with some of the direction they were heading with the research for the report. She wanted to chat to update me and gain any insight I might have around the issue. On December 18 we met for coffee; where she joked she had been in her job for all of one week when City Council passed the notice of motion I recommended, she’d been working on almost nothing since, and thus hated me. We talked about several different things that other jurisdictions have done and I’m happy to see much of our conversation was incorporated into the final report.
The Report was being prepared for December 2009, but Heather and her team asked for an extension to the February 10 meeting of the Standing Policy Committee on Finance and Corporate Services where it was to be debated, edited and (hopefully) recommended to move to Council for a full vote. They needed the extra time to do more research. As I told Heather at the time: “It’s okay. It’s not a race, it’s a marathon. Just finishing is what’s important.” As February approached Ald. Pincott and Ceci realized they would both be in Ottawa for a conference that week and so asked for another delay until March 10 because, as the movers of the original motion, all agreed they should be in attendance.
The March 10 meeting was painful for me to watch. I had to be at work that morning and could only get away from my desk for an hour from 10am to 11am. This meant I missed the public input window and arrived in time for the last two thirds of the debate and the vote – which passed with only Ald. Chabot, Connelly, and Hodges against. It was painful because I just wanted to jump up and answer all the aldermen’s questions. Instead I had to rely on the answers of Heather and her boss – both relative newcomers to the issues surrounding open data. I knew I couldn’t answer questions about the City’s implementation of open data nearly as well as they could, but there were many other questions about what other jurisdictions have done and what the purpose of open data was that I could have answered that would have helped. (For example, one major issue brought up by more than one alderman was around the risk of hackers. What they did not understand is that open data eliminates the need for the majority of hacking because open data is giving the information away. Not to mention open data 1.0 does not open a portal to actual databases. All the information pulled for a data catalogue is exported information with no additional danger of a hacker access to the database.) I wished I would have been able to give them a streamlined version of the open data presentation I did at DemoCamp on January 26.
After all that the motion came to council today and following another debate, which I understand was once again fraught with misunderstanding about what open data is and what it does, it passed with a vote of 10 to 4 with Ald Hodges, Connelly, Fox-Mellway & Chabot voting against it. (Mar was absent.)
I know this might sound a little corny, but I’m elated at this moment. After almost one full year of work, today a motion brought forward by a single citizen passed City Council. A motion that could be the beginning of forever changing the way the City of Calgary thinks about the way it interacts with citizens and how democracy can work in Cowtown.
THAT is a big deal.
And I’m happy to have been able to play my small part in the process.
I can’t wait to play a part in the next steps of the process too.
A collection of my previous posts on open data coming to Calgary:
2010 is going to be a year of sweeping change at Calgary’s City Hall.
If you’ve been paying attention to the papers these past couple years you’ll know there is a deep seeded frustration among Calgarians with their current council. And with that frustration has come the hope for something better. (Affectionately referred to as “hope-y change-y stuff” by Fox News commentator Sarah Palin.)
But will the public get the change they have cried for? To do this, half of council would need to change. Given Calgary City Council’s average turnover, 2007 saw a “lot” of change when three incumbents were defeated and one retired. However four is a long way from a majority of new faces, and that is something that has not happened in a very long time. As a matter of fact, only five of the current 15 council members were not sitting in their same seat in 2001. That’s not much change over the last decade.
However 2010 may just be shaping up to the year it actually happened.
First Dave Bronconnier announced that he will not be seeking another term. Then two days ago Bob Hawkesworth, who first became an alderman in 1980, announced he would be doing the same and stepping away from his aldermanic seat.
I realize this is only two incumbents stepping aside and does not look good for the prospect of “change”, but despite the Calgary Herald yesterday announcing “all other aldermen have indicated they will be on a ward ballot this fall” I think we may see a couple others stepping aside before nomination day arrives.
To begin with, not all aldermen have formally announced their intentions. I would not be surprised to see one or two more announce they will be retiring from politics. According the City’s website Dale Hodges has held his aldermanic seat since 1983. Meanwhile Joe Ceci and Linda Fox-Mellway have been aldermen for fifteen years and Ray Jones has been warming a chair for seventeen years. Gord Lowe is now 71 – the oldest on council – and may be looking to slow down. All of these council members I would estimate are potentials to step down still.
At the same time we know Ald. Ric McIver is almost certain to throw his hat in the ring for mayor. Assuming this happens, this is one guaranteed new face on council. Joe Connelly has positioned himself well for a run at the mayoral seat as well. At the same time Diane Colley-Urquhart has been rumoured to be thinking about it too (although no one has come forward with evidence she is seriously considering it yet).
If I had to hazard a guess, it would be that there may be five members of the current 15 members of council that will choose not to run in their current position come September. That alone would represent more change than we’ve seen in a very long time. Heck even 2001, the last year the incumbent mayor did not run, there were only five new faces on council following the election!
If we factor in the same amount of turnover as the 2007 election in the form of frustration aimed at the current council, it is very possible, albeit not probable, we could be seeing a majority of newbies come October 19. Even if this doesn’t happen, we will still be seeing more turnover in one go round than many of us can remember.
Now for the big question: will it be good turnover? The kind that alleviates Calgarians’ frustrations? Stay tuned to find out.
This post has been cross posted to The Best Political Team in the Blogosphere. Check it out for all your coverage of the 2010 Calgary Municipal Election.
Filed under: Alberta, Arts, Calgary, Marketing, Politics, Technology
As 2009 comes to a close I wanted to take a look back. It 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. I could simply select my favourite posts, but I decided why not not just let the readers “select” by highlighting the most popular posts on this blog for 2009.
So without further ado, the most popular djkelly.ca Blog posts of 2009:
14. What kind of bridge will $25 million get us?
May 22, 2009
This was my first blog post about the soon to be built Calatrava bridge. I decdided I would take a look at the design limitations given to Calatrava and try to predict what the bridge might look like. While, I was right about it not being white with soaring cables, I wasn’t even close to the guessing the Chinese finger trap design, which is much more ornate than I was expecting.
13. Conversing with Alberta politicians on Twitter
June 4, 2009
A useful post that should probably be updated given how many more Alberta politicians have joined since June!
12. New Ward Boundaries Demystified
February 21, 2009
A simple post created by laying the old ward boundary map with the new map that was being proposed by the chief electoral officer. (Showing off my Photoshop skills.) It turned out to be a post that proved it was sorely needed.
11. Loving or hating Calgary’s new bridge is not as easy as it sounds
July 29, 2009
This is probably one of my favourite posts of the year, as I went through what I observed to be each of the areas of complaint about the proposed Calatrava bridge and outlined which were fair game and which were not. It was my attempt at adding clarity to an issue extremely misunderstood by Calgarians. While it landed at number 11 on the most popular posts, I don’t think I was overly successful because people still complain about the price with little understanding of “why”. If you’re one of those folks, it might be worth a re-read.
The last blog post on the old blog template! It holds a special place for me for that reason, but most people probably just appreciated it for what it talked about – as outlined in the post title. This is the most proud I was of our council this year. They painted themselves into a terrible corner, but admitted their mistake and righted their wrong. I wish they would have done this more times during 2009.
9. Vanessa Porteous, ATP Artistic Director Designate
January 14, 2009
I am shocked an arts related post ranked so high on this list! (And it’s not even the highest one!) Is it because of the lack of local entertainment reporting resources? I think it might be, because non-Hollywood entertainment news tends to take a couple days to make it into the papers. Maybe I should take up Metro Calgary on their offer to blog about Calgary arts for them… It could prove to be a very successful blog that maybe long overdue.
8. Doug Elniski: how to do it right
June 24, 2009
This post – along with number 5, which I wrote a day earlier – simply outlined where things went wrong in MLA Doug Elniski’s mini-Twitter scandal. This particular post provided follow-up and greater context to comments I made in several media interviews on the subject. (You can say SO much more on a blog than in a media interview!)
7. University of Calgary cutting 200 jobs
July 14, 2009
Out of all the posts in this list I think this is the closet to “regretting” one as I come. Unlike all the other posts (save the honourable mention) this post was “breaking” news instead of my usual commentary on the news. I didn’t mean for it to be however! Here’s what happened: the UofC sent an email to all staff saying they were cutting 200 jobs. I heard about this and asked the individual if it was okay I mentioned it on Twitter. They said yes, because it was sent to all staff and thus obviously public info now. The problem was, UofC never sent a press release. So when I posted it on Twitter I was inundated with media requests for more information. The result was I had another source send me the text of the email and I posted it on this blog. That night the television and radio news lead with the story and it was front page news in the papers the next morning. I’m not sure if the lesson here is about the power of Twitter, or to always keep your communications department in the loop when making major announcements. Maybe both.
6. Progress and respect
November 30, 2009
In the aftermath of the first Reboot Alberta conference I summarize my thoughts on the participants themselves.
5. Doug Elniski: now just another walled off politician?
June 23, 2009
(See number 8 first.) This is the blog post that started it all. I’m not sure why no one else was talking about Doug Elniski’s comments in context of his use of social media. It still baffles me that people think social media is some sort of special entity instead of what it actually is: just another way to talk to people. It’s nothing special, but is highly effective. This post was also was popular enough to result in me being invited to talk about his comments on CBC Calgary’s The Calgary Eyeopener, CBC Edmonton’s Edmonton AM and for a feature article in the National Post.
4. The #AskEd Accountablity Window ends tomorrow
December 3, 2009
Just like number 5 this was me talking about Alberta politicians and their failures with social media tools – although this time Mastermaq got the press coverage a week later
3. How to fix Ed’s communications problems
December 14, 2009
After number 4 I felt like I had to address the Premier’s communications problems appropriately. It’s bizarre how he’s lost the media and the public so thoroughly by a simple failure to communicate. He’s our premier and I want to see him, and thus us, succeed. This is my attempt to throw the premier a bone. We’ll see if he and his team take my advice or if they continue to fumble their way through 2010.
2. Look out Alberta, you’re about to get “rebooted”: First Impressions
November 28, 2009
I honestly think the Reboot Alberta movement – along with the Wildrose Alliance’s rise – is the single most important thing to happen in Alberta politics since the creation of the Progressive Conservative party. This post outlines my initial thoughts after the first day of the conference. The fact so many people read it gives me hope that Reboot Alberta is on the right track in their discussions. You can expect more thoughts from me on this movement in the very near future.
Yes, an arts story made it to number one on the list! And for such a short blog post?! The people spoke.
Honourable Mention: “Open Government” coming to Calgary?
July 21, 2009
Usually you expect to see an honourable mention at the bottom of the list, but I think this one deserves to be at the top of the list. July 21 had more people visit my website that any other day in it’s history. By a LONG SHOT – almost twice as many as any other day. There was only one post written around that period of time, and it was written on that very day. I think what happened was the main URL of this site was circulated and shared rather than the actual URL of this paticular post. Therefore I don’t have accurate numbers on exactly how many people visited this particular story, but the numbers are just so overwhelming I had to include it.
I wrote this post during the morning hours in a business centre of a hotel in Portland, Oregon. I had been given permission from Ald. Pincott and Ald. Ceci to announce the open data notice of motion the day before it became public when the council agenda was released. People from all over North American immediately sat up and took notice and did so by reading this post. Amazing. Look for a lot more on outcome of this notice of motion in early 2010.
Ald. Ceci and Ald. Pincott’s notice of motion regarding open data becoming the standard at the City of Calgary passed this morning with only a couple amendments. One amendment was regarding cost of making the data available and another was asking for the City’s legal departments input. Both very good amendments in my opinion. The motion asked for a report on the feasibility of opening up the City’s data to the public from Administration to be completed and we should see it in December 2009.
I suggested the open data project to Ceci and Pincott in the first place is because it is one very simple way for the City to open up and become more transparent. This is what Open Government is all about.
In this day and age where we see dropping percentages of people who vote, and fatigue over partisan bickering, it strikes me that it is time to remind citizens who’s in charge and why the City exists in the first place.
Cities were of course created for one reason only: to make the lives of their citizens better.
So a group of engaged citizens in the 19th century stood up and said ‘if you wish, we will set the direction for how our City can make our lives better’. The rest of the population responded by holding an election to determine which citizens best characterize the direction they would like to see their city go, and the result was a group who immediately got to the business of making their city a better place to live.
They did this by hiring people to work projects on behalf of the citizens. They set policy and safety standards and generally did the job they were elected to do. Citizens watched and judged their accomplishments – letting them know when they agreed and when they disagreed. Every few years the population got a chance to change their representative if they felt it was necessary. And the building continued.
However at some point in time the elected individuals as well as the people they hired ended up hidden in the shadow of the behemoth organization they created in the name of making the lives of citizens better. Issues became more and more complex as more and more issues fall to their plates for solutions. More and more people were hired, more and more details were added. The entire undertaking became incredibly hard for the average citizen to follow, to judge and provide input on. This, unfortunately, is the government we have today.
Open Government is about using new technologies to shine the light on what is happening on our behalf. It is meant to turn back the clock and give the average citizen a way to be involved again.
Open Data is one small step in that direction; because, it is important to note, the data in our government’s possession is collected on behalf of us with a goal of making our lives better.
We, the citizens, own that information and we have every right to access it.
This brings me to today’s motion. I was hopeful that all aldermen would see this motion as a positive step toward opening up our government and not allowing individuals to live in the shadows – either on purpose or by accident. I truly thought we would see a unanimous vote of approval for looking into the practicality of open data for the City of Calgary. So I was surprised to see two aldermen vote to keep the citizens they supposedly represent at bay. Two aldermen who wanted to keep the City’s work in the shadows.
I’m extremely disappointed in Ald. Chabot and Ald. Connelly for not even entertaining the possibility of allowing the citizens of our city to better know the work they – and those they’ve hired – are doing on our behalf.
Security, privacy and legality concerns are all real need to be looked and more than likely addressed. This report will do that. So why not just SEE what the possibilities are instead of regressing back into the shadows?
Today’s motion was just the beginning of shining the light on the shadows and it shone directly on Chabot and Connelly. They have been exposed.
And just like my opinion of open data in general: what the citizens might do with this newly exposed information is what really excites me.