Small victories count too

Small victories count too
Posted on December 12, 2013 | Erwin Dreessen | Written on December 12, 2013
Comments

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

While researching what Council decided about country lot estates at its meeting of November 26, 2013, I found the record in places to be shaky, in error or non-existent. I brought that to the attention of the Council coordinator. The result is below!

(from a posting to the green-news email list:)

I made Council's coordinator, Dawn Whelan, aware of a number of discrepancies in the record of Council's decisions of November 26 on the Official Plan. Please see our exchanges below. The result is that:
- errors have been corrected
- the record has been amended
- from now on the Disposition out of Council ("Action Summary") will include defeated motions.

Let's count our small victories for greater transparency and accountability.

Erwin

From: Erwin Dreessen
Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:12 PM
To: 'Whelan, Dawn'
Subject: RE: Council meeting of Nov 26 2013

Thank you, Ms. Whelan. Your actions are appreciated. E.D.

From: Whelan, Dawn [mailto:Dawn.Whelan@ottawa.ca]
Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:05 PM
To: 'Erwin Dreessen'
Cc: Dennis, Melissa
Subject: RE: Council meeting of Nov 26 2013
Importance: High

Dear Mr. Dreessen,

I have discussed the issues you have raised with my colleagues and my manager, and in particular the fact that the Disposition does not include lost motions and votes. Although it has long been our practise to have the Disposition set out only approved recommendations/motions, your point that the SIRE “Unofficial Results” now show all motions (lost and approved) was well taken. As a result, we will from now on, include all motions – lost and approved – and the relevant votes or dissents (if any) in the Disposition.

Regarding the discrepancies between the Disposition and the SIRE “Unofficial Results”, normally after a meeting (i.e. as soon as the Disposition is completed), staff review the “Unofficial Results” and correct any errors that may have been made in SIRE during the meeting. Unfortunately, there were two Council meetings the week in question, as well as a number of Committee meetings and as a result this was not done in as timely a fashion as is normally the case. The discrepancies you noted in the “Unofficial Results” for the Council meeting of 26 November 2013, have now been corrected.

With respect to the omnibus motion and the dissents on the amendments to Section 3.7.2, in the Disposition I had indicated immediately after the motion “CARRIED with Councillors S. Moffatt, D. Thompson and S. Blais dissenting on Section 3.7.2 of Attachment 2.” I felt this clearly indicated the dissents were on the motion, and specifically on Section 3.7.2 of Attachment 2. However, taking your comments into account and to be even more clear, in the minutes I indicated “CARRIED with Councillors S. Moffatt, D. Thompson and S. Blais dissenting on the amendment to Section 3.7.2 set out in Attachment 2.

On the matter of the two Harder/Qadri motions that were referred by the Desroches/Hume motion and the fact that the Harder/Qadri motions indicated “No Action”, unfortunately SIRE has limited options in terms of indicating action taken regarding motions (i.e. it allows us to indicate “Passed”, “Failed” or “No Action”). We have however, amended the Desroches/Hume motion to include reference to the two Harder/Qadri motions).
I trust this responds satisfactorily to the issues you have raised and again I thank you very much for taking the time to bring these to our attention.

Dawn Whelan
Program Manager
Council and Standing Committees Unit
and Council Coordinator
City of Ottawa
Telephone: 580-2424, Ext. 21837
Facsimile: 580-9609
E-mail: dawn.whelan@ottawa.ca
Mail Code: 01-71

From: Whelan, Dawn
Sent: December 02, 2013 10:51 AM
To: 'Erwin Dreessen'
Cc: Dennis, Melissa
Subject: RE: Council meeting of Nov 26 2013
Importance: High

Dear Mr. Dreessen,
Thank you for your e-mail. I am so very sorry that you had such a terrible experience using the SIRE “Unofficial Results”. I will review in detail the discrepancies that you have outlined in your e-mail and will get back to you as soon as possible.
Again, thank you for taking the time to send me this e-mail outlining the discrepancies you encountered and I apologize for the troubles you encountered.

Dawn Whelan
Program Manager
Council and Standing Committees Unit
and Council Coordinator
City of Ottawa
Telephone: 580-2424, Ext. 21837
Facsimile: 580-9609
E-mail: dawn.whelan@ottawa.ca
Mail Code: 01-71

From: Erwin Dreessen
Sent: November 29, 2013 9:07 PM
To: Whelan, Dawn
Subject: RE: Council meeting of Nov 26 2013

Ms. Whelan, further to the record of the actions of Council on November 26, just to piece together the voting record under item 4 (OPA) took this citizen well over three hours, using the "Unofficial Results" on the eAgenda plus Disposition 65. I draw your attention to the following discrepancies:

- the long 5-part motion (first in the Unofficial Results part) shows unanimous approval but the Disposition correctly notes that Clrs. Moffatt, Thompson and Blais dissented on s. 3.7.2. However, having watched that part of the debate on-line, I do believe that their dissent was on the last-minute changes proposed for s. 3.7.2. only -- an important difference.

- the motion on Ashton Station Road shows, in the Unofficial Results as voted on unanimously Yes but also says that the motion failed. The latter statement is correct, given that it does not show up in the Disposition.

- A Harder/Qadri motion on Schedule M shows "no action" but the Disposition says "Referred ... by the Desroches/Hume motion below." However, the D/H motion makes no reference to the contents of the H/Q motion.

- The D/H motion is shown in the Disposition to carry 15-9 but that very same text is shown in the Unofficial Results as having failed 9-15, with the same vote distribution! You can't have it both ways.

- a motion on arterial mainstreet designation of Innes Road shows in the Unofficial results as Clr. Harder dissenting but the Disposition shows Clr. Egli dissenting as well.
Altogether, this is a deeply unsatisfactory state of the record, not only because of the inconsistencies but most importantly because there appears to be no authoritative record of motions that failed. Even if one were to observe the video record (a very tedious exercise, if it is available at all) there would be no satisfaction because the Yeas and Nays are frequently inaudible.
I gather that this unsatisfactory state of affairs is currently the standard level and quality of reporting and is not unique to this particular item.

E.D.

From: Erwin Dreessen
Sent: Friday, November 29, 2013 2:04 PM
To: 'Whelan, Dawn'
Subject: Council meeting of Nov 26 2013

Dear Ms. Whelan,

Why is the video of the Council meeting of Nov 26 not available?
Why are the motions that were defeated not part of the action summary? (Unofficial results are visible on the right hand side, in very awkward format.)

Regards,

Erwin Dreessen

About The Author

Erwin Dreessen's picture

Retired economist (Ph.D., Berkeley, 1972) Co-founder (1997) and former chair of the Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital.  Wrote an annotated bibliography on what sustainability means for businesses (2009) --... More