Hall Monitor: House of Cards

Kingston City Council Meetings, #ygkcYou know, council in the summer is interesting. The meetings are less frequent, just as long… and people are hot and wanting to go home. This was just as clear in last night’s meeting 18-2012 as ever. You can find the agenda and addeds on the city’s website.

The meeting got off to a pretty quick start, actually, with council breezing through a few delegations, and tackling the majority of a massive report in one big, mighty swoop. One single vote (which eventually all got passed) saw the approval of 1.65 million dollars for FCMHAS to build affordable housing units, temporary relocation of the International Hockey Hall of Fame, new equipment purchases (Sidewalk tractors and ice resurfacers), land dealings for road expansions, the Tett Centre lease, a street renaming (Morton St. to Morton Way), an allowance to research and allow parking spots for car sharing programs, a brownfield project, KFHC’s partnership request with the LDSB and KFPL boards, a sign exemption and new entrance (gateway) signs for the city. Not bad for the first hour and a bit. We finished out the second hour with discussion, then a unanimous fote to go ahead with airport expansion work. But 9:30pm was just where we were getting started.

In what became the longest-debated item on the agenda, council was asked to look at and endorse a list of items where the city might be able to save money so that they could reduce the tax increase from 3.5% to as little as 2.5%. Little did any of us realize how shaky things were about to become. After a few quick changes and a couple of removals, the list passed, council approve the garbage law changes and we began into the debate about the potential of a casino.

And then… meeting adjourned. After a few comments, then a few points of order, the Mayor finally ruled Councillor Downes out of order, and asked him to apologize or leave. He chose neither, and the mayor dismissed the meeting on unruly behaviour to continue at a later time. And with that, we went home. What an ending.

Our full tweet stream is below. Council is next scheduled to meet on August 14 – but we’ll need to finish this meeting at some point. I’ll try to be there.

  • 7:26 PM: All settled in. Stream is live at http://t.co/8diLs9B8. Expecting a long night. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:28 PM: Looks like a long night… AND a full house. Good thing the AC is on, and the sunburst is off. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:41 PM: Addeds, disclosures are done. We’re into delegations. We’re starting with Tett Centre. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:46 PM: @brenda_slomka In part, because this is the only meeting in July. Next one isn’t until Aug 21. Summer schedule. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:48 PM: Our second delegation is representing the Comfort Inn at the 401. They want to raise the sign higher than bylaw currently allows. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:52 PM: Delegate for the Comfort Inn showing images of before/after images for what they’d like to see approved. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:54 PM: Question from Coun. Glover about the impact. Wants to know if most guests have reservations, anyway. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:58 PM: Our last delegate is up about a partnership between the city and the LDSB and KFPL boards, for park and arena redev. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:59 PM: Sorry… Misread the agenda. Partnership would be between KFHC and the LDSB and KFPL board. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:04 PM: Delegations are over, emotionals up now. Then … We’re into the biggest report I have seen in ages. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:08 PM: The majority of Report 83 has just passed. I’ll break it down shortly. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:10 PM: Item a, Report 83 (Passed): $190,000 for improvements for Churchill and Shannon parks. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:11 PM: CAO asked to quickly answer a question, mayor: “I hope you don’t say you weren’t paying attention”. #mayorjokes #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:13 PM: Also passed in 83: Funding allocations under the Consolidated Homelessness Prevention Program next steps. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:13 PM: 83 also includes 1.65 million dollars to FCMHAS for development of 11 affordable rental units. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:15 PM: 83 passed temporary relocation of the Hockey HoF to the Invista Cntr, some equipment purchases and land expropriation. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:17 PM: Also passed: Tett Cntr lease, Morton Street renaming, and a green-light in principal an option for Car Sharing programs. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:20 PM: Also approved a development on a brownfield, and that KFHC partnership with the LDSB and KFPL boards. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:25 PM: Also approved new gateway signs for the city. View the new designs at http://t.co/9u1TEfEu #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:26 PM: Discussion up now is about the Comfort Inn sign bylaw exemption request. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:33 PM: Comments from Coun. Glover suggest that the sign change here would create precident. Should be policy change if at all. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:34 PM: Now, @MayorOfKingston is asking for clarification of height limits. Staff: “Maximum is 35 feet”. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:35 PM: Staff comments: Sign bylaw has been exempted before, but never for height. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:37 PM: [email protected] is okay with the exemption as the bylaw allows council to override this policy when needed. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:40 PM: Coun. Downes, councillor for the area, is in support; doesn’t feel this would be a precedent either based on bylaw wording. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:44 PM: Coun. Hutchison getting confirmation that this won’t set any legal precedent from legal services. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:45 PM: Comfort Inn sign exemption passes. Coun. Glover with a recorded opposed (Only one I saw). We’re into Report 84. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:48 PM: We’re starting with discussion on airport expansion. Request approval would bring it to mgmt and budget consideration. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:51 PM: Fortunately, the airport manager is at the desk tonight, discussing the industry and the airlines plans. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:55 PM: Coun. Osanic is asking about design work and lighting – specifically, bleed into the Collin’s Bay area. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:00 PM: Coun. Osanic will be supporting the item, but is concerned about cost increases since spring. Wants staff to keep an eye on that. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:04 PM: Ongoing discussion about cost. Coun. Hutchison asking about variances between classes of cost estimates. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:07 PM: CAO comments that informations on estimates is as accurate as possible and his office shares the same concerns as Coun. Hutchison. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:08 PM: @gareth_green I’m sure others would argue the “worst” bit. I don’t remember if/when that section is scheduled. ^TV
  • 9:14 PM: Coun. Downes talking about the groups that this might benefit. Wants to see the greatest impact to the greatest number of people. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:17 PM: Coun. Downes comments too, that council can’t keep approving projects if they’re also trying to bring tax increase to 2.5%. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:20 PM: @MayorOfKingston says that the long-term utility of most projects can’t always be predicted. Cites John Counter Bvld as example. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:22 PM: @DorothyAHector Suggests that a public meeting would be a good idea. Staff agrees. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:22 PM: @MayorOfKingston called the question. Then gave Coun. Glover the floor to speak. Looked nearly-unanimous from my desk.
  • 9:23 PM: Coun. Glover comments: Doing nothing will cost us air service.. But an expansion does not guarantee expanded service. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:25 PM: Airport recorded vote passes unanimously. RV Tweet to follow for the record. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:26 PM: Result: Pass 13-0 | REQ: MG | Yea: SB, RD, KG, MG, BG, DH, RH, JN, LO, BP, BR, LS, JS | Nay: None #rv #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:30 PM: We’re getting an update from the CAO on a strategic plan update. Praise from the CAO on the staff an council’s work to date. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:33 PM: CAO commenting about property taxes. The item tonight talks about bringing the increase expectation from 3.5% to 2.5%. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:34 PM: CAO comments, too, that the average property tax didn’t go up 3.5% – was 2.75%. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:35 PM: CAO comments, too, that 30% of tax dollars raised are for external service agencies. Need their help to reduce it. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:40 PM: A reminder from the mayor that discussion on the 2.5% number isn’t in play here. Only broad topics for cuts/changes. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:42 PM: So, we’re tackling Q&A of the CAO first. Then we’ll go to the motion. Coun. Downes is up first. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:44 PM: Coun. Downes asking about how the city is viewed from the outside. CAO commenting on the good finance rating we have. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:45 PM: CAO also says that all cities hear feedback that taxes are too high. Specific feedback has generally been positive. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:46 PM: Coun. Scott asking about the option to delay phase 2 of the #ygkbus plan and any construction implementations. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:47 PM: Staff is suggesting that a delay would make more sense to April or September and not July. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:48 PM: @DorothyAHector asking if there are specific things on the list that should be flagged with importance. CAO says no. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:53 PM: CAO commenting on the “1%” infrastructure policy. @DorothyAHector says most cities put it into economic dev. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:57 PM: CAO: Infrastructure could be reduced. Closing roads, parks, buildings would cut related costs. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:02 PM: @MayorOfKingston asking if our 1% rule is considered by levels of gov’t before funding. Staff says asset mgmt is a big concern. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:02 PM: Aside: I could be wrong, but I believe that’s the first time our Manager of Intergovernmental Affairs has answered a question. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:03 PM: We’ve moved into committee of the whole. Was suggested by Coun. Hutchison so that council could comment on each of the 4 headings. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:04 PM: I stand corrected. @DanielleinYGK has informed me that she has answered a question at council. My memory is failing, I guess. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:08 PM: Coun. Hutchison is asking to bring forward an amendment about fee increases. Concerned about affordability and balan… http://t.co/ZsK4qlca
  • 10:09 PM: Coun. Hutchison is asking to bring forward an amendment about fee increases. Concerned about affordability and balance. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:12 PM: @JimNeill3 seconded the amendment idea as a reminder for the social pillar. @DorothyAHector says that this is an edit to the plan #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:14 PM: @DorothyAHector says that since items here are edits and are published, they would automatically need to meet these objectives. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:18 PM: Social balance item amendment is about to go for a recorded vote. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:20 PM: Result: Pass 7-6 | REQ: RH | Yea: RD, MG, BG, RH, JN, LO, LS | Nay: SB, KG, DH, BP, BR, JS #rv #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:21 PM: … @MayorOfKingston rules himself out of order for ruling Coun. Hutchison out of order for being critical of a council decision. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:21 PM: Turns out, that they removed that section of by-law 1 that prohibited that criticism. #mayorjokes #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:22 PM: @evilplasticfork That would be the mayor. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:24 PM: @evilplasticfork He does. He acts primarily as chair, though, as he has no specific district to represent. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:25 PM: We’re onto discussion about political strategies for funding. Still on the strategic plan item. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:27 PM: No amendments on the political strategy bit. We’re heading into service levels. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:28 PM: CAO quips as he’s asked to answer a question: “I was marginally paying attention” to laughs. #caojokes #mayorjokes #throwback #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:30 PM: Coun. Hutchison asks the CAO about the item being wide open. CAO says it’s intentional since they need to research options. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:31 PM: Proposed amendment from Coun. Hutchison to rule out privatization of current municipal services. Gallery member tried to second. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:33 PM: The @MayorOfKingston isn’t supporting the amendment, but would support a similar one that protects the city’s current employees. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:36 PM: Comments from Coun. Glover that there are some things that a city is just designed to do better. Like water delivery. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:40 PM: Council is still discussing privatization amendment. Coun. Paterson reminding council that an option to say no later is present. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:44 PM: Coun. Downes not approving the amendment or @MayorOfKingston’s suggested one. Wants to leave staff’s options open. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:46 PM: @Chrystal_Wilson @DanielleinYGK That should read “Desk space”. Doing too much at once.
  • 10:48 PM: Motion to extend through agenda completion has passed. Here we go. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:51 PM: Recorded vote on the amendment on the privatization bit fails. Results in a moment. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:52 PM: Result: Lost 8-5 | REQ: JN | Yea: BG, RH, JN, LO, LS | Nay: SB, RD, KG, MG, DH, BP, BR, JS #rv #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:56 PM: We’re looking at cultural plan changes now, and initiative balance. Triggered @BrianReitzel. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:58 PM: Coun. Glover now discussing the suggestion that the second phase of the new transit plan be delayed. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:03 PM: Comments from @MayorOfKingston asking about smaller buses, and electric buses as a possibility of cost savings. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:05 PM: @DreaD1919 It’s my absolute pleasure. –@TommyVallier, Kingstonist Municipal Affairs Writer #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:08 PM: Coun. Hutchison is asking to remove C3 from the item. That’s the potential transit delay bit. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:11 PM: Coun. Paterson reminding council that there is still an option to decline this later, and that it’s a matter of just months. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:12 PM: Coun. Downes mentioning that we’re a regional city now. And part of that growing up is a good transit system. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:16 PM: Comments from @MayorOfKingston: Feels sorry for Coun. Paterson since people don’t seem to be listening. Final decision is later. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:19 PM: Comments from @DorothyAHectorthat item should stay so that the city can consider all options. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:20 PM: Coun. Glover supports removing. Considered asking it removed himself, then didn’t to leave options open. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:22 PM: A recorded vote for transit removal has been asked for by Coun. Glover. Coun. George suggesting we order breakfast. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:24 PM: Coun. George says that by removing item, council would be handcuffing staff in terms of options and alternatives available. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:25 PM: Coun. George: Won’t be supporting any amendments. Says council asked staff to do the work, and they did. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:26 PM: Result: Lost 8-5 | REQ: BG | Yea: RD, BG, RH, JN, LO | Nay: SB, KG, MG, DH, BP, BR, LS, JS #rv #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:27 PM: We pass by item D, rise from Committee of the Whole with report (That’s the amendment). it passes. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:28 PM: The item, as amended, passes unanimously. Still a lot of agenda on the to-do list. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:31 PM: Discussion is on the by-laws for reduction to one bag. Staff says the move was not cost-related, but an increase in diversion. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:32 PM: Questions from Coun. Osanic about how advertising would be done specifically to students. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:34 PM: The date, by the way, for the reduction to one bag would be September 10th. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:35 PM: Comments from @JimNeill3 that council has already debated this issue, shouldn’t undo past work. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:36 PM: Comment from @BrianReitzel that his town hall meeting suggests non-support. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:37 PM: Recorded vote on the garbage reduction bylaws. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:37 PM: Result: Pass 7-6 | REQ: KG | Yea: SB, RD, BG, RH, JN, LO, LS | Nay: KG, MG, DH, BP, BR, JS #rv #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:38 PM: Comments from @MayorOfKingston was that there should be more eduction, less forcing of changes RE garbage reduction. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:38 PM: We’re onto the casino item. Mayor is looking for people to speak… not a lot of hands going up. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:40 PM: We’re starting with Coun. Hutchison. Wants items separated at vote time. Doesn’t feel arguments have changed since the 90s. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:44 PM: I’m going to let the casino talk happen for a few minutes. #personalrecess #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:48 PM: I come back to @MayorOfKingston mentioning to Coun. Hutchison that he’s “probably pretty close to five minutes”. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:49 PM: Looks like Coun. Osanic has excused herself for the remainder of the meeting. Just left to the hall with her big binder. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:50 PM: Comment from @DorothyAHector: During her elecctions, residents seemed to be unhappy with the decision made back in the 90s. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:53 PM: [email protected] will be supporting the item, wants to hear feedback from residents outside of her district. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:54 PM: [email protected] isn’t opposed to a public meeting. Most people he’s heard from are not in favour of a casino. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:55 PM: Also, @JimNeill3 says he feels casinos are a tax on desperation. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:58 PM: Point from @MayorOfKingston – the city is a much different place than it was in the 90s. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:00 AM: A reminder from @MayorOfKingston that this item is simply getting info before acting on it. Not on if a casino is a good idea. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:02 AM: Comment from @councillorberg about mayor’s mini-rant? “Ditto”. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:04 AM: Coun. Downes commenting that there are lots of situations where decisions are made up before any public meetings. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:08 AM: Bit of a rant about public meeting scheduling from Coun. Downes triggers some yelling from @MayorOfKingston. #fireworks #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:09 AM: Coun. Downes’ concern is that the casino public meeting seems to be being forced through, when others take longer. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:10 AM: … He adds that the middle of the summer is probably not the best time for a public meeting. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:11 AM: Now Coun. Downes says @MayorOfKingston has a habit of interrupting people… then calls a point of pers priv. against him. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:11 AM: @MayorOfKingston “I will interrupt… Because that’s my job. My job here is to run the meeting”. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:13 AM: Now, @JimNeill3 is asking for a 5-minute recess. @MayorOfKingston is suggesting Coun. Downes speak to him beyond the meeting. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:14 AM: And @MayorOfKingston rules Coun. Downes out of order as he accuses the Mayor of abusing the chair.
  • 12:15 AM: @MayorOfKingston asks Coun. Downes to apologize or leave the room. Coun. Downes chooses to it in silence. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:16 AM: Meeting has been adjourned immediately due to unruly conduct on the part of Coun. Downes. #ygkc ^TV
  • 12:16 AM: Guess we’ll call it a night here. Thanks for tuning in and following along. #ygkc ^TV

Thanks to reneilet for today’s original photo.


3 thoughts on “Hall Monitor: House of Cards

  • July 18, 2012 at 10:44 am

    I really appreciate these summaries of city council meetings. It's good to stay in the loop with municipal politics. It makes me wonder though – who are all these city councillors? I find it quite frustrating that Kingston's councillors don't do a better job of communicating with their constituents. I have tried to find information on my councillor online – but he doesn't seem to have a website, Twitter account, or Facebook page. How does he gauge his constituents' opinions if he has zero web presence? No wonder there is so much voter apathy during municipal elections, given the apparent apathy of councillors once elected.

  • July 18, 2012 at 11:17 am

    thanks so much for giving us the council blow by blow (almost literally it looks like!). I really appreciate this, as I wasn't able to tune in last night. I'd love to hear thoughts about Downes vs Gerretsen. I think Gerretsen often abuses his position as chair, and can be quite nasty in council; but as I say, I didn't see the meeting last night.

  • July 18, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    What an embarrassment. I still remember Mark asking me on election night what i thought. "The city will have higher taxes and have a council that will not get along."

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