Town should not have paid councillor’s legal fees: Quebec

The GazetteAlbert Kramberger | The Gazette | August 19, 2014

…In a July 25 letter addressed to the director general, complaints commissioner Richard Villeneuve stated that “it is generally understood that it is for elected officials to assume the costs of legal proceedings when they consider themselves victims of defamation…..” Read the article here.

Posted in cross post, KCA, Meadowbrook | Leave a comment

Should elected officials use public funds to sue their critics?

Brenda O’Farrell | Just between us | August 20, 2014

The ministry’s complaint commissioner recently issued an opinion that a municipal councillor in Kirkland should not have dipped into the public purse to foot the bill for a defamation action against a resident.

Read Brenda O’Farrells blog and leave a comment in The Gazette here.

Posted in cross post, KCA | Leave a comment

How Much Would That Be Per One Kirkland Citizen?

“Kirkland resident wants councilor to follow municipal affairs ministry’s suggestion”

-by Kevin Woodhouse, The Suburban, August 20th, 2014

It is somewhat encouraging to know that our Town Hall ignores not only its citizens’ opinion but the recommendation of the ministry of Municipal Affairs as well. Read the article here.

Do you want to know how much each citizen contributed to sue one of your neighbours? Come to the council meeting on Sept 8 – and ask this question.

Posted in cross post, KCA | 1 Comment

News from Beaconsfield

Beaconsfield faces legal costs over denied access to information

by Albert Kramberger | The Gazette | August 19, 2014

Request was to access former mayor David Pollock’s agenda – read the article here.

Posted in BCA, cross post | 3 Comments

Mike, that’s transparency! – take 3

Recently I received yet another message from Mayor Gibson concerning my original demand to explain what happened to his promise to minute down the questions. Albeit with a delay, someone in the Town Hall realized that my reference to article 322 of the Cities and Towns act was not exactly correct:

Mr. Brovkin,

For your information please find attached the complete version of article 322 (The sittings of the Council shall be public) of the Cities and Towns Act. It seems that you have omitted to say that the procedure that you have described on your web-site is for a municipality whose council is made up of more than 20 councillors. I believe your readers would be interested in knowing all the facts about article 322.

Michel Gibson
Maire Mayor

Good catch! Yes, you are right, in the case of a municipality whose council is made up of more than 20 councillors, the council may order by by-law that the period of oral questions by the persons attending be replaced by the procedure described in the article. By the same token, the council made up of less than 20 councillors may decide to table all questions and answers, if that is the wish of their citizens.

Mr. Mayor, if you look at any municipality on the island, including the smallest ones, they all have their Question Periods documented and published on the web page although most of them have less councillors than Kirkland. And if you take the biggest one – Montreal – they go as far as recording their entire sessions on video and making the recording available on their web page.

Perhaps you believe that this excessive democracy has led to the recent unpleasant reshuffles in Montreal City Hall, and that is exactly what you want to spare you citizens from? Please don’t.

S. Brovkin

Come and ask your question at the next Council Meeting on May 5!

Posted in KCA, Minutes, Personal Opinion | Leave a comment

Kirkland homeowner resists pipe inspection

by Albert Kramberger, The Gazette, April 23, 2014

There are currently five homes that have been confirmed as having crossed pipes that still require repairs, though three of these have confirmed that they will have the work done before the end of the month. The city is in communication with the other two homeowners who need to carry out pipe repairs.

» Full story

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Kirkland approves pay hike for members of council

Albert Kramberger, The Gazette, April 10, 2014

Without any fanfare, Kirkland council gave final approval to a move that will see their salary increase by just over 20 per cent on Monday.

The mayor’s remuneration has been increased to $46,617 from the previous rate of $37,617, which is about a 24-per cent raise. The salaries of the eight councillors has increased to $16,388 each, representing a $3,000 hike from the old salary level.

The raises will be retroactive to Jan. 1, said Mayor Michel Gibson.

While none of the handful of residents who asked questions Monday broached the issue of the council raises, Gibson had to defend the increases last month following a notice of motion dealing with the move was tabled in February.

As part of the new salary rates, it was also announced the town would not provide the mayor with a vehicle which had previously been the case when John Meaney was still mayor.

Gibson said the raises are justified, pointing out the new rates are in line with what other similar-sized municipalities pay their councils.

He added he only considered the rates paid to demerged municipal councils on the island, adding Montreal rates for its elected officials are too outrageously high for him to use as a comparison.

“We were basically in the pack between everybody who has between 18,000 and 25,000 in population,” he said. “I know it will always come back to that 20-per-cent increase, but if you look at what it really represents per month, per paycheque, per councillor. It amounts to approximately $90 per two weeks net in their pocket. So it’s not exaggerated. It’s an adjustment that had to be done at one point.”

Gibson recalled he had received a salary of almost $46,000 when he was a city councillor with Montreal when Kirkland was a borough within the mega-city for one term about a decade ago.

Gibson added councillors are not paid extra to sit on any subcommittees or to act as the pro-mayor.

For instance, he said the town planning committee has met about five times in the past month.

“It’s justification of the work and hours spent compared to what a councillor was doing 10 or 15 years ago,” Gibson said of salary raises.

Gibson noted the Union of Quebec Municipalities has a workshop planned at its May convention addressing the ever-increasing duties and demands facing council members.

“It’s time the provincial government look at the overall situation,” he said of provincial guidelines governing municipalities.

Gibson, a longtime councillor, beat Meaney, who was first elected mayor in 1994, in the Nov. 3 election.

Aside from annual cost-of-living increases based on inflation, the previous salary raises approved for Kirkland council were set in 2010 when the rate for the mayor’s job went up by about six per cent to $35,110 and the councillors pay jumped by about 19 per cent to $12,492.

Kirkland has about 21,150 residents and a $57-million budget this year.

Posted in cross post, elections | 1 Comment

Mike, that’s transparency! – take 2

Although sent to my private address only, I trust Mr. Gibson will agree to make his reply publicly available. It’s transparency, eh? Here it goes, followed by my comment:

Good afternoon Mr. Brovkin,

As you are aware the Town of Kirkland adopted a by-law no: 20076-55K that deals specifically with Public Council meetings. Also I can assure you that the Town follows the rules and regulations stipulated in the Cities and Town’s Act.

Council as already reviewed and answered this request of documenting the question period at Public Council meetings. We believe that the current administration follow-up on questions asked by the residents is adequate, timely and transparent.

Michel Gibson

Maire / Mayor
Mairie

Good afternoon, Mr. Gibson,

Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, I do not see an answer to my question. I will rephrase and repeat it:

So what happened to your promise to minute down the questions?

Although you refer me to a by-law that does not give an answer to my question, your reply could mean either:
a).   You had not read the by-law (which is actually 2006-55K), or
b).   You were deliberately deceiving your citizens during the election campaign.

As one of the citizens who supported you during the election, I would love to hear a third option – something more meaningful and encouraging.  Otherwise, your “I can assure” line will not sound really assuring any longer.

Sincerely,

S. Brovkin

Posted in elections, Minutes, Personal Opinion | 4 Comments

Mike, that’s transparency!

An open question to Mayor Gibson

 

Dear Mr. Gibson,

During your electoral campaign you mentioned to me and to pretty much everybody in Kirkland that your goal is to make the work of the Council transparent. In particular, you were promising to make sure that proper minutes are taken during the Council meeting.

What is the status of this promise? I am sure you know that at least the questions must be documented, as stipulated in the Cities and Towns act.

I would appreciate an update from you, preferably at the next Council meeting, on April 7, so that all interested citizens could have the same information.

Sincerely,

S. Brovkin

P.S.: I am sure you remember your promises and your declarations. Many of them have been recorded. For example, on October 15, 2013, on CBC, you had the following memorable dialogue with Mr. Meaney:

Michel Gibson: John, we do not even take the Question Period minutes!
John Meaney: Of course we don’t!
MG: But you don’t want to. Why not, John?
JM: We never had!
MG: That’s transparency!
JM: Mike, you were there for 22 years…
MG: Yes.
JM: … and for 22 years you never once mentioned the comment about why should we …
MG: I did mention it to you!
JM: Oh, go play in traffic.
MG: Okay.

Also, if it helps, the Cities and Towns act, article 322, says the following:

Every question must be filed in writing with the clerk of the municipality. The latter shall, upon receiving it, enter the question in a register which forms part of the records and which may, furthermore, be examined during the sittings of the council.

The Mayor or the chairman of the executive committee shall answer the question at a sitting of the council, either orally or by filing with the council a reply in writing which is entered in the record.

Hope the answer will be given to all the citizens at the meeting and recorded in the minutes.

Posted in elections, Minutes, Personal Opinion | 2 Comments

Hey Kirkland, here’s a solution for you

by Victor Schukhov,
The Montreal Gazette, 15 March 2014.

Sometimes, West Island headlines are so close together that one can’t see that they are solutions to each other’s problems. You know, like telling the trees from the forest.

Take Kirkland, for example, the silly no-left-turn-on-Henri-Daoust-Street town with a deep-rooted desire to outdo Beaconsfield in wonky local laws. Take, for instance, the anal K’s deep-sixing of a local citizen’s group attempt to open a seasonal farmers’ market. A long-in-the-tooth bylaw prohibits the sale of commercial goods in public parks, industrial areas and commercial zones. (If you can’t sell commercial goods in commercial zones where can you sell them?)   Read the entire text here.

Posted in BCA, cross post, Market, Traffic | 1 Comment