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

Posted in cross post, Meadowbrook | Leave a comment

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


From The Gazette, by Cheryl Cornacchia, 11 March 2014.

Plans to open a farmers market in Kirkland were dashed again this week even though the town is now reviewing an antiquated bylaw that could pave the way for the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables outdoors. Continue reading…

Posted in cross post, Market | 1 Comment

Kirkland on CBC Daybreak (with AUDIO)


Shawn Apel reports for CBC Daybreak.
He has worked as a civic affairs reporter and investigative reporter. He reported previously on Kirkland cross-connections issue.

You can listen or read his latest piece on Kirkland here.

 

Posted in cross post, KCA, Meadowbrook | 3 Comments

Council’s 20% pay raises ‘reasonable’: Kirkland mayor


Another article on the pay raise – by Albert Kramberger, The Gazette, 18 February 2014. You can read the entire text here.

The fact that the first noticeable decision of the new Mayor is about paying himself and his buddies 20% more is not a surprise, but the rationale for the hike given by the new Mayor is just – lovely. According to M. Gibson:

-          it is “well deserved”
Although we are yet to witness any promised improvement in the Council activities (e.g., more transparent voting results, minutes taken during the questions period), the Mayor thinks that it is time to get a raise, especially after he has resolutely abandoned the car allowance.

-          they are not paid extra for sitting on the subcommittees
Does that mean that now they WILL BE paid for sitting on the subcommittees? If the nature of work requires a lot of sitting, and that becomes a health hazard after decades of doing what they have been doing, they might need those special pillows. But could you perhaps buy some cheaper ones, available at Jean Coutu?

-          they will be dealing with upcoming rezoning issues and potential redevelopment projects
They will be? So you mean this is an advance payment? That’s a novel approach.

-          the new levels should be good for the next five to seven years,  “not including cost-of-living increases.”
Somewhat confusing… Should that mean that instead of voting for a reasonable 2% increase every year, the mayor decided to avoid these unpleasant comments and play it safe for the next seven years? That’s efficiency, exactly what we want to see in the Town Hall! But wait, could the “not including cost-of-living” clause mean that 2%-a-year increase will follow on top of the present 20%?

-          these new salary rates were determined after considering what fellow mayors and councillors were paid in neighbouring West Island cities.

There was a compilation of West Island’s municipal salaries in The Gazette. True, Dorval civil servants are paid better. But to beat them, we need to build an airport in Kirkland. Or you intend to get ahead just with the salaries first?

Overall, a whopping pay raise of 20% is a good sign: the Town budget is solid and the coffers are full. Would that mean that the Council will find the way to reimburse to the citizens 100% of the costs related to the cross connections, including legal costs incurred by some unwise citizens who had to be disciplined by the Council?

Way to go, M. Gibson! Indeed, it is time to increase the salary of village politicians: eventually it may attract competent people, and our investment will pay back.

Let’s make sure that we hear the answers from the Mayor’s mouth at the Council meetings – on Monday 24 February and 3 March. See you there!

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Kirkland plans 20 per cent salary hike for mayor, councillors


By Rhonda Massad
The Suburban, Wednesday, 12 February 2014

At its Feb. 3 council meeting, Kirkland announced that at its next gathering in March, it plans to vote on increasing the salaries of the city’s mayor and councillors by 20 per cent.

The mayor’s salary will increase to $46,617, and each councillor will receive $16,398. The province of Quebec also requires the city to give the mayor and council an expense allowance that will also increase, based on a set formula.

In an interview following the council meeting Kirkland Mayor Michel Gibson stated that the salary of a city employee and that of a councillor are not comparable.

He said that council salaries have been outpaced by inflation and are long overdue for correction.

“This will bring brings Kirkland back in line with neighbouring cities of similar population” he told The Suburban.

Gibson noted that councillors must sit on municipal committees and attend many meetings in addition to the monthly city council. He said that they also meet new residents each month and make sure that all complaints are addressed. “It is a time-consuming job, and this increase reflects that,” he said.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments