Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pressed off!

I'm a little miffed at this year's reporting of the civic campaign Disclosure statements. From today's editorial (SP May 6/10) there seems to be more interest in how the surplus funds are disposed of rather than in the donations and expenses.

By example, I thought it interesting that the firefighters union gave donations to all incumbents, including those acclaimed. Wasn't this the union that got about a 17% increase from council? What did the other unions give and to whom? Did business collectives give group donations broken into $249.00 allotments, resulting in thousands of dollars to certain candidates?

No one monitors the accuracy of the reporting, and unless challenged, no one submits bills or receipts. Did any candidate pay himself/herself', or any relative, rent for a campaign office? Did they actually claim all expenses? I would like to know whether Councillor Hill claimed the billboards that appeared just prior to the election announcing his short-lived, ward 1 only, recycling program. It pretty much mirrored his campaign material and seemed to fizzle and die after the election. To date we don't know how much each councillor collected or spent.

As for the surplus funds, if I thought my donation to a campaign would wind up in the city's squandering pool, I would never donate. Giving to charities suits me find as long was they are registered charities. Doling it out in your ward like candy seems a little like buying your next vote. Ward communications could mean buying yourself a new computer and using it for other purposes. And money spent web communications, particularly for councillors now running for different offices, should at least be claimed as a donation and election expenses for that campaign.

I was on council when this bylaw passed. At that time some councillors noted the holes and flaws in the format. But it was a start. At the time the thinking was that it would evolve with use.

If you want transparency, set it up like the federal/provincial reporting and require someone other than the candidate to verify the credits and debits. Clearly outline what is deemed to be an expense and make disclosure of all donations mandatory.

The minimal reporting on this to date was simply a waste of ink and paper.


  1. For me the most disturbing part of the reporting was the Star Phoenix did not name those that snubbed their noses at the bylaw. It mentioned 4 people didn't report and that OOOh they City is going to go after them. Well put it in print let the public know who these individuals are. If they can name the amounts the Mayor and others spent and got why couldn't they have put the full list in the paper. Obviously even the Star knows there is little or any interest in this after the election. And I never did believe there is a legal standing for this requirement. Lets get it tested in the courts then maybe there will be something to poke a stick at.

  2. I agree with Grizz - where is the reporting on the four people that snubbed their nose at the law? I think we should make sure that the city does go after them and ensure that the law is solid - otherwise what is the point of having it!

  3. I believe Councillor Hill submitted a more detailed spending report voluntarily with his required report - however, you would have to go to the City Clerk's office to take a look.

    Also, Sean Shaw has posted a more detailed report on his blog (he ran in Ward 4, barely losing to Heidt)-

  4. Mistress - you are correct - this bylaw should have evolved after the 2006 election with a complete review, enforcement and follow up changes - that did not happen - where was the city clerk after the last election? where has she been for the last three years?

  5. The bylaw is a bylaw of City Council, not of the City Clerk. The bylaw was reviewed by City Council after the last election, and a the requirement to advise what would be done with any surplus was added. The bylaw will be reviewed again after this process is complete, and there may well be changes made.

    A summary of all donations, together with my report that is going to City Council on May 10, has been posted on the City's website -, find the link on "Check This Out" on the main page. The bylaw itself is also on the City's website - click on "b" for "bylaws" and go to Bylaw 8491, "The Campaign Disclosure and Spending Limits Bylaw".

    The detailed disclosures are also available for viewing in the City Clerk's Office, Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

    City Council previously instructed me to prosecute candidates who are in breach of the bylaw, and consequently the file is being forwarded to the Crown Prosecutor's Office.

    If anyone has any questions about this, please don't hesitate to give me a call at 975-3240.

    Janice Mann, City Clerk

  6. My comments were directed to a lack of reporting by the press and not whether Janice Mann was doing her job. Ms. Mann takes her direction from Council and the City Manager.


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