City Clerk doubles down on Council members who talk too much

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 21st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There hasn’t been much in the way of an opportunity to get to know the city’s Clerk.

The job is one of the most critical and powerful at City Hall.

In ranking he comes right after the City Manager on the administration side.

Every bylaw passed by City Council has to be signed by the City Clerk and the Mayor before it has the force of law.

Kevin Arjoon

Burlington City Clerk Kevin Arjoon

Kevin Arjoon arrived in Burlington just before the province went into a lock down last March. He came to the city via Halifax where he developed a reputation for being a strong advocate of citizen engagement – something that got a solid going over during Council last week.

With all council meetings being done virtually, the City Clerk is in the Council Chamber for the full Council meeting and is there to advise and interpret.

Arjoon’s approach to the running of Council turns out to be quite a bit different than previous Clerk’s.

We are not certain of the date but in the not too distant past Arjoon sent a memo to members of Council pointing out to them that their questions of Staff and delegations are to be for seeking clarification and not to be advancing a project of their own.

Arjoon is reported to have advised Council members to be in touch with Staff directly for any clarification they might want or need.

He apparently pointed out that agenda management for the current council was out of control with some meetings running for as long as ten hours and on occasion items had to be put over to the next cycle of Standing Committee meetings.

Two Councillors in particular were apparently guilty of wandering all over the place with their questions. Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna and Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns are reported to have been the object of some of the Clerk’s attention.

Bentivegna often seems to be asking questions out of simple curiosity. Kearns, who is a smart woman, often digs a lot deeper into an issue than is necessary.

During the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability (CSSRA) meeting Chair Rory Nisan clamped down on members of council when they wandered.

Councillor Sharman took umbrage with the stiffer protocol Nisan was following. He perhaps thought his two prior terms of office gave him some privileges.

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3 comments to City Clerk doubles down on Council members who talk too much

  • Penny Hersh

    Steve, I don’t think “he wants to silence those who have curious questions”. It is more about the soliloquy’s that accompany their vote on a subject.

  • There are still some leftovers from the previous Clerk that have yet to be addressed by the current Clerk including non-compliance with legislation with setting of meetings and Council/Committee’s insistence on delegation notes being in the hands of Council by noon the day before the meeting including for Statutory Public meetings.

    A review of the Mayor’s Calendar published at 10:46 a.m. on Better Burlington today shows there is a statutory public meeting on September 22, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. Reviewing the agenda we see the following requirements:

    1. delegations to this public meeting MUST register by noon the day before which happens to be today September 21, 2020 for the meeting in question and

    2. submit their delegation notes at the same time as they register to delegate.

    There is no notice to the Burlington community included in this Agenda that Statutory Planning meetings permit registration during the meeting to speak which does not require delegation notes to be in the hands of Committee ahead of time.

    The archived virtual Planning Meeting we recently watched allowed delegations to register at the end of the discussions and Committee took a 10 minute break to ensure those watching the live session could make a delegation as we understand is required by the Planning Act (If it wasn’t a requirement we don’t think this would have been allowed in the past). An example of this occurring is a January 2020 statutory public meeting where we registered at the meeting to speak in order to protect our ability to appeal on a jurisdcition issue.

    There is also no notice on the September 22, 2020 agenda that written submissions and registration to speak allow an appeal to LPAT.

    While we have found our new Clerk much more responsive to issues than the last Clerk there are still some very disturbing matters with the Clerk’s office that have been identified by our legislation compliance audits that have not been addressed since he came on board. One of them being a serious jurisdiction issue that is presently at LPAT.

    A copy of this comment will be forwarded to the Clerk and the Chair of the September 22, 2020 Committee meeting to ensure the accuracy of our position that Burlington community members can register to speak at the meeting to be held on September 22, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. If this is the case, as we believe it to be, attention needs to be drawn to this through multiple means including Better Burlington, the City Calendar website,CHCH News, local radio stations and Cogeco.

  • Steve

    I don’t trust a manager who wants to silence those who have “curious” questions.

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