Council adjourns after four days of hard work that produces major recommendations - public might like some time to review them before making it all final.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 12th, 2019


At a few minutes before 4:00 pm yesterday afternoon Council adjourned and will meet again on the 15th to approve (or not approve) all the reports that were debated.

It has been a mammoth session for this crowd.

On Monday they went from 9:30 am to 10 pm
On Tuesday they went from 9:30 am to 10 pm
On Wednesday they went from 12:30 to 10 pm (the forenoon was spent at a Regional Council meeting
On Thursday they convened at 12:30 and adjourned at 4:00 pm

In June Council revised their working schedule and had Standing Committee meetings start at 9:30 am instead of the standard 1:00 pm start.

The work load and the amount of time to read, think about the reports, discuss them with constituents and then stay at a desk for those lengths of time is going above and beyond.

This is a determined bunch of people – Mayor Meed Ward is right in her element – she is just loving it. Others however, are wondering if this is the best way to run a municipal government.

Angelo B

Bentivegna – “Agenda just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna said that the agendas are “getting bigger and bigger and bigger” and keeping up is a challenge for both Bentivegna and several others.

We are seeing some quality work being done and we are also seeing some shifting as to where the decision making is actually being done.

City manager Tim Commisso has adopted a style that has him commenting on a matter rather than leading the discussion.

When council was in the process of determining what they needed in the way of a city manager the Gazette suggested someone with depth and experience who wasn’t necessarily going to be around for ten years or, someone younger who was ready for the kind of challenge Burlington is and could put in the time to rebuild the ranks and develop a different culture.

Commisso – doesn’t say much, tends to lean into his chair and listen. Doesn’t pick up his cell phone that often and rarely speaks at any length. The only time the Gazette saw him fussed at all was when it looked as if council was going to empty all the cookie jars (known as reserve funds) and leave him and the Treasurer to figure out what to do when there was a real crisis.

Commisso stare

The Commisso stare.

Our view of Commisso’ s approach is not intended to suggest he is slack or not paying attention. When he becomes aware that a staffer is not really answering the questions adequately they get what can only be called ‘the Commisso stare’. At one point he chose to lean forward and point to a document to direct the staffer – who we understand might be leaving the position he holds.

Commisso is fully engaged – but he is not immersed the way former city managers tended to behave. He is prudent – he will spend when he has to but he doesn’t reach for the wallet all that quickly.

Too early to tell, but he likes the people he is leading, and make no mistake, Commisso is leading. He serves at the will of council and this council is very happy to have him lead them – certainly at this stage of their political careers.

The round of Standing Committee meetings this council just completed some vitally important recommendations that will go to council Monday evening.

The downside to all this is that there is not much time for the public to be aware of what was done and then time to reflect and discuss with their neighbours what is being recommended.  The agenda itself is five pages long.

This approach is not what one would describe as “fully engaging the public”. Given the recommendations coming forward there is no obvious reason why the council meeting could not have been held on the 22nd or the 29th. We asked the Office of the Mayor for comment – our contact is away until Monday.

Are they that anxious to get started on their vacations? which by the way they deserve, but let’s complete the work and then start the vacations.

Parr wearing T-shirtSalt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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1 comment to Council adjourns after four days of hard work that produces major recommendations – public might like some time to review them before making it all final.

  • Kevin

    Tim Commiso is an amazing choice by the current council
    I was employed in Burlington from 2001-2016
    I’ve dealt with him in his first reign, he was a pleasure to deal with.
    Down to earth, friendly, & a keen business sense
    I honestly can’t say enough good things about Mr Commiso
    As far as I’m concerned, the city of Burlington would be hard pressed to find a better city manager.