Thomson Outs Council on the Handling of the Consent Agenda

By Pepper Parr

December 4th, 2023



Jim Thompson was back before a Standing Committee to first remind them that when there are delegations speaking to a matter it cannot be on the Consent agenda.

Items on the Consent agenda are matters that the Clerk’s Office do not feel require debate.  Any member of Council can pull an item from the Consent agenda and have it up for debate.

Jim Thomson, appearing before the Standing Committee virtually.

Thomson, took part in the meeting virtually – he hasn’t appeared in Council chambers since the meeting during which he was escorted out the door.

Okay, good morning. First, why is CL 22 Dash 23 still on the consent agenda? I am delegating on it. So it doesn’t meet the no delegations requirement of section 35.1 of the procedure bylaw.

Secondly, let me say that I approve of the way the changes to the notification policy are shown in the document. The old language is struck through and the new language is clearly shown in place. This should be the standard for all changes to bylaws. This is 1990s word processing technology that the clerk’s office should have adopted a long time before now.

Thirdly, with regards to changes necessary due to the loss of the Burlington Post. I don’t believe that Burlington is unique in no longer having print media.  I saw nothing in the report that referenced other communities made in Burlington is expensive if other communities have already solved the problem. With specific regards to the Hamilton Spectator how many subscribers does it have in Burlington? Does it reach enough of the population to make it worthwhile placing ads in it?

Fourthly, I find it hard to believe that there are no climate implications to this change. For starters, there are going to be fewer dead trees. Going out all electronic means consuming more electricity. If we move everything to electricity, we’re going to have to have more clean energy electrics, more clean energy electric sources. This means more hydro or nuclear to increase the base-load coverage that makes up for the times when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow Lastly, I noted the engagement matters the public wasn’t consulted.

Personally, I get my media electronically, but there is a significant portion of the population that isn’t on the net and or preferred to get paper copies. With regards to the policy itself, does the municipal act allow waiving the public notice procedure other than for the urgent or emergency situations as defined in objective nine of the policy?

How is Council held accountable? How is the city manager held accountable? Was the city clerk held accountable?

To be clear, what are the consequences of failure of any of those names, that they do not meet the responsibilities under the policy or in fact violate the notification policy? Thank you for your time. Are there any questions or will they just be ignored as usual?

Committee Chair: Are there any questions for Jim Thompson? Seeing none, thank you for your delegation today Jim.

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3 comments to Thomson Outs Council on the Handling of the Consent Agenda

  • Gary Scobie

    The lack of questions by Council (or answers to Jim’s questions) are something that continues to bother me and other people that delegate or used to. The only way to have any sort of public dialogue with citizens is to ask delegates questions or to answer theirs. But the former is a rare thing and the latter is just never done.

    I don’t understand why dialogue with citizens is discouraged at their only opportunity to do so publicly. As Jim points out, how are staff held accountable to the public? If they are, it must only be behind closed doors and never discussed publicly for the benefit of citizens.

    And the practice of no debate and very slight dialogue in Chambers leaves accountability of Council members and Council as a whole hidden as well and our chance to hold them accountable only one time in four long years (at the next election) if we are lucky enough to remember that far back. There is something very undemocratic in the makeup of municipal decision-making, dialogue or lack of with the public and accountability to citizens.

    I don’t know how to fix this other than a redo of how we publicly debate issues and decisions. The recent budget debate (oxymoron?) is the best case in point and a good number of very capable and knowledgeable delegates advocated for doing things differently in the future. But how do citizens start this process when Council turns its deaf ear to the suggestion and won’t allow it?

    Suggestions welcomed.

    • Howard

      Gary If I was a member of council, I would always ask myself if this person represents more than just themselves. Thousands would have voted me in however one retiree with pent up frustration about how the city is run should not carry the day. Jim has gone down a path that now presents him as an afterthought. I did not hear him delegate but did he first start with an apology for his past behaviour?

    • Lynn Crosby

      That council ignored the large number of delegations both written and in public speaking intelligently and with facts and data against the increase, many offering excellent suggestions on improving the budget process itself, and the way the city plans and spends OUR money, and then they had the gall to put out public statements saying they were pleased to see the most ever feedback (well, the old feedback they skewed to match their spin I guess) and that the final budget was a result of that resident feedback is and was appalling. It also goes against everything the mayor supposedly was going to change and improve in 2018 with respect to real engagement and the treatment of delegates at council.

      This should be our example of how far they have fallen on supposed engagement and transparency. This council seemingly doesn’t believe they work for us at all.

      My only suggestion is vote out those who treat us this way.