Letter: Concerns over intimidation at City Hall

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Someone asked not long ago if we had elected seven clones for our city council.  He was referring to the fact that no one ever seems to speak against or vote in the negative on any issue at a public council meeting.

I have spoken to past and present councillors about this very issue and have come to the conclusion that there seems to be an intimidation factor at play.  It has been suggested to councillors that they should not oppose or speak against issues in open council meetings, with the implication that in the future they could be shut out of deliberations on council matters.  This is really a sad situation when our democracy has gotten to this stage, as our residents thought they voted for independent thinking individuals who would, to the best of their ability, stand for the best interests of the public.  Whether or not the intimidation factor is real or perceived, the result is the same.  Some have felt uncomfortable speaking against issues in open council for fear of reprisals.  It becomes a problem if councillors are not willing to speak their mind at Council and can only give their real opinions in private conversations.  There are are also times when council members have not been given complete information to do their jobs.  There have been instances where a council member may feel blind-sided on certain issues or been given incomplete facts, either by fellow councillors or in some cases by their administration.

Some Boards established by the City also feel at times like their voices are not being heard and that certain councillors bully them into decisions they may not have otherwise made.  They feel they are simply a rubber stamp for council.  There are also times when one wonders if Council is really in charge of city operations or if they are indeed also just a rubber stamp for the Administration.

All is not well with quite a number of city employees either.  I have heard from quite a number of current and former employees, either in person, by phone or anonymously and it would seem that staff morale is at an all time low.  There is a feeling we have hired so many new administrative consultants and management positions in the past couple of years, even they don’t seem to know what their job really is.  We even have had to have a complete department relocate to the Clifton Centre due to space limitations at City Hall.  Staff perceive these positions are being filled mainly with friends or family, which can never be a healthy perception.  Some employees feel they are disenfranchised and feel they can’t speak about their concerns with management for fear of job termination, suspensions or reprimands.  In some cases they just get so frustrated they quit.

I write of these concerns on behalf of those who are not willing to do so on their own, because they fear personal attacks in the media, or by those who can’t say anything for fear of retribution.  I hope council and administration take these concerns seriously or they risk becoming totally dysfunctional.  Our citizens expect and deserve better.

Don Robinson - Swift Current

Geographic location: Swift Current

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Recent comments

  • Bob
    May 09, 2014 - 12:11

    I agree with what Mr.Robinson has to say. I hope there is a full slate of new people willing to run for council, including the position of mayor, in the next election. They will certainly get my vote!

  • Craig
    May 08, 2014 - 18:15

    I see someone who cares enough about our future to bring these issues to light. Personal attacks on Don suggests lack of evidence on the part of the attacker. I did my own research on many of these issues Don has brought to light and I've discovered the same numbers and same problems. We have a run away city council with run away spending and wasting of tax dollars. It's about time people are being shown just how out of control it is. We need a house cleaning at city hall.

    • Gary D
      May 10, 2014 - 20:55

      Ha! Pot calling kettle black! ... Too bad that Don and his merry men on coffee row had to to resort to making personal attacks on the mayor and administration / council in the first place, I'm sure worse than having to do do the job itself is having people that are back seat drivers with all the right answers. Can someone please start reporting on facts as you are only discrediting yourselves - all brave behind the keyboard! Also if it is true that councillors are too scared to state their opinion we were obviously misguided in voting those people in - it's ok though not everyone is meant for politics - just step aside or why are you even there? Grow a set!

  • fedup
    May 08, 2014 - 16:13

    there is no official opposition in municipal govt , the local media chooses or cannot for lack of resources fill their traditional role of holding politicians to account, and/or is complicit and the alderman elected to council seem not to have a mind or opinion of their own they are willing to express. "baffeling". the only rebuttels to mr. robinson's letters are attacks on him personally or questioning his motives. i think its safe to conclude the man actually cares about his community and is worried for its financial future. when our city chooses to spend more on interest on its debt than annual road maintenance, that is financially irresponsible.

  • John
    May 07, 2014 - 23:25

    Don your letters are always negative if swift current is so bad I know what I would do it seems you are very bitter at the mayor , personal attacks it seems to me

  • Stewy
    May 07, 2014 - 09:28

    Excellent letter Mr. Robinson, This answers a lot of questions about why things just happen in Swift current. Contracts filled without tenders, friends and relatives hired for jobs that never existed before, local people hired as consultants to help councilors make financial decisions that they were elected to make. City amenities like the library, swimming pool, schools, liquor store, hospital, Etc. etc. all moving to the north end of the city without question. How many million to extend Battle ford trail right down into the heart of the NEW swift current making all services a one minute drive for the rich and famous but completely forgetting that the OLD swift current still exists. I have said it before and will say it again, people of the OLD swift current,, we need to work together with this and remove most of this city council. If we don’t act soon, I suggest looking elsewhere to call home because we simply and (logically) cannot operate like this for much longer and survive.

  • Earl
    May 06, 2014 - 14:23

    Conspiracy theories and hearsay. Quality letter.