Happy New Year Regina!!
For those that have been following my activity over the past while, you'll know that I met with Mayor Fougere in December, and had a relatively positive meeting with him. We had discussed some issues, and we had agreed to disagree on some, and agreed to pursue others further. I had requested a follow up meeting a couple weeks ago, but the Mayor's assistant mentioned it might be easier just to attend one of the Open Door Friday sessions, that continued on from Mayor Fiacco's days. (Note that aside from Mayor Fougere's willingness to discuss things, not much really has changed in that seat) The unfortunate part is, chances are, you are sitting there asking yourself....what the heck are Open Door Fridays?? Well, it's your opportunity to come to the Mayor's office, with no appointment, and discuss whatever you wish with him. He personally would prefer it was full of compliments and cookies, but rest assured, you are more than welcome to complain about anything you want, or compliment anything you want. In fact, I encourage each and every one of you to make that your New Year's Resolution. Why? It seems that, unless he hears about issues directly from the public, everything is happy and rosy in Regina and the sun shines every day, and we have endless amounts of money to spend on any project that City Council deems "necessary". The City of Regina has a great chance to promote this Open Door Friday initiative, through their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but unfortunately, they choose not to...for now. Perhaps after this blog post, that might change.
So, what was the purpose of my meeting today? Well, it was a housekeeping kind of meeting, and the first 15 minutes went superb! We talked, he seemed to listen, and we had a mutual respect going, keeping things rather informal. But then.....I brought up....the dreaded Regina Revitalization Initiative. And....well, let's just say, a very sensitive issue with Mayor Fougere is insinuating, even in the most remote way possible, that he is or has been in a conflict of interest situation with the RRI and/or other major construction projects in the City (and province). I took the liberty to record our conversation, and have uploaded the RRI portion of our conversation to YouTube for your listening pleasure. Now, before anyone jumps up and asks "But isn't it illegal to do that???", I can assure you, I've consulted with legal counsel, and it is very much legal as long as the discussion has one consenting party, and the use of the recording isn't something that the other party wouldn't reasonably expect it to be used for. Since they Mayor is an elected official, and our conversation had to do with non-confidential items, there is nothing illegal about me doing this. That said, I probably won't ever get a meeting with him again, but I made it perfectly clear to him today that there really is no point to future meetings, until he is willing to actually consult with the public on the RRI Project.
Here is the video/audio file: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4UGM7BsdFI&feature=youtu.be
For those that don't want to listen to the full fifteen minute conversation, and I assure you, you really should, I'll give you a cole's notes edition here. Basically, I brought up the question that so many people had asked me along the election trail, and continue to ask to this very day, how can the President of the Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA) possibly NOT be in a Conflict of Interest position when he is lobbying government organizations (City of Regina inclusive) in an effort to represent the Construction industry. Here is the job description of the President, and if the link ever disappears, let me know, I've downloaded it for future legal purposes. You tell me what you think. To me, this statement says it all, "The primary role of the President is to lead the advocacy and lobbying efforts of the association with local and provincial governments.", but there is far more in the job description itself. Mayor Fougere's explanation as to why he left the SCA is that he couldn't do two jobs at once, and it had nothing to do with a conflict. In fact, his statement is that the only "lobbying" the SCA does is to ensure that issues like WCB are considered from the construction association viewpoint.
With record construction activity in the City and Province, it is difficult for me to believe that the Saskatchewan Construction Association's involvement in lobbying the different levels of government had nothing to do with that increase in activity. For those that are wondering, what exactly does the SCA lobby the government for, here is a great brochure for your reference (also downloaded). Note the statement about "pressing for greater investment in infrastructure". I don't know about you, but this sounds like far more than HR issues. Factor in the fact that the City itself is taking on a historical "generational opportunity" project like the $1 BILLION RRI, and the (seemingly needless upgrade - we already meet all current and future standards) Waste Water Treatment Plant Upgrade to the tune of $200-240M, and you can see why I'm a bit concerned that we may have a very serious matter on our hands in this City. Not just in the Mayor's seat either. Why is a Conflict of Interest so important to consider? Well, I'll get into more details on a future post, but long story short, if those individuals are deemed to be in a COI situation, each vote that they made in that situation is deemed void. If you have enough of those, then the meetings don't meet quorum (Google for definition), and thus, those RRI decisions could be null and void. Effectively, the RRI could be "killed" if there was never enough valid votes to support the RRI in the beginning. Let alone the fact that those found to be in COI situations also lose their position, a la Rob Ford of Toronto.
So, in the end, I left the meeting with Mayor Fougere very aware that I will be going very public with this, and more, to put as many roadblocks in front of the RRI (and other major needless projects) as possible. And, to think....all I asked of him today was simply to delay the legally binding document signings later this month, by only a few months, in order to provide time for public input. Pity.
Have a GREAT Regina Day everyone!!