Opinion poll

Public question period

At its last meeting Hastings Highlands Township Council passed a motion adding a second public question period to its Council meetings. It already provided for one question period at the end of each meeting, but has now added one at the beginning. This will allow attendees, according to Mayor Vic Bodnar, to get clarification on what will be talked about during the meetings. “It’s a matter of going back to the transparency and accountability of things that we want to have happen,” Bodnar said.

Hastings Highlands also resolved to have Council meetings in the evenings, starting on May 29 at 6 p.m. Bodnar said, “A night meeting opens Council up to everyone that wants to attend.”

Contrast this with Madawaska Valley. The previous Council held a public/media question period at the end of each meeting of Council and also Committees. The new Council immediately scrapped this when it passed a new Procedural By-Law and substituted a provision which permits questions to be asked only “subject to the approval of the majority of members of Council.” This places the onus on potential questioners, including the media, to lobby for permission to pose a question instead of having the automatic right to ask one. However, agendas for Council meetings do not include a spot for this purpose.

The Current therefore invites readers to give their feedback on this issue. Their views can be added anonymously by participating in our online poll below: Please note that only one vote per IP address is allowed, so if you inadvertently try to vote more than once it will not affect the total. Also, the comments section below can be used to give additional feedback on these, or any other comments about accountability and transparency.

Public question period (2 questions)

1. Do you agree that time should be reserved at each Council meeting for a public/media question period?
2. If you answered Yes, do you agree that MV Council should, like Hastings Highlands, have two question periods: one at the beginning and one at the end of meetings?

Time of meetings (1 question)

3. Do you prefer that Council meetings take place in the evening?

Non-disclosure agreements (1 question)

The Current recently published an opinion piece by James di Fiore on the subject of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Click HERE to read.     It discusses the appropriateness of NDAs being used to impose secrecy on litigation settlements that involve the payment of public funds.

4. Do you agree with this statement? “If public money is spent, it should be public information.”

 

 

One Comment

  1. Barb Cardwell

    It’s critical for our council to both privide the opportunity for residents to ask questions of them and provide transparency on how our tax dollars are being spent. The mayor and council were elected to represent us, and part of that means they also must answer to us, even when it means some discomfort – they don’t get to operate in a bubble. And NDA’s cannot be used abusively to hide missteps or payoffs. It’s critical that they implement these changes if they want to gain any trust or support of taxpayers.

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