Sadly, not a single civic politician tweeted out about their lobster dinner at UBCM
As the UBCM civic politicians wrap up their convention for another year, I thought it was time for a few rambling thoughts on what has been a busy week in civic politics. What follows are several issues that made the headlines...and some that didn't.
Smart Meters vs Water Meters
Civic politicos attending UBCM were clearly not pre-occupied sitting in on sessions regarding how to streamline civic government. What else could explain why the big topic of the convention this week was BC Hydro's smart meter program.
That's right, the same civic politicians who are installing costly water meters in their communities voted against the smart meter program. Oh...the irony of it all.
The Most Clever Tweet award from the convention this week was given to intrepid civic affairs reporter Jeff Nagel. His tweet on the topic of smart meters states:
#UBCM delegates vote for moratorium on wireless #smartmeters. Using wireless voting devices.
Lobster vs Wild Salmon
Despite all the alcohol flowing at the various hospitality suites and buffet dinners, not a single civic politician was caught up in a twitter controversy - Sigh. As you can imagine, the combination of good wine and iPhones can sometimes help to shorten political careers.
If you recall, Vision Vancouver councillor Heather Deal embarrassed herself (and her colleagues) when she recently attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Convention in Halifax. Her tweets extolling the virtues of the fine lobster she consumed went over like a lead balloon with taxpayers.
But I'm still left wondering if she ever did donate the funny yellow hat she was given to a local homeless shelter? Somehow I doubt it.
RCMP vs BC Provincial Police
One of the other big topics at UBCM this week was the breakdown of negotiations between the Feds and BC regarding the RCMP contract. Mayor Dianne Watts and Derek Corrigan linked arms with BC NDP opposition leader Adrian Dix and Premier Christy Clark in a united front against the Feds. Yes, you read that correctly.
Both the City of Burnaby and Surrey have very large RCMP detachments and they are hoping a deal can be hammered out soon. It's rare to see unanimity across the political spectrum on any issue in BC, so this one certainly caught the media's attention.
I suspect a deal will be struck soon and the RCMP will be working in some of our biggest cities for a few years to come.
Gregor vs Dianne
Now that social media is so prevalent, I was watching closely to see how it might impact this year's UBCM convention. I must admit I was a tad underwhelmed. There were times the media onsite were tweeting more often than local politicians.
I must say there is absolutely no comparison when it comes to the online presence of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.
Watts sent our numerous tweets throughout the week and was very engaging with the media and other delegates. She was even using Twitter to drum up support for the emergency RCMP motion that was debated on Thursday. It's quite refreshing to see a senior public official being open and accessible in this way. No wonder nobody wants to run against this popular mayor.
On the other hand, Mayor Gregor rarely - if ever - engages people with his tweets. I'm often left wondering if he actually writes them himself or if it was typed in by one of his staffers. His tweets are almost always one way...and rarely are they in response to someone else's tweet.
If you don't agree with my assessment, just check out His Worship's Twitter feed by clicking here. Take note how many tweets were about UBCM this week. Hint: Answer rhymes with the word lada.
Anton's Austerity vs Vision's Jobs Plan
The NPA's Suzanne Anton was doing her best do rise above all the issues emanating out of the convention this week. She invited local media to a news conference to hear more about her "common sense tax measures" to restore fiscal accountability at City Hall.
Anton announced the NPA prosperity platform will include fiscal and taxation commitments to:
- return budget surpluses directly to property taxpayers
- cut at least $1 million in ineffective Vision Vancouver pet projects from municipal budget
- set a cap for any future operating spending increases
- continue NPA fair tax shift to help keep Vancouver small businesses competitive
Meanwhile, over at the West Wing of City Hall, the Mayor's communication staff were busy tweeting out about their new economic vision for Vancouver.
It goes without saying the new glossy "jobs" brochure features a prominent photo of His Worship. After all, what would a City of Vancouver report be without a huge colour mugshot of His Handsomeness?
The funniest part of the photo is Robertson is shown with his back to the downtown (where most of the jobs are located in the city) and looking south to the USA. Perhaps a better pose would have been looking west toward Asia/Pacific where the jobs and investment will actually be generated in the next couple of decades.
According to the media release:
The plan provides 160 actions, measures and outcomes for how the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) will work with partners to enhance local economic performance through a variety of business-support programs.
Are you kidding me? 160 action items? Perhaps the Mayor and his team want to take a business course on how to stay focused.
Overall, I have to question why both Vision Vancouver and the NPA chose to make these types of economic announcements during UBCM. They were crowded out by almost every other UBCM related issue this week and as a result got almost no media coverage.
Renovated BC Place
On a final note, BC Place is set to re-open later today. As a BC Lion season ticket holder I am very exciting about returning to "the dome". I think what David Podmore and his team have done is simply spectacular and this "new" venue will provide a huge boost to the local economy.
I'm told that Mayor Gregor and most of his team will be participating in the official re-opening ceremonies tonight and will stay to watch the BC Lions game. Apparently they were provided with complimentary tickets.
What's most interesting is that Vision Vancouver vehemently opposed the City working with PavCo to upgrade BC Place. In fact, the minutes of an October 2, 2007 public hearing reveal that Vision Vancouver gave the partnership agreement a big thumbs down. As they say, that was then...this is now.
I won't be writing anything this weekend, but will be back on the grid on Monday. Have a great weekend!