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Monday, April 30, 2012

Council Transparency

At the FPCOW April 23, 2012 councillor George Anderson made the motion to "have Finance Policy Committee of the Whole meetings, while held in the Shaw Auditorium, video recorded and placed on the city website." (Report on pgs.32 – 34)  

The motion, after some discussion passed 6 to 3 with Councillors Brennan & Johnstone as well as Mayor Ruttan voting against.  While citing the cost and stating she would not be supporting Councillor Johnstone stated "but I do support transparency" guess just not in this vane.  Councillor Brennan thinks the Shaw Auditorium itself “constrains more open discussion” and also thought why bother when it would just be the same 150 people who would normally access regular council meetings on the City Website.  Mayor Ruttan stated he would not support the motion because the meetings would be moving to the new annex in 8 months and he also would not support such a motion when FPCOW meetings did move to the annex.

At question period, because the motion just dealt with FPCOW at SHAW Auditorium and nothing has yet been set in place for the new annex I asked the following question. I first told council I appreciated their decision and that ; “thinking ahead to when these meetings are moved to the new annex I am wondering that in the event council chooses not to continue with recording of meetings is there any reason a member of the public could not come in and personally record the meetings.”  The answer received from city staff was that there was not. 

This of course opens it up for future discussion in that if council wants meetings recorded in a so called professional manner they will in all likelihood ensure that the proper equipment is installed in the annex and meetings are posted to the city website.  In the event they choose not to do so I mentioned the possibility of Mid Island TV recording them and then uploading to YoutubeJ This could have the benefit of many others, than just the ‘regular 150’, uploading the videos and in essence be promotional for the City.  Of course you can bet they would not want to see this happen in the event one or another makes an ass of their self.

Believe it looks good for FPCOW meetings being available for view on the city website for the foreseeable futureJ  

Conference Center Reality

I sent off the following Letter to the Editor about the story 'Busy spring at convention centre' that appeared in the April 29th Bulletin. Unfortunately the story is only in the hard copy and not on the Bulletin website. While it is all well and good to look at world through rose coloured glasses it is also good to take a step back and look at reality. Until one is willing to look at things as they really are then it is impossible to look at means of making them better.
Re: Busy spring at convention centre
Anyone reading this story might assume that the VICC is on the right track and doing well; a modicum of research however shows that this is not exactly so.
First off the story states that 30,000 delegate days are expected this year. This is exactly the same number that was being hyped for 2011 and yet we see that only 13,980 delegate days, less than 2.5% capacity, actually were achieved.
Secondly it is important to note that included in delegate days are those of the weekly Sunday Church service the ‘Meeting Place’. At an estimated 150 people attending per week this accounts for 6500 delegate days during the year, almost half of all delegate days in 2011. If, a really big if, the 30,000 proposed delegates do materialize this year it would still account for more than 20%.
A quick perusal of the VICC website will show that for the last six months of this year, other than the ‘Meeting Place’, only one convention and one other event are scheduled.
Half truths expressed through stories such as this do nothing in moving this facility forward. We must stop looking at the VICC with eyes wide shut and dreams of a hotel as the only option of salvation. Only by openly recognizing the facilities flaws can we then move forward to rectify them.
As published: Delegate numbers fail to tell full VICC story

Bang for the Buck

At the FPCOW meeting March 23, 2012 a Local Preference Purchasing Policy was voted down.  The following is with regards to this and a couple of stories that came out in the Daily News.

It is nice to see consistency with NEDCorp; both the CEO and Chair of the board seem to see no problem with shopping for services elsewhere rather than promoting our local economy. It is also interesting that even the Chair of the Chamber of Commerce thinks the same.

I guess I am a bit naive but for some reason I thought NEDCorp , which is taxpayer funded to the tune of $1.4 million, was supposed to promote Nanaimo and its economic development.  I fail to see how this will be accomplished if they continue to encourage the contracting out of the community of services for Nanaimo.
Wally Wells of the Chamber of commerce states; “A local preference could have shut doors for companies selling outside the community.”   This would only happen in other communities that have ‘Buy Local” policies and so in essence they are already shut out of those communities.

A.J. Hustins, chairman of NEDCorp states; "Companies can't bid on jobs outside the community and then have outside companies banned from bidding here."  Of course they can and they will continue to do so.  The difference being that if a community they bid in also has a buy local policy then they will not be arbitrarily given preference for simply having the low bid.
The fact is that other communities already have such policies. Ladysmith, next door to Nanaimo, as well as Kelowna and other communities in the province have taken these steps.   It is a trend that is growing and it is doing so in part to protect local economies and jobs.

Perhaps one of the sillier comments was by Councillor Anderson who in one story is quoted; "We need to go for whatever is cheaper, whether it's by $500 or $1,000."  I am reminded of the old adage You Get What You Pay For. 
Bottom line is that no community will be able to produce all the goods and services they need.  There will always be opportunity for outside business.  Personally I believe we should support local whenever possible. 

Daily News:
26th  Nanaimo merchants at odds after buy-local policy rejected

FPCOW April 23, 2012 (Report pgs. 21 - 31)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tardy here but active elsewhere

Have been posting far more on my face book Municipally (A)musing page. Will atempt to get a few more posts up here shortly:)

GordFuller Municipally (A)MUSING

More on Nedcorp CEO

This interesting story in the D/N on Saturday Nanaimo mayor 'unaware' of Cudahy's status .

Found it amusing that the story did not allow for posting comments; have noticed the odd one that one just knows they do not want feedback on. Have also heard through the grapevine that certain folk have threatened to withdraw advertising of the local press does not cowtow to their wishes for just positive stories. Interesting!

Re the article; my thoughts are that within a month she will be gone and receive a large severance package that the public will only be privy to through an FOI request. This is after all how things are done in Nanaimo.

On another related matter I have heard that people have been taking it upon themselves to make personal and nasty attacks by phone, sometimes asking her daughter to relay the message. I have also heard that some nasty stuff has happened in public when she has been with family. It is one thing to attack her work as CEO of NEDCorp but totally uncalled for to launch personal attacks.

I think part of the problem might be that she has been mentored by the old gaurd, many of which sit on the NEDCorp board; too bad she didn't take me up on my offer of a chat when I first met her. I hear that they are even trying to ensure no focus gets put on social issues. The type of closed mindedness that does not see the total picture is part of what has been and still is the problem.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More Developments about Development:)

April 10 Paul Walton: Defining the city not easy

Ain't that the truth. Personally I think Nanaimo should go back to being the HUB City instead of calling itself the Harbour City. Harbour in no way distinguishes Nanaimo from any other locality on the water.

Apr 11, 2912 Entrepreneurs remain eager to capitalize on popularity of food trucks

Our illustriuos Mayor has blinders on when it comes to revitalization. He seems to think that only Convention Centre, Hotels for such and Cruise Ship terminals will see us out of our economic doldrums. Far too shortsighted.

April 10 Let the marketplace decide what is viable

This applys to the story of April 7th regarding Food Trucks. It is in my opinion a no brainer to open up licencing and places where these vehicles could offer their wares.

April 7 Officials believe Newcastle Island's beauty could help attract more visitors...

If officials listened to the public they would have come to the conclusion about Newcastle years ago. While the convention centre is on track it is important to note that the MEETING PLACE, weekly church, accounts for about 6500 of the delegate days. Local user groups do not bring in the big bucks everyone touted back in the beginning of the convention centre. Hope they make the 30,000 delegate days; it would be about 5% of potential capacity but far better than previous years.

April 7 Mayor Ruttan unsure food truck program viable in Nanaimo

So the Mayor has finally joined the ranks of Nay-Sayers:)

Apr. 5, 2012
Nanaimo developer could build downtown hotel

Could is the word of the day here.

Editorial: Incentives for hotel are creating interest

We in Nanaimo have been hearing that developers have been expressing interest in building a hotel for the convention centre for years, will believe it when it happens. The question regarding the tax incentives would be how do you apply them to a hotel that would also likely have condominiums attached to make the hotel a moree viable option? In the event someone comes forward with a serious offer to build we must insure that the condo units do not receive the same 10 year tax exemption as the hotel.

Friday, April 6, 2012

NEDcorp re-visited

So; the day after my last post on this subject it came out that Susan Cudahy, CEO of NEDcorp, actually sent the Tourism Nanaimo website she had mentioned at council to a company she had worked with in the past in Toronto. Hate to say it, maybe not, but these are the mistakes an amateur would make not someone that is supposed to be a 'professional.' Check out all of the comments attached to the stories below, oddly enough a few people have no problem that the economic development CEO is promoting the economic development to Toronto.

In the story of April 4 it mentions Ms. Cudahy had taken personal time so was unavailable for comment. I have since learned, and this is anecdotal at best, that she has a serious family medical issue that she has been dealing with for about a month.

Don't get me wrong I am not trying to make excuses for her performance of late. She has numerous employees that she should be able to rely on and if the above is the case should have delegated some of her responsibilities to.

Sending the website to a Toronto based company was the mistake of a rookie, surely she would have asked her employees if there was a web developer in Nanaimo that could have done the job. I am sure if she had someone would have let her know that there are quite a few and had they hired local we would not have been subject to the shoddy work that the so called company she worked with in the past and trusted put up on the web and that in and of itself makes Nanaimo look like an amateurish place to do business.

Letter City could be showcased as the next 'Gong Show' April 4

April 4 Mayor hopes economic development CEO has learned a valuable lesson

I made the comment below the day the above story came out but they either neglected to post it or I forgot to hit the button to post it.

"There was no time to put the contract to tender, so a firm was chosen that Cudahy had done business with in the past and trusted." The caliber of the website was shoddy at best and if indicative of the companies work I would have to question why she trusted and did business with them in the past. "Cudahy, who board members say is taking "personal time," was also unavailable for comment on Tuesday." If she would at least have the integrity to admit, not make excuses, her mistake then perhaps it would be time to move on. Now, one has to question how much personal time she is taking and how much of that are we the taxpayer on the hook for?

April 2
Mayor wants answers about tourism website work sent to Toronto
March 31
Cale Cowan: Story grew in stature thanks to reader’s involvement
March 30
Work on tourism Nanaimo website goes to Toronto

Just found this story from December 2011
Dec 22, 2011 Sweeping changes promised by economic development CEO to help boost Nanaimo tourism

Interesting in that 3 months ago the website and its improvements was being discussed. Pretty sure in one of the latest stories Ms. Cudahy mentions the reason for sending the work to Toronto was because of a short timeline to get it up. Appears there is a bit of fibbing going on.

Conference Centre update

T'would appear that when counting delegate days at the Convention Centre they count the numbers of those attending the weekly church, The Meeting Place, which account for 125 delegates per week.

A little basic math: 125 x 52 = 6500 = 21.6% of the 30,000 delegates expected this year.

If you think of the 16,000 delegates they said they had in 2011 the Meeting Place would have accounted for 40.6% of these.

Below is a story about a conference that actually put the facility at capacity for a couple of day.
March 17, 2012 VICC hits capacity next week

I unfortunately deleted a couple of stories I had saved with regard to the conference Centre and its projected numbers for this year, 30,000 delegate days. In 2011 it had been projected that the conference centre would see the same 30,000 delegate days but only reached something in the effect of 16,000 or 2.5% overall capacity. In the event the centre does see 30,000 delegates this year it will only reach 5% capacity.

Will attempt to find the stories, as it is amusing to read the comments attached to them, and will post here when I do.