City looks at tightening local election policy, Current policy too ‘loosey goosey’ says city clerk

By  | July 3, 2014 | 4 Comments | Filed under: 2014 Municipal Election

this ran in the times………….. APRIL 14, 2012

The City of Cambridge is looking to tighten up policies governing the activities of councillors during an election.

At Tuesday’s general committee meeting, a staff recommendation was introduced to reinforce provisions of the 1996 Elections Act. It focused on council’s use of city facilities, services and supplies during an election campaign.

In explaining the recommendation, city clerk Alex Mitchell said the current policy is “loosey goosey,” and needs to be tightened up.

“What we are doing is formalizing, what, up until now, we’ve done verbally,” he said. “We want to protect council and the corporation.”

While the Elections Act talks in general terms about councillors not using city facilities during campaigns, the new policy gets into the nuts and bolts of the matter.

If approved, the policy spells out that council member will not “use the facilities, equipment, supplies, services, staff or other resources of the municipality (including councillor newsletters and councillor budgets) for any election campaign or campaign-related activities”.

It also states that no council member can undertake election-related activities on city property during regular working hours and that no councillor can use  services during office hours where someone is being paid by the city.

“I was surprised we didn’t already have something like this already in place,” said Steve Matheson, city director of legal services, in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s quite common. A lot of municipalities have them.”

One reason for tightening the rules came out of the last election.

“I had heard rumours of some improprieties during the last election,” said Matheson. “Nothing happened, but this makes sure the rules are clear and transparent.”

If adopted, the policy will also make the clerk’s job a little easier.

“I always have people coming to me and ask can I do this, or can I do that,” said Mitchell. “This spells it out for them.”

Councillors at Tuesday’s meeting all spoke in favour of the new policy, although Coun. Frank Monteiro had some questions. While he couldn’t see offices, staff, supplies or equipment being used, he did have one question.

“But what about BlackBerries,” he asked, noting that people could be using their own BlackBerry to conduct city business.

Mitchell said councillors should not use their city-supplied BlackBerry during the election and suggested they get another phone.

Monteiro said that during a phone conversation, a councillor could be addressing city business, but then be asked questions about the election.

“What do you do then,” he asked.

“You do the best you can,” responded Coun. Pam Wolf.

Mitchell said the test for councillors is to use common sense.

“What would a reasonable person do?”

As Coun. Ben Tucci and Mayor Doug Craig were both absent at Tuesday’s meeting, the remaining councillors agreed to defer the vote on new policy until the April 30 meeting.

If approved, the new policy would be in place for the next municipal election in 2014.






4 Responses to City looks at tightening local election policy, Current policy too ‘loosey goosey’ says city clerk

    Linda July 3, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Rumours said the Head Legal Guy down there, what about the e mails that an Election was run right out of the City Hall, but then the Head Legal Guy always called me a S… Disturber…He also says what he has to say…All we want is an Honest election…not much to ask Steve….Legal Department needs to read the rules that is stated above and have the parts to implement them against all Staff that break the rules….

    Margaret July 3, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Communications 101: How to answer a question about your campaign, should it come up when an incumbent is on a city supplied phone/blackberry?

    Well, now let me think about this (for less than one second)…..How about..”I’m sorry I can’t discuss my campaign on a city issued communications device. Please feel free to call me at such-and-such a number OR give me your number and I will phone you right back on my private line.”

    Geez…….It’s not brain surgery folks. Can’t believe anyone would not have the answer themselves.. There’s only ONE thing to do/say.

    Gladys Smith July 3, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Councillor Frank and Councillor Wolf discussing Phone Calls….lmfao

  4. Debbie Duff Vitez November 23, 2016 at 10:05 am

    This post summed it all up..
    ( yes feeling nostalgic today..

    With the corruption off the rails in Cambridge.. I had to remind myself that yes it is worse today than it was back in 2014..

    The ego monster is out of control.. how to stop him is the 100 million dollar question..(?)

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