Notes from the Rafters: This Week’s City Council Meeting Recap

Kidneys

Most of the world only takes one day a year for their kidneys, March 9th, but St. John’s gets the whole month. Kidney Month. Become aware. And make sure to check the organ donor box when renewing your MCP. It is no longer done on the Driver’s License.

Cllr Galgay stands to say this is personal for him because he had a kidney removed. And that “most people don’t know this about [him] but ….it is something [he] will have to live with[out] for the rest of [his] life.” Let the month of Galgay commence.

Notices Published

  • 217 LadySmith Dr: Home occupation counselling service, 2 sessions per evening (max) and parking is available
  • 277 Bay Bulls RD: Pizzeria

No submissions on either. No such thing as too much mental health or pizza.

Public Works: Snow clearing has us by the lips. Garbage – does size matter?

  • In praise that sounded an awful lot like abject fear, Cllr Breen goes out of his way to thank the snow removal crews for the cleared streets and says there have been more compliments than complaints called in this year. Guess we learned our lesson. Mayor O’Keefe adds, “and the sidewalks!” I did run down a cleared sidewalk in the last week. It was so exciting I tweeted. Is it actually better this year or do we all just have Stockholm syndrome?
  • Automated Garbage collection will be going ahead… straight ahead into some public input sessions before the end of May. If you feel strongly about how big the new bins should be, stay tuned. Small may encourage more composting and recycling, plus too big may be hard to haul over a mountain of plow ice to the road.

Development Committee: Alt Hotel Parking and Vaginas

The Alt hotel (That monster game of modular Tetris currently dwarfing the bronze Harbour Vag. Poor lass needs reinforcements. Maybe we can relocate Don Wright’s Red Trench and they can stand together. A vagina double rainbow to lead them all)… where was I?

Yes, the hotel. They have met their city parking requirements but are asking that 3 metered spaces be given over in a goodwill gesture as a passenger loading zone. If we don’t give them the spots then double parking and loading, unloading would create “havoc” according to the mayor. Havoc we cannot have. Motion carried.

Planning and Development:
Downtown Culture and That Place That Steals Costcos

– The Kirk is allowed to have a new sign. All heritage committee approved.

– 705 Southlands Boulevard: The application in service to the Galway developments (are we still calling this Dannystan? I really hope so) moves forward for re-zoning to Commercial Residential and Apartment High Density (A3). It will be advertised for public comment and review.

Finance: Employee Health and Wages: Frozen, Let It Go

  • The Employee and Family Assistance program will henceforth be contracted out to Morneau Shepell instead of managed in-house through the city’s Wellness Division. This would mean eliminating a public health nurse from the payroll and is touted as saving the city money and providing more service. Can anything do both of those things?
  • Council hired external legal consultants to check whether they really could freeze all non-union salaries. The answer is yes-n-no. The updated policy would “provide notice that council is no longer bound by past practices of endorsing general economic wage increases based on negotiated union increases.” But it also says that “normal step increases along a management employee’s pay grade are not subject to alteration or elimination by council.”  So … separate but equal? Cllr Lane was the only one who visibly voted against these two measures together.
  • Country Ribbon is expanding and looking to have some development fees waived.
  • A draft of the new Civil Marriage Ceremonies Policy was not “deferred” but instead “re-referred” back to committee.
  • Cllr O’Leary wanted to make sure it would come back again in a timely fashion as she “would like to see it proceed.” Deputy Mayor Ellsworth said it would back to the next finance committee meeting and then right back to council. Cllr Galgay told his fellows to get all their questions ready and sent to committee and stated that he thought “there would be ramifications” if it was passed without clarification.
[havoc! ramifications! This is an almost post-apocalyptic Council meeting]

A Plaque for John White – a Cultural Touchstone. Culture. No-takes-Backsies.

Cllr Galgay wants a plaque in Bannerman park to commemorate his uncle John White (did he mention that is his uncle?) for his contributions to Newfoundland music and culture.

What followed was a full council pile-on of personal memories and the gratuitous use of the word “Culture” so glorious I could but sit in awe.

“…when the boys took Toronto by storm back in ‘60s and ‘70s”

“I grew up with Mack and Ray Bellew on Skipper and Company”

“Perhaps we should resurrect the idea of some memorial to our cultural contributors at the Convention Centre”

“Did I mention he was my uncle?”

“I remember John White’s very significant contribution to the culture”

“Cllr. Tilley and I are of the age where we grew up with the entertainment of John White”

“He was the consummate ‘corner boy and townie’”

“Saved a lot of Newfoundland culture”

“brought laughter to the people, brought a tear to people’s eye. Just this Saturday I heard Signal Hill. It was not Sig-nal Hill; it was Sig-i-nal Hill.”

“My mom’s older brother”

“culture and history”

….so take that Provincial Government! See these true pink-white-and-greens have never forgotten “culture,” not even for a day.

Annual Cruise Convention: Downgraded from Boondoggle to Boonpupple

  • Mayor O’Keefe announced his plans to go to Sea Trade, the annual cruise ship marketing conference that earned him quite a bit of flack a year ago this time after the budget dropped
  • O’Leary asked how many senior executives were going since the city had promised to reel back on travel expenses. O’Keefe assured her (a little irritably) that no executives were going this year, just himself, one representative from Cruise NL, and one from Port Authority.

Cllr. Hickman is still talking about the Brier. It Cometh this weekend. Check Metrobus for Brier passes and schedules. There is a free draw for tickets to events Thursday and Friday.

Cllr. Lane congratulated Choices for Youth on their “Coldest Night” campaign. He also did this:

Or a friend of his did. And I love it. So much. When I look at it I don’t care about anything else. Kudos Cllr. Lane for your close and literal read of my last article.

Cllr. Breen:

  • Compares the Brier to the Junos we hosted in 2010 in terms of economic impact. But it could never really compare because the Handsome Furs have since broken up and will nevermore be that awesome at The Ship ever again.
  • Onsite visitor survey in Mile One and around the convention centre will give us a better idea of who is in town and where they are spending their money.
  • Promoting St. John’s on the national stage…
  • ….sooooo, that anti-rape graffiti… will be “addressed” before we go full Brier. Staff will be working on it over the next couple of days.

Cllr. O’Leary:

  • She is just going to say it…. “Culture!” “Pleased to see Provincial … about face.”
  • After Breen’s graffiti comments, O’Leary addresses the Constable Snelgrove shaped elephant in the room and “acknowledges the strong blow to community morale.” She says the “justice system did its work but there were seriously inappropriate actions of a police on duty.”

O’Keefe cuts her off, “Hold on! [checks with city lawyer… lawyer says since the city has no role in the upcoming disciplinary hearings on Snelgrove there is no legal reason O’Leary cannot speak to it.] Well, as a rule pf thumb we keep to city decisions but since we haven’t followed that rule…you can have latitude [but he says it none too graciously].”

  • O’Leary continues: “We have a lot of people who are hurting because of this situation. The reality is, there has to be action taken. I have spoken to Chief Janes about building bridges to the community […] As a councillor and leader and as the only woman on this council […] to not speak to [this] would be ridiculous […] I do wish the RNC the best going forward […] if anyone has issues and feels like they can’t go forward there are community groups to help you […]”

Cllr. Collins:

  • Review of Metrobus low-income pass program as per O’leary’s request: It would cost city in excess of one million dollars to implement further low income passes. Not gonna happen.

Mayor O’Keefe:

  • Tourism and Culture; Culture and Tourism.
  • “Port Authority knows our cultural identity is important also” Really? Great. Glad to hear it. Now take that f*cking fence down.

Oh, and former mayor Andy Wells was observing again and displaying his usual lack of self control. This time it was a fake-whispered-but-really-shouted-but-unintelligible-because-fake-whispered conversation across the entire chambers While Cllr. O’Leary was speaking. My god man. We ALL want to put our two cents in. I have to superglue my butt to the bench not to interfere most weeks. But making large sibilant noises from under a baseball cap while another person is talking is just rude. At least wait until the people get bored of the drudge of austerity and decide to make a terrible decision based on entertainment alone and you are officially back in chambers.

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