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

Every week, we give Emily a pen, a pad of paper, and a mission to recap this week’s city council meeting in a readably entertaining manner.
BREAKING NEWS: When former mayor Andy Wells watches a council meeting, he sits in the cheap seats directly under, and as close as physically possible to, his own mayoral portrait.
BREAKING NEWS: When former mayor Andy Wells watches a council meeting, he sits in the cheap seats directly under, and as close as physically possible to, his own mayoral portrait.

 Proclamations! A re-run of the tits and old times episode from last week?

The meeting started on time (gasp!) and Galgay was gone baby gone.

Doc began the meeting, oddly enough, exactly as he had last week with boobs and nostalgia. Be it noted that October 1-7 is world breastfeeding week. And be it likewise noted that no matter what proclamation begins each meeting, Mayor O’Keefe will reference “at least thirty years ago.”

Next up, energy efficiency week is also October 1-7. How efficient. O’Keefe wisely added that “they” should all “minimize as best they can consistent with being comfortable.” You know, some, but not too much, just enough is about right. Or you can check out HydroNL for their “Ask an expert” feature online.

World mental health day is October 10, 2016. And, though the proclamations usually require a representative there to be read, and no one was present for this one, O’keefe said “this is important so I will read it anyway.” I can’t make a joke here because that was right and reasonable.

Grace in Action

O’Keefe presented Elinor Gill Ratcliffe with her “freedom of the city” medallion from a proclamation last spring for her unmatched contributions to our arts and culture, heritage, and healthcare. Next time you stick a funny object into the bronze girl’s hands in Moo Moo’s parking Lot know that, yes you are very clever, but her contribution of that, and many other art works around town won’t be swept away by vagaries of taste and wind. Ratcliffe spoke in the most gracious and heartfelt manner of her love for this city. She described her walk through town that afternoon and her genuine gratitude for the recognition. Only Andy Wells remained unmoved, un-applauding, and inscrutable, watching his phone beneath his lacquered doppleganger.

Into the Weeds of the Wetlands, the Builders, and the Rabble-rousers

A variance request for a side yard was approved. I hope to god they stock it with 690 pink flamingoes. And then a whole list of future potential developments were noted and pretty much passed over as public meetings will be called for them individually for each neighbourhood affected where the issues can be hashed out at greater length and with greater public engagement by more people wearing tilley hats. No re-zoning was voted on. Not today. Not for 21 Holloway St. Not on O’Leary’s watch.

FIREWORKS! And Families? and [*gasp in horror*] FUN?!

The City has a pile of extra “mad money” from the Canada150 nation-wide slush fund for New Year’s Eve. But it is a one time only deal. RFPs went out. One proposal was chosen: the “strongest, most creative applicant that factored in community engagement, ” as Hann laid it down. For NYE 2016 we will get:

  1. NYE Party time in front of city hall on New Gower street with a lazer show instead of fireworks (I think?)
  2. NYE skate at the loop
  3. New Year’s Day (evening) fireworks at Quidi Vidi

Hann made crystal clear that this smorgasbord of fun will not be had again! It is a one off. Don’t get spoiled; don’t get greedy. Then O’Keefe slipped in a “Oh yes. Of course…. but mayyyybe we could do a little something downtown again next year.” They narrowed their eyes at each other.

The big behind the scenes arguments seemed all to do with whether the celebrations were family-friendly enough. After a few rounds of referencing this argument instead of just having it for us to witness, Sandy Hickman pointed out,  “Midnight is not exactly a family friendly hour regardless.”

Hann re-iterated his fear that someone somewhere might have fun and insisted that next year it would ALL be ONLY family friendly and back at the lake. All while literally wringing his hands. I wish I had a video clip for this. I might start making comics again to illustrate these precious moments.

Bicycles and Bags and Sick Burns

Puddister moved that they should discuss (act on? I need to get an ear-horn) removing the hack-job of poorly planned and un-maintained bicycle lanes strewn randomly like confetti after a parade over our streets. Or, as he put it, “the bike lanes.” Acknowledging that this would involve lengthy comment, it was put off for another time.

Moving on to less contentious issues, O’Leary followed through on her threat last week to propose the council write a letter to the province in support of a proposed plastic bag ban. The pre-amble was the same as last week and so, I admit, I tuned it out because at that very moment I discovered I had lost every single one of the fine-line colour pens I had purchased at Urchin Art Materials’ “Going out of Business Sale.” Stupid bicycle ride to City Hall. Stupid shallow pockets.

I wiped my tears and tuned back in just in time to hear the most delightful and impassioned monologue from Puddister as to why calling the bags “single use” isn’t quit right. He “walk[s his] dog every night.” Furthermore, “they are good quality.” Further still, “people like them because there are certain items that you cannot put into a paper bag.”

There he stopped. Just when it got interesting. What on earth can you not put into a paper bag? Even flaming dog poo goes in paper bags. Diseases? I suppose I wouldn’t trust a bunch of diseases in a paper bag. But what, from Sobey’s, cannot go into a paper bag? Dear reader(s), please help me with this. I am genuinely perplexed.

Breen made sure to get on record that he and Galgay were actually there when this proposal was voted on by the municipalities and that O’Leary-come-lately wasn’t even voted in yet. nyah-nyah-nyah. He also wanted everyone to well and truly leave the city alone about it for crying out loud since it is a provincial issue now.

Recap:

  1. Breen was into the no-bags thing first.
  2. Before anyone.
  3. Before your mom.
  4. He and Galgay = first.
  5. But stop emailing him about it. He can’t do anything about it anyway.
  6. And if he did, he would surely be more statesmanly about the complex issues of implementation.
  7. Not all half-cocked and passion-o-the-wind.

O’Leary patiently waited to get in a nice burn with, “yes it will be hard, change is hard” but the “bags have only been around since the 70’s,” clearly implying that maybe Breen’s mom knows how to implement. Mom burn!

O’keefe grabbed the “voice of reason” stick and clarified for the circle, “it is just a letter we are voting on.”

They all vote “Yea”. yay.

Other tidbits:

There is geothermal heating in the Transportation Administration building. Neat. Take that Iceland!

It is “normal” for the city to expropriate its own land from itself to perfect the title. Shenanigans!

Shenanigans? Actually that sounds pretty routine.

Ward Boundaries, and Collins’ B’ys from the Goulds

Every 15 years or so the ward boundaries are re-drawn to equalize population distribution per ward. The new boundaries should be up on the city website here.

Ellsworth pointed out that it doesn’t serve every citizen equally when some wards are so spread out geographically. It is a lot more work for the councillors of those wards.

O’Leary very tactfully thanked the at-large councillors and the mayor before pointing out that, having been both at-large and of-ward, it is a hell of a lot more work having a ward.

Collins grumbled he wished the boundaries were based on needs. “Ward 5 has double the need.” Doc laughed, “but you got more pride! And you have the councillors-at-large if that is any help.”

“Not a bit!” Collins roared, and the whole chamber laughed!

Hann added, “I am always available.” Silence.

One Act Play of the Practical Democracy

Puddister: Can we do a post office drop to notify those whose wards have moved?

Doc: You could move that motion.

Puddister: Can I just leave it with staff?

Staff: Leave it with us.

fin.

The Dregs: Jazz, Sandwich Bag Vigilantes and More Street Work

O’Leary congratulated The Wreckhouse Festival on their cultural achievements and “dynamic feast of music.” She also mentioned a neighbourhood watch meeting coming up this week in Airport heights.

Puddister got support for a $7,500 grant for an upcoming conference and checked in with “Stratham”-looking staff on whether we were keeping an eye on how long various paving projects take. We are. O’Keefe memed it up with a nod and a, “scraped but not paved can be hard on your bones.”

Lane squeaked in his weekly announcement of a “neat talk,” in case your kids feed themselves and you can’t think a of a single thing on Netflix; head down to the school of Medicine at MUN tonight at 6pm for a discussion and dialogue on how tech impacts our healthcare and various “human-centric solutions.”

Ellsworth basically gave up on us all in disgust by replacing an actual rant with the phrase “my regular rant here” (I am not making this up) regarding speeding in school zones. O’Keefe brought it all home to the human animal and our blind nature as he tied speeding and texting and cellphone using into a trifecta of modern ills.

And the meeting was adjourned.

Business arising from last week’s “Notes from the Rafters”

  1. I have laser pin-pointed the impetus for Galgay and Doc O’Keefe (in a rare moment of pure solidarity) to stand up and wave arms and “take care of” the street cleaning tickets on Mullock St (though oddly not on any of the other streets where people got tickets for the same reason that night) arising from that infamous Sunday Sept 18th “parking email.” Here it is, the source of the wave of reform sweeping through council, at the 13:20 mark on last Monday’s Backtalk with Pete Soucy, who, totally coincidentally, lives on Mullock. Soucy breathes and Doc trembles
  1. Ellsworth’s noble attempt to curb our bad traffic habits and possibly save some innocent school children’s lives was torpedoed, in part, by my very own editor, who confessed but never specifically said “off the record,” that he had been caught speeding at that very school zone trap the day I was watching council. For shame! For shock! The Overcast be chastened. We are, indeed, of the (horrible) people.
  1. CORRECTION: I misidentified that street work sign as a “baby juggling while on a unicycle,” apparently it is a polar bear with a birthmark looking right at you. Thank you to alert reader P.N. for the correction!
  1. Before our council ever dug into determining who, if not Tilley, is responsible for the nomenclature committee, we were scooped. Scott Reid (MHA, St. George’s-Humber) announced on his FB page that “route 490 from Stephenville to the TCH is now Roxon Way in honor of Gold Medalist Katarina Roxon.” Rock-on!
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