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

A Wells-heavy report this week

Well, Well, Wells.

I don’t usually lend rambling grey-beards in newsie caps with no manners a free platform, but I’ve been coming back around to reading poetry lately so, I’m going to have to break my protocol and begin this week with a little Andy Wells.

Here is what happened on Monday afternoon, not necessarily in order of importance:

  1. During the obligatory, almost-weekly-super-secret-pre-council-#councilclub-members-only-meeting, folks started checking their phones discreetly as the news broke that Mr-Ex-Mayor-Pants-Andy-Wells had been suspended (with pay) from his position of Chair at the PUB (Public Utilities Board, thank you oh Muse of Perfect Acronyms).
  2. Unconfirmed: it was awesome in there for a second.
  3. At the regular all-schlubs-welcome-and-possibly-entertained meeting afterwards, Wells had to be asked to please leave the gallery if he was going to continue to talk through the already abysmal acoustics of the public council meeting. By me. Seriously, man, I can barely hear these dudes as it is. If you really want oversight in local government of these “wastrels and cowards” (quote from Wells’ twitter account which I will get to; I promise), let the public at least catch the cowardly waste so we can snap it for ourselves. Not that we totally don’t trust your account of everything, Andy, but sometimes we want to, just for a funsies, try the non-conspiracy-filter on to see how that looks too. Not as comforting as Juno, and not as eye-catching as Hefe but still, nice for variety.
  4. If you want to pick the scab of this latest breaking Wells news, check out the tip of the iceberg here and here. Or, if you’d rather pick a potentially more interesting tangential scab, try this one. Because, God love him, Wells is not wrong that Mile One is going to be a story to scratch at for #SJpoli this election season. Listen, I’m not saying Wells isn’t right sometimes; if you let your great-grandpa throw balloon darts all day at the carnival, he will, eventually, put a dart in a carnie.
  5. Though it is true Wells gave me a good finger wagglin’ after the meeting for not listening to/quoting him enough, I will never let my personal judgements about any one politician (or muppet-come-alive) blind me to their possible good work out of spite. And Wells’ Twitter Feed is sheer poetry. In case you’d rather not give him your clicks direct, I am bringing a taste of it to you. The line breaks are my own but the rest is all Wells. #crossfit.

“Galgay deeply disliked
by staff – pompous twit
who wanted his own
office at the Depot
as Public Works Chair.
fact
……. always
……………… better
……………………. than fiction.”

“Dolly Parton-great singer and very funny”

“they were all there
but nobody
was there. Now there
is a tale of woe where nobody
was there. Who was there
for the people?
……… Where?”

“coming up
some salary info
brought to you poor City
taxpayers by O’Breen
……… and cabal.
But first ……… to the gym
to do – count ‘em –
200
pushups”

“Back from the Gym on Elizabeth.
…… Regular workout includes two sets of pushups:
………………. first set-249,
………………. second set-150,
sometimes a plank-
…………….. 6-9 minutes.”

“A promo for Complete Gun Shooting Range,O’Leary Ave.
Took it up again after long absence,
great fun,very safe,Family fun
at Complete Gun,
o my.”

6 . Please Lord, may the Catalina Reapers name a song “Sometimes a Plank.” But, to counter his razor sharp (poetical) insights and target practice, he also used “nincompoops” in an email to Councillor Breen. In our current hostile North American Teleputer-Web of Virulence, Hate and Shit-storms, that is actually sort of sweet.

I would move on to the council meeting now, but there wasn’t much of one. I’ve been out of the country a month, dying to get back to council and, when I finally do, Deputy Mayor Ellsworth skates through the thing like it was not something to be savoured. Slow it down gang! I missed this.

Ward 3 Hopeful Peter McDonald

Peter McDonald, a candidate for Ward 3 (currently Cllr. Tilley’s ward) who I met briefly up in the rafters months ago and previously mis-identified as running for Ward 4 (gah! sorry about that) was here again to observe. He has just retired from his 30 year career in Newfoundland & Lbradoe English School District, so he can (he hopes) focus on council full time. He says he wants to “wake up on Monday mornings and head to City Hall for work.” Andy Wells sat with him through the meeting.

Small Town, Big House: New Construction in Quidi Vidi

Council approved consolidation of two lots (46-48 Barrows Rd.) and the proposed new dwelling though it exceeds the size requirements in the Quidi Village Overlay Zone and Design Guidelines. The footprint will be 222 square meters which is 22 square meters larger than allowed in the Overlay.

Cllr. Galgay reminded the public that during the consultation for the Overlay, many residents in Quid Vidi asked about building property over the allowed footprint. He said that at the time they were encouraged to “absolutely apply” to the city on a case by case basis. In this case, the council went with the staff recommendation to approve since the building conformed, in Galgay’s words, “in every other way.”

The letters from neighbours in response to the public notice were a perfect sampling of opinions, from “Yes, go on now, looks lovely, we will welcome them to the neighbourhood!” through “Well, what’s the point of regulation if you don’t follow them? I’m sure they are very nice but…” all the way to full bursts of bold/ALL CAPS in a barrage from a Mr Randy Drover detailing a sordid tale of neighbour (Randy himself) pitted against neighbours (everyone abutting his land, those set on foiling his plans in city hall, the scoundrels in the province and beyond).

I’d sit through a conference to watch an all Drover-Wells panel take on the issues. Unless there were tiny sandwiches at the panel in the next room. Or anything at all in any other room.

Shout out to city staff who field every one of these submissions for every public notice no matter what they contain. I’d watch a panel of city staff getting shit done no matter what sandwiches were on offer across the hall.

Four Storey Assisted Living Facility off Waterford Bridge Rd: Gears Turning

Council approved the Terms of Reference for a Land Use Assessment Report (LUAR) for the proposed institutional development behind the Tower Corporate Campus and Littledale, Sisters of Mercy on Waterford Bridge Rd. The current maximum allowable height is three stories but since the Towers property was approved ages ago to convert from Institutional Zone to Corporate Office Hotel Zone it seems likely that council could allow a variance for an extra story for this development too.

Cllr. Hann had things to clarify about all of this, but I can’t tell you what they were because this is when I had to ask Wells to pipe down as I couldn’t hear a word of it. I am sure there will be plenty more to report on through the process as the Randy Drovers of the Waterford Valley dust off their typewriters to fight the good neighbour fights.

Pompous Twit (according to Wells) Galgay Grabs the Mile One Bull by its Well Fondled Horns

So even if there hasn’t been fraud (but probably there has), Public opinion is cresting on a long coming wave that the city has not optimized the potential of Mile One. To put it neutrally.

Councillor Galgay is “launching a review of Mile One operations” and submitted a letter about looking into the current board structure overseeing Mile One and how that board reports back to Council.

Both Deputy Mayor Ellsworth and Cllr Hickman (Hickman, along with Cllr. Breen, is the current council rep on that board) both wearily allowed that Galgay may, of course, use this trending Mile One mess to his political advantage (those are my words) by sending all sorts of recommendations back through his own (Galgay’s) Finance Committee, but they equally made it clear that negotiating better contracts for the city regarding Mile One wasn’t exactly Galgay’s personal revelation.

Cllr Hickman pointed out that at least one of the constraints hampering current negotiations with any possible anchor tenant is the current contract with The Delta. According to Hickman, The Delta currently has sole rights to concessions etc because that was all agreed upon before the current conference centre with its more flexible and full facilities was built.

Hickman was at pains to point out that that agreement will expire in a year and can be completely renegotiated anyway, letters from Galgay or not. Hickman seemed to wish this would all just wait until the next council was voted in. He also explained that the current mandate from this council is to “break even” on Mile One and that “this or the next council has to make a decision as to whether that would change.”

I propose that those running for elected municipal office and all current councillors, mayors, hopefuls etc contract the Arena for a season long gladiator-style Battle Royale and we all chant as a mob instead of voting. Community!

That is enough for now. Good god, it’s great to be back! I love this city, ya’ll.

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