Council retreat

Council is going into retreat tomorrow. Hope this alert isn’t too late for some of our readers to join them, although it is doubtful you will be able to contribute any comment on the Councillors’ deliberations on “Vision, Goals and Objectives”  for their term of office, i.e. 2008 -20012 , but who knows — miracles do happen.  It’s an all day thing at the Irving Centre from 9 am to 4:15 and is open to the public. Why not go for an hour or two just to keep an eye on them if nothing else.

David Daniels has asked that public voices be heard and has also sent these comments to Council.

The Council needs to establish a precise policy for its relationship with Acadia University.  At the last Committee of Council meeting I attended, the Council seemed poised to give  AU $15,000.00 for the new track and field as a show of “good faith” without a show a “good faith” on the part of AU.  This is only one example of the unsure relationship the Town seems to have with the university.  There are obviously great benefits to having the university in Town.  But there are also great costs.  Would the Town require 24/7 RCMP police force of the current size without the university.  As a result of the university students and retired people live in the town, but what about young families (however defined).

The Town needs to provide particular steps to further open up government to the public.  The new MPS invokes “citizen engagement” in its vision statement and principle #7 of the Melbourne Principles states “Empower people and foster participation”.  If these ideas are to be more than than nice slogans the Council should think of ways to make them reality.       For example, there is a movement called participatory budgeting.

Under the last Goals and Objectives was the following: “Limit property tax income growth to no greater than real growth from assessment due to new construction.”  Was this goal reached? and if not, why not?  And should it continue to be an objective?
In reference to the last point: Why should “new construction” be excluded from fiscal discipline? Especially when it is so widely defined ( i.e. includes renovations and additions, not just completely new construction). Why should such renovations and additions cost the town any more in services? This escape clause only allows the administration to avoid responsibility for that increase.
One of the goals of Council should be to phase out the deed transfer tax. The mayor tries  manfully to dismiss the idea that this tax is  killing house sales in the town but has no supporting evidence. He called Mr MacKay’s evidence to the contrary, sent to Council in an e mail,  “self serving” . We think the mayor’s comment about a previous Councillor is self serving – big time. This tax and the replacement of the Business Occupancy tax with corresponding municipal taxes (nullifying the relief the Provincial authorities intended to give to small business) should be included under the threats category in the SWOT analysis.

12 responses to “Council retreat

  1. Andrew Glencross

    The credibility of writing whose sole purpose is the criticism of others is severely undermined by typos and sloppy style, grammar, and punctuation. I have the same problem with Frank magazine. The more critical you get in tone, the more careful attention you should be paying to your own craft. Otherwise, you just look mean and dumb — not a good combination.

    • Could you be specific?

      • Andrew Glencross

        Well, it’s really a general comment about the entire blog, but, for instance, in the second sentence of this post alone:

        1. “20012” should, I assume be 2012.
        2. There is a space before the hyphen between dates (which should be an en-dash), but not after it.
        3. There’s another space before the comma (which should probably be a semicolon — see note #7) following the dates.
        4. This one’s a little picky, but there should probably be an em-dash, or at least a comma, between “but” and “who knows”.
        5. There’s a space after the hyphen following “who knows” (which should be an em-dash), but not before it.
        6. There are two spaces following the period.
        7. The entire sentence is a terrible run-on.

        This stuff is not hard to find; it’s everywhere.

    • The article is obviously more than a critique — a major thrust is the call for public input…

      I’m not smart enough to figure out what Andrew means by “sloppy style” — but would be delighted to learn…

  2. Re: “The Town needs to provide particular steps to further open up government to the public.”

    I sat through the last Council meeting in which a few portions of the draft budget were “discussed”. I’d like to say “analyzed” rather than “discussed”, but that would be inaccurate — council members spent a lot of time digging for very basic information.

    Much time was wasted on a presentation of about half a dozen line items. If these line items had been put on the web, with a link for each briefly explaining: What? Why? How?, then Councilors might have been able to get beyond an elementary (and very incomplete) fact-finding mission….

    As it was, What? Why? and How? were NOT answered to my satisfaction for ANY of the line items. Why does the Town of Wolfville have so many “Directors” when it seems that the CAO does all the directing?

    Councilor Laceby made an interesting general observation regarding the diminishing incremental returns as funding goes beyond a certain level… Hell may freeze over before there is any analysis at the level suggested by Councilor Laceby.

    I’ll give you my off-the-cuff analysis. Based on the performance I saw, it seems the ratepayers of Wolfville are funding too many “Directors” for the Town of Wofville to be efficient…. Give me a reason why it ain’t so!

  3. Andrew’s concern about the blog’s correctness of grammar reminds me of the response I received last October to a letter to a councilor about the need for more transparency on the part of council.
    The councilor responded by pointing out an error on my part in his job title – he apparently likes two l’s in councilor. He never addressed my concern about the need for transparency, that its absence sponsored distrust. You can gess what my conclusion was to his comment. I have lost repect for him.
    Let’s keep our eye on the ball.

    • Andrew Glencross

      Listen, my comment was about the whole blog — not just this post. Of course critical analysis is important. My point is that a clever or snarky tone calls for an especially vigilant watch over one’s own style. I wish you would either tone down the snarkiness or dial up the syntax. That’s all.

      And there are plenty of decent style manuals out there, Brian, if you’re really interested.

  4. So, if we understand what you are saying Andrew, attention to the style manual makes “snarkiness” more palatable? Seems to the author that if you don’t like the “snarky” style (we do know this slang term although it is not in our Oxford concise) it is just as distasteful if the dashes are the right kind and the commas are in the right place. Also, we suggest, if you don’t like the blog’s style, don’t read it. Or do you perhaps read it for the content?

  5. Andrew Glencross

    Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I don’t generally read this blog, but was directed to a particular post by someone. As a Wolfville resident, I like the idea of someone keeping tabs on local news, but felt bothered enough by the perceived tone/style incongruity to offer some constructive criticism. If an email option had been available, I would have preferred bringing it to your attention that way, rather than making a public debate out of it by commenting on the most current post.

    I’m all for snarkiness, by the way, if it’s done right. As long as the reader feels she’s on the writer’s side, it can be a funny and deadly tone.

  6. For future reference, Andrew (and we do hope you stick around to read us again) our e-mail is available on our “About” page (top tab).

  7. Andrew Glencross

    Oh! Ha ha. How embarrassing.

  8. Don’t be embarrassed. We used to also have it on our sidebar but, in a recent reorganization of that, it seems to have been lost, so we are happy you mentioned it. 🙂 We’ll put it back.