Monday, October 8, 2007

What Do These Schmucks Do? - Alderman Edition

The City of Calgary, whether by design or by unbelievable oversight, has NO information available on-line as to what, exactly, an Alderman's job really IS.

Therefore, I have little recourse but to consult the Book of Armaments - er, I mean, the Queen's Printer, and take the words right from the legislative horse's mouth:

General duties of councillors

Councillors have the following duties:
(a) to consider the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole and to bring to council’s attention anything that would promote the welfare or interests of the municipality;
(b) to participate generally in developing and evaluating the policies and programs of the municipality;
(c) to participate in council meetings and council committee meetings and meetings of other bodies to which they are appointed by the council;
(d) to obtain information about the operation or administration of the municipality from the chief administrative officer or a person designated by the chief administrative officer;
(e) to keep in confidence matters discussed in private at a council or council committee meeting until discussed at a meeting held in public;
(f) to perform any other duty or function imposed on councillors by this or any other enactment or by the council.

(Municipal Government Act, Part Five, Division Three)

Vague? Sure... but that's legislation for you. To avoid having 480 different Acts, they write as vague an Act as possible, so everyone will fit into it.

For their part, the City of Calgary's Bylaw department doesn't list any Bylaws that would amend or add to the responsibilities, as allowed for in section (f).

Near as I can tell, then, the job of an Alderman with the City of Calgary is to a) show up at meetings, and b) don't spill the beans on top-secret projects. At least, legislatively, that's the job. In reality, there are many other things that can win you the support of your constituents for years to come. Acting swiftly and decisively to get their concerns heard and dealt with at City Hall would be a good start.

Of note, is the fact that several candidates for Alderman in this election state on their websites that they intend to "run the ward" in a certain way. In fairness, they MAY mean "run the ward office", and they simply mis-spoke. It should be clearly noted, though, that we are not electing 14 little Mayors to run small segments of the city - an Alderman's job is to represent the people of their ward, not to govern them as a personal fiefdom. The collective will of Council, all 15 members, governs the City of Calgary. Your Alderman "runs" your ward as much as your MLA or MP runs your riding - which is to say, not at all.

THEY make decisions, as part of a larger body, on YOUR behalf. Without you, they have no franchise to exercise. Remember (because some of them will forget from time to time, and will need reminding) that THEY work for YOU. And, if your Alderman HAS forgotten for whom they work in the past 3 years - show up on October 15th and remind them who call the shots.

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