Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday November 20, 2001
Secrecy at City Hall becoming the norm
Mayor Bob Wade just doesn’t get it. He still believes, apparently, that council members are entitled to meet in secret any time they don’t want the public, or the media, listening in or looking over their shoulders.
Councillor Marvin Caplan is beyond not getting it, but we’ll return to that in a moment. Wade has to be the focus of any discussion of council openness or the lack thereof.
A recent series of five closed meetings continues a trend the mayor began even before he took office. Last November, he called a closed-door session of councillors — elected but not yet sworn in — to discuss, among other things, their own salaries. The meeting, the first time they sat down together, was in a Hamilton Place boardroom. No problem, the mayor said. They weren’t yet members of council (all but one were still sitting members of existing councils) and he wanted to give them a chance to “vent” away from staff and media.
A greater concern than any one of these questionable meetings of council members is that secret meetings are becoming business as usual at City Hall. There is a disturbing philosophy emerging: The mayor and some councillors clearly believe the public and the media get in the way of their work.
Too bad. Public accountability comes with being on the public teat.
Councillor Caplan’s take on the five closed meetings? “I think there should be more stuff in camera, not less.”
What is he thinking? What is wrong with an elected official who wants more secrecy in place of openness and transparency? Councillor Sam Merulla says the meetings should be public — but has raised no objection. So much for principle. (Hamilton Spectator)