The citizens of Hamilton are poorly served by an accountability and transparency sub-committee that strives to decrease both accountability and transparency at City Hall. That’s obvious to everyone outside of City Hall.
What may not be obvious is that City Hall is poorly served by this as well.
At first glance, the committees goal of decreasing citizen complaints to the integrity commissioner – by keeping the $100 complaint filing fee and imposing a gag order against citizens – appears to serve City Hall.
It does not.
Without internal mechanisms pushing civic government towards greater transparency,situations such as the latest controversy arise. For politicians, it’s like visiting the dentist – politicians can put it off and it becomes more painful, but eventually they are stuck in the chair and it becomes a root canal.
Now external pressure will force a swing of the pendulum to a level of transparency beyond what the public was originally prepared to accept at a speed much faster than the public originally expected.
The problems with this sub-committee are easy to convey to the public and the public immediately grasps it.
The public outrage of the latest anti-accountability legislation is putting council back in the hot seat and feeding the cynicism of the public about City Hall. The spotlight is back on council, citizens are angry, and The Spectator has joined – in a big way – the call for the sub-committee to be transparent.
Ultimately, citizens are poorly served by the committee’s anti-transparent actions because it represents a betrayal of public trust. It’s for this reason, and solely for this reason, the subcommittee must be disbanded and replaced with a mechanism that actually promotes both accountability and transparency.