Mayoral hopeful Brian Bowman said he would remove the secrecy behind the decision-making at city hall.
Bowman made his first campaign policy announcement this morning, promising to create the Office of Engagement which would be the citizens’ source of information for all activities at city hall.
"There is a public perception that secret deals and major decisions, in the absence of public consultations, are occurring," Bowman said during a news event from the courtyard at city hall.
"We know there is a lack of access to governance and public officials at city hall."
Bowman said the office of public engagement would replace several "ad hoc" public consultations initiatives that are "fragmented and difficult to find," adding the new office would likely cost at least $200,000 to staff.
Bowman said he hoped to find the funds for the new office by eliminating other communication initiatives that aren’t as effective.
Bowman’s list to achieve open government would include:
- A central web page for all public projects that are looking for public feedback.
- Easy online access to council votes, expenses and travel.
- Monthly publication online of all discretionary budgets used by councillors, the mayor and speaker.
- online publication of councillors’ conflict of interest declarations.
- Publish details of all meetings at the Mayor’s office.
- End discretionary exemptions for the release of information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).
"There is a perception that too many decisions are being made by too few people behind closed doors," Bowman said.
In a swipe at Mayor Sam Katz and the power he wields through his executive policy committee, Bowman said that too many times it appears that decisions are presented at council meetings as "done deals."
"There is little opportunity for council, let alone the public, to voice their concerns or participate in meaningful debate."