Natal Day means even less council info

Holiday schedule highlights standard way of keeping the public and councillors out of the discussion


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I've gotten so used to this, I haven't even commented lately on it:
Another long weekend and another bigger-than-usual head start for Halifax regional council over the public.

That’s because city hall watchers interested in municipal happenings at regional council on Tuesday must wait for the release of agenda documents until that day.

Due to the Natal Day holiday, government offices are closed Monday.

Regional council’s non-confidential reports are normally available online on Mondays.

But councillors usually get their agenda packages, including public reports, delivered to their homes by courier on Friday nights. Tuesday’s committee of the whole session starts at 10 a.m.

At the risk of being accused of imperialism and such, I'll just point out that in every American city I've worked in, it was illegal to discuss council business without posting agenda items a full week before the meeting. (There were exemptions for emergencies.)

When it comes down to it, Halifax's practice of setting an agenda two or three days ahead of time, at best, serves to keep the public out of the loop, and prevents councillors from fully preparing for the discussion.

Were the press and councillors fully informed with reasonable notice, both reporters and councillors could properly research the issues, talk to people involved, see what other localities do, etc, and bring that fully informed perspective to the meeting, and to the reporting on the meeting.

When councillors get the info at the start of a weekend, and when reporters don't get until the day of the meeting, none of that can happen.

A cynic would suggest that's exactly the point.


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