The latest public engagement process in Cobourg has failed miserably. Despite the best (worst) efforts of the Town of Cobourg – come on down the communications department, this exercise fizzled out last night. A public survey – on engageCobourg, only attracted 125 written responses (.61% of the Town) after attracting approximately 350 clicks on the site. 12 people attended an Open House and five people spoke at the Public Meeting. Two written submissions were also added to the list.
Perhaps the topic was too dry and dusty for the rest of the Town – all 20,000 of them. Perhaps the approach was not well thought out, and perhaps this was intentional! After all the Pesky Public get in the way of modern governance. Long meetings are deemed inefficient, Advisory Committees are ruled out because of the cost of providing Staff resources and Committees of the Whole are cumbersome. Welcome to the new way of governance. Probably the old way – Dictatorship and ‘one-man-rule’.
The new way of governing – “I am the Mayor and you had better get on my team” was best seen by the performance of the Chair of the Public Meeting. Intoning the usual rules of the meeting and barely glimpsing over his laptop to listen to the speakers and then leaving the meeting before all of the speakers had finished surely demonstrated disdain for the process. One should remember that he failed to stay for the end of the last Public meeting as well.
In fact the new way to ‘diss’ the public is not say to the speaker at the end of their presentations “Thank you we will take this as information received” but to keep the laptops open and disregard the speaker. A meeting Chair that follows and respects public opinion would lay down the rule that laptops be closed during presentations and not lead the way by making it obvious he was on his.
But back to the Process of changing the Governance process. I expect that little will deviate from the written word and that the pleas from the “sustainable committee” people will result in them becoming a ‘task force’ and continuing to work on their programme.
Council – prove me wrong!
Read my remarks to Council, change the pages by using the arrows at the bottom of the box