Monday, October 22, 2012

On upcoming decisions

Others have rightly taken umbrage at the use of this weekend's Saskatchewan Roughriders game to try to push a new stadium on Regina voters. But while I'll agree the 'Riders' move was unseemly, it's at least arguably within the mandate of a privately-controlled organization which stands to get what amounts to a massive subsidy to advocate on behalf of a benefit for itself.

In contrast, the City of Regina has no business whatsoever advocating for one position over another in the elections which will choose representatives who are supposed to be able to make the City's decisions, nor declaring that the election is irrelevant to the City's eventual choices. Which means that the most alarming statement on a new stadium from the past weekend is this one:
Brent Sjoberg, Regina's chief financial officer and stadium project lead, said the option of renovating Mosaic Stadium was taken off the table when the province indicated it would not chip in funding. The city then decided to move forward with a "prudent" plan to build a new stadium with the least impact to city coffers.

He dismisses the argument that an adequate financial plan has not been presented to the public, adding the city has been transparent throughout the process by providing the true costs of the new facility.

"(I'm) comfortable with it so far. From my perspective, I've heard (the plan is) on balance," Sjoberg says. "Of course not everybody agrees, and that's fine. That's how communities work. But ultimately the new council will make some decisions in the coming months to say that yes, they believe this plan and all the elements are the right ones to move forward with."
Now, I presume Sjoberg hasn't actually been provided with an advance copy of this week's election results. But he seems to be trying to say that it doesn't much matter who gets elected - that some combination of the previous council and the city administration has made the decision, and that the sole role for our new elected representatives will be to rubber-stamp it.

Needless to say, a City employee is in no position to make that call for himself if voters decide otherwise. And Sjoberg's combined attempt to both swing the election and declare it irrelevant should offer Regina's citizens an obvious reason to elect councillors who have a rather more appropriate view of how representative government works.

[Edit: fixed formatting.]

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