Thursday, April 16, 2009

Looking for a few good men and women -the governance process

golden opportunity Posted By BRUCE CORCORAN

Chatham-Kent is looking for a few good men and women. Six to be exact.

Hopefully the decision process will be a nightmare, for all the right reasons.

The municipality is seeking six Chatham-Kent residents to form a governance task force to help with the corporate review process.

Think of it, these six lucky individuals will have a say in how to improve how the municipality operates. From ward boundaries to the size of council, this task force will have a say, but subject to council's ultimate approval, however.

Judging by how many people take issue with the day-to-day operations, from tree cutting on streets such as Victoria Avenue in Chatham, to the equipment supplied to councillors and top administrators, to the condition of our roads and bridges, plus a host of other areas, including our property taxes, thousands of Chatham-Kent residents will be signing up to have their say.

That would be wonderful, albeit a nightmare for Chatham-Kent administration personnel who will be tasked to sift through the list of applicants for the volunteer positions.

What shouldn't occur is a light list of people interested in the position. So many people have spoken up over the years, either by letters to the editor, open protest, by delegation to council, or in countless coffee shops across the municipality, it's time to put up or shut up.

How the six positions will be formed -- and ultimately council would like to see one from each ward -- is somewhat flawed, but not much can be done about it. Administration will choose the volunteers through a blind or anonymous process.

This isn't as simple as picking bingo numbers. Qualifications must be examined, and the best people picked for the task force. Unfortunately, even with names deleted from the process, the qualifications and backgrounds listed could very well give away the identities of many potential candidates. This isn't Toronto and its massive population; this is Chatham-Kent, municipality of 106,000. And when breaking down into wards, the population pools shrink even further.

As a result, it's possible past history with a nameless but obvious applicant could cloud administration's judgment. But there isn't much that can be done to get around this, other than to trust in the selection process.

Despite facing the potential hurdle of being known to administrative personnel making the selections and the reality council has the final say on any recommendations made by the task force, the opportunity to provide such important input should be too great a draw to avoid for our outspoken citizens. If you care about your community and think you know of ways to improve how the folks at the Civic Centre run things, get involved; apply.

Forms must be submitted by April 30. For more information, call Dawna Urquhart at 519-352-8401, ext. 3011, or e-mail

"The natives are getting restless and want to be more involved in the spending-governance . Getting them involved in the process makes sense -and more eyes on the ball can only help the public accountability and governance process . This is a model that should be endorsed in every community by the Taxpayers " PR

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