May 27th, 2024

City Notebook: The view from here

By Collin Gallant on May 4, 2024.

@@CollinGallant

The burning question on everyone’s mind low these two weeks has been, where did Collin go?

Many tuners-in to the April 22 city council meeting noticed the vacancies at the media table that’s at the bottom of TV screens, my cow-lick included, and called me up to ask about the seating arrangements.

Thanks for your concern.

Instead, reporters were informed night of that said table – directly in front of councillors in the gallery level – was no longer available, and an alternate was provided.

Of course this all occurs in the midst of some heated times and higher scrutiny of City Hall. Security guards have also been present at council meetings, something generally new, since mid March when a behind-the-scenes blowup between mayor and council was made public.

Various people have framed the table as a freedom of the press issue.

For the record, the whole thing is a bit of a non-issue for yours truly – what kind of reporter lets moving 20 feet to the right interfere with a good story?

It’s maybe a bother at best, rather than Tiananmen Square.

But, you can see how it would add fuel to wild speculations to a community that’s predisposed to believe that City Hall is plotting.

The whole episode brings to mind a story, rumour probably, that the original plan when city hall opened was to post reporters up in one corner that’s always had a press box look to it.

The table in the gallery directly facing council members was to used for those presenting at public hearings.

That’s got its own logistical challenges, but I’m no interior designer.

Quote of the week

It comes from budget talks too weeks ago, but Coun. Alison Van Dyke likened the budget process to meal planning and the need to have something for supper, but not always dessert.

“Sometimes you have it, which is nice, but you can’t expect to have dessert every night,” she said. “Not at my house anyway.”

Also outlined in the initial assumptions missed in the reporting are notes that the borrowing rates available to Alberta cities have doubled to between 5.1 and 5.6 per cent compared to 2019 rates.

Name dropping

– Local notable Perry Dooley is the new board chair of the combined connectFirst and Servus Credit unions (see related story in this edition).

– Premier Danielle Smith trumpeted the Hat as a potential high-tech hub thanks to secure power supply from the city-owned power plant. That was outlined at length Thursday at a chamber of commerce lunch. Imagine the surprise of former city economic development official Eric Van Enk and former CAO Bob Nicolay – both in attendance – after both men suggested very much the same four years ago.

– Also in the region, Tyler Gandem of Alberta Municipalities, was in Brooks late in the week to discuss (and drum up support to oppose) Bill 20 proposed by the government.

A look ahead

Council sits Monday to take up for a third time Mayor Linnsie Clark’s request for reports on staff turnover, severance and expenses at city hall. Also, tax incentives and unsightly property bylaw changes will be debated.

Saturday is May the Fourth, a play on May the Force be with you for Star Wars fans.

100 years ago

British English is proper and will unite the world, but badly needs spelling reform, the News stated in an editorial on May 5, 1924.

After the war, it had become the channel of international communication, but was hindered by a host of “irregularities and inconsistencies” that were a waste of time and mental energy. More than 80 professors at 10 British universities called for a special conference on reform, but should not try to do too much all at once, the News warned.

Alberta premier Greenfield and delegation embarked to Ottawa for another round of talks on transferring natural resource rights to the province.

A general uproar in the region followed word that receivers of the Canada Land and Irrigation parcels near Vauxhall would not provide water in the 1924 growing season.

The “gloomy utterances” of MP E.J. Garland (Bow River) in describing the plight of the Canadian prairie farmer could lead to “exaggerated pessimism” to the detriment of the west, an editorial stated.

“Those who know better will smile,” it read. “One wonders if Mr. Garland knows anything, or has troubled himself to learn anything about conditions elsewhere.”

U.S. Attorney General Harry Dougherty claimed he was the victim of a “communist plot” as the Teapot Dome Scandal roiled.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com.

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