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Proactive Disclosure

Posted on 7 February 2012

Following up on this post, I did email mayor and council my questions about the positions eliminated at city hall. Here is the reply received from Mayor Shari Green:

“Andrew, on behalf of Council, here are responses to your questions below…

1.    Why the elimination of the environment division not proactively disclosed to citizens?

On January 17th, Mayor and Council hosted a media conference to overview 2012 Operating Expense Reductions in three areas:  general overhead, personnel and grants.  During the media briefing, information was provided about program and service impacts associated with personnel reductions.  This included reference to the discontinuation of the Environmental Services Division which would require a re-evaluation of the City’s energy, air quality/clean air, carbon neutral and greenhouse gas management programs.

2.    When, if ever, was this information going to be proactively disclosed?

This information was proactively disclosed at the January 17 media conference.  In addition, the media has been provided with a statement and summary of City of Prince George initiatives related to environmental stewardship.  That statement reads:

The City of Prince George is committed to preserving the environment and supports a community approach.  This approach acknowledges there are a broad range of actions, strategies and commitments that can be made by individuals, community and interest groups, the education sector, public health organizations, businesses, and all levels of government to maintain a healthy environment.  The City has strong partnerships with lead environmental agencies and will continue to build these relationships. The City has also taken a multi-departmental approach to environmental stewardship and as such, the City’s commitment to the environment remains strong.  Innovative approaches to environmental sustainability transcend the organization and are reflected in initiatives such as:

*    The Downtown District Energy System;
*    The City’s E3 Fleet Program;
*    The City’s transit policy (Free Fare for Clean Air);
*    The City’s Sustainable Procurement Policy;
*    The micro-turbine system installed at the waste water treatment plant and;
*    Civic building energy audits and upgrades.

3.    When, if ever, will citizens be told what other positions have been eliminated as a result of these reductions?

At the January 17th media briefing, information was provided about program and service impacts as a result of reduced personnel capacity.  An overview was provided in relation to Parks, Community Policing, CN Centre, Civic Centre, Environmental Services, Development and Transportation Engineering, Long Range Planning and Parks Planning, Communications and Social Development.

The City of Prince George will not be providing a list of affected positions in order to ensure employee confidentiality for the 9 people directly affected. “

What catches my attention is this part of Mayor Green’s reply:

“On January 17th, Mayor and Council hosted a media conference… During the media briefing, information was provided about program and service impacts associated with personnel reductions.  This included reference to the discontinuation of the Environmental Services Division.

I was not at that briefing, but other media was, including one of my colleagues. Tape was collected of the meeting that preceded it, and I listened to it, but heard no reference to the discontinuation of the environment division. In the interest of full disclosure, this tape does not include any comments made to media after the meeting. However, if you look through the media reports following that briefing, no reference is made to the environmental services being eliminated or discontinued. It is simply referenced as being affected, alongside other divisions. Here are media reports following the January 17 media briefing:

The Prince George Citizen:

“The layoffs and eliminated positions are in the city’s parks, long-range planning, community and social development, community policing, CN Center, Prince George Civic Center, environmental services, development and transportation and communications divisions.”

The Prince George Free Press:

“The 28 positions are in parks, community policing, the CN Centre, the Civic Centre, development and transportation, long-range planning and park planning as well as communications.”

Opinion 250:

“City Manager Derek Bates says it is not yet clear how the job losses will impact service levels. The job losses are spread out through; parks, community policing, CN Center, Civic center, Environmental services, Development and Transportation, Long Range planning, social development and Communications.”

HQ PrinceGeorge:

“City Manager Derek Bates says these cuts will affect 9 different areas of city services.

“In the areas of parks, community policing, C-N Centre, the Civic Centre, environmental services, development and transportation engineering, long range planning and parks planning, communications and social development.”

CKPG:

“The departments that will be affected are Parks, Community Policing, CN Centre, the Civic Centre, Environmental Services, Development and Transportation Engineering, Long-Range Planning and Parks Planning, Communications and the City’s Social Development Programs. “

So if the fact that the environment division was being eliminated was “proactively disclosed” by the city, it was information that was either missed  or not reported on by six separate media outlets.

Even a week later, in a Citizen story about PGAIR being worried about how the reductions would be affecting them:

“on Tuesday Mayor Shari Green announced the elimination of 28 jobs at the City of Prince George, including positions from the city’s environmental services department.

“Two out of three positions in the city’s environmental services department are gone,” PACHA president Dr. Marie Hay said. “To me, I think that is shortsighted and unwise. I can’t really believe the people of Prince George would agree to something like this.”

Later in the same story:

“Green wouldn’t comment on how many staff were cut from the city’s environmental services department.”

I emailed Mayor Green back, asking:

“Going through our records of the event, as well as what was reported by other media, I am failing to find reference to “the discontinuation of the Environmental Services Division.” It was said and reported that the environment division would be affected alongside other areas (CN Centre, Civic Centre, community policing, etc) but I am failing to find any mention of the discontinuation or elimination of environmental services.

If you can point me to where the elimination/discontinuation of environmental services was proactively disclosed, it would be appreciated.”
Her response:
“Andrew, the City stands behind its earlier email of today in response to this question. “

 

Filed under: Prince George

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