WHERE DID EVERYBODY GO?

Thorold City Hall 1;25-10-2009 (2)

If you found that certain City Councillors and staffers weren’t returning your calls the past few days, it may have been because they went to the AMO Conference in Niagara Falls. However, since usually not all of them go, it’s just possible that they’re on vacation or that they just don’t want to talk to you.

This year the AMO Conference was held at the Scotia bank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, so they didn’t have to get any hotel rooms at least. So more may have gone than usual although at $820.00 a pop for registration, it might have gotten a little pricy if the mayor, all eight councillors plus senior staff attended.

I’ve been a few of these myself in the past, twice in Toronto and once in Ottawa, and the convention can be well worth the price of admission if everyone’s time is put to good use. Some councillors, some don’t is all I’ll say on that matter.

There are always a number of interesting speakers at these things as well as informative sessions that can give you elected reps some decent starting places for alternative thinking. As well, rubbing shoulders with others from all over the province gives you a chance to find others who are experiencing the same things as your council and what has or hasn’t worked for them.

This year there were a number of speeches, some worth more than others, and included the provincial leaders of the NDP, Conservatives and Liberals. There was also a speaker on how to use Wikinomics in improving communications sponsored by Microsoft, since it seems that you can’t hold any kind of gathering these days without talking about internet communications software.

I checked out the topics for the sessions and there were a number that seemed quite interesting, although they aren’t always once you get to them, at any conference or convention. But a few jumped out at me for various reasons:

  • Managing Municipal Complaints – I hope this one was well attended
  • Rail and Pipelines: Best Practices in Emergency Preparedness – with talk about a resurgence of rail transportation and proposals for more oil and gas pipelines, this may bear heeding
  • Waste Legislation – isn’t most of it a waste these days?
  • Ethics and Integrity in Municipal Government – if this is anything like business ethics, it must be a lesson in moral relativism
  • Asset Management: Why the Financial Stuff Matters – could have been entitled D’uh
  • Ranked Ballot Voting: New Options for Municipal Elections – nice of the Province to offer it to the municipalities, now how about provincial elections?

There is also a chance, by prior appointment, to address your municipality’s problems with the appropriate provincial minister. Niagara politicians were supposed to be discussing the interest arbitration process with the Minister of Labour, for instance. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll do anything, but we had some positive results at one of the ones I attended.

It’s not all work mind you. Every evening there are “hospitality suites” all over. Sponsored by various vendors, municipalities (no, not ours) and even the province, they’re a chance to unwind over free food and drink. Of course, if you’re a dedicated politician, you’ll use the opportunity to make contacts and score points.

Anyways, the conference ended today, so you should be able to contact your councillor now if they were in attendance. As for those who are on vacation or just don’t want to talk to you? Sorry, this won’t help you.

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