Most 🇨🇦/#cdnpoli city mayors have too little formal authority to lead change and meet rising expectations. My oped for @irpp / Policy Options on how "The Power to Propose" can start to fill that gap w/out radically altering our city govt structures...…
Typically, any proposal to empower weak 🇨🇦 mayors runs into fears of 'americanization' or bossism. "The power to propose" is the minimum possible change you could make w/out disempowering councillors' powers of oversight, amendment and so on.
One likely rebuttal: some mayors already do exceed their formal authority, influence draft budgets, etc. And as I hint in the oped, if that's happening, public servants often take criticism for mayoral directions given behind the scenes, so it's better to formalize this process.
Another likely concern: what happens if a mayor drowns their city public service in proposals & ideas? The reality is, councillors can already do so as few cities have any restraint on the endless demand for new staff reports or studies; the only differences here are -
(a) clarity and tracking, since this new authority would require clear direction from the Mayor's Office, and (b) speed, since a mayor wouldn't need to wait for a council meeting or authorization to request the work to be done.
"The Power to Propose" is both a personal follow-up to the "City Hall Task Force" @GabrielEidelman and I convened at the U of T in 2016 (see:…) and the result of convos between me and @PatrickNGill pre-pandemic, so, a hat-tip to both.
And, thanks to Mayor @camguthrie and Mayor @JyotiGondek's staff for confirming a few facts late last year; my proposal of this model in no way presumes their support for anything recommended in this oped.
And for the #YYC #yyccc crowd, since it's just waking up: Mayor Gondek recently said she didn't have solo authority to negotiate directly with arena proponents as the City's deal with them collapsed. Maybe, just maybe, she should?…

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More from @stateofthecity

11 Jan
Sidebar, Cdn health care & immigration policy. (1) This is great (2) other prov should copy ASAP (3) what does it say about how stupid we are as a country that there were 1,200 potential* nurses just in one province (!) who'd just out of the system b/c of credentials bickering?
* That's the applicant count. Even if 50% don't make it because of one issue or another, and I can think of many, what an absurd waste of talent that 600 still represents.
Sorry, typo, meant "had just been left out." I was angry. I typed. I'm sorry.
Read 4 tweets
11 Jan
Observation: financing for future public housing needs to include a quasi-trust fund assembled at the point of construction to be held back for life cycle maintenance. It's clear govts can't be trusted to keep up sufficient maintenance otherwise. /1
/2 Sidebar: truthfully, you could say the same about most North American public capital projects. Notably, one of the plus points of a Cdn-style P3s is supposed to how they build-in financing for that very same maintenance gap. People/govts who hate P3s could mimic that benefit -
/3 - in design-build or conventional projects by plugging in the same maintenance trust fund idea into overall financing, but without a *contract* for maintenance built in (which has some advantages and disadvantages better discussed elsewhere).
Read 6 tweets
29 Feb 20
This morning, Waterfront Toronto is hosting what feels like its 100,000th consultation on the Sidewalk Labs proposal for the Quayside site in Toronto, so this is as good a morning as any to trash this totally fictional thread.
/2 Start with "Google." This is a Sidewalk Labs, which may be a company in the same corporate family as Google, but it's different people with a different mandate. Most of Sidewalk's leadership is ex-public service in city/state or provincial govt in New York, NYC or Canada.
/3 This distinction matters to me for the same reason why it matters to Sidewalk's critics to say "Google" every chance they get. Opponents say "Google" b/c they want this to sound like it's basically a giant data collection project. In fact, most of the people working on it -
Read 22 tweets
9 Jun 19
#SundaySidebar ... yesterday, @ns_ahmed asked me a question about one issue that pops up in my news feed a fair bit, namely the "Chief _______ Officer" craze in various city governments. /1
/2 His question, paraphrased: isn't hiring a Chief Equity Officer (to take the example that popped up yesterday) merely a diversion of resources or a distraction from fully funding city operations or services to achieve better equity?
/3 The question comes up in a hundred places, in a hundred ways, now that cities have hired everything from Chief Resilience Officers to Chief Engagement Officers* to Chief Bicycle Officers**.
Read 26 tweets
22 Jan 19
Today in pet peeves about provinces... while packing for the move, found my much-requested slide deck from my 'Economic Myths of Manitoba' speech several yrs ago. A couple of samples for the #mbpoli crowd...
It was a blunt tirade, b/c those myths serve as a sort of reverse antibody, attacking healthy realities which try to invade the MB political bloodstream. Take the "Hydro defines us" silliness, even though MB ranks 4th or (most often) 5th in annual prov'l hydro output rankings...
...and (based on whatever baseline year this was... 2013 2015?) just one (1) hydro complex in Newfoundland & Labrador has enough capacity to outdo the entire Manitoba Hydro network.
Read 29 tweets

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