Sparks fly at SSEA meeting
Election postponed after Kramp, Hill challenge proxy voting practice
By Sandy Agnew
Business as usual at Severn Sound Environmental Association is not good enough for Midland Deputy Mayor Stephan Kramp and Orillia Councillor Andrew Hill. They challenged the procedure to elect the SSEA Chair and Vice-Chair at the January 23 board meeting. At issue was whether the election of the two positions could be done in the absence of one of the nominees and whether other absent members could vote by proxy. Kramp wanted to see the procedural bylaw which allowed for proxy votes, calling the procedure “highly unusual at the municipal level.”
Penetanguishene Deputy Mayor Pat Marion defended the proxy vote procedure as having been past practices. Kramp responded that just because a practice has been done in the past doesn’t necessarily mean that it is appropriate. Hill suggested that, because there were only six of nine members present that if he and Kramp left, the meeting would lack a quorum and would have to be halted. At that suggestion Oro-Medonte Councillor Kelly Meyer said she “Didn’t appreciate the tone that this meeting has started off with…” With Hill and Kramp prepared to leave the meeting, the remaining members of the board agreed to defer the election until the next meeting and to retain the existing positions until then.
Another big concern raised by Kramp and Hill is the regular practice of the SSEA to only provide reports on desk at the time of the meeting. Hill felt that he could not approve documents which neither he nor the Orillia staff have had time to examine before the meeting. When it came time to approve the budget they finally agreed that it would be received only and approved after the auditor’s report.
These transparency issues were raised by AWARE Simcoe in a deputation to SSEA on October 18, 2012 and included:
1. Advance notice of all SSEA board and public committee meetings be posted on your website.
2. Any resolution passed by the board be made available immediately.
3. Reports to the board be made available in advance of the meetings at which they are to be discussed.
4. Minutes (in draft form) of a board meeting be made available within a reasonable time, which we suggest would be a week.
The fact is that SSEA has done little to implement these important requests, which are basically only asking SSEA to follow accepted municipal practices. Finally some members of the SSEA board are insisting on real improvements to the SSEA practices and procedures.