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Strange pattern of behaviour coming from city council and management

Ron Walter questions recent actions at city hall
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

Police investigators are taught not to accept coincidences at face value and to pursue coincidences, looking for patterns of behaviour.

Along that vein, Yours Truly has noticed a series of coincidences coming out of city council and city management – coincidences that reflect poorly on the conduct of Moose Jaw civic affairs.

One of these instances, caught by Coun. Brian Swanson, involved the contract signed with Spectra to manage the Mosaic Place operations.

One clause in the contract obliged the city to enforce provisions of the American Disabilities Act — an act of the United States for people in that country.

When Swanson raised the matter, he was pooh-poohed as if this were an inconsequential oversight. Perhaps it isn’t that critical but the fact this contract has Moose Jaw enforcing an American law causes one to wonder why the city’s high-priced city clerk-solicitor, managers didn’t catch the error?

Was Brian Swanson the only person in the whole city hall who read the contract carefully? Why didn’t other managers, the mayor or other councillors raise the matter?

Or were they too hasty trying to get a company to run the operation and take the responsibility away from city management and city council?

What else did they miss in these contracts if they missed something as simple as agreeing to enforce an American law?

Under this new contract the city still has to underwrite any losses that concerts incur if Spectra judgment is unsuccessful in attracting enough visitors.

Spectra wants to run between 10 and 12 concerts a year. Hopefully they will show an overall profit or Moose Jaw taxpayers could be stuck for five years paying Spectra to lose their money.

Of course, another coincidence was the communications policy. Apparently, this policy was drafted under the mayor’s influence and encouragement with the purpose of excluding two online bloggers from access to city information.

The bloggers have embarrassed the mayor and some others by scrutinizing city business with discovery the mayor bought a birthday cake with a city credit card, only repaying the city much later.

For this offensive reporting, the city was going to gag their constitutional right to freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Fortunately for all of us, the rest of council realized what an illegal act this policy was and removed the anti-democratic parts.

Having expenses by the mayor and council posted online would be an awesome idea.

A few weeks ago, we had city management begging for approval of a much-needed upgrade for the airport because a deadline for receipt of the funds was at hand. The application was completed over a year before.

Is that another coincidence or a pattern of management behaviour?

When the multi-page Carpere contract for sale of the industrial park was approved, Swanson again questioned why the city was ploughing money into the park when city management clearly told council only weeks before the city wouldn’t have to put any more money into the venture.

He was told the city would recover the money from the property sale to Carpere. That explanation didn’t wash with some observers.

And then we had the 48-hour notice to the Farmers’ Market to find another location because contractors were going to install new water lines affecting that block. Does the city really operate on whimsy or is there some organization to affairs? The water line work was thankfully delayed.

All of these accumulated coincidences amount to one thing — sloppy work and sloppy thinking by elected members of council and managers hired by council.

To really take action on this pattern of behaviour taxpayers will have to wait until October 2020 and the civic election.

Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.