City hall feud boils over at council meeting 0
Coun. Adriane Carr is accusing Vancouver's top bureaucrat, who her lawyer described as "hired help", of overstepping her authority for quashing a motion before it was presented to council. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
A city councillor is facing a possible code of conduct investigation after venting her frustrations with a decision by Vancouver’s top bureaucrat to quash a motion before it was ever presented to council.
Green party Coun. Adriane Carr apologized during a heated council meeting Tuesday after she and her legal counsel stood outside city hall earlier in the day admonishing city manager Penny Ballem.
The councillor had submitted a motion asking city staff to examine the financial impacts of the controversial Vancouver Park Board plan to take central control of community centres’ revenue collection.
But Ballem sent her an email denying the motion could go before council, leading Carr to say she felt intimidated by the senior city staff member.
Carr’s lawyer, Jonathan Baker, said he’d never seen anything like it in 50 years of practising municipal law.
“It strikes at the very heart of democracy,” he said, adding Ballem, who he described as “hired help,” only has the power to make suggestions to elected representatives.
Although the motion wasn’t on Tuesday’s council agenda, Carr repeatedly attempted to present it before council before she was eventually shut down by Mayor Gregor Robertson.
He told the councillor the motion would have threatened negotiations between the park board and community centre associations reluctant to give up control of revenue collection.
Coun. Geoff Meggs later asked Robertson to investigate Carr for code of conduct violations.
Despite her apology, Carr remained resolute outside council chambers after the meeting.
“I mean, who’s in charge? In our democracy, aren’t the elected representatives in charge?” she asked.
Simon Fraser University political science professor Patrick Smith told 24 hours Carr likely had little choice but to express her frustrations to the media since there was no one at city hall — other than Ballem — who could appeal the decision.