It's public information
Yes, Brian Skakun is being Brian Skakun … again. And thank goodness for that.
The outspoken councillor is at it again. Faced with a rebuff from city administration regarding a simple request for information about a handful of expenditures, Skakun has served a notice of motion to council seeking that it direct administration provide the information.
Given Skakun’s highly publicized trial a couple of years ago regarding the release of public information and, more importantly, city councillors’ access to such information, it’s easy to dismiss it as more grandstanding.
But that’s simply not the case. Skakun is only asking for specifics on some city expenditures. He’s not asking for personnel reports or confidential documents that could jeopardize contract negotiations or land deals.
He just wants clarification and was told by city administration to take a hike.
He’s outraged by it. You should be outraged by it. And, more importantly, the rest of city council should be outraged by it.
Sadly, though, we suspect that when Skakun’s notice of motion comes before council in a couple of weeks it will go nowhere.
That will be a travesty, for a mayor and council that campaigned on city hall being more transparent.
The issue here isn’t what the expenditures actually were. We suspect they are legitimate expenditures that occur in the normal course of business.
The issue is the public is being denied the right to know what those expenditures are for.
It throws into question the decisions of council surrounding the core services review. How can city council realistically be expected to make informed decisions about where to cut expenses when they are denied information as to what those expenses are actually for?
For city administration to tell Skakun, and the Free Press, that the information isn’t readily available is ludicrous.
We have a council who believes that the city should run more like a business. Here’s how businesses run – when the CEO or director of a company asks a manager what an expenditure is for, they better know or be able to get the answer … quickly. To say it’s too onerous to get that information suggests a lack of proper accounting systems, which we don’t believe is the case here.
Skakun didn’t make any friends at city administration when he decided to leak a confidential document and subsequently ended up in court prior to the last election. We suspect those hard feelings are still being felt.
Regardless of whether anyone likes Skakun, or whether he’s grandstanding, he’s asking for public information. It’s not too much to ask for.