Absolute power? – Metro US

Absolute power?

David Miller
says he will soon formally ask the province for enhanced powers for the mayor’s office, powers he says will actually make city government more open and accountable — not less, as critics have charged.

Miller said yesterday he wants Queen’s Park to give the city’s powerful executive committee, which he controls, the ability to meet and talk in private prior to making public decisions. He also wants the mayor to have the power to hire and fire top civil servants.

Miller said reports by two separate groups of independent citizens have recommended such changes over the past couple years.

“Today, technically, the executive committee can’t get in a room together and discuss any public policy issue, period. That’s ridiculous,” Miller told reporters. “Decisions are made through the council process in the normal way. But the executive committee is not allowed to have a conversation. It makes no sense whatsoever.”

Asked if he will take his proposals to council, Miller said he thinks it’s best if his requests go to the premier’s office. He noted it’s the province that holds the power to decide such issues and also has a process in place to give the public its say.

Asked how the increased powers jibe with his campaign message of open government, Miller replied: “It makes it more open and transparent; absolutely. Because you know that the executive committee is given overall carriage for the strategic priorities of the city, and that’s their job.”

At its Tuesday meeting, city council opted to refer a series of motions on boosting mayoral powers, both for and against, to the executive committee. Miller critic and city council member Case Ootes said the executive will simply discard ideas Miller doesn’t like, effectively neutering any councillors who aren’t Miller allies or executive members.