I just double checked and unless the city’s schedule widget is busted, there’s absolutely nothing going on at city hall this week. Well, nothing apart from the day-to-day business of actually running a city of 200,000 people which involves, among other things, maybe fixing that water main break out in front of my house.* But beyond that, there are no committee, board, commission or council meetings for me to report on.
But despite the title, I don’t come to this column completely empty handed.
First off, it occurred to me that over the last couple years, the city budget had been coming out earlier and earlier. Last year, the 2012 budget came out on Dec. 12 of 2011, which is just too bloody close to the holiday season for my taste. So, seeing as I didn’t want to get caught off guard again, I phoned up city hall to find out if they’d be doing the same thing this time around.
And apparently, they aren’t. Word is, they didn’t want to dump all those budget documents on so many novice councillors so early in their term. They’re going to give them a few more weeks to get to know their jobs and read up on what’s going on.
We can expect to see the budget documents come forward at some point in January. Which is still waaaaaaay earlier than when budgets came forward prior to 2010.
Second, an odd line of discussion came up on Friday while I was at a “writers’ meeting” at prairie dog’s auxiliary office (which looks suspiciously like O’Hanlon’s). Editor Whitworth suggested that maybe it’d be a smart move for the paper to shift me from covering city hall to covering the legislature.
Haha. It’s not going to happen.
But he did raise an interesting point. People in Regina (and elsewhere, obivously) seem to be far more interested in provincial and federal politics than they are in the goings on at city hall. So a newspaper that wants to build a readership would do well to get its political writers to focus on Wall and Harper and leave Fougere alone until there’s something crucial going on at the city level.
What’s more, prairie dog‘s in a good position seeing as Regina is the capital, so going over to the legislature to cover provincial stuff would be no harder than going to city hall.
Well, maybe that’s how the smart media does things.
Personally, I have no interest in covering provincial politics. And only a passing interest in contributing stuff on national topics. City hall is the level of government where people have the most access to politicians. And the decisions that are made there, while they may be more tedious and less philosophical than what’s pondered at higher levels, are the ones that have the most dramatic impact on people’s day to day lives — and on the environment, even.
That’s what I reckon, anyway.
Plus, I’m not entirely convinced that provincial governments are all that useful. I mean, I know by law they have a lot of responsibilities — like health and education — that are really freaking important. But frankly, I can’t think of anything that’s handled by a legislature that wouldn’t be better handled by either the federal government or by municipalities. Let the feds handle schools and hospitals and give the cities and towns the resources to deal with infrastructure, housing and social programs.
I don’t know. I’m not completely sold on that idea. Yet.
But regardless, as far as I’m concerned, people who argue provincial politics is more important than municipal are just plain wrong. And I’ll stick to that.
Anyway, it was an interesting discussion. And I thought I’d throw it out here on the blog and see what all of you think about it. Is provincial politics more important than municipal? (I suspect answers may skew towards “No” considering if you’ve read this far into this blog post, city hall might be your thing.) Should we just do away with provincial governments entirely? And what about prairie dog? Would you prefer I ditch the council coverage, get my good suit dry cleaned, and head down to legislature more often? And what about sharks in the city hall fountain? I don’t think we’ve ever come to a satisfying conclusion on that yet.
I still vote yes.
* It’s a pretty slow leak so not really all that urgent. (Although, I bet that guy whose trailer wheels are encased in ice thinks otherwise.) I was talking to the city worker who goes around and marks out where power lines are and from the sounds of things they’re being run pretty ragged dealing with busted water lines. I wouldn’t be surprised if our little trickle waits a couple weeks while city crews race from geyser to geyser. He was saying that he once had to go out to a break where the water was shooting six feet in the air….. I had a whole bit here where he explained in detail what was going on but have removed it because it occurred to me that I never warned him that I’m a reporter so he may have been telling me things he really ought not to. Hate for him to get in trouble.