The City Of Regina Rejects RWW’s Petition Because Thousands Of People Who Signed It Didn’t Write The Year 2013 Next To Their Names… Wait, Seriously? You Really Expect People To Buy That Line? Well Okay Then. I Admire Your Chutzpah.

As I was worried might happen, Regina city clerk Joni “Nitpicky” Swidnicki has used an Orwellian definition of the word “date” to recommend rejecting a legitimate citizen petition with over 24,000 signatures. She did this, I can only assume, because City Hall is really, really scared it would lose a public referendum on their precious private water treatment plant. If you want the straight facts you can go to CBC or the Leader-Post, both of whom will have excellent, accurate reporting. Or you could read Paul Dechene’s post, which I haven’t read yet but assume is excellent. [Dechene here: It’s just so-so. Mostly I just retyped the clerk’s report and calculated a few percentages. I spent some of this afternoon acting as a meat shield for my kids during a hail storm. And right now, retyping is all I have in me.] As for me, well, I’m going to rant. So buckle up.

After this afternoon’s announcement at City Hall by director of governance and strategy Jim “No Questions” Nicol (I assume Nitpicky Swidnicki was hiding under a desk elsewhere in the building and therefore unavailable), Regina Mayor Michael Fougere came downstairs to address media. Fougere, looking dapper in his grey suit with his fabulous Fougehair gleaming under the foyer’s fluorescent lights, stressed that rejecting the petition had nothing to do with council’s wishes. Nope! He pointed out that the city clerk’s office is independent from council but he thinks the clerk’s decision is reasonable and CLEARLY everyone’s hands are tied but trust him, no one at city hall hates democracy or is a fascist.

And anyways council will meet on Monday to talk more about this. And blah blah blahdy-blah.

If I recall correctly (I was busy taking unflattering pictures), Fougere was asked by one reporter if he’d spoken to the clerk about the decision before it was released. Which would of course be insanely inappropriate. Instead of answering the question, he merely said, repeatedly, that the clerk is independent of council. Uh huh.

So what now? Well, council could greenlight the referendum anyway. They kind of better, in my view, because Nitpicky’s sense of what is and is not a valid signature is total malarkey.

However, I doubt Council will validate a referendum that Nitpicky Swidnicki worked so hard to sabotage (but definitely not on their behalf, nooo).

Yeah. I think Regina Water Watch will have to take them to court to get this referendum.

Council will review the report on Monday night. If you care about this topic, get your butt to that meeting to let these councillors know by your frowny-faced presence that you’re deeply offended by citizen petitions being squashed for bullshit reasons.

And when council rejects the referendum–and they will–don’t be a whiny, discouraged pussy. Just start fundraising for legal action.

More to come later and in next week’s Prairie Dog.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

12 thoughts on “The City Of Regina Rejects RWW’s Petition Because Thousands Of People Who Signed It Didn’t Write The Year 2013 Next To Their Names… Wait, Seriously? You Really Expect People To Buy That Line? Well Okay Then. I Admire Your Chutzpah.”

  1. I posted the math under the Six in the morning. If the city accepted dates sans-year, the 95% confidence interval would rest entirely above the 19,310 mark.

  2. I love that Whitworth is telling people not to be whiny, discouraged pussies.

  3. OR!!!! MAKE a PRESENTATION at City Hall on Monday!!!
    NOON deadline to: (guess who!!?) and copied to
    (Thanks for your outrage, Stephen!!)
    Presentations can be as short as one minute and no longer than 10 minutes.

    You must submit your presentation, along with a covering letter, to the Office of the City Clerk by noon Monday July 22.

    Submissions can be delivered by hand to City Hall. They can also be sent by email. An emailed submission should be addressed to and copied to

    The letter should say something like the following:

    I am writing to request to appear before City Council at its July 22nd meeting. I wish to make a presentation related to the waste water treatment plant petition.

    I would appreciate it if you would confirm receipt of my email and presentation (attached).

  4. What is the statistical theory or explanation of how they got a 95% confidence? First they reviewed 100% of the list on paper, then they called 1,270 of 20,072 (~6%).

    I question this not because I don’t believe there are statisticians at the City (or available under contract) to create a method to achieve 95% confidence, but they end the story saying an anonymous statistician believes the numbers are lower due to the non-response rate. It appears this statistician simply applies a formula that is easy and simply treats each non-reply as invalid (multiplies the 20,072 by 881 valid divided by 1,270 attempted phone calls). Maybe they were on summer vacation given the season. The simple formula is nothing like what I recall in stats class.

    Additionally, they never validated a confidence rate with how many people forgot to place the year in the date with how many actually signed in 2013 and not 2012 when it was not available or 2014 which has not happened yet.

    I hope council considers this and other reasonable thoughts as the City Clerk does not appear to have. I would be more accepting of the results had some of this been explained. With a number of other items being reported from City Hall, it seems not everything is transparent. I’m in favour of having transparent information available so that I can make a more informed decision at next election whether I would vote for an incumbent or change. I accept all decisions by Council as the voice of democracy whether I am in favour or against but want to be involved in democracy be being an informed voter at future elections (at all government levels).

  5. We need to not just demand a referendum, but demand a referendum based on the wording in the petition. With the petition declared invalid, they may call their own referendum using a confusing or crooked question.

  6. It’ll be interesting to see how the CoR tries to scrape the egg off its face.

  7. I’m enraged over the whole concept of how such a small percentage of people who may or may not be informed can force a referendum. If everyone signing this petition understood the issues and consequences then I’d be fine with this. I understand this is the process that is allowed but I’m against the methods I saw this lobby group using and the impact that could have on forcing a referendum.

    Based on my experience with this petition, there was little to no attempt to clearly articulate the pros and cons of the city’s plan and I was asked to sign the petition without receiving all the information I needed to make a responsible and informed decision. When I asked questions about the positive aspects of the city’s plan I truly felt I was treated with hostility. The group of people I was with felt exactly the same way.

    Perhaps people have reason to feel anger at the city, however I feel anger towards this lobby group who, at least in my situation, did not provide any transparency about the issue beyond their own interests. And if the bullying attitude that was clearly demonstrated towards me was used towards anyone else other than myself, then in my opinion this petition is not credible.

  8. What more can I say on this subject other than, surprise, surprise. The City of Regina has been deeming democracy invalid for many, many years now. It began decades ago, and continues to this very day. I sincerely HOPE that this action, in and of itself, will finally wake people up and get them to DO something finally. With the horrible turnout in October, it seemed that far too many people were apathetic for whatever reason. Hopefully this will be the clincher to change their minds. I won’t hold my breath though.

    My pending legal action against the City of Regina has just been upped by one. I’ve been keeping a running list of all of the items that need to be added to it, since serving notice in late May, and I honestly am surprised that the City is stupid enough to keep doing these kinds of actions to keep adding to the list. The City of Regina just pissed off another 24,232 citizens (minimum – remember the Waterwatch folks removed any invalid signatures before submitting the final petition – or at least what a ‘reasonable person’ would deem to be invalid – who’d have thought a missing year would be so ‘critical’), and hopefully each one of those people will start to make serious waves in this City and DEMAND to be treated fairly by the elected officials that we pay the salary of.

    Not only is Regina City Council as corrupt as they come, but also their “legal” team and Executive Leadership Team (neither of which actually should be allowed to be called that, as none of them seem to be qualified for any role they currently hold). The total salaries we pay for these “qualified” staff is between $2-5M at minimum. Disgusting. Note that 4/5 of them had been hired from outside of the City of Regina within the last decade as well. Ever wonder why? Fire the ones that are willing to actually call you out on your actions and replace them with yes men/women who are willing to bend at your beck and call.

    I’ve personally been banned from City Hall, other than the “public areas” of the first floor, and potentially many other City owned establishments. Unfortunately, I am not “allowed” to know why, apparently that is top secret. I’m sure they’ve just added 24,232 more people to that magical banning list that, until they demand to know why they can’t go to the Mayor’s open door session, for example, won’t be told they’re actually banned. I’ve filed a Human Rights complaint, and should hear back on this very soon. There are many other precedents like this one, but this situation stands out because I hadn’t actually been notified that I’ve been banned. The Security Team was instructed to lie to me about the areas being “closed to the general public” on any given day.

    In the end, the City of Regina has been wanting, so desperately, to fight this in court. Not exactly sure why, other than the fact it would delay the process even more. The Mayor states it in his unedited interview with CBC, and Jim Nicol states it in my telephone interview with him a week or two ago. What is very necessary is to apply to the courts to get an injunction to stop ALL UNNECESSARY PROJECTS by the City of Regina until the Courts have made their decision on this and other cases currently open and/or pending against the City of Regina. This includes the WWTP, Stadium and more.

    Will they do it? Depends on which judge you get I suppose!

  9. Apart from the whole date debacle, it’s worth noting that the city rejected 6.3% of signatures for incorrect or incomplete addresses (1.8% in the first phase, 4.6% in the second). Does that seem awfully high to anyone else? I mean, only 2.9% of Canadian Senators don’t know where they live.

  10. Er, isn’t City Council able to fire the Clerk? That, I think, would counteract any supposed independence. True, it’s not easy to just up and boot out a long-term City employee without some good reasons, but the city’s already put their foot in it by rejecting the petition, what’s another shitstorm?

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