This Week at City HallTwitter was all abuzz last night with tales of people receiving phone calls from a recorded Mayor Michael Fougere, entreating them to vote “No” in the upcoming waste water treatment plant P3 referendum. There was even a comment on the blog about it.

Of course, Fougere didn’t refer to it as a waste water treatment plant, the phrase is sewage treatment plant now.

I know this because I also received one of these automated calls. I found it a little off-putting because I’m actually expecting a call from the Mayor to interview him about the referendum. So when I picked up the phone and heard, “Hello, this is Mayor Michael Fougere.” I was like, “Oh, thanks for getting back to me.”

I was three quarters the way through my interview questions before I realized I was talking to a recording.

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(Apologies to everyone who follows my Twitter feed (@pauldechene). I used that joke on there last night. I guess you could say I’m plagiarizing myself but I prefer to think of it as an adaptive reuse of that time I squander on social media. It’s efficiency!)

Anywaaay… One of the items of concern that came up — yes, on Twitter — was how much the “Vote No” campaign is going to cost the city. After receiving that call, I can’t say that worries me so much any more. The recording quality was kind of shit. The script was fine, I suppose, but Fougere’s delivery was… erm… how to say this politely?… it was inexpert. But I guess that made it kind of charming. I’m pretty sure they didn’t do more than one or two takes. And I’d be willing to bet it was all done in-house.

If you want to judge the quality for yourself, have a listen. John Klein, stalwart city hall watcher and former council candidate, managed to record one of these robocalls. I’m embedding it below. (He gave permission for local media to use it, btw.)

As you can hear, I don’t think they’ve blown the city’s college fund on advertising just yet.

Screen capture of city's referendum websiteThey did set up a  little website promoting the No side. You can check that out here. It doesn’t seem especially fancy. Follows the city’s design guidelines and lays out all the information. Pretty meat and potatoes.

None of this bothers me. Or, rather, none of it surprises me. I expected the city to push the P3 agenda rigorously. And I’d much rather it be the voice of the Mayor or some other politician — someone you can vote for or not during an election — phoning me up and promoting the waste water sewage P3 than having someone who works within the city administration trying to influence the vote… as has been happening on the @CityofRegina Twitter feed… but that’s a matter for another blog post.