The Mayor Called Me Last Night, How About You?

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.

* * * * *

(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.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

13 thoughts on “The Mayor Called Me Last Night, How About You?”

  1. Got the same call too. My wife was trying to tell him to get off the line. I was wondering when Whitworth assigned me to interview Super Dave Osbourne.

  2. They have also puchased online advertising (I saw an ad on The Weather Network website yesterday) as well as billboards (someone tweeted a picture yesterday).

  3. Ad was in the Metro today. In a bathroom at The Willow too, someone reported. At City council, they said this ad campaign will cost an estimated $120,000 of our money.

  4. I received the same call, and panicked at first, wondering how he tracked me down. Is he using public money to fund these robocalls and “vote no” ads?

  5. “The City will always own and operate the plant” -Robomayor

    “Procurement Model: Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain” -


  6. Also, on CBC Morning Edition just now, he said “design-bid-build, which is what this referendum is about”. And said “design-bid-build” six times later on by my count.

  7. Fougere constantly repeats himself, constantly. He often has nothing to say, except his one key message, over and over again. When he’s speaking platitudes on some community feel-good whatever that doesn’t involve land and infrastructure giveaways to Dundee Developments, he’s even more insipid and transparent.

  8. Here’s an example of potential text used as part of an information campaign: “A Deloitte Report estimates a Design-Bid-Build model will cost the average Regina homeowner $276/year more in utility fees than a Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain model.” Preferably this ad would provide a link to the full Deloitte Report.

    Here’s the text of the CoR ad over an O’hanlon’s urinal*: “Vote NO to $276/year in additional utility fees”.

    In the metro today, Fougere compared it to the feds’ “Vote No” campaign during the 1995 Quebec referendum. It’s interesting for him to draw that comparison given: a) that campaign was controversial at the time; and b) AdScam was born of the descendants of that campaign.

    *to the best of my recollection. The number, for example, may be wrong.

  9. And he’s frequently just plain wrong . The current project will not be “design-bid-build” (as he just said seven times on CBC), but also extend to “finance-operate-maintain”.

    Oh well, that was just some chat over morning coffee. But when he says in the robocall that “the City will always own and operate the plant” it’s patently false … delivered as the Mayor’s personal message to voters with a land line, the call paid for out of their own taxes.

  10. Cross-posting, Brad may have found how to explain what he said on CBC this morning — that “design-bid-build” would be an alternative model — maybe I needed more coffee.

  11. Just got a call from a city (777) phone number with a robo-survey – Do you support council’s unanamous decision to go with a P3 model… press 1.

    Also saw a Vote “No” ad on my Weather network computer ap today.

  12. I too have received these calls… while driving and while leading a staff meeting. just curious how the mayor/city hall got ahold of my unlisted and blocked number.

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