This Week At City Hall: I Got Nothing

This Week at City HallI 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.

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.

12 thoughts on “This Week At City Hall: I Got Nothing”

  1. I totally agree. City hall has a way more frequent, direct impact on people’s day to day lives, whether they recognize it or not. The two obviously intertwine, given the archaic funding structure that leaves cities grasping for dollars to do the work they’re tasked with (and in some cases that’s downloaded from the provincial level). The hard part is convincing people that they should be paying more attention at the civic level.

  2. I wonder what the broken water main count in Regina stands at now? It was 280 in September alone.

  3. Please, please don’t dump covering city hall for the Leg!

    Some stuff gets covered via other news organizations, plus Twitter has been awesome lately, but Paul’s prairie dog contributions are different. The blog posts always go into far more detail than the Leader-Post or NewsTalk does, and it comes from a different perspective.

    I confess that This Week at City Hall is my favourite column on this blog. Please don’t take it away from me.

    Also, if you guys are looking to increase readership, maybe figure out how to do a survey of people who don’t read pd? Maybe ask them what the issue is. (Sorry, I’m in marketing, I can’t help but give advice on, um, marketing.)

  4. Also, I was totally drunk during that alleged conversation so nobody take it too seriously. Glad to see my intoxicated, ADD eruptions festered toxically in Dechene’s soul for days, though. You can’t buy that kind of noxious influence on another human being.

    @Pat: I see what you’re up too. You just don’t want to lose another City Hall reporter buddy.

  5. We have Mandryk and Langenegger for the province, but the comparable city coverage is not so good, so stick with it, Paul. Stephen: pay attention to Collette; she knows whereof she speaks.

  6. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, Talbot. Read regularly and consistently, and tune in to CBC Radio in the early mornings.

  7. Paul – Editor Whitworth’s suggestion made at the O’Hanlon meeting made me gasp! I read every word you write with respect to City Council, Downtown comings and goings, the ‘Plaza’ the Mayor, the Council, the weather, etc. etc. Should you switch to the Leg. coverage I will have no idea what our fair city is up to.
    Merry Christmas !! Yup, I still say it.

  8. I personally like the City coverage here. I would be ok with some expanded coverage to include the Leg (when it would impact city stuff for example), but please don’t kill the City coverage.

    Paul, because we don’t say it enough: Thanks for all the work you do!


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