According to the experts, nothing is as certain as death and taxes. To that dynamic duo of inevitability, we can add meetings. And for our elected municipal representatives one measure of their dedication is attendance at specific council gatherings and on community committees with which they are affiliated.
This past year the councillors with the fewest absences were Ted Prior and Doug Race, who missed one Committee of the Whole and one regular council meeting each. Bryan Raiser missed one Committee of the Whole, one special council and one Transit Standing Committee meeting. Patricia Heintzman missed two regular council, one Committee of the Whole and one special council meeting. Susan Chapelle failed to appear at seven meetings in total: two regular council, two Committee of the Whole, one special council and two Economic Development Advisory Committee meetings. But she attended every deliberation of the Transit Standing Committee, which she chairs, and all the meetings of the Signage and Downtown Gateway Committee. In other words, she was present for 12 of 14 scheduled sittings. Keeping those numbers in mind, Coun. Chapelle may have to reassess whether she has overextended herself in the committee affiliation department.
Mayor Rob Kirkham also missed seven gatherings: one regular council, two special council, two Committee of the Whole, and two Smoke Bluff Park Select Committee meetings. We know the mayor is a busy man, and some of those absences are likely due to conflicting mayoral obligations. That being said, he may have to look at more creative scheduling alternatives.
The councillor registering the highest absentee rate in 2012 was Ron Sander. He failed to appear at a total of 11 council-related engagements: six Committee of the Whole, four special council, and one regular council meeting. Coun. Sander’s committee workload is not particularly heavy. He chairs the Business Processing Standing Committee, a group that he met with twice last year.
Coun. Sander recently stated that one of the reasons he ran for office was the concern he had “over the ever-growing debt of the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corp.” Yet he was missing in action from a special council meeting last June during which the SODC held its AGM and presented important financial information. And it looks like that sporadic attendance pattern has not changed in the New Year. He was the sole absentee from a Committee of the Whole meeting on Jan. 22.
To be sure, there are many other gauges available to assess our councillors’ performance, beyond merely tallying their appearances at meetings. But let’s keep in mind that these are not voluntary positions. Besides having a statutory attendance obligation, members of this group have been the beneficiaries of two salary top-ups. It is expected that they fulfill their duties accordingly.