The Regional Council commissioned an independent review of its Hearings Committee, which was delivered in September 2009. It has languished unpublished since.
At the Council’s recent Environmental Management Committee meeting, member Morry Black asked for a copy of this report, among others, and was told by CEO Andrew Newman “certainly, they’re all in the public domain anyway.”
But now the HBRC is telling the DomPost that the report will be withheld from the public to “protect the privacy of natural persons.”
The problem is, the “natural persons” are Councillors! As elected officials, they have no right of privacy where their public performance is concerned. The Council, apparently believing their Hearings Committee is sick, called in a “doctor” to review the situation, paying him with ratepayer dollars for his diagnosis.
Now it appears the HBRC doesn’t like his evaluation. “Gold star” reports tend to get released, don’t they?!
The Hearings Committee is chaired by Councillor Christine Scott and includes Councillors von Dadelszen, McGregor and Remmerswaal.
The consents process which the Hearings Committee superintends is crucial to all of the constituencies served by the Regional Council. The report at hand discusses that process and the Councillors involved. That discussion and the recommendations flowing from it belong in the public domain. The need to ensure the integrity of the process and the accountability of the elected Councillors who run it easily trumps any mis-applied notion of privacy.
After all, we’re not talking about the Councillors’ sex lives or financial affairs here, we’re talking about their stewardship of a critical public function. The public has every right to judge them on an informed basis on their execution of this responsibility.
The Regional Council would be better off publishing the report itself, giving it whatever positive interpretation they can muster. Step up to the issue, Regional Council … one way or the other, this report will see the light of day.