So I went to the Moncton City Council Meeting on August the 20th and I actually had something to say.
Moncton City Council August 20th 2012 the video can be found at that link.
For those who choose not to watch it, my part went like this:
I spoke about the people who are losing their jobs because there were no buses, I mentioned the fact that because we are now two months into no buses, some people will start to lose their homes.
I also discussed the fact that seniors, some of who would be spending their last summer with us are stuck in their homes.
I also discussed the fact that the taxi chit program still cost so much that the only people who could use it effectively already had cars anyway.
I told both the city and the union that the time to end this was now. And I also told the council that it was no good to sit in their chairs and decide which contracts they were going to honour, they needed to be actively involved in the negotiation or else they should sign what their negotiators put in front of them because it is no good to say “the last 2 years were a waste, go do it again”
Now let’s look at my overall view of the way the council meeting played out with regards to the citizen presentations. The presentations have all been rehashed but I will quickly cover them in no particular order.
Daniel Robichaud and Robert Melanson discussed how there not being buses affects the disabled.
Cecille Callista discussed in more detail how it affected seniors.
Lucien Sivret covered many of these points and discussed the fact that many people no longer care who is at fault they simply want the buses back.
After these four had spoken, the Deputy Mayor (Merrill Henderson) responded with a very familiar, prepared statement that he read. There was no news in this statement except for the fact that in the last offer to the union while the wages offered were lower, they also indicated that several of the benefits that were given up in the so called “handshake deal” were restored in this offer (it is worth noting that there did seem to be a bit of surprise at this news from the union leader George Turple the reason for the bit of surprise is not completely clear)
This was followed up by Sylvia Breau approaching the podium and asking to address council. While there was some pushing and prodding, after some initial hesitation she was allowed to speak. Her concern was what the backup plan was with the buses out of service in the case of an emergency that would normally use the aid of a bus or two (or more). References were made to the movement of all the passengers from the planes on 9-11 which some people may not be too concerned about happening again any time soon. However, reference was also made to the Tire Fire on Mill Road where buses were used to transport children from the daycare to a place of safety, there are plenty of other times they are used as well, for things like minor evacs, temporarily holding people when a large building is on fire etc.
This was responded to by the city manager in a very vague way. Sylvia was told that if she had any questions on this, she should ask the fire chief or the RCMP. I personally believe that it is quite possible that before that question was raised last even this possibility had not ever crossed the minds of any of the city staff. While I hope asking the question does get a backup plan created, I personally do not think one existed at the time the question was asked.
At this point the city council attempted to go into normal business, while Dan Robichaud decided to attempt to reclaim the mike and question why nothing was being addressed. After a brief minute his mike was shut off, and amongst some mutters and shouts (while Dan still tried to be heard without the mike) the large majority of the crowd walked out.
That is the brief synopsis.
Here is what I noticed over the run of the meeting.
First while at initial glance it may look like we were completely unsuccessful in getting our point across to council, that may not have been entirely true.
Both Dawn Arnold and Daniel Bourgeois appeared to be very closely listening to what was being said. Pierre Boudreau appeared to be nodding to a few points that were made.
A news article also reported that Shawn Crossman spoke during a later portion of the meeting suggesting that the union should be given a chance to speak as well.
To me this indicates that perhaps what was said last night did not go unheard. Whether we will be listened to or not is still in question but we were heard and a few payed at least some attention.
I am not saying that none of the other councillors were paying attention, or that none were in agreement with us but those who I mentioned were ones who stood out to me with their behaviours last evening.
There were some incredibly disappointing factors as well.
The address given to those of us who spoke by the deputy mayor addressed a grand total of none of the issues we raised.
We no longer care about placing blame, we no longer care about what it takes to get it done. We believe that both sides of the issue need to sit down and actually start to negotiate and we believe that in all honesty this can only be done from a completely fresh page.
End the lockout, cancel all talk of a strike. Bring the proper number of people on board to do the job. Put the buses on the road and sit in a room and talk. 5 days a week from now until it is over.
The citizens of the city are sick and tired of excuses and it is high time both the city and union manned up. Sat down and actually did what we expect them to do. Find a reasonable solution and start to rebuild our transit system.