Thursday, February 27, 2014

Don't Negotiate in Secret

What have we learned from the fire hall issue at City Hall?

Apparently, it looks like that better deals can be negotiated in secret.

The inescapable conclusion from fire union spokesman and from certain other officials both elected and non-elected is that the city got four excellent fire halls and who cares how it was done and if it cost more. Moreover, the argument is being made that we need more fire halls done and to stop obsessing about how it gets done.

Well. Contrary to what some union officials believe and what some city administration and Councillors believe, we need a fair, transparent and competitive approach to how the city does business.

Justin Swandel has initiated negotiations with Shindico over the fiasco of the fire hall construction in the city of Winnipeg. It is difficult to know what to make of this and on the face of it, the message it sends is that companies just need to dig in their heels to get what they want and the city will ride to the rescue with a deal and more money.

Why the need to even negotiate with the city civil servants? Just call your local Councillor and draw up a deal on a paper napkin.

Our police headquarters is ramping up to nearly $250 million and our fire halls are much higher than budgeted and no one can even say why things ended up the way they did. Finger pointing is happening while others are asking everyone to shush as if it will all go away.

It won't go away.

Too many projects have run off the rails in terms of how long they take, how much they cost, how they were put together.

And now we undermine things again by trying to repair damage from a far from transparent project by negotiating a deal away from council chambers.

Deals that try to save us time and money often don't do that at all. It is high time we stuck to a clear process, a competitive process and stop treating people like we're asking for the moon. The disdain and annoyance some people have for the public wanting transparency is unseemly.

An election taken place this year in October. It will be interesting to see how the public reacts to how politics has been done at City Hall the last while.

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