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Thread: The Edmonton Citizen Panel: An experiment in democracy

  1. #1
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    Default The Edmonton Citizen Panel: An experiment in democracy

    Political life is all around us. From the playground to the factory floor, and from the hockey arena to the art gallery. We are all engaged in working out the question of, “who will make the decisions – big and small.” But the push and pull of political life arises from another question, perhaps the most difficult and durable question of all for communities and societies. It began with Aristotle’s Politics and has persisted for centuries. It’s the question of democracy, of “who will have a say.” The Edmonton Citizen Panel, which begins on February 21, 2009, will provide citizens with a stronger voice in municipal decision-making.

    Direct democracy – the rule by all, for all – began with the Greek city-states in about 500 B.C. For the ancient Greeks, it was called demokratia, meaning “power of the people.” By the time of Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), hundreds of cities were governed by the principle of direct democracy. All free Greek men met from time to time in the agora, or civic space, to hear about issues of the day, express their views, and come to a consensus on important decisions. Aristotle described two other forms of governance by way of comparison. Oligarchies featured government by a small group of wealthy, educated citizens, while monarchies gave power to a single head of state. Societies over the millennia have run countless variations on these three forms of governance, but the sparks of conflict continue to fly most often from the flint of democracies.

    Interest in new methods of aspiring to the democratic ideal has increased in tandem with widening access to the Internet. Many feel that if we used the Internet to achieve a new visibility in and around government, we could conceivably allow almost everyone to participate in public decision-making. As the articulate and expressive Cambridge communications scholar John B. Thompson states, the new visibility can be bidirectional, that is, occurring in two directions. Thompson writes that, “since the advent of print, political rulers have found it impossible to control completely the new kind of visibility made possible by the media and to shape it entirely to their liking; now, with the rise of the Internet and other digital technologies, it is more difficult than ever.”

    The great promise of the Internet is that the opposing direction of the new visibility may also appear, with citizens speaking decisively to decision-makers and legislators. Using the text, images, and sounds of organized political events, some citizens could contribute to public policy directly. Others might use technology to observe, respond, and participate indirectly, or in relation only to those decisions in which they had a particular stake. Perhaps only a small number of people would choose to deliberate on ownership of information on the Internet – the feeling of many might be that the issue is not likely to affect them personally. But vast numbers could be part of a public deliberation on a government’s ability to eavesdrop on citizens, considering the question’s implications for everyone.

    British Columbians felt that electoral reform was too far-reaching in importance to leave in the hands of a few. In 2004, the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform in that province began its work, eventually attracting worldwide attention for its innovative method of proposing electoral reform. One hundred and sixty participants were chosen randomly from the voters’ list, to ensure that no large group of citizens was left unrepresented. And Assembly members were assured from the start that their work would not be in vain. The provincial government committed to putting the Assembly’s recommendations on a plebiscite. The Assembly put forward a daring but well-considered proposal for a “single transferable vote” for elections, an innovation comparable to proportional representation. The proposal was narrowly defeated in 2005. A similar initiative followed in Ontario, with a plebiscite held in 2007, also defeated. The B.C. plebiscite will be held again before the end of this year, as required by law, after the public has had more time to digest it. Though not successful at the ballot box, the B.C. Citizens’ Assembly has been described by both activists and intellectuals as a milestone event in which the direct democratic practices of ancient Athens were joined artfully and effectively with modern methods of public policy-development.

    Following the model of the B.C. Citizens’ Assembly, the City of Edmonton has asked its citizens to discuss the largest of political challenges in any municipal government, which is how to spend the annual budget. The Citizen Panel will provide the first-person voices and narratives at key points in the program. The Edmonton Citizen Panel will be made up of 50 residents from all walks of life and representing the diversity of Edmonton’s population of about a million. Panelists will spend six of their Saturdays, from February until April this year, learning about everything from whether to renovate some or all of the 16 public library branches to the effectiveness of the City’s snow removal system. In Canada, no citizen group has ever been given such a broad mandate. The City of Edmonton’s entire $2 billion annual budget is within the Citizen Panel’s purview. The selection of panelists is by randomly generated invitation drawn from the voters’ list, and the link to public policy is clear. City Councilors voted 11 to 1 to consider seriously the Panel’s recommendations. The Edmonton Citizen Panel will showcase a vivid example of civic engagement – and a form of adult education for panelists and those who participate indirectly using technology – between a representative group of citizens and legislators in a public space and visible to all residents.

    -- Marco Adria, University of Alberta

    Related websites:
    Edmonton Citizen Panel:
    http://www.edmonton.ca/citizenpanel
    B.C. Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform:
    http://www.citizensassembly.bc.ca/public
    Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform:
    http://www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca/
    John B. Thompson and the new visibility:
    http://tcs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/22/6/31
    Public deliberation after 9/11:
    http://www.coi.columbia.edu/pdf/polletta_wood_pd.pdf
    John Gastil and public deliberation:
    http://faculty.washington.edu/jgastil/

  2. #2

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    Thanks for the information. I have already signed on as I think it is a great idea!

  3. #3

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    Interesting, I will check out those links.

    Any progress reports with this?

  4. #4

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    What a horribly undemocratic idea - to have 50 unelected people learning about, and then deciding on, the best system options for the rest of us. If change is warranted, why not instead have a researcher who already has the knowledge, draft up 4 or 5 options, then lets have a vote on it at the next muni election?

    My experience (having lived through a system change), is that the problem is not the system, for they all have pros and cons, the problem to the extent there is one, is the politicians and no amount of fiddling of the system will change that.
    Last edited by moahunter; 11-02-2009 at 02:41 PM.

  5. #5

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    I obviously do not agree (since I have become involved). I believe that being as involved as one can in all parts of the process of democracy is an important check and balance aspect of responsible citizenship.

  6. #6

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    ^You don't have to, I am being contrarian. I'm not a big fan of the citizen involvement thing unless we can all participate, which we can't. It is no better than a town-hall meeting - most of the people who volunteer are pushing an agenda which may not be consistent with most Edmontonians views. Councilors are the only ones with a true mandate - if they want us to conisder reform, lets see them put an option up for vote.

  7. #7

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    I know I don’t have to – which is the most fundamental and special part of democracy to me -- agreement is not necessary just free and open opportunities for discussions.

    No one approach works best for everyone so a mix of Citizens Committees, Town Hall Meetings, Public Consultations, voting, referendums and Omnibuses are all important to democracy.

  8. #8

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    Okay, even my usually unshakeable enthusiasm for Edmonton, democracy and the like has taken a serious shake as I just received a message from this Citizens Committee and was advised that they do not need anyone from my ward and/or my demographic.

    Huh?

    I agree with as much cross representation as possible but if there is a stacking or weighting of people in certain demographics or wards then I question the whole “citizen panel democracy” aspect.

  9. #9

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    Ha! Told you! Not so democratic is it, when they don't want us personally because we are too old, or young, or male, or female, or downtownish, or suburban, or... there is not way to accomodate us all in something like this

  10. #10
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    ^ Excluding huge groups of people seems perfectly in keeping with the principles of Greek democracy to me.

  11. #11

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    ^ Too true. I guess I had hoped that the CoE (and the democratic process) had evolved since then but as I said there is no one perfect answer or solution.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    ^ Excluding huge groups of people seems perfectly in keeping with the principles of Greek democracy to me.
    Did they use demographics to pick who should represent them? It's all Greek to me I guess...

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    Me thinks a few people in this thread have a somewhat romantic view of what exactly Greek democracy was. Modern democracy is vastly different, as are the administrations that they govern.

    However, in the case of this citizen panel, it is logical to expect that the City would be wanting a representative makeup. Without any guidelines, a group of suburban soccer moms from the SW would all get together and out maneuver any other group on such a panel.

    I'm rather with moa on this - councillors should do their job and talk to their constituents and use the mandate that they've been given. We elect representatives for a reason. Doing something like a budget debate through true direct democracy in a City such as Edmonton (which is ever so slightly larger than a Greek polis) would be a mess.
    LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

  14. #14

    Default Citizen panel redundant, Caterina says -- Lone dissenting vote on budget experiment

    Citizen panel redundant, Caterina says
    --Lone dissenting vote on budget experiment

    By Gordon Kent, The Edmonton Journal
    February 13, 2009

    A panel comprised of citizens that will advise on the city budget isn't needed and could be setting up participants for disappointment, Coun. Tony Caterina says.

    The 55-member panel first meets Feb. 21 to learn how the city spends money, discuss what they value in a municipality and suggest general spending directions.

    Edmonton is one of the first Canadian cities to follow such a process, with hopes it will improve feedback and possibly raise interest in civic elections from the 26-per-cent voter turnout in 2007.

    Caterina, the only councillor to vote against creating the panel when it was approved last September, said Thursday he and his colleagues were the ones chosen to make the tough budget decisions. "How many members, how many panels, do we need? We might as well just ask the public where to put the money. That's a big part of the councillor's responsibility."
    Link:
    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/...487/story.html

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    If Caterina is against it then it must be a great innovative idea
    “You have to dream big. If we want to be a little city, we dream small. If we want to be a big city, we dream big, and this is a big idea.” - Mayor Stephen Mandel, 02/22/2012

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    Uhh so does this imply he is against a citizens panel on the closure of the muni, since really its redundant. The citizens voted for elected leadership to make the decisions and their trust should lie with them.

    Umm, I like it.

  17. #17

    Post Update: Who's on the panel?

    I wanted to add something to the discussion about membership on the Citizen Panel..

    A press conference introducing the citizen representatives on the Citizen Panel will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, 18 February 2009, in the Atrium at Enterprise Square.

    Here's the recruiting strategy that was used to invite and appointed citizen representatives to the Citizen Panel. Basically, 2/3 of the Panel was appointed by randomly generated names and addresses from the White Pages and the other 1/3 through outreach and direct recruitment - the hybrid approach was intended to ensure that the Panel will be representative of all of Edmonton's communities.

    FROM THE STRATEGY USED:

    "Up to 50 participants will be invited to serve as members the Citizen Panel using random selection within “cells” of up to five members each, with each cell representing a combination of income and age. The age groups are based on the City of Edmonton census from 2005. The family-income levels are based on the Statistics Canada 2001 survey and the Statistics Canada 2008 median income. Also, there will be an effort to ensure that the Panel is representative of Edmonton by striving for the following minimum membership:

    Residents for less than 3 years (22%): at least 10 members
    Women (51%): at least 24 members
    Aboriginal (7%): at least 5 members
    Disabled (5%): at least 2 members
    Visible minority (12%): at least 5 members
    Each of 6 wards: At least 3 members"

    It looks like the actual membership, to be announced after the Citizen Panel begins it work, has largely reached its recruitment strategy targets.

    --marco

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    looks like a lame exercises in political correctness with all those quotas.

    I would like to think that people involved with decision making should have some sort of special attribute that makes the basis for their decisions better than the average joe.

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    I'm disappointed a committee wasn't struck to investigate the potential benefits that could arise from creating a steering committee of involved stake holders to begin the process of investigating potential citizen input into the budget process.
    LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

  20. #20
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    Default Politicians Are the Problem?

    We elect the politicians and threrfore get the government we deserve, especially the 60% who don't engage or show up at election time. Pogo got it right when he said "I have seen the problem and it is us."
    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    What a horribly undemocratic idea - to have 50 unelected people learning about, and then deciding on, the best system options for the rest of us. If change is warranted, why not instead have a researcher who already has the knowledge, draft up 4 or 5 options, then lets have a vote on it at the next muni election?

    My experience (having lived through a system change), is that the problem is not the system, for they all have pros and cons, the problem to the extent there is one, is the politicians and no amount of fiddling of the system will change that.

  21. #21
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    Hi Marco - interesting exercise but what do you mean by ensuring the participants "all Edmonton communities"? Are those geographic, demographic, value clusters, special interests or some other valid concept of community? What are the deliverables from this exercise and how are they bein evaluated? How open, transparent, accountable and accessible will the process be? Will the candidates be made public and will they be communicating about their adventure and journey to the public? If not an open system for individual interactive public communications with the participants about their observations, insights and learnings those chosen citizens risk being a dysfunctional focus group with no feedback mechanism to inform and engage the public so the rest of us can learn and evaluate the value of the process. If the process is only for the benefit of City Council and not for the rest of the citizens, it is ill-conceived in a representative democracy.

    BTW Focus Groups are a very poor approach to evaluate anything.

    IMO deliberative democracy has its greatest value in that it has a sense of a reality television series and we get to see the deliberative activities and we get to know the participants and see how the participants pursue their individual publically stated purposes.
    Last edited by Ken Chapman; 15-02-2009 at 08:58 PM.

  22. #22

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    Good questions Ken.

    I will say from my own foray into trying to volunteer for this panel the only question asked was what Ward I lived in.

    No questions of neighbourhood, age, education level or if I am a visible minority, new resident, disabled, family makeup or income... In other words none of the usual minimum questions for panels. (I assume they deduced my gender from my first name.)

    I know it is impossible to be truly representative and equitable in a selection process but (again from my own experience) this panel did not even show an illusion of attempting to do so.

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    If we were truly an egalitarian society, something which should be assume while we're bantering around the happy fluffiness of true direct democracy, it should just come down to getting views from different Wards, which naturally have varying geographical needs.

    Ah, equality, the dastardly two edged sword.
    LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

  24. #24

    Default Representing Edmonton's communities

    The first roughly 2/3 of the Panel was appointed by random phone calls (White Pages). The last 1/3 was appointed through targeted outreach. We wanted to ensure that age, income, location in Edmonton, and other characteristics (e.g., Aboriginal, disabled) were not left out. Towards the end of the recruitment, we had missed a couple of wards, and that became a qualifying question for the last few panelists.

    A report on the representativeness of the Panel will be released, and the names of those on the Citizen Panel will not be a secret.

    A press conference will be held this Wednesday (18 February 2009), 11 a.m. at Enterprise Square, University of Alberta (10230 Jasper Avenue), to introduce some of the Panelists. Also in attendance will be the two leads from the University and the City, as well as the Moderator, Tammy Fallowfield.

  25. #25

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    Thanks for the information/clarifications.

    I know the moderator, Tammy and am confident that she will ensure a well-run panel.

    I look forward to seeing what ensues from this experiment.

  26. #26

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    Citizen Panel will Advise on City Priorities

    February 18, 2009

    A pilot project bringing together 53 randomly-selected Edmontonians to discuss city spending priorities is underway. The Citizen Panel meets for the first time this Saturday, February 21, and for five Saturdays thereafter.

    "These Edmontonians will learn about, discuss and consider the values and the choices we must make to operate and create the city we want to live in," said Dr. Marco Adria, associate professor of Communications, University of Alberta who is leading the citizen panel process.

    Edmontonians can watch a live webcast of the first and last hour of each of the Citizen Panel sessions at www.edmonton.ca/citizenpanel. They can also weigh in on the issues by joining a Facebook group (search for Edmonton Citizen Panel). An overview of the Facebook postings will be provided to Citizen Panel members at the start of each session.

    "How we spend our money reflects our values. That's true for us individually and collectively. The Citizen Panel brings together people from all walks of life, ages and experience. The objective of the Citizen Panel pilot is to gain informed citizen opinion for Council to seriously consider in the development of the budget," Adria says.

    The Edmonton Citizen Panel is one of a number of ways City decision makers will gather a range of experiences and opinions on how to invest tax dollars. The pilot extends the City's commitment to involving citizens in the decisions that affect them.

    "Having citizens develop a fuller understanding of the City’s Vision and strategic goals and take the time and opportunity to discuss how to best use City resources to realize those goals adds to the richness of community debate on the budget," says Mary Ann Debrinski, Financial Strategy and Budgeting Director, City of Edmonton.

    The Edmonton Citizen Panel is a pilot project between the University of Alberta and the City of Edmonton. City Council has agreed to consider seriously the Citizen Panel recommendations in the 2010-11 budget deliberations.

    -30-
    Citizen Panel Sessions

    The first hour (9 to 10 a.m.) and last hour (3 to 4 p.m.) of each session will be webcast at www.edmonton.ca/citizenpanel



    The Citizen Panel moderator will be available to media at 4 p.m. after each session to discuss the events of the day.
    • February 21, 2009 Session one of Citizen Panel
      - Citizen Panel meets to learn about City strategic goals and how they link to the City Vision
      - Discussion begins about city investment of resources in achieving strategic goals
    • March 7, 2009 Session two of Citizen Panel
      - Citizen Panel reflects on information and discusses three perspectives
    • March 14, 2009 Session three of Citizen Panel
      - Citizen Panel may ask for subject matter experts to address certain issues or perspectives
      - Preparation to meet and consult with City Council to further add to issues understanding
    • March 21, 2009 Session four of Citizen Panel
      - Recommendations drafting begins
    • March 28, 2009 Session five of Citizen Panel
      - Recommendations drafting continues with goal of further consultation with City Council and Edmontonians
    • April 25, 2009 Citizen Panel recommendations finalized
    • June 2009 Final recommendations to City Council
    For more information:

    Dr. Marco Adria
    About the Edmonton Citizen Panel:
    TitleAssociate Professor of CommunicationsTelephone780-492-2254
    Mary Ann Debrinski
    For information about Spokesperson:
    TitleDirector, Financial Strategy and BudgetingTelephone780-496-6867

    Related Links
    Citizen Panel

    CoE NR link:
    http://www.edmonton.ca/city_governme...009/11273.aspx

  27. #27

    Default Edmonton Citizen Panel pilot project launches

    Edmonton Citizen Panel pilot project launches

    By Chelsea Coupal, edmontonjournal.com
    February 18, 2009 2:01 PM

    Members of the Edmonton Citizen Panel, a group of people who will meet periodically to discuss the city budget and make recommendations, were downtown Wednesday morning, sharing their reasons for joining, and their hopes for the group.

    "I'm a concerned citizen", said panelist Ava Zeidler, 53. "I am a daughter of a senior citizen — my mother is 77— she definitely has a stake in this city. And I am a mother of a special needs child (15) who has an even bigger stake in this city."

    Zeidler was one of the nine panelists present at the project's launch at the University of Alberta's Enterprise Square. Altogether, the panel consists of 53 randomly selected Edmontonians of various ages, income, and ethnic backgrounds.

    Read more on the panel in Thursday's Journal.

    Link:
    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Healt...777/story.html

  28. #28

    Default "Who" is on the Edmonton Citizen Panel

    57 panelists appointed – we may have attrition or people who don’t attend[/FONT]
    Age:
    18 to 29 – about 30%
    30 to 49 – about 25%
    50 to 74 – about 30%
    Unknown – about 15%

    Family Income
    <$25k – about 25%
    $25k to $49k – about 20%
    $50k to $79k – about 20%
    >$80k – about 20%
    Unknown – about 15%

    We have three more men than women on the Panel. In addition, we wanted to ensure that aboriginal and First Nations people, disabled people, and visible minorities were not left out of the Citizen Panel, and we have accomplished that goal. We have panelists from all of the City of Edmonton’s six wards.
    Last edited by madria; 20-02-2009 at 02:05 PM.

  29. #29

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    I am a Panelist. The reason I joined the Edmonton Citizen Panel is because I want to express my appreciation to federal and municipal government, and seek help from them.

    It is an honour for me to participate in this panel, representing new Canadian citizens of weak and visible minority people, make recommendations to city government.

    As new immigrants and new Edmontonians, we have received great benefits and help from federal and municipal government, such as ESL funding, student loan, child health benefit, childcare subsidy, free recreation centres, and various kinds of free community activities. We feel we are welcomed and cared, and have enjoyed a good life in Canada. We appreciate the democratic nature of Canadian government.

    But Canadian society is far from perfect. As new immigrants, visible minority people, we often feel being bullied or discriminated, especially when dealing with big private companies. We need government help to protect our weak people, regulate and discipline those against democracy companies and behaviours.

    As a tenant, I feel being bullied by peremptory landlord - Boardwalk Rental Communities. I have rented 6 homes in Canada, 3 from private houses, 3 apartments. I have good relationship with 5 of the 6 landlords, but Boardwalk is an exception.

    I would complain Boardwalk for
    - Committing a breach of oral residential tenancy agreement that would cover power in lease term.
    - Invading tenants' privacy by disclosing tenants' personal information to the third party without notification, even disclosing children's personal information without their parents' notification or consent.
    - Cheating tenants with fraudulent lease, and threaten tenants.

    We were threatened by Boardwalk that they would take legal actions to me and other tenants if we do not pay power bills, so we, I and some other tenants will be happy to see them in court.

    As an employee, I have worked in 7 different companies. I resigned 2 times, was laid off 3 times, and was dismissed 1 time. In 6 of the 7 companies, I have had good relationship with the bosses and coworkers, and was respected and encouraged to express myself freely, in addition, I am supported by my current employer-Katch Kan to become a P.Eng.

    But my last dismissal from Pro-Western Plastics in St. Albert was a nightmare. The workplace in Pro-Western Plastics was full of harassment. I was cursed by a white co-worker as "stupid, ******" in one morning. In that afternoon I happened to see an operational manager, who is a white guy, usually very nice to everyone, and reported to him. The next day, I was dismissed before the vice president with 2-week notice pay.

    Pro-Western Plastics owners, managers did not attempt to solve workplace harassment. What they did was firing the person who cannot tolerate it. They told other people "Henry does not fit with the company" after I worked there for 20 months. I consulted a lawyer after being dismissed. The lawyer said to me frankly that if you sue former employer for wrongful dismissal, you might get several thousand dollars for compensation. But it may not be worth. The lawsuit procedure would be long and hard, and no company would hire you if it knows you have sued former employer. It was a terrible situation that I had to hold on.

    As the economy is in recession, I already heard more and more people had been laid off or dismissed in Edmonton, and some were treated unfairly.

    In a naturally democratic country Canada, I would ask our city government, take efficient and effective actions to regulate and discipline those evil landlords and anti-democracy employers.
    Last edited by henry; 22-02-2009 at 04:38 AM.

  30. #30

    Default Citizen's panel meets for first time

    Citizen's panel meets for first time

    11:25am
    630 CHED
    2/23/2009

    A group of about 50 Edmontonians met Saturday to talk about how the city should spend our tax dollars.

    A special Citizen's Panel convened for the first of what will be six sessions, to discuss everything from transportation to how citizens can best connect with government on a variety of topics.

    The group is led by a city and U-of-A facilitator. Doctor Marco Adria says, besides government accountability, the panel will focus on two other areas.

    "The whole area of mobility, LRT expansion, and the ways that we can become more efficient as a city," says Adria, "and, the third one was all about life-style -- all about the quality of life that we value in Edmonton. And, that was about making quality of life something that all citizens of Edmonton can participate in."

    Recommendations coming from the panel will be put forward to city council.
    Link:
    http://www.630ched.com/Channels/Reg/...spx?id=1065552

  31. #31

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by henry View Post
    In a naturally democratic country Canada, I would ask our city government, take efficient and effective actions to regulate and discipline those evil landlords and anti-democracy employers.
    Henry,

    Regarding tenancy issues: http://www.edmonton.ca/for_residents...dvisory-b.aspx

    Employment is a multi-government matter involving the provincial and federal government not the municipal government.

    There are avenues for recourse depending on the employment issue:

    Alberta Labour Standards: http://employment.alberta.ca/cps/rde...s.xsl/996.html
    Alberta Human Rights Commission: http://www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca/
    Employment Insurance: http://www1.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/...u/eihome.shtml

  32. #32

    Default DebraW, Thank you very much

    What I hope is the media can bring these issues to public, so that such problems maybe be reduced in the future, if can not vanish.

    Quote Originally Posted by DebraW View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by henry View Post
    In a naturally democratic country Canada, I would ask our city government, take efficient and effective actions to regulate and discipline those evil landlords and anti-democracy employers.
    Henry,

    Regarding tenancy issues: http://www.edmonton.ca/for_residents...dvisory-b.aspx

    Employment is a multi-government matter involving the provincial and federal government not the municipal government.

    There are avenues for recourse depending on the employment issue:

    Alberta Labour Standards: http://employment.alberta.ca/cps/rde...s.xsl/996.html
    Alberta Human Rights Commission: http://www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca/
    Employment Insurance: http://www1.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/...u/eihome.shtml
    Last edited by henry; 24-02-2009 at 01:34 PM.

  33. #33

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    Henry,

    I agree with you totally.

    Thank you for bringing your voice to both the panel and C2E as both efforts are appreciated.

  34. #34

    Default Thank you, DebraW

    From my experience in the first day, I feel Tammy is really very good.
    My citizen panel experience is rewarding.


    [
    quote=DebraW;168757]Thanks for the information/clarifications.

    I know the moderator, Tammy and am confident that she will ensure a well-run panel.

    I look forward to seeing what ensues from this experiment.[/quote]
    Last edited by henry; 24-02-2009 at 01:59 PM.

  35. #35

    Default Communism is also an experiment in democracy

    In the 2nd panel session, some panelist metioned Communism and China, and critized it like an anti-democracy evil, especially that guy came from China. I felt hurt and angry. I would say Communism is also an experiment in democracy.

    I lived in China Communism society more than 20 years. Until 1980s, Chinese people lived in free house, almost free water/electricity, free education, free health care. My mom told me, when I was born, the hospital was free, and the government gave her free food and some money to encourage and say congratuations. This is why my parents have 6 children, and China has a huge population of 1.3 billition now. The one-child policy was introduced when the governmrnt realized the big mistake.

    I completed my elemantary school to high school without pay any tuition. The government also cover tuition and free dormitary living for college students. Some of the college school students can get salary when studying, such as in normal schools, military institutes. In graduation school, all students received free tuition, free living and some fellowship for living.I graduated with master's degree in 1993, and until then all educations were free.

    After graduation from university, students were usually assigned a job based on the country's need. The job has very high security. Usually, the boss has no right to fire a worker if he does not make a huge mistake or commit a crime. In the company, workers can critize managers freely. Some kind of democracy still exist.

    It sounds like a dream to western people, and also a dream to present Chinese people. I would say Communism is a good dream, not an eveil or anti-democracy. It has a perfect goal that is not practical. It is a huge and complex issue, and it is not suitable to talk in Edmonton citizens panel, because it has no relation with Edmonton.
    Last edited by henry; 08-03-2009 at 10:17 AM.

  36. #36

    Default

    /\ Thank you henry. I found your post very interesting.
    We are all the same, just different...

  37. #37
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    Thanks for the post. I appreciate hearing about Edmonton from your perspective.

    I'm also interested in hearing more about your experiences under Communism during your time in China. Your "Communism as an experiment in Democracy" is an interesting take on an interesting subject.

    Regarding your experiences with the two companies, I'd offer a couple of suggestions. First, if you are at all considering taking legal recourse, talk to a lawyer, and take their advice.

    Next, don't talk about it in public, especially not in context with "the Panel", and especially not when talking to the media about "the Panel", and don't post it online, unless your lawyer tells you it's ok to do any of it (and they probably won't). When talking to media, or even posting, words can sometimes come out wrong. Especially when you're hurt and angry.

    When it's going nuclear (to court), you don't want it to come back to haunt you.

    Suing isn't considered a good option, but it's an option. It's not fun, and even if you win, you can still lose. Most good companies won't care if you sued a former employer, if you had "just cause" (a good reason). It doesn't necessarily mean the person is litigious (likely to settle inevitable disagreements with a lawsuit).

    It can also mean this is someone who expects to be treated fairly, and companies that have a problem with that may be one's you don't want to work for anyway.

    If you feel some company or organization you worked for has terminated you unfairly, the first place to go (maybe after your lawyer) is Alberta Employment and Immigration, Employment Standards. (immediately after, get a copy of your ROE, and file for EI. If you don't qualify for EI, then go to social services). If, somehow, your case was taken on by Labour Standards, and you won a settlement, it takes some time, and you probably still won't see any dough for awhile.

    Remember, if you go on EI, and subsequently reach a settlement, it may require that you pay back some or all benefits received. At least you'll have the money when you need it most.

    We do a pretty good job of looking after our citizens here too, though there's always lots of room for improvement, and despite much news to the contrary. Sometimes people make mistakes, or the system doesn't work, and it can be tragic.

    Our media, given the opportunity to say pretty much whatever they want, about whatever and whomever they want, will immediately blame it on the Government, aided by the Opposition. It becomes big, bad news.

    Contrast that with day to day operations, and you'll find a lot of good things, meaningful things, that happen everyday, thanks to our social networks.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 08-03-2009 at 09:53 PM.
    aka Jim Good; "The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up." - Steven Wright

  38. #38

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by henry View Post
    In the 2nd panel session, some panelist mentioned Communism and China, and criticized it like an anti-democracy evil, especially that guy came from China. I felt hurt and angry. I would say Communism is also an experiment in democracy.
    I am a little familiar with the Chinese system (through former relationships), and also the cuban one (through a visit, which is similar with the jobs being "assigned" based on exams and similar). I agree with you that the goal of these systems is often noble (albeit a bit "motherly" for my taste), but sadly, the ultimate result has been corrupted perhaps as a result of the impracticalities (in both Cuba and China's case, human rights abuses).

    I said at the outset this panel is a bad idea, and I still think so. Peoples political views are formed both by who influenced them but also their own experiences / opinions, we all have our biases. Nobody on this panel has been elected - no-one has a mandate. No amount of re-education is going to result in them recommending the "perfect" change, for there is no perfect change. If Council wants to change the system, let them put that forward, Councilors are the ones with a mandate. If I don't like what they do or suggest, I will vote for someone else next time.
    Last edited by moahunter; 08-03-2009 at 10:49 PM.

  39. #39

    Default Go back to city budget

    I guess I might have talked too far away from the main idea of the approaches discussed in the citizen panel. “The objective of the Citizen Panel pilot is to gain informed citizen opinion for Council to seriously consider in the development of the budget," Adria says.

    We all got a piece of paper listing about the areas of duties of the city government , and the city officers brought city budget document, 2 heavy books, to the citizen panel.

    I wonder how many people can read through the 2 heavy books in such a short time. Even I can read through it, as a non-expert, I do not believe I can understand it.

    I may ask Dr. Adria helping to send below questions to city budget officer:

    1) Whether she can give a brief description of city budget, such as total budget number, how many projects, how many percent for each project.

    2) How city government developed budget in previous years. What changes were made in this recent one, why?

    3) What rules are applied to the priority decision of city projects.

    4) If the cost will over budget, what projects will be cancelled or held?


    We know Vancouver Olympics cost is more than 5 times the budget planned before. If such situation happened in Edmonton, how city council will change city financial plan.

    In conclusion, we need a good understanding of city budget before we can discuss and consider the values and the choices made in city budget, which is to operate and create the city we want to live in.
    Last edited by henry; 10-03-2009 at 07:10 AM.

  40. #40
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    Sounds like you're asking some of the right questions. I appreciate you're keeping us informed. Thanks for posting this info.
    aka Jim Good; "The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up." - Steven Wright

  41. #41

    Default

    A young lady suggested that each panelist donate part of $500 compensation that will be given to each panelist for their working for 6 weekends to homeless people. I raised hand to support her in the session, but after a while, I think she is wrong.

    I happened to sit with a senior gentle man, I saw he can not control finger shaking. I guess he is over 70 years old, and suffer from old-age illness. I feel sad, and see the future of me in the mirror.

    These senior people live solely on retire pension, on fixed incomes, and almost have no extra income. They are usually low income, and are worrying about gas bills after the rebate is cancelled.

    I also see other senior people in the panel. I believe they are usually poorer than the lady announcing the donation.

    If the lady want to show her generous heart and warm spirit, I would like to suggest her donate to these senior people, instead of pushing them to donate. What she did is not wise.
    Last edited by henry; 24-03-2009 at 02:40 PM.

  42. #42

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    Henry,

    You are a very wise man. Your comment that the young woman donate the money received if she sees fit and if she can afford it without influencing others on the panel to do the same is a great compromise. I think her heart was in the right place (to be generous) but to make others on the panel feel that they too must donate is not fair to those who cannot afford it or need the reimbursement.

    I hope you have been enjoying your time on the panel and thanks for keeping us up to date!

    Regards,

  43. #43

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DebraW View Post
    Henry,

    You are a very wise man. Your comment that the young woman donate the money received if she sees fit and if she can afford it without influencing others on the panel to do the same is a great compromise. I think her heart was in the right place (to be generous) but to make others on the panel feel that they too must donate is not fair to those who cannot afford it or need the reimbursement.

    I hope you have been enjoying your time on the panel and thanks for keeping us up to date!

    Regards,
    Yes, some other people felt embrassing, especially senior people and sudents.

    If you see the webcast, you will find many senior people. I did not count, but guess more than 20%. Some other are young students. A student told me she paid $60,000 for tuition.

    Be generous and warm-hearted is good, but do not need to make other people feel embrassing.
    Last edited by henry; 24-03-2009 at 05:16 PM.

  44. #44

    Default

    How 'bout we get back on topic? It is not much fun reading the last few posts on a different topic (even mine), but the original topic is interesting.

    So, after the City has spent lots of time and effort "teaching" these regular and "representative" Joe and Jane Blogs how government works, and tried to steer them towards some sort of "consensus" on one issue or another, what exactly are they hoping to gain? What's a bet these sheep end up concluding exactly what the people doing the "steering" want them to conclude?
    Last edited by moahunter; 14-04-2009 at 10:20 AM.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    How 'bout we get back on topic? It is not much fun reading the last few posts on a different topic (even mine), but the original topic is interesting.

    So, after the City has spent lots of time and effort "teaching" these regular and "representative" Joe and Jane Blogs how government works, and tried to steer them towards some sort of "consensus" on one issue or another, what exactly are they hoping to gain? What's a bet these sheep end up concluding exactly what the people doing the "steering" want them to conclude?
    as one of the panel members i think it's both safe - and fair - to let you know that none of the 50 plus members considered ourselves to be sheep (even those that have been known to support conservative politics ).

    many of the members "arrived" with their own pre-conceptions of what was "most important" and what wasn't but despite that there were many shared values even at the beginning of the process in regard to those things that are of real value to edmonton and its citizens.

    i have not seen the report being presented to council tomorrow - and will not be able to attend due to previous commitments elsewhere - but hope that what is put forward recognizes that at the end of the process there was more concensus than at the beginning along with a much greater appreciation of how difficult prioritization and making choices can be.

    there was much learning that occured within a framework of trust and respect that dominated almost all of the discussions and sessions but that come from the panel members themselves and some of the outside presenters, not the moderators and facilitators who worked very hard to remain moderators and facilitators, not shepherds.

    the process was set up and conducted by the university of alberta, not the city of edmonton, and the final report will be drafted by the university, not the city and not any of the individual panel members. the task may be somewhat daunting and i know no more than you at this point how well it will be completed or received but it would seem i have higher hopes than you do.

    on the other hand, wasn't it mick jagger who sang "we all need someone to bleat on..."
    "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee

  46. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by kcantor View Post
    as one of the panel members i think it's both safe - and fair - to let you know that none of the 50 plus members considered ourselves to be sheep (even those that have been known to support conservative politics
    I guess I should reserve judgment until I see the results (not that my judgement really matters) While we may disagree on many things, seeing you are on the panel does make me think that maybe something very worthwhile could come from it.

  47. #47
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    So here we are, two years on. Is the ECP still in existence? Has it played out as hoped? What's the general view of performance so far? The web page http://www.edmonton.ca/for_residents...zen-panel.aspx
    seems only to cover 2010-11. So what's happening now?

    Even on their Facebook wall http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gi...6948884&v=wall
    the latest comment was added last January about snow removal.

    An update would be nice.
    Nisi Dominus Frustra

  48. #48

    Default yamyam446

    Last edited by yamyam446; 15-08-2011 at 11:21 AM.

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