Almost exactly three months from today, the municipal election campaign will be in full swing. While summer will likely be a quiet period for politics in our city, May saw several dramatic events that will impact the October 20 vote.
In early May, a scathing KPMG audit of the City’s 2017 finances found “serious deficiencies”, “questionable activities”, and “retaliation” against City staff who complained to Council of the financial wrongdoing of City Chief Administrative Officer Tracy Samra and City Chief Financial Officer Victor Mema. The whole report can be read beginning at page 50 of this Finance and Audit Committee Agenda.
On May 14, Victor Mema was finally fired with cause by Council, many months after other city employees complained about his fraudulent use of a corporate credit card. Just days later – in what appears to have been a desperate and vain attempt to shift blame from suspended Tracy Samra wholly onto Mema’s back – Councillor Gord Fuller’s brother Robert openly leaked a confidential KPMG forensic audit (a different audit than the one cited in the previous paragraph).
Finally, over four months after being arrested and going on “leave”, the City announced that Samra is “no longer employed”. The Bestwick-led Council majority had previously voted to delay her firing, and her court date has now been delayed four times. Nanaimo taxpayers deserve to know what it cost the City to resolve this disastrous employment situation, beyond the $60,000 in pay she collected since her arrest on January 31.
Luckily, the embarrassing and expensive drama emanating from City Hall is offset by the hard work of Nanaimoites to rescue this sinking ship on October 20. The Speakers’ Series on Civic Leadership, which was organized by OurNanaimo, the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, and Leadership Vancouver Island, was a great success. Hopefully, some of the best and brightest among the 45 attendees will be on the ballot in the fall. The turnout and level of discourse at the series augurs well for the future.
But to pick out the diamonds from the coal in October, we need tools. Visit the OurNanaimo website to access Tools for Voters and Essential Reference Material for Candidates. These resources can help guide voters on what is important to look for and questions to ask candidates during the campaign. A detailed self-assessment tool for candidates is now also available. All potential candidates are encouraged to undertake this exercise. It is also a useful tool for voters to use in assessing and asking questions of candidates.
And don’t forget our buttons! You can order them here and here, where they are sold for a modest fee that will contribute to more initiatives to raise awareness about voting as the election approaches. Many of our supporters are now sporting them. We also have OurNanaimo business cards, free if you contact us.
Special Note: OurNanaimo is beginning to compile a list of volunteers for the election period in September and October. Let us know if you’re interested in helping out.
Have a great June. Don’t miss the Commercial Street Night Market that begins Thursday, June 21, and runs for 11 weeks all summer. We live in an amazing city, so we hope you can get out and enjoy everything it has to offer.