Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie has decided to speak to a “broader audience” and give his annual address (likened to a state of the union) at a Richmond Chamber of Commerce luncheon Â this Tuesday, Jan.21 instead of Richmond City Hall.
The move is a result of very low attendance in the past.
So what, you ask?
Well, it will cost taxpayers $38 each, plus tax, to attend the luncheon, in which the honourable Mayor Brodie will discuss city council achievements, its goals and what lies ahead for the city in an election year for the municipality.
In other words, he’s asking you to pay to listen to him talk about how he and city council will spend your tax dollars. All this in the name of ‘informing the public.’
According to the city’s website:
“Traditionally, the Mayorâ€™s Annual Address has been delivered during the first Council Meeting of December at Richmond City Hall. But in keeping with Councilâ€™s Term Goal for A Well Informed Public, this yearâ€™s address is being delivered to a broader audience in a public setting.”
However, the full address will be broadcasted on the city’s website for those who can’t afford to attend (this info was not included in the initial press release; see below).
Brodie assumed the mayor’s office in 2001. He has swept elections in 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2011, largely uncontested. Prior to being mayor he was a city councillor.
And, as stated, for over a decade the mayor had been providing his ‘state of the city’ address in a free, open, convenient and welcoming environment – City Hall.
Now it will be held at a ritzy private hotel – the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel.
To boot, a citizen of Richmond has to pre-register to attend. You can’t just walk in to the annual address even if you wanted to pay.
The city’s choice to move it to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce is also very telling. Some people I spoke to wonder why he/the city chose a business atmosphere and not a school or a charitable organization is anyone’s guess. After all, the Chamber of Commerce represents business interests.
I guess it is an election year.
According to city spokesperson Ted Townsend:
“We approached the Chamber as their membership represents a broad cross-section Â of the community.”
Townsend said the charges are to offset the cost of the lunch and event costs.
Mayor Brodie and Coun. Linda Barnes were nice enough to offer their opinion on the matter on Friday.
Both told me that previous addresses had low attendance.This is understandable.
I asked why the city didn’t choose a soap box at a park (maybe a $10 burger and a pop event on the Steveston boardwalk? Or bring in some food trucks to the Minoru Park stands). Barnes couldn’t say why the address was chosen to be the Chamber one way or another as opposed to another venue that would speak to a broad cross-section.
Brodie told me that an option to hold it outside in the cold would garner just as little an audience as it has in the past.
The mayor’s address is a very important part of the city’s supposed democratic structure. Not everyone has time to follow municipal events and decisions on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. The annual address summarizes council’s goals, where it stands and what it plans to do in the coming year. It serves as a roundup and refresher for the voting public, even if it is just the city’s version of events.
To exclude poor people and relegate them to watching it on a computer screen should not cut it.Â The option to listen to one’s mayor should aways come as a face-to-face opportunity. Why not give two addresses?
Why not give it at City Hall and broadcast it on a screen at the Chamber of Commerce? Clearly there is some merit in face-to-face interaction.
Last Monday I attended the public city council meeting wherein Brodie announced he would make his address at City Hall. Likely through no fault of his own he never mentioned it would cost $40. Furthermore it was buried in a press release the following day.
At that meeting there was a Chinese-Canadian mother with two small children. They were the only members of the public to attend. I had seen them attend a few other meetings the week prior. She was there to understand how her city works. If she were to bring her family to the mayor’s annual address it would cost roughly $120.
It sure doesn’t seem like this plan is welcoming a “broader audience.”
Mayor Brodie to Deliver Annual Address in New Setting
13 January 2014
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie will deliver his Annual Address at a special Richmond Chamber of Commerce luncheon event on Tuesday, January 21, 2014. Titled Richmond : Building Our Future, the Mayorâ€™s Annual Address will review the Cityâ€™s accomplishments in fulfilling Councilâ€™s Term Goals since the last civic election and outline remaining progress expected for 2014 , the final year of the current Council term.
â€œThe over-arching theme of our Council Term Goals is about building our future by continuing to lay the foundation for Richmond to be a sustainable city with a high quality of life for all residents,â€ said Mayor Brodie.Â â€œCouncilâ€™s Term Goals provide benchmarks by which we and our constituents can measure our progress. During the past two years weâ€™ve made some extraordinary progress towards our goals and this Annual Address provides an opportunity for us to report on our achievements.â€
A list of Councilâ€™s 2012 to 2014 Term Goals can be found at:
Traditionally, the Mayorâ€™s Annual Address has been delivered during the first Council Meeting of December at Richmond City Hall. But in keeping with Councilâ€™s Term Goal for A Well Informed Public, this yearâ€™s address is being delivered to a broader audience in a public setting.
The Annual Address will be delivered at the Richmond Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday, January 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel, 7551 Westminster Highway. Tickets are $38 plus GST. Advance registration is required, tickets will not available at the door. Tickets are available through the Richmond Chamber offices at 604-278-2822.