Side conversations during Council meetings are OK…if it’s on your smartphone
Apparently it’s permissible for the Mayor and members of City Council to noodle around on their cell phones during Council meetings. We know because we asked.
Recently certain elected CNV officials (names withheld to protect the guilty) have been observed during the weekly Council meeting fiddling with their phones, apparently reading and sending tweets and texts and posting on Facebook. This, even during presentations by citizens who have every right to expect councilors will be paying attention to their concerns. One even spent about half an hour during a recent Public Hearing engaged in an extended conversation on Facebook.
Since private conversations among councilors during Council meetings are against the rules, we thought this behavior might be in violation of the Community Charter. We asked CNV Chief Administration Officer Ken Tollstam if there was any rule or policy against it. Here is his reply:
Re: Use of Cell Phones in Council
We have reviewed your complaint concerning elected officials tweeting during
Council meetings. When we did some research into this matter, we found that
both the House of Commons and the BC Legislature allows tweeting when
the government is in session. When we also canvassed many Metro Vancouver
municipalities regarding tweeting during Council meetings, we were advised
that they permit it.
So, no rule against it. We recognize it’s the age of multi-tasking. But we still think it’s unprofessional behaviour, bordering on rude. What do you think?