Neither the public nor media has had access to District of Vanderhoof ‘open’ council meetings since B.C. first declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 in March.
During this time, the district discussed and passed bylaws involving Vanderhoof’s five-year financial plan, tax rates, record management and others, without providing a platform for the public to see or hear the discussions that led to their decisions.
Under normal circumstances, the provincial community charter stipulates that council cannot vote on bylaws in a closed meeting. There are a number of exceptions, including discussions pertaining to contracts, personnel matters and others.
An inability to observe social distancing in council chambers with public attendance has been offered as the reason for the closed meetings.
The municipal office did not provide teleconferencing or online platforms where their meetings could be under public scrutiny, as other local councils in this and other regions around B.C. have done over recent months.
Mayor Gerry Thiessen and town CAO Lori Egli cited Ministerial Order M083 issued by the ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on March 26, as the reason for not providing public access to council meetings. That order stated that even though councils could disallow public attendance at open meetings under the pandemic circumstances, those meetings would not be considered ‘closed.’
However, the ministerial order referenced by Thiessen and Egli was actually rescinded and replaced by a new order on May 1, along with a news release which said that public input is an essential part of decision-making.
“As public input is an essential part of land-use decision-making, even for those decisions that do not require a public hearing, local governments are still expected to find ways to encourage public participation,” stated the release.
Communities across B.C., including Fort St. James, Fraser Lake, Burns Lake and Prince George made their public meetings accessible online during the virus pandemic, either via video conferencing or dial-in.
The Express contacted neighbouring municipalities to establish how much it cost them to move their meetings online. Officials said setting up their meetings online was cost-free, as municipal councillors already have access to iPads or other technology on which free video-conferencing software can be installed.
Members of the public are then given an access code to observe virtual meetings of council.
The City of Prince George has streamed webcasts for the past 12 years, so when the pandemic hit it had little impact on council meeting access, as the public could go online to observe live discussions of mayor and council.
Responding to Express questions in an emailed statement on June 9, Mayor Thiessen said, “We are trying to accommodate, but we have so many projects on the go that have a very tight time frame. We know that we will need to find other options but that may take a few weeks.”
Thiessen did not respond when asked what those options were and why it would take a few more weeks to provide public or media access to open council meetings.
On June 12, Marielle Tounsi, public affairs officer for the ministry of municipal affairs and housing said, the May ministerial order replacing the earlier directive was written to allow local governments to hold council and board meetings using electronic methods.
“Local governments continue to be required to follow procedural and transparency rules and are encouraged to provide online streaming of council and council committee meetings that include opportunities for “real-time” question and answers to encourage communication and support public engagement,” she said.
Eagles’ DeSean Jackson apologizes after sharing anti-Semitic posts on social media
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has apologized after backlash for sharing anti-Semitic posts on social media over the weekend.
Jackson initially posted a screenshot of a quote widely attributed to Adolf Hitler, saying in part: “Jews will blackmail America.” In another post, Jackson showed support for Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who is known for anti-Semitic rhetoric.
“My post was definitely not intended for anybody of any race to feel any type of way, especially the Jewish community,” Jackson said in a video he posted on Instagram on Tuesday. “I post things on my story all the time, and just probably never should have posted anything Hitler did, because Hitler was a bad person, and I know that.”
The team issued the following statement: “We have spoken with DeSean Jackson about his social media posts. Regardless of his intentions, the messages he shared were offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling. They have no place in our society, and are not condoned or supported in any way by the organization. We are disappointed and we reiterated to DeSean the importance of not only apologizing but also using his platform to take action to promote unity, equality, and respect. We are continuing to evaluate the circumstances and are committed to continuing to have productive and meaningful conversations with DeSean, as well as all of our players and staff, in order to educate, learn, and grow.”
The NFL also issued a statement, saying: “DeSean’s comments were highly inappropriate, offensive and divisive and stand in stark contrast to the NFL’s values of respect, equality and inclusion. We have been in contact with the team which is addressing the matter with DeSean.”
Eagles WR DeSean Jackson has issued an apology after posting images of anti-Semitic messages on social media Monday.<br><br>(via <a href=”https://twitter.com/DeSeanJackson10?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@DeSeanJackson10</a>) <a href=”https://t.co/IODks0ANir”>pic.twitter.com/IODks0ANir</a>
Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, is in his second stint in Philadelphia, returning last season to the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2008 draft.
Former Eagles president Joe Banner criticized Jackson on Twitter. Banner wrote: “If a white player said anything about [African-Americans] as outrageous as what Desean Jackson said about Jews tonight there would at least be a serious conversation about cutting him and a need for a team meeting to discuss. Which would be totally appropriate. Absolutely indefensible.”
Banner, who also worked for Cleveland and Atlanta, later shared an anti-Palestinian tweet with the hashtag “#Palestinianprivilege getting away with murder.”
Source: – CBC.ca
EU executive expresses concern over Hungary's media freedom – The Telegram
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – A senior European Commission official has expressed concern for the independence of Index.hu, one of Hungary’s last major independent news websites and a leading critic of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.
“What you are doing, the values you are fighting for, media freedom and pluralism, are essential for democracy,” Vera Jourova, the commission’s Vice President for Values and Transparency, said in a message to Index published on its web site. “You can count on my support.”
Editor-in-chief Szabolcs Dull said last month that Index was at risk of losing its independence because of “external influence”.
He said Index wanted to remain free of government influence and undue pressure from businessmen and advisers with government ties.
Orban has extended his influence over many walks of life in Hungary during his decade-long rule.
Pro-government businessman Miklos Vaszily bought a major stake in a company with control of Index’s revenue stream in March, raising fears of interference with the web site to favour Orban.
Vaszily, who has not returned Reuters requests for comment, has denied he wants to muzzle Index, saying economic problems need to be fixed. But staff are on alert as Vaszily had previously turned their competitor, Origo.hu, into a government mouthpiece.
Jourova said Index’s business situation should not be used as a pretext to undermine its freedom.
“While readership and audiences have been record high, revenues have been heavily hit. Economic pressure should not turn into political pressure…I would like to express my solidarity with the staff of Index.”
Media freedom was a key issue when the EU warned Hungary in April to respect the bloc’s values as it fought against the coronavirus pandemic.
(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
Restaurateur pours her heart out on social media about disrespectful customers – Montreal Gazette
Article content continued
“I know a lot of those people and it was nice to hear,” she said.
One patron wrote: “The food was delicious and the terrace was perfect for social distancing!! Shame on those idiots!”
Another: “Don’t let those idiot customers get you down. It happens. We can’t all be nice. I’m looking forward to coming back and enjoying more amazing food.”
Polansky said she apologized to diners seated closest to the disruptive patrons. Usually, her restaurant is “quiet and nice and relaxing and fun,” she told them.
Even after nearly three decades, Polansky still works the floor and is full of ideas for everything from new cocktails to pink masks for the staff.
“I still have passion after all these years,” she said. “I still have that drive. This is not going to get me down.”
On Tuesday afternoon, as she prepared to open at 4 p.m., Polansky was philosophical.
“Other nights aren’t like Sunday,” she said. “I was discouraged on Sunday. Today is a new day.”
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