A third former Surrey mayor is weighing in on embattled Mayor Doug McCallum’s handling of the Dec. 16 budget approval meeting at city hall, which saw 32 budget bylaws voted on in just under three minutes.
Bob Bose, Surrey’s mayor from 1988 to 1996, told the Now-Leader that in his years both in and out of public office, he can recall “no other example as outrageous as that which transpired Monday night.
“Proceedings must be conducted in a respectful, clear, and deliberative manner. That was not what occurred,” Bose said. “I’m alarmed at the conduct of Surrey council, includes all members during the course of Monday night’s council meeting. It’s as though the mayor doesn’t even lift his head up from the table to see who’s voting what way and in fact, the members of council who are opposed aren’t even gesturing their opposition. I don’t it, what I’m seeing. This is just totally unacceptable behavior.”
McCallum did not reply to requests for comment.
Dianne Watts, who served as Surrey’s mayor from 2005 to 2014, has called that meeting “disgraceful” and an “absolute affront on the democratic process.”
Linda Hepner, who served as Surrey’s mayor from 2014 to 2018, also told the Now-Leader that in her more than three decades at City Hall as a staffer, councillor and then mayor, she had never saw anything like what transpired that Monday night.
Bose said “no one comes out of this without blame.”
He noted that Councillor Steven Pettigrew tried to speak “but was ignored by McCallum,” even though Councillors Laurie Guerra and Allison Patton were afforded opportunities to read prepared statements before the budget bylaws were introduced.
“The conduct of the meeting is deeply concerning – the meeting descended into chaos. And we are talking about a $1.3 billion budget.”
Bose said he used a stopwatch to keep track of the meeting and maintains there is “absolutely no way” the city clerk could have an accurate account of the vote on the budget bylaws, given McCallum’s performance in the chair.
“The entire time to introduce the 32 budget bylaw, move, second, vote and declare the motions passed or failed was 174 seconds, or 5.43 seconds per bylaw and that included the time at the beginning when Pettigrew attempted to speak to the issue and was abruptly cut off, then ignored by the mayor,” Bose said. “The lap times per bylaw in most cases was just over three seconds and in one case, 2.61 seconds.”
City Clerk Jennifer Ficocelli did not reply to requests for comment.
Bose denounced McCallum’s conduct in the chair as “shameful.
“In most cases, it was mass confusion, and members of council opposed to the bylaws simply stopped registering their votes,” Bose said. “The only way to correct this mess is to amend the minutes declaring the vote on the budget invalid, and final readings on the bylaws be once again introduced and disposed of in an orderly manner.
“Members of council failed to cause the proceedings to be conducted properly,” Bose charged.