Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
And, boy, did Coun. Brian Skakun get it from his fellow councillors Monday night.
All Skakun wanted was a seconder to his motion for the release of more financial details on the city's business with seven local suppliers.
(In the interests of full disclosure, The Citizen, along with most of our media counterparts, is a supplier to the city, by providing advertising space to the city. Some of that advertising the city is legally required to do under the Municipal Act as part of public notification for bylaw and rezoning changes and some of that advertising is discretionary, to promote various city activities [special events at the swimming pools, for example], to encourage public input on planning decisions or to let residents know where they should call to ask about snow clearance or garbage pickup. In other words, advertising is a key way the City of Prince George is transparent - it doesn't just rely on reporters or anyone else to tell the city's story, it buys advertising space to speak directly to local residents).
So Mayor Shari Green gave Skakun what he wanted - she seconded his motion personally.
And what followed was a humiliating 90-minute public undressing of Skakun, with each of the councillors taking their turn, some harshly, the rest gently but firmly, putting Skakun in his place.
The prudent thing for mayor and council to do would have been to speak to Skakun privately, and tell him he did not have a seconder to his motion and explain why. Skakun could have chosen to withdraw his motion to spare himself the embarrassment or he could have chosen to still proceed. Silence would have greeted his motion, and council would have moved on to more pressing business on its public agenda (the Valleyview issue, a core services review suggestion about reducing the size of council, the crime task force, etc.).
Instead, council gave Skakun the transparency he so desperately seeks.
Then they wasted 90 minutes of their time, the time of the seniors managers in attendance and the public watching in the gallery and online to tell Skakun why his motion was a waste of time.
Coun. Cameron Stolz pointed out that Skakun sat on the governance review committee and "had the opportunity over 20 months to review every aspect of how the finances of the City of Prince George are handled... to have input on how those invoices were to be brought forward, which invoices would be approved by council and which would be approved by staff at different levels."
Stolz went out of his way to inform Skakun's supporters and anyone else demanding more fiscal transparency at city hall that all of this work has already happened, with Skakun at the table no less, to put bylaws in place regarding purchasing power by city staff, so there's no reason why it should now further distract council from other pressing business on its agenda (the aforementioned Valleyview issues, council size, crime task force, etc.).
Coun. Dave Wilbur went even further, accusing Skakun of "throwing this administration under the bus" with his "wasteful" request.
Coun. Albert Koehler and Lyn Hall said pretty much the same thing, in a kinder way, with the remaining councillors following suit.
On the one hand, it was deplorable of the mayor and council to waste so much of their meeting time on a motion they had no intention of supporting for the sole purpose of hammering that motion and the councillor who brought it forward into the ground.
On the other hand, it was exactly what Skakun wanted and exactly what he and his motion deserved.