Hang on a minute…

Taking things for granted is something newspapers shouldn’t do, but of course it happens. We got called on recently for an item in our town council notebook. It had to do with a councillor’s assertion that ‘council only has one employee’ (the CAO). Otherwise, it’s ‘hands off.’

This is nonsense, says the person who called us about it. That system has a name, he says – the Carver Model of Governance – and although it’s encouraged by Alberta Municipal Affairs, it’s not a legislated requirement. You won’t find it in the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and you won’t find it in most municipalities’ procedures.

Is this correct? Not at all, says a former CAO of the Town of Slave Lake. It’s right there in the MGA, Sect. 201 (2), he says.

Regardless, separating council from day-to-day operations is probably practiced for good reasons. It’s not hard to picture things getting out of hand when council members feel free to stick their noses into the business of every town or M.D. department. But (says our correspondent) there are examples of when that’s how a system can work better, as in when board members have expertise that they ought to be able to share, whenever or wherever.

There is probably some version of this happening, informally, most of the time, in most places. But organizations need something to fall back on and the concept of keeping elected officials and salaried employees apart from each other seems to be the accepted model.

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