Kings County councillor uses public comment period to make her point

Kirk Starratt
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The District 10 county councillor felt the chairwoman had interrupted her speaking time during debate Feb. 4, so Patricia Bishop opted to excuse herself and used the public comment period to make her point.

However, the move raised the ire of a former councillor in attendance.

“That is the most disgusting display I’ve ever seen in the council chamber by a councillor,” said Merrill Ward of Coldbrook, a former councillor, following the unprecedented approach taken by Bishop.

Near the end of the Kings County council session, Bishop asked to be excused after council addressed correspondence. Bishop got up from her seat at that time and sat in the public gallery. Prior to council going in-camera on a land negotiation matter, Warden Diana Brothers invited members of the public in attendance to make comments.

Bishop stood and approached the microphone, introducing herself as Patricia Bishop of Port Williams. She said she’d like to share one concern she has about a move to take $10,000 from the Municipal Economic Development Fund for advertising in the Nova Star On Board Magazine, intended to advertise Nova Scotia attractions to visitors coming on the soon to be established Yarmouth ferry.

She said if chief administrative officer Tom MacEwan and council take over control of what is advertised, it might not meet the goals of the business community. The Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce had requested $10,000 from the municipality to advertise in the magazine.

“I didn’t have a chance to finish making my comments,” Bishop added.

Brothers interjected, reminding Bishop that councillors always have the opportunity to call a point of order under Bylaw 64 “if you feel things haven’t been done properly.”

“Your two minutes are up,” Brothers told Bishop.

When Bishop again started speaking, Brothers told her, “You’re out of order.”

Bishop replied that she had been interrupted again.

Ward was next to approach the microphone. He concluded his comments by telling Bishop if she is “that damn upset” about being a councillor, then “I’d suggest she resign.”

Brothers drew the public comment period to a close, although concerned citizen Andrew Steeves was approaching the microphone and was not given the opportunity to speak.

By motion, council has directed the chief administrator to work with organizations like the chamber of commerce, villages, other municipal units and any other partners necessary to create the ads. To be approved by the chief administrator, the ads will highlight the various geographic and historic icons in the Valley.

More to come.

Organizations: Kings County council, Municipal Economic Development Fund, On Board Magazine Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Port Williams, Nova Scotia, Yarmouth

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Recent comments

  • Gordon Lummis
    February 09, 2014 - 15:30

    What a sad situation we have at the County. It is clear things have not changed in the past few years since the consultants hired by the County wrote that “Council was becoming increasingly antagonistic and dysfunctional“, and that “animosity, distrust, anger and rudeness” among the Council “had gotten out of hand.” That report needs to be dusted off and reviewed as the situation has not changed under Warden Brothers. In the last few months we have seen legal suits between the County and Councillor Raven. One wonders if that incident had been dealt with in a more common sense way rather than the legal way as recommended by the County lawyer whether the County would have been in that mess. A legal approach which is often adversarial is not the best way of building teamwork or creating a spirit of cooperation. And now we find that Warden Brothers cut off Councillor Bishop who was trying to speak so that she had to take unusual measures. More thought needs to be given to a long term solution. Is it time to change from the Warden system to a system where the County would have a Mayor who is elected by all the people. Or would the confrontational culture change if some of the councillors who have served for many years completed their terms. An informed concerned electorate will need to get involved. It is not easy to be a dedicated elected public servant. Councillor Bishop should be commended for her integrity and hard work as a councillor.

  • Catherine Reid
    February 08, 2014 - 16:31

    Thank goodness there are people in our county who stand up for freedom of speech, who are willing to take an active part in our democratic society, who question decisions and process, and all in the public forum of county council. Councillor Bishop has made her agenda very clear; she makes every attempt to be attentive, engaged, and unbiased in the work of council. Her background of farming and business gives her plenty of credibility around the table. Elected by the people, expected to listen to the people and then to act for the same people, she has the right to question, debate, and educate herself on the multitude of decisions we expect from Kings County Council. Frankly, I applaud this approach to municipal governing. Engaged active councillors come to meetings prepared, ready to voice concerns or comments or support because they have done the background work necessary. Have the councillors who never speak up or whose rhetoric never changes or those who think that speaking loudly is the same as having an intelligent thought process, done their homework nearly as well? Councillor Bishop, your creative approach to the democratic process has my full support.

  • Ben Thomas
    February 08, 2014 - 16:15

    I'd say if anyone needs to look in the mirror, it's Warden Brothers. She is an embarrassment to the whole Province!

  • Herold Way
    February 08, 2014 - 09:17

    Councillor Bishop should really step back and take a serious look in the mirror. Its very unfortunate that Councillor Bishop and Councillor Raven always do things to attract negative media attention to our municipality. There is so much good work that our municipal council does and just because 2 councillors don't agree or have other hidden agendas they act like children and cause all of council to look bad. I don't think other councillors should put up with Councillor Bishop or Councillor Raven's bad behaviour. I agree with Merrill Ward that if they can't act right they should resign.

  • MarkNs
    February 08, 2014 - 05:57

    Everyone on council seems to be incapable of acting like an adult. In so many similar stories they all come across as petty, vindictive children.

  • Amy Lounder
    February 07, 2014 - 19:58

    Frankly, I think we need more people that challenge the status quo, and Councillor Bishop is one of those. As a newcomer to the Annapolis Valley it is disappointing to read that the culture of the municipal council seems to endorse shutting down challenges to staff recommendations. We need more leaders that are passionate and deeply committed to working within their communities, and we need representatives that are truly invested in the livelihoods of their communities -- being outspoken on farming issues isn't a strike against her, particularly given the region we live in. My hope is that council will respond in a sincere way to improve the culture of censorship. ~

  • Tom Grant
    February 07, 2014 - 19:46

    Councillor Bishop is unprofessional and childish. She has a conflict of interest, she should not be a councillor. People don't know that she and her farm get major funding from the provincial government and the chamber of commerce (over $45,000 last year). She should not be a councillor or she should not get funding. She is outrageous!!!

  • Michael Caplan
    February 07, 2014 - 12:35

    I applaud Councillor Bishop for getting creative with points of process in order to further democratic deliberation. This seems especially tactful if the process that Bishop was subject to in her chair as a Councillor left her unable to completely express position. Comments from Ward about Bishop being "that damn upset" about being a councillor and therefore should resign miss the mark. Bishop possesses a passion about her responsibilities as a councillor that this action highlights. I suspect it is however true that Bishop as well as other councillors are "that damn upset" with council as a whole, and labour in their own way to advance their responsibilities as councillor to their constituents and our municipality as a whole. Regardless of ones position on this act, attempts to respond to this issue through childish acts of character assassination (as found in a few comments here) is an embarrassment to citizens of our municipality. We must demand more of our neighbors when engaging in public discussion -- just as we do with our civic representatives. Respectfully, Mike

  • Jocelyn Durston
    February 07, 2014 - 12:24

    I'm surprised at the attacks that Councillor Bishop is receiving as a result of the actions she took to communicate a point that she felt needed to be made in this council session. I think that Councillor Bishop made a brilliant move when moving to the public gallery to make her point. She voiced that she had not been able to make her point during debate and so made a clever maneuver to do what she could to make it. It was a brave and intelligent move that, thanks to this article, will ensure than many more people than usual will be aware of what was discussed in the debate. Was her action really "...the most disgusting display ever seen in a council chamber..."? That seems like an extreme exaggeration. If indeed that's true, then kudos to all the councillors during Ward's time as both a councillor and interested member of the public in keeping what must be the most ordered and respectful municipality in Canada. Certainly, calling upon Councillor Bishop to resign for her action seem grossly extreme. More importantly (and surprisingly void from the comments here) is that the point Councillor Bishop made from the public gallery seems to be very measured and thoughtful. If I were a member of the business community, I would want councillors voicing the same concern that she voiced. It appears as though the attacks aimed at Councillor Bishop are more aligned with personal vendettas than concern for policy, and, although sometimes amusing to read such ridiculous statements in the media, those kinds of attacks rarely bolster support or increased respect for those who are slinging them. I would encourage people to pay attention to what's really important here - how the use of municipal funds are being used and the fact that there is a councillor willing to stand up and ensure careful spending of them - than to nitpick about policies or to use this as an opportunity to make the kinds of comments that tear down rather than build up a community. Disclaimer: I am a new resident of the Kings County area (moved here 3 months ago from BC), who has, until now, paid little attention to local municipal affairs. However, I have met Councillor Bishop a couple times and my partner and I are members of her farm's CSA program. In the short time that we have been here, we have becoming increasingly impressed by Bishop's business and by her activities outside of her business. Until reading this article today, we didn't even realize she was a councillor so now we have another reason to be impressed and to respect the work she is doing in her community.

  • Jennifer
    February 07, 2014 - 11:56

    I am shocked and disgusted by the comments made in the article and in the comments in the section below. I applaud Councillor Bishop for using these methods to be heard. Sounds to me like some councillors need to learn manners and repects for our peers!!!!!! Ethics we push so hard for our CHILDREN to learn! I have know Patricia and had several business interactions with her over the past 6 years and she is the most passionate, moral and dedicated person I have ever had the priviledge to meet and work with. Yes she does have an agenda and that is what she was elected to have...she is in touch with her community and her agenda is that of the people in community. She is edcuated and informed something a few people above could learn from before making judgements and accusations !!! If you truely knew her you would know that her Trip to BC was personal and Paid for by her and her husband to pass judgement when you do not know all the details is unfair and distasteful!. As far as the trip to Africia it was to go and help Farmers (women) learn and make lives better for them and their families! I appluad her for that ! My suggestion is that some of these councillors take a moment sit with a child who attends Elementary school and learn respect and fair treatment of others! If children can do so can grownups! Wonderful example you are setting for the next generation!!!

    • Ann West
      February 08, 2014 - 13:25

      Patricia may have paid for her trip to BC and Farmers Helping Farmers may have paid for her trip to Africa HOWEVER, the municipality of kings paid her salary while she was away for 6-8 weeks not working for her community. She should be ashamed of herself and pay the money back. Did she not just take a whole month off again on tax payers dollars? Please oh please resign!

  • Jennifer
    February 07, 2014 - 11:56

    I am shocked and disgusted by the comments made in the article and in the comments in the section below. I applaud Councillor Bishop for using these methods to be heard. Sounds to me like some councillors need to learn manners and repects for our peers!!!!!! Ethics we push so hard for our CHILDREN to learn! I have know Patricia and had several business interactions with her over the past 6 years and she is the most passionate, moral and dedicated person I have ever had the priviledge to meet and work with. Yes she does have an agenda and that is what she was elected to have...she is in touch with her community and her agenda is that of the people in community. She is edcuated and informed something a few people above could learn from before making judgements and accusations !!! If you truely knew her you would know that her Trip to BC was personal and Paid for by her and her husband to pass judgement when you do not know all the details is unfair and distasteful!. As far as the trip to Africia it was to go and help Farmers (women) learn and make lives better for them and their families! I appluad her for that ! My suggestion is that some of these councillors take a moment sit with a child who attends Elementary school and learn respect and fair treatment of others! If children can do so can grownups! Wonderful example you are setting for the next generation!!!

    • Anne West
      February 07, 2014 - 20:03

      Patricia may have paid for her own trip but taxpayers paid her salary for both the BC and Africa trips(6-8 weeks) . She probably should resign.

  • Teri Dillon
    February 07, 2014 - 10:23

    Frankly I am shocked and appalled at the comments on this article. In my work I am fortunate enough to interact with so many amazing and positive community members, and I guess I didn't know that such hurtful and malicious words and thoughts were out there: This morning I am feeling disappointed in some members of my community. Especially today I'm grateful that people like Patricia Bishop are involved in politics representing people like me in Council. Patricia is exactly what I want in a Council representative: an active community member, engaged in the issues, with a collaborative spirit and passionate and willing to stand up for what she believes in. Criticism is one thing, but a lot of these comments and those spoken in Tuesday's Council meeting are WAY out of line and border more on personal attacks than helpful input from engaged citizens. I feel disappointed that Councillor Bishop has to face such intentionally hurtful comments and negative people, and commend her for doing it with grace and positivity.

  • Tim Carr
    February 07, 2014 - 10:09

    Councillor Bishop works harder than anyone I know for the betterment of Kings County. She is passionate about her job and works tirelessly. Unfortunately she is in a position open to criticism. If constituents in Kings County support progress and dialogue they have at least one elected official on their side. We need to support our representatives. I admire her efforts.

  • Barb M
    February 07, 2014 - 09:12

    As a member of the public that attends a lot of council meetings I think it is clear what is going on here. Councillor Bishop is a new councillor that is not aware of the policies, procedures or rules of council(or just does not respect them). Councillors in my opinion are able to be heard and make their points however there are specific procedures or rules on how this happens. As in all government proceedings polies, procedures and rules are needed. I suggest Councillor Bishop brush up on the policies and procdures of the Municipality and that she stop making a fool of herself and the people she represents. I agree with Merrill Ward.

  • Wayne G
    February 07, 2014 - 09:04

    Patricia Bishop you do have an agenda and its clear, you care about farms and thats it. I am not saying that is wrong I am just saying that you are not unbiased in making any of your decisions. Its very clear and if you can not follow proper procedure, I agree with Merrill Ward maybe you should resign.

  • Goldie M
    February 07, 2014 - 09:01

    I agree with Tim F and of course Merrill Ward. Isn't it true Patricia Bishop that last winter you were away for 4-6 weeks volunteering in Africa and then on vacation in BC on tax payers dollars. I know that I don't get 4-6 weeks off after only working for 1 -2 years. (I have to earn my vacation)

  • Justine Mentink
    February 06, 2014 - 20:47

    Councillor Bishop was elected the same as every councillor there and has the right speak on behalf of her constituents. If she's not allowed to do that, I think it's her responsibility to get her point across whichever way possible.

  • Elsie
    February 06, 2014 - 11:01

    I agree with Tim's statement. Councillor Bishop has an agenda and its clear. She is not objective and she does nothing to progress her community.

  • Tim F
    February 06, 2014 - 07:23

    Councillor Bishop should resign, she takes long vacations on tax payers dollars and is being paid to basically run her farm. Wouldn't it be nice if we were all paid by tax dollars to run our private businesses. She is disrespectful and out of control!

    • Patricia Bishop
      February 06, 2014 - 21:31

      Elsie and Tim F I read your comments and quite frankly I feel really sad. I do have an agenda Elsie and that is to be engaged and thoughtful and as unbiased as I can in making decisions. Obviously I am not going to personally agree with everything, but it isn't about me, it is about everyone. Tim F, I am not sure who you are, but you obvisously do not know me, or our farm or our farm team. If you did know me, our farm and our farm team, you'd know that your statement is not true. Take Care and I do hope if at all possible, you will be able to make it out to a council meeting or two. Our next meeting is on Tuesday the 18th of Feb. from 9 -4:30.