e-Brief July 2, 2020
CAMA Represented at Virtual Mayors Forum - Philippines
CAMA membership creates opportunities for learning, networking and sharing common executive problems and solutions across Canada and the world.  Recently, through its relationship with ICMA, CAMA Board Member Gary Kent and Fire Chief Tim and Director of Emergency Management , Mississauga, were invited to participate, via Zoom, in this Forum which was organized by SURGE (Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity) which is a five-year project funded by USAID and fosters the development of conditions for broad-based, inclusive and resilient economic growth for a critical mass of cities and surrounding areas.
The topic was a familiar one to CAOs across Canada: Rising to the COVID-19 Leadership Challenge: Area Focused Mitigation and Response Strategies.

Four Mayors from Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Pasig and Valenzuela, whose populations range from 600,000 – 800,000, discussed their learnings from the pandemic.

The themes of the conversation across the globe were surprisingly familiar:

  • Public Health Emergency to which cities had to react (limited time to plan);
  • Information changed rapidly;
  • Shutdowns occurred rapidly and swiftly;
  • Speed was required to adapt to the new normal, under quick changing information;
  • Reliance on senior staff and emergency operating centres; and
  • No playbook on this. New experiences for many.
  • The need for good data and to listen to the science;
  • The need for more solutions to social inclusion for vulnerable populations;
  • Communications needed to be effective, but not overboard;
  • The importance of active transportation solutions;
  • The need for innovation in supply chain management (PPE); digital ; funding and mental health;
  • Information and Communication Technology was the backbone infrastructure to respond;
  • Community based consultation and participation was critical to build and maintain trust;
  • Collaboration across the public sector was strengthened;
  • A new deal for how countries fund municipalities is required;
  • The pandemic, while a disaster, has afforded opportunities for positive change, these opportunities need to be sustained such as digital advancement.
The Canadian story was well received and connections strengthened.  Thank you Gary and Chief Tim for sharing your expertise and experience.
Political Acumen Toolkit: Appeal Boards
 Recognizing the importance of political understanding in the role of senior municipal administrators, also referred to as political acumen, the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) launched a Political Acumen Toolkit.   This resource can be found at politicalacumen.camacam.ca

Today’s featured category is information on appeal boards.

Appeal boards are quasi-judicial in nature and include, for example, sub-division appeal boards, assessment review boards, environmental protection appeal boards, weed control appeal boards, and more.  Each of these boards is governed by the legislation of a municipality’s province or territory. Their fundamental purpose is to offer each resident their “day in court” to refute an order or ruling imposed by the bureaucracy of the municipality.
When selecting board members for an appeal, it is important to confirm that those appointed do not have a pecuniary interest in the case being heard. Appeals should begin by asking those present if they have any objections to the board members who will be hearing the case. If there are no objections, you can proceed. If objections are raised, the board should take a recess and, in closed session, decide if the objection is legitimate. If it is, then excuse the member being objected to and continue. If there are not enough Board Members to continue, adjourn until another time. If the Board decides the objection is not legitimate, you can proceed with the hearing with the understanding that the decision may be appealed to the courts due to a procedural error.
When working with residents and ratepayers, it is always necessary to explain the municipality’s decision. Whether it is why option “a” was chosen over option “b” in the implementation of a new service or the result of an appeal, taking the time to provide a solid description of the rationale behind a decision helps the public to accept it and move on. This becomes particularly important with unpopular outcomes. As with public hearings, if you can offer fair and just reasoning for the result, it becomes harder to argue, and negativity toward the decision can be deflected. Providing the right amount of information to achieve this is an indication of political acumen on the part of the CAO and senior management.
When responding to the public always demonstrate that you heard what they had to say (repeat to them what you heard), and explain why you have chosen a different course of action (list the reasons).
Also, don’t forget to share some of your political acumen with your colleagues and sign up for CAMA’s Mentorship Forum which is available to all members at mentorship.camacam.ca. Sign up as a mentor, a mentee or just to network.
How to Mentor
Mentorship is really about leadership in a one-on-one relationship. Leadership is never about having the authority to tell someone what to do but rather demonstrating and inspiring others toward a course of action. In The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner (2017), the authors identify “five practices of exemplary leadership.” These practices include modelling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart.

In other words, effective leaders, and by extension mentors:
  • Lead by example and demonstrate effective values that achieve success.
  • Help others envision their successes and career possibilities by sharing in their ambitions. Whether this is as simple as seeing the other side of a challenging situation or believing that it is possible to become the City Manager of the largest municipality in Canada, showing your interest in their vision is crucial to motivating a mentee.
  • Challenge assumptions and identify areas for improvement. Part of the role of being a mentor is helping someone achieve career growth. Respectfully providing constructive criticism is important to the role, as is encouraging mentees to be innovative and take risks, when needed.
  • Support mentees in developing the confidence to take action. By providing advice that comes from experience, mentors can play a significant role in giving an individual the courage to take the needed steps to address a problem or achieve success.
  • Celebrate progress. Recognizing mentees who achieve their goals strengthens the mentorship relationship, builds trust, and encourages continued effort.
Do you have questions? Want more information?  Contact Jennifer Goodine, Executive Director, CAMA National Office, 1-866-771-2262, [email protected].