Fury Over Free Soccer Tickets To Council

- April 16th, 2014

City integrity commissioner Robert Marleau sent a memo to council members this morning telling them the rules for accepting tickets to the Ottawa Fury FC’s home opener at Carleton University on Saturday.

First, the memo:

Sent on behalf of Mr. Robert Marleau, Integrity Commissioner:

De la part de M. Robert Marleau, Commissaire à l’intégrité :
 
Mayor and Members of Council,
 
I have received several inquiries regarding tickets provided to Members of Council for the Ottawa Fury FC home opener on Saturday, April 19. This message advises on disclosure requirements, should you choose to accept the tickets.
 
While the tickets and invitations forwarded to my office have stated “Club Seat Holder,” they have not provided any information on the ticket cost. I have determined the value based on information provided by a ticket agent. The agent estimated each club seat ticket for the April 19th game at Carleton University to be valued at approximately $70. When including these tickets in your next Gift Registry and Ticket Disclosure, please list the value of tickets accordingly.
 
The event will require disclosure as:

· It is not directly tied to your representative role as a Member of Council;
· The ticket value exceeds the $30 threshold for disclosure
 
For these reasons, if you choose to accept the tickets, they must be disclosed in the Gifts Registry. As you’re aware, information on the disposition of the ticket must also appear in the Registry (e.g. who attended with you, or if donated, to whom/what organization). Hospitality received that is directly connected to the invitation, such as food and beverage provided by the event, does not require additional disclosure.
 
I can confirm that there are no active lobbying files related to this invitation.
 
Please recall the Code provision regarding the limit on accepting two tickets for up to two events from one source in a calendar year. I encourage you to keep this in mind if offered any additional tickets from the Ottawa Fury FC this season.
 
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my office.

In summary, if council members use the tickets, they have to indicate so on the gift registry.

This doesn’t sit well with a few councillors who — thankfully for us! — hit Reply All in emails back to Marleau.

There was Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder:

I find it is very unfortunate that consideration of the first ever professional soccer team in the City of Ottawa, one that will make its home at Lansdowne when completed is not seen as something that Councillors and Mayor “should” attend.  You are correct there isn’t an amount on the ticket for price simply “general admission” or “general seating” or the like.  I think this is an example of where in our quest for transparency we closed the loop too tightly.  Because of this I will not be attending unless I buy my own tickets.

There was Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley:

Jan I agree this needs to be revisited as it impacts our ability to do our jobs and driving up the cost of the IC’s office much more than the cost of these tickets.
 
Respectfully
Allan Hubley

And, there was Orléans Coun. Bob Monette:

This is something that needs to be revisited when the new council is formed unfortunately we all agreed on the present process even though there are apparent issues with it.
 
Bob

Then there’s Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt, who can’t believe the price Marleau is placing on each ticket:

Mr. Marleau,
 
I am just curious about the information you received on the ticket pricing.  Where exactly did you get the information that would suggest these tickets would be valued any higher than what they are being sold for?  The General Admission ticket prices for the games at Keith Harris Stadium are between $10 and $20.  Just for fun, I’ve supplied a picture of the stands below.  I would find it hard to believe that I could sit in these stands for $70 while everyone else paid $10-$20 for the exact same seats.  It would be one thing if we were talking about TD Place, but we aren’t.

Moffatt’s email included an image like this one of the stands at the soccer pitch.

So, there are two beefs here: One, some councillors seem to believe that attending the Fury’s home opener is part of their duties as municipal politicians; and two, the price Marleau is putting on the “club seats” at the university stadium is in dispute.

Lots of eye-rolling over this in the corridors of City Hall. Some councillors can’t grasp why it’s such a big deal to list the tickets on the gift registry if councillors really want to go. Plus, there’s the debate about whether going to this soccer game should be considered official business.

This, of course, is a delicious prelude to the Ottawa RedBlacks’ football season. The home opener for the new franchise at Lansdowne Park (where the Fury will also eventually play) is in July and you can bet council members will be on the ticket list.

Would attending the RedBlacks game be closer to “role of a council member” because it’s being played in a municipal asset? (Both the football and soccer teams are owned by the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the city’s Lansdowne development partner.)

Everything is a little more touchy in an election year, isn’t it?

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Things I Learned Last Week

- April 14th, 2014

I find myself always learning little tidbits that don’t necessarily make full-blown stories but are still interesting. Here’s what I learned last week:

- The advanced flashing green traffic light has been phased out in Ontario. The flashing green means different things across Canada.

- The city has repaired nearly 100,000 potholes so far this year.

- Gravel roads in the rural areas are re-gravelled every four years.

- The city is outfitting 700 street lights with LED technology as a pilot project.

- More of those flexible signs will be plopped in the middle of Ottawa roads this year.

- 600 traffic counts will be happening in Ottawa this year by a couple dozen students sitting at intersections.

- The fine for vandalizing with graffiti is $615.

- The city’s royal swans will be released into the Rideau River next month. For those wondering.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

City Sports Fields Still On Schedule

- April 11th, 2014

A quick update for those itching to get your spring/summer sport leagues going.

Public works GM Larry O’Keefe said today his department still expects to open city sports fields on time. “On time” would be the beginning of May for ball diamonds and the middle of May for soccer fields.

The lingering winter might be a factor in bringing the fields up to playing condition.

O’Keefe said he’ll have a better idea once staff come back from Easter weekend and work on the fields.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

City Announces Steven Cripps As The New Rail Boss

- April 11th, 2014

The city has finally filled the position of rail implementation director after the former director, John Jensen, left for Metrolinx more than a year ago.

Here’s what you need to know about the new LRT boss, Steven Cripps

Cripps Memo April11 2014

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Level Train Crossings Presentations

- April 10th, 2014

Here are the presentations by OC Transpo and MMM Group regarding the study on level rail crossings. It’s a good summary of all the information and the reasons why the consultant doesn’t think buses should stop at tracks.

OC Transpo MMMGroup RailCrossings April9 2014

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.