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Suppression of Published Municipal Documents in Vancouver

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
Disappeared Version of April 7 Restrictions on Structures for Protest
Disappeared Version of April 7 Restrictions on Structures for Protest

Mayor Gregor Robertson

Councillors Suzanne Anton, David Cadman, George Chow, Heather Deal,
Kerry Jang, Raymond Louie, Geoff Meggs, Andrea Reimer, Tim
Stevenson, Ellen Woodsworth

Open Letter Re: Suppression of Published Municipal Documents

Mike Howell's 12th and Cambie: No for site? article (Vancouver Courier, 29 June 2011, EW05) alleges City of Vancouver suppression of a 16 June 2011 report to Council — "Subject: "Stanley Cup Playoff Live Site Activation Costs".

When I check the Council Meetings web site on the morning of 29 June 2011, I see that the related 9:30 am meeting was cancelled, and that no links are provided to agenda or documents.

Turning to advanced search features provided by Google — recall that my profession is librarian — I can still find the agenda at http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20110616/documents/csbu20110616ag.pdf. However, the live site report by Peter Judd, associated with agenda item 5 is no longer provided at http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20110616/documents/csbu5.pdf.

Even so, the Google html derivative for ready viewing is still available as part of the search result. That version has remained beyond suppression. Unlike Mike Howell, I do not have to make "some phone calls" to see a copy of the report. Nor should anyone.

Vancouver City Council and City of Vancouver staff (including Vancouver Police Department) need to realize that attempts at suppression and cover-up of published documents — or even of basic relevant after-the-fact information like numbers of police on duty — will only backfire, and draw increased attention to a cascading series of attempts at obfuscation, misdirection, and denial.

Going forward, I ask that Council implement policy directing that all published versions of documents remain available and linked to in context. Where the status of a particular document is impacted by subsequent events, appropriate notes can be provided to clarify existing links.

This represents a more general problem, as demonstrated by the "replacement" of the report on restricting structures for political expression (version for April 7 replaced by version for April 19).

The credibility of city officials can only be damaged by hamfisted attempts to spin and dodge and rewrite history. Don't just talk open data. Do it.

Sincerely,

Joseph Jones
 

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Commentaires

Thanks for this

I have run into this problem a few times.

Always save everything! Print a copy if you can!

Thank you / Democracy Stifled

Joseph - This is an excellent point and policy recommendation.  

Governments such as this, obsessed with maintaining feel-good appearances, seem to allude our better senses that would more readily hone in on it's overtly exclusive and anti democratic practices (... such as withholding public records and taking sides with developers).

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