My column this week is about agreements.
Most notably the abysmal one currently between the Town of Aurora and Aurora’s “Cultural” Centre.
You can read it here:
I understand an agreement as being defined as such:
- the act of agreeing or of coming to a mutual arrangement.
- the state of being in accord.
- an arrangement that is accepted by all parties to a transaction.
- a contract or other document delineating such an arrangement.
- unanimity of opinion; harmony in feeling: agreement among the members of the faculty.
I do not understand that this definition applies to the current agreement the Aurora Cultural Center has with the town and I appreciate the pro activeness of both councilors Abel and Pirri to address the issue.
It is unfortunate that the current agreement is so heavily flawed that it is unable to fulfil its objectives.
A notice of motion to terminate the contract is a completely acceptable motion and will come forward at next Tuesday’s meting.
Digging into some of the history recardingthe Centre and its agreements I found this July 2008 piece from the Era Banner highlighting the origins of the agreement:
Former one-term mayor Morris is quoted in this article as saying:
“The town wanted to create an independently run corporation so it would eventually be self-sufficient, self-funding and prevent the creation of any sort of burden on the taxpayer.”
According to the business plan, the non-profit corporation will raise $200,000 by the fifth year or 2013.
There is no evidense to suggest that under the current agreement that this is achievable.
There has been continous contraversy surrounding the manner in which the business plan and resulting agreements were handled. The center of which seemed to revolve around an inapropriate appointment of
Mr. Whitehurst to a paid position at the newly formed Centre:
Bill Hogg, a former councilor noted this in an August 2008 letter to the editor here:
Former mayor Morris is quoted as justifying Mr. Whitehurst’s appointment as such:
“He has the background, the thorough knowledge. It would be a seamless hand over,”
Nothing I have read pertaining to the Cultural Centre suggests things happened “seemlessly”.
If there was professional knowlege and background applied in the creation and exacution of the agreement how is it that several residents, at least two councilors and the town’s solicitor is not satisfied the current agreement is in the town’s interest?
How is such a document so poorly drafted?
And, what was the necessity for it to be drafted with such speed?
Both seem to have contributed heavily to its may identified shortcomings and have confirmed doubts raised about the agreement in this April 7th 2009 Auroran article:
“In discussing the resolution, several councillors expressed concern about how little time there had been to review the agreement, which had only recently been received. Councillor Evelyn Buck said there was too much to read and absorb in such a short time, and that she’d be “voting completely on trust…not understanding”.
The agreement on the centre seems to have a fundamental flaw and that is one of a comon undertsanding.
Trust is something earned, and the Centre has not achieved that in the eyes of the public, the town’s solictor or its elected officals.
It was also interesting to read about concerns raised about the process the agreement was vetted with the town’s legal department:
“There were also questions about whether the new town solicitor, Christopher Cooper, had had a chance to review the document. Mr. Gutteridge said it had been reviewed by both the town’s assistant solicitor, as well as by an external local solicitor.
Although anxious to finalize the process, Council was divided on whether additional review by the town’s solicitor was required before signing such a significant document.
Councillor Buck said that in her opinion “we owe it to ourselves, and to the board, to have a common understanding of what our agreement is, and I don’t think that we’re doing that”.
After reading the Cultural Services Agreement (Aurora’s General Committee Report No. LGL11-011) the Novita report (a flawed document in its own right that will be discussed in more detail in futre posts_, the minutes of the “Arts & Culture” committee and the local press there seems to be less of an “agreement” between the Cultural Center and the Town of Aurora.
“You need a place where arts and enterprise work together by investing in arts and culture and open mindedness.”
I consider myself a member of the creative class Mr. Florida speaks of and I applaud him on his work.
As such I don’t consider the investment the town is making in the Aurora Cultural Center as servingthe needs of the community, nor is it being met with open mindedness.
Instead there seems to be a sense of entitlement from the end of the Cultural Center.
And there is no basis for such when it comes to functional agreements.