Former auditor general vows to fight for open, accessible government
In what was billed as Bigger's first policy announcement since he launched his campaign last month, the city's first and only auditor general said he got a look first-hand at how things work at Tom Davies Square.
“The drivers are now worried that buses will be damaged trying to manoeuvre around the roof support pillars,” he said. “Was there a gross miscalculation of the width of the buses? And if so, at roughly $500 a mirror replacement, how much will this damage to buses cost us?”
He also blasted the city for refusing to release an external audit report on the Sudbury Transit ticket scandal, in which a contractor for the city continued to be paid, even though he wasn't remitting ticket money he collected on the city's behalf. The debt grew as high as $1 million, and there is still about $500,000 missing.
The city has so far refused to release the report, citing confidentiality rules. But Bigger said even he was denied access, when he was working as auditor general.
“It should be made available to the public,” he said. “They can release the report and redact individual names if they feel that's important.
“I was told that none of council – including the mayor – none of staff – saw that forensic audit report. So essentially, it was buried. And I believe it needs to be released to the public so we can truly understand who is responsible.”
However, Bigger refused to say who he asked or exactly what steps he took to try and gain access to the report.
“I don't want to talk about our process in the audit office,” he said. “(But) I have not seen the report and I have no idea who has seen the report.
“I believe there is a very strong appetite for change at the city. We've been looking for change for the last, perhaps, eight years. Definitely for the last four years. This is the time for change.”
While the last four years at city hall has been defined by a dysfunctional relationship between city councillors and Mayor Marianne Matichuk, Bigger said there will be enough new faces on council to make sure that won't happen.
“I certainly will not be by myself – there will be at least six new councillors coming on to council,” he said.
“I look forward to working with the new council, whoever the public elects. And I think we all want a more open government. People understand the connection between more open government and accountability.”
Bigger also promised to have full meeting agendas online a week ahead of time, unlike the current system, where agendas are posted late in the day the Friday before the meeting date.