Was our mayor as dumb as he pretends?


Here’s what we are supposed to believe. Howard MacKay’s Power Promotional Events was in deep doo doo. Tickets for its July 24 Black Eyed Peas concert on the Halifax Commons were selling so poorly the promoter was on the edge of cancelling that concert as well as a two-day country show set for the same venue less than two weeks later.

Three days before the first concert, Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly personally tried—and failed—to convince Premier Darrell Dexter to pony up cash for the concert.

Later that day, MacKay met with Kelly and HRM’s Acting CAO Wayne Anstey in a last desperate attempt to save the show.

At this point, we don’t know what transpired during that session.

What we do know is what the mayor claims happened next: “After the meeting, we all went our own way and Mr. Anstey… made a decision” to OK $400,000 in forgivable loans to MacKay’s company, a deal that violated the city charter. “He did not ask for my consent, nor was any given,” Kelly insisted last week. “I thought that it was according to policy and that he had the authority in which to do it.”

I’d like to believe that…

Check that. I’d rather not believe it.

Believing it means acknowledging we have a mayor who—in spite of being cheerleader-in-chief for mega-concerts on the Common—is so disengaged, so uncaring he didn’t ask, even after he learned the concert was on again: Hey, Wayne, how did you fix that problem with the Peas? Wow, isn’t that beyond your authority?

We also have to buy that the mayor didn’t at some point read the terms of the sweetheart deal and say: Whoah, Wayne, what the…!?

And we must accept that—even after Power Promotions went down the tubes in October—our esteemed mayor didn’t say to himself: Perhaps I’d better tell council and taxpayers what we’ve been doing with their money … And have been doing for years, only this time, uh… we got caught…

So I don’t want to believe the mayor was as dumb as he claims he was.

And I don’t.

I look forward to the auditor general’s report.

See also: For mayor, surely we can do better.

  1. The mayor can delegate authority but not responsibility … cutting a cheque for approx $400,000 is clearly in his area of his responsibility as is keeping council informed on significant unexpected expenditures. I as many others believe if the Mayor had taken the request to our city council and the public it would have been lights out and game over for the events. Yes there would have been lots of chatter but all the cards would have been on the table and in the end the right moves would have been made. Now look at what we have: A Mayor who does not understand responsibility and a city council that appears to have lost control over their mayor.

    So there is no grey area here, nor should there be! … The Mayor knew and he had the authority to “Stop the Clock” … we now wait for his reasons why he failed to raise the red flag and go to city council to allow our elected persons to deal with it. And, a city council that failed to question who was paying for all those free tickets.

    Perhaps I like others are missing something here, or could it be this type of business attitude in the city of Halifax (HRM) is just routine.


  2. Yep. Well said. I don’t believe it, either.

    Perhaps he thought he’d brand Halifax as hip by (as Lezlie Lowe wrote) out-Monctoning Moncton– the dazzle of splashy one-off events instead of the long-burning fuel of a realistic and workable cultural plan (now there’s a story to investigate). This city needs a vision, and a visionary, and we have neither.


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