Goodbye, Glenn Wong and Patti Marfleet.
This is the problem, the members of the Vancouver Police Board would say as they bid adieu to Wong and Marfleet, whose terms as board members expire after the last public meeting in June.
In my years of sitting in on meetings, the six-member board has always been the Rodney Dangerfield of public bodies in this city. Regularly, board members ask openly at meetings how the board’s profile can be raised, how it can get a little more respect.
After all, this is the same body that hires the police chief, monitors his performance, sets policy and keeps a $200-million budget in check. So it’s kind of an important body, I would say.
But unlike city council and school board, where candidates spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to run very public campaigns to get elected, the likes of Wong and Marfleet are chosen behind closed doors.
Maybe that’s part of the profile problem.
Should police board members be elected?
A debate for another time.
Currently, the way it works is the provincial cabinet gets the final say on all but one of the appointments to the board; the city chooses one member.
Potential candidates are nominated, then interviewed by the police board’s governance committee and a provincial government body called the board resourcing and development office.
Over the years, the Vancouver Police Board has generally been staffed by people with business, legal and financial backgrounds, including Wong and Marfleet.
Their replacements are insurance broker Daljit Sidhu, who ran unsuccessfully with the NPA for council in 2008, and venture capitalist Donna Bridgeman. Both were dutifully taking notes in the audience at the most recent meeting April 18 and will get a seat at the board table in June.
Wei Shao, an international business lawyer, is also a new face on the board, having taken over recently for the departing Jason McLean.
When all the shuffling stops, Sidhu, Bridgeman and Shao will join community organizer Sheryl Williamson, former Capilano-Howe Sound MP Mary Collins and Wade Grant, a Musqueam Indian Band councillor and economic development administrative coordinator of the band.
Mayor Gregor Robertson doubles as chairperson of the police board, although he has said many times he would prefer not to be in the role.
Wearing both hats makes for an awkward position to be in when dealing with, for example, a police budget that city council ultimately must approve.
Apparently, a working group of the B.C. Association of Police Boards is looking at the relationship, although I understand not everybody is on side, one way or another.
One other thing: No police officers, present or former, are on the board, although that is not the case with the Transit Police Board, where VPD Deputy Chief Doug LePard and RCMP assistant commissioner Norm Lipinski are members.
The Vancouver Police Board’s next meeting is scheduled for June 20 at the VPD’s Cambie Street headquarters. It’s open to the public.