According to published reports, Mayor Hope has plans to move his office from the Civic Centre's ensconced second floor to the first, to make himself more accessible to the public. The idea was first floated in 2003 by also-ran mayoral candidate Larry Brundritt, now deceased. Not only would the perceived barrier to the public be removed, but it was pointed out that the outdoor smoking area would be closer.
Hope claimed that he made this promise to the public, but reviews of campaign promises and other media reports only link the idea to Brundritt, not Hope.
The mayor states that he wants his office to be more welcoming to investors as they sit in the hall waiting for him. This is an important point, since evidence suggests that the mayor hasn't spent all that much time meeting investors on their home turf, except for a trip to Korea that remains a secret one year later despite Hope's prominent promise of a complete accounting to Council.
A downstairs office would also remove him from the prying eyes of Administration, which will distance him from influence and/or interference in the daily business of the Municipality. The curious eyes of visitors will no longer have to trek past the second-floor cubicles, and it will be more difficult for Administration to keep track of the mayor's guests. Some regulars have divulged that they've already memorized the keypad access codes. The "fortress" is likely to welcome such a move, since out of sight is out of mind.
This could even work both ways however. The mayor may turn out to be the kind of leader that requires a constant chaperone.
Speaking in quotes published in the local media, Hope confirms that he's been attending many parades recently, and he's also been spotted conducting personal business in the community. Anything that makes it easier for him to get into his office for productive pursuits actually benefiting taxpayers would be a good thing. (Some joke that he's more beneficial away from the Civic Centre.)
While he's in there, perhaps he could begin answering some of the correspondence from citizens that he has been ignoring. The Prime Minister of Canada, a gentleman not famous for being open and accessible, responds to people's concerns within two weeks. Other government ministries have also proven very prompt when responding to serious matters. Hope seems to pick and choose the issues he bothers to deal with.
Perhaps Hope's new office will be fitted with an observation window so citizens can watch if he's actually there working. This would also cut down on the secret meetings that have long been rumoured to occur regularly with his shadowy advisors. Published reports have even accused Hope of soliciting outside assistance while composing responses to confidential municipal business, so the potential for any extra scrutiny is refreshing.
Now that Administration has mastered the ability to stream audio from Council meetings, they should install a live web-cam in Hope's new office so constituents can keep tabs on the activity, or lack thereof, taking place in there.
Mayor Hope is quite adept at managing positive press coverage, with or without initiatives of substance. This time, he's finally hit on a decent suggestion that promises to pay some lip-service to transparency. The renovation costs would be worth it if this is indeed a genuine effort to improve accessibility.