According to Sue-Ann Levy

I wonder how often administrators over at the Rotman School of Business think of revoking Sue-Ann Levy’s alumna status whenever she writes out those words? “According to my calculations…” Beware conservative hack math. Numbers are meaningless. Conclusions suspect.

She was at it again yesterday, yapping about free passes to various Toronto cultural venues by the Toronto Public Library. Never mind that the Sun Life Financial Museum and Arts Pass program $200,000 is a “donation Sun Life gives… [that] covers the printing and promotion of the passes and the money to hire an administrator [bolding ours].” Just remember that it’s a program initiated under former mayor David Miller, ‘Mr. Culture and Creativity Himself’. Don’t you just hate it when our mayor is all culture-y and creativity-y? Himself.

Despite the fact that Sun Life covers the cost of printing and promoting the passes as well as hiring the administrator to oversee such things, TPL staff puts in all that time to organize and supervise the weekly draws. Toronto taxpayers have to foot that bill which must amount to… well, Sue-Ann doesn’t take the time to calculate those numbers. But they must be huge because Ms. Levy sniffs at the $200,000 Sun Life donates. “That’s it”, she concludes, implying that the real money is paid out come draw time, what with all those slips of paper, pencils and cardboard boxes necessary to pull off such complicated manoeuvres.

No, Sue-Ann has bigger numbers to cook, taking her Jethro Bodine guzinta skills to calculate the money lost by all those money losing organizations these library using freeloaders are trying to crash.  “According to my calculations,” Levy scribbles, “the Toronto Zoo’s involvement in the program will add up to nearly $600,000 in foregone revenue this year while Casa Loma will not collect $530,000 due to these passes.” Gasp! Such big numbers!

But wait, it gets even juicer.” Toronto’s eight historical museums will give up $3.2-million in potential revenues.” Gravy! Sue-Ann Levy sees gravy!

When asked to comment about such outrageous non-spending, the city’s Chief Librarian, $205,720/year (no one in the public sector is worth a 6 digit figure salary) Jane Pyper was not available for comment.  She was just back from vacation – what? 200K a year and she goes on vacation?! – and, according to Sue-Ann, was “overwhelmed”.  Also, “TPL Board member Paul Ainslie couldn’t be reached for comment either,” whined Levy. I imagine he was simply too embarrassed to go on record commenting on such drivel.

Not so Budget Chief Mike Del Grande. This is just the kind of profligacy that “… makes his ‘hair stand on end’”.  “It’s very interesting when you consider that some of the venues (donating passes) are losing money … yet we’re giving out freebies to everyone and their uncle,” Del Grande said.

Now, no one should be surprised by such fiscal fatuousness coming from Sue-Ann Levy despite her Rotman MBA. But from someone overseeing a nearly $10 billion annual operating budget? A loud and proud chartered accountant no less? Head shaking in its myopic simple-mindedness.

Does the budget chief actually believe that people who wait in line to enter a draw to win passes to places like the zoo or Casa Loma – some as long as 4 hours according to Sue-Ann’s calculations, so take that as you will – are somehow gaming the system? Deadbeats with the time on their hands to stick it to all the hardworking taxpayers of Toronto and score themselves some freebies? Perhaps the more logical conclusion is those who would put in that kind of time in the hopes of winning an entry into some of our cultural institutions do so out of economic necessity. Without the passes, they would be unable to go. So they’re not freebies at all. The millions of dollars Sue-Ann Levy cites as giveaways are, actually, never-would-bes, nothing even close to lost revenue.

And don’t many service oriented businesses offer up these kind of ‘giveaways’ in order to bring customers to them? A certain percentage of those who come with their free passes might fall in love with the zoo or Casa Loma and decide it’s worth budgeting for a return visit. They might bring some other family members or friends with them next time. Failing that, with the money they’ve saved on admission, they might spend it on souvenirs or concessions. That would be found money. Simple good business sense. Something this administration is all about, right?

“[Del Grande] says this is not part of the Library’s core responsibilities, nor should it be.” Just how much of a backward philistine is the budget chief anyway? Introducing people who might not otherwise be exposed to a wider array of cultural institutions is not a library’s core responsibility? That’s exactly a library’s core responsibility. Saying it isn’t simply shows a monumental ignorance of the purpose of having a public library system in the first place. It helps enhance the public sphere by building a better informed, enlightened citizenry.

Instead of railing about phantom gravy and making grand pronouncements on topics you know little about, Sue-Ann Levy and Mike Del Grande should really do the city a favour and spend more time at their local libraries. We’d all benefit having more knowledgeable newspaper columnists and broad-minded budget chiefs.

davidly submitted by Cityslikr

6 thoughts on “According to Sue-Ann Levy

  1. Really well written, thought out and displays vision…of course most of the people taking advantage of the draws are probably never going to go without the passes, and of course it could bring in future business but it is not Levy’s agenda to think it is just to divide and stir up shit. I miss the days when we were all Canadian and not right or left wing, and we could agree to disagree, not call each other names, and go have a beer.

  2. The Library system is not the biggest item, it is merely 2% of the Operating Budget.
    Levy is a hypocrite. Last week, she mentioned walking pass the Yorkville fire hall while women(bachelorettes) posed with the firemen for pictures. Levy posed in a firetruck with a hat and so forth when she was a candidate.
    Also, Hudak is a hypocrite who wants to deny young people “marijuana” even though he used it during University.
    Note: while the kids wouldn’t normally pay to go to cultured places they may wind up smoking the wacky tobacky in Ford’s T.O. with less to do but could say “he ma that guy running for premier smoked!”

  3. I saw that headline today too. They’re fighting the bad fight on behalf of their moronic, lying hero, Rob “No Cuts, Guaranteed” Ford.

    If fat-head Ford says the library system is gravy, then it’s gravy, and it’s up to air-head Levy to make up the numbers.

    Yeah, libraries helping people to see local cultural and family attractions is what’s bringing this country down. It’s time we put a stop to it!

  4. Demonstrates that having an M.B.A. makes you closer to a technocrat than someone who can think. It’s not the rise of the right that we have to fear, but the rise of technocracy.

  5. For an administration that has repeatedly said that the city needs to run more like a business and that “customer service” needs to improve (as if we were consumers of the city rather that citizens and active participants in its welfare), this administration seems to know very little about either how businesses work or how keep customers happy.

    If you’re in a service business—one where your materials costs are negligible, and your per-user cost is also negligible, like say, giving group classes, or being a large public institution—judicious freebies bring people in the door at next to no cost to you. It’s a marketing expense. Some of these people will go away and never be heard from again, just as some people who see your magazine ad or Facebook pop-up will never visit your business or click through to your site. Some will book their kids’ birthday parties with your business, or renew their formerly-free memberships for the next five years, or come back every Tuesday with their best friend, which is a phenomenal return on the investment you made with your free pass to something you would have been doing in any case. Most of the people who take advantage of a free pass are people who probably wouldn’t otherwise darken your business’s door. Those people’s waived entry fees are not “forgone revenue.” They’re marketing costs.

    People who run yoga studios know this. People who give pottery classes know this. People who run gyms know this. Sue-Ann Levy, however, has apparently never talked to any of the dance teachers, yoga instructors, or gym managers who take part in free-class promotions. Neither, apparently, has Mike Del Grande.

    And Councillor Doug Ford has apparently never worked in or received customer service. When my computer goes on the fritz and I complain to the manufacturer, weirdly enough the customer service person does not invite me to tell the company how to make a better computer. He or she tells me how to send the computer in for repairs. When I can’t find a book in my local bookstore, the clerks there do not tell me to start my own bookstore, or to find the book and order it myself. They cheerfully order me the damn’ book, or tell me why it’s not available (i.e., it’s hasn’t been published yet in Canada) and propose other books or other ways of getting the book. But when a taxpayer publicly tells Doug Ford that his ideas for the city need some re-thinking, he tells that taxpayer that she should run for city council and find some efficiencies. Honestly, if my computer manufacturer did that, I’d be switching to a different computer, pretty blessed quickly.

    Which is all to say that the Ford administration and its followers are quick to use the language of business to justify their mean-spiritedness, but have even less idea of how business really works than they claim their opponents have.

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