Governing Through Philanthropy

Thank goodness for the quarterly councillor expense report shaming. Four times a year, those of us who spend their time City Hall gazing get served up a steaming hot bowl of indignation at the wasteful misuse of our hard earned tax dollars by our profligate local elected representatives. It most certainly beats spending time looking into anything of substance especially during these dog days of summer when absolutely nothing else is going on.

Or as the Toronto Sun likes to think of it, Christmas in August!

Even the more rational seeming of their writers, Don Peat for example, gets into torch and pitchfork mode. “New numbers revealed by the city this week show Toronto city councillors kept draining their taxpayer-funded office budgets in April, May and June,” Peat wrote this week [bolding mine]. You see what he did there? ‘Draining’ not simply spending. Like blood-sucking vampires rather than just councillors using allowable funds to go about their business of, well, being councillors. And never forget whose money that is, folks. You, the taxpayers.

The Peatster goes on to report that in total, councillors and Mayor Ford spent exactly $364,233.95 so far for the first half of 2012. Now, allow me to do some math for you here. I’m not even going to bother including the mayor’s 6 month budget parameters because that would mean I’d have to find out what that is and research isn’t something I do much of in August even though it would make my case even more.

Councillors have a yearly $30,000 office expenses budget. So (and I’m doing this part without a calculator), that would be $15,000 for half a year. There are 44 councillors. That would be 44X15000 (and I am using a calculator now). $660,000 that all the councillors could’ve spent by now. What number did you have again, Don of the Sun? $364,233.95. That’s $295,766.05 less than they could’ve spent. Or, about 55% of what they as a body were allowed to spend by this time of year. And remember, I’ve lazily included expenses from the mayor’s office so, in fact, the number would be even smaller.

Oh, the outrage!

Cue Ms. Sue-Ann Levy.

Councillors show they’re cheap

This is Ms. Levy’s métier. Her bread and butter red meat sandwich. Right in her stylistic wheel house where she doesn’t have to string together any logical reasoning. Just a laundry list of Things That Make Her Go Grrrrrr.

$10 for tickets to see Shimon Peres speak. $50 for a couple tickets to a fundraiser for the Islamic Foundation. $300 here. $350 there. A $100 donation to host a community BBQ on Earth Day by Paula (Fattie) Fletcher. What?! Physical appearance has everything to do with this.

At a ‘business meal’ with a young woman she was mentoring as part of Toronto Regional Champion Campaign Protegee Program, Councillor Karen (Skinny… why not?) Stintz even had the nerve to spend $8.31 of her office budget on a “business meal’ consisting of rooibos – aka elitist — tea, hot chocolate and a banana chocolate muffin. Sue-Ann’s got some advice for you, sweetheart. Pay for that shit yourself because…

Who the fuck knows?

It’s merely the rantings of right wing ideologue opinion-maker. Someone who’s spent, I don’t know, seven decades covering City Hall and what she admires most in our politicians is thrift. Not vision. Not compassion. Not an ability to get things done and help build a better city. But thrift. Just thrift.

Coincidentally I’m sure, the exact same prime directive of her current meal tickets, Mayor Rob Ford, his councillor-brother Doug and their deputy mayor, Doug Holyday. Cheapness is next to godliness, folks. Office budgets are nothing more than re-election slush funds. Donations essentially a bribe for votes. If constituents want to know what’s going on or have a problem, all they need is to pick the phone. You might even get yourself a house call from the mayor.

So committed to this frugal ideal, Councillor Doug (The Wealthy) Ford works gratis, giving his salary to charity and spending only out of his own pocket on essential things like the banner for his and his brother’s weight loss challenge. If only more of the well-to-do were content with just one paycheque and devoted at least some of their time to pitching in and governing, we could do away with “expenses” altogether and apply those savings to cutting our taxes even further. A healthy democracy would be restored.

Just like in the olden days.

I don’t know. Call me a spendthrift, a trough feeder but I think all this kvetching is little more than a tempest in a teapot, making a mountain out of molehill, a distraction. There are more pressing matters at hand.

Besides, I think more along the lines of free market principles on this. In the end, you always wind up getting what you pay for.

mind on my moneyly submitted by Cityslikr

2 Responses to Governing Through Philanthropy

  1. Again with the baseball metaphors: seems the Usual Suspects have hung a slider in your wheelhouse. Take ’em downtown, kid.

  2. Lje says:

    And that $364,000 spent (divided by 2.5 million Torontonians) works out to about 15 cents each.

    As far as I am concerned those councillors who actually serve the citizens of Toronto are welcome to spend the other 13-14 cents per citizen to do their jobs.

    Penny wise, pound foolish SAL (with the emphasis on foolish).

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