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I had a friend a long time ago who had a theory about city councils.
He postulated that in city council chambers across the land someone had snuck in and installed secret gas dispensers that blew secret gas into the face of councillors as they go about the business of the community.
What does the secret gas do? It takes otherwise normal, sensible people and makes them silly, impairing their otherwise good judgment.
Case in point: Our current crop of sensible elected officials who have gone silly, yet again, over the magical allure of Chinese riches.
So let’s recap. City council was elected on a platform of fiscal prudence. One of the first orders of business was to institute a core services review, which was given the mandate to find ways to cut costs. Oh, almost forgot to mention council OK’d spending up to $350,000 for the review. So, if the core services review only finds ways to cut $1 million from the budget, it actually is only $700,000 and change … at least for the first year, but that’s another story.
So, after reducing city staff by 28 positions already this year and the rest of the staff waiting for the other shoe to drop when the core services review is complete, council decides money spent on a trip to China is a good use of taxpayers’ dollars.
Yup, the gas was definitely spraying out pretty good Monday night.
Coun. Garth Frizzell, however, was apparently fighting a cold and so his nose was plugged up, and Coun. Brian Skakun, who is immune to the gas because he’s developed his own hybrid, voted against the trip.
The rest, however, led by Coun. Cameron Stolz trotted out the age-old arguments:
“This is a tremendous opportunity,” (for councillors to travel overseas,) “it takes time to build relationships with China,” (We’ve been at this 10 years now and the fruits of our labour thus far? A core services review. How’s that working?), and “we’re falling behind (because it’s important to keep up with ‘insert municipality of your choice here.’”
The irony in all this is that a lot of the folks who supported Mayor Shari Green’s election campaign last fall are also a lot of the same people who had a hate on for how Tim McEwan ran Initiatives Prince George.
McEwan loved junkets and hanging out with the movers and shakers of the world.
The problem back home, however, was that results are so intangible that they are almost impossible to quantify.
Those who go on the junkets talk endlessly about the need for them and that it takes time to get some results.
Back home all we get is to pay the bill and see cutbacks in service.
And, in a really ironic twist of fate, at the same meeting city council decided travelling to China was a good idea, it told not-for-profit organizations in the city to expect a tax bill. It’s good to see our charities and churches are doing their part.
I suppose it’s the silly gas, but council doesn’t even seem to realize the double standard and how this trip looks to the community to whom they are continually saying there is no money in the coffers.