Archive for January, 2008

not-so-discretional expense

January 15, 2008

What makes Councillors’ remarks reek of political opportunism is that the $3000 limit for discretional spending is exactly that. It was never intended to be an absolute limit on a Councillor’s expenses for education; it is the limit for discretional spending — money that can be spent without asking for permission. That’s why there is money in the budget to fund a request for more, and why the policy explicitly permits it.

If Councillors have changed their mind and now want to change the rules, they should admit so. It is disingenuous to imply that I broke any rules or did anything wrong. Everyone knew that I was attending the conference and writing a report on the workshops. Some encouraged me during meetings of Council to submit my expenses. Nobody at any time suggested it wasn’t a good idea to do so.

I am upfront and honest so much so that I have been told some people find it indecent and annoying. There was certainly nothing mischievous or sinister going on. I think that’s obvious to anyone who isn’t a trying to create conspiracy theories or capitalize on cheap political opportunism.

Unfortunately, some councillors seem more interested in the community’s perception of how well they perform in their responsibilities than actually performing their responsibilities well. It’s incredibly disappointing how quickly their courage, vision, and rational thought evaporates under the watch of the TV cameras. They undermined my credibility when I couldn’t be in the room to respond and without allowing me to opportunity to explain the chain of events leading to my request. They call it accountability; I call it gutless politics of convenience.

The only glimmers of integrity I saw in how councillors handled this issue was from McLean and Peddemors. McLean has been consistent, though quietly so, in supporting education and keeping current on new research and best practices. Peddemors committed to looking favourably on a request for additional funds since I attended a conference on his behalf two years ago. He had registered then had to bow out, but the fees were non-refundable. Since I was the councillor who assumed the registration, the expenses were taken out of my discretional funding. He did vote in favour of reimbursing me my expenses, but I was still left waiting for someone, anyone, to speak up on the facts that the policy was written with exactly these kinds of circumstances in mind, and to speak about the value of continual learning.

I think it’s important to learn more about the issues that I have to deal with as a councillor. Shocking as it may sound, being elected did not magically bestow all worldly knowledge upon me. From the behaviour of the councillors last night, I wonder if I’m the only one who remains a mere mortal who isn’t all-knowing. Or perhaps I’m the only one who believes that informed and educated decision-making is valuable for a well-governed community.

audio interview

January 8, 2008

Last week, I was interviewed by Johan Sandstrom for his White Rock Reporter online magazine. We talked about a number of issues such as transportation, housing diversity, what I see coming in the new year, and why I have made councillor responsibilities my sole employment. Listen to the interview by following this link: