Tuesday 30 July 2013

Check Your Pockets

A while back, the city of Calgary found they had a 52 million dollar surplus. I think it was from the school board maintenance fund which it turns out was covered by the province. I won’t mention that the school board has put off regular maintenance for the past twenty years or so in order to do the primary job of teaching kids to read, write, add and subtract, play the flute, golf, ski and play football. The last figure I heard is that it will cost about a billion dollars to bring the schools back to acceptable levels. But I won’t mention that.
I guess it is kind of like you and I putting on a coat we haven’t worn in a year and finding five dollars in the pocket. What do you do with it? Pay down your debt, buy a coffee, pick up a couple of lotto tickets or buy some gas for the car. Calgary is a city of over a million people, so you would think that they would have accountants that are paid to make sure that there aren’t any financial surprises. Maybe if they look a little deeper they might find where the money actually belongs.

The city council had the enviable job of deciding just where and how the money should be spent. Should they give it to the school board, put it towards city infrastructure, mass transit or should they give it back to the tax payers.It's not too surprising that when a poll was taken, giving the money back to the tax payers was by far the favourite choice.
Since the money was discovered, the city and southern Alberta has been hit with a once in a hundred year flood and the city owned assets were damaged to the tune of $500,000,000. It was in all of the newspapers, at least the ones that managed to publish. The city crews, police, fire and emergency workers were working 12 to 16 hour shifts, seven days a week for close to a month. There was and still is a lot that needs to be fixed in the city. I just assumed that the 52 million surplus would go to fix something in the city that was damaged by the floods. Imagine my surprise when it was reported yesterday that the city council was voting on what to do with the money. WTF?

This morning’s paper announced that the money would indeed go towards fixing the flood ravaged city. The thing that amazed me is that it wasn’t passed unanimously by the council. The mayor wanted to take the money and use it to fix the city, and was joined by nine of the 14 aldermen. I guess we know which five councillors are more interested in getting re-elected than they are in helping the city.

One particularly vile alderwoman Diane Colley-Urquhart put forward the motion to pay back the taxpayers which was as I said, defeated. She went on to say “You bet this is an election issue.” She’s right; none of the five that voted to kiss the electorates ass instead of doing what was right, should be re-elected this fall. Ald. Shane Keating, Ald. Peter Demong, Ald. Ray Jones and Ald. Andre Chabot should take a hard look at why they are in politics and just who they should be protecting. Ray Jones is my Ald., and I have voted for him in the past four elections, but maybe it’s time he started working privately again in order to get a back a sense of what is right. He doesn’t have my vote this year. I can't imagine he is too worried about losing my vote, but if enough people feel the same way then perhaps we will be noticed.

I have to buy coffee for my buddy tomorrow, so maybe I should go and check the pockets on my winter coats…just in case there's $52,000,000 in one of the pockets that I forgot about.

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