Mayors and councillors from across the province seem to be having a grand old time in Vancouver this week for their annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. It's undoubtedly good for the downtown hotel and beverage trade.
But, given the worrying economy, I think they should have stayed home this year and held their meetings by teleconference, saving a ton of taxpayers' money.
Troubles at the Trough: Quesnel Councillor Paull asks some tough questions of Mayor Sjostrom's spending habits
QUESNEL'S CITY AUDITOR RONALD E. RASMUSSEN FEELS MAYOR SJOSTROM'S CHEQUE VOUCHERS ARE "WELL CARRIED OUT", "SUPPORTED", "SATISFACTORILY APPROVED" AND "REASONABLE".
CITY COUNCILLOR RON PAULL BEGS TO DIFFER AND ASKS SOME "TOUGH" QUESTIONS IN HIS SEPTEMBER 28TH LETTER TO THE CARIBOO OBSERVER REGARDING THE MANNER IN WHICH RASMUSSEN HAS DEALT WITH THE ISSUE.
For some time, I have resisted growing public pressure to weigh in on the thorny issue of the mayor’s expenses, but the city auditor’s letter was the proverbial straw that has raised more questions than answers. Was the auditor instructed to adjudicate only the paper trail and not the eligibility and propriety of some of the mayor’s expenses? Why didn’t his opinion go beyond simply saying that all the paperwork is in order? Why, in spite of saying in his letter that he conducted a “review of the overall purpose of the supporting documentation” did he not say (or at least politely hint) that some of those expenses were clearly not eligible to have been claimed? Is he not aware that certain of those expenses are not eligible for reimbursement because under the Canada Income Tax Act, all local government elected officials receive a large portion (in our case it is one third) of their pay as an expense allowance. The City’s Council Indemnity Bylaw No. 1385 of 1997 says, in part “….provide for the payment of an annual indemnity to the Mayor and councillors of the City …., a part of which may be an allowance for expenses incidental to their duties”. In the body of the bylaw, Section 3 states “One-third of such annual indemnity amounts paid to each member of Council shall be paid as an allowance for expenses incidental to the discharge of his or her office.” That language is repeated in the Council Policy for Council Remuneration.
Mary Sjostrom, Quesnel’s controversial Mayor is finding herself afloat in some rather hot political waters as her tenureship appoaches its final days. Having recently declared her intention to run for re-election in the upcoming municipal elections in November of 2011 Mayor Sjostrom will now have to convince Quesnel taxpayers and voters that her approach to government over the next three years will be that of a leader equipped to deal with political and economic challenges that are sure to intensify as the local, provincial, national and global economies continue in a downward spiral.
Canada's Central Bank: Is there hope for Canadians?
[Editor's Note: The following letter and preamble by Richard Priestman is a welcome addition to the ongoing debate surrounding Canada's overall economic situation with respect to our nation's growing debt to private banking consortiums.]
Preamble to letter by Richard Priestman
The attached letter shows how much the interest on public debt is costing each and every Canadian, and how we pay these costs through taxes, cut-backs in services, deteriorating infrastructure and lost jobs. It shows how these costs could be reduced, the influence of the financial sector on government policy decisions and what individual Canadians can do to change things by demanding a commitment from electoral candidates to support a specific policy in order to get their votes. If, in a given riding, no party candidate will make such a commitment community members could find and support an independent candidate. To this extent it would be "reinventing democracy".
Letter critical of Mayor and City Manager held up by Black Press for three months!
[Editor's Note: Apparently this letter was submitted to the Quesnel Cariboo Observer on the 24th of June, 2011 and the publication of it was held back for reasons unknown. Eventually the author of it and other concerned citizens in Quesnel decided to go ahead and print the letter and along with a handout explaining why it was held up by Black Press for so long, deliver it to Quesnel residents. Being made aware of this the Observer's editor Autumn Macdonald was finally able to gain permission from those in authority to run it. All in all a rather sad day for a publication that purports to be informing the community in an open and honest way. It's but one of the reasons why Quesnel and area require an alternative voice such as the Sentinel.]