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Be thankful for municipal politicians

Next time you look at your pay stub or bank records, take a look at your bottom earning dollar, then imagine how nice it would be to add $1,000 a month to that figure – but not have to do anything to earn it.
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Next time you look at your pay stub or bank records, take a look at your bottom earning dollar, then imagine how nice it would be to add $1,000 a month to that figure – but not have to do anything to earn it.

With a provincial election looming, what better way to illustrate how provincial MLAs are out of touch with the average citizen’s way of thinking?

Members of the provincial standing committee on privileges, elections, standing orders and printing (whatever that is or whatever may come of it) have been doing just that; collecting $1,000 per month for sitting on a committee that hasn’t met in three years.

In all, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which pretty much spilled the beans on the fiasco, 21 officials make up this mysterious committee and have been on the receiving end of more than $800,000 over the time period.

The MLAs in question, including a current listing for outgoing Banff-Cochrane MLA Janis Tarchuk, can be found at (www.assembly.ab.ca/committees/privilegeselections/).

According to the provincial government’s website above, the last committee meeting took place, Nov. 17, 2008 (Tarchuk was not on it at the time and we’re not sure when she was named to it) and there are no meetings scheduled.

In discussing weighty issues of the day at that now-historic November meeting, according to a transcript on the website, the meeting began at 8:07 a.m. and concluded at 8:21 a.m. During those heavy 14 minutes, some blah, blah, blah about standing orders was dealt with.

All this at a time when Albertans are concerned with hospital wait times and an ongoing lack of provincial government creation of long-term care facilities.

All this when a short time ago, Banff’s municipal council were hemming and hawing about a 2.5 per cent wage increase for themselves, the first increase in four years.

…at the same time it came to light that Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen ($35,900) is making less than half that of Canmore Mayor Ron Casey ($80,200).

…at the same time Banff council was forced to fork over for a staffer at $52,600 yearly and a $56,000 vehicle to increase door-to-door garbage pickup to combat those who illegally dump household items at bin locations.

Just think how a given Alberta municipality could have used the $800,000+ which has been completely wasted on non-working members of the standing committee on privileges, elections, standing orders and printing.

It just shows, it seems, that the further a politician is removed from those who vote them in, provincially (Edmonton) or federally (Ottawa), the less in tune they become with those who put them there.

This is why, voter-wise, you get much better bang for your buck when you vote in a municipal election. With municipal politics, it’s not about party loyalty or the party line, it’s about doing what’s best for one’s community.

When a newspaper like the Outlook reports on councils working out their budgets, it may not make for scintillating reading, but at least the information is there. Unlike provincial and federal politicians who tend to spend money like it isn’t theirs, never mind throwing money around to buy votes at election time, municipal politicians tend to be far more diligent in plowing through their budgets, line by line, trying to get the most bang for the taxpayers’ buck.

Outside the valley, this waste of taxpayers’ money is one of many, but, in Alberta, it is unlikely to generate any real backlash among voters in a province which stubbornly re-elects, re-elects, re-elects…




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