Tuesday, April 11, 2006

London, Ontario: Canada's craziest politicians?

Watch while London politicians twist themselves into pretzels trying to justify a taxpayer-funded trip to see Rudy Guiliani.

First, they need to spend $10,000 to help defray the cost of the London conference.

In exchange for the donation to the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, city councillors would get free tickets to the April 21 leadership conference at which Rudy Giuliani will deliver the keynote address.

London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco, city controllers and chief administrator Jeff Fielding have already endorsed the plan.

Let me get this straight -- the city needs to kick in the dough to make this thing happen and the conference organizers will sweeten the pot by giving free tickets to councillors and bigwigs to see Rudy in person. Has it even occurred to them that they might offer it in a raffle to local taxpayers? Nope. Why is it automatic that politicians get the junket?

By the way, this works out to be $500 per ticket.

Wait, there's more.

In exchange for $10,000, council members would get 10 tickets to hear Giuliani's keynote speech and another 10 to attend a private reception with him afterward limited to perhaps 100 people.

"This could be the future president of the United States here," Fielding said. U.S. polls show Giuliani to be at or near the top among possible Republican nominees to replace President George W. Bush in 2008.

Well, I apologize! This very well could be the next president of the United States. And of course you really don't want to get on his bad side...have you heard what he did with criminals in New York?

Then, in comes Paul Van Meerbergen to point out the rich, smelly irony.

Van Meerbergen is a fan of Giuliani but sees no reason taxpayers should fund an event that will happen with or without council's support.

"The attention will come regardless -- it's not a function of local politicians attending," he said.

"The irony is (some) want to shell out $10,000 in tax dollars to learn from someone who's a pillar of fiscal conservatism."

Oh yeah...and what will people think if city councillors don't go? How will they be seen? And, what if there is a future pandemic? Think about it!

Though the conference will draw attention regardless of what council does, it's good to collaborate with leading local institutions, he said.

"It's a question of whether we want to be seen as a partner," Fielding said.

With scientists worried about a future pandemic, council could benefit from seeing firsthand leaders who have shone during times of crisis, he said.

And, you better believe those politicians will be in a pitched battle to be the first to belly up to the trough.

If council agrees to a sponsorship, there may be a dog fight over the
tickets, Polhill said.

"It could be a real challenge," he said.

I say we spare these fools the trouble and ask them personally and directly to scrap the ticket purchase/sponsorship/junket. How about filling a few potholes instead? I understand the vote goes down on Tuesday...so the faster you register your displeasure, the better. Make sure also you tell Van Meerbergen he's on the right track.

Email a London City Councillor!!!

Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco: mailto:adecicco@london.ca?subject=

Big hat tip: London fog


MapMaster said...

Council "compromised" to save some face. The conference will still receive the $10,000 but council will decline to accept the tickets, apparently to avoid the appearance of graft.

Public opposition to the deal was cited as the reason. All the more reason for the CTF. Thanks.

David MacLean said...

That's great news! Someone once said "politicians won't see the light until they feel the heat."

Stupid that they're still spending money on the thing, though. But at least they're not taking the graft.

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