They’ve Got It Backwards

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Typically London. Some people and points of view get media attention, others get ignored. And the democratic process gets subverted.

The London Free Press has decided to highlight a proposal by the Chamber of Commerce that our local Councillors (municipal politicians) receive a huge boost in pay, from $30,859 to $45,000. And at least one local talk show host (CJBK’s Shauna Rae) devoted an entire segment to the proposal this morning.

Contrast that with the way that my platform was totally ignored during the last election campaign.

The Chamber of Commerce represents business people. Understandably, they want to see as many business types on City Council as they can get there. By jacking up salaries, there’s more chance that business types might be inclined to run for Council. For them, it’s all about opportunities to make money.

I prefer to represent people who are least able to represent themselves. That’s why the focus of my municipal election campaign was the growing disparity between rich and poor, the way that poor people (and their needs) are under-represented on Council, and the way that things are decided in a top-down manner instead of bottom-up.

How many of the people who contested the last election and didn’t win, are still actively engaged in municipal politics? How many of them attend committee meetings and public participation meetings and lobby local government?

I haven’t missed a beat since election day. Trying to get on Council was only a means to having even greater opportunity to do the thing that I’ve always done without being paid for it. Which is to try and make a positive difference in my community. I haven’t stopped trying to do that simply because I didn’t get elected.

Paying politicians even more than the generous salaries that they’re already paid will simply put them even farther out of touch with the most disadvantaged members of our community. It’s absolutely the wrong direction to go in. Instead, I have advocated for many years that political salaries should be indexed at a modest multiple of what people on social assistance receive. And it was part of my election platform. 01

Did you know that? Did you read it in the newspaper from London’s award-winning journalist, or hear it on the radio? There was certainly time enough, since I filed in January and the election didn’t take place until the Fall. And it certainly isn’t that I didn’t try to get local media interested in my campaign!

As for the Governance Task Force, one of the submissions which I made to it during one of the several meetings which I attended, was that the aforementioned indexed salaries should be accompanied with a transition to full-time Councillors. 02 So why did it take a backwards proposal from the Chamber before you heard anything about this subject? Why didn’t Margaret Hoff (GTF Chair) make any reference to having received that proposal when she was interviewed by Shauna Rae this morning?

I suggested to the Task Force that after drafting their proposals, they ought to hold another public participation meeting and let citizens comment on them before presenting them to City Council. Will that happen, so that we can gauge the public’s reaction to the proposals? Or will the Task Force simply assure us that they heard us correctly and that their proposals accurately reflect our wishes and what’s best for us?

Strange, how you sometimes only hear what some people want you to hear.

Updated 2008/05/21:

Oh goody! Ian Gillespie has now added his support for giving local politicians a disgusting amount of money because they’re only getting “mediocre pay” at the moment and because that’s the only way to attract “more civic-minded candidates.” 04

What do you think?

Sources:
01. index: GTF submissions
02. 2006/10/07 – FMBS: platform re political salaries
03. 2008/05/18 – LFP: Chamber suggests council be full time
04. 2008/05/21 – LFP: Pay clock ticking at city hall

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2 Responses to “They’ve Got It Backwards”

  1. picard102 Says:

    I should run for Mayor.

  2. fowgre Says:

    Why not? Less talented people have! 🙂

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