Friday, 27 December 2019

Rebuttal to George Brookman Herald Column Dec 19 , 2919

With due respect to Mr. Brookman, an entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist, while I agree with his wishes for optimism, I cannot disagree more with his assessment of the current situation at Calgary’s City Hall.

Mr. Brookman’s idea that we should compensate Councillors in a way that would entice more people to stand for office is totally out of sync with what politicians tell you when they enter the race for office. When they knock on your door to solicit your votes it is always about how they will serve you, never is the subject of compensation mentioned. However once elected, we have seen that they will approve salary increases and huge pensions for themselves, despite the fact that their own appointed citizens panel disagree with them., His other argument against limited terms is also wrong when he believes that individuals must be given at least 12 years to learn on the job and that they would be more knowledgeable as time goes by.  People get elected because they are supposed to be more knowledgeable than ordinary citizens. That they have ideas to make things better and that is why they seek to represent them

The Institute for Public Sector Accountability (IPSA) has always advocated a two term limit of eight years with the possibility of being re-elected after sitting out one term of four years. A two term limit of eight years is ample to make your mark if you are so qualified to represent the citizens, It is not the place to learn and be paid by the taxpayer; especially when the salaries, pensions and transition allowances are tied to the number of years on Council.

 Given his view that ‘if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’; in Calgary this is debatable. We have seen hundreds of thousands of dollar in salaries, and pensions and yet what we have is a ‘zoo’. The talent that he supports has been vastly lacking in recent years. The results and tax increases clearly supports this assertion.
Mr. Brookman has in the past advocated for a 1% tax to finance arenas, and other huge expenditures. Perhaps he should look at IPSA’s proposed policies to change the Market Value Assessment system, change the disparity in business and residential taxes. It is suggested that instead of continuously trying to take money from the taxpayer to make the City better, he may look at alternative ways to finance these projects, like the proposed IPSA use of Tax Free Municipal Bonds which would give citizens an opportunity to really own these arenas and other facilities, instead of paying higher taxes.
I agree that we have to be optimistic, but it is hard for most Calgarians to feel that way when the roof is falling on many people’s heads. While not entirely Council’s fault, much of it could have been avoided with new ideas. As his friend says: “Same old George, always toeing the party line, always trying to sugar-coat the facts. Why can’t he admit that he’s living in the past and that he should just stop trying to tell us all how good things are.”
Not speculating that Mr. Brookman may be running for office at the next election, what worries me is that people trying to select candidates for the next elections may harbor Mr. Brookmans’ 20th century views - that is not optimistic.

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